Sunday, 17 November 2013

Canberra Men's Christian Courage

Last month I attended the yearly Canberra Men's Christian Convention (CMCC), like I try to do every year. I really appreciate the convention as it is local to Canberra and they bring in top speakers. This year the speaker was Nigel Fortescue, who I had never heard of before (turns out he is one of the speakers at next gen 2014). He is from Campbelltown, so he immediately had that going for him. Nigel is into mountain bikes and the whole conference had a mountain bike feel to it, with the MC sitting on a bike while doing his thing. I'm not that into mountain bikes, but I get that lots of Canberrans are, and I did enjoy seeing my cousin in a video interview.

This year the conference was at UC and not ANU. Since I work at ANU and appreciate having wifi access to their network, I thought this was a bummer. However I did manage to get on the UC network, so I got my free Internets for the day. The lecture theater felt a bit smaller, but the weather was great so during the breaks I got to catch up outside with a bunch of people I hadn't seen in a while, which is another good thing about these types of conventions. Also free morning coffee made by baristas is good start to the day. Next year it is back at ANU, which I like, mostly for sentimental rather than rational reasons.

Nigel gave three talks, all to do with standing for (or with) Christ. Nigel didn't come across as some great theologian, but rather a practical guy that takes the Bible seriously. If it says something, the real issue is if we are going to believe it or not. It really is as simple as that.

The first talk was on Joshua 1. Moses, the great leader, had died. God then tells Joshua to be strong and courageous (four times - verses 6, 7, 9, 18) because He is going to complete His plan. It wasn't up to Moses, but God. Joshua is called to further God's plan, and God is the one who gives him what he needs and is ultimately doing the leading. It is on the basis on God's promises that He will never leave of forsake Joshua (verse 5) that God can call Joshua to be courageous (verse 6). Even though situations change in life, we are to still trust in the promises of God, and not our minister or anyone else. The greater Joshua conquered death for us and regardless of what people think He is still King and is out helper (Heb 13:6).

The second talk started with an extract from Jonathan Edwards famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Somtimes we need to be woken up to the fact that we Christians have been saved from hell. We may not think sin really is as bad as it is, so we tinker or play with it. But we are called to shut the door on sin. To help do this, we need a bigger vision of Jesus. In Genesis 4 God was pleased with one sacrifice over another and Cain is warned that sin was crouching at his door, ready to devour him. Cain killed his brother, thinking it would make his life better, but it only resulted in broken relationships with everyone. We are to be on our guard against sin. Our issue sometimes is that was don't even stop and think about where our thoughts or actions will lead. Nigel looked at common issues that men face such as porn, pride and possessions. All may seem enjoyable and feel excellent, but if they are OK, then what happened on the cross? It was there that God tired to show us how deadly sin is. He takes it seriously. We are to stop redefine sin, remember the grace and forgiveness of God and close the door to it.

During the third session there wasn't a talk, but some Q&A. During that session there was also a short interview with Dave McDonald (blog) with his experience with throat cancer and his faith in God through that. He also mentioned that in January a book he wrote is coming out how the hope in God is bigger than terminal cancer. It sounds like it could be a good read, especially with something going though what might seem a hopeless situation.

The last talk by Nigel was on Ephesians 6:10-20. This talk helped me the most. It's alright to hear that God will never forsake you and all that, but what happens when you think God has let you down? Why am I standing with Christ when others seem to be doing fine without Him? It seems the rest of the world is saying that it has worked out it doesn't need Christ and has just moved on. When it comes down to it, we need to see that these are lies. We are to look back to the historical cross (and I might add resurrection) of Jesus and see that He really did die for us. The bad stuff that happens in our life doesn't negate the goodness of God. Jesus' death for you doesn't change in your present circumstance. We are to trust that God does love us, even if it look like he doesn't, because He told us He does. The Bible says so, it really is as simple as that.

The talks for this year (and all past years) are now online for free, so they are definitely worth checking out, (and is yet another reason why CMCC conventions are cool).

Past CMCC conferences I have reviewed:
2008 Men's Convention on Ambition by Dave McDonald and Paul Dale
2009 Men's Convention on Tough Times by Al Stewart
2010 Men's Convention on Walking Straight by Mike Raiter


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