MEN’S RETREAT 2017
The Power of Connection
- In the early 1990’s relationship counselor John Gray wrote a well known book called Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. The idea behind the book was that men and women are from distant planets—Mars and Venus—and that each sex is acclimated to its own planet’s society and customs, but not to those of the other.
- The premise of the book was that we need to understand and appreciate the differences. And we need to cease expecting our partner to act and feel like we do. We are different for a reason.
- Below are a couple of the differences between the sexes that we need to realize in this study.
- MEN like to work on their own. They exercise their abilities by solving problems quickly and singlehandedly. WOMEN like to cooperate [with others]. They exercise their feelings through interactive communication with one another.
- When faced with tough problems, MEN go to their caves. They can become non-communicative so they can work out how best to [solve their problems]. WOMEN become communicative so that others can work out how best to help them.
- When MEN do communicate, they like to get to the point. They generally only want to listen if they feel the conversation has a point. WOMEN enjoy talking for its own sake. They are happy to listen unconditionally.
- MEN talk in very literal terms for the purpose of relaying information. WOMEN employ dramatic vocabulary to fully express and relate their feelings.
- MEN like to sort their thoughts out before communicating them. WOMEN like to sort their thoughts out in the process of communicating them. (See wikisummaries.org.)
- One sex (male or female) is NOT right while the other one is wrong. They are just different. But women gather and connect naturally and easily. Men are more individualistic and are generally not great communicators. We need to work at being a connector with those around us.
- Below are a couple of statistics that we need to be aware of.
- “According to statistics, the average man over 35 years old does NOT have one close friend.” (See Why Are Men Leaving the Church?, online article by Steve Sonderman.)
- About 95% of men say they don’t have male friends. Less than 1/3 of men in church say they have a friend. (See Why Men Matter—Both Now and Forever, online article.)
- The question arises, “Why is this?” One reason is that society tends to condition men to be tough and hard. But we need to redefine manhood as a combination of strength and vulnerability. Showing vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. You don’t have to know it all. You don’t have to be able to do it all.
BEWARE OF ISOLATION
- One of the devil’s greatest weapons is isolation. During this time of isolation, Satan whispers lies to us. I believe his three main devices are isolation, offenses and cares. He whispers…
—“Nobody has gone through what you are going through.”
—“No one will even notice if you are gone.”
—“You don’t need them anyway. You’ll be just fine on your own.”
- Isolation can come from many things, one of which is sin in our lives.
- “Besides making us want to run from God, sin also makes us want to isolate ourselves from other believers. In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
‘Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more disastrous is this isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light’” (Partners in Prayer, pg. 53, John Maxwell).
- The enemy loves to isolate us. He loves to get us alone. He wants us to be that strong, silent type. He wants us to have an “I don’t need anybody” mentality.
- We need to be accountable to others. This means being close enough to someone that they can speak truth into our lives without our going on the defensive.
—The Lone Ranger had Tonto.
—Batman had Robin.
—Ernie has Bert.
—Fred Flintstone had Barney Rubble.
—We, likewise, need someone.
Example: Below is a classic story of pride and isolation in action.
“Maybe you’ve heard the story about Muhammad Ali back when he was the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. Ali had just taken his seat in the first-class section of a 747 that was getting ready to take off. The flight attendant came by and asked the champ to fasten his seat belt. Ali looked at the woman and said, ‘Superman don’t need no seat belt.’ The attendant responded, ‘Superman don’t need no plane’” (Finishing Strong, pg. 68, Steve Farrar).
- You’re not Superman and I’m not either. If we are trying to fly by ourselves, the enemy will end up deceiving us.
- If you are close enough to be HELPED by people, you are close enough to be HURT by people. Don’t be afraid to take that risk.
THREE TYPES OF CONFESSION FOR THE BELIEVER
(1) The believer’s confession of faith based upon the Word of God (Hebrews 3:1).
Hebrews 10:23 (MEV) “Let us firmly hold the [NKJV: ‘confession’] of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
- This is the positive side of confession.
- This can be speaking the Word of God or resisting the devil and his works.
(2) The believer’s confession of sin TO THE LORD when they have broken fellowship with Him.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins [TO THE LORD], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- This is the negative side of confession.
