Episode 258 Transcript (Zac Ernst)

Episode 258 (Zac Ernst)

Podcast Intro: [00:00:01] Being a great father takes a massive amount of courage. Instead of being an amazing leader and a decent dad, I want to be an amazing dad and a decent leader. The oldest dad in the world gave you this assignment, which means you must be ready for it. As a dad, I get on my knees and I fight for my kids. Let us be those dads who stop the generational pass down of trauma. I want encounters with God where He teaches me what to do with my kids. I know I’m going to be an awesome dad because I’m give it my all.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:00:39] Gentlemen, welcome back to dadAWESOME. My name is Jeff Zaugg and this is the last episode of the year, 2022. And my new friend, Zac Ernst, is joining as our guest today. The perfect guest for the end of a calendar year as we’re looking to to flip the page and say what’s what does God have for me in the year 2023. This episode, we’re talking about freedom. We’re going to talk about strength, doing hard things, resisting comfort to the draw and the magnetic pull towards choosing comfort. No, we’re going to be men who do hard things. And Zac is going to take us into that story in just a minute here. But, guys, thank you for being a part of this journey with us. It’s been almost five years. We’re celebrating here in just three weeks, we’re celebrating the five year mark of dadAWESOME. Man, we’ve released a podcast every single week for five years and a part of our celebration, we’re asking all of our listeners, would you do one of three things? The first one is, would you consider and pray about donating, making a donation to the ministry. It’s right at the end of the calendar year, so maybe it’s an end of year gift, we’re a tax deductible, 501 C3 nonprofit. So you can make a donation at dadAWESOME.org/give. You can, secondly, send an email, so you can send me an email jeff@dadAWESOME.org with a photo of your family and just maybe it’s a couple sentences of like, this is how dadAWESOME has impacted your dad life, has impacted your family, has maybe nudged you to be a more intentional dad, so an email would be amazing. I would just love to hear from you. And then third, you might consider posting on social media, on Instagram or Facebook, just include the #dadAWESOME or, and make sure just so people are following you dadAWESOME.org, just the easy website. You can of course link out to Spotify or Apple Podcasts or whatever. But one of those three things, would you consider and pray about giving, sending me an email, and posting on social media. That would be a way that you can kind of help us as we celebrate the five year mark. Let’s get into this, today’s conversation, though, today, Zac Ernst is in Seal Beach, California. I spent 5:50 a.m. early, I was a part of the I was a part of his team, Join Pursuit, the 90 day challenge three or four times, I think I was with him four times, when I was out in southern California. But his resource that he’s created, Pursuit, we’re going to talk about in this conversation. But more than that, we’re going to talk about that being men who walk in freedom and lead our families in the direction of doing hard things. So enjoy this conversation. This is episode 258 with Zac Ernst. Well would love to start here, Zac, can you just introduce your family? How long have you been married? Your, your daughter, your son, introduce your family, but also, any moments recently that you’re like, oh, it was just a moment that brought you joy with your family.

Zac Ernst: [00:03:36] Yeah. So, yeah, I’m married to an amazing woman of 18 years, her name’s Amy. And we have two kids, a 12 year old daughter and nine year old son. And it is, yeah, and I’m so thankful that that they are all joy bombs. And a moment that brought me joy. I mean, very recently, two days ago, Amy was putting our son to bed and and they were talking about visions and just kind of asking God for things and pictures and stuff. And and and our boy has been very visual, he gets these random visions. So he’s like, Mom, I want to give I want to give a vision to you. And see if I can get a vision for you. And so she then says, all right, cool. And and he’s like, okay, I got one, got one. And he he said, I just see you, you know, running through a field, you’re a little girl, it’s full of flowers and it’s beautiful and you’re just laughing and dancing. And then you lay down and then butterfly lands on you, and and she’s like, Finn, how, she’s like, how old was I in that picture? And he said, you’re five. And that, and Amy almost started crying because it was the exact picture that Jesus gave her about herself, about this picture of her freedom and her joy and just how He just sees her as this this five year old free, beautiful little girl, playing and just enjoying His goodness. And it was just and she had the exact same vision, like five years ago. And and and it was specifically five years old. So that was really powerful, intimate moment that, you know, it’s just so encouraging to see your kids hear from God. And it’s such a such a real way, you know, it’s so encouraging.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:05:30] And this was his idea. Hey, Mom, I want to pray for a vision for you. Now, it doesn’t start without some discipleship, some kind of, like, helping him understand, hearing God’s voice. And I know we’re all in this journey of wanting our kids to hear the voice of God. And but some people listening right now that’s very new or foreign, that this, like praying for a picture for someone else. Would you take us into a little further, like, where did that come from? How have you guys, how have you seen visions or invited your son to pray for for a word from God? 

