Collyde Summit Day 2 – Presentations By Pete Wilson & Margaret Feinberg – Post 4 #Collyde13

I’ve been blogging about the Collyde Summit. You can check them out here Post 1, Post 2, & Post 3.

Collyde’s main day began Saturday this time with a time of worship led by Aaron Keys (who is quite the worship leader). After a few more welcomes, words and blurbs, Pete Wilson took the stage. If you are unfamiliar with him, Pete is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the popular title Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would? (available in paperback for the bargain price of $3 from Amazon – it’s a deal).

I’ve only heard Pete a few times, but he’s very relatable, uses humor well and offers great application from Scripture. I think I’ll always flinch when someone says, “Nashville” as this town not only invented the “Christian Sub-Culture Bubble” but also became the key distributor of it. But I think I’d like Pete even if he were from, I don’t know, Cleveland or Albuquerque so I’m glad he was invited to Collyde.

Just before Pete took the stage, a well-made video of Jesus healing Jarius’ daughter played. It was artsy, it suspended the context as it featured a man walking with Jesus in the woods of what I assume was central New Jersey (hey, Israel wishes they had lush forests like that). The story is found in Mark 5 and verse 36 carries the words of the Summit’s theme “Only Believe” (or “just believe” in the NIV). You probably know it: It’s when Jesus is walking through town and the crowd is gathered all around him, then the woman who has bled for twelve years touches his cloak and Jarius approaches Jesus to heal his daughter. A lot going on in the text and I was excited that Pete was going to preach on it.

Well, that was a glitch as this wasn’t what Pete was planning on teaching from. In fact, his text was on Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39. Close enough I guess.

I only bring this up to be critical. As a member of the audience, I was now dialed into Jesus healing Jarius’ daughter and the final scene of the video was the Jarius character trying to figure out if he was going to “Only Believe” and walk through the door (that was in the middle of the woods – it’s cool, I liked the metaphor). So when Pete went old school to Joseph in Genesis, I was like, “Oh, ok, it was just a cool video …” I assume that video was a product of a brainstorm session, and by the time the presenters had agreed, the day and the theme were shaping out to be different. I get it but the well-produced video that fit the Summit theme perfectly seemed lost on us.

In any case, you still have one of the better communicators you’re going to hear this year speaking to you so it’s best to get over it quickly. What I like about Pete’s work is that he’s trying to get us to identify our pre-conceived notions, confront our entitlements and abandon them in favor for what God is trying to show us instead.

“Dreams no matter how good or even godly…make for a lousy God.” True. Then he said, “Sometimes, all our worship, all our crying out, is really about what we demand God gives us” – Ouch.

How many of us fall victim to the theology informed by our dreams. How many times do we interpret Scripture through what will best support the philosophy of our lives? Pete tells us these are all idols, these are hallow thoughts, these are worthless pursuits.

Later he would ask, “What would you do if you are absolutely sure that God is with you?” By then, it was framed around more of our unique and individual callings versus the dream of our best life.

I always feel we as Christians need to be very careful when we use language and wording like this. There is nothing with having dreams, goals, ambitions, and the like. This is part of how God wired us, not only as people but as unique people with our personalities, gifts, skill-sets, family dynamics and whatever else that comes with a life-context. It’s when our desires mutate into something else but we still call them “dreams” – hence Pete’s opening line of them making lousy gods.

In the example of Joseph, we see a man whose dreams were shattered. We imagine he felt cursed and forgotten by God during those years he was wrongfully imprisoned. Thankfully, God brought goodness through Joseph allowing him to rescue his people by providing food, safety and provision in Egypt after his family and tribe was displaced by their famine.

It’s impossible to predict why we go through the hardships and storms we do but Pete’s point of being a person who is confined tin the goodness of God is a welcomed reminder. It was a great message and even if it wasn’t on the healing of Jarius’ daughter, it served the theme of the day well.

