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A Whole New World After Wild At Heart Boot Camp

The last four days have been absolutely amazing. I had the chance to spend time in the mountains of Colorado and attend the Wild At Heart Boot Camp. It was an experience like I could have never imagined. I am going to attempt to do this Boot Camp some sense of justice in sharing some of my experience. First, if you have never heard of the book, Wild At Heart, it is a book that I would highly recommend. A friend of mine, KC, gave me this book a few years back when I was going through a great deal of life struggle and trying to return to God. The book sat on my desk for well over a year before I finally picked it up in the summer of 2013. When I finally did read it, it was life changing for me and really began to drive my journey. Definitely a must read.

Wild At Heart was written many years ago, by John Eldredge. He heads up Ransomed Heart Ministries in Colorado Springs.The unique thing about John is that he is real. He is not a religious theologian and is truly after God’s heart and helping people find their way to God. John and his small team conduct this and other Boot Camps. They are there in person and genuinely care about the hearts of men and helping them discover who they really are in God’s eyes, the image bearers of God, and discovering the wild and masculine nature of God and themselves. The journey also takes you through your wounds, renouncing and forgiveness of those that wounded you and of yourself, discovering your real name and identity in God’s eyes, becoming the warrior we are meant to be, learning to pursue the beautiful side of God’s image in Eve, and discovering that we are in fact God’s sons and how he wants to Father us into our inheritance in His kingdom.

Let me just say that this is not your run of the mill, hand holding, singing by the fire, men’s retreat. This is a raw and real treasure hunt getting into the heart of a man. The Ransomed Heart team, guides you through a real discovery journey in addition to a great deal of time to yourself to just walk and commune with God. Again it far surpassed anything I could have hoped for or expected. In my time of prayer and being with God I heard Him talking with me like I never had before. He opened my heart, opened my eyes, and allowed me to discover freedom and my true self. Putting aside the poser in me and the fig leaf that has plagued man since the fall of creation when Adam chose Eve over God. If you think I am crazy about hearing God speak to me, you’re wrong. He talks to us, we just have to be willing and open to hear it. All those thoughts that run through your head are not just you. You just have to listen.

Let me get into the setting. We were high in the Colorado mountains at Crooked Creek Ranch, near Fraser, CO at about 8,500 feet. What an awesome and majestic setting with the snow covered mountains rising high around us. Crooked Creek is an incredible place. It is a Young Life Camp and they set it up right. I was completely unplugged from the world for the first time in a long time. That in of itself was incredible. I was able to eliminate all distractions and let my heart experience every aspect of what God had in store. In the time leading up to the trip, I knew the enemy was attacking me. He was pissed and trying to dissuade me. I could feel it in my attitude at times, constant headaches, and feeling anxious and fears. He was relentless, so I had to be relentless in my prayer and arming myself. Getting there was half the battle.

So now I am there. What to expect. First, I was fortunate to be roomed with guys from Georgia. That was cool. Guys from all walks of life. Pastor, retail, emergency services, doctors, and more. All different guys, but all on the same journey of discovering who they were as men and discover everything God had for them. I had the chance to really bond with these guys I now call my Band of Brothers. This is something I never had. Guys I could do life with, so very blessed to have these guys come into my life and share the experience with them. These are connections I look forward to maintaining once home.

Through the experience, I was also able to further discover the larger story I am apart of. How my life plays an intricate part of God’s larger story. There are some, even so called religious leaders and Christians that will say God does not have time for all the small things in our life. I’ve heard this before. Let me tell you, He cares about every single bit of it. He cares if we skate through life in our own small story. He cares about the wounds that help bring us into sin and our false self. He cares about every single bit of. Above all, He has told us our hearts are good and made new because of Christ Jesus. Our hearts are not bad and we do not have to spend life carrying the burdens of our wounds. We can have life, in Christ, and we can live free from the bondage of sin and the religious veil that God himself tore in two, but so many religious ‘christian’ denominations have put back up with rules and false dogmas that are not from God and keep people in bondage.

