By Dusty Shelhammer
James 1:2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows your true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.
As we kick off the First Responder Program at SkyRose Ranch in California, 18 first responders gather to possibly engage in the fight of their life: spirituality and manhood as God designed. These men have had the highest level of training to save lives and property this country has to offer, but unfortunately the training to fight to save themselves and their families has been left out.
The first night begins with uncertainty. As first responders are trained to do, they start to assess the scene, looking for hidden dangers and trying to gather a plan of attack. And man-oh-man, they are about to get attacked! Not the external attack they are used, and probably expecting, but the internal turmoil of taking off the defensive shield they have put up in the years of serving their communities.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
The core of this program is not “come have a seat and let us fix you.” This program is the exact reflection of John 5:8, “pick up your mat and walk.” These men will be exposed to the grace and glory of our Lord and will be given the tools to carry on a successful mission in life. A mission of leading their families, managing their household, and building a legacy for their children and other men coming up the same path.
As these men unpack a lifetime of “slow drip” trauma, they start to see that the biggest hurdle in their healing is inside them: The price of the false image they have built to hide the impurities in their character.
These men unpack their emotional rucksacks this week, spilling out what they have held in until now and filling their hearts with the love of Christ.
This week is safety, friendship, and fellowship. These men have shared their hearts exposed, their fears, and by the grace of God’s peace committed their life to healing what has taken a lifetime to break. Some of these men have made a huge step of faith and given their life to Christ. But the fight has just begun. As they travel home, the troubles they left behind are waiting for them. Although, they now have the tools to help them fight: The “4 Be’s” – Be in the Word! Be in Prayer! Be in Fellowship! Be in touch with your cornermen. These tools will help them fight, but the biggest fight is within.
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