The ‘Sweeper’

Steve Arterburn

Guys, have you ever noticed that when a woman is feeling stressed or angry, she’ll often call a friend? Have you also noticed when guys feel those same things, we usually do just the opposite?

When it comes to dealing with emotions, most men run for the hills’alone. We tend not to be as good as our female counterparts at facing our feelings, let alone talking about them. Most of us have been trained to treat our emotions like dirty laundry ‘ we don’t want anything to do with them.

When our emotions surface, our internal ‘Sweeper’ moves to action. The sweeper is that part of our subconscious who methodically and logically eliminates the threat that rogue emotions present. The ‘Sweeper’s’ job is to prohibit any situation from heating up too much and to sweep stray emotions back under the surface, where we think they belong. The Sweeper’s job description looks something like this:

  • Hide and mask anger
  • Internalize pressure
  • Bury losses
  • Deny wounds
  • Withdraw in the face of hard truth
  • Deflect mistakes
  • Blame others
  • Hide struggles
  • Push others away
  • Excuse me from feeling the hurts of others

Men, does this sound familiar? If so, I think it’s time you put your Sweeper up for review, and seriously consider cleaning out his office. The ‘Sweeper’s’ so-called services are, in fact, doing you a great disservice.

Uncommon Story, Common Problem

Steve Arterburn

God often gives difficult and unusual assignments to His servants. But in the Bible, in the case of Hosea, that’s an understatement. God commanded him to go and marry a prostitute. He said, ‘This will illustrate the way my people have been untrue to me.’

 

Hosea’s marriage to the prostitute, Gomer, was a metaphor for the way God loves His sometimes faithless, shameless, and spiritually adulterous people. At one point, in broken-heartedness and righteous indignation, God threatened to cast His people off due to their flagrant infidelity.

 

But God is always faithful’even when His people aren’t. So amidst His grief and anger, He proclaims His undying love. Again Hosea’s marriage provides the powerful picture of this: ‘Bring her back to you and love her,’ God commands Hosea, ‘even though she loves adultery.’

 

To be sure, the book of Hosea is an amazing testimony of God’s steadfast love. But it’s also something else. It’s an uncommon story about a very common problem: marital infidelity.

 

Should we suppose that God wants his men to marry prostitutes? Of course not! But Hosea does show us that a husband can be faithful, even to an unfaithful wife. And at times, guys, every relationship needs such selfless love. There may come a time when your bride breaks your heart and causes you shame. It could be adultery, or a vast array of other issues. In that time, remember the way God loves you. Remember His words to Hosea: ‘Bring her back to you and love her.’

Cost Of Discipleship, Part One

Steve Arterburn

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been widely recognized as one of the great moral heroes of the twentieth century, and rightly so. He was a highly regarded Lutheran minister at a time when other highly regarded Christian leaders’were compromising and making sure they didn’t make any waves against Hitler’s aggressive, tyrammical power. Bonhoeffer was among the few who resisted. And you know, resistance usually has its costs’Bonhoeffer’s cost everything. He was arrested, imprisoned, and eventually hung on April 9, 1945’less than a month before the war’s end.

 

Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s resistance was more than moral, it was Christian. It was grounded, shaped, and energized by the gospel, and by Bonhoeffer’s loving loyalty to the Lord of that gospel: Jesus Christ.

 

Amidst the tumultuous times of his day, Bonhoeffer wrote a book that has since become a Christian classic. It’s called The Cost of Discipleship. In it he contrasts what he calls ‘cheap and costly grace.’ Cheap grace, for Bonhoeffer, means grace without the cross. Costly grace, by way of contrast, is a grace that comes to us freely because it cost Christ his life’and that which is costly to God must never be seen as something that comes to us without a price.

 

Bonhoeffer’s point, men, is that the gospel makes a claim upon every aspect of our lives. It’s received freely, yet demands sacrificial discipleship as our response.

 

Is your understanding of the gospel comparable to Bonhoeffer’s? If it isn’t, give it some thought.