Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What I Learned at IF

If you're friends with me on any of my social networking sites, you probably saw some of my posts about the IF:Gathering I attended this weekend. Before I got there, I really knew nothing about it. All I knew was that they had some great pre-conference Bible studies set up for us to do each weekday leading up to the gathering. Each study featured a video at the end, and after each video made me tear up just listening, I knew the conference would be good.

The conference was held in Austin, Texas, (I felt so at home with all the y'alls, it was perfect) and live streamed across the United States and world through what they call IF:Local. So my church, Parkview, was a host site for IF:Iowa City. The conference leaders and speakers did a great job of making us feel included as we watched remotely. I almost felt like I was there.

The local planners also did a wonderful job of setting the atmosphere for the conference with lighting, centerpieces, furniture staging, and special activities. It felt even more like we were actually there, not sitting in a church thousands of miles away.

Looking back on the weekend, I like that I came in with zero expectations. I was just hoping to hear some great speakers and bond with friends. Those things happened and more. The teaching was on point--challenging, convicting, encouraging, edifying, and uplifting. I particularly enjoyed the talks from Jen Hatmaker, Christine Caine, and Bianca Olthoff. There was also beautiful music and touching interviews interspersed with times of discussion amongst the local attenders. I got to know some awesome ladies, and build deeper friendships with those I already knew.

Share with Boldness

The biggest thing I felt like God was saying to me the whole weekend is something I know He's been trying to get me to pay attention to for years. But even more so lately, it's been coming up a lot. And that is sharing the truth about Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and my beliefs.

I usually tend to take a step back when it comes to proselytizing or sharing about my faith. I don't want people to get the idea that I'm trying to shove religion down their throats or judge them for the things they're doing. So I slack off when I should be stepping up. Because the truth about life and death, salvation and Jesus, are far too important to leave out of the conversation. I know God is calling me to share His truth with boldness. I need to step into that.

Service is the Key to Destiny

Christine Caine's talk pretty much rocked my world in every way possible. One of her many spot-on points was that service is the key to our destiny. She verbally sucker-punched me in the face because I so often want to be recognized for my talents and abilities. I want people to see me as a great writer, someone with important ideas for the church, and someone with a lot to offer. In fact, I've really been struggling with that lately as it seems like no one wants to listen and I'm just talking to myself.

But I know God was using the talk to impress upon me the fact that "it's better to be marked by God than marketed by men." Yup, Christine said that. Immediately I knew that was for me and I needed to internalize that. While I may be tempted to show what I can do and earn recognition, all I really need to be concerned with is serving God. Not my resume, not my awards, not my gifts. Just serving.

Be Ready / Make the Move

Another point from Christine that stuck with me was when she talked about how God told Joshua to get ready to take the promised land, but the only way he could get ready was if he was already ready. If we're not already ready to do God's work, it's too easy for doubts and fears to crowd in and immobilize us. We have to be ready now, we have to move.

This challenged me because I really like comfort. I like relaxation, I like not having to do anything. But in the time that I'm relaxing and sitting still, I'm not preparing myself for the work God has for me. I'm not getting ready, I'm not moving into the next phase of life He has for me. I'm just stuck. I don't want to be unprepared, and I don't want to be stuck. I want to be ready to move into whatever God may call me to.


I want to end this post with some of the quotes that stood out to me from the conference. I know sometimes it's hard to get the full value without the context, but I hope they encourage and challenge you like they did for me.

"The Promised Land for this generation is the souls of men and that we have Jesus and can give Him away. We are at war and the prize is faith." - Jennie Allen

"[God] designed me to be who I am and gave me gifts to use for His glory, not to use them to look like everyone else." - Angie Smith

"Free people free people. Your Redeemer lives and He brings you a purpose." - Jo Saxton

"Stay [at church] and minister to everyone who asks. Pray over people until your heart bleeds dry." - Rebekah Lyons

"The enemy doesn't want us to have faith because we become too powerful with it." - Jen Hatmaker

"If all of God could fit into my brain, that would be a terrible God. Don't wait until you have full possession of God before you take full possession of faith. Faith doesn't erase doubt, insecurity and fear, it just overcomes them. It is safe to be faithful to a faithful God." - Jen Hatmaker

"Don't hang on to the past, move into the season in which God has you. You cannot live in the past and lay hold of the future." - Christine Caine

"Your serving prepares you for what the Lord has prepared for you. There is a place for you. If you embrace your place, He will find you. Service is the aide to your destiny." - Christine Caine

"The most powerful person is one who has been freed by the blood of the Lamb." - Bianca Olthoff

"As long as you have a beat in your chest, you are not done... [God] is in the business of doing the impossible." - Bianca Olthoff

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