Bearded Gospel Men: Welcome to the Pub.

4487077_orig

Recently I have been thinking a lot about this Bearded Gospel Men thing. You may have noticed a decline over the summer and fall in output around here, and while there are a lot of factors which have contributed to that, one of the major ones was the feeling of being a bit creatively burned-out on all things beardy! I’m just one man, and really, how many beard jokes can one man make?

Another thing I’ve struggled with as I’ve thought about this Bearded Gospel Men thing is just how to view it in the first place.

All of this started as a Tumblr blog by Pastor Joe Thorn, just a joke, really. But it gathered momentum and eventually became what it is today, with over 23000 Facebook likes and a lot of followers. We began to offer not just joke memes, but blog content about the Christian life, church history and masculinity, and we received some great feedback from these. There was some controversy, too. Pastor Joe comes from the Reformed/Calvinist tradition. A lot of BGM followers were of the same persuasion, and although I am confidently Christian, I am neither Reformed nor Calvinist. As this began to show itself in the content , it ruffled some feathers and even angered some people. However, as BGM grew, we attracted more people from the entire spectrum of the Christian faith, from Franciscan Friars in Brazil to “Good ol’ Boys” in Alabama, and I think that’s awesome.

We’ve also gotten a lot of exposure in the “secular” bearding world. Our most popular meme (“Excuse me, miss. My eyes are up here.”) can be seen everywhere. (Usually it’s seen with our website info conveniently cropped away, but still!) We have a lot of followers who would not consider themselves Christian by any stretch of the imagination. And I think that’s awesome, too.

So my struggle has been centred around just how to look at this thing. Is it just a Christian version of another “secular” beard humour site? My gut reaction is, “Yuck! No!” But we do carry the word “Gospel” in our very name, so obviously the Christian faith is literally at the centre of who we are, and to relegate that to obscurity would be wrong too.

In some recent conversations, I’ve come to realize that Bearded Gospel Men is not a “Christian” thing, but a thing run by a Christian, and there’s a big difference. Think of the difference between a Christian Bookstore and a local used bookstore that happens to be run by Christians. We have just such a place here in the city where I live. It’s full of all kinds of books, and anyone who loves books loves to go there. Athiests, Christians, agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists and bookworms of every variety love this little shop. There’s a great selection of books, the staff is helpful, and it’s got that lovely “used book” smell all about the place. They also have the finest selection of theology and Christian writings you’ll find anywhere. When my pastor friend from Canada comes to visit, he always makes a stop at this bookstore just to peruse their theology section. Something else that’s great about this bookstore is that they host a weekly book club where they read and discuss the work of The Inklings, the group of Christian writers which most notably included CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.

With this model in mind, I think Bearded Gospel Men is at its best when it’s operating like this little bookstore. Or, perhaps even more accurately, the Eagle and Child pub. The Eagle and Child was the pub where the aforementioned Inklings met every Thursday night to read their works-in-progress to each other over a pint and a pipe. There was (and still is) a room at that pub called The Rabbit Room, and this is where they would meet to discuss matters of faith and the creative process.

I’ve come to realize that Bearded Gospel Men is kind of like The Eagle and Child. It’s a pub. Literally, a “public house”, which happens to be owned and operated by a Christian, where absolutely everyone is welcome to hang out. If you just want to share a few laughs at the bar, you’re welcome to do that. If you want to sit down at a booth for some chit-chat and conversation, you’re welcome to do that too. If you want to take some time to talk about deeper things, pull up a chair at our blog and do that.

The bottom line is that this is a place where everyone is welcome, everyone is treated respectfully, and everyone leaves feeling a little happier for having come for a visit. We won’t ooze Christianese all over the place, but faith is smack dab in the middle of all this. If you want to engage in that portion, you are more than welcome to do so. If you’d rather not, you won’t be preached at. Likewise, good Christian men, you may hear a salty word or two from your pubmates (including your fellow Christians!). Take it all in stride. Love and respect each other. We’re all grown-ups here.

So, if you’re looking for a “Christian” version of another site, this ain’t it. But if you’re looking for a fun place to joke around with the option of some “deeper” discussions over in the Rabbit Room, then this is the place to be. And if you’re looking for a place where friends can meet, and maybe meet new friends, then belly-up to the bar, gents! This is just the place for you.

