Jonathan: A Portrayal of Courage

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Last night, a couple hundred guys (by my estimate) gathered at a local church for the COURAGE Men’s Event.  Jonathan Holcomb, Associate Campus Pastor of LifeGroups and LifeMissions at the LifeChurch OKC Campus (fit that on a business card), shared a message about courage using Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14 as an example.  Here’s a brief summary from the mental notes I took:

Redefining Courage

When we think of a courageous person, we typically default to someone who served in the military or put their life on the line as a police office or firefighter.   No doubt those are courageous roles, but when we accept that alone as the definition of courageous, we falsely deny that we have ample opportunities to be courageous ourselves.  Of the various definitions you’ll find for “courage”, the general description is taking a step of action in which you face danger or overcome fear to do so.   I could spend the rest of this post on examples but here are a few life applications:

– Overcoming the fear of what people will think or say about you when you boldly proclaim and live out the Gospel

– Spontaneous giving to the point that will put you in financial uncertainty

– Quitting your job to start your own business

Jonathan (not Holcomb) Attacks the Philistines

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to refer to Jonathan Holcomb as “Holcomb” and Jonathan from the Bible as Jonathan.  Alright then…

The key verses Holcomb used to reference a portrayal of courage in the Bible is 1 Samuel 14:6-7.  It’s important to read the scripture leading up to these verses to understand the context of the story taking place, but in attacking the Philistines there were 3 keys Jonathan did (or didn’t) do:

1)  He didn’t pray – Wait…what?  That’s a good thing?  It’s comically ironic (and he acknowledged it) that Holcomb said this given his church just started a series of message on Prayer.  But he’s right.  Sometimes we default to “I need to pray about it” when God has already called you to something.  Jonathan knew he had the power of God in him and knew that he should be the aggressor and take on the Philistines.

2)  Jonathan didn’t know what was going to happen – Oh boy.  (One of man’s worst enemines…The Unknown!  Scripture says “perhaps” the Lord will act on their behalf.  He knew what he was called to do and did it, even though he didn’t know the outcome.  It would have been understandable had he been fearful  but he either overcame the fear or overcame Satan’s temptation to make him fearful.

3)  He didn’t attack alone – God didn’t design us to go at life alone.  He sent the disciples out in pairs.  Iron sharpens iron.  A critical core value of TrueNorth Ministries is the power of sharing our stories with transparency and authenticity.  Trey Dixon, TrueNorth Executive Director, spoke last night as well and did exactly that.  When we share our weaknesses and downfalls, other men build us up and it encourages men to recognize the power in their own story.  He encouraged us to take a courageous step, which is different for all of us.  Trey said this about Jesus calling fishermen to be his disciples:

“Jesus didn’t bless their talents.  He blessed their willingness.”

God has called you to be part of a community with men.  You don’t need to pray about whether or not to seek it out.  Don’t know where to start?  Check out the TrueNorth Men’s Groups.  That is your next step.  Now, for extra motivation (and entertainment)…

 

 

 

 

 

Under Construction

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To improve something, most times it’s necessary to break down what exists in order to build it into something new and better (we can all say the same about what God has done with each of us).  We can complain about construction and the traffic that comes with it, but when it’s done, we’re not griping about the new paved roads, extra lanes or whatever was done to make it better for drivers.

We’re making some changes to the TrueNorth site (which I’m sure you already noticed) that will enable us to do more and do it more efficiently.  The functionality changes are already underway:  listing our events and registered small groups.  Speaking of small groups, if you’re in a men’s group and want it registered on our site, contact our Executive Director, Trey Dixon, at trey@truenorthokc.com.  We’re continuing to work on these things and will also improve the aesthetics as we go.  Feel free to browse through them!

Hang with us during these changes and we promise to deliver more frequent content and resources for you!

 

Engage

Men,

At TheRock this past week, the question was posed: "What are you engaging in?"

More to the point, "What is engaging you?"

"We have a choice to engage in something bigger than us or smaller than us. Our core desire is to engage in something bigger. You have a choice to engage in something not only bigger than you, but better because of you. That's the invitation of the Gospel." —Derek England

Are you engaging in something bigger than you or something smaller than you? Have you "checked out"? As God calls you to live for something bigger than you, what is your next step?  

The Bible compares our life to morning fog: It's here one moment, but disappears in an instant (James 4:13-14). Francis Chan best illustrates how short life is in 4 minutes and 19 seconds.  

What is God calling you to engage in? You have an inkling, a feeling of what it may be, but, to be perfectly honest, it's scaring the crap out of you. Is there a book inside you? Write the first page. Feel like you need to step up and lead your family? Take your wife's or your kid's hand tonight and pray with them.  

Maybe you're reading this and you know your next step is simply cutting something out. Download internet accountability software. Confess that sin you've been hiding and focus on putting an end to it. Stop watching too much TV. If you need to cut something out, chances are you thought about it as you read this paragraph. 

