Tim Bohlke » // writings

In Irons

“In irons” is an old sailing term. It was used often in the early days of sailing, and in those days “in irons” had some chilling implications. Last week I actually got to experience being “in irons” in real life.

There are a couple of versions of what it means. My understanding is that when you are sailing and the wind is swirling, and there are gusts coming from different directions, your vessel is essentially stuck. You can’t move because you cant get the sails at the right angle to harness the power of the wind.

The other version of being “in irons” is when the wind dies down, when it is still, and you are stuck. You can’t move. You are at the mercy of the wind. In  earlier times, this was a dangerous scenario. With no breeze, vessels would sometimes be motionless for days on end. They were completely dependent on the wind to fill their sails.

Last week we had a Rogue event out in San Diego. We were able to take a few hours to sail in and around the harbor. There was a moment at the end of our time when the winds completely died down. The captain said it was very rare for this to happen in San Diego. We were essentially dead in the water. The sails were laying flat. We were going nowhere. Unlike generations before us, there was an easy solution; take down the sails, start the secondary motor and power our way home.

It was a great metaphor for the guys I was with. We had just talked about the critical importance of seeking God, discerning the way his holy wind is blowing, and getting on board for the ride.  I am reminded again how absolutely essential it is to have our sails full, to be moving. There is real power, strength, purpose, and clear direction when the sails are full.

In what areas of my life do I need his holy wind to fill my sails? In what areas do I need movement? Are there some places that I feel blown in several directions, or places I feel dead in the water? Are there parts of my life that are clearly “in irons” ?

I am going to head outside, feel the wind, and see if anything comes to mind.

The Madness Continues

For whatever reason I have a ton of energy around this idea of what makes me mad. Remembering the stomping mat I wrote about last week has made it easier to get stirred up on some things that make me mad, and I’m going to do more with that theme after Easter.

Right now, I’m just mad at myself… frustrated that again I did not recognize what has been happening the last few days. As I write this, I am out in San Diego preparing a Rogue event  for pastors and business leaders who will be traveling from all over the country. The last few days leading up to this have been tough. I have struggled with depression. I felt frustrated and restless, and I just could not focus. Most of all I just felt discouraged—I mean really discouraged, the kind of discouragement that makes it hard to get moving. I was doing a ton of doubting why I do all these RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue events.

As I was on the plane I was reminded how this happens every time we do one of these events. We have done almost twenty-five of these gatherings now. Pastors and business leaders, gathering and hoping to restore that passionate pursuit of God that made them dangerous in the first place. There is no doubt we have an enemy who does not want this to happen; an enemy who wants to discourage us, neutralize us, and make us useless. We don’t talk enough about the fact that this is a fight, and we have a enemy who wants to take us out and render us useless.  And if we do talk about this idea of spiritual warfare, we sure do not live day to day like we believe it. At least I don’t. But I am reminded today that I am in a real struggle. Every time ahead of these events—I mean every single time—I feel weak, tired, discouraged, disappointed.

Again I am awakened to the reality of what is happening. I am mad—mad at myself for not recognizing it and wasting the last couple of days, mad at an enemy who wants to discourage, disappoint, and destroy. Now that I have remembered, I feel more alive and ready for whatever God has in store. I am ready to engage in this fight for these guys who are traveling here.

I think there really is something to this idea of what makes you mad. It has helped wake me up today. It’s helped reconnect me with what I’m passionate about. Let’s do this.

 

 

 

 

Dave BrauerApril 10, 2014 - 6:06 pm

Thanks Tim,

I appreciate your transperency. Not many leaders are able to share their struggles. This prompted me to see my biggest struggle lately. With me it is the lack of patience I have with myself. I just don’t perform as well, as quickly or as joyfully as I think I should. I am getting older and am coming to realize all that comes with it, so I too am in a battle with the one who keeps telling me I am not good enough anymore or that I am not qualified or I just can’t cut it. How discouraging.

daleApril 10, 2014 - 9:43 pm

Let’s indeed do it!

benApril 10, 2014 - 11:41 pm

Go get em team! Praying for the coming days. May the madness push through to brilliance.

Brad BrestelApril 14, 2014 - 7:52 pm

I’d say you did it. Little did we know the battle would start with just getting home.

March Madness: Stomp it Out

I was going through some old stuff over the weekend  and it jarred a memory. When I was a kid, I have been told I had a hot temper. One of the “gifts” my parents gave me was a stomping mat.

When I was on that mat I could be as mad as I wanted to be. On that mat there were no rules… it was an “anything goes” zone. I remember being on that stomping mat and slamming a stuffed snake against the wall with everything I had. In retrospect, it was a brilliant parenting move. It taught me anger is not always a bad thing. It is important to not just bury it, but find appropriate ways to get it out. If it is controlled, and in the right context it can, in fact, be a motivator and a positive force.

