3 Pounds of Walnuts in a 2 Pound Sack
That's just about what the Conference on the Holy Spirit, in Arlington, was like. More stuff crammed into 3 days than you could cram in. But it sure was gooooooooood.....
Many other bloggers I've linked to have done a swell job of setting it all forth, and even summarizing it, so I'll just set out a couple things I noticed, in no particular order. And whatever comes to mind as I type.
Hey, it's my blog.
First, as I've said for several years, on any Sunday morning you care to pick, I'd rather be at Red Hills Baptist Church in Kingston, Jamaica. I love that place intensely, and have so many friends, and fond memories, there. Well ... I got the same feeling worshiping at Cornerstone Baptist Church that I get when I'm at Red Hills. And it's the first church, other than Red Hills, that has ever given me that feeling. I am amazed. The people are just incredible and welcoming and so intent on showing what I need to see, that I cannot describe it.
Further, I've heard it said that an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man. Sure, that's earthly, but it's true there. Rev. Dwight McKissic casts a giant shadow there, in his spirituality and his humility, and in the love he absolutely exudes. I've been a lot of places and seen a lot of things and met a lot of people and it takes a lot to really impress me.
Dwight McKissic does.
Another, overall, impression emerged from the conference that I cannot shake. It's one that all this church activity stuff going on is NOT about us ... the church ... it's about mankind. Lost mankind. And if all this stuff is going on to cast a proverbial net over mankind and catch all we can, it makes sense that there'd be every kind of church out there, that you can imagine. That thought means that varying churches aren't doing it "right or wrong", but that they're out there to reach and teach different sorts of folks. In other words, their tasks are different because their people are different.
God IS a personal God, isn't He?
The only part of this that doesn't compute is when someone takes a stand that "If I'm right, then you must necessarily be wrong". I've heard those on every side of any controversy imply that, but I never heard anything of that sort at this conference. And I was most impressed by Dr. Bart Barber's presentation, which seemed to me to deal with historical records as to what happened a long time ago. Frankly, I don't care whether God manifested certain things way back when, or not. I'm only concerned with what He's doing now. I mean, like NOW is the only time I'm living, and try as I might, I can't do anything in 1452 or some such.
The sermons that really impressed me, and I guess it's because I know these guys, were those of (alphabetically speaking) Wade Burleson, Ben Cole, and Sam Storms. I've been around a while, have been a somewhat active believer for longer than most attendees have drawn breath, and I've heard a lot of sermons. There aren't all that many sermons that impress me, and theirs did. And, that includes Ben Cole's on Sunday, as we attended Sunday School and Worship Services at Parkview.
Some other stuff: I got to meet Alyce Faulkner and Debbie & Merrill Kaufmann and had terrific fellowship with them. And, I got to (finally) meet Dorcas Hawker. I so enjoy her writings, and she's just as loving and kind in person as I'd guessed she'd be.
Dr. Bart Barber and Dr. Boyd Luter both approached me and introduced themselves, and I was immediately won by their graciousness, and the fact that they're both interested in ordinary folks. I'd also bumped into Robin Foster at breakfast on Friday and he'd recognized me. In fact, he actually thanked me for pointing out sediment vs. sentiment on a comment string. We laughed about that, which lent a LOT of credence to his statement in the conference that he doesn't take himself too seriously. And he's big enough that, if he ever leaves the ministry, he could easily get a job as a bodyguard. His momma raised a big boy, there.
Robin Foster and Dr. Barber and I will probably never be on the same side of some issue or other. I just don't care, and I doubt they do, either. I like and respect them.
I tried to get Dr. Mike Shaw, my pastor, to attend the conference. He had some local ministry things to attend to and could not go. I told him the two of us needed to be there because we're good examples of how things ought to be. See ... I'm a charismatic Calvinist and he is neither. And I teach a SS class for young married couples (couples all the way from pregnant to having kids 5 years old) and my teaching is fine with him. I mentioned that to him the Sunday before we went, and he said "You know why that's OK with me?" I asked why and his response was:
"When I look at you, I don't see a Charismatic or a Calvinist. I see a brother".
Selah and amen.