This past week Jono and I were so blessed to be able to attend the triennial KCC Oxygen conference in Sydney. It is a conference designed to oxygenate pastors and Christian leaders from around Australia. It’s hard to know where to begin in telling you about the week. It was truly Oxygenating for me. It was wonderful to see friends from the church that I grew up in and my buddies from college who are still serving God around Australia and across the globe. It is a great joy to see brothers and sisters standing strong in the Lord.
As a conference designed to encourage and refresh pastors, it did that by taking us back to the basics. We must never move beyond the basics of the gospel, for Jesus is our rock and salvation. Francis Chan was one of the many speakers we were so fortunate to hear from this week. And the key message from his two talks really stuck out to me. One was on John 10 and the other on John 15. And the key messages he brought out in these messages was:
- As pastors we are shepherds of our flock and that is a constant joy and responsibility. But sometimes we can forget that before we were shepherds we were sheep. And our shepherd is Jesus. He is the good shepherd. And we must never forget that, as well as having a shepherding role, we are first and foremost sheep with Jesus as our shepherd. That we must keep coming to Jesus as his sheep and relish that relationship. To know that we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death with Jesus as our shepherd and not fear but rather take great courage. This was a wonderful challenge and encouragement.
- The second challenge from John 15 was that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. And if we seek to produce fruit in our own strength it is futile. For no matter how hard a branch tries to produce fruit on its own it cannot. It is only because it is connected to the vine that it will be fruitful. And so we must always stay reliant on the vine, Jesus, and not feel that it’s all up to ourselves. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5.
Thanks to Parish Council for their support in sending us to Oxygen.