Sincerely,

The Proprietor.

Advertisements

Man Enough to be a Mom.

by Aaron Alford

Image

Painting: Henry Ossawa Tanner – The Annunciation.

 

The angel Gabriel stands before a teenage girl named Mary. He has just announced to her the most important news in the history of mankind. A Saviour is to be born, the very Son of God, and she has been chosen to be his mother. All of salvation history, from Adam through to Malachi, has come to this point. God has made a people for himself, led them like a shepherd, slowly revealing to them his true character, making them to be a light to the world. He has sent them judges and kings and prophets, all in the hope of readying them for his ultimate plan of salvation from sin and death: the gift of his own Son, the Saviour of the world, the eternally begotten Word who shall live, suffer and die as one of them, and who will at last be raised from the dead into glorious life.

But for now, the angel stands before a peasant girl, and awaits her reply. 

Not even this angel who lives eternally in the presence of the Almighty can know what will happen if the girl says No. He simply hopes with his whole being she says Yes. Many kings and prophets who have gone before said No to the call of God, or at the very least tried to run from it. Eve herself, graced as she was to walk with God in the Garden, chose selfishness.

Though she’s been graced with a life that has prepared her for this moment, there’s still no reason she couldn’t refuse. She, as much as any before her, has a free will, to choose the good or not, and now everything hinges on her answer. The angel knows all of this, but of course you couldn’t tell by the look on his face. He simply smiles, and waits for her answer.

She takes a breath, holding everything the angel has told her in her heart. Finally, she speaks.

“Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be done unto me as you have said.”

And every angel in heaven breathes a sigh of relief, and a cry of jubilation.

This, obviously, is simply my imaginative conjecture on what happened in that moment so long ago, but the truth remains that at one point in history, God’s plan of salvation came down to the Yes or No of one girl. I’m sure we could have an interesting debate about what God might have done if she had said, “No, thanks!” but that’s not the point I want to make here. 

In a culture that has a particularly difficult time sorting out what it means to be a man or a woman, where our ideas of fatherhood and motherhood have been tainted by our own experiences of our own imperfect moms and dads, it can be a controversial and misunderstood thing to refer to God as “Father” or even as “He”. God, of course, is beyond our understanding of male and female. Indeed, the ideas of male and female originate from God himself, so both characteristics are fully and completely within his nature.

But for some reason, God chose to reveal himself in terms of a Father. So what does that mean for us? If God has chosen to identify as “male”, at least in terms of his fathering actions and attitude, could it be that we as humans are meant to identify as female? 

Sex, as it is meant to be expressed in marriage, is a man and woman embracing in a mutual act of love and self-giving. A husband offers himself to his beloved, and new life is created and born into the world through the loving consent of a mother. If God has ordained this as the most basic method of the continuation of life on earth, there may be something here we should pay attention to in terms of our spiritual lives and our relationship with God the Father.

Gentleman, we need to embrace our feminine side, because the world is in desperate need of some bearded moms!

I’m sure we’ve all had a “church chuckle” about being called the Bride of Christ, but it may be time to give a little more thought to this feminine aspect of our relationship with God. What does it mean to think of our spiritual lives in terms of the actions of a wife and mother? 

Mary said Yes to the Holy Spirit, who planted in her the Word of God. This Word, after nine months of quiet nurturing, was born into the world for the salvation of humankind. Like little Mary, we must be open to the work of the Holy Spirit. In every moment, we are in some sense standing before the angel Gabriel, and being given a chance to let the Lord plant in us the seed of his Word, to receive him in an act of self-giving love. And we are free to accept or reject his advances.

But first, of course, we need to be quiet enough to hear that angel’s greeting in the first place. We need to set aside our own agendas and shut up long enough for the Gabriel in our lives to get a word in edgewise! We must create spaces for intimacy. To quietly ponder, as Mary did, what is happening around us and what God may be doing. Then we need to embrace the simplicity and courage with which humble Mary received God’s Word to her, listening and responding with a humble “Yes”. Then, if we nurture the Word which the Spirit plants, in the fullness of time God will bring that Word into the world through us. We will see the fruit of the Father’s work in our lives and in the world around us.

