The Beloved Charter

I have become a bit jaded in regards to Christian conferences. They just seem a bit…fluffy. All this “you are enough” -self-help-me-ology stuff disguised as Bible teaching. Ennea-what? Thanks, but no thanks.

This past weekend, Ben and I went to a Christian conference anyway, mainly because our pastor’s friend and mentor Larry was the one leading the thing. Plus, we heard there’d be cookies.

It was well worth it. The cookies were fantastic.

Honestly, though, they were nothing compared to the simple yet transformative teaching and the skills Pastor Larry equipped us with during our time together.

Pastor Larry came up from North Wake Church in North Carolina to spend Friday evening and Saturday teaching a small, expectant gathering of believers how to seek that which is most important: a deeper relationship with God. The conference was titled, simply, “Delighting in the Company of God.”

Pastor Larry outlined three practices we could implement regularly to grow our relationship with God: sustaining practices, deepening practices, and ceaseless practices.

Sustaining practices help us to make fellowship with God a priority in our schedule; and coming to that time with the Lord not just to check off another task on our list, but to actually spend time with him. We want to experience the Lord’s presence, to know him, not just know about about him, and amazingly, the Bible tells us that God desires to spend time with us! How nuts is that?

Pastor Larry mentioned some helpful tools for those who have a hard time knowing where to start: apps such as Lectio 365, The Daily Living Podcast, or the Dwell app can help us get into the routine of being in God’s word and prayer on a daily basis.

The goal of these sustaining practices is not merely information, but transformation as we let the truth of God’s love, mercy, and kindness sink deep into our hearts day in and day out; as what we learn informs how we live.

Another great idea Pastor Larry gave us was to think of a sin we are struggling with regularly, and the counter virtue we’d like to improve on (think anger/gentleness). Then, you would spend a few months reviewing Scripture that addresses that particular sin, and Scripture that highlights the counter virtue. I think this is a wonderful way to let God’s word pour over us and change our hearts and minds. I would tell you which sin I chose but I’m too prideful, so I’ll humbly keep it to myself.

Deepening practices are extended periods of time with God. For this session, we were actually sent off on our own to a park or quiet place of solitude for three hours while Pastor Larry took a nap (or did the same thing we were doing. Who knows?) This could be a time of prayer or worship or digging deep into the Word. For this first time, Pastor Larry gave us some direction: a printed list of verses about God’s love to look over. The verses that stood out to us we rewrote in a personalized “Beloved Charter”. As I read and reread the list I realized a running theme in the verses that comforted me: the fact that God will never, ever abandon me. Though I feel completely safe and loved in my marriage, past relationships taught me that people don’t always love well. Sometimes they hurt us. And sometimes they decide we’re not worth the effort at all.

But God is not people. He is God. And if we belong to him, we will always belong to him. We will always be loved.

I will link to all of these resources at the end so forget about bailing out just yet.

This is my Beloved Charter:

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, Angela, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on me. Christ will dwell in your heart through faith, and Angela, as you are rooted and grounded in love, you have the strength to comprehend with all the saints the breadth, length, height, and depth; the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge and you will be filled with all the fullness of God. Angela, you can safely humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and at the proper time he will exalt you-cast each and every anxiety on him- he can handle it and, more than that, he truly cares for you. Angela, your old self has been crucified with Christ; therefore God will never disown you-for it is Christ who lives in you and God cannot disown himself- even more; Angela, live by faith each day in the son of God, who loved you and gave himself for you. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Angela, God’s plans for you are so good- not something to fear but something to run to- a future marked by hope. And God is God- his covenant and steadfast love will never fail- not even in a thousand generations. Be loved.

Sob. Please do this exercise. It’s so good. Also, “beloved” breaks down into be-loved. Be loved. Isn’t that cool?

After our three hours were up, Ben and I made a quick stop at the ABC store and then got some lunch at a local Italian restaurant (have you ever had white balsamic dressing? It’s amazing!) Then we drove across the street back to the church for the final session on “ceaseless practices”.

Ceaseless practices are things we can do to seek God throughout the day apart from our scheduled times; it could be attaching prayer to daily activities such as “sipping for salvation”-which would translate to praying for people who don’t yet know God to come to faith while you drink your morning coffee. You could do this with so many things, but Pastor Larry advised to add one or two to start so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up all together. Another suggestion was to memorize short prayers from Scripture you could pray as you encounter people and situations through your day. Or, you could commit to pray as you pass specific places, such as a school or firehouse or a neighbor’s home. These brief moments spent calling out to God will add up to a day saturated in prayer; a continual admission of our inadequacy and dependence on Jesus; a constant acknowledgment of God’s presence, power, and sovereignty in a world brimming with felt needs.

I’m so thankful we went. I’m excited to keep these practices going in my own life, and grateful to be able to share these tools with others. We can read all the self-help books in the world, but there is no substitution for a rich, vibrant relationship with the God of the universe. None.

Check out these resources. Write your own Beloved Charter. Read it every morning and night for a month.

Be loved.


Here’s the link. Enjoy!

One Comment Add yours

  1. debs88blog says:

    So good!!!!!!

    Sent from my iPhone



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