Friday, August 10, 2007

Our last night.

Tonight was the last night of the program. I could write many words in reflection, fresh on my mind, what has happened, happening. But sometimes pictures are best, and I will let them tell the thousand words, and the hundreds of stories.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A mother's words about her son...

I received this today in an email, a short description of a single mother's view of her son. I thought it was deep, and priceless. If we only all had mothers like this...

Anthony Heinz
12 yrs old.
Amazing artist,
Aspiring musician (bass Drums Elec Guitar)
Lover of all kinds of weapons.

Mostly loves his mom. ;)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The next generation.

We had a beautiful evening up at the cabin tonight. A man we met along the way, who actually sold us furniture at Sofa Mart came up with his son. He taught some cooking skills, grilling things, and brought his 16 year old son, James.

Throughout this process, of inviting young men into their masculine hearts, taking them out, serving, and loving on them, the question always is... what will they do with this? Where will they take it? The fear is... it will remain within, not unleashed, or given away again.

After our meal, we gathered around the fire, a tradition we have with our guests. A beautiful evening, little wind, cool Colorado temperatures, and Cory and I brought the question to the 4 young men in the program, what words would you offer James, and in your experience of high school, and the quest to become a man.

We sat for a good two hours as the 4 young men shared their hearts, their stories, and experiences while they have been here. They were honest, self-aware, courageous, and offering their stories, and wisdom to this young man. He seemed a bit nervous, all this attention on him. But that didn't matter. Almost made it all the more important.

I think tonight, it became real. What is happening here. What the young men are growing and becoming. The fire, and the meals we have had at the cabin have been about older men offering their wisdom, and experience. And tonight, those same young men who have sat over that fire, learning, listening, and receiving, gave out of their hearts, and from their discoveries. As if they were the men. It almost sounded like a bunch of old men sharing their experiences. And in some ways, these 4 young men have so much to share, and speak from. Their hearts, their lives, and the promises of God, and what he is doing in their lives.

Another generation was reached tonight. And these 4 young men gave away what they have been given. I just sat there, listening, and in amazement. I am not a father, but it was one of those moments, where you just felt so proud to be there, listening, and knowing that no matter what fears, doubts, and questions that have come each day, from our fundraising, to our own personal journeys of still needing much of this ourselves, God is at work, and it continues to be passed down.

The stories of the men... the stories of these young men... now sharing the stories to even younger men.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Heart Art.

We had a special guest, Joni Zepp come over to the cabin last night. She is a local christian therapist in town, and attends International Anglican Church with Cory and I, along with the young men. She is a dear friend, and prayer warrior and prophet for us at Training Ground. Quite a gift.
She came to do art therapy. Or really to take young men into the heart of God, through art. She explained that when we use words, that often it is describing experiences, and feelings, and that symbols, images, and pictures actually come very close to our heart, and our God. Sometimes more than words. Made me think about Revelation, and the imagery of the prophets, and scripture, and how often the words, are actually descriptors of symbolism and pictures.

Initially the vision comes... the prophets record and describe it, in their words, things our translated by language, then over the ages, re-translated into Greek, English, and then we read them.

Made me think about how much an artist God is. Of course, in nature, but even in giving his followers visions. Yes, he speaks in words, but visions too. So, Joni's point is that often the closest place to find out what is going on inside, and even at that level with what God is doing, is to see symbols... and so we painted.
The assignment was to listen with our spirit. Not our soul. The spirit God has set within us, and the two things we painted went with, "What is God speaking to you right now about your life, and the second.... what does your heart want the most with God."

It was good. I tend to use words to describe things. But this went beyond that, and to the heart. Of God, and my own.

It was a powerful night. All of us going around sharing what God had us draw, what our hearts wanted the most. It was amazing what depth was in each picture, and how each somehow described our journey thus far. Each picture unique. Each story unique. And even how God spoke to us.

It also reminded me that we are all artists, and have expression in us. There are things locked away deep with us, and within the heart of God, that seem to be hard to access at times. It felt right to have a woman at the house.

