I have been overwhelmed by the dynamic duo of spirit and truth I have encountered in my first semester of Elevate. Each speaker who has taught in our class has ushered me into greater knowledge and revelation about God, his timeless character, and how he is continually relevant to me and to those around me.
Most interesting was it when our beloved Pastor Jimmy Seibert, out of his traditional Sunday morning sermon attire, came to share with us his journey of learning how to be “faithful in the little.” I resolved to love the people in my life whom I find harder to love. The Lord commanded me to love out of his eternal reserve rather than out of my flesh (a finite supply)! Exercising the principle of love with this group of people has become easier as I receive more of the Father’s love and begin to feel his heart beat for “the least of these.” Through Jimmy’s example of David’s devotion to tend his sheep daily and be responsible for what was his to look after, the Lord showed me that I am to be committed to who and what God sets before me each day. I also learned that to be a leader is to be faithful to minister in all seasons, rather than “taking a break,” when I am at my lowest point and feel I have nothing to give.
Joe Ewen completely redefined prophesy for me. “Prophesy is encouragement, and the word is the base of anything prophetic.” So many times I have hit the wall because I cannot “feel God.” I was thankful to come to the realization that way beyond the importance of my feelings lies the “realm of revelation,” where God is constantly revealing his truth in new ways to us not only through His voice, but by utilizing the voices of fellow believers. With these “human reports of divine revelation,” the church is edified and the enemy’s schemes to steal, kill and destroy are rendered powerless. Joe’s prophesy over me confirmed that I am as a blossoming rose for Jesus, which is a fulfillment of the promise that if I gave up fleshly desires, he would produce in me a sweet aroma and new buds of growth. Wow, was it (and is it) worth it to go through the fire!
I thoroughly enjoyed the lively teaching of Jon Peterson, who spoke on the kingdom of God and church planting. His diagrams of the “Kingdom first paradigm” versus the “Church first paradigm” helped me to realize that the church has to reach out to the city and nation, rather than expecting the people of the world to come to a revival service to find Jesus. A list of “Do Nots” and weird religious standards that we ourselves create have caused a non-godly segregation of the sacred and secular, leading people to believe that God only lives in church edifices and not in the hearts of men. The kingdom and God reside in us, not in any church building! This gave me hope for people I have talked to who say they would rather die than step foot in a church. I am now actively praying for opportunities to show them the real Jesus in me in a secular setting such as work or the grocery store.
Hearing Fred Nelson speak multiple times on the Old Testament themes of God’s covenantal history with the Israelites and their repeated idolatry has shed much light on my limited understanding of the Old Testament. The characters are a lot like you and me, actually for as Paul wrote, “there is no sin uncommon to man.”
Fred not only laid a foundation for why each book is important to us and helped give us a grid of the chronology of these events, but he began to unveil how God was working through the successes and failures of his people the entire time. I was able to see how different men responded to God, and how God either raised them up, such as Abraham, or brought them low, such as Saul, depending on their obedience. I also have a much greater grasp of God’s balanced nature, which previously seemed paradoxical: He is dually just and merciful. Fred also taught us how to read these 39 books through a New Testament/Jesus filter, which has been a great tool in studying God’s word in it’s entirety and drawing upon parallels and promises that were fulfilled with time. It is so awesome that His plan and character have never changed nor faltered!
I can still hear Steve Backlund’s deep chuckle filling the room as he recounted how the Lord brought joy to his grumpy soul and it how joy changed his life. He said that how you see yourself determines how you will live your life. “Will your giants crush you or will you conquer them?” I want to have the mindset of a conqueror, like Joshua! I set out to ask God what lies I was believing that were hindering me from walking in the joy and freedom of knowing the truth. God revealed them to me, and gave me power to recognize their falsehood and demolish the strongholds in my life. I learned from Steve to receive from God by faith not feeling, and also that my known experiences thus far do not define or limit my current or future identity. Something else Steve said that convicted me was, “False humility is not godly.” God wants me to be confident in him instead of putting myself down and incessantly pointing out my flaws and failures. When I allow him to instill righteous confidence in me, I can experience (with JOY) all that he has for me.
The most amazing aspect of these teachings, aside from the intimacy brought on by the ideal teacher to student ratio (rarely employed in a church auditorium or classroom setting), is that these words of truth and revelation have changed me, marked me in a big way, and allowed me to see that God always has more for me to discover of Him and how he wants to use my life to bring Him glory!