Waking up this morning still feeling tired. I am recovering from the Mid Year Conference 2003. I am fully exhausted after last night's recap session - both physically and mentally. I was trying to recover some sleep, but woke up this morning catching a strange feel of emptiness. I am actually recovering from the life style differences, and for the next day or two, I need to get back on track of my "everyday life" again. People said that MYC might be like a glimpse of heaven, but unfortunately it does not last. Back to the reality...
I am hoping to rationalise what I have learnt in the MYC this year a bit later this year. There are so many things jammed in my head now and I felt that my head is about to explode. Maybe I should take the suggestion and wear a cap :) Meanwhile, I will go and fix up the breakfast.
Be back soon.
Updated at 26 July 2003 11:36pm. I am hoping to gradually add my thoughts about this year's Mid Year Conference as I cleaned up my mind. The up-coming week is going to be busy so I will be writing slowly. Here we go.
Updated at 28 July 2003 06:21pm. Add the evening sermon and a picture of Grimmo preaching.
Updated at 29 July 2003 08:47pm. Add the elective and fun time.
The theme for this year's seminar is "The Word of God". Earnest led the first seminar, which really played the role of devil's advocate - "is Bible really the word of God?" Usually we just assume that Bible is the word of God but we never looked at in what sense is it the word of God. The seminar then challenges us to think about what the word of God means, what it does, and how some of the books might be the word of God as God puts his word into the mouth of the prophets. Earnest came up with the Venn diagram at the end, with WoG on one set and Bible/scripture on another, and see what sort of intersect is there between these two sets.
I led the 2nd and 3rd seminar on the relationship between Jesus and the Bible, and most references came out from John's gospel, as Jesus has been described as the Word of God in John 1. The seminar concluded that through knowing Jesus the WoG, you can really know God. Through different witnesses you can then get to know Jesus, but at the same time "Holy Spirit" works in these different witnesses. At the end, we see that the whole Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and both the New Testament and the Old Testament are pointing to Jesus. So when we apply a passage, we need to think about how it links to Jesus, and we need to let Holy Spirit to lead us in reading the Bible. Moreover, "Context Is Your Friend" especially when OT is fulfilled in NT.
Tim led the 4th seminar on how to read the Bible. Through sin, it can mask out our mind from reading God's word properly, and very often we only want to scratch out itching ears with the things we like to read. Instead of interpreting the Bible with our daily life, we should reshape our lives with what we have read from the scripture...
During the recap night on Friday, I shared something that I have concluded - the importance of Holy Spirit. A Pentecostal church might put too much emphasis on the Holy Spirit, as they expect it will provide extra-ordinary revelation outside the scripture. However, we see the Spirit always help the apostles and disciples to look back onto Jesus, and remember what Jesus has taught. Meanwhile, some churches, which FOCUS is sometimes associated with, placed reading the scripture as having head knowledge, but little is applied in lives... In the MYC seminars, we see that Holy Spirit is the co-author of every book in the Bible, and at the same time, Holy Spirit is working in everyone who proclaims Jesus is Lord. We now have direct access to the very author of the scripture, we should also trust and rely on him when we mediate God's words day and night. That was one concern I was thinking for a while. For a music performance, mind of composer gets translated to sound coming out of an instrument through the hands of the musician, it travels through the media, reaching the ears of the audience, and then it gets interpreted in the listener's heart. Each stage might produce distortions, and what the composer meant might not be what the listener has understood at the end. However, with the Holy Spirit the very author of the Bible is working in our heart while we read his words, and while we trust in him, he can help us to understand...
I am glad that people did not ask about the Canon of the scripture, and why some of the books got included in the Bible. Simon asked about the circular reasoning of the scripture, and we have not provided an answer for him yet. There are also some questions that I have not fully resolved in my mind but I am not sure where should I leave it...
Honestly, I did not do the 1 Corinthians 1-4 Bible study. Vivian and I basically went around during the Bible study time "facilitating" the groups, making sure that they are having some process and are not too frustrated. I remembered how frustrated I was during my first MYC in 1995, and we were reading the whole 6 chapters of Galatians without any paragraph, sub-heading, etc. Anyway, I was actually quite encouraged by the amount of discussions in the groups, and many of them have come out with good understanding after 5 days of struggle with the passage. Guy's group, in particular, was very active. Too active I suppose, as most of the time is Guo Liang verses everyone else. Personally I felt knowing some background of 2 letters to the Corinthians church is very useful - especially when you have not done the Bible studies yourself. From the back of my head, I kind-of managed to help some of the groups to get through the frustrating bits... Should have done the Bible studies myself next time.