Up next was Margaret Feinberg but if I can be critical again, she didn’t take the stage until after 30 minutes of announcements and words from our sponsors. I appreciated the generous sponsors and the people who came who sacrificed  time away from their families but it was a bit much and honestly, I think it worked against them to some extent. I won’t name the organizations on this space but it was bad timing and our collective hunger was putting Margaret in a tough place – half hour behind schedule at the back of a long morning, and now we’re getting hungrier and hungrier. Not a big deal but perhaps something to keep in mind for next year.

Fortunately for me, I had committed to be in the spirit of fasting (at least until after Margaret was finished so I was ok but I can’t speak for the heathens next to me ;).  Anyway, my wife, Susan and I are big fans of Margaret, as we liked the Organic God, Scouting the Divine and we’re looking forward to reading Wonderstruck. I appreciate her intelligence, her wit, and I liked that she was writing to men too. I know that’s not the fault of other female authors as parts of the Christian publishing industry tend to push female writers to female audiences but for me, Margaret was one of the few interesting yet substantial female voices I had access to as far as general Christian writing was concerned.

If you have never heard Margaret speak before, you’re missing out. She is a very strong and confident speaker but she’s likable. And I think that helps her in not coming across as a “bossy” woman and still be credible.  It’s a tough and sometimes unfair balance to find and younger women speaking in the church need to be careful not to imitate her as everyone needs to be themselves, however, everyone could learn a thing or two.

As far as her content, it started off a little rough for me as she too did not present on Jarius’ daughter ;) Fortunately, the content she’s doing now based on her book Wonderstruck is pretty fantastic.

When I look back on this, I think I’ll always remember her emphasis on “Today.” She said, “The God of “tomorrow” is so much safer. But what about TODAY?” and launched into a set of motivational encouragements on the need to pursue the will of God today.

I also liked what she said about Peter getting out of the boat and stepping on the water towards Jesus. Where were the other disciples? Why didn’t they get out? Disciples follow their rabbi anywhere and we often criticize Peter for sinking when he took his eyes off Jesus but as Margaret said, “He’s the one that’s taken more steps on water than you or I ever have.” True and it really fit the “Only Believe” theme.

I appreciated how Margaret described God too – one that is not only kind and loving but excited. She said, “I believe God is sitting on the edge of his seat waiting to reveal his power and glory in our lives.” It’s a nice sound-byte but afterwards I found myself wondering how true it could be. Certainly she’s not making the statement literally and the idea of omniscience shifts the idea of “suspense” a little but does that mean that God cannot be excited? God can be pleased and maybe even proud when we willingly choose to act in obedience, or in charity towards others, is it not possible that God gets excited anticipating the goodness His children are about to discover? Margaret closed by encouraging us to pray for wonder so that we may more fully believe.

It was excellent, my fast was over and good friend and fellow conference blogger Evan Curry headed out for lunch right after. That afternoon brought another set of worship and presentations by Princeton Alliance Church’s own Bonnie Gay and Jacksonville Chapel’s Dr. David Ireland. While I do not have the bandwidth to engage in each presentation, I did like that Collyde invited local Jersey folks.

As the conference was winding down, I kept finding myself talking with people and slower to get back into the sessions. As much as I enjoyed the workshops and hanging out with my friends afterwards, I was having a hard time maintaining my attention. At the same time, for those who missed the workshops of the day before, the time probably felt just right and from what I could tell, most of the room was dialed in.

I also found myself wishing that more people from the Jersey, PA, NY area could make it. Princeton is a great and accessible location, the Princeton Alliance Church is a modern and welcoming venue, and really, I think the Collyde Summit is worth coming to.

They’re going to get better at the details of programming, technology and execution but the Jinu Thomas have a great vision for this regional event. Their focus on encouraging believers and inviting them to serve and live missionally is a far cry from merely entertaining or catering to Christians.

They already have next year scheduled – check it out:

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