Here are a few highlights of the final two days of the conference:
1) Bill Lawrence preached a powerful message on "The Supremacy of Humility" from Philippians 2. Christ came to turn the values of the world upside down. We make a huge mistake if we expect Christianity to make sense, especially to the people of the world. It's not supposed to make sense, at least not at first. Christ emptied himself in order to enter humanity as a tiny baby, and he voluntarily became a slave to others for the sake of his Father. He went so far as to die on the cross. None of this is "normal" in the world's estimation of how we should live. Humility make not make us popular with anyone but God, but if he is pleased with us, it doesn't matter what others think.|
2) Mark Bailey focused on our coming resurrection and contrasted it to the way we focus on the things of this world. He quoted Peggy Noonan who pointed out that ours is the first generation that truly believes the goal of life is personal happiness. Other generations understood that this life is mean to be short, hard, "mean and brutish." But having lost our belief in "the other world," we are left desperately trying to cling to this world that is quickly passing away. But if we truly believe in the resurrection of the body, we won't be afraid to live dangerously for Christ. Perhaps that "danger" will be the literal risk of taking the gospel into hard places of the world, or that "danger" may simply be living with reckless abandon for Christ because you don't plan to be here forever anyway.
3) Jeff Bingham challenged the popular notion that you can be a Christian in isolation from others. God never intended to redeem solitary saints who live in blissful seclusion from others. Go back to Eden where he said, "It is not good for man to be alone." That applies to much more than marriage. The "new humanity" God is creating in Christ joins men and women from all races, backgrounds, languages and cultures. "You cannot live the Christian life by yourself, in a closet or a cave, because God intended that you be part of the new humanity that makes up the body of Christ. You cannot truly live the Christian life without the rest of us."
There was more, much more, but this is a little taste. I preached five times and got to listen to twelve sermons. I can testify that it was good for my soul to hear so much excellent preaching. I didn't realize how much I needed it until I got to Mount Hermon. Having returned home, I feel like I gained much more than I gave, which makes me feel very good about the week we spent in California.
To sign up for Pastor Ray's free weekly sermon email list, click here. You can find his daily weblog, online sermons, travel schedule, and other resources at www.keepbelieving.com. You can write Pastor Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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