Author Archives: Richard Clinton

About Richard Clinton

My name is Richard Clinton. I began a journey of learning about God in 2011, but did not fully surrender to Christ until January 2015. I began this blog in 2012 and it has evolved continually since then as my faith has evolved and grown and I’ve walked closer with God. My writing is through this page comes in a desire to seek the lost and provide inspiration through the Four Streams that are brought out in John Eldredge’s book, “Waking The Dead.”. As John laid out in his book, the Four Streams derive from the Four Streams through which Christ offered life in Discipleship, Counseling, Healing, and Warfare. I will continue writing in these areas of our faith and life. On the personal side, I reside in Georgia and I am married to my beautiful wife Amber and together we have 3 awesome kids. My life is all about my family and providing the best I can for them and also being there for each of them. 4 Stream Living came about as I was walking closer with God and I felt His Spirit calling me to do more with my life. I knew I was thirsty for more and God had a calling for me. I have spent my entire working life building a career in the corporate world toward what would be deemed as success. I was fully self focused on worldly successes. Standing on a mountain top in Colorado in January 2015, I completely surrendered my life to Christ and God has completely transformed my life. It has reflected in my writing and God has led me to awaken the desire to seek the lost through my writing and through counseling ministry, which I am now schooling for. Irenaeus declared that “The glory of God is man fully alive.” I am now coming alive as I have declared to live the unscripted life to follow God and live for Christ NO MATTER THE COST.

Seeking More of God

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. Psalm 42:1.

There’s been a lot going on of late.  A lot of busyness, a lot of struggle, a lot of suffering.  A lot.  It seems that everywhere we turn, we have friends that are getting knocked down in one way or another.  At the end of last week, we hit a big challenge, as the transmission of my truck, which I depend on for quite a bit, decided that after 260K miles, it was done.  Not something I was prepared for at all.  Of course, the immediate reaction is anger and frustration.  “I need my truck. I can’t have my truck out of commission.”

After that initial frustration, a sense of clarity hit me, I can either be angry about it, stress out and let my joy fade away, or I can turn to the Lord and just seek His face through it all.  That’s been the exercise.  Seeking God, seeking His love, His guidance, and even His provision.  I know, that no matter the outcome with this truck, He will lead me through it, if I put my full trust in Him.

Through this, the struggle of others, and in things I’ve been reading and hearing, a great theme has been emerging.  In this year of growing deeper intimacy with God, He is showing me that what He desires is for us to seek more of Him.  More of God, which, as Michael Thompson writes, leads to more life and more freedom.

946400I’m processing through a book by Larry Crabb called, “66 Love Letters.”  Crabb provides an in depth and honest look at the 66 books of the Bible, wrestling with his own thoughts and questions about what each book is saying.  My church family is going through this book as a teaching series through the end of the year.  Very much recommend.

Anyway, I was processing this morning and something Crabb wrote while looking the the book of Joshua stuck out. He said, “Invite Christians to live for Jesus and imply that the Christian life is all about blessings, about entering a land filled with milk and honey with no real battles, and they’ll all come forward. Churches that never deal with the real fight that following My Son requires often grow large but mostly with small Christians.”  This made it obvious to me, which I already knew, that the life with Christ, on this side of eternity, is not all sunshine and roses.  It is a real battle, and we will continue to face challenge after challenge throughout out lives.

So in pondering that, I began to think about this life with God and what it means to seek after the more; to seek more of God.  Jesus says in John 10:10 that “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” So many of us look at that quote and think that with Jesus we will have an abundant and easy life.  That things will get better and better and easier and easier.  If you’ve been truly walking with God for any amount of time, you will know that this is not the case at all.

Jesus is showing us something here.  That there is the hope of life that that comes from choosing to follow Him.  He knows very well, however, that until his return and the restoration of all things, that this life, on this side of eternity, will be filled with tragedy and heartache.  We’re not immune to it as Christians.  But in that, is the choice on how we will decide to live. We can either sulk in our misery and allow circumstances and difficulties to keep us in stable misery, or we can choose to seek more of God through it all and not allow the struggle to rob us of the hope and joy that comes from the life with God.

