Epic Archives - The New Frontier: Taking Fathers and Sons on The Heroic Journey of Manhood

Reflection and Relationship

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This week I was looking through pictures of the recent trip my son Jared and I took out West. It was so awesome and special; full of beauty, adventure and challenge.  Before the trip I had been sensing a call to a deeper understanding of our ultimate purpose as humans (not just our mission -what we do). In looking for the ultimate purpose I  take my questions to the Father as His Son. Why did the Father create humankind?  What was His heart? What did He desire to accomplish?  The Father reminded me of Genesis and Ephesians which explain we are created in the image of the Trinity and placed in the garden to be with Him. He also took me to the Nicene Creed, the Apostles Creed, and some of the mystics of the faith. This truth was foundational but I sensed He had more for my heart.  So looking back to the trip, I realize I love nature because my Father uses it to speak truth to me, to capture my heart and call me up into deeper truth, understanding,  adventure, intimacy and love. One of our stops was Sylvan Lake in Custard State Park in South Dakota. These pictures are representative of what we saw and experienced.  Take a look…
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As the Father does, He used this time at the lake to stir my heart and speak to His purpose for mankind. Here is how and where He led me. In these pics you see the “real mountains” and then the reflection of the mountains in the lake.   It’s amazing how the image is clear and crisp and becomes part of the beauty, adventure and perfection.  I felt a nudge
and some deep emotion in those moments to ask – how does the water so perfectly reflect the mountains?  Here are some thoughts:
– the water is close to the mountain: in fact right up against it.
– the water is still.  A ripple or wave instantly changes the waters ability to reflect.
– the water is a part of the larger scenery – the water is “ok” with it’s part and that lets it be a reflection of the mountains and the surrounding area
– the water wasn’t full of things that move it: kayaks, swimmers,  dogs fetching sticks and kids playing. That helped keep the water calm and smooth.
– the water stayed within the banks.  That put it in proximity to the mountains and kept it from being destructive and bring life to the animals and foliage around it.
I am sure you know where this is going! So here are the parallels between the physical and spiritual I felt lead into to by my Father.   The water is me and all children of God.
The mountains and scenery are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.    So then what do those parallels and pictures speak to me?
– be as close to my Father as I can.  The closer, the better, clearer and truer a reflection of the Trinity I will be.
– be still. Settle my heart, mind and body.  Motion does not mean progress or maturity.
– remember there is a bigger story that I am invited into.   I have a part to play, play it well but remember it’s not my story – it’s His!   My story and my life won’t matter or make sense outside the context of His Greater Story.
– keep my life less full; less busy. Make room for the real purpose of my life – reflection and relationship.
– the “banks” of my life – the boundaries around my life – are meant to give me freedom and life to those around me   Learn to live within them…
I love the way the Father invited me into this moment of intimacy and understanding  and then called me up to live it out!
For me the time at Sylvan Lake reinforced that the ultimate purpose of mankind is to be an image bearer (a reflection of) and to be in intimate fellowship (in relationship with) the Trinity (the whole of God).  (Gen1,2 Eph. 1,2)
I am sure there are more parallels to make, but I thought I’d share what I have been hearing and how that translated into to some concrete actions.
Blessings to you all as you learn of and lean into the purpose for which you were created!
Your brother in Christ,
Chris

 

Perfect Fatherhood

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I have always I have always desired to be a great dad, many of you know what I mean. And so as my Heavenly Dad fathers me, I take notice in hopes to learn something. There seems to be this process of “surprise and surrender” in my relationship with my heavenly dad. Although it always brings freedom and joy it carries a bit of pain and struggle. We probably all go through this, maybe we do not call it the same thing but it’s the process of God saying “hey there is something in you I want to heal, make whole, redeem, restore and make right” and we are well…surprised by that! We then face the moment of truth…what will I do with what my heavenly dad is saying? Do I trust him to be good to me? Do I believe in his intentions? Do I “surrender” how I think and feel to him and receive what he is offering?

In July my daughter Linsley and I left on a trip out West for some adventure, time together and to celebrate her graduation from high school. I was certainly excited to return for a second time this summer to Montana to experience it’s beauty, adventure, epic mountains and to hear words from my heavenly dad (which I always do on theses types of trips). We had also been invited to stay with some amazingly generous friends at their “Ranch,” which we love! Sissy and I had a great plan…in our 7 days out West we would white water raft the Clark Fork, rent a motorcycle and ride through the Big Hole, over Chief Joseph Pass, through Wisdom, Anaconda into Philipsburg and then round out the week with a trek up to Glacier. It was what she wanted and I was loving the excitement, the love of adventure I saw in her heart and just the sheer anticipation she had for this trip and our time together. I love seeing the hearts of my kids come alive and I had anticipated just that on this trip out West!

As we left Dayton, the day after my birthday, the security lady made a quick mention of something that in all my meticulous planning and preparation had overlooked…renewing my drivers license. In that moment I had a slight “twinge in my heart” that this might be a problem. I began to think about timing…could I leave the airport and get it renewed and get back in time? Is it really that big of a deal, it just expired yesterday? (she still let me on the plane so it cannot be that big of a deal) Where I live I have 6 months to renew it before there is a real problem. So as we flew out West…I was praying, asking God to cover this trip, thinking to myself “this is no big deal” and yet feeling that same “twinge in my heart.” The flights were great and Linsley and I had awesome conversations about love, life, college, God’s leading, being “fully alive”, etc. The trip was going well and I was excited and thankful. Little did I know as we got off the plane and got to the car rental counter that disappointment and condemnation were coming. To my surprise, no one would rent me a car with an expired drivers license…no matter what! I prayed and explained the situation to the folks at the rental car companies (I have 6 months to renew, its not really expired). That was a dead end. I quickly starting searching online for my options on renewal and made several calls to the state BMV…everyone gave me the same answer – I would have to renew in person, in Ohio. I did all I could to try and figure this out!! It then hit me like a ton of bricks, without a car, there is nothing we can do but sit on the porch at the Ranch. While the “car situation” was happening Linsley learns that her luggage has been lost…salt in an open wound. My heart started to ache for my daughter’s heart and the assault she is going to feel about the trip being “messed up” and maybe even feeling like she didn’t matter, etc, etc…by this time, internally, I am tore up and a whole range of emotion is battling inside.

