Tag Archives: 4 Streams

The Process of Still Becoming

It’s been quite a while since I have posted any blogs posts to this site. To say the last year has been a wild ride would definitely be an understatement of immense proportions. I’ve done a lot of writing, but have been holding it to myself for the time being. That has been a fun project to take on, but one I definitely have not wanted to rush, and the work continues.

Since my last post, I have gone through the loss of job, rather, the career I’ve known most of my adult life. We’ve experienced loss in our family, health scares for a child, and a lot of uncertainty. It’s been a time where I, along with my wife, have spent a lot of time asking God what He is up. Learning to more and more lean on Him to guide us, learning to continually trust Him. He has been right there through it all. I write today, as I process what He continues to do and looking back on where I have sought to become more rooted in God, and even where I that has gone sideways when my false-self has continued to get in the way. Today, I look back on 4 years ago, when I first committed to a decade of allowing God to excavate the deepest places of my heart and life. A life that is all about continue to become.

Morgan Snyder explains that “becoming a generalist is to name the universal qualities God has set within our masculine soul into partner with him in the restoration of every one of these qualities so whatever we find ourselves and whoever we find ourselves with, the world can rest knowing that what it will encounter and benefit from is, first and foremost, a man… The world loves to champion the pursuit of are unique calling, vocation, gifting, and contributions to the world… But what if, before we can ever walk out the particular expression of God in us, we must 1st walk out the general expression of God in us?”

The idea if being a generalist has been in my mind lately and brought up again as I dive through his new book. Becoming a King. God has shown me a lot in this realm over time, since I went to Intensive 4 years ago, when I was just over a year into this surrendered life with God. There I first committed to a decade of allowing God to begin excavating my heart as a man, at the deepest levels. I first heard the concept of being a generalist then, and I think I limited what that even met. Now God is opening up new interpretation through this season of life.

I have been comfortable and secure in my vocational specialty for many years, but since choosing this decade, God has certainly been deconstructing that in me. Painful, yet oh so good. He “rescued” me from my security last year and asked me, again, if I was serious about following him, would I trust him when what I have always known was now gone. You want to talk about a complete and overnight shift! But, it has allowed me to try things from working on a wood project for the first time, baking, which I’ve loved, continue writing, various projects like clearing trees in my yard, and even now, stepping into a role where I now take the lowest seat, where trusting him is all I can do. It’s been a continued reorientation and excavation.

I’m pushing 42 and 4 years into this decade and I will be 47 at the end of this decade. My youngest child just graduated high school, so I see time slipping, in front of my eyes. Something Alex Burton with Ransomed Heart said in this week’s podcast resonated so true for me, when God asked him, “What if you commit to this and then after a decade, you pass way? Would it be worth it?” I have come realize that thoughts of my own mortality have come into question as I’ve had friends and peers close in age already die from heart attacks and such. So in that sense, I felt like I needed to rush in, and when things went sideways, I felt paralyzed, not knowing how to interpret what was happening.

But God, in His goodness, reminded me that this is still a process. That it takes time to become the man God had in mind when he meant me. The generalist is still in the making. The pictures are a few of my projects, including the tree I planted ahead of Intensive in 2016, and how it looks today along with the 2 additional trees that have been planted since then, becoming more rooted with time. I’m still becoming, and to answer the question God asked Alex, YES, it would definitely be worth it. I don’t know where God will lead next, but I follow with a heart that grows fuller and becomes more whole with each passing day.

It’s been quite a journey. Here more about how God is moving in my life, through my Firepit Conversations on YouTube. You can go to deeprootsministries.org/whats-happening or directly to YouTube Here. It’s been another journey into trying new things as a part of becoming a generalist. I hope to keep this page more active as we move into the future and I look forward to sharing more of my writing project very soon as it continues to unfold.

Set Like Stone

This has been trying a season.  As I wrote in the last couple weeks, I really felt God shaking the ground under my feet to get my attention.  With circumstances as they are right now, and not having the margin I had to pursue the hearts of others the way I had hoped, this week, I found myself very discouraged.  That feeling of, “how will I get out of this situation?”  I realized what the evil one was trying to do with that, so it has taken deeper prayer just to fight off agreements with that.

