So we are on the eve of the beginning of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. Most of our brackets have been filled out, the play in games happened yesterday and today. All primed for the field of 64 to go at it. We have been waiting for months for tomorrow. In these moments of great anticipation, I love calling a time out, taking a deep breath, and taking a third person perspective at my emotions. In all reality, the NCAA tournament is a first world problem. There are much larger fish to fry when looking at the state of this world, but why is this such a big deal? Why do some of us spend thousands of dollars trying to watch our team play? College kids road trip 1000’s of miles. Heck in 2011 when VCU went to the final 4 in Houston, me and a buddy drove through the night from Colorado in his piece of crap Taurus to see them play. Yes, its crazy but why?

I’d like to suggest that the NCAA tournament, or at least what it stands for resonates with our deep seated American DNA. We have been raised in a culture that cheers for the underdog. And I know this is going to sound lame, but I think it goes back to 1776. We were the underdogs, the odds were against us, we were outnumbered, but in that place, there was some divine intervention that not only did we have the honor of starting a new nation, but as a nation, we have experienced great favor and the fruits of our labor. We love the underdog because we once were in the same place.

You win 6 straight games you are the national champion. That means “no name” university in Podunk Arkansas, by a Christmas miracle wins their conference and find themselves in the group of 64, can win 6 straight games and they change history. We love and live for these stories even in our own lives. Look at the internet, thousands of stories of people that shouldn’t be winning at life but by some miracle, they are kicking butt, and that keeps us going.

All to say, lets embrace the “South Dakota States” out there that have horrible odds to even winning one game, and realize that at times in our lives we barely make the field of 64, but by the grace of God we get a shot at winning 6 straight games. Our hearts need to know that we still have a chance at winning, just like every team that will take the court tomorrow.



Over this fathers day weekend I spent some time thinking about my dad. I thought of our times growing up in a small town in Virginia, the times fishing and hunting. Spending time in the woods exploring and discovering all the old farms and mountains in that area. I also spent some time reflecting on his life as a man. A young father figuring out life much like I am now with a young family. Trying to pay bills, love his wife and children the best he knew how. I also thought about how he spent time with his friends. His friends were all from different walks of life. Some were business owners, some worked for the government, but most of them were blue collar guys walking out similar walks in life.

Then my thoughts went to my friends. The guys my age that are slaying every day to do the same things our dad did, pay the bills, stay passionate and alive for our families, and walk closely with God.

These days I think there are a lot of opportunity for men to see other men as a threat. As competition for this small amount of blessing out there. Fighting for stability, impact in the Kingdom, and many other contexts. You name it and I think guys have some hardwiring that pit them against each other. Some of it I think goes back to the fall, to Cain and Able. Brothers fighting over a Father’s blessing. Look at Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, heck, even the disciples fighting over who is going to be the greatest in the Kingdom.

But, what if as men, we had the opportunity to change that? What if we believed there was more than enough to go around? What if we were each others champions? Cheerleaders? As men, I think we have enough going on to not make it a harder road? And what if we cheered on other men because in fact, that’s what need as men the most: Other men believing in us, believing that what we have to give this world is unique and irreplaceable?

I can see it with our summer TG guys. They have been here 3 weeks out of 12. The beginning is always the hardest. Away from home, the comforts of the familiar, thrown into a house of strangers asking all the same questions, just answering them in their own personal way. Yet, last night I got a text from one of our resident guides that lives with the young men, saying they were cleaning the house starting to joke and connect. They are now turning towards each other for help with their questions about life. It is a beautiful mystery that happens every summer. Somewhere in the midst of trial and challenges we realize we cant walk this road alone.

So for me today, I want to go find one of my friends and tell them I think the world of them and how they are leading their family, or how they are offering their strength to their neighbors or community. I want to tell Brett he leads men so well, PJ that it took guts to go back and get his Masters, that Charlton cares for the hearts of his clients well, that Sam is one heck of writer, that Xan is a strong man of conviction that wants to make the right difference in this world, that Jeff has so much more to offer young men, and that Lee is the king of hearts and has an amazing sense of empathy.  These men deserve to be cheered on, they deserve to know that someone has their back just like I deserve that. And again, what if we can change that spirit of Cain and Able, that spirit of disdain to a spirit of humility and faith that there is enough of the Fathers blessing to go around?


