I returned earlier this week from a two-week vacation at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference. It is a much anticipated vacation for my family because it is loads of fun. There are a host of activities for our boys, ranging from putt-putt to tennis to rock climbing to zip lining, and yet ample time to relax for hours each day at the beach pictured above. Yet it is not just about fun and relaxation, it is also a time of spiritual renewal. Each day there are two Bible-based teaching sessions. These sessions are led either by the pastor or the missionary organization that are featured that week. For example, our first week we heard from Erwin Lutzer (Moody Church, Chicago) and ABWE (specifically their project to build a hospital in Northern Togo). The second week we heard from Ray Pritchard (Keep Believing Ministries) and Wycliffe Bible Translators. It is humbling to hear all their stories and to witness the sacrifice that these people have made to serve God.
I walked away with many nuggets this year, just as I have in years past. Here is a brief sampling of some of my favorites:
- In the Christian walk, God requires us to answer two primary questions: (1) How much do you love me? and (2) How much do you trust me? (Erwin Lutzer)
- Faith for the future is based on God's grace in the past. (Erwin Lutzer) This means we need to be reflective and intentional enough to acknowledge and remember God's gracious provision.
- Faith never judges God by circumstances. (Erwin Lutzer). In my opinion, there's a growing problem among Christians that overemphasizes circumstances, which is contrary to the message of the Bible. Faith should never be determined by circumstances, nor should ethics.
- Sufficient grace comes with sufficient faith. (Erwin Lutzer). 2 Corinthians 12:9
- All truth is narrow; God's grace is broad. (Ray Pritchard)
- Pray for tenacious, winsome courage. (Ray Pritchard)
- Love people where you find them, just like Jesus did. (Ray Pritchard)
- Everything we do is tainted, yet twenty-four hours a day Jesus provides the righteousness God demands. (Erwin Lutzer)
- Abraham was, of course, a man of great faith. He believed God in three specific areas: (1) he believed in the future and not just the present, trusting God's guidance without demanding to know the plan or destination; (2) he believed in the invisible not just the visible; and (3) He believed in promises, not explanations. (Erwin Lutzer)
- Faith always leads to ultimate victory, but we don't necessarily see it now. (Erwin Lutzer)
So this week may we persevere in faith, trusting God's promises without demanding explanations. In short, may we exude the childlike faith that so pleases our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!