Every semester the community of SPO Texas partakes in a men's or women's retreat. This spring, both went camping and sought the Lord in the beauty and challenges of nature.
THE WOMEN'S RETREAT
Thirteen women journeyed to Guadalupe River State Park two weekends ago on the women's Steps to Freedom retreat, which is a powerful step-by-step process of uprooting past wounds and sins, praying into them and allowing the Lord to heal them once and for all.
The way the retreat works is that each participant pairs up with a prayer partner and together they go through the Steps to Freedom booklet. It's divided into seven steps, each of which begins with an examination of personal history in that particular topic. This forces them to face the reality of how past wounds and sins are affecting them today. Following this is a series of prayers that guide the participant to renounce the lies those wounds have caused them to believe, claim the countering truths, and accept the Lord's forgiveness and freedom. Among the topics were identity, sexuality, forgiveness, and pride.
It was no surprise to find out after the retreat that everyone unknowingly paired up with someone who was struggling with the exact same things. The Lord knew what He was doing, and worked powerfully in their lives through this retreat! Here's what one student had to say about her experience:
THE MEN'S RETREAT
“And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson; and the boy grew, and the Lord blessed him.” -Judges 13: 24
Character and virtue are gifts from God that are designed to be used to serve God. If we don’t use our gifts for God’s purposes, it will create problems for us and for others. The Biblical figure of Samson is commonly honored as a great warrior of God who delivers the Israelites from the rule of the Philistines. He is credited with many great feats, including killing a lion with his bare hands, and killing 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. But ultimately Samson’s life is a great tragedy, a story you might expect from Shakespeare, not the Bible. Unable to control his desires, Samson uses his God given gifts for selfish purposes: to get wealth, women, and revenge. His strength is merely a mask that covers his other weaknesses. In the end, he created more problems for himself and the Israelites than he solved.
Pride, lust and anger are the enemy’s weapons that for generations have prevented men from using masculinity for God’s purposes. On the weekend of March 27, fifty men traveled to the Hicks ranch in Valley Spring, Texas to begin a journey to discover their masculinity. The weekend retreat, put on by the Brotherhood of Hope, was geared at understanding and learning how to fight back against pride, anger, and lust. Through talks, prayer, and brotherhood, these men have been equipped to use their masculine gifts for God’s purposes rather than their own. Samson’s greatest tragedy is his death: “And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested... Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon all the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead that he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life.” (Judges 16:29-31)
Let us not use our gifts in vain like Samson, but use them for God’s purposes.