Thanks to all of you who prayed for Daniel Cavanaugh, John Fechtel and I during the Teleios Conference. We had a challenging yet good time of encouraging the young men in their relationship with Jesus Christ. All of the speakers shared from their life experiences about what God has been teaching them. I opened it with the theme passage from Rom. 12:2 and what we need to be doing with our lives. Daniel gave a challenge about the problem of being lukewarm and asked straight up for the guys to raise their hands if they thought they were hot, cold, or lukewarm. Most of which raised their hands for lukewarm. We attempted to have a fireside chat but due to the weather the wood was wet and wouldn’t stay burning. So instead we all went back to the bunk house and had a casual discussion time. I spoke on idols of the heart and what I have struggled with in my life as well as things that deaden our spiritual senses and cause us to not have a hunger for God. There was definitely spiritual warfare going on (as expected). Not long after we had all gone to bed, one of the young men got sick and threw up all night; from 1am to 8am. This not only deprived him of sleep but the rest of us as well. He unfortunately had to be sent home due to the sickness, and one of the other guys also went home early for fear of getting sick. Weary and living on subpar camp food, John Fechtel started our Saturday with a challenge to the guys that if we call ourselves Christians why isn’t living for Christ our main priority. He challenged us to live like we mean it! Daniel shared two messages back to back on the need for ‘Biblical Thinking’ and on walking in ‘The Spirit of Life’. I spoke on honoring parents; especially the Father/son relationship. In between sessions many of the guys would hit the volleyball around or throw the Frisbee to get the blood flowing. Many of the young men were receptive to the message and challenges that they heard. Some shared (to the point of tears) very deep personal issues which they struggle with while some seemed indifferent and uninterested. It was a tough group to talk to because you couldn’t tell if you were getting through to them. I believe, though some ‘seemed’ uninterested, God is doing a work in their hearts and seeds were planted that will bring forth fruit in due season. This whole conference was something I felt God was leading me to do. While I didn’t feel this was something I would be good at, I knew He would have me to do it, and in my weakness He would be strong. I thank God for the guys who came alongside me and helped to encourage the men and for the young men whom God brought to the conference. I also thank God for all of you who prayed for us because I know your prayers made a difference in the lives of the young men.
It is hard to believe that a whole month and half has come and gone since the Summit and Christmas is upon us. It truly is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, a time with family and friends and remembering who Christ is and represents in our lives. We also want, at this time of the year, to update you on a gift that is coming your way from Vision4Living Ministries. Lord willing we will have the 2009 P4C messages uploaded on our website for you to download in mp3 format and share with others at the first of the year. We know that many of you have expressed interested in these and so we are responding to that request. Merry Christmas and may you have a Happy New Year!
Imagine leaving the comforts of home and the security of friends and family you have known for a lifetime to go somewhere unknown. Imagine going on the promise that a great opportunity awaits you. Imagine taking your wife into such an unknown “opportunity”. That is what the Old Testament patriarch Abram (later Abraham) did. He led his wife and his nephew into an unknown future. What are the qualities of leadership we can learn from Abraham?
First: He was a man of firm commitment. You can almost since the resolve of Abram in Genesis 12:4. “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him…” This was no light thing. Abram’s background, family, and environment were entirely pagan. But it was all he knew. To be snatched out of such familiar and comfortable surroundings by Jehovah was, to say the least, a life – changing experience. It took a lot of grace which resulted in firm commitment to the revealed will of God.
So it must be with every spiritual leader. We must have an unshakable reliance on the grace of God that results in a firm commitment to His revealed will. We have what Peter calls “a more sure word of prophecy” in the completed cannon of scripture (see 2 Peter 1:19). Everything we need to be wise spiritual leaders is contained there, and we would do well to saturate ourselves with it.
Second: He was a man with feet of clay. The Bible is quite frank about the weaknesses and failures of Old Testament saints. They were men and women “subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17). In other words, they were human. They sometimes blew it. And Abram was no exception. There is some disagreement among serious students of scripture whether Abram was right in leaving Canaan during the famine and going to Egypt (see Genesis 12, 10ff). I tend to see it as a lapse in faith. But there is no doubt that he should never have put his wife in harm’s way by passing her off as only his sister and allowing her to be taken into Pharaoh’s house with all that could have entailed. God, in His mercy, worked providentially to deliver Abram and Sarah from a potentially destructive situation. There is both an encouragement and a warning found in this episode. It is encouraging to know that our heavenly Father can and does supersede our weakness and folly. If it were not so, we would fall into all kinds of harm and destruction. We can depend on His covenant mercies. “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). The warning, however, is this. We must not presume upon our Father’s grace. That is a dangerous path to tread. While it is true that God can restore the years the locusts have eaten, we should try to avoid feeding the locusts of life. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” But we are not to sin in order that grace may abound (See Rom. 5:20-6:2).
Abraham’s firm commitment was an excellent starting point for a man who was called to lead into an unknown future. The fact that he had feet of clay should remind us that we too are weak and sinful and in need of the resources that are ours in Christ in order to lead to His glory. And our weakness makes the next quality of leadership Abraham exhibited all the more indispensable. We will take that quality and one other up the next time.
‘Teleios’ Life Conference, which is hosted by Lakeshore Bible Church in Tampa, FL, is designed for young men to pull away for the weekend and just seek the Lord and hear His word. Please be praying for Daniel Cavanaugh, Steven Curry, & John Fechtel as they will be the speakers presenting the word to these young men. The conference will be starting at 4:30 PM EST tomorrow and ends Saturday afternoon. Thank you for praying, and we look forward to sharing what the Lord is going to do!