Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Right Now Conference in Dallas and hearing some amazing speakers (Francis Chan, Eric Metaxas, and others). I've been digesting what I heard for a couple days and want to summarize the most pertinent points here -- for your and my benefit.
- The parable of the mustard seed. Note that, when we plant a mustard seed, our end goal is . . . well, mustard. But in the parable, what God accomplishes is a huge plant in which birds build their nests. We have one goal -- God uses our work to accomplish another goal, often something that never even occurred to us. God's purposes are far beyond what we have in mind. Cool. (From Mark Batterson)
- If the Spirit lives in us -- if we really and truly believe that -- why don't we allow Him to live through us more often? Why do we insist on doing things on our own strength? (Pete Briscoe)
- We pray best when we're most aware of our sin . . . when we involve our bodies (knees, anyone?) . . . when we pray our gut-honest desires (which is risky and takes courage) . . . and when we remember God's grace. (Jen Pollack Michel)
- Plagiarism is taking credit for another person's work and words. How many of us commit spiritual plagiarism every day? Taking credit for work that was actually God's. ALL THE TIME . . . (Bryan Carter)
- Larry Osborne spoke about Daniel being a model for the Christian in this post-modern age. He teaches us how to live successfully in Babylon. So much to glean from that. Daniel had humility with the pagans around him. He never copped an attitude about how wrong they were; he spoke with respect and graciousness to them. He made Nebuchadnezzar a better king and a better person, just being with him. He had the wisdom to pick his battles rather than fighting everything wicked around him.
Something interesting he pointed out. Daniel and his friends were brought to be trained "in the language and literature of the Babylonians." That means, they were being taught Babylonian religion -- paganism and the occult. And not only did they not refuse to participate in that education, but God gave them "knowledge and understanding" of what they were learning and more, to the point that when their training was evaluated by the king, he found none equal to them. And this was the only reason that they were allowed to be in the service to the king, that they were put in places of such tremendous influence, that they had ANY credibility with the most powerful rulers of the world at that time, and that we even know their names today. A great argument against the "cocooning" so many Christians do today -- as if knowing the theory of evolution or the basic tenets of Islam will transfer heretical germs to the believer.
- When you accepted Jesus, you accepted the call to missions. Period. No further call is needed.
- Eric Metaxas talked about William Wilberforce. When Wilberforce was saved, he assumed he would need to give up politics (which at the time was an even dirtier profession that it is today). But his pastor, John Newton, told him to stay, to be a light in the place where God had put him and with the gifts God had given him. Again, no cocooning ourselves from the world's dirt and grime: go engage, and learn, and salt, and shine your light.
- God's desire is for us. (Francis Chan) Why do we need to be reminded of that? But we do. Often. God's greatest desire is not for a just society or sinless followers or miserable people or even happy people. God's desire is for a relationship with us. Everything else is either a means to that end or a result of that blessing.
Yep. A good week. Thanks, Paul and Jackie.