What an awesome invitation, and what a staggering responsibility! God himself, in his vast humility, awaits our humble reply. Such a reply requires absolute trust, a determination of heart to trust in the Father’s providence and character, and a willingness to let go of our desire to control or predict the outcome. After all, Mary could never have predicted that she would give birth to her son while surrounded by cattle, but even then she trusted in God’s character and will. She was a model of courage and faithfulness we as men would do well to imitate.

So what is your answer? Will you face the Father with fear, or faith? Will you run like Jonah, or show the simple trust of Mary? More than that, can you receive this word with the love and care of a wife and mother? Will you patiently nurture that which God has planted, without rushing towards an early delivery? Can you say right along with the mother of Our Lord, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done unto me as you have said.”

Are you man enough to be a mom?

 

Beards In Action: Bringing It Home

During our recent ‘Beards In Action’ outreach experience, I had the pleasure of getting to know my new friend Jake. He came down from Portland, Oregon to serve with me and my fellow YWAM worker Chris Whitler, along with other workers and volunteers here in Modesto, California. We spent a lot of time time ministering to and building friendships with the local street community in some of our regular places of ministry, including  South Ninth Street. South Ninth Street is an area just outside of the city limits where there are several  low-income, residential motels. Here there are people dealing with a variety of issues, including addiction, prostitution, and all kinds of hurts and hang-ups. With Jake and our other official Beards In Action recruit, Josh Seehorn, we shared meals with people on the street, served coffee, and created spaces where we could sit with people and share our lives. As one of the hosts of this trip, I have to say how awesome it was to see our Beards In Action volunteers dive in and be a blessing to people. The following is a recap and reflection on that week from Jake.

-Aaron (aka ‘The Proprietor’)

 

 by Jacob Johnson

During the beards in action week, I had the pleasure of getting to know some awesome bearded men, and serve alongside them. It was a great time to see ministry firsthand and learn different ways of engaging with people.

I had some great experiences seeing folks like Evelyn light up every time she saw Chris and Aaron. I was able to see the positive impact that these guys have on her and many others lives. Another great experience was learning the story of Bob – he was a 9th street resident at one point, and seeing the growth he has experienced was really special. The pieces of love, patience and God’s grace that Aaron exhibited by being a support and friend with him during difficult times was also an amazing testimony.

These stories of Christ’s work in people’s lives are powerful and ones I hope you can experience in some form. While these significantly shaped my experience, I was also able to form a clearer idea of what it means to be a Bearded Gospel Man (and that I want to be one!), and how I want to incorporate that into my life in Portland, not just during a weeklong Beards in Action trip.

I was struck by watching others during the week and how easy it is to love people. With a little bit of intentionality, striking up a conversation with a complete stranger and engaging with them can be a powerful ministry (if you have a beard, chances are you are friendly!). I have incorporated this into my life at the gym, a place I frequent but haven’t previously used to build relationships. I got to meet Mike the other day, because he has a beard and is awesome. We could be friends for no other reason than being the only two bearded dudes in the joint! Or the basketball guys I have gotten to know, who have affectionately started calling me “Beardsie” and “Fear the Beard” because of my mad basketball skills. (I wish…but probably because I have learned their names and am encouraging when they make their jumpers, even though I keep missing mine! Hey, I am a “defensive specialist” –  but I digress.)

Another aspect of being a Bearded Gospel Man looks like consistency. During the Beards In Action week, I learned the powerful ministry that can come with consistency. I was able to see the ministry of serving coffee on a weekly basis and the opportunities it creates for relationship building. I learned that relationship building takes time, but being intentional and consistent are small steps of kingdom building. That mentality also helps me downplay the idea that I need to do something grand, which can keep me from doing anything. A small conversation could be all that is needed.

It was a great trip and I hope this recap has been an encouragement about living out your Bearded Gospel Man-ness. If you need more encouragement – come next year! I hope to see you and your beard there.

The First Day.

by Aaron Alford

(photo: The Garden Tomb, Israel)

Image

No light could be seen from inside the cave. The cold air held the scent of rock and moss and the lingering odour of bitter herbs. The silence was palpable, hovering in the tomb like the Spirit on the face of the deep.

