To Retreat or Not To Retreat?

MensRetreat

That is indeed the question for this weekend. Another men’s retreat is upon us. The answer to the question for me is a no brainer. Retreat, of course. And not just because my role as pastor requires it. I would like to think I would make our men’s retreat a priority for a variety of reasons.

However, one stands out to me more than others. Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Why invest twenty-four hours with a bunch of brothers from my church? Because isolation makes PC a dull blade. Before I skin a deer in Idaho, I sharpen my knife with a whetstone. Why? The tool works a whole lot better in an otherwise tedious process. The Bible says brothers hanging with brothers doing gospel life and talking gospel things makes men sharp for life. I’m dull enough without skipping a main means God employs for my sharpening.

Charles Bridges, in his classic commentary on the book of Proverbs explains:

ironsharpensiron“Man was framed not for solitude, but for society (Gen. 2:18). It is only as a social being, that his powers and affections are fully expanded. . . . Steel, whetted against a knife, sharpens the edge. So the collision of different minds whets each the edge of the other. . . . In the sympathies of friendship, when the mind is dull, and the countenance overcast, a word from a friend puts an edge upon the blunted energy, and exhilarates the countenance. . . . Gladly let us take up the bond of brotherhood.”

To retreat or not to retreat? How do you answer the question? Say yes this weekend and gladly take up the bond of brotherhood.

A Disciple's Renewal

At our Recharge men’s retreat this past weekend, our speaker closed with asking us to meditate upon this penetrating Valley of Vision prayer.

I pass it on to us all for our edification.

O My Saviour, help me.
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;

I am in the foothills when I should be in the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee,
meditate on thee,
gaze on thee,
sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John on thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be;
more decision in my character,
more vigor in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more fervor in my devotion,
more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world,
keep me from making the world my position;
May I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the creator;
Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou King of kings and Lord of lords,
that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.

The Killing Disease Among Men

That’s what Stu Weber in his book The Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart (Multnomah, 1997, 286 pages) calls isolation.

He writes: The tendency toward rock-ribbed, self-sufficient isolation is a killing disease among men. It’s as common as prostate cancer and every bit as destructive to life (p. 225).

Overstatement? I’m not sure. More than one man has shipwrecked on the shores of independence and loneliness. The verdict of Scripture is plain. It is not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil (Ecc. 4:9). Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another (Prov. 27:17). Every man needs an armor bearer – at least one (1 Sam. 14:1ff).

Men, do you want to ward off this killing disease? There are all sorts of ways to prevent it. May I suggest than one is coming to our annual retreat on Nov. 16 & 17? Dr. Richard Parker will bring substantive, biblically-saturated messages on running the race well to the finish line. We will have opportunity to connect, deepen relationships, and initiate friendships. Scholarship funds are available if a lack of funds stands in your way.

Go to the Recharge website and register today! The price goes up this Monday, please be advised.

Next Oxford Club for Men

We got off to to a good start this morning discussing the preface.

Our next meeting is slated for April 21 at 7 AM. Place is TBA.

We will tackle, Lord willing, the introduction and chapter one of A Practical View of Christianity by William Wilberforce.

I still have one copy of the Hendrikson Classic version if anyone is interested. See me tomorrow and I will be happy to place it in your hands. Cost is $10 or whatever you can afford.

To guide your study click Study Guide #2 Intro and Chapter 1.

New Oxford Book Now in Stock!

I managed recently to secure fourteen copies of the Hendriksen Classics version of our new read for the Oxford Club for Men. I am talking about William Wilberforce’s classic, A Practical View of Christianity.

Copies will be available this Sunday at the SDA resource table for a donation of $10 or whatever you can afford. While the study guide below will not conform to the pdf version of the book available free on line, and keeping in mind that this ebook version is not updated to modern English, you can still read it here if you prefer. For a previous post introducing this history-shaping resource click here.

