A Spiritual Perspective

What Is Authentic Manhood?

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Father’s Day is here! I have been blessed to have a father who showed me how an authentic man lives and honors God. Now, I am not saying he has been perfect, but he has been consistently authentic. I count it a blessing, a privilege, even an advantage to have been shown how a man who lives a life that honors God.

Unfortunately, many young men have not been shown how a man who lives an authentic, God-honoring life. I believe many of the problems in our modern society can be laid at the feet of men—men who have never really grown up. They seem stuck in adolescence.  Failed to launch!

Several years ago, our pastor Rick Thompson led several of the men in our church through a program called Men’s Fraternity. Pastor Robert Lewis developed this program. It gave me a great biblical foundation on how to raise my boys. I had a framework of ideas and principles, a set of rules. Most men like to know what the rules are.

You can ask my two sons today (they are grown men now) and they can give you the four rules of manhood. I used these rules when teaching them how a man should live. If they messed up, I could always bring it back to one of these rules.

These rules are not really in any order other than the most important rule is to look to God for your reward. We have a tendency to look for the wrong rewards. It really is in our nature to look in the wrong direction. But if we look to God for our rewards, it gives us a true north, an immoveable marker. We can never really get lost if we keep our sights on the Great Reward. He is the measure of our success.

We men have some other natural tendencies that are not good. One of them is to be passive. Our Great Grandfather Adam was the master of passivity! He stood around and did nothing when Mother Eve was being tempted. Passivity is our default position. We have to resist passivity! (Rule #2).

Being passive is where most men mess up. (At least I am speaking from personal experience.) After all, if I wait long enough, the problem might just go away on its own or someone else will take care of it. (It’s usually a woman taking care of the problem the man should be taking care of.)

Rule #3 is to accept responsibility. It really goes hand in glove with Rule #2. If we truly are accepting responsibility, we cannot live a passive life. Again, our Great Grandfather Adam showed us how to deflect responsibility: It was that woman’s fault that God gave him!

Usually my biggest problem of the day is found in my mirror. The crazy thing, the solution to my biggest problems is usually found in the same mirror.

The fourth rule is to lead courageously. I believe in the heart and soul of every man is the heart of a superhero. God made us in his image and gave us testosterone. Testosterone can sometimes make us a little edgy. It can make us risky, but it’s who we are. We should lead thoughtfully, prayerfully, but with great courage.

We are called not to a lukewarm life but to one full of challenges and adventures. God uses the problems in our lives to make us stronger. God must think some of us are pretty strong based off of the weight of our problems. It is through our problems and challenges we live out authentic manhood, honoring God.

Embrace the challenges that come your way. Celebrate the godly men in your life. Look to God for your reward. Reject being passive. Accept responsibility and lead courageously.

Wishing You an Amazing Life,

Dr. Curtis Brown


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Dr. Curtis Brown is a family care physician in Yukon, Oklahoma, specializing in nutrition and weight loss management. He is the author of The Caleb Journey.

Not Everything Is Possible

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I had just finished a workout at Gold’s Gym and was in the locker room. They have TVs playing music videos all the time. I know they are trying to reach a much younger demographic than a guy like me, but I still don’t care for the music. (Truth be told, there isn’t much music I like.)

The lead singer (if you call that singing!) was a young skinny kid no older than seventeen. I only caught part of the lyrics, the part that is sung over and over and over. “Anything is possible/You can become anything you want.”

I know that sounds good and I am probably guilty of telling my kids those exact words, but the problem is that it’s simply not true. I will never play for the Thunder or fly to the moon. I think that would be really cool if I could, but it is simply not possible. I may want it with all of my heart and feel like it is the right thing, but it’s not happening.

This world is a wonderful place full of opportunities and options, and being born in America is a real blessing. We can try to do just about anything we want (as long as it is legal!) and our work may or may not be rewarded. While the world is wonderful, it is also wild and ruthless. Cold hard facts often shatter dreams and ambitions.

