Friday, March 30, 2012


courage n. The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution;
fearlessness n. without fear; not afraid; brave

Many men are fearless - or at very least they are fearless when endeavoring to do something dangerous.  They jump out of planes, flip motorcycles, ride bulls, and joust, all without the slightest hesitation.   While these actions may be quite fearless, it’s not always obvious if the men who engage in them are courageous.  The world is full of men who fearlessly conquer in business and sports, men who conquer women and even their children.  However, many times the collateral damage is quite extensive.  They receive the promotion but their colleagues feel manipulated.  They win an MVP award but their team is bumped out in the first round.  They date beautiful women but often find themselves alone.  Their kids are successful but they won’t speak to them.  You see every little boy has been told time and again to not be afraid, so many have learned to ignore their feelings and to basically attack anything within their heart that is weak or fearful.  While it is true that young men need to face their fears, facing your fears is quite different than shutting up your heart and ignoring those fears altogether.
Courage is quite different. While most courageous actions are fearless, many fearless actions wouldn’t be described as courageous.  A current popular television show includes the hosts participating in ridiculous stunts and pranks - definitely fearless, but not necessarily courageous. Courage is the spirit that rises up within us to meet and overcome the fear - not for the sake of overcoming the fear but for the sake of something larger, something better.   Courage recognizes the danger, but rises up to overcome the fear - not with brute force but with self possession, confidence and resolution.  Courage enables the young man to resist his peers.  “Being fearless” will be used by his peers to make him fall in line. (i.e. “take a drink - what are you, scared?”)  Courage will cause a man to run to the fire for the sake of those being burned.  Courage will keep a young woman at peace in the middle of a thunderstorm so as not to scare her child.  In his own way Paul Suda demonstrated courage in last week’s joust. Even though he was a bit afraid of getting hurt before the match, he still got back on his horse when his chances of winning were eliminated, and entered the list against Josh Knowles.
            This subject makes me think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He wasn’t fearless, He was courageous.  He knew the trial that was before Him and He sweated blood. He wanted that cup to pass from Him but nevertheless He courageously drank from the cup so that we could have that same courageous Spirit inside of us.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Enemies to Friends

I first met Mike Edwards during training week for Full Metal Jousting and I, like many of my fellow teammates, had the initial reaction of “what about ‘this guy’?”! However, as training week continued, my opinion of him began to change. I began to see a bit beyond the Mohawk and the tight pants to the man underneath. He was a man who, like most of us, was trying to make his way through this world.  Then during the first episode Mike suffered his first defeat and quite frankly didn’t take it too well.  Probably due to some of the things in his past, that first loss set like curdled milk on Mike’s stomach. Consequently, Mike spent the next week belly aching and “vomiting” on those around him.  Couple this with the fact that a deserving man like Jack didn’t get picked to fill Brian’s spot and you can see why the black team was not exactly excited to have Mike on our side. (Side note: the black team did cheer for Mike even if the show made it seem as though we did not.)  Upon finding out Mike would be on our team we immediately began to get him suited up for his joust with Nathan.  It seemed like trading for Kobe right before a playoff game against the Lakers - this was the face of the Red team.  This was a guy with a personality you could either like or hate but one you certainly couldn’t be indifferent about.  By this time in the competition, the black team members had really begun to embrace living like brothers, and we felt that the coaches and producers had just stuck a fly in our ointment.  Would we be able to get along and be productive with this new element in the house?  Would we be able to bring Mike into the fold or would we begin to divide like the red team had?  So, these were the thoughts in my mind as we went down to help him suit up.  As I reached the locker room door I knew we had to put all of this behind us, take him in and make him a part of the team.  So I shook his hand and looked him in the eyes and told him that while Jack was our pick, we would, from that moment on, consider him part of the black team.  We were going to bash with him in practice, respect each other, and have each others’ backs.  While it took a little time, over the next few weeks Mike found a place on the black team and we found a teammate in Mike.  By the end of our time together I again saw the man on the inside of Mike - the one behind the muscles, tattoos, and Mohawks - a guy just trying to do right just trying to make his life count.  I respect that guy and I am glad he was on our team.  And I am glad our team was strong enough to be able to take him in and continue to be unified. 

