Thank you to all who were able to come out to the Sacred Endurance book launch event. It was a night I’ll never forget. One surprising gift was the people who drove hours upon hours to attend from Minnesota to Birmingham to Chicago; we were blessed to visit with people from all over the country. I realize that most people would not be able to take the trek to good ole’ Tennessee, so I wanted to provide a few highlights including quotes from speakers and pictures.
We started the night with music from the wonderfully soulful singer/songwriter, Sandra McCracken. Her voice is delightful, but her ability to connect the Word to her music and help us worship the Lord ministered to each of us. Make sure to check out her new Christmas CD: http://www.sandramccracken.com/
Here are some quotes from Jedidiah’s talk:
“For most Christians, including me most of my life, we believe in the power of prayer, but at the same time, we just can’t find the time to pray. We don’t have meaningful, daily prayer lives. And that’s a serious problem, especially as it relates to enduring. God didn’t design us to advance and endure without his help. And we show our understanding of that reality, or lack thereof, on whether we ask for that help in prayer.”
“When you see God for who he is (that he’s your father), you also find that you embody a childlike boldness. Children have a unique boldness with their parents. Children will walk into your bedroom in the middle of the night, without any hesitation, or concern about your big meeting the next day. There’s no apology.”
I’m so grateful for the reminder to boldly go to God’s throne of grace where we receive mercy and help in our time of need and to ask boldly and specifically. God can do more than we could ask or imagine.
Next was a word from Isaac Ezell. He is the Associate Director of Development for HOPE International. He read from Sacred Endurance focusing on chapter 10, “Don’t Go It Alone.” He shared how we need prayer and community to endure. HOPE embodies this call of community through partnering with local churches and helping establish savings groups. Proceeds for the book sales for the evening went to benefit the good work of HOPE International. You can learn more about them and savings groups by visiting their website: https://www.hopeinternational.org/.
I then joined Dr. Russell Moore, Barnabas Piper, and Dorena Williamson for a panel discussion on enduring in the faith in real life situations including through difficult times, divorce, raising children, and much more. These quotes only scratch the surface of our discussion. It was rich and I’m so grateful for each of these panelists.
Dr. Moore reminded us that God prepares us for hard seasons of life: “When it comes to enduring in the faith, a lot of that has to do with what God has been doing in your life leading you that time of trial.” – Russell Moore
“If you’ll look back at your life and you notice the times that Jesus was closest to you, it was always in those moments not of your triumphs but the times when you are weakest.” –Russell Moore, paraphrasing Ray Ortlund.
Barnabas was open about one of the hardest times of his life. He shared that, “Phrases like ‘how long oh Lord’ were all of a sudden things that I could say instead of things that I could read.” –Barnabas Piper
“Suffering simplified my faith. I come from a fairly theological background. And so to get to the place where faith is as Psalm 37 says ‘trust the Lord and do good’ and you just do that, every day.“ –Barnabas Piper
“These things that could be clichés or pretty pictures on a wall take on profound meaning on a very simplified but deeper day-to-day basis.” – Barnabas Piper
Dorena shared the great news about her husband securing African American historical representation in a small town square. She also shared about the pain of racism and the importance of enduring those things in a community. She shared, “[It’s important and special] being in a faith community who affirm your dignity, the imago dei in you. Who will lament and believe you.” – Dorena Williamson
I reminded us that we can often project what man does onto God. Dr. Moore had a helpful word when asked about people who are disillusioned with the church or specifically evangelicalism, “We have to be able to differentiate between Jesus and the church. Especially when you go back and look at the picture of Christianity that is given in the New Testament it is not airbrushed and idealized at all.” – Russell Moore
Dorena, who is the mother of adult children, shared, “One of the first things that parenting has done for me is remind me that I am dependent on my heavenly Father. Remind yourself that you are dependent on your heavenly father. You are his child.” –Dorena Williamson
“You have a father who is faithful. Ask him to show you how to be a faithful parent.” –Dorena Williamson
“Keep planting seeds. We think if we follow these five things we are guaranteed to have certain results. But that’s not the way it goes. Keep planting seeds.” –Dorena Williamson
At the end of the night I got an opportunity to honor my dear and wonderful husband. I dedicated the night to Thern, my husband, and as I held back tears of gratitude and joy, I read the dedication of the book to him. He’s a gift to us.
The dedication: To Thern, my husband, my friend, my fellow sojourner running the race set before us, hoping in Jesus and fixing our eyes on him—together. He is with us till the end and then forevermore.
I love my husband and kids. They are a gift and I’m grateful that I get to walk out my faith along side each of them. Our dear friend and pastor, Jedidiah, ended the night praying for my family and for all in attendance.
I hope you are encouraged by these glimpses of what God did that evening. I’m praying specific prayers for each of you as you read these highlights. God knows where you are and what you need. I pray you sense his care for you today.
Special thank you to: InterVarsity Press and Christina Gilliland for helping make this evening happen. Your support and encouragement has helped me endure though this process (pun intended). Thank you to Krista Sagraves for doing decorations, Lauren Ivanoff and Alexis De Weese for set up and break down and serving throughout, Jordan Hill for running sound along with your sidekick, Nick Ivanoff, Eric Brown Photograph for these wonderful photos, and finally the amazing Well Coffeehouse. Your team is delightful and generous! Thank you!