Zac Ernst: [00:06:03] Yeah, you know, I think it started kind of with kind of as a as a to combat nightmares and to combat like scary thoughts, scary things. And we just have we just asked our kids, we said, you know, you have this imagination that that God’s given you and and He uses it. And I think and there’s something special about children’s imagination that I think, unfortunately, adults lose if we don’t, it’s a muscle that fatigues and that eventually, I think, can completely go away if we ignore it. And and so it’s something that Amy and I have been intentional wanting to continue to to lean in with the kids and just take full advantage of their imaginations. And so we’ve done it with both. And we said, you know, hey, like I, we believe that Jesus has a specific place where you two can meet, in your imagination, that you can go any time you’re scared. So if you have a scary thought, we’re not there or or when we’re there, you can ask Jesus to come and go to that place. So, I want you to picture right now what is you know, as just ask Jesus for a picture, a beautiful place, something that that that is fun and imaginative, some place you’d like to go. So that’s that’s kind of where it started. And so then it’s also been like, hey, let’s this, this last, this last summer, we did a big trip from here, so, so Southern California up to the coast of of Canada and went to San Juan Islands and camped the whole way. But we had we had every night we would try to pick we had picked somebody that would get a vision. So we’d ask like, okay, God, give us a vision for Mom today. And then, you know, we were just everyone to share the first thing that comes to mind. So it’s very, very, very basic and like, you know, just use your imagined like whatever the first thought that comes in, the first picture that comes in your head, just roll with that. And it’s turned into these very prophetic, really profound moments like, like we just had two nights ago with, with our son and, and my wife, so, yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:08:03] Wow. Thank you. So we’re sitting here in your camper van and here I am crying. So thankful there’s no video rolling right now because your story of your son and your daughter immediately, I’m remembering back to promises that God’s given me and a place that I’ve met with God. It’s just been a long time since I kind of prayerfully imagined imaginative prayer in that place, the dock on a lake and just the loving, kindness and, so hopefully, yeah, this is one of those moments. I’m just like, Wow, it’s amazing, you tell a story of a child and them encountering God, and all of a sudden, it’s like, Whoa, I am a child and I have and I am encountering God in this moment. So thank you.

Zac Ernst: [00:08:45] You’re childlike, right?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:08:46] Yes.

Zac Ernst: [00:08:47] Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:08:48] And that’s half of, I feel like, our conversation over the last hour and a half as we’ve been hanging out and driving your golf cart down to the beach, I feel like has been childlike conversation about like just play. But I would love, before we move off of this topic, of hearing God’s voice, there was a day, I don’t know if it was two years ago, a year ago, that you almost died, twice. And I’m not going to have you share both stories because I’ll link the blog post that they, you know, they can listen to they can read into the first encounter. But the second one, because it had to do with journaling and hearing God’s voice, and it happened near this van that we’re sitting in. Would you tell a little bit about what happened, that that second story?

Zac Ernst: [00:09:26] Yeah. Yeah, I was actually picking up this van, flying into Salt Lake City and then driving down and wanting to specifically camp somewhere kind of off off the beaten path, you know, test out the four by four and and ended up on a place near the Virgin River. And I pulled in at night, so I actually didn’t really know where I was, but I knew there was dirt and I knew there’s a river down there. And so anyways, the next day, I wanted to go tour around to another spot and I find this, this really cool little zone and take my backpacking chair and my journal and and just went down to the river. Zero, there’s no one around. No, it was total, total solitude, total solitude, total beauty. And, and so I’m and the river is like calm, it’s very nice and to the point where I jumped in the water and just kind of swam around this like mellow, you know, quaint little spot. And, and then I was facing the sun, looking up river, and so I decided to turn around because I was getting too hot, so I’m facing my back’s to the to the flow. And I’m sitting on this little rock that’s this rock that’s just above the water. And so I’m there for a couple of hours and just journaling, praying, like talking to God and, and, just having a really sweet time like yeah, this practice of of of you know, writing Him a question or writing a verse in black ink and then and then in blue ink, just ask him a question and whatever comes to mind, I just write, write it in blue and assume it’s it’s Him.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:11:07] So it’s kind of imaginative listening, right? We’re talking about imaginative prayer. You’re not straining to hear an audible voice. You’re, it’s the flow of what might He be saying. Right?