51s-i80mvslI firmly believe, that with each difficulty and trial we face, God is presenting a training opportunity to us.  An opportunity to train and grow and be sanctified to be more and more like Christ.  That’s what He is after.  Training us up to seek and receive the abundant life that comes only through Christ.  The abundant and free life on this side of eternity, is a life where we can rest in our identity as sons and daughters and of the King and believes firmly and has great joy in the hope and promises of God.

Michael Thompson wrote that, “Until the day when we finally see Jesus face-to-face, we follow Him heart-to-heart an, in the process, receive the training He provides.  Joining Him in seeing others’ glory reclaimed and restored.”  In essence we are still in training.  We are still being made whole and holy.

525724In Free to Live, John Eldredge writes, “We get to live His life – that is, live each day by the power of of His life within us. That’s the hope: you get to live that life. “But there is a reality of being in which all things are easy and plain,” wrote George MacDonald, “oneness, that is, with the Lord of life.” He makes us whole by making us holy. He makes us holy by making us whole.”

Seeking more of God is, in part, resting in the knowledge that, in this life we will have trials and struggles, but we have a great hope in Christ, so choosing to live and rest in that hope, enables us to not be tied up in the bonds that come from this world.  We can be free and as we are told, we can be “anxious for nothing.”

So my challenge today for myself and you is think about what it means to seek more of God.  Where in your life are not seeking Him more and where are you allowing temporal circumstances to have the say and rob you of your joy and hope.  That’s not the life God has for us.  There is a great hope and joy in Him and in the life to come.  What we see here is temporary and an opportunity to seek Him more.

Choose to seek more of God.

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See and Don’t Be Anxious

A few months ago, my Bride and I rented a cabin the mountains of North Georgia for the weekend and got away for a few days.  It was a much needed break as we were fixing to enter a very busy season.  There was so much joy in the weekend.  First, to just have time away with Amber was nothing but good.  It’s something that we are trying to make a more intentional part of our marriage as our kids are now older.

While we were there, we did something that seemed so new to us, but was a very good thing.  We took time to talk together and talk with God, before we arrived, and then while we were there, just to ponder what we see for our family in the coming year.  What are some of our hopes and dreams and what areas of our life do we feel like we need to focus heavier in prayer for ourselves and our kids.  It was frontier territory for us, but got us to begin thinking about things a little differently.  This is something that we have felt God really growing us in of late.  What is the frontier?  How do we stretch ourselves and grow.

While we were in this cabin, we made a cool find.  Tied up with a small band, were 3 Devotionalsbooks.  Each one was an old one year devotional from the early 20th century.  They were title God’s Minute, God’s Purpose, and God’s Message.  They were sitting on the lower shelf of a lamp stand and more so for decoration than anything.  How often do guests pick up and read those books?  Who knows.

We took some time to begin reviewing through some of the devotionals.  Such rich writing, with each day written by someone different.  We got such a kick out of those books.

Then we turned to the devotional for that particular day, March 8th, which was written by Rev. William P. Merrill.  A turn of the century Presbyterian minister.  While the date of this message was actually written is shown, based on Rev Merrill’s life, it would likely have been somewhere between the the 1910s and 1940s between the World Wars and the Great Depression.

Anyone reading this message would note, however, that it still applies today.  He starts with quoting Jesus in Matthew 24:6, “See that ye be not troubled” (KJV).  From the ESV, “See that you are not alarmed.”  If you read the full passage, you will see Jesus talking about hearing of wars and rumors of wars, and the things that must take place near the end of the age.  Merrill quotes from Robert Browning’s interpretation as, “Trust God; see all, nor be afraid.

Merrill talks about this being good counsel for anxious times.  To quote what he wrote:

“Good counsel for anxious times! We need it now, and always. 
Some see the disquieting conditions and are alarmed. They lose heart, and give up the fight. Others keep their peace of mind by refusing to face the truth…We are living in a disturbed age. Many are fearful and anxious. The Master is calling for many followers who can face the facts without fear, because deep in their hearts is the grace of a living faith, so that they can “see all, and not be afraid.”

Just ponder that and think about it.  How much do we spend of our time worrying and being anxious about one thing or another.  We know we live in desperate times.  There is so much suffering and struggle going on all around us.  People have lost sight of real joy and are too wrapped up in unimportant things.  We worry about everything.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 to not be anxious  Do not worry.  Paul writes in Philippians 4 to “Be anxious for nothing.”  Despite all of this knowledge that, Christ, we are supposed to be free, we can’t experience real freedom, because we still let the worries of this world bog us down.  Just think of the type of freedom that can come when we stop letting the most unimportant things keep us bogged down and worried and anxious.

