Michael Jr. – The Setup & The Punchline

Let’s start off with a disclaimer, not because I owe you one but because it’s important for everyone to know that we (Christians) are all one church.  We have men involved with TrueNorth (and women with Changed) from many different churches.  The message given at Life.Church this past weekend was unique, with a professional comedian preaching on using your story.  You can imagine why I loved it (story is one of our core values).

As you watch, you’ll start thinking, “Soooo, is this guy just going to crack jokes the whole time?”  And yes he does, but he hammers home a point that we at TrueNorth are all-in on.  You’ve been practicing for something your entire life, and you probably don’t know it.  What have you been practicing for?

Michael Jr. put it in terms from a comedian’s perspective:  “There’s a setup and then a punchline.  Your setup is your practice over the years.  Ask God to reveal to you what your punchline is.”

Watch the sermon:

Loyal & True in Tragedy


Saturday was a horrific day for the Oklahoma State community, and it isn’t the first tragedy the OSU family has dealt with.  We had the men’s basketball team plane crash in 2001, the women’s basketbal coaches’ plane crash in 2011 and now a woman drove her car into a homecoming parade crowd, killing 4 and leaving more in critical condition.

I can recall where I was when I heard the news of each of these, and it never sets in immediately.  I start picturing the scene and am in complete disbelief.  Then reality begins to set in and everyone is left wondering…why?  I didn’t personally know any of the victims from these incidents, but as part of the community (and a father of a young boy), I’m heartbroken.

What are we supposed to do as Christians here?  We’re supposed to believe that God will use everything for good, but how do we tell this to someone who doesn’t know Jesus?  Don’t get me wrong, I believe God can and will use it, but I can’t fathom how He will do it and why He thinks it’s necessary to use the death of innocent people to do it.  It doesn’t make sense.

It might sound like my faith is wavering, but I assure you it’s not.  Christians aren’t supposed to have it all together and we sure aren’t supposed to have a clear understanding of awful things that happen on earth.  Proverbs 3:5 confirms that.  Here’s what I do know: God does work during these times, but so does Satan.  We have to be aware of what 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God

And then John 18:36 as Jesus is explaining to Pilate why his own people turned him in:

My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.  But now my kingdom is from another place.

Satan does not have ultimate authority on earth but Jesus is very clear this world is not his kingdom, so horrific things are going to happen and evil will attempt to prevail through them.  I wish I could provide clear answers for people.  I wish I could write a post that people would read and think, “Ah, yes that makes sense.  I get it now.”  But I can’t and I don’t expect that response.

I go to Revelation when life doesn’t seem to be going my way.  I love this reminder of the hope I have in Jesus.  He’s coming back and he will make this world new.  You can’t love Jesus and not be overwhelmed with joy in this truth:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:1-5

Writing this is my way of pushing the darkness of Satan back.  I refuse to be rendered disabled by circumstances of this world.  I’ll grasp on to the hope in Jesus Christ and pray like a mad man for the victims, their families, their friends and everyone affected.

To the victims. To their families. To their friends. To my OSU family.  And to Jesus.  Forever let’s be…

Loyal & True.

Everest: What is Your Adventure?

I’m going out on a limb and saying there’s at least a small part of every man that will want to take a shot at Everest when watching this movie.  For a while, it had me thinking, “You know, I could train for this and it wouldn’t be that bad with a guide.”  By the end, I was thinking a nice, beginner’s hike would do just fine for now.

This is one of those movies I reflected on a week later and couldn’t get over how much I enjoyed it.  The story is an incredible portrayal of our walk with Christ. I’d love to go into more detail about how this relates Jesus and the adventure we’re on by following Him, but I’m avoiding being the spoiler.

If you look up various definitions of “adventure”, you’ll find  a combination of descriptions including the words risky, exciting, undertaking and experience. My personal opinion is that something doesn’t have to be dangerous or risky to be adventurous.  To me, it’s about getting out of your routine to experience something new without guaranteed results.  Avoid giving into the question, “Well what if it doesn’t work out well?”

