Monday, June 25, 2012

Conference Reflections: Truth be told...

This is how we roll at Crossway Community Church

I spent the past few days in  Florida with 3500+ other women at the first-ever Gospel Coalition Women's Conference.  It was a sweet (but intense) time of learning and fellowship, and I could fill an entire journal (and almost did!) with my reflections, here are just three...

1)  Satan would like nothing more than to keep us from hearing the truth.

On my flight to Florida, I spent some time reading the third Harry Potter book.  Side note: I realize some reading this may disagree with me on that choice of book, but that's another blog for another time, so I hope you'll allow me to pick the meat from the bones here.  I happened to start reading just as Professor Lupin was teaching his students how to defeat a boggart...a creature of dark magic which lurches in the dark places and shape shifts into one's biggest fear.   For one student, the boggart took the shape of a large spider.  For another, it took the shape of a dreaded teacher.  For me, it would have probably taken the shape of a loved one suffering while I'm away.

One of my biggest fears came true on Thursday morning, when a family emergency arose just as I was preparing to leave.   I felt helpless, desperate, anxious as I drove to the airport.  Even more guilty during take off.  Lie after lie after lie filled my head and heart...

You're sacrificing your family for this conference.

You are the only one who can handle this. You're indispensable. 

You won't be able to get anything out of it if you're worried the whole time.  Just don't go.

He is the father of all lies isn't he?  And he will take any measures necessary to prevent us from hearing the gospel.

In the book, the students are instructed to think of a way to alter their fear into something comical as they flip their wands and say "Riddikulus!"   A spider with no legs, a male teacher dressed in a granny's outfit...riddikulus!

I couldn't flip my wrist to make my boggart disappear.  This nasty creature isn't defeated with humor or spells, but with the truth, and the truth comes from God's word.  Interestingly enough, the theme of this conference was "God revealing himself through the scriptures."  Friends, the enemy wanted nothing more than to keep me (and others) from this conference.  For the truth is what sets us free.  It is the source of our life.  Thanks be to God that we had our fill of truth this weekend!  And Satan and his lies looked "riddikulus" in light of it.

"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  - John 8:31-32 (ESV)

2) God speaks truth to us through his word.

As someone who grew up in the church, my head knows that God speaks to us through his word.   But this weekend, my heart and mind beautifully connected on this point.

How many times have I started out a conversation with, "I feel like the Lord is telling me" or "God is calling me to..."?  And on what basis do I make those kinds of statements?  Thanks to Nancy Guthrie and her exposition of Hebrews  4:12-13, I realized that these phrases are often my defense mechanisms.  Subconsciously (or maybe even consciously), I think, "If I tell them that God is calling me to do this,  they have to agree with it, right?"  It melts my eyes to tears to realize just how often I have passed off my own gut reaction as a calling from the myself and to others.  For this, I am truly repentant.

Oh, how I longed to hear from God this weekend!  I wanted peace and clarity in ministry decisions.  I wanted an impression...a sense of stillness from God.  I wanted a game plan for the next stage of life, but thankfully, I didn't come home with this in the way I expected.

I did hear from God this weekend, but there were no gut feelings, no butterflies.  Only the truth of God revealed in his word...and that  is more than sufficient.  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12-13 ESV).  "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (1 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV)

I do have peace.  Peace in knowing that I am no longer at odds with the God of the universe.  And I have more who God is and what he does.  Stillness, yes.  I have that too.  "Be still, and know that I AM God," he says.  Which is really my game plan now that I'm be still, and to know that he is he reveals himself to me through his word.

3) I am better equipped to minister to others when my soul is saturated in the truth of the gospel.

During the last session, D.A. Carson lovingly, pastorally, looked out into the sea of women and gently whispered, "In a room of 3800 women, I cannot imagine how many tears have been shed."  A humbling and sobering thought.

Over the course of the weekend, I witnessed many of those tears firsthand.  At one point, sitting between two dear mothers grieving over the loss of their children, I realized what an absolute privilege it is to be selected as instruments of God's compassion and care for the church.   It is a high calling...and a humbling honor.

As means of grace in the lives of others, we should be constantly pointing our sisters to the author of all grace...Christ.  We are best prepared to do so when we ourselves are saturated in the truth of who he is.

I'll be honest...I struggle to pray publicly.  But this weekend, I noticed a marked difference in my prayers for others.  As my heart and mind were filled with the truths of God and who he is as revealed in scripture, my prayers and speech overflowed with those truths.  My prayer is that I would continue to be immersed in the truth of the gospel, so that I might be sanctified and others might be encouraged. 

How grateful I am that our great high priest prayed this prayer for us...

"Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17 ESV)

Lord, may the truth of the gospel be told, heard, loved, and shared.  And may we grow to know you and love you more as you continue to reveal yourself to us through your word.



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