As Rev. Merrill wrote that Jesus is calling on followers who can rise above of all of that, see that struggle and suffering that is right in front of us, but are not afraid because of the love, joy, and peace that is found in Jesus Christ.  There’s no need to worry, ever.

I write this, not just to those of you reading this, but to myself.  I’d be lying if I said I never worried.  I’m just as guilty as anyone in different situations.  However, when I get reminded in some way of what Jesus said and what Paul wrote and to add on to Philippians 4 that rather than being anxious, “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, “ I remember to turn to Jesus in that moment and cast my worries and anxiousness toward Him.

My challenge to you is this.  Spend some time to think about and even write down the things that have you most worried and anxious right now.  Spend time with God and talk to Him about that.  Is that thing, in the grand scheme of God’s Larger Story, really something to get all knotted up for?  Begin to pray to renounce any any agreements made with that worry and invite Jesus in.

The enemy wants to keep you in the bondage of worry and anxiousness.  All that does is keep you in a state of uncertainty, within yourself, of whether you can truly trust what God has already said and promised.  There’s is so much hope ahead for us who are in Christ, should we choose to take the narrow road and follow.  Part of following is letting go of the extra weight, such as worry, doubt, and fear.  Think of it as going on a long hike down difficult trail.  You only carry what is needed.  The unneeded stuff you shed and don’t carry.  Same here.  Don’t carry the unneeded burdens.

I was so thankful to see these devotionals.  This particular writing was so timely.  Look forward to returning to this cabin to dive in a little more.

The Introverted Extrovert – What is that?

So, I was just going back through some of my posts from years past.  It’s always cool to see where my thoughts have been and the growth in the way I’ve been able to see things as I’ve ventured into the more with God.  So as I was reading, something struck me.  That is just how God has shifted my overall personality as I ventured along with Him.  It’s even more striking to be on the outside and watch the same thing happen with my Bride, Amber, and even with our kids.  While there is still a great deal of growth to go, I can honestly say, that we have been radically transformed over the last few years in so many ways.

I’m going to get this out of the way and some of our friends laugh, now, when we say this.  Mainly because, they didn’t know us before.  We have been “naturally” introverted people for most of our lives.  That’s a big part of the story we share.  That being, how when we got married at the age of 18, we circled the wagons, if you will, of our household, and more so, as we had children.  Life became about just our family.  We, more so, I, didn’t hold deep and close personal relationships with people.

As I started my career, I was the quiet and reserved guy.  I spoke only when I felt I needed to, but most of the time, I sat and listened, and pondered.  In my false-self, I was very passive and was not one to take risks or put myself out there.  There was a huge insecurity of who I was and where I was going.  So I put my head down, and barreled forward in my work and and household.  I remember distinctly, about 5 months before I came to full faith in Christ, someone telling me that I was very hard to read.  I was very unsure and very indecisive.

FB_IMG_1422913518795So fast-forward 5 months.  As the story goes, I am ambushed by the Holy Spirit and for the first time in my life, I am overwhelmed with God’s love and I just feel His presence overtake me.  As I’ve written before, my life was never the same after that trip to Colorado, to the Wild at Heart Boot Camp.

From there, I began to truly embrace who I was and my identity as a beloved son of the Father.  I was radically different.  My style of relating began to shift.  I didn’t even know it was happening at the time, but I can definitely see, looking back over the last 4 years.  Over the next few years, I felt a stronger and stronger push to take the message of Wild at Heart to the my world and larger way.  At first, I thought, I’ll just write about it.  That’s what I did right out of the gate.  I wrote on this site like crazy.  A minimum of 3 posts per week.  It was so wild, that I was way head of schedule and would have things written and scheduled out weeks in advance.

So then, I get called deeper again.  I can sense God’s pull to do more.  Teach this to men.  Lead men.  “Okay.  Me? I’m the guy who couldn’t stop sweating once you put me in front of a group of people.  Are you sure, God?”  It was, once again, a call that I could not ignore.  I just had no earthly idea how I was going to pull this off.  More time diving closer to God.  More deep prayer and contemplation.  Okay, we’re going forward.