When I hear “adventure”, I immediately envision myself in the mountains on a hiking trail, but there are so many other forms of it.  For instance, my wife and  I started having Adventure Date Nights once a month.  We alternate who plans it but one of us plans something we’ve never done or a place where we’ve never been.  They have ranged from seeing the “One Man Lord of the Rings” show to an evening at the OKC Boathouse District to The Escape OKC.  The result is that it keeps our marriage fun and helps avoid falling into a routine.  We watch our fair share of Netflix, but that can’t be our life.

Being adventurous is crucial to your spiritual life because your walk with God can’t be routine.  He’s always at work in us and that means we can’t stay idle on our journey with Him if we’re embracing that work within us.  I’m not saying you have to climb a mountain to be a stronger Christian man, but add a little spontaneity to your life.  Engage in conversations with people you wouldn’t normally talk to.  Pick a different restaurant on Friday night.  They’re small steps but they’ll get you out of the habit of always taking the safe, comfortable route.

Make sure you see Everest.  See for yourself how it stirs up the masculine, adventurous heart God gave you.  Hold on to that spirit of adventure and live it out.


God is Better

We sometimes take a sin we struggle with and complicate the issue of conquering it to the point that we forget why and for who (okay, “whom” for the grammar police out there) we are even trying to conquer it!  You don’t engage in a battle with Satan over temptations he throws at you for yourself.  You do it for God and in return he makes you perfect through the blood of Jesus.

I used to struggle with pornography.  If I had decided I was going to beat that addiction so I could reap the benefits of being free from it, well I’m just jumping out of a burning three-story building with nobody on the ground to catch me.  From lust to pride.  You stand up and fight Satan because you’re an Exodus 5:13 man for Jesus, not yourself.  You are part of His army.

At TrueNorth, we create environments where men can hear from God, but not because we want to see guys change their behavior.  We do it because we want men to hear what God is calling them to so they can walk with him every day.  The behavioral changes come, but they come out of a relentless pursuit of God’s heart, not a relentless pursuit of conquering one sin so you can bathe in pride.

I love how this is portrayed in We Were Soldiers in which Lt. Col. Hal Moore (Mel Gibson) led hundreds of men into a battle in Vietnam, where they were drastically outnumbered in their enemy’s backyard. Had his men gone out there to fight solely for themselves, they wouldn’t have stood a chance.  Instead, they walked with their leader and fought under his command as he led them to victory.

When you engage in these battles, you’re not choosing yourself over sin.  You’re choosing God over sin.  Francis Chan nails it with this sermon jam…God is Better

Home from BaseCamp…Now What?


What a weekend at BaseCamp!  We’ve been hosting camps since 2011 and God has been all over every one.  Stories were shared, agreements were broken and now men are living free thanks to the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ.  If you weren’t there, I can’t describe in words how God changed men’s lives and I’m not going to try so sign up for the next one and experience it for yourself.

You were given next steps to take on Sunday before you left camp (including finding a men’s group), but I’ve had something on my heart ever since Saturday of camp and felt it was important to share.

We heard numerous times, “I’m bringing 25 guys to the next one!”  And yes, you absolutely should be an inviting machine, but I want to challenge you by piggy-backing off what Trey Dixon said:  Camp was just the beginning.

Bring every guy you can to the next BaseCamp.  We want them there and God will do tremendous work in their lives.  The key in that is that God is doing the work and he doesn’t need BaseCamp to do it.  He needs our willingness to be his hands and feet every day, wherever we go. Scott Soliz brought this up in our small group time at camp and it’s so important that we get this.

If you’re thinking of 25 guys you want to bring to BaseCamp, don’t settle for getting them to camp as your mission.  Take what you experienced at camp and share those experiences with them.  Recreate the type of environment we had all weekend.  Yes, there is something special about unplugging from the world for four days, but God is calling us to do his work every day.

