Tag Archives: Become Good Soil

A Reflection of Goodness

Another lap around the sun and 2016 comes to a close as we prepare for the start of a whole new again.  Before I begin, I pray that you all had a very Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!

I’ve been reflecting this morning on the goings on of 2016.  There have been many good times and difficult times.  Times of joy and times of trial and testing.  Overall, I reflect on 2016 and what I see as the pure goodness of God reflected throughout everything.  I can hardly believe the movement He has made just in my life and that of my family.  Even on days where it feels like I’ve been removed, He has been there every step of the way.  Unfailing love and faithfulness.  Continued goodness in everything.

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Amber’s Baptism

I’ll just start with January 31.  I stood in front of our church family and Baptized my wife and our 3 children, exactly one year to the day that I nailed the stake in the ground and surrendered my life to Christ in the mountains of Colorado.  I mean, wow!  That’s nothing but a God thing right there.  To see the movement that had taken place in that year prior, was so amazing and now to see the journey of growth in each of them has been nothing short of amazing and good.

 

 

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Shawn Baptism

 

We’ve times of trials and joy with our children this year, from the baseball field with our middle child, to our oldest graduating high school and starting college.  Through all of these things we see God present.  Seeing our children begin to desire a deeper relationship with God and to build relationship with peers in our church family has been huge.  They take after Amber and me as very quiet and to themselves.  Natural introverts and Move Aways in their styles of relating.  I’ve seen God working in their hearts this year more and more and them being more respective to it.  It’s been so good to see.

 

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Brandon Baptism

I see my bride and the movement in her own life.  I pray daily for her to move on a parallel journey with me as a woman and bride in our desires to seek God and grow as disciples.  To see her eagerness day after day to spend time with God and know him and them to talk with me almost like a kid in a candy store with such joy and excitement from all God is revealing to her as she walks with him each day.  And now to see her desire to build relationships with other women continue to grow.  Just immense.

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Ashley Baptism

I look on what God has done in my life as well and just stand in amazement.  He took me out to Colorado for a 2nd time in May to unplug and spend time at the feet of older men seeking counsel over my story and setting up the coming decade to work toward becoming an integrated whole and holy man.  That journey has set the stage for what is going on now.  In September we launched our counseling ministry and I have been blessed with the chance to speak life into different individuals and couples.  On top of that, I began to lead along with another brother and friend, a mens’ discipleship group.  That’s been huge for me to finally build a band of brothers of peers to get to know, to lead, and to do life-on-life with.  Thankful for these men and for the mentors and sages that also speak into my life now.

I can definitely say that I’m not the same as yesterday.  I know there’s so much more ahead and can barely believe that I’m here now. 3-5 years ago, I never would have thought to have a year like this and to have a life moving the way it is.  God’s hand is moving in every aspect of my life.  It’s truly amazing.

I reflect on 2016 with great joy and I look to 2017 with eyes on the narrow road continuing to follow where God leads.  I can already see things He is setting before me through the counseling ministry, mens’ ministry, and in my family and relationships.  I move into the new year a man of hope.  A dangerous hope for good.  Dangerous for good.

Nothing Is Ever Lost

I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” These are the final words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, as translated by Peterson in The Message.  I find myself echoing those words in my head this week and really pondering the Truth around that.  He is always with us, day after day after day.  If we truly live in that and truly understand Truth in that in our hearts, how can we ever feel lost and uncertain?  He is always with us and always present.

When I went to the Become Good Soil Intensive back in May, a knife was bestowed to me and the other men from our mentors.  This became a very special item to receive and a constant reminder of the journey and experience and the journey for the coming decade toward becoming good soil.  This was a good tool for one and something that I kept on me day after day, carving wood, sharpening it, and so forth. It was very special to me as it was to the other men of the Intensive.

Well, barely a month later, I was at the beach with my wife and kids for our annual vacation.  During the course of that week, what happens?  I lose the knife.  While out one evening, it fell from my pocket.  We searched all over, called the location we were at to see if anyone turned it in.  Nothing.  It was gone and I was crushed.  I was actually, more or less, pissed at myself for being able to lose it so easily.