This idea of being whatever you want to be has gotten a little crazy in my opinion. Gender dysphoria and transgender issues have become a normal part of our culture. Yet, I don’t care how much you want to change your gender, you are not going to change what you are at the very basic level of your DNA. I am sorry, but if you have two X chromosomes and want a Y chromosome, you are going to have to wait for a very long time. Gene splicing is a long way from being able to do that!

This is one of those times that the world, in its wisdom, says you can become whatever you feel or desire. Our feelings can often lead us to places we really do not want to be. We may “feel” a certain way, but reality is something completely different. If we are constantly making our decisions based on feelings and we ignore reality, dreams can be shattered.

You may be able to have cosmetic surgery and change your outward appearance to try to line up with your inner feelings; but in the end, it is all cosmetic. You are not changing the real you, the way you were created.

I admit I really do not understand someone who is struggling with gender issues. I do think at its core, though, it is a common struggle. I believe inwardly we all know we do not measure up, that we are not as good as we want to be. I honestly cannot even measure up to my own standards, much less the standards that God has given us in the scriptures.

I think everyone struggles with this idea of not being good enough, at least on some level.  I believe this struggle points us to the idea of needing help. Maybe gender dysphoria is a way of looking for that help?

I believe that help is found in Christ. Without His help, I am never going to measure up to His or even my standards!

I am so grateful I do not have to depend on my abilities, my goodness. If I had to depend on my work or goodness, I could never rest. I would always be searching. The good news is we can enter into His rest and we can depend upon His work and in Him, we are good enough!

Wishing You an Amazing Life,

Dr. Curtis Brown


Giving: It Goes Both Ways

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I love this time of year. I love the cooler weather. (I can do without the ice!) I love getting to use my fireplace. I love the memories I have of being with my family around my fireplace during the Christmas season. I love the smells that come from our kitchen! There is so much to love about this time of year.

I think one of the things I love the most is giving gifts. I must confess my wife does most all of the work shopping for the gifts, but I enjoy watching others receive gifts. I really enjoy giving gifts anonymously. We have all heard it is better to give than to receive. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoying receiving too. But there is something else that happens when we give.

The root word in Hebrew for the word give is a palindrome. It’s spelled the same both ways: NaTaN. So, no matter which side of the give/receive equation you are on, the blessings just flow through. It goes both ways!

One of the spiritual truths about giving is that when we give something to someone or something, we are imparting some of our value to that person or thing. The more we give of our time or resources or even our love, the more value we are placing on that person or thing. The more we give, the more we value or love the object of our gift.

I think this is one of the main reasons God wants us to give of our “first fruits” not because He needs the gifts, but because we desperately need God to be in the center of our lives. By giving to Him, it helps us keep Him in the center of our hearts.

Here is a quick brain hack on dealing with people in your life you might find annoying. Yes, we all have them and if you don’t, you probably are that someone! But if you have someone in your life that is slightly tough to tolerate, try giving them small gifts. When they start to annoy you, just say a little prayer for them and ask God to bless them. With time, you will find your heart changing toward them. I dare you to try it for a couple of months and see what happens!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas as we celebrate the greatest Gift of all!

Dr. Curtis Brown


Dealing with Loneliness during the Holidays

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The longest night of the year is coming up soon! Dec 21st is the December solstice for us who live in the northern hemisphere.

While this coming 21st is definitely a long night, many people have long nights every night of the year. And the long nights frequently turn into long days, months, and even years. There are many people who suffer alone through long days and nights.

Loneliness seems to be increasing at a rapid rate. Maybe I am simply more aware of it and notice it more. Maybe it is all of the so-called devices that are stealing time away from people. You would think with all of the ways to connect with each other, we would be less lonely.

I do think loneliness is tough on just about anybody. If you think about Jesus who existed for eternity with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit, he suffered tremendously from loneliness when he was on the cross. It was the first time he was ever separated from God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Not only was he experiencing wrath for all of humanity’s sins, he was experiencing extreme loneliness—perhaps for the first and only time.

