Find a field

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When you are tired of running, great things happen.

Two men in the story of David listed back to back right next to each other both got tired of running, fought it out, and won. 2 Sam 23: 9-12 These are different battles, similar circumstances, when everyone else was running, they stood their ground one to the point of exhaustion, one defending a field of beans, both  brought about a great victory. It was great because it wasn’t just for them, everyone they were in relationship with benefited.

Sound familiar? It does because this is you. I know because even if it isn’t right now, you want it be.

David, the man they fought with had done it too. When other’s were scared and ran, he did not. 1 Samuel 17 tells the story, my favorite verse is 57 when after it was all over and late in the day he was still carrying the head of the much larger man he killed, he didn’t want anyone to forget it was him who killed him, that it was him who turned the battle, that it was him who went for it when no one else would. It worked, because though the King Loved David (1 Sam 16:21) he didn’t know much about him even though he was his armer bearer and his personal musician. After he killed Goliath Saul wanted to know more than his name, he wanted to know who he was, where he was from, asking twice whose son he was.

When you stop running and start fighting, when you defend what you have you bring about great victory. There’s prep work for sure, you watch the sheep, you stay committed, you practice with your weapons. You defend the flock, you kill a bear, you kill a lion. More than that you get the sheep back. The prep work for greatness happens because you do what is in front of you. You eat what is on your plate.  Little by little you work through your stuff, you watch, you act, you learn, you grow.

Conor Mcgregor a UFC fighter is an is a fantastic example to be aspired to in many ways of doing the work, taking the steps, living the life, working hard, valuing himself, loyalty to his team, his family, his country. There seems to be a lot of hate out there for him because of his trash talk, but it’s not trash talk, rather it’s truth telling. He’s a great fighter, and he keeps proving it, he keeps rising, he keeps getting paid, he keeps showing up, doing what he said he would do, his words articulate the journey. You have to love the confidence, the dedication, the masculinity of this man who has come from low places and yet can speak at a level above the highly educated.

Conor is my guy, if he doesn’t do it for you, find your own. Find a man that speaks to you, that makes your heart burn, that connects to the places deep with in you. You don’t need just one, find many. It’s good to look up to people, it’s healthy, you rise with them and you learn and pull from their lives. Whether an athlete, a businessman, a speaker, an eccentric, musician, adventurer, artist, world leader, writer, a simple godly man that lives a quiet life, an activist, reformer, visionary, scholar, billionaire, tradesman, who ever he is, let him teach you something, let him help you become a better man, let him inspire you.

Be it Eleazar, Shammah, David, or your Conor Mcgregor. Picture what is possible. Grab onto greatness, find a field and fight for it.

 

 

 

 

Pay off

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Championships dynasty teams have men on them that are more worried about winning than the money they make to play. Tom Brady could be making triple what he is, Julian Edelman at least double, Steph Curry at least Double…the real money is in the rings. It’s delayed gratification because when they win they make up of for the lost $ in endorsements.  These selfless men have more fun, enjoy the game more, the comradery is real, they live with purpose, and have the trophies on the shelf because they took less so others could get paid more. This makes champions.

Delayed gratification is a motivating force, it keeps you looking and living with resolution, our goals come alive. Self denial pays off, both in this life and in the one to come, wait for it, when the pay off happens it’s sweet, beautifully sweet.
We live daily with choices over debt, masturbation, isolation, over eating drinking working, porn, dishonesty, these choices come with very brief pay offs at credit card interest rates.
Men wait. They wait for the right woman, the right business deal, the right home, the right friends, the right opportunity. Boys want it now.
 Benedict Arnold left what would have been a great legacy and defected to the British over money. He wanted to get paid, and get paid now. If he would have waited he would have gotten it all, instead, he lost everything, his name synonymous with traitor.
 It’s more than just being a warrior. Be the man that is wise enough to wait and get around men that cheer for you when you do. Be ok with the delay, greatness is on the way. Learn how to wait for it and go after it at the same time.

