John reports from LIFE 2022 in Orlando, Florida, where 4,580 students and their leaders joined together to proclaim that Jesus is greater than everything and discover their part in His mission to the world.View Transcript
– [John Stumbo] Every three years, The Alliance family invests in the arising generation through an event called LIFE. It’s my joy to bring you a report today.
– [Crowd] LIFE 2022!
– First, an announcement: Almost every day at the National Office, we get a phone call or email with someone from the Alliance Family inquiring about the complex cultural issues of this time- legal questions, pastoral questions. We help as best we can, but one thing we can provide for all of us, is an event, a seminar coming up, hosted by our own General Counsel Gary Friesen; Stu Lark is coming in as well, a legal professional; and Mark Yarhouse, who will help us navigate these waters and process together as an Alliance family. Both available online and in person– you can register now. So, here it is–the last day of LIFE. What a joyful event–4,580 students, 1,330 leaders, plus 144 volunteers representing 39 states, 23 of our 25 districts, 29 service projects from organizations all across Central Florida– landscaping, painting, building bunk beds– representing 17,523 hours of combined service utilizing 118 school buses. We had Justice Experience, Missions Experience, and a Prayer Experience that most of the students participated in, and $104,000 and counting going for our missions offering to Silver Lining Orphanage in Myanmar. This morning, what a joy to stand before this crowd of passionate worshipers and invite them to engage personally in Christ’s mission to the world, with 600 or more coming forward to respond to Christ’s call for service, responding with interest on our app to receive more information, and over 400 of them right now are in a seminar discovering what their next steps can be. I can’t give you the whole experience of bouncy toys and late night pool parties and the comedian and the magician and all the power of the worship, but what we can bring to you is some of the content. So, enjoy with me now a recap of some of the main stage presentations where speaker after speaker, we take on the theme, “Jesus is Greater Than Everything.”
– [Brian Episcopo] That of all the things that God would choose to keep on His new physical body, that Jesus would choose to keep, He chose to keep the scars. He chose to keep the wounds. Why? Maybe it’s because this: God knows that a sunset, He knows that a mountain vista, a raging sea, the vast expanses of the galaxies, He knows that that tells you, and tells people that He’s powerful, and He’s big, and He’s everywhere. But it’s the wounds that tell you He loves you. I’m here tell you that the world is not second best with the cross. The world is best with the cross. There is a love we would never have known. There is a greatness we would never have known of God. There is a grace and a forgiveness and a power of God that we would never have known otherwise. This world needs a generation of people who aren’t defining greatness by fame, rich, power, all that stuff–they’re defining greatness by taking scars, opening them, letting people see ’em, letting people put their hands in your scars, and say, “Wow, and you still believe? You still have hope? You still forgive that person? There must be a God.” If God’s Word cannot offend you, tell you your feelings are wrong, tell you what you think is wrong, tell you that you’re off– if you can’t let this book offend you and tell you you’re wrong, let tell you something– you’re god. Some of you haven’t met the wounded God yet. You haven’t met the God with scars. And I wanna introduce you today, and maybe this week, I wanna introduce you to the God who is scarred, and He’s wounded for you.
– [Heather Thompson Day] Colossians 1:27: “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ is in you.” When the world cries out and says, “Where is God? Where is God? I don’t see Him. You show me where your God is.” That is not an indictment on God. It is an indictment on the Church, the image bearers. May people see God when they see you, Christ is in you!
– [D.A. Horton] And the value of Jesus should always be greater than any privilege we have. The value of Jesus is displayed by Christians when we leverage our privilege to serve others, share ourselves, and suffer and overcome. God shared with us non-material characteristics of Himself that He didn’t give to any other kind of creation. That’s what makes us image bearers of God. You’ll never be inclusive enough for the world. There will come a point when you stand within the framework of biblical convictions, no matter how passionate about justice and equity that you are, if you are following the guardrails of Scripture, you will never be diversified and inclusive enough. But that does not mean that the reality of diversity within the Body of Christ, accepting one another as Christ accepted us, the world has no control of us walking in obedience to what our Savior has commanded us. They don’t.
