Dangerous Good


Opening the first pages of Dangerous Good by Kenny Luck exposes you to the passion and vision of the author to change the culture of men during this time and especially to change Christian men into what he calls “dangerous good.”  This book explains through its ten chapters what that looks like and why it is so desperately needed today.


Consider some of the author’s own words about this:


“We know that reactions and protests address the evils of our times from the outside in, which, by its very nature, is doomed to failure and, in fact, has failed. Problems never exist only at the level at which you see them; but an “outside in” perspective will keep reacting to the symptoms while never addressing the roots of the dilemma. Neither will salvation come from the shallow waters of celebrity cult, overhyped media movements, and identity politics. They are all paper tigers without fangs that cannot stop a thing. Culture is recognizing it needs a movement of good men exactly because what’s out there now is noise, not real progress.”


 The book looks at the challenge facing men today through the lens of understanding how male culture has changed over time and across all cultures, but with one constant: “It has always been broken.”


 At the heart of the author’s premise is how men have either been enticed or wandered away from their identity that God gave them in the very beginning. Little boys have a certain innate desire to be the hero in their own story if we consider the play they are involved with from toddler to early teen.


In a previous generation they became their own version of John Wayne, Robin Hood, Luke Skywalker, Batman, Superman, and more. Little boys now may still play such roles, but more often they are experienced in video games of varying sorts.


Kenny Luck uses the metaphor of “lost lions” taken from the story of Simba in the popular Disney film, The Lion King.  He believes God is calling, reminding, and confronting men to remember who they truly are and His need of them for the Kingdom now.


The author repeatedly challenges the male reader. Two examples early in the book read as follows:


“It’s an exciting time as God gathers His own for a showdown with evil. It’s a risk-filled and faith-stretching time of loving confrontation over our identity. It’s time to take your place.”


“The King is calling a generation of sons to bear the family resemblance, understand the urgency of the hour, and act in awareness that tomorrow is not guaranteed.”


 Kenny Luck is not so much concerned about a program and words that grow stale over time, but is more passionate about a process where men step up and into their God-given roles as protectors, servers, givers, and leaders that come together to be agents of healing in their families, churches, neighborhoods, and beyond.


One of the powerful chapters in the book entitled “Powerfully Impacted Women” tells the Old Testament story of Deborah and Barak. Rather than “dangerous good” men seeking to be “alpha males,” he uses the story to admonish men of the point they may not see in their first reading of the story. He sums up that theme this way:


“Smart men honor, dignify, and partner with great women to achieve far more than they ever would by themselves.”


This book is targeted for men to read, but it is likely many women will read it as well and find good nuggets to consider. Hopefully, they will allow the men in their lives to discover the challenges of this book themselves rather than exhorting these men.


You may see some themes written in other books written for the male reader, but Kenny Luck uses his own passion, experience, and skill that left me busy with a highlighter because of power-packed sentences I didn’t want to forget.


To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.



You Were Made to Shine




The darkness that appears to be gathering on and hovering over the earth can tempt us to fear or lament, but if we are God’s children and He resides in us that is not what He is calling us to right now. The darkness is not to be our focus because we were made to shine.


If Jesus resides within us, then light resides in us. The gathering darkness should cause our light to be that much brighter as the dimmer manmade lights are overcome by shadow. We were called to be light and life and He would desire to call that forth in us in ways only He can.


Sometimes we forget that despite how important our words are, who we are because of Him and how He shines through us should eclipse anything else.


Jesus said we are to be salt and light. If we are that, then we will not be pulled off into astronomy-cosmos-crater-lake-national-park-262669tangents of the day, cultural dustups, popular arguments and causes. Those will only distract us from the culture that matters – His! It will also cause others to focus more on our words and views than the light that resides in us and the world has never needed that light more.


Scripture makes clear that as the day of His return comes closer, the world will become darker and things we would not have imagined will become the norm. Polarization will tear apart families, churches, neighborhoods, and nations, but that is when He most needs us, you and I, to be set apart and to shine.


