Our Divided Hearts

Excerpted from “Every Man Ministries” by Kenny Luck

Walt Disney’s cast of animated characters is well known ‘ or, dare I say, burned into our childhood and adult psyches. The all-time favorite in our home (as well as Disney’s all-time box-office champion) is The Lion King. By proxy, I have watched this story of Simba, the little lion who would be king, at least a million times. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I caught on to the powerful theme beating at the center of the story. It’s a theme that vividly illustrates my spiritual journey and battles, and perhaps yours as well.

Simba, born the son of a lion king named Mufasa, revels in his identity and the future possibilities of royalty. As the song goes, he ‘just can’t wait to be king!’ But when envious Uncle Scar engineers Mufasa’s death and blames it on Simba, the young lion is deceived into thinking that he must leave the kingdom and never return. In exile, lonely and ashamed, he is befriended by Pumba, a big-hearted warthog, and Timon, a manic meerkat.

Simba finds a new family, a new home, and a new way of thinking ‘ all of which help him disguise his past and his true identity.

We are more
than what
we have become!

But while Simba assembles the trappings of a new identity, his true self dogs him, prompting deep conflicts within his heart. In an awkward but telling moment, he denies this father, and in turning his back on his father, Simba denies his true identity. The charade eats away at him until this encounter with a wise, prophetlike baboon named Rafiki:

Simba: Stop following me. Who are you?

Rafiki:
The question is, Who are you?

Simba:
I thought I knew, but now I am not so sure.

Rafiki:
Well, I know who you are.

Simba:
I think you’re a little confused.

Rafiki:
Wrong! I am not the one who is confused. You don’t even know who you are.

Simba (walking away): Oh, and I suppose you do?
Rafiki: You’re Mufasa’s boy!

Simba’s jukebox has been unplugged. Eager yet afraid to reclaim his identity, Simba follows Rafiki through a dark jungle that leads to a water’s edge. Peering into the water, Rafiki helps Simba take a long, hard look. As the young but maturing lion stares at his own reflection, he sees the face of his father, Mufasa, overtake his image.

‘You see’he lives in you,’ says Rafiki with great wisdom.

We are caught between
divided loyalties and competing identities
which cause conflicting angst.

It’s at this pivotal moment that Simba’s father comes in a cloud and speaks into his son’s confusion (voiced by James Earl Jones at his deepest and best).

Mufasa: Simba!

Simba: Father?

Mufasa: Simba, you have forgotten me.

Simba:
No. How could I?

Mufasa:
You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.

Mufasa nails the general feeling that grings away at most Christian men. We are more than what we have become. We, too, are caught between divided loyalties and competing identities ‘ real ones and false ones ‘ which cause conflicting angst. Like Simba, our time for talking has passed because God is finished listening to the reasons why we can’t move forward. Our divided hearts must be confronted, or as Psalm 86:11 calls out, ‘Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.’

Need help reclaiming your true identity? Join us at our next Every Man’s Battle workshop.

Slave to Creditors

Excerpted from Every Man Ministries by Kenny Luck

There was a time when I needed an overhaul. It happened about 10 years ago when I was a credit-card company’s dream customer! My gold card fed my appetite for all sorts of ‘needs.” Clothes, birthday and anniversary trips, and lavish dinners out were all benign events for which I supplied perfect justifications. Christmas gifts, home improvements, and repairs on my snazzy foreign sports car became part of my lifestyle. And just as reality should have slapped me in the face, additional lines of credit would mysteriously arrive.

I started to earn more money, but I also started to believe my own rationalizations regarding my finances. I trusted our credit cards more than I trusted God. I certainly didn’t have the faith to believe that if we gave our 10 percent, He would make the other 90 percent work for us. So I gave less to the church and spent more on myself. I refused to deny my family any desire. I ignored my wife, Chrissy’s urgings to tighten our financial belts, which only accelerated our insidious spiral into financial bondage. All of the turmoil caused tremendous amounts of anxiety that remained invisible to outsiders but was visibly and verbally incinerating our home and marriage at the end of every month.

10 years ago I was a
credit-card company’s
dream customer!

One night, following a lively discussion with Chrissy about our messed up finances, I happened to open my Bible. My eyes fell to these words: ‘The borrower is servant to the lender’ (Proverbs 22:7). Seven words, seven tons of impact. I was a slave ‘ to my creditors. I had also enslaved my family because of my inability to say no to myself. Worse, my character deficiency had moved God away from the center of my life and replaced Him with financial anxiety. This was a form of idolatry. That truth kindled my repentance and a desire to change, which I confessed to my wife.

I also sought help from friends. Not financial help, but prayer and counsel regarding our precarious financial situation. I can remember weeping in front of my close friends after I disclosed that we had rung up twenty thousand dollars in credit-card debt. I was embarrassed in every way, but I was past caring. I was determined to do what it took to get honest with myself and with the mess I had created. The only way I knew to accomplish that was to humble myself before God, my wife, and my buddies and ask for their help. I remember saying, ‘Whatever it takes, Lord.’ Simply put, if that meant living with one car, so be it. If it meant giving to the church when it made no sense, I would give. If it meant submitting myself to an austere monthly budget for two years to get out of debt, that too, was what I would do.

 I became the RICHEST of all men
because, deep inside,
I was committed to the course!

That day, the last major bastion of control fell into God’s hands, and His victory was both humbling and liberating. Although I was awash in debt, I became the richest of all men because, deep inside, I was committed to the course.

What bastions have you erected against God’s goodness and blessing in your life? Most men can name them in a nanosecond Gad has already been speaking to them, convicting them that their priorities are seriously out of line. God’s message, and mine, is that those walls have to fall ‘ for the sake of His kingdom.

Being God’s Man is Worth the Risk!

Excerpted from Every Man Ministries by Kenny Luck

During the past several years, I have witnessed men commit to becoming God’s man through Every Man Ministries. I’ve found that it’s not about asking guys to do more; it’s about asking them to be more. It’s not about asking them to pursue a plan or respond to a cool idea or even to a dare. It’s about convincing guys, deep down, that being God’s man is worth the risk. Why is that?

Doing more puts a man in control.
Being more puts God in control.


Doing more
is a safe style for men.
Being more is risky.

Doing more implies there’s an end to it.
Being more is a process ‘ fluid and unpredictable.


Doing more
lets a man pick the changes he needs to make.
Being more allows God to reveal the changes a man needs to make.


Doing more
requires trying harder.
Being more relies on training humbly.


Doing more
engenders spiritual pride.
Being more produces humility through surrender.


Doing more
is about correcting behavior patterns.
Being more is about connecting with God’s character.


Doing more
attaches to the public persona.
Being more reaches the private self ‘ the man God wants to reach.

The men’s movement of the last fifteen years has been challenging men to love more, say more, pray more, read the Bible more, discipline themselves more, love their wives more, and serve their kids more. Men have wanted all those things, but the majority of them are failing over the long haul. The men’s movement has asked men to do what their hearts and characters cannot deliver.

So here’s the bottom line.
Author Dallas Willard got it right: What’s needed is a renovation of the heart before a renovation of lifestyle.

I trust you will hang in there with me as we talk in the next few months about how it is we can BE God’s man and how it is that we ‘bog down spiritually’ when our offense should be in full attack mode for Him.

For more help on this subject see Being God’s Man.