Men on Fire Encounter Retreat (Level 1) Talk 1

The Good Man Club

Slide 1 Encounter Retreat

1990 – Pope Saint John Paul in The Mission of the Redeemer – “I sense the moment has come to commit all the Church’s energies to a New Evangelization. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”

Slide 2 Aparecida Conference

In May of 2007, the Catholic bishops from South America and the Caribbean met in Aparecida, Brazil to discuss the challenge of many Catholics leaving the Church to join Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. To their credit, rather than being defensive, they asked why the Catholic Church wasn’t attractive enough to halt the exodus and keep their members. Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was the principal author. The conclusion can be summarized in the following four points:

  1. Culture of Encounter – The Church must be a place when members can encounter Christ routinely.
  2. Authentic Community – The Church must foster an authentic community experience which includes vulnerability and accountability.
  3. Ongoing formation and discipleship – The Church must provide ongoing instruction for all members of every age group.
  4. Mission – The fulness of the Christian life must include missionary experiences. All Catholics are called to participate in the Mission of the Church.

Slide 3 The Good Man Club

The Church is not a club for men to work at being good.

Slide 4 Jesus Died to Make Dead Men Live

Jesus did not die to make bad men good. He died to make dead men live.

Slide 5 Into the Breach – Bishop Thomas Olmsted

October 2015, the Diocese of Phoenix Bishop Olmsted released a pastoral letter to the men of his diocese that has made its way around the world. His message is an encouragement to Catholic men to answer the call of our Lord Jesus to step into the breach for the sake of their families, the Church and the world. Below are a few salient points:

The world is under attack by Satan, as our Lord said it would be (1 Peter 5:8-14). This battle is occurring in the Church herself, and the devastation is all too evident.

One of the key reasons that the Church is faltering under the attacks of Satan is that many Catholic men have not been willing to “step into the breach” – to fill this gap that lies open and vulnerable to further attack.

A large number have left the faith, and many who remain “Catholic” practice the faith timidly and are only minimally committed to passing the faith on to their children.

The truth is that large numbers of Catholic men are failing to keep the promises they made at their children’s baptisms – promises to bring them to Christ and to raise them in the faith of the Church.

The joy of the Gospel is stronger than the sadness wrought by sin! A throw-away culture cannot withstand the new life and light that constantly radiates from Christ. So I call upon you to open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!

Slide 6 Conversations

Our retreat is a set of shared conversations reflecting on what God is teaching us in this season of transition, the culture He has been forming within us, and the dimension of His call to be disciples on mission in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. To move forward we must take personal ownership of these things:

  1. Where God is taking us vs. where the world is going
  2. We owe the world an encounter with Jesus
  3. I can’t do this by my own strength
  4. I am wholly reliant on the Holy Spirit

Slide 7 The Culture of Death

“DO Better? He thought he could.”

This advertisement, from a Palm Beach, Florida magazine, is for a divorce attorney. The law firm is encouraging middle-aged men to trade in the old wife for a newer model. If this approach is effective for automobile dealerships, why not for divorce lawyers? Just a few decades ago, we would devote an entire presentation to persuade the audience that the worl is getting darker. This advertisementproves the maxim, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The world is going to hell. Need I say more?

Slide 8 Tytler Cycle

Alexander Fraser Tytler – Lord Woodhouselee (d 1813)

  • Republics and Democracies begin with public virtue, which leads to prosperity.
  • Pride, selfishness and apathy set in, leading to social degradation and tyranny.
  • Bondage persists until and if spiritual faith is painfully reawakened.

Where, in the Tytler Cycle, is our culture?

Slide 9 Gandalf and Frodo from The Fellowship of the Ring

Frodo: I wish this responsibility had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not what is theirs to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world besides the will of evil.

Slide 10 Discussion Starter

  1. What does it look like when a man believes in God, but he lives his life as if God doesn’t matter?
    • Regarding the Tytler Cycle:
    • Ascending: spiritual faith, courage, liberty, abundance
    • Descending: selfishness, apathy, dependency, bondage
  2. Where are we on this cycle and what is your level of hope that things can improve soon?
    • Frodo and Gandalf
  3. Discuss: All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

Slide 11 - I’m a good man

I never killed anyone.

I never robbed a bank.

I hardly ever get drunk.

I go to church.

I pay my taxes.

I vote.

I get along with my neighbors.

I work an honest day.

I remember my wife’s birthday.

I go to my kid’s soccer game.

Is this all Jesus had in mind for us? Do good. Get good. Do bad. Get bad.

Slide 12 Church of Fine

In the Church of Fine we are very careful to avoid deep questions. We must keep everything superficial.

How are you? Fine

How’s the wife? Fine

How are the kids doing?  Fine

How’s the job going?  Fine

How’s your walk with the LORD? Oooh…that’s a violation of protocol. We don’t go there.

For many men, life and church have become a matter of keeping the rules and keeping our heads down. Be careful not to draw any attention to yourself and we can get through this.

