Monday, May 8, 2017

From Ennis, Texas to Falls Creek, Oklahoma, by way of Atlanta, Georgia

This was the 10th anniversary of the Men Rewired Christian Men’s Retreat at Falls Creek, Oklahoma.  It is only 166 miles from Ennis, Texas to Falls Creek, Oklahoma, but since I detoured through Atlanta, Georgia on the way, the round trip was roughly 1932 miles.  You can read below about the detour to Atlanta; the actual trip to Falls Creek for Nic Collins and I started on Friday morning at 9am from DFW airport.

Parking lot on the way to registration

Five Baylor men left Ennis in the church van with Daring Driver Dudley Fox at the wheel.  Larry Fincher picked us up at the airport and counting Nic and I there were five Baylor men in his truck.  We had to keep reminding Daring Driver Dudley by cell phone that this was not a race, but they beat us to Falls Creek by several hours (or maybe it was minutes) and reserved a place for us in the parking lot.

View from my bunk.

We had a comfortable cabin.  The bunks were new and the mattresses were very comfortable.  I wised up some from last year and moved to the back of the room, as far as I could get from the restroom.  Last year, men (old guys, like me) were constantly getting up to go use the facilities, and each time they did, they left the light on.  That’s not a problem when you are 20 bunks away. It just makes for a longer walk.

Don Howard, Larry Houdek, Larry Fincher and Dudley are planning what breakout sessions they will attend.  Most of the Baylor men chose to attend sessions on discipleship.  They all said it was great!

Parking for Hogs

Kenyatta Wright, former NFL linebacker and now FCA director and founder of TRUTH Supply Co.

Falls Creek at Night

Larry and his other brother the other Larry. 

My sessions were on hermeneutics, taught by Dr. Owen Neace.  Dr. Neace is Pastor of a Church in Oklahoma City.  He has an obvious love for the Lord and fellow believers.  His teaching made what had been described to me a difficult subject one that I cannot wait to pursue further.

They can feed a lot of men in a short time at Falls Creek.  There were probably 4000 men there, and we never had to wait in line.  Good food, too!

Baylor men getting their worship on.  You can see Lyndon Johnson in the white shirt, then Freddy Santos, Don Howard is holding his phone to take a photo, then Larry Houdek, Dudley Fox, Austin Montgomery, Nic Collins, Doug Goff.

Prayer with 4000 other men.  Powerful.

This is Keith Burkhart, leader of Men Rewired for the past ten years

One of the main speakers was Jim Putnam from Idaho.  He taught part of the breakout session that some of our men attended on discipleship, and also wrote one of the books that Nic Collins is using in his seminary studies called Disciple-Shift.  He spoke Friday evening in the main worship session on fleeing from sin’s temptation, his text being Proverbs 7.  Read it and apply the wisdom that Solomon teaches therein.

Out of Focus Freddy looks mildly amused.  Don looks mildly confused!

This is Michael Jr.  He is a comedian, and while he spent the first half of his time telling jokes that had men roaring with laughter, he also brought a powerful message on “Letting Jesus in to Clean House” that was blessed by the Holy Spirit.  The altar was flooded with men making life changing decisions.

Here is the whole group (that’s me, right behind the camera…I’m in every shot that way).  We are about to enter Two Frogs restaurant in Ardmore, OK to get a bite to eat before we return to Texas.

Two Frogs is a nice restaurant, decorated like a Hard Rock CafĂ© with guitars from many major artist adorning the walls.  The food was good and plenty of it.  Our waiter’s name was Milo.  We joined in prayer for Milo’s grandmother as he expressed that she has a long term illness.  How about offering a brief prayer right now for Milo and his grandmother as you read this?

So that’s the trip for Rewired 2017.  Here we are back in Texas, joining in prayer, thanking God for a safe journey and all that we learned and the fellowship we had with all of these men. 

Rewired is an annual event that comes up every year around the end of April.  We usually start making our plans and reservations in January.  Put it on your calendar and go with us next year.  You’ll be glad you did!

Friday, May 5, 2017

To Atlanta and Oklahoma?