Imagine yourself in a jewelry store. How often are the jewels and diamonds there displayed on black or dark blue velvet when the jeweler wants to encourage you to buy brilliant-carat-crystal-68740some of his most beautiful pieces? That is especially true if you are looking at loose diamonds to select for a special ring or necklace. That dark background makes the beauty and light in the diamonds shine more brightly


Kenny Luck wrote: Brilliance requires darkness.”


I think Paul knew that as well. Consider his words in Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV):


“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”


The stars in the sky twinkle and gleam even though they are thousands and thousands of miles away because they are scattered across the dark night sky.


We are His workmanship. If the Lord has not yet returned, then we are to shine ever more brightly in the darkening world so that others might yet see and discover His grace, truth, and love before it is too late.


Cutting away the parts that detract from the beauty of His light within us so we can shine more beautifully is His work of sanctification. Diamonds are cut and shaped so the many facets of the gem can better reflect the light and fire from within the gem. And so it is with us…or should be.


“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”    Matthew 5:16 (NIV)


“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,”   2 Peter 1:19 (ESV)


We have been given His light so much as Tolkien says in The Lord of the Rings:


“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”


I wonder if when God looks upon the earth He hopes to see lights in each of us scattered around the globe much as we see the stars scattered across the sky.


You were made to shine.

arches-national-park-dark-dusk-33688 (1)



Loving Out in the Open

baby-boys-childhood-160946 (1)


I heard a sad story recently of a man who was dissuaded from accepting Christ because he had heard many words spoken or written about the Lord, but had not seen those same persons demonstrating those words in their lives.


It caused me to pause. Is that ever true of me? What would my neighbors say and what about the person who last served me in a restaurant?


Jesus made clear there are two things we are called to be and do: Love God and love others.


I love how Kenny Luck describes this:


“The secret sauce of life with God – the secret of doing the right thing 100 percent of the time – came down to making a commitment to God and a commitment to other people.”


 What does that look like?  We can say this, but what does it look like?


children-cute-drawing-159823Most of us could come up with a list of things we believe answer the question. Things you would find on the list would include praying, reading the Bible, going to church, giving, and more. But it really all boils down to one basic thing: Do what pleases God.


That sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?


I think it clearly means being obedient to Him. But to really become skilled at loving God and pleasing Him, I need to ask Him (more often than I sometimes do) what He thinks about something I am planning to do. It means conversing with Him on a broad array of things to learn what He says about that in His Word. It means when we ask Him during times of prayer that we also take time to listen to how His Spirit speaks to us. The more time I spend in my relationship with Him, the better I will know Him and learn what most pleases Him.


How well I do any of that will depend in large part on my conviction to discover what loving God looks like and how to do it well.


The second thing that Jesus taught is to love others.


It’s the best relational advice He could ever give.


Most of us are more challenged in that part than we wish or would like to admit. It can be so much easier to say it than to live that out (assuming we might know what that looks like).


Why is that very often true?


We all have a bent toward some degree of selfishness that can get in the way of loving well. We also have preferences for certain types of people and things we enjoy doing. If backlit-bright-dawn-697243those preferences rule us, are we really loving well or does that stem from that sticky selfish part of us?


Most of us would need to agree we prefer to be with and do things for people whom we like. Doing things for those we may not like as well, may not be like us, may not think like us or look like us can be a different story.


If we love others out in the open, we will be attuned to those God leads us to as well as those whom He wants to discover His light and love shining through us.


Jesus modeled all this so well. He loved people first no matter what their status or heart condition. If we follow His lead He can show us the way and He will be glorified.


To love others well requires us to set aside our selfish natures and our preferences and think about how we would like to be loved. Kenny Luck calls that “the principle of reciprocity.”  The truth is that none of us can do that very well unless we are focused first on loving God. Both things Jesus requires of us are connected.


Loving out in the open and being/doing these two things is just that simple.  It is also impossible unless He is at work within us and we are relying on Him.


What are our convictions? That will make all the difference.


“Convictions will be the kindling. Belief will be the spark. Faith and trust in the moment will be the wildfire that turns the horizon reddish orange in a worldwide movement of God’s Spirit.”  Kenny Luck




A Principle of Grace to Live By



I have reached an age where I like to believe I know myself pretty well. I think that’s largely true, but my husband often comments that he continues to learn something new about me all the time after more than 50 years of marriage.