A body lay on the stone shelf, its unnatural stillness betraying any illusion of sleep. For all the beautifying shrouds so carefully wrapped around it, and the precious blossoms placed upon the swaddling cloths, this was a corpse. His friends had done their best to dress the wounds, in some unreasoning and unspoken hope that even in death these wounds might heal, but the reality remained, and they were gruesome. He looked as though he had been mauled to death, and the truth was not far from it. It had taken hours to dress his wounds, long enough for tears to give way to silence and the quiet business at hand. Finally, his mother had wiped the blood from his face. She caressed his pallid brow, placed the last shroud upon his head, and kissed him through the veil.

There was evening and there was morning, and evening and morning. The third day.

The cold air of night lingered inside the tomb, and the ground was cool to the touch. All was still, but for the movement of a beetle, and so silent that its footsteps could be heard as it skittered across the wall.

Then in that silence, a breath.

Light filled the cave like lightning, and for a moment cast a deep, black shadow beneath the feet of the beetle.

The lungs which had sat silent since Friday resumed their interrupted rhythm of rising and falling. The man sat up on one elbow as the white cloths fell gently from his body. He took a deep draught of crisp, cold air, and smiled. The scent of the cave delighted him, especially the scent of myrrh emanating from his burial shroud. He stood, and he seemed to be clothed in robes made of light itself. He turned and looked at the burial cloths. He smiled again, noticing the faint imprint his form and that flash of light had left on them. The shrouds were wrinkled from the absence of his body, and he remembered something his mother had told him about making his bed. He folded them neatly and placed them on the stone shelf. The blossoms which had adorned the edges he arranged in an impromptu bouquet. The beetle came to inspect them. He held out his finger and the bug crawled on, and he surveyed the beetle as the beetle surveyed his scars. The marks, which had seemed so horrible only an hour before, practically glowed now with beauty.

He set the beetle back down, turned to the sealed mouth of the cave, and walked through it.

His face welcomed the sun, and his eyes took in every bright colour of the garden. Each leaf seemed to be the purest idea of the colour green. Each flowering blossom’s morning dew shone with the glow of a newborn. Even the ground beneath his feet seemed to blush with the ruddy warmth of a new mother. The world was alive, re-created, resurrected.

And as he walked from the tomb, in the cool of the morning, the stone rolled back from the crevice of its own accord, and the sun stole into the cave like the dawn of the first day of creation. And he looked, and saw that it was very good.

Beards In Action: We Really Did It!

Image

One January day a few months ago, I said to my friend and fellow YWAM worker Chris, “I’ve been thinking… What if we hosted an outreach team from the Bearded Gospel Men community?”  “Let’s do it!” said Chris (who immediately began to let his beard grow). We had a specific week we’d need to slot it into, and it would be short notice to pull a team together, but we figured if we even got just a few guys out, it would be worth it.

So I put out the call (and kept harping on you guys!), and two friends came out to join us: Jacob Johnson from Portland (aka Beard Central) and Josh Seehorn from Athens, Georgia. We spent a week together serving people from the low-income and street community here in Modesto, and in a word, it was awesome. There are so many stories to tell from this time, and over the next couple of weeks you’ll hear some of them. For now, suffice to say that it was extremely cool to see new relationships form between our volunteers, us, and the people we serve.

Although we called it the ‘Beards In Action’ week, we wanted to let this week be focused not just on the actions of serving, but on making those actions opportunities to engage people in relationship, to get to know their stories and who they are. It’s a very good thing to serve people, but real change comes to both parties when we get to know one another. And that’s what has been great to see this past week. 

It was cool to see Josh, who just completed running and hiking across the entire country, engage people wherever he went. He loves meeting folks and beginning conversations, and his openness and friendliness with people was great to see. It was also a true blessing to see Jacob’s warmth and gentleness with each person he met and in each situation in which he served. Both of these Bearded Gospel Men are awesome guys, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them.

