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October 07, 2004

Baggage

Madrid, Spain

Early morning flight from Brussels to Madrid – No Sleep, No Food, No Connections, No-Stops, No Delays. I disembark the plane and look for the signs to “Baggage Claim.” I walk there with hope that my baggage has arrived with me. I get to the carousel and wait with eager expectation for the belt to start moving and bags to start appearing. I make my way as close as I can get to the emerging point. I stage my position – ready to grab my bags and sling them quickly and safely onto the cart. The siren sounds – the belt begins to move – and baggage starts to appear for a few of the passengers. But somehow, on a non-stop flight from Brussels to Madrid my bags ended up somewhere else. NO BAGGAGE!

Now – my response is different now then it used to be – by God’s grace – but I see my former angst clearly stated on the faces of my fellow travelers. Incensed! Angry! Frustrated! Totally inconvenienced! Their baggage is gone! They push their way to the front of the “Lost Baggage” counter and demand answers. “How could you have lost my bag on ONE flight!?!? You had no opportunity to lose it! They huff and puff and curse and swear. They have no regard at this point for anyone else because they have lost their baggage and life cannot go on well without it.

What an uncontrollable waist of energy and dignity that approach is. Yes. I too was disappointed my baggage had not arrived. My toothbrush, clean clothes, and necessities were in there – but not my life support. In fact taking the few minutes to fill out the claim form was easy – I know now that my bag is black and #25 on their ID sheet. I am seasoned at losing bags by now. In fact – it is kind of nice to leave the airport with just my shoulder bag. It is freeing not to have to struggle with my baggage through the crowds of people, escalators, doors etc. Even better is the fact that within a few hours, someone will deliver it to the door of my hotel room, and I don’t even have to lug it through the hotel lobby and down the hallways! You have to actually be very important in most societies to get that kind of service!

But no – we love our baggage. The heavier it is and the harder to carry, the more others feel bad for us and ask if they can help us. But again we either refuse the help because we can handle it ourselves, and besides, it feels good to have others feel concern for us. But – on-the-other-hand – if they do carry it, they will know how great our burden is. Furthermore, they might want to talk about our baggage, and we might get to reveal why it is so heavy and perhaps brag about the contents and feel significant in some strange way about the baggage we carry.

Isn’t that life? We have a society and even a church body that loves to have baggage. We find significance in the baggage of our past – it defines us and helps others coddle us and our needs. We complain about our baggage and say, “I can’t wait to get rid of this bag.” But lose it – and find how much we depend upon it.

Are you carrying baggage from your life that brings you significance that is not the significance of being a child of God! Is your significance anything other than Christ Jesus? Are you tired of the burden but thriving on the attention of the burden? This is idolatry that will rob you of the joy of the promises of God.

Jesus said, “All things have been delivered to me…come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me…and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:27-30

October 02, 2004

Taming the Wild Heart

Brussels, Belgium

Is God’s intention for men to be “Wild at Heart”? I am asked all the time what I think of this concept because of my passion for godly manhood. I do believe it to be a well-intended effort at restoring the masculine approach to living, leadership, and love. But God has not called us to be “wild” at heart – nor did he design us to be “wild” in any aspect of our lives made in His image. He created us in His image to rule and to reign upon the earth – to have dominion over the earth. Yes! Dominion – but let us not use our concepts of dominion to run beyond the scope of God’s intention – His Glory!

I want to give the benefit of the doubt that “wild” was just a miscalculated and perhaps poor choice of words for the title. Yet its true meaning implies definition we must consider in light of God’s Word to His children. I thank God that His mercy tamed my wild heart. We cannot, nor should we, exchange the crucial need to re-establish biblical manhood for a godly sense of wildness and find scriptural foundations to do so. For there is not one reference to “wild” as any part of that fruit which the Spirit of God bears in the life of the believer.


[For] the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, kindness, Gentleness, Faith – against these things there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. ~Galatians 5:22-26



We must stand fast in our liberty where with Christ has made us free to be not entangled again to the yolk of bondage. For we have been called to liberty – only we must not use this liberty as an occasion for the flesh by love serve one another. ~Galatians 5:1,13



Relying greatly on film scripts and composite characters as motivation for how we are to live and respond to conflict, vindication, offense, injustice and evil is far from a total dependence on Holy Scripture. God’s Word is the only foundation for how to live. Braveheart, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan – all are good motivational films and yet all are stories indicating the depravity of man. The Gladiators were slaves who were killed for sport and who became wild in their killing for the pleasure of the crowd – this is sin at its very core. Hanks brilliantly portrays a character working through the struggles and emotions of tough leadership and making hard calls in difficult situations – but unfortunately doing so only on the foundation of sheer man-centered determination and fortitude. The films are great, but not the foundation upon which I want to mirror my life. Each lead character that we admire displayed not faith in a Sovereign God, but trust in themselves and their own strength. Where is our passion for Holy Strength? We cannot glory in myth or even glory in our own history of triumphing over evil – but glory only in Christ – nothing else. Until that becomes our focus and strength – let us not even talk of transforming our personalities. In Christ we will be transformed and brought back to God’s intention for us.


Put off these things – anger, rage, malice, filthy language from your lips…because of these things the wrath of God is coming. But put on the new self which is being renewed in the knowledge in the image of the creator. ~Colossians 3:5-10



God does call men to action to stand for what is right, but our ability to fight and be courageous conquerors cannot be fueled effectively through remembrances of portrayals of what bravery might look like, but we must live supported by God’s Word. Christ submitted himself to the cross in obedience to the Father. The “wild” thing for Christ to have done would have been to call down the wrath on His mockers and take over with vengeance instead of respond in grace: “Father, forgive them.” In His unmatched holiness, He conquered sin – our sin – through radical obedience to the Father.

Yes – fight evil, route the enemy, climb Everest, rule the land, but do it with a wild heart and see where your strength lies and how it will sustain you. Do it by the power of the Holy Spirit, and your faith will move mountains.

We can fight because we are fueled by self-control. We can conquer because we have faith. We can stand and defend a falling city because we have goodness and love. We can attack because we have peace. We can proclaim justice and truth with all boldness because we have patience and temperance. Until our lives reveal the fruit of the spirit, we fight by our own strength and for our own glory. It is by this fruit we learn to live, lead, and love.

Abandon yourselves to God – and learn to live not recklessly – but learn to live righteously. Be assured that a life committed to the Glory of God will face down the dragon at its laird, fight, struggle, rescue, sweat, and find adventure beyond compare.

Until we understand that our own nature must die and that we are raised in the newness of Christ, we will toil in vain looking for significance in this world as males. But MEN are raised up from the ashes by the Spirit and set upon the Rock as God intended us to be when we come to repentance and see that in Christ we are crucified and it is not our life any longer that we live – but it is Christ living within us! Galatians 2:20.

Let our passion be for Christ and nothing less. Live – yes live with all the might of our Sovereign God! But live as men fueled by abiding in the Spirit given to us as our seal for the day of salvation as we pilgrimage to our eternal home to receive our royal inheritance in the Kingdom of our everlasting God!