The mens' group at the church I attend had at least one man attend the “Band of Brothers” boot camp. He in turn began to get others excited about it. Many of us have decided that they wanted more and we have chosen to stop playing church and be the church God called us to be. More, seems to have come through the author John Eldredge.
Meeting in small groups, this is the first book that we, as a group, read, Wild at Heart Revised & Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge (Apr 19, 2011). I found this book to be a very emotional journey for me but you have to understand that I had reached a point in my life in which I had become desperately sick of the pain inside and the fear filled life I lived.
I am sharing this with you because the battle for the heart and mind is common to all of us. A friend of mine who had already been to this “boot camp” was very excited about the changes he was experiencing in his own life. I was hooked because something had to change inside of me and so I signed up immediately. In our meetings everyone of the men talked about the changes in their lives and marriages. Many were on the verge of divorce and God has restored these marriages. Even within the confines of a “church” there are many wounded.
Just prior to going to camp I was reading in John Eldredge's book Waking the Dead, that God will open wounds so that he can heal them. I knew immediately that I was going to have some big emotional wound ripped open, and I hoped I prepared for it.
As I read my bible, or lately one of John's books, I write as I feel inspired. I suppose some would call that journaling but I have never thought of myself as being one that journaled. Here is what I wrote and experienced while at the camp and after.
Although this is not an exclusive picture our group many of us signed up to go to the boot camp.
This was the last day we were there and we all wore the t-shirts we were given so that later we could take a group picture.
In a way I did not know what to expect when I got there, but I knew what I heard and saw, in terms of changes, was something that I wanted and needed. Let me give you a heads up here. I am not some young, immature Christian; I have seen, heard and experienced just about everything, and I use this precept to judge the teachings that I run into. If you are staying close to scripture and building up the body of Christ then you have got my attention. Turn yourself into a Jim Jones or David Koresh and I am walking, and taking anyone that will listen with me. A full disclosure of what happens at camp was not coming but again it was the positive changes in men's lives that kept me focused.
To be honest, early into the process I received an email talking about how during free time, there would a golf contest, volleyball, and swimming in an ice cold pool. I wrote back that I would not be participating in those events. I had every intention of focusing on all that I could get out of this short time of rescue. I am remembering a line from a song that goes a little like this, “you don't know how desperate I have become.”
I included this picture to give you an idea of how beautiful and serene this place is. My hope is that if you need change in your life and do not mind being treated like a king for brief moments, then I am hoping that I do not spoil the adventure, for every Hobbit desires a grand adventure.
Here is what I wrote:
A couple of days before the boot-camp I read that God would reopen a wound in order to heal it. I wondered what form that would come in. I found out.
Friday mid morning, we were released from hours of teaching, exhortation and testimonies to a mandatory time of silence. The object of this is to speak to God internally, hear whatever he had to say back and write it down. Because of what my friend had told about his experience I expected that this first quiet time would be something that would really touch me deeply. That was not the case, and again I am thinking of a quote that I will botch. In the Chronicles of Narnia Aslan responded to a question about his actions with another character. His response was, “I am telling you your story, not hers.”
My first thought was, I wanted to be in earshot of the music that played constantly during waking hours because it seemed evoke a communication in me, but every where I turned there was somebody already there. I ended up sitting in the dirt next to a horse pasture for most of that time. When I finally moved back to a grassy area my heart began to open up.
That period of silence ended and I broke for lunch. I decided to sit with my friend and his group so I sat my books down and laid my jacket across a chair in close proximity. For some reason I looked back to see an associate pastor from my church move my stuff and take my place at the table. You want to talk about opening a wound. This act is an integral part of one of the biggest wounds I have.
Allow me to describe some of my wounding:
- I cannot tell you how old I was, around 10 or 12. We had gone to a church picnic with a friend of my father's from his youth. I was playing with that man's son and I think we were playing hide and seek. Some girl who happened to be in the park and wanted to play with us decided to ruin our game because we would not let her play in ours. She left us alone and about 10 minutes later my friend and I had quit and had gone to the bathroom to clean up. That girls monster of a brother came into the bathroom and slugged me in the face for hitting his sister. That girl lied.
My father's reaction: beat me and lock me in the car. My friend told them what had happened and I was eventually released from my prison with no remorse coming from my father.
