Disciples Men Retreat 2005

March 11 thru 13, 2005
Christmount Christian Assembly

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It was a beautiful weekend in the North Carolina Mountains for the 2005 Men's Retreat.  It snowed a bit Friday night and by Saturday afternoon it was almost 70.  The fellowship was just as warm and the program just as varied too.

Friday Night

Friday night began with dinner in the Christmount dining hall where all the meals were excellent as usual.  The staff at Christmount is always so friendly and accommodating.

After dinner we gathered for our first session which began, as all our sessions do, with singing.  Bob Grant leads while Greg Holmes plays the piano.  Bob exhorted us "This is our time to recharge, so soak it up! . . . and smile when you sing!"

P3114352.JPGJohn Anderson brought the opening devotion on Ephesians 4:1-6.  John stressed the importance of unity in Christ and working together as Christians.  He pointed out that astronomers, when setting up a telescope, first find their pole star and track everything else from there.  We must make Christ our "pole star."

P3114353.JPGCharles Maddox then introduced our speaker for the weekend, Rev. Arnold Nelson, Jr., President Homeland Missions.  Arnold told us he would bring us a "Clinic on Evangelism" by sharing stories.  He began by reminding us of the plot of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, a futuristic story where books are banned, and burned by the government.  In this story, people memorize books to preserve them.  "If that really happened," he said, "I hope someone would memorize Matthew and especially the story of Jesus on the road to Caesarea - Philippi."  In this story, Jesus finds himself in need of a Men's retreat - so he tries to take the disciples off to a place where they can get some peace.  This trip was the first time that one of the disciples said "You are the Christ."  That confession, by Peter, thrilled Christ, according to Arnold, so he began to talk about the P3114354.JPGnecessity for the cross.  And that's when Peter blows it.  Peter takes Jesus aside to rebuke him for taking about his death.  Things were going good for Peter and the Disciples and he didn't want Jesus to ruin it.  He didn't want to be inconvenienced.  And this causes Jesus to tell him to "Get behind me Satan!".  Do we remember, Arnold asks, the first time we made that confession that Jesus was the Christ?  And how do we follow up on that confession.

"As a people we do a great job of creating requirements to fellowship" Arnold points out, "And we have no right to do that because we all belong to Christ.  We have had fights over the silliest things," he notes, "and we must stop that!  Why do people have to exist in the world without knowing the love of Christ because we Christians can't be inconvenienced to tell that person."

P3114363.JPGFriday nights program concluded with Vespers sung to us by Rev. Dean Phelps.  Dean sang a hobo song about freedom on the rails.  He pointed out that the hobo is the personification of personal freedom.  He gets on whatever train and just rides it to where ever it is going.  Dean pointed out that sometimes we can be spiritual hobos, and we have taken some strange trains.  But Christ must be our pole star.  We must follow Christ where he leads, not simply head where the next train heads.

Following Vespers we gathered around the fireplace in the Christmount lodge for the traditional Ice Cream Social.


Saturday began with a great country breakfast followed by more signing led again by Bob Grant and backed by Greg Holmes.

Layman 2005.jpgIt is traditional for the Layman of the Year to offer the devotional, so 2004 Layman Jim Farris brought a message entitled "When responsibility becomes frustrating".  Jim quoted Psalm 27.  He pointed out that when we get frustrated we need to remember to follow the instructions in this Psalm: to seek the Lords face and wait for the lord.  An answer, said Jim almost always comes.

After the devotion, Rev. Arnold Nelson made his second presentation based on John 4, the story of the woman at the well who led an entire village back to Jesus.  Arnold pointed out that today, elders who go door-to-door in neighborhoods knocking on doors to do evangelism are rarely welcome.  Yet in this story, an outcast woman who said "Come meet a man who told me everything about me!" led a whole village to Christ.  "There ought to be a lesson in that for us," said Arnold.  If we stay in touch with that part of ourselves that falls short of the glory of God, we can use that for the glory of God.