If you are experiencing loneliness, you are not ALONE! There are many others feeling the exact same way. It is often worse around the holidays. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. Ask them to meet you for coffee or breakfast. Join a gym or a civic club. Do something to put yourself into contact with others—physical contact not electronic!

Psalm 68:6 states, “God sets the lonely in families.” I am not sure how this worked in the Old Testament times, but today I think he places us in our church families as well as our biological families.

If you are struggling with loneliness, I would encourage you to get more involved with your church. I may not know where you go to church, but I can promise you they need more help in the children’s area! Getting more involved and being around people is very therapeutic. I believe you will get more back than you give.

We were created to be in a community. We need others around us to thrive. If you have a family member or friend you might think is lonely, drop in on them this week and say howdy!

Wishing You an Amazing Life,

Dr. Curtis Brown

Fathers: What Does It Mean to Be a Real Man?

I am writing this blog the day before Father’s Day and I have naturally been thinking about fathers. I believe one of the major reasons we live in such a great country is because of some great fathers we have had. Fathers tend to set the tone for our families and our culture. This is not to diminish anything from our mothers. There is a reason there are far more cards sold on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day!

But if we fathers are to take credit for the successes in our culture, we must also take responsibility for our problems. I believe many of our societal problems can be laid at the feet of absent fathers.

Fathering children is a full-time job that some days can simply just wear you out. One of the predominant memories I have of raising our kids (especially when they were young) is fatigue. I was constantly physically and emotionally fatigued! I understand why many men have trouble fathering. I am not excusing them, but I get it. It is hard. But I also know the rewards of sacrificially loving and providing for your family greatly outweigh any cost!

One of the most influential books I have read on fathering is by Robert Lewis, Raising a Modern-Day Knight. If you are a father of young children, I strongly encourage you to read this book. It is filled with practical wisdom for raising your children, especially your young boys. (He is also the author of a program, “The Quest for Authentic Manhood,” another strong recommendation!)

Raising your family is your primary calling in this stage of your life. If you fail at this, you will have many regrets and major disappointments. Live with no regrets.

Unfortunately, I see many men who are putting their career and even hobbies (hunting, fishing, golf, etc.) ahead of their families. They are rejecting one of the major callings in their lives or putting it down the list of their priorities. Trust me, you will have time for a career and all of your favorite hobbies when your kids are grown. Your time with them is ever so short.

Real men do not reject responsibility. Real men will take the responsibility of providing love and protection for their families. Real men will lead their families courageously. Real men will reject being passive. Real men look to God for direction and reward. Men, let’s get real!

I strongly want to encourage young fathers in our culture to stay strong. You are shaping our futures with the work and love you put into fathering and caring for your family. You will never regret sacrificing any career or financial goals for your family. Your family should be first on your list.

Stop and think about your father. What kind of relationship did you have with your dad? Most people of faith will view their heavenly Father in the same way they view their earthly Father. If you had a cold and distant dad, there will be a strong tendency for you to view our heavenly Father the same way. The opposite is also true.

I was very fortunate to have a dad who worked lots of hours but somehow managed to be there for the important times in my life. He was faithful. I could count on him. I knew he would be there for me.

Today, from a spiritual perspective, I find having faith in my heavenly Father to come easy. I have no doubts about God being there for me and even for my family. I am convinced that faith comes relatively easy for me because my dad was faithful to me and our family.

So, dads, how are you doing with this most important job in the world? Be strong and courageous! Live with no regrets, lead courageously, reject passivity, accept responsibility, and look to God for direction.

Wishing You an Amazing Life,

Dr. Curtis Brown

What Is Your Purpose in Life?

WThe most popular book in the world is The Holy Bible. It has had more copies produced than any other book. The second most published book is not even close to the Bible. The second one, however, is fairly recent. It is The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren.

Knowing one’s purpose is essential to living a fully productive life. If you do not understand why you exist, then you will have difficulty making good decisions about your future and even your present. You will be taken with the current of popular opinion and may end up in a place you do not want to be in.