As one of the young men shared, "It was soothing just to hear her voice." We have Sister Therese coming tonight, and there is something about a woman, her tenderness, her strength, grace, not sure all how to describe it, that takes us into the heart of God that a man cannot. It seems fitting that Joni brought us to that place with God, and all the more reason why as much as masculinity bestows masculinity, it sure is right to have a woman help us in that journey.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Meals and with Men.

One of the gifts that we have all been receiving is the men involved in our program.

The guys have been quite amazed at the transparency, and honesty of the men coming through and sharing their lives, and stories, and how Christ has impacted them. I have always been drawn to scripture, and specifically the lives of particular men, Joshua, David, Gideon, Moses, and Paul. Men on a mission, touched by God, walking out their calling, their fears, flaws and their love of God. And his heart for them.

It has been nice to meet those men, today. They still exist. It is not just for a time, long gone. They are around, and although might not be building tents, or tending to sheep. They are in the financial district, and taking down drug dealers, and counseling the broken hearted in an office. To know those men still exist, and are still in pursuit of the same Kingdom that the men who had come before them, sought after.

I think for so long, there was quite a disconnect. Was the bible the stories of the only men who took this journey? I know there were many around, that were walking, and serving, and committed to Christ, but it seemed, I never knew them, or got to hear their stories, and understand how they came from where they did, or what their trials, temptations, struggles were.

I feel like one of these young men, in many ways. Hearing these stories of the men who are living out of their faith. I guess in some ways, Cory and I created this program from our own needs, and desires. Sounds selfish? Maybe... but it came out of a place where we felt whether we ever get this or not, we know young men need this.

I can't deny one of the greatest gifts is sitting with these guys around a table, and doing our best in serving them, is that we are hearing the stories of the village that lives around me. Let me back up. It is said, "it takes a village to raise a child." It seems between our cop, counselor, nun, hunters, adventure guides, fly fishing guides, business men, we are beginning to form something of that here. Some remnant of that.

I must confess, I am the child in the village, receiving. And growing, and learning at their hands. What a gift. And honor. And to hear the stories of men, it is priceless.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Conversation vs. Communion.

Tonight we just spent our evening with Sister Therese from Benet Hill. We watched a video from a trappist monk named, Father Keating. He is a master in contemplative prayer. He said something that really struck me.... the prayer, sitting in silence, being present with Christ, is moving away from conversation and into communion.

I found that quite interesting. And how it seems most of my communication works. Words. I tend to use them alot. I write alot. I speak alot. I am on this blog alot.

Sister Therese said words was only one form of communication.


That really hits me. And as she explained communion. She said think... union... "in unity" and comm meaning "with." One of the guys mentioned when he thinks of the words of communion he thinks of wine and bread. I related. Communion is that thing you do either every service, or once a month, or every blue moon that takes a long time. And gets you late to your meal.

But communion is deep. It is abiding, presence, and being with, and together. Jesus and the Father one, type of union. And it made me think isn't that what our spiritual lives are to become? Union. One with the Father, with Christ. And here I am talking about it again, writing on this about it. Using words, instead of sitting in it.

We did, sit in it. For 20 minutes tonight. In silence, and in communion with Christ. The length of most television programs is what we did in silence. It was beautiful, maddening, haunting, and everything that really should not have any words to describe, since it is communion not a conversation.

I think we shall do it again, and I hope to stop writing about it as much, and just start being one.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Tonight we had two of the men involved in our program over for the first time for the fly-fishing part of our program, Tim Tewws and Ron Smith. They ate a meal with us while sharing their stories of fly-fishing, went through the basics of fly-fishing, and went through the full large scale spectrum of fly-fishing. Details included.

It was a big moment for me. Having two men care so deeply for the program, and wanting to be with the young men and invest in these guys for the summer.

My story with fly-fishing really began in Knoxville, TN with my friend Jonathan. We went multiple times to the small streams in the smokey mountains of Tennessee to catch fish. I had no clue how to fish, how to tie a line, a leader, or any clue where to cast, but we went. Hoping for a big one.