Zac Ernst: [00:11:18] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s zero pressure. So sometimes it is my voice and sometimes it’s absolutely His. And and so it’s but it’s it’s been fun over the years, as I’ve continued in this discipline, kind of starting to discern His more than mine. But so this this is one of those times, it was very specifically Him. So I so again, you know, so I’m journaling and then and then I and then I hear Him say, okay, get up, it’s time to go. And I thought, Oh, yeah, that’s true. I should probably hit the road, I still have a long drive in front of me. And so I packed my bag, put my stuff, my chair away, I put everything away. I turn around and literally as I’m turning around, the river has swollen. And as soon as I step off the rock I was sitting on the water, swept over the rock to the point where I had to shuffle and move away as this flash flood is coming and and flowing right, right at me. Like, literally, if I didn’t get up at that moment, I would have been swept into the water. Like seconds later, a huge log swept, sweeps right over the rock that I was on. And it was like, Well, thank you, Jesus, for the heads up. That was that was perfect timing. I mean, it was it was the moment of like I could have died because, I mean, it wasn’t smart to have my head, you know, you’d be facing downstream, not upstream for that that very scenario. But with the trip was is it wasn’t even raining. So there’s a flash, flash I could see, I could see thunderclouds like miles, like super far away upriver. But I didn’t, you know, now, now I’ll be ready or I’ll think about it.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:13:03] I just explored the Virgin River, you know, just in Zion National Park, just last week. And they say if it even starts to rain, get away from it. But I had no idea to that level it could be gorgeous and way down in the speed of and then so I read the story last night and in this morning, Psalm 146 and I’ll, I’ll include in the show notes the actual verse, but like this imagery with the passion translation around God’s love, overflowing the riverbanks in like the immensity of His love. And just to me it’s pretty wild reading that story. And I don’t think many of us, probably none of us listening, have actively been journaling, trying to imagine and hear the voice of God and it saved their life. You’re the first, but that part of that is getting out into nature and choosing epic places to to listen. And yeah, I think there’s something to that of choosing the instead of the paved road, the unpaved, the spot that’s maybe a little more risky to go set up a chair and I think it just it positions our hearts maybe to hear a little bit more from God.

Zac Ernst: [00:14:09] One thousand percent. It’s I always hear more clear from Jesus in nature and solitude than anywhere else. It’s just there’s something about it.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:18] Yeah. Would you say in nature, solitude, would you add suffering if you’re pushing yourself, if that’s another time?

Zac Ernst: [00:14:23] Hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean it’s yeah, so that’s I just got done backpacking up into Haleakala Crater, my two brother in law’s, we went up it’s it was see the summit so it was 10,000 feet of climbing and 25 miles.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:38] That’s serious.

Zac Ernst: [00:14:39] It was a lot of suffering. 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:40] How many days was that?

Zac Ernst: [00:14:41] It was, we had three nights in the crater. But yeah, I mean, again, it’s like, it’s actually rated as one of the top 15 most quiet places on the planet. It’s really it’s it’s made the top 15 list of like most, most quiet. And there’s something about, there’s this great book I recently read called Comfort Crisis. I’ve been geeking out on it. But he gets into sound and how like when we get into like quiet chambers or quiet places, there is a, there is a reset in your brain that happens, just because there’s so much ambient noise everywhere we are, you know, with planes and, you know, you name it. So anyways so that it was a definitely a reset and suffering was a big part of that was like we’re, you know, we’re insanely sore and fatigued and, you know, dehydrated, but yeah. And closer to God than than sitting on a lounge chair by the backyard, you know what I mean?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:15:40] Well, and that story was with other guys. Sometimes those moments are with other guys. Some are totally by yourself. And I do want to talk about stand up paddle boarding and, and an adventure that you went on of paddling from Catalina Island to Seal Beach. Correct? 31 miles, it turned out to be. [00:15:57][17.9]

Zac Ernst: [00:15:58] Yeah, supposed to be 26. But yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:16:00] You got a bonus handful. So why why did you choose to do that paddle? [00:16:05][5.1]

Zac Ernst: [00:16:08] Yeah. So getting back to desire, there was, I was a lifeguard in in Seal Beach years ago and there was a there’s a there’s a rock to rock race, they call it from the tip of Catalina to Palos Verdes. And that’s like a 20, I think it’s like a 22 mile race, prone paddle. And I was training for it and I was a rookie that year.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:16:30] Prone paddle is stand up paddle?