Don’t limit God to BaseCamp to be a miracle for other guys.  Get involved in a men’s group and replicate the authenticity and transparency we all witnessed at BaseCamp.  More importantly, get some one-on-one time with the guys you’re thinking about. Take an intereset in their lives and invest in them.

In order for TrueNorth Ministries to reach its fullest potential, we need guys who come to our events to take our mission and apply it in their lives daily:  Create environments where men can hear from God.  You don’t have to start your own camp.  I’m talking about environments like having a real conversation with a guy over a cup of coffee.

I’m pumped for all the lives that were changed.  Now go be part of TrueNorth and help change more of them.

TheRock Roundup: Running Your Route

Each Monday following TheRock (TrueNorth’s monthly event on the first Thursday of every month), we’ll post a summary of the message and highlights.  We’ll do our best with these posts, but they won’t be near as good as the real thing. So join us next time!

Derek England coached us up at TheRock on September 1st and talked about fulfilling the role the God has planned for you rather than the roles that are glorified in the world.  He started us off with a simple question:  Are you happy?  To answer that, he asked two more basic questions that will answer the initial one.
 1. Where Am I?
 2. Where Do I Think I Should Be?
 Spoiler Alert:  The closer those questions are to each other, the happier we are.
Like a football player who gets delegated the plays to run, sometimes our happiness is determined by what makes us feel good.  There are three keys to the game that allow us to overcome that.
1. Close the Comparison Trap
We get in the habit of evaluating our lives on a scale that measures where our life stacks up against other people.  If you’ve been to BaseCamp, you’re familiar with the label of “Poser”.  Most men are professional posers, meaning we can put on a front and hide the negative stuff going on in our lives.  The stuff we compare ourselves to is only part of the story:
My neighbor just bought a new truck.  I wish I could afford that right now.”
“He’s starting his own business?  That would be nice to have the freedom to do that.”  
It’s not fair to compare yourself to those around you.  In doing so, you either discount that person or yourself.  Instead, let’s examine Paul’s attitude when he was sitting in prison.  He’s behind bars but he’s content because he’s right where God wants him to be, not based on anything he possesses.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  – Philippians 4:10-13
2. Celebrate
We started a tradition at TrueNorth board meetings.  We start each one by celebrating wins.  A “win” can come in many different forms:  a friend meeting Christ, a successful event, a new small group formed, etc.  Why do we celebrate these things?  It’s easier to be happy when we’re celebrated for what we’re doing and because what we’re doing is significant.

Our enemy is constantly trying to convince us what we’re doing is insignificant.  It’s a dangerous place to go because when you start believing you’re not providing value to a greater mission, you’ll cut back your effort or quit altogether.  And why not?  You’ve bought into the lie that you’re not a factor.

That lie is called out in 1 Corinithians 12:12-31.  We’re all different parts of the same body.  You’ve heard the scripture but read it again while thinking about the role you play as part of the body.

Let’s go back to the football analogy.  Chances are you didn’t grow up as a kid dreaming of the day you’ll be blocking defensive ends in the NFL.  You were dreaming of heaving that last-second hail mary or breaking tackles and juking defenders as a running back.  Why?  Offensive linemen aren’t celebrated like quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.  How many offensive linemen are on your fantasy team?

But the bodey of Christ doesn’t need random guys to serve as the linemen.  It needs guys that God designed to be linemen blocking with their full ability, which was given to them for that specific purpose.  You put that defensive tackled on his back and let your running back go for 15 yards.  The crowd won’t go crazy over it but you know it was significant.

