Monday, February 15, 2016

Whirlwind Week and Weather

Wow, the last week has been crazy (mostly good!).

I spoke last weekend at the Tennessee State Fellowship of Christian Athletes College Advance, where hundreds of students from dozens of colleges and universities met together for a weekend of spiritual growth and encouragement. I was feeling a bit nostalgic when I began with them, as I thought about how much the TN FCA College Advance has influenced my life. I was a broken high schooler in 1984 when my dad took me along to the Advance to hear Dave Busby, a victim of polio who had cystic fibrosis. He talked about being a disciple—the first time in my life I heard about this pursuit that would change my life. In 1987 I was in college when Alan Duncan (who was effectively discipling me) spoke at the Advance. Among other things, it was the first time I was faced with implications of God's sovereignty (thanks Jeff Joslin!). Fast forward to 1996 (20 years ago) when I was asked to be the Advance speaker. My wife was (very) pregnant with my daughter (Duncan), who was born just two weeks later. Incidentally, I was on pins-and-needles the whole time, afraid Darla was going to go into labor while I was so far away (we lived in Johnson City and the Advance was near Nashville) and this was before cell phones! Some of the leaders played a cruel joke on me: they told me I had an emergency phone call about my wife! Panic stricken, I started running for my truck! I was going to leave right then, without my bags, and let them figure out who would speak at the rest of the Advance! They thought it was funny. I didn't. Anyway, at this year's Advance, my daughter Duncan was there in attendance! Crazy.

In short, the Advance went very well I think. What did I talk about? The ultimate pursuit: Discipleship. Yep.

There have been a handful of times when I have witnessed an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. One of these times happened at this Advance. It had nothing to do with me. The unofficial theme of the weekend was sexual purity and forgiveness of sexual sin. It was hugely on-the-mark for this group. During the last large-group worship meeting on Saturday evening, Marvin Mumford was leading the musical worship time before I was to speak, when everything broke. People began weeping and praying and confessing sin and crying out to Jesus. It was remarkable. I didn't really know what to do! I was just praying it was for real. I asked an old buddy (Lance Brown), "What should I do?" He assured me that some of the guys he brought from Vanderbilt were being legitimately impacted by God, and pulled me out of the room to pray. Good move. I determined to press on and finish the last trait of a disciple. And I think God continued to speak.

Here's my grandmother (affectionately known as, "Booboo").
She's sharp as a tack at 99 years young.
I left Middle Tennessee around 11PM and returned home around 3AM, getting Darla some roses for Valentine's Day on the way home. The next morning I went to church with my grandmother who turned 99 years old that day (yes, she's a Valentine baby!). After church we enjoyed a potluck birthday celebration with her church family and then spent a little time with our relatives at her house. Good times. She is a godly woman who has loved everyone more than herself. A disciple of Jesus Christ. She typed every paper my pastor grandfather wrote from college to his doctorate degree. I get the feeling she deserved the degrees!

Meanwhile, I was occasionally checking the weather reports that were calling for a quickly developing snow event. I hustled the family home and I jumped in the car and headed for Virginia (where I am as I write this) in order to try to beat the storm. Bad move. It began snowing right as I got out of Knoxville. It never let up. By Morristown, the Interstate slowed as the snow deepened. I jumped off before traffic stopped altogether and drove to 11E to miss the traffic jam as it was getting dark. The snow continued to pile up. I got back on the interstate near Greeneville (now there was very little traffic), and white-knuckled it all the way to my destination in Danville, VA. Yeesh! I quit counting the wrecks and stranded cars! Insane! Thank you, Lord, for your guidance.
The stately and huge chapel at Hargrave Military Institute
(obviously before the cadets arrived for the service).

Today I began speaking to the student body at Hargrave Military Academy, an all boys school in Chatham Virginia, for a three-day spiritual emphasis. This is a TOTALLY different type crowd than that of the College Advance. What is my subject? The ultimate pursuit: Discipleship.

I pray that my voice will hold out. I pray that I won't wreck the car I'm driving (roads are covered now with ice!). But more than anything, I pray that God will raise up some disciples—some radically committed followers of Christ—from this group of cadets.

God, do this!

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