2017, the Anvil Men’s Boot Camp is born.  We hold our first weekend in the Spring of thatIMG950703.jpg year as nearly 20 men venture into the mountains.  God grew me and the team up right out of the gate, reminding us that he was in charge.  Spearheading the weekend, I teach most of the sessions that we hold.  Oh boy, you want to talk about feeling unqualified, that was an understatement.  But the Lord was faithful and it went through.

We are now planning our 4th Boot Camp weekend for this Fall.  It’s been wild to see the way God has used this weekend, transformed lives, and continued to train and grow me and my heart.  This year, my Bride responded and with a group of ladies lead a similar type weekend for women.  They invited me to come speak to the ladies one evening on the hearts of men.  You want to talk about stepping waaaaay outside my comfort zone.  Leading and teaching men was one thing.  This was a whole new area.FB_IMG_1528308032913.jpg  It, however, turned out to be a great evening, with some honest talk, some laughs, and some deep prayer and contemplation.

I look at Amber, who has come alive is ways I never thought possible and the way she has stepped up as a leader.  It’s been such a cool thing to watch.  If any you thought I was reserved in the past, she was definitely there too, if not more than I was.  Being a stay-at-home mom for many years and the way we circled the wagons of our home, she was very comfortable being disconnected.

So I share all of this to make a simple observation.  Thinking about what my friend and pastor said some months back.  Paraphrasing, he said, I do not know how someone can claim to be follower of Jesus and sit and do nothing.  I’ve learned and realized, that a real life in Christ definitely pulls the extrovert out of you.  It’s something that is just inevitable.  I’ve witnessed it in my own life.  When we become obedient to the Lord and choose Him first, He pulls us to places we never thought possible, all in a matter of growing and stretching us and then enabling us to be able to fight for the hearts of others.

Someone may have coined this already, I don’t care.  It’s relevant to us, so I am going to use it.  Being still, fairly monastic people, who love our solitude and time with each other and with the Lord, there is an introverted side.  However, choosing to engage, there is way less of that, so we are, what I will call, Introvertedly Extroverted.

It’s a fun life to live, choosing to follow the narrow road with God, and being obedient to what He puts in our path.  We can relate in various ways now.  We move away when we need our time with each other and our time with God, we move toward others when it comes to walking closely with others, and we move against we need to step into the next battle for the Kingdom.

I think it’s impossible to stay to yourself when you truly engage in the Kingdom.  Fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples and then training them in the ways of the Kingdom, as we are ALL called to do, requires that we engage.  So what are you doing?

 

A Beautiful Struggle for the More

There’s a saying that we have within my church community where we want people to be able to “struggle well” in their life with God.  None of us are blind to the fact that this life is filled with obstacles and difficulties that come our way.  Because of the battles we face and all the obstacles in our way, we have to be alert and aware of them.  We are warned to stay alert.  Warfare and attack is a very real thing that is in front of those that choose to walk with God.  The Enemy is always out to take us out in someway to get us to not trust the heart of God and choose our false-self.  This is reality, this is fact.

Now, that being said, John Eldredge and the Ransomed Heart team, recently put out a podcast series they called “What’s Going On?” (Click here to go their Podcast page) They opened up something to me that was frontier to me and yet, also was right in front of me and but I never could name it.  To give a quick summary, the thought is that all of the struggles that we all face as believers quite possibly, something more than we think.  Often times, the quick answer for a believer is, this is warfare.  This is spiritual attack.

The conversation in this podcast, however, opened my eyes to something.  That is the idea and belief that many of the struggles we face is God pressing on the accelerator, if you will, to grow us and train us.  That God is hastening our spiritual growth and maturity and uses the struggles and battles for that purpose.  This really got me thinking to all of the things so many of those around me are facing and the struggles I have personally faced.  Then when I look back, I can see how growth has happened as a result.20180718_113930_0001.png

So think about this.  Think about the things you’re facing right now.  What do you think God is doing in that?  Can you see how He is actually trying to grow and mature you?  In the book I’m currently reading, The Heart of a Warrior by Michael Thompson, he talks about the God training us up as warriors into a deeper life with Him.  So in reading that and listening to this conversation, this idea of training keeps resurfacing.  I think there’s something to this.

