2018 – 2019
September 2018 thru August 2019. Our group turned six and we spend the year learning the fourth rhythm “Be The Blessing – Bless”. We read through the book, “The Forgotten Blessing” by Arron Fruh. While we had already been doing our BMW blessing at the end of each meeting for years, we were now diving into the deep end and learning the difference between “praying over” vs. “praying for”; prayer of blessing vs. prayer of petition. The contrast was stunning to us all. As the author makes clear, “words matter.”
By July of 2020 we had set up a Gmail account and a Slack account for our group and began to move all our announcements onto this new platform. Up til now, I had sent out all announcements via texts. Very long texts. Too long texts. I had multiple text threads that did not allow all the men to talk to all the other men of the group. We needed a better way to connect and allow all the men to communicate with each other. We had no idea how important this new platform would be needed to help our group grow, survive and thrive through a very challenging season that would be just around the corner.
We also started a Rucking Team, The Fellowship of The Ruck. We completed our first GoRuck 12 Mile competition April 20, 2019. We covered the 12.07 mile course with a time of 3 hours 46 minutes and 56 seconds. Lots of work, lots of memories, lots of sore muscles. We did it though.
2019 – 2020
September 2019 thru August 2020. Our group turned seven and we added two more rhythms to discover together, “Rhythm The Book, Talk to Papa, Engage the Nudge, Be the Blessing, Guard Your Heart, Stick the Landing – Read – Pray – Grow – Bless – Protect – Win. For the year, we attempted to work through the book, “Overcoming Temptation” by John Owen. Honestly, it seemed to be a bit of a challenge for most.
By March of 2020, COVID had begun to lock things down. We decided to pause our study of John Owen’s book. Instead we set up a Zoom account and started having “Weekly Fireside Chats” complete with testimonies. We had several picnics on Wednesday evenings at Hathaway Park during the summer of 2020 to help us meet together in a safe place. It helped us get through a rough year.
As I watched people in general and men in specific, I began to discover that we needed to add one last rhythm to our list, “Follow The Star – Pursue.” Our list of rhythms were complete. “Follow the Star, Rhythm The Book, Talk to Papa, Engage the Nudge, Be the Blessing, Guard Your Heart, Stick the Landing. Pursue – Read – Pray – Grow – Bless – Protect – Win. It would be the list of rhythms that might come to define us and our heart for our group and our families.
2020 – 2021
September 2020 thru August 2021. Our group turns eight. We begin meeting at Chris Veley’s “Big Blue Barn” for the first time. It gave us the perfect place to meet, make breakfast, talk and drink coffee with other men. We covered the rhythm, “Stick The Landing – Win” by reading the book, “Living Life Backwards” by David Gibson. It was a book that covered the truths of a life welled lived found in Ecclesiastes. It was a hit with the guys. Just the right length and depth to keep us all engaged all year long and we finished the book. Praise Jesus.
September 2021 thru August 2022. Our group turns nine. We continued to meet at “The Big Blue Barn”. We went back and covered the first rhythm that we have yet to uncover, “Follow The Star – Pursue.” We read the book, “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer. This just might go down as the most important year ever for us as a group and The Brotherhood of The Book. We began to discover that if as a man, you are not in “pursuit” of God . . . nothing else matters to sticks. You will never change if you are not committed to pursue the living God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. It accepts nothing less.
2022 – 2023
September 2022 thru August 2023. Our group turns ten! We are officially a decade old and still growing. Praise Jesus. This was a banner year for our group. Many major tectonic shifts happened with the group that helped define us to a greater and deeper degree.
The first big change was that we shifted away from Slack as our platform to upload materials and notes for the group. In its place, we created our own web site for The Brotherhood of the Book. Now we had a central location for all notes, materials and calendar events to be stored and accessed at any time. We were taking charge of organizing our own online presence.
Second, we transitioned away from using simple phone texting and instead transitioned to texting channels on Signal. With the old system, we could only have up to sixteen guys on a single text thread. With over thirty five guys in the rotation, it proved problematic at best to communicate and even then, we could not all communicate on the same text thread. Signal solved all that for us. Now we can have hundreds of guys on the same text thread and talk to each other all as a group. It was a game changer.
Thirdly, this was the year, Michael Bailey stepped up and began to lead our group with a passion for God’s Word. He lead us through a verse by verse study of 1 Peter that took up the entire year. He introduced the SOAP method of studying God’s Word on our own. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. We were all given journals to make notes and observations on our own throughout the weekend ahead of time. Homework was now a vital part of our rhythm each week. Growth was happening at a deeper level each week.