Earlier in the year, we talked about what you want written on your tombstone. How do you want to be remembered? This really gets you thinking about your character and your influence. I think this is a good starting point (the end of your life) on understanding your purpose.

Everyone and everything has a purpose. Even if you do not believe in a Creator, honest people will come to the conclusion that everything has a purpose. If you really believe we evolved from some primordial mist, then the only thing that makes sense is that we evolve to a specific end or purpose. We cannot evolve, and it not serve a purpose or benefit. Everyone and everything is designed for some purpose or use. We may not understand it with our limited sight or knowledge today, but there are no accidents.

I believe we are uniquely created by a loving God and that we all have purpose or reason for existence. I believe God has created each of us to fulfill roles only we can. The roles may be similar to others, but they will be unique to each of us.

Our purpose for life may be experienced differently as we go through different stages of life or life events; but at the core, our purpose or reason for breathing stays the same throughout our life spans.

We are never too old (or too young, for that matter) not to have a purpose. Many of my geriatric patients struggle with why they are still alive. They often feel like they have completed their purpose for living. There are many reasons for this, but at its core is the belief that they are no longer contributing.

Our sense of worth often comes from our sense of how we contribute to society, especially our families. If we feel we are not contributing, then often we will feel worthless. Eventually, we feel worthless.

I was at both of my grandfathers’ deaths. I watched as they took their last breaths and watched the monitors flatline. To this day, I am still learning from them. I will compare myself to them when I am close to the end. They showed me how men end well. They never quit leading me. You are never too old or too sick not to have a purpose. You will always have a purpose as long as you have air in your lungs.

You must know what your unique purpose in life is! I want to challenge you to think about your purpose, your reason for breathing. And I want you to write it down. It does not need to be elegant or even elaborate. I think the simpler it is, the easier it is to understand and to follow.

I recently reviewed my purpose and wrote down thoughts as they came to my mind.

“I exist to glorify God in all I say and do. I do this mainly through helping others to improve their health and lives. I experience God most when I am serving His children and enjoying the outdoors. Learning is another common way I enjoy God. Therefore, I will be a lifelong learner who loves God and helps others on their journey.”

This statement is basically a filter for me when it comes to decisions about how I am to spend “my” (it is all His anyway) money and time. It is a fairly broad statement and leaves me lots of leeway, but it is still one of my first filters. The things I do and spend my time on need to fit with this in some way or fashion.

We all have a purpose and a unique design. What is yours? Don’t be shy: tell me in the comments.

Wishing You an Amazing Life,

Dr. Curtis Brown

 

A Simple Key to Happiness

Read the first three in this series:

The Most Important Thing about Trying to Lose Weight
Understand Your Why
Brain Hack for Weight Loss

Isn’t it true we all just want to be happy? Are you happy right now? Do you have healthy relationships? Are you financially ok? How is your health? Are you growing spiritually? How is your family life?

How you answer these basic questions often determines your level of happiness. I want to slow down and have you think about some really basic things I believe can increase your level of happiness.

We all have a basic understanding or belief about how life should be. We all have a blueprint, if you will, on how to build our lives. At any given moment, your sense of happiness is determined by how well your current situation measures up to your blueprint for life. Think about it for a moment. Think of the different areas in your life: financial, health, relationships, family, and spiritual. How happy are you in each of these areas? Rate yourself on a scale of 1–10. How happy are you?

Chances are if you rate yourself fairly happy, your current situation aligns well with your ideas on how your life should be. For instance, if your financial goals are to have six months of living expenses set aside for an emergency fund and you have achieved that goal, you probably have some sense of contentment. I would imagine you have other financial goals as well, but I hope you are getting the point I am trying to make.

Now if you are not happy in some areas of your life, why not? Chances are that area of your life does not match up with your blueprint. Well, why not? Do you feel loved and respected by your spouse? Are you growing spiritually? Why or why not?