Let’s take a look at Scripture.  All through the Bible you see training taking place.  Look at the life of Paul.  Following his conversion, he is put through the ringer all in the process of growing more Christ like and ready to reach more and more of the the Gentile world with the Gospel.  Richard Rohr paraphrase what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12-13.  We all know verse 13, which is often quoted, “I can do all things in Christ, who gives me strength.

Richard Rohr’s paraphrase goes as follows, “Now that I have been through my initiation, I am ready. For anything. Anywhere.”  Paul when through significant initiation.  He was shipwrecked, stoned, jailed, and so much more.  All of his struggles were a beautiful part of his growth and initiation.

Today, we are faced with a great deal of struggle and suffering in our lives from number of angles.  In our careers, our family lives, with friends, the loss of loved ones, and so much more.  I want you to do some introspective in your life and look at some of your toughest battles.  Things that seemed to derail you in the moment.  Then look at how you may have grown from that situation.  Ask God to show you what He was or is doing in that?

1Timothy4-8There’s no doubt that the enemy is waiting for his next opportunity to pounce.  When trouble comes, that is the moment of testing of whether we will press further into God or open the doorway for greater destruction.  So take some time to think about this, in your own life.  The with God life brings with it, so much beauty and at the same time there is still a great deal of struggle in it.   But the struggle is beautiful when we allow it to lead to a deeper life with God.

As we are warned, watch-out and be alert.  Also, learn at the same time, what God may be up to when he allows the difficulty and trials to come.  Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:8, ““Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”  Remember that God is still training us.  We’re not finished yet.  This training takes a lifetime, but the hope and glory beyond that in the Kingdom is going to be well worth it.

Is This About Me?

There’s no doubt and no denying that we are in a self-driven culture.  A self-sufficient, self-reliant culture.  This life, each and every day, tells us to figure what I can do, to make life work for me.  Achieve success.  Achieve, win, go faster, be on top.  You get the idea.  Living and working in two different worlds has led me to learn that it does not matter what line of work we are in or what, the self, the ego, if you will, is always right there to give us a nudge and push us along.

Over the past couple of years, I have been blessed to begin counseling with individuals and couples and also to work with a solid team of to host men’s ministry weekends or boot camps as we have called them.  While it has been hard burning the candle at both ends, maintaining my long-term work in the process, it has been some very fruitful and fulfilling work to see individuals and families transformed come alive in a variety of ways.

In the midst of it all, however, I always think back to the first night of our first boot camp.  We didn’t know what we were doing.  We had a plan, felt led by the Spirit, and were going to execute it as best we could.  That first night and the next morning, however, events happened, that God used to tell me, “When are you going to remember that I am in control?”  It was as clear as can be.  We prayed through that and allowed God to take more and more control, which was the best thing we could have done.

Now fast-forward.  We’ve held 3 weekends, my wife helped lead a weekend for women, and we are planning our fourth men’s weekend this Fall.  What has been very obvious is the ministry that has sort of morphed out of all of this and the thoughts for continued growth that has come from all of this.  We are in the planning the stages of something new to be birthed and will be so pumped to share about it as it all comes together.

20180716_114333_0001.pngAs I think about it this, I guess I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself, just as much as it is for all of you.  This is not about me or any of you.  This life is not about us.  It is about God, as the author, creator, and perfecter of our story and lives, through Jesus Christ.  Every morning, as a part of my prayer, I pray that God helps me to remember that this is all about Him and not about me, that He is the Hero of this story and that I belong to Him.

So, I started this post, but talking about the self-fulfilling culture we live in.  I was led to Galatians 5:16, where Paul writes (out of The Message), “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.  Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.” He goes on to write, “For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.”

AllThingsNewLearning from this is very important for all of us. God places desires in our heart for living, but those desires from Him are out of desire to live a life with God.  When we go to try to make life work on our own, pursuing self-fulfilling desires that are driven by the false-self, we will be derailed and life cannot be found there.  John Eldredge wrote, “Faith looks back and draws courage; hope looks ahead, and keeps desire alive.”

So what are you looking to.  What are the ambitions that drive you ahead?  Is it purely out of what this life will bring you, or do you look ahead to the hope that is head by pursing the Great Adventure with God?  Do you seek His will or your own?  As Paul write, the free spirit, which we have in Christ is at odds with self-interest or the false-self.