So let’s journey a little into the sessions we did have. John and his team talked through various aspects of the masculine soul, our woundedness, our real identity, the warrior in all men, the lover in us and the beauty to rescue, and our place as God’s sons and allowing God to Father us as He desires. These guys shared so much Truth from Scripture and then their personal testimonies and struggles in life. It helped to make it all very real and relatable. We spent time in deep prayer together as a group, about 440 guys. Something else I have never really allowed is people to pray over me in a time where I was just broke down. Two team members walked to me, sat with me, listened to my story and then just prayed over me. They genuinely cared and it was something I desperately needed. I have always put on a false self shouldering many burdens that weren’t mine to bare, even acting strong when I was completely broken. I could bare my heart to these guys and my Band of Brothers free from any judgment, and they the same. Words can’t even begin to describe the power God poured into this time.

The greatest part of it all was being able to sit by myself or walk around and just talk to God and listen to what He had to share with me. Those moments of prayer, listening in silence with no distractions , and writing in my journal what I was hearing was incredible. God helped me to renounce my wounds and agreements, discover my real self in His eyes, discover the warrior in me, where I need to better pursue my bride and better initiate and validate my children as they come into being young men and women, and validating me as a man bringing me into sonship with Him. Simply incredible time with the Father. I could go on there forever.

Another part of the journey was the adventure. Discovering the sense of adventure that we lose when we leave childhood. Growing up it was all about adventure and discovery. We lose that when we become adults and the world tells us otherwise. There’s so much to see and learn about in God’s kingdom. As part of my journey, one of my brothers and I strapped on snowshoes and headed up the mountain behind us. Probably pushed near 9,500 to 10,000 feet. We met up with some other guys and made the long journey to the top and down the other side. The view of the valley from up there was breathtaking. It was a challenging hike trudging through 2+ feet of snow and tested you physically as a low lander, but we pushed through and made it. God had something special for the few of us that got to experience that.

All in all this was a journey I desperately needed and I am ever thankful that the Father brought me on this trip. I discovered a great deal about myself and feel very ready to go back to the world as a changed man with a renewed since of hope, armed with the armor of God, and ready to fight for my heart, the heart of my family, and to help others discover the heart of God and all God has for them in their lives. I am thankful for the connections and new Brothers.

I firmly believe in the ministry that God has inspired John and his team to share with the world. It’s very powerful and speaking to men and women all over the world. We had guys from Australia, Europe, Hong Kong, and Brazil among other places. People may think they are just about making money, but they are not. The cost paid for the event with all the food, which was awesome, accommodations, and resources was well worth it. It’s not overpriced. They only run a couple of these events a year on purpose, and all money for resources purchased there (books, DVDs, audio resources ) is donated. They don’t keep a dime of that. It’s very real. They invite us all to take the message and resources out to the world to share with others. I intend to do just that. You guys, I highly recommend you taking a look at this book and others they have if you have not. If you have questions about it, let me know. If you feel God calling you to a Boot Camp, go. You will not regret it. This won’t be my last event. Ladies, I recommend you check out Captivating, written by John and his wife Stasi. My wife read it and it’s been life changing. They also have a Captivating events for women in the same type of setting, but geared toward the feminine heart. My wife plans to attend one in the near future. Discover that you are the image of God’s beauty, mercy, and tenderness. You are the final touch of God’s creation.

I know I have shared a lot. This is just the tip of the sword of all I experienced. There is so much more, but I will leave it at this. Men, we are the image bearers of God’s wild and masculine side. We all need to discover this and get out from behind the fig leaf, the poser that we all are behind. Take this journey. Check out Ransomed Hearts website htttp://www.ransomedheart.com. It’s journey I promise you will never regret.

Until next time, God Bless.

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There Is No Negotiating Surrender

We negotiate a lot of things in our lives.  We negotiate when buying a car or house.  We negotiate salaries with our jobs and contract deals.  We even negotiate with the family when trying to decide where to go eat or what to eat (This is a non-stop negotiation in our house).  To put it plainly, there is negotiating in all areas of life when trying to make decisions and commitments and trying to get the best terms and outcomes for us.  Another area that people often try to negotiate is their faith and there surrender to and trusting of God.  I have been guilty of this too.  Making terms like I will trust you but I really need this or that to happen.   We may even get angry with Him if things just don’t go the way we want it go.  Even if when we sin, we often just can’t let go and let God be God.

