Thursday 28th of June 2012 | Posted by Dave Taylor NEXT 2012... Testimonies Part Two
As the stories continue to come in from NEXT 2012, here's the testimony of our very own Janelle Smith. Love it...Attending NEXT 2012 will forever be a defining moment for me in my journey as a Christian. I am so thankful to God for the privilege of being able to attend this conference. The bible talks, worship and fellowship were so amazing and such a rich time of blessing.All the talks were focused on the topic of church. It was such a great privilege and a joy for me, that as I listened to each of these talks, to be able to praise and thank God for our local church here in Sydney, which I love!!!There were many things that stood out for me during the talks; some because I was so encouraged and others because I was challenged by me need for change! The conference opened with a talk on 'The Church and the Purposes of God' and concluded with 'The Church and Disappointment'.In Talk 1, The Church and the Purposes of God, Jeff Purswell spoke about how in our fallen world so often we look at church from a man-centred perspective and so he reminded us that our church is more precious and important in the purposes of God than we think. As well, he reminded us that God's heart for us is that he wants to dwell with us - he's not sitting back tolerating us, but he longs to dwell with us!"Here is the astonishing truth: For the church of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ, this is a reality now. Through the cross God has demolished the impenetrable barrier between Him and ourselves. Through the Holy Spirit God has come and taken resident with us now. Here is your church: the place on earth where the living God most fully makes known His presence. If you treasure God you will treasure the church, for that is where God uniquely dwells. If you hunger for God, you wil hunger for the church for that is where He makes Himself known. If you love God, you will love the church for she is made of the ones for whom Christ died. If you long for heaven, you'll long for the church because that's where we get a taste, in part, of what we will experience in fullness forever."Being disappointed with church is not something I have struggled with whilst being a member of Sovereign Grace, Sydney, but I still found the wisdom and practical advice C.J. gave in his talk 'The Church and Disappointment' so helpful. He started off his talk by saying:"Unrealistic expectations always result in disappointment because they always collide with the harsh realities of real life, trials, and sin. The question is not if you'll be disappointed with the church, it's when you'll be disappointed with the church and how you'll respond."C.J.'s instruction for what we should do when we encounter the inevitable disappointment that comes from unrealistic expectations about the local church came from Philippians 2:12-16. His three headings and some of the points that stood out to me were:Remember the sovereign activity of God - "For it is God who works in you." v 13. The God who initially converted you is presently sustaining you and will bring His work to completion in you. His purpose for you cannot be frustrated. This fact is also true for your church, if it is a Gospel-preaching church. God is effectually and ceaselessly at work in your church. Avoid the temptation to complain - "Do all things without grumbling and complaining." v. 14. "That voice in your head that keeps rehearsing the disappointments and flaws of your church is not from the Lord. It is the Accuser." - Jared WilsonHold fast to the Word of Life - "Holding fast to the Word of Life." v.16. Why hold fast? Because it is only the Gospel that can fully address our disappointment. It puts our lives and disappointments into perspective... "The church is to have a unique sound of the gratefulness of men and women who have been humbled by the Gospel. They are aware that they richly deserve God's full, furious, righteous wrath for the sins they have committed, but that God, in His mercy, sent His Son and crushed Him for the punishment they deserve."Spending time at the conference really confirmed how thankful I am to God for bringing me to Sovereign Grace, Sydney; a local church that loves the gospel and seeks to apply it! I am so thankful for the people whom God has brought along to our local church' for the example and encouragement of godly men and women who are seeking to apply the gospel and live lives that honour Jesus, and for the things God is doing in and through us as a local church for his glory. Along with the great talks, the worship for me was definitely a highlight!!! The worship team served us so faithfully and the songs they chose complimented the whole conference so well. The words in the songs had a deep impact on me. Up until a year and a half ago, much of my life as a Christian had been spent not understanding the assurance of salvation secured for us through Jesus Christ. I lived with the thought that it was me that held on to God, not God holding onto me. I did not truly understand that it was God who initiated my conversion and it is Him who will keep me safe until he calls me home. Thus much of my life as a Christian had been gripped by fear and a lack of joy. Over the last year and a half, God has transformed my life, in particular, through gaining a deep understanding of the doctrine of assurance and the outworking of that. The reason I share this with you is because, in the first session, as we were singing, I was overwhelmed by God's goodness and His faithfulness through the words in the songs. I was freshly amazed as I thought about how God has lovingly orchestrated all events in my life (both the good and the hard times) to bring me to the point of being on the other side of the world listening to His word being so faithfully taught. As I sang, I was so thankful for God's grace shown to me through Jesus and for his pursuing love that will never let me go!I am SO thankful to God for all he has taught me. i have walked away from my time at the conference with such a deep sense of joy and contentment, trusting in the goodness and sovereignty of God and knowing that "Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow!"
Excellent stuff.... Thanks for sharing Janelle. So encouraging!!Send Comment | Share on Facebook