Zac Ernst: [00:16:31] Prone is a it’s like a stand up, but you’re laying down, you’re actually laying down on your belly, paddling with your arms. So that and this was actually before stand up paddling was a thing, you know.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:16:41] I’ve done this before on a paddle board.

Zac Ernst: [00:16:42] Yeah, prone paddling.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:16:43] And I made it, I could not believe because you’re on your lungs, you’re laying on your lungs. I could not believe, this a quarter mile, I did a quarter mile. And was shocked, shocked how exhausted I was. Okay. Keep going.

Zac Ernst: [00:16:55] Because you’re also I mean, think about your, your your shoulders are isolated. So it’s it’s 100% shoulder, back, you know. But yeah, so that that was something I was training for. And then because I was a rookie, that senior guard got the got the spot. And so I can never, I can never finish. I never is able to do it. So where, we were fishing out there in the, in the channel one day with a buddy and I, I remind it was years, years later I’m reminded of like how I want to just be in that channel. I want to experience the channel like tangibly and, and, and it was right then I decided, you know, I’m going to go, I’m going to go get it open water, longest and stand up paddle, I’m going to train, I’m going to cross this thing. And just it was just a decision just to just to get in the channel and just simply experience it. And and so, yeah, six months later, we found some guy that had a sailboat that was willing to motor us out there, dropped me off. And then and then he was, he was a support boat. So he was throwing, you know, they were thrown food and water and keeping GPS, because you can’t see coast to coast. But anyway, so yeah, that was… 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:18:06] Okay, go a little deeper, let’s see, you have the idea. You talked to Amy about this idea, like why the time the it’s one thing to want to get stronger, I want to try something I’ve never done, but like, how’s, how’s the processing with Amy around choosing to take on something like this with kids that are, you know, this is several years ago?

Zac Ernst: [00:18:22] Yeah. Yeah. Adventure has been something, and this is delicate, and because adventure can be something to strengthen your marriage or it can ruin your marriage. We were talking about this early on. There’s, there’s a fine line of letting, like a surf trip make you better or worse. And I, I, I went on this trip and I came back a worse husband. I came back entitled and all this stuff, and I learned my lesson that I it was it was probably a low, low point. It was the lowest point of our marriage is just being, you know, going at doing this very self-serving, like bucket list, this is like something I’ve always wanted and a surf trip. And I just came back and we were totally disconnected and I was used to being fed and boated to all these epic ways. And anyways, so I realized, okay, if I want to continue adventures, I need to not be that husband, I need to, I needed to be closer to God and be a better husband. So, so it there’s there’s a few things that that inspired it. But I think it’s to answer your question, I think it was, using these some of these experiences to yeah, if we’re closer to God, we’re just going to be better dads, we’re going to be better men, better husbands. And so that’s that’s really what it came down to is just having an intention to honor her schedule, honor the kids, you know, train when it’s not a conflict at family time, invite them into it. So there’s days where she, you know, she and the kids drop me off and then drive back here and then welcome me home on the beach when I paddled in. And so we made it fun and we made Saturdays. So they’re they’re definitely part of the experience I’d throw Finn on the board and we paddle around and, you know, so it’s I think the key is just to have the intention of of becoming better and not self-serving, but to be a better dad. Because if if dads are more alive, if men are more alive through pursuing things of their heart, I believe that will make them better. Better husbands, better dads.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:20:29] And there was a moment, I can’t remember how many miles into the paddle, that you’re like, experiencing God’s presence in ways that you can’t if you go out for a 15 minute jog.

Zac Ernst: [00:20:40] Yes. Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:20:41] Yeah. Why is that?