Sometimes I get in these emotional places that produce some passion about what is on my heart and what I believe is one of the things God has called me to. The other day I was thinking about our upcoming Training Ground class, armed with such potential, needing only a few more ingredients to produce impactful, God loving leaders and this is what came out. Yes, very Jerry Maguire:

For me the question always is ”are we preparing places for people to be changed and commune with God?” Maybe it’s at the top of a 13,00 foot mountain, maybe in a conversation over a good cigar on the back porch, or with an older man sharing his story about how failure is an important piece of a man’s life. Are we always listening to the heart of what God is calling us to in preparing this next generation of talented and gifted leaders for the challenges that lay ahead: spiritually and practically. Are we stretching how they understand God’s fathering heart for them, giving them permission to risk in their faith and in their relationships? Are we helping them see their future jobs are more than just income, but a mission field filled with people that need to SEE Jesus through how they live their lives? Are we preparing young men to be leaders in their churches and families, are they role models for others to point to, not of perfection but of grace, are they ready to lead a woman and family the way they need to be lead with confidence in God and their own abilities? Are they ready to hear the voice of God and walk into the fire knowing God is there with them? Are they ready to become older men themselves, ready to show, and give, and walk along side others that need their presence as men? Are they walking in compassion towards others that are less fortunate? We know they were made good young men before they got to us, but are we helping in making them the best man of God they can be?


Father, we thank you for another good day here on planet earth…you probably have memorized the rest of Phil Robertson’s prayer at the end of almost every episode of Duck Dynasty. Tonight is that the final episode of season three of the TV Show that has created a lot of buzz, and probably for good reason.

With the young men we work with, they love the show.  They can’t say enough about it and I believe for some good reasons. Here are a few.

Accessible Tough Christian Guys that like the Woods:  I know only a few of the guys on the show actually profess their faith, but it is assumed all, in some ways are Christ followers. Yet, how many guys in your church show up with beards like ZZ Top, have sunglasses on all the time, wear camo, and duck hunt?  Probably not many.  Most men I believe want to be tough, but also most men we know are closed off. You are left to guess what they are thinking and feeling. In contrast, Jase, Phil, Psi, and Willie are accessible men.  You know how and why they think the way they do and believe what they believe. I would assume most men, brothers and fathers are not this transparent and as men we want that from the men in our lives.

Faith, Family, and Fun: Yes, they are not perfect, but they are family. They have a shared mission with the family business, they share meals together and they help raise each other’s children.  Fathers, brother, uncles, aunts, and grandparents, all in one crazy story. Plus, it looks like they enjoy having fun together, and the fact that it isn’t all completely perfect helps us relate in how we relate with our imperfect families. It gives us hope and stirs in us the desire we have in connecting with our own families.  I believe we all long for family, regardless of how messy or neat it feels.

Yes, yes, I know, it’s a TV show, and I get that, but I also think that there are some genuine things about this show that really makes the Christian male heart perk up wanting more from his life, more family, more faith, and more wilderness.

So Robertson’s, please keep me laughing at you and at myself, and spurring me on to enjoy this life we have, loving this family the Lord has given me, and challenging me to live a more transparent life.

I got a chance to read a story from one of my favorite artist about a song he wrote for his dad. He described how he struggled with how to capture the essence of his father, a man who was 60 when he was born. He went through revision after revision. It felt like he couldn’t get it right until about 20 years later did it all clicked when he felt like he had hit the nail on it’s head and the song is proof.

For me the story behind the song was the gold. Now every time I hear that song, I will know more than just the melodies and the lyrics, I will know more of the man who the song is written for. It will also make me think of my own “essence”, my presence. It made me think about if my children happened to be a musician what would they write about me and my essence, my affect on their lives.

Its hard to not stop thinking about all the victims of the tragedy in CT. I have an almost 4 year old, and as a father it hits close to home thinking about my life without her. The joy and innocence she brings is absolutely priceless.


I also work full time with young men from the ages of 18-25. A good counselor friend of mine, Sam Jolman, and I had a quick conversation about the recent shootings and he brought up a book that was written in the 60’s about the stages of manhood and said that the stage of becoming a man between 18-25 was more like a midlife crisis. I agree, it was that way for me. Graduating college, figuring out an occupation, a town to live in, and a woman to marry. Those are pretty big questions to think about and figure out. They are even more difficult to figure out without the right people in your life to give you guidance.


I have seen over and over these questions freeze a young man in his tracks, filled with fear, afraid of making a mistake, disappointing others. It’s a lot of pressure to come through for a well-prepared young man. But, I am convinced that more and more young men are becoming more and more ill equipped for today’s challenges.


So my thoughts go to guiding and caring for young men, before it goes to gun control or the mental health community. It makes me want to spur other experienced men to take risks and engage and talk to the young men in your world, maybe at church, your work, our in your sphere of influence. Older men, don’t discount your potential influence in a young mans life. Heck guys like food, who turns down a free meal? Don’t over think it, just do it.


Some people call it a “ministry of presence”. Nothing complex, just time spent doing everyday activities. I also spent some time with a young man working at a church in Virginia. He was in my Young Life club 10 years ago. He now is spending time with young men and he said that one of the most impactful times he had going through high school was his time doing everyday tasks with me. In the ordinary something happens supernaturally. Something breaks relationally in a man’s heart. Most of the time we don’t gravitate towards sitting down and sharing our lives, but get guys to play basketball, video games, or watch football, some ice is broken. Something shifts.


Please spend time with the young men in your communities. Treat them like your sons or brothers.