Tim Bohlke » // writings


Sometimes I think the word “epic” is overused. But last week I decided  to head to Denver with a friend to see one of the most enduring musicians  in one of the great music venues in the country. Sure I love Tom Petty, Colorado, and concerts in general… but seeing him and his band at Red Rocks Ampitheatre on a perfect fall night in the Rockies… that can only be described as epic.

I have seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert a few times over the years, but this was by far their best performance. I thought the highlight might be hearing “Runnin’ Down a Dream” or “I Won’t back Down.” That is a song we often use in the RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue events.

“Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down. You can stand me up to the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down, No I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around, And I’ll keep this world from draggin” me down. Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down”  -Tom Petty

In a lot of ways those are great words to live by as we try and slug out this life as best we can, but hearing them was not even the highlight. For me, the highlight was when Tom Petty introduced his band. Now usually that is just a part of concert you have to endure. You want the artist to get on with it, right? But this was a little different. He first introduced the newest member of the Heartbreakers, who had been with the band… twenty years.

He talked about the others, including the incredibly talented lead guitarist, who has played every show with Tom Petty since 1970. Then he said, “Yeah, this is not our first tour, but it has been the most fun one.” The thought crossed my mind that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are learning that time does go fast, and to seize the moments they are in. Even after forty-four years of playing shows, they are still loving it, but sense that this journey is coming to end.

It  made me wonder about Petty himself. What is it about him that has helped him have such enduring relationships? What is it that has kept him and his music so relevant? Why would those guys in his band stay so fiercely faithful, some for more than four decades? The packed venue of 10,000 plus people was a pretty even mix of young and old. Only a few musicians, or anyone else for that matter, has been able to pull off that kind of consistency over the long haul, and retain such a wide appeal.

Whatever the case with the deeper questions, it sure was a fun night. It was a twenty-four hour blitz trip with fourteen hours in the car that was so worth it. It reminded me to keep chasing things that are fun, things that are life-giving… things that fill my tank. Those are some of the things that give me the energy and passion I need for the other stuff that I do

It also showed me  there is some lessons to learn, and things to think about in the day-to-day moments of life. Even in a Tom Petty concert, God can break through with some new insight, thoughts and challenges. Yeah, time is passing pretty quick; no doubt I need to seize and enjoy  the moments as they come.

It really was a pretty EPIC night.

Holes in the Drywall

A few years back, when my son was entering the ninth grade, he invited a bunch of his friends to our house on Monday nights for what became known as “house group.” Every Monday over the next few years, we had dinner for the guys and then a time of connecting with some older guys, and hopefully, some meaningful conversation, and whatever else emerged. Usually it was football, any form of competition, and a ton of wrestling that resulted in multiple holes in our drywall. This became a great tradition as fifteen to thirty guys gathered at our house every Monday for the entire four years of their high school careers. It also said a lot about my son Dylan and how much these guys respected him. It was a ton of work, but my wife and I would both say it was one of highlights of those several years, as we entered these boys’ stories and saw them grow up to young men. It was really hard to see that time come to an end as they graduated a year ago.

Last week I finished up the last of several drywall repairs  in our basement. As I repaired holes that occurred through those years,  I found myself a little sad. It reminded me that life goes way too quick to worry about things like holes in the drywall. So those of you whose young or old kids are messing up your house… enjoy it. It passes way to fast.

A few days ago, I went to the funeral for the father of one of the boys who spent all those Mondays in our house. It evoked a lot of emotions for me. I was in my  twenties when my father died, and it was an event that forever changed me. I know how hard it can be to lose the “rudder” of the ship at that age. But what really brought the moment home for me, was seeing several of those boys at the funeral in support of their friend. They are all in college now, pulled in many directions, but they showed up. It showed me again the power of friendship, the power of showing up,  of tradition and shared experiences.  It showed me the deep impact of just doing life together. Offering up our house… letting it get damaged, serving all those meals,  creating a shared life experience for those guys… totally worth it

So here is to enjoying the journey we are on, including  the inconveniences,the holes in the walls,  the craziness, the loud voices, the rowdiness. Here’s to the questions:  Are they seeing whats important? Are they learning anything?  Is what we are doing making a difference, is all this time and investment worth it? Here’s to having staying power in relationships over the long haul, and to creating shared life experiences. The funeral last week reminded me…they do make a difference.

Totally worth it.


