Racing in earnest…

As some may know that asked me, my trip to Ellerslie wasn’t what I expected.  Most hear that and think “Oh, sorry, that’s too bad.”  Honestly though, it wasn’t bad at all.  It was great!  It just showed me again that I had expected one of two things to happen but instead a third thing happened.  So I was left realizing that I had put the trip into one of two boxes and didn’t allow my thoughts to wander around for another option.  Good thing God doesn’t care what hole I think the peg goes into!

So what was so great?  I’m glad you asked!  As I had previously written, I love the way those involved with Ellerslie unabashedly pursue and present the Truth.  I really am drawn to the complete adoration and commitment they have to their King and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I’ve only been a born-again Christian for about 7 years, but no where else have I seen such a collection of people just constantly going after the things that matter and not caring what the world thinks about them.  They spend time talking about, teaching and living focused on the Bible, Jesus, prayer, honor, integrity, and Irish Elks.  Sure, I’ve witnessed sprinklings of this here and there but have rarely, if ever seen it so clear as in those at Ellerslie.

The conference began with worship and the message Majesty Lost (sermon audio & notes) on Friday and then ran through another seven teachings on Saturday.  It was a long time but I felt like I was just spiritually poured into.  Eric Ludy described the event like drinking from a fire hose and I couldn’t agree more.  The teachings about the Flesh vs Spirit, Honor, and Prayer definitely stayed most prominent in my mind since then.  It’s funny though, because I can see the things that God was preparing in me leading up to the conference and then how that conference really sealed them or put the finishing touches on for me.

One is my discipleship class I am leading this summer.  I already had the framework and the title “Racing in Earnest” which to me means seeking God deliberately and in all honesty.  This to me means a 24 hour, 7-day a week living that actually believes the Bible for what it says and bases their life on that.   I could go on and on about it, but I am extremely excited to be leading this class as well as pulling from many resources to create the curriculum so to speak.  Using some of Ludy’s notes from his message The Gospelteer, will fit perfectly for this class and are a result of having spent time at the Taste of Ellerslie.

Another was the idea of how I spent my time.  My wife and I had been talking for a couple of months about how we spent our time, what we had in our house, and things of that nature.  During one of the sessions, it was said (my paraphrase) “No where in the Bible do we see the idea of vegging out and turning of the mind.  Instead we see people being told to stay vigilant, alert, and continue in prayer as not to fall into temptation.  We turn off our brains and the enemy is slipping behind the lines.”  That seemed to just seal the deal for me.  Now, for at least the next year and until we feel lead differently, we have eliminated things that beckon us to shut off our brains and be entertained.  Not out of a sense of legalism but out of a sense of wanting to not focus on my own entertainment but instead reading, spending time with God, spending time with people, etc.  I’ve allowed TV, internet, and video games be a time bandit way too much in my 33 years and so I feel led to head in this direction.  (I’ve already read 3 books since returning!!  An NMI book, Tortured for Christ by Wurmbrand, and God’s Pursuit of Man by Tozer.)

Word pictures.  One thing I cannot get enough of are the word pictures Eric Ludy comes up with.  I will re-uses them over and over again!  Airplanes, banquets, and digging never had such vivid application.

Finally, honor.  The idea of honor has never hit home like it did in my time at Ellerslie.  How we represent our King and are to defend his honor at all costs; even at a cost to us and our own reputation.  How death to self plays into an honorable person and truth and integrity are the cornerstone upon which honor is built.  This message and time in prayer that weekend led me to sacrifice part of me I was still holding onto: my reputation.  In a denomination where you can only get a job when people know who you are, I worried that no one would ever know who I was being an associate in no-man’s-land, Indiana.  That died.  It wasn’t painless, but it was necessary and so my prayer leaving was and still is, “Lord, may no one know my name but you.”  If it isn’t for His glory than it’s for ruin and just dirty rags.

Here are some non-conference specific highlights for me:

  • On the flight from Louisville to Denver, I listened to 2 podcasts from Covenant Eyes.  The one I’ve linked really gets down to the origin to a lot of America’s views on sex.  Covenant Eyes Podcast
  • On the flight back, I listened to a sermon that really has been speaking volumes to me since my return.  I highly recommend anyone with an hour to listen, to do so: “10 Shekels and a Shirt” – Paris Reidhead
    • Love Reidhead’s treatment of liberal vs fundamentalist theology and how we use God as a means to our own ends; particularly the happiness of ourselves.  God is nobody’s means.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is the sum total of our existence.
    • Reidhead speaks about pragmatics taking over the ministry.  How numbers and such have gotten in the way.  He makes the great point that had Noah been a minister today, he wouldn’t stand a chance since he only had 7 converts in 150 years.
    • Finally, the story of the Moravians is one of the best examples of a sold out life to Christ I’ve ever heard.  Are people like that the exception or are they just real Christians?
Finally, seeing the new Ellerslie short film “The Gospel” was great.  I’ve shown it a few times to other since being backed and it continues to glorify Him time and again.  Watch it if you haven’t yet:
So Taste of Ellerslie wasn’t the shot that started the race, but it was the gatorade and cheers for me as I begin to race in earnest…
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