What happened next is what surprised me the most…I got so angry at myself and my oversight that I could not even think straight. I did not want any texts or calls from my dad, my wife or my “band of brothers.” I neither wanted nor would I receive any help or council. I was not rude or nasty I simply isolated myself in my failure and focussed on its affects on the trip with Linsley. Self hatred seethed inside of me and then a sense of “being alone” in the world and betrayal set in. In those moments of anger a “still small voice” began to speak to me with small persistent messages…”I am here. I love you and want to father you through this. Talk to me, I care. Your failure is not my concern in this moment, your heart and our relationship are my top priority. I want to help you…what do you need?” I pushed back and refused to listen or answer. The voice persisted with the same love and encouragement. Then finally the question that hit the hardest and got my undivided attention…”why will you not receive me as your dad and simply be my son?” Let me just say I was plenty “surprised” by the question and the ensuing need to “surrender” something deep within my heart. It seems that I am ok with extending grace to others and their failure, I am good with things like accepting grace for sin nature and things that are not so much “under my control.” But when I fail and I am the only person to blame…well I just learned that I am not as quick to receive “being a son” or the grace “my heavenly dad” has to offer. I seek “perfection” which is slavery instead of allowing my heavenly dad to grow “maturity and completeness” which brings freedom, wholeness and holiness. There is this fierce independence and thought of self redemption that is not of my heavenly dad but rooted in our culture and American ideology. It has become part of the image I create, deeper than the true identity of being a beloved son of a loving dad, who fiercely pursues my heart, my freedom, my restoration and my healing. Moments like this reveal how deeply rooted these “false images” have become in me. God set himself to father me through this moment of failure, to peel back the onion of my identity, reveal the bondage and false-self and lead me into his unconditional love and acceptance.

That night while sitting on the porch….after my heavenly (and earthly dad and our “family out West”) had provided perfectly for Linsley and I…looking at the mountains and the sunset I heard that still small voice. “I love you Chris and your heart and Linsley’s heart matter to me beyond your human understanding.” I started to get pretty emotional and then some repentance and then a peace and a sense of being a son, like never before, came over me. I felt a freedom to know, I am not going at this alone and in spite of my inability to be unconditional, Gods love for me is absolutely unconditional! Without even knowing it…I had just been fathered. Perfectly.

Isn’t There More?

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Have you ever wondered if this is it? Have you ever asked yourself: “Isn’t there more than this 9-5, white picket fence, safe and secure fabricated existence? Isn’t there more? Am I missing something? What if…?”

Is this all there is? Does my life have meaning? Isn’t there more?

No…that’s crazy. This career, this safe life is what I am supposed to do.” (the role culture has scripted for you and assigned to you)

If you’re like the rest of us I bet that voice was hushed, the spark extinguished, the fire smothered by logic, reason, or some other quelling excuse. How long have you tried to smother this smoldering fire? And why? Why is it when the voice that calls us to be fully alive begins to be somewhat audible we immediately hush it? And maybe for some of us we cannot even faintly remember hearing this voice…but I bet it was there. And if you dig deep enough, if you have the courage to ask some tough questions, to swallow the red pill that allows you to unplug from the Matrix, that you will find the voice still echoes somewhere deep in your soul.
Why do we silence this voice? Because it is dangerous. We are most dangerous when we are fully alive, so we are told to stay dormant. We don’t mean dangerous in the sense of uncontrollable anger or bending to every whim. But dangerous in the sense of a Hero-one who has fully embraced his or her necessary role in the Epic Adventure; for which our Creator Himself has authored a part for you! In the age of reason, logic, and science our potential participation in this Epic story has become endangered-nearly extinct. The thought of doing anything that goes against the grain of society (even in church culture) makes us cringe.

Even if you have heard this voice, recognized it and pondered it, you may still wonder “why?” Why leave the “security” and “comfort” of this predictable life? The big question is “why?” Every story has the same basic opposing forces, the hero and the villain. I fear for many, taking a neutral stance in life gives them the sense of immunity from the villain. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being disengaged and “neutral” signifies a state of defeat. Inevitably this becomes a legacy; the story of your life becomes no story at all. “Without conflict there is no story…and without a story there can be no conflict.” (Jonah Sachs- Winning the Story Wars) So perhaps the bigger question actually becomes “why not?” Why not engage in the story, fight for God, fight for your life, your family, your legacy?! The reason for embracing and embarking on this journey is not simply to become a Hero (that would be senseless). The reason is because you and I have something worth fighting for. We have a beauty to rescue, a story to live, a villain to conquer.

So here is what we do at The New Frontier Ministries…we are guides, teachers, encouragers, mentors, and fighters. We not only reveal the truth, but assist men in embarking on this Epic Journey, showing them how to participate in and live out God’s Epic Story.

 

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