ATO RetreatHOT SULPHUR SPRINGS – Colorado. In the summer of 2011, Robby Thompson and I represented the Theta Eta of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity in Colorado for an inaugural “ATO Retreat.” There were already several national functions to choose from, but nothing like this… The objective of this retreat was to leave it up to God. We are the only fraternity based on Christian principles, and ATO desires to keep our foundation strong. We embarked to Colorado with uncertainty but left with a glass FULL OF GRACE! We peaked at 15,000ft at “The Ranch”. ATO partnered with Toth Ministries and JWAR (Jesus was a Rebel) to deliver God’s Word. I saw a different side of Jesus. When I left, I went from having this fear of God to walking alongside my Daddy. I made myself vulnerable, but knew more about myself than ever before. It proved to be a spiritual encounter that all of us would remember forever. We came to the party, drank from the cup and were filled with His presence. For once in my life, I was enamored by the Spirit.

Six months later, the same brothers met up with Wynn Smiley, ATO National’s CEO. He graciously welcomed us into his house in Indianapolis, but he wanted to talk business. Wynn had an unanswered question, How do we keep this thing going? We debriefed the weekend from back at the Ranch. This weekend was still filled with worship and lecture, but we wanted to discuss the future of this ATO Retreat. We met at ATO National Headquarters, and it resulted in a name change, Encounter. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme with all the people who attended. Everyone had an encounter with Christ! From hearing angels to feeling their Daddy press his mighty hand on their chest… there were encounters by the Holy Spirit. The ATO Retreat would forever be called, Encounter. We agreed to recruit brothers to replace ourselves and take Encounter back to our respective chapters.

With a combined effort from the ATO National Staff, alumni, Toth Ministries and JWAR, we are able to host multiple Encounter retreats to active brothers who want to further their walk with Christ, our foundation. When we began to stop worrying about the temporal and focus on the eternal, we saw growth. In under three years, we have seen more than 100 brothers impacted through this new ATO National Event, Encounter.

One more thing, accountability was a huge priority for us. We wanted to stay connected and not be diagnosed with kid’s camp syndrome. If someone from The Ranch asked, “Will, what’s your life look like on a Tuesday when you are back in Alabama?” It shouldn’t look any differently because I live with my promises in front of me! To keep us accountable, anyone who has gone to an Encounter is invited to “Re-retreat” in Indianapolis. This is designed to keep brothers in Christ connected.

This weekend marks two and a half years after the inaugural ATO Retreat. We are now at the Columbia Club for another Encounter Re-Retreat because we have slightly outgrown Wynn’s living room:

God planted new seeds in our hearts. Now, it’s time to give what we have been given!

Riley Blogging Off


I have to P.P.

Greetings followers!

I figured 36,000 feet was far enough from reality, so I’m blogging on a concept that I think a lot of people cannot discern between: Power and Pride.

What gives you power? God, in my opinion.

Hear the Word of the Lord
John 15 12-14
12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

Psalms 111:10
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”

If the scriptures hold true, then the only way we actually receive power is if it is from God. The power I’m speaking of isn’t physical strength. It’s intellectual and spiritual strength.

Often, people acquire a feeling of accomplishment after they have conquered an endeavor. You controlled the outcome, so you strut because you won. Victory! When you dictate reality, do you pride yourself because of your power, or do you have power because of your pride? I prefer to say confident than pride because there’s a pretentious connotation with pride.

I was mulling this over. When a teacher of non-Christian theology instructs you in advancing your “spirituality,” he or she uses words. What is a catalyst for pride? Words of affirmation. The heartbeat of pride rests with words. Don’t hear me say that you aren’t allowed to accept a compliment, but be careful because people’s perception can influence your identity.

I wish I could say I was powerful, but I am indeed prideful.

It seems inevitable to escape from pride. If we receive a Word from God, then he’s given us power. If used incorrectly, that power will waste away into pride. Instead of just using the power given to us, we boast because we have received it.

Riley Blogging Off

Colder Weather

I finally have decided to have organized thoughts — what better way to express myself than to create a blog, right?

Today is a very special day in my heart. My grandfather, “Papa,” passed a year ago… It was hard at first to let go, but I have overcome rather than succumb to sorrow. In three days, I will be 21. We buried him on my birthday — ouch. Upon his death, my aunt told me  that I was to fill the spiritual void in my family. Hearing that from a family member is touching to say the least… not to mention terrifying.

I often think to myself what will happen in another year from now, but Matt Chandler said it best: “Tomorrow’s dream makes for a crummy God.” That statement has been embedded in my mind since I heard him speak those words of truth. Enjoy his grace daily!

In closing, I am not going to have a particular theme to my blog other than a theme of randomness. What a reader should expect to see: my spiritual growth/struggles, work-out plans/tips, various adventures, technological advances in the world and politics.

Riley Blogging Off