In my reading of American History, I feel a deep sense of compassion when considering the plight of African-American slaves. I will never forget being a child with my family on the couch watching Roots, the series, on Sunday nights. I couldn’t believe the horror. I was astonished to think that anyone could be disrespected, abused, and shamed as these once-free people experienced. It was truly horrifying to me as a child. As an adult, those feelings haven’t changed. I am still appalled by the abuse, shame, and cruelty that comes with slavery.
In some of my reading, the movies I’ve watched, and in the incessant day-dreaming that happens in my life, I will admit that I feel a sense of empathy with the slavery of African-Americans. While I may not understand the bondage of physical slavery, I know all too well the horrific realities of being a slave to sin. I’ve walked in those shoes for more years than I may want to even acknowledge. I likely don’t want to acknowledge some of it, because the reality of that bondage was still being realized for many years after I became a follower of Christ. Despite having been freed and forgiven, I ignorantly lived in a place of burden and frustration for quite a while. The thought that I lived like a slave still after I was free is a bit perplexing and frustrating to me. But, it’s all I knew. I knew how to sin and it was easy to do what I had been doing for so long.
In that light, I’ve always been astonished at the thought of what it must have been like for those slaves to have been freed. I remember watching scenes from movies and seeing a look of fear and confusion about what they should do next after being set free. I remember thinking; just run, smile, pray, get a job, find your family, etc. In many ways, I was so naive.
The burden of being a slave went far beyond their current situation. Most of them had been torn from their families. They had lost their identity and were living in a foreign country with no ability to read, write, or market their skills. They were outcasts in a world where the majority hated them. Many, not all, of them had been taken from their parents, children, spouses, and friends. They were scared. They were truly alone.
I believe many of us are much like those slaves. We’re standing at the end of the lane with our papers in hand. We’re carrying papers that say we’re free men. It has been documented. But, we’re looking back at the plantation that has brought us so many tears, frustrations, and torments and as strange as it may sound, we are drawn back to its familiarity. What is ahead is unknown. We’re free, but we have idea which direction to go.
This is the unfortunate reality for all of us who have lived as slaves to sin. We have experienced the burden, shame, and horror of sin’s devastating consequences. We have gone wading in the thick dark waters of sin and sunk further into the alluring power of the deep. We have felt that sense of panic as we gasped for air and tried to tread water and fight our way out.
What we’ve come to know is that we’re powerless to overcome this problem. We can not overcome our sins. We need freedom. We desperately need a Savior.
We know this, but most of us don’t live like we know it. We do not live like we need a Savior at every moment. It seems to me that we talk about being free while still plowing the fields of our old master, the devil. We’re not living the abundant lives that Jesus offered and our constant anger issues, our continual slipping back into lust, and our fear of leading and forging ahead is evidence at minimum of a salvation never realized, but maybe a salvation never attained in the first place. We’re still stoking the fires of hell in our hearts and allowing the sin that once entangled us to continue entangling us.
No more. We can’t live in that place. We were made new creatures in Christ so that we could live free from the grasp of sin. We were made new so that we would be free to walk on top of the waters that once swallowed us up.
This freedom must be realized. We must go back to find the freedom that has been promised and then live in it. We’re holding papers that say we’re free men, and free men we are. We can not go back to that pleasant looking plantation where we lost everything that meant anything to us. We must walk down the road with Jesus in the freedom He intended us to experience.
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
Romans 6:16-18 NIV
May 18th-20th will be a weekend where the chains of slavery that are wrapped around your own heart will be loosed once again, only to never be returned. We won’t just talk about being free from sin. We’ll actually take the steps to be free from sin.
See below for more details on the retreat or to submit your registration for this Indiana men’s retreat.
Dates: May 18th-20th, 2012
Where: Five Stones Camp in Reelsville, IN
Donation: Your donation of $150 per participant makes this retreat possible to you. This allows for your food, lodging, teachings, t-shirt, and event supplies. Very limited scholarships are available for those financially incapable of attending the retreat.
Transportation: All participants must provide their own transportation to and from the retreat.
Check In: May 18th, 2012 from 3:30-5:30pm (Dinner will be provided)
Check Out: May 20th, 2012 at 11:30am (Breakfast will be provided)
Area Maps and Directions:1. Take I-70 West out of Indy 2. Get off on Exit #37- Putnamville- IN 243 3. At the end of the ramp turn left (south) on IN-243- go 0.9 miles 4. Turn right onto 1000 S- go 0.8 miles 5. Turn left onto 190- go 0.5 miles 6. Turn right onto 1050 S- go 0.8 miles 7. Turn left onto 300W- go 0.6 miles to the bend in the road. GO STRAIGHT onto the gravel drive. 8. Take the gravel drive through the camp 0.7 miles to Boulder Lodge on your right.
Sleeping Arrangements: Depending on how many are in attendance, we’ll be sleeping in the lodge and cabins. You will need a pillow, sleeping bag, and/or blankets. Beds and mattresses will be provided in the lodge and cabins. If you would like to be bunked with someone specifically or have a group coming that would like to be put together, please let us know this when you sign up. We’ll do our best to keep you together.
Audience: The content of this men’s retreat in Indiana is meant for mature audiences only. While many fathers have come with their sons and we will not stop them, we do not encourage fathers and sons attending together. Instead, we encourage you to bring another man from the church or community with you. We believe you will achieve the full benefit of your time at the retreat when you leave with someone else who is armed to take on the spiritual battles with you and encourage you through them. Much of the content is focused on married men, but we do believe that single men can benefit from the content as well.
Registration: Fill out your Be Free, Man of God Men’s Retreat registration form here! Don’t forget to come back and make your donation afterwards. Registration will be closed on May 13th, 2011 at midnight.
Cancellation Policy: All registration donations are completely non-refundable after May 13th, 2011 at midnight. Anyone who cancels a registration before May 13th, 2011 at midnight will receive a full refund of their money.