Grace for Those Who Believe

I was talking with a good friend of mine recently about grace.   As we discussed our marriages, or kids, our jobs, and other mysteries of our lives, it seemed the topic of grace became a major undertone.  I directed the conversation towards grace and asked some questions…

What is Grace?  What does Grace look like in the our lives as fathers and husbands?  How do we interact with Grace in our lives?

My friend let me know pretty quick that these were NOT easy questions for him to answer.  We went on to talk about other things for the rest of our time together.  I asked him to think about grace and these questions and send me an email with his answers.

Maybe I am getting lazy… just posting other people’s emails in this blog… but I loved his response!  He has agreed to let me post his thoughts and his heart below.  Enjoy!

What do I know of grace?  This was a question I knew for sure, for quite some time until  heard some talk about it.  This topic came up, probably bi-weekly, for around 9-10 months from various people.  I knew God was trying to tell me to do a study on grace, but I kept putting it off. I kept meaning to get around to it, after I finished this book, or that book, or meeting with this guy.  I finally sat down one day and looked into the matter.  What is grace? According to a website definition, grace is special favor, or the unmerited favor of God.   What is merit?  According to another definition, it is the quality of being particularly good or worthy.  What does this mean?  It means there is nothing we can do to be particularly good or worthy of the favor of God.  In the letter of Paul to the Ephesians, he states it is only by grace that we are saved through faith.  This does not have a bearing on anything we can do or achieve of ourselves.  It is purely a gift given to us by God.  This is so nobody can go around boasting and say, “look how much better I am than you are at getting saved.”  This, I knew.  I had no problems with this.  My deeds are like nasty dirty nasty nasty dirty, nasty, rags.  So, I become a Christian based on the work that Christ has accomplished and not on the work that I have accomplished.
Aaaaaaand then it stops.
I learned that I wasn’t good enough to please people, so I tried harder. When I would try really hard, I would find the favor of people.  I learned to associate this approval with good deeds in my day to day life. Grace was something that we needed to come to a saving faith of Jesus while justice was what we needed to keep people in line with their “lack of living the Christian life like their supposed to.”  I began to link the effects of my good deeds in my day to day life to how I view my Heavenly Creator.
So what did this create?  It created a false view of the abundant love of God, post conversion.  Talk about destructive in a marriage relationship, whew, you have no idea.  I could love my wife when she was trying hard enough, and I could love her when she wasn’t trying hard enough, but I had to show her justice in the times she didn’t try so hard.  This was so she could be worthy of MY love.  Well, that didn’t work out very well and I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.  I showed my kids I loved them MORE when they brought home good grades, and they got punished for bringing home bad grades.  I was teaching them that to receive MY love they had to prove themselves worthy.  This is not grace.Grace does not stop when someone professes Christ with their lips  and believes in their heart.  Today, I am in no less need of God’s grace than the person shooting up drugs in the crack house.  I can do nothing on my own merit now, or before I came to a saving faith in Christ.  It doesn’t matter how much I try to prove myself to God for Him to love me.  He just loves me. It also doesn’t matter how little I try, He STILL loves me.  I don’t do spiritual disciplines, like read the bible, to get Gods love.  I can’t.  So why do I have spiritual disciplines if nothing I can do will allow God to love me more or less?  I do them BECAUSE God loves me, not FOR Gods love. Its like if someone were to give me a new car.  I would bring them cookies to show them how much I love them, not to get another car.  This is the same as God’s grace for us. Do  want my kids to do their best in school?  Sure I do.  But now I tell them it doesn’t matter how many F’s or A’s they bring home, I just love them, then we work on extra homework.  We do the homework not to receive my love, but to do with all their might whatever their hands find to do. There’s a story similar to this in regards to Gods grace.  In a college classroom there were the slackers who would come in 15 min after   class started, sit in the back, sleep, and rush out after class.  They would turn in half their assignments and applied themselves to parties and not papers. Then there were the students that would show up 15 min early, sit in the front, and stay after to ask the professor to expound on his lecture.  These students sacrificed their social lives to make the grade.  When the end of the semester came, the students crowded around the cork board to see what they got for their final grade.  To the studious students amazement they noticed they received an A, but they also noticed the bad students received an A as well.  They became irate and nearly rioted outside the professors office.  How on earth were the bad kids able to make an A when they put in half the amount of work?  The professor replied, Isn’t it my grade to give as I see fit?  The “bad” students aren’t worthy of an A.  But neither are the “good” students.  They both receive a reward, not based on their merit, but based on being in the class.Now, with grace and love, grace and works, there’s also grace and freedom.  Legalism – law, liberty, love – license.  Let me explain.  We have grace. We have grace with love, liberty and the law.  Because of Grace, we have love in law, and love in liberty.  Because of Grace we have liberty in love, and liberty in law, and law in love and law in liberty.  This is all in balance and all because of grace.  When grace is skewed we go to an extreme. On the right there is “license.”  We say, because of grace I have the license to do whatever I want (so that grace may abound even more.) And on the other side we have Legalism.  You have to wear a suit and tie on Sundays or you are required to read the bible every day, if not then you’re sinning and Jesus won’t love you.  When grace is in balance we have what is called, freedom. Because of grace, I can be free to disagree with people.  Because of grace, I can be free to not have sexual addictions.  Because of grace, I can be free to be there for my children if they go down a wrong path.  I don’t condemn these people because of grace.  I can’t learn to love, and I mean actually love, until I learn grace.  To sum up what Jerry Bridges says, it wasn’t Christ died so that we could have grace, rather, because of grace Christ died.So what is grace to me now?  Well, in a nutshell, grace is something I need on a daily basis.  I am not worthy on my own.  Nothing I could ever do could ever come close enough to have God love me more or less than what He does. I work to show myself worthy of the calling with which He has called me.  I work, BECAUSE of the love He loved me with, not for it.  I love my wife because of the love that God has for her, not what she is doing or how she is doing it. And I love my children, not because of what they can do, but because I have freedom,with grace, to demonstrate this love of God to them.Honestly, I don’t know if I could ever explain the full concept of grace. But this I know, grace has changed my post conversion life in a way that I would never have expected. 

