So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  Genesis 1:27

Think of the character and identity of God. Think of what he is able to do and the scope of his desires. God’s image is reflected in every human being ever born. Our lives were meant to reflect all that identifies and characterizes God.

As young children, before we learn to second-guess ourselves…or before we believe false words or things about us, we experience a free mind. At boot camp, we often ask guys to share what they wanted to be when they grew up. We love to hear those stories. If we stop and remember some of those dreams, we can tap into what was lost or stolen along the way.

Doug wanted to be a pilot from the first time he saw a squadron of planes land and take off on his Aunt B’s property at the young age of four. Watch Doug’s story begin…

As Doug explained in part one, the enemy tried to destroy not only Doug’s dream of becoming a pilot, but his entire family – and a legacy of people following after God’s heart. We have seen this pattern over and over. God awakens a desire early on, and even though that dream might go dormant or seem destroyed, He will, at another time, reawaken it…if we are willing to give our lives to him. It took three decades for Doug to begin his journey to becoming a pilot. Watch how that unfolded…

Discouragement may take hold when a desire is reawakened, but having it fulfilled seems impossible. We can explain it away as life, or bad luck…but what God is always up to in a man or woman’s life is deepening his relationship with us – healing and preparing a foundation in our lives. While Doug remained uncertain how or when he would be able to get his pilot license, he did know God was excavating and restoring areas of his life…

All of us have a call on our lives – a bestowed glory from God that uniquely shows the character and design of the Father. Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. And that abundant life is SO WORTH FIGHTING FOR – though to experience it, it’s essential you let God heal whatever personal brokenness or stronghold stands in your way, lay down everything and say yes to him.

If you have not been to a boot camp, and this has stirred something in you, we encourage you to join us. Learn more on our events page. Also, consider sharing Doug’s story with a friend who needs to hear it. 

Reflections on Desire

Chris Skaggs —  November 6, 2015 — Leave a comment

(The following was written by one of our friends and allies, Denis Stilwell, after attending our Oct 2015 camp on Desire.)

Desire is a hunger that God has placed in the hearts of every person born on this earth. Desire motivates us to alter our circumstances. It is like the unseen force of gravity, ever tugging, ever nudging, every drawing us toward that which we imagine will satisfy us.

We all enter the phenomena we call our life with a hunger for both light and darkness. The Holy Spirit influences all living beings by drawing the hearts of mankind toward the light. But we are a race of fallen beings, so our hunger for darkness draws us into experiences that diminish our hunger for light.

God has also ordained that mankind possess the attributes of free will and choice. It is the surrender to our desires that give birth to nearly every choice we make, good or bad.

God has a vested interest in our ultimate destination, so He has gifted to every person a measure of faith. That faith is what begins our journey from darkness toward the light. However, if we ignore or discount this gift, most of our desires draw us away from the light and down paths of darkness and destruction.

It appears to me that there are two basic kinds of desire: sensual and spiritual. The sensual desires stem from our body’s ability to sense five areas of life; touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. These desires can be as mundane as wanting an ice cream cone, or as debilitating as an adulterous sordid sexual encounter, or worse. The spiritual desires are much deeper and in a way they draw us either toward the light or toward darkness. I get the impression from the Gospels that Jesus was far more concerned with the spiritual desires than the physical.

We begin our journey of life as children and we are drawn to elementary sensual solutions to the hunger within. As we mature, our solutions become much more sophisticated and spiritual. Many of our desires encourage us toward that which is healthy and will bring meaning, fulfillment and purpose to our lives. For those who hunger for light more than darkness the day will most likely come to all who live a long life, when the greatest desire within us is to become like Jesus. And in doing so, we bring the greatest possible glory to God, and the greatest possible blessing to all whose lives we touch.

Yet, those who hunger more for darkness than for light, they find themselves in a downward spiral, desperately searching for that which satisfies their perverted desire and never finding it. This is the path that leads to addictions and destruction.

Our lives are surrounded by things that affect our desires and can significantly confuse our priorities. Unless we have developed a personal, intimate and meaningful relationship with God, we will easily lose sight of our ultimate destination…. Christlikeness.

As a child of God, it becomes incumbent upon us to seek His will in our attempt to satisfy our desires. How we respond to the consequences of our choices, reveals whether or not we are teachable. Only by being teachable can the Holy Spirit teach us how to walk in the light.