To Atlanta and Back…to Oklahoma?
I don’t blog often, and lately it has been annually…which certainly is not very often.  Here we go on another quick road trip!
Pastor Chet Hensley and Nic Collins picked me up at 5am Wednesday for the drive to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Orange Conference.  This conference is a multi-denominational Christian event that includes large group worship as well as small group teaching for anyone interested in reaching and teaching his community for Jesus.
A LOT of people attend, from all over the United States and Canada.  This year, there was a large group there from Norway. Norway!  I don’t even know where Norway is, and I’m really glad I did not have to ride from Norway to Atlanta in Pastor Chet’s pickup truck.

Really a LOT of People

We arrived in Atlanta around 7PM, just in time for the evening worship to begin.  The music was loud, perhaps just because of where we were sitting, perhaps because I am old. Just kidding about being old.  I’m not old, I just have a lot of living experience.  This opening session was a worshipful pep-rally, sure to get you looking forward to the day to come.  The musicians and vocalists were outstanding.
It was too dark to take notes during the discussion that occurred at this meeting, but we were looking for new ideas and ways to be the church.  One of the things I liked about this meeting was the round table discussion that they had. It would certainly be a new concept, but certainly another way to present the Good News in a worship service.
It was “late” by the time we left this opening meeting, especially since we had started the day around 4am.  We quickly located our motel and walked a few blocks (uphill both ways, I might add) to a Waffle House for a quick bite to eat before retiring for the evening.  Our waitress was a young lady with a sweet countenance named Cheyenne.  We asked Cheyenne how we could pray for her, and she really could not come up with anything.  Ask me that question and I’ll give you a list….
I know you can see the reflection of a Denny’s sign, but we really were at Waffle House.
The evening lingered for Nic as he worked on a seminary paper, but I was able to turn in relatively early.  The morning was upon us before we knew it. We had a chance to visit with the desk clerk at the motel before we left for the conference. His name was "Jack", and he was from India.  He was Hindu. We learned from Jack that although hundreds of Christians had filled his motel every year for the past 5 years, no one had ever shared the Gospel of Jesus with him before.  Convicting?
We were soon back at the conference center for a day of worship and education.  I attended four break out sessions other than the main praise and worship sessions. 
Leading a Neighbor Minded Next-Gen Team gave us reasons from Scripture why we should be about loving and engaging our neighbors to open our eyes outside the walls of the church. They spoke of a number of financial opportunities, service opportunities, engagement opportunities, and education opportunities.  We must give children an opportunity to serve, or they will no longer see the need to serve.  Neighbor minded opportunities exist from preschool through adulthood.
I also attended Five Roles of a Small Group Leader.  In a nutshell, we learned be present, create a safe place, partner with parents, make it personal, and move them out.  I am looking forward to exploring and expanding these with our small group leaders at Baylor Baptist Church.
We had a surprise for lunch. Nic learned that his sister, a children’s director at a church near Atlanta was attending the conference also.  We walked (uphill both ways again, and in the rain) to a restaurant not too far from the conference center and met her and others from her church for lunch.  While we were there Nic got to hold his nephew!
Another really profitable session I attended was on Marriage Ministry.  It was enlightening to say the least. We explored what opportunities there are to engage people in this ministry, regardless of their current marital status.
The final break out session that I attended was on Time Management.  This was without a doubt the most popular break out session; it was held in the largest room and the room was full.  Perhaps that is an indication of the task that ministers face daily.  We must decide on how we will most productively spend our time; if not, others will decide for us.
The last large group meeting was a night of comedy, music and skits that were simply for entertainment.  Note that it really is okay for a bunch of Christians to get together just to have fun and enjoy our fellowship from time to time, but at the same time, be don’t want to lose sight of our commission.
The next morning, 3am came early…Nic and I had an early flight out of Atlanta to DFW, where a group of men from Baylor Baptist Church would pick us up for the second leg of this great journey.  Pastor Chet stayed in Atlanta for the rest of the day, then drove straight through the night back to Ennis. 
Stay tuned for the rest of the story…Rewired in Falls Creek, Oklahoma!