The 2016 Evangelism Conference is a wrap. What an extraordinary event! I’m even more convinced than ever that the Lord is up to something marvelous in the heartland.
In a nutshell, here is what we did:
“Consecrate a fast,
Proclaim a solemn assembly;
GATHER THE ELDERS and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” (Joel 1:14)
“Gather my saints together unto me …” (Psalm 50:5a)
Every once in a while some “moment” happens and it is so impressive that the trajectory of your life and ministry is changed. You drive a stake down and say, “God’s people showed up, and more importantly, the Lord Himself met with His people.” It’s the kind of experience you sit around a table and share with generations to follow about the Lord “tabernacling” with His people.
Twice a year your state convention convenes all of God’s people called Missouri Baptists. These two statewide, well-attended gatherings (Annual Meeting in the fall and the State Evangelism Conference in the winter) are incredibly important for our journey together as partners on mission with God. If for some reason you were unable to attend this “gathering of the elders,” I trust you will do your best to prioritize it next year.
You may say, “I’ll watch the video.” Great, and that is possible at MoBaptist.org. The only problem is the glorious presence of the Lord is atmospheric. While audio/video recordings capture the cognitive information for you to download, it cannot retrieve the aroma of God’s presence.
Beyond obedience to Scripture, I’m not really sure what we did, if anything, to precipitate such a powerful sense of God’s presence. Was it the preparation? There were plenty of people in the room who had spent time fasting and praying prior to coming. Others worked through the 21-Day Preparation Guide: Desperate for Jesus.
Was it the God-honoring music where His people lifted their voices and instruments in praise and adoration?
It could have been the brokenness of God’s people over personal and corporate sins, such as prayerlessness, prejudice, or pride. On the other hand, it could have been the brutal honesty about our personal and church callousness toward the “far from God” people who live all around us.
Perhaps it was the confrontation with the Word of God. It was amazing how each message was in concert with the others to accomplish divine purposes. Jimmy Scroggins, Michael Catt, Bill Elliff, Anthony Allen, Vernon Armitage, and Bill Hull each had a unique word that pierced our hearts.
However, the most important component was that the Lord met with His leaders in a powerful, Holy Spirit-orchestrated fashion and now change is in the air for the participants.
The responses from people have been unique, but days after the event, the overwhelming response is, “What must I change in my lifestyle to obey Him?”
Sounds kinda radical? Consider the alternative: lukewarmness. But that is nauseating to the Lord. Anytime you are confronted by the Lord at an event or a circumstance in life or even in a worship service, obedience to the instructions of the Holy Spirit to our personal lives is always appropriate.
The walk of faith is to be like Jesus in all things. It is quite a journey. It is not for wimps. Most times it is a war where we do not wrestle with flesh and blood. That’s why the mature among us need to gather at times and in concert pronounce before the Lord and everyone else, “Jesus is the Lord of my life, my family, my local church’s life, and the people of God. We will obey Him at all cost!”
Bill Hull writes in Conversion and Discipleship, “Ultimately, obedience is what we want in our hearts. We must do a lot of dying on the journey. Jesus tells us to lay down the burden of religious performance, take up His yoke, and walk with Him. He also promises us that His yoke will be lightweight and easy to bear. Living in the grace of God and doing His will is not onerous.”