So life, moves on.  We go back home and continue on, although I thought about the knife a good bit.  I know, I know, it’s just a knife, right? Only thing was, there was no replacing it. I could not order another just like it.  So back to business.  I make use of my Gerber knife and keep that on me, as before, but it never felt the same.  Besides, my wife and kids, only one other person knew about it being lost or even what it meant to me.

So, fast-forward to this week.  It’s the middle of the week.  I’m stressed with work and finances as we get closer to Christmas and meeting the requirements for counseling hours for my Masters program.  I was pissed and frustrated and even feeling lost with it all. I break from my work and go to the mailbox and find a package in there.  Inside there is the exact same kind of knife, which I thought was cool, then I turn the box over and see a sticker on the box that says “With God, nothing is truly ever lost.” You can see a picture of it at the top of of this post with the knife.

At this point, I am just floored. My knees nearly gave out under me and tears tried to come through.  If that wasn’t a God thing, I don’t know what is.  It was like God just told me in that very moment.  “Slow down my son.  Quit with the worry and stress.  Cast it all on me.

I went through this exercise of defining moments of my life before Thanksgiving and shared them all with my family Thanksgiving night.  Through it all, I was reminded of God’s constant presence through all of my my life, through the good and the bad.  He’s always been there.

How easy it is to forget this though.  Get back to life and the various things in our world begin to force us to lose sight of the fact that, yes, God is always there, how can we be lost if we truly have faith in that.  That’s when Jesus’ words a the end of Matthew right through, “I will be with you….right up to the end of the age.”  He has never abandoned us.  It’s not in some far off place.  He is right here with us.

God never ceases to disappoint me.  I think of Bruce Nolan from the movie “Bruce Almighty.”  At the end of the movie, Bruce is in the hospital, finds the beads that he had when his whole adventure with God began as he was crying out at the beginning of movie when his whole world was crumbling.  He looks up toward God and says, “Now you’re just showing off.”  That’s almost what it felt like.  This is why one of the things I pray everyday is break any and all limits I have placed on God.

With God, nothing is truly ever lost

Stuck In False Comparison

Every story is unique.  Every individual is unique.  It’s pretty cool to see stories play out in the lives of others and to hear the stories that people have lived out up to now and where they are going.  Each of our stories takes a unique pathway that is only unique to us and how God created us to be.  There is a trap that many of us fall into however.  That is the trap of comparing our story to someone else and even wishing we could have a piece of that story.

Tonight I was sitting in a the men’s Bible Study at my church and we continued through a series on The Greater Adventure that Robert Lewis developed.  We are nearing the end of this teaching and this evening we began to talk defining moments in our lives.  There are many that I can point to in my own life.  Some huge ones in the past couple years and many going all the way back, some are tragic and some are great.

During this study, it was shown that part of putting this adventure together is setting time to reflect on our unique design.  Something came to me that I remember Morgan Snyder teaching on at the Become Good Soil Intensive and that was dealing with a spirit of false comparison.  How often have you tried looking at your story and then began to compare yourself to others?  Have you ever seen someone else’s story and thought to yourself, “I sure wish that was a part of my story.” “I sure wish I had a career like that.”  “I wish I was as great a husband and/or dad as that man is, or appears to be.”  There’s something in each of us, in our false self that often falls into this trap of comparison.  Maybe it’s not even wishing that you had a part of another story.  Maybe it’s diminishing your own story, thinking it’s not has significant as another person.  Morgan shared that in this spirit of false comparison we compare part of our story to part of another man story.

I love this teaching, because it’s been so helpful for me, as I have fallen in this trap of false comparison.  What was revealed and only after continued review of the teaching and then in reflecting on the study tonight did it sink in that God only tells us our own story.  My story is my own.  Psalm 139, “You have examined my heart and know everything about me….You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb”  This is so helpful to remember and think about.

Morgan adds in this teaching that once you get visibility on another man’s story, you realize that you don’t want any other man’s story but your own.  Nobody gets everything and it costs everyone something.  Meaning that nobody has it all figured out.  No matter how good someone story looks on the surface, there is always going to be something there, that you will realize that you don’t to have any part of, just has there is something in your story that others would not want to have any part of.  Just know this, it is so easy to get caught up in comparison and I’m so glad that the Father clarified this even more tonight.  So much so, I had to log on and write about it.  My story is unique to me, just as your story is unique to you.  Your story is the best story for your own heart, uniquely designed and woven by God himself.