The false-self says, how can I make life work for me.  The true-self or the free spirit as Peterson put it, seeks and desires the ultimate life, that comes only with God and through Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 4 to put off our old-self, our sinful and false nature (this is the nature that is self-driven) and put on our new nature, our true-self, that is created to be like God, truly holy and righteous.

We have a great hope that lies ahead with the coming of Christ and restoration of all things.  I urge you brothers and sisters, do not spend your life trying to make life work for just yourself.  There is no life to be found there.  This is not about us.  It is about God first.  Choose a life with Him.  Don’t be so short sighted to strive for the worlds standards or your own standards of success.  You will miss the mark big time.

Align yourself with God and allow the Holy Spirit to overwhelm you and lead you in the way you should go.  God is trying to grow us and train us in this life in order to perfect us for His Kingdom.  Choose the, with God, life.

Choosing to be Fathered

As I’ve said before, the word God had for me this year was, intimacy.  Choosing to take the year and learn what it looks like to walk closer to God and learning to keep margin in my life so that this intimacy can be intentionally cultivated. So God’s been bringing back to something significant in the past weeks.  The idea of being Fathered or Sonship.  My sonshipbuddy, Chris, brought this up recently in going back through some teachings we’ve both been under about reorienting to God as Father.  I’ve brought a version of this teaching to the Boot Camps I’ve been blessed to lead over the last year.

Tonight, I’m sitting in a hotel room, and after I finished dinner, I decided to punch up a session taught by Morgan Snyder of Ransomed Heart.  I’ve heard this teaching before live and online and as I’ve mentioned, it is a part of what I teach now.  But something clicked this evening as I began to listen to Morgan again.  A couple of questions.  What places in my heart have I still not allowed God to Father in me? Where have I been Fathered and not even realized in?

I’ve overlooked this before, but part of the session, Morgan talks about the different people that God has used to Father him in recent years.  I started reflecting.  At the Anvil Boot Camp, I share some of Sonship and how God is trying to reorient us back to Him as Father. That this has always been his intention.  But have I really stopped to think about the varying ways that God has Fathered me?

When I think on this question, I see the answer immediately. No I have not and I have not fully appreciated this.  God will choose to Father us in some many ways and through so many different people.  After my dad died in 2009, I spent the next few years in a wandering daze.  I fell under bad kings and listened to bad advice.  I also tried to figure out life on my own, without God and without anyone else.  I lived in isolation. John Eldredge says something very profound in Wild at Heart.  “The world is rigged in a way that it does not work apart from God.”  I didn’t know this yet.

I’ve shared before a dream I had of my dad, about 6 months after his death, while my oldest son was in the hospital.  He met me in my office building, actually almost exactly 8 years ago this week, and through his arms around me and said he was going to help get rid of the devil in me. Very vivid dream.  Made me recall William Wallace in Braveheart when he sees his father after he is killed, tell him that his heart is free and not be be afraid to live by it.  I always looked to this dream as the start of something, although it took a few more years.41ebvat8gvl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

The first fathering began through a man named Tim.  This man is now my friend and pastor.  Actually, almost like a big brother.  He helped, although I didn’t realize it, though small conversations around baseball, to steer me in a new direction. The next most unlikely fathering, actually came through a lady that I worked with. Her name was KC and God put an urge in heart heart to give a book.  This book was Wild at Heart.  It sat on my desk for nearly 18 months before I read it, but I know God used that moment to continue Fathering me, and leading me back to Him.  Because of that moment, a ripple effect has taken place that continues to today.  My friend Steve reflected on it and shared this after we finished our 3rd Boot Camp this past weekend.  “All of the miracles coming out, simply due to someone caring enough about a friend, and giving that friend a book to read.”  It’s rather amazing to seek how Abba works.

nothinglost_bgsknifeOver the years since then, radical transformation began.  God placed other men in my life to help guide me.  Tim and I grew a closer friendship, other brothers have been used including Butch, Steve, and others, and thenguys like John Eldredge, Morgan Snyder, and a gentleman named Mark Woods became men that were also used to Father me from a distance. It’s kind of wild to think about, when we choose to allow God to Father us in whatever way he deems is needed, the change and transformation that happens over time will be tremendous.  God has even Fathered me through a knife that I had lost, when a new one arrived in the mail 6 months later.

