Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Treasuring God at Cedine

I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend in the mountains of eastern Tennessee at Cedine Bible Camp in Spring City, TN. I was the main speaker for their Spring Men's Retreat. Cedine is a camp that was started in 1947 by a white man and his family for the purpose of bringing the gospel to African-Americans. Today the mission has not changed. Though they are tucked away in the eastern mountains of Tennessee, they maintain their goal of reaching African-Americans with the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can read their fascinating story here.
The theme for this year's Spring Men's Retreat was Treasuring God. Men came from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia to bathe in the beautiful climate of the Tennessee hills, to take in the glory of God's creation, and to most importantly be challenged by God's word. I for one can say I enjoyed all three aspects of my time there this weekend.

Most of the men came from traditional black baptist churches and had never considered some of the theological challenges I was setting before them. Nevertheless, they were very receptive and even encouraged to hear that God is an all-satisfying, eternally rewarded and rewarding God. I intentionally wanted to challenge their popular understanding of God, even as mine has been and continues to be challenged as I learn more Scripture (oh, I pray I would be more knowledgeable of the Bible).

Here is my opening salvo. I wanted to set up the weekend by letting them know that the God of the Bible is far bigger and better than is usually heard:



Fellas, I am here this weekend to challenge you to get a bigger, better, more biblical picture of God. One of the great handicaps of Christianity today is that in most of our hearts and minds God is too small. In far too many pulpits today God is nothing more than a deified Santa Claus. He is a celestial genie who if you say the right words or somehow rub your Bible the right way God will grant you anything you want.

And while far too many preachers teach this pseudo-Santa Claus understanding of God, and far too many of us have bought into it, the clear biblical picture of God is far greater, far more glorious and far more awe-inspiring that that.

Think about it. What’s the big deal about a God who wants to give you more money? What’s so great about a God who wants to give you a bigger house? Who wants to give you a fancier car? If that is the God you understand, if that is the God you preach, if that is the God you hear preached, then I suggest to you that you’d be better off with a genie in a bottle than a God in heaven.

And yet, this is the God that most of us hear and see preached on television and from most of the more popular pulpits today. This is the God that is sold in most of the bookstores. This is the God most popularly taught. This is the God that people spend millions of dollars each year to know. And in light of this overwhelming popularity of this God, I have a few days this weekend to convince you not to buy that teaching, not to purchase that God, not to spend money on that which does not satisfy.

I have but a couple of days to convince you that the biblical God is much greater, much more glorious, than some heavenly sugar daddy. Brothers, I am here this weekend to tell you and remind you that the God of the Bible is to be treasured, not because He gives us money, but because He gives us meaning.

Meaning, significance, and worth are not measured in your health or wealth. This is a lie that has been pawned off on our churches. This is a lie that has duped and deceived the church for too long, my brothers. Meaning is about treasure. But it is not treasuring treasure, it is about treasuring God.

Treasuring God is seeing God as the most desirable, delightful, all-satisfying pursuit in the universe. And then, selling all that you have and all that you are to buy it.

3 comments:

LouLove said...

Wow Brother, did they record the sessions?
If so how can a brother get some copies?

Scotty J. Williams said...

Anthony I got to tell you, hearing about what's going on down there makes me want to move back down South to do my Ph.D., and get in one some of this stuff. I'm so glad that you told the truth, I feel it from here and it touches me deeply. I almost melted when you said,

"Treasuring God is seeing God as the most desirable, delightful, all-satisfying pursuit in the universe. And then, selling all that you have and all that you are to buy it."

It's crazy bro to think about how He has given us His all, and how we give Him so little (or nothing at all) and keep asking Him for more stuff. You had me cracking up when you said God has become nothing more then a deified Santa Claus LOL.

Keep the faith Brother

Phillip Fletcher said...

AJ,

I agree with loulove. Is there audio available from your messages? Praise God that He is using you to exalt Him!!

Phillip