Zac Ernst: [00:20:42] Totally. Yeah. I think it’s dependence, really. I think there’s so few for modern men, there’s few opportunities for us to actually get into a place where we are fully dependent on God. And we, we, we need Him to sustain us. We need Him to get, pull us through, and those are those are all the highlights of my faith journey of, of, of being with Him, is when I am, I’m on the edge. You know, we talk about like, where’s your edge, you know, and trying to get close to that so that you know, that you can find that dependence. And so the paddle was, I’ve never done that type that many miles, I was training for 26 and I barely did 20, my long distance and, and ended up having to go 31 because of the current and the wind and and other nonsense but but you know, I definitely came to a point where I’m like God, I can’t I’m I’m so done. My, my legs, my feet, my hands, everything is is cramping. And and it was just this like this like one stroke at a time. Like one, he’s like, just one more, just one more. And it just got this rhythm and He was with me in there, and it was just it was just so, so deeply connected because I was at my physical end and that’s where He was able to pick up and power, I firmly believe that He He was the one that that, you know, carried me through to through the pain and to to do that thing.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:22:12] Yeah, I, I feel like there’s two common as I’ve, as I’ve traveled, as I’ve gathered groups of dads to common things that are not, I’m it’s funny I said common. There’s two things that are uncommon that I’m commonly finding and they are guys pursuing discomfort, would be one of them and secondly, guys in be taking the initiative and leading others in that direction. Just feel like in general, as I’m asking questions, it’s like, what was the last time you’ve pushed yourself harder? There’s not, most of them are like, Well, this is the first time I’ve been challenging them to ride their bikes 100 miles or do this or that. And then secondly, I’m like, What was last time you took the lead, invited guys to a deeper level of brotherhood or to go do that thing? And really, it’s not happening. I’m not being invited and I’m not choosing to take the initiative. Do you have any thoughts on why that would be? Both the comfort side of things and the lack of initiative of saying, I’ll go first and I’ll rally people.

Zac Ernst: [00:23:11] Yeah. I mean, I, it’s why I, it’s why what we do, we do on the beach with Pursuit, the men’s workout program. It’s it’s I’ve just seen I’ve seen in my own life where comfort became just the norm and in so commonplace that it it would it was almost like unreasonable to to question comfort. And until you actually carry the through line of a life of constant comfort pursuits out and it doesn’t end well for for body, mind, soul, spirit, all of it. And, yeah, so I think it’s just we’re just too dang comfortable, which is why, most men say No, thanks. Like, why would I? I can, I can yell at the TV screen at the football game and have these, like, faux adrenaline experiences and they’re hijacked. Or I can porn out and I can get that like that high for a second and feel like a man and then, you know, but it’s, you know, that’s so temporary and it’s and it’s destroying men across the world, you know. So I think it’s stepping into the discomfort of pursuing your wife and intimacy through conversations to, you know, just grow in love. And, you know, that there’s all sorts of different mechanisms that we can shortcut that. And and it gets hijacked into thinking that this is this is feeding us in a way. And it’s and it’s actually it’s killing us. So yeah. So I think I think that’s why I think we’re just we just have too much comfort that we’re swimming in. So there’s there’s a there’s a parable of these two fish and these two fish, young, young fish are swimming in the ocean. And they swim by this old wise fish and the old wise fish, as he swims by and says, Water’s fine today, huh, boys? And the two fish swim by kind of look at each other, and they’re like, What the hell is water? And and I think it’s such a perfect description of what we’re swimming in as in this culture, is we are swimming in a life of comfort that is that we’re completely oblivious of and and it’s costing us everything. And so I think there is a deep need to to challenge ourselves to to get out into discomfort and get out into places that are inconvenient to sit with Jesus. I mean, I love it’s funny how few stories I hear preached about Jesus fasting for 40 days. And like, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a call, I’ve never heard a call to action to do that. I don’t, I know maybe two people that have ever done that. And interesting enough, they’re pretty rad dudes that have gone 40 days without eating. You know, I’m still trying to, yeah, my wife and I are still debating it, but it’s anyways, it’s Jesus did radically hard things, you know, like that is deeply uncomfortable. But look that was the launch of His vision is coming out of that and the angels tend to dominate. You know, so anyways, I think there’s something, I think there’s something that that culture just is not, I think it’s I think it’s a ruse of the enemy, to be honest. It’s it’s it’s more comfortable. Every every company, every business, every product is get, how can we make it more convenient, more easy, more comfortable, more cozy padded pillow, like the whole thing, you know.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:26:48] Yeah. The movie Wall-E. I mean…

Zac Ernst: [00:26:53] Totally. That’s it. 100%.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:26:53] Floating chairs, right. And limitless beverages. Yeah, and, and don’t do anything that rubs up against hard, take the gravity out of the equation.