Scare stories

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I have been called crazy many times, but it’s not true. I am of sound mind, edgy yes, crazy, no. I have done a lot of things in life, dangerous things, but the risks were calculated, I went in prepared, half scared, half excited, I came out each time bruised but not broken. In fact I’ve never broken a bone, cracked a few, torn cartilage, many pulled muscles but never hospitalized. I will win most scar contests, I have 28 beauties and counting. I credit my many near misses to long list of scare stories.

My grandparents were great at these, ran through the whole family, my dad was especially good at them. My first 25 years of life was spent on a farm around a ton of equipment and livestock that could kill you. Many of our friends had missing fingers, toes, arms, and legs. Many didn’t survive. Crushed by a tractor, drowned in a manure pit, head blow off by a riser under to much pressure, many accidents in heavy fog, men crushed under a load of peaches, men made into hamburger by a PTO shaft, loggers done for by snapping cables, ATV roll overs, chemical poisonings, electrocutions, propane explosions, bull gorings.  It was and is a dangerous vocation.

From an early age I have heard these stories, they keep me safe. I can’t tell you how many times we drove over this bridge near our house and my dad would tell me of the high school classmate of his that jumped off into shallow water and spent the rest of his life in a wheel chair. I love to cliff and bridge jump, I do it all the time. The stories don’t stop me, but they make me know for sure that it’s deep enough, every time, 100% of the time.

One of the many beautiful things about ManAlive is that we’re doing life right in the middle of a bunch of brutal scare stories. There are successes every where, so beautiful they will make you cry, but there are failures too, costly mistakes. When they happen, we all learn. When you are doing life with other men, sitting in a small group, hearing the stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly, you learn. Someone else’s stupid makes you smart. You feel the severity of the consequences of an affair, the cost of dishonesty, the destruction of passivity, anger, sin, haste, procrastination, unforgiveness, fear, lack of discipline. When you see the effects, it wakes you up, it helps you make correct decisions. Scare stories make you wise.

You only get to hear these stories when you are in relationship. When you are connected and invested you feel their pain, it’s not just some news article you read, you’re involved and it sears your memory.  A wise man has many counselors so get deep into relationship. Let them love you, heal you, teach you, and protect you. Don’t be fear the scare stories, rather look for them, embrace them, and let them help you live both humble and human.

 

 

Audacious

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We come to group for us, because it’s good for us, it’s good for our family and everyone we’re in relationship with. Because we take care of ourselves we are able to help others out of that place and it is not draining, rather it’s life giving. Pretty cool set up.

On Monday nights we’re around men that are getting better all the time. Men that are crying that have never cried. Men that are talking that have never communicated openly. Men that are learning how to touch that have never been touched appropriately, Men that are learning how to feel. It’s so very fun, I mean what else would we rather be doing? Not much really, besides exactly what we want to do….and wow, that helps men too because we’re doing what brings us life and we’re able to pass it along with out effort, so very cool.

Once you get in a small group, sober up, and figure out what is going on you can begin to help other men because you are now farther along than some. Helping other men get better is satisfying, it’s a constant helpers high. Feels so good help people and as you move along, as you get better, you keep going deeper. Sobriety turns into freedom and you start working on other areas of your life and able to help other men in their marriage, their family, their finances. Wait,…… isn’t this a stop looking at porn group? Yes, that is where we start, but once you’re past that all the fun stuff kicks in. It doesn’t end because there is always better, there is a deeper level of freedom, it is on going radical self improvement.

The dead are raised every Monday night, not just then but every day of the week because it’s not a program, it’s not a ministry, it’s a lifestyle. Everything you ever wanted is just on the other side of the sin you have been stuck in, many of you for decades. What are you waiting for? If you live here in Redding come to group immediately, if you don’t, move here. If you can’t, join an online group. Get out of that casket you’ve been living in and dance.

The God you have been reading about in the bible is real, so very real. Everything he has said is true, everything you have done is redeemable, it will fix, it will be better than you ever thought possible, you will live the life you couldn’t even dream about before. Its there for you, it’s here for you. Come and get it, come and take it. You are Robin Hood, and many poor will be fed from your future deeds.

