Sunday, May 13, 2007

Men's Advance 2007

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. Jms 5:11

So many weeks prior to the Men's Advance this year I wanted to just cancel the whole thing. It felt so real, to just quit, that it would make everything so much better for everyone. I'm not being overly dramatic, this is how I really felt. It was weird...

Steve Anselm and I were praying the Thursday before the Advance and he felt the same way. All of a sudden lethargic not wanting to study for the message on Sunday morning. We both felt that if we were getting attacked this much the weekend was going to be amazing. And it was...

Friday night I spoke on 2 Kings 5 relating Naaman's story to how this weekend could go. It was an attempt to Set the Temperature or Tone for the weekend. As Anselm said the temperature that night was hot! We continued the evening by responding to the Lord in song and ended by praying for each other in groups of 3-4. It was a great start.

We woke up Saturday morning to the smell of breakfast burritos. They were pretty dang amazing if you ask me. We then tried our best to keep the burritos in our stomachs while at the same time competing for some sweet prizes as platoons at Tug-O-War and Kajabi Can Can.

For those of you unfamiliar with Kajabi it's a game where you stand around in a circle with trash can(s) in the middle, hold ropes, and try to pull each other into touching the trash can. It goes last man standing style but in this case we went last team standing won. Curtis N. was a force to be reckoned with. Bryan said it best, "There seems to be force field around the trash can that keeps Curtis from touching it." He made a valiant effort, but in the end succumbed to Joey H's team, who won the screwdriver sets.

Next came the Tug-O-War. Unknowingly I put the four biggest men in Anselm's cabin and they pretty much annihilated everyone that tried to compete against them. They finally won best two out of three in the finals to win the DeWalt gloves and eye protection.

It was great to compete but we reminded the men that we ought to be competing for the heavenly prize.
"I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." (Phil 3:14 NLT)

Next thing we did was have Bryan give us a message on being More than a Conqueror. He talked to us about John 14:16 and how the Father would send us another Helper not just after a battle but
for the battle. Best take away for me was finding out comforter, another word for Helper, means coming with strength. Even though we as men will fear what the Lord calls us to do...we can be assured and even have courage that he is coming with strength to help us in our time of need.

Last thing we did Saturday morning was have some Platoon time. Most talked about what was going on in their lives and then prayed for each other. One platoon leader told me,

"each of us shared specific burdens we were carrying... It was awesome! We had a great discussion and ended in prayer. By the time we left on Sunday many burdens like self reliance, arrogance, discontentment, shame, and envy (to name a few) were left at the foot of the cross, and many men were liberated this weekend. Now, we can run the race. Now we can advance and be more than conquerors."

That pretty much sums it up right there...and that's all I have to say about that.

Most of us enjoyed the splendor that is Main Street Grill (Firestone North). For those of us that are hockey fans we enjoyed the San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings game with our ABC burger, fries, and a root beer. Then I headed back with a few folks and I for one took a nap...

While I was asleep men went mountain biking, surfing, played whiffle ball, and soccer. All kinds of activity. Next thing I know I'm awaken by shouts of laughter echoing from around the camp. See a couple of men had these shock games. Literally where the game gives you an electric shock...for all the ladies and sheepish men reading this they weren't plugged in the wall (unfortunately). I played one of the games a few times and man was it fun!

Pastor Steve Stump arrived around 6pm just in time for the grub. We had Carnitas for dinner and boy was that good. One of the guys I was eating with had spare ribs at the Grill and we had bacon for breakfast the next morning so he had the pork trifecta. I made him an honorary Filipino since the main food of the Philippines is rice and pork.

We started the evening service at around 7:30pm not knowing we'd be there for 4 hours. Yes...the men were in a 4 hour service and I'm here to tell ya it didn't feel like 4 hours to me. I was ready for 4 more. Stump taught on the story of Jonathan when he and his armor bearer took on 20 Philistines (not to be mistaken with the Philippines or the Philippians).

He talked to us about hearing God's voice when he calls us to do something amazing. He did this with 7 P's, which I can't remember all of them but some of them are: Purpose, Precarious, and such things. Sprinkled in were his testimony of being used by the Lord to lead some from Calvary Paso to smuggle tons of Bibles into China as well as many other adventures while in the service of the Lord. For me personally it was exactly what I needed to hear!

We went into our response time...after such a revelation we felt like we had to go into responding to the Lord. Then it happened, one of the men came up and confessed his sins publicly to the entire congregation. It was a beautiful thing...not prompted by anyone but the Holy Spirit. And guess what? It started a chain reaction. Men were coming up and asking for prayer, for release from captivity, one prayed to accept Jesus.

It was the most beautiful thing I've witnessed since I started helping out with Men's Ministry...heck maybe since I became a Christian! It brings tears to my eyes just remembering it. I fell face down on the concrete in worship to the Lord for all he has done and will do in each of these men's lives. I'm humbled and honored to have witnessed it.

Sunday morning was surreal. It was difficult to wake up the next morning and put my mind around what happened the night before. We had some pancakes and stuff for breakfast which were also grub. Then we started our Sunday service at 9:15am to close out our time.

Steve Anselm spoke that morning...for 2 hours! And it was great. He spoke to us about knowing who our Alpha Male (Jesus) really is, about how meekly and humbly he walked on this earth as we should. He also talked to us about the fact we have an Adversary, we need to have our Armor, I think he was impressed with Stumps 7 P's but he could only come up with 5 A's.

To wrap things up we asked men to talk about what God is doing in their hearts. To be honest we stopped doing this about 4 years ago, because men tend to think this is preaching time rather sharing what God is doing in them time. This time was amazing. Many men spoke their hearts about wanting to be more than a conqueror, about wanting more of the Kingdom life. One man said, "I want to go into the heart of the enemy camp and fight!" That's it!

So to wrap things up I really feel like the enemy was after us because he didn't want men to be set free to fight him. It was so sweet to persevere sweet! And my prayer is that each of you that were there whether you publicly or privately made commitments to the Lord can also persevere! What is on our dog tags can be SO true! It says, "I'm More than a Conqueror!"

I told everyone there that I would go wherever God calls me to go...not knowing if I was supposed to go with Stump or not to smuggle Bibles. Well God has called me...up the street! This Saturday I'm doing a little funeral for my neighbors sister who lost her baby. Pray that the Lord gives me the words to speak and each of them has ears to hear. I'm not sure where they are coming from faith-wise.

To everyone involved in being used of the Lord this weekend (you know who you are) thank you...from the bottom of my heart, thank you!