Barakel Father-Son Retreat | September 17-19, 2021
This weekend I travelled north again (In Spurgeon the GMC) with my good friend Allen Miracle and his son Jacob to preach to dads and sons at Barakel. (Have I ever mentioned that it is one of the sweetest places on earth?)
Kyle preached to men from Hope college on Friday night and then he and Kyle Kenneth, Oliver, and Leland (grandsons) jumped in the Big Red Ford Truck and headed north in the night to join me. It was a perfect weekend, the kind you hope for when you want to make a memory with people you love. Jon Ford lead chapel. Chris Knobloch played the piano and taught the little guys (and there were about 50 of them). Luke Benninger did an amazing job on programming and Dave and Rita made sure we were really well fed.
The boys “blobbed” and swam, played kickball and ping-pong, rode the zip-line over and over again, and they even won a canoe race and rode the Thunder Express. We ate well, as always and enjoyed many stimulating conversations. Some if them were early in the cool morning by the fire. It’s hard to imagine a more delightful way to spend a weekend.
On Saturday night Kyle spoke to the men and sons. It was the highlight of my week to team up in ministry that way. I do really think we helped the men. The ride up and back were times of delightful fellowship. If you ever get a chance to attend a retreat at Barakel, take it. You will be glad you did. (There are Men’s and Women’s retreats coming up this fall and winter retreats as well). You can see them here.
Saved and Baptized!
Sunday our nephew Bobby Gandolfo was baptized. I invited him to Barakel this summer and he was unable to go. He lived in Kentucky. That same week a local church in Berea, Kentucky reached out to him and sent him to camp. He was saved. They have been good to him and it was thrilling to watch his baptism via FaceBook Live. Thank God for good people who are living in obedience to the Great Commission.
Champion Canoe Racers
And Now, A Story
Maybe you have heard me say this, “If I am asked come and tell stories I will gladly come and tell stories–but I will always preach. If I am asked to come and preach, I will come and preach, but I will always tell stories, too.” Either way, when I speak, I speak truth from scripture and I tell stories. That is just how I roll. That is me. This I know about myself and I report it without a hint of apology. If you don’t like preaching with stories in it you will want to surf the web for a different preacher. If you like stories without meaningful truth you will have to look elsewhere. I don’t tell tall tales. I tell true stories with truth within them and truth behind them. I think stories are entertaining, but I don’t tell stories to entertain.
Sometimes I drive to the school in my neighborhood to tell stories. Sometimes I take a long trip cross the state. There have been times it has been my privilege to fly to other side of the country to tell stories to thousand of people. Can you imagine? Other times I just step out on the porch for a telling. I always tell stories in the Bethel pulpit. Sometimes I’m paid handsomely, sometimes I tell over a good cup of coffee, usually I go to tell where you would never go if it was for the money alone. Some of the best places to tell stories are camps, because people have come hungry for story and the best camps creative a powerful setting for story by the fire or by the water or in a quaint rustic chapel or even under stars.
The Bible is over seventy percent narration and Jesus, the Master was a masterful storyteller. Stories stick to the ribs, they tend to lodge themselves in the memory. They can also kind of slip up on you and help you consider a truth you might otherwise resist.
I love what I call the “storytelling moment,” that time when the room grows silent, when ambient noise stops, when every eye is fixed on the teller and every hear is tuned to the story. The storytelling moment is a rare and wonderful human experience. It’s as old as time and it will never go out of style. There will always be stories to tell. Stories can be powerfully arresting, inordinately influential, even if it is told without adornment or props. A story can stand on its own two feet.
This weekend in four sessions I watched the eyes of the men and their sons as we taught the truths of scripture and illustrated them with stories. At times there was laughter, sometimes even a tear or two. But there were times when the “Storytelling Moment” fell over the whole group and we were all together in the story. I like to think some good was done. We won’t know until the final score is in, but truth was told, powerful truth. That’s my story and now its yours.
September 20, 2021