First off, my apologies for skipping July newsletter. Although I was preparing a draft to send out the end of June presented several issues that demanded more of my attention than I anticipated. By the time late July was here I figured I would focus on the August newsletter and attempt to get a little more organized. So here we are…August…hot as the blazes and summer break almost over. School has either started or is about to start for our kiddos. Soon there will be a return to some level of normality or routine. How has your summer been? Has it been busy, hurried, eventful, or has it been restful, slow, reflective? Have you had some good family time or has your home been like a hotel lobby? Have you had any time for yourself recently? You know, the right kind of self-time. Not selfish time…but time for self…to slow down, reflect, contemplate, ask questions, be quiet, hear from God. You need this, you know. It’s imperative to your health…both physically and spiritually. By the way, how’s your spiritual health? I’ll be honest, so many areas of my life right now are out of whack…not in balance. For example, I’ve been reading a lot. I’m in the process of reading through the gospel of Matthew, just finished a couple of non-fiction books, and I’m in the middle of a book written by a pastor friend of mine. What I’ve struggled with is prayer. Talking to the Father and listening to Him has been lacking in my life over the past month. It’s not that there has been an absence of prayer but it’s felt more like I’m reciting a pledge and not engaging in conversation with Him. Another area is eating and exercise. My scorecard in both of these categories would not pass by any standard. While I was in Italy I noticed the type of food I was eating and how it affected my body. For example, over 90% of what I ate in those 10 days was wholesome, fresh, and homegrown. The food was fantastic and I did eat a lot while I was there. But it didn’t seem to make me feel sicky or bloated. Very little of what I ate was packaged or processed. This was an obvious contrast to my daily life here at home. Also, while in Italy our group did quite a bit of walking. There was no gym-time by any means but just the simple task of some brisk walking made a difference in how I felt. Maybe you’re experiencing the same as me. You’re prayer life seems stale or boring. Maybe you’re unmotivated or disillusioned and this has influenced all areas of your health. Or maybe this isn’t you at all. You’re prayer life is in the zone. Maybe you’re very disciplined in your diet and exercise. Whether you’re malnourished or setting records, hopefully you’re allowing time for your soul to find rest. I would guess that most of us find this to be an ongoing struggle. The one thing the Enemy wants is to make you feel as bad as possible. The reason is so you will feel paralyzed with fear and shame. If he can get you in those dark places emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually then what good are you? That’s exactly right…what good would you be? And he knows it. I hope you recognize how powerful this voice can be. It speaks lies and condemnation. This voice is a master of manipulation. It will use even the positive things in our life to weave its unforgiving web of entrapment. Many times it feels so overwhelming that we find ourselves in what seems like a hopeless state. The Enemy knows this tactic works and he is relentless in his efforts. When I look at my own life I can see times when the Enemy has been successful at getting me to believe certain lies about myself, my relationships, and even God. As a matter of fact, the biggest lie we fall captive to is believing something about ourselves that is not true. Or adversely stated, NOT believing something that God says is true. When I become aware of my deficiencies or failures I immediately begin figuring ways I can make it right again. I compare myself to others who seem to have it together. I try to “work” my way back into right standing with God by making shallow promises. I become even more stressed and burdened than before. Eventually, this leads to frustration, insecurity, and withdrawal. The very place I need to run to—my loving Father--I run away from instead. Do you hear what I’m saying? Does this ring true for you as well? Sadly, it happens too often for so many of us. Thankfully, I’m reminded of the truth. I must bring myself back to the truth of God’s Word. It’s my only hope. It calms the mental and emotional whirlwind raging inside. Once again, I come to the realization that my efforts to help myself are futile. Do you know why? Because the focus is on me...and how well I perform at solving all my problems. Most of our everyday life is based on this mentality. We’re taught from an early age to be independent, self-reliant. This mantra becomes such a part of our DNA that we’re not even aware of how powerful it is in our life…especially, our spiritual life. Ever heard the statement, “God helps those who help themselves”? Or seen the license tag, “God is my co-pilot”? Yes, these are statements born out of a mindset that I am fully capable to handle life but it sure is nice to know that God is with me. I believe this is more true for a man. As men we often succumb to the lie that manliness somehow means to never show emotion, never be vulnerable, never ask for help, never show weakness, and so on. Unfortunately, this affects our relationship with God. We think we need to be this strong and capable leader that does it all on our own. We carry a