Man Up Musings - Man Up Adventures

Our God-Given Vision

Nathan Thompson

As a man, there are those times in life when you feel God calling you up and out; times when you feel like you're standing on the precipice of something great, something vast, something God-ordained; seasons where you feel God inviting you to a higher level; times when you feel like you're standing in the picture above and God is beckoning you to go further than you've ever gone before.

Truth be told, that's exactly where I feel like Man Up Adventures is standing - smack dab in the middle of the picture above.

Humble Beginnings

Gray clouds sagged low as they dropped their heavy blanket of snow around me. Crashing in on every side, life had unexpectedly driven me far away from home, and so I found myself here - strapped into snowshoes somewhere on the southeastern slope of one of the West’s most iconic mountains - the Grand Teton. Little did I know that with the help of God, an adventure, and my traveling companion (my dad), that's exactly what I would find - myself.

To state that God impacted my life in 2007 during those December days in the Tetons would be selling God short - He turned my life around. Little did I know that He would take that week's experience, the pain of my past failures, and the solid guiding hand of my Godly father, and turn it into a vision to lead men on a journey to reclaim their purpose, their authentic masculinity, and their hearts.

After returning home, I'll never forget the voice of God as I was re-living my life-altering wilderness experience, still filled with wonder at the lasting change that was born in me.

"Nathan, if I can use an experience like this to change your life, do you think that I can do the same thing in the lives of other men?"

My answer was "yes," and a season of praying, planning and dreaming ensued. The vision was realized in 2012 when my father and I led a group of five other men on our inaugural Adventure in South Dakota's Black Hills. Man Up was birthed.

Since our maiden voyage we've seen a lot of men impacted, added additional trips, and expanded to additional locations. In just a couple of weeks, we’re rolling out a much-needed twist on our current Adventures with our Man Up Campfire - a dialed-back adventure experience for men who are unable to participate in our Adventures due to physical limitations. 2017 will mark the much anticipated launch of our first Tier 2 Adventure, a more challenging, high-stakes version of our present Adventure experience with a whole new set of curriculum that builds on Tier 1. Yes, the future is bright and full of promise.

Yes, we've followed God as He's guided us deeper into the vision He has for us, but like the man in the picture above, we can clearly see that we're not even close to the pinnacle of His vision for Man Up Adventures; He's calling us so much farther than where we're at now.

To Infinity & Beyond

When praying about Man Up Adventures, the question we constantly find ourselves asking God is, "Where's this thing headed?"

We’d like to bring you in on the answer to that question.

1. Regional Expansion

God has clearly stated that phase one of His plan for Man Up is to expand regionally. We’ve worked hard to make that a reality, venturing into the Smoky Mountains for the first time this year. Next year will mark our inaugural New England Adventure, and we’ve worked feverishly on the development of our aforementioned Tier 2 Adventure that will also launch in 2017. Additionally, we’ve responded to the suggestions of our Alumni, and are in the beginning stages of developing our first husband/wife trip.

2. Write, Create, Develop

God is calling us to take the message in our Adventures and creatively translate it into a format that can be brought into the homes of men all over the world. Although the time and financial investment of an endeavor like this seems like an unclimbable mountain at times, we are resolute. This year, God’s providence has allowed us to begin working relationships with creatives who have been impacted first-hand by Man Up, and have embraced the vision. We will write, create and develop for His glory and for the cause of men everywhere.

3. Global Expansion

God's MANdates (see what I did there?) for men don't change when they cross cultural or continental boundaries. The word of God is just as much Truth in Chile as it is in the Big Horn Mountains. God has given us a vision to take Man Up Adventures to the world. Don't laugh, God's opening up doors; we already have two standing invitations to bring authentic Biblical manhood to foreign countries…

4. Establish A Home Base

(Hold onto your hats; this is God's long-term vision for this ministry.) Picture this. Your son is 18, fresh out of high school, and you can see his college-of-choice sitting three months out on the horizon, licking its chops. Your son is a good Christian kid, but he's never really been outside of the protective bubble of your Christian home and his church culture. College will be the first true test of his faith. Recent studies show that this is the very time period in which we are losing most of our young Christian men to clutches of secularism. What if there was a place that served as an in-between from home to college life; a place where you could send him for a summer that would mold him into the Apostolic man that God created him to become? What if your son stayed there long enough to break addictions (like pornography) and establish new, healthy habits (like daily prayer, fasting & Bible reading). What if all the guesswork about marriage and fathering that you went through was eliminated, and your son could move into those seasons of life equipped to be the husband and father that Scripture requires him to be? What today's young men need is preventative care... These ideas represent a small portion of the vision God has given us for Man Up Lodge, our future home base (by faith).

