Monday, February 17, 2014

Road Trip Weekend Wrap-Up

The title for this post could also be "My Synopsis of Passion 2014." I'll admit it, sometimes I am discouraged by culture and things happening in the world. Then I sit in an arena full of thousands and thousands of college-age students worshiping Jesus and I'm blown away - again - by the power of the Almighty.

Here's another admission - I was not all that excited about going to Houston and, more importantly, not excited about having to drive in that awful traffic. But my son, Josh, is now our College Pastor (I feel emotional that I just typed those words - that child I gave birth to is now a College Pastor. I'm overcome with thankfulness.) so I felt compelled to go. I'm so glad I did, it was so worth it.

Friday night started with worship and Louie Giglio preached from Isaiah 6. One of my favorites, by the way. He talked about how Isaiah was undone when he experienced the breath-taking mercy of God. He said, "God is breathtakingly beautiful in His mercy." I love the thought of that.

Friday night ended with a Hillsong United concert which started past my bedtime but, then again, we were at an conference for college students.  Again, I'm so glad I was there. They sang some of my favorites but, maybe, my favorite moment was during an instrumental part of Oceans and it seemed as though the crowd spontaneously started singing the chorus over and over again. It's how I imagine heaven - voices filling the space singing with hearts joined in praise. They ended with The Stand and With Everything. It was incredible.

Saturday morning could not have started any better for this big fan of David Crowder and, perhaps my all-time favorite song, O Praise Him. Following Crowder was Francis Chan. He used chicken bones to illustrate Ezekiel 36. Yeah, real chicken bones. Here's a really great question he posed in reference to 2 Peter 1:5 -- when people say to him they aren't really feeling God's presence he responds, "Are you making every effort?" (Check out verses 6-7 to see the list of things we ought to be making every effort toward.)

Beth Moore taught the next session. My daughter (who didn't go with our group & wasn't sitting near us) sent me this 2 word text following Beth Moore, "KILLED IT." Oh yes, Beth Moore totally did. She said these simple but profound statements, "We were born with a fight in us. There's an ugly fight and a beautiful fight. We can't fight the good fight and the ugly fight at the same time. We are either going to fight for people or with them." She ended her time with statements of confession. Oh, to hear thousands and thousands of college students standing and shouting "I agree" to the great statements of our faith. So powerful.

The next session was about the Bible. The cause that Passion was raising money for at this conference was to buy Bibles for people in Iran. The curator from the American Bible Society was there and her testimony and journey were so interesting. Even more interesting was the story about the 1st Bible printed in America. It wasn't printed in English because that was already being done in Britain. A man named John Eliot wanted to tell the native Massachusetts Indians about Jesus so, first, he had to learn their language. But, it was only an oral language so he had to figure out how to write it then he had to translate the Bible into that language. After a 15 year journey, the first Bible in the American colonies was printed in that language. I can't get over the 1st Bible printed in America was for missions. It's our legacy! The Bible was printed in 1663 and some copies were sent to England along with fundraising letters so that more copies could be printed for the native Americans. Also present was someone representing UVersion, the Bible app. The app has 750 versions of the Bible in 450 languages. Eight-eight people/second open that app. Ah-mazing!

Judah Smith was next. When we talked about Mr. Smith later my son said I was so white, Protestant, old-school. Which, frankly, I am though I like to think I'm fairly well versed in what's current in culture. Once he got through an introductory story that I thought went on just a bit too long (hence, my son's declaration on who I am) what Judah Smith said was so powerful. He said, "God doesn't do renovation. He makes brand new." He went on to say, "Where I stand determines how I walk but how I walk never determines where I stand." He had 2 spots on the platform that he walked back & forth between making his points and made this point, "The great struggle of the Christian life is lived in me instead of in Christ." (2 Corinthians 5:16-21 was his text)

The final session, as is the Passion custom, was taught by Louie Giglio. He was again in Isaiah 6 and said in order to shift from consumerism (in the church) to costly following of God, you must be stunned (verse 5), seared (verse 7), and sent (verse 8). The real encounter with Jesus sends us out. He continued by saying, "The gospel never stops with me."

There are not enough words, or the right words, or I don't have the ability to craft the right words, to express how it impacts me to hear so many college students, young adults, and their leaders packed into a sports arena for the common purpose of making much of Jesus. There are some college students & young adults out there - some that I have the privilege of knowing & traveling with this weekend - that are living it out. Their passion for Jesus is so evident - not just in an arena - but in who they are. I can't wait to see what God continues to do through them.

Serving the King,


Thursday, February 6, 2014

What's My Good?

I so like to think no one is watching me in my front row spot on Sunday mornings. Honestly, I don't think about it which was apparent this last Sunday (if not all Sundays really). Let me write this disclaimer first - I really like all the songs we sang last Sunday. And, I'm a pretty big fan of the groups who recorded the 1st 2 songs we sang - I purchase & download their music, I listen to them on Spotify. Are there times, though, when you're singing a song - and you may be like me and really like the song - but there's just a line or two and you just have this thought: is that really correct? Is it true theologically?

I had that thought last Sunday. (here's where my thought about no one watching me comes in) I had a chance to ask Johnny about a particular line in a song during the welcome time. Just briefly. We agreed that maybe it wasn't completely correct and talked about it later that afternoon. Then, we got to another song and I had the same thought and just looked over at Johnny and laughed a little. He knew what I was thinking. Y'all, after 25 years of marriage sometimes I believe we read each other's thoughts. I kinda love that.

This blog post is really about 1 line in a song: "You make all things work together for my good." It's likely a reference to Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes." The message of the song is good. It's just that I think that verse is plucked out and misused - not in relation to that song but in general. How often do you hear someone say just that one little part, "God works everything for good..."?

I don't mean to be particular but I guess I'm spoiled because I've listened to such good, exegetical biblical teaching over the last 25 years.  I so much prefer hearing a message preached or taught from a passage of Scripture where context and truth is considered as opposed to someone making an outline of general truths and plucking verses out to make his or her point. Really, it's just a personal preference. The truth of the Bible is finite and verses really need to be considered in context. But I'm getting off topic because I really am stuck on the whole of Romans 8:28 and what it means.

First of all, God works all things for good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. John Gill wrote it like this, "those who work in concert with the will of God." I'm sorry, but a general thought of God working all things for good for all people is just not truth. We can't be out in the world doing whatever we want and expect God to work it for good.

Sometimes God's good may not look like what we expect good to look like. God can use trials and suffering for our good. Certainly when we are suffering or are in trials we don't think that's good. Romans 8:31 reminds us that God is for us! Sometimes what's good for us doesn't feel like good. Good has to be in line with God's purposes. The note in my Ryrie Study Bible notes that good is "conformity to Christ." When we get to the end of chapter 8 of Romans we find that nothing, absolutely nothing - death, life, angels, principalities, things present, things to come, powers, height, depth, any created thing - nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.

What if our good is just that and only that - we can never be separated from the love of God? Not the good we desire or expect but that God is for us and nothing can separate us from His love. That in the process of making all things work together for good we are made into imitators of Christ.

What's good has eternal significance. God's love never changes and we can't escape it. That's good. God is working out things in my life so I become more like Christ and that's for my good.

Now if I can just get the part right where I'm always working in the concert with His will that would be really good.

Serving the King,