 It’s not about winning and losing.
It’s just grace.

My Wife’s Encouraging Letter to Friends in the Midst of Porn



My wife and I have endured much together.  I love her deeply.  (You hear that babe, I said I love you, and I said it in “public”)  All kidding aside…

We have been very fortunate to have friends who have loved us and helped us along the way.  I have really been cancerous to my marriage in the past.  Now that we are moving on through the stages of life, we have friends who are walking some of the same roads with the same pot-holes we walked before.  Some of these friends turn to Jessica and I for advice.  Talk about scary!!  You want marriage advice from us??!!!  Have we met?!!!

Porn was a pretty major part of my life and, in a lot of ways, is still a major part of my life.  Though I have separated myself from the poison, we are still dealing with the effects of it in my life, as well as some of the more subtle things that drove my passion for it.

A young wife, who had just had a baby, sent us a letter last summer.  Her husband has been taking steps to separate himself from this destructive habit.  He asked her to check his phone, knowing that she would discover that he had been watching Porn.  She lost it.  She absolutely blew up.  A few days later she sent a letter to Jessica and I and we sent emails, Facebook messages, and texts with the two of them for a couple weeks.

I had many talks with “Jack” and still communicate with him when I can.

What follows is a letter that Jessica sent to “Jill.”  We got permission from Jack and Jill to let us post this on here after changing the names.

We do not blame Jill, or any other Jills out there, for her husbands interaction with Porn.  That is in no way, shape, or form, her fault.  That is Jacks… and Jack MUST deal with it.  BUT… Jill’s ownership of her reactions to Jack can really set the tone for how they move through some of this stuff… or at least it did for us.  I owe whatever victory I have had in the arena of Sexual purity to Jesus and to my wife as He demonstrated His love and His healing nature through her.

I am so very proud of my wife.


