What Do Men Do When they Go on Retreat?

Last weekend about 25 Granada men attended the “Gospel Man” conference at Willow Creek Church in Orlando.  Mo Leverett of Desire Street ministry in New Orleans provided the music, and the speakers were Scotty Smith of Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN, and Nate Larkin of the Samson Society.  So what do men talk about during a weekend together?  Both speakers shared the story of their discovery of grace.  Actually, we heard about how God searched them out and found them.  Scotty used the book of Jonah and his flight from God and grace as a window through which to show us how he had “clung to worthless idols and forfeited the grace that could have been his.”  The unexpected loss of his mother in a car wreck when he was eleven and his unresolved grief opened up a gash of self-protection that pressed him to protect his heart from pain no matter what it cost.  It wasn’t until a series of events led to a breakdown at age 50 that the healing from his childhood loss began to come. Scotty explained that as a pastor he’d been preaching grace for decades as he needed gospel restoration himself.

Scotty Smith's book in grace.

Scotty reflected the need men have to heal from their wounds and see the gospel worked out in their relationships.  His story showed that unresolved grief and anger do not go away on their own.  They produce strategies of self-protection that hinder relationships and block the full flow of grace.

Nate Larkin of the Samson Society shared with us the story of his plunge into sexual addiction.  He retold the stories of David and Samson showing us why Samson failed and David succeeded in the end.  David had friends.  His life was filled with a cast of supportive people while Samson lived and worked alone.  Nate’s story is shocking to say the least.  While in seminary to become a pastor, he had an encounter with sex on a field trip to see how illicit sex in its many forms was hurting people.  Nate became fascinated with it and soon was drawn into the shadows of pornography.  He explained how after he became a pastor he saw a prostitute on the way to church to preach. The fracture was deep for Nate and bandaids and promises couldn’t save him.  It was in a support group with friends who would hold him accountable and hold him up that Nate was finally able to apply grace and walk away from the shame.  [Read Nate’s Samson and the Pirate Monks for the full story.]

Nate Larkin of the Samson Society

Nate gave hope for men in recovery and challenged us to get into community together. Nate explained how the Samson Society emerged from his experience.  What is the Samson society?  It is a organic group of men who have covenanted together for mutual support, confidentiality and accountability.   Imagine how different Samson’s life might have been if he had not attempted to be the “loner hero.”  The truth is that true heroes are never loners.  We need other men in our lives to be healthy.

Our Granada Men have the challenge of taking the wisdom of Scotty and Nate and applying their life lessons in community.  This past year a number of Granada Men launched men’s fraternity.  They invited the men of Granada to go a gospel journey together, to acknowledge and begin to heal their wounds, and to develop the kind of community that will enable them to experience authentic manhood.  If you would like to get involved in this movement, hunt down Marcos Ruiz.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares…we have already come. T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far… and Grace will lead us home”

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