Tag Archives: Wild At Heart

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?

Advertisements

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?

 

Choosing to be Fathered

As I’ve said before, the word God had for me this year was, intimacy.  Choosing to take the year and learn what it looks like to walk closer to God and learning to keep margin in my life so that this intimacy can be intentionally cultivated. So God’s been bringing back to something significant in the past weeks.  The idea of being Fathered or Sonship.  My sonshipbuddy, Chris, brought this up recently in going back through some teachings we’ve both been under about reorienting to God as Father.  I’ve brought a version of this teaching to the Boot Camps I’ve been blessed to lead over the last year.

Tonight, I’m sitting in a hotel room, and after I finished dinner, I decided to punch up a session taught by Morgan Snyder of Ransomed Heart.  I’ve heard this teaching before live and online and as I’ve mentioned, it is a part of what I teach now.  But something clicked this evening as I began to listen to Morgan again.  A couple of questions.  What places in my heart have I still not allowed God to Father in me? Where have I been Fathered and not even realized in?

I’ve overlooked this before, but part of the session, Morgan talks about the different people that God has used to Father him in recent years.  I started reflecting.  At the Anvil Boot Camp, I share some of Sonship and how God is trying to reorient us back to Him as Father. That this has always been his intention.  But have I really stopped to think about the varying ways that God has Fathered me?

When I think on this question, I see the answer immediately. No I have not and I have not fully appreciated this.  God will choose to Father us in some many ways and through so many different people.  After my dad died in 2009, I spent the next few years in a wandering daze.  I fell under bad kings and listened to bad advice.  I also tried to figure out life on my own, without God and without anyone else.  I lived in isolation. John Eldredge says something very profound in Wild at Heart.  “The world is rigged in a way that it does not work apart from God.”  I didn’t know this yet.

I’ve shared before a dream I had of my dad, about 6 months after his death, while my oldest son was in the hospital.  He met me in my office building, actually almost exactly 8 years ago this week, and through his arms around me and said he was going to help get rid of the devil in me. Very vivid dream.  Made me recall William Wallace in Braveheart when he sees his father after he is killed, tell him that his heart is free and not be be afraid to live by it.  I always looked to this dream as the start of something, although it took a few more years.41ebvat8gvl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

The first fathering began through a man named Tim.  This man is now my friend and pastor.  Actually, almost like a big brother.  He helped, although I didn’t realize it, though small conversations around baseball, to steer me in a new direction. The next most unlikely fathering, actually came through a lady that I worked with. Her name was KC and God put an urge in heart heart to give a book.  This book was Wild at Heart.  It sat on my desk for nearly 18 months before I read it, but I know God used that moment to continue Fathering me, and leading me back to Him.  Because of that moment, a ripple effect has taken place that continues to today.  My friend Steve reflected on it and shared this after we finished our 3rd Boot Camp this past weekend.  “All of the miracles coming out, simply due to someone caring enough about a friend, and giving that friend a book to read.”  It’s rather amazing to seek how Abba works.

nothinglost_bgsknifeOver the years since then, radical transformation began.  God placed other men in my life to help guide me.  Tim and I grew a closer friendship, other brothers have been used including Butch, Steve, and others, and thenguys like John Eldredge, Morgan Snyder, and a gentleman named Mark Woods became men that were also used to Father me from a distance. It’s kind of wild to think about, when we choose to allow God to Father us in whatever way he deems is needed, the change and transformation that happens over time will be tremendous.  God has even Fathered me through a knife that I had lost, when a new one arrived in the mail 6 months later.

As I reflect on this idea of being Fathered by God in radical a new ways, I realize that this is all a part of this growth in intimacy with Him.  Resting on that and resting in my identity as a son through Jesus Christ bring with it deeper and deeper meaning.  So think about this today, in your own life.  Have you felt unfathered in some areas, skewing your idea and view of God as Father?  If so, where?  Then think about what ways and through who God has already been trying to Father you and have been receptive of it.

It’s something we must choose.  The Fathering does not come forced.  God wants us to choose Him, but we must begin to change our perspective.  Will you choose to be Fathered?

Lost to Leader: God’s Call Is Real

I’ve done a lot of reflecting over the last month of what God has done in my life and where he continues to lead me.  As I’ve written previously, this is a year of stepping back and seeking deeper intimacy with God and cultivating a real interactive relationship with him.  At the same time, I look with eager anticipation of what may be coming next.  I’ve learned however, that I cannot rush whatever God may be doing and one of the most beautiful things he does is take time.  Am I willing to trust that time?  That remains the question.