This morning, I sit down at my desk, flip open my Bible and it is open right to Isaiah 50.  I focus in and verse 7 sticks out like a sore thumb. Out of the NLT, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have sent my face like stone, determined to do His will.” 

I have read this verse before, and it is even marked with a pen in my hard copy Bible.  Not sure when I did that.  Anyway, as I pondered that verse, it just wrecked me.  God reminded me this morning, that despite this season and the challenges with trying to overcome it, He is with me.  With that being said, I can charge forward, no matter what the world says or does around me and continue to do His will.

For me, I find myself thinking how do I continue to press forward in my calling and the mission God has laid before me?  I know and have to remember that in spite of seasons, He is with me, and I can, as Isaiah wrote, set my face like stone, and drive forward.  In ToBeToldthis chapter, Isaiah is talking about being determined to be obedient to the Lord and pursuing the mission the Lord gave Him.  In verse 5, “The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened.”

I’m reading Dan Allender’s book, “To Be Told.”  Actually, just really started and finished Chapter 1 yesterday.  I don’t consume books fast.  Anyway, near the end, Dan spoke to calling.  He said, “We give Him much greater glory when we are aware of our calling, live intentionally, and live with passion.  That’s how we coauthor our own story…our calling always seems associated with the name God gives each one of us.”  Gary Barkalow, in his book, “It’s Your Call,” talks about calling and how it is the glory and weightiness that each of us carry, uniquely, as God’s image bearers.  It’s how we uniquely bear His image.itsyourcall-zoom_grande

All of this is reminding me and filling me with a determination to drive forward.  It’s funny that this came up in conversation last weekend. At the Wild at Heart Boot Camp in 2015, I was asking God what names he had for me.  What was my true name.  The image of King Arthur at the round table kept coming into mind.  At the time, it was weird, but I still wrote it down. Nearly 5 years later, that is coming into reality and a conversation while working with brothers on our ministry outpost reminded me of that.

I know I’m all over the place, but I share that to say that this was a reminder of who God has said I am.  Who I am leading and how I am leading.  In remembering that identity and in my place as His son through Jesus Christ, I still have a mission ahead of me.  Despite the current circumstances and the feeling of bursting at the seams with the desire to press forward, I can stay ground in who God has said I am and remember that He is with me and because of that, though the season may be exhausting, I can press forward.

Right now, as I write this, I feel Jesus saying, “this is the truth of who you are and what I have gifted you with.”  I believe part of that’s in writing, which has come up in conversations over and over again.  Perhaps there’s something here again.  If you followed this page for any length of time, you know that I used to write like crazy on it.  I believe there is more than writing in my mission, but this is a significant part of it all.  We’ll see.  I’ll just trust in whatever He wants to do with it all and leave the outcomes to Him.

He’s done this before, but God always, simply, amazes me.  The way He still speaks to us and through us.  In devotional this morning, I was reminded that “Jesus is always closing the distance. The encounters of the Gospels are intimate. Why do we feel we must help Jesus set that mistake right by pushing Him off a bit with reverent language and lofty tones?….this isn’t how God chose to relate to you.”  This is from Restoration Year from John Eldredge.  Definitely recommend.

It’s wild…I felt this morning filled me with new life again, especially from where I was feeling.  It’s a choice we must make and I am constantly reminded of that.  Will I choose to trust in Him and live out who God created me to be or will I allow the assault and lies that tell me I must just settle with “reality” and stay complacent.  No, I choose to give God my ‘Yes,’ and I will set my face like stone, as Isaiah wrote, and press forward in the mission laid before me.


Shaking Under My Feet

There have been a lot of good things that have happened these last few years.  2 years ago, I completed my Counseling Masters and have been working with people the last 3 years.  That has been very fruitful and challenging all at the same time.  At the same time, I partnered with some brothers to begin leading weekend men’s boot camps (not your normal retreat).  During all this time, I’ve held on the work that I’ve been in the last 14 years.  Needless to say, it’s been a very busy time.

My desire these last years, has been to transition to be able to minster and counsel with people on a full-time basis.  Of course, there is still the responsibility of providing for my family and ensuring we keep a roof over our heads, etc.  With that, it was essential to continue my full-time job.  Thankfully, by and large, it has been good to be there and I’ve enjoyed the team I’ve worked with.  At the same time, they’ve been very gracious to allow me flexibility to pursue my hearts desire as well.

