Tag Archives: The Anvil

The Introverted Extrovert – What is that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Is This About Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Known…

When it comes to being open and honest about our lives and about our struggle, there is one thing that comes to mind that keeps people away.  Fear.  A fear of being known.  A fear of being judged.  What will the other people think if I am vulnerable enough to open my heart about my struggle?  I’ll look weak if I allow myself to be open.  Nobody will under understand my struggle and my story.  I’m scared to bring it back to the surface. I’ve worked with someone, or at least tried to work with someone over the course of the last year.  No how much I urge and reassure there is no condemnation and judgement, the fear remains and this person runs.  To this day, remains in stable misery.

There’s something to being known.  To laying all of our junk out there on the table.  Maybe not vomiting it all at one time, but being open to the point where people know who you are.  What I’ve learned with the people I have counseled and ministered to, the openness and vulnerability, leads to something.  It leads to trust.  It opens the door to a commonality that says, “hey, we’ve both jacked it up and have been wounded to some degree.  We’re not perfect, by any means, but can walk together through our struggle.”

One of the things I have pursued to build a round table of men that I trust.  Like-hearted kings who are after the same things, living for the glory of God, and has to fight to through crap to get to it.  Through all of that crap, we can walk with each other through it.  There’s no mask, no figleaf.  With my mens discipleship group, I urge each of them to leave the mask at the door.340e0e0b881756951b75bbb7141dd7db

You see what I am getting at here.  If you want to build any kind of trust among our peers, we have to open and vulnerable.  We have to be known.

3 weeks ago, we left for our Anvil Men’s Boot Camp.  One of the biggest and most freeing things that happens over the course of that week is the time the men spend with their small group of about 4-5 men.  Each with the opportunity to share their story in a safe place and giving permission to the other to speak into their story and even, if necessary, to call BS if needed.  Hearing the feedback of men that this was the most freeing part of their experience in getting to truly know other men is huge.  It allows them to see, if they never have before, that being open and vulnerable to others they can trust brings a greater freedom and removes the weight that they don’t have to hide themselves.

Each Boot Camp, God reveals some theme to us and this time, transparency became the theme for the weekend.

I’ve read snipets Brené Brown and she has come up in conversations recently.  I was watching a talk she gave this morning and she said something that was very profound…

“Faith minus vulnerability and mystery, is extremism. If you’ve got all the answers and there’s nothing, there’s no vulnerability, that’s awesome….but don’t call it faith, period….How can I connect with you, if I can’t see you. How can I lead you, if you don’t know me. I don’t wanna be led by anyone perfect, because I don’t see in your eyes…my story and my struggle. I need you to show up.”

Read that again, and soak it in.

I’m thankful for the church body my family and I get to be a part of.  We have leadership that is absolutely open about themselves, who they are, where they’ve struggled and jacked it up and this openness carries to those that are a part of our family.  As Brené Brown said, “How can I lead you, if you don’t know me.”

2de6cdfa6166bcd201601b77b1985c57-literature-quotes-beautiful-wordsThis is something I carry as well.  I used to be very closed off about myself and people laugh, that didn’t know me before, when I say I am naturally introverted.  I guess that’s how I operated in my false self where my predominent style of relating was to move away from people.  I didn’t want to be known.  Now, I’ve come to realize that transparency is critical.  Being known is crucial to effectively lead and minster to people.  I look at Paul.  If you read through the epistles, you see a man who is very open about where he had been and how much he struggled with where he had been before encountering Christ.

If you’ve never allowed yourself to be known, you have to ask yourself why.  Why do I not want to let anyone in?  We’ve all been through the ringer in some way.  Every man and woman has been wounded.  Everyone of us have lived a life with sin.  As Proverbs 14:4 says, “No cattle, no crops…”  The journey to become good soil requires us to plow through a lot of shit in our lives. That being said, we can’t make that journey and be freed up if we never allow ourselves to be known and let that stuff come surface.

So I will close with this.  What a great feeling it is to be known.  To live a life knowing I don’t have to where a mask.  In reference to John Lynch and his book, “The Cure,” I don’t need to stay in the room of good intentions where I am just trying to get along.  I can be in the room of grace knowing who I am in Christ Jesus.  He knows us more than anyone in this world ever will, including our spouses and closest friends.  Yet in spite of all of that, we are loved just the same through all of that.  He knows us without condemnation or judgement, so why should we worry about condemnation or judgement from anyone else.

To be known brings with it a greater freedom…

Not In Control

AnvilIt’s been nearly a month since we returned from our first men’s weekend, The Anvil.  If you did not see my last post, this was a retreat designed and modeled after John Eldredge’s, Wild at Heart.  For this weekend, 18 men, most from my local church, took a risk to step away from life and into the wilderness for 4 days.  If you knew about my personality and demeanor, you will note that I am planner.  My preparation for something like this is fairly detailed.  I want to makes sure that things go as smoothly as planned.  I spent a lot of time writing content and working with my other leads to ensure we were on the same page and getting everything organized.

Regarding the overall format of the weekend, we stayed to the schedule well.  For me that’s a win in itself.  What God showed me on the first night, however was that none of us were in any control of what was going on.  God showed up in a big way for the men that attended and for myself and the leads.  He threw us for a loop late into the first night, that’s all I will say.  Friday morning, while in prayer before we got going, the one thing I heard from God was, “When are you going to remember that you’re not in control?”  It was a very direct question and it kept being repeated.

