My daughter and I summited Picaho Peak north of Tucson, AZ earlier this month; the first time we had ever made it to the top of a legitimate climb. We had climbed to the saddle last year, but wanted to go the distance this time and took the 2 hours to get up about 1400 feet of winding, climbing, sometimes dangerous pathways to finally reach the top. All the way up we passed cacti, "trees" with tiny leaves and lots of rocks!
 
As we continued on the rather arduous route, climbed the final 100 feet, and reached the top, I was quite surprised to see tufts of grasses sitting in the wind swept soil at the top of Picacho Peak. Gone were the cacti, and here were grasses like I might find in a field at a state park in Wisconsin. It looked like it sprung up out of the rock as if to start a conversation with me... "You didn't expect to find me here did you??"
 
As we get ready for Conference and head into 2019, we are excited to see what God will do with our time together. Will He breathe life into old and dying dreams? Will He add perspective to the journey that we are on? Will He challenge the heart motive of some of our most important decisions? Will I finally hear the voice of God cutting through the noise of my life and speak to ME??
 
This passage is such an encouragement from Isaiah 43, and I encourage you to read it within the greater context as God makes it clear there is no god before or after him and that those who hear the Gospel are witnesses to this God who makes all things new. As we reflect within the glow of the Christmas hope we have just celebrated, I doubt anyone perceived what God was going to do with a small child born to poor parents in Bethlehem. And it is likely that our enemy, Satan, did not perceive the new thing when God brought death to death with the words from that same child. "It is Finished." When we walk with Jesus, digging into the word of God and applying that word, that law and that beautiful Good message of Grace, we find that God is in the business of making broken things new again. And he starts with my heart, which moves to my mind, which guides my hands and feet.
 
So what are you hoping God will make new in your life? Maybe it's a relationship with someone you thought might be the one? Maybe it's a new start at a career or education? Perhaps it's the conviction to stand up to addiction in the name of Jesus, and with community and accountability, claim the life worth living that God has called you to? Whatever it is, God is working all things for his glory and his plan to save and in his love, to work it out ultimately for our good.
 
So if 2019 is the year with great hopes and aspirations, or if you're limping out of the desert of 2018 and wondering what life you could possibly find - remember... God is making something new. It springs up before us along the journey; he's begging you to consider it, to perceive it. How?

Don't dwell on the past.

Anticipate something new to you in your walk with him.

Spend time with Jesus, just open the Bible and let him talk to you (Isaiah 43 perhaps??)

Follow his voice, keep your priorities straight in your decision making. (He makes a way in the wilderness)

Make time for rest, for prayer and worship and for time alone with your Savior. (Refreshing streams in the wasteland)

Wherever you are on your journey right now, we pray that the God will use the time in the Winter Conference to be a joy to you, a revelation of his great love and purpose for you as he equips you to be part of his plan of ultimate hope for the world around you!