Friday, May 31, 2013

Reflections on the Bethany Place Life Action Summit

Kat and I were married 28 years ago. Over those years, especially once our kids came along, I often traveled to a conference or a mission trip and there had a huge encounter with God that I would then want to describe for Kat. I would often say something like, “I wish you could have been there.” Similarly, I tried to share the experience with my church family, and I was able to do that, though I always felt like I failed in describing all that had taken place.

One of the reasons why the Life Action Summit was important for our church is that instead of a few going off to a conference or retreat, a large portion of our church experienced this together. Even if you didn’t get to participate much, it is still a shared experience; a corporate memory that I’m confident will have eternal results. Even if you didn’t get to participate at all, you will experience some of the benefit of how God moved in us through this time.

For the many who were heavily involved, the things you experienced may overwhelm you. By my count, if you attended every event, you heard the equivalent of 26 sermons. Many of those talks exposed issues that need attention. But those issues didn’t get that way overnight. If you try to muscle your way through a list of things to fix on your own, you will make yourself and people around you miserable. Transformation usually requires patient faithfulness in providing the conditions for growth. In the parable of the sower, Jesus compared our hearts to kinds of soil. Expanding on that metaphor, our lives consist of multiple seasons of planting, tending, and producing spiritual fruit. In times when we’ve been far from God, we allowed the soil to lie dormant and our hearts grow hard and resistant to growth. In times when we’ve been cooperating with the Holy Spirit through worship, daily prayer, rich Bible reading, and serving, that has resulted in plowing up the ground, planting seeds, tending weeds, and then praying for growth.

The Summit plowed the soil of our hearts deep. Perhaps a message or two dug up things you’d rather ignore. But now it’s out in the open and you have to deal with it and that will take time. Only God can cause growth, but there is still work for us to do. We depend on God’s grace for change, but grace is not opposed to effort. It’s opposed to earning. So we cooperate with God through private and corporate worship, private and corporate prayer, serving, and through rich interaction with other believers. That’s our role, then we will be patient with God and ourselves as he brings about new spiritual fruit in and through us.

Sunday morning, I’m excited about returning to our series, Caring for Young People in a Technology Obsessed World. You can see the text, outline, and discussion questions by clicking here.

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