Men, Go Deep


Few plays in sports capture more excitement than a QB rearing back on his heels to launch a long bomb to a receiver deep downfield. The football hangs in the air, taunting fans, and raising adrenaline levels all over the stadium. Everything depends on what happens next.

Many of us men will recall days of backyard football, where we barked out plays in small huddles. Some of those plays were complex and needed a Ph.D. in neighborhood sports to decipher. Inevitably, though, one of those plays consisted of telling the fastest guy, “You go deep.”

We need deep. We need someone who is out there in case all else fails. When no other options exist, you can count on that one guy in the next Zip code, the one you sent deep, to save the day.

“Men, go deep.”

If I have a word for this year, it’s that.

What I say here isn’t specifically in the Bible, so you can take it for what it’s worth, but I think God made men to be deep. Deeper than women.

God gave women the gift of breadth. They have a social gifting that pulls in people from all realms and crosses social boundaries more easily. They are the roots of the tree that spread out to the dripline to capture the rain and find nourishment.

But God gives men the gift of depth, of being the taproot of the tree, the anchor, the leading edge, the part that goes where other parts don’t, that explores the boundaries yet holds it all fast. Being deep means you dwell in many places alone and unaccompanied. God alone can see you. God alone knows and understands your function.

I believe with all my heart that the combined social and theological crisis of our generation is a lack of men who are deep. Deeply rooted in God. Deeply committed to truth. Deeply in love with their Savior and not with anything or anyone else. Men who are deep because of their devotion to the only One who matters.

Men, go deep.

I say all this because it is my experience in this life. While I have met a few deep women, they are of a different quality than the deep men I have known. And those deep men are an increasing rarity.

Feminism hurt men more than we know. Whatever women gained by the feminist movement, men lost in kind. It was not a win-win. And when men don’t win, women don’t either. I think many feminists of those early days of the movement would look around today and wonder what happened to men.

Men don’t have any heroes anymore beyond fictional ones. Why are comic book superheroes our transcendent role models today? Because real men aren’t.

One could argue that younger men today manage successfully to dwell in the shadow of the full bloom of feminism’s flower, yet one could argue equally that young men today have responded by retreating into infantalism, stuck in the mode of Peter Pan, dealing with our cultural and societal experiment by forever staying 12 years old. Forever shying away from digging down.

But men go deep.

I don’t think there has ever been a time in human history when the clarion call for men has been more clear and loud. God calls for men to go deep in Him.

The challenge for men who heed that call is that no aspect of our culture or society supports depth. All of it, every shred, caters to shallowness. All of it is arrayed against God. Every little bit.

Men who go deep will have no support. Not from other men. Not from their wives. Not from their children. No one will understand the man who goes deep–except God.

If we want to point a finger at our churches and ask why there is no power, no revelation, no vision, no transcendence, no fire at all, it’s because of a dearth of deep men. Period. You can stop right there, because that’s the answer for almost everything that ails us.

Prostrate before GodYou can’t fake deep. You can’t look in the eyes of a shallow man and find wisdom, only in the eyes of the deep. And there are fewer men with that piercing, penetrating depth today, so good luck finding them.

Instead, you be that man. Go deep.

God holds out His hands to any man who will pull himself away from myriad distractions that hinder to instead find respite in the Him and go deep. You can’t buy depth. It comes only from intimate time spent with God away from the rest of the world. It means turning back to God every moment of every day. Again and again. It means having zero confidence in oneself, none, but taking it all back to God and operating out of His Spirit’s empowering alone. No substitute exists.

Men today want to be inoffensive, liked, entertained, in control, and successful by the world’s standards. Theirs is a wide, well-trod path.

The man who goes deep into God will be misunderstood, chastised, and even hated. Often by people who should instead be supporting his desire for God and the deep places God alone can take him. We used to have men like that. Used to.

Such men are our only hope.

Because the clock has wound down. It’s fourth and 25. Without a man open way downfield, there will be little chance for victory.

“Men, go deep.”

When a Christian Feels Like an Imposter


When everyone is worshiping on Sunday and seems to be “into” God, you stand with them.

But you’re not feeling the music.

You’re not feeling love for God or for others.

You instead feel alone and disconnected.

You wonder what is wrong with you.

You may even ask yourself, Am I an imposter?

Feeling as if you are faking your way through the Christian life is not unusual. In difficult times, when nothing seems to be going right, that sense can become overwhelming.

But are you really a phony with regard to your faith?

Hiding behind a maskTruth is, most Christians who struggle with feelings of being an imposter need to realize, generally, that people who fake their Christian devotion aren’t self-examining. Real imposters in the faith, those who may go to church and talk the talk but who aren’t truly born again, don’t pose questions of their motives because, for the most part, they simply don’t care. Theirs is not an attitude of wanting to fix their phoniness, so they abide it without worry.

