Excited for 2015 Mo Ranch Men’s Conference!

This weekend I’m attending the Men’s Council planning retreat for the May 2015 Men’s Conference at Mo Ranch, which is a Presbyterian retreat center near Hunt, Texas. Amidst the busyness of our fall schedules, this is an awesome opportunity to briefly visit the beautiful hill country of Texas with my wife and have some fellowship and planning time with other Christian men.

Mo Ranch Men’s Conference Planning Counc by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

I’ve been coming to Mo Ranch (@PresbyMoRanch) for the men’s conference for about seven years, and it’s become a VERY important part of my life. My dad has been coming down with me for the last 3 or 4 years, and it’s a non-football weekend for us to fellowship together that’s become an awesome tradition.

Panorama at Mo Ranch - Saturday BBQ! by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

This morning at our Men’s Council planning meeting, our Men’s Council President Michael Brundeen shared a little about our 2015 conference keynote speaker and worship leader. Donovan Drake, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. His description of Donovan’s sermons that he’s heard in the past was incredible! Michael heard him preach on the story of Noah’s Ark, when he extended the metaphor to “who are you bringing on your ark?” The focus was on thinking about the legacy you build and shape today which will have LOTS of impact down the road. I’m not only energized to hear Donovan at Mo Ranch next year, but also subscribe to his sermon series which is available as a podcast both on iTunes and via an RSS feed. (I use the latter with the Pocket Casts smartphone app.) I’m not doing justice to Michael’s description of Donovan’s sermon messages here… but suffice it to say I’m SUPER energized to hear him. Jesse Truvillion has been our Bible study leader at Mo Ranch for many years. It will be exciting to hear from Donovan Drake and have him bring fresh messages to our attendees.

Michael also told us about Rev. Dr. David G. McKechnie, who will be our 2015 Men’s Conference keynote speaker. David has a very interesting background, prior to attending seminary and becoming a pastor, as a television news anchor. Michael said David is a FANTASTIC storyteller, and has compelling ability to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with his stories. I can’t find a podcast RSS feed or videos on YouTube for any messages by David, so if you have or find one please share it as a comment to this post. I’m VERY enthused to hear his keynote message for us at our 2015 conference.

Wherever you are in your faith journey, if you are a man I encourage you join us Friday, May 2 through Sunday, May 4, 2015 at Mo Ranch for the Men’s Conference. It will be a renewing and refreshing experience of fellowship and growing in faith following God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Jesse Truvillion – Saturday morning at Mo-Ranch

These are a few brief notes from the devotional shared by Jesse Truvillion at the Mo-Ranch Men’s Conference on May 3, 2014.

In these verses we have the focus of the New Testament:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-8 NIV)

God does not call us to be someone else, he calls us to be the person we were baptized to be

We love as much as our little journey will allow us to love

Woody Francis (?) story

I was sent to ring the church bell when my dad was led pit into the woods by 3 white men with long rifles
– in the end it all turned out ok

You have to work so God can use you anywhere and at anytime

Mateen at MoRanch (Part 1 of 2) – Perseverance

These are my notes from the opening keynote address shared by Mateen Elass at the 63rd annual Mo-Ranch Men’s Conference near Hunt, Texas, on May 2, 2014.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:7-12 NIV)

1- Timing is everything

Genesis 3:3

Gal 4:4 at the right time God sent his Son

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,” (Galatians 4:4 NIV)

Theme of OT: God is a covenant God
– he perseveres
– his goal is to take ruined lives and restore them

God sets the stage si the glory may clearly shine upon His Son

2- Irresistible Grace
– from TULIP

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30 NIV)

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6 NIV)

3- From beginning to the end: God’s purpose is to draw us into fullness of joy with Him

God calls us to be and to make disciples

“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.” (Psalm 37:39, 40 NIV)

Reference to movie “Cliffhanger”
– God reaches down to pull us away from the abyss

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV)

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV)

God does not give up on us:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38, 39 NIV)

