Men's Retreat and Mother's Day

A few weeks ago I went to a men's retreat for our church. Now I've been involved in men's ministries for years, and even was partially in charge of events for one of them, but it's been quite awhile since I've done something like this. The last several years or so, I seem to have developed a "too cool for school" attitude towards them. I missed the one last year and I even sort of tried not to go to this one, having scheduled plans on the other side of the country to see some family and friends and catch an old bandmate's 40th birthday show. But when everything I had planned kept not working out, I thought maybe that was God's way of telling me He might have something for me at this retreat.

If you're not familiar, men's retreats are usually when a bunch of guys go out into the woods or mountains to a retreat center to study scripture, worship God and usually do some sort of manly, rustic or extreme activity. There are usually a healthy dose of challenges meant to awaken the "warrior" inside us, and scriptures like "be strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:9) to pull it out. I'm not usually a macho man kind of guy -- I was always more of a feely artist type who liked extreme sports instead of ones that involved teams and balls -- but I have to admit that there is something inside of me that kind of likes this type of teaching. There is another discipleship book series my friends Eric and Mike worked through together years ago called Every Man a Warrior, and though I don't jive with everything in it, I derived quite a bit of benefit from the course. Whether or not you get excited by a title like that (I know lots of Christians in Los Angeles that wouldn't), I think the principles are true and built into us, so it's usually worth exploring.

Taken the morning we left the retreat center.

So I went to the retreat, somewhat begrudgingly, and have to say, I'm glad I did! If for no other reason, it was really nice to meet lots more guys at our church (Sunday mornings aren't actually that great for getting to know people, it seems). I was challenged by the men around me in generosity, taught by the pastor to out loud praise and worship God on a daily basis, and I was encouraged to join those around me in pursuing Christ together. Not to mention this particular location was a beautiful hill country with green mountains just a half-hour in from the ocean -- and the weather was spectacular (see photo above). All that to say, if you are ever given the opportunity to go on one of these, do it!

On the way back, I was ruminating on everything I learned and the people I had met, and also some guys that I wished could have been at the retreat. I know a lot of men who probably don't even know something like this exists, living their lives far from God and the church. I don't know if they would even be interested in finding a brotherhood of men to do life with, all in the pursuit of God, who is a good Father; but I think in the deepest parts of their hearts, most men really do want that. It was in this headspace -- and stuck in traffic heading back to LA -- that this song started to form. (I actually wrote three songs on that drive...I told you, traffic. But this one is the best.) I thought it was important enough to record a live version of about a week later, which you can see here:

So a couple weeks go by and then it was Mother's Day, and I had one more observation about manhood and the church. First off, moms must love going to church because it was packed! Not only our church, but the church next door had so many cars in and out that it was difficult to even park! But as I sat there, I thought, "Father's Day won't be this full," and it's true. It's fairly cliche for moms to take their kids to church while the dad stays home to watch football or work on the house or maybe just rest...but this should not be! Men ought to be leading their families in the pursuit of God, part of which is joining with the body of Christ on a regular basis.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

It all brought back the feeling from that drive home -- maybe men don't know this stuff. Or maybe they do and they just need to be challenged. I've read that for a church to be strong, the men need to be strong; this is true for a household, a city, a nation, everything. Never diminishing women and their ability to lead (my wife is an excellent leader, far beyond what I'm capable of), I still think it is built into men by God to lead (especially in the family unit), and without this type of initiation, how will men know what to do or when to step up? We need each other: men who are farther along to challenge, and others by our side to usher us forward and keep us accountable. We can't neglect this teaching, and these events were a fresh awakening of it.

And so I hope that, if you are a man, you're reminded of your place and your significance. And if you aren't, that you pray for the men around you, that they discover their important role to play in the world and the Kingdom of God.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

Here is a video with an introduction to this song about some of the language I use in the lyrics. I hope it's helpful!


God save these men who haven’t been initiated They have wives and kids, careers, but something’s always missing Hiding behind walls and masks, shells of protection Give them direction God save these men who haven’t been initiated Longing for a father but chasing after women Desiring a brotherhood, soldiers to fight with them Because we need them, so God please save them Where does my hope come from? What are my weapons – the word or gun? Spirit and truth, from father to son ‘Till the battle’s won God save these men who haven’t been initiated Building up careers to fill the holes that sink within them But there’s just one thing that fills, and it’s not an 'it,' it’s a Him God save these men…only You can God save the men who haven’t been initiated Worried about Wall Street instead of turning over tables Talking sports instead of telling proverbs and fables Too invested in this world we’re in Where does my hope lie? Why bother to battle without brothers by your side? These words and this wisdom like weapons from the sky We’ll win alright, equipped to fight God save these men and let them work together Laying down foundations for our sons and our daughters Sharing our wisdom so they can start a little farther Than we did…Thanks for these men God save these men, make them strong and courageous Surround them with friends because together we’re more dangerous We’ll shout and sing as the King inhabits our praises Please fill them, God saved these men ‘Cause we’ll win alright Equipped to fight With Your strength and might We’ll win alright Hold the sun, ‘till we’re done There’s a battle to be won And we’ll win alright Equipped to fight We’ll win alright