We had to push back our first meeting to begin discussing this book to March 31 at the church office. We are on schedule to meet at 7 AM that day at the church office (bring your own breakfast) and a discussion of the preface.
For help in your prep here is Study Guide #1 – Preface.

May the Lord use this book that helped catalyze the Second Great Awakening to stir our hearts for pursuing great satisfaction in Jesus and passion to influence our culture for Him.

Recharge Messages Now Available!

Good news!

All three messages by Jonathan Dodson on discipleship and the panel discussion to conclude our men’s retreat are now available on the audio portion of our website.

To listen to session one – Making Disciples – click here.

To listen to session two – Multiplying Disciples – click here.

To listen to session three – Maturing Disciples – click here.

To listen to session four – Panel Discussion – click here.

Of course the take away question of this post in light of Recharge 2011 is . . .

HAVE YOU GOTTEN INTO A FIGHT CLUB YET?

Followed closely by . . .

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

The Masculine Mandate in the Church

Our Oxford Club for Men group resumes this Saturday, December 10, at 7 AM, at the church office, with our ongoing study of Richard Phillips’ book The Masculine Mandate. Newcomers are always welcome!

After breakfast (bring your own please) we will discuss chapter 12, The Masculine Mandate in the Church.

Here is a sample from that chapter to whet the appetite:

So it is the Word of God–by grace of God taught, heard, understood, and applied–that accomplishes all progress within a church. From this, one conclusion is abundantly clear: any Christian man who wants to serve the Lord, in any role and at any level, must begin by devoting himself to God’s Word. A man who is weak in the Word of God will be of little use for service, for we cannot truly serve God effectively in our own knowledge and strength. But God’s Word stirs up in us the faith and spiritual strength needed to serve Him (p. 137).

You can access a copy of the study guide for this chapter by clicking The Masculine Mandate – SG #12.

Two-Men-In-a-Bed-a-Phobia

I had to laugh out loud when I got copied on an email today from one of our elders to certain brothers in the body that he wanted to challenge to attend Recharge, our retreat coming up on Nov. 18 and 19.

I assume each of you men have signed up for the retreat and are looking forward to a spectacular day and a half together. Please let me know if you have any barriers to joining us that we can help to overcome such as: finances, transportation, work schedule, too long of a honey-do list, can’t find a babysitter, afraid you will be home sick, don’t want to sleep in a strange bed, afraid you will miss your football game, allergic to sand or surf, Saturday is your day to sleep in, think you already know how to make disciples, or quite possibly your wife won’t let you out of the house. We will try to help in any way we can.

That just about covered the list of objections in my mind, except for one. I call it two-men-in-a-bed-phobia. In an attempt to keep costs down and to enable us to fly in our speaker Jonathan Dodson from Austin, Texas, we decided to book four men to a room. That means two guys per queen bed. Now I get it. I don’t relish this prospect myself. I like my space. Sleeping next to some snoring brother with hairy legs just doesn’t sound like my favorite way to spend the night.

I already decided that I would bring my own mat, pillow, and blankie and take a spot on the floor in my room just for my own comfort.

And then today I learned about a couple of brothers that have ruled out coming only because of this arrangement! So I thought, why not make it official and offer one of them my bed to help overcome the objection?

It makes me wonder how many other men out there suffer from the same phobia? Maybe more than we think.

So here’s my challenge. Who else will join me in such an offering? Who will voluntarily give up his space in a bed for the sake of some who struggle with this unfortunate affliction?

The gospel can help you do this! Paul tells us in Phil. 2:5-11 to imitate Jesus in His looking-out-for-the-interest-of-others example based upon His magnificent stoop from heaven to earth to become obedient to the point of death. Let’s defer to one another, serve one another, and stoop for one another from the bed to floor in the name of Christ Jesus, shall we?

If you think the Lord wants you to make such a gesture for the sake of our diseased brethren, please let me know in an email so I can apply this gospel medicine for their healing and relief. Many thanks!