With that, I can honestly say, that there was not a major strategy on how to move and I feel I became comfortable in the routines, even in the busyness.  A few weeks back, things were shifted, where I had to put counseling work on hold for a time.  That was very difficult, especially with some of the folks I’ve worked with for some time and the work we were doing.

With the changes, I’ve had to do some serious introspective and spent a great deal of time seeking God for discernment and wisdom.  I also received some wonderful counsel from trusted brothers and allies.  With all of that, it seemed God was telling me, “you’ve gotten a little comfortable.  What are you going to next?  Nothing is going to be dropped in your lap.”  Seems like good wisdom from my dad.  “You’ve got to work for it.”  Looking back, it definitely seems that after finishing the Masters degree and that pressure falling away, I allowed things to cruise and stay status quo.

Now this year, some big moves have been made.  From the continued growth of our retreats, we have since a established a new ministry called Deep Roots Ministry.  This gives a vehicle to manage these retreats and provide even more to the people we reach as God moves us forward.  At the same time, things overall, stayed the same.  Some planning toward the ministry, but everything else stayed status quo.

So now what?  As was mentioned, a point was reached where the things I’d been working for had to be put on hold. At first, I did not know what to do.  So many thoughts raced through my mind.  Should do this or that?  Should I take a sabbatical or continue on?  What was the right thing?

After many days of praying through this and having some really good conversations with my wife and trusted brothers, it became clear what was needed.  I was able to step back, see the bigger picture and began to lay out a plan to make the changes with time and without making hasty decisions.  Slow and steady and strategic.

What was even more wild and all I could do was laugh and tell God “I hear you,” was that the very next day, we received our 501(c)3 approval for our ministry, which cleared the way to seek financial partners and so on.

Isn’t disruption such a key way in which God works?  You see story after story in Scripture and we’ve seen in play out in moderns days of people who God disrupted in some way to get our attention and follow Him.  It took losing the most important man in my life a decade ago to get my attention the first time.  Now it seems he’s gotta shake the ground under my feet again.  It would seem that this is often needed.  In our day-to-day lives, there is so much going on, that often times we get pulled into routines that keep us from really seeing what is on the horizon and thinking how to get there.

What I’m reminded of, also, is that this is all a continued opportunity to build deeper union with God.  That through our trials and uncertainties we can endure because of the promised hope of Jesus Christ.  As Paul writes, in Romans 5 that “suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”  So God is continuing to try lead us and train us up through these things.  Yes, God gives us more than we can handle, but he does not give more than He can handle.  Anytime we encounter these moments we have to ask, “Okay, God, what are you trying to tell me here?”  It’s okay to stop and ask Him.  You never know what He may be up to.

Distraction or Calculation

A friend set it best the other day. “2019 has been unique.”  We’re only at the end of March and it feels like a years worth of things have already happened.  When I last wrote in January, I was in a place of excitement for what I knew God was beginning to open up and what we were stepping into.  By February and into March, it seemed that their was so much opposition being thrown our way.  In February, my middle son ends up in the hospital following a diabetic seizure and then two weeks to the day after that, my mother in-law steps into eternity.  Now, I won’t get into all of the other details around those things, because so much more was involved, but my wife Amber was at a breaking point and I was doing all I could do to hold her together and comfort her through this.  It was a chaotic perfect storm.

At the same time, some of my closest friends were being drawn through the wringer with their own battles.  It was this unending, unwavering assault that was designed with one specific purpose.  To take us out and to draw us away from the heart of God.  The events were fierce and the messages behind them were so deep and dark.  They could only be one thing. The enemy at work.

I’m thankful that my wife and I have been able to recognize what it was, and have deepened our prayer through it.  It hasn’t taken away the pain, but it keeps us in a place where still turn everything over to God, no matter what is being thrown our way.

AnvilLast week, in the midst of all this craziness, we held our 5th Anvil Men’s Boot Camp.  In the days leading up, I didn’t know how ready I would be.  The men that facilitate with me were each struggling with their own junk and worried about even leaving their worlds and going.  What was wild was, in the midst of it, I didn’t think I was ready for the teaching load I was about to deliver, but it all flowed so much better than in the past and I carried it, with what one man said, with greater passion than before.

