For I Know the Plans I Have for You

Chris Arend (The 13) – The truth about our group is that it was never supposed to exist.  We were just supposed to study a Lenten series together in the Spring of 2006 and move on with our lives.  14 years later, I see it differently.  We were group of men who had young kids around the same ages but we really didn’t know each other.  The part of not knowing each other seems so strange to me now.  You see a decade and half of life really changes a man.  Luckily, we didn’t have to do it alone.  We have celebrated together, prayed together, and we have cried together.  We have done life together.  In the middle of everything, we have studied God’s word.  That is how God shaped our group.  One verse at a time the Holy Spirit showed us what it is to be a follower of Christ in this broken world.  I thank God for the men in my group today.  God clearly knew the plans he had for each of us even if we didn’t see it coming.  That seemingly innocent connection had become something bigger than we could have ever imagined.  We are humbled by the growth of small groups in the area and are grateful to be part of something far bigger than ourselves.

Lastly, we obviously deal with the same things every group deals with.  We have to battle the same passivity that is deeply seated in each of us.  14 years later, we know to do it together.  What about you?  What are you battling with?  I pray that you bring it to God and to your brothers in your group and do life together.  Praise be to God that we don’t have to do it alone.

[Chris is an active member at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, husband to Meka, dad to two amazing kiddos, and is a graduate of Baylor University.  FinD seeks to transform men through Jesus Christ in authentic, weekly fellowship in discipleship.  Real Men…Real Discipleship.  FinD out more by visiting our website at www.FinDdiscipleship.org or contacting us at info@FinDdiscipleship.org.]

A fellowship of men dedicated to sincerely and joyfully living out their faith inspires me to be the best version of myself

Charlie Vatterott (Band of Brothers) – “Being part of a fellowship of men dedicated to sincerely and joyfully living out their faith inspires me to be the best version of myself. Witnessing and experiencing authentic love among our men’s small group (The “BOB’s”) is incredibly uplifting and renews my soul.  The fellowship facilitates an environment of fun and laughter but also focuses on prayer requests when a brother is heavily burdened.  We see ourselves as blessed, only to be a blessing to others.”

Charlie is an active member at St. John Vianney, husband to Veronica, dad to four amazing kiddos, played ball at Texas State and later got a graduate degree from Texas A&M. Interested in getting plugged into a weekly small group of your own?  FinD seeks to transform men through Jesus Christ in authentic, weekly fellowship in discipleship.  Real Men…Real Discipleship.  FinD out more by visiting our website at www.FinDdiscipleship.org or contacting us at info@FinDdiscipleship.org.

I knew what I was missing – I just didn’t know where to find it …

Grant Butrum (IRONMEN) – Growing up, my faith was always pretty easy. Church several times a week, youth group, camp, YoungLife, and a house of believers – God was everywhere.

As I grew older, I found it difficult to replicate the community that was such an important and automatic part of my life when I was younger. I spent years looking but couldn’t find a group within my community that supported my desire to grow my faith. There are plenty of secular groups and work-based groups but discovering a local community of Christ-centered men was surprisingly difficult.

FinD Discipleship helped me identify men seeking the same life as me. We want to be better dads and better husbands. We want more out of life than what society considers “acceptable” behavior from men. My small group serves as a reminder that life is not supposed to be a 9 to 5 grind – it’s supposed to be an adventure where we courageously live out our faith each day.

I am thankful that God has introduced me to the IRONMEN. We all have different stories. We’re from different backgrounds, we’re different ages, and we have different interests. However, our faith aligns us. It allows us to overcome our differences to talk about the important things – our faith and living a life of purpose. The men in my group have become great friends and allies as we navigate life today.

FinD is a blessing to me but it’s only as good as the effort you put into it. Do yourself and your family a favor — get involved and invest in the lives of the men around you. You won’t regret it.

