A Year Ago: What I learned about God at Cape Town 2010

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Last year at this time, I was privileged to attend Cape Town 2010. It’s hard to believe a year has passed since this historic event where thousands of Christian leaders gathered to worship Jesus and encourage each other. I’m not the same Mary I was when I got on that plane bound for South Africa. But I also need to constantly remind myself that God is big, His world is big, and the task is big. Here are 20 things I learned about God in the aftermath (and the during times) of Cape Town 2010.

  1. God is bigger than my country (or even my state, and Texas is BIG). He is not an American or a South African or an Egyptian or a Croat, or Japanese. He transcends culture.
  2. We get a clearer picture of God when we interact with people of different cultures. The best part of other cultures (for instance, the friendliness of folks from Ghana, the communal sense of those from Malaysia) reflects their Creator. Could it be that we’re missing out on God’s fullness by isolating ourselves from other cultures? Could it be that we have a corner of the picture of God where the totality of cultures make the picture complete? What has our ethnocentricity cost us in terms of understanding the diversity and beauty of a creative Creator?
  3. God is close to the humble. And He is far from the proud. There’s room for only one God.
  4. Geopolitical boundaries do not exist for Jesus. He transcends them by loving every single person, even those we perceive as our enemies.
  5. The Gospel enables us to love people the world tells us should be our enemies. It was in Jesus dying on the cross who said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they’re doing” that paves the way for true reconciliation.
  6. He hears our prayers. Even our “little” ones. I prayed I’d meet someone from Ghana. I did. And I prayed I’d meet a persecuted believer. I did. I love how God orchestrated every single conversation at the congress.
  7. He has a heart for the immigrant. Why? Because He left the beauty of heaven to be the Ultimate Immigrant on earth. He knows what it means to feel separate, outcasted, different, misunderstood. Therefore He calls us to reach out to people who feel the same way.
  8. God must be very patient. He listens to us all. And we sure say a lot. And often we don’t listen (to Him, to each other.)
  9. He often moves in supernatural ways to those who have lost all natural resources, wealth, relationships, and freedom.
  10. He sings over us, and He sings in every single language on this earth.
  11. God empowers wounded healers. I’m so thankful for this. He takes our brokenness and heals us for the sake of our broken brothers and sisters around the world.
  12. He is better than money. If He is not, then money has become your (my) god.
  13. God is bigger than the boogie man (to borrow a Veggie Tales song). Though Satan’s plans are aplenty and his schemes deceptive within and without the church, God is Victor over it all. He reigns sovereign and supreme over every single worry we have.
  14. He gives second chances (and third and fourth and fifth chances.) We simply need to abandon our need for controlling our reputations, repent (both privately and publicly) and truly, truly, truly accept His ready, yet costly, grace.
  15. He uses other believers, often even those unlike us, to share His love with us.
  16. God’s glory is beyond imagination.
  17. The justice and mercy of God shake hands at the cross.
  18. He doesn’t put our pictures up on magazines so the world can see how beautiful we are. He places a window before our heart, looks inside, and stands back as a gentleman, waiting for us to long for Him to create beauty there.
  19. He set a precedent on the cross. His death on our behalf enables us to stand up for Him (even if it means martyrdom) and die on His behalf.
  20. No pedicure known to man (or woman) can create beautiful feet. Only a willingness to believe in and walk humbly before the God of the gospel will suffice. God’s strength lived out in our obedience creates beautiful feet.

Q4u: What have you learned about God lately that completely surprised you?

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