Maybe you're trying to do all the above on your own (like most guys) and you're realizing it's just not working. Get into a community of men who desperately want to follow Jesus and engage like you do because you were not made to engage on your own. Drop Scott Soliz a line with "Next Step" in the subject line. He will help get you plugged in (soliz@truenorthokc.com).

Something not only bigger than you, but better because of you. That's the invitation. That's Jesus. Take the next step. Today.  
Walk. ENGAGE. Live.

 

Staying Connected to the Source

This April will be my second time attending Basecamp. You might be saying "…So?" So what is so special about that? I will be revisiting a camp which, just last fall, changed my life in many ways. Why would anyone care to know it is my second time to attend Basecamp? Most kind people might say, "Good for you! Bless your heart,” with a slight sense of pity. I am about to let you in on a little secret, so stay with me.

Each year, TrueNorth puts on these camps out in the wilderness. Okay, not totally in the wilderness, but close. As men, we step away, many for the first time, from our home, work, school, and families. We get together as authentic, real men of God who want more of Jesus.

We spend time on fun activities such as laser tag, paintball, human foosball, and more. All these great outdoor activities smack in the middle of God's country. Away from Twitter and Facebook, disconnected from TV and the world. Many who attend were asked or even dragged there by their friend, told, "You have to come!" None really get it until about day two.

The first time I attended, I had a good idea of what it was about, but that wasn't enough. You see, I could be told about it until I was blue in the face and I wouldn't quite get it. These camps are not just about being out in the wilderness away from it all, learning how to be better dads, husbands, or men. They are a time to disconnect from the world and connect with the source, our God.

So why fork out more money to go to the same camp? First, I know there are things I missed last time I was there. Second, and most importantly, I have to stay connected to the source. And yes, I spend time with God just about each and everyday. But staying connected to the source is so vital, I will do all I can to strengthen that connection to God, my creator, my friend.

So how about you? Are you doing everything you can to stay connected to the source? It's not too late . . . sign up now.

Brotherhood: Living In Times of War

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A common thread among men is the idea that we need to be self-sufficient. The self-made man is often praised or admired, but the truth is that there is great danger in being self-made. While I do agree that being able to stand on your own is admirable, it is also quite dangerous.

The idea of making it to and staying at the top of your field without the help or support of others is quite dangerous. That idea makes the assumption that this climb is either a one-time battle or that this person has superhuman powers. If you are one of the few who have made it to the top without depending on others, then congratulations. Now what happens when you encounter trouble? 

Trouble Is Coming
It is no secret that while living on earth we will experience trouble of all kinds. This becomes apparent early in life, so it is no surprise. We can see that in the book of John, Jesus tells us of this fact.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)
 
Learning How To Fight
We need others to help us to be successful in life. Even the most stubborn individual can admit that. As followers of Christ, we are facing another battle against an enemy who is powerful: the devil.

As Christ followers, we have forces which are at war within us. We are at war! We wake up each and every day at war. If you know anything about war, you will realize that you do not want to fight a war alone. You need a group of people willing to go to war with you. Those who will never leave you behind.

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT)

Knowing Your Enemies
Our enemy, the devil, wants nothing more than to take us out. The evil one and other forces of darkness are always plotting ways to derail us from the path God has for us. As we grow closer to Christ, the target on our back becomes even larger. We must learn how to wage war. We must realize we need others to wage war with us.

This war may be news to you, but now that you are aware, I must ask you a few questions. Who is going to war with you each day? Are you able to recognize when the enemy is attacking you? Do you know how to fight this battle? We need each other! God did not intend for us to fight alone. It's time to find your brothers.

Brotherhood: Life-Changing

At True North Ministries, we put on amazing camps for men, striving to change their lives forever. What if I told you that having a band of brothers walking in Christ with you could change your life even more? Would you be interested? Interested enough to follow this journey further?

We know that having a group of men to speak into our lives can be helpful. What about this makes it life-changing? Can't an app on my phone do the same thing? If an app on a phone could do this, we would not need others. Having a band of brothers will provide accountability, encouragement, and follow through; it can and will change your life if you let it. Stick with me while we discover why having brothers in Christ can change your life.

Accountability
When I think about the word accountability, I think about someone nagging me. Questions like, "Did you do what you were supposed to this week?" What I don't think about is accountability done out of love and support. Having another man to hold you accountable in a loving and kind way is something that is rarely experienced unintentionally. This is something which must be sought after.

Encouragement
Encouragement is one of those things which is often overlooked and underrated. Face it: we all have days in which we could use a pick-me-up. It would be great to have just one person to check in on us and lift our spirits from time to time. Now imagine having 6–8 men who could do that type of thing. Think that would help? You have no idea!

Follow Through
So, having someone to occasionally check in on you is great, right? But what if I told you about having a group to lovingly check with you consistently? A group to push you forward in the direction of your goals?