- There has been a real emphasis on the message of grace in the last few years. Much of it has been needful and fruit bearing. Some of it has been off base.
- We should be righteousness conscious, not sin conscious. However, there is a big difference between sin CONSCIOUSNESS and sin AWARENESS.
- We should NOT always focus on our sins and shortcomings. But we do need to be aware when we have missed the mark and have broken fellowship with the Lord.
- There is a difference between relationship and fellowship.
- Our relationship is secure. It doesn’t change.
- Our fellowship can fluctuate, depending on what we do.
Example: In a marital dispute, the couple doesn’t break their relationship. They are still married. They break their fellowship.
- When we confess our sins, we are back in fellowship with the Lord once again.
(3) The believer’s confession of struggles or sin TO OTHERS to get help to overcome.
- Notice that the phrase “each other” is found twice in the following verse.
James 5:16 (NLT) “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
- We believe in the priesthood of every believer. (See 1 Peter 2:5 & 9; Revelation 1:5, 6.) By that, we mean that we have direct access to the Lord. We don’t have to go through a priest (a man) to receive forgiveness. But on the other hand, sometimes we need the help of others to get the freedom we desire. God often works in our lives through the help of others.
- This cannot be forced. It comes once trust is developed and we know that those we share with have our best interest at heart and also have our back.
- Lasting freedom from addiction, drugs, fear, bondage, worry, etc. is available to every believer.
∙ Sometimes people are delivered from something instantly. Once Paul Scanlon got saved, he never swore again. He had been a “professional curser.” His friends knew something had happened to him because his language changed so drastically.
∙ Sometimes people are delivered over time—as a process.
∙ Sometimes people are delivered without the help of anyone else. The Lord simply delivers them all by Himself.
∙ Sometimes people are set free through the assistance of others who walk them through the process. We do NOT always achieve freedom on our own.
Example: I have been healed instantly and, at other times, over time. I have received directly from the Lord and, at other times, have needed the help of mature believers to help me walk through a valley into victory.
- No matter how it comes and through whom, the end result is that absolute freedom is available in Christ.
- Someone well said, “If you cannot be free from sin in this life then Jesus is NOT your Savior, death is.” You don’t have to wait until you die to be free. The good news is that Jesus IS our Savior and we have victory over sin, bondage, addiction, etc. because of the cross!
Matthew 6:2 (MEV) “…when you do your charitable deeds, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men.”
Matthew 6:2, 5, 16 “hypocrites” – (NKJV margin) pretenders
- “hypocrites” – (Wuest Nuggets, pg. 80, Volume 3) It refers to a person who played a part on the stage, to an actor, one who pretends to be what he is not.
- Warren Wiersbe says this word originally meant “an actor who wears a mask.”
Vs. 2a “…in the synagogues…” – This is where the religious crowd is.
Vs. 2b “…and the streets…” – This is where the world is.
- Notice that hypocrites are found both in the world and in the church.
- The Lord wants us to take our mask off and be real and transparent.
- Connecting is a two way street. We should NOT be an isolated or unconnected follower of Christ. Our Christian walk should be both vertical (with God) and horizontal (with one another).
Genesis 4:9 “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?’”
- Actually, the answer to Cain’s question to the Lord was “yes, you are.” We are to be our brother’s keeper. God doesn’t ask questions because He doesn’t know the answer. He was giving Cain the opportunity to tell the truth.
- If someone you know is isolated:
(1) Pray for them.
- Take authority over self pity, depression, isolation, etc. that would keep people in a cave of hopelessness. Pray for them to rise above isolation and to get active in the things of God.
(2) Reach out to them in love.
- People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- As we grow up spiritually, we no longer come to church just to get something for ourselves. We come to help others connect with the Lord and with His people.
Example: Call them. Send them a text. Get together with them over coffee or a meal.
Example: I fought against isolation and won when I was by myself at an FCF Leadership Meeting in Tulsa and was asked to move to another seat. I chose to reach out to others (two Rhema students from our church) and not to take offense or feel hurt.
THE LONELY EMBER
Example: John MacArthur told a powerful story that illustrates the danger of isolation. He said…
A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.
Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.
After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.
As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.” Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”
- Let’s GET connected and let’s STAY connected. We are much getter together than we are apart. Remember that iron sharpens iron. MFM