Thursday, April 17, 2008

Together for the Gospel 08

Just back in town after T4G 08 in Louisville with Gavin and Dane. (I wish Eric could have come too, though, Eric, I am sending you some books I picked up there. So you can share with us in it at least a little.) My primary take-away from the conference comes from C. J. Mahaney's address this morning. His introductory point: It is not enough to be faithful in serving Christ. The test is to be joyful as well as faithful in serving Christ.

How then is joy inspired and sustained day by day? One, gratitude to God: "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you" (Philippians 1:3). God has given us people to care for. Ministry is a gift, a privilege, and therefore a joy, not an imposition to chafe under. If God gave me what I deserve, he'd say, "You're so outta here, buddy." But instead, he gives me and you the gift of responsibility for others, and undeserved gifts make us happy.

Two, faith in God: "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). We are walking among living miracles of God's saving power, and he is totally committed to them. We may be confident that they will shine with glory forever, and God has involved us in their unfolding story. What a joy!

Three, the affection of Christ Jesus: "God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:8). Christ Jesus on high feels deep, intense, rich, eternally joyous affections for everyone in our care. If he feels that way about them, then we can look to him, watch him, observe him, take note of him, marvel at him, and the affections of our own hearts for them are refreshed.

I am refreshed, to the praise of God.