In the Valley

mountain2.gifFriendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.”

This quote by C.S. Lewis epitomizes my experience over the last few days.  I had the privilege to attend the Valley of Vision Retreat for alumni of Northland Baptist Bible College.  The purpose of the retreat was fellowship and personal piety.  The setting was a lodge in the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  The focus was Jesus Christ.

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers.  The prayers are theologically rich and resonate deeply with my spirit.  Each session began with the reading/praying of one of these prayers.  Here’s an excerpt from a prayer on confession:

Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.

After a prayer, we sang a song written by Bob Kauflin entitled “O Great God” — also taken from the Valley of Vision.  The lyrics can be found here.

Then, after a period of personal reflection and testimony by some of the attendees, we listened to a biographical presentation of a great servant of the Lord in history.  These presentations were more sermons than lectures as we considered what made these men great and how their passion for Christ should be imitated in our lives.

Then perhaps the sweetest time of the retreat came as we spent concentrated time in prayer.  As I began to pray during the first session, I realized that while I had not seen or spoken to the brother with whom I was praying for over a decade, the bond of brotherhood we shared in Christ was immediate, intimate, and strong.

Retreats are often a time to “get away” and be “refreshed.”  This one was hard work.  It was hard work to focus so much attention on the supremacy of Jesus Christ and the unworthiness of my own being.  It was hard work to pray earnestly.  It was hard work to comfort brothers who were in deep trials of faith and purpose.  Yet, the work had a deep, renewing impact on my spirit. 

Sometimes, we think that fellowship is greeting a brother in Christ during a church service or having someone over for a meal or even watching a football game or drinking a coffee together.  While these acts of kindness and friendship and hospitality are good, I came away from this retreat reminded that true fellowship is in Christ, not in ourselves.  He must be the focus of our fellowship if that fellowship is to have any spiritual impact in our heart.  The more we learned of Him, prayed to Him, talked of Him–that’s when the true bonds of brotherhood were most stalwart.

I encouage you today, my readers, to engage in true Christian fellowship, first and foremost with Christ, the Redeemer of your soul.  Then take that passion and communicate it in tangible ways to your brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is hard work and takes time, but this work of grace will work in you abundant joy, compassion, and even faith.  It will rid your heart of stray desires.  It will renew your mind.  It will cause you to be thankful.  It will constrain you to serve with a whole heart.  It will compel you to redeem your time.  It will give you purpose and direction in living. It will bring glory to God the Father and help to accomplish the work of His kingdom.

Take the time.

Advertisements

8 responses to this post.

  1. Brian,

    Thank you for your reflection on the retreat. My heart echoes the very same thing! Thanks for being my chauffeur through the mountains!

    Matt Morrell

    Reply

  2. Posted by Ken McMaster on January 5, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Brian,

    That is a wel worded overview of my weekend also. Thanks for teaching us a great song. Thanks for driving us around.

    Ken McMaster

    Reply

  3. Posted by Christian Markle on January 5, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Brother McCrorie,

    V-V was a very different kind of retreat. I think you nailed it when you said it was work. Some have almost described almost a euphoric feeling; I feel none of this. I do “feel” refreshed and re-focused. He must get the glory! I think the last session from Will about Whitfield was the most impacting to me. I was blessed immensely and yet unexplainable. As I review the days. there was nothing “new” or novel, but it was all needed! Real prayer! Real fellowship! Real worship! Real testimonies! Real but not new; work but still refreshing! Even Fun but not frivolous — well mostly not frivolous!

    Thank you for your contribution.

    For His Glory,
    Christian Markle

    Reply

  4. Posted by Joel Tetreau on January 6, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Brian,

    Grateful you Northland grads were able to do this. It had to have been a thrill.

    Ken,

    Good to see your voice – Prayerful you are well – long time “no see!”

    Christian,

    Enjoying fellowship with Mike Durning – He thinks the world of you.

    Blessings friends!

    Striaght Ahead!

    Joel

    Reply

  5. Great testimony on the Valley of Vision Retreat! I regret not being able to be there, and I’m already trying to set my schedule to attend next year.

    Brian, I see all your links listed down the right side of this page, but I can’t help but notice my name is absent?! Where’s the love, brother? One wonders?!? 🙂 The closest name to mine is that Kauflin guy – what in the wide world of sports is going on?

    Good to read the comments of old NBBC friends. A shout out to Christian Markle and Ken McMaster.

    ONE Passion – GOD!
    The Mont

    Reply

  6. Hey Monty! Glad to include you in the prestigious list! Hope to catch up with you at the next retreat in Chicago. God’s blessings to you and Linda and your family and ministry.

    Reply

  7. Brian, you have put into words the sentiments of my heart. It was hard work . . . very hard work, but oh the joy of the labour! I left, in a sense, exhausted, but in a much greater sense, completely overjoyed and refreshed . . . refreshed in Christ.

    Thank you for all the driving you did – it was great to catch up with you again.

    Reply

  8. Ken,

    Your presence and transparency lifted my soul and knit a new bond in our hearts. I am glad to know you and call you friend. I am praying God will give you great spiritual encouragement in the year ahead. I can’t wait to fellowship with you again, either in Chicago, online, or in Heaven!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: