Thanks for praying for me and the pastors on the retreat.
Wow. What a great time. Every six months I have a great opportunity through our association to take a 24 hour prayer retreat. We travel to Lake Sallateeska and run from noon to noon for a time of rest, Biblical meditation, and prayer. Usually eight to twelve pastors participate in the time. I can truly say it is refreshing, encouraging, and equiping.
Being a bit of a drive from home I usually prepare a day ahead by praying for the time and the men involved. Then I select a few sermons to listen to along the way. This time I traveled with Ravi Zacharias and listened to his teaching entitled, The Spurious Glitter of Pantheism. Being that I have several Hindu friends and have been asked by them to read and understand their teachings, this message presented me with a blueprint of understanding. We can never stop learning if we want to seek to glorify God. My hope is to now use this instruction to be able to help them understand the authentic gospel as well as relate to them in a deeper way.
While fishing (I arrived a bit early in order to do so), I listened to R C Sproul. The things taught on Renewing Your Mind can help us to meditate. Going deeper with a text and the axioms of Christianity is a great way to encourage biblical meditation. Thus R C is always one of my favorites.
I mention Biblical Meditation, and some question what I mean. I loosely define biblical meditation as a fast from distraction with the purpose of drinking in the scriptures and truths of the scriptures in order to renew the mind and live more like Christ. Not being the brights bulb on the Christmas tree, I need help in jump starting my thoughts. Ravi Zacharias and R C Sproul are two of the living men of our day whom I find stimulating towards this need. A few others in that realm would be Michael Horton, C J Mahaney, John Piper, and Don Carson. Another to note of late is Jerry Bridges, his book Respectable Sins is working me over.
That being said, I mention the living guys, but proceed with caution. You never know how a man will finish the race. But the dear departed that I consider friends through their writings would include Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon, J C Ryle, Richard Sibbs, Thomas Watson, Martyn Lloyd Jones, A W Tozer, and if I kept going I man never finish this update.
My thoughts take this trail because of a bible study we had on the retreat that involved the topics of Elisha, perseverance, and the value of ministry. We talked at length of the self getting in the way, of how to properly evaluate success, and the need for time with God. Out of the discussion came the question, "Was the death of Jim Elliot worthwhile?" (Jim Elliot and 4 others gave thier life in 1949 trying to reach the Auca Indians of Equador with the Gospel. Following their martyrdom, thousands have cited their sacrifice as a calling card for obedience to the mission field call.) We also talked of one of my favorites Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died in a Nazi prison and wrte the book The Cost of Discipleship. Thus the reminder to us all there is always a cost for discipleship, and though we co not see it now it is always worth it.
So it seems the lessons learned for this prayer retreat to be constantly remembered and practiced are these...
- Ministry is a messy business. It is costly.
- Because it is costly, and often the cost is life, it is supremely valuable.
- It gets its value from the glory of God. For anything to glorify God must not be for the glory of self.
- Thus those who lose their life for the Gospel actually save it.