As I reflect on this idea of being Fathered by God in radical a new ways, I realize that this is all a part of this growth in intimacy with Him.  Resting on that and resting in my identity as a son through Jesus Christ bring with it deeper and deeper meaning.  So think about this today, in your own life.  Have you felt unfathered in some areas, skewing your idea and view of God as Father?  If so, where?  Then think about what ways and through who God has already been trying to Father you and have been receptive of it.

It’s something we must choose.  The Fathering does not come forced.  God wants us to choose Him, but we must begin to change our perspective.  Will you choose to be Fathered?

Taking the Winding and Narrow Road

Over the last 6 months, I’ve ventured back into the world of running. I could probably , over the last 20 years, count on one hand, how many times I had ran up to a mile. I began the journey to get healthier in 2013, along with my wife and last fall, decided to kick it up a notch, challenging myself to train for and compete in a Spartan race. Needless to say, it has been quite a journey. It’s been exciting to see the progression. In September, I could barely do a mile and now, 6 months later, I am pushing between 4 and 5 miles. I don’t particularly like running, but I can’t be mad at the progression.

One of my favorite things so far, is hitting the trails at a local park. They have paved and dirt trails, that give a nice challenge and are also quite scenic. Never run through, without seeing a family of white tail deer watch me run by. It’s a beautiful time to be in some solitude and push the body a little bit more and more each time around. To share some of my routine, on Mondays, I usually do some interval runs through my neighborhood. It’s very hilly and definitely good training, which as prepared for the longer trail runs later in the week.

So last week, I decided to change my Monday up a little. I ran out of my neighborhood, onto the main road and planned to do a little more of a distance run. When you get out of my neighborhood, it is less hilly and windy, and more long and flat stretches. Being the first time, I found this run more challenging, and by 2 miles, I found myself walking again for a bit.

WideRoad

I was bummed at myself afterwards, but then a thought begin to fill my mind. That particular run is the perfect metaphor for the life away from God, when we choose the world first. It was wide open, I could see for quite a ways, and while running it felt like a hopeless effort to get to the goal. I then started getting flashes to my first real encounter with God, when I came to know Christ. He showed me that my life had been just that. Wide and open and easy. Easy in the sense, that there was no risk, and I could always see ahead of me, striving for a goal that only found significance in this life and it was empty.

It was in this moment that God showed me that, if I would trust Him, the road he would take me down from there would be narrower and very windy. I would never see around the next bend, but He would always be there with me and ahead of me. This run was the perfect reminder of that moment and reflection of my life before I met Christ verses after. Maybe that’s a part of the reason I like the trail runs better.

God then reminded me of two very significant verse in Matthew. Jesus says:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14 (AMP)

What a significant reminder this was to me. The “with God life,” as Dallas Willard calls it, is a narrow and windy road. It is one that is difficult to travel, but the fruit and results of choosing this narrow road are very rewarding, eternally. Unfortunately, only a few choose to enter this narrow gate and take the difficult path.

In actuality, though, it shouldn’t be difficult. Because of our false-self, and because of the decision we make through that, we make the road harder and harder. We have world in our ear, we have the enemy out to sabotage us, and we are tempted to gravitate toward the less wild lovers that we find false significance and validation in. We want the easy road. We want the shortcuts. In our culture now, we want everything quicker and simpler.

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Fortunately, I won’t say unfortunately…Fortunately, for us, God does not work that way. He is trying to constantly slow us down get us to turn our hearts and minds towards Him. In order for our continued restoration to happen, until the day that we step into eternity, there will be many turns and hills and obstacles to move through and around. Choosing this path with God, will be the best decision you could ever make.

I don’t say this lightly. I’ve been on both sides of this, but I have seen some amazing things, since I chose to let go and allow Jesus to do what He needs to do in my heart, which has. in turn, caused a major ripple that has impacted my family and so many others. It’s pretty cool to see that happen.

So my challenge to you today. Take the narrow and winding road with God. It’s a journey that only a few take, just as Jesus said. Be one of those few. He’s showing you the Kingdom. Take up the challenge and choose the narrow road. I promise you that you won’t regret it.