When you get this and when you realize the power in this, this sets you up for even more freedom.  We can then stop worrying about the wrong things and begin to shift the focus more inward and truly get a clarifying view of the beauty of our own unique design.  Just to know that God loved you enough to make you in His own image, but designed with your own unique design and flavor.  How cool is that?  Why would you even want to have any part of something that God did not uniquely create in you and for you.

This is so helpful to remember.  You are unique to you and nobody else.  You don’t want any part of another’s story.  It was not a part of your fearfully and wonderfully made unique design.  All it does it feed a foolish habit that promotes envy and competition and begins to feed into feelings of our own inferiority which as mentioned before causes us to diminish ourselves.  Avoid that trap and don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a spirit of false comparison.

Qualifying The Called

What is your calling?  That is a question posed by so many people at various times and in a variety of contexts.  For the longest time I did not know what this meant or what it was to me.  As I’ve shared many times, over the last couple of years, this answer has began to gain clarity.  In a previous post, I shared that I was on a walk while out west and pondering who I was as a man in the eyes of God.  Then He showed up big time and showed me that He was about to take me down a very different path.

For the last couple of years, I have been in school, learning and studying, praying and pondering, and gaining wise counsel from trusted people around me.  Two months ago, we launched a counseling ministry within my church family, which was to be starting point in this new direction.  Over the time in my Masters program, I’ve learned some very cool concepts, techniques, and more around counseling people and counseling from a Biblical worldview.  Now came the time to put it all to work.

This has been a lot of the reason I have not written much the last many months as I prepared for launch and then began the work.  It has been a mentally and spiritually draining period of time in many aspects.  I’ve tried to figure out how to juggle this new work while still maintaining my current work in these early stages.  It’s not been easy to do.

There have been many days where I would wake-up and just wonder if I have anything to offer the people that have come to me for counsel.  I even wondered why God would choose someone like me to do something like this.  Like I’ve said many times, He completely shifted my paradigm and brought me out of my comfort zone in many ways.  Through much prayer, God has revealed that I don’t have anything to offer…He does!  With that, I just think, Whoa!!!  I have thought about that more and more and as these last couple of months have passed by, and although I know it’s very early, He is definitely right on the money.

I remember a quote I heard a few weeks back that said, “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”  Don’t think I had heard that before, but as I ponder what He has done in my life and where is leading me, I think, Yes!  That’s exactly it. Then I start to think about the ragtag bunch that Jesus surrounded himself with.  None of these men were in any way qualified, but Jesus qualified them.  He taught them and equipped them, and then the Holy Spirit moved.

He qualifies the called.  I start to look at others around me that God has used in many different capacities to do His will.  All of our gifts are different, but the unifying link is that God uses all of it for His glory and we’re all a part of one body in Christ.  Answering the call is a great risk, in many capacities.  As I have seen, it pushes people away, who reject it. That’s not easy to contend with.  The beauty of it comes in pressing into Christ and in doing so, He begins to take the reigns and use the gifting that He has given us and perhaps, as in me, it has been hidden due to the road I had taken in my brokenness.

John Eldredge wrote that “An intimate encounter with Jesus is the most transforming experience of human existence. To know him as he is, is to come home.”  This is exactly what happened in my life.  Think of anyone you know that, maybe some of you, that have just been set on fire by your faith as Jesus came in and you decided to follow.  Look at his disciples.  You may think you have nothing to give anyone, but wait until that intimate encounter with Jesus.  Wait until he meets you on that road, like he met me.  You may think your not qualified, and you know what, you’re right.  He is and he will qualify and equip you, if you choose to trust in him and follow.

