So here are the topics:
- The Story of Habakkuk (3 hrs)
- The Story of the Bible (a thematic overview of the whole Bible)
- Idols in Our Lives: Misplaced Hopes
- Theology of Sexuality (3 sessions)
- Mentoring and Discipleship
- Greatest Need for a Believer in a Consumer World: God's Rest
Four of them are topics I have spoken on before but need major tweaking for relevancy and length. Two are brand new.
Good thing I have a 12 hr flight ahead of me.
So, after I gathered my materials, I sat down to write out what I had worked on over the weekend at the beach - our struggles with contemporary idols. I decided to tell my story of a major idol. It concerns a period in my life when 7 yrs after graduating from Bible school, I found myself in a deep spiritual pit, feeling totally abandoned by God (if He even still existed). I had quit praying and reading my Bible. This Christian thing was too hard to figure out and I was a failure as a follower.
I won't go into all the details, but God showed up in a major way and my life was transformed. But before He did, an idol had to be exposed. My idol was "success." I have always been a big dreamer and have always felt a need to be a part of something big. The problem was that I had my own ideas of what that meant and what success looks like (mostly fame and approval). Unfortunately, my ideas had little space for God's ideas and purposes. The exposure was painful, but my failure at producing my own success was even more painful. I was ready for the real thing, for God's purposes for my life.
Little did I know 25 yrs ago that my journey was not going to be a straight shot to the "big something." Instead I needed to learn to walk with Christ in very small steps and into the very humbling things of life. I needed to learn to make decisions based on His will, not mine, to die to self and live for Christ in all aspects of life, and to grow as well as heal from incredibly painful experiences. Most of the time, I went kicking and screaming into what God called me into, but I learned submission and gained joy.
Now my ideas of success are quite different. Though this idol has been toppled, there are moments of weakness when it tries to wiggle. But I am committed to following Christ and loving Him well is my idea of success.
Is this trip evidence that God is now opening up the "big something" for me? I don't know. Maybe it's just another small step. Maybe everything until I die will be small steps. Ultimately, the "big something" is attaining heaven and seeing Christ face to face. Until then, I am so looking forward to seeing His face on the Chinese people.
See you in China!