Thursday, October 7

A Bowl of Stew and a Biblical Life - Catalyst Day 1

Today and tomorrow, our staff is attending the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. Catalyst is a gathering of about 13,000 Christian leaders and always features a packed schedule of some of America's greatest speakers and thinkers in the areas of ministry and leadership. Today's line-up included Andy Stanley, Daniel Pink, Christine Caine, Seth Godin, Beth Moore, and Francis Chan (as well as shorter interviews with several others). This year's theme is "Tension is Good" and each speaker shared ideas that were stretching and valuable. Here are a couple of the highlights for me:

As he traditionally does, Andy Stanley led off the conference. Stanley is one of my favorite Christian leaders and I always seem to resonate with what he has to say. Today he talked about the tensions of leadership that are associated with our internal appetites - things such as progress, responsibility, respect, winning, achievement, etc. Regarding these appetites, he said:

1. God created them and sin distorted them.
2. Appetites are never fully and finally satisfied.
3. Your appetites always whisper "now" and never "later".

He then took us to the story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25 and talked about how Esau gave up his birthright - his future and his legacy - for a bowl of stew to satisfy his appetite. He then brought us to the point: Would you trade your future and legacy for a bowl of stew? Any of us could and many of us have.

So what is the bowl of stew for which you would be tempted to trade your future and your legacy? And how are you going to avoid falling for the deceptions that could lead you to that choice?

According to Stanley, we need to reframe our appetites in the context of what God has called us to and the future and legacy we desire and then refrain from trading that calling, future, and legacy for the "bowl of stew" that we think will satisfy.

Francis Chan, maybe the most popular Christian speaker in America right now (though he and his family have sold their home and are moving to Asia next week), closed the evening. Chan is a very "winsome" speaker - easy to like and listen to - and what he says is an obvious overflow of his walk with God. Tonight he gave us this (uncomfortable) idea to think on and pray about...

We say that we think and live Biblically, but if we put our life into the pages of the book of Acts, would it fit? Or would it seem weird and out of place? A lot of what seems normal in the Church and in the lives of Christians would seem weird in Acts. It wouldn't fit. And much of what was normal behavior for the Christians in Acts would be out of place today and we would consider it weird or radical.

So who are we more like? Jesus and the Christians and Church we read about in the Bible? Or our culture and the people we live around today?

The "bowl of stew" and a Biblical life both issues with which we need to wrestle. Let me know what you think about any of these thoughts.

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