G.K. Chesterton on Santa Claus:

“What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.

As a child, I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it.

And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. . . . What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.

Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.

Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dollars and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.”

In Defense of Neptune, Evangelistic Freedom & Beards

I heard this week that one of my sins in the public domain is my use of my blog banner photo of myself juxtaposed to a statue of Neptune.

Since that was a recent charge leveled at me about my heretical proclivities, I thought would explain.

Even though one of my other charges these days is that I am too friendly with the Papists, I know this will possibly add further wood to people’s personal inquisition fires by mentioning my fondness with Catholic Bishop Barron’s use of the Jewish Temple ‘Gentile Court’ as an example of how to engage the secular or seeking world in evangelisation. I see part of my pastoral writing and speaking life as an evangelist and apologist.

But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” -2 Timothy 4:5

I try to create or enter a public space where people at various stages of interest or disdain of religious matters might engage with one another. I do my best to “…not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”(Acts 15:19). I do this by trying to declutter my evangelization methods of the typical evangelical religious culture’s stumbling blocks that related to “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” (Colossians 2:21) in welcome and witness in the culture. This can lead to me being “Too pagan for the fundies and too Jesusy for the pagans” but I do my best to work at finding that most engaging middle ground in hope of reaching some.

So in my evangelization effort in today’s postmodern world, I often use the platforms of public interest as springboards for discussing truth claims that I think matter. I “handle, taste and touch” cultural issues, interests and idols in order to proclaim the “unknown god’ many people are worshipping in sincere ignorance (Acts 17:22-23).

I take my thinking from some of the greatest minds the church has ever known, like Saint Augustine, who writes in “On Christian Doctrine” book two, pg 6o:

If those who are called philosophers, especially the Platonists, have said things which are indeed true and are well accommodated to our faith, they should not be feared; rather what they have said should be taken from them as from unjust possessors and converted to our use.”

This idea, which is fraught with dangers and opportunities is profoundly articulated best in Peter J. Leithart’s introduction to his book ‘Heroes of the City of Man’ which is titled ‘The Devil Has No Stories’, you could and should, read it here: https://docs.google.com/…/11BYzzWv_4FX60mqBf7uj6rXCxO…/edit…

In closing, I unashamedly admit that I believe:

“...All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

This means that everything is fair game, we are free to: “…examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

I know that such freedom scares many people and that there is a ‘defilement’ posture that many evangelicals hold in their minds about interacting with the world. I can understand that point of view, and I agree that we all face temptations and dangers in our work of witness.

But I refuse to be accept a religiously superstitious posture that immobilizes engagement and produces a neurotic, apprehensive life. I choose to live my call dangerously, but purposefully, close to the fires of judgment:

“...you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” (Jude 1:22-23)

As for the Blog Header picture, the reality of why I chose that pic is far more vain…I just liked the beard resemblance.

I stand accused, I am a…pogonophile.

Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

The edge of my Oblivion

You are my black hole,

the gravitational pull is excruciating,

my discovery is alarming,

a sinking realization

that I can not escape.


Love as fright,

love as all consuming blackness,
love, a bottomless pit,

unknown dark,

a teetering tipping

on the edge of my oblivion.


All within me scrambles back to no avail,

my heart like sand caving to the tide,

You have consumed me unawares,

and the roar of my powerlessness

is drowned in the crash

of your unattentive coming and going.


The heart of Monoceros

is a diminishing void

the unicorns lie,

that which you thought you caught,

has caught you,

impaled on the great horn

of union’s dilemma.


A lover’s horror,

Andromeda’s beauty,

my chains,

my demise,

is there a still a son of Zeus

able to break Poseidon’s chains?



I’m not ashamed to be a Pilgrim ancestor

Francis Cook, my ancestor, was one of the passengers on the Mayflower. My ancestor’s survival and heritage is directly linked to the wisdom, kindness, ingenuity, bravery and sovereign work of God among the blessings and sufferings of the Native Americans of the Wampanoag confederacy of tribes, particularly the Patuxet people. Thanks to Samoset, Tisquantum (Squanto) and Chief Massasoit, the early Pilgrims were able to survive at the Plymouth Colony and eventually thrive in the new world.