Zac Ernst: [00:27:02] Right. So good.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:27:03] The second side to that, though, is discomfort positions, I believe us towards readiness or like like on the edge of freedom, being like like, oh, wait, I’m not experiencing freedom. I actually think often we’re unaware that we’re not experiencing freedom because we haven’t gotten up past our comfort zone to allow us to be like, Oh, there’s something here that I want, I want to be set free from. And that’s that side of your passions and the work you do with Pursuit is like super inspiring to me. To see men not just get stronger so they can be strong for their families and not just have deeper brotherhood so they can have that, those brothers to make them strong, but actually like the work of freedom and seeing guys set free and living fully alive. Would you talk a little bit about that, that side of your heart?

Zac Ernst: [00:27:53] Yeah, I think, you know, I. Yeah. I feel like, God, if he gave me a word, it’s freedom. It’s, it is, my buddy and I started this, this company that lasted about two days called Adventure Freedom. And we wanted to take a sailboat and take guys onto these experiences, and that’s another podcast, but we almost sank the thing and it was a complete disaster. But that didn’t last long. But anyways, it’s yeah, freedom is is what, I mean, that’s what we need. Freedom from our addictions, freedom from the bondage. And that’s, that’s why Jesus came. Right? To set the captives free and, it’s interesting, like another thing God spoke to me in the channel when I was crossing was that I had, so there’s a point where I was in the center of the channel looking at and I couldn’t see California and I couldn’t see Catalina. And I was, and it felt like complete freedom. It was this terrifying and glorious moment of, like, total freedom. Now, because it was glorious and beautiful was only because there is a boundary on either side of me that I knew. I knew that if I just kept going, I’m going to hit that boundary, that limit. And I and I’ll and I’ll be I’ll be at the end. Had I started paddling on the other side of Catalina and went out West, if I went West into the Pacific, that’s radical freedom. It’s epic freedom. But it would have led to death, certain death. Right? And I think this is what we bump up against with, you know, some of just with culture talking about I mean, yeah, I mean, van life is actually an interesting kind of eco causing to look at because it’s, you know, people are stepping into this freedom. But like, there’s no boundaries, there’s no like responsibility that actually makes the freedom worth something. You know? And so it’s so what we talk about on the beach a lot and what we’re pursuing is looking at how freedom is only accessible through boundaries. That’s why God gives us limits, why He gives this law, like why He gives us Himself to like, Hey, you have all the freedom with me. Outside of me, yeah, you have freedom, but you’re you’re going to die, you know, in all sorts of different ways. So that’s yeah, so that’s, that’s been the, I think the through line of, of adventure, of doing hard things, of discomfort, of challenging culture’s, you know, idea of comfort. All of those things lead us to freedom, the real freedom that we all really want.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:30:30] Yeah. So just to jump into what is Pursuit, so there are groups here in Seal Beach, California, groups down, with our mutual friends, Zack Curry, the Jesus Culture guys, there’s groups in person, and there’s also digital options to kind of be a part of your community, be inspired, resourced. Would you talk a little more about the heartbeat behind and actually the tangible, what is Pursuit?

Zac Ernst: [00:30:53] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so yeah. It’s we’ve made it, it’s it, it started as just a workout crew for dads that we designed three days a week to do before we dropped our kids off at school. This is seven years ago. And and it was just, you know, a combination of of workouts that I learned from CrossFit, blended with some lifeguard workouts and beach fitness stuff and group fitness and and kind of made this this this mash of of what we’re doing today. And it’s evolved to be a very intentional, very life giving thing for for the guys that, that that choose to show up. But yeah it’s and we’ve made it in COVID when they close their beach we weren’t able to to work out. And so we said, hey, let’s try the Zoom thing. And so we had a ton of guys that that were able to get a full workout in via Zoom. And that’s what led us to hey, we started getting guys from out of outside of Seal Beach that were joining and we wanted they want to still want to be a part of it. And so was like, hey, well, let’s just take the camera down. And so it’s evolved into now where it’s a full, you know, we do these 90 day challenges and guys from all over, got guys in Germany, Romania, I mean, we get we have a chapter in like Arrowhead, chapter in San Diego, Cyprus. So we’re we’re starting chapters in different places. And all they have to do is sign on, in the morning, they can get the live feed and they’re given the content and the workout and the instruction. And but the the the big the big piece is, is guys doing it together and finding that community. As you know, talking with many dads and men, most most guys don’t have real friends. And and they they do the hard stuff of life alone and isolation, and that just usually devolves into, you know, you know where. But yeah, so it’s, yeah, so it’s been a place where guys can know and be known and be vulnerable. We have a saying, The most vulnerable man on the sand is the strongest man on the sand. And so we encourage guys to, to, to open up and just like, hey, your marriage is struggling, yeah, so is mine, like, let’s, let’s we’re with you, you know, we’re going to celebrate you and we’re going to, you know, so it’s yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:33:07] It’s incredible. And, and so fitness is the felt need that pulls guys in, is fitness they all of a sudden get friends out of the deal, and then you go deeper towards freedom. Is you, I mean is that, is that correct? And there’s a couple other elements, though, that you guys include, like a book that you guys are studying, reading together.