We post this email, just 1 in a long set of messages, to hopefully encourage any other “Jills” out there who are dealing with a weak/wounded/lost “Jack”:


I’m sorry it took me a couple of days to respond. I was going to respond last night but my internet connection wouldn’t load anything and then we had to go to bed.

First off, let me assure you, Jill, that this is not your fault and that Jack’s temptation toward or fall into porn is NOT about you, nor is it a reflection of you. I know that is hard for you to believe, and you know that I know all-to-well the insecurities that come with a post-baby body and that I know the lies that will flood your mind and heart that your imperfections are what drives Jack away. Let me tell you that is one of the ways in which Satan will defeat you and drive a wedge between the two of you. And that is all it is…pure lies.  Strangely enough, God has wired our husbands to be intensely attracted to us and desiring of us even with all the changes our bodies go through. When Jack tells you that you’re beautiful or sexy, BELIEVE HIM!

That being said, all that Michael said is true, the more you approach him, the more free and willing you are with him, not only the more connection and intimacy you will have, but it helps him so much to fight the temptation to look at porn. It is much easier to click a few links on a computer than it is to think about approaching a wife who isn’t enthusiastic or is so tired or busy with household chores and children that she might reject or not notice his advances. I don’t know where you are on this. This is simply my experience and my knowledge based on discussions Michael and I have had.

I will go back and address some specific things in your message in a minute, but another thought off the top of my head… the passcodes and locks on the computer are like putting a bandaid over a gushing wound. They are a temporary fix for a deeper problem. Don’t get me wrong, I think taking any step to help Jack avoid falling prey to porn is good, but you’re only treating the symptom and not getting to the root of the problem itself, so do NOT think if passcodes are in place, that everything will be good. It won’t. The temptation and ‘need’ are still there…the temptation will likely always be there, although the severity of it may lessen as you deal with the problem.

The need for and the security that he finds in porn is a result of something else, wounds as Michael called them. Jack might not even know what those are himself. Those wounds will not heal without finding someone to walk through them with him… another man who is deeply committed to God, who is willing to love Jack and invest time and energy discipling him and uprooting the trash and cleaning out the wounds, who can communicate truth to him on an intimate heart level…not simply praying for him and sending him Bible verses. These help, but he needs more, and this is where true biblical church comes into play. This will also help Jack become the spiritual leader that you so need and crave. How can he be a spiritual leader when no one is there to show him how?

And the lady who is mentoring you should be teaching you how to be a Godly wife and mother and probing the emotions and thoughts you have regarding all of this. She should be turning you to the truths in God’s word, helping you remain grounded in your identity as a precious princess of the King in the midst of the raging storm inside of you. Encouraging you to love and respect your husband even when you can’t see how that’s possible. One of the biggest things I was told by two different godly women when we went through all that we did last year was that I HAVE to respect him. It is commanded of me by God (Ephesians 5). I know this is hard right now, but you have to respect Jack.

This should be a daily prayer of yours… not simply that God would protect Jack and help him stand against temptation and that God would make him a spiritual leader for your family, but that God would show you how to love and respect your husband today (every day), that He would guard your heart against the lies of Satan, that He would heal the wounds in both of you and bring you into greater intimacy and spiritual unity. If you do not pray through these things and ask God to change your heart, you will continue to suffer in pain and isolation from Jack.

Along these same lines, if you react out of pain, anger, and bitterness every time Jack confesses his falls to you, he will stop confessing them. He will either tell you nothing or he will lie (For the record, if you’re reading this, Jack, the lies make it so much more painful than just simply telling the truth to begin with. Trust me, as hard or humiliating as it is, up front honesty goes a long way toward healing the rift and moving past it).

Neither one of you can fight this alone, and you cannot fight this together if you let your pain drive your responses. When Jack asked you to check the history on his phone, that was a big step for him. He is inviting you into the battle with him. When you found the website and got angry and upset, it was more destructive than if you had been able to talk about it with him and forgive him for it. He is now not only fighting against porn, but he is also fighting not to hurt you. He doesn’t want to hurt you so he lies, which then hurts you more, which then shames and defeats him, which leaves him in need of healing again, which he can’t get from you because he just hurt you so badly….it’s a vicious cycle.

