Speakers tackle difficult issues at men’s retreat
DAVIS—While the annual men’s retreat at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center was a great opportunity to have a lot of fun—such as shooting skeet, sharpening your eye on the archery course, snagging some feisty trout in the creek, watching some talented rodeo cowboys or just enjoying a hot cup of coffee and conversation with new friends around a campfire—it also provided a dose of reality about some serious subjects, too, for the more than 2,600 attendees.
The Friday evening session April 23 opened with the first half of a drama about a husband and wife torn apart by his addiction to Internet pornography, her resulting adulterous affair and their daughter’s dangerous interaction with a predatory “friend” she contacted via e-mail, followed by a sobering plea by Jerry Wright, publisher of Men Living Up, a new magazine designed to help men deal with “men only challenges.”
“It is time for Christian men to “live up” and change current and future generations of men,” Wright exclaimed. “If statistics from a Christianet 2006 poll are accurate, 50 percent of the men and 40 percent of the pastors in this room are struggling with pornography and sexual sin in some form or another. In the same poll 20 percent of Christian women admitted to being involved in sexual sin in the past year. This is no longer a “men-only” issue.
“God is using my own story to help other men. For more than 30 years, I was addicted to pornography and involved in sexual sin . . . . Sexual sin thrives in darkness. Freedom begins with telling someone. Telling someone brought my secret sin into the light so Satan could not use it against me anymore.
“It is my prayer that God will use what was so shameful, embarrassing and humiliating in my life to show you that there is hope in winning the battle.”
Men Living Up is conducting a free workshop Saturday, June 5 at Oklahoma City, Eagle Heights, to help pastors and men’s ministry leaders develop real accountability groups that help men grow, serve and lead other men to real relationships, uninhibited by secret sin. The workshop is free if you pre-register, or $20 at the door. For more information or to register, visit www.menlivingup.org.
Venue options during the retreat also offered information on tough issues, such as overcoming strongholds and addictive behaviors, raising sexually pure children, breaking the curse of words, becoming a door keeper of your home and a marriage sharpshooter course, as well as leadership development and worship leaders sessions on planning, keys and tools to offer your best to God in worship.
Keynote speakers included Hank Hough of Kingdom Dog Ministries, speaking on how believers should be attuned to the voice of God and respond to it, and Don Meyer, who retired in February as coach of the men’s basketball team at Northern University in Aberdeen, S.D. and as college basketball’s winningest coach in history. Meyer, winner of the Jimmy V. Perseverance Award at the 2009 ESPN ESPYS and the “Legends of the Hardwood Award” at the NCAA Final Four in April, shared his journey since he was injured in a serious car accident in which he lost a leg followed by a diagnosis of inoperable cancer.
Keith Burkhart, family and men’s ministry specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and retreat organizer, said the retreat, which had as a theme this year Romans 12:12, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) was well received.
“I am very pleased about it. Overall, it was a hit,” he said. “Hearing stories about men’s lives being changed is what it’s all about, including giving men the opportunity to respond to Christ and put them on the conveyor belt to discipleship in the process.
“It’s my passion to see revival break out in the hearts of men, and this retreat is an opportunity to impact a lot of men’s lives.”
Burkhart, who has led the way in establishing F.A.I.T.H. Riders groups in multiple churches across the state, said he is seeing God working among men in the state.
“For example, I’m working with Native American men,” he shared. “I have been praying for more than a year for direction from God in how to more effectively reach them, and I had a couple of guys approach me a couple of months ago. I sat down with them and shared the concepts I use in organizing a leadership team, and within a week, they had a team formed in the Central Oklahoma area. It’s an organized effort from several churches, so I’m thrilled about that.
“We’re seeing that in our African American men, too. I just think we’re seeing God doing a work in our men’s lives.”
Saturday afternoon, the men again provided an offering to help maintain CrossTimbers Children’s Mission Adventure Camp near McAlester. The offering totaled, $14,437, Burkhart reported.
As the retreat came to a close, Burkhart and his wife, Jeanette, were surprised with the gift of a 2006 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail motorcycle from the F.A.I.T.H. Riders in the state, and they gathered around Burkhart and prayed for God to continue to bless his ministry to families and men.