You have been weak, but you will defend the weak. You have been poor, but  you will prosper and give generously. You have been in fear, but you will live courageously. You have been alone, but you will have true community, and real honest intimate friendships. You have been passive, but you will become aggressive. You have been late, but you will be early. You have lived in depression, but you will be happy. You have lived a constant lie, but you will live honestly, openly, and sleep like a baby. Where you are weak, you will become strong.

I work hard not to use big words, even though I like some of them, usually stay away as because I prefer simple clean speech but I wanted to introduce you to a new word if you don’t know it, if you do, read the definition again, it’s one of my favorite words.

au·dac·i·ty
ôˈdasədē/
noun
  1. 1.
    the willingness to take bold risks.
    “her audacity came in handy during our most recent emergency”
    synonyms: boldness, daring, fearlessness, intrepidity, bravery, courage, heroism, pluck, grit;

    informalguts, gutsiness, spunk, moxie
    “a traveler of extraordinary audacity”

     

    Repeat after me: “I am audacious” say it again “I am audacious” This is you, if you were a fighter pilot it would be your call sign. in your future you will be able to see what others cannot, dream dreams that others cannot dream, accomplish things others cannot. You will believe they are true, you will see it, you will run after it and others will follow. What you have been that is not desirable you will leave behind and take only the good with you. You are purging, moving on, settling into a new you. You are audacious.

    You will soon come to the place of supreme confidence so that you will speak like David spoke in Psalms 17:15 I will see you because have done no wrong and when I awake your presence will fill me with joy. Or like Psalms 18:20 The Lord rewards me because I do what is right, he blesses me because I am innocent. What? Innocent? I do no wrong? I don’t get it?….. David sinned, he killed his friend, he lied, he was passive with his children, he had sex with another mans wife. What’s is going on here? How can he say that? I’ll tell you how, because David knew he was forgiven, he had received grace, he had walked it out, embraced the discipline and his God, and finished well.

    This is your future. It’s shameless, it’s audacious, it’s powerful where once you were powerless.

     

Taking ground

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Great testimonies from men in the room about how their lives are being changed, how they’re healing, how they are prospering, standing up for themselves, loving themselves are so common I need a big box of most improved trophies to hand out. Josh Watkins, a group leader in the room just emailed this to me, pretty cool.

This has been an overwhelmingly stressful few months but but because of the tools I’ve learned, the relationships I have developed, and the new clarity of mind I now have it has allowed me to rise in a healthy way and do what needs to be done in the middle of some crazy chaos right now. 

Currently in my life I am running two businesses one of which has an employee who is having surgery next week and the other that has many logistics that must be worked out from a distance in the next week. I am currently working a second job out of town in open heart surgery on top of that I am living with my parents for the days at a time while I work here. I am on call 24/7 and have been for about 5 months. I have a three year old daughter who is in ICU after being flown there without me yesterday. I am unable to go to her and my wife for three more days due to the nature of being on call. I myself have been sick for over a week.

I have a daughter with a serious boyfriend and we have completely open communication. I have a very good relationship with my 13 year old son and we talk about everything. My seven year old daughter adores me. My wife’s heart is finally resting secure in me after almost two years of sobriety and investment back into our marriage. I know this because we talk constantly about everything and when I opened my travel bag this weekend, there was a note inside telling me that I have finally become her other half in a way that she didn’t know was possible.
I just took a shower after working out and feel absolutely no desire to act out. I feel as though the Lord has spoken to me today telling me that what was my greatest weakness (acting out sexually and porn), has become in turn the very thing that has led to my time of greatest strength. I feel solid, confident, powerful, and at peace. None of the above was possible in my life for over 17 years. I lived in daily failure, fear, and anger.

All this stress would have in the past pushed me over the edge, but that’s not even close to where I’m at today through surrender to Jesus as well as being proactively involved in other men’s lives and battles, I have become a warrior that is winning, and taking ground rather than cowering in the corner.