My pastor and friend, Tim, shared a sermon a couple of weeks back as we began a real push toward discipleship.  So many times we have people that say they surrender to Christ and maybe even take the step of Baptism, but then what happens.  From my short experience, with the exception of a few, many fall away.  This leads to the Great Omission from the Great Commission, “Teaching then to observe everything that I have commanded you(Matthew 28:20).  Dallas Willard stated that…

The Great Omission from The Great Commission is the idea that we can  be “Christians” forever and never become disciples. Christians generally don’t have a plan for doing everything that Jesus commanded. We don’t as a rule even have a plan for learning this ourselves, and perhaps assume it is simply impossible. And that explains the yawning abyss today between being Christian and being a disciple.”

One of the things I have realized is that this is a journey that only a few will often take.  But is there something we can do about that?  Granted, you cannot drag someone by the hair to make them observe and follow Christ.  They have to reach that point in their life where they can truly let go and begin to follow authentically.  I look at Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler, where Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and follow him, but this guy just could not bring himself to.  He could not let go of what he thought was his and the things he found worth and value in.  So many men and women have this same struggle.  They can’t let go.  They say the trust God, but then don’t.  Even say, “I trust God, but…..”  You can’t say you trust God and in the same breath say “but.”  That revokes that trust right away.

So during Tim’s sermon, he pushed our vision as a Church as a discipleship culture.  Bringing people in and then teaching them and equipping them to go out and do the same, creating disciples and teaching and equipping them.  It’s we are all called to do.  Tim shared a piece of my own story.  The week before the sermon, January 31, marked 3 years (2015) since the day I surrendered to Christ and told God that I would follow and trust him.  That journey started the 4 years prior to when he and I first met, through baseball.

3 Years!!!!  He used the term, “Lost to Leader.”  I half jokingly thought and shared with him that, “hmmmm, sounds like a nice book title.”  Anyway, 3 years.  In that short amount of time, God has done some absolutely amazing things in me and through me.  When I stood up and began to lead as a husband and father, the effects began to take root.  One year to the day, I Baptize my wife and children as they began to come alive and wow, that continues to happen to this day.  God put a call on my life that I could not ignore and counseling and then men’s ministry came about.

I know I’m talking about 2 different things here, but they are all related.  I realize that so often, people get all the good feelings, “surrender” or pray a prayer and then that’s it.  Whether it’s a fear of freedom or like the rich young ruler not able to let go of the false-self and where they found value and worth before.

So first, my message to these people, is it is soooo worth it, to truly let go of the old, of the less wild lovers, and begin to learn to live a life that follow Christ.  It is doable.  Look at me.  3 years!!!  It has not always been easy.  I’ve struggled with Spiritual Warfare, I’ve doubted myself, and even questioned many times, especially early on if I was out of my mind or if this all real and worth it.  John 16:33, “In this life you will have many trials and struggles, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”  This has become my life verse.  Remembering that the battles will continue, but you will be equipped overtime to handle them in a better way.  He has done this with me, for sure.  If God can use this ragamuffin, he will use you too.  You have to choose to truly repent and truly follow.

To those of us that follow Christ now and call ourselves Christian, what are we doing to truly create disciples and equip them.  I think we have failed in our responsibility in many ways, because we get excited at the surrender and at the Baptism, but then what.  I said earlier that I was in men’s ministry, but actually, I feel what God has called me into is mens’ discipleship.  That’s why we started these Anvil Boot Camps modeled after Ransomed Heart’s ministry with their Boot Camp weekends.

Discipleship includes equipping the saints and training them up to stand as the sons and daughters they are meant to be.  We have to do a better job.  Share the Gospel and share our stories of what Jesus has done in our lives, and then don’t stop there.  It takes work, but if we remain relentless, then we begin to do what we were commanded to do.

For those that are so uncertain and just unwilling to step into deep end, I challenge you to let go.  Stand as the real man or real woman that you are, not what the world thinks you are.  John Eldredge sums it up so well in Wild at Heart…

“The world of posers is shaken by a real man.  They do whatever it takes to get you back in line – threaten you, bribe you, seduce you, undermine you.  They crucified Jesus.  But it didn’t work, did it? You must let your strength show up.  Remember Christ in the Garden, the sheer force of his presence (John 18:6)?  Many of us have actually been afraid to let our strength show up because the world doesn’t have a place for it.  Fine.  The world’s screwed up.  Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.

There is so much truth here.  Again, my challenge to all of you who are just teetering on the edge, let go, for real.  It is doable.  Look at what God has done and continues to do in my life.  There is so much more beyond what I’ve written here.  I was lost, but then I was found.  I was lost and because a leader within 3 years, and I’m still growing.  It’s nowhere near done, but I’ve made the commitment to truly trust in God and follow him into the unknown.  Step up and stand in the gap.  I promise you there are brothers or sisters that want to stand and walk with you.  You don’t have to do it alone.

What are you going to do?

“Discipleship is being with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become like that what that person is. An “apprentice” of Jesus is learning from him how to lead their life as he would lead their life if he were they.” – Dallas Willard

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

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.