'Simon Says' - Pilgrim Pines (www.pilgrimpines.org) is a camp/retreat center up in NH that is owned and run as a ministry by the Evangelical Covenant Church aka ECC that Metro Community Church is a member of. Every year, over Columbus day weekend, they host a men's retreat which is open to all men of the ECC. This year, a group of 5 of us from Metro went up to unplug from the hustle & bustle of the NYC area and to plug into God. I went last year so had a good idea of what to expect but the 4 brothers I went up with were first-timers to not only the men's retreat but to Pilgrim Pines as well so I was excited to go up with them.
We had a great time bonding through many activities such as rockwall climbing, canoeing/kayaking, launching eggs, pontoon rides, as well as eating many great meals together (there was bacon at every meal, including the ice cream sundae social on Sat evening). We were blessed & challenged through the guest speaker, Dave Nesburg from Portage Lake Bible Camp in Onekama, MI. His challenge to the men in attendance was ‘Stop leading – Follow! (Christ)’. As a man, I am taught that we need to lead (which I agree with) but in doing so, I tend to do things and make decisions based on my own understanding and perspective which doesn’t allow God to work through my life. I was reminded once again that I need to ‘let go & let God’.
One additional thing I learned that I never knew was something about the yoke. When Jesus says in Matthew 11 "Take my yoke...for my yoke is easy and my burden is light", I never realized what he really meant by that. I always saw the yoke as a farming tool that put a burden on two cows. The way a yoke works is not the way it seems. First off, only one of the two cows is trained to steer the yoke. The second cow is just expected to follow the lead cow. Second thing I learned is the cows are not stuck in the yoke. They can remove their heads and go on their own way anytime they wish. Similarly when Jesus invites us to "Take His yoke", he's inviting us to follow Him as he takes upon himself the bulk of the burden that comes with operating a yoke.
It was nice connecting with other men of faith from different walks of life. It was encouraging to hear about how some of these men have been attending this men’s retreat for as many as 20+ years together. I was really encouraged that the 4 bros I went with had such a good time that they were already planning to go back next year. Hopefully we can start our own tradition of going up every year. My hope is that we can continue to add to the numbers and have a greater Metro contingency up there next year.
– Simon Kong
Temmy Talks' - The Pilgrim Pines Men's Retreat was a tremendous blessing. My family started attending Metro a few weeks ago and the retreat was a great opportunity for me to start getting plugged into our church. Couldn't have asked for a better set of brothers to head up to New Hampshire with. The scenery was gorgeous up there and the retreat found the perfect balance of worship and relaxation. I left well fed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle life again with some fresh lessons both from the terrific sermons and conversations with the brothers.
The most important lesson for me is that I need to learn to take comfort in not knowing or controlling everything that's going to take place in my life. This runs counter to my type-A personality, but it's a valuable reminder about the need to let go and live by faith knowing that God has a bigger plan no matter what circumstance life presents. It's not easy to get away for a weekend given our busy lives, but looking back this is the sort of get away that all men regularly need. - Temmy Park
'Alex Affirms' - I have been to Men's retreat before but this one took me by surprise. I expected a full day of sermons and Bible studies, activities on how to become a Men of God, but instead I witnessed first hand what it is to be one. As I walked around the camp, I met fathers and sons sharing how the camp has brought them into a deeper intimate relationship with God, family and other men. I began to learn that I didn't need to take this journey alone, that I needed to build relationships with godly men to share my struggles, to be held accountable for my short coming and to share the journey God is taking me on. In short, I began to see God break the walls I have built to isolate myself. Thanks to the Men at Metro and Pilgrims Pines, the "race"to the finish line doesn't need to be ran alone.
God's Loving Grace,