The Last Frontier

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,

committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, its the only thing that ever has.

-Margaret Mead

Our capacity to be strengthened by God and to find peace in God is constantly at risk.

It is at risk of being diluted by rivers of ideas contrary to Life.

At risk of being squandered by shiny things that are urgent but not important.

At risk of being lost in a sea of demands that clamor for our attention but lack substance.

At risk of being stolen by a thief who actively works to take from us the very thing that alone can wholly renew our vitality.

In order to stay infused with an unending stream of life, one heroic act we must vigilantly choose is to recover our present-tense connection with God. Thus the loving plea of God’s heart to us: Remain in me.

But how do we remain in God? One accessible doorway is to practice praying with the help of a sacred mantra. Not only is this practice accessible on a moment-by-moment basic and effective in sustaining our awareness of the Presence of God, it is also an antidote to the spirit of overload so pervasive in our age.

The term “mantra” might evoke thoughts of eastern mysticism, but a cursory visit into early Christian literature quickly substantiates that this practice was regularly employed by many of the saints of old. It is these saints we have to thank for recovering and preserving the gospel of God’s accessible presence so that we might feast on its provision in this hour on the earth.

In our day, I believe the great war is for our attention and our affection.

Progress gives us more and more of everything, faster and faster. Even in these unprecedented days, the prevailing culture does not change. The destructive result is an ever-increasing division of our attention and our affection. Notice what has happened to your attention span over the last five years alone. Has it increased? Are you able to read longer pieces of content for longer amounts of time? Are you better at holding what is most important to you at the center of your attention and your affection? How long are you able to fully immerse yourself in some mental, soulful endeavor without the urge to check your mobile device?

Our soul is finite in its capacity. And when our load exceeds our limits, our attention fragments and our affection fatigues.

Our prevailing experience becomes one of overload, leading to a soul-fatigue that makes us vulnerable to losing our anchor, which is designed to be firmly set in an unshakeable hope. I want to suggest that it is to our attention and our affection that we must lovingly collect and return to if we are to participate and mature in our union with God.

Allow your fears to help identify where you have allowed your attention and your affection to wander. Friends, at this unique hour on the earth, I want to invite you to hold fast to a regular practice of leaning into a sacred mantra as a way of returning your attention and affection to God. 

Mantras are limitless, and the particularities of the one you choose will depend on what is helpful and sacred to you. Find one that works and begin to practice it regularly. By way of example, here’s one I have found to be immensely fruitful:

God, I give you my attention.

God, I give you my affection.


Father, I give you my attention.

Father, I give you my affection.


Jesus, I give you my attention.

Jesus, I give you my affection.


Holy Spirit, I give you my attention.

Holy Spirit, I give you my affection.


Our perhaps this one from Psalm 46:10…

Be still and know that I am God. 

Be still and know that I am God. 

Be still and know.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be still.


Practice this five-minute exercise, giving yourself over to the heart of God by using one of these sacred mantras or another of your choosing. Stop and settle in. Find a soul’s pace. Allow your soul to return to the One who knows your name, the One who cannot be shaken.

Whatever else is happening, God is always inviting us to participate with him in restoring things on earth as they are in heaven. Perhaps in order to be a part of the work God is doing, it would do us well to allow God to once again collect and unite our affection and attention. 

Perhaps, in time, heaven and earth would be joined in us more regularly on a moment-by-moment basis and through us in our worlds with more power, ease, effect, and joy. 

To unite our attention and our affection into God is one of the most heroic and transformative measures we might ever recover in this age. And it is available to you today.

Strength and Honor,


056: Strength in the Midst of the Storm – Prayer Response to Coronavirus [podcast]

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

Friends, it was Oswald Chambers who said, “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”

This morning I was deeply moved in my own personal prayer time to contend for God’s particular and wide-reaching provision in a world that, in this hour, has given itself over in significant ways to fear and chaos. I had the privilege of gathering (via Zoom) with a fellowship of like-hearted men from around the globe, to stand in agreement with God, praying wholeheartedly for his prevailing work in the hearts and lives in every nation impacted by coronavirus. During the prayer time, I sensed it would be a soul-strengthening blessing to share that prayer with you, inviting you to stand with us, as one. Our infinite need can only be matched by God’s infinite capacity and joy to respond. Let’s risk believing and trusting, together.