Theme of this conference: God is the one who is going to shape your life:
– he has willed it, now you must walk it

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12, 13 NIV)

You don’t deserve God’s love or grace, neither do I
– but God’s grace is not about what we deserve

Contrasting the vision of Heaven between Muslims & Christians
– Muslims have a purely sensual view of heaven, where God remains distant

Rev 21 & 22 describe the Christian heaven
– God is at the center
– God wipes away our tears, the most intimate act

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4 NIV)

Encouraged by the story of Joseph

Today and last week I have been very encouraged by the story of Joseph and his brothers. This morning on my way to work I listened to the following verses:

“Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:4-8 NLT)

http://bible.com/116/gen.45.4.nlt

It is encouraging to remember that God walks with us each day, and is using the experiences we are going through to further His plans and His kingdom, when we are called according to His purpose.

Family Advent Service

Today for the first time in as long as I can remember, our family stayed home on Sunday morning and didn’t go to church. There was a lot of ice on our cars, and although the roads were clear it seemed right to stay home. We had a wonderful morning together and decided later we’d have a family church service together. We have shared short family devotionals together previously, especially before Christmas during the Advent season, but it is not (unfortunately) something we have done often. Tonight’s family church service, then, was particularly meaningful and special. I’d hoped it would be a time when everyone could participate: sharing, singing, praying, and reading from God’s Word. It was.

Family Advent Service

We used our AppleTV to project the lyrics to “The First Noel,” which we opened with, and these words from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV)

We used this description of the four candles of advent (though it differs slightly from our church tradition) and read a meditation from “God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Conformed to God’s Image and Spirit

Our sermon verses this Sunday came from Romans 8, and the daily verse in my YouVersion Bible iOS app today does too. This is a verse in the chapter which stood out to me:

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 NIV)

Our focus in life each day, and even every minute of each day, is very important. The things we focus on and pay attention to with our conscious minds are things our unconscious minds continue to process and turn over. We literally shape our minds and our identities through the things we choose to pay attention to. The things we read, watch, the conversations we have, the notes we write… All of these things shape our minds cognitively but also neuro-biologically. That ‘s a mouthful as well as a lot to consider.

Paul reminds us in these verses to focus on the things of God’s Spirit, rather than the things of the flesh, so we will be conformed to His image and perfect will.

God, help me to focus on the fruits of your spirit this day. I pray you would fill me and those around me with your love, joy, patience, peace, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. I pray you would conform my heart, my spirit, and my mind to yours. Thank you for sending us your son, Jesus, to teach us about your love and your plans for our lives.

In the powerful name of Jesus I pray,

Amen.

Remember Children of Single Moms

As I read these verses from the author of Hebrews today, I was reminded that not everyone on earth has experienced the positive and loving discipline of an earthly father. Single moms face special challenges, and so do their children. Assumptions are dangerous. Remember not everyone has shared your life experiences or mine.

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:9-11 NIV)

Waiting With Hope, Encouraging Each Other& Rebuking Evil

Jesus calls us to wait for His return with hope, encouraging each other and rebuking evil with the authority He gives us through His Father and our Heavenly Father, God.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. (Titus 2:11-15 NIV)

Eat Spiritual Food Daily

Jim Cymbola referenced this passage in his April 28th sermon, “Enough is Enough.” We must eat spiritual food, by reading God’s Word, on a daily basis to remain healthy. This is the same for the physical food we put into our bodies. Daily food is required.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

Podcast Inspiration from Philip De Courcy

Several weeks ago Philip De Courcy came to our church and shared several special messages as part of a revival weekend. Recently I was looking for some new podcasts to add to my iPhone, and found that Phillip’s weekly sermons are available free online. Today I listened to this inspiring message from 1 Thessalonians, and really enjoyed it. I highly commend it to you as well as other messages from Philip!

SermonAudio.com
Episode: Life Together – Pt. 1
http://www.pocketcasts.com/share/zAWR9t

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