This year the young people in our family have been able to take in a couple of encouraging conferences. So here are the highlights!
Midwest 26 Below
This was the first time we went to this conference which was in Iowa. We traveled down with a bunch of fellow Minnesotans, braving bad weather and icy roads, and I guess each of the three vehicles had their own creative ways of passing the time (i.e., making up songs about the possibility of ending up in the ditch, etc.).
The speaker for the conference was Micah Tuttle, a missionary to Peru. His message to us over the weekend was “Don’t waste your life.”Each of his messages looked at characters from the Bible who either wasted their life, or didn’t. Here’s a few thoughts from the notes I took.
Jonah–How much more would God have used him if he had yielded. What am I doing with the opportunities God gives me?
Daniel and his three friends–They were taken captive and even their names were changed to change their identity. Don’t let yourself get brainwashed—Babylon will suck you in…and it will destroy. We have to get serious about living holy lives and running from sin. Remember, “I live in Babylon, but I’m not from there.”
Esau, Adam and Eve, Lot, Achan, Samson, Judas–people who got what they wanted, but lost what they had. In their own ways they preferred to gratify the flesh rather than inherit the blessing of God. Sin will render you useless. Do I want God or what God can give me?Jacob–We serve a God of second chances. Sometimes God has to touch you where it hurts most in order for you to not waste your life. Sometimes He has to break you first. Sometimes He has to pry our hands, our heart, away from everything else so we grab onto Him. God touched Jacob’s hip…and gave him a new walk.
Peter–He took some small steps that set him up for failure. He had pride and self-confidence; he was sleeping when he should have been praying; he used the wrong sword for the wrong reason and got one little ear–at Pentecost he quoted Scripture and 3,000 souls were saved (6,000 ears!); he followed the Lord at a distance; he was sitting with the world, looking to be comfortable while Jesus was suffering. Who are you sitting with? Peter could have easily gone like Judas. But he was repentant and was restored.
A breakout session taught by someone else focused on having a missions focus even while living “here” (wherever that may be). Some notes from that…
If you want to go to the foreign mission field, until you get there God has you here. Where you are right now is your mission field. Different ways to be involved in missions right now include: pray for other people–think outside your own little world; email missionaries–they need encouragement…consider becoming a prayer partner; give and watch God give the increase–don’t worry about how much you give (over-giving); invest in internationals and the least of these in your community–the mission field really starts right where we are.
And a few more odds and ends from the weekend…
Risk is right in God. Don’t waste your life to be safe. — Prayer is wrestling. Where are the men and women who will wrestle with God? — “Stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” (Jonathan Edwards)
And this would not be complete without a picture of the major snowball fight that broke out which one of the Minnesotans may or may not have been responsible for.And an afterthought is—don’t waste your life Martha-style. Don’t be so busy serving that you lose sight of what is most important, your relationship with Jesus.
And a couple months later…
Vessels of Honor
…for which we are generally lacking pictures.
While 26 Below is focused more toward missions, Vessels of Honor has a different theme each year and has quite a variety of topics for both the main seminars and breakout sessions. This year so many of the sessions kept coming back to our personal relationship with Christ. It’s the most important thing!
Jesus is not halfway about us. He is deeply committed to a personal relationship with us. There is a link between walking with Him and seeing the demonstration of His power. We should ache to be loyal to Jesus.
And, as we were reminded, it’s so easy to replace intimacy with activity/ministry. But busyness (for the Lord) is not godliness. Godliness is walking with Him.
We were also challenged with the fact that often the church is like a mannequin…it looks good with no power. Intimacy comes before power. So start now, and get in the quiet place, seeking Him. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint—you have to continue doing things even when you don’t feel like it. Walking with God isn’t an accident.
There were so many good things that we heard over the weekend, what I shared here is just scratching the surface! We also had good conversations and enjoyed some fun games together.
We are so thankful for encouraging conferences like this, and the freedom to have them!
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22