Monday, May 16, 2016
Drop the mask and get real
It’s easy to imagine high-powered executives and egotistical politicians having hidden agendas. What may not be so simple to accept is that deep down, all have a secret plan for getting themselves from where they are to where they want to be. As author and radio host Steve Brown has written in Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart (New Growth Press/May 16, 2016/ISBN: 978-1942572657/ $17.99), people, especially Christians, wear disguises to make it easier to accomplish these concealed plans. These masks might be religion, appearance or power, and the pressure of keeping it all together can be overwhelming. For most, though, it will be a cold day in a hot place before they are fully honest with anyone else about their fears, struggles and sins.
Why do Christians do this? While they may begin their walk with Christ basking in the light of forgiveness and redemption, they soon feel the sting of judgment when they fall short, whether from their own guilt or the criticism of others. As a survival mechanism, they hide their failings to avoid pain and accomplish their personal goals, lying to themselves, others and even God.
Brown knows how they feel. After serving 25 years as a senior pastor, he resigned his post at his church, feeling crushed by the weight of the pressures he had created in his life. Since those difficult days, he’s learned there is so much more to living than hiding, pretending and never being loved. “We’re all phony, ashamed, guilty and afraid,” Brown writes. “It’s killing us and hurting those we love.” Inspired by his experience, Brown invites readers to move beyond hiding to finding the courage to get real.
In Hidden Agendas, Brown explains “being real” starts first and foremost with their relationship with their heavenly father. After all, God already knows his children inside and out, and his unconditional love is the true reason they can live without fear of rejection or judgment. “It does no good to tell God you’re sick when you’re drunk, you love him when you don’t or you didn’t steal and eat an apple when you have apple juice dripping down your chin,” Brown says. “God always recognizes and loves the ‘you’ behind the mask.” Readers will learn that once they grasp the true nature of the forgiveness and grace God offers their sinful selves, they will finally be able to drop their masks and live in freedom and honesty with others.
Hidden Agendas is easy to read and perfect for either individual or small-group use with its chapter-by-chapter questions for reflection. Raw and real, this book forces readers to confront the ugly truth of the conscious and subconscious deceptions they practice and the dangerous behaviors that can sabotage any real chance for authentic, loving relationships.
With his characteristic dry wit and good humor, Brown calls readers of Hidden Agendas to embrace God’s shocking grace and live freely and courageously in the truth about ourselves and others.
About the author
Brown has a B.A. in philosophy and religion from High Point College and an S.T.B. degree from Boston University School of Theology. He is a visiting professor of practical theology at Knox Theological Seminary and at Westminster Theological Seminary. Brown is also an in-demand speaker and the author of numerous books, including A Scandalous Freedom, How to Talk So People Will Listen and Approaching God. His articles have also appeared in many top Christian publications.
Additionally, Brown is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Religious Broadcasters and a current member of the Board of Harvest, USA.
With such varied experience, Brown refuses to be a “guru,” doesn’t want to be anyone’s mother and gives, in his teaching, the freedom to think. He lives in Florida with his wife, Anna. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.