Last week I went to New Word Alive, a christian conference held at Haven, in Pwhelli, North Wales. It was my first time at this particular event, and I genuinely loved it every minute! Unusually having no stewarding/youth related role to fulfil made for a lovely change, meaning the experience was purely a holiday one. (Discounting some early morning emailing and pretending to read some notes on molecular pharmaceutics.) There was plenty of time for catching up with very old friends and making new ones whilst eating jelly, drinking tea and/or wine, playing adventure golf and frolicking in the sea. I was definitely the most naked person on the beach on one swimming occasion although this wasn't difficult considering the overcast weather!
The main meetings were full of lots of sung worship which I really enjoyed. In addition to the certain and glorious biblical truth found in the words to the songs which were sung, and therefore their super encouragement, singing alongside so many others helps to point me towards thinking about (in perhaps the smallest little way) what living in God’s new creation might be like. Will there be singing? I hope so. But ultimately there will be people (too many of them to count and myself included) giving Jesus all the glory. In terms of teaching, I went along to about three epic bible talks every day, so I can certainly say I used the opportunity to learn something.
From new word alive I have taken away lots of things to think about and ultimately marvel over. I want to seek more actively an eternal perspective not based on earthly things but on hope found in Jesus alone. I want to reject apathy (off of this amazing/inspirational t-shirt some guy was wearing)and follow the advice of whoever wrote Hebrews chapter 12 when they wrote;
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God’. (Hebrews 12;1-2)
God is so much bigger than I realise! Whilst all of the above, and all I know about God is based on his limitless grace, how easily I misunderstand the way I am made to relate to him. How much do I even without realising it put my faith in my own faltering faith, rather than God’s unchanging faithfulness! (Hebrews 11vs11 shows me that faith is a response to seeing that God is faithful.) I can easily remember that I saved by the work of Jesus’ death and resurrection alone, but what about my life now lived out daily as a child of God? How easily I can forget that I now live as a child of God, still by his grace alone. The beginning of Galatians 3 has some words on this.
'You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?' (Galatians 3:1-3)
I am certainly quick to forget that there is no such thing as a good or bad christian, however up to date or behind I am on my youth group planning. The Gospel isn’t about what I do, but about what God has already done. Specifically, the gospel is about what God has already done in the person of Jesus Christ. My relationship with God doesn’t go up and down depending on what I do, but it depends upon the perfection of my substitute.
I have changed my mind about getting a tattoo. I mean, that if I were going to get a tattoo tomorrow (or as a post graduation present to myself) I have changed my mind about what I would like it to say. The words now, might read
‘Christ plus nothing’
Because this is the grounds for my relationship with the living God. Nothing I can do will make God love me more or less because he accepts me solely on the grounds of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, which was made on my behalf. Without Christ I have nothing, and there is nothing more. Below are the words to a quality old hymn written about the same stuff!
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.