What does hope *really* look like?

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (NIV)

I must admit, I don’t have a lot of experience at hoping. I have described myself as a realist for much of my life, but in the words of the movie, Hitch, I’m probably more of “…a realist masquerading as a cynic who deep down is really an optimist.” Deep down, where it really matters, I’m an incredibly hopeful person. But I’m learning that I’ve buried that hope under so many layers of self protection, disappointment, and beliefs about unworthiness.

A brother, a good man, who I have known for many years called me recently. When you’re involved in a ministry like Unbound, you’re never quite sure exactly why someone is calling you out of the blue, but it’s usually safe to guess that’s it may not be just to catch up.

He shared with me the battle he is currently fighting (an old one rearing its head again) and the allies he has around him (virtually none) and what he wants to do about it (asking me for a recommendation for a good counselor). And like many of these phone calls before, the overwhelming sense from the other end of the phone line was hopelessness. We spoke for a while and I suggested a few places for him to start – most importantly with believing that there is hope for him and his situation.

I’ve said for years now that I believe what Unbound is truly offering men and women around the world is a message of hope. I am convinced that in the midst of trauma and suffering, we humans simply forget that we can choose hope. Sometimes that hope is a beautiful landscape, a stunning sunset, a long forgotten song, a word from our Father, a verse that leaps off the page anew from Scripture. And so, so, so often, a kind word from a fellow man.

In the words of another dear brother, “It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the impact you have had on other’s lives.” That is true for each and every one of us!

Who is in your life today that may simply need a word of hope spoken over them? And what words of hope does your heart need to hear? I believe we all drastically underestimate the impact and the importance of the words that God speaks to us through others. When someone offers you encouragement, praise, empathy…do you discard it offhand or do you receive it with open arms and give it the weight it deserves?

Back to the man who called me. About a week later he left a long message for me. A beautiful message about the beginnings of restoration, recommitted relationships, and newfound hope for the future. Thank you, Jesus!

Hope truly is an anchor for each of our souls to withstand the wind and waves of whatever our next season of becoming brings.

Film project is a go!

Friends and Allies,

I write to you with tremendous excitement and no small amount of trepidation. About a year and a half ago, God put in my mind an idea to offer the message of Unbound over the internet – hope and freedom available to any man, anytime, anywhere in the world. Since then, the board and I have been praying, dreaming, and seeking how that might look. Until a couple months ago, the ‘how’ was a mystery.

I was meeting with a trusted ally about a completely different topic. At the end of the meeting, he said out of the blue, “You should consider filming an Unbound retreat, breaking it up into 20-30 minute lessons, and offering it as an online course. Men could sign up and watch it from anywhere in the world at anytime.” For the first time, a ‘how’ that made sense! He also suggested that a good first step would be to try to find someone who knows filmmaking, is passionate about the message of Unbound, but would be willing to work with a limited budget.

The next day, another ally sent me a facebook message. He had been walking through Becoming Unbound with a young man struggling with pornography and wanted to introduce us to each other. Oh and by the way, the young man just graduated from film school and runs a video production company!

The following day, I was sharing my excitement for what God might be up to with another friend. I had felt that God had some role for him to play. When I mentioned that to him, he said, “Oh, I have a buddy who has a cabin that would be perfect, let me ask him if it’s available.” And two days later, we had a cabin confirmed for a week!

So, the first ever film project for Unbound Ministries is scheduled for July 17-20, 2014! The plan is to gather about a dozen men and capture an entire Unbound weekend. It’s a huge undertaking, especially since film/video is an area where I have zero experience. There’s a lot of doubt and fear about my ability to do this, if it’ll actually work, if it’ll be any good, etc. I’m keenly aware of the amount of spiritual warfare that has already begun against me and my family as well as the other men involved.

The goal is to film the weekend in July, spend a couple months editing and then be able to launch online by the middle of October. This will require a completely different website so that men who are looking for help are able to find Unbound when they search online. There will be video previews and a range of options they can choose to purchase. An online study guide will accompany each video to help men engage their own hearts and incorporate space within the session to spend time with the Father. Part of my long term vision for this project is to be able to offer men more of each topic in the future. So for example, the original “Why did I end up in porn?” teaching may only have one or two 20-30 minute sections, but in the future there might be half a dozen additional hour-long courses to help a man go deeper in that specific area of his journey.

