Wow, a little nervous to be my honest self, seems like I'm too radical for even some of my grace friends! I feel over the past few days the enemy is coming at me from many different angles, and unexpected ones, to make me feel very alone and even tempting me to be apologetic for my passion for the gospel. This is not to say that there aren't some faults on my part for how I can often come barreling into people with too much at the wrong time and knock them over before they know what hits them! I don't ever want to lose the passion, intensity, and boldness that I believe God loves about me, but I would like my love and compassion to become more obvious to people, if you know what I mean. Some days we have to be content knowing God loves us whether other people do or not.
K, so none of that has to do with Hong Kong really. I don't know where to start. The trip was long, I think I already mentioned that. So, the first thing of note I guess was that I got to visit with Ryan and Kylie for an afternoon before the conference started, and it was so exciting to see the stacks of Ryan's freshly printed books! This is one new ministry that has me really excited, Ryan's vision to start making more grace resources available by publishing and distributing books and worship music. AMEN!!!!!Thank-you Jesus!!!!
The next thing of note is that when I went to meet Lydia at the airport we somehow missed each other so after a few hours I finally went back to my room and there she was! I was so proud of her for finding her own way, believe me, she must have had guardian angels. Having Lydia bunking with me was definately a major highlight of the trip, we've never gotten to spend so much time together, uninterrupted especially! And the girl is oozing the joy of glorious grace, and FREEDOM! We had some amazing fellowship, though I think we stayed up too late most nights. Also if you want to see pictures, head over to her blog, she's got quite a few up or to City Church's facebook group page, hundreds more there.
The conference started the next morning on Wednesday, and opened with Rob furiously preaching the gospel (after a couple of worship songs and an opening of the conference by a Chinese family from City Church). It was classic Rob grace preaching, doesn't get any better than that! The second session was Rob continuing in the same vein to lay the foundation for the conference. We had the afternoon off and mainly we rested and ate. Unfortunately we really didn't do any sight seeing except for an afternoon down at the waterfront with a ferry ride. Poor Lydia! But she claims she didn't mind...
The evening session was Joshua Mills I believe. He was sharing some testimonies and stopping every so often to pray for certain people in the crowd, Fini and Isi were among the first, he actually came out with their full street address though he didn't know them! He healed some, and came walking through the hall showing us the oil that was coming on his hands. A lady in front of us got some off his hands and let us smell it, it had a strange smell (some said like vanilla, others said other things) I think that was also the same night we were smelling other good smells all night.
Josh is very pleasant and joyful and I really like seeing people get healed and hearing testimonies so I found it all enjoyable. I personally didn't find he showed much of an understanding of the difference between Old Covenant Glory and New, though he began to talk about it a little more later on. He seemed to know the Old Testament very well but rarely if ever used New Testament. I was very glad that he was able to hear Rob preach the gospel and hope that God will use the experience to strengthen the foundations of his ministry even more, and that even more signs and wonders and miracles and salvations will come as he begins to see Jesus more and more as the glory cloud we now live in!
Some people were not bothered by any of this at all, but I found myself leaving not feeling satisfied, as I've begun to notice is what always has happened to me in the past when my focus is on experiencing some amazing thing. I found that being at the conference dredged up some old stuff that I've always had issues with in charismatic settings. Rob had talked a bit in the beginning something about not hindering what God wants to do, something in regards to manifestations or being self-conscious, I don't really remember exactly. This really really distracted me, probably in large part due to my history of interactions with charismatic ministy times in the past, having been criticized and judged for not falling or acting weird enough. I guess the assumption is that if nothing weird appears to be happening to your body then you are not free and must be resisting the Holy Spirit's work in your life. This has always left me feeling confused, self-conscious, and condemned. I want to state clearly that I KNOW this was not Rob's intention, and it is clear how much he loves people and just wants them to be free. Nevertheless, I ended up in the bathroom stall crying my eyes out to God during worship of the first session on Thursday morning.
Ahhh, God is good. Of course he spoke to me and loved me and comforted me. He is so happy with where we are in our relationship right now, and this may sound weird but he said he is not a rapist. He will never push me to expressions of love which are beyond where we are in our relationship, he will never treat me like a prostitute. He showed me that my intimacy with my husband has grown and evolved the longer we are together and the more we trust one another, but if it had been forced on me it would not have been love. The main purpose of experiences with him is to bless me, not to impress anyone or please him. It pleases him to please me, and he KNOWS me, really KNOWS me and knows exactly what I need, want, and enjoy. I don't know if I'm explaining this right, but after this I was much better and able to be much less distracted and worried about what people were thinking of me. After all, I just wanted to be able to freely enjoy God and his presence!
So the sessions, the order ect..I'm fuzzy on a bit. I'm sure there will be much more detailed accounts (and possibly at least some recordings) coming soon from others anyway. I know Fini spoke on ministering out of rest, out of God's presence and how church is just meaningless when God's presence isn't there. So true! His main text was come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. One of my favorite verses of all time! Fini seems very laid back and pretty happy, two qualities I always appreciate, of course he's still passionate in worship, I particulary remember one point where he started kicking up his legs dancing, it was quite funny!
Thursday night was probably my favorite night. Annaline (I think that's right) led worship doing lots of great songs with amazing words and then Rob preached and led ministry time, part of which involved getting those who knew they were lightening conductors that night to come forward and get extra-charged then go back into the crowd. We all held hands and Ursula, of course a lightening conductor, ended up miraculously right next to us though she had been way up in front originally. She didn't even know at first because she didn't have her glasses on. Anyway, Lydia and I were laughing hysterically, I was crying I was laughing so hard and Lydia was in a heap on the floor half the time. She kept trying to get up though, she was a little nervous of getting hurt down there, probably with good reason haha! Anyway, it was just fun and a delicious manifest presence of God with us.
Then Rob called down pastors/leaders and wives, at which point Ursula told me to go down so I did. The City Church ministry team was wonderful, so gentle and loving and of course powerful in ministry. The atmosphere became so quiet, peaceful and full of God love and Rob became this totally gentle father to us. I'm still blown away by him, and how much we love him without having to idolize him. Don't know if that makes sense, it's just that since coming into grace I love how I can love and respect and honor people without putting them on a pedestal or having to agree with them 100%. I think it's so freeing. We can let people be people and love them and realize we're all different and that's good for us!
Also, backing up a bit, Thursday afternoon we got to spend with some of the people from Grace Revolution, which was another major highlight. Ryan came with us, and we got to meet Wayne Duncan, Tony Yu, and many others. Meeting Wayno was not dissappointing! He and Ryan were mocking our supposed accents a bit though, talk about pots calling kettles black! They can't even distinguish between 'pill' 'pole' 'pull' etc...all just sounds the same, we had the same issue with Bertie, but in grace we overlook such things.
I guess I'll continue this in another post since it seems to be getting long! There will probably actually be two more posts, one to finish telling about the conference and time we got to spend with Urs, and another to sum up what I took away from the whole thing.