The event was a huge success. There were 15 speakers, each had 20 minutes. As Jen Hatmaker said, “If you didn’t like a speaker, get up, go to the bathroom, they’ll be done by the time you get back.”
I had the privilege of taking pictures for the event:
Aaron Keys led worship. He did a fantastic job.
My friend, Jason Hayes, opened the night.
One of the best messages that he’s taught, is determining what your “yes” is. He incorporated some of that in his talk at the conference. Scripture says, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’” A lot of times we point to this Scripture and talk about swearing. Be a person of your word, so that you don’t have to swear. Be truthful in all that you say so that your ‘yes’ is ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ is ‘no.’ However, Mike has used this passage to also talk about the ‘yes’ that God has for your life. What are the things in life that God has designed you for? Said ‘yes’ to?
For me, my “yes” is design. I was working at echo as a programmer. I had gotten bored with my job. I had talked to my superiors about a design position that was open, but was told, “You’re good at what you do. We need you to continue to do what you’re doing.” For me, that was a death sentence. It said, “This job has no future, no growth, no movement. You’re stuck.” I was trying to figure out what needed to be done and realized that God has created me to design, to create. If that’s “yes,” then it meant echo was a “no.” I learned I can design and not program, but not the other way around. I have to be designing.
My take away from Jon? He talked about the day his book released on Amazon for pre-order. The voices in his head said, “Your book’s going to fail…It’s going to fail so that God can teach you something.” But, believing that would make God an emo God. God uses not only pain and suffering to teach us things, he also uses joy and celebration. Some things can only be learned out of the overflow.
I lead a Bible Study on Thursday nights. We’re going through the Bible chronologically (which is really cool). We’re getting ready to study Job. For anyone not familiar with that story, it’s about a very wealthy man that looses everything. The story begins with Satan going before God, challenging God, saying, “The only reason Job is faithful to you is because you’ve blessed him.” So, God tests Job. He looses everything. He’s inflicted with sores and diseases and yet, he doesn’t curse God. He does a lot of other things, but he doesn’t curse God. It’s a story about perseverance. The story brings encouragement to those are struggling, that what they are experiencing is not done in vain.
I have not been excited about teaching this. I don’t want bad things to happen. I don’t want to have to learn what I’m teaching in that way. But, what Jon said, gives me hope. God also wants to celebrate with us, rejoice with us. He is a bigger God that’s not limited by situation and circumstance. Yes, He can use pain and suffering, but He also use triumph, victory, and joy.
John told his story. He’s a former Alabama football player (if you couldn’t tell by his size) that won a National Championship under Bear Bryant. After college, he went on to set up a ranch for abused children. He’s seen some of the darkest places, that us, as humans, are capable of. But, he’s also seen the power of love and so many lives transformed. 1800 children have gone through the ranch! Talk about impact.
Robby is a pastor in Chattanooga. It’s amazing to hear where he was and where he is now.
I was super excited to hear Jeremy Cowart. As I mentioned the other day, I first heard about his work in college. He was doing wedding photography, then, but has now gone on to bigger and better thing, traveling back and forth between Nashville and LA doing all kinds of shoots, as well as working on humanitarian projects for Haiti and Africa. He’s also started a non profit, called Help Portrait.
Most of his talk, he shared pictures that he’s taken over the years. As a visual person, I loved it!
I was super excited to hear (and meet) Jen. I think her talk was one of the most convicting: “Love your neighbor….seriously.” She talked about some of the things her family does to literally love their neighbor. No strings attached, no hidden agendas, just love them.
I’ve lived in the same apartment for three and half years now. The girls next door have lived their just as long. I’ve said “hi” to them in passing, but that’s it. That’s not love! Three and a half years! There’s no excuse.
Tami Heim was my pleasant surprise for the conference. She is the former president of Borders bookstores.
Matt Mooney did not disappoint. I enjoyed hearing him talk about his son.—I also got a chance to spend some time with him backstage. Super nice guy. It always makes a difference in my mind when you see consistency: they’re the same person on and off the stage.
Scott is the Vice President of Creative Services as Sony BMG Nashville. He’s also a friend. I was glad to see him on stage.
Joe was the stats guy of the conference. He had some interesting things to say about poverty and the direction that we’ll see it take within my lifetime, unless change is made.
Michael Kelly closed the conference out.