The simple fact is that we cannot negotiate our surrender to Him.  We cannot be partially committed in our faith and only trust God on our terms.  It does not work that way.  When we are broken, the biggest thing we need to just to let go and let God love us as He does and trust Him fully.  He is after everyone of our hearts and loves each one of us.  He loved us so much that he put on a robe of flesh and became fully man invading enemy territory.  Lived the life that man was meant to live in Christ, and suffered and died for our sins and salvation and was raised to life to open a doorway to Father through Him.  That’s love beyond any comparison.

This past weekend, we had a baseball coaches clinic at my church.  My pastor is a former Major League pitcher and brought in Royals Manager, Ned Yost, Hall of Famer, John Smoltz, and former MVP Terry Pendleton.  It was awesome to hear their insights about baseball and coaching tips and above all hearing them in their faith in Jesus Christ.  Ned Yost shared something big about his faith in where he had not fully surrendered and then reached a point where God just told him to let go and trust Him.  A life changing moment for this man and if you follow baseball, you know the Royals did this past year getting to the World Series.

It’s that simple though folks and I even needed to hear this, because I even find myself at times trying to set terms in my surrender.  Just let it go.  Trust God and know that He has a plan for each and every one of us.  He loves us beyond all measure and even when we stray away pursuing things of this world that don’t matter, He is still there pursuing and waiting for us.  He is after each of our hearts.  Don’t try to negotiate your faith and surrender to God.  It just does not work that way.  It’s a life changing feeling and one that’s hit me as well.  If you just trust God, love God, and let go, you can live free, come fully alive and everything will begin to play out according to His decided will and you will be able to discover more and more about His will and calling for your life.

You Can’t Do This Alone

Everyday I find that I am a learning something new about myself and about my relationship with God.  I have been on a journey these last 4 years getting to truly learn about God, drawing closer to Him, and being more intentional about my faith.  It has not always been easy.  Last year, was a big step forward for my family and me in our growth and in our faith.  We connected with a body of believers that we’ve absolutely grown to love and worship with.  Then about middle of last years, life began to interfere and we drew away for a short time.  Toward the end of the year we drew ourselves back in and have made it a point as a family to become even more intentional about our faith.

Last week, I had a serious gut check of myself and how I was going about things.  I knew this all along, but it really hit me as I sat in my Men’s Ministry Group.  I have been a Lone Ranger for way too long.  For most of the last few years since I began to get more serious about my faith in Christ, I have done things alone.  I studied scripture on my own, read through many books of faith on my own.  Prayed and conversed with God on my own and dealt with my own issues and sins on my own.  I have my wife and together we would have our moments and discussions, but to be honest, we weren’t always on the same page and I was guilty of trying to force her growth, spiritually rather than letting her grow in her faith the way she needed to.

For both of us, though, we realized there was an element missing, especially for me.  I never had anyone outside my marriage, no other men in my life that I could do life with and converse with about my faith regularly and help me in my growth.  I was doing things on my own.  We were doing things on our own.  A lot of that stems from being married as young as we were and our goals to make in on our own.  We both have friends, but not, especially me, no one that I would connect with on a deeper level of spiritual accountability and faith.

So what’s my point here?  The point is you can’t do it all on your own.  Yes, there is a lot of spiritual growth that must be individual.  We need our alone times to converse with God, we need that solitude.  I am going to Colorado this week a lot for that purpose.  I’ll talk more about that later.  But, the simple fact is that we cannot do it all on our own.  We need to be connected with others of faith.  When we can connect in this manner it will stimulate our growth and connection with God even more.  I’ve missed out on that aspect, a lot because I just never would seek out those connections.

Look all through Scripture.  People had there connections to help them along.  Jesus had his disciples.  The Apostles had the support of one another and so much more.  It goes beyond just sitting in groups and worship once or twice a week.  We need to do life with others.  It is essential for our own growth and sanity.  Doesn’t mean it’s always roses and sunshine.  It’s a lesson I’ve been learning and slowly coming toward.  It’s been out of my comfort zone as introverted as I am , but I think very essential and I am making this a point to become even more intentional in this area of my faith

A New Year…A Renewed Focus

Happy New Year!