- Raised in church my heart was wounded repeatedly. A man who had been a youth leader (but not over me) eventually, just prior to my being married, asked the woman I was to marry why she was going to marry that loser. The lady I eventually married thought I needed to know; I did not.
- My number two brother would lie about me and my father would beat me.
- I was always small in school and got pushed out of the way.
- Told by my mother that I was never to fight back, stripping me of my appropriate growth into manhood.
- Hearing my dad tell my mom that I would be tied to my mom's apron strings all my life and I had to hear that.
Far to often I mentally assented to the negative thoughts and they became a part of who I was. Doing the best I knew how my reaction was to reject anyone associated with that pain.
Why would that be important to you? Well, I happen to believe that we all go through life sustaining wounds and I care enough to try to prevent you from suffering for a lifetime.
Here is what happens when you do not address the wounds - Wounded men generally grow up to be big, angry, short fused men like me. (It seems to be taking me weeks to edit this and make it something of significance, and just now I realized another vow or decree that I have assented to, anger and a short fuse. Father, in the name of Jesus Christ I break the power of those words that I have agreed to over my life. I give that part of me over to you and give you the freedom to heal and restore the damage in me, completely and fully. Use those wounds to bring life and healing to others.)
Confronted by an onslaught of painful awareness I wrote:
Father, what do you want me to do? I cannot change the vile people around me but you can; the question is how?
How will you heal this wound in me?
My reactions have always been to move away to safer places and put distance between me and those that are not safe...
- like a child
- and that I had no say.I heard this inside of me. Is a chair that important, there were others. Why attack me, and yes, I felt attacked.
- violated.How did this pastor, one of my pastors, make you feel betrayed?
- He is a leader, a role model, and he bullied me.
- I watched as my friend notified him that he moved my stuff, for he then turned around and looked at me with a stupid smile. That seemed like a noble move from my friend but 10 minutes later that same friend is defending the man by saying he did not know it was me. Should that have made a difference? I do not think so and told my friend that I would not have moved your stuff.
As I sat in the afternoon meeting running these things through my mind I feel like God asked me to identify how that act of pushing my stuff aside made me feel.
I heard God's voice ask me this question,
“Why is this important?” and then he said:
“These things have become strongholds in your life and mind, and I want to heal them. Consider how you were willing to push your friend away. I am going to make it very clear to you how to deal with these things. Son, you have a good heart, do not let the trials rob you of that. I have given you insights into my word and heart that few have ever seen, not because they are not worthy but because you have pursued me. You have pursued my heart and I will honor you for that. You are familiar with my voice and recognize when I am speaking. Because you have desired a greater anointing I will bring it. (John 7:38) He that believes on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Keep your eyes set on me for I will soon raise you up. It is important to keep you head clear, humble and focused on me.”
An addendum to my list:
I realized that something was missing, passivity. The majority of my life has been spent reacting with nothing! When I finally react it is with an explosive anger. Neither of these traits are what I want to have defining who I am.
Friday nights meeting.
The question was raised in the session, “How do you respond around people that have money, success, and power through business?”
My internal response: poorly.
I have been asking myself why since I heard this.
Walking over to get coffee God stopped me about halfway along this path and showed me an image from my childhood. I saw both of my parents and they were talking negatively about anyone who had any measure of success, especially an uncle who worked very hard and sacrificed much to get what he had. I am not sure but I believe that all my attitudes, fear, and discomfort about success came from those words and actions that I witnessed.
I must and will break the power of these vows or curses over my life.
Son-ship. The restoration of the Father to the son is the most important mission that we find in the bible. We are those sons. Jesus is the elder brother.
Slaves – live in fear.
Orphans – live independently.
Sons – have ownership by heritage.
Warfare. You are in a battle – warfare, and you must resist.
The battle shows up primarily in these forms:
- Mental anguish
- and physical problems
Be aware that so much of our battle is internal and emotional. Why? Satan knows what our weaknesses are and he is going to hit you in the places that you are weak.
(A condemning voice in my head tells me “you don't believe that.” Trust me on this, we all have a commonality, our heads, so I am convinced that you hear it too. I heard myself respond with, What about Job? Satan presented himself before God and pointed out Job's failures.) This entire conversation occurred in my head, or should I say heart.
The good heart can be taken out of the fight when we believe the lies of the deceiver.