Jesus expects us to repent if we chase after darkness, but I get the impression that He is more concerned whether or not we learned anything from the event.

Desire is not only a good thing, it is an absolutely necessary part of our life, if our life it to have any meaning or purpose. It is our response to desire that reveals our true allegiance. It is almost as if we each have our own trees of the knowledge of good and evil right inside of us. For the child of God our desires will at times be thwarted in order to nudge the child away from the darkness and toward the light.

As I age, it seems to me that I can see more clearly what God had in mind all along. Hindsight is very helpful here, but enlightened spiritual insight that comes from a deep, intimate relationship with God is most likely the only way a person can come to understand that this journey we call our life has been made available to mankind so that one day each of us will finally be fully restored into the image and likeness of our God.

The entire experience is meant to return us to Eden. All the lessor hungers we feed or attempt to satisfy are but smaller facets of the completed picture.

God is looking for souls that have tasted both good and evil and have chosen good. He is looking for souls that will be safe to take out into His never ending, ever expanding universe where they will mingle with the innocent, pure sinless children of eternity.

At our last Advanced Camp I shared a few things as ‘food for thought’ for the campers. Each suggest was selected not as any particular endorsement or agreement, just something to think about and consider. Ultimately the goal was to give the men something to wrestle with as an exercise in critical thinking. One of those sections was a sermon I first heard many years ago from a fellow named Kris Vallatton. Kris can be a controversial person depending on your circle…which made his work just perfect for this exercise.

Since then, several folks have asked for the text of that segment – so it’s provided here as a point of reference and as a point of discussion. What do you think of what this man is saying? Does it ring true? Does it sound off? In the end our purpose is to stretch those faith muscles in association with the brain muscles and continue to give our allies good reasons to put passivity behind them forever.

Seven Pillars…There are seven pillars of society:

  1. Justice
    • The law is a facilitator of justice.
    • The law only has purpose in bringing about and sustaining justice.
    • When a society looses its grip on justice, the law begins to serve itself and taking on a life of its own.
      • This creates a culture where peace officers become law enforcement officers and justice courts become magistrates of the law.
      • Judges and juries are now charged with determining if someone broke the law, rather than if someone performed an injustice.
  2. Peace
    • Peace is the foundation of government.
    • The purpose of all government is to facilitate peace.
    • When peace is removed from government, the government begins to serve itself. The goal of its officials becomes staying in power rather than extending the borders of peace.
    • Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of wholeness.
  3. Love
    • Love is the purpose of fatherhood.
    • Fathers are facilitators of love.
      • When fathers loose love, fathers become bosses and families become his subjects.
      • Caring and compassion are replaced with sexual perversion and abandonment.
      • Happiness is no longer the fruit of loving relationships, but instead becomes the purpose of them. The thought, “I’m not happy” becomes the purpose of my actions.
  4. Honor
    • Honor is the element in society that allows people to be empowered rather than controlled.
    • Honor is the responsibility of sons. They exemplify respect that results in order.
    • When honor is served instead of serving, it causes leaders to demand honor even when it is incongruent with their character.
      • This results in a culture of control that is manifest through fear.
  5. Truth
    • Truth is more than honesty. It is the embodiment of reality.
    • The fruit of truth is life and the word of God is the facilitator of truth.
    • Teachers are the stewards of truth.
    • When truth is absent from a culture, the Bible begins to served instead of serving.
      • This consequently leads to people learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.
      • Resulting in rules of religion being exchanged for the realities of relationship.
  6. Righteousness
    • Righteousness is more than an accumulation of good character choices.
    • Righteousness is the visible expression of the habitation of an invisible yet holy God.
    • Righteousness is the personification of the very nature of God being manifest in His creatures resulting in his likeness emanating through his people.
    • When divinity is absent from a culture, Godliness is reduced to goodness which is attained through discipline instead of a pure heart.
  7. Wisdom
    • Wisdom is the ability to rightly apply knowledge in a way that builds for the future that which is envisioned by the creator so that the divine ecosystem of heaven yields life.
    • Rulers are the stewards of wisdom.
      • They are to lead in a way that creates an environment that draws out and facilitates the destiny of people both individually and corporately.
    • When the definition of wisdom is reduced to the gathering and recalling of information it results in futility.

So how’s that strike you?

