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evbc | gilbert

lessons from charlotte

I spent the last half of this past week in Charlotte, NC where I was attending an Orientation Seminar for the Master's degree program I'm doing at Reformed Theological Seminary. It was a good experience in a lot of different ways. In addition to attending the course, I also visited the new Billy Graham Library and had some interesting travel snafus. Here are some of the multi-faceted lessons I learned from the trip.

1. God is moving around the world through very interesting people.
One of the greatest blessings of my trip was meeting some very unique and interesting people. My class of 15 was a great demonstration that God is working all over the world in all kinds of different environments. I met some wonderful people: a woman from China who is on Campus Crusade staff there and this was her first time to the U.S., a missionary in Turkey who is working with urban and rural people and speaks 3 languages, a chemistry professor at Idaho State, an Air Force pilot who has been doing distance courses while on tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, a pastor from Mars Hill Church in Seattle where hundreds are coming to Christ, a woman who is on Crusade staff with her husband ministering to graduate students at Princeton, and others who are serving the Lord where they're at all over the country.

2. Theological education is worth pursuing, regardless of your vocation.
I was reminded that people who love God should desire to get to know him better, regardless of whether they will ever serve in full time ministry. Some of the people in my class are pursuing education for credential purposes, but others were simply wanting to go deeper in their knowledge of God. It showed me that getting to know God better is always valuable.

3. EVBC's vision for place-based ministry is on the right track.
This might seem random, but I'll connect the dots for you. One of the professors at RTS knows Tom Shrader and Dave Moore (EVBC elders) from past days of ministry and conferences. As a result, every time he comes to AZ he tries to attend EVBC. A few years ago he attended the Men's Conference where Randy Frazee talked about the value of doing ministry in our communities. He described attending the conference as "life-changing." It was a reminder to him of the value of people being involved in their communities and was a great encouragement to me that pursuing Area Ministry is worth it.

4. Thank God for Billy Graham.
Visiting the Billy Graham Library was incredibly inspiring. Here is a man that has preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of people and has stayed faithful for 50+ years of ministry. He ministered to common people as well as world leaders. He loved his wife intensely. He lives a life of integrity. He loves Jesus and seems to be a humble man. I was thrilled that the Library was not just a tribute to Graham, but also a compelling outreach to those who don't know God. As I went through the tour, I probably heard the gospel fifty times. Also, I was ecstatic to see that their bookstore was filled with good, doctrinally sound books. Authors like Packer, Piper, Bridges, Spurgeon, Alcorn, MacArthur, and others were dominant. Awesome.

5. It is foolish to complain about things we can't control.
On both ends of the trip there were severe travel issues. My flight out was canceled and my flight back was delayed, both because of thunderstorms in Dallas. I was amazed at how much griping there was and people who were really upset. I wasn't thrilled about it either. But what amazed me is how people whine and complain about things that are totally out of their hands. It does no good and only makes the whole experience that much worse.

So, there are some lessons, random though they be. I thank God for the things he teaches us, not only in his word, but also through daily life.