We’re back in the US.
I wrote my last update from Italy while we were preparing for the men’s retreat there October 22-24. The retreat was a wonderful experience with a group of men who were hungry for God.
Friday night we began with a message on rest of soul. Today, many believers are worn out. Rest of soul (coming to a place of complete peace and rest with God) is a critical part of the Christian life. We ended the evening in what would be the first of five prayer meetings. To my surprise the men immediately jumped into prayer and went after God. (That’s not always the case when I lead prayer meetings in the States and everyone is fidgeting and waiting for someone to break the ice.)
Saturday morning I had the men share their stories in groups of two and pray for each other. Then we looked at how lies in the heart keep God’s people stuck or in bondage to sin, and I led them in a time of prayer asking God to reveal the lies and break them. The men went back to their groups of two, shared what God had shown them, and prayed for each other’s healing.
After lunch they were given the afternoon, from 2:00 to 6:00PM, to seek the Lord alone in silence and rest, just as Jesus did when He made seeking the Father in solitude and prayer His way of life.
After dinner I spoke about prayer. Prayer is the barometer of the believer’s spiritual power (or lack of it); spiritual awakenings are sparked with fervent prayer. The men were challenged to storm the throne-room of grace in fervent prayer; as before, they jumped right in.
Sunday morning we talked about how we are a church at war and looked at equipping them for the battles every believer faces during these dark times. Every Christian is called to be a spiritual warrior who makes their life count for eternity. We looked at The Rogue’s Creed, which provides the Biblical structure for living a life with impact.
Then we finished with them praying for each other in groups of two.
Talking about The Rogue’s Creed with Dan Wiens, who translated.
Sunday morning I told the men they’d ruined me. I love going hard after God with a group of believers who are hungry for more of Him and it’s rare to see it at this level back home. I’ve attended men’s retreats in the US where one speaker talks the entire weekend, with recreational activities available during Saturday afternoon. I’ve always walked away from those retreats wanting more than a weekend-long Sunday school lesson. The early church was devoted to teaching, fellowship, and prayer, not teaching alone. When we add true fellowship and fervent prayer to the mix the spiritual power shoots through the roof. By true fellowship I mean cutting to the chase and sharing from the heart, not keeping everything superficial or heady.
During that weekend last month in Isola del Gran Sasso these were hugs, tears, laughter, plenty of intense fervent prayer, and men encountering the Lord.
At the end one man came up to me and said he didn’t want to go home because he was close to God and didn’t want to lose it when he went home. I didn’t want to leave either. I felt a special bond to all of them, and the retreat was set in a beautiful region of the mountains in central Italy, which made leaving even harder.
If our church meetings were focused on teaching, prayer, and true fellowship every Sunday, the gates of hell would be rocked off their hinges.
Impressions from last month’s Trip… and the Next One
Last month we visited the UK, Finland, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. As is usual when we visit Europe, we saw fertile soil in the hearts of God’s people there. People shared their stories with us, at times in tears. There is an openness to talking about sexual issues in the church. We witnessed their hearts for prayer. As I mentioned last month, one guy in the UK said “There is a desperate, urgent need to deal with pornography here.” They get it.
We’re scheduled to go back late February and into March. More to come on this later as we get events scheduled.