It just seems like yesterday that we were starting 2014, and now we’re in the full swing of 2015 already.  The days just go so quickly especially with so much we have going on in our lives.  I know I was quite on this blog through the last few months of 2014.  I love to write, but I always need that inspiration, something that really sparks my thinking and gets things flowing.  I tend to get those times where writing just slows for a bit.  Guess it comes in waves.  I will say that through the last few months I was able to enjoy some great time with my family.  We got to spend time in the woods hunting, although, no harvest this year, still times that was well worth it all.  At the end of the year, I was able to take my family on one final getaway to the Gulf Coast to close out 2014 and ring in the New Year!  It was a great time.

So now we move into 2015. What next?  For a lot of us, it is time of resolution.  A time where we decide this is what I going to do differently this year.   It could be exercising more (You can always tell when New Year roles around at my gym), eating better, quit a habit like smoking, going to church more, or any of a number of other things people resolve for.  As we all know, the hardest part is keeping those resolutions.  Like I said, my gym is always jam packed at New Years for a couple of weeks, then it fades back to us regulars again.  For me personally, I tend to stay away from resolutions at New Years.  They sound great, but I just don’t think much of them anymore.

I would challenge everyone to shoot for something.  Resolve to have a revolution in your life (spiritually, mentally, and physically).  My pastor is talking on these lines currently.  Revolution is defined – To engage in effecting change in ways of thinking and life altering behavior. To Transform.  I would challenge that our spiritual lives are in need of revolution more than anything.  We live in a society that is blind.  A false tolerance society that is aimed squashing out the Christian faith and silencing those that proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.  It’s all over the world.  I can feel it now as I write this.  My heart knows what to say, but I have the enemy hammering me trying to change my direction.  That’s the way this world is working now and we need a revolution to stand strong in our faith and be bold in proclaiming the Good News.

3 weeks from today I will be taking a journey to Colorado to attend a Wild At Heart Boot Camp.  Locally, I am making the point to be more intentional in my faith and how I lead and guide my family in the faith.  I have been working at this for the last few years and I learn more with each day that passes.  The Boot Camp is another way I am arming myself both in my time with God preparing for a battle that I know I need to engage in.  We all in the faith are called to engage in this fight for God’s Glory.  To be bold in our faith and help lead others toward Christ and away from this world as well as from the fog of religion that has pulled a thick veil over  the eyes of people.

Stay with on me this a moment.  Y’all remember  the moment Christ died on the cross, what happened in the temple?  The veil was torn that separated people from God in the Holy of Hollies.  Who did that?  God himself.  He tore the veil as the door was now open through Christ and we were saved through God’s undeserved grace.  Jesus constantly battled the religious as they were twisted in their man made way of thinking.  But what has happened today in the church.  Religion has happened.  Across the Christian Faith, religion is taking root and pulling up a man made veil, separating us from God again.  You can’t deny it, it’s all over.  Rules, dress codes, regulations, man made dogmas.  So much false religion.  In Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge wrote, “The spirit of our day is a soft acceptance of everything – except deep conviction in anything. This is where Jesus will suddenly confront the world as a great rock confronts the river flowing ever downhill. He is immovable…Christianity is not a set of convictions – it is a truth. The most offensive thing imaginable. ”

There is so much I need to do and need to learn to do better as a believer.  I know what thing to be true.  God loves me.  He loves me so much that he came of flesh in Jesus, sneaking behind enemy lines and suffered and died to save me from wherever I was all my sin.  He rose from death and defeated the grave so that we can be made new and now have a pathway to eternal life through Christ.  It’s so awesome.  I can only hope to love God and love Jesus even a fraction of as much as he loved me and all of us.

My renewed focus this year is to focus on just loving God the Father, loving Jesus, and loving the Holy Spirit.  Letting every part of me be covered and renewed in the Father.  Not let religion and the world cloud me but to be an authentic man, without the fig leaf and be who God created me to be.  The battle is just beginning and it ‘s not going to be easy.  I arm myself everyday through intimacy and time with God.  I pray that you will be able to let God open your heart to him as well and let a revolution take place in your life wherever he is leading you.

I pray for a blessed New Year for all of you!

