Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Light in Dark Places

A couple of weeks ago, my colleague and I attended a week long conference put on by RZIM and hosted by the McMaster Divinity College. The theme was "Light in Dark Places." The experience can best be described as drinking from a fire hydrant. I'm still processing a lot of what I heard, but I'd like to highlight a few of the takeaways from the 32 sessions, some of which are likely not what you'd expect from an apologetics conference.
  • Personal growth requires investment.
This is not an earth shattering revelation, but a gentle reminder that real growth comes at a cost. That cost may be monetary, as in tuition, conference fees, materials, etc. But it also involves, perhaps even moreso, an investment of time and energy.

I'm reminded of a conference I attended a few years ago during which someone spoke of the idea of leverage and creating space. If something is worth learning or doing, and there are only so many hours in a day, therefore something must be sacrificed in order to make it happen. That may mean getting up a little earlier each day or spending less time with television or whatever it is that wastes your time.

Author and speaker Charles Swindoll, many years ago, made the decision to rise one hour earlier each day and to spend that time in writing. He has now written more than seventy books and become one of America's most respected pastors. An hour a day is a powerful thing. What changes do you need to make to allow your top priorities the time they deserve? 
  • There's no substitute for reading.
I have a lot of books. Almost every visitor to my office comments on my rather large library. Yet when I attend conferences such as these I invariably add another 10-20 books to my must-read list. Information is power, and to be able to have that information at your fingertips is invaluable. I find myself humbled in the presence of men and women who have such a great grasp of their subject that they are able to recite from memory a seemingly endless supply of pertinent information.

This is not intended to shame anyone - not all are cut out for academia - however, each of us should take advantage of our opportunities. As Mark Twain said, "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read." It has been said that one hour of study per day in any subject will make you an expert in a couple of years. Try it with something you're interested in.

For those of you who commute, aren't audio-books just the greatest thing since sliced bread? Pop a CD in or download a podcast and make use of that time to expand your mind and your horizons.
  • How you live your life matters.
I'm going to finish off with this one. No doubt many of the thoughts I'm currently processing will find their way onto future blogs, but this is important. I know a lot of people who like to argue. I know a lot of Christians who seem to think that they can bully someone into the Kingdom of God through the sheer weight of their intellect. They're wrong. It is a truism that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Apologetics is really about people. It's about helping people in their search for truth. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we are dealing with people, not just facts. As 1 Peter 3:15 says, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." To quote Lee Beach, one of the conference presenters: "A life beautifully lived is the most powerful argument we have for Christ."

Jesus said, in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” A close examination of the life of Christ is paramount to anyone planning on participating in furthering His Gospel. His was a life of service, of humility, of compassion and sacrifice. When He invited us to join with Him in His cause He didn't offer the perks of power - prestige, wealth, popularity. Rather He said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

We'll give the last word to Stuart McAllister - "How you live speaks volumes to others." Go shine a light in a dark place.

Related Articles:
Book Review: Mere Apologetics
Aren't All Religions Equally Valid?
Book Review: "Why I Still Believe"
Thoughts on Suffering and Hope
"Truth" - by Ravi Zacharias





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