An Invitation

Growing up, my dad was my hero. He was everything I wanted to become. He was strong, yet playful. His courage taught me how to stand up for those in need. He was daring and always dreaming up and investing in our next adventure. He could fix anything from a broken mower to a broken heart. He loved God, and he taught me a life of wholehearted integrity. At every turn, he modeled for me and gave me access to vibrant life in God’s Kingdom. What I remember most was his laugh. And what I’ll never forget was this simple fact: no one loved me more, knew me more, and pursued me more than him. 

And he lives forever because he lives in me.

What will your children say at your funeral? How will you be remembered? What if someone was able to speak these words—of you?

It was Johann Goethe who said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

As a desire, this priority seems clear. As a practical reality, however, to recover a life centered on what matters most is a rare and remarkable treasure few find and even fewer are able to sustain.

There is an ancient path, a tried and true road that leads to a life abundant, a life burgeoning with what matters most, a life everlasting. It has always been so. And this hope whispers to us, beckons us in every moment of every day.

Roughly 2,600 years ago, a wild-eyed prophet, living through four of the most violent and tumultuous decades of his country’s history, cried out on behalf of the people:

“Go stand at the crossroads and look around.

   Ask for directions to the old road,

The tried-and-true road. Ask where the good way is, and walk in it.

   You will discover rest and what is right for your soul…”
(from Jeremiah 6:16, The Message, NIV) 

Every generation and every person experiences the devastating loss of the Gospel. And every generation and every unique person is charged with its recovery.

As a small company of like-hearted peers, surrounded by sages who have marked out portions of that tried-and-true road, our team is endeavoring to do everything in our power to participate in the recovery of the Gospel in our generation.

In May of 2019, we will host the 10th Become Good Soil Intensive. As this mission has grown and matured like fine single malt, so has the event. The 2019 Intensive will take place in a new facility here in Colorado and will incorporate more alumni participation, more sages, and more leadership from Kingdom-hearted men who have courageously journeyed through much of a decade of becoming.

It was Dallas who said, “The most important thing about a person is not what they do, but who they become.” Who will you become? What will your wife and children and friends say about the impact of your life? And how will you get there?

We are now accepting applications. The deadline for submitting completed applications is October 12th.

Find out more details about the event and access the application here.

For a behind-the-scenes peek into some of the teaching of the event, be sure to check out the upcoming series on the Become Good Soil podcast, featuring never-before-released content from the 2017 Intensive. The first episode will go live next week.

In the meantime, this week, choose an hour. Write out the eulogy you hope to be spoken at your funeral by those closest to you.

And ask our Father this question: What is next for me in becoming that man?

For the Kingdom,

Morgan

 


Photo by Justin Lukasavige

Receiving the Mother Heart of God

What would it be like to burst with joy and feel ten feet tall?(1) If that were available, where would you find it, and how would you make it last? 

I invite you wonder about the *more* that is possible. Come with me as we explore Sonship – Receiving the Mother Heart of Goda teaching I recently offered at Discovery Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For the Kingdom,
Morgan

Reflection Questions and More to go deeper into this teaching


(1) Isaiah 66:14 MSG

An Arsenal, A Library, and a Tool Collection

This was no place for an Xbox. Or any digital device for that matter.

Though there were no “danger” signs posted, the heavy equipment, hum of the air compressor, and repeated firing of the nail gun made it clear: something powerful was under way, and as with every instance of power, you’d better be attentive unless you want to get hurt. We were part of an active construction site.

The crane truck had just left, having hoisted the roof trusses to the second floor. The day’s primary tasks were clear: dig 36-inch deep holes for concrete footers, dozens of four-foot by eight-foot plywood sheets through the framed walls, and, one way or another, get them up to the second floor. Then, by sunset, cut and lay out the plywood sheeting and secure it with nail gun and glue in the hopes of having a second-story floor.

We got to work, a handful of fathers and sons. Sweat and stories ensued. The fathers sharing stories of the exposure they did (or didn’t) have as young men to this type of hard and holy work. And the young men, with shovels, picks, and tamping bars, shared their own sorts of stories as well. As is the nature of hard work and young men, laughter mixed with just the right amount of griping and vain attempts to come up with shortcuts.

It was perfect.

For neighborhood dog walkers or any other passersby, the scene probably looked like just another work day within the slow and steady process of residential construction. But on the level of the soul, these were the rough-hewn ingredients of another round of masculine initiation.

The general contractor gets it: he doesn’t ultimately build homes—he builds people.