I realize that I had not mentioned the good heart aspect as yet. In reading Wild at Heart and Waking the Dead, by John Eldredge, he speaks along the lines of the impact of Christ's death and resurrection and its impact on us. If you have chosen to accept Christ into your life then you have been made new. That means your heart is now good. You can waste your time trying to argue with me but that is essentially what we find in scripture. We religious folk have been well trained to believe the lie that the heart is wicked above all things, but that is not the case, and it is a lie of the devil.
Jesus said, Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
What is it that makes a man good? Clearly a good man has a good heart because Jesus said so. You cannot have salt water and fresh come out the same spring at the same time. So there has to be a delineation.
2Co 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
If I am a new creature, created in Christ Jesus, then my heart is good regardless of momentary glitches.
The enemy brings lies, whether they be about relationships, spiritual life, or interactions. These are merely probing shots until you come into agreement with the lies and then they become your reality.
Here it is Friday 5/3/2013 almost a week away from the serenity and safety of camp, and I am being lazy watching a movie when a commercial comes on the television for a dating web site. The thought that popped in my head was, “Why should I bother, I am wounded and who would want me.” Mere seconds passed when God spoke to my heart and pointed out how I had made agreement with that lie for most of my life, but especially over the last 19 years. In that moment I said out loud, I break the power of my agreement with the lies of woundedness over my life. It was a very emotional moment for me as I moved toward freedom.
John 10:9-10 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (10) The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
1Jn 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
(If you have seen the movie The Matrix, that is the theme, the entire world lying in darkness.)
The thief comes for one purpose, to kill, steal, and destroy. 24/7
To kill – that can happen in a multitude of ways. Your life so disrupted you can be considered effectively dead. The other is physical death. The result is the same, you are removed out of the way.
To steal – To have something taken from you. This is extremely deep and required more thought than I gave it at the time. Just as I was typing I thought of women who have had any number of things taken from them: their virginity, a baby by abortion, and their sanity.
To destroy – Bombed, blasted, broken, busted, unusable in its current condition, without being rebuilt.
Father, show me the agreements I have made over my own life.
Do not let anyone or anything steal your ticket to heaven.
Still under the heading of WARFARE.
Continuing to break the power of agreements against myself. (These are primarily of my own doing, sort of.) Father, give me a clarity about the things that I have given the right to restrain me.
I began to name both people and concepts - words that I given my strength to.
While I wrote several things, one that I feel like sharing with you was the word joy. I had relinquished joy in my life. It is clear to me why I did it but it was an agreement that robbed me of life.
By the power in the name of Jesus I am taking back my joy.
The topic was “The beauty”
The concept behind this is that a part of our motivation for living is to rescue the beauty. Perhaps it is true that we all desire to live in the fairy tale world, or our life in Christ is more like the fairy tales than we chose to believe.
What do I mean? Even the fairy tales are based in the moral principles of God's word.
We men are not to be looking to women for validation. Validation comes only from God and our relationship with him.
(I am adding this for clarity. Look up the word validity and you find definitions that include: the force to convince; justness; soundness, and value. I did just that, twice. I am not clear on where I got the idea that I would gain some advantage over my pains by finding someone with strengths that I neither saw in myself or my example, my mother. It seems that those things I saw in her were merely used against me, as she was wounded too. Looking back, this statement is true, my value and soundness can only come from God. Some will read this and scoff, thinking they are self-made men and need no one. In other words, you are in control. There in the problem lies and the day will come when you awaken. Pray that it is not to late when you do, or as you watch another marriage crumble at your feet and you are completely defenseless to stop it, because you are in control, not God.)
So here I am at quiet time again. My butt hurts so bad from sitting that I am standing as I write. Here is the thing. There is no woman in my life at this time. Why? I walked out, sick of fighting for her, and yet here I am wishing she could see the amazing beauty of this place.
Someone made a soundtrack and it plays continuously around the main areas of the grounds. It is from the movie “The Last of the Mohicans”. This is one of my favorite movies and there is something about this music that just lifts my soul and causes me to magnify God. It also happens to be a part of the soundtrack on the ride “Soarin” at Disney's California Adventure. The ranch is 400 acres and the grounds are as immaculate as some of the finest golf courses. The sun will be setting in about an hour and the Oaks and Willows are casting long shadows. I am surrounded by rolling hills that appear to have been manicured. Many have a golden hue and there are cows along with their calves grazing on them.