I have visited Leiden Holland, South Hampton, England and France, all countries connected to the unfolding story of God’s plan for my ancestors, the Mayflower and the early Pilgrim settlements. Even today, as I read over the particular distinctives of the religious faith of the Pilgrims, I see the odd way our lives seem to be shaped by those from which we have come (http://mayflowerhistory.com/religion).

I give God praise for his work of salvation, providence and blessings in my family line. I am not ashamed of my Christian faith, Protestant heritage and American citizenship. I do believe God is to be praised in spite of our historical and cultural sins as Americans. God is and always has been at work in this great land before any Scandinavian or Europeans even set foot here, but there were plans connected to His eternal purposes that included the intertwining of all our people in North America.

There are many fair and right judgments to be made about the history that unfolded but even in the failures and atrocities that took place, there were beautiful displays of the Kingdom of God at work in, among and through all his people.

One of the great blessings of the Pilgrim people coming to America is the gift of God’s written word which they gave to their friends among the Native people. The first Bible printed in America was translated and published in 1663 at Cambridge, Massachusetts into the Narragansett language of the First Nation people, by a missionary named John Eliot.(http://mayflowerhistory.com/wampanoag-language).

Today as I feast with our own family, I honor my Pilgrim heritage and the Native American people who made my life possible. Today when I sit at the banquet table, I remember the first table set in Plymouth. That table will forever be a testimony of what can be realized if people of faith and good will choose to practice charity, trust and friendship across cultural, religious and even political backgrounds.

To that end, I add my amen to Governor William Bradford’s Thanksgiving proclamation three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth.

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

William Bradford
Ye Governor of Ye Colony

When Lightning Strikes

When Lightning Strikes


The cloven earth,

received the ungrounded fury of Zeus,

what was standing eternal,

now, struck from head to root,

the careless bolt,

has given Elysium

a hero it does not deserve.

Among the thunder of wailing,

the crash of crippled knees,

the tsunami of incoming tides,

all is drowned,

all is buried,

all is lost in weeping.

Our paradise is ravaged,

the boughs of delight, shaken,

all our fruit lay cleaved and smoldering,

and tremors lick our seared nerves

with threatening, tangible power.

The cool shade,

dissipated with thunderous flashbulbs,

blinding suddenness,

stumbling disorientation,

our Olympus has fallen.

A gouged line of demarcation,

jutting downward like a ghostly fingernail,

recklessly directed with a life-altering,

indiscriminate arch of finality.

The air is still charged,

pregnant with impermanence,

tingling terror,

our hairs standing to attention.

The specter of immanence,

stalks us, like a thief unawares,

and shock has awakened

the slumbering immortals

with the cold kiss of Persephone.

The sacrifice of Abraham and Agamemnon

As I have been studying for my series on James, I’ve been tethered to both a theological and philosophical examination of the book. I am fascinated with various themes that run through James’s letter that provoke me to tensions of thought and practice.

I find these matters reflect the issues addressed in some of the great philosophical debates in the works of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900). I am no expert on the works of these philosophers, but I am familiar with some of the profound existential themes, ideas and conclusions that are presented by these great minds. The nature of life, death, meaning, morals, ethics, faith and practice are themes that James wrestles with in his book as well.

One of the shocking stories that James center’s some of his teaching(James 2:20-24) around is the story of Abraham and the near sacrificing of Isaac(Genesis 22:1-19), which is described in the first verse of the story as “God tested Abraham”.

James 2:20-24: “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

I am not sure how anyone can read the Abraham/Isaac story and not be profoundly disturbed by the whole series of events. I would think that any sincere thinker or fairly healthy adult would wrestle with the implications of the mere idea of sacrificing one’s child in response to any supposed Divine command. Most christian circles I have been in avoided serious contemplation about this story, they either offer it up with a sidestep allegorization or avoid it as much as possible.

