I am back! Before I give the rundown on IFCA 2014, however, I will present the verse of the week. This week's verse is Isaiah 59:17:
"He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak."
This passage refers to God, and the action He takes in dealing out justice.This justice is composed of zealous, righteous vengeance: zealous, because the Lord will not hesitate to deal out justice, yet is equally ready to grant forgiveness; righteous, because He is the definition of morality, including justice, and, being a perfect, holy God, will not sway to the left or to the right in his deliverance of justice, even if it does not come to pass here on Earth; and vengeance, because the Lord is the only one able to deliver vengeance, because his justice is perfect and unerring. Human vengeance is illegitimate because it is flawed and prone to error. This is why true, orderly justice is so important.
The main service today had the pastor continuing in his series in the book of Romans. This week, the pastor spoke about Israel's status in eyes of God today. The long and short of it is that Israel, though they have rejected Christ, have not been rejected by God. The two pieces of evidence that the pastor presented were the stories of Paul and Elijah. With Paul, the pastor explained that Paul was concerned that Israel was rejecting the promises that God had given in the Old Testament. Paul, however, was living proof of God's love of Israel in that Paul, a Jew, had been saved by God even while Paul was actively persecuting the early church. With Elijah, the pastor said that spiritual warfare was more obvious in his day, as illustrated by the episode at Mount Carmel with the Prophets of Baal. The point, however, is that God still embraces Israel while they reject him, that is, reject his son, which is the equivalent of rejecting him. The pastor also got into the doctrine of predestination, explaining that while God determines who will go to Heaven, he does not determine who will go to Hell, concluding that God is not a promise breaker.
I did not attend the High School service today, instead choosing to attend the Young Adults Group. There, we were treated to a slideshow of the group's recent retreat, followed by a question-answer session with a pair of missionaries from China. They talked about their ministry and answered questions. It was all very interesting.
And now... the IFCA Youth Convention 2014! To be short, it was great. Taking place all last week at YMCA of the Rockies, we had breakout sessions, exciting quiz matches with people from all over the country, MTAs, a great speaker in Bill Bagley, Jr., and great food. The message was out of Romans 12, where we studied the concept of the body of Christ having many members, but one purpose. This involved discussions of spiritual gifts, the requirements of unity and diversity, and other topics. This year's convention also focused a lot on missions, evangelism, and discipleship.
The final night, as usual, had a delegate led worship service, in which various high-rated students of the IFCA used their talents to conduct worship. We had a guy from Michigan doing the sermon, our own Lizzie playing cello, some others doing drama, an inter-church youth choir, and many others. As for the Bible Quiz Team championships, Calvary Church of Wayland won the Senior championship. Jenison Bible Church won the Novice championship, but our novice team came in second place! I immensely grateful to have seen one of our teams make it to the finals while I was still a quizzer. This is my last year as a quizzer, for after six years of quizzing, I have finally exceeded the age limit. I may very well, however, come back next year as an assistant quiz coach. Maybe I'll see one of our teams win the finals in the future. On a more somber note, however, the middle of the week was overshadowed by the tragic death of one of the members of a church from Michigan back in their home state. Out of respect for the deceased's family, I will not provide further details. I will only say that the deceased is home with the Lord now, and that we will always have hope in Jesus Christ our Lord. This terrible happenstance, however, did not prevent us from glorifying the Lord through our participation in the event.
On the way home, our team stopped by an amusement park near Denver called Elitch Gardens. Traditionally, our team stops by an amusement park or some-such venue such as the Creation Museum on the way to the convention. However, in recent years, we either have gone there on the way back or not at all. Not being a fan of roller-coasters and their cousin the water-ride, I spent my time practicing my evangelism skills. I had some great conversations and came away feeling like I could take on the world, as it were. I also acquired a fedora, which looks great with my suit. We finally arrived home late last night, and I can only say that as much as I loved the trip, I love home even more.