Next, we developed a custom challenge coin for our group. While the “Pray Always” challenge coin was adequate, it was not uniquely “us”. This new coin would become a defining symbol of the core rhythms that we strove to instill in the lives of all the men who attend our group regularly. The coin also caused us to reevaluate the wording of the rhythms. In specific, the seven rhythms we had come to identify were Pursue, Read, Pray, Grow, Bless, Protect and Win. The last rhythm, “Win”, did not seem to fit well. The focus of it was a bit off. After much discussion within the group we decided to change it to “Finish” and that proved to be the final touch. We had the seven rhythms worked up on the new coin. Now we had a custom challenge coin that was uniquely ours.
But with this new coin came a new found challenge. What if we wanted to give out coins to other men who were not a part of our group? What if we wanted to spread our message about the Seven Rhythms of a Man’s Heart as listed in Psalm 1 but they did not belong to “The Brotherhood of The Book”? The guys within our group had to earn this coin by getting up early Saturday mornings and making the effort. It felt a bit challenging to allow other men to simply buy a copy of this coin that others had to work hard to obtain.
The answer became clear . . . we needed a second coin. We needed another coin that was a bit more generic in nature. One that was silver and not gold. One that conveyed our message but that as a group we felt comfortable allowing other men of all walks of life to have and carry with them. Thus the “Seven Rhythms of a Man’s Heart” challenge coin was created. Now we had two custom challenge coins that helped define our mission vision for the hearts of men. The gold coin was for our group. The silver coin was for everyone else.
The Final – Port of Call
Finally and with a bit of melancholy sadness, we said farewell to one our longest serving charter members of the group, Josh Contreras. Josh has filled a huge role in providing leadership, vision and godly wisdom for the group. Anyone that has every heard Josh speak about any topic of theology extemporaneously, knows the depth of thought that flows is always a show stopper for sure.
Yet Josh, has become a vital part of the men’s group at his local church in addition to ours on Saturdays. Being a part of two groups proved taxing for a single dad of three teenagers and a choice had to be made. With courage and character he made it. He decided to leave our group as “Charter Member Emeritus” in order to give his full time and attention to the men’s group at his home church.
Of course for his sendoff, we had a big celebration and a blessing ceremony for him. Being that Josh spent time in the navy as a firefighter aboard the USS Kitty Hawk, we presented him with a fireman’s axe with all our names burned into the handle. It was our way of saying, “Stay in the Fight” but remember us along the way.
It had been a busy year.
September 2018 to August 2023
For the second five year block of time, our group definitely changed from the bottom up, the top down and all around.
First starters, the phrase, “Enjoy your kids, because before you know it, they will be gone” is a real thing. Over the past five years, most of our sons and daughters have grown up, graduated from high school, moved on to college and some have even gotten married. Where did the time go? Seems like yesterday they were losing their teeth. Now we are losing them altogether. And yet . . . not altogether. All the outings, blessing ceremonies and knighting ceremonies have come back to reap rewards and benefits unforeseen at the start. The relationship building over the past ten years with our sons and daughters has come back to show its strength from the inside out. For that we are grateful.
Second major change is that we changed our name twice in the past five years. From “Raising a God Fearing Generation” to “The Dad’s Group” to “The Brotherhood of The Book”, a name change is a big deal. It forces all the men of the group for a fresh “Buy-In” each time you do it. A name change helps to define and refine just not just who you are today, but what you want your legacy to be tomorrow. While the first five years seemed to center around our kids first and the The Word second. I can safely say that in the second five year period, we made an intentional change and switched the two in order of importance. Now it was The Word first and family second, and it felt good to make that adjustment.
Which leads us to our third major change. We transitioned away from individual book studies by outside authors to studying The Book all by itself. Hard to go wrong when your teaching comes straight out of God’s Word. Like drinking cider freshly pressed and flowing out the cider press. God’s Word is most sweet when it flows straight off the page. Out of Psalm 1 we discovered seven rhythms of a man’s heart that we are constantly in process of working through. Rhythms like Pursue, Read, Pray, Grow, Bless, Protect and Finish. Rhythms that define the growth of a man’s heart that is in pursuit of the God and the righteous life he desires for those whom he loves.
For when you know what God wants you to work on as a man, the end goal comes into view . . . “Fidelis Luminox”. To be a “Faithful Light in the Night” is the goal of all our efforts in pursuing God and brotherhood with each other.
Matthew 5:14-17, “You are the light of the world a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand so it gives light to everyone in the room. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.”
That is what we strive to do, be a light with all our might.