The horrors of the possibility of Divine sanctioned sacrifice are at the roots of much of the terrorist ideology that we see in the world and to even contemplate the possibility of God asking such things, can sour one’s stomach in revulsion. For some their minds slam shut like a sharp toothed trap, unrelenting in it’s grip, preventing them the allowance to even contemplate the story. But it’s in sacred scripture, and for that matter, I believe there has to be more to it all than just some kind of barbaric, tribal, desert God’s test of one’s ability to submit to the will of the gods over the rights, ethics and conscience of the human.

If God continually forbade and condemned the act of human sacrifice in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 12:31, Deuteronomy 18:10, Leviticus 18:21,Psalm 106:37-41, Jeremiah 7:31), how could He compel Abraham to engage in the potential act? Jame’s himself pushes back against this idea in 1:13: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

This confusing apparent moral contradiction can easily compel someone to throw up their hands in frustration and want to pull away from trusting a God who would ask such a thing of any person. How could the death of a son or any child for that matter, bring about any good?

But we find a similar cataclysmic, conscience conundrum in the ancient Greek story of the sacrifice of Iphigenia by Agamemnon, in various works like those of Euripides and others. There are variations of the story, and even Homer in the Iliad doesn’t mention it with any detail. But others have provided us with a similar Abraham/Isaac situation. The fact that the ancients were willing to write, read and extrapolate it in various ways leads me to believe that there is more to this story than just primitive, uncivilized history.

The story goes that Agamemnon offended the goddess Artemis and as a result the winds ceased to blow, leaving the great fleet dead in the water. It was amassed to sail to Troy and rescue or return Helen who was captured or ran off with Paris. But now the gods have them stuck in the harbor and one of the seers tells Agamemnon that he must sacrifice his daughter to appease the god. So a great plan of deceit and dismay unfolds that eventually ends in the good of the State and of the honor of Menelaus, the husband of Helen, to be considered greater than the loss of the life of one daughter. It’s a horrific tale that various authors reworked or provided alternate endings, like Iphigenia offering herself as an act of national heroism as she surrenders her life for the greater good of the many.

That any god is evil, I do not believe.” (Iphigenia. Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris).

If Artemis has decided to take my body, am I, a mortal, to thwart the goddess?” (Iphigenia to Clytaemnestra. Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis).

O my father, here I am; willingly I offer my body for my country and all Hellas, that you may lead me to the altar of the goddess and sacrifice me, since this is Heaven’s ordinance. May good luck be yours for any help that I afford! and may you obtain the victor’s gift and come again to the land of your fathers. So then let none of the Argives lay hands on me, for I will bravely yield my neck without a word.” (Iphigenia to Agamemnon. Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis).

As to her end, others write that she was rescued by the gods just at the moment of the knife and was replaced with a sacrificial deer. Whatever the case, there are some deep and profound issues that must be wrestled with in such a tale, of which countless authors, sages, theologians and philosophers have engaged since such stories were told.

Even in Christian scripture, the idea that one life sacrificed for the multitudes is at the heart of the gospel story of redemption through the death of Christ on the cross.

Jesus said: “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again.No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him.” (John 10:17-19)

Our justification, being made right with God ,was accomplished by Christ’s self giving, sacrificial act. He was not tricked like Iphigenia or left in the ominous dark like Isaac. Jesus, the son, chose to lay down his life for humanity.

It is this Christological act that captures me as I wrestle with James’s use of the story in apologetic regarding the weddedness of faith and action.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

I do not want to twist the whole story into some more easily handled analogy that softens the horror and the edge of the actions into some proverbial idea of faith that requires something of us. This tale, these stories, are profoundly more shocking and compelling than a mere faith encouraging moralism can contain. We cannot reduce the cataclysmic complexity of these matters into some nice little Bible story with moral takeaways for a three point message.