Big is Not Always Big…

When we first started the RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue leadership events, I had several people tell me we were starting too small. They said “with the amount of money and time you will invest you are crazy to do this with just twenty at a time. Increase your impact and go bigger. People will support it more and your vision to impact the world will go further with bigger events. Yet I felt we were supposed to deeply invest in just a few… just twenty at a time. We had this overwhelming belief that we could change the direction of lives, of families, of ministries by working with just twenty guys at a time. So we stayed “small.”

After returning from San Diego having just meet with the fifth and sixth RHYTHMinTWENTY groups, I am so thankful we stuck to the belief that you could actually go big by staying small. These forty amazing men will no doubt have deep impact on their families, and this world as a result of what God has been doing.

I was reading  from The Message on the way back home, 2 Corinthians 6 :11-13 to be specific. ”I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide open spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living in a small way… live openly and expansively!” And I would add…live big.

Now twelve groups in….240 strategic leaders impacting the church’s, organizations, and families they lead,  seems big; no it seems huge. Things are not always what they seem, I guess.

Here is to living a wide open, spacious…. big story…

‘For the Enjoyment of the People’

It is hard to see this summer end. It has been epic in a lot of ways . Don’t get me wrong, life still happened… there were times of deep disappointment and frustration, and times of sadness and the loss of a dream or two. But it was also a time of discovery, wonder and incredible awe . I saw and experienced some incredible beauty this summer. The highlight was this bucket-list trip with my family.

We drove through the Black Hills and the badlands, then through northwest Wyoming where we saw Devils Tower. From there we journeyed into Bozeman, Montana, and spent a couple of days fly fishing on the Yellowstone River.  Then we headed down through Yellowstone and spent a couple of nights in the Grand Tetons. There were  powerful waterfalls, buffalo and bear, and unparalleled colors and natural beauty. And there were the memorable and simple moments like some intense games of “bags” with my very competitive kids each night in Bozeman.

As you enter Yellowstone from the north near Bozeman, there is a large stone arch with the inscription, “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” When I saw it, it struck me that those sure could have been  the words straight from the Creator of this place and of the other amazing things I got see and experience the last several months:

  • the spectacular colors and sights of Yellowstone
  • the wildflowers and waterfalls in Crested Butte
  • the incredible San Juan Mountain range
  • the beauty of the cutthroat trout in Montana
  • the spiritual feel and incredible views of Devils Tower
  • the rolling hills and high plateaus of southeast Montana
  • the sunset from our porch in eastern Nebraska
  • the rhythm of the surf on Laguna Beach
  • the vast grasslands around the Niobrara River.

In all these moments I got a sense of a Creator simply saying, “All for the enjoyment of the people.”

So I’m committed to continuing to chase the beautiful places–those places where I feel more inspired, more steady… more centered.  Those places where I move forward with a greater sense of rhythm, and I have a more focused desire to keep chasing the awe, the beauty and the majesty of the Creator.

So this begs the question… where next? The sunset off my porch was pretty incredible last night, sometimes I don’t have to go that far.

Critical Questions, Part III

So what am I going to do about it?

There is this old movie, The Untouchables. It is the story of Al Capone and the efforts of the government to stop his illegal activity in Chicago during prohibition. Kevin Costner is the government agent sent to Chicago to do the impossible: stop the flow of illegal alcohol. He eventually teams up with a local policeman played by Sean Connery. Capone sends a hitman after Connery’s character. As the policeman lays dying in his living room, he reaches out and pulls Costner close. As he coughs and spits out blood, he whispers, “So what are you prepared to do about it?”

You see, up to that point the government agent had been playing it safe, taking the conventional approach, unwilling to take risks. But with the death of his friend, the stakes had become much higher.


A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the things I know I want my life to be about going forward:

  • Keep chasing the awe and mystery of God.
  • Fight for the dreams of my kids and for the Rhythm and Rogue leaders that God sends our way.
  • Inspire others to chase the wild goose, the holy wind.
  • Keep seeking out natural wonders and beautiful places.
  • Do my best to make the years that He gives me count.

Well all of that sounds good, but it does beg the question, “What am I prepared to do about it?” Doing something , taking any kind of step, can cause any of us to step  outside the comfortable, and it could have impact on my finances, my work, and how I spend my down time , it will impact a lot of things.

Life is short. Sean Connery’s line haunts me as I come out of a sabbatical…

“What are you prepared to do about it?”