Gone Fishin’

The morning fog hovers like a shroud over the still, glassy waters.  Through trial and error over the week, my son and I have patterned the bass that once in a while work their way out of the weedy shelf seventy-five yards from shore and come into the shallows. On this particular morning, we are out extra early to see if we can catch one.

We have no boat.  Marginal borrowed fishing tackle.  And only short windows here and there to sneak away during a Midwest family reunion to chase the joy that lurks in these waters. Normally I’m armed with a 4-weight fly rod and a #20 elk hair caddis, stalking brook trout high in the Colorado Rockies.  Today, it’s summertime in the Midwest.  A feast paired best with worms, bobbers, Bud Light Lime, and folding chairs.

We pray.  Our daily ritual—typically in carpool, but today, over still waters.  Side by side, father and son, enjoying the fleeting gift of a moment on the dock together, hearts raised to our God, remembering He, too, is a fisherman.  My son is growing fast, so fast. But today, this day, he is forever ten. So I silence  my phone, my “ought to be doing” list, and everything in me that tempts me away from this moment.  I choose to be here and nowhere else.  I’m all in.

We have countless strikes and blue gill, perch, and sunfish to our heart’s content.  All worth kissing (a ritual I delightfully recommend) but nothing worth keeping.  And then, at the eleventh hour, Joshua hooks up with a fighting, wild-eyed, shimmering bass destined for the stringer.

Joshua Bass

We transform him into a small but treasured feast and share bite-sized happiness among many who are not used to food going from lake to table.

It is pure joy.

Bass Served

Solomon says there is a time for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3):

There is a time to abstain, and a time to indulge in celebration.

There is a time to work, and a time to rest.

There is a time for war, and a time for play.

And, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Jesus models such a rhythm in His own life and invites us to join Him. He invites us into a way of living that is an unforced rhythm of grace.  He insists that there is a way to experience the demands of life as a light burden and an easy yoke.

Summer might be the very best opportunity in our fast-paced culture to take Him up on His offer, to cultivate a life in Him that yields light living, the kind that transcends circumstances.

We are invited to choose differently, to take unique moments in the summer to feast, rest, unplug from the Matrix, and play.

Such choosing doesn’t come without a fight; it will always involve sacrifice and fierce intentionality.

Inevitably, our “yes” to these counter-intuitive choices is built on a foundation of saying no to many other things.

As Dallas Willard reminds us,

God never gives anyone too much to do.

When we feel like we have “too much to do,” often the task master is our false self and our habitual and fruitless race after less-wild lovers.

What is it you think you need to do that steals from the rest, play, celebration, delight, and ebb of productivity into which your Father might be inviting you?

Choosing to take care of yourself and allow your tanks to be filled takes great faith.  And that faith can only be rooted in the goodness of God.

William Martin suggests,

If you try to conform to the expectations of others, you will forever be their slave. Work a modest day, then step back and rest.  And this will keep you close to God.

Dan Allender adds,

Nothing is more desperately needed in our day than the Sabbath.

In that spirit, I’m going to rest from posting and commenting on our Become Good Soil blog for a while this summer.

I’m stepping back to be filled with God and His life for me and for our family, in order that I might have a bigger portion of His heart to share with you in the many days ahead.

What about you?

What is God desiring to make beautiful in His timing for you in the next few months?

How could you intentionally choose rest, play, celebration, and delight?

Dan Allender’s suggests in his incredibly instructive book, Sabbath, that one way to the heart of the Father’s offer is to begin with this question:

What would I do for a twenty-four-hour period of time if the only criteria was to pursue my deepest joy?

It’s a vital question.

What if concealed in the waters of its prayerful consideration are treasures of intimacy with our Father and with those He has given us to love?

As Dan reminds us with great disruption,

In God’s economy there is no distinction between work and play.

If your heart is needing more encouragement to go there, I’d encourage you to read a few early blogs related to this:

Did Jesus Wear Flip Flops?

Vacation—Why We Can’t Afford Not To

Off the Grid

Some of you might still have a hesitation.  It might go something like this: “Jesus, really?  You really believe in rest, play, and delight because that is core to who You are?”  If that’s you, check out all of the resources we have on Jesus, the Beautiful Outlaw.  John does a brilliant job bringing the playfulness and utter generosity of His heart to us. The free Beautiful Outlaw Evening Simulcast is a great place to start.

Father, I confess that, as Dan Allender says, I am “far more comfortable with work than with play…far more comfortable handling difficulties than handling joy.” I come to You with these questions:

How do I open my heart to rest, play, and celebration?

What are You inviting me into this summer that is purposed in helping me cultivate a healthier, holier rhythm for my own heart and for those You have entrusted to my care?

What courageous choices do I need to make?

Where is my faith lacking in Your particular goodness, generosity, and provision for me, my family, and my kingdom?

What and who do I need to say no to so that I might give my “yes” fully to You?

