Timothy Conference 2011

“In what way is God revealing His plan for my life, in accordance with the calling to which He has hitherto revealed to me?” was the question I was pondering as the days leading up to the Timothy Conference were passing by. Swamped with homework and the regular pressure of daily life, I had little time to think on the calling, rather losing myself in the present reality rather than meditating on the things of God. Excuses would pile up as to why I was letting my devotional life go, and they were “great” excuses. “I am just making sure I do my work,” or, “if I were to do that, I would be lessening my time of ‘fellowship’ with friends.” Even not so good excuses were satisfying when the more “acceptable” ones didn’t apply, “I am getting to bed really late, and by that time I’m quite tired and unable to focus, so it would be better to just put it off so that I could give it my whole attention,” was a favorite that would be constantly presenting itself.

With this backdrop, and no masculine backbone with which to take responsibility and get on my knees to ask for help, I continued to look ahead to the Timothy Conference, where I would be in “retreat” mode, a sort of spiritual stupor smuggled into my consciousness as a “high” from which I was to be able to “face the ‘real world’.” I can’t see myself as more refreshingly wrong.

From the rest of this post, it will look a lot like that, but I promise, this was not a “spiritual high”, it was a reality check given by the sort of people that encourage and strengthen and warn and give insight and provide for and teach discipline and live out the high calling to which all of us have been called in Christ. This reality check was a shared experience by many of the fellow attendees I spent almost 48 straight hours with. The teachers were all men wise with years and experience on the home front with hands-on ministerial sacrificial service in the OPC. It would take long to reflect on the peculiar insights that the men gave to us, relatively speaking, children, but the notes I took and the experience of fellowshipping with them will provide direction for myself for the rest of my life.

The conference was not a time for any emotional “recharging”. But of multiple hours of lectures on the subject of the call to the ministry and two, hour long lectures at Westminster Theological Seminary on Old Testament Canon and on Christology in Colossians 1:15-20 at seminary level, including the Greek semantic ranges of words and other amazingly interesting things.

We were expected to act like adults, and for all of our lack of sleep and clowning around, I suppose we did. The guys I met were all godly young men seeking to live faithfully to God’s revealed will for their life struggling with all the things that young men our age struggle with. But I am reminded of nothing less than John 2 when I think of those friends, lifelong friends who will be serving alongside me in whatever capacity God calls them to: “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” May all of those things be true for my friends and myself all the more as we seek back at our home churches to live out the wisdom bestowed upon us at this year’s Timothy Conference.

I have a new appreciation for the calling of pastor, which has increased my respect for those who are members of my session and the various difficulties they have to deal with every day and also my pastor, Paul Viggiano, for all of the work and tears and joys that he is privileged to accept for the Kingdom. I have a new appreciation for the discipline required to be a minister of the gospel. The kind of discipline that comes out the most is not the educational or mental discipline, but a disciplined love that seeks to keep itself firmly rooted in the Christ Who bore our sins, and the people for Whom He died to save. The love for the Word was not as much an issue for me leading up to the conference, but was exposed for what it was in motivations in that my complacency in reading the Bible because I had “many other things to read” was a sin that could be used to ensnare me in a gradual decline in conscious sanctifying efforts wrought in me regularly through the Word and the Spirit working in me.

Not even going into the details, that was the sort of conference that it was, those were the sort of people I was privileged to spend it with, and all that a retreat could give was delivered by the Holy Spirit in fear and trembling before God’s Holiness, the same God that has called me out of the grips of Satan and my own self, in order to send me to His people and bring the Word of Reconciliation and build them up in love and encouragement. The God of grace will give me all things necessary, above and beyond my highest expectations, to fulfill His calling in my life. Your prayers are coveted in this pursuit and rededication of my life towards this God Who is our Life.

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