Exponential has been all about Advancing the Kingdom. Nearly all the speakers/presenters are in their middle forties to early fifties--like me. Not one of them seems to be burdened down with an over-sized ego. Conversely, they are deeply committed to empowering and equipping the next generation. If nothing else, these sages are radically committed to Christ's mission of global evangelism and creating genuine faith communities.
Hundreds of young men, women, and couples make up the bulk of the audience. For me, it has been moving -- emotionally and spiritually -- to meet them, talk with them, and observe them soaking in the messages like a desert during a new rain. My flip-flop -- birkenstock'd friends are spilling over with excitement, hope, and faith. In their deepest heart they believe that the Jesus they know will change their generation and change the world.
He will -- they will.
I got off the phone with Sandy a few minutes ago -- both of us shed tears as we talked about what God is doing with these Young Lions. Almost simultaneously, both of us stated how we wish we could go with them. What an honor it would be to encourage them and mentor them and protect them. Hearts such as theirs are beautiful -- and for a time, fragile. Sandy and I are battle-tested, and we know that in the days ahead the evil one will viciously come against them -- to rob, kill, or steal God's vision for their future. We wish we were wealthy, so that we could invest in their worthy, godly dreams.
Starting from scratch, there are no buildings or bankroll -- none of the accoutrements my generation thought were absolute necessary to "do" church. But these pioneers are "doing" church -- in the most unconventional venues. Some are selling all and headed into incredibly difficult places. Places like Utah, Washington State, and Oregon. Places as spiritually dark as the most remote and pagan places on earth. Places where the soil is hard-packed and every step will mean plowing new ground.
I will not remember all their names, but I will never forget their faces -- their eyes -- their Christ-likeness. Thankfully, like them, the thirst is still there to move out to the edges -- I am dying for a visitation from God.
Also . . .
This morning I went down to the lobby for the continental breakfast. I grabbed a coffee and a blueberry muffin and sat down at a small circular table to eat. At the table to my right sat two little girls, about 4 and 6 years old. The youngest one was singing, The B-I-B-L-E.
I said to her, "I know that song, too!"
She said, "You do? Sing it!" So I began to sing and she joined in.
Then she asked, "Do you know 'Jesus Loves Me?'"
"I sure do!"
Once again, she said, "Sing it!" Of course I did.
When I finished the song she asked, "Who are you, anyway . . . what is your name?"
"My name is Bill."
"My name is Faith Anne, and my sister's name is Hannah." Now she was beaming.
"Bill, I think I like you!"
"Faith Anne, I know I like you!"
"Will you come sit with me ?" (her grandma was sitting with them)
"Faith Anne (she interrupted me and said, "Call me Faith.), I would like that, but I have to leave to attend a conference."
"You wanna have breakfast with me tomorrow?"
"Faith, I would like that."
"Bill, I like you! See you tomorrow!"
Enjoying the Adventure . . .