Last week, I had the privilege of attending the NOVO Renewal Experience at the Austin Stone in Austin, TX. It’s difficult to recount the meaning of times like this in the life of a busy pastor, but I’ll try.
First of all, what a blessing to be with the body at the Austin Stone. Long have I admired Matt Carter and his leadership. Aaron Ivey and their worship team have served me at various conferences and camps. The day began with this team shepherding us into the day. I was a guest to a gathering of their staff. And, both Matt and Aaron created an environment that was conducive to retreating to be with the Lord.
Ray Ortlund spoke in the AM on enduring faithfully to the end in ministry (from 2 Timothy 4:1-5). Among many other lessons, I walked away encouraged to live and lead out of a gentle courage, so embodied by Ray. And, hearing Ray, who is one of my heroes, in a live setting like this, was a blessing.
In the afternoon, Ray, Matt, and Aaron walked us through a smaller group time of Q and A, where we peppered them with questions. There were so many practical issues related to ministry that were developed throughout this time. One lesson I pulled from it was a reminder to work on the culture of our churches.
Finally, that night, Ray and his wife Jani gave a talk on staying faithful for the long haul (related to marriage). There were so many small takeaways related to caring for your spouse and not letting time, kids, or others interrupt this.
I came into this pretty drained and empty in the tank. And, I genuinely walked away refreshed by the fellowship, the Word, and the singing. What a great time. I’m grateful to so many who enabled this to be a blessing for me.