How To Have a DAWG Day

Chris Skaggs —  January 5, 2015 — 1 Comment

It was sunny out, but it was cold. Not that I could feel any sun as I carried the split wood down to the rusty iron fire ring, nestled in a shallow dingle among acres of fir trees – each of them 1 foot wide and 60 feet tall, draped in dangling moss and bristling with widowmakers. I come out here once in a while, usually when it’s cold, to light a big fire in the woods and sit with my maker. There’s no agenda, there’s no plan – it’s just me and my journal, my Bible and my God…and fire.

Continue Reading…

Dawn and the Hunt

Chris Skaggs —  April 15, 2014 — 6 Comments

Mule Deer 0015I don’t get up at 6:00am. I never get up at 6:00am. I make software for a living and one of the reasons I chose that career was because it never ever requires me to get up at 6:00am. But there I was rubbing my eyes and envying my still-snoozing wife. Dressing in the near dark, layering fleece over flannel over cotton and hoping that it would be enough in the frigid November air, I fought against the bulk as I stretched to tie my shoes.

My uncle-in-law lives in northern Washington alongside a slow, chilly creek. The steep-sided valley of scattered lodgepole and aspen was covered in shallow fog and mile upon mile of tawny dry grass as I slipped from the guesthouse and headed for Dave’s front door. A tiny wisp of smoke rising from his chimney told me the coffee was ready and Dave was probably struggling to tie his own oversized shoes. Dave had drawn a late-season tag in a unit adjacent to his own property. It was his first yard in three years and by inviting his inexperienced, suburban nephew along he was taking a certain risk. Nobody ever said so in as many words but it was implicit that my role was to carry binoculars, stay behind the rifle and not ask too many questions.

While I’d grown up in a rural setting, there were no hunters in my family. I was familiar enough with deer but only as highway hazards and I couldn’t tell you if we were dodging whitetail, mulies, or rabid saber-tooth deer on Hwy 18 near Big Bear. I didn’t grow up with any aversion to hunting, no moral conflict over the steaks I ate, but neither did I understand the motivation to hunt. There was a stereotype in my mind, born no doubt of Southern California politics, that hunters were Bud-pounding, monosyllabic Neanderthals. But in fact, that’s a more accurate description of surfers.

By 6:45 Dave and I were climbing a steep dirt road in his Silverado. The rising sun lit the western ridge with brilliant hues of gold and rust while most of the valley still slept in the shadows of the eastern peaks. When we stopped the truck and stepped out into the stiff breeze, I felt as if I’d never seen this country before. Adding to the otherness of it all I stood not in soil but in several inches of fine powder. Fire tore across this slope fifty years ago, thinning the thick pines, making room for the newer aspens, and covering everything in a deep blanket of ash.

With a silent nod toward a distant shape, Dave shouldered his 30-06 and headed north. He’d spotted a doe and she was patiently waiting for her sisters to climb the steep gully she had surmounted. With no pretense of stealth, Dave and I approached to within a quarter-mile before the group of females casually sought higher ground. For the next half-hour we continued in this way, following one group of females or another at a good distance, looking intently for their mates. At the time I was so intent on the next moment and not screwing up Dave’s hunt that I was both hyper-vigalent to everything he was saying but somehow also disconnected – only dimly aware that each lesson, each pointer was more than just casual information – he was also making a deposit into my soul. Dave was giving me a crash course in outdoorsmanship by pointing out details I should notice: the wind, the clouds, the faint deer trails. He would periodically raise his binoculars and survey the sprawling hillside while I dutifully copied his actions, trying to see what he saw. By the time the sun had climbed high enough to light the valley floor, we were approaching a thinly wooded saddle with sunlight streaming through the trees in long, dusty blades. “Look for the sunlight glinting off an antler,” Dave instructed. “That’s the easiest way to spot a buck.”

I was fascinated with the trees, with the light, and with the tracks we found. “See how the toes are splayed out, and the impression of the dew claw?” To me it looked like a pair of quotation marks but I nodded respectfully. “That shows the animal had to be carrying a lot of weight. Probably a buck and a good-sized one too.”

From the driver’s side window woods are just woods and they all look about the same. Sure I could identify a half-dozen varieties of trees, recognize the major geological formations but here I was getting a glimpse of something far more, far deeper. This wasn’t calculated environmental science but wood-wisdom. A druidic knowing of the land and its inhabitants that could only come from sharing the space with fir and fox and the day’s first breath. As much as I was being instructed, I was being mentored.

More than that, I was being initiated.