Chainsaw

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21 years ago I was a caretaker in British Columbia and was given a chain saw as a going away present, a Husqvarna 257 air injection. I’ve never had a problem with it, starts and runs like a champ. In the first half of our relationship together it cut upwards of 8 cords a year to keep us warm. We’ve lived through desperate times together, in cold country, under harsh circumstances. It’s been my friend, my therapist, & companion. It feels good in my hand, I like the sound of it screaming in my ears, the smell of the mixed gas, the bar oil, the saw dust.

For several years we lived in a one bedroom shack in the woods, we had chickens, the house was fed by a natural spring, but it had no insulation so we burned a lot wood. I almost always cut wood when I’m in pain, I cut wood to get out of the house, to get outside, to get my head right. I need the wood, but I need what getting the wood does for me more.

The sound of that saw is the sound of healing to me. For years in the rain I worked through mountains of rejection, regret, hurt,  injustice, and disappointments.  I didn’t pray through it, I worked through it, one cord at a time. I’d save the splitting to help me work through the anger. It feels good to bring that big maul down and break up big rounds, nothing like it.

I help men heal, it’s what I do. I know what they need, and more often than not it’s a chain saw, a shovel, a hammer, a wheel barrow, a trawl. I don’t counsel men, I work with them and we talk. I rarely meet for lunch or coffee but I do like to meet up while digging a ditch, planting a trees, fixing something, or burning brush. When you work with a man, you get to know him. You sweat together, you feel the project, your moving, you see how he thinks, you gain respect for each other, you get something done.

I have felt some of the most intense emotion of my life out running that saw, I’ve had it out with God on the most extreme levels in the woods with it by my side. I have worked until exhaustion set in because I didn’t know what else to do, I’ve wept with that saw in my hand. It’s made me feel powerful, and it’s broken me. I’ve bled with it (literally) on many occasions. I am generous in loaning out my possessions, but not my saw. I care for it, sharpen it, keep the mix right, the oil full, the filter clean, I chain it up when I go on vacation. There are many like it, this one is mine. We’re as close as something with out a heart beat can be. Someday when it dies I will mount it on my wall, when people ask why, I will tell them, and we’ll feel it together.

I ran the Husqvarna today, it felt good and once again it helped heal me. That saw has been a gift that has kept on giving. Find a saw, find a forrest, find yourself. Our faith is foundational, good counselors are a gift, friends are essential, but sometimes you just need a chainsaw.

A better you

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To get better we have to have a place to process and the best place to learn to do that is in small group. We have only one rule to protect you, and that is confidentiality, nothing leaves the room. Depending on the small group leader and his style we also have several strong suggestions that most enforce as well, they are, don’t interrupt when some is speaking, no advice, no fixing, no church words, and no bible bandaid horizontal fix-it prayers.

What we learn in group, we take into life and make it a lifestyle. We get good at processing, and letting others do the same. The rules and the strong suggestions still apply in life, they work, its a code we live by and expect from others. It’s healing.

Processing is messy but we need it, we have to do it, we gotta have a place we can lay our stuff out there, get it in the light and look at. When we are able to share openly with out judgment with men that we feel accepted by we come alive. We start talking about things we have never talked about before, we get ideas, find answers, we become known, we get to know others, we correct behaviors, we feel loved, we heal, we get better together.

What I say from the pulpit i have already processed. What I say up front is true, its who I am, it’s solid. What I say during my share in small group is often messy, imperfect, and my thinking isn’t always spot on. It doesn’t have to be, I’m working through things, I’m listening to myself talk, I’m getting my thoughts out there, purging, cleansing, organizing, feeling. When I’m done if I’m doing it right I feel better, I feel loved, I feel accepted. I recognize what isn’t true, I see my faulty thinking, I make adjustments, I redefine my goals, I plan my week, I get prayer, we hug, I’m good, I’m ready to go, it’s just what I needed.

Jesus the night before his execution processed with his Father. He was working through things he he didn’t want to be working through. It was tough, painful, extremely uncomfortable and he put it to words, he let his emotions flow, his words speak honestly and it got him to the place he needed to be. His process saved us.