Granted, it would be easy to say that, “well, it’s your 5th go at it, Richard, of course, it’s going to get smoother each time.”  Yes, there is truth in that, but I really felt that God’s hand was in that weekend and a space was made available for the Holy Spirit to work in mighty ways.  You know why?  I believe, it’s because I didn’t have time to think and think and think on this weekend and what I was going to deliver and how the men would respond.

So it gives me pause to all of that has been going on.  We know, hands down, that the warfare we’ve been through, in the spiritual and physical, was not caused by God.  What has been readily apparent, however, is that through it all, God’s hand has been at work.  This really started to become clear over the course of our weekend.  There was a smoothness with the flow and teaching that was very different.  I realized that God used all that had happened in a way that gave me and the team no choice in it, but to just surrender it all to Him.  I mean really surrender.

I’ve had days when counseling with people where I’ve felt I have had nothing to offer.  Where stresses and other things were overwhelming my thoughts and I didn’t think I could really do much to help anyone.  It was in those moments that God would remind me that “you don’t have anything, but I do.”  The same held true here.  There was nothing we really had to offer here, so all we could do is cry out to God and give it all to Him in a way that I don’t think we really had before.  It made for a beautiful weekend with these men and led to some huge breakthroughs in the hearts of men that were there.  Because we got out of the way.

I was at one point using the word distraction to describe all that had happened.  Yes, the enemy was trying to distract us.  But what I really saw was the calculation of God through it all to use what was going on.  The good and bad to bring greater glory to Him.  What Paul wrote in Romans 8:28 was and is absolutely true, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”  This is the absolute truth and we’ve seen it play out.

So this is my challenge to you.  Are you in the way of allowing God to work?  Despite the craziness that this world may throw in your way, what can you do to better surrender your will, fully, to Him, and do as we did, get out of the way.


The Men of the Spring 2019 Anvil Men’s Boot Camp

Giving God Your ‘Yes’

Last weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend a weekend with ministry allies.  It was a weekend filled with men who were moving on the same mission God has led me and lead ministry movements in different capacities.  It was such fruitful time of getting to have good conversation with like-hearted men and even get an opportunity to reflect with God on where I am in my own journey personally and in this mission of going after the hearts of others.


As I think back over this weekend and getting to hear from men from different backgrounds, including men like Michael Thompson, who authored The Heart of a Warrior and Gary Barkalow, who authored It’s Your Call.  Yes, I name dropped a little.  What was stirred in my heart is these are men that did a simple, yet very difficult thing for many of us.  Each of us have given God our “Yes.”  So many of us were compelled at one point or another, many from the Wild at Heart Boot Camps and also The Heart of a Warrior Encounters.  They were compelled to do something; to go after the hearts of others.

Think about this for a minute.  Have you given God your ‘Yes.’  There is a calling on every one of our lives to allow this world to feel the full weight of who we are as image bearers of God.  So often, we live our lives uncertain of where we are and what we are doing.  We may hear God calling us out, but we are afraid to move.  Giving him your ‘Yes’ doesn’t mean your going to go through a career change and move to full-time ministry.  What it means is that you are willing to step-up and step-out into a life with God, following wherever he may lead, allowing God to begin train you up as his son or daughter, and no matter where you are step into the fight for the hearts of others.  We are all, ALL, commanded to be in this fight in some way.


If you’ve been reading my posts these last years, you know a little bit of my own story to say “Yes.”  It began 4 years ago this month.  For the first 36 years of my life I was uncertain of myself, I was disoriented and not sure of where I was going.  In January 2015, I was asked by God, yes God spoke to me, if I would be willing to follow Him into the unknown and trust Him fully.  While snowshoeing at 10,000 feet, I looked over the valley and surrounding snow covered mountains and gave God my ‘Yes.’

