The 1st 10 days of October looked something like this:
Oct. 1-3 Desiring God, 2010 National Conference: Think, The life of the mind, and the love of God.
Oct. 4-7 work
Oct. 7 Anthem concert
Oct. 8-10 Pursuit of Purity, 180 Fall retreat
To say that I learned a lot and was challenged is, to say the least, an understatement.
To be quite honest prior to October I knew I was in a valley of my faith. One where you don't read your bible because you don't feel close to God, and you don't feel close to God because you aren't reading His word. It sucks being there. It feels like a trap, complete with no motivation or ability to see how one might go about removing yourself from it. I knew the phrase "you can't pour out, if you aren't getting poured into."
A friend told me about the conference, I checked into, and decided I hadn't been to a conference/retreat in quite awhile so I could go. Click here for a list of the sessions that you can download and view for yourself. My personal highlights are:
1. Tullian Tchividjian's talk on Giving thought to gospel 'Math': Why Jesus + Nothing = EVERYTHING
One of my favorite lines from this talk was, "God loves us too much to give us our old idols back - the things we think we need."
2. Randy Alcorn's talk on Difficult truths & deep love: Pondering Sovereignty, suffering, and the promise of heaven
I own his book entitled Heaven so I've read some already on this topic. But one activity he suggested the audience to do was write a list of the 'worst' things in our life. Once we are certain the list is complete turn it over or grab another sheet and write a list of the 'best' things in our life. After finishing, look at both lists and see if there are any connections between them.
I know in my own personal life, much, if not all of the good things, have come after enduring a hardship. Maybe I would still view these things as good had they happened without the hardship, but I think I know myself and our culture well enough to suggest I and others wouldn't appreciate the 'good' as much without the hardship.
"You make, all things, work together for my good...." "Oh Lord, thank you for not answering all my prayers, AND for using my poor decisions for a better purpose."
3. Rick Warren "Don't believe everything your mind tells you." WOW. I know that I KNOW that. But for some reason it seemed so powerful hearing it audibly. My mind thinks a lot, and I mean A LOT, of random and ridiculous, non purposeful thoughts. "Philippians 4:8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." "God, help me to store this truth in my mind to ward off the garbage satan tries to collect there."
4. Getting to be present for the presentation of the book For the Fame of God's Name Essays in Honor of John Piper. Knowing just a small amount on John Piper's sabbatical for the greater part of this year, I was in awe of the fact that God KNEW and PLANNED for this book to be finished in the middle of it. Despite the fact that they started the planning and visioning of the book 3 years ago!! It still gives me the chills. I LOVE that God did that, at such a time as that in John's life.
5. Francis Chan's talk on Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride. Please just listen to this one. I won't do it justice, honestly.
In the panel discussion previous to Chan's talk, he stated that he was nervous and anxious about it. At the beginning of his talk he says he spent the time between praying and seeking God and that whatever came out was from God. (my own words) And I think do to his humble stance, God did speak through him, very strongly.
*When was the last time that you wept for the lost?
*Do you mourn for those who mourn?
*Do people get a glimpse of God by how much love they see in you & your church/brothers??
Romans 9:1-2 "I speak the truth in Christ - I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit - I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart." "God please help me to think of myself less, and love others the way you do. To have an unending supply of relating to the hurt in others in my heart for those around me."
Anthem. amazing worship with over 1,200 people mostly students from jr. high, high school, and college.
Pursuit of Purity
this video sums of the purpose of this retreat. It was challenging, but incredibly cool to have these conversations with Junior high students (6th, 7th, and 8th graders) To see them 'get it.' That we don't have to and shouldn't believe what society tells us all the time.
Paul Sabino did a great job breaking it down into:
God's Great design
Satan's great deceptions
Our great response
Engaging the battle for purity
The 3 lies he shared that would silence us (the adults/leaders/parents) are very real:
1. Who are you to talk with all your past failures.
2. Who are you to talk with all your current failings.
3. It's way too akward to talk to them about sex & purity, so just avoid it.
"You won't have time to talk to your kids about this weekend. But I promise you, if you make time for it.... It will make a difference."
I'm so grateful we have a God who pursues us, wherever we are. Who loves us to meet us where we are, but also loves us enough to not let us stay there if it isn't where we should be. I am so encouraged by the truths that I've learned through this month, as well as the ones that God has graciously helped me uncover once again.
Transformation happens when we READ, MEMORIZE, and LIVE OUT THE WORD!!