I was sadly quite distressed to read a rather harsh statement from the SGM Board of Directors released just before the start of the 14:30 session that seemed to go against so much of the humility and gentleness that Josh Harris expressed in his message to Covenant Life Church last Sunday about the "Mahaney saga". Essentially they have almost dismissed Brent Detweiler's concerns because the documents have been leaked on the internet.
There could be no more perfect time to enter into worship led by my very favourite - the wonderful Kate Simmonds. She taught us a couple of new songs - all of which were focused on the truth "In Christ Alone". Our hope is in Him and Him alone! We then finished by singing; "Shout to the Lord!" - the glorious anthem that just truly lifted me into heaven. I reflected that yes - men come and go, men like Mahaney's live and die, governments come and go, SGM may rise or fall, but Jesus Christ and only Him is forever!
That time of worship truly geared my heart towards receptivity towards the preaching - Terry Virgo came forward to give his second address of the conference again in Hebrews 12:1-15;
His prayer; "Lift our hearts again and with fresh joy so we can run into what you have for us".
In the race it is possible for us to grow weary in well-doing and lose heart so the invitation comes again to look to Him. Christ genuinely is the answer to every statement and every problem! Jesus Himself presented Himself as the answer to every problem. Keep him in focus and as you do it can inspire robust faith! When Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he walked on water! "Consider Him" - whatever circumstances, never turn your gaze away from Him.
Nothing compares to the Cross! The writer to the Hebrews says; "You are in danger of forgetting". Fear is beginning to dominate you - you have forgotten Proverbs 3; "My Son" - (v11-12). Hebrews have an OT perspective full of revelation of who they were yet they were forgetting they were sons.
God is not just wanting to get a job done! He is trying to bring many sons to glory!
He sent His beloved Son into human form to show us what sonship is all about.
He wants "sons" not just "sinners who have found their way to heaven" and we must keep our eyes on this or we will become full of self-pity.
Pressure is proof that we belong. You mustn't interpret that as "perhaps I don't belong". It means God is on my case. Evidence of His love!
The eagle stirs up her nest alone because she wants her young to fly. She wants them to catch the breeze on their wings!
"Jacob have I loved" - His special focus was on Jacob. Yet Jacob's life does not look like one specially loved. "From vessel to vessel" - why? Because I love Him! Jacob was a prince with God even though he was limping. It is the mark of one being loved. Jesus answered Satan's taunts knowing He was assured in His Sonship. God wants fully grown sons! (Phil 1:6); "He who began a good work in you". God is at work in me! (Ephesians 2:10) - we are His workmanship! (Hebrews 13:21); "what is pleasing". You have forgotten that He chastens.
The Hebrews had been through hard times. Injustice so often makes us feel "It's not fair!" but God uses it to get under our skin. People may write or blog about you without permission and you may lose your reputation even. Something in us wants to know why. If it makes sense it is okay - but God doesn't always explain why! "We were burned excessively!". Sometimes we can question if we can even carry on. Why? Because of His Father's love - we can carry on. Earthly fathers discipline children - they do what they think is best. Yet God does that so that we may share in His holiness.
God is at work in us to disturb our smugness - we are Reformed, we are restorationist, we are charismatic. You can get so clear and so sorted that you don't realise you are still wearing sunglasses. God shakes us to save us from pride! God led the children of Israel through the wilderness to humble them. Paul spoke of a thorn in the flesh to save him from being exalted about measure. Joseph also saw a vision but then went to prison! David took out Goliath but then had to go to a cave! He has ways of handling us. Elijah told Ahab it would rain - and then it didn't! God and His loving ways of humbling us!
Terry has also had prophetic words; "I have need of you in Kingston". But it's just not happening yet. He is still in Brighton! When!?
"Contrite" means lamed. It describes a lame man - humble. Sometimes the best preaching comes from a personal softening by preachers (Psalm 119:17); "It was good for me that I was afflicted". It is how you respond to suffering that makes you holy - not suffering itself. You can go through things and actually miss the point! 1. Don't despise it. 2. Don't faint when you are reproved by Him. 3. Don't allow a root of bitterness to grow up. You can get angry - God uses people at times to humble us.
Instead it says "obtain grace"! Bitterness is a powerful thing and can get into your soul. We need grace to forgive! You will not learn and be trained if you carry the bitterness. Release again and again and again! You either let them pile up or you obtain grace!
You must not carry bitterness - it will wreck you!
"He learned obedience". How did the perfect One learn obedience? He learned to be a man yet He conquered again and again. God is calling us to flight! It isn't just knowing it - it's having churches free from bitterness. You can mess up God's plan to have glorious churches! We are not carrying bitterness - because we realise that He wants us to share His holiness. Refuse bitterness - let God purge it from your soul. "Exhortation that addresses you as sons". The greek is "dialogue or reason" with you.
When God chastens you, R T Kendall says; "He is not getting even - He got even at the Cross!".
"Hugging comes after wacking!" - Anna Virgo.
Respond appropriately! God wants to set us free. He wants you through the experience to find you healed. Is there anything in my life that I won't let people near? Don't be sensitive. Loosen it up! Face the pain - don't have no go areas. "Pursue peace with all men!". The word is active and it means "strive for". "Afterwards it will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness". Jesus said "afterwards you will understand".
Personal word from Terry - God is saying to us; "You don't understand what I am doing now - but afterwards you will".
Childbirth makes the pain worth it! Because of the motivation of His love - God disciplines. He wants you rid of bitterness. Walk in freedom! Don't carry bitterness another day. Leave it here! There may be people you may wish to speak to. Pursue peace!".
Terry then led us into a very powerful time of ministry and called people who had been weighed down with bitterness to come forth and lay it down. The power of the Holy Spirit was very evident and I could hear people weeping. My heart went out and I wished that so many of my dear friends at SGM Survivors and Refuge who have been so hurt by C J Mahaney and SGM could have been there - to make their peace with their pain and to let the loving Christ come and heal their pain.