Tag Archives: Walking with God

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

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.

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.

 

 

Don’t Stretch Yourself Thin – Self and Soul Care

It feels like it’s been forever since my last post.  I looked and realized that it had been almost a month and now a I look and we’ve entered fall (although it hasn’t yet felt like it in Georgia), and we’re just a few days from October.  The month of September has just flow by and so much has happened in such a short period of time.  I was on the road for two weeks, first to Liberty University for my final on campus intensive, and then over the pond to London for a week of work.  First trip over and it was a worthwhile trip.

In the midst of all if this, I begin to enter my Practicum/Internship phase of my Masters program.  With that we officially rolled out our new counseling ministry where I will base my work as a counselor, especially in the early phases.  A lot going on and then this week I begin co-leading a new men’s discipleship group.  I share all of this activity with one key point that continues to ring through my head and heart.  “Don’t forget to take care of your self.”As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart…”

I know I’ve written about soul/self-care before, but I can’t reiterate just how important it is.  I went to my bride, Amber, this morning and said to her, “With all of the counseling and new ministry work that is coming along, please tell me if I begin to let it take over too much and if it is taking away from my time with you and the kids.”  One of the key things I’ve heard in my studies is that counselors and many in ministry as well, are horrible at self-care.  Burnout begins to set in, and then we have nothing else to offer.

selfcare-01bI’m in a season of transition right now, so there is a lot going on, but I don’t think it’s any mistake that God led me back to the mountains this year with Become Good Soil, where self-care was one of the key topics.  I feel that God is definitely teaching me to remember Him and to guard my heart through all of this work.  I’m fixing to take on the weight of so many people’s wounds and sufferings.  It’s not my weight to bear, though.

There’s a song by Will Reagan and United Pursuit that came on one morning while I was in Virginia early this month.  The song is called, ‘Take a Moment.’  The lyrics go as follows:

Take a moment to remember
Who God is and who I am
There You go lifting my load again

No longer am I held by
The yoke of this world
Come up under the yoke of Jesus
His yoke is easy and His burden is so light

I hear that song that morning and then that morning in class, our professor stopped her lecture to focus solely on self-care for a bit.  She realizes how important it is.  This just blew my mind when I hear this song and then that topic that morning.  The burden of other is not mine.  I have to remember who I am and who God is.  The burden was laid a feet of Jesus, at the Cross.
I write this, this morning as a reminder to myself and to share with all of you as well.  We can’t just take on so much that we lose ourselves.  We will kill our hearts and having nothing to offer anyone around us.
I sit in amazement of God as I think about this and how He continues to remind me of this important category.  Self-care and soul-care.  I was praying about this is morning and writing this post came to mind and then I read the latest blog post from John Eldredge at Ransomed Heart, and God just totally blew me away with this.  John wrote a whole post on soul care in the midst of the loss of Craig McConnell, who went home last month.  John writes:

“Soul care” is not a category for most people. They don’t plan their week around it. Maybe it feels unnecessary; maybe it feels indulgent. It certainly wasn’t a category for me for too many years. But my friends, the harsh reality is this: life is probably going to get worse on this planet before it gets better; all signs indicate it is getting worse at an alarming rate. “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5). In other words, if you think this is hard, wait till the dog squat really hits the fan.

We are going to want our souls strong and ready for the days ahead, not weary and weak. We are going to need our souls strong. So we must practice soul care. I, for one, am trying to make room for it as part of my “routine.” It really is helping.

We are going to want our souls strong and ready.  Reading this I was just like, whoa…I hear you God.  It’s so easy to take on more and more, but I am reminded continually that I can only take on so much before I run the risk of taken out.  Busyness kills intimacy and union with God and with those import to me, especially my family.
The bottom line is this.  Don’t stretch yourself so thin and stuff your time so full that you forget about yourself.  The enemy is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  If we are so caught up in doing more and more and more, we can’t guard hearts from attack and the enemy will find a foothold to setup shop.
This myth of busyness and multitasking is another tool of the enemy to take us out.  It leads us further away from intimacy with God, which leads closer to sin.  Take time to care for yourself.  Open up your calendar.  There is room, I don’t care what anyone else says.  There is time.  As Dallas Willard says, “Time is made, not found.”  You can make the time for yourself and for your time with God.
Don’t forget about your heart in the midst of all the busyness of this world.

Back Porch Thoughts

One of my favorite things to do each morning is to go sit on my back patio, especially in the early morning.  I’ll go back there for prayer and time in the word, or just to sit and think.  In the early morning, there are some awesome sounds around.  There are crickets chirping, an owl hooting nearby, squirrels running around, and birds singing, particularly two cardinals that have made our back yard their home.  In our small half acre, I have grown to love the surroundings of  my back yard under the tree canopy.  When I can’t get away this has become my getaway.

It’s funny the thoughts that race through the mind in those moments.  So many holy and silent moments where I just get to converse and listen to the Father.  In those times, the breeze is blowing through the trees and the birds are amplified.  Something about listening to creation that enables me to draw nearer and hear the Father more.

There are other times, when hearing the Father and really getting locked in becomes difficult.  It’s always the same sounds that distract me.  The sounds of the highway not far off. When those sounds sometimes get amplified in the morning air, it can become a big distraction for many reason.  For one, it constantly reminds me of the busyness of this world and the fact that we always have things to do and places to go.  Very little time to rest.

I was reminded of Mark 6:31, where Jesus tells his disciples, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest a while.”  Rest and quiet was so essential to Jesus.  Many times throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus going off to be alone to rest and pray with the Father.  I have come to realize that this is such an essential part of life and why I like to take time on my back porch to rest and sit and ponder life, pray, and read.

Jesus valued this time to get away and we should too.  Dallas Willard reminds me of something else in relation to this.  He said, “Daily ‘Quiet Time’ as the method for spiritual growth is like trying to take a shower one drop at a time! It’s inefficient.  For many people their inconsistencies plague them with guilt. It’s much more helpful to have extended times of being immersed in God.” Reading this, really gets me thinking.  Jesus did just go off for a minute or even 5, 10, or 30 minutes.  Went off for extended time periods.  At one point, 40 days.

This is what the noise of traffic that distracts me also reminds me of.  This is not enough.  To really grow with God, I need to take more prolonged periods where I can be with the Father for a few days.  This world is so busy that it feels like it’s impossible to do.  But I tell you, having been able to do this a few times the last couple of years has energized me more than I could have ever imagined and allowed me to really hear God’s calling on my life.

This is the way my brain operates.  It may seem like I’m looking very deep into something as simple as sitting on my back porch, but think about it.  We were created for intimacy and dependence with God.  We were created to have a deep and fruitful relationship as Father/son or Father/daughter.  It is now the first priority of my life, to cultivate a build on that relationship and getting time with just myself and the Father is of utmost importance as it is for you.  Daily quiet time, helps to keep us engaged and that’s what I use my back porch time for.  Real growth is found when we can take longer times to be with the Father.  Best done unplugged in at those places where we feel the closest to Him, often in the wilderness in some way.

These are my musings for today.  Just sitting out here made me really ponder the value that is placed in these moments outside being in the midst of the beauty of creation.  As C.S. Lewis said, “We do not want to merely see beauty, we want to become a part of it.