My last day here.
Out of bed by 0600 and walking the distance to the fire pit by 0615. Several times now God has stopped me here to talk with me. I am going to miss these walks.
These walks put me in what seems like the center of the valley. It is the kind of scene that makes a painter paint. This morning the north end of the valley had a cloud blanket lying lightly across it. I found myself asking if heaven was anything like this. Perhaps the garden was; I do not know the answer to that. Even with all this beauty there are still the interactions with others, and though we are establishing that our hearts are good, we are all in the process of transformation, some just a little slower than the others.
How my heart screams to be free. I long so much for the life that Christ promised.
What did Jesus say? “I have come that they may have life and more abundantly.
Does that abundant life have anything to do with money? Some would have you think so. When you are poor your answer can still be both yes and no, for the poor can be defeated not believing that money should do anything more than provide for daily needs and yet may be the driving force that motivates them to obtain and horde.
Jesus asked why we worry about tomorrow because he takes care of the birds.
I looked up the Greek word for abundantly when I got home. It is perissos and means over and above, or more than necessary. One of the churches I attended preached this wealth message constantly and the pastor bragged about the cost of his suits, his golfing trips to Scotland, and how he and his wife would not eat in the low class places I frequent. I no longer attend there because I do not believe that this is what Jesus meant at all. Think about it; when he sent out the disciples, two by two, what did he tell them? Don't take much with you at all. The implication: God will provide more than you need. As people took them for the night they were fed and and given a place to sleep. In return they healed the sick, preached the good news of the kingdom of God, and cast out devils, bringing a healing to wounds.
I am two weeks away from boot camp and I have been watching my own changes.
No I am still not dedicated to a daily regimen of prayer time, but I communicate with God constantly. It is his voice that reminds me when I make stupid, binding agreements with Satan's vows, and I quickly take authority over them.
I am going to give you the good with the bad, because I want you to understand reality.
My first day back at work (the next day) started off well. It seemed to me that I was praying and talking with God for several hours, but then the stress levels started to rise, as they always do at work and I heard this negativity going off in my head and then I heard myself agreeing to it. God stopped me and said, “Dude, what are you doing?” In tears I repented of that agreement and broke the power of it over me in Jesus name.
You need to understand something here. Did my “breaking the power of it” prevent Satan from ever coming back at me with that garbage again? Not at all. He operates 24/7 and Revelation calls him the accuser of the brothers (the church). He is relentless and by the power of the Holy Ghost I will be too.
The following Sunday evening I was headed to one of my sisters to be a part of her little bible study and prayer group. I stopped at a taco place to grab a quick bite. I cannot stand this particular establishment. The service is always slow and inattentive, and during the school week the place is filled with rude high schoolers. Off to a freaky start I am waiting for them to call my name when some deeply wounded little man creates a huge scene because his order was wrong. Although they fixed it he opted to grab a handful of plastic forks and throw them at the people behind the counter. Out of character for me I snapped and went after the guy. By this time he is almost ready to close his car door when I blasted out of the door after him. He says, “you got something to say!”. To which I responded you bet I do, now get out of that car and go back in there and apologize you jerk. (I am cleaning this up for you.) Of course he did not and I did not think he would. It did not take but a few seconds to realize what a futile effort this was and I started to turn and walk away. At this point he says, “you want a fight, you got it!” and starts to get out of the car. I am six foot four inches tall and weigh 270 pounds, you really do not need to anger me. I cannot tell you how fast I was back in his face and how fast he scurried back into the safety of his car where his daughter has been sitting. More wasted ugly words and I left.
Was there much about that scene that said, Wow, Ozzie, you really changed? Not immediately, but there were some things that were significant that I noticed right away. All that I did is so far out of my character you would not have believed it was me.
Truth time: When I got out of high school I was five foot seven inches and weighed 137 lbs, and afraid of everything. I think it is safe to say that the kid that graduated high school, with all his insecurities and fears has been living in me ever since. Imagine that fearful aspect of me getting married. I think I hoped that marriage would be the thing that allowed that kid to grow up, in many ways. Two years out of high school I grew. I was still skinny but I began to toughen and I climbed poles for the phone company. I became like rawhide on the inside and would not take anything off of anyone anymore. What changed? The outside of me. The anger was still there, for I was deeply wounded, but all I was going to show you was fury.
