This year’s theme was “Onward and Upward”, based on Phillipians 3:12
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
Our speaker’s name is Joseph Leggett.
The outline of Joseph’s message through the week
1. What is a calling?
2. Why do we run from it?
3. How do we do the work of it?
4. What happens if we surrender to it?
During his first session Joseph talked about how we are all struggling, we are not perfect. He based Saturday’s talk on Jonah. God gave Jonah a second chance, God calls Jonah, but he runs from it. It’s all about Jonah, not the “sinners”. God calls us and we can make a difference by surrendering to our call.
Sunday’s message was “Using Jonah to figure out the ‘how’” Jonah wasn’t ready for the call; he isn’t prepared to say yes. If you don’t turn back to God, it won’t be good.
We need to prime our hearts to be ready for our calling.
Joseph referred to I Samuel 16:7
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. To forgive and repent is easier to understand than it is to do.”
We need to prep our mind.
Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
We have to clean all the darkness that is in our heart. We also need to fulfill our current call.
Luke 16:10 – 13: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
You can serve God via almost anything.
We have to embrace stillness.
Psalm 46:10: He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
We need quiet space and time. We can hear and feel His voice when this is accomplished.
During Monday’s session Joseph talked about how Jonah heard the call, but he ran from it. God sent Jonah to Nineveh. The Assyrians enjoyed being mean and brutal to their enemies. Jonah was mad God saved the Ninevites because he thought they didn’t deserve saving, they weren’t worthy in Jonah’s eyes. When we don’t let God in, we serve ourselves and use others. Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy.
Tuesday’s session continued with Jonah 3. Jonah shares God’s word, he does God’s work outwardly. It was the inward part of Jonah that needed to change. Doing the work of God can be a mundane, everyday routine. If you wait until you’re perfect, you’ll be waiting forever and God’s work won’t be done. Jonah wasn’t perfect, but he did His work. God will perfect you on your path to your calling. We live in a world and time while wearing colored lenses. True and mature religion is to have humility to be able to check in with God. When we look out to the universe, we can only see the visible, we only get part of the picture. We ask God to give us the rest of the picture.
Psalm 19:1 – 4 : “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
The last session of the conference talks about ubiquitousness – something so common, you don’t even know it’s there. Jonah is mad at God’s compassion, and even though he is angry, he still talks to God. God can handle any question or problem. The operating system is the brain of a computer and Jesus called it a judging mindset; it gets in the way of our calling. To judge is to say “no”. All of the “no’s” stand in our way. Be careful of the no, start practicing with yes. Take off the lenses, can you see the real me?
I was also able to attend the adult conference for a session. The speaker I heard was Justin Berkobien and he talked about Courageous Re-formation. He focused the talk on “The three F’s of Congregationalism”
Faith is the anchor. Jesus Christ is the center of faith, we’re in the water together. You can’t have unity without uniformity. We’re a mixed bag but come together as one when it comes to Him. People aren’t coming to us; we must go to them. How do we respond to change? We must board the freedom ship. We are gathered and must take care of the church people we already have. We must be faithful to the calling of the church. The answer to everything is Jesus. We are called to be together in God. We are called to seek other people to be together in God. We need to feed others. We must disciple inwardly. When Justin started his youth group, he had 2 youth hanging out playing video games and it has since grown to 100+. He calls his group “Smash Church”. Justin is presently serving at Oneonta Congregational Church in S. Pasadena, CA. This is a church included on Dr. Gray’s resume, which he was a minister for 13 years. According to a reliable source, this church has a Gray Hall, as well, sound familiar?
We also had 2 days of mission work. We went to Fr. Gene’s Help Center.
Father Gene’s Help Center provides free clothing to people in need. We welcome donations of new or clean, gently used clothing for men, women, and children, of all shapes and sizes and redistribute the donated items. Our mission is to provide dignity through free clothing to people in need within the Milwaukee community. We envision a transformed community where all people have access to clean, dignified clothing in which they feel confident.
The main job for the 2 days was to sort and hang clothes. One of my jobs was to create “Bonus bags.” This entails one of the youths and I separating piles of clothes that were already sorted by type, size and gender. We then had to put 10 pieces of clothing in grocery bags, but we couldn’t put all the same color family and/or pattern in the same bag. We had to decide how to vary the bag. Jessica, the lady in charge, gave us the freedom to split them based on our suggestions and opinions.
One day, we had an intergenerational mission day with the adults. They, the youth and adults, were working for Habitat for Humanity “decorating” support beams for the houses, either by drawing pictures or just signing their name. We also made wooden doormats for the new residents. Each new resident receives a new doormat with their new house.
One morning we were able to take a self-guided tour of The Basilica of Saint Josaphat. Below are two pictures, one inside and one outside. The pictures don’t say enough about it, it is truly an experience, especially if you are interested in church history and architecture.
The Basilica of St. Josaphat is a ministry of the Conventual Franciscans on the South Side of Milwaukee in Historic Lincoln Village. The Basilica is a Franciscan center for prayer and spirituality, inspiration and beauty. It is home to a vibrant Roman Catholic parish and remains a testament to the faith of the Polish immigrants that created it.
Our final night we spent time at The Coservancy forHealing and Heritage. This is where we close the conference with Joseph for a quick wrap-up session and Communion to follow in the Chapel.
Welcome to the Conservancy
Located in Franklin, WI, the Conservancy for Healing and Heritage in Franklin, Wisconsin features a rare combination of ecosystems. Founded by the vision of the Felician Sisters and carried forward by the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, this sacred land, with a 70-year history to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, is open to the public.
We are dedicated to being responsible stewards of the environment by conserving an exceptional 36-acre parcel of forestland and a glacial lake. We offer the Reiman Healing Chapel, We Energies Foundation Healing Garden and Lake & Nature Trails for all who seek nature to improve their well-being. We are especially passionate about supporting and comforting those experiencing physical or emotional distress or disease. The Conservancy promotes respect and appreciation for the natural world through emphasis on the care of creation for all ages.
The Conservancy’s mission is expressed through our Three Pillars of Service
· Health and Healing
· Spiritual Enrichment and Education
· Care Creation and Conservation
There was a little bit of free time in between to experience Whirlyball. If you are like me, and never heard of it, Whirlyball is a team sport that combines elements of basketball and jai alai with players riding “Whirlybugs”, small electric vehicles similar to bumper cars. Here is an example of it. These are not our participants in the picture displayed, and if you are like me, stay on the safe side of the court – the outside!
I can’t write an article without including something from Max Lucado, my favorite author, in case you forgot or are new to the scene.
He uses the acronym C.A.L.M.
“ Again, anxiety’s gonna come; anxiety will always knock at the door, but we don’t have to invite anxiety in for dinner. We respond by Celebrating God, Asking God for help, Leaving the problem with him, and then Meditating on good things. (Anxious for Nothing, 2017)
I mentioned at the beginning of my article that we can’t travel by wagon because:
State Statute 86.025 says you cannot camp in a wagon on a public highway. The statute also mentions tents, but seems to be ok if you’re there in a truck, sedan, or SUV. Wagons, however, are forbidden and you could be punished by a fine of up to $10. We don’t care if your horse threw a shoe or you forded a river just to get there – we just want you gone.
I didn’t want to get in any trouble!!
Back to Joseph, I thought this was a perfect way to end the article:
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know
See you next year in Tacoma, which means “Mother of the Waters.”
Wanna go for a swim?
– Lynn Robertson