Friday, April 15, 2011

WOVEN goes MALE? My 1st MEN'S Retreat!

When the request was made, "Raise your hand if this is your first Men's Retreat," my hand went up. But I didn't win a door prize. I was the one. The only. Speaker for the 2011 Wisconsin District Church of the Nazarene Men's Retreat, April 8-10th. I was also the one. the only. woman in the room!

I love how God surprises us by orchestrating situations outside our expectations of normalcy. It's so exciting to be the one placed in the palm of His hand as He does this! This past weekend was one such situation. I'm not sure how many, if any, of the men were shocked that I was their speaker. If they were, they didn't show it (or maybe I don't know the look of shock on men's faces; hmmm). I do know that they broke a record with 54 in attendance. My eyes scanned a room of all ages from teens to great grampas, pastors to lay leaders to invited guests.

FASCINATED BY THE HEART OF GOD. This is the best way I can describe my thoughts as I reflect on our time together. The Lord didn't bring His vision for the weekend into focus until I stood before them. They were so attentive, waiting for every word. This gripped my heart, as did their respect, their acceptance of me and of the message I was there to proclaim.

FASCINATE. The definition is "to hold someone's attention completely or irresistably; to immobilize, make someone unable to move." It was a Holy Spirit work that these men were spellbound by the word of God spoken by a woman. One of them said he had never heard a woman speak before; that it was as if God was grabbing him by the back of the neck, shaking him, and saying, "I want you to listen to what she is saying. You need to hear this!" He said, "I have never had an experience like that before."  Some said they appreciated hearing the word of God from a woman's perspective; that it brings completion or wholeness to their understanding of God, and helps them to better understand their wives. Others spoke volumes by the tears that formed in the corner of their eyes as I spoke.

When I stood to speak on Sunday morning, the realization that I had just met this group of men only 24 hours earlier really hit me. I was so touched at how deeply God had woven them into the tapestry of my heart. They were no longer just a group of men. I was eye-to-eye with my eternal brothers in Christ. We closed the morning by birthing a brand new (20 yr. old) brother into the kingdom. What a glorious moment! And several responded to a call for sanctification.

FASCINATED BY THE HEART OF GOD. These were the words that came to mind when I awakened, in my own home, praising God and processing our time in Wisconsin. My heart is truly spellbound by the love of God for His men. His tenderness for this room of burly men truly fascinates me! He didn't use me to teach them a lesson. He sent me to gently tend and mend their hearts; to offer a new lens to see Him. In exchange, my heart is changed. I have personally experienced God's heart for His sons, my brothers. 

And...besides all this seriousness? We had a blast!!! It was a fun time! Thank you God, and thanks to my brothers in Wisconsin!

A Prayer for my Wisconsin Brothers:
"I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power,
together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
for ever and ever! Amen." 
 ~Ephesians 3:14b-21  (One of my fave passages of scripture! :)

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