You know when you come back from vacation, you try desperately not to lose that “feeling” you had while you were away? The smells, the excitement of being in a new place, the unique taste of the food, the anticipation at the beginning of each day for all you will experience, the joy of the memories that are being knit together.
Well, I’ve been back from the Resolved conference for almost two weeks now, and I think my vacation feeling has faded. I’m pretty sure it happened sometime after the third or fourth load of laundry.
But that’s okay…feelings come and go….What’s more important are the lessons I learned while I was away, and I pray they will stay with me for however long they are needed…Here are just a few lessons I learned that I would love to share with you.
GOD SAVES PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE
During the final session of the Resolved conference I couldnt help but glance over at the man sitting next to Shady. Okay I didnt just glance once, I may have looked at him through the corner of my eye several times. He just didnt look like someone who would be interested in a 4 day Bible conference. He looked like he would more prefer to be riding a Harley Davidson down the highway followed by a row of men that all looked just like him (not that men who ride a Harley Davidson down the highway can’t be interested in the Bible!) He just looked so rough, so intimidating, so…not what I would expect at the conference.
But he held this Bible. It seemed to rest in his hands with tremendous ease, as though his fingers were made for that very book. And the Bible itself, it looked like it had been places. The pages weren’t freshly pressed, they looked like they had been flipped through several times over. This man was clearly familiar with the content of his Bible.
And then it happened. The man on stage asked that all pastors and leaders in the room stand so that they could be appreciated for their labour of love in the church. So I looked around to see who in the room would stand….and he stood up! I was clearly wrong in my first impression of him.
I loved that I was wrong about him. I loved that God used this situation to remind me that He calls people from all tribes, nations, cities, ghettos and highways full of bikers to Himself. It reminded me that it does not depend on man, but on God.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because off your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” Colossians 1:22-23
FIND A CHURCH…THEN COMMIT
“This church starts too early! This church is too small! The sermons are too long! The sermons are too short!” In the words of pastor Austin Duncan….”Goldylocks, stop it!”
Of course it is important to find a good church. One that teaches sound Biblical doctrine, that explifies the fruit of the Spirit and that operates under the authority of the Bible. But once we have found a good church, we need to commit. We need to plant our feet, roll up our sleeves, start serving, and stop hopping around. Too many of us spend years and years hopping from church to church to church. In order to fully live in the truth of the Gospel we must be firmly rooted and established in a local body of believers. It’s wonderful to belong to the universal church, but this must translate into committment to a local church. More on this next week! For now, Austin Duncan’s full sermon can be heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsytV3wZseQ
THE JOY OF RECONCILIATION
One of the highlights of the Resolved conference was definitely the time of singing and worship. Each of the songs that we sung fixed our gaze on the sacrificial love, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These songs set my heart on heaven and reminded me of the common hope that those in the church share together. I was thankful to be a part of this corporate time of worship.
One particular moment stands out clearly in my mind. It was during an old hymn that you’re probably familiar with called It Is Well With My Soul. One line drove people to raise their hands in the air in humble praise and gratitude to God. No, it wasn’t an emotionally charged line. It wasn’t one of promises of pleasure or rewards in heaven.
“My sin, O the bliss, of this glorious thought….My sin, not in part but the whole…is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
I shivered when I saw people’s hands being raised in response to these words.
We live in a culture that tells us to deny our sin. Explain it away. Rationalize it. Compare it to someone else’s so it doesnt appear that bad. Calling something “sin” is too harsh and is bad for our self esteem..it makes us feel poorly about ourselves. Call it an honest mistake and move on.
Unfortunately this way of thinking has even rubbed off on some churches. Many pastors are scared to talk about sin, so as not to offend, not to turn off, not to turn away its members. But this approach is so dangerous, and so unbiblical. If we’re never confronted with our sin, we will never see our need for a Saviour…we will never understand the magnitude of what Christ accomplished on the cross….we will never see our need for repentence…we will never be reconciled to our holy God.
1 John 1:8-9 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
What sweet relief comes when we make this declaration. ”It was my sin…my sin that drove the nails into your hands…and my sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.” That is the sweet relief of forgiveness that comes only from the cross. That is what drove a room full of people to sing out their hearts to God, praising Him for reconciling them to Himself!
“Oh to see my name written in your wounds
For through your suffering, I am free
Death is crushed to death, life is mine to life
Won through your selfless love
This the power of the cross, Son of God slain for us
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.” (written by Keith Getty)
One more thing….the blogging team at This Passing Life would like to congratulate our Thursday blogger, Georgie, on the birth of her child yesterday!!! Um, Georgie, why didn’t you post yesterday?