Like Naaman in 2 Kings 5 to be healed he had to to dunk himself in the dirty water water to get healed. Not just once, but many times. Get over the pride of perfection and the know that the mess that come with processing is temporary but the result is a better you.

 

 

 

OK holding a naked woman

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Just got this email from one of our former group leaders Josh Richards(he is also leading a group in his church down in Pasadena). I love this guy, so honest, passionate, & humble too. He’s an Australian so he’s naturally cool and that accent is boss. We did an impersonation contest at Man i Fest a few years back and he did one of me….hilarious, he won hands down. Be warned, this is about as edgy as I dare post. Many will be uncomfortable with this, but it should be known that this level of freedom is not only possible but happening. Here’s that email, enjoy.

Just wanted to take the time to share a rad testimony with you about my journey with God and growing up as a man. I remember when I started coming to group and it was my second or third week I think, you got up and told the men there that they can get to such a place of freedom that they could be in a room with a 100 naked Brazilian models and be cool. Well, I remember then, feeling the impossibility of that. I honestly felt such a longing for that level of freedom even though I was stunned that it could be possible. Two years of group beat me into shape, being married, and starting my own group down here in LA has also kicked my teeth in, in a great way.

         So, the other night I was acting for a buddy in his interactive, experimental horror show. Its gnarly and hes been asking me to come on board for about a year now. Every time I’ve said no, due to there being a bunch of full frontal nudity and super, super hardcore horror themes. Finally he convinced me. He told me that I wouldn’t have to interact with any of his actresses and that I wouldn’t have to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I read the script and lo and behold I actually liked it. Turns out it was one of the most fun, freeing and enthralling experiences I have ever had in my life. I’m convinced that the Lord brought me this opportunity,  regardless of it being horror, or glorifying evil and nudity. But I love the guy who owns the show. And it turned out I had to be in a small motel room with a dead body (the part being played by a tiny, very naked and very fit women. ) I can not stress enough how awesome it felt to suddenly realize when she stripped down in front of the crew and I, that I was not triggered at all. I mean she was gorgeous. But apart from thinking that she is beautiful, there was no discomfort,  no melt down, no inner lust or torment. Man, I was so stunned that I had some how arrived at a place of freedom like this and could look her in the eye, see her completely as a human being, and fist bump her and say, good job with that last scene. I didn’t feel shame talking to her. I didn’t feel drawn to stare at her. At the end of the night/show she gave me a hug and told me she had had a lot of fun working with me. I responded the same in earnest.  I wasn’t lying. It was a great to act again. And it didn’t matter that she’d been naked or whatever.  Later on my buddy asked me to pose in my bloody makeup for a promotional picture for his website.  There is a tone of bloody, gory and sexual stuff on there by the way. So i said yes, I was on a high from finishing the show. The actress, now showered and clothed, was told to undress once more, as she was in the show, I was told to take of my shirt and shoes and smoke a cigarette as I had been during the show. It was at this time I realized that they were asking me to hold her, as if I was carrying her freshly murdered body over the threshold.  The actresses looked me square in the eye and asked, “are you OK with holding a naked women?” As if it was some sort of sarcastic challenge.  I replied, “yeah, no worries.” And so there I was, now hold this naked girl in my arms. Smoking away, shirtless and my heart was good and at peace. I accidentally placed my hand on her breast at one point and calmly apologized and she replied that it was not a problem at all. Mate,  I couldn’t believe myself.  I felt so free it was like being a new man. I told my wife everything and she was so stoked. Its cool that I didn’t even have shame when telling her about it all. She saw my heart, and to quote my wife, she is proud of me and my break through. I guess it comes with the industry down here. And id rather men of character be in roles like the one I was and can keep those others safe guarded. As long as roles with nudity or sexuality are around. But besides that, the show was so much fun and it felt so good to act again. It was literally the most fun I’ve ever had in my short acting career. I’m super stoked, so humbled and feel so loved by God and my wife, Its awesome!