Forging A New Trail

I remember this walk I was on in January of 2015.  We had just finished a session at the Wild at Heart Boot Camp and the next hour or so was for each man to spend one-on-one with God.  We were given questions to pray about and seek God about. Those questions were how I saw myself as a man, how others see me as a man, and who does God say I am.  I never had taken time to spend in just contemplative prayer and discussion with God.  I remember sitting on a boulder over looking the snow covered grounds of Crooked Creek Ranch trying to listen for an answer, but not sure if I was hearing anything. 10361459_10204677376068595_8769313926448958482_n

After some time, I put my journal into my backpack and decided to take a walk.  I made my way to the main road that led out of the ranch back to Fraser, CO.  I remember waking and feeling the cool air and then watching my steps around some ice patches.  Once I got to more stable ground, I heard something that just blew my mind.  I heard, “This is who you have been.  You’ve spent too much of your life on this safe and wide road. It’s time for you to leave this road and take a new path.”  What do you do with this?  I remember later that day journaling, “I can’t take risks if I just stay on a path and not take the one less traveled.crossraods_520

I’ve thought a great deal about this walk lately and the new trail that God has been forging ahead of me these past couple of years.  I chose to let go of myself and the work He has done has been tremendous.  Last month, I began work in a counseling ministry and then have been given the chance to lead new men in discipleship and restoration of their hearts.

In some way I find the sense of humor of God in this.  I think of the quiet, reserved, and passive man that I’ve been most of my life.  He has taken that and flipped it all around.  He led me into counseling, where I am completing my Masters now and working with people one-on-one now.  On top of that, I continue to hear the call of God to seek the hearts of men beginning with this discipleship group.  I joked in our larger men’s bible study at church a couple of weeks back and we looked our value drivers.  To me, it related to Morgan’s teaching on Styles of Relating from Become Good Soil.  I shared with the men the parallel to Jesus and how he moves through each style or each value driver all in a manner of doing the Father’s will.  I talked about my predominant style, which we all have, but God will often need us to move.  I said, “I’m becoming a counselor, talk about moving out of your comfort zone.”

I can only imagine where God is going to use me next, but after sharing some ideas with some trusted men and mentors, the image is starting to come clearer.  As I said when I started this journey in early 2015, I have no idea where this is going to lead me, but all I know is that I am trusting in the Father to take the lead.  Proverbs 1:7 in The Message says “Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God.”  That’s where I have start now.  I can’t take this to anyone, but Him first.

Where do you see yourself heading?  Have you ever sat with God and asked Him who you truly are and how does He want to use you?  Not everyone is meant to make radical shifts like this, but that is my story and this is how the Father chose to disrupt my life of complacency.  You never know when the answer may come.

the-road-not-taken-11The Robert Frost words, “Two roads diverge in the wood, and I took the one less traveled” continue to ring to me over and over.  It’s not going to always be pleasant and easy journey.  This road less traveled is full of potholes, rocks, and thorns.  I have days, where I venture back near the safer road and think, maybe I should merge there again.  I can’t though.  Once you have truly experienced God and His goodness and begin to follow, nothing can ever be the same.  You will be opposed, believe me, you will be opposed

It’s a journey folks.  To be able to step off the road of performance and the road of safety and comfort and to venture down a path where you can’t see around any turn only comes through faith.  Most of us never choose to take this journey.  Look at the traffic camera images every morning.  That’s most of us.  Trucking along day-to-day down the road we are all to familiar with.  Choose to risk and choose to forge a new trail where God moves ahead of you into the unknown.  The unscripted life is the only life worth living.

 

 

He Loved Us First

I do a great deal of time reflecting on my faith journey and the heart of God and who He is to me and to all of us.  A verse stuck out at me yesterday morning from 1 John 4:19, where John wrote, “We, though, are going to love – love and be loved.  First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first” (MSG).  He loved us first.  This statement is so profound and it’s something I knew, but not something I ever really thought deeply about.  We have the chance to love because we were loved first.

Now there are all different ways that love is portrayed in this world.  Here is the way Dallas Willard defines love.  “Love is not desire – it is the will good on others. We say, ‘I love chocolate cake!’ But really we want to eat it.  We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own sake.”

Now think about that for a minute.  We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own stake.  That describes exactly the way God loved us first.  God has been promoting our good for our own sake since the beginning.  Going all the way back to creation, God created us out of love with a desire to see us live fully as His image bearers.  Ever since the Fall, as is chronicled throughout the Bible, God has been showing us love first, but seeking to have us restored to Him.  Even when we’d fallen so far, He still sought to bring us back from death.