Forgiveness….that’s a big topic. Let me encourage you, Jill, to do a thorough study of the bible on the topic of forgiveness. Try to answer these questions…What is true forgiveness? Does a person have to apologize or change their offending behavior in order for you to forgive? What does forgiveness look like as it is lived out (in an association, friendship, brotherhood, marriage, whatever – use examples if you feel you need to)? You hear “forgive and forget”…what does that mean and what is your opinion of this term? Is forgiveness different from mercy and if so, how? What does mercy look like as it is lived out? Feel free to add any other questions or thoughts.  I had to study this many years ago…I had no idea how to forgive for such deep and ongoing pain.

As far as dealing with deployment, everyone around him is gonna have a computer or phone so it would be super easy for him to borrow someone else’s to skype. That could go two ways…either he is less likely to look at porn because it’s not his device and he doesn’t want to be caught, or it could be easier to look since it’s someone else’s device and there’s no telling what’s already on it. Most units offer opportunities for communication on public use equipment…maybe not as reliable or free or frequent, but an option to look into. Frequent honest communication between the two of you, in love, no topic off limits, is a big deal. Your responses, Jill, as I mentioned earlier, will have a huge impact on this.

Having someone (mentor that I mentioned earlier) who will continue to pursue Jack as much as possible during deployment is another factor. Jack finding a guy or two to meet with and study the bible and pray on a frequent regular basis there, not like leading a bible study, but walking alongside each other and encouraging and challenging one another.

And, if you can do so without them being discovered by someone else, send him naked pictures of yourself to look at when he wants a little something. I was super uncomfortable taking them at first, but I set the timer on my camera (do NOT have someone else take them) and sent them anyway, and he really appreciated that. It gave him a release without falling into sin. You could also have Jack direct you and take pictures of you before he leaves.

Moving on to your feelings of not being loved or cherished and being overworked and unappreciated…welcome to motherhood and marriage. Not to make light of it, but I believe that every single woman struggles with this at some point. I think it comes down to just three things… laziness, miscommunication/misunderstanding, and the enemy’s lies.

It is entirely possible that Jack has simply become lazy in his interaction with you, not being deliberate in showing you love and appreciation. It is also highly likely that your feelings are being exacerbated by the feelings that have resulted from the pornography problem. Try to separate your feelings on the pornography from the rest of Jack and your interaction with him and see what you have left. The rest of it, you communicate to him, but you do so in a non-confrontational, non-condemning manner.

Here’s the thing…men and women think and communicate very differently. I, for probably years, struggled with this attitude…”Why can’t he get up and get his own drink? Why does he sit there on the computer when he sees me struggling to cook dinner and juggle kids and get the house cleaned up all at once? How can he ask me to do one more thing with everything on my plate? He doesn’t see anything I do! He doesn’t appreciate any of it!” Ten years into our marriage and four kids later, I learned through a professional counseling session that the whole time he was sitting there thinking, “Why on earth is she trying to do everything on her own? Why doesn’t she ask for help? She wants things done her way and she doesn’t want me to be a part of her world. I am just a pawn in her game of family and house.” All I had to do was ask, and it solved that problem for both of us…communication.

Asking for his help doesn’t mean you are his mother, or that you’re inferior for asking, or that he’s uncaring for not offering. Sure, it would be nice if our husbands just jumped in and did everything, but in all honesty, they’re not too sure just what we want or need from them a lot of time in regards to the baby needs or managing the household. And being that y’all haven’t been married that long and are new to the parenting thing, there’s gonna be a lot that he simply won’t see. And it’s not for lack of caring, it’s simply obliviousness or in some instances I’m sure, laziness or immaturity.

You have to communicate, and you cannot do it in an accusatory manner. Simply tell him that you need to discuss some needs and desires with him, and then lay it out in black and white. Giving him specific ways in which he can help you with Baby or the house, as well as specific things you would like for him to do in order for you to feel loved and cherished will be more helpful than just giving him a light-hearted or vague ‘I need more help and I need to feel more loved by you.’ There are even many times now when I will tell Michael, “Hey, I did this today and I want you to notice it,” or “Hey, look at this…you have to be excited about this for me! ” Then it doesn’t go unnoticed simply because what are significant things to me may not be so significant to him, and I won’t be disappointed when I get no reaction.