What would I do for a twenty-four-hour period if the only criteria was to pursue my deepest joy?  I am willing to stay with this question until my heart can put words to what is buried deep within me.

I ask for Your forgiveness for the ways I have enslaved my heart and strength to the expectations of others.  I break those agreements, and I come into agreement with You, Father…with Your heart, Your timing, Your season, Your plans, Your provision, and Your way.

I want to take You up on Your invitation to “get away with You and recover my life.”  I choose to believe that You alone can show me how to take a real rest. I want to walk with You and work with You. I want to watch You and how You do it.  Jesus, I want to learn these unforced rhythms of intimacy with Father. I want to know what it is to walk with Father as You walked with Him—in union with His heart, experiencing His unending provision of strength and affection.

I want to live as You did: unencumbered by fear, self-preservation, and scarcity.

Triune God, I want to know what it feels like to truly “keep company” with You and to know ever more a moment-by-moment reliance upon You.  I want to live more freely, more lightly.

I receive the promise that this is available (Matthew 11:28-30).

I’m taking You up on Your offer.

Show me the next step.

004: Hello, Trouble [Podcast]

C.S. Lewis was right when he summed up the dilemma of modern masculinity:

“We castrate the gelding and bid him be fruitful.”

It’s painful.  And it’s true.

Become Good Soil is committed to helping men find an alternative path—a narrow road—that doesn’t “remove the organ and demand the function.”

Join me for a conversation with Jon Dale and Adam Paulsen, two of my peers, allies, and role models, as we consider what it looks like to become wholehearted men.  The conversation took some remarkable turns and concluded with an experience of the Father’s love that was unplanned and simply remarkable.  And all of it was prologue to offer you a gift: a never-before-released remix of the older song “Hello Trouble,” recorded by worship teacher and leader Adam Paulsen and featuring newly added Become Good Soil lyrics penned by poet/artist Erik Swenson.  All of us, graduates of the Intensive, are going after the more that God offers—and hoping you will join us for the adventure. We sure hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Click to Listen

Hello Trouble is available at the conclusion of this podcast episode.

To Download a single of the Hello Trouble Song MP3, right click on this link and choose “save as” or “download.”

The Divine Conspiracy

Richard Foster said,

The Divine Conspiracy is the book I have been searching for all my life. Like Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling, it is a masterpiece and a wonder.”

I couldn’t agree more.

If Wild at Heart is the manual for the heart of a man, The Divine Conspiracy is the manual for that man’s heart for the decade of becoming good soil.

It’s not for the faint of heart.  And sure, not the kind of book you flip open for a few pages when you are taking a dump.  It reads like a manual.  A manual for the person who is thirsty and serious about becoming a student of God and His Kingdom.

While Dallas goes into great depths of Scripture, history, and theology, his message and his life are quite simple:

“Who are you becoming?”

“The most important thing about a person is not what he does, it is who he becomes.”

The rewards far exceed the work. And the commitment to read, re-read, pray through, go back and forth from the book to the Scriptures, again and again, will utterly transform your life today and your life for eternity.

A few notable quotes to entice you into letting this great work be a part of your apprenticeship in the Narrow Road:

“We were built to count, as water is made to run downhill. We are placed in a specific context to count in ways no one else does. That is our destiny.”

“The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and  thought, His Zoe [life], into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man.  The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”  (Dallas quoting C.S. Lewis)

“When we examine the broad spectrum of Christian proclamation and practice, we see that the only thing made essential on the right wing theology is forgiveness of the individual’s sins.  On the left it is removal of social or structural evils. The current gospel then becomes a ‘gospel of sin management.’ Transformation of life and character is no part of the redemptive message.  Moment-to-moment human reality in its depths is not the arena of faith and eternal living.”

“I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live my life if he were I.”

“Kingdom praying and its efficacy is entirely a matter of the innermost heart’s being totally open and honest before God.  It is the matter of what we are saying with our whole being, moving with resolute intent and clarity of mind into the flow of God’s action.   In apprenticeship to Jesus, this is one of the most important things we learn how to do. He teaches us how to be in prayer what we are in life and how to be in life what we are in prayer.”

“We are made to ‘have dominion’ within an appropriate domain of reality.  This is the core of the likeness or the image of God in us and is the basis of the destiny for which we were formed.  We are, all of us, never-ceasing spiritual beings with a unique eternal calling to count for good in God’s great universe.”

There is more… much more. You’ll have to go with God into its depths and goodness to find out.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

The Divine Conspiracy has revolutionized how we think about the true meaning of discipleship. In this classic, one of the most brilliant Christian thinkers of our times and author of the acclaimed The Spirit of Disciplines, Dallas Willard, skillfully weaves together biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice, revealing what it means to “apprentice” ourselves to Jesus. Using Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount as his foundation, Willard masterfully explores life-changing ways to experience and be guided by God on a daily basis, resulting in a more authentic and dynamic faith.