I just think about this verse and think about the love that God has had for me and throughout my life and I am in complete awe.  It’s nothing I’ve done to deserve, and yet He still displays that love and I can see it all through my life and see the same love reflected in my loved ones, especially my Bride and our children.  I understand the love of the Father for us as I am able to reflect that love to my family for their own sake, for their own growth, and for their own life and restoration.

I think about my oldest son, Shawn.  Amber and I moved him into his college dorm last weekend as he begins his freshman year of college.  While the dynamic in the home is now different, with only four here daily, the love that we have for Shawn, never changes.  We love him by encouraging him to live out his life fully seeking the grand adventure that God has for Him.  Notice that.  God already had that love before we did and was after Shawn’s heart and showing him the great adventure.  Now we get to reflect that, because God did first.

I love when God puts something on my heart like this to just ponder and meditate on throughout my day.  It’s such an awesome reminder.  Love begins with God, because He loved us first.  For our own sake, He showed loved by sending Son so that we may be set free to seek the love of God and reflect that to those around us.  He loved us first.

As the late John Moorhead, who was a mentor with Become Good Soil and Ransomed Heart, shared…Love wants to be known.  He references Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy in sharing that we live in a  God bathed world.  God is here with us, not far away, but right here.  God is love and love wants to be known.

God loved us first and continues to love us first.  Because of that, we can love, so love well through the heart of God that is bestowed on all of us.  He seeks that intimacy with each one of us.

Takes Time To Master

I often find myself trying rush into things.  I come into something new, a new job, a new task, something, and I feel like I have to hit the ground running.  When I’ve been on job interviews in the past, one of the things always asked for is needing someone to hit the ground running.  When I make the decision to move into counseling and ministry, I felt like I had to consume as much as possible and get rolling as quickly as possible.  Then I realized something this year, while out west, mastery of anything takes time.  It’s going to take time to learn the best way to counsel and minister to people.  I can’t just go right into it and know it all.  When I started my current job 10 years ago, it’s taken time and trial and error to figure out what works best and the learning continues.

Morgan Snyder reminded me of this in his teachings when he quoted author Malcolm Gladwell.  Gladwell stated that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.  10,000 hours, that’s 416 days.  Divided to 2.5 hours a day brings us to about 10 years.  It’s a lot of time, but I’ve come to realize that anything we devote to will always take time to learn and master.

I’m not just talking about work skills.  What I really wanted to focus on here is spiritual disciplines and practices in the faith.  There are many that think, “I’m good…I was saved, baptized…I pray (occasionally)…I go to church on Sunday, etc.”  The list can go on.  But let’s think about real practice of a real and deep intimate relationship with the Father. It takes time.  As I’ve come to learn, there is a way things work and the only way to grow is through learning to develop a life that gives time to Father.  A.W. Tozer said, “The man who would know God, must give time to Him.

Through Jesus, the Father desires to restore us to a life in Him.  The way to life in Jesus is a vigorous journey and it’s one, if we truly want to come alive, requires our total attention.  It’s never instantaneous, though.  There are not any shortcuts through this journey.

For many years, I’ve lived a life of shortcuts.  Trying to find the quickest way to get to where I needed, whether that was through schooling, in my work, and in my spiritual growth in the last few years.  It’s taken a long time to learn that I have allow for time.  It will truly take a decade of working, of trial and error, to fully build a life of real authentic disciplines that is fully invested in the Father day after day.

Don’t compromise a piece of the journey.  Make the choice to fully invest in time grow into an exercise of real mastery, no matter what you invest into.  Most importantly, choose to invest in a life of real mastery in your walk with God, day after day.  I’m in the early parts of this journey.  Come along.  Think about your life and where your trying to take shortcuts.  Ask the Father to reveal where you’ve taken shortcuts in your growth.

I’m so thankful that I’ve come across a ministry of men that has helped me to learn this and know that I need to begin to inventory my life and begin to develop real habits in the life I live with God, habits of self care, the way I care for and walk with my wife, the way I father my own children in leading them to the real Father, and in the investments I make others around me.  In that order, by the way.

It all takes time.  The journey can’t be rushed, and I’m so excited to see the fruit that comes from this decade.  As Morgan Snyder reminded us at Become Good Soil, “Live in the day…Measure in the decade.

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