As I’ve grown and learned and watched my son grow and learn I’m increasingly convinced of something I first read in Wild at Heart: masculinity cannot be learned, it can only be bestowed. And it can’t come from the world of women, no matter how well-intentioned or equipped, it comes only as a kind of substance that a young man eats, almost like a food, from the willing hands of older, more experienced men. It’s an inheritance, a gift and while that could sound exclusive or sexist in the wrong setting, it’s actually healthy.
It’s actually holy.

As we crouched there over the tracks I caught a sudden movement out of the corner of my eye. Bringing the binoculars up, I scanned the hillside and spotted another doe lying in a patch of rabbit brush, twitching her ears and rolling her neck. Following her gaze I quickly spotted four other deer slowly moving up the slope.

“There’s a buck over there,” I whispered to Dave.
“Where?” he said.
“See the dead tree? Look just to the left.”

There was easily a quarter-mile between us, probably more and almost no cover. Longing to engage, I said, “If we get behind that knoll we can close in without any of them seeing us.”

Dave looked at me a long moment, his eyes squinting in an unreadable expression and in that silence I was certain I’d said something obviously stupid.

“We could do that,” he said, “But then we won’t be able to see them either. If they move we won’t know where they went.”
I nodded, just a little crestfallen. Of course – it was a dumb idea.
“Still,” Dave said, inhaling sharply, “it looks like our best chance of getting a clean shot. Let’s do it.”

Without another word he stood up and started toward the tree line. I was partly caught up in what had just happened. Really? You’re going to take my input? We’re going with my plan? But without a word to my insecurity Dave was walking calmly and deliberately while he stopped now and again to watch the distant deer. Trying not to rush, stopping whenever a head would turn or an ear would twitch, we moved behind a small hill. Quickly now we crept across its base toward the dead tree that had helped us spot the buck. Not quite sure how close this detour had brought us; we eased quietly to its crest and took a peek. No deer – just another, lower hill between the courting buck and us.

Faced with open ground and a possibly closing window of opportunity we had to move quickly. Darting between rocks and pines, painfully seeking to make each step on the dry pine needles as silent as possible, my heart was racing. Above us was a large outcropping of basalt and the point of no return. If we reached that rock and found the buck on the other side, the shot would be clean and short and simple. If we poked our heads out to find nothing but sage, the day would be over and Dave would try again tomorrow, without me.

Those last fifty yards seemed like a mile. Every twig that snapped sounded like thunder, every sniff of my nose seemed like a hurricane. I couldn’t believe that I could make such a racket; and it seemed impossible that the radar-dish ears of these animals could miss it. Step be step we closed the distance and I dared to glance around the crumbling stones and what I saw took my breath away. Our blind ascent had brought us up a bare 30 yards from our quarry. The whole group was still lounging around, completely unaware of our presence, and I literally gasped in surprise. In that instant ten gigantic ears swiveled to face me and again I was threatened with the possibility that I had just blown it. Dave’s rifle wasn’t ready and any motion on his part would undoubtedly be seen. So we froze – stock still, trying to stop our tired breath from coming at all and helpless to do anything else we waited for what seemed like an eternity.

Gradually, blessedly, the deer went back to their munching and Dave slowly lifted the Remington to his shoulder. A moment later a sharp crack echoed off the hillside and a four-point buck fell among his escorts. The does stood, bewildered at the sound and only moved off when we stood up and approached them.

I won’t deny that the process of cleaning the animal soured my stomach just a bit but in hindsight it’s the detail that I remember least. The impression of that extraordinary day continues to be the glory of an autumn morning, the wonder of sharing that hillside with wild animals, and the discovery (or re-discovery) that the wilderness is not the border that surrounds and threatens my home and my life, but rather an older, more patient home that has simply grown unfamiliar.

More than that I remember the sense that has stuck around for years after the event and that was the experience of being fathered. Dave’s willingness to invite me up into something that was important to him, something his father shared with him but something he was never able to share with his daughters, was a strong antidote to my own “orphan” wounds. But of course it wasn’t just Dave and I out there but our shared Father in heaven – who was teaching us both. I’d hate to leave the impression that this path of masculinity is somehow inextricably wrapped up in guns and trucks and the spilling of blood, that’s not it at all. But it wrapped up in the exploration of things we don’t know. It’s drawn from the power of learning from God’s creation instead of being constantly surrounded by the handiwork of man. And it’s forged in the bond of one man initiating another into the larger story that we all have to share.