Why We Deny

Steve Arterburn

Men, we all struggle with denial’but why? Well, one reason is that truth is scary. It can frighten you into a ‘see no evil’ lifestyle. For some of you life’s been very difficult. You’ve weathered many storms, and aren’t interested in further suffering. Denial may be the only coping mechanism you know. And you’d rather face the status quo than the discomfort of change. If I’m talking to you, I’ll grant that’in a sense’you’re right. Ending denial brings with it the threat of loss as well as pain. Reality is often costly. And accepting the consequences of truth may cause the loss of income, possessions, friends, or prestige. But know this: in the long run, denial has far worse consequences. It’ll inevitably sap your life’emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes even physically.

Another reason you sometimes avoid self-scrutiny is because you don’t want to stop what you know is wrong. You’ve confused avoidance with innocence. You tend to use busyness as a means of denial’keeping a hectic pace, and, at least for the time being, keeping reality at bay. With life whizzing by, you see very little and feel even less’especially the numbing effect denial is having on you.

Men, this is simply too high a price to pay. If these descriptions have described you at all, I invite you, in the name of Christ, to come into the cleansing, life-giving light of the gospel. Yes, the truth can hurt. But only the truth can set you free.

Moving Beyond Parental Expectations

Steve Arterburn

In his book Men’s Secret Wars, Patrick Means suggests three questions to help men identify whether or not they’ve moved beyond parental expectations. They are as follows:

1)      Did my father communicate to me that I was loved?

2)      Did he let me know he was pleased with who I am?

3)      Was his blessing unconditional?

To me, Means’ last point is the most important. When as a parent you tell your son, ‘I love you if and when you do this or that,’ you’re putting conditions in place that could haunt him for the rest of his life.

The amazing thing about the grace of God is that you’re accepted with no strings attached. Christ took care of all the conditions. By embracing Christ, you’re freed from all your mistakes and shortfalls. But it also means you’re freed from your having to measure up to the false and unrealistic standards of others.

Consequently, you’re free to pursue your God-directed destiny’to follow your God-given dreams’knowing you have a loving Father who encourages you along the way. Every man was created by God to stand straight and tall, to look to God to find His true identity in Christ.

Freedom Within Boundaries

Steve Arterburn

In my years of working with men, I’ve seen how the lack of solid boundaries results in half-completed spiritual lives. Guys, good boundaries help you finish the course. They clarify convictions. They provide moral clarity by assigning healthy, predetermined responses to situations before they arise. They draw lines in the sand that you won’t cross because of your love for Christ and your desire to see His desires actualized in all areas of your life.

Establishing boundaries is a discipline. To this end, Oswald Chambers once commented, ‘Impulse is all right in a child, but it is disastrous in a man. Impulse has to be trained into intuition by discipline.’

The paradox is that the things men tend to resist the most’limits, boundaries, rules, and restrictions’are the very things you need the most in order to experience real freedom. This kind of resistance is like trying to jump the fence without realizing that the Grand Canyon waits on the other side. You won’t ever know the terrors you’ve escaped when you find true freedom inside God’s boundaries. But then again, you don’t want to know these terrors.

When you understand that true freedom requires restraints, you’ll see that God doesn’t establish boundaries just to see if you can be a good boy and follow the rules. Instead, He gives you boundaries to keep you and your loved ones safe from moral and spiritual calamity’to make you a faithful husband, dad, and man of God. He put them there to help you experience the truly abundant life Jesus came to give.