Looking back I see my ignorance, and my fear of asking the men at the fly shop, teaching, training, or words on how to catch a trout. I went looking for something, and I thought it was the trout. Looking back now, I can see I wanted so much more.
I can remember walking into the shop off Kingston Pike. A world I was afraid of. I had to look like I knew what I was doing. Although I felt like a boy in a man's world, I was too ashamed to walk in, and ask for help, and share my need. It was a world of men, and although I wanted to enter, I wasn't about to let the boyish parts of me out, and ask for help.

I love it for these young men, they are given men to teach them. Tim and Ron are incredibly gifted men, with a passion for fly-fishing, and are so eager to teach, and tell their stories, and show their pictures. We had a great night with them. All the guys were so eager to lean in, and learn, and ask questions.

Even after the night, they have yet to touch a fly rod, or put on a fly-vest, and cast a line, but that is the beauty of it. They are entering slowly, and through story, and at the hands of men. Little by little. We will get out on the river, and they by God's grace, will bag some fish, but that is not the point. At least not for now. It is to learn the natural way. Not by googling fly-fishing, or finding the right fly at the store, but by sitting at the hands of men, and learning, and listening, and progressing to the next stage.

There were some tears tonight, lots of gratitude, and comments by the young men of how they cannot believe these guys want to teach them. A part of fathering, of men wanting to offer, their passion, and guide them. It has taken them by suprise. We are not used to it in this world.

It is about fly-fishing, and catching trout. But there is so much more. As Ron said, "it is when I have a trout in my hand, and he is settled, and I am all alone in the river, that I experience Jesus."

This is really the greatest gift in the world, to experience this with the guys and walk them into it. And I cannot wait to see them on the river, with fly-rods in their hand, with flies they tie on their own, and with a fish on their line.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sweat and Blood. Part 1 of a few

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." Sir Winston Churchill

We have had a few adventures now. Mostly in the wilderness on our backpacking trip, but have since taken the mountain bikes out, and what I find is the common theme of all of it is sweat, and especially blood.

The first aid kit has been already unwrapped, and used.

I found myself on the mountain bike ride yesterday shouting, "I want you to bleed." And then asking, that is quite an odd statement to make. Sure, William Wallace rallying his troops in war, so I am left to ponder... why did I say this? And why might I say it again? And even odder, why did the young men seem to respond so well?

This comes while entering the world of questions that potential parents are asking about our program. Mostly from moms. We have had many requests for more information. Good questions, and honorable ones. And for the most part, they have come at the hands of moms, and their concerns. Can you blame them? This is not something that is tested out, and fully understood.

But what I want to share in the most honest, and good way, and convey to them is, "we want your son to bleed."

Ok, so, I need to explain myself, and I hope to in some way in a few blogs to come.

I will not attempt to argue this right now, but offer more fuel for this conversation.
This has come as today, as part of the chalice ministry of our church. I was offering the cup to our congregation during communion for the body at our church, and saying to each member as they came, "this is the blood of Jesus, shed for you."

The theme keeps rising, blood. And blood. But what does the blood of Jesus really mean? And can we understand the metaphor, unless we have fully experienced it? We need to be reminded of the blood of Jesus, and as men, I believe our own. Especially to understand His.
It came up in conversation from our small group tonight.

One of the quotes for our time, "when you bleed, you feel that you are alive."

One of the young men a few nights back climbed some cliffs, and on his way down, had cuts and scrapes from his hands to his legs, as we called him to hurry down, so that he would not be late to meet Sister Therese, his comment was, "have the bandages ready...and waiting on me when I arrive" And then he called back and said... "and the camera."

The fascination... blood. Their own blood. And for this one young man, it was as one of the guys intepreted the experience, "your first taste of being bloodied."

Their own blood. And I cannot help to see there is something much deeper in it. And as one young man said, "this bleeding... it is good."

I have a lot of explaining to do, I know.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Our grandmother.

Tonight, we were given a sweet gift. Sister Therese, a catholic nun of the St. Benedectine came over for a spaghetti meal, and teaching. She will be taking the guys through silent/contemplative prayer during this summer once a week.

She has been a teacher to me in this way of prayer that God had led me too a few years ago.