I also want to give some thanks to someone who was not able to join us, but  who was present nonetheless.  Doug at CanYouHandlebar (www.canyouhandlebar.com) graciously sent us the gift of several of his excellent products, along with a whole bunch of his Wisdom and Initiative Beard Oils to give to bearded friends we met along the way. It was so cool to be able to tell a friend who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to have the luxury of something like beard oil about my friend back in Michigan who wanted to send along his greetings and a gift. I think in particular of our new friend “Grizzly”, who is currently homeless. When I gave him some oil, he got the biggest smile on his face and said, “Wow, man. You really made my day!” So thanks for that, Doug!

We were able to partner with several ministries throughout the week, and you should go check them out. Advancing Vibrant Communities (www.vibrantcommunities.org), The Vine House (www.lovemodesto.com/less-fortunate/vine-house-ministries), and Love Modesto (www.lovemodesto.com) are all doing truly inspiring things in our city, and it was a pleasure to work alongside each one of them. I’d encourage you to find out what may be happening in your own city, and see if there are some opportunities to serve.

And of course, I couldn’t talk about the Bearded Gospel Men ‘Beards In Action’ week without mentioning the Third Annual Northern California Beard and Mustache Competition! This was a fun night (even if it did go a bit long, with too few chairs!) of celebrating all things beardy, and meeting some really interesting people. Josh and I both entered the competition, and although our beards are big, there were beards even more impressive than ours! But we had a good time with each other and the people we met, and that’s really what it’s all about.

So what began as a little idea to get a couple guys together from the BGM community turned out, in the end, to be even better than I could have hoped. Which of course means you should stay tuned and be ready for the Second Annual Bearded Gospel Men ‘Beards In Action’ week next year!

 

Bearded Gospel History: Saint Patrick

Image

 

by Aaron Alford

 

There is very little one can say about Saint Patrick that has not already been said, but it simply wouldn’t be right to let this special day go by without mentioning something about this unique and compelling figure of Christianity. For a brief and interesting biography of Patrick, I recommend this article by writer Jonathan Rogers: http://www.rabbitroom.com/2013/03/on-the-greatness-of-saint-patrick/

What I can talk about is what Patrick represents to me personally, and why I find him so fascinating. Patrick’s was a life lived in absolute love and service to Christ and to the people around him. 

He was sent to be a missionary in a culture that was defined by its paganism. He was not afraid of the world in which he found himself, however, and instead looked for signs of life, of the movement of the Holy Spirit, within it. He celebrated what was good and true, and with great love and care (and sound doctrine), introduced people to the source of that goodness and truth: Jesus Christ. 

He had a profound awareness of the spiritual realities around him, of God’s immense and unseen workings in the world. He had a sense of Christ’s breath in the breeze, of God’s immediacy in his created world, and of Christ’s presence in the people he was called to serve. He looked with overwhelming love upon the people whom God had made, a people that most of the world (including Christians) had written off as beyond hope or redemption. This was what motivated him to return as a missionary to the very people who had enslaved him. He knew that he need not fear any person, spiritual force, or even the culture of paganism in which he found himself, because Christ’s love was all around him. With Christ’s own love, he loved people.

When I am tempted to despair of Christ’s presence in my life, of his Holy Spirit being at work in the world around me, I need only to remember the incredible prayer of St. Patrick. Here I am reminded of his ever-present help, and his ever-present love. May we carry that same love and confidence into the world in which we find ourselves.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude. 

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

Smelly Betty.

by Aaron Alford

Image

I love my Dad. Sadly, however, he’s beardless. I have seen a picture of him in the 70s where he’s sporting goatee, but that’s the most facial hair I’ve ever seen on him. Pray for him, my bearded brethren. With this information in mind, is it okay if I tell a little story about him? Yes? Okay then.

My Dad’s a trucker, and has often found himself in places where he was able to take some small action, and be in the right place at the right time for someone. The other day, he told me about just such a time.

Dad was at a truck stop, and noticed a dirty, disheveled woman sitting in a booth in the restaurant area. She was slumped over and sleeping, and it saddened him to see her there. Obviously she was homeless, and apparently may have had some mental health and/or addiction issues going on. But really, what could he do for her? Not much, he supposed, and he almost walked on by.

But then he had another thought. He had met some of the people I count as friends here in Modesto, and seen how simple it can be to be a friend to someone in such a situation. Maybe he could at least buy her some food.

He didn’t want to wake her, so he asked the waitress if he could leave a few dollars for her to get something when she woke up.