This is a story of utter existential torment and decision at the very end of a very sharp knife! One can’t turn away from the demanding attention that this unthinkable situation forces us to face. It is in my estimation one of those stories in the bible that determine those who will walk away and who will stay. There is no doubt that it divides opinions about Jesus as John highlighted in the above passage.

Kierkegaard has his own take on the stories of Abraham and Agamemnon’s sacrifices in his book: ‘Fear and Trembling’, a good resource that you could find more light on this subject. He has some profound thoughts about moving from the aesthetic, to the ethical to the religious that are well worth the read. But I warn you, they are not easy matters to unravel, but the work of it, bears it’s own fruit.

Is there a difference between Abraham, Agamemnon and Jesus’s sacrifice? I think there are many, but a few of my own thoughts center around that ending of sacrifice hinted at in the Abrahamic account with God staying his slaying hand and providing a ram in the thicket. Ultimately Christ is the end of sacrifice:

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” -Hebrews 10:8-10

These are just some of the paths of thought I travel in preparing for a sermon series. They demand rigorous thinking, a prayerful listening heart and a commitment to not shy away from the real provocations of Scripture.

These matters are the ending and starting of worlds and one should handle them with…fear and trembling.

Neo-Paganism, the Wilds and the Word of God: Why I think Nature Matters

Romans 1:20

“Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse.”

I love nature, not as God, but as a wonderful icon of the glory of God.

I have always thought that Christians who serve a God they believe created the world, seem to be some of the least earthy folks around. Somehow the people who were made out of the dirt of the ground and made alive by the breath of the Spirit of God, seem jittery about nature, ecology, environmentalism and the love of nature. There’s a substantive resistances at times to anything that seems flesh. An idea that only spirit matters, and it often creates a community of ideas that dislocate the individual from the very world they live in day to day.

Recently someone accused me of promoting ‘witchcraft’ by writing about the elements of earth, fire, water and wind in an article about camping in the woods that I wrote for men. An accusation that is outrageous but not surprising considering the ideas above. I purposely write in such a manner to engage or capture the attention of folks that might not be reading from a religious affiliation. I purposefully attempt to come at issues that matter to me from angles that I think might be disarming or fresh in perspective.

I think subjects that are religious in nature are often over communicated in a manner that is quickly dismissed. I have my own voice and it’s shaped and influenced by the things that matter to me and are guided by the missional call on my life.

If one is attuned to the rise of neo-paganism, wicca and other branches of religious naturalism, you know there is a need to communicate the truth of the gospel with a culture that is returning to the pre-christianization ideas and practices.

There is a very real revival of alternative worship that any cultural missionary would see as a field of meaningful engagement. I attempt to find ways to speak to the heart, mind and hands of those who resonate with an idea of spirituality that has a place for the created world and experience.

I do not think Jesus is opposed to the created world and our enjoyment and place in it. What biblical faith is in opposition to, is the worship of it, but wonder is not worship.

Romans 1:22-23

“Behind a facade of “wisdom” they became just fools, fools who would exchange the glory of the eternal God for an imitation image of a mortal man, or of creatures that run or fly or crawl.”

Jesus spent more time walking and teaching in nature than talking in temples and synagogues. His ministry often took place outside more than inside and his subjects of conversation were profoundly natural and common. The gospels are packed full of animals, rivers, seas, lakes, flowers, food, birds, farming, etc. He saw truth in life and connected people’s lives with the purposes and revelation of God’s will and ways.

Turning water to wine, mud into a miracle balm or asking someone to bathe in a pool for healing isn’t witchcraft, it’s reconnecting humanity with the goodness, truth and beauty of the world in which God as determined them to discover He is at work within.

Nature is one source of revelation, not the only, or highest, but it’s one sphere that may need to be revisited more and more as we move away from a literature loving culture. I will always point people to the holy and sacred gift of Scripture but sometimes I will ask them to the wilds as well as the word.

I will continue to invite friends to walk with me in the woods, to swim in mountain lakes, sit by roaring fires and stand among wind blown trees in hope that they will hear the still small voice of God.

I hope you will join me.