I expected the experience to bring the Bible and Lord a little bit more into my daily walk, but it has been so much more …

Bill Enszer (FISH – Friends In Service to Him)  – “When we formed FISH, I expected the experience to bring the Bible and Lord a little bit more into my daily walk, but it has been so much more.  At that time, I was at the tail end of slowly removing myself from a group at work that did a Bible study and knew I needed something else.

Like Chinese food you get at the food court at the mall, that study at work never really filled me up and I always left unsatisfied.  I knew I needed more but was not sure what it was I was missing until I joined my group.  I now realize that I was missing authentic, deep, Christ-centered relationships where I could be open, honest, and trusting with other guys who are going through the same struggles that I am going through.

We are sons, fathers, husbands, friends, bosses, employees, coaches, and teachers, to name just a few of our roles.  We wear quite a few hats and there is no better guide than how to fulfill these roles than Christ himself, but we all need player-coaches to help us along the way and this is what my group is to me.  I’ve always heard the phrase, “Iron sharpens iron,” but my group has made that a reality.  We counsel each other, we pray, we study, we challenge each other, and have a lot of laughs in between.  In two and a half years, I’ve built deep and strong relationships with these men and look forward every week to our Thursday meetings.”

Incredible bond with friends that I never expected to meet

Brandon Urech (BOSS – Brothers of Scripture Study) – “My FinD small group has brought an incredible bond with friends that I never expected to meet, and I am very thankful for them.

It has been a little over three years since joining BOSS (Brothers of Scripture Study) and the weekly commitment is just what I needed, and I still continue to feel the same way each Friday many years later.

Joining our group was a bit unique where BOSS had already been formed, but some of the original guys left the group and they were looking for a few others to potentially fill the gap. I could not have felt more welcome from day one.

Prior to joining BOSS, I really did not take the time on a consistent basis to read through scriptures of the Bible or even stay disciplined with prayer or know what to pray for or what to pray about. This group has helped me stay unwavering in my journey as a Christian man and as a result, I feel like a better man, husband, and father.

What I really enjoy about the men in our group is that I know that I can lean on them or turn to them if any need arises, and there’s no doubt that the feeling is mutual.

I know that we have and all will have struggles in our lives and knowing we can count on each other is an awesome feeling. What a blessing BOSS has been to me and I hope that our neighborhood small groups continue to grow because I genuinely feel my experience is no different whether a group has been together for 6 months or more than 15 years.”

We are living and sharing life together

John Todd III (BBC – Beltway Brothers in Christ) – “Living Life Together – My Small Group has been a huge blessing for me in many ways.

Going into our 5th year of existence I am bonding with other men that otherwise I would have never met in my normal daily routine.  I am able to share my experiences in a real and authentic way with a group of men that know me on a deeper level rather than just scratching the surface with pleasantries.

Having the consistency of our weekly meeting time with my “brothers” provides a sense of comfort and stability that keeps us focused, grounded and accountable to each other that I hadn’t had at any other time in my life.

We do our best to either study a book of the Bible, a book to help us be better husbands and fathers, a video series, or some other topic that is of interest.

We are not regimented, but we always find time to discuss what’s going on in each other’s lives.  We don’t mind that it took us over a year to study the book of John!

In the short time that we have been together we have experienced a lot of highs and lows that we have been able to share in the security of the group; divorce, marriage, children graduating high school, college, marital strife, parental and sibling issues, job changes, stress, and the list goes on.

We are living and sharing life together in our small group.

Brotherhood bond

Trae Roby (MIA – Men in Armor) – “What is it like to be in a weekly men’s discipleship group?

To me, it can best be described like this.  It’s not that old friend you might have that you enjoy calling every once in a while to catch up, socialize with and stay in touch periodically.

It also is not that business associate at work that you can relate too, and you have fun business discussions with comparing notes, maybe even socializing with every now and then. These friends can certainly be awesome friends, but maybe are not the ones that you elect to share everything with.

A small group friend develops into much more than that.  It develops into what I call a genuine, real friend.

A friend that you want to / can peel your onion back to the core.

