Why Men’s Ministry is so important.
My Journey Home:
The years have been a true journey for me. I started the journey on the Lord’s path, As a teen I had given my life to Christ, and been baptized in the Church. I had a Fire for the service of the Lord. My friends had given me the nick-name “Preacher” because I was so passionate about my Faith in the Lord. My life was focused on praise and I used my musical training and talents for His glory. But like the wheat cast onto the stone, my faith eventually faded because I did not have the deep roots in the Word. I became distracted by the world, by having things, and by the false truth that I had to “seek my fortune”…
In the world of things, I found fortune. I owned companies; I had real estate investments and other businesses. I was living the “party-like-a-rock-star” life with the large house, massive parties and money flowing at things I never used let alone needed. The problem was that I was not fulfilled because, I was making little if any investment into myself and my spiritual needs. I had stopped heeding God’s call. My faith had been thrown aside, as was the joy I had for helping and mentoring others. I knew God the father was out there and that He was calling me for even greater things. As God kept telling me to “Turn-Left”** at each crossroad in my life, I continued to go right, straight, backwards, and anyway but His way. His blessings overflowed, but I would not admit anything but my own skill and intelligence for our success. Even still, I had many unreasonable desires and I was not satisfied. The grass always seemed to be greener elsewhere, I was ungrateful and I was not a good steward of my gifts.
I always say God was telling me to “Turn-Left” when I share my story because so many people default to the “Right”. We think that just being civil is the “Right” thing to do. We think making money and taking care of yourself is the “Right” thing to do. We think that acts without Love or faith or passion are “Right” But we don’t remember to be caring, feeling or simply just present and plugged in there for others. We forget that when God gives you a path, the reason is to do something extraordinary. (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
In the span of two years my life drastically changed. My marriage had been falling apart for many years, and after 7 years of neglecting my family and my real job at home, I realized things needed to change. I tried to discuss these issues with my wife but it was difficult to explain where I went wrong and that I didn’t want to be that man anymore. I felt disconnected and lost, it became all I could do to hold my sanity together and tell her things were “NOT OK”. I tried to seek help but It was beyond my strength and understanding. So, I threw myself into new projects, I drank heavily, ate emotionally, and jumped into illegal substances. I accepted work in regions far from home. All in hopes that I could avoid home, reality, and that emptiness. I dove into those things and ignored the Lord’s calling on my life.
Beginning in 2006, two of my companies fluttered, sputtered and died. I lost most of my wealth, savings, and confidence in those two failures. I was losing the life that I built on the sand of “my greatness”. By the end of 2007, my wife and I had separated and we eventually divorced. We had both lost our way and things had progressed beyond human forgiveness. The real estate market finally fell apart in my area and wiped me out completely. I lost my home, my car, and any retirement and savings I had left. I went from “having it all” to literally having nothing to hold onto.
I was ashamed of what I had become and what had become of me. I was homeless. I was jobless. All of my assets were gone and my life had even less meaning than before. I was a failure as a husband and a provider. I was a failure as a role model for the kids in my life and the people I held influence over. I had affected the lives of others who were worse off for having been associated with me and my business. I felt worse than worthless. I pushed away my extended family due to shame and fear of judgment.
However, God still wanted to fill up my life with greatness. Through His redemption, I was connected to a community of people whose goal was to help others understand themselves. Through my work with them I became involved in communications and relationship coaching. But that was just the ground work for my personal journey of healing. I am grateful that God gave me every opportunity to rediscover myself and accept his many gifts.
- I received self-worth from the selflessness of others who came to my aid.
- From those I thought would be the harshest, I received honor, for they helped me stand when I needed a hand up.
- I received pride from those that I had mentored before, as they were able to remind me of the lessons that I once taught.
- I received humility through service to others,
- I received gratitude through my lack and I received compassion through my own loss.
