I spent this past weekend in FL at Keystone Bible Church’s ladies retreat, “Renew,” featuring Elyse Fitzpatrick as the keynote speaker. Let me just say these women love to have a good time, they love to be together, and they love to learn God’s Word.
A few things I observed:
1) Jesus is building His church. I was thrilled to see our dear friends, Andrew and Vivian Haney, and their spiritually healthy church, growing under Andrew’s capable leadership to over a few hundred people now from the 7 members they had when they arrived in Odessa almost 8 years ago. Their church is a wonderful blend of backgrounds with people at all stages in their spiritual growth process, fighting sin and loving God and each other for His glory. Of course, it made it easy to love these ladies because I saw how much they love my more-like-my-sister-than-friend, Vivian.
2) Few have mastered gospel-centeredness like Elyse Fitzpatrick (or maybe I should say, few have been mastered by gospel-centeredness like Elyse Fitzpatrick). I marveled at the thoroughness the gospel has effected every area of her life. I listened to her expound precious gospel truths and they became sweeter to me as I drank in all I could that I too might know them better!
3) I need to keep letting the law do its work in my heart pushing me to Jesus. I am too skilled in self-justification. When we were having a small group discussion after Elyse’s first session and discussing our inability to keep God’s commands, one of the ladies in our group said, “I might be able to keep these commands for 10 minutes but certainly not my whole life!” I thought to myself that this lady had missed the point! But then I saw my own efforts in her words and knew what she said was actually the sad commentary of MY spiritual life. How much more I need to abandon my own efforts and embrace the truth that “the strength to follow His commands could never come from me!” Not for 10 minutes, not for 5, and graciously not even for 1! I need a Savior who did it perfectly ALL the time.
4) Each of us needs to be much more acquainted with the gospel. If you have a voice, talk about it! Speak of it all day long to yourself and to any who will listen. Even sing about it! If you have a mind, think about it! Turn it over and over and over in your head, discovering all its glorious nuances and how it can renew the way you think in gospel categories. If you have a blog, write about it! We need more people spreading the good news through the written word of how it is changing them and the way they parent and the way they work! If you have a heart, let it go to work on your affections, transforming what you love and why you love and how you love. If you have a will, let it chisel away at your bent toward selfishness and self-glory and revel in the freedom of self-forgetfulness and God-centeredness that the gospel grants you. As Elyse Fitzpatrick pointed out, “We are so dull of hearing and understanding.” So we need to keep hearing the gospel, rehearsing the gospel, and applying the gospel.
Thank you, ladies, for a wonderful weekend together. The gospel changes everything! And it is changing US!