The Great Invasion

I hope all of you are having a great Christmas season.  It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the end of another year.  2014 certainly seemed to fly on by.  As we move into this Christmas season, I find myself reflecting quite a bit about the time Christ was born and what that was like.  What it was like to have that bright star shining down.  What is was like for the shepherds to be in the fields and see an army of angels make them selves present to praise God and celebrating Christs birth.  I wrote on this last Christmas as to just how huge a moment that was to have so many angels appear.  To have the 3 wise men travel so far just to see the new born king.

I have further began to think about what this time was like and just how pivotal of a moment it was.  The birth of Christ was an invasion.  Think about that.  We live in a fallen creation.  We live in a world controlled by Satan because of the fall of man.  This has become his domain.  Due to this, we live in a world full of pain and suffering and so many trials and tribulations.

Christs coming was Heavens invasion of this world.  A covert invasion at that.  Many of the Jewish faith were looking for a king to to rise up to save them.  But God had another plan.  He was going to sneak in behind enemy lines through the womb of a young teenage girl.  He was not going to come in with the pomp of royalty, no.  He was going to come in and be born humbly and without much fan fare.  The fan fare came however in that the angels came to earth to praise God, and many including the wise men came to visit them in Bethlehem in the days and weeks following his birth.

You think this was not an invasion and a battle, then ponder what happened next.  The “Massacre of the Innocents.”  When figuring out this was to be a child born, Herod sent soldiers into Bethlehem to have every boy child under the age of two killed.  Satan knew that the Messiah was born and used Herod to try to kill him.  An angel appeared to Joseph to tell him to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt until Herod was dead and the angel sent word for them to return.

Just take a moment to stop and think of all of this.  I know in Christmas time we always have the wonderful scenes of mangers, Christmas trees, wonderful plays in church with children singing, and many other awesome traditions.  But this Christmas, take time to really reflect on what really happened that night the Word became Flesh.  God incarnate.  Emmanuel.  Can you just imagine how mad this made Satan and his demons.  They know the stage is now set to reach their end.  They are going to lose.  Christ’s birth was God’s great invasion to set all of us, Jew and Gentile free from the bondage of sin and fear of death.  We now have a new Hope in Christ Jesus.  We are now set free.  The Armies of Heaven were victorious when Christ was born, which is why the angels came to shout and praise Glory Hallelujah.  Glory to God in the Highest, Peace on Earth and Goodwill to men.  The battle had been won.  This then set the state for the next great victory in the battle of good and evil when Jesus declared on the Cross that “It is Finished.”

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Going Where God Is Calling You

In just about 3 months, I’ll be doing something I have never done before.  I’ll be hopping on a plane to fly out to Colorado to spend 4 days in the mountains attending a retreat called the Wild At Heart Boot Camp.  This is an event conducted by Ransomed Heart Ministries.  It is built from the book, “Wild At Heart” written by John Eldredge.  If you have followed my blog over the last couple of years, you will have seen me mention this and other Ransomed Heart books.  In my spiritual journey, these have been books that have made significant impact on me as a man and how I have grown in my faith learning where God has called me.  A few years ago, I was a lost man especially in faith.  I have taken many turns in life and after I lost my Dad, I was simply lost.

I first opened this book middle of last year.  It sat on my desk for some time.  A good friend and colleague of mine cared enough about what I was going through and had given me this book.  It took awhile to pick it up, but I think God had me pick it up right when I needed to.  I had gone through Scripture and now it was time really start piecing it together and make more sense of things; of my journey in life, the wounds I had suffered, and the man that God has called me to be.  To understand more about who God is and learning His nature as reflected in men with our adventurous, wild, and warrior heart, and in women with his tender and nurturing heart.  I seem to discover more and more each day as I read and just reflect on things around me.

I have come to realize that there was so much I have been missing in my life.  I had missed on the adventure I was meant to live, to be able to experience and take in the beauty that is God’s creation.  To feel my heart draw close to God’s heart being out in the wilderness as Jesus did, as Moses did, and so many others. This is where we can all draw to God and experience Him in a very intimate way.  When I now sit out the woods on a hunt, I use that time to really draw to God and feel His presence in everything.  Last week, I took a day and went on my own for the first time and just being there in the silence was a truly spiritual experience.

