Once again, there is just so much to write about. The exhibition booths and the folks who have manned these booths have been friendly and warm, and generous as they have given away a lot of cool free things to us. The Hilton here in Atlanta has been amazing. Everyone that works here has been warm and grateful for our being here.
But, I want to share a story that has spoke me more than the words this brother has spoken. There is no shortage of talented, grace infused brothers and sisters that have come to this conference to speak and to share their hearts. One of these talented brothers is Don McLauglin from right in ATL. I haven’t heard Don speak much, but the few times I have he is so powerful, so convicting. His key note session last night was one of those convicting and powerful times when God speaks loud and clear through a brother. Don used Colossians 2:13-23 as his text and he spoke about the problem at Colosse being a Jesus problem, and he spoke about our problem in the church in America being a Jesus problem too. The problem has been the decentering of Jesus with other things of lesser importance. He spoke of wasted opportunities to help move people closer to Jesus as we bicker of issues that have business arguing over. His remedy was that the cross decenters all the immaterial things and places Jesus and focus on him as the center. Don talked about how this generation of young people are looking for authenticity. Kids want to see how what we preach meshes with how we live. Well, Don amazed me in a profound way. Several hours before his evening keynote session, I happened to see him in the bathroom. There was a pile of used paper towels that had managed to miss the trash can and were laying in a heap at the foot of the trash can. Here is this preacher, widely traveled and well known. He could have walked right by and it would have been cool. I got to be in the bathroom with brother McLaughlin. Don, paused then stooped low and picked up the paper towels. I was astounded. He was modeling what he preaches. His words last night at the key note session were inspiring, encouraging, convicticting. His sermon he preached in the bathroom was his authentic expression of following Jesus. Don, thanks for the living sermon.
The classes continue to be amazing. I had the privelege of sitting at Dr. Carson Reed’s feet. I have read his blog for sometime, and it was good to finally get to meet him yesterday. His class was on the Gospel of Matthew and how we can see Matthew’s literary structure as a didactic tool as well as painting a grand picture of Jesus.
Chris Seidman’s classes on the Holy Spirit have been amazing. Last year in Colorado Springs, I sat at his feet for a couple of days and heard some great teaching on and about the Spirit. Once again, this year as his series continues, I am amazed again at just how little I know about the Spirit of God. I can testify though that as Chris has prodded our thinking that I am beginning to see places where God has been moving and how the Spirit has been involved.
Yesterday morning started with an early morning devotional with Dr. Randy Harris. He told a story of an olympic diver who stood at the edge of the diving board and then back away, this went on for a while until finally, the diver climbed down the ladder. Later, the diver was asked why he couldn’t jump and he said something to this effect, “I realized at that moment, I had been training for the Olympics all my life, and as I stood there, I realized that this is not what I want to do any more. If I ever dive again, it will be because I choose to, not because I have too.” How powerful, how profound. Randy, related that to the spiritual discipline of relinquishment, just laying it down. I know I have needed to lay down youth ministry for a while and I feel like finally I can pick it back up.
I am honored by all the care and concern that just oozes out of the Board and the shepherds that have come to just love on us. God loves me, this I know.