Yes, sometimes God does break through in the life of someone who has been phoning in their faith for years or even decades, but I think that’s not the majority case.

Instead, I think the people who most struggle with feelings of being an imposter are genuine, born-again Christians who have run into some kind of spiritual barrier that has forced self-examination.

What are some causes for feelings of being an imposter?

1. Legalism—Whether imposed by a church or self-imposed, a mandated set of spiritual do’s and don’ts can lead that imposter self-accusation. Everyone else is doing this Christian life thing right, but you’re not making the grade, and you know it.

2. Listening to the Enemy when you should be ignoring him—Satan is real. And more than anything, discouragement is his tool for ruining believers. A discouraged Christian never reaches his or her full potential in Faith, which is what the Enemy wants. In addition, a discouraged Christian is an antiwitness.

3. Disconnection from other Christians—Sometimes, the people in the pews go through turnover. Suddenly, you don’t know who those new folks are, have no relationship with them, and your church just feels different. You find yourself increasingly distanced from the Christian connections you once had. You wonder if there’s something you’re doing wrong, which explains why everyone seems not to care about connecting with you.

4. Change—Your church changed it’s worship music style. The sanctuary was remodeled. You have a new pastor. Your closest friends at the church moved out of the area or switched to a different church. Everything feels different.

5. A new direction in your own life—If bridges are burning through no cause of your own, if everything you were doing feels as if it’s coming to an end, maybe God has a new direction for your life. Maybe it even means changing your church. In short, not all feelings of being an imposter must be negative. Perhaps God is opening a new vista for you or is getting ready to launch you in a new ministry opportunity.

And then there’s that final one:

6. Perhaps you’re not truly born again.

As noted above, that final one is less likely than you might assume when you feel as if you’re an imposter.

Here’s the curious thing, though: Whether you are a genuine imposter or just feeling like one, the solutions are the same:

1. Repent—God desires that all men and women repent of their sins. If you are not a genuine Christian, then you need to repent. If you are a genuine Christian and you’ve just succumbed to ignoring what God says positively about you as His son or daughter, then you need to repent. Even if #5 applies and God is using your feelings of being an imposter to take you in a new direction for His work, repentance is always the place to start. You can’t go wrong with repentance.

2. Humble yourself—Sometimes, feelings of being an imposter can make a person feel superior to others. You alone recognize that you’re a fake and everyone else is too dumb to see that. They’re all imposters too. Or so the self-deception goes. Don’t go there. If you’ve repented, allow yourself to be humbled. You’re dust and so is everyone else. Stop thinking that you’re any better or any worse than anyone else.

3. Accept grace—God offers grace to imposters, whether they are genuine imposters or just mired in the mistaken feelings of being one. Learning to accept God’s grace is key to ridding yourself of feelings of being an imposter. But it has to be learned. Ask God to help you improve in your ability to accept His grace.

4. Draw closer to Jesus—Every answer to every problem is found in Jesus. Really.

I want to expand that fourth solution.

My experience with people who feel as if they are imposters is that the majority are on the cusp of a deeper walk with the Lord. Allow Him to take you there. Deep calls to deep, and that feeling of being an imposter is often God’s way of saying that He has a more fulfilling relationship He wishes to pursue with you. He wants more of you for Himself and for His Kingdom’s purposes.

Because God doesn’t want us to be satisfied with the status quo. He doesn’t want us to be thrilled by mammon, but He wants us to be thrilled by what He values. Feelings of being an imposter are one means by which God can correct the course of your life to look more like His Son’s. In a way, that feeling of being an imposter is real because all of us are imposters if we’re not living in the fulness of life in Christ that He so desires for us.

So while feeling like an imposter IS something of a bad situation, it’s not a hopeless one. In fact, it most often signals the start of a wonderful new direction that God has always desired for you but which you were unable or unwilling to accept because you were not ready.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
—Ecclesiastes 3:11a ESV

From a “What?” Church to a “How?” Church


QuestionWas reading Jack Towe’s astute comments in his post today, “Mature Christians.” He notes that he has been a part of 16 churches in his long life, but while most of them sought to answer the what? questions of Christianity, none of them talked about the how? questions.

I know Jack from a ministry he used to run in Cincinnati. He saw that a bunch of old buildings  in decent shape sat unused. He worked to buy them, fix them up, and give them to people who had no decent housing. For a couple years, I was one of those who helped Jack prep buildings for use.

Jack always was concerned for actually living out the faith and not simply knowing about it.

