In listening to Chan speak I got to thinking that maybe a problem I am having is that I am "under-spiritualizing" things. You can tell from Francis that he has a close relationship with God and that relationship is what is guiding every decision he makes. He often asks this question, "If you were left alone on an island with no preconceived notions and a Bible, do you think that your church would look like our church does now?" The answer is an emphatic NO. We have so changed what the Bible says a church is supposed to look like into what Americans would like a church to look like.
He said at his church they decided that if they are to love their neighbors as themselves then they should give as much to their neighbors as they give to themselves. So 50% of their overall budget goes to do local and overseas mission work that will help their neighbors. This is a man that truly follows after God.
Later on in the day we heard from John ElderidgeThis man said some totally un-Baptist things. This man said things that would cause quite a stir in most of my circles. This man said some things that would be chalked up as heresy by some people in Christianity. This man said that he hears from God.
He said that the Bible is full of examples of people who were able to hear from God, and we call them exceptions "Yeah but that was the Old Testament." "Yeah but that was a long time ago." and this man says don't you think that if God put all of those people in the Bible that He would want them to serve as examples and not as exceptions.
He gave story after story of times when he heard God speak to him and the confirmation that came through the circumstances. He said one time he was going to take his family on a vacation to a dude ranch and he asked God if it was okay. God said no. Elderidge was disappointed but listened, and that summer during the week they were going to go on this trip there was a massive wildfire that spread through and destroyed the dude ranch.
I believe the sincerity of this man, and I hope that he is right, because wouldn't it be awesome to have that kind of relationship with God.
Finally we heard from probably my favorite preacher around right now. I tivo his messages and have seen him speak on TV on quite a few occasions. His name is Ed Young and he is known as the creative Pastor.
He talked about the big elephant in the room that Pastors would never talk about. He said the elephant was (and then he made an elephant noise) betrayal! That at some point in every Pastor's life they will be betrayed by someone. And usually it is someone who is close to you. He said it is like Judas, they get close enough to kiss you, so they're close enough to dis you.
But he said there are positive aspects to being betrayed by someone. And then he told us a true story.
When they were in the building process for Fellowship Church they wanted to make a 4300 seat auditorium but they could only afford to make it a 2000 seat auditorium. Then a man came through and said that he was going to give them millions to build the church they wanted. He showed them papers that would prove that the money had been wired over to the church's account.
Long story very short, after months into this building project they found out the man had lied and had made up all the documents and that there wasn't millions of dollars, there was nothing. Obviously Ed Young was hurt and was betrayed, but he said that if it weren't for this man betraying him that they wouldn't have had the faith to build the 4300 seat auditorium that they wanted to in the first place. Absolutely amazing!
Anyhow, I left this conference not even the least bit excited to go to Islands of Adventure, but I was very excited to get back to my people and do ministry. I left with a vow that our youth ministry was going to be a spiritual one, and that I was going to hold our kids to a much higher standard than I am now, and I am convinced that they will thank me for it one day.
God bless you all, and spend some time today thanking God for all of the many blessings that He has given us.