In this transition, I realized that I wanted and NEEDED to connect with people and invite them into our family. I see the face of God in his creation and we are ALL created in his image. (Psalm 19)
In my life, I have heard His words and I am heeding God’s calling. (Isaiah 6:8) In that calling I have reconnected with my family whom I had become distant with during my failures. I have made many new friends who are also walking in the Lord’s light. I am writing again (a forgotten passion). Because of my interest in men’s ministry and mentoring others, I started this men’s group, Caleb Strong, and the blog as a way to keep us connected and fuel our growth . I am involved with a Men’s ministry group called Men’s Fraternity, whose focus is to help men explore their God-given position in this world. Though MF and CS, I am coaching others on dealing with their challenges in life as they find their “Left” turns.
I remind myself daily, that through faith and belief, all things are possible with God’s awesome power. (Matthew 19:26)
I have picked up those mantles I had placed down before, and through Him, I am redefined. (2 Kings 2:13-14)
- I must follow His follower first, I am a leader of men second. (Luke 9:23-24)
- I am a listener first and a speaker second. (James 1:19, Proverbs 18:13)
- I am the head of my family first and head of my company second. (Ephesians 5:25, 1 Timothy 5:8)
- I am a provider of Love, honor, and forgiveness SECOND, because He provided it to me FIRST. (Romans 5:6-11)
I am trying to listen this time and I have been taking a lot more “Left” turns. I hope that I can continue to help others and that I remember the lessons of my last journey.
Why is men’s ministry important to me? Because I see the journey on so many faces. I see all of us struggling to find it. I remember at one point, before I tried to achieved earthly greatness, I had accepted the Love and assurance of Our Lord’s grace and I was fulfilled. I was satiated with my life’s work of helping others with my simple service. It was my choice to displace the mantle of His path so I could become “successful”. I remember this feeling, the loneliness, the loss. I remember that look staring back at me from the mirror and I know it does not have to be this way. All you must do is ask for His forgiveness, ask for His Love and mercy. “It is not complicated, it’s just hard.” So …Just Ask… (Matthew 7:7)
I am Gary Cartagena, I am a follower of Yeshua of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah, called the Christ. I believe that through Him, I am forgiven for my ignorance and sins. I believe that through Him, I have access to the grace and power of all mighty God and the creation of His amazing universe. I believe that I can help others understand and achieve the greatest of His commandments, Mark 12:30-31
“’Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you Love yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
I am a full-time dad. I do my very best to be home and engaged when my family is around. There are struggles of course, but we manage. Two desires consume my heart. I desire to be a man after God’s own heart just as King David was called and I desire to help people find the love Jesus has to offer each of us and a part of that is helping us find our niche in life. For men that means learning how to be a father, husband, leader, and surprisingly, a servant.
Professionally, I have two career efforts in full force. I am, of course, still doing the Project Manager / Software Developer thing for my growing consulting company, Computer Gurus. This is a never-ending effort that proves how much I love technological toys, overcoming technical challenges and interfacing with the people who concoct them.
CalebStrong.org and this Blog started as an experiment in taking a step-in-faith and obedience to our Lord. I have been called to be a more caring, giving, involved person who walks in obedience to the Lord. It is an outlet to share all of the spirit that is bottled up within. As I walk the path, I will learn, I will share discoveries, I will rant, and, hopefully I will help others more than myself. This is my voice and my opinions on philosophy, attitude, and choice and they pertain to living life through Christ. I will talk about how those things affect our interactions with each other, ourselves and with our creator. I will talk about His constant provision for what we NEED (as opposed to what we WANT) and how WE make things so much harder than they need to be. I will also rant about how we ignore His examples, His word and His blessings for us.
Always remember to be Caleb Strong™.
Thank you for reading and for your comments…
- May you know and accept the blessings the Lord has for you.
Gary Cartagena is a dedicated husband and father.
Additionally he is Founder and consultant for Computer Gurus of Escondido
Founder of the Men’s Leadership site: Caleb Strong
Founder of the Education Focused site: Learn Differently
Co-Founder of the Bible study site: BibleCounts
and Co-Founder of the Christ focused efforts at Redeemed-N-Delivered
View Gary Cartagena’s profile
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