Category Archives: conference

What’s next?

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in about 15 hours we will head to Florida for the Next conference… a singles/ young married conference put together by Sovereign Grace.  Over the years, NEXT (formerly New Attitude) has pointed me back to God time and time again.  I’m looking forward to what is in store this year.  I’m going specifically with two prayers … 1.) that God would protect those of us attending, especially the young girls who have never been before.  and 2.) that God would heal my friend Heather.  She’s got a broken bone in her back and is currently in a wheelchair.  I don’t know what God’s plan is for this year, but I know those two things have been on my heart for weeks now every time I think about this weekend.  So, I’ve been praying.

Honestly I go with a heavy heart.  My grandfather has been on hospice care and they just decided to take him off all meds except for morphene and other comfort drugs.  I know his days left here are few.  May 2011 started by saying goodbye to our little baby and it looks like it could end with another goodbye.

I can’t think of a better time for Next to happen…  a time when my heart is full of grief.  My Savior knows that heaviness and I get to spend the next 4 days focusing on Him.  I get to set aside this time and remember the mercy He has shown to me time and time again. I’m not the same person that went to New Attitude for the first time in ’06.

My heart is full.  I’m grateful.  I’ve grown over the years and having Next as kind of a road marker along the way gives me confidence to walk on.  I don’t know what will happen in the next 12 months before Next happens again.  But I’m sure when that day rolls around, I will have more examples of how my God has been faithful and held me through trials and joys.

I look forward to updating y’all with what I’m continuing to learn … and appreciate your prayers for us as we go.

worship God

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yesterday I arrived in Gaithersburg Md for the Worship God 09 conference.  physically i am exhausted but am having a good time.  the conference started with the Na band leading worship and we sang 2 songs from the new Sons and Daughters album.  Then John Piper preached about God’s glory in Himself and how that is actually not arrogance but rather what brings us the greatest joy as well.  it was deep. and good.

this morning began with announcements from Mark Altrogge.  If you’ve never seen him give announcements, you’re really missing a treat.  Bob Kauflin was laughing so hard he could barely stand. was fun.  then we had worship again, and another sermon by John Piper.  because I had a migraine, I ended up going out into the lobby during the worship set.  I ended up in a conversation with one of the guys working at the conference.  We talked for a while and by the end we were both in tears but also greatly encouraged.  its great to see how God works…and to remember (and be reminded) that He is good.  that conversation was that for me.

after the sermon, i was still suffering from some of the after effects of the migraine (numbness, weakness, etc) so physically I could not stand in the line with the other 2500 people waiting for lunch.  so one of the volunteers went and got mine and we ended up eating together.

in the afternoon, i attended two songwriting seminars taught by Keith and Kristyn Getty.  They went through 4 songs in each of their seminars, talked about what motivated them to write that song, different biblical themes they wanted to incorporate, the importance of feedback and collaboration, etc.  then we had a question and answer time and sang a few songs.  it was great and i have lots of notes.

now its time for a nap… i’ve got 30 minutes before we need to get up again, eat dinner and head back to the conference for the evening session.  i can’t remember right now who is preaching tonight but if the last day and a half are any clue… its gonna be good!  :)

NEXT recap

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this past weekend, I had the privilege of attending and serving full time at the NEXT conference in Baltimore MD.  I had a great time and came back completely exhausted yet so incredibly refreshed…

Looking back, here are a few of the top highlights … (I’m sure I’ll be delving into more of the details at some point in the future but for now my brain is too tired to do so!)

1.  God seems to have a tradition of using worship during the conference to teach me a lot and this year was no exception.  There were several new songs and we actually recorded a live album during the conference (I’ll post a link to it when its available… I think they said that it will be downloadable for about $5).   Every worship set seemed to have the same theme … God’s unchanging, overwhelming, undeniable love for sinners like me. 

God seemed to impress on my heart even before the conference to pray for physical healing in my body.  As I began thinking through this, I met a powerful feeling of guilt… how can I ask God for such a gift?… knowing that He has already given me so much?… knowing that His glory is more important than His gifts?… knowing that ultimately it is He, not a body of good physical health, that will satisfy. 