From that moment, that day, it was on.  First, I was compelled to come home and do something.  I could not stay disengaged anymore.  God began to train me

and grow me in ways I never expected.  I also made it a commitment to no longer walk through life alone and isolated as so many men still do.  It’s been a radical call into something I never once thought I would be engaged in.itsyourcall-zoom_grande

So think about this for yourself.  Have you truly given God your ‘Yes?’  Have you answered to call to begin to live out the truth of who you are as God’s image bearer? As Gary Barkalow wrote, we all have a glory, a weightiness and splendor about us that reflects piece of God’s glory.  That says something very deep about who we are and we have to be willing to receive that.  John Eldredge wrote in Wild at Heart for each of us to let the world feel the full weight of who we are and let them deal with it.


So, I want you to truly think about this for your own life.  Even take some time to take this God.  Where have I not given you my ‘yes,’ God?  What will this look like for my life to say ‘Yes?’

Take some time and truly think about this.  Saying ‘Yes’, is big deal, and there no such thing as maybe.  One think we need to be ready for as well, with saying ‘Yes’ is that it will be messy.  There will be very messy moments along the journey where you stumble.  I certainly have and will continue to do so.  It’s a part of God training us up.  We also become huge trouble for the Enemy.  They one who wants to draw our hearts away from God.  That will bring more of a mess to your life as you dig out your foxholes and engage in the fight.

Will you choose to give God your ‘Yes?’  Will you choose to answer the call to live out who your are, truly?  I promise you that this is a journey that is will worth it.  If you are uncertain, but want to know more, let me know.  Also read Wild at Heart, The Heart of a Warrior, and It’s Your Call.  Three books that will definitely help to orient your heart.

Let this be there of ‘Yes’ with God.

Rooted and Steadfast

Well here we are, the end of a another year.  Another trip around the sun.  There are so many things to reflect on as I look back on what 2018 had.  I can say that there were so many good things that happened through the course of the year.  I’ve been able to cultivate some deeper and closer relationships in my life, which has been so fruitful.  I’ve learned more and more the deep value of what it means to not go it alone and to have others in your corner; like-hearted men who are moving in the same direction and have to fight through the same crap to get there.

At the same time, with so much of the good, there have also been a number of challenges, not just for me and my family, but for so many around us.  I remember over the summer many of us thinking that there just seemed to be increased suffering and difficulty for many, with losses of loved ones, financial difficulty, job losses, and more. 2018, for many, was certainly a year with added challenges.

At the end of last year, I began a new exercise, that my buddy, Dallas had recommended.  It was very new to me.  This was praying and asking God for a word or words for the coming year.  The word that I continued to receive for 2018 was Intimate.  With the busyness of the prior year, finishing my Masters Degree, etc, I felt God was leading me to a place to seek more time with Him and focus on cultivating a deeper intimacy with Him.  I can see why He gave me this word, because this year brought challenges that at times would try to pull me away from that busyness.  It became a year of learning new practices that would allow me to focus more on time with God through the day-to-day grind.  Once such practice was just being outside everyday.  I moved more of my workouts outside, my prayer time outside, and through my workdays I made it a point to always stopping throughout the day to just step outside.  There was something about the natural environment that just invited His presence.  Just a few weeks ago, I was outside, I could just feel God’s presence overwhelming me, as if to say, “this is what I’ve been after in you.”  Hadn’t felt that kind of embrace since He met me in the mountains in January 2015.

So now, we are moving to 2019.  Again, I revisited this exercise of seeking God for words for the coming year.  It’s wild, because He actually revealed this back in September before I had even asked, but as the year has drawn to a close, it has become more evident.  God’s words for me for 2019 have been to stay “Rooted and Steadfast.”  I remember when He first revealed those words. I was down in Florida, sitting on the shoreline of Santa Rosa Sound at dawn.  As i looked at this tree that was rooted in the salt water, I could hear those words and couldn’t help but smile.

I went back to investigate these words further, though I was pretty sure I knew what they meant.  Rooted means to establish deeply and firmly.  In Scripture, Paul writes in Colossians 2, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (emphasis mine).  So for me it was to continue to stay firm in Christ and allowing my roots to continue to grow deeper as the soil of my heart continues to be cultivated. 

Steadfast means to be resolutely firm and unwavering.  Psalm 57:7 says, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.”  Proverbs 20:28, “Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love, his through is upheld” (emphasis mine) For me here, I see God telling me to not allow things of this world and schemes of the evil one to move my direction.  To keep firm and be unwavering in seeking a deeper life with Him and in and pursuing the mission He has laid before me, living out my calling which is to let the world feel the weightiness of who I am as and image bearer of God, allowing His glory to show through my life which is the glory He has bestowed upon me.

