I have spent the last three days while the kids were at school at the ReFRESH conference at church.

[In the last few months, we seem to have finally ended up back at Sherwood. I absolutely LOVE my new Sunday School class, and even though I don't love Will having to sit in "big church" with me the whole time & I don't see me singing with their Praise Team at this point, I am getting SO MUCH out of some really in-depth Bible study. Yes, this is the Fireproof and now Courageous (coming out next week!) church...which is really cool!!! But even cooler, they don't wallow in that. I would have thought they would have had a whole Courageous-esque sermon series leading up to the release next week; nope. We've been talking about Habakkuk & God's control. Alex Kendrick (*the* movie man :-P) is in my Sunday School class, but there's no special focus or attention whatsoever. (Side bar: I 100% admit, I'm still a little starstruck when I see him. The Love Dare reinvigorated our marriage a couple years ago when we were all the way up in Chicago; who would have ever guessed in a zillion years I'd end up in Sunday School with the man responsible for that? THAT *IS* still HUGE to me!) We're not even having a special congregational Courageous screening. The fact that this church does such huge things on a national scale like this but stays grounded & humble is...welcoming. :-)]

Anyway, back to ReFRESH... another huge event this church can put on with speakers from all over the country; since it was in my own backyard with daytime sessions, why wouldn't I go? Here's their description:
ReFRESH is a conference for those who thirst for revival. It’s not about church growth or the latest worship fads. It’s a time for you to come apart from the distractions and chaos of life and seek the face of God. We invite you to join us to experience times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord. ReFRESH is specially designed to give you ample time for private reflection and relaxation.

It was like a revival, but not in the way *I* think of the traditional Southern Baptist "revivals" I grew up (skipping.) This was not about dragging as many people as possible in to get saved. I went to seven sessions this week, and there was not one real altar call. (Of course there were pastors around to speak to, if you wanted to talk about it, but "getting saved" was not the focus.) This was about each person's own personal growth in Christ. Plain & simple. I went to the 10:30 sessions in the main sanctuary and then the following lunch sessions at 11:45 in the fellowship hall; I had two friends to sit with, which was really lovely, (but it felt comforting knowing I'd still show up & be OK even on my own. :-))

They posted a pic of us at one of the lunch sessions in the fellowship hall on FB:
[I'm so easy to find - longest hair, yellow table, bottom center. :-P] During this pic, one of the best violinists in the country was playing an absolutely amazing hymn. Music so often speaks to my soul even more deeply than any spoken teaching...

But the teaching was great. Sermon notes I want to remember:

* The moment we put our fingerprints on anything, God takes His hand off it. (Trust His plans completely; don't waste your life trying to work it all out on your own.)

* It takes a steady hand to carry a full cup [of life], to not spill and stain the floor, to not become self-righteous thinking we filled it ourselves, instead of God.

* Don't ever take credit for what God has done - the pride of self-sufficiency, the snare of success. I is the central letter of pride. What once was useful can be cast aside; don't risk God setting you aside - 2 Chron 26Matthew 23:12

* Be used for the purpose for which you were created. We're not created to be an expensive showplace for what we have.

* Talk honestly about what God is doing in your life! Malachi 3:16

* Pray for our kids to encounter God in a significant way to keep them connected to Him. (You can't shove & force them into relationship with God. Pray for God to make it happen.)

* Re: wrestling with God: He never gets angry at honesty, (at your honest questions and coming before Him saying how you honestly feel.) He will graciously correct us. But He will judge hypocrisy.

* What does God need to refine or remove before His power can manifest in you? In our church?

* Focus on Him! No master plan, just the Master. The call, the vision comes from God alone - not a committee, a think tank, or a majority vote.


* Wait on the Holy Spirit - Acts 1:8 - our gift to guide and direct us.

* We are warriors for God.

* Re: patience: think about how long God has waited on *us* to come around to Him.

* We will be threshed until all we want is Him. The threshing floor: where things are laid open to be trampled for better future use; it's a high place with nowhere to hide; the wind (breath of God) separates the good from worthless chaff; the good stuff is then broken down even further; it's a personal private place of grieving (Genesis 50:10); also of new beginnings that always cost us something; a place of obedience, faithfulness, & waiting; and of warning & destruction for those who do not take God (the thresher) seriously

* NOTHING should hold us back after the victories God has given us!

* Many of us still tremble at the thought of giving God our all, but when we do, God will step in & the Holy Spirit will comfort us.

* What do we have? Acts 3:1-8 - the greatest thing the lame man at the Beautiful gate thinks he can get is money. The people (the worshippers) also thought the greatest they could give him was money. So shallow!!! When you start handing out the lesser, people will come & only expect that.

* We have: a calling to be & believe, the name of Jesus, power in the Holy Spirit, the protection & accompaniment of God Himself, grace - God's riches at Christ's expense, love, peace, the way, the truth, the life, and the Good News!

* If we feel burdened by the message we have to share or by walking the walk, it's OK & right to tell God; ask Him to take the feeling of burden away.

* Crucible analogy: Proverbs 17:3 Testing shows what the substance is made of. Fire cleanses and destroys what is unfit. Painfully slow but perfectly pure. God sits as the Moderator of the heat in our firing. Malachi 3:3 says He *SITS* as a refiner & purifier - he doesn't pace.

* God didn't beat us into salvation; He loved us into salvation.