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Chapter Retreat October 13, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in ASU.
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I know I said I was going to get this up much earlier but I’m just now getting to putting it up.  Sorry for the delay.

Sept. 19-21 Appalachian State had there chapter retreat.  We partnered with Alliance Bible Fellowship’s college ministry (a lot of our students are involved with this church) and had a huge turnout, roughly 100 students came.  It was an awesome weekend.  The topic for the week was ‘Abiding in Christ’.  Glen, the Alliance college pastor, and I drilled that topic down to two main sections, Abiding in Christ through his word and abiding in Christ through prayer.  We split up the talks for the weekend.  The students really liked the talks….they were challenged pretty good, and they cause a lot of good discussion amongst the students. 

I spoke on ‘Abiding in Christ through the Word’.  I picked 1 Peter 2:1-3 as my passage of scripture to exposit.  It’s a sweet passage of scripture that fit great for the students and the weekend.  The talk was centered on the idea that we are commanded to desire in the passage for the spiritual milk that is the Word of God.  The term that I introduced to them was spiritual fatalism.  It’s that idea that this is all I will ever experience of God—the level of spiritual intensity that I now have is all I can have; others may have strong desires after God and may have deep experiences of personal pleasure in God, but I will never have those because . . . well, just because . . . I am not like that. That’s not me.  It is a feeling that genetic forces and family forces and the forces of my past experiences and present circumstances are just too strong to allow me to ever change and become more zealous for God, or more fervent, or more delighted in God, or more hungry for fellowship with Christ, or more at home with spiritual things, more bold, or more constant or joyful, or hopeful. 

There’s a cool quote from Bunyan on the difference between the law and the gospel.

Run, John, run, the law commands

But gives us neither feet nor hands,

Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

So, other words in the old covenant God gave commandments (Run John Run), but by and large did not give the divine enablement that overcomes the deadness and depravity and rebellion of the heart. (but gives us neither feet nor hands).

It’s pretty amazing that we are called to have desired and longing for the Word.  .  A command to desire to feel what you do not feel. Is anything more contrary to spiritual fatalism than that? Fatalism says, I can’t just create desires. If they’re not there, they’re not there. If I don’t feel things the way the psalmists seem to feel things when they say, “As a deer pants for the flowing streams so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1)—if I don’t feel that way toward God, then that’s that. I just don’t. I’m not like the psalmists. That’s what spiritual fatalism says.  You say I’m more like a camel, you say there are deer type of people and there are camels and I’m a camel.  Camels just walk around in the desert and don’t really get anybody excited, but a deer goes leaping through the snow and they get thirsty and they find water and then go leaping again. And you say I’m not a deer I’m a fatalist.  And God says to you in the dessert “desire it”….GET IT.  What is God doing here….Doesn’t he know where I am.  I don’t have the strength to desire it to “GET IT”….I’m a camel.  How is God to command me to desire something I can’t do.  It’s like commanding the lame to walk!!  Hmmmm. Hmmmm.  Who can do that?  Who can walk up to a man who is paralyzed and say walk.  No one can do that….that’s abuse or manipulation of that poor person to say walk to him. Somebody did it once….and he walked.

We are duty-bound to run, even though our feet are willfully frozen in the ice of sin. We can’t run in ourselves, and so the commands of the law condemn.  “Far better new the gospel brings, it bids us fly and gives us wings. “  People want to distinguish the gospel from the law in saying the gospel doesn’t have any commands it has no conditions.  WRONG…its commands are harder not easier than the ten commandments.  If you don’t believe me read the sermon on the mount or if you think that too connected to the OT then read Romans 12.  The is no difference between the law in the gospel in that they both command things from us….they are both conditional.  The difference is that it bids us fly and gives us the Holy Spirit (wings).  This is deliverance from spiritual fatalism.  This is a theological issue…whether you say I can’t fly. I can’t even run. My feet are frozen in my genetic makeup and my dysfunctional family of origin. And besides that I don’t have any wings. I cannot fly.    But over and against that thought process the gospel says “Fly! You don’t have desire for the milk of the word? Well, have them!” What this says is desire it, desire it and don’t settle till that flame is burning in your life.  

Just as important as hearing that we are suppose to have certain desires is the confidence or trust in God that he does not command his people in vain.  The reality is that God speaks with power, power enough to have what he says come to pass. If God says to desire, when we don’t desire, then we trust him that he must know something we don’t know. That he has some power that we don’t have. 

 It’s like what St. Augustine says in his Confessions

Thou commandest continence (sexual self- control)
Grant what thou commandest and commandest what thou wilt.

He bids us fly and gives us wings.

Long for the milk of the word the way a baby longs for milk.  Don’t hear me wrong here….this text isn’t about new Christians the way 1 Cor. 3 does.  This is a text about ALL Christians who should always long for God the way a baby longs for milk.  How do babies long….about every 3-4 hours and with what intensity…enough to wake you up at night (2 or 3 times).  

This is just a little bit from the talk.  I really enjoyed the weekend, had some awesome conversations with several of the students after my talk and throughout the weekend.  

Here are some picture from the retreat.

                      

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