Thursday, June 01, 2006
This Memorial Day weekend, several singles from our church attended the national Na (New Attitude) conference in Louisville, KY. The tongue-in-cheek slogan for this year: “Save the Wheel.” The theme for this year: “Humble Orthodoxy”—i.e., committing to live humbly according to unchanging truth. My experience can be summed up with two phrases: “completely amazing” and “completely horrible.” Let me explain.
The messages were amazing, although a lot of material was crammed into a few days. It was indeed like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. By the end of the conference, we were soaked to the bone with sound doctrine (a good “problem” to have). Two messages in particular stood out to me. First, Dr. Mike Bullmore explained the functional centrality of the gospel. He was extremely clear and gave several specific examples on exactly how to apply the foundational truth of the gospel to every area of life. Second, Eric Simmons taught on the importance of evangelism. I would go so far as to say all Christians everywhere should hear these two messages. Yes, they were that good. I’ll be applying those truths to my life for the rest of my life.
Twice a day, we divided up into community groups of several hundred each, then into family groups of around ten people each, where we discussed the messages and how we were going to apply them. It was exciting to see the Holy Spirit at work as people openly and honestly shared about what God was doing in their lives.
I also got to hang out with lots of friends from church. Sure, there were thousands of people there (and I did spend time with individuals I haven’t seen in a while), but it’s with my fellow Knoxvillians where the most effective fellowship and application take place. Most of us from Cornerstone sat together during each main session. We love our local church and we love experiencing events like New Attitude together.
At the same time, the weekend was horrible. Usually when you go to a conference like this, indwelling sin seems to be much less apparent and you ride on a sort of “spiritual high.” Well, the exact opposite happened to me. Almost from the outset God made me much more aware of my sin. I had to fight for joy for most of the conference. Sometimes, the struggle increased to almost-overwhelming levels. The times of worshipping God through song were invaluable; they helped me focus on eternal truths of Scripture, which helped to affect my haywire emotions.
Then I came home. Sometimes people “crash” from the spiritual high of a conference. Well, I crashed as well…but since I wasn’t on the spiritual high to begin with, I sank pretty low—not to the point of depression, but my prideful, ungrateful response to God’s workings in my life didn’t exactly mirror a humble orthodoxy. By His grace, I’m recovering much more rapidly than I deserve. Even so, if you think of it, please pray for me.
To end on a positive note: John Piper will be speaking at next year’s New Attitude. Heck, yeah!