And the atmosphere he creates touches the hearts and hands of everyone who gets involved in his work. As Francis Schaeffer suggests, for the soul of a man who has been given over to God and his Kingdom, there are simply no little people, no little places, and no little things. When the Kingdom is at hand, all manner of things become sacred, infused with the Divine in a way that cannot be explained in material terms. Through the blend of hard work, story, complaining, and play, something was being passed from older man to younger man; an invisible process more substantive than the construction project was under way.

Much to their relief, lunch break came earlier than the boys anticipated. We gathered around a roaring campfire fueled by scraps of framing material. And in that place, we were all wondrously equal. Men, young and old, burritos, fire, dirty hands, splinters, and stories.

In time, to the surprise of the boys, the conversation shifted, and the fathers moved to bestow an unexpected gift upon them: the equipment for the masculine soul.

First came the Joy Buckets: five-gallon Home Depot buckets with tool pouches conveniently fitted around their rims. Next came pocket knives, bestowed one by one, son by son. Then came books. One for each boy. Each unique. From an older man to a younger one, each naming why this book held a treasured place in his story.

For a few moments, we inhabited what the celtic Christians named as a “thin place,” a place where the veil between the eternal and the temporal, the heavens and the earth, almost entirely dissolves. As Dallas reminds us in The Divine Conspiracy, “The most important things in our human lives are nearly always things that are invisible.” And for this moment, through the grace of God, we saw Reality as it truly is. In the context of hard work, transformational stories, and masculine love, God the Father was investing in the process of initiation for each of these young men within their quest to become the man God meant when he meant them.

Over the last few decades, in journeying into the stories of men as well as in participating in my own initiation as a son and as a man, I’ve observed several key ingredients that seem universal to the process of masculine initiation.

Every warrior needs weapons. Every student needs books. Every craftsman needs tools. Each of these realties, infinitely unique in its expression for each man, offers hidden treasures waiting to be awakened and nourished in the soul of the boy. The fruit of each man immersing himself in his particular books, skilling himself in his particular tools, and learning to wield his particular weapons in love is universal: pervasive inner transformation that forsakes the mere self-life and yields a capacity to bring harnessed strength on behalf of the Good.

Library

Most initiated men I encounter have a collection of well-read and cherished books. The books a man values speak volumes about the formation of his soul. Though the subject matter may vary greatly, when I meet a man who has taken the time to learn, think deeply, and explore the inner and outer world with curiosity, his deliberation begets a consent in my own soul to risk and devote myself to deeper curiosity, thought, and imagination. His posture as a learner spurs my own intention to be a student of things good, true, and beautiful.

Tool Collection

Most initiated men I encounter have a treasured collection of well-worn tools. Tools speak of agency and competence and reflect an essence of masculinity: deliberate action and skilled engagement. Our contemporary culture often values convenience, specialization, and outsourcing over physical work and agency or general competence. Learning, over time, how to wield a solid collection of tools is a path to reseating confidence and fierce mastery within the masculine soul.

Arsenal

Most initiated men I encounter also know how to wield power for the sake of the Good. The masculine soul was created to provide in many forms. To heroically offer strength in love. To defend the defenseless and protect all that needs protecting. To spend himself in a worthy cause. To wield every weapon necessary to see that evil and devastation do not have the final word. A weapon is a terribly powerful thing. An initiated man has the ability and resolve to wield power only for the good; not power over, but power for; power in the service of love. It was Chesterton who said, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” A pocket knife is the beginning of the process of initiation regarding the peril and possibility of power. To bestow a pocket knife on a young man—and to train him to wield it in love—is cause for celebration.

The tools, books, and weapons no doubt vary in the specificity of every man’s story. Yet the essence of the thing and its symbolic role in masculine initiation cannot be overstated.

Today was only a beginning for these young boys. But I can assure you, as the fathers observed the light in their sons’ eyes, the dignity and delight reflected there, the world was being changed. This was no ordinary construction site—it was a context for bestowing masculine goodness and identity.

It doesn’t take much.

A few buckets, books, and knives, and perhaps a little bit of belief that the boy needs the man to guide him through initiation. And no doubt it takes a good bit of love and a willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes to ensure that the next generation of men will one day stand on our shoulders. They will be better, more wholehearted men than we have become. They will love their women with strength, tenderness, and sincerity. Their families and tribes will be healthier and bring an ever greater good to those in need. Families will gather around dinner tables and linger over stories. Restoration will surpass devastation. Wrongs will be righted. And slowly, in unnamed ways, the Kingdom of God will flow ever deeper, eroding the kingdom of this world and the misuse of power.

