Many know, yet many do not, that I am deeply involved with a ministry called Marked Men For Christ. A men's discipleship ministry which is focused on "building stronger men for Jesus Christ."
How involved, you ask? I'm currently privileged to serve the ministry as the co-state director for the state of Texas alongside the amazing Scott McKenzie. I've served nearly a dozen of the ministries 44-hour intensives for men over the past two and half years. I currently participate in the regional gathering of Marked Men and have helped facilitate a virtual gathering of Marked Men on a bi-weekly basis. I also am heading to Uganda in late October to share in the developing MMFC efforts in East Africa. So why am I "All In" with Marked Men For Christ?
The story for me is one that has developed over the past 20 years. After moving to the Austin, TX area in 1999, I soon found myself in a room with men who loved Christ and who were devoted to helping each other walk and grow in their love of Christ and His teaching. It was a rich and deep experience that opened my eyes to the power of Christ in a body of men who follow His name. Unfortunately, that body no longer gathers together, but the time I spent with those men reshaped my theology and my love for the gospel and the power it has to change a man completely. A passion for Men's Ministry was seeded in me.
I had made several attempts to recreate the thing I had in that season with other men over a period of years with some success and a lot of failure. The organics that are necessary for men to be able to walk with each other can be a difficult thing to get right. We men don't trust easily. We don't like to look at our weaknesses and can quickly weary of the weaknesses of another. Additionally, our current culture isn't always conducive to deep meaningful relationships that lead to true life change. However, I deeply believe the teaching of Christ has the power to overcome these barriers.
Sometime around 2010, when I found myself approaching 45 years of age and when I was truly wondering what should be the next direction for my career, I began asking God a question. "Do you really want me to spend what I believe will be the 20 most productive years of my life making PowerPoint decks and Spreadsheets?" This is a question that begs a particular answer and truthfully is seeking a "No" response. I took this question seriously though.
I sought the input and advice of mentors. I spent time considering it with family. I pondered the realities of my abilities with friends I trust. I spent at least three weekends over a four year period at parks and campgrounds in solitude and prayer trying to get clear on this question. God was silent.
In February 2014, after 15 years of employment with my company, I was laid-off. I was concerned about my future employment. I was disappointed in what seemed to be wasted loyalty on my part. I was overwhelmed by the lack of understanding of my worth and value in the marketplace. However, I was mostly excited about the fact that one way or another my question was going to be answered.
Enter Marked Men For Christ
About a month before that fateful day in February 2014 while I was hosting the Sunday Night Discussions podcast with Steve Hinton, I had had the privilege of meeting Steve "Spice" Spicer and John Lager the co-founders of the Marked Men For Christ ministry. They shared about their ministry with our audience and I was intrigued. (Checkout the program) Much of what they shared with me was similar to experiences I had had with men's ministries previously, but the intensive approach they were taking sounded interesting and they were hosting an intensive in Texas in March of 2014 in the piney woods of Huntsville, TX. I signed up.
Following my registration, I was laid off from work, I was in the throws of job hunting, and I was challenged on a level I hadn't been for some time. Then my father called the Sunday before the weekend in Huntsville. He was needing to resettle in Charlotte, NC from Shell Knob, MO due to critical health issues my step-mother was facing. I had to meet my sister in Shell Knob to pack up the house, meet the movers and take the boat back to Texas. I arrived home about 1 a.m. on Friday and was supposed to be in Huntsville, TX at 5 p.m. for the Marked Men intensive. I did not want to go. Life was not wanting me to go. I muscled through and made it to the Forrest Glen site in time.
For most of the first half of the weekend I experienced solid men's retreat stuff. Challenging, powerful, crucial stuff, but then the second half of the experience occurred. I knew these guys had a thing that was important and powerful for followers of Christ. It transcended some of my hang ups and worries about men's ministry. I went to bed Saturday night satisfied that I had made the trip and grateful for my time in the woods.
Sunday morning I awoke and engaged in the activities planned for the morning when I went through a Sunday protocol that hit my heart in a significant and profound way. Through that experience, God spoke to me. He lifted my head, he spoke into my soul, and he wrapped His arms around me relieving me of the current burdens of life. It was very personal or I would provide you with details, but needless to say I wasn't ready for it and it overwhelmed me.
My question answered
That next week, during every spare moment between job hunting activities, I was on my knees. This is not characteristic of me. I tend to be a man who prays on the run, but my Sunday morning experience pressed into me my need to be still and quiet with Christ on my knees. As the week went on, I began to hear a message from Christ. I had been struck by the men who had come from all over the country to staff the weekend with me and the other men. They had come on their own time. They had come by their own means. None of them were paid to be there.
If I made enough of an income making PowerPoint decks and spreadsheets to spend my weekends in the woods helping other men have a personally intensive experience with Christ, then I could do that for the next 20 years.
Within a few weeks of that clarity I was offered a job to go back to my company. I'm following the call I received and that's why I'm a Marked Man For Christ.