The issue of churches that focus on what? instead of how? is a huge one. Questions of what? are baby-step questions. They’re the basics of the Faith: What did Jesus say? What was the purpose of His coming? What are folks supposed to do once they become Christians?

What? questions are easy. Milk.

But how? questions are harder because how? takes the what? and tries to make it applicable and functional in life. Unfortunately for most churches and the Christians in them, going from what? to how? is a little like Evel Knievel’s jump across the Snake River Canyon. It seems possible, but the execution grossly underdelivers and leaves everyone a little embarrassed.

I’ve written before that authenticity issues plague the Church in America, a problem that has led to a mass exodus of 18-35ers craving more practical sense and expression to their interactions with the world.

I know what I am to do as a Christian, but how do I do those things?

How am I supposed to feed the poor when I work an 80 hour a week job?

How do I heal the sick in Jesus’ name?

I’d like to visit prisoners in jail, but how am I supposed to do this when I have young children and I’m caring for two increasingly enfeebled parents?

How do I overcome the reality that I’m bored with the Bible? How do I even confess that without feeling like I’m an awful person?

The sermon on Sunday said that God accepts us as we are and we should not be worried about appearances, yet my company is handing out pink slips to people who look old. How do I keep my job and yet not concern myself with my appearance?

How am I supposed to be used of God when I’ve suffered from depression for years and sometimes find it hard even to get out of bed in the morning?

How do I know that moment when someone is ready to come to Christ?

I’ve had seven jobs in six cities in nine years. How do I find lasting fellowship with other believers?


The dearth of how? answers arises, in part, from a clergy that’s out of touch with real life. The professional minister doesn’t always realize what life is like for “real” people. I read a book several years ago called Making Room for Life by Randy Frazee that was both excellent and terrible. Randy proposed this idea of Hebrew Time and how we should construct our lives around it, carving out space for other people and real life. Randy’s ideas were fantastic, but they were burdened by one simple truth: while they worked excellently for a professional, salaried minister (which Randy was), they completely collapsed when applied to a second-shift laborer. Or someone who lived in the country. Or someone who was caring for an enfeebled parent. Or…

The disconnect between what paid, professional clergy think is possible in life and what “real” people experience could not be greater, yet sermon after sermon on Sundays in churches nationwide will avoid the question of how? by assuming that everyone not only knows how, but can implement the answers to what? questions with ease. Yet my experience is that most churches that easily answer what? can never provide answers to how? that go beyond the preconceptions of professional clergy, who look at themselves as perfectly representative people when they are anything but.

The other problem with how? is that the answers to it are not simple. Nor are they always one-size-fits-all. Sadly, we’ve structured our churches to reach seekers primarily, so most of our solutions to life are baby-step what? answers. In truth, we haven’t much thought about answering the how? questions of life.

But how? is where life IS and remains that place where we must abide. Sticking to pat answers simply isn’t Christian. Jesus never offered pat answers. His always came from left field and rocked people’s worlds. They were the “unanswers.” They took people down pathways they never envisioned and answered questions people didn’t know they had in ways they had never explored.

Why should the Church, which supposedly reflects the assembly of the Body of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit, be so incapable of generating answers to how? in the way that Jesus did? If anything, that’s what we should be known for! That’s the very authenticity young people are dying to find.

But where are the great thinkers in Christianity today, especially among Evangelicals? Who out there is answering the harsh questions of everyday living with life-infused answers that not only provide real solutions, but which also shake us up while offering us peace?

How do I live out Christian faith?

More than anything, I would like to see fewer Christian leaders telling me what I should be doing and far more helping me achieve what I should be doing, despite my circumstances.

I think that many people now struggle with how they can live as practicing, worldchanging Christians in a down economy that has them scrambling for decent jobs all the time. I have yet to see a Christian leader tackle that subject, yet issues of work possibly create more how? questions than anything else in a person’s life.

Christian leaders, the questions of how? and how best to answer them are the most important questions in people’s lives. Start offering possible solutions. This means wrestling with tough issues. You’re a leader for a reason, so stop running away from the hard questions and start being that leader. Model what it means to take the answers to what? questions and make them answer how? questions in a practical way. This is what leaders do. They blaze a trail. Now blaze it.

And even if you aren’t a leader but have been around life long enough to answer how? questions, for heaven’s sake, DO NOT HIDE YOUR INSIGHTS UNDER A BUSHEL. The Church of Jesus MUST answer how? questions. If you have experience, share it. Who knows how many people might benefit? We are a body, and what one body part knows can serve a different part!

Christian maturity isn’t knowing all the answers to the what? questions of life. It’s more about the how? in the day-to-day. Successfully answering how? is the difference between just being in the race and actually finishing it.