Pause with me for a moment.

Call to mind the current condition of your tool collection. Picture what it looks like. Pay attention to what rises within you.  

Call to mind your current library. Pause. Linger for a moment.  

Call to mind your current arsenal.

Holy Spirit, what are you desiring to reveal to my soul?

I want to suggest that whichever of the three holds the most pain might be the trailhead of invitation to venture deeper, to be curious what your Father might be up to with an invitation into more.

It was said of Winston Churchill in his role as a father that no man had become more of what he had not himself received. What if we became what we most wanted to receive? What if the next generation became fathers because they were fathered with wisdom and devotion, perhaps by men who themselves lacked the privilege of receiving such fathering in the parallel days of their youth? It is precisely this sort of legacy that will manifest through consenting to the process of masculine initiation, through choosing the daring path of becoming an apprentice of the King and recovering the ancient way.(1)

A collection of tools, a collection of books, and a collection of weapons. To invest in this for the soul of a young man will change the world. Let Love guide you. Your Father is hard at work. Ask him what he wants to do for the boy in you and for the boy in your kingdom, through you. One of the great tasks of masculinity is to move through the grief over what we have not received and transition into risking confidence in our Father’s limitless capacity to provide generously even still. And in turn we can become the kind of men who confess in quiet confidence, through word and deed, because of my Father, “in me there is no lack.”(2)

Through God’s personal and profound abundance, we can become the kind of kings and the kind of fathers to whom he is delighted to entrust his Kingdom.

The greatest weapon in history’s fight against evil is the soul of a wholehearted man. Let’s risk together. With a tool collection, an arsenal, and a library, let’s venture deeper with our Father and restore what’s been lost, stolen, and surrendered.

Strength and Honor,

Morgan


(1) Jeremiah 6:16

(2) Psalm 23:1

#039: Contemplative Prayer – Episode 3 of 3 [podcast]

In time it sometimes comes to pass that familiarity can give way to presumed familiarity. That presumed familiarity can then give way to unfamiliarity. And unfamiliarity can give way to boredom, obscurity, or even contempt.
– Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy


Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in new window | Download


There’s nothing like the practical.  

In this third and final episode of an Inquiry into Contemplative Prayer, we explore the pragmatism of integrating this practice into our daily lives, concluding with a third opportunity to practice together this accessible and time-tested means of experiencing the Kingdom Among Us.

If you haven’t experienced the first two episodes of this series, you’ll want to start with episode one.

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#038: Contemplative Prayer – Episode 2 of 3 [podcast]

Meditation and contemplative prayer is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him whom we have found, who loves us, who is near to us, who comes to us to draw us to himself.
― Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer


Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in new window | Download


What is it like to really know God? Not just know about God but to know him, thoroughly and comprehensively in the most essential places of our souls?

What if there were a way to practice experiential knowledge of God? What if we could regularly encounter God on a level far deeper than creedal statements through a vibrant knowing of a faithful God, even when we are lacking confidence in his reliability? How do we find a way to regularly access the life of God even deeper than our cognitive representations of things and in a manner which has the power to change our actual experience of our everyday life?

Friends, Cherie and I are excited to welcome you into part two of a three-part Become Good Soil podcast series intended to be an onramp to the spiritual practice of centering prayer.

For the Kingdom,

Morgan and Cherie

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#037: Contemplative Prayer – Episode 1 of 3 [podcast]

All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace.
–Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ


Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in new window | Download


I find it fascinating that when Jesus speaks of eternal life, it’s less often about a specific time or place where we transition into some other state of being and more often about a quality of life—robust, deep vitality—that is being made available to us, right here and right now. He offers this invitation to a rich young man who has found his trust in things of this world. (1) He regularly teaches the thirsty that the Kingdom of God is at hand. (2) He leans into this idea on the night of his betrayal and abandonment by the men closest to him.

In intercession for these same friends and for us, he cries out to his Father, “The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you.” (3)

If deep, whole-person union with God is the invitation and inheritance of Christianity, what are the means by which we respond to this invitation? How exactly do we go about entering into this union?

Join my wife, Cherie, and me as we explore some deep waters in part one of a three-part podcast series on the practice of contemplative prayer. Our hope is that together we can recover one of the greatest means of deeper union—and through it, deeper life—embedded in the rich history of God’s people through the ages.

 


(1) Matt. 19:16-30
(2) Matt. 3:2
(3) John 17:21 MSG

If you’d like to go deeper, here’s one resource that helped launch our journey into centering prayer: Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating.

 

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