Failsafe: Living Secure in God’s Acceptance is a new book written by author Kenny Luck.
I caught up with Kenny recently to discuss his new book.
Frank Viola: What provoked you to write this book?
Kenny Luck: Watching the cultural attack on men, “toxic” masculinity, and male strength.Strength is not the issue. The question is: Does a man have inner character, maturity, and security guiding his strength?
When he doesn’t, you get 30-year-old 13-year-olds, 40-year-old 14-year-olds, 50-year-old 15-year-olds—men with man-sized bodies, responsibilities, and influence who are acting like junior high schoolers. In the process, women, children, and society at large suffers for their lack of maturity.
The public spectacles get all the news, but they are a reflection of deeper spiritual need—the need for worth and validation residing in every man. To this end, that worth can come from one of two places, each with their own sets of consequences and blessings: from God and his love or from culturally endorsed ways.
This is epic spiritual warfare. One source secures and matures a man;the other deepens his insecurities and immaturity. That’s why the Bible is emphatic about grasping the height, the depth, the width and the length of God’s love so that we can be strengthened with power in our inner man.
Frank Viola: What do you say to the person who is outraged and objects, “Hey Kenny, this is a book for men. What about women? Why are you leaving them out!” (I’m keenly aware that this is sort of complaint is unheard of in our day along with the outrage, but just try to stretch your imagination to envision it.)
Kenny Luck: The issue of inner emotional security and maturity is universal, and women will LOVE this book because they struggle with the exact same issue as men do. But women are not under a cultural assault as a gender, and they are also not the root cause of most visible cultural injustices.
Human trafficking is a broken male culture issue—we create the demand for that. Add to these the orphan epidemic, the breakdown of the family, domestic violence, fatherlessness, and all of the chaos and generational dysfunction connected to THAT.
At my church I tell all of our new members that one of the greatest gifts we can give our women, children, and community is a spiritually strong, relationally committed, and emotionally healthy man.I believe that, and all the research supports that.
Frank Viola: There are scores of books on the subjects of God’s love, being secure in Christ, our identity in Christ, being fully accepted in the Beloved, etc. Why add another to the mix—what’s distinct about your book?
Kenny Luck: You have made the case with your question. Tons of information out there about it. But there is a huge gap between information and the practical internalization of those truths.
There is tons of head knowledge but not much heart knowledge. How do I know that?As a mental health worker and pastor, I see that there is an epidemic of anxiety and fear abiding in and controlling people who claim to know those truths in their head but know little of it in their actual spiritual experience.
Frank Viola: What do you say to the man who says, “I know God loves me, and I don’t struggle with insecurity anymore than Matthew McConaughey does. Why do I need your book?”
Kenny Luck: It’s ironic you reference Matthew McConaughey. I have a men’s retreat video where I satirize his Lincoln commercials—one of the best bits for men I have ever done.
I work with those men every day—and the same men who say those things are failing miserably at relationships, 9/10 have issues with pornography, few are activated by that amazing love they claim to know and are risking service for others, few are generous with their time and resources for God’s purposes, and very few are taking on evil in the spaces that matter in today’s culture.
They are simply not a threat to the devil. The most secure man in God’s love was Jesus, and he appeared to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
Somehow I don’t see that same boldness that comes from living for an audience of one—secure in God’s approval and love—in any statistic related to the 700 million men in the world who claim Jesus. Not even close.
If that is true for one of your listeners, awesome. That guy should be a world changer and be making an incredible impact for God in his context. This book is for the vast and epic plurality of men struggling to move from “affiliated to Christ” to “activated for Christ” because they have been set free to love God and love people in radical ways.
Frank Viola: Anson Bench has read 52 books on God’s love. He’s memorized Romans 8 and Romans 5. Forward and backward. He knows God loves him. Recently, Jon met an older man named Paul. Paul told Jon that he received a REVELATION of God’s love that caused him to weep for days. The only way Paul could describe this revelation was that he was “drowning in a river of love.”
Although Jon understands God’s love more than most, and he confidently believes it, he’s never had a spiritual experience like Paul described. How can Jon PRACTICALLY receive this kind of revelation and experience of God’s love?
Kenny Luck: This is the crux of the issue and the best question. It is also a HUGE question. The setup here goes to a person’s emotional congruence and ability to respond emotionally when emotions are CALLED FOR.
Jon represents the majority of believers. Let’s be super clear: I don’t know Jon. I don’t know Paul either. But I do know that God wants Paul’s experience for Jon. When I hear the apostle Paul talk to the Ephesian Christians he desperately prays for them to have Paul’s exact experience, which—we should note—makes that experience available for all of us. But they are a community of Jons!