And don’t let the enemy slip in and cause bitterness or resentment when Jack doesn’t meet your expectations. He is human, and he will fail you. It’s just a part of being the imperfect sinners we are. Know and trust that Jack loves and cherishes you deeply, and dwell on the things you see that show you that…like the fact that he willingly met with the youth pastor, attended those meetings, and asked you to check his phone. Like how he loves on Baby or even does simple things to take care of you by taking out the trash or something like that.

If he doesn’t seem to notice your feelings, then you’ll just have to make the first step and start sharing with him. If you want a hug, ask for it. We cannot expect someone else to know what we need or want at any given time, specifically when we are wired so differently (different personalities, values, love languages, needs, priorities…). Communication…it has to be a priority.

So anyway, I wrote this mostly to Jill since you are the one who wrote us. Michael, if there is any error in my words, please let me know. Jill and Jack, we are an open book and always open for questions, discussions, etc. Feel free to respond with your thoughts, feelings, etc. on here. And please give us a call any time. My schedule is very open right now, and even if Michael is in school, he will be glad to return a call if you leave a message or text. If you want to take a vacation to the east coast sometime, our doors are always open to you and we would love to see y’all!! We love you both very very much!

I will be praying for you both. When is the next deployment?

On a side note, we are doing great as well. Michael’s class is mind-numbing and intense, but he’s a genius so he’s doing well. I am loving some downtime and finally getting the house in order and looking forward to fun times with the kids for the rest of the summer. They are all doing well, starting to make friends, and enjoying the freedom of being done with school for the year! Looking forward to hearing back from you!

Much love,


Vulnerable Much?

Vulnerable, Wounded, and Broken

It seems as though I often get into conversations with people that are very similar to other conversations I have had with other folks recently.  Maybe it is because the people I spend my time with are all going through the same things in their lives (doubtful), or maybe it is because I see some things I my life and as I address these things in my life, I get to talking about it with other people.

One of the conversations that I seem to be having kind of often is about vulnerability, woundedness, and brokenness.

What is vulnerability?  It is being exposed.  Being open to something or someone which could cause me pain.

I just wrote about my sense of confidence and when I reread what I wrote, I saw a theme.  I saw that I did not want people to really see who I am because then they would not respect me… would not accept me.  In essence, I saw that I try to NOT be vulnerable.  I try to ensure that I am NOT open to other people, I do not want to put myself in a position which would allow somebody else to cause me pain of any kind.

I have come to realize over the last few years that this life of hiding who I am in order to protect me has caused me to shut my family out of my life.  My own kids, who love and adore me, have been placed on the outside of my boundaries.  As I got really good at being dependable, confident, and bold, I became good at hiding my fear, lack of confidence, and feelings of uncertainty.  When I started to hide who I was, I thought those who loved me would still be able to know me.  The real me.

I was wrong.

It seems to me now that I am great at building walls, but cannot put a door or a window in a wall to save my life.  Nobody can get to me because I won’t let them, even though I really want them to.  Boy oh boy am I NOT vulnerable!  LOL… who am I kidding.

Even in my “unvulnerability”, I was still being hurt, and the more I hurt, the thicker I made the walls.

I have recently started tearing them down.

As the bricks of my fortress came crashing to the ground, I felt really relieved.  I smelled the fresh air of love from my wife and kids, I saw the blue skies of genuine acceptance from my teammates, I walked free!

It was only a matter of time before I ended up hurt again.  I was faced with a dilemma… everything in me wanted to run and hide.  I was good at it.  I had mastered the art of running and hiding but making it look like I was still leading, still in control, still handling business.  I decided instead to just be hurt.  Which led me to really consider the words Broken and Wounded.

I know they are very similar.  I know that some people will tell me that there really is no difference.  I know that some people will tell me that I have the definitions backwards.

