Last Saturday about 260 guys turned up to the Canberra Men's Christian Convention at ANU. Al Stewart spoke on the topic of Tough Times and looked at the life of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. He gave three talks that were insightful and encouraging. Because of the amount of bible in the story Al would drill into some events more than some, but still gave a good balance to the entire story. Al had a down to earth way of speaking that made him easy to listen to and relate with. Throughout the talk he drew on ideas from Tim Keller but also was clear where he deviated from him.
The first talk was recognising the fact that pain is life. Sometimes when we are in the muck we cannot see a bigger picture or some grand scheme, but only in hindsight can we see lessons learnt or certain situation that impact the direction of your life. In Genesis 37 God is absent from the picture and a series of horrible things happen to a mixed up family. But only at the end of the story do we see any purpose for it.
The next talk was on Genesis 39-41 and dealing with temptation. Al saw four possible temptations that Joseph faced: to misuse power, to sleep with Potiphar's wife, to feel sorry for himself and to take revenge. It was pointed out that when we give into temptation the two main ideas we have is that God is mean and is withholding something from us, or that God is stupid and doesn't know what is best. Al challenged us to live with faith in God and to flee temptation.
The last talked wrapped up the story of Joseph (Genesis 42-50) and looked at how Joseph tested his brothers and did not see to end them. I thought it was a good re-telling of the story and it showed the sovereignty of God thought sinful actions and people. Al talked about how sometimes we might think that the world is out of control and being driven by a 4 year, but we sometimes fail to see that also at the wheel is the hand of God, who controls where the wheel goes.
There was also a question time that felt very short. I like watching how people think on the fly and it was great to see Al think out loud as he processed the questions. A few times Al asked the recording to stop and spoke "off air" which was something that I've never seen done before at a conference. But with him doing that, he came across as a very honest, humble and down to earth real guy. Because the Canberra Men's Christian Convention guys are cool, the audio (and maybe the video) will be up on their website for free soon.