Friday, May 3, 2013

Reflections on the Children Desiring God Conference

Every two years Children Desiring God holds a national conference that draws attendees from all over the world.  People come to learn and be encouraged by speakers and seminar presenters, all driven by a desire for the glory of God to be passed on to subsequent generations.  There are plenary sessions and seminars covering dozens of topics.  Unfortunately I'm only allowed to attend four seminars, although I would have liked to be able attend them all.  The seminars I attended today were very informative, and I have one more to go to tomorrow which I'm looking forward to.

Anyway, here are a just a few brief reflections from this day at the CDG conference.

1. Being 1 of 2000 people singing worship songs is an amazing experience.  Each day of the conference begins with music and a plenary session.  It's phenomenal to hear 2000 conference attenders singing to the same Lord with passion and conviction.  It makes me think of this albeit on a much smaller scale.  It's something everyone should experience this side of heaven, because once you get to heaven it'll be all you know, except infinitely better.

2. The church is an amazing thing.  If you're not a part of the church (i.e., not a Christian) you'll never know what it's like to walk into a room full of 2000 people and feel rather at home.  I didn't know anyone else at the conference personally (flying solo this time around) and yet there's an automatic identification with everyone else, if for no other reason than that we were united under the banner of Christ.  We were there because we love him, we love people, and we want to see his name made great in our times and places.  Is there any other entity on earth that can boast such a reality?  I can't think of any.  What a marvelous testimony to the world, when people from different backgrounds, countries, and experiences can have nothing in common, but yet have everything in common.

3. God has blessed the church with faithful, amazingly brilliant people.  One of the great things about attending a conference like this is just soaking up the wisdom of godly people who are in the process of going before you.  They have much wisdom and insight to share, and it behooves people like me to sit at their feet and learn.  David Michael, one of the main movers and shakers of CDG, was talking about some thinking he was doing regarding family ministry in his ministry context, and I was just blown away by the depth, yet simplicity, of some of the ideas he was sharing with our group.  Why hadn't I thought of that?  Another guy, Bruce Ware, led a seminar on leading children to know and love God by knowing and loving theology.  He led us through a simple formula he had adapted from scripture which was a simple, yet an astoundingly profound observation.  Thank God for the brains he has blessed people with, and their willingness to share their wisdom.

4. God's providence is an amazing thing.  One of the seminars I attended today was on including children with disabilities in the classroom.  It was led by a woman named Mary Horning.  Her oldest child was born with a rare syndrome (I can't remember the name of it), and she shared how this absolutely devastated her.  She shared quite a few of her struggles and ways that she has grown and learned to trust God throughout this process.  Her daughter is now 25 and has written a book on God's sovereignty in disability.  Mary then went on to lead a session on how to love like Jesus when ministering to people and families touched by disability.  It was not lost on me that when she gave birth to her disabled daughter, she probably never saw herself as leading seminars on loving like Jesus and facilitating disability ministry, blessing the people who were there listening.  But there she was.  Coincidence?  I think not.

5. I have much to learn, and a long ways to grow.  There is a tendency in ministry (at least with myself, and maybe this is true of all professions) to feel like you've arrived.  We get our degrees, do our studying, put in our time, and think we know it all.  It's a humbling thing to rub shoulders with people who can wipe the intellectual floor with me, not to mention with people who are so deeply passionate about the things of God it makes my faith look like a tiny pebble.  It's good to be humbled, and it's one of the ways that God uses people to encourage us and challenge us.  For example, David Michael was telling our group about a five month sabbatical he was given a couple years ago in which he had decided he would use to memorize the book of Ephesians.  Yes, memorize.  Put bluntly, memorizing Ephesians would not have been at the top of my list for a five month sabbatical.  But then I have to ask myself: why not?  That's a pretty remarkable thing.  I remember him reciting at at the last conference, word for word.

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