I am returning from an awesome time with some great men…mighty men. We drove through swamps; we shot clay pigeons; we shot hoops; we ate BBQ ribs; we sat under a tent and talked of mighty things; we stayed up late overlooking the lake and talked about personal things.
We all gathered together on the shore of Lake June about 30 miles northwest of Lake Okeechobee. It’s about as central Florida as you can get, I suppose.
I was asked by a very dear friend to speak at the Rio Vista Community Church men’s retreat.
I’m glad I did.
Our topic was “Building mighty men with an undivided heart”.
When my friend first asked me about doing this I thought he was saying that they were going to have a “real men’s” retreat. It turned out that he was saying “Rio Men”.
But I was right the first time. They were real men.
When I told them that I couldn’t teach without drawing and writing on a board, they didn’t just get some old flimsy white board. The engineers and construction guys took over and brought in lumber and post hole diggers and drills and hammers and nails and put in a “man’s white board!” It didn’t wiggle or jiggle or sway in the wind. It was solid!
Just like the Rio men.
Our teaching time took us through an examination of the battle before us and what it meant to be “prepared” and “approved” as we are commanded in 1 Peter 3:15 and 2 Timothy 2:15. We talked about being exposed before God and not running away. We talked about what it meant to have an undivided heart. We talked about recognizing logical fallacies and beginning the process of learning how to answer the basic and tough apologetic questions that people wrestle with. We talked about the tactics of how to engage a hostile, yet hungry culture with gentleness and grace and an attractively winsome attitude.
We talked about being a mighty man.
They were firemen, businessmen, churchmen. They were white collar, blue collar, young and old, enjoying smooth sailing and enduring rough waters. But they were a band of brothers, led by an amazing pastor, Tom, who has a heart of gold. It was a privilege to get to know him and shoot “clays” with him.
It was a privilege to break bread with them all.
On Saturday we competed in the “Rio Olympics”. The men were divided up into teams of six. There were ten events that ranged from how fast we could thread three nuts across a 4-foot bolt to how many chocolate-syrup-covered marshmallows we could drop into the mouth of a team mate who was lying on his back ten feet below the high jump platform; or launching water balloons with a big rubber sling shot 150 feet from one dock to another where a team mate stood on a mud bucket with a racket ball racket. You scored if you could get it close enough for him to hit it.
The final event was a relay where each man would traverse one part of an “obstacle” course, passing the baton to the next man. The “baton”, however, turned out to be a huge cow tongue that became extremely slippery in water. My leg of the race involved getting the tongue through a basketball hoop mounted at the base of the high dive and then passed off to the next guy on the top platform.
I’ve never raced with a cow tongue before.
It was a joy to be with these men, almost all strangers in the beginning. Yet when we parted, I felt a closeness to them that only comes from the oneness in Christ.
If you are not involved in something like this, try it. If your church doesn’t have something like this, maybe you should start it.
To the real men of Rio…thanks!
It was a privilege to be with you.
May the Lord raise you all up to be mighty men.