But PRACTICALLY RECEIVING THIS KIND OF REVELATION AND EXPERIENCE OF GOD’S LOVE comes from our ability to connect with the truth of God’s love personally and emotionally as well as intellectually and mentally. Think about stuff you take personally—stuff that boils your blood, breaks your heart, or makes the tears flow—stuff that breaks you down.
Watching a soldier surprise his kid after a long deployment.Someone who travels long distances and makes great sacrifices to get to ones they love. Someone who sacrifices their own agenda and resources so that YOU can experience something deeply hoped for or realize a major milestone. When that happens we cry because it is a personal moment and it is emotionally congruent for us to cry when witnessing authentic care and love.
Being fully accepted and fully loved in any meaningful relationship is as personal and emotional as it gets—most powerfully by God—but there are emotional blockages to us feeling.
There are traumas, losses, wounds, pains that happen in our formation that serve to block us from being able to feel deeply. We recognize loving actions toward us, but some experiences we have had inhibited our ability to congruently feel those things.
That is my story.I am a survivor of an abusive and alcoholic home.I had to see, identify, and personally recognize how that experience shaped ANY relationship I have. I had learned how to not feel in that environment.
Feelings were never probed or acknowledged in our home.I had to learn how to do that literally by training myself to recognize situations and actions that call for the congruent response of emotion.Some traumas and experiences inhibit our ability to “open the soul” and have to be worked through.
The personal act of love by Christ is sufficient to produce a personal experience of love by Christ. Bridging the gap from knowing about it to actually knowing it in experience involves understanding how you perceive, filter, and internalize acts of kindness on your behalf. Assigning proportional emotional gravity to the enormity of God’s act of love is a function of the head permitting or the head getting in the way of the heart.
There is an actual medical condition called alexithymia that describes this separation of head and heart.
I would say to Jon that if he hasn’t connected to God’s love emotionally, there is a reason—and I believe that reason is easily identifiable in most men. A simple probing of his story, family of origin, and formational attachments will serve to identify the root causes of that blockage and help him understand it, and God’s love and acceptance will help him risk new emotional courage.
Bottom line: get to the root of that blockage.
God says our spirit of sonship is emotional (we cry out Abba), intellectual (we know), and spiritual (his Spirit bears witness with our own).
Frank Viola: You have a chapter on security. What PRACTICAL ACTION-STEPS can you give a young man in his 20s who struggles with insecurity? Beyond reading that God loves him and that he’s secure in Christ, what can he do to practically experience these truths where they are realities in his life?
Kenny Luck: Security is directly linked to identity.This is THE question.How do you answer the question “Who am I?” If you can’t confidently answer that question you will lack inner confidence–period. Do I believe I am made by God? Loved by God? Made for God? And—one day—will go to God?
If you do, SPEAK it over yourself and let God speak it over you as He did at Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3 and again in Matthew 14.
Speak with your own mouth God’s declarations of love.This practice is an identity enforcer and reinforcer. We speak it because it is true, not because we always feel it.
To this end, trust feeling less and what God says more. Lastly, as far as “experiencing” security, I always advise young men to get into community because it amplifies and magnifies identity. Being in community with other young men of God models and fosters identity.
Frank Viola: Besides the obvious things like sin, what are some of the little-known blocks to experiencing and knowing God’s love, being fully accepted,and living secure?
Some “red flags” for me would be:
Kenny Luck: Worry is normal. Every man worries about something.But worrying about everything because you are not sure if events will unfold in your favor is a red flag. Abiding anxiety sends a message to God that the future needs to be under your control, and that sabotages a relationship with God.
Restlessness characterizes your life. You can’t get comfortable. You long for constancy but you live in a state of temporary. Fear’s solution to restlessness is to pursue the next thing. This will pollute your sense of God’s loving sovereignty.
Hating conflict of any kind and fearing disappointing people.When you are always playing to the opinions of people, it is impossible to rest in the safety of God’s love.
Frank Viola: I didn’t see an acknowledgments page in your book. So who were the key influencers on the content, helping you to discover the truths that you’ve written about?
Kenny Luck: Key mentors in my process are Milan Yerkovich (a counselor) and Brennan Manning’s books (Ragamuffin Gospel and Abba’s Child). The main tutor in this journey has been God himself through the Holy Spirit reminding me of the permanence of His commitment and love in Scripture and how nothing can separate me from it.Learning and re-learning it over the course of 39 years walking with Jesus.
About the Author
Kenny Luck founded Every Man Ministries (EMM) in 2000 to revolutionize men’s ministry, free men spiritually, and ignite spiritual health worldwide. He is currently the leadership pastor at Crossline Church in Laguna Hills, California. Prior to serving at Crossline, he was the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, from 1997 to 2014.
Media Center link:where you can download pr assets like author image, book cover image, media alert, interview questions