Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head,running down on the beard,on the beard of Aaron,running down on the collar of his robes!3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,life forevermore.
We had a great Men's Retreat this past weekend- a rich time of teaching, worship, and fellowship. This annual retreat is a real highlight for the men of our church every Spring and God blesses us with excellent speakers and topics each year (although last year we had some crazy wild man (ha, ha) come and speak to us). Pastor Keith Ghormley from Zion Church (PCA) in Lincoln, NE was our speaker this year.
Keith spoke to us concerning the so-called "Four Faces of Manhood". He encouraged us to think of how our walk with God is profoundly relational, after all, our Triune God has existed in relationship to each other (Father-Son-Holy Spirit) for all eternity. We reformed folk tend to think, sometimes solely, in terms of principles and doctrinal standards regarding God, which can tend to make us forget how we are called in to a personal relationship with God through Christ. Obviously doctrine is important-we can't truly know God without it- but we should not lose sight of the dynamic, personal relationship God has with us and we have with others around us.
From Scripture, Keith illustrated the Four Faces of Manhood as man, son, husband, and father. He showed us how God demonstrates each of these roles as a way of encouraging us to be faithful.
First, as men, we are created in God's image. This image includes being builders, dominion-takers, and protectors. Christ ultimately fulfills this role perfectly.
Second, as men, we are sons and brothers. Our identity is based on who our Father is. We are sons of God through Christ. Son's give honor to their father, serve him, bless him and receive an inheritance from him. Christ is God's perfect Son, and by faith we are united to Him and receive the tremendous blessing of sonship. Keith also reminded us of our brotherhood together as believers and the opportunity for sinful rivalry if we are not careful.
Third, as men, many of us are husbands. God identifies himself as husband to Israel. Christ is the bridegroom to the Church. Ephesians 5 gives us the vivid picture of a sacrificial husband, laying His life down for the Bride (the Church). So also we are encouraged to see our role as sacrificial for our wives. Further, there is a protective role Christ has with the Church. He protects us and doesn't lose any of us. Likewise, we are to be protectors of our wives.
Fourth, as men, many of us are fathers, all men in the church have the opportunity to be spiritual fathers as well. God, through Christ, is our Father. He is the example of the wise, providing, ruling, nurturing Father we seek to emulate. Keith made a powerful point concerning the words of Father's to their children. In a real sense, we fathers give a vision to our kids concerning the world and their place in it. Our words have power in the lives of our children. We can commission our children with words of godly encouragement, but we can also discourage them greatly with no words or words of criticism or undirected discipline.
Keith's teaching was very helpful to me personally. In addition to the teaching and worship time, we enjoyed good fellowship late in to the night- for some, VERY late in to the night at a local Waffle House (hence, the picture above). Life is too busy. Brothers in the church don't have enough time to hang with each other. While too short, this annual retreat is a valuable touch point for us all.