With that, I had to reset.  I had to let go of all control and allow Him to work.  He thwarted me again that morning when the power went out in the main room before the first session began.  “Okay, okay, God…I hear you,” I’m thinking.  It was time to let go.

Friday afternoon, the men went rafting down the Chattooga River.  Many for the first time, including me.  What a holy time that was.  The time spent on the river, surrounded by so much untouched beauty was amazing and the the bonding and connections that happened with the men, working together to get down river, was beyond expectations.  I remember at one point, when we stopped on the river for lunch.  I stepped away for a minute looked over whole group and so much joy filled my heart.  I told the men that evening, if I was that joyous, I can only imagine the joy that God felt.  As Hardy Greeves says in The Legend of Bagger Vance, “They say God is happiest when His children are at play.”  I certainly think He had to have been all smiles that day and that weekend.Anvil Men

The rest of that weekend was beyond any words I can describe.  The breakthrough that took place in many men was immense.  Men were able to open up parts of their lives that they had not even thought about.  It was a truly holy time.  The evenings by the fire pit some great fellowship and bonding was created over conversation and cigars.

To say this was a successful weekend would be an understatement and to add to that, I take no credit for it.  This was entirely God inspired and God executed.  He took control the first night. Thwarted me when He needed to and which gave Him more room to work.  I told many people that God grew me up in ways that couldn’t have been imagined in those 4 days.

Our God is truly amazing.  He is an awesome God.  He has full control.  With all He did in me and many other men in this first weekend, I stand in eager anticipation of our next boot camp and expectation of His goodness.

Letting God Forge the Way – The Anvil

I have been very quiet on this site this year as this will be my first post since the new year.  This year started off with a bang as I began my counseling internship in the final phase of my Masters program with Liberty University.  It has been a huge experience so far.  Needless to say, I’ve been a little busy with that.

AnvilThe big thing that has been going on however, is about take place tomorrow.  What began as a conversation over breakfast many months ago has led to the development and now launch of our first Wild at Heart modeled Boot Camp, called The Anvil Men’s Boot Camp.  God put it on my heart well over a year ago, that it was my turn to begin seeking and rescuing the hearts of men.  As time has gone by and as I began to counsel with people, I realized that so many of the problems within families stem from the father in some way, whether he is abusive, completely absent, or present but not present. This pattern is destroying marriages left and right and wounding children by the score.

The need was there, but what would I do about it.  In counseling, many of my clients are women, so getting men to come sit down one-on-one is going to be a challenge.  I realized how huge it was for me to step out of my element and go the Wild at Heart Boot Camp in Colorado a couple of years ago.  We were encouraged to take this message back home.  In the last year, I got to know a few other men who had a similar desire.  2 sages and a peer.

The conversations began.  My peer, friend, and brother, Matt and I started small with a men’s small group where we began to lead men through the Wild at Heart message.  It became evident that something bigger was needed.  I met a man named Butch just by happenstance, and we decided to have breakfast and the conversation began. He is a sage who has a huge passion for men’s ministry as well.  The idea was born.

I pulled in another brother and sage, Steve, who also attended Wild at Heart and is immersed in their ministry as well.  Conversations began to happen and we decided that it was something we had to do, sooner, rather than later.  Only way to learn how was to dive in and give it try.

So that’s where we stood. We knew what we wanted to do, we found the site, and now we needed the men.  Conversations with my friend and pastor, Tim, brought me to begin leading some of our men’s Wednesday night Bible studies.  Again, all of this is out of my element, but I jumped in.

I have to admit, we were skeptics at first.  We knew we would start small and opened it to just 12 attendees. There was skepticism as to whether we would get 6 or 8.  A few weeks later, I’m calling Butch and saying telling him we need a 2nd cabin.  Now with a day to go, we have a 19 men heading to Upstate South Carolina for 4 days with God.  Unreal the response we’ve had and we have more waiting in the wings for next time.

So these last few months in 2017 have been all about planning this event out.  Writing content and coordinating everything.  To see it all come together has been so huge.  I can tell God has been at work in this and we’ve made it a point to surrender it all over to Him and not let this become about any of one us.  We know that if a group a men get together like this, God is certain to show up and He already is.

I knew there would be opposition, but the Enemy has been relentless in his attacks, which tell us even more that we are moving in the right direction.  My family has been attacked relentlessly in the recent weeks.  Stating with physical problems from a baseball to my face, a concussion one week and then a diabetic seizure for one my sons, a large allergic reaction for my daughter, and a stomach bug that hit my oldest son.  All of this has put a huge strain on my bride’s heart and mine as well.  We spent a lot of time holding each other and just letting the tears flow.  We knew what it was though.  Satan was trying to use all of this take us out…to stop this weekend from happening.

We have flipped it on him and surrendered it all to God.  The suffering is hard, but nothing in comparison to Christ and we know this.  We just turned to prayer and have had an army of prayer around us, which has pulled us through all of that in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

southeastern-expeditionsSo now we’re ready.  All the content is written.  Final details are being nailed down and tomorrow we head to the mountains.  We’ll have some great times of learning and fellowship and times of one-on-one with God, and some adventure on the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River, yes where they filmed Deliverance.  Hopefully no banjos on the shoreline.  Just kidding.

We’re just so pumped about this.  About the men willing to take the risk to head into the wilderness and we sit in eager anticipation and expectation of God’s goodness.  I know He is up to something big here and can’t wait to see what happens in the lives of these men, who range from 20 to their 60s, and then how their families, our church family, and community is impacted.  It’s all about God and He gets all of the glory here.

As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17