So much has happened over the past few days that I don’t even know where to start this post, or where to end it, or what to say between those two points…but I figure I’ll just put my fingers over the keys and see where it goes from there.
7 weeks ago I sat down in my living room, opened my heart to Jesus, and asked Him what my next steps needed to be to break a habit of apathy I was beginning to experience more and more. Almost instantly I felt the need to begin getting the words out of my mouth onto paper (or screen in this case). I setup the site, I wrote a post, I started 9 more drafts of other posts, I felt refreshed, I felt excited. I set a goal to sit down at least weekly to continue this outpouring of my soul into a readable form, to daily come before Jesus in prayer, to change my life for the better. 7 weeks ago I decided to restart blogging. 7 weeks ago I decided to break the chain of apathy that had been forming in me. 6 weeks ago I failed yet again.
For the past 6 weeks I have not done what I set out to do. Simple proof of that is this post…6 weeks have gone by since I set a goal of posting weekly…6 failures right there. 49 days ago I said I would start every day with time before my Lord. To be honest…I’ve done that maybe twice since then; tack on another 47 failures. I said I was going to focus on getting things accomplished and not wasting all my time on things that don’t matter…yup, you guessed it…more failure. I’m not trying to belittle myself or be super negative…I’m just saying all this to show that I’m not perfect, I’m just an ordinary person that makes mistakes on a daily basis.
Over the past two days I’ve been blessed to be able to attend the Send North America Conference, a conference filled with awesome music and awesome speakers that decided to come spill out their experiences and knowledge to 13,000 people in attendance to help ignite a movement of missions in the Church again. While I took a lot away from this, some of which I’ll be telling you about shortly…one of the most refreshing things I heard was a rather simple statement by David Platt. I don’t remember the exact quote, but he said that a lot of times at conferences like this they will end with a call to be extraordinary people doing extraordinary things for God…but that’s not something he would do. He said that we aren’t extraordinary people, we are just ordinary people…and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Ordinary people, people with jobs, people with lives and family, people with issues…just people. It’s not our job to be extraordinary…that’s God’s job. We just have to be ordinary…which is awesome, because I’m really good at doing that. Ordinary people that listen to the words of Jesus and just step out to DO what He has told us to do…God will take it from there. Let God be extraordinary, don’t take the glory from Him by trying to do it yourself.
I can’t name all the speakers, or even talk about every single aspect of the things that were flowing through my mind and heart over the past few days…it would take many, many posts to get an accurate description of everything that I’m feeling right now…and even then it might not even be accurate because truthfully I still haven’t processed it all. You can checkout a list of the speakers here…you might know a few. While all of the speakers were excellent, I have to say that David Platt (one of my all time favorite pastors to begin with) and Vance Pitman were the two that really hit my heart the most. I think I got the most out of what they spoke about because they were two topics that I realize I need to work on a lot. Coming to the Lord in prayer often and always, and having a heart for people in need.
I’ve always thought that I had a huge heart for people in need. For a long time I’ve had a desire to help the homeless, the poor, the hungry, the needy, the downtrodden, etc…but I’ve always thought about them as groups of people instead of individuals…I unintentially detached my desire to help from my feelings. While I’ve cared about them, I’ve never wept for them…I’ve never had my heart broken for them to the extent that I would drop everything to do whatever I could to help a single individual or the entire cause. I’ve always thought I was doing all I can to help those in need but I realize now that it’s only when it suits me, only when I have the time, only when it won’t affect the plans that I already have. I feel like I’ve been doing what I can to help in order to make myself feel good rather than just to help them. I let pride get in the way of what I was really trying to accompish by offering help.
I was also made vividly aware of how horrible my prayer life is. I read about prayer, I know I need prayer, I know the power of prayer…but for some reason I don’t get down on my knees nearly enough. A lot of times I find myself praying reactively instead of proactively. I guess I’ve always thought that as long as I’m praying a little bit I’m good. Praying is praying right? Even though I know that’s not really true, that God doesn’t listen to prayers if they aren’t coming from the right motivation, I’ve done it anyway. While I can’t say that all of my prayers have been filled with selfish motivation…they have been filled with things that don’t really put God first. I guess you could say I am sometimes selfish with the needs of others…which seems good on the surface but when that’s the ONLY thing you are praying about it’s most certainly not good. 99% of my prayers are in reaction to the pain of others, to the need of others, etc. I don’t often start a prayer with praising God. I don’t often thank God just for being God…thank him for his Grace, for his Glory. That is something I would really like to change…and I think the number one thing that I’m going to focus on going foward…because with that, with getting my prayer life straighted out I can come before my Father in the right way, in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Vance Pitman told a story about how a woman that he didn’t even know existed had been praying specifically for his sending church to send a church planter to her city to start a church because she knew that that church would be a gospel centered church aimed at furthering the mission of the Gospel first and foremost. She prayed for a year and a half. Every. Single. Day. That church has now been furthering the Kingdom of God in awesome ways for more than 15 years now…because of one persons prayers. To see a pastor drop to his knees in tears during a sermon because he is so in awe of seeing the Glory of God in person is eye opening. It made me realize just how little faith I have sometimes. Sure I pray, sure I believe that God can do anything. But I usually pray once and that’s that…I leave it alone, because it’s done. I believe God CAN do something…but a lot of times I realize that I don’t believe he WILL do something. That needs to be the first thing that changes in my life…and I think tons of things would only look up from there. I talk to people that are having problems and tell them “God First” and I give advice about having an unwaivering prayer life…but I haven’t been doing it myself. That changes today.
I learned so much more than this over the past two days. But these are the two that stood out to me the most and what I felt that I really need to fix before I focus on other things. Starting with a heart change just seems like the most common sense thing to do.
That’s enough of the deep stuff, now to talk a bit about the conference itself!
Me and 7 other people from The Pines came out to experience an awesome move of God and to learn things that we can take back to Summerville and to change our lives so we can lead by
example. I certainly believe we accomplished this!
So many awesome speakers, so many awesome singers and bands. I knew David Crowder was going to be there, but I thought he was only going to do a song or two…much to my surprise he did an entire concert on Monday night. That was an awesome experience in itself!
I got to see one of my favorite speakers, David Platt, in person and to see the passion that God has given to some people is just amazing and inspiring.
Certainly not least was the time I’ve gotten to hang out with a group of people that I’m living life with on a daily basis. From attending the conference, to escaping from a locked room, to cliff diving…it’s been an awesome experience. Amber, Brad, BJ, John, Mary, Nikki, Tara…I’m so thankful for you all and the things that we are doing as we live life on mission together. I can’t imagine where I would be today without you…and can’t wait to see what awesome things God has in store!
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. – Psalm 34:15
Heavenly Father, I come to You today in amazement of the vastness of Your Love and Grace. I thank You for the forgiveness that You so willingly gave to me through the death and resurrection of Your Son. Over the past few days I’ve felt a need to come closer to You. I pray that You would give me the strength to do this without hesitation. I pray that You would help me overcome the apathy, the laziness, and the procrastination that I so often put ahead of You. I ask that You would just empower me to come before You in any and all situations. That I would grow in awe of You and that I would just fall on my face in front of You in sheer amazement of Your Glory. Help me to put You first in EVERYTHING that I do. Use me for Your will, no matter what that is. Make my life point only to You. Remove me from my own thoughts and point them to You. Move so greatly in my life that others will have no doubt that it is You and only You that could have accomplished it all. Lead Lord, and I WILL follow.