What can I say? This year we don't have Phillip Jensen around giving his lengthy talks all the way until 9:30pm, but we have Paul Grimmond does exactly the same! There were 5 talks on the topic of Guidance, and it starts and ends with William Williams' hymn Guide Me Thou Great Jehovah. We looked at how people typically view the idea of divine guidance. What God's will is, how it relates to its desire/heart, and how it relates to us. We looked at the idea of wisdom, and many false ways to seek God's guidance. We looked at the idea of freedom, and how we should sacrifice the freedom given by Jesus Christ dying on the cross, to be the slaves of God and salves of men. And then His sovereignty, and how we can pray for His guidance...
There are many challenges that apply directly to myself. Here are some of them:
- GIGAYAN - Grimmo's bracelet is also my favourite. It stands for "God Is God And You Are Not" - which should remind us how inferior we are compares to to the God who creates the heaven and earth. Ultimately it is the answer to many predestination questions. God has his plan, and who am I to challenge his decision?
- Being a slave - during the pre-MYC talk, Paul asked about the difference between servant and slave. People might prefer to be called the former than the later, but there was actually no difference. Now we are slaves to God, we ought to dedicated our whole life to him. Yet we are also called to be slaves to the others, like how Paul is sacrificing his freedom in 1 Corinthians 8-10. I am challenged to think about the way I serve God and others, and then I realised they aren't easy decisions...
- Pray for guidance - in the Bible "prayer" and "sovereignty of God" seems to come hand in hand, which might not make sense in our earthly logics. Neverthless, we ought to pray for God's guidance, which is something I usually fail to do.
Vivian and I did not really go to electives, as all the FOCUS MTS needs to help Joshua running the predestination seminar. The first day we went a bit over time so Josh changed some of the programs, i.e. not reading all the passages, so that I did not actually do anything for the 2nd run. Anyway, Vivian and I were responsible to help out the groups doing Hebrews 6, the famous passage on the possibility of Christians falling away. Hebrews 6:4-6 was the verses asked in nearly every single Mid Year Conference, and most of the time the answer I got was that these verses were warnings against people falling away. The main purpose is not suggesting that there's possibility, but a warning yelling out "make sure you don't". As for this year, I think I've finally had a better understanding on these verses for myself.
Do these verses suggest the possibility of Christians falling away? Surely they do. Will Christians fall away? Otherwise why is the author of Hebrews suggest so? Are they Christians in the first place? But haven't they received the Holy Spirit? I mean, are they "true-Christians"? Or are there different levels of Christianity, salvation, or grace that we have received?
I think the key for me is the context. Yes - Context Is Your Friend! The whole of Hebrews is a big warning - warning against the Jewish Christians to fall back to Judaism and animal sacrifices. Moreover, it has a big exhortation - we must press on, persevere, and fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2)! Therefore, verse 6:4-6 is not just warning on the possibility of falling away, but also helping us to put our faith back on Jesus, who is the author and perfector of faith. Again, the very grace that you have received when you became a Christian - the salvation from Jesus Christ and the faith given to you - will not only save you but also keep you 'til the end.
Fun and Fellowship
MBF played this game called "SEF" - Secret Encouraging Friend, which is just a twisted way to say "Guarding Angels" or "Sheep and Shepherd". Throughout the week, each person is supposed to "secretly" encouraging a friend, yet he/she will be "secretly" encouraged by another person as well. The idea of "secretive" is that you won't know who is supposed to take care of you until the Friday night recap. I was supposed to encourage Gina and Paul was the secret encourager of me.
I think people do learn a lot about how one can encourage each other. But I hope the encouragement does not cease after the MYC. We need to continue encourage one another as the Day draws near...
And the game hosted by the conference was not that "encouraging" - we are playing murder this time for the whole conference. Basically each person is assigned with a target, and one needs to quietly walk to the target's side when he/she is alone, provided that you know who that person is, and then tell him/her that he/she is dead. Then you can continue to hunt your next target...
I was killed within the first hour when the rule of the game is announced. Thou, the MTS Kung Fu Master, spotted me and fired his bullet when I was cleaning up during the compulsary free time. Doh.