– [Tim Meier] It was in 1995 at the LIFE Conference in Orlando, Florida–God did something in my life that week, and frankly friends, I haven’t really been the same since. Some of us treat our relationship with God a little bit like a box. Like, we go to church, and we open the God box, and we take Him out, and He’s very nice, and we worship Him, and we feel good about Him, and it’s good. But then some of us are like, “Cool, it’s 12–time to go. Pastor went a little long, but we’re outta here.” And then we pack up the box and get on with our life or that happens after youth group or maybe even after we open our Bibles. See, we have the ability to engage in religious activity and miss God or experience Him for a little bit without experiencing the fullness of what He has, and I’d like to talk tonight about what it means to get rid of this box so that His life could be with us all the time. So, let’s be well-digger kind of people and say to Jesus, “I’m done with the box. I don’t want to just show up to church. I don’t wanna just live my life for me.” It is hopeless on the other end of that. And you’re hearing that message over and over because it’s the truth of the gospel. Only Jesus has the life, but He offers it to all of us.
– [Rich Villodas] And whenever we are marked by guilt, shame, and hiding, we become prey for the evil one. And the Lord wants to do something in us to move us beyond guilt, to move us beyond shame, to move us beyond hiding. Every single one of us in this room, on this planet, is sexually broken. The Bible tells the story of sexual brokenness page after page after page. And I’m so grateful that the Bible is not this collection of sanitized stories of holy people but that the Bible is a collection of stories of ordinary, broken people who are made holy by a righteousness outside of themselves. May our communities across this nation be safe places where we can learn to confess our shame, our longings, our sin. May we be a people who look to Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ sees you, He sees righteousness ’cause He’s given you His righteousness. You have been made whole in Jesus Christ, and sin no longer is your master. Shame no longer is your master.
– [John Stumbo] There’s some, who in your heart right now, are saying, “Yeah, I submit to His plan, but I’m feeling this call, this stirring, this maybe, big question of, ‘I think maybe I’m supposed to be one of those next generation of international workers, those missionaries who take the gospel to people who have not yet heard it yet. I think I maybe am supposed to plant a church. I think maybe I’m supposed to be a youth worker.'” We call this, as Josh said at the beginning of the service, “full-time ministry.” The vocation–it’s your occupation. It is fantastic if God has called you into the workplace. There’s no second-class or two-class systems here. It’s not about that. If God’s called you to stay in the school, or to, you know, invest your life in a school system or in a hospital or in a sales force or some IT team or graphic design or whatever it is that you’re interested in doing, and do it right here in the United States in the workplace and make money and have a living here, there’s no second-class call to that as long as it’s submitted to the big call of God. You know what these people are gonna need? A whole lot of support. They’re gonna need you to have jobs that make money, that you don’t just keep 100 percent of it for yourself, but you launch that. You send them. We need prayer warriors who stay home and invest their lives into praying that these people have effective ministry. We need encouragers. We need supporters. We need people to stay and keep our churches strong and to become an elder in your church and a youth volunteer in your church. We need people to stay strong in the local church right back here at home so that these people have support.
– [Megan Marshman] Do me a favor, and turn to your neighbor and say, “Neighbor, I am so glad that you’re as messed up as I am.” Welcome to Church! “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” The reason I begin here is I wanna set your expectation, not just for tonight, but for home. ‘Cause here’s the good news: If you seek to find God, He promises to be found by you.
– [John Stumbo] Your pursuit of God doesn’t end with the end of the conference. That includes the few of you who aren’t yet sure that God, that Jesus, is greater than anything. You leave nine sessions unconvinced, and I’m not shaming you. I’m just saying your questions are a quest, and stay on that quest please. So, to Him who was able to keep you from falling and to present you before His presence without fault and with great joy, to Him be the glory. Amen.