Slide 13 There must be more than this! (Trevor’s story)

It’s not my intention to pick on Hugh Jackman. On the contrary! By all accounts, Mr. Jackman is a fine and generous human being. He has been very successful in life. He’s a fine form of a man. In many ways, he is presented to popular culture as a role model. On the retreat, I tell the story of a friend who, while not a celebrity, ticks off most of the boxes whereby the world measures success. And he’s a great guy as well. However, the Scripture informs us that God’s ways are not man ways.

Relate your story of someone you know who is successfully living according to the world’s standards and doing so by his own efforts. This man should be a good man, a good neighbor and a good citizen. The point of the story is this: as good a guy as Trevor is, none of that will earn his way to heaven.

Slide 14 The Rich Young Ruler - Luke 18:15-23

A Jewish leader asked Jesus, "Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him. "No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: "Do not commit adultery; do not commit murder; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; respect your father and your mother.' "

The man replied, "Ever since I was young, I have obeyed all these commandments."

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one more thing you need to do. Sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me." But when the man heard this, he became very sad, because he was very rich.

Jesus isn’t establishing a universal rule that all of us are to sell our possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. In this passage He identified a flaw in the rich young ruler’s character – he loved money more than he loved God. He needed to be set free from the love of money. Each one of us has areas of our lives that need to be subject to the Lordship of Jesus.

Slide 15 Up the Ante…You have heard it said…but I say to you…

Matthew 5:21-22 - You have heard it said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.

Matthew 5:27-28 - You have heard it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Jesus upped the ante. In poker, an ante is a forced bet that all players must risk. Upping the ante simply means to raise stakes. The risk is bigger, but so is the reward.

Slide 16 Pope Francis’ Homily on the Rich Young Ruler

From Pope Francis’ homily, October 11, 2015: The Rich Young Ruler

  • This youth has a heart divided between two lords: God and money, and he goes away sad. This shows us that faith and attachment to riches cannot coexist.
  • Faced with the amazement of his disciples, who ask, 'Then who can be saved? Jesus responds and says, salvation, 'For human beings it is impossible, but not for God'
  • Salvation is possible when we entrust ourselves to God. He will give us the strength; he will give us salvation; he will accompany us along the journey.
  • In addition to his promise of eternal life, Jesus says that his followers will be given a hundred times more in this life.
  • We deprive ourselves of goods and receive in exchange the joy of the true good; we free ourselves from slavery to things and we win the liberty of service out of love; we renounce possessing and we attain the happiness of giving.
  • Money, pleasure and success dazzle, but later they disappoint: They promise life but cause death. The Lord asks of us a detachment from these false riches to enter into true life, a full life, that is authentic and luminous.
  • How do you want to respond to him? Do you prefer to live with the joy Jesus gives or with the sadness in the heart that worldliness offers us?

Slide 17 – Bottom line is Jesus is the only Savior

The Bottom line is this:

The rich young man asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

It’s not about us. It’s about Jesus. We can’t save ourselves.

Jesus is the only Savior of the world.

Slide 18 – Instead of Imposing New Obligations

My TESTIMONY – Tell your own story of how you came to the end of your own resources and allowed Jesus to save you. Focus on self-sufficiency, self-reliance and all other hyphenated “self’s”.

Slide 19 Some men are better than other men

Fact: Some men are better than other men.

Fact: In this room…some men are better than other men.

We make a serious error in judgment when we compare ourselves to one another. Proverbs instructs us that there is always some better and some worse. I was complaining to the Lord one time. I had hit a significant financial speed bump. I put my faith to work, but I hadn’t experienced any alleviation of my distress. I pointed out to the Lord that I had more faith than most men. That was a mistake. I heard the Lord say, “Do you have more faith than me? Stop comparing yourself to other men. Compare yourself to Me.”

Ouch! That stung a little. But I was beginning to learn an important lesson. Being better than other men was not going to get me to heaven. And I will always fall short of the standard set by Jesus.

Slide 20 Discussion Starters

Can I be good enough to save myself?

Am I trying to be good enough for God to save me?

Is there such a thing as good enough?

Slide 21 Foolish Galatians!

Galatians 3:1-5 - You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes, you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross! Tell me this one thing: did you receive God's Spirit by obeying the Law or by believing the gospel? How can you be so foolish! You began by God's Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own efforts? Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something! Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the Law or because you believe the gospel?

Slide 22 Self-sufficiency or Humility?

Pope Francis - Jesus asks us to perform good deeds with humility. He said you can do all the good deeds you want but if you don’t do them with humility, as Jesus taught us, these good deeds count for nothing because they are born from you and your self-sufficiency rather than from the redemption that Jesus gave us. This same redemption comes via the path of humility and humiliations because humility never comes without humiliation. And we see Jesus humiliated on the Cross.

Slide 23 New Heaven and New Earth

Revelations 21:1-8 - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the dwelling of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my sons.

Slide 24 Lake of Fire Parade – Revelations 21 (cont.)

“But as for

the fearful,

the unbelieving,

the foul,

the murderers,

the fornicators (pornos),

the sorcerers (pharmakeus – this includes illicit drug dealers and users),

the idolaters,

and all liars,

their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."

The point of this slide is that apart from the saving work of Jesus, we are all destined to eternity in hell. The first sin listed is fear. I may never have murdered anyone, but that’s only number four on the list. Who hasn’t been afraid?

Slide 25 Discussion Starters