This weekend (Friday evening and Saturday daytime) has been the G&T conference run by Ivy Manchester. It was a women’s conference, and is the first conference organised specifically for women at Ivy for a very long time.
G&T did not stand for Gin and Tonic. Which was a shame, but probably not all that spiritual. No, in fact, G&T stood for Grace and Truth.
Because Jesus was full of Grace and Truth:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV)
The whole event felt very luxurious, somehow: from non-alcoholic cocktails with olives and pistachios on the Friday evening to Pain au Chocolat and fresh fruit on Saturday morning. The fliers and programmes were well-designed and printed, with a CD of meditation music for each guest. To be honest, part of the luxury for me was the chance to spend some time away from my six-month old son and really focus on what God was saying and to spend time in His presence. I love my son whole-heartedly, but it’s difficult to concentrate in church while you’re rocking a baby to sleep or mopping up baby sick during the sermon.
There were some key teachings that I’d just like to pull out from each session, mostly to help me remember.
Session 1: Friday night
If we imagine ourselves to be trees, we have roots and bear fruit (this is backed up by lots of scripture). Our roots are in the soil. We can imagine the soil to be the truth, or the law. We need it to keep steady, and to grow. Our roots need to go deep into the truth for us to bear any fruit.
But too much soil (soil compaction) can damaged roots, so we also need water and air. This is grace. We need to cultivate the balance between staying rooted in the truth but also resting in God’s endless grace to bear fruit.
Session 2: Saturday morning
Much of this session focused on Spiritual Gifts, as well as some excellent teaching on having a servant heart.
Through completing a rather complex questionnaire, I discovered that my Spiritual Gifts are:
First Place: Hospitality – not a big surprise, but I was surprised that it was my strongest one.
Joint Second Place: Teaching, Pastoring, Writing – These are gifts I would really like to develop. I have always been in very effective and proactive small groups, and I would say that this weekend I have been encouraged by God that this is a real area for my ministry. I don’t know how this will develop, but I am willing to try new things.
Session 3: Saturday afternoon
During this session, each woman at the conference had to draw around her hand on a piece of paper and write her name on the back. These hands were then spread around the room on the floor. We each had to go around and write messages of encouragement or prophecy onto each of the hands. I don’t want to share mine here as they are too personal, but I was encouraged and strongly reminded of God’s incredible love for us all.
So often, I go to things like this expecting God to ‘do business’ with me, and for it to involve tears, condemnation and guilt. It never, ever has.
Instead, God reassures, reaffirms and LOVES in the only way He can.