As One,


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Man Trophies

“When a father and son do spend long hours together, which some fathers and sons still do, we could say that a substance almost like food passes from the older body to the younger.”

Iron John, Robert Bly

I’m guessing we dads looked a bit suspicious walking into Chick-fil-A with a couple of aerosol cans of WD-40. But they say necessity is the mother of invention. And it was a necessity indeed. Thankfully we are regulars, a handful of fathers and sons who huddle together in a corner booth in the predawn hours. 

A few days before, one of the young men had learned that the boyfriend of his teenage sister was cheating on her. Once the rumor of his betrayal spread like coronavirus through the school, the boyfriend added insult to injury: he refused to own up to his actions and avoided her altogether, allowing the rumor mill to do his work of confession and breaking up for him. His betrayal and subsequent avoidance brought not only heartbreak to the young woman, but also humiliation.

That’s when these young men stepped into action. Believing that this young woman deserved to be treated with forthrightness, they found the young man and called him out, face to face and heart to heart. 

They did not threaten him or seek revenge. But they did confront him in harnessed strength, letting him know that what he had done was not okay. They offered him a mirror of accountability and an additional opportunity to reflect, experience remorse, learn from his mistake, and hopefully participate in his own necessary chapter of masculine initiation. 

It was one of those stories that don’t capture headlines and, in the busyness of life, often go unnoticed. I confess how often with my gaze set on the extraordinary I fail to pause and celebrate the moments of Kingdom come in the ordinary days of our lives. I am learning that in Kingdom living, cultivating the practice of celebration is essential. It felt fitting that these young men in our community were deserving of a Man Trophy, and a 12-ounce can of WD-40 seemed like the perfect tribute. 

There are many things in the masculine journey that are simple. But we cannot mistake simple for easy. It’s remarkable how many broken things can be repaired with duct tape, WD-40, or a pocket knife. Often what’s needed isn’t an elaborate tool but a wholehearted man willing to wield something simple to bring courage, strength, and care on behalf of others.

I wish you could’ve watched those young men walking out of breakfast having been bestowed another Man Trophy. Something changed in them. They were a little taller, a little more assured. They were nourished by a soul-food that can only be passed man to man through life on life in the dailies.

In a moment these young men will become kings. They are being entrusted with ever-increasing power. God willing, the small victories will turn into big ones. I find it vital that we pause to celebrate and bless the portion that is. So often we put our energy in elaborate ceremonies that end being more about us older men than they are about the young man we intend to honor. Or instead we miss the moment to celebrate victory in the dailies, and though inwardly we celebrate, outwardly we fail to make known with our words, body language and actions the delight within our heart for another. Often it’s the celebration of the smallest moments of initiation that matters most.

What needs to be celebrated in the heart of a young man or the young man within a man in your world? It doesn’t take much. Maybe a little bit of WD-40, a roll of duct tape, and a whole lot of love. It starts with us.

For the Kingdom,


2030 – Who Do You Hope to Become? [Video]


Who would you like to have become when we round the corner into 2030 a decade from now?

As we enter a new year and a new decade, I wanted to begin with a personal 14-minute video as a way of sharing my heart and strength with you as a fellow Kingdom apprentice.

Friends, the Gospel works. Here is one of the Father’s central promises for all of us who are responding to his invitation by day and by decade (paraphrased from Jeremiah 17:7-8):

I bless you as you stick with me even in the places where it feels like I have not stuck with you. I enforce what is good for you as you increasingly choose to trust in my love, my provision, my story for your life. I enforce what is good for you as you risk to wholeheartedly place your confidence in me, in the details of the fabric of your story.

