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Marsha Reflects on a Pure Life Weekend

April 30, 2010

Jeff and I were very blessed to be able to participate in Pure Life Ministries recent 2010 Annual Conference in Florence, KY. 

When our world fell apart in 2007 we really had no idea what great resources were available for men struggling with pornography or their spouses.  We stumbled upon the Pure Life Ministries website in early 2008, started reading their blogs and listening to their free podcasts.  Jeff would download the podcasts onto my MP3 player and I would listen to Jeff and Rose Colon, Steve and Kathy Gallagher and Brad Furgess while on the treadmill at the gym.  It was as if they were talking directly to me as they shared stories of similar couples whose marriages were struggling like my own.

We were pretty excited to hear these guys speak live and even thank them for their work they were doing.  I heard Kathy speak during the Wives Session and Jeff and Rose during a Couples Session.  In addition, Jeff led worship and spoke at the Opening Session.  Throughout the weekend, several themes emerged.  Since God so often uses “themes” to impart wisdom into my life, I try to be very sensitive to whatever themes are appearing in my worship and quiet time.

The Pure Life Ministries Conference had a tremendous emphasis on personal and corporate worship.  We worshipped three separate times that first day, singing songs of praise to the Lord and meditating on His holiness.  I was reminded we cannot begin to find victory in our marriages without a personal and growing relationship with Jesus.  Only He can reveal the sin that is holding us back and only He can restore us.  Without Jesus’ presence at this conference, we would only be listening to empty words and man’s wisdom.  Christ alone is our guide and teacher.

Being tethered to things of this world was also a reappearing theme at the Pure Life Conference. We can’t truly worship the Lord when we are distracted by the things around us.  One of the reasons why we struggle with God-centeredness is because we have built our lives around idols – work, wealth, entertainment, pursuit of a better life.  This has been a theme the last six months in my life as I’ve questioned why I give the best of my energy and creativity to things that have no lasting value.  What are we praying for our kids asked Jeff Colon – success in the world?  Why would we even want that?  It means nothing and causes more harm then good.  Better to pray that they know the Lord’s great love and His ability to meet their needs.

Suffering is a tool that all of the speakers touched on.  To put it simply, God uses suffering to make us more holy.  Often we feel as if we are suffering when God is pruning away parts of our life that need to go.  This idea of pruning, sifting, cutting away is something God has been teaching me indirectly the last several weeks.  I say indirectly because I don’t feel like I’m suffering, but I’m hearing about it frequently and from several different directions.

My pastor recently shared that when asked how he was able to sculpt his famous David statue, Michelangelo replied he simply chipped away what wasn’t David.  In the same way the Lord chips away anything about us that doesn’t reflect his holiness or fulfill his purpose.  This also relates to the theme of worldliness above.  Sometimes the Lord takes away all we think we need to reveal to us that He truly is all we need.

I loved when Rose talked about clay, which in and of itself has no purpose.  But in the hands of a great artist, can become something of tremendous value.  In God’s hands, our clay becomes His workmanship.

Our natural response is to run from suffering, to ask God why He would allow it and to pray for it to go away.  Rose challenged us to embrace our times of suffering as a gift.  It isn’t easy, but if we accept it and seek all the wisdom that God intends, we will be blessed and thank him for the trial. 

As you can tell, it was a heavy series of messages, but one that Jeff and I were ready to hear.  In the weeks to come, I’m going to try to be sensitive to what else the Lord wants to show me about worship, worldliness and suffering.

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