Monday, March 17, 2014
I left home at midday on Friday for the one hour drive to the Five Star Retreat in rural Hickman County TN. Arriving, I found a group of men already there, sighting in pistols and rifles, adjusting the launcher for the skeet shoot, setting up archery targets, launching kayaks, and setting up AV equipment (after all we did have a spiritual program!) One of the men had brought an industrial sized grill/smoker and was busy smoking manly man food in between sighting in an AR-15. Earplugs were handed out on arrival... a good thing since the sound of weapons firing was incessant. Most everyone was making an outdoor fashion statement with a variety of camouflage, boots, hats, etc., and everyone with a "carry permit" had a holstered pistol. All in all we would have made an NRA or survivalist meeting quite proud.
Around 6 PM we ate some of the manly food ( smoked chicken and sausage), drank sweet tea and coffee and began to settle in for the evening sessions. With all the afternoon activities as a prelude, I was very curious to see what would happen to the 35 ruffians in attendance when the session started. Three guys came up front, one with a guitar, one with a bongo drum, and the leader. Over the years I have attended many church retreats and have listened to a lot of kumbayah moments sung by men whose hearts were not really in it. Thus my incredible surprise when these gun toting believers began to sing with a passion worthy of a Sunday morning charismatic praise session. My heart was filled as I watched these grizzly guys sing "Bless The Lord Oh my soul.... Worship his Holy Name,,," with loud voices and raised hands... And when they sang of worshipping "ten thousand years and then a thousand more" you had to believe it. These guys were the real deal, authentic believers here to experience an encounter with God.
Over the next two days we watched the videos about manly, Christian courage. We had meaningful small group sessions where serious soul baring and confession took place. We prayed for one another for life struggles and freedom from long held bondages. Some of the sharing was gut wrenching but it served to underscore that these men are committed to God and serious about holiness, loving their wives and serving their families. In between we went outside to the ranges and played with our man toys competing as teams in our small groups... sort of a spiritual retreat ying and yang!
One heart warming thing was that experienced shooters, fisherman, and archers took on a mentorship role for those who were not experienced outdoorsmen.... Just as experienced prayer warriors led the way in practical spiritual warfare when we prayed together. It was a true example of 'iron sharpening iron'.
It was a time of spiritual refreshment for me and I did catch about 15 bass! However, at 66, I was the oldest guy there. Sometimes folks my age can get caught wondering if the generations behind us can handle it. Good news for all you worried old farts out there, they have it under control. I could not help but be encouraged by the passion of all those young men who have committed to making a difference in the world by living for the King. With men like these, the Gospel is in good hands... And that makes me smile!
Saturday, February 22, 2014
One evening at supper I casually asked Solomon what he did in his "spare time". Solomon looked at me as if I were a Martian and asked me what I meant by the question. I then rephrased my question and asked, "what do you do on your days off?" I wish I could somehow convey the incredulous look that Solomon gave me as he responded, "Days off? There are no days off!" Thus I was introduced to the idea that having a job that requires one to work every day can be a good thing for which to be grateful.
Fast forwarded from 2000 to 2014. A missionary couple with whom we are friends recently came home from Uganda for a few weeks. While they were here, one of the wife's friends had a get together for her and invited a number of her other friends to attend. After listening to the attendees discussing balancing the demands of life in Williamson County TN she had to go outside and catch her breath. Although she understood where they were, she was overwhelmed by the pettiness of these discussions in the context of the poverty and need that she deals with daily in Uganda.
I say all of this not to guilt evoke you, but to remind you of how blessed we are to love in this country of such abundance... And maybe remind you of Jesus words in Luke 12:48 "When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required."
Friday, December 14, 2012
I am not sure how theologically correct this might be, but I believe if we allow him to, God can do sort of a ctrl-alt-del on my failures. In so doing, he gives me a chance to enter the future without the viruses and malicious cookies of life that have crept into my "operating system". Assaults from the evil hackers of life can still be expected... but we have God's master virus protection system to protect us. Just like our computer systems, the key to staying protected is to keep our virus "software" up to date. Phillipians 4:8 gives some pretty good instruction on how to do that.
So for 2013, my prayer is that I can keep my life's virus protection up to date.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I love the idea of blogs! Blogs are so democratic. They are based on the premise that everyone can say what they wish and disseminate it as broadly as they wish. Whether or not it is read is pure consumer choice… “I like, I read… I don’t like, I don’t read”.
That said, why would someone need or desire to read what I have to say? Good question! First, whether from good experiences or bad experiences, everyone has important lessons to share. Often we fawn over highly successful people… what I would call the “I’d really like to spend a day with Donald Trump syndrome”. In truth, lessons learned from failure are often as valuable, perhaps even more valuable, than lessons learned from success. The significance of this fact is that we need to be extremely careful about “blowing people off” because we feel they have nothing to offer. I remember counseling a young man some years ago and in the course of the discussion I said, “Bob, if you can’t respect me for my successes, respect me for my failures”. Everyone has something to offer. Our job is to seek it out.
I have not always done that very well. In fact, I have generally been very quick to judge and make a decision on whether a person was someone from whom I could learn…or was someone who needed to learn what I knew. As a result, in my younger days, I was viewed as a pretty arrogant person… which was quite correct! I still have a need for growth in this area… and will until the day I die. However, now when I meet someone, I always seek to learn… as opposed to “sharing my infinite wisdom".
The model I would like to emulate is Jesus, “ Your attitude should be that of Jesus Christ, who being in very nature God, did not did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Phillipians 2:6-8
That’s a tall order, but I think it is what I am called to do... and if you are a Jesus follower it's what you are called to do also.