Imagine being able to invite a man into a journey toward freedom…in the comfort and safety of his own home and at his own pace…but in the company of men around the world who are pursuing the same freedom with the same passion.

I’d like to invite you to partner with us in making this film project a reality!

First, please consider joining our intercession team for the next five months as we focus on this project. You can join by sending me an email or registering at our website on the contact page.

Second, please pray about investing in this Kingdom advancing project. It will require $10,000 to do what needs to be done technologically. All donations to Unbound are 100% tax deductible and can be made via PayPal at our website under the support tab.

Third, if you feel led to be personally involved in the film project weekend in Colorado, please give me a call at 425-890-4246.

With much gratitude and excitement,

Ezra

VA, ID, CO and a Film Project!

Film Project!

One of the questions we’ve been wrestling with recently is how to offer Unbound to any man any where in the world. Without spending tens of thousands of dollars to produce a video series in a studio! And how do we accurately and effectively offer an Unbound retreat (our most effective “product” if you will) that invites a man into the message but is accessible to him any time, any where.

I love how God works. Because what’s happened recently is quite remarkable and entirely not a coincidence!

About three weeks ago, I met with a friend who suggested the idea of videoing an actual Unbound retreat and turning it into an online course. His thoughts were to hold a small retreat in a picturesque location where the primary emphasis would be on capturing Unbound content. So not necessarily a large event, but one filled with known allies, friends, and men who want more freedom. Probably 8-10 guys at most. And he also suggested a couple software options that can be easily added to our existing website to offer that retreat in a “one-session-at-a-time” video series, complete with questions, study time, and guided prayer.

A few days later, the renewal notice for a domain purchased last year came up. When the idea first hit in early 2013, I searched through a bunch of available domain names and honestly was quite surprised that www.strugglingwithporn.com was available. So I purchased it and have been waiting to use it since…

Then another buddy sent me an email with an introduction to a guy he wanted me to meet. He’d read the book and been helped by it…and he’s runs a visual arts company! We spoke on the phone last week and really hit it off. He has all the necessary gear and experience to film, edit, and produce not only the video series, but a couple promo’s for the series and for Unbound Ministries in general. And he’s willing to forgo up front monies and be paid over time by online video purchases.

One of the men locally that I had felt led to invite into this idea also has some contacts and may very well have found us a mountain “cabin” outside Breckenridge, CO that we may be able to use to film in!

I share all this with you in great joy! This video project may very well be the most significant undertaking that Unbound has ever considered. I would love your continued prayers and covering over this effort as we move forward.

Event Calendar

The last month has been super busy putting together the event calendar for 2014. Or rather, praying and waiting on the Lord to make it clear where He wants Unbound to invest.

VA in June. We’ll be heading to the Shenandoah River Valley, June 6-8 to offer an Unbound weekend retreat to a local fellowship there. If you want to attend, please contact Ezra directly as there are only a few spots left for men who do not attend the local church that is hosting.

CO in the Summer. The date isn’t set yet, but we are targeting the film project weekend for some point this summer. It seems likely that we’ll offer two CO events this year – one true Unbound retreat and a separate event for the the film project.

ID in September. There are at least five different connection streams converging in McCall, ID the weekend of September 19-21. We won’t post the event publicly for a while, but save the date if you are anywhere nearby! The event site we have is absolutely gorgeous and we are really excited about the opportunity to connect old friends, new friends, ministry allies, and some local fellowships together in the message of Unbound!

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We are profoundly grateful for the time, energy, encouragement, and support that each of you offer Unbound! We couldn’t do this without you!

Please offer up your prayers over these events. We sense that God has some mighty work planned through these in 2014, and we desire to be walking closely with Him, carrying out His orders, delivering His words, and offering His message of hope and freedom to men and their wives across the US and around the world.

-Ezra