P3124376.JPGDuring the business meeting, Charles Maddox presented the slate of officers who were elected unanimously.  Archie Jenkins (Guyton) was elected President, John Anderson (Augusta Central) was elected President Elect, Gary Wall (Winder First) was elected Secretary/Treasurer and Charles Maddox became Past President.  Arnold Nelson installed the new officers later that evening.

P3124374.JPGDuring the business meeting, Michael Weeks announced the Extraordinary Regional Assembly to be held April 16, 2005 at First Christian Church in Macon to consider Dr. Ray Miles as Regional Minister.  He also gave an update on camp and encouraged the Men to consider being councilors.  Michael gave more news about the "Created to be Me" camp to be held at Christmount, Camp Baalam and the upcoming workday.  Michael encouraged everyone to consider donating to support Camp Baalam (which you can do online HERE).

P3124375.JPGDean Phelps talked about his work in Congregational Development and emphasized a new program from the Board of Church Extension that gives our Congregations or Camp credit if we invest funds with the Board.  Dean also gave a report on Interim Regional Minister's son, who has been ill with a staff infection.

Medie Still announced that the guidelines for the new Lifetime Achievement award were now set and would be posted on the web site.  He encouraged all Men to consider who should be nominated for this award.

Following lunch is a time for fellowship, recreation or reflection and solitude.  Some play golf together, some hike, some explore the local countryside.

Saturday Evening

P3114359.JPGIn his third presentation following dinner, Dr. Arnold Nelson worked from Acts 8, the story of Saul giving approval to the stoning of Stephen through his conversion to Paul.  Arnold asked us to put ourselves in Ananias' place.  Ananias was a man with lots of reasons to question God when he is told to go and heal Paul.  He had every reason to hate Paul, to fear him, to not want anything to do with Paul since he and his friends had just been saved from this man by an act of God.  Sometimes it is hard for us as Christians to let ourselves be inconvenienced.  But Ananias went.

Every grown-up, according to Arnold, has people they have every good reason to hate.  But look at the power of forgiveness and what can be gained from forgiveness as shown in this scripture.

Rev. Dean Phelps again brought Vespers Saturday evening.  He again sang us a folk song about a loose woman.  He then explained that physics teaches us that you can't touch something without being touched by it.  Dean said that to minister to people, like the woman in his song, we have to touch them.  But, like a Shepard, if you touch sheep, you are going to smell like sheep.  Or to put it another way, "If you are going to do ministry, you are going to get some on you."  If you minister to people you are going to take on their hurt and their pain and their problems.

Sunday Morning

P3134383.JPGFollowing more great singing led by Bob and Greg, Rev. Jerry Gladson taught bible study.  Jerry gave a condensed history of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) including how we came to have that name through compromise.  He led a discussion on who we are as disciples that led us all to think about our denomination and our congregations and how we approach evangelism.

Rev. Arnold Nelson then gave his fourth presentation from Acts 16 when Paul circumcised Timothy after just making a case for the unimportance of circumcision.  "Sometimes you have to take people where you find them and 'pick your battles'" Arnold pointed out.  He also told a bit about the Lewis and Clark expedition emphasizing that they considered much of that expedition a failure - they failed to find a northwest passage yet they had actually done a great work.  "We will have failures as congregations and as a denomination, we should expect that but not let it define us." he said.  "but when God calls us to do hard things, we must be ready!"

P3134386.JPGAt Worship, Medie Still of Guyton Christian Church preached from Philippians 2:1-11.  Medie gave testimony to his faith journey and the importance of Men's work in that journey.  He acknowledged that there were problems in the region and in local congregations from time to time but pointed out the importance of humility as explained in the scripture.  Philippians teaches us that encouragement, Christ's love, unity of the spirit, tenderness and compassion are important.  "We can't solve the problems of the region unless we have Christ at the center," he pointed out.  "We must find Christ's spirit in ourselves and move outside our comfort zone to do the work he calls us to do."

P3134384.JPGWe closed with Communion served by the Men of First Christian Church of Marietta.

Another spiritually enriching and refreshing Men's Retreat.

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