- Stop trying to earn God’s love and just let Him love me. The more I learn to bask in God’s love, the more free I become to engage in life.
- Believe that there is incredible richness and wisdom to be gained from failure.
- Embrace the idea that everything that comes into my life is the raw material for growth.
- Accept the truth that I cannot live life to the full unless I both give and receive forgiveness.
- Refuse to allow myself to believe there are times when I don’t have a choice.
- Celebrate the fact that life is not about being complete but about being full.
- Realize the enormous importance of questions.
- Understand that the more at home I am with who I am in Jesus Christ, the more at home I can feel anywhere with anybody.
- Allow gratitude to permeate my every day, ordinary life.
- Acknowledge that I end up predominantly as a wounded healer or an unhealed wounder.
- Refuse to avoid pain, instead allow God to make my pain fruitful.
- Show up where my body is. Be present.
- Take the risk of being vulnerable.
- Have a Biblical view of God, self and others.
- Realize that I can’t be efficient in relationships, but I can be effective.
- Recognize that every person has something to teach me.
- Strive to not allow circumstances and limitations to become barriers instead of boundaries.
- Nurture a passionate sense of potential.
- Realize that my life is not a series of disconnected, unrelated events, but is a story that God and I are writing.
- Distinguish the difference between happiness and joy.
- Live with expectancy instead of expectations.
- Remember that change is built into God’s design for the universe and for me. Therefore, I must learn to embrace change.
- Never forget that God has not called me to defend Him but to reflect Him.
- Realize that no matter how lightly I touch another person’s life, I leave an imprint.
- Refuse to be so caught up in the rush of life that I do not take the time to reflect and think.
These are some of the things I am learning about living life to the full. I say “Learning” because I have to rediscover them in every new encounter, every new circumstance, and every new situation. You will have your own list. For me, in order to live life to the full I must:
Taking the church’s pulse is an imprecise science. Anecdotal reports, intuitive sensing, listening carefully to conversation in the hallway or over pie at Perkins: the yardsticks are, at best, sketchy. One of the most solid screens these days, though, is social media. A Facebook post, a Twitter retweet, an Instagram or Snapchat moment: all can give a good read.
If these can be trusted, then our second Church of God (ChoG) Regional Convention and ChoG Table, ending last week in Anderson, found the church’s heartbeat strong and its pulse quickened. Live tweets from the floor, pictures posted on Facebook, energetic and healthy dialogue in the venue hallways and in local restaurants, all bore witness to the enthusiasm, expanding vision, and fresh air in the house.
Milton Grannum? Hands down, just one of the best. “Class act.” “Anointed.” “Powerful.” These are the words breathed by the crowd, following his keynote message at the Convention’s opening night. Ben Hardman? “Wow.” “Just what we needed.” “How can I learn more from this guy?” Just a sample of the buzz after his next-day morning session focused on discipleship and leadership. Arnetta McNeese Bailey? “She knows how to bring it home!” “Moving.” “Challenging.” “Never better.” Her tackling of the Lord’s Good Samaritan parable in Luke 10 stood tall. Steve Arterburn? “Amazing.” “So on point.” “I had a breakthrough in my thinking as he talked.” “Life-changing.” There’s a reason Arterburn has sold over eight million books—and his afternoon sessions gave us a glimpse why. And, Reggie McNeal? “I’m bringing my local church leaders to Philadelphia to hear him for themselves.” “Hilarious, seriously.” “Kingdom-centered revolutionary.” “He reframed my whole ministry.” There’s just none like him.
And, our worship leaders? Many thanks to Alanna Story: something old, something new, and bluegrass, too—all of it fresh and pure, always. “I loved it.” “So sensitive to the moment.” “More, please!” And so the reviews poured in.
One high school student from out of town came up to me following one of the Convention sessions and asked, “Why didn’t everyone in my youth group hear about this? I want them all to be here. It’s so fabulous!” I replied, “You’ll have to talk to your local pastor about that.” :) His excitement speaks to one of our important aims: engaging new generations in our ChoG meet-ups, even as we work to also honor the tried and true.
Of course, there were some who, fairly, were disappointed that the ChoG Regional was not a replica of the Anderson Camp Meetings of days gone by. The music might be too loud or too modern for some, the preaching too long, the schedule too busy for others. Some concluded that The Table speakers did not adequately explore all of the dimensions of the immigration and refugee debate; this, too, was fair. But, the biggest disappointment shared was that the Convention and Table were too short: “I just wanted to have more; I didn’t want it to end,” was the oft repeated refrain.
And, for thirsty complaints like these, well, we are grateful.
Many thanks to all of our ChoG Ministries staff and volunteers who worked for months to make last week possible. Thanks to our Madison Park Church friends for so graciously welcoming us into their facilities; the auditorium, Commons, conference rooms, catering, Holy Grounds, and more, were exceptional; none finer.
Thank you for being a part. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for investing time and dollars to strengthen the body of Christ by being present, by listening and sharing all along the way. Thanks for believing the best and loving so much. The ChoG Regional Convention and ChoG Table crowds were a positive, world-changing, Christ-following bunch. Just as they were in our first set in Vancouver (Portland) last April. And, just as they will be at our next ChoG Regional and Table in Philadelphia in September.
Reclaim Your Neighbor[Hood]. The Lord is good. Jesus is the subject. Thanks for being a part of our church family. Mark your calendar now for the next ChoG USA + Canada National in Wichita in June 2017. You won’t want to miss it; see ya then, if not before.