I have come to love her, and respect both her walk with Christ, and how she has helped me see another side of the catholic faith. For most, it seems easy to write catholics off, for various doctrinal differences, but to sit with her, and to hear her wisdom, and her words of life, and scripture, are quite life changing, and eye opening. And I saw that happening with the young men.

It is late, and I am quite tired, so I must be brief, but at the end of our time, she looked at the young men, and admitted she was quite nervous about coming over to spend time with the young men. She explained how usually young people do not take very well to these concepts of sitting in silence, and her teaching. Her vulnerability was a gift. And yet, to see their hungry hearts, turned into her words, and their questions throughout the night, I knew that message had been broken for her seeing the guys, and their desire to sit and commune with Christ through this method, and her teaching.

One of the young men spoke up and thanked her desire to come, and how she is in many ways a grandmother, and especially in the spiritual realm. It was quite a moment. For me, to see the two generations coming together. I keep seeing how the givers of the gift, seem to be the ones receiving more, than the ones supposedly receiving it.

She mentioned that she had told the sisters at Benet Hill what she was doing. And how eager they were about it.

It reminds me again, of the tragedy of this generation. We have somehow forgotten the elders, and those who have gone before us. Including many of the traditions of the church. We have thrown off everything for the new. And as I sat between the world of the young men, and of this beloved women, "grandma," and all that she symbolized, with her faith, her age, and her life, I just felt the gap had been shortened for a moment.

And something was passed between the two. I am excited for more. And to sit, and be still, and receive, from grandma, and from God.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Deadliest Catch, interpreting work.

It is the first day for the guys to enter into the working world. "The world of men." Broken men, fallen men, strong men, fearful men, real men, and the men you would find if you walk out your door, and step into any office, construction site throughout this country.

Many people for the past few months have offered jobs with good men, christian community, and fellowship at work, but Cory and I have turned them down.

It seems that to become a man. We must be tested. We must feel the weight of the world around us, the brokeness, pain, and truth of the world we live in. It seems for most of us, we never step into that world, and for many it is because we are never given the opportunity. Whether it be sheltering, the hands of a nurturing society, or our culture of success, and happy smiles, keeping us away.

For most, we do not know it is down, and stepping into the pain, the hurt, especially our own (fears and struggle), that Jesus takes us to find ourselves.

After Adam falls, God curses work for man. He does not curse work for a woman. It is specific to the gender of the male. It is not hard to see the result. The pain, toil, and strife that we must enter. But I cannot believe that the end result was just pain, and blood. It would only seem that in this curse, and in this work, something of who we are, and what we need from God, and from others comes. And was his reason for the curse, to bring us to Him.

But we are an entitled generation, and rarely are we given opportunities to face these testings. We believe the end goal is college, lots of money, and a way to stay away from this sweat and toil. But if we are honest, it is in that place we must go, and where these brave young souls are entering into for the next 10 weeks, to discover themselves, and their God, and initiation into who they are as men.

These young men bravely stepped into their first day of work, and around men, and brokeness, and hardship. The stories have already begun as they stepped back into the cabin this evening.

We believe for this time to be productive, they need interpretation of what is happening. Without people there to speak of what they are encountering, and not knowing what God is doing, it can often feel unkind. And unfruitful.

We have been watching the series Deadliest Catch during the evening. We want to show the guys, the world of men, and help them see, and be able to interpet what is happening with the men around them. The show is a world of men, in a physically demanding job. The deadliest job in the world.

We have been closely watching the "greenhorns" on the ships, and how they men treat them, initiate, play pranks, and push them. It seems to be a close image and picture of where they are. Although we are stopping, and helping to interpret what is happening, they are already picking up, and discerning themselves, what is happening.

I am so proud of these young men, and I cannot wait to hear the stories of what is to come, and what God will do with them at work. I have no doubt there will be tears, and hardship, and pain for them, but it is my believe God will initiate them in this process, and bring them to a new place.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The beginning.

The only words I can write are, I am so proud of these young men, and I am honored to have these next 12 weeks to see what God has for us. I laughed as one spoke, "I am not really sure why I am here, or even what this program really is... I just knew God was calling me."

It is our heart, that He will show all of us what this is about.