Those dreams you have which you thought were unattainable? Maybe they were just unattainable on your own. The marriage you had always thought was just for special people? The friendships you thought were not for you? You guessed it; maybe you were looking at it all wrong. It is time to start doing life together with others heading in the same direction. It is time to find your band of brothers!

Stuck in Boredom? Live Free!

It appears Puddles could benefit from a weekend at our Boot Camp. If any guys out there have a similar feeling about their life, you can probably benefit from a camp, too.  

Click here for boot camp info and registration

 

 

Going Up?

This is one of my all-time favorite Sportscenter commericals. Looking back, I never realized anchor Jay Harris was portraying a modern-day example of living out James 4:7

Brotherhood Defined

If you have ever have attended an event put on by Ransomed Heart or True North Ministries, you may have a greater understanding of the term "brother" in our journey following Jesus Christ. It is a term which becomes second nature among attendees as saying hello. Take a minute and step back into everyday life, and you probably don't hear the term used quite as much. Attendees will never forget the meaning and the experience of finding their true brothers in Christ, but what about the rest of the men?

To explore this idea further, we must first understand the concept of our brothers in Christ. This term is not referring to only our blood relatives or stepbrothers. The term "brother" is referring to our relationship with other men who are adamantly seeking Christ. See the scripture below.

"He replied to him, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' Pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
Matthew 12:48-50 (NIV) http://bible.com/111/mat.12.48-50.niv
Also see Mark 3:31-35 NIV.

So our brother is not only someone who loves and appreciates us, shares the same bloodline as us, or shares the same family name. Our brother is a man who is seeking God and strives each day to live out God's will.  

Oh, okay; so what does this mean to me now? It means that we are not alone in this battle we call life. We have other men to fight alongside us. Often men are led to think that to be a man, they must be self-sufficient and rely on no one else. This could not be further from the truth. God never meant for men to live this life on our own.

So what other men in your life are fighting this fight alongside you? Not people you are just acquainted with, but men who know the details of your everyday life. They know the things you struggle with or the dreams and goals you are striving towards. These men hold you accountable, build you up, and get in your face when needed.

If that last paragraph left you with the realization that you don't know any other men like that, you aren't alone. It just means that it is time to surround yourself with other men who will remind you of what's important. Men who will encourage you and build you up. Men who will pray with you and for you, day in and day out.  

Now is the time to find that group of men. Now is the time to find your brothers.
 

What Is BaseCamp About?

True North Ministries was created because of the changes we saw in men's lives after they attended one of our weekend boot camps. We run two camps each year and a third one with new material for those who have attended a basic camp at least once.  

Click Here For All Camp Details & Registration

What Do We Do During the Weekend?

The weekend consists of sessions that are based on John Eldredge's book, "Wild at Heart." We watch video teaching of John Eldredge himself and incorporate live responders to share their stories relating to some of the session topics. Eldredge frequently uses movie clips to portray his message.  This Good Will Hunting scene is one of my favorites from the weekend (but I'm not going to tell you how he relates it to a Godly, masculine heart).

After each session, we give every guy about 20–30 minutes to find a spot by themselves around the camp for quiet time with God. When you unplug from all the "noise" in your daily life, you'll be amazed at how powerful these quiet times can be.

To quote a friend of mine after his first boot camp: "That was the best time with God I've ever had." 

And, of course, we have free time. We have about three hours of free time both Friday and Saturday afternoons, which allows for guys to play paintball, shoot skeet, ride go-karts, hit the gun range, or just relax (and plenty of other activities are available). When we're done at night, we always have an awesome guy movie playing for whoever wants to stay up for it.  

What Will I Get Out of Boot Camp?

That's a question I can't answer for you, because it's different for everyone. I think that's the case because creating specific behavioral changes in men is not our goal. It is, without question, a result that we hope to see, but the goal is to get men to rediscover the masculine heart that God gave them. Our perception of a "man" has been influenced by so many worldy things. When men recognize how God created them to be, the behavioral changes follow.  

You'll see the changes in your family life as a husband and as a father. If you're not to that stage in life yet, then you're just getting a head start. The camp will impact your job. Maybe you'll change course, or maybe you'll push forward even stronger on your current path.  

I can tell you that it's an opportunity to connect with other Christian men. I can also tell you that you'll see transparency in men that you most likely haven't seen anywhere else. That transparency is contagious and true change comes from it.  

What If I Can't Go the Entire Weekend?

Here's my answer to that one: You need to go for the entire weekend. We understand that it's difficult to leave family, jobs, or other actvities you're involved with, but this weekend is worth it. We've had guys' wives sign them up for another boot camp after attending one because they saw how God worked in their lives. Go ALL IN, fellas!

If you think you need this, don't question it. Satan will most certainly try to talk you out of it. Commit to it and sign up here.  

If you have any other questions, please feel free to shoot me an email: mattamilian@gmail.com.