As this year closes out and we ring in the new year, I reflect more on being rooted and steadfast.  Just like being more intimate, it does not stop with just that year.  It is a posture of continued growth so will build into the next year and next and so forth.  I’m excited about what 2019 will be bringing.  There a lot of new things on the horizon, which I will write about soon, but God is certainly moving me and those with me in a direction that we just can’t ignore and its making impacts for His Kingdom.  I think God also gave these words because as we move forward, we may encounter various challenges and opposition, but this is reminder to stay rooted in Him and steadfastly firm in our direction.

So what are your words for 2019? Have you thought to ask God about this.  Take this question to Him.  Simply ask, “God, what words do you have for me for the coming year?”  Don’t force the answer, but just be willing to have your heart open to whatever He may reveal.

I wish you all very happy and blessed New Year.  See you in 2019!!!

Learned Along The Way

I’ve learned all there is to know about parenting and being a dad…..False.  This morning, I find myself doing a great deal of reflecting about life as a parent.  Today, my oldest son, Shawn, turned 21 years old.  21…Wow!!!  I look back and think where did it all go?  How did 21 years pass by so quickly?  When going through some pictures for a birthday post, I Shawn21ran across a picture from Shawn’s first Christmas.  I look at Amber and me and think how young and clueless we were at the time.  What we did know, however was that we loved Shawn and each other very much and were going to do the best we could to raise him and our next two kids up right.

I recently had a young couple ask me if there was a good book on parenting that I could recommend.  I looked at them and smiled.  While I know there are a number of books out there that would provide some great and helpful advice, the best recommendation I could give was experience.  Learning what works as best for you and your family along the way and just like with your life, learning from mistakes along the way, because yes, we will all make mistakes when it comes to parenting and raising our children.

I’ve been blessed with a beautiful wife who took the role of a mother very seriously, just as I took my role as a father very seriously.  Have we got it all right?  No, we haven’t.  The glory of it all, however is that we learned together through the mistakes we’ve made, communicated with each other, called each other out…okay okay, she called me out, when needed.  While we didn’t get it all right, we worked through this together.

Later in the game, God became a big part of the equation.  As we grew in deeper relationship with Him, we grew closer together and it because apparent that we were missing a key element.  Raising up a child in the way he should go.  Continuing to point our kids to God and encourage them to make Him a center part of their life.  We realized that we could only take them so far, so what would we do with the time we have left with them.

For me as a dad, I often wonder if I’ve guided me kids enough.  I’ve learned how important the role of dad is in the lives of their kids and have seen so much heart ache when dads do not fill their role.  Again, while I’ve stumbled along the way, I’ve learned where to point our kids to and then surrender full trust in the God that He will lead them the rest of the way and they will continue following His lead.  Train up a child in the way He should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it Proverbs 22:6.  That’s exactly where this verse is leading.

Now, what we also have to be okay with, I have learned, our own mistakes aside, is that our kids are going to stumble along they way as well, just as we did.  Do we come to the rescue all the time, or do we, again, surrender them to the Lord?  To guide me in this, I’ve incorporated a version of the daily prayer from Ransomed Heart as a part of my daily walk.  It’s not just for parenting, but from surrendering every part of my life, my heart, and domain to God each day.  Check it out here.

Again, the bottom line, at least from my own “expert” opinion, is that the best of parenting as dad or a mom, you learn along the way.  Be okay with stumbling and making mistakes, as they will help hone your abilities and when you can recognize and own the mistakes, you’ll be better off for it and your kids will appreciate that in you as well.


The Numbers Don’t Lie – Manhood Crisis

It should be no mystery to any of us that there are many in this world that have lost their way and are checked out of what’s going in their families. There are many men that have simply abandoned their families.  Think of the sheer number of households with single mom’s is staggering.  According to statistics in 2017, nearly 10 million households in US are single-mother homes.  Now lets couple that with the number of homes that have both mom and dad in the home, but all too often, dad is checked-out in one way or another.