“Oh, that’s so nice of you! But my shift is ending, so I couldn’t leave the money for the next girl,” said the waitress. “But I know this lady. I’ll get her up.”

The waitress walked over to the woman’s booth and put a hand on her shoulder.

“Betty?”

The woman awoke.

“Betty? This man wants to buy you something to eat. Do you want something?”

Instantly the woman, Betty, perked up.

“Really? Oh that would be wonderful! Thank-you so much, sir!”

Betty ordered something to eat. Then my Dad had another thought. As a truck driver who frequented this particular truck stop chain, he had tokens available for use of the trucker’s showers.  And Betty could really use a shower.

“I don’t know how to say this, but, uhm, if you wanted to make use of the showers, you can use my shower token,” he said.

Betty’s eye brightened. She was not offended in the least that someone noticed she needed a shower

“Really? Oh yes, I’d love that!”

At this point, you should know that my Dad has a big heart, but he’s got quite an aversion to being dirty. He just can’t stand being in a situation where he has to be around anything “smelly”. Thankfully, however, he’s thrown himself into at least two different short-term outreach situations where he’s had to get out of his comfort zone and into a less-than-sanitary situation. I have photo evidence of about a dozen filth-covered street kids in Thailand hanging off of him like spider monkeys. It’s the happiest picture of him I’ve ever seen.

Betty was, well, pretty smelly.

She stood up and threw her arms around my father. “Thank-you so much!” she said.

Dad gulped away a slight gag reflex as he got a good whiff of Betty. “Oh, no problem!” chuckled Dad. He remembered those street kids, and he hugged her right back.

A while later, Betty walked back into the cafe. Unfortunately, she did not have a change of clothes, but she looked like a new person anyway. (“I kicked myself later,” my Dad admitted. “They had shirts and stuff for sale in the truck stop. I could’ve got her something.”)

Betty gave my Dad another great big hug, with tears in her eyes. “Thank-you so much,” she said. She smelled much better this time.

I tell you this story for two reasons, for two different truths that were at play in this little story. The first truth is that God can use us exactly where we are, everywhere we go. You don’t have to be on a missions trip to be used by God.

The second truth is that God also likes to take us to places we’ve never gone. My Dad absolutely loved each of the missions trips he’s been part of. He loved them so much that he wishes he could do something like that full time. But for now, he’s still a trucker, and God seems happy to use my Dad right where he is.

Paradoxically, to be a blessing right where he is, Dad drew upon the things he learned when he’d went away on an outreach trip. God took my Dad out of his comfort zone so that he could be more effective in the place where he’s most comfortable.

Perhaps we tend to swing from one of these two truths to the other. An opportunity comes along to serve in some kind of outreach experience, and we quickly dismiss it because it’s just not “realistic” and “God can use me right where I am.” On the other hand, maybe we look at what people in “full time ministry” are doing and think we could never do something like that. “It takes a special kind of person to do that!” we say, and fail to see the glorious opportunities in front of us every day to bless someone who desperately needs a little love.

So with all that in mind, what are you doing from March 30 to April 6?

You may have heard that we are organizing a ‘Beards In Action’ outreach trip here in Modesto, California. This could be the ‘out-of-my-comfort-zone’ experience you need. The trip is very affordable, and is guaranteed to both challenge and inspire you with ways you can be a blessing back home. We have plenty of room for last-minute additions to this little team, so if that piques your interest, please drop me a line.

But if you’re not able to join us for the trip, what are you doing from March 30 to April 6?

We would like to extend this ‘Beards In Action’ experience to everyone. Maybe there’s someone right there where you live who needs the encouragement that only you can give. So do a little brainstorming with some friends. Is there something you can do that would be a blessing? If we all share our ideas, we’re sure to find something great. Obviously we can be doing these things any time, but it’ll be fun to post and share some of these stories during that particular week as part of the ‘Beards In Action’ experience.

Maybe this is an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary, to go somewhere you’ve never gone and experience something new. Or maybe you have an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary right where you are. Either way, remember to be where you are with a purpose. Someone you haven’t met may need you in their life. If you’re breathing, you are being called to be in the right place at the right time for someone. Don’t miss your chance to take action.