Thanks for creating the room for me and the men and loving me well.

Love you mate,

Josh Richards

The Man Alive Way

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Written by my friend Jerry Coughlin a former sports commentator, now many things including father, business owner, MBA, Bethel staff, leader at Man Alive, and and long with me a huge Patriots fan. This is his writing, enjoy. 

Its playoff time in the NFL.   For The New England Patriots and their fans the preseason is finally over and the real season finally begins.  Despite all the ridicule the team endures surrounding media induced controversies designed to knock the team off of their pedestal the Patriots continue to flourish year after year.  One of the amazing things about the Pats is that other than Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski the Patriots are superstar free.  Many of the key members of the Pats were overlooked by other teams, plucked from the NFL’s trash heap or were reclamation projects of players that had experienced behavioral issues with other teams.   Brady, himself was the 199th player drafted in April of 2000.   In the 16 seasons since he became the starter during the fall of 2001, he and Coach Belichick have been to six Super Bowls, won four of them, been to 9 AFC championship games and won the AFC East a record 14 times.  Other players like Randy Moss and Corey Dillion were viewed as high maintenance, but found success with the Patriots.   More common are players like Dion Lewis and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler.  They were undrafted free agents who have become starters for Belichick.   

The Patriots latest reclamation project is Michael Floyd.   He was arrested in Phoenix, drunk and passed out at traffic lite.   He was scooped up by the Pats and on January 1st became the MVP of the  season finale against the Dolphins.  He had this killer block on a Julian Edelman TD.  http://fw.to/M094JpW    Floyd should have a great post season and if he can get his life straightened out he should have a career with the Patriots.  If he follows that path he will join a long line of Patriots that had great careers after other teams overlooked or gave up on them.

Why are the Patriots so great at turning overlooked players and problem players in success stories?   The simple is answer is something called the “Patriots’ Way.”   It’s not an official concept but something the players refer to when trying describe what it is that makes playing for New England different.   A big part of it is that the players are accountable to each other.  Patriots’ players and staff don’t put up with your nonsense.   If you become a locker room cancer you are out.   This past offseason they cut a former number one draft pick and traded another for this very reason.  Pats players also lift each other up, encourage each other and push each other beyond what a player could do on their own.  They have a simple mantra “Do Your Job.”  Do what you are paid to do, do what is expected of you, and don’t let your teammates down.  It’s a “Band of Brothers” mentality.  Failure happens in sports and even Brady throws interceptions.  Under the Patriot way your teammates have your back, but failing to try, failing to work hard and failing to give it your best effort will not work in the Patriots locker room.  Patriots’ players also have learned to trust to their coaches.   They know that their coaches will be put them in a position to win so they trust them and do what they are taught to do.  

The Patriots’ Locker room mirrors what the Man Alive room does on Monday nite.   No one is beyond redemption.  No one is forgotten.  What makes the room work is that we have all failed, but we have each other’s backs.  We lift each other up.   We create an atmosphere of fearlessness that gives the men in the room the ability to confess their failures and to push themselves into unchartered waters.  It takes courage to be part of ManAlive.  Failing is always a possibility when trying to grow, but playing it safe means never growing and never becoming the true you.   We need to trust the men around us and we need to be trusted by them as well.   If you are not willing to “Do Your Job” and not willing to do the work it takes to be successful then you need to move on.  To be part of the ManAlive team takes hard work and a willingness to confront the issues that sabotaged you in the past.  Being part of Man Alive is a privilege and being part of a winning organization takes hard work.   The leaders in the “locker room” know what it takes build a championship team.  Trust them.  Listen to them.  If you are humble and teachable then those leaders and the men in the group will become some of your most trusted friends.  They will stand in front of you, beside you, and behind you.  They will be the hand that helps you up when you fall, the hug you need to get through a bad day and the foot that kicks your butt when you need to stop being a victim and move forward.    Man Alive is made up of real and raw relationships that free us from the lies and torment of the past while molding into the men God created us to be.    

 

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