He used the worship sets to reveal that my desire not to pray for this was pride… that I wanted to somehow earn it, yet instead He is holding out an open hand of love and favor freely to me…  “But God, don’t you see there is still so much sin in me?  Don’t you know I don’t deserve such a gift?”  “Yes, my child, but I love you…I sacrificed my Son and He gave His life for your freedom.  I desire good gifts for you.  And I may not heal you but I want you to know I love you and I delight in you asking and looking to me to be your gracious Provider.”  

I had some sweet times of prayer, just crying out to my God for mercy.  I know that He wants my good.  And at this point I don’t know if that involves physical healing, but I’m asking for it and hoping and praying that in His mercy the answer to this prayer would be a “yes.”

2.  Since I was ushering and working through portions of every main session I was not able to really focus on the sermons like in years past.  I wasn’t able to take any notes (that being said, I’m really glad they record the main sessions).  So during each sermon, I found myself just trying to grasp for just one drop of truth in the midst of the deep theological current that was being shared with us. 

I think in many ways this was helpful for me where I’m at right now in my life.  I didn’t leave the conference overwhelmed with a million things I need to learn and apply and change.  I left the conference with one overwhelming truth… my God is full of love and rich in mercy and that truth brings freedom. 

One quote from the final sermon was the main quote God used to remind me of this.  Sinclair Ferguson was speaking on the return of Christ and His ultimate control over the world.  He made the comment that “if God had returned 18 months ago, some of you here would be in hell today.”  My mind immediately went to the book of Revelation and the persecuted saints crying out “how long, sovereign Lord will evil go unpunished?  How long until you avenge our blood?”  It hit me with a blood-curdling reality and overwhelming pool of mercy that if God had answered those many prayer even only 5 years ago, then I would be in hell today.  That if God had not withheld his anger and had not shown patience that I would be in hell.  It was just an amazing reminder of God’s mercy to me. 

That quote allowed my faith in God to grow… to grow in seeing that He is sovereignly in control, even when it seems He is delaying unnecessarily.  Often I see a delay in answered prayer as either indifference or anger (in a “get it together and then I’ll answer your prayer” kind of way).  I’m grateful He opened my eyes to see the mercy behind what doesn’t make sense to me. 

…stay posted for more thoughts…  :)

fear, finances and snow

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so this past weekend, i attended a ladies seminar on the topic of “faith when fear comes knocking.”  it was great, i left with 6 pages of notes and a head full of thoughts to process. i left encouraged that my God is truly in control and that He knows my every need and that His faithfulness is enough to still the noise of doubts and questioning that often goes on in my head.

little did I know that less than 48 hours later, i would yet again be confronting one of my unwelcome fears head on.

as I was driving home yesterday afternoon from Charlotte, the heavy rain turned to a cold, wet, sticky snow.  All schools were canceled for Monday which means that the plant was also canceled.  Due to the downturn in the economy lately, we have had quite a few non-production and non-paid days called for the first quarter of the year.  By God’s grace, I’ve known about all of them in advance to budget appropriately and have not experienced any major setbacks.

then comes the snow…unexpected, wet and a great revealer of fear…pretty white stuff that seems so harmless.  immediately, my heart welled up and overflowed with fear.  fear of not having the money needed when the impending bills are due in the next 2 weeks.

then God assaulted that fear in my heart with a reminder of this past weekend… with a reminder of His faithfulness.  with a reminder that He has provided for my EVERY need in the past and that He is sovereignly ruling over even a snowstorm.  that He knows due to the snow I’ll only be working 28 hours this week instead of 40.  And that He knows that 28 hours just isn’t financially enough.

the struggle is there to think that somehow it all won’t work out, but God has been faithfully reminding me today that He is good, that He is my Jehovah-Jireh (the God who provides) and that He knows my needs.  I’m learning, in a new way, what it means to praise God for His faithfulness despite my circumstances… to thank Him that I’m employed and physically able to work at all… to thank Him for safety as I drove home yesterday in pouring rain and poor visibility and to thank Him that even when I don’t see the way, He always provides for me.