It reminds me of a line from a favorite movie series. The line is from The Lord of the Rings when Gandolf tells Bilbo Baggins, “There is more to you than you know.”


I love the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. My husband and I actually enjoy it so much that we have the “expanded edition” of each of the movies in the set and at least once a year we watch all of them through again. Each time we seem to discover something new in a scene or dialogue or insight.


One clue to not knowing ourselves perfectly happens when we might hear ourselves describe an action or comment we made and then add, “It was so unlike me.”


Intersections of times and moments such as that can often trigger a discovery of something within us we had not noticed, dismissed, or denied. It reminds us as C.S. Lewis has written; “We live in a constant tension between the lofty side of our nature and the lowly side…part of us rooted in the soil and part reaching for the sky.”


I think we see Paul’s recognition of that in Romans 7. You know the passage in all likelihood. It begins in verse 15 and continues from there with Paul talking about the struggle within him when he does what he would not want to do and doesn’t do what he would desire.


It’s easy to relate to that passage, but it can also expose a part of us (despite a relationship with the Lord through grace) that can fall prey to viewing ourselves through the lens of the law.


We never should use grace as an excuse to knowingly sin, but maybe we have forgotten that we are not just saved by grace, but we are to live by grace as well.


How do we respond when we discover a truth about ourselves we had not known?


Perhaps the choice is to go to the Lord for His direction, His mercy, His forgiveness, and His grace. Maybe condemnation is the path we choose as a result of this weakness, failing, or sin.


The choice may also be to offer excuses and explanations for the existence of the issue. Others might decide they were not accurate in what they sensed, saw, or heard so they brush the thought away as untruth versus truth.


Only one choice is the best. It begins with recognition of our need for God’s grace and that we are to live by grace as well as be saved through grace. With that as a foundation, the writer of Hebrews 4:16 clarifies the best choice: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need.”


A few years ago I also read a great book that I keep in the forefront of my mind regarding this subject. The author writes about a principle that provides the truth I need when I discover something negative or sinful I had not seen in myself.


Jerry Bridges writes these good words about the principle in The Discipline of Grace:


Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your good days are never so  good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”



Gray Dots and Gold Stars




Max Lucado tells a powerful story about wooden people who spend their time putting stickers on each other and the impact that has on them. Those who are not performing at their best or are not so lovely get gray dots, but those who are able to do great things or appear perfect are given gold stars.


Gray dots and gold stars. 


We are so often plagued by what other people say about us or think about us.  The words or lack of them, the actions or lack of them, all seem to burrow down inside of our souls and leave us unsure of whether we are lovable or valuable.


The pesky gray dots are not unlike termites gnawing away under the surface destroying as they go.


As in the story, our solution to the problem propels us to try to do something amazing, to bright-close-up-colors-827060do things “just right”, to lose weight, get a new hairdo, buy a more current outfit, or learn to play tennis. We hope that in the process we will get gold stars that will somehow cover the gray dots so we will be seen as more lovable and worthwhile, gold stars that will also help us believe in ourselves more than we do.


We care so much about what others think of us!


Some of us say we do not, but I wonder how much truth there is in such a statement.  At our core, we all want to feel lovable, appreciated, accepted, and desired. We spend time trying to earn or attain that from others and to help us cancel our own negative self-perceptions.


Sadly, none of the efforts are very effective and even if they seem to help for the moment, they do not last.  We continue to be haunted by whispers of doubt we carry inside. The whispers come from words carelessly spoken to us or about us from childhood onward as well as from the enemy whose skill at creating doubt was first demonstrated in Eden.


There is only One who knows us completely and loves us perfectly.  aerial-aerial-view-airphoto-681381


There is only One who offers grace, forgiveness, and forgetfulness for every failure.


Yet, we seldom ask Him what He sees or believes about us and His Word on the subject too often stays in the chair where we read it that morning rather than being etched in our hearts.


When He reminds me that He loves me everlastingly, I am awed and humbled.


How could He? He knows everything about me! 


Yet, somehow, when I listen to Him more than those who are eager to hand out gray dots or gold stars, I gain an inner knowing that I am loved, valuable, and precious by the One who created me.