I am reminded of something I heard Donald Miller say a couple of years ago:  Anger can  provide insight into your calling. It can be a window into what matters to you most.

So what makes me mad?

  • Seeing the Huskers lose a football game.
  • Seeing our family dog have a better NCAA bracket than I do. With the movement of her paw, she picked six of the elite eight teams.
  • Seeing people in “power” positions abuse that power, and use those positions to control.
  • Seeing someone take a cheap shot when my kids were playing sports.
  • Seeing my kids hurt and struggle.
  • Legalism. I am convinced I am less certain now about many theological issues than I have ever been in my life.
  • A doing, busy, results-driven spiritual culture that quenches the adventure, the discovery, the awe, and the wonder of who God is, and what he has for us.

I could go on, but even as I list these out, there is some insight into what gets me going, and to things I am most passionate about. What makes us mad is not the only question to ask when we think about calling, direction, and the things we gravitate toward, but it is a good one.

Find a good place to put your stomping mat and list some things out. You may be surprised at the insight that comes.

A Key Moment

Of all the great games and significant moments in March Madness this last weekend, one really captured my attention. It was the plight of Wichita State, and the comments of their coach after the game. Wichita State was  the first team in the history of the NCAA to go 35 -0 in a single season. They played a much younger but very talented Kentucky team in one of the best games I have ever seen. The Wichita State Shockers seemed to play flawless,  BUT lost. One play, one shot, one moment could have made all the difference, and may well have propelled them to a perfect season… the kind of season that may never have been matched. That may be hard for those payers to shake

It was not the game, but the scene from their locker room that really stuck with me. It evoked some emotion, and a very familiar theme with me…. disappointment. The crushing disappointment on the faces of the kids who had accomplished so much was hard to get by. It brought back my struggle over the last couple of years with deep disappointment. The faces of those players reminded me of the danger of letting disappointment settle in,because unchecked it can overwhelm and impact our perspective on life. The Shocker’s coach told his players how proud he was of what they accomplished. He exhorted them to remember that they had put together the most successful run in the history of college basketball, and he pleaded with them to know that they have nothing to hang their heads about.

I have realized a few things about disappointment in my own journey over the last couple of years:

  • I need to name it, feel it, express it.  Burying it does only damage
  • I have to find that place to be totally real with it
  • It can be a key tool of an enemy who wants to turn us away from God.
  • It can also be the starting place of needed restoration and hope.

The  words of the coach ring true:

There are times we experience success and times we come up short. But it is okay. You have nothing to hang your heads about.  Giving all of yourself to something can be tough, but it is worth the risk. I am proud of you, and it is an absolute joy coaching you this season.

Sounds like something God would want to say to us.

Right out of Hoosiers

There is nothing like March Madness. I grew up in a family that loved basketball, and ever since I can remember I had a ball in my hands. As a kid, there were countless hours playing on a dirt barnyard, shooting at a rim that was attached to the side of our barn. It was like a scene right out of movie… Hoosiers.

In small town Nebraska, most everything circled around the high school sports scene. Just like the movie. I remember our road games in High School, and typically a bunch of cars following the bus into “enemy territory.” I was a pretty good player, but the real talent skipped a generation. My dad played basketball in college, and he was generally known as the man to stop. I have a priceless newspaper clipping of him shooting a shot against the Harlem Globe trotters back in the 50s.

Then there are my kids. All of them loved the sport, and all of them are really good basketball players. My daughter could out shoot all of them when she was playing. One son was a starter on one of the biggest and most talented  high school teams in the state. And our youngest, well he got some of the good stuff from my dad. He finished this last years as an All State player, and was  his school’s second all time leading scorer. Yah,basketball runs deep, and even as I write this it is giving me some extra insight into why this last winter has been so long and hard, and why it seems like I have been in a funk for months. It is the first winter in a very long time when I have not had “skin in the game.”

And I really miss it.

I actually started coaching my oldest son’s team when he was in second grade, and I was able to coach for like 19 years between all three of my kids. Then we got to watch each of them play through high school. And who knows? We may even have a few more years in the gym with our youngest.  That’s a lot of time in the gym, and I loved every minute of it.

I am geared up to watch some great basketball these next three weeks, and I am pretty excited to see the Huskers in the big dance for the first time in 15 years. But nothing comes close to watching my kids play. What a riot.

A couple of things come to mind here:

  • Even though I loved hoops, and I certainly had some influence on exposing my kids to the sport, it was their passion that drove them to be good. It was there love for it–not mine–that made it really fun.
  • Don’t miss the moments. It is a cliche… but it is so true. I am s glad I made it a priority, so glad I was in the gym for all those games. So many  lessons, struggles, exciting moments, disappointments, conversations, fun and adventures happened around something they all loved doing. Now that is worth it.

Time to watch Hoosiers again…