Faith when Fear comes Knocking

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Tonight I attended a ladies meeting at Crossway church in Charlotte.  The topic was “Faith when Fear comes Knocking.”  I’m sure I’ll post more on this at a later time, when I’ve had more time to process through my notes.  But here are some things to chew on in the meantime…

“Knowing and understanding the kind of God we serve is crucial in our battle against fear.”

So, then the question is… what kind of God do we serve?  The God that is revealed to us in Scripture is a just God full of steadfast love and unending faithfulness. 

Who is He?  He is the God that, as I was walking in my own ways, ignoring Him, was rich in mercy, full of great love for me.  As He saw me dead in my sins, He offered me mercy and made me alive in Him by the death of Jesus Christ, His Son (Eph 2:4-5).  He was the God who sacrificed so that I can call Him Father  (1 John 3:1).  He is a very present help in my times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).  He is the God who will complete what He, by His grace, began (Phil 1:6).  He is the God that has promised freedom from fear (and other sins) as I come to know who He is through His Word (John 8:31-32, Galatians 5:1).  He is a God of amazing power (Exodus 14).  He is faithful, even through my afflictions, which He ordained for me (Psalm 119:75). 

That’s my God.  Knowing Him and seeing His faithfulness is the reason I don’t need to fear.  He is full of compassion for me.  He knows my weakness, remembers my frame of dust (Psalm 78) and offers fresh mercies every morning (Lam.3).  His faithfulness is always there (Psalm 139).

He has been faithful in my past.  He is being faithful right now, even in the midst of terrible and hard circumstances.  And He has promised to sustain me each day… He will never ever ever stop being faithful. 

“As for God’s failing you, never dream of it… the God who has been faithful until now will be sufficient to the end.”  Spurgeon

lonely but not alone

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 This video is a song that was sung by Jon Payne at the Worship God 08 conference. It was directed towards folks who have lost a child. The reason I’m sharing it here is because of the chorus. God has used the words to encourage me many times since I first heard it in August. 

 Currently I’m in a season of trial that has been extremely challenging for me. I’ve found it nearly impossible to put my hope in God and to see Him as bigger than the circumstances He’s walking me through. I’ve struggled to hear His voice, struggled to see His guiding hand and felt often that He has abandoned me to figure this all out on my own.   I’ve found myself doubting His goodness, failing to cling to His grace, and accusing His charachter. 

And then He brought this song to mind… “you are lonely but never alone, afflicted but not abandoned. You are suffering but not severed from my love.”

So, how I feel is like Martin Luther did once… that God is dead.  Functionally, that’s how I feel.  But praise be to God, how I feel doesn’t dictate what is true.  Rather, truth is unchanging… no matter what storms and doubts arise.  What is true is what is written in Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

My God is intimately acquainted with my ways (Psalm 139:3), He keeps me (Psalm 121), He is the reason I don’t have to fear (Psalm 27), He shepherds and guards even when I lack trust and faith (Psalm 78), He upholds me as I cling to Him (Psalm 62).

I am praying that God would do for me what He did for Jeremiah… that He would allow these words to come to life in such a way that would give me joy in my despair.  That He would feel very present in this time of trouble and that like Peter wrote, He would allow me to rejoice in my suffering because I’m aware that He is loving and always gracious to me.

i will lead you

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You ask how long can I go on like this
Its been so long since I have felt your presence
Once I thought I knew you, you say,
You thought you knew me well
But in this season you’re learning more about me
About my wisdom, about my grace,
about my timing, about my ways

I will lead you in my ways
As you trust me, I’ll show you the way
I will sustain you by my grace
For all the days you wait.
I am working in you to for my Son
To make you more like Him.
Have patience, I am working even now
To accomplish my plans for you

Can you believe that even this is part of my plan
For you?
I know what you need.
I know this will cause you to run to me.
Which is what I’ve intended all along.

So wait for Me. You can trust Me.
Wait for me. I am sure. Wait for me.
You can believe me.
For all my ways, all my ways are good
and wise for you.

(song can be heard at this link at 42:01 through the end)

sung by Bob Kauflin during the Friday night sermon at Worship God 08.