Zac Ernst: [00:33:22] Yeah. So we’re yeah so we’re in a 90, we this is our third 90 day challenge that we’ve done where there’s like an onboarding and off boarding. And so we, we read a book together and so every day we have a QOD, question of the day or we’ll take a quote from the from the book and then we’ll ask a question and then we have a 15 minute round up at the end where we discuss and dialogue the question that’s and the topics range. It’s always, it’s always biblically based book. So we did the first one we did was Wild at Heart, the class, you know, and, and then we did Adam’s Return, Richard Rohr. And then we, now we’re doing Shortcuts by a mentor of mine, Bob Hasson. And yeah, so it’s been so fun, too, to go over, you know, so that and so now we’re getting more into the business acumen like, you know, financial side of grow of, of being a man and, you know, and what stewardship looks like. And so yeah, we cover a lot of topics, but the goal is connection and to how to take the conversation deeper than weather and sports. Right. You know, and I think that’s that’s what guys are waking up to is that we can have like these meaningful, powerful relationships and just by like three days a week, consistently seeing each other, fatiguing ourselves. And I’ve seen a connection to you when you get vulnerable physically by failing in a we’re in a in a particular movement or workout it it tees up nicely that like more of an emotional connection afterwards. Where we can, you know, get you guys vomiting under the pier, like cheering him on and he comes in and now, you know, we’re like celebrating him because he pushed himself, you know, not that we’re encouraging to go that hard, but, but you get extra points if you do.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:35:09] Well, and I think I read and this is I don’t know if this is your words or if it’s actually straight out of the Gospels, at the end of ourselves is where the abundant life of God begins. It’s probably a blend of both. At the end of ourselves, I think actually there is the message paraphrase of the Sermon on the Mount at the end of our rope, there is more, less of me, more of God who believes that to, so there is something to, man, can we push ourselves, right to that edge, and then experience more of God, more vulnerability, more transparency with friends, more freedom. So I love what you’re doing. Very inspired and and hopeful for even seeing more dadAWESOME groups helping you, launching chapters like that would be one of our prayers and we’ll make sure everything’s kind of resourced in the show notes. I wanted to, kind of land, Zac, with just asking you your heart for freedom, your kids being, your daughter, 12, your son, 9. You’re, like anything, that’s on your heart to just help dads, guide, not with perfection. I mean, dadAWESOME is a very imperfect pursuit, but it’s the direction of we see this role as being a dad is a gift. We believe God’s call is that we like we’re flourishing, we’re thriving. We are being dadAWESOME for our kids, imperfectly. But when it comes to like raising kids who experience freedom, anything like that, you’d want to kind of land with or share around helping your son and daughter choose this direction of life? 