Wounded is what I was, and still am to an extent.  Wounded is not good.  Wounded is bleeding out on a battlefield, riddled with bullet holes.  Wounded is sitting in my house, hiding from life because I am dying and don’t know what to do about it.  Wounded is being hurt by people, hearing what they say, and believing them, right or wrong, internalizing what they have said to me, and choosing to react to life based on the effects of these hurtful things.

Broken is what I am, and what I really want to be.  Broken is a result of living life.  Riding a bicycle and falling, breaking an arm.  Broken is being hurt by what other people say to me and acknowledging that it hurts.  Broken is receiving the pain in me from my own actions towards others and realizing that I have inflicted wounds so deep.  Broken is acknowledging my weakness and my pain, hearing what is said to me, observing the worthless things that I do, but rejecting that any of that makes me who I am and instead, choosing to live out of a deeper sense of identity.  Wounded vs Broken is like this…


I am worthless

because I have a broken arm

and so I cannot complete these tasks

or fulfill these expectations.




I am not worthless

because I have a broken arm,

I am just not capable of performing these tasks right now

    or fulfilling these expectations placed on me at this time.

The thing that I realize about being vulnerable is that it lets me be broken.  Building walls around me keeps me wounded.

Wounded is dying…

Broken is healing…

There is a lot more to say on this topic, but I need to go home and see my kids… I need to leave my fortress…

Are you broken or are you wounded?

Are you vulnerable or are you hiding?

And how have you moved from one to the other?

(If you don’t mind me asking)

The Cost of Discipleship

Continuing what I was writing about regarding discipleship and mentoring

A friend asked me a long time ago what it cost to be mentored by somebody. I said it didn’t cost me anything.

Then you are not being mentored…

That got my attention. I knew I was being influenced by a couple guys, I knew that I was changing and that my life was reflecting the lives of these men the more they influenced me. I was being mentored. Naturally, being told that something was not happening when I clearly thought it was caused me to dig a little bit.

Come to find out, he was right. I was being influenced by these men, but there was no direction in their influence. There was no goal for my development. There wasn’t a reason or a purpose to our time together, other than the surface level stuff we were doing. These guys would correct me when they would hear me saying something wrong or doing something wrong, but that was about it. My life was changing simply from proximity to them. I started using little slogans, slang, and jargon like them, and could tell that I was valuing some things more than I used to, and some things less than I used to. Because these were some good men, the changes in my life were also good…

But that is not the point of discipleship.

I do not want my life to meander directionless to a form of maturity that is good. I would like for my life to push forth deliberately and purposefully toward a form of maturity that is great.

Here lies the crux of the matter. Direction and Purpose. To be a disciple is to be a strict adherent to a certain set of principles. To be a dedicated student to a philosophy, a proponent of a way of life. Taking a step back from the churchiness of the word and thinking about it in the world of martial arts, a disciple of Jui Jitsu patterns his life around the art. I have a friend who is a phenomenal fighter, a beast of a man. This guy eats a diet that is far from “normal.” It takes eating “clean” and “Paleo” to a whole different level. The guy goes out late on weekends with friends, and still gets up at the crack of dawn in order to get his cardio in. He spends HOURS upon HOURS reading books and articles about his art, practicing in a gym, sparring, entering competitions, fighting in tournemants… He is a very weak bicyclist, doesn’t do any paddling (as far as I know), couldn’t care less about what was going on in the land of TV (unless it was fight night). He has focus and direction, and he submits his life to the disciplines of his art and the instruction of his mentors.

The Bible actually teaches that there is a cost to disciplehip. Jesus compares it to a king going out to fight a war. Does the king evaluate his enemy, then go and try to settle his differences without a fight if the enemy is stronger than he is… He compares it to a man building a silo for his grain. Does he start building the tower without first calculating how much the tower will cost in the end? If either of these people do not evaluate the cost of their decisions, they end up defeated.

I talk about the cost of discipleship and the marks of a disciple at the same time. They go hand in hand.

A mentor is somebody who is willing to invest their LIFE into somebody in order to replicate the essence of who they are in the person listening to them.