Son, you will become a tree planted by rich and revitalizing water.
Your roots will be sent out deep into your soul, enriched by this River of Life.
You will decrease in fear when the fire comes.
Your leaves will remain supernaturally green and vibrant.
Worry of scarcity, of loss, of death, and of lack through drought will not consume you.
In season and out of season, you will bear much fruit.

Who would you like to become this year? Let’s do it together.

For the Kingdom,


055: The Secret To Work You Love [podcast]

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

Standing up and owning our reverberating pulses of passion rarely comes down to a singular event or momentary intersection with destiny. There is a daily-ness to our noble and sensible resignations. We dutifully go about our lives for years, decades even, and suddenly we look up to find ourselves with parts or whole swatches of our lives unlived.

–Aaron McHugh

What if the current challenges you’re facing could lead to an inner transformation that facilitates, over time, a flourishing finish to your story? Paul prayed this daring prayer for his like-hearted allies in a place called Philippi (Phil. 1:6). I too pray this regularly for the hearts of family and friends entrusted to my care. But sometimes in my own struggle, it is strengthening to see it being lived out by other climbing companions.

Become Good Soil is about setting as paramount not what we do, but who we are becoming. The hope is that together we will be strengthened and guided more deeply into becoming the kind of men to whom God can gladly entrust to the care of his Kingdom.

It takes the like-hearted to get there.

Over the years, I’ve made it a priority to invest in friendships with men who are also risking it all on God and his Kingdom. In some upcoming podcasts, I hope to pull the curtain back on other men’s lives so you can draw courage and strength from the fruit of their commitment to the slow and steady process of deep inner transformation.

Aaron McHugh has been side by side with me in this since the beginning. He attended the first Become Good Soil Intensive (which was a dozen guys in camp chairs and sleeping bags at Bart’s ranch) and has helped provide leadership for every U.S. Intensive over the past decade. I’ve participated in and had the privilege of witnessing hundreds of Aaron’s largely unseen choices where he gave a risky yes to God, allowing his apprenticeship in the Kingdom to be the primary driving force of his days and his last two decades. For years he’s been putting pen to paper the story of what it has looked like to live out this process in a corporate context. Part of Aaron’s mission as Kingdom ambassador has been to offer a framework for discovering the work you love without quitting your job. He tackles fear and self-preservation head on while mapping out philosophical, emotional, tactical, and heart-centered shifts that can help recover the narrow road in the context of work.

Aaron’s new book, Fire Your Boss: Discover Work You Love Without Quitting Your Job, launches January 14, and it’s with joy that I recommend it to you. Woven through its pages is living, breathing evidence of the slow and steady that leads to the life we were meant for, from the inside out.

Two years ago I sat down to interview Aaron to celebrate a milestone in the stewardship of his podcast and  to take a hidden look behind the scenes as he was steadily shaping what would become his new book. In the spirit of featuring soul-strengthening stories of the like-hearted, I wanted to bring some of that conversation to your heart in this episode.

For the Kingdom,



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054: Question Response, Volume 2 [podcast]

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

“Much of our effort to do things for the Lord is really the resurgence of our desire to dominate and make things happen in our own strength.”

– Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack

We celebrated the 50th Become Good Soil podcast by asking you like-hearted listeners around the globe to send in the questions coming up as you travel the narrow road. 

The response was far more than we anticipated, and so deeply encouraging. And included far too many to address in one podcast! 

The depth and breadth of the questions set the stage for Q & R to become a regular part of the mix for the Become Good Soil tribe.

In that vein, this podcast is a Volume 2 of responses to the original questions that listeners offered, including these:

When it comes to risks, which ones should I be taking?

I long for life-giving mentorship. How I do I find mentors?

When is it too late to begin the process of excavation for the soul?

I’ve done the slow and steady work of putting to death the false self. Yet I find myself in the deepest places of doing what I don’t want to do and not doing what I want to do. How do you put to death the final parts of the false man within?

Do you have questions you’d love to see considered in a future Become Good Soil podcast? Type your question on this form or leave a voice recording.

For the Kingdom,



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