The Elements of Manhood

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:13-14

“I am not into all that “manly stuff” you guys do at ManCamp. What’s the deal with the bow and arrows, throwing axes, Bull whips and throwing yourself down rock water slides etc?

Let me explain a few reasons behind such activities.

I try to pick various ‘stand alone-pick up when you want to’ activities that almost any man with a little practice can do, no matter their age or fitness level. Most people can throw a horseshoe.

I like to expose guys to things they may have never had a chance to do. These days the activities we look upon as odd, were normal parts of life for men in the past.

Hiking, boating, hunting skills, camping, cooking over flame, chopping wood and building fires used to be part of daily life. There’s something revitalizing about getting out of one’s normal routine of doing things. Seeing or doing normal activities a little differently, opens up new thoughts, feelings and abilities, no matter how small. Many men are stuck in patterns of thought and deed that they need help getting free from. They need fresh perspectives, voices and experiences to push them out of the soul numbing routines that we often allow to keep us from growing.

I was watching a guy at camp chopping wood with a massive maul. He was physically fit as a Spartan but some of the wood brought up to camp was pretty green or full of knots and was very difficult to split. Watching this man throw every fiber of his beastliness into hammering at that wood was almost like viewing art. But as I watched him, I said out loud to those around the fire, that “Chopping wood is a good way to drive out our demons.” All men are fighting some battle and sometimes it’s hard to know where to throw the punches. Wood takes them all.

There’s a grace that can be discovered hidden in physical exertion. The mind and heart can unburden themselves in a manner that few things can touch. Many people can attest to the moment when one finds themselves weeping at the height of some extreme activity. It’s like an inner massage and some of the body’s hormones are released and you are flooded with a visceral high and needed release. It can be healing. We all are full of stress and there’s many who have few outlet to release that pent up poison. We need to find ways to exorcise it in a manner that is healthy. Instead too many men medicate themselves instead and end up creating more problems on top of the issues they already have. It’s a cycle that is killing us, literally.

I believe there’s a ministry of life found in being outdoors. We are made of earth, wind, water and fire and being reunited with those elements has a restoring and revitalizing power.


Breathing in clean, crisp mountain air as we hike up stream is energizing, even in it’s exertion. We breathe so shallow and rarely in a manner that our body truly needs. We gasp little breaths that reflect the cramped, hunched over desk life that most of us live. We are mentally and emotionally exhausted but rarely go to bed physically exhausted. At camp, men do.


There’s an awakening of acute feeling that comes when you plunge into the icy waters that flow out of the mountains. It’s more than the freezing numb, it’s about feeling fully alive. Every nerve stands up! It’s a shock treatment to the common comatose existence.

Many men are desperate to feel anything anymore. Life sucks the soul out of them and if not handled well, the mundane of a good and right life can become drudgery. Men start looking for something to spark their blood, to fire their mind and make their heart pump fast again. This can lead to illicit and dangerous activities as men search for anything to stimulate their flatline lives. Men need other men to show them how to find ways to reconnect with the primal side of themselves, without letting go of their civilized commitments and convictions.


There is something deeply meditative and restoring about building, lighting, feeling and watching a fire. We are created full of electrical impulses that flash throughout our physical bodies. Our metabolism is burning within us, we are walking furnaces. A manly life is one that sits at the fires of higher things and rekindles himself in the temple of his soul. Many a man has been launched on a new adventure or found the strength to maintain his own course around a fire as he listens to the tales and trails of other men.

All men need to come more alive, need to see stuff burn up and to learn the wisdom of living life close to that line between heat and burn. Many men have been scorched by unrestrained passion and in some circles they have come to believe that the eradication of passion is somehow the path to moral sanity. Self-hate gets sushi rolled in sanctimonious biblicism and “severe treatment of the body”(Colossians 2:23) is presented as the way to self-mastery. Men are not angels, and they shouldn’t live like demons, becoming a good man isn’t found in “don’t touch, don’t taste” (Col. 2:16-22). Healthy spirituality is found in Christ, not a menu of pre-approved ‘dos and don’t.’ Too many men have surended the fire of freedom and liberty for a form of religious slavery. Fire is dangerous and can burn one’s house or life down or but it can also send you to the moon! Men need to be trained by word, deed and example on how to be civilized beasts in this hyper-paranoid and suffocating paternal era.