When we accept and celebrate our roles, we can celebrate others for their role.  You can get hyped in the end zone when you and your fellow linemen open a hole for your running back to walk into the end zone.  They’ll get the stats, but you can all celebreate the achievement together.

happy dance animated GIF

3. Sideline Strategy
At some point in your life, you’re going to be sidelined, whether the coach determines someone else is better suited for the role at the time or an injury brought you down.  In life, it could be marriage problems, financial struggles, death of a loved one, etc.
When you’re on the bench, be hopeful rather than hopeless.  It’s going to storm.  The rain is going to fall, the streams are going to rise and the winds are going to blow.  It’s not a question of “if”, and not even “when” but “how”.  How have you prepared yourself for these moments.  James 1:-2-4 serves as a guide of what to focus on when your riding the pine:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Nobody enjoys the feeling of an imminent vomit or complete exhaustion during a tough workout, but we love the results.  And that’s why we do it right?  We train so we can be that much better.  So when that storm comes, embrace it.  Remind yourself that God will build and develop you through it.  The results will be worth it.

Now ask yourself again:  Am I happy?

Picture God coming out of press box and down the stairs and across the field to put His jersey on you to cover whatever stains, rips, injuries, you have.. You are now celebrated because of whose team you’re on and whose jersey you wear.  Imagine Him coming onto the field to tell you to hold it together.  Keep going forward, even when it hurts.  He’s right there with you.

How to Dad: The Dance Recital

Quaker is pulling on the heart strings of dads everywhere, especially those who have daughters.  Enjoy your Monday!

TheRock Roundup: Stop Being Plumb Crazy

Each Monday following TheRock (TrueNorth’s monthly event on the first Thursday of every month), we’ll post a summary of the message and highlights.  We’ll do our best with these posts, but they won’t be near as good as the real thing. So join us next time!

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 16.32.06

We had a great message from Nathan White last week on Psalm 46:10.  If you haven’t used a plumb line before, they’re used to determine a perfect vertical line (pictured above).  It can’t be used if it’s not still.  God instructs us in Psalm 46 to be still for the same reason.  We can’t be used when we’re trying to move in a dozen different directions.

Nathan ran his own business with more than a dozen employees and it was moving at a rapid pace.  Accomplishing the daily agenda to ensure the business was successful kept his mind in constant motion.  They had a job at a local air force base, which required you to have a badge to enter each day.  When he went to the security office to renew his badge one morning, God intervened.

He was arrested and spent nine days in jail.  The kicker…he didn’t know why.  His own attorney told him he could get him out had he murdered someone but couldn’t get him out this time.  While in jail, he asked for something to read because he was going crazy sharing an above-capacity cell with other guys.  He received a Bible.

It turns out he had three warrants out for his arrest in Texas because he was the victim of an insurance scam.  He was released but can you imagine nine days in a crowded jail cell with criminals?  That is the extent to which God needed him to be still.  I think one hour would be plenty for myself and would give God a quick, “Okay dude, I got it.  I’m ready to go now.”  No sir.  Nine days.

Are you comfortable being totally still?  I’m certainly not.  I’m always on the move.  Even in the car during an hour and a half drive, I’m constantly thinking about what work issue needs to be addressed or what project needs more attention.  If it’s not work, I find myself repeatedly scrolling Twitter to see what recent current event is going down.  It drains me mentally.

Read 2 Kings 4:1-7 and apply it to this analogy:  Are you a reservoir or a river?  A reservoir can pour out everything in it, but the supply will eventually run out.  A river is constantly flowing with supply from an ever-giving source.  Don’t fill yourself with the world and things of it or your productivity will be capped.

Nate was the plumb line and the world had him constantly swinging.  In reality, he was causing himself to swing.  He filled himself with busyness, among other things.  Our attention is pulled all over the place when God should be the focal point.

Takeaway Questions

What do you have that you need to surrender to Him?

What blessings are you missing out on because you’re too full?

What are you waiting for?

Are you too full of anger to receive love?  Too full of mistrust to receive grace?  Too full of pride to receive mercy?  Too full of busyness to receive peace?

Here’s an exercise for you to do this week.  Go to a place where you can have complete silence without distractions. Take 30 minutes and just sit there.  Don’t force anything.  Just be still and experience Jesus for that moment.