A disciple is somebody who wants to develop some character traits that they see in somebody else and is willing to make the sacrifices required.

When I have the opportunity to mentor somebody, I look for 3 things at the minimum, 5 things if I can. I evaluate everybody who wants some of my time according to these principles, whether they want me to influence them as a husband, a father, a son, a sailor, a leader, or a medical provider… they all get put on the same matrix.

Are they FAT? Does their life spell FAITH?

Faithful, Available, and Teachable.

Do I see evidence in their lives that they maintain some sense of commitment to something outside of them? Have I seen them make sacrifices, choose to do things that they would rather not do because it was required by their commitment? Do they have the time to meet with me? Are they willing to wake up early or stay up late in order to talk with me? Are they willing to ride along with me while I run errands just so that we can spend some time talking? Will they make our time together a priority? Do they receive instruction or do they argue against anything they don’t like? Are they an “expert” on everything, constantly nodding their head and telling me they already understand, or do they listen, take notes, and attempt to assimilate what they see and hear in me?

Faithful, Available, Initiative, Teachable, and Hungry.

The F, A, and T, are the same as above. Does this person take the initiative or are they passive? Will I have to poke and prod them to get up off the couch, or are they motivated to make some changes? Are they pursuing life, charging down the river, or are they more or less existing, like a leaf floating on by? Are they hungry? Is there something deep inside them driving them for some kind of change? Are they excited to be mentored because they read a cool business book that mentioned it, or are they fueled by a desire to trim the fat from the flesh and go to war?

When I meet with somebody for the first time after they talk to me about taking an active role in their lives, I lay out a couple things.

1… This costs me, a lot! I spend a lot of time praying for, and thinking about the people I mentor. I reread chapters from books that I think might help them, I write letters and emails, I take notes about conversations I have had with them, I jot down things I observe from them, I prepare for our formal meetings… At 1 point in time, I was investing about 8 hours of my own time for every 1.5 hours I spent face to face with one of these guys… once a week! At 1 point in my life I had 3 guys who were resource heavy on me… that made for 24 hours of my own time, each week, 4.5 hours of time with them, each week… Significant cost! I paid it willingly (except for during hunting season… That was my time of the year to check out and recharge…)

2… It is going to cost them. When we get together for our formal meetings, they were to have a couple pens, a high lighter, a notebook, their Bible (or whatever source document we were using at work). They were to have whatever assignments I gave them completed. I expect that what we talk about is received and acted upon.

3… Before we met the second time, and I scheduled that for the following week, I wanted them to memorize all of Psalm 1, write 5 observations per verse, and be prepared to discuss it with me. If this was a guy I was mentoring at work, I had them memorize some leadership intensive/character development kind of quotes as well as some important piece of our literature.

After looking at the cost of Discipleship that Jesus laid out in the Bible, after showing them what it was going to cost me, what it was going to cost them (at the minimum), and after telling them what I expected them to memorize and have ready in a week, I would ask them…

Are you sure you want to make this investment?

I have had more than 1 fella tell me straight up, NOPE, and we finish our snacks, we talk about other things, we move on with life.

I have had some guys get pumped, like I was trying to nut check them before a big game, they say yes, then show up a week later without their Bible, Notebook, Pens, High Lighter, and with no verses memorized. I have smiled, greeted them, chit chatted while I drink my tea or coffee, and then, politely explain to them that they failed to pay the cost. I was not going to sacrifice my time with my family, or with other men who were hungry, to meet with somebody who is not serious… and then I walk out.

A surprisingly large number of guys have risen to that challenge… they come prepared… mostly… Usually there is a lot of stumbling through the verses, the observations are a bit thin, there may be 1 pen, and a crayon… but I see very quickly that there was effort made, a price was paid.

And then I know that it is costing them…

… I know they want to be there…

And when it costs me to be mentored by somebody…

My heart is all in…

What prices have y’all paid to be mentored/discipled? Have you ever paid the price because the person discipling you was not committed to your time together? Or vice versa, a person you were discipling was not committed?

What would you say is the cost of discipleship?