From Here To There

As God has systematically revealed His massive vision for Man Up over the last few years, the question I've asked over and over again is “How are we going to accomplish all of this?"

God's First Answer

Psalm 37:23 states, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way."

For years I misunderstood this scripture. Somehow, I mistakenly thought that I was to wait for God to lay everything out there, and THEN, after everything was just right (translation: to my liking), I would walk into the perfect bliss of God’s plan for my life - signed, sealed, delivered, with a bow on top.

That’s not faith.

Faith doesn’t allow for us to “arrange” our lives. Faith requires us to move our feet in obedience when God speaks, and trust that he will hold up his end of the bargain.

This past May, God spoke. His message was clear.

“Your time as a pastor is coming to an end. I want you to devote all of your energy toward the reason I created you - to minister to men. This will be a journey of faith.”

Oftentimes, as God does, he will lead people into your path to confirm the word he has spoken to you. This was the case over and over again.

After taking a few weeks to pray over the news and consult our “multitude of counselors”, the decision was made. We would move our feet in faith and begin the process: resign from our comfortable pastoral position, walk away from our sole source of income, and begin our new faith journey.

Scripture shows us time and again that God chooses to accomplish his will on earth through people. God rarely works alone, and so God’s first answer to my “How?” question was, “You, Nathan.

God's Second Answer

God-given vision is always transcendent (bigger than yourself). There is a beautiful, hidden promise on the backside of that truth. When one commits in faith to a God-ordained, kingdom-centered vision, God will always provide the necessary help to accomplish what needs to be done, because it involves his will and his work.

The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33 have been an enormous source of encouragement to me lately: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [food, clothes, basic human needs] will be given to you as well.

As John Eldridge says, when it comes to God’s kingdom, "There is a way things work."

As we’ve begun stepping out in faith to commit ourselves to this enormous vision, God has begun answering my “How?” question in a secondary way.

A while back I got a call from a pastor friend who had recently attended one of our Man Up Adventures and was really impacted through his experience.

Our church would like to support Man Up on a monthly basis.

Completely unsolicited. I hung up the phone overwhelmed with gratitude. Since then, several others have joined the cause and begun financially sponsoring our ministry.

A few weeks ago I received a message from an Alumni who had seen an inspiring social media post from a son who had travelled 32 hours with his father to our Big Horn Mountains Adventure.

“I talked with my wife, and we’d like to offer our home as a bed and breakfast for guys who are traveling across the country to attend your trips.”

Thank you Jesus! So cool! So heartfelt! So God-ordained!

Just like God doesn’t work alone in his giant conquest to save the world, he doesn’t leave us on our own either. What I am learning through all of this is that he doesn’t expect any of us to accomplish his will and his work flying solo. He’s given us one another for just this very reason

Paul says in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

God’s second answer to my “How?” question is you.

You - his people, the church - are the “riches of his glory” that Paul was talking about. He has equipped you with certain talents so that you can help. He has blessed you financially so that you can give. Can you be part of the solution to our enormous “How” question?

In Closing

I can't begin to express how filled with expectancy I am. Big Vision takes Big Faith. I’m going “all in” as I answer the call to become a missionary to men.

Will you pray for Man Up Adventures as we accept God's challenge to embrace the vision He's set before us?

Will you pray for my wife and I as we take an enormous step of faith and begin our full-time focus on this vital ministry?

Will you partner with us? Will you financially support us monthly, sponsor a project, or consider a generous one-time gift?

Will you also ask God how you can be involved?

Has God gifted you with a skill or a service that would be beneficial to our mission? Contact us and let us know how you want to help!

It will take an army to carry out what he desires to be accomplished.

With Love in Christ Jesus,

Nathan Thompson

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