Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pointing the Way

Mike is a big guy.  He needs to be on the football team, or on the track team as a shot-putter.  He is also a guy with big heart.   In the few months that I have known him, I have seen this in the way his voice changes when he talks about his little sister, and in the way he leans over to talk to little kids when we are around them.  I think he would be a great teacher or health-care worker.  He is strong and compassionate, and his physical presence can have a calming influence on those around him.   It can also have the opposite effect. 

Mike has some anger management problems.  He doesn’t like to get out of bed in the morning, and there are times when shouting and pushing are used by both him and his family members as they struggle to get him to school on time.  He is angry about the fact that his dad left him as a child and has made virtually no contact since.  He struggles to keep a lid on these feelings, but in our times together, I have been impressed that he acknowledges them, and is eager to deal with them in a healthy manner.  Recently, he sent his dad a long letter explaining his feelings on the subject.   There has been no response yet. 

In my limited time with Mike as his Whetstone “Sharpen” mentor, I have seen glimpses of the man he could be.  I have been impressed with the talents God has given him – talents that he probably doesn’t even realize exist.  This is where Whetstone comes in.  We seek to equip young men like Mike with knowledge of themselves and knowledge of how a loving God wants to them to cultivate their abilities – how he wants them to become instruments of his peace and justice. 

Mike is entering his senior year in high school.  This presents him with a real opportunity to reflect on his life.  Will he follow in the footsteps of his father on this earth, or in those of his father in Heaven?  Whetstone Boys Ranch is a place that will give guidance to men in Mike’s position.  We will help them overcome the negative influences in their life, and we will point them towards the cross.  Someone needs to.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I have recently started thinking about the Sabbath.  I mean, why is keeping this day holy, the only one of the Ten Commandments that we take as a suggestion?   The more I reflect on this, the more I feel convicted to move from intellectual pondering to passionate action.  I am coming to see that in squeezing the Sabbath to get more work done, I have cut myself off from God’s blessing.  Rest is something we all need as much as food or water.  And as part of God’s creation, we are designed to need a day of rest – not a stress-filled morning, rushing the family to church, and an afternoon focused on yard work and errands.   
So for the past several Sundays, my family and I have rested like God rested…and it was good.  We have taken long afternoon walks in the woods.  We have laughed at the funny way our baby chickens run around the yard.  We have sipped tea and munched on cookies.  We have taken turns on the tree swing and the hammock.  You might think, as I did before this rededication, that you do those things already – or similar things that give you relaxation.  But let me argue in this space, that devoting an entire day to family rest is totally different.

When the entire family rests together, for an entire day, there is a multiplying effect.  Everyone is relaxed at the same time, and this makes everyone more rested than they could be by themselves.  In the past, my rest or my wife’s rest has come at the expense of the other.  Rest has been a zero-sum game.  But God has promised that whatever we give to him – time, money, resources of any kind – he will give back to us in ways that exceed our imagination.  According to I Corinthians, 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 

So make some time to rest this coming Sunday.  Set aside some money to give to worthy causes like Whetstone Boys Ranch, and really think about how you can use your gifts to serve God, your family and your fellow man.  You'll be glad you did.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Building Boys of Character

An alarming number of boys in America today are victims of two deadly storms.  The first is a broken family that fails to protect and nurture, and instead buries them under the rubble of abuse and neglect.  If against all odds they crawl out unscathed, they face a second assault by a culture that exploits them as soulless consumers.  Exposed by abandonment and perhaps by their own rejection of a family that wants to help, they are blown down by violent winds of envy, lust, anger and eventually hate.  

Created to be holy tools in the hands of a master carpenter from Nazareth, they grow so dull that they become useless as anything other than blunt weapons of destruction.  They become the opposite of what God designed and exactly what Satan desires.  Their demolition at some point becomes permanent, and their souls, lost forever. 

The mission of Whetstone Boys Ranch is to stop this decay.  We seek to rebuild these boys’ foundation, revealing to them God’s blueprint for their lives.  As a whetstone provides the necessary texture to smooth out the imperfections of a blade, we seek to sharpen young men who no longer understand their purpose for living.  It is our earnest prayer that through daily mentoring, Christian counsel, family therapy, academic rigor, physical labor and outdoor activity, we will be able to build boys of true and lasting character.  Their house must be built on the rock of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they must come to see themselves as stones in God’s temple.    

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Alternative Living

My wife is a health food nut. Nuts, berries, fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grain products have been staples in our diet for years. Indeed, if my children were feral, they would hardly eat much different. I respect her for this devotion to our health and vitality, and I trust her choices – even when I have to hide my smile at the dinner table when Caleb proclaims something to be “yucky.”

One side effect of pursuing an alternative diet is that you end up being introduced to all kinds of alternative things. One day you’re looking into the benefits of making your own kefir, and then the next you’re thinking about growing a beard and joining a commune! It’s a slippery slope, let me tell you…and one that makes for an exciting ride. Of course, you make your fair share of mistakes along the way – kale smoothie, “healthy” donuts and exotic applications of garlic to name a few – but in the end, you break away from the mindlessness that governs this country’s food choices, and you get a taste of what God may have put on Eden’s menu.

Here’s the pitch.

At risk boys need alternatives. They often make bad choices because they have no clue that other options exist. I thought white bread was just fine until I tasted oven-fresh whole grain bread. In fact, I even thought that I was eating something good for me – the package at least told me that it was “Wonder”-bread made with “enriched” flour. Now, I’m not saying that all of these boy’s decisions are made from a position of ignorance. They often rebel against the good. But what I am saying, and what I am hoping you’ll believe enough to give money towards making a reality, is that Whetstone Boys Ranch will provide healthy alternatives to cycles of abuse and neglect – generational cycles which if left alone will destroy not just an individual boy, but families upon families into the future.

Please visit www.whetstoneboysranch.com, to give today.