Updated: Jan 24
By Melissa Bolivar, January 2023.
Two weeks ago, Shannon and I had the privilege to attend a Children’s Pastor Conference hosted by INCM in Orlando. Little did we know just how spiritually transformative those three days would be. The theme of the conference and this year’s focus is being reminded of, seeking, understanding, and teaching about God’s unending hope. We attended six worship sessions with an awesome praise band and six speakers. And we also attended six breakout sessions of our choice. Though every speaker and every song had its own take on unending hope, I wish to share with you what God spoke to me about during my time there.
Confession. Relationships. Testimony. Vulnerability. Discipleship.
Most of those words are scary for a person to think of having to take on when they think of what it means to be a faithful servant of Christ. And to be honest, prior to walking into those doors on Tuesday morning, I was guilty of doing the bare minimum myself. So how do we find hope in confession? Well, it is hard to hold on to a rope of hope when your palms are sweaty from regret, guilt, and shame. God does not want anything separating us from Him. And once we confess our sins to Him, the darkness is gone; we have more room and space in our heart and mind to let God in, thus letting in all of His light, hope, and peace. But why is it so hard to enter into a time of confession? Is it fear of not being loved, of not being forgiven, fear of being ousted from the kingdom of Heaven if we profess that sin which we committed? The unending hope that I learned about is that the Lord loves me and is passionately committed to me and He sent Jesus to make my scarlet sins “as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
God did not call us to go this life alone. He wants us to be in relationship with one another. But those relationships take work! They take patience! They take time and effort! But oh, how much sweeter do they make this life.
How can we grow the kingdom of God here on Earth if we do not obediently seek to be in kind and loving relationships with one another? And more importantly, how will our children learn how to have trusting and loving relationships with humans, let alone with God, if we do not step up to be better examples and leaders? How can our church be a more inviting community of faith that overlooks what divides us and focuses on the truth that we are all children of the Most High? The unending hope lies in the truth that God put you exactly where you are, surrounding you with other apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, to be in relationship with them, all the while using wisely of your time and talents in unity for the glory of God.
Testimony cannot be powerful without our vulnerability. 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have but do this with gentleness and respect…”
Each speaker and teacher at this conference shared several personal testimonies and other stories to share of how they saw God moving in lives of their loved ones. And each testimony had its power to bring to life what the scriptures teach us. Each testimony first took the willingness to be vulnerable in order to be able to share how each speaker had fallen short in their obedience to God. But after every testimony, especially the ones that moved me to tears, I saw the unending hope that God was, He will be, and He always is so, so good. In each story recounted, I heard the unending hope that God rules, God redeems, and God restores. There is unending hope that He will comfort us and deliver us through something, even if it is not a perfect, happy ending.
And finally, we arrive to the most difficult part of being a faithful servant of God—answering the call to discipleship. It is easy to sit on your couch and proclaim Jesus as your savior and to only be concerned with your salvation. It is comfortable to only share relationships with those that claim the same thing from couches that look like yours. But is that all we were called to do? Is that all we want for our children, or our children’s children? Should we wait for a big rainstorm to build the ark? Should our children wait until they are adults to become disciples? God blessed us with the good news of the gospel, and while we have breath, we should proclaim this good news. It is never too late (or too early), and it is always worth it! The unending hope is that you reflect His glory if you live in the identity of the truth of who He calls you to be. The unending hope is that He will equip you to live this life as a bold and courageous disciple when you invite Him in, and allow His will to be done through you, no matter how uncomfortable or uncanny it may seem.
The beauty of this conference coined, CPC2023, is that it is (for the near future) unending. We will return next year to learn about Uncommon Identity. My hope is that you will continue to hold onto the rope of unending hope. Seek out to be more intentional about confession, building relationships, sharing your vulnerability through testimony and always be a bold and courageous disciple of Christ!!