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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reflection, refreshment, renewal, rejuvenation, rejoicing, reminders

A week's time away from the office has nearly ended. But who wants to dwell on that just yet. I want to share with you a little about my week.

Last Sunday, July 26, I listened to a wonderfully uplifting message titled "Take Time for a Time Out" from Psalm 46:10 which says, "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" The message was delivered by my husband, but that was not what made it wonderful. It was simply the message given. The message of being still, of knowing, of abiding with our Holy God, of being complete with Him. It was a wonderful start to a God-filled week of rejuvenation, refreshment, renewal and even reminders of who we are as followers of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

This week was the Cedar Falls Bible Conference in Cedar Falls. It is a well-kept secret, as there are many in this state of Iowa who have no clue of its existence, with 2009 marking its 88th year. The conference is a week-long event, with speakers nightly and two sessions each morning. There is no registration fee; it is faith-based donation only. Speakers this year were Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, Dr. Michael Milton, Pastor Colin Smith, Dr. Derek Thomas, Youth Pastor Bill Kallenberg and Josh McDowell. Among musicians were soloist Diane Susek, Brethren men's gospel quartet, pianist Ronna Wyant.

Jim and I weren't able to spend the entire week at the conference, primarily because only I had the entire week off from work; he did not. So we drove up Sunday afternoon and came home Sunday night and again on Tuesday and on Thursday and on Friday. A lot of driving, even if only an hour each way. A lot of filling the gas tank. But oh what spiritual refreshment we received.

Thursday night we rented a cabin, but only I spent the night. Jim had to work Friday and he came up after a long work day. Our cabin had a name - Chickadee. Such a cute cozy place. And colorful - reds, oranges, yellows. A perfect place to relax, read. Thursday night was a bit on the chilly side and of course I didn't sleep well. Friday night was much improved and it was a few degrees warmer as well. We've talked of perhaps renting the cabin for the entire week next year during Bible Conference.

We walked around the conference grounds, fittingly called Riverview, because over yonder there is a view of the river, and we walked around a nearby cemetery and looked at tombstones and talked about the people buried there, and we enjoyed visiting with friends made over the many years we have come here and partaking of tasty sweet corn, brats, pie and ice cream.

This morning I read from Philippians 2:12-18. Those verses that particularly spoke to me were
(12) "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, ... (14) Do all things without murmuring and disputing, (15) that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."

My thoughts ....
Not just with fellow believers, but with all of mankind we are to shine the light of Christ in ourselves so all may see, and we are to shine His light without complaining and murmuring, without finding fault in anything.

If I be for Christ, then I must walk as for Him, not for myself.

If I walk only for myself, how will any other see the Christ I want them to see?

If another doesn't know the Lord or is a new Christian, what they see in another who professes to be a Christian may leave them perplexed, uncertain as to why Christianity is so important. When they see complaints made against another, quarreling, untruths (lies), where is God in that person?

If Christ is the light, and He truly is, and if we are to shine as Christ in the world, but do not, but instead live in darkness, we are not presenting an accurate portrayal of Jesus. We have given ourselves over to the ways of the devil. For if we are not for Him are we not against Him? We cannot straddle the fence and be both.

We can not shine for Him in church or around fellow believers and become dull and dark elsewhere.

Today's morning sessions were presented by Bill Kallenberg, who has worked with youth for many years and is a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. He says it plain.

Points made:
  • Partial obedience to God is disobedience. If you're not being obedient at all points, then you're not being obedient at any point. You are sinning. Disobedience is sin.
  • When we are confronted with a sin, we tend to blame someone else. We don't take responsibility for our mistakes. And when we finally do take responsibility, when we are so overwhelmed by the sorrow of what we have done, it may be too late.
  • God can use whatever we have if we allow Him to take charge, control of our lives.
David. David fought The Giant and won.

But in whose strength did he fight? And in whose strength did he win? It was not his own. It was in God's strength that David fought and won.

Yes, David fought the giant again and again and again. There were five altogether. Read 2 Samuel 21:15-22 -- there are four others listed there -- giants I didn't remember there being, maybe you didn't remember there being five giants either. They were all relatives of The Giant, but its what they represent that is important.

There's the giant of pride ... the giant of hypocrisy ... the giant of gossip .... and the giant of multiple pain - rejection, longings, guilt, abandonment, resentment, bitterness, anger, finances, religion, unbelief, procrastination, laziness, rebellion are a few. Man I bet you never realized how many giants we have to contend with in our lives. What Kallenberg says is we have to get our eyes off of our problems and solely onto God; off the situation and on to supernatural power. The Lord alone will help us to overcome all the giants in our personal lives.

We must lay it all at Jesus' feet or in His hands. Give it to Jesus. Trust Him to enable you to overcome the fight with the giant you face. Continue to give it to Him. When you take it back, return it. The battle is the Lord's. The battle was won at Calvary.

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"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6