I have tried to bury that anger and fury in religion but the wounds have always been there. I am now 59 years old and busted up. The fury is pointless anymore and allowing it to control my life merely drives people away, and I am painfully aware of how lonely life can be without friends. Hence, going to boot camp was to me like Alcoholics Anonymous, where you take an honest assessment of a life, that you have been trying to live for yourself, and give it over to God, because you cannot do this at all, or alone.
I made it to my sisters that night and told them what I did. Not so much as a confession to them but to God.
If you do not stay open and honest then you become trapped in the lies and deception of the enemy, and he will rob you of any heart that you thought you had. Your world will collapse around you and you will lie in bed sobbing, wondering why did this happen and how can it be fixed.
It happened because you gave up your armor and stopped being a warrior. This has nothing to do with how physical you can be. Jerks that slap their wives or girlfriends around physically or verbally are nothing more than severely injured children buried inside of the body of a fat ass that refuses to look outside of himself.
The only way to regain that armor and rearm yourself is to repent of taking control of your life and give it back to God. You only messed it up anyway. Begin to seek his guidance in identifying the wounds and asking him to heal them. And above all do not do this alone. You are in battle; a battle for your heart and your soul, and no military training in the world will teach you to operate alone. You have to operate as though you are on a fire team with others holding back the enemy with suppressive fire as a medic tends to your wounds. No man gets left behind in this battle if I can help it. We desperately need others to cover our backs.
It was not until the next morning after the taco incident that my head got clear enough for God to get through.
Here is what he said, “You reacted quickly! Admirable but foolish and misdirected.” (I understood immediately what he was telling me.) “I do not want you to think of yourself as a warrior so much as a para-rescuer. Those men have the ability to kill and yet their purpose and directive is primarily to find, rescue, and restore, and that is exactly what I want you to do. I have far to many men like you out there that have been taken captive and are suffering from severe wounds to lose you to a foolish act of aggression. I want you to pray for that man and I will move the heavens to rescue him. Pray that someone he will listen to comes into his path and it will be done. I want you to respond with that kind of speed to the wounded. Did you notice the lack of fear in you as you move forward and dealt with that man?” I answered, yes sir, I did, and I do not understand what or why that happened, for that too has been an draw back with me for my entire life. God said, “You asked me to remove the fear and I have.” I was in tears, just as I am now, when he said these things to me.
The following Saturday we Band of Brothers had a mini-reunion. It was awesome. As I stood with a group of guys one begins to speak about his brother, a Christian that is torn up and struggling. I stopped everyone, at the Holy Spirit's prompting and asked the man his name. I then stuck out my hand toward him and he took it. I ordered the others to place theirs on top of ours and we prayed change and healing over this broken brother. I told them, if we are to call ourselves warriors then this is how we do it. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit of God was talking deeply to men's hearts that day. I reiterated this once more to another group of men, and you can tell when you have their attention, and God did.
One other thing happened that I will share and then I am out of here for now.
Thursday 5/09/13. A man I work with came up to and said hi. That seems kinda low key, but we have had a few conversations, mostly about three years ago, in which he claimed to be a Christian also. We have not talked much since beyond merely saying hi in passing. I was surprised and asked why he stopped to talk with me. (Merely talking on the sales floor is not the best idea as they like you working.) He said, “I just wanted to say hi and see how it was going with you.” I told him that would consider this a God appointment and said, actually it is going fantastic for me. I told him about the camp and how I had chosen to give God control of my life once again. I told him about this process of healing that I am going through and how much God is changing me. As I talked he kept wiping tears from his eyes. He is deeply wounded and it is clear to me that God brought him there to me, because God had prepared my heart and I had made myself available for God to use.
I do not know what tomorrow holds but I know it is filled with excitement and I have never felt so alive. Jesus said, out of your belly will flow rivers of living water. I could never quite get a handle on that, and still can't but I long for the river. I also know that the disciples were baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire, and I long for the fire. If it's listening to God and doing the things he commanded: heal the sick, raise the dead, make the lame walk, and preach that there is a good news to this kingdom of God, then I want it.
Bring the fire Lord.
Turn your life over to Jesus Christ, God, and allow him to change you and heal you.