Zac Ernst: [00:36:36] Yeah, I think I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is, is to teach them humility. Is to show, is to apologize to them. Amy and I find ourselves apologizing to them fairly frequently. And I think it’s it’s showing them that we aren’t perfect, like you said. And and to to demonstrate that we that we we are trying. And this is all so, so top of mind right now with my 12 year old and like her her like trying to transition away from childhood. And I like just want my little girl, you know? And so I’m in this, like, grieving stage of like grieving my little baby girl that I was her hero and now I’m the lamest thing. So it’s, it’s been tough, man, but I think like through that it’s like okay I need to like I need to mature and grow with her and I need to be the dad to the tweening teenage girl that she needs and to to change my vernacular. And I can’t use the same words I used to use with her and and and I’ve been lowered. So I think I think it’s it’s really if I were to answer it in a sentence, it’s it’s learning your kids well and knowing where they’re at now so that you can meet them where they’re at and love them where they’re at. And, you know, I think I’ve learned that from Jesus. Like I, I have very vivid pictures of Jesus being a teenager with me, you know, and and then he’s a 40 year old man. And, you know, there’s it’s it’s He’s very intimate and and He He relatable. Right? And so I think that’s what I want to do as a dad and Amy wants to do as a mom, is to be to to know our kids so well that that we can we can meet them where they’re at. Understand, remember what it was like to be 12, that my 12 year old often reminds me, says, Dad, remember when you were 12? So yeah, those are then those have been helpful things. But then and then obvious, and then in terms of freedom, I think it’s I think it’s inviting them into the adventure. You know, it’s like there’s there’s I try to have them be part of whatever I’m doing, you know, like whether it’s, you know, towing them around on the paddleboard or, you know, you know, having them join us on the beach for Savage PUP Day and all those things. Yeah, that’s our former name is Savage SEALs or Savage comes from, but so for Savage Seal chapter. But yeah, but just having them be part of our lives, part of our adventures. That’s really like the impetus to get this van was to like have adventures together as a family, make those memories now because we know this window is is so is closing, you know, where we can do this stuff together and they’re going to be out the house before we know it. So just trying to make the most and and to make the memories with the kids and to, to pour them as much as we can. 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:39:29] Amazing. Zac, thank you for this conversation. And I was hoping you could just end our time in prayer and even praying where we started that that each dad that prays with us right now would, would imagine how much God loves them and and would move towards seeking and believing that he has something to show us, for our kids. And He has a path of more freedom that we’re currently experiencing. So will you pray us?

Zac Ernst: [00:39:58] Of course. Oh, Jesus. You’re so kind. You’re so good. You’re so faithful. We just honor you today. We worship you. We thank you, God, for your intimacy. As for, for modeling what the perfect man is in strength and in humility and confidence and courage and you know, God, I just pray that everyone listening can, that you’ll give them a specific picture, you’ll give them a memory, an image of of something that communicates to their heart uniquely, something that will speak the truest thing about them. And it could be a character from a movie. It could be a scene from a movie or a book. But yeah, God, I just pray that you impart a vision, a special place, that that will will touch hearts and remind men of of who they are, as you as you made them to be. God, I impart freedom, now over everyone listening. Freedom of addiction, freedom of fear, anything that that the enemy’s holding on that that that that a foothold has been lodged, God, we just break that off in Jesus name and we ask for for new life, new desire, God that that day, that that that we look at our desires is a good thing, not a bad thing. And that we go after our desires, bringing our family along with them and calling our desires out in our wives and our children and and championing those desires because you put them in our heart, God. And so lead us today. Thank you for this opportunity. Bless Jeff and his ministry, dadAWESOME and Father for the Fatherless, Lord. I just pray that you expand that reach and bring orphans home. And I just pray that that dad’s come alive and and take serious the the amazing opportunity and role of the gift of being a dad. And, yeah, bless, bless his family. And this time in Jesus name. Amen.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:42:11] Thank you so much for joining us for Episode 258 with Zac Ernst. Guys, if you’re interested in learning more about Pursuit, joining one of their 90 day challenges, I would be so excited to help send as many of you in the direction of doing one of these Pursuit chapters. In fact, one of our biggest hopes is to have dadAWESOME, Pursuit chapters. To actually mobilize more of our dadAWESOME community to to launch local chapters. It could be three guys with you or 30 guys with you, it does not matter. In fact, if you’re interested in getting a chapter going, a local group versus just online, digitally being a part yourself, send me an email. I’d love to hear from you, if you’re interested, jeff@dadAWESOME.org. So send me an email if you want to start a local chapter. But some of you guys are like just curious, as we’re starting the year, heading into January 2023, simply go to joinpursuit.co and then hit the Join US button and there is a free trial, so you can just scroll down a little bit, do the free trial, make sure to mention dadAWESOME, as you join that free trial. You can jump right in, get a bunch of the resources and get a real feel for how does Pursuit equip groups of men to go after it and to pursue freedom and to pursue strength and in going in the opposite direction of that gravitational pull towards comfort. So joinpursuit.co and hit the join us button. Guys, I am so thankful that you listen today that you finished out the year 2022 with this podcast. And I’m so thankful for you guys saying I’m not done being dadAWESOME for my family. I’m going to pursue intentionality and to pursue the hearts of my kids. I’m gonna be a dad who is strong, strong dads, lead kids who are going to be at a growing strength in freedom. The show notes for today’s conversation are at dadAWESOME.org/258. Thank you for being a part of this movement. Let’s go add some life to the dad life. Have a great end of the year.