The Best Christian Response to Abortion & the Planned Parenthood Controversy

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James: 1:19


I’ve watched all five of the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress.  They’re painful to watch and it stirs up a level of anger in me that (in full transparency) makes me want to introduce my fist to some of the people in the videos.  That’s my initial thought in reaction to watching them, but as we know, our initial thoughts are usually worldly rather than Godly.

I was working at my local office (okay…a local coffee shop) recently and an earthquake initiated a conversation between the man sitting next to me and myself.  There’s nothing like a little 4.5er to get two strangers talkin about ministry!

His name was Terry and he runs a local non-profit organization called Crossroads Clinic.  They run two clinics in Oklahoma (Guthrie & OKC) where they offer free pregnancy tests for verification, free ultrasounds and free STD testing (they do not perform or advise on abortions).  Their primary focus:  women with unwanted pregnancies.

What I loved hearing about the clinics is they don’t try to sell or push women to avoid abortions.  Yes, they absolutely want women to choose a different path, but they leave the decision up to them.  They love on these women and share all their options with them, such as adoption.  Most of the time, when the women agree to see the ultrasound, they decide against abortion.

Back to my anger.  It’s justifiable to an extent.  My anger isn’t with someone because they had an abortion or are considering it.  I know women who have had them and I don’t think any less of them because of it.  This post isn’t about the politics behind abortion.  It’s about how a Christian should react to what’s going on.

Terry is doing something.  He’s truly making a difference for the kingdom of God with his actions.  Not everyone has to do something about every moral issue, but if something is rocking you emotionally, like these videos have for me, perhaps you need to do more than post your thoughts on Facebook (or a blog!).

Not everyone can start a clinic, but you can give financially to that clinic, donate your time or consider adoption.  What good is sharing the option of adoption with these women if there aren’t enough people to adopt?

Big shout out to Terry and others at Crossroads Clinic for serving God and serving people.


Cliff Notes: Uphill Battle

Cliff Notes is a series of post based on finding biblical truth in books.  

Sebastian Junger went to the front lines with our troops to portray as best he could what it’s like on the front lines.  This book primarily takes place in the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan.  It’s not Christian-based but it’s a fantastic read and you can still apply many parts of it to the spiritual battles we face.

There are different kinds of strength, and containing fear may be the most profound, the one without which armies couldn’t function and wars couldn’t be fought. There are big, tough guys in the Army who are cowards and small, feral-looking dudes, like Monroe, who will methodically take apart a SAW while rounds are slapping the rocks all around them.  The more literal forms of strength, like carrying 160 pounds up a mountain, depend more obviously on the size of your muscles, but muscles only do what you tell them, so it still keeps coming back to the human spirit.

Paul tells us in Timothy 4 that physical training is good, but it will only get us so far.  We need to train ourselves for godliness.  Junger put it well, “…muscles only do what you tell them, so it still keeps coming back to the human spirit.”  You can look like a freak of nature with your shirt off, but if you haven’t trained your heart and mind spiritually, that physical strength won’t fill the void.

Wars are fought with very heavy machinery that works best on top of the biggest hill in the area and used against men who are lower down.  That, in a nutshell, is military tactics, and it means that an enormous amount of war-fighting simply consists of carrying heavy loads uphill.

I’ve been at points when I see guys who are on absolute fire for Christ and I can tell just by being around them they are a strong spiritual warrior.  We see guys like that and think, “Dang I want to have that same fire. That strength.”  Well, you can, but you have to be willing to carry those heavy loads up the hill to put yourself in position fight battles with that kind of strength.

What does the uphill trek look like for you?  For many, it’s time to allow God to break you down so he can be the sole focus of your life.  That might mean dropping a hobby to free up time for spiritual training.  It also might be recognizing sin in your life and repenting.  That uphill climb is different for all of us and for some, it’s going to look much steeper and the load is going to be heavier.

However steep the climb and however heavy the load, I can tell you this:

It’s worth it