“Down the road that I must travel.” – Mr. Mister
Almost every Tuesday at noon a group of men get together for lunch at a local Bar-b-que restaurant in Bentonville, AR called Dink’s. Amongst the hustle and bustle of people coming and going in a town that is headquarters to the world’s largest retailer (Wal-Mart), 10-20 men gather to fellowship, learn, encourage, study and to pray. We ask questions. We do our best to learn from each other, and learn about each other. And we do our best to learn about God’s word and encourage one another.
It’s a fairly diverse group of men from retirement age down to those in their 20’s. We have married and single, divorced, and never married. Some of the men have grandchildren and others have toddlers and newborns. The majority of the men attend Keypoint Church in either Bentonville or Springdale, but it’s open to any man that wants to attend. We’ve studied Christian books usually designed specifically for men and/or businessmen. We’ve also studied books in the Bible like the book of Acts and the book of James. Recently, we finished up with the book of Romans, and we’re now on to recapping pastor’s notes from the previous Sunday’s message.
It’s this group of men that I’ve become comfortable sharing needs and worries and desires. I lead or “teach” every five to six weeks, and I use that term “teach” very loosely because I feel like I’m the student after we finish up on Tuesday. The four originals of this men’s group are Dennis Martin, Jim White, Alan Main, and myself. I love these men. They serve as a collective group of mentors for me and a good sounding board for any questions or needs that any of us have. They are all very open about their own personal struggles in the past and today, and I love that about them.
“The wind blows hard against this mountain side, across the sea into my soul”
Each has his own style when leading. Dennis, a Mississippi State alum (we make sure to tease him often about this poor, unfortunate life event), is always available to lend a helping hand. He has a confidence and a been-there-been-through-that life experience that’s invaluable at times. He’s strong in his faith, a prayer warrior, and when Dennis hears from the Lord you know.
Jim is a retired educator and coach having spent many years as a principal in the Rogers, AR school district. He has played competitive softball in his age group ever since I’ve known him (I actually met his son Joey at a previous church when we first moved to the area 16 years ago). Jim has great stories and a keen sense of humor that will have you at ease immediately when he speaks and leads our group.
Alan is owner of a fairly large retail services company in Bentonville. Not sure I would do justice to the company to try and describe it, but needless to say most businesses like his have a direct link to servicing or providing for Walmart or vendors associated with Walmart. Alan is a gentle soul, and an honest man with a seaman’s heart. He’ll often tell you if he doesn’t like something he has read or doesn’t understand something, and he always offers an interesting perspective.
“When I was young I thought of growing old, of what my life would mean to me”
We all need people to lean on and talk to in this life, and I think we realize that especially as we grow and mature in our faith. I know I’ve grown a greater appreciation for my friends and mentors as I’ve aged. As Rick Warren points out in his book “The Purpose Driven Life,” “God intends us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship.” We were made for relationship with each other so we should be embracing relationships. It’s never always easy and it’s never perfect (God never promised us it would be), but it’s what we are called to do and life is much richer when spent with others.
However you want to classify them – friends, mentors, peers, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know you have someone you can talk to if a need arises. We all need a Dennis, an Alan, or a Jim in our lives. I hope you have yours. If you do, thank God for them and give them a call, fire off an email, or shoot them a text today and thank them. If not, don’t be shy about joining a local men’s (or women’s) group in your church. The friendships and bonds you develop over time will be priceless. They have been for me, and I am so very appreciative of my time spent with them.
“Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light.”
Today’s featured song comes from a band that caught lightening in a bottle riding a wave of popularity in 1985 and ’86 before kind of just disappearing. The band was Mr. Mister and their album “Welcome to the Real World” spawned three top ten hits and two number ones including today’s hit. As a good Catholic boy growing up in Seminole where I served as an altar boy, and later Norman, Oklahoma, you could argue that I should have known the English translation to the popular phrase used in many Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. I still had no idea what this song meant in 1985. Remember there was no “Google,” only a shelf full of dusty, unused Encyclopedia Brittanica’s. I had to wait until someone knew what the Greek phrase (yes, it’s actually Greek) “Kyrie Eleison” meant and told me. The translation is “Lord have mercy.”
The song is essentially a prayer, and the fact that it went all the way to #1 on the secular pop charts in 1985 is no less than a miracle in my mind. It’s a comfortably melodic song to sing along to, and it’s a prayer and dedication I send out to my fellow Dink’s BBQ men who are so invaluable to me.
Here is the video to “Kyrie”…
As always thanks for reading.