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Bart, Gary, John and I spent two days and a night in the mountains for a Ransomed Heart Leadership Retreat. It's simply our setting aside some much needed time to be together and invite God into our midst... and go from there.

I've been in Colorado with RH for 5+ years and I think these guys have gone after one issue or another in me 48 times. I really don't want any of this time to be about me.

I'm living large, love what God' has done, is doing and I'd say I'm in a season of grace... I'm good... "Hey, this trip is about you guys... I'll sacrifice a step or two further into my holiness for one of you guys" 

So, we're outside in the mid-day sun circled in our white plastic chairs enjoying cigars yapping. Bart reflects on his walk with God and WHOMP... deep desires, long felt frustrations and deep seated agreements surface... we pray, listen to God, probe, battle and ... God comes for Bart. WOW! Did he ever need that!

We throw together a late lunch and are relaxed and flopped about on the couches and overstuffed chairs within reach of an evangelistic fire chatting. John shares some of his current story... a couple of questions are asked, something is stirred up, there’s pauses, moist eyes… tender back and forth between us. God is there and is connecting a few dots for John.... We pray, we break agreements, invite God in. WHOA!  Very cool!

We go outside tromp around in the snow and start throwing pine cones... which, of course escalates into a contest... who can knock off the pine cone sitting on the fence post.... it turns out it's easier to throw pine cones or snow balls at one another  (especially Bart, he's not nimble enough to dodge a hurled cone). We go out for dinner and yap about college basketball, aquariums, the perfect meatball, spiritual warfare and how very desperate we are for warm weather.

The next morn I 'm up at 4:30 enjoying time alone journaling... which ends with some internal clank-bang-kurpluck at 6:37. Out of nowhere I’m immediately nauseous. The guys are up, and suspicious of the timing, began to pray against my “illness”. Being still, a tad skeptical of the prevalence of warfare in our lives, I’m the only one surprised that the prayers work. I'm now feeling much better physically (Huh?). They’re curious about what brought on the assault to take me out for the day and begin to ask the questions those who really know you do. I’m caught off guard by yet another “Four Stream” session as God takes me to a younger place…

It’s opening night in a theatre with my name on the marquee. A younger man, I’m sitting in a chair on the stage behind the closed curtain in full panic not wanting the curtain to open and confirm my existential terror that no one will be there.

Needless to say… tears, counsel, listening prayer, the breaking of deep agreements and God addresses profound fears lodged deep in my soul. Number 49!

So… a pattern for our Leadership Retreat is set and we all know… Gary’s up next. He steps up and shares vulnerably his real time struggle and true to form God shows up! Pain, light, deep tears, understanding... agreements are broken, healing begins, hope and heart restored… a profound and intimate kiss from God. WOW!

Hours later we drove back home. Exhausted and amazed by God’s heart for us and all that’s unfolding in our lives. It is stunning! The drive went quickly as we talked about Ransomed Heart, our staff, our mission, fly fishing, raising kids and the perfect meatball.

- Craig McConnell

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