This is for all my NPTS friends-- it's a little rant-y.
I've been sitting on my butt for most of the day waiting for the pastor of the small, rural Costa Rican Four-square church where I, a young Oklahoman, raised Presbyterian, Baptist-ically formed, and Covenant-ly trained, am about to take an Ohio-based Mennoite church team to call me. The rest of my preparation for the team means getting my finances in order, which I can't do until the sheet is explained by someone who has yet to explain it. Both of these things need to happen before I can do anything else.
So I've spent my time: reading Seminary books that I didn't read when they were required-- actually enjoying them; watching MTV Latin America, showing year old shows from Laguna Beach: The Real OC, otherwise known as a bunch of rich high school kids spending their daddy's money and making big deals out of nothing; memorizing Colossians, Paul's plea to an emerging church not to live by the cultist pressures and restrictions placed on them by both those inside the Church and outside-- an interesting read for those denominations who continue to argue the homosexual position.
I was urged to memorize Colossians in particular at the Passion06 conference I attended two weeks ago now. The conference was specifically targeted at college-aged young people, most of whose parents probably payed for their trip (I'm not judging because I'm included). Sometimes as much of an American Eagle fashion show as a worship conference, it was one of the most refreshing times I've had in my life. My question is why?
Maybe it was those with whom I went. Piling into the car I really only new one person well-- my sister, Laura. Tyrel, a good friend of my sister's, whom I was still getting to know, and Lacey, a friend of Tyrel's, whom I had met just 4 minutes before. We all grew closer and were able to draw out the best in each other throughout the week, encouraging each other through spoken means and otherwise. We ate together; we worshipped together; we were stretched together; we joyed together.
Maybe it was the worship. David Crowder*Band, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Charlie Hall are some big names in modern worship. With a mixture of newly arranged hymns and cutting-edge arrangements, they were able to engage a mass of 18,000 young people to lead them in God-exalting worship. I lost myself several times throughout the week during the worship. I felt closer to God being engaged in a worshipful experience not experienced on a regular basis.
Maybe it was the speakers. They dropped the hammer with people like John Piper, Beth Moore and Louie Giglio-- people who swim in the Word of truth; those who exhalt God, not their own agendas; people who speak of suffering; who speak of feasting on the Word; who push even those not called to professional ministry to live lives of excellence glorifying God where ever they are called.
And maybe that's where the difference came along. Not in the fellowship, worship or teaching, but in what was taught. Living a life of excellence. That really grabbed on to me. Have I been living a life of excellence according to Colossians 3:23, 24? Am I "working heartily" as I sit here on the couch where I have been for the last few hours, watching TV and reading books that were required to be read a year ago? Is my life a "living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God" (Romans 12:1)?