load that God never intended for us to bare alone. That’s why so many men feel the pressure to perform or put up this façade. As you might have figured by now, this is not a life of faith…authentic faith. This is not the trust that God is calling us into. Most people have a faith that seeks, but few have a faith that rests. Complete dependence is not only placed in what God has done, but also—and more importantly—what He is to me this very moment. As I consider my struggles, chaos at home, pressures at work, and my desire to make them all right again, I can become easily distracted, displaced, and worn out. The discipline of bringing all these things to God is not only the right thing to do, it is the only thing we can do to truly find peace. God beckons us with gentleness. He does not scream from afar, but comes close to us and whispers to our heart, “Here I am, will you trust me?” I hope as the summer fades and your routines return that these words of encouragement will serve as reminders of our Father’s love for you. His patience and tenderness are difficult to ignore. His grace is overwhelming and should serve as beacon of hopefulness. Consider this quote from Oswald Chambers:“The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship.” KEEPING MANLINESS IN THE NEST This month’s recommendations are things that are useful outside. Hopefully, they will make life helpful, fun, or both. Click on the product title for a link to how to purchase. ENO Hammock- For many of you guys this is old news. Most of you own one of these already, or some other brand. No doubt, this thing is awesome. It is lightweight, durable, compact, and comes in many colors. Even if you’re not a big camper, it’s great to throw up in the back yard. BTW…don’t forget the straps. They are a must-have. Grizzly Coolers- Yeti started the whole thing but they aren’t the only kid on the block. I’ve had my Grizzly since MANTIME ’16 and it’s been outstanding. It has some of the same features as other heavy-duty insulated coolers (Yeti, Pelican, Orca, etc.) with a few unique features exclusive to them. Note: the Grizzly is not cheap. But it does out perform your basic WalMart Coleman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (If you’re seriously interested, I have a friend who is a dealer and can save you 20-30% off Amazon price! Contact me for pricing) Pipe- I understand this won’t appeal to some of you, as smoking is not a habit you want for your life. I totally respect that. But there is a gentlemanly appeal to this ancient practice. I’m no connoisseur by any means and a don’t even smoke everyday, sometimes I’ll go weeks. But I have found it to be a practice that slows me down and take in the moment. If you’re interested in learning this art I’ve included a link to learning to smoke a pipe along with some entry level pipes to get you started. Amazon sells pipes but honestly, you can walk into any tobacco dealer and find a reasonable Dr. Grabow to get you on your way. Shopping the myriad of tobaccos is the man’s version of a woman perusing the perfume section of a department store…glorious!
This issue’s links to enjoyable, valuable, and considerable reads Classic Christianity- Bob George Creativity, Inc.- Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace Seven Men: And The Secret To Their Greatness- Eric Metaxas
Our purpose in planning these events is to offer men an opportunity to get together and encourage each other within the MANTIME vision (Encouraging men to reclaim the vision for their life). I understand attending every event would be challenging if not unlikely, but that’s why we’re offering several options.
*All dates are subject to change with at least a 2 week notice
Sunday, September 11 * 6:30-8p
* At the White Barn * $5 pp * BYOB Sunday, October 9 * 6:30-8p
* At the White Barn * $5 pp* BYOB Sunday, November 13 * 6:30-8p
* At the White Barn * $5 pp * BYOB Sunday, December 18 * 6:30-8p
* At the White Barn * $5 pp * BYOB
< Special Christmas Edition>
Looking for something to do with your bride? How about bringing her to Nest Fest—an all day, outdoor market on the Smith property. There will be over 50 vendors of handmade, vintage, and unique goods for sale, several food trucks, and some ho-down music playing all day. Think about it…if she’s happy, most likely you’ll be happy. Plus, it’s a manly thing to do...you know, plan something with your wife in mind. More details about this event are found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nest-fest-fall-2016-tickets-27109643
MANTIME Bourbon Trail ExperienceFebruary 23-26, 2017 v Lexington, KY Finally, the highly requested event is now on the calendar. Over this weekend we’ll visit 5-6 distilleries around central KY, learn the history behind the brands, discover the right way to enjoy bourbon, eat some great food, and the best part—bond together as men. As an added feature, we’ll recap each day with some pointed reflection about our experience and what we learned. You’ll definitely want to mark your calendar your for this opportunity.Unfortunately, there is limited space for 12 men. We are negotiating group cost right now so there is not an exact price as of yet. But an estimate would be $400-450 (not including travel to/from Lexington, KY). Once we have the cost nailed down we’ll release the signup date on a first come--first serve basis, plus, a more detailed itinerary of the weekend. In the event that there is a high demand for this trip a waiting list will be started and plans for a second trip will be considered.