So to add to that, at the end of January, I will board a flight to Colorado for the Wild at Heart Boot Camp.  I am very excited about this event, but also have a lot of nerves with uncertainties over what to expect.  I will sometimes get feelings that maybe I shouldn’t be going or questioning my reason.  I believe this is the enemy trying to stop me.  I will not let that happen and will follow through on where I believe God has called me to go.  Like my friend said and I realized, God had me read this book right when I needed to.  I read Scripture right when I needed to.  God calls us it’s a matter of whether we listen and follow.

I will write more about Boot Camp in my preparations in the coming months and certainly look forward to sharing my experiences.  Between now and then, I pray for my heart and the hearts of all other men who will be attending the same Boot Camp with me.  I pray that God will open our hearts and allow us to fully experience all that he is waiting to show us and have us experience.  I look forward to time in the wilderness to just be there with me and God and for the time of fellowship with the other men that will be there.  I wholeheartedly believe that God has called me to this next step in my journey.  It seems like a big leap, but I am pumped about what He has in store for me.

Listen to where God is calling you.  You never know when He may want you to take that next big and bold step.  He will speak to us in different ways.  I believe He has called me to go the Boot Camp at the perfect time.  Why? Because God’s timing is always perfect.  That’s when He wants me to be there, so that’s when I will go.

The Never Ending Battle For Our Hearts

So you’re going about your day.  Things seem to going okay.  Woke on time, had breakfast, maybe got a workout in, even spent some time in prayer and scripture, and then you begin your day. Things seem to be going good.  Maybe sitting in some traffic heading to work, but no big deal.  As things progress, something happens.  All of sudden you feel this tremendous sense of anxiety or a sense of frustration and anger that you just can’t explain.  Everything crumbles all at once and you feel like the day just got shot to hell really quick.  What in the world just happened?  You can’t explain it, but still feel this feeling of negativity or even anger and you don’t know why.  Have you had this feeling before.  That feeling of unexplained anxiety, frustration, anger, or worry.  I know I have, and it comes out of the blue.

The answer to this is really simple, yet very big.  We are at war.  There is a never ending, continuing battle that is ensuing in this life and the battle is over our hearts.  God is in constant pursuit of us.  He has devised a full plan to pursue our hearts and has been on that path since man fell.  On the flip side, there is an enemy, Satan, who is also after our hearts, but with a different purpose.  Jesus explains that his purpose is to steal and kill and destroy our hearts.  He wants to destroy every aspect of our connection with God’s heart through lies, deception, temptation, and even infiltrating us with worries, fears, anxiety, and anger.  It is a battle that is constantly happening in this life and no matter how much closer we get to God, the enemy is constantly trying to pull us back.

Our lives are constantly full of things going on.  We live in a busy society, and we seem to to always have something going on.  In the book, Waking the Dead, John Eldredge says it like this, “Ask the people you know how things are going. Nine times out of ten will answer something to the effect of “really busy.” I know I’ve thrown that answer out and hear it all the time.  With so much going on, we don’t see this battle even when it’s right before our eyes and hearts.  We get filled with so much from all directions that even when we don’t notice, it can come crashing down and those moments happen where it all hits us at once.  It’s almost like, the enemy was blinding us and then when we least expected it, he pounced.    I know it sounds crazy, in some sense, but I think it is very true.  Satan is always out to destroy our connection with God.  It all started in Eden and continues now with even more fury now that we are under Grace through Jesus.  Satan, knows he has lost and is going to try to take as many down with him has he can.

Many of us have lost site of this.  I certainly did for a long time.  Actually, I can honestly say that I did not know about this battle for a long time.  I did not have a real glimpse of the real struggles we all face every single day and no matter how much we try, it is always there in some form or fashion.  John Piper said, “There is a war going on. All talk of a Christian’s right to live luxuriously “as a child of the King” in this atmosphere sounds hollow — especially since the King himself is stripped for battle.”  The battle for our hearts will always continue until Christ returns to destroy the evil one for good.  We must always remember this and be ready to combat the evil when it comes and know that God is always ready to battle for our hearts as well.