Men are made of dirt. When is the last time you got dirty, touched earth, stone, sand, or wood? When have you last feasted on that which has fed or grown from the field? Too many men live lives of painfully predictable pre-packaged personhood. Everything is weighed, measured, judged and handled by nervous Nelly’s throwing warning labels on everything we touch! We won’t live forever and many of us have died already! Stop living life like you need to be covered in bubble wrap!

When you come to the top of the natural waterslide and you let go and feel gravity reach out and yank you down a slab of slightly smooth mountain granite covered with rushing river water, you’ll feel just how blissfully powerless you actually are! All your fantasise about control, security and predictability will be ripped from your hands as you speed forward frantically wondering how you are going to stop before cascading over the edge at the end of the slide!

I think many men need these experiences in their lives and these are the reasons I take men into the wild. I hope you will join us next year at ManCamp2019!

Act like Men

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do, be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:13-14

What do men do?

I recently spent an extended weekend camping in the water, wind, earth and fire with other men. I witnessed many things that are examples of what it means to ‘act like men’, here are a few observations.

Men serve others:

They pay to go camping and then spend the whole time cooking 5 star breakfasts and dinners for everyone at camp. They prepare menus, purchase items, gather all the needed cooking utensils and spend hours of their time making food that you will think about days after you leave camp.

Men laugh:

The kind of laughing that goes far beyond ridicule, sarcasm or bullying. Sure there’s the innocent jabs that friends do, but it’s not malicious or meant to exert power over another. It’s joking around, poking fun, making connections and observations that make you laugh out loud, not just chuckling or a smirk, but the kind of laughter that comes from boyhood. The kind of laughter men too often forget.

Men get honest:

They speak truth to one another, they confess, they admit their weaknesses and are willing to ask questions. They will say “I have no clue what I am doing.” when discussing parenting challenges. They will share their struggles with addictions, failing marriages, the death of their loved ones, not measuring up to other men, feeling lonely, inadequate and the odd man out. They will weep in front of other men.

Men share one another’s burdens:

They watch, listen and come alongside other men. They speak words of encouragement, they make you feel you can do something you thought you couldn’t. They cheer when you accomplish something worth celebrating. They pray for you, will hug you and give you what you need, to do what you need to do.

Men will challenge you:

They will push you, either by words or by their example. They won’t coddle you, baby you or do stuff for you that you should do yourself. You will have to ‘man up’ in their presence. Men don’t honor complaining, excuses, whining, giving in or giving up. They expect other men…to be men.

Men take risks:

They try new things, challenge themselves and others to take steps out of their comfort zones. They have courage and are not afraid to try, even if they fail or are not good at something yet. They may end up sore, bruised and bleeding but those are signs of developing mastery not the misery of lives of banality and boredom.

Men extend grace:

They know where they have been, so they are merciful and gentle with men who are not where they need to be. They carry men who are wounded and stand with men who are prone to hurt themselves or others, not to condone, but to correct. Men are peacemakers, because they know the cost of necessary and unnecessary wars. They are bridge builders more than burners, though they know some people need to be walked away from for our own survival.

Men are not angels or devils:

They are men of earth and heaven, flesh and spirit. They are not ashamed of their desires, passions and power but they know the time, place and limits of them. Men kindle the sacred flames of earth and eternity. They can feast and fast, they no how to enjoy something, but not be mastered by it. They are sons of God, not slaves, prisoners or pigs.

I am blessed to have seen and heard all that I shared above in the clan of men I walk with in my life. My prayer is that every man reading this will find their place among a group of men who will be and do, all these things for one another. You can not do life alone, you may survive, but you will not…thrive.