What do we attribute this problem to?  Simply, we have a manhood crisis.  Men don’t know how to be men.  We have become so disoriented in so many ways because of agreements and lies have believed over the course of our lives.  Even largely within the church, men are present but by and large are not engaged in what is going on.  Maybe they serve in different capacities, but what are they doing to continue their growth with God and what are they doing to reach the lost and build up disciples?  For most, this is not a part of the picture.

51s-i80mvslI read a staggering statistic recently while studying The Heart of a Warrior by Michael Thompson.  Maybe this doesn’t surprise you, but it should get your attention.  Thompson shares that the typical US church is 61% male and 39% female.  On any given Sunday, 13 million more women than men attend church.  8% of churches have a men’s ministry.  In those that do, less than 10% of the men attend the men’s ministry.  I will add to this by suggesting that of that 10%, on average, less than 10% of those men are actually engaged in any real capacity.  This is from my own experience. What does this tell you?  Simply put, we have missed the mark big time when it comes to being men, and within the church, training up real men of are sold out followers of Christ, who step up to truly lead their home, has been missed big time.

I started writing something around Father’s Day regarding a fatherhood crisis.  But I never posted it.  What I feel like God has revealed to me since then, is that we have actually missed the hearts of most men.  Most men are lost in their own small stories, disoriented and posing their way through life.  They hide in their careers, put on the image of the good guy, or maybe they are checked out hiding in addictions or seeking out things that allow them to make life work on their own terms.  There’s so much that could be said here.  It’s amazing what passes for masculinity now.  Often times it’s a bad caricature of what the real thing should be.

41ebvat8gvl-_sy344_bo1204203200_So what do we do? As I’ve began counseling over the last couple of years, the Lord began to lay it on my hear to begin going after the hearts of men.  In early 2017, we hosted our first men’s weekend called The Anvil.  While a small encounter, it became apparent the need to continue going after men, not just in our local community, but beyond.  It’s a weekend that is modeled from the teachings of John Eldredge and largely from his book, Wild at Heart.  Next week, we hold our 4th weekend and the more we hold these, the more apparent God makes it, that we need to continue.

The whole point of holding these weekends is to give men a chance to step back from their world for a small period of time, just far enough to give them the chance to begin doing some introspective into their own lives.  It gives them a chance to pause and to reorient, and prayerfully gain enough insight from the Father of where they still need growth.  Every man needs more growth.

Our mission is not to compete with the church in any way, but to build of their men so they are equipped to go back and build up others in their community.  It’s all training.  Michael Thompson shared something else that is very convicting. He wrote that…

“Until the healing and training of men becomes the central mission of the church and not just one of many ministries it offers, men aren’t going to find what they need within its walls. Programs and service often land on a man like chores: he’s glad to do them (and needs to do them), but he won’t get Life from them. When sin plays on a man’s heart with guilt and shame, he will serve in the church out of a sense of obligation rather than freedom.”

There’s a reason that ministries like Ransomed Heart, Zoweh, The Noble Heart, and others exist.  Sad to say that the church, by and large has missed the mark, resulting in men that are present, but not present.  Men that are disoriented and lost.  We started launching Anvil, because it’s going to take more and more of us.  This isn’t about any one person, but about men learning to rise us and understand and recognize their real identity as sons of the Father and as men bearing God’s image.

So something is desperately needed.  There is a desperate need for men every where to realize who they truly are, get passed themselves, and learn lead as men should.  It begins with us men.  IT BEGINS WITH US.  We have to choose to risk changing.  We have to choose to stand up.

I don’t just pay lip service to this.  I have lived this out.  If you have followed this site over the passed few years, you will know that a significant transformation took place.  I used to be a man that stuck in my small story.  I hid in my work and behind my family.  I didn’t let people into my life.  When God transformed me, everything changed and it wasn’t just with me.  The change carried to my wife and continues to carry into our children as they are come alive in bigger ways. The impact God has allowed to happen simply because I was willing to trust Him and give Him my “Yes,” has been staggering.  It’s possible and it works.  I’ve seen it in other men as well, since then.

We have a choice to make, men.  Stay disoriented and in our small stories trying to figure out life on our own terms or give God your “Yes” and allow the real work to begin.  The choice is yours.  The road to life is difficult and narrow and only a few find and follow it, as Jesus said.  Will you choose follow it?

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.

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.