So we made it through the three days of excellent teaching from the T4G guys! We had a WONDERFUL time and are so very grateful for being able to attend. We were blessed in so many ways this week! There is so much we learned and are still trying to digest, plus we are seeking to learn how to implement it in our lives. Since Kyle is not an "official pastor" and I am not an "official pastor's wife" we are talking of ways that we can take what we learned and apply it in our own ministry context. It should not be hard because the Gospel applies to all contexts! :-)
As we ate lunch yesterday after the conference at a great sub place, Jimmy John's, with our friends from Texas, one friend asked each of us what one thing from the conference were we planning on putting into action in our lives when we returned home. As I listened to the other guys talk and reflected on the various messages that I really enjoyed, I realized that I really had two things, that in some way wrap up into one.
Thabiti Anyabwile preached an excellent session on "How Wrongly 'Engaging the Culture' Adjusts the Gospel." He pointed out that so many pastors and churches are now seeking to "engage the culture" and draw people in by becoming more like them. Yet he reminded us that we are not to be taken captive by the world but are to be captivated by Jesus Christ. In our day and age, everyone is defined by the culture they live in. Each country, state, community, etc... has their own "culture" that everyone knows them by. One excellent question he asked was: "If we are all defined by our culture, then what does it mean for us to be apart of God's people?" How does being apart of God's people define us before the world? Then he said this: "Christianity is multi-ethnic but it is not multi-cultural!" Wow! I was really captured by this comment! As the people of God, He has called us from every tribe and nation, so we are multi-ethnic. Yet, He calls us to all conform to the image of His Son... this produces a Christian culture in that we are all to be apart of. Thabiti pointed out that in the NT Paul writes to the church, not the culture. He sought to transform people by the cross and for them to become like Christ. It was through this gospel transformation that people could then make cultural judgments based on truth. In our churches, many people do not realize that they are captivated by the world and not Christ. They say they are living for Christ but really their lives show something completely different!
So the first half of my application from this week is to be careful how I walk. I want to be completely captivated by Christ and not allow all of the worldly goods to distract me from my purpose here on earth.
This brings me to the second half. We had the privilege of hearing Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Dallas, Texas come and speak about what God has been doing in his life. On Thanksgiving day, just a few months ago, he suddenly had a seizure right in front of his children. Rushing him to the hospital, his family found out that he had a tumor on his brain. They got him in for surgery that next week to remove part of his frontal lobe. He has been undergoing chemo treatments since. He was told that a person his age could live for about 2-3 years depending on everything. (Now, I don't know about ya'll, but if I was just told that I possibly had 2-3 years left to live, I would be doing some drastic rethinking of how I spend my time and energy!) Yet, through God's grace, Matt has continued to trust the Lord and continued to preach and teach and literally live before a nation of people who are watching him online as he lives out his faith and trust in God! After Matt talked for a few minutes he ended in praying. As he prayed, he lifted up each of his young children before the Lord asking that God would draw their hearts to Him and that if he died that his children's hearts would not be hardened towards God because of that. He also prayed for his wife. (I lost it! I was totally crying during this prayer, hurting for his wife, who was there listening to all of this.) He said that his wife had so much faith and trust in God that she was even encouraging him to continue his ministry and not holding him back or trying to keep him home while sick.
After Matt finished, C.J. Mahaney got up and taught on suffering and how pastors should prepare their congregations for suffering before it happens! He gave a list of book recommendations to read and have as resources for people. Then after C.J. finished, all of the T4G guys (Mohler, Dever, MacArthur, Piper, Duncan, Anyabwile, Mahaney) stood up with Chandler on stage and John Piper prayed for him, asking God to heal him, if that is His will, and to give Matt grace and peace. I was still crying and there were many grown men wiping their eyes at the end of the prayer. Afterwards, all 7,000 men and women stood up and sang "It Is Well." You should have heard the humility and gusto that this song was sung with. This verse in particular caused me to weep for Chandler and his family:
"Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,And hath shed His own blood for my soul."
As C.J. Mahaney stated about a dear friend of his who is dying, he has joy in his trial because he knows that his greatest need was already met on the cross through Jesus Christ. No earthly need will ever equal that of forgiveness and saving grace bestowed from God, our Father.
After hearing this message and being reminded that our lives here on earth are not guaranteed, I was quickly convicted about how I spend my time, thoughts, and energy throughout the day. So for my goal in applying what I have learned this week, first off I desire to release worldly expectations and desires for myself and be focused solely on Christ and the gospel. Secondly, I plan to use my time more wisely, making the most of my brief stay here on earth as I seek to live out the gospel in my marriage, home, church, and community. Now I understand this is a tall order and that I cannot do this alone in my flesh. However, I seek to be obedient to the gospel call that God has placed on my life in calling me as His child.
My first plan of action is to begin cultivating my time with God even more. Not only in the scripture I study but in the books that I read, my goal is to understand the doctrine of the cross and my need of grace more fully. One of the free books I got this week was "Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I believe and Why It Matters" by Joshua Harris. I have started with this book and plan to read "Big Truth for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God" by Bruce Ware. This is a book focused on teaching children about the big truths of God. I bought it to help us teach our Baby Roland about God, but know that it will benefit me as well! There will be many other things that I will be seeking to do as I seek to "declutter" my life from worldly priorities and seek to focus on God, but I am encouraged that I can take these things step by step.
Here are the videos from the two sessions I have just talked about. Take time to listen to these sessions. They are so good! Be patient and give them time to buffer or else it'll be choppy. Click play and after it begins, click pause to let it buffer.
Born and raised in Texas... but moved to Kentucky where I met and married my best friend. We were then blessed with two precious little daughters, ages 3 and 19 months. I love the Lord and I am so thankful that He has given me the blessing of serving my husband and daughters in our home!