(Thanks to Larry Tolleson for most of the pictures. As always, click on the pics to get the full size.)
70 men of the Legacy Church of Christ spent about 22 hours together this past weekend at a YMCA camp out in west Fort Worth. We worshiped our God together. We sang together. We prayed together. We studied the Word of God together. And then we strapped on air guns and shot each other with paintballs out in the woods.
The apostle Paul bore the marks of Christ on his body. Today I also bear the marks of Bo Black, Aaron Green, Kevin Welch, and Brennen Simmons.
In some ways it was a weekend of endurance. All our vehicles endured bottoming out on the big hill leading up to the cabins. We endured the flooding of one of the cabins. We endured fake mashed potatoes and fake scrambled eggs with real weenies cut up inside. And we endured some of the most outrageous, indescribable snoring this world has ever heard. All the air was completely sucked out of my cabin. And they kept going at it! It was like listening all night to angry farm animals!
We called the weekend an Advance, not a Retreat. The men of the Legacy church family are determined to move forward, not backward. And Dale Bresee, my good friend from Tulsa, came through in mighty ways, reminding us from Scripture that God’s men are called to be courageous leaders in their families and in God’s Church.
Following our third session with Dale Saturday morning we decided as a group that we would stand before the entire church family Sunday and declare to our brothers and sisters our committment to becoming stronger leaders for our Lord. And we also decided to issue a call or a challenge to the Legacy family to follow our lead in boldly taking our families and our congregation where God has called us to go.
So we did it. At the very end of the first worship assembly and at the very beginning of the second assembly, I called all the men up to the front. And with all of them — including the half a dozen elders who were there — standing behind me, I told the church that we had spent the weekend together and that we wanted to tell them something.
“After seriously contemplating together the lives of some of the great men of Scripture, men like Caleb and Joshua and David and the men of Issachar whom the Bible says understood the times and knew what needed to be done; after seriously looking together at God’s timeless call for his men to be courageous leaders; and after considering seriously the reality of the spiritual warfare that is taking place all around us, that Satan and the dark spiritual forces of Hell are out to destroy our families and divide the Lord’s Church and condemn the world; after recognizing that the Kingdom of God comes not with talk but with power, the men standing before you right now have resolved as of this moment moving forward to be men of God. We are determined to live character-based lives with strong convictions and the self-esteem to stand strongly behind those convictions.
We have purposed in our hearts, we have committed, to rejecting any attitudes of passivity, to accepting full responsibility, and to leading courageously.
As men of God you are going to notice a change in us. We are going to lead our families — our wives, our children, and our grandchildren — courageously. We’re going to lead this church family, we’re going to lead the Legacy Church of Christ, boldly.
We resolve before you, our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and before our God together this morning to be men of courage and humility, men of kindness and purity, men of self-control and perseverance, men of loyalty and faithfulness in all matters, men of integrity and honesty. And we will be, by the grace of God, men of excellence for God.
We are standing up and moving forward. And we are taking our families and the Legacy church with us to where our God calls us to be.
That’s where we are. And having said that to you this morning, we also want to challenge all the men of this church family to stand up and move forward with us; to reject any attitudes of passivity; to accept full responsibility; and to lead with courage. We call on you today to be strong and confident leaders and to go boldly where our God is calling us to go.”
At the conclusion of the statement, Howard Stein led us men in singing “Soldiers of Christ, Arise.” And as we sang this charge, this call for strong leadership, to the church, the church responded. They began to sing with us. And then they began to stand with us. Slowly at first. But then by the end of the first verse, “strong in the strength which God supplies thru his beloved Son,” the entire congregation was standing and singing together.
My prayer is that the 2008 Legacy Men’s Advance will be looked upon years from now as a watershed moment for our congregation. I pray that the renewed attitudes of those who attended will continue to grow stronger and more confident and that this boldness will bleed over into the whole church. I look forward with great anticipation to hearing in the very near future about three or four groups of men who are heading up new service efforts, assuming new leadership roles, meeting together to pray and to hold one another accountable to the high standards of our high calling.
Thank you so much, David Byrnes and David Simmons, for the planning and the execution of a fantastic weekend together. Thank you, Dale, for your time and your energy and your passsion and your outstanding example of what it means to be a man of God. Thank you for the challenge. And thank you for your friendship.
May our Lord bless us richly as we accept fully the responsibilities he’s given us. And may he use us to take the Legacy Church of Christ and his Holy Kingdom exactly where he wants it to go.
P.S. The “Turtle Move” is a legitimate military manuever!