Our energies flow to our focus. If you want to be happy, focus on what is important to you, your blueprint for life. If you are struggling in a certain area, it is probably because you have not been focused on that area of your life. Maybe you are a dad who is working hard providing for your family, but you are neglecting your kids and things at home are not matching up to your blueprint. Focus on the family; balance the work-family continuum. I know it is not always as easy or simple as I have made it sound. But I do know it is true: your energy will flow to your focus.

If you are not happy in an area of your life, stop for about 15 minutes today and develop a plan to change your focus. Write your plan down on paper or on your smartphone, and review it daily. It will only take a few minutes. It helps to start the time with thinking about two or three things you have to be thankful for. Develop an attitude of gratitude. In a couple of weeks, take the time and reevaluate your situation. Focus and adapt!

Now the real key to a successful life is to have a lasting blueprint for life. Make sure your foundation of your blueprint is laid on the Cornerstone.

Wishing You an Amazing Life,

Curtis Brown MD

Brain Hack for Weight Loss

Read the first two in this series:

The Most Important Thing about Trying to Lose Weight
Understand Your Why

I really believe most of us can do just about anything when we put our minds to it. Now, I am not talking about crazy things that are physically impossible like flapping our arms to land on the moon. It is a matter of focus and what we focus on.

In recent blogs, I have written about the importance of deciding to do something and then having a compelling vision of your future. This compelling vision should help you overcome in times of struggles, and the struggles always come.

Today, I want to give you a simple brain hack to help you in your struggles in the moment. But first, let’s talk about some ways to prevent getting into struggles.

Why is it we often find ourselves dwelling on the things we are trying to avoid? Adam and Eve had acres of good trees to choose from, but they seemed to focus on the forbidden fruit.

My friend Rick Thompson tells a story about teaching his young son to ride a bike. He found an open parking lot on a weekend that was huge, but it had a couple of light poles in the middle of the lot. His son kept saying he was afraid he would hit the light pole. Now, there were literally acres of parking lot free from the light poles. But what do you think happened? His son went straight for the light pole!

The truth is our energy will flow to where we focus. If you are trying to lose weight and you are constantly thinking about food, where do you think you will end up? Probably at the refrigerator or the cabinet where the chips and cookies are.

The Bible encourages us to dwell on what is good and pure and noble. Keep thinking about your preferred future. How will you feel when you drop the weight? How much more energy will you have? How will your self-image change? Write down your goals and benefits and review them daily. Get on the scale every morning and decide tomorrow will be better. Make it happen!

When you are in the moment of a struggle, and you must decide between pain versus pleasure, now versus later, what can you do to improve your odds? Most of us have patterns we have developed over the years. Our spouses and close friends can often predict how we will react to a certain situation. It is the same with temptations of all kinds. We have thought patterns that usually lead to a behavioral reaction.

The key is to interrupt the thought patterns. We have to disrupt the routines of our neuropathways. It usually takes some energy and action.

One of the things I will do is simply get up and move. Get a drink of water or take a look out of the window. Do something to change my focus.

Our energy will follow our focus. Change your focus. I heard of one guy who would pinch his nose and make a noise. It disrupted his neuropathway and changed his focus. It helps if you immediately think of something funny or otherwise good. This will start changing your neuropathways and with time, the temptation will lose its grip on you.

Decide, create vision, focus on the good!

Wishing You an Amazing Life,

Curtis Brown MD

Read Part 4: A Simple Key to Success.

 

Big Hairy Audacious Goals

Do you have a BHAG? BHAGs are Big Hairy Audacious Goals. They are something that will stretch you, challenge you, and make you get out of your comfort zone. I think they are essential for leading an amazing life!

I was in Chicago the first time I heard the term BHAG. I was listening to Bill Hybels speak at a Christian leadership conference. I’m not sure if he made up the word or if someone else did, but the word and the idea resonated with me some twenty years ago.

I try to set BHAGs for the four main areas of my life: spiritual, family, physical, and work. I think the best time to set them is usually at the first of the year or if you are going through a transition in life. I do like to review my goals every so often to see how I am progressing. I may not always reach my goals, but I usually fall forward trying!