In writing this I am reminded of Romans 5:10  And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of his Son, what blessings he must have for us now that we are his friends and he is living within us! (Living translation)  We need to be reminded of this in our churches and in our families.  It is only in taking in our enemies that we can ever have them as friends.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why Joust?

Many times as I prepared to be a part of FMJ I was asked by those closest to me why I was doing it.  I had lots of answers why; “the money would be great for my family,” “it will give me a bigger platform from which to talk to people about God,”  “it will help me with my rodeo camps at Sky Ranch,” and more.  While all of these reasons may be somewhat valid they were not what was really at the heart of the matter.  In my heart I found myself really wanting to joust  - wanting to meet this challenge.  My wife signed me up to do this and I have often kidded with her about that.  But when she signed me up she only did it because she thought I would be good at it and she thought it would be good for me.  She knew if I was picked for the show it meant she would have to take care of the kids alone for over a month while trying to work and get all four of them where they needed to go.   She knew all of this and while I am sure if I win the $100k she will be excited and she will find some cool ways to spend some of the money, the financial prize wasn’t her motivation.  The same way my motivation- my heart- was not focused on any of these secondary things.  Now I know some of you may be thinking “well all of these secondary things -  aren’t they supposed to be the ‘first’ things?”  “Isn’t telling people about Jesus supposed to be the ‘first’ thing on your agenda?”  But you see, that is just it -  I am not even supposed to have an agenda.  I am simply to follow God and He leads us by our heart.  In fact the minute those other things become my motivation then I become outcome-oriented and everything I do becomes a means to an end.  Then cooking breakfast for my fellow competitors would have been about “winning them to Jesus” instead of about filling our bellies before we jousted all day.  Then jousting would have been about “having a bigger platform” instead of being about challenging my own heart.   What if Candice had signed me up because she wanted the $100k or even because she wanted us to be able to “reach more people”?  That would have been at the very least burdensome, and at worst, manipulative.   But when we just do what is in front of us with an honest heart - do what is in front of us because we just really want to - then we give God the room to do the parts that are really His to begin with.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ya Gotta Love a guy like Matt Hiltman

What may not necessarily be evident on the show is how intelligent Matt actually is.  He is a college student, majoring in philosophy with minor in Psychology and he will surprise you with what he knows about most subjects that come up in conversation.  Many times when you meet guys that are pretty cerebral they sometimes make things more difficult instead of keeping things simple.  The ability to keep things simple is something of a lost art.  Matt is one of those rare guys who seem to have the ability to quiet their mind and do the task in front of them without fighting their head. We live in a world where the day we face each morning is usually complicated, confused, and sometimes insane.  Yet the second this world pulls us into the insanity, confusion, and complication we are pretty unfit to do anything to change it.  Which is why I like a guy like Matt - he can face the storm, quiet his mind, and deliver.  There are some dull men out there who are all aggression, all testosterone, and no brains, and while they may be able to get the job done with that makeup, there is usually a lot of collateral damage.  No, as men we need to be able to thoughtfully, skillfully, and cleverly meet the challenge that rises to meet us - not simply whack it over the head and drag it to the cave.  So how do we operate in this complex world and keep it simple enough to resist being overcome with the problems in it?  I think the answer was demonstrated by Matt.  He kept focusing on the next step in front of him.  He “took no thought for tomorrow.”  This is what we all need to do - focus on the next 5 seconds and try to live it well, and repeat…

*Matt Hiltman is currently co-starring with Rope on History's Full Metal Jousting.  Matt secured a convincing victory for the black team in the 4th preliminary round of the jousting competition.