A friend that you meet with regularly on a weekly basis, and can lay it all out there with, you can pray with, you can study the Bible with, and you can be rest assured that everything shared together will be kept in the strictest of confidence.

A friend you can be totally candid with and trust will give you honest, solid feedback and opinions.

A friend that you share that commitment with for personal accountability.

A friend you certainly socialize with as well.

He is there for the same reason you are – wanting to form that brotherhood bond and grow close together. He wants to be there for you!

NOW IMAGINE HAVING AN ENTIRE SMALL GROUP OF THESE TYPE OF FRIENDS.  Pretty awesome, huh?!

Being in a men’s small group has certainly met and exceeded my expectations. I would encourage you to give the thought some consideration! You will not regret your decision, I promise you!”

Nothing like my original expectations…

David Michels (IHOPpers) – “A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine asked if I would be interested in joining a small men’s group for fellowship and Bible study.  I was intrigued, but apprehensive never having been in a similar group before.  I thought it would be awkward and uncomfortable.  Frankly, I was also a little worried opening up in a setting like that would expose me as the sinner I am.

The group has been nothing like my original expectations.  We laugh and joke a lot and share practical advice about how to keep God at the center of our lives as fathers, husbands, and friends.  As for being exposed, to my pleasant surprise, we all struggle and, in many cases, with the same issues.  Consequently, there is little judgement and a lot of understanding and prayer.

As a man, it is difficult to admit I need help and guidance.  The truth is, we all fail at times and acknowledging that fact helps with acceptance and with learning valuable lessons from our mistakes.  This group provides a supportive setting to discuss concerns, keep us accountable, and become better leaders for our families.  I am very grateful for the guys in my group and look forward to our meetings every Wednesday.”

Exploration of our faith has sparked growth, individually and corporately

Bill Jamison (BMOC – Blessed Men of Christ) – “When I was presented with the opportunity to join a small men’s Christian group a few years ago, I was reluctant.  However, the opportunity and experience has been a blessing.

I have gained deep and meaningful friendships with other men sharing like minded values.  The exploration of our faith as a group has helped me become a better Christian, father, and husband.

Incidentally, my involvement with the group has sparked a larger exploration of my faith spiritually and academically.

I am grateful for my personal growth and excited for the group’s continued growth and positive impact on touching others’ lives.”

I thank God every day for them

Scott Hollingsworth (Misfit Boys) – “It seems like so long ago that a handful of us started to gather at La Madeleine for breakfast.  The mornings were early, the food was good and the company was great.  We would check in with each other, spend time in His word and part our ways for work.  At first, there were no rules except do the best you could to try and make it.  It’s always been the six of us for as long as I can remember.  The venue changed from time to time and so did our relationships with each other which over time became strengthened through Christ.

Little did I know that this unlikely group of men would soon become my lifeline.  As our group aged, our relationships became more mature, open and honest which could only be achieved through trust in one another and the work of the Holy Spirit.

In 2013, my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and a few months later my wife underwent brain surgery in an attempt to cease her seizures.  In 2014, I found myself in the fight of my life to protect my children from a broken marriage that I could not fix.  In 2015, our marriage ended and I thought the boat had steadied.  In early 2017, I had to sell the house and move in order to try and keep the girls at the same high school.  Little did I know safe refuge of the bayou banks would not be safe harbor in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  We lost most of everything, as many of us did.  We had each other, though.  If all this was not enough, in March of 2018 the girls’ mom suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.  Yes, the alcohol killed her, and with her death came the end of hope that the girls would ever have their mom back.  One could count on single hand how many times they saw their mom since 2014.

Coming back full circle to my small group brothers.  My brothers, you know who you are and I know WHOSE you are!  I would not have been able to navigate, let alone survive, any of this without each of you.  God planted each of these men and their hearts in seats at the very table at which I sat.  Not knowing all this time God was equipping each of us for what lie ahead.  I thank God every day for them!  This group of men have been there to carry me literally and figuratively through it all.”

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