I think having BHAGs are critical for living an amazing life. Having BIG HAIRY ADACIOUS GOALS will keep you focused and energized. I see so many people that are depressed or stressed out to the max; almost all of them do not have any direction or goals in their lives.

Having BHAGs will keep you focused outwardly (providing you set healthy goals) instead of inwardly all the time. They usually will give you a framework for making decisions. It helps you learn to say no to some opportunities that might be good but maybe not best for you. They usually make you learn a new skill or experience something in a different way.

One of my favorite memories of a BHAG was running my first marathon. I was never much of a runner and the thought of running 26.2 miles was overwhelming. With the help of some friends and encouragement from my family, I survived. I can still recall the feeling of crossing the finish line for the first time. I felt as if I could do anything that I set my mind to accomplish. I made new friends, learned a lot about myself in the process, and I am still running today.

Some BHAGs are easy to think of, while others are not so simple. I usually struggle with my spiritual ones. I think these are the hardest for me because I like to be in control. In all honesty, I don’t have a spiritual BHAG at the moment. I think spiritual BHAGs should be something big, something challenging, and something that I cannot do on my own. They should be so big, that the only way they can be accomplished is if God shows up!

So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, consider your BHAGs. (Oh, by the way, you are never too old to have BHAGs!) Do you have something in your life that is challenging you? Are you out of your comfort zone (a little anxiety can be a good thing)? Do you have something in your life that is pushing you to become better? What are your BHAGs?

Do Anxious People Live Longer?

As I write this post, we are in the heat of summer here in Oklahoma. The heat index has been setting records this week. It has ben HOT!

The heat does funny things to people. I have seen a dramatic increase in patients suffering from essentially anxiety. Generally, they do not openly say they are anxious. It is usually disguised in a somatic complaint such as chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, or shortness of breath.

Anxiety is a part of human nature. Human nature has the tendency to take a thought and go to the darkest place with it. A headache can quickly become a tumor or stroke in some people’s imagination. I am not immune to this tendency.

A few years ago, I had a spell of vertigo. Vertigo will cause you to get dizzy with just about any kind of motion. For a few moments, I was convinced that I must have had a blood clot that would eventually lead to a stroke! To say the least, I survived, and it made me slightly more sympathetic to my patients with vertigo.

In the book The Longevity Project, the authors found that having a little bit of anxiety or concern correlated to longer life. They dismissed the theory that the happy-go-lucky guy lives the longest. It seems that those who have some level of anxiety tend to make healthier choices. For example, maybe they do not take that extra drink or start smoking. They are a little more reserved with their choices.

So it would seem that a little anxiety is probably healthy for you, but too much anxiety can make you ill. I have seen people worry themselves into ulcers or heart attacks. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy.”

I think that anxiety and fear are very similar. Most anxiety is caused from fear of loss. We tend to be anxious when we fear loss of health or loss of an opportunity or loss of a relationship or loss of material things.

Some fear is healthy. For instance, fear of falling will keep most people from leaning over the edge of a tall building. Our fears do tend to set limits for us.

I have a slight fear of heights. Anything passed the second rung on the ladder is orthopedic height (you fall, you break!) for me. I will never work on a high-rise building. Fear of getting a speeding ticket and having my insurance rates go up keeps me from driving too crazy.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” My fear (or respect of God) sets limits on my choices. It keeps me from doing stupid things. It sets healthy boundaries for me. It gives me a framework from which to make choices.

Some fears can be paralyzing. These usually occur when I have high levels of anxiety, or fear of loss of something. When I drill down on this, I find when I am overly anxious, I have placed that something in the center of my heart. It consumes me and becomes a horrible master. Anything in the center of my heart other than Jesus (the fear of the Lord) will tend to lead to some level of unhealthy anxiety.

I do think having some anxiety is just part of life. If you are human, you will have some anxiety. It would seem a little anxiety might lead to a longer life. The next time you are feeling anxious, do a heart check. Make sure that you truly have Christ in the center of your heart and I believe He will give you peace that surpasses all understanding.