The continuous reference to this conference being an “educational experience” by it’s chief organizer, Dr. Dwight McKissic, would certainly characterize my description of the Baptist Conference on the Holy Spirit, held this past weekend at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.  My only regret is that I had to squeeze out the time to attend, and had to leave after the panel discussion on Saturday, but I’d have to say that every minute was well worth the effort made to have been there, and I left hungry for more. 

Perhaps the highlight of the conference, from a fellowship perspective, was immediately recognizing fellow blogger Bob Cleveland in his pink cap, and meeting him and his lovely wife Peggy, taking an empty seat at that table, and discovering, to my delight, that fellow bloggers Debbie Kaufman and husband Merrill (hope I spelled that right, I was trying to remember from his name tag!), and Alycelee Faulkner were also seated there.  In the next few moments, I had the privilege of meeting both Paul and Wade Burleson and Ben Cole.  I’d have to say that was an absolutely uplifting start to what would be one of the most significant weekends in my life.   

I’m sure there will be plenty of bloggers who will analyze and comment on the content of the sermons and presentations at the conference, and will do a great job of analysis.  I want to reflect on my personal experience as a participant.

As Dr. McKissic frequently stated, the conference was, for me, an educational experience in virtually every moment.  I have a long list of things that I learned, about the work of the Holy Spirit, and about how that Spirit works in gifting and preparing the people of God for the work of ministry.  I learned specifically about the moving of the Spirit in the lives of the people who spoke, and who gave testimony about how the Spirit has worked in their specific ministry, and in renewing and reviving the churches they pastor and serve.  I learned that dependence on the Spirit is necessary for spiritual things to occur, and that no matter what efforts or plans I may have, and however good their intentions may be, if they are not God’s plans, and the Holy Spirit is not allowed to lead, they are worthless and will accomplish nothing. 

Worship on Friday evening began at 7:00 p.m. and it was past 10:30 when I left the building and headed to my car.  I can’t recall, in my entire Christian experience, ever having been in a worship service lasting three and a half hours.  When this one was over, however, the gladness I felt in my heart didn’t have anything to do with the fact that it had ended, but with the fact that it left me hungering for more.  Three sermons, all unique in the way they were presented, all delivered by diverse preachers from diverse backgrounds, yet all unified and cohesive in their content for one reason, at least in my opinion, because they were all inspired by the same Spirit.  My personal experience was one of transformation.

“Should it be said, O house of Jacob: ‘Is the Spirit of the Lord angry?  Does he do such things?  Do not my words do good to him whose ways are upright?'”  Micah 2:7

The five hour drive back to Houston on Saturday afternoon, which under normal circumstances seems to be a long, long period of time, was not nearly enough in which to reflect on the fourteen hours of time I was able to spend at this conference.  There is no doubt that I experienced an encounter with the Holy Spirit, and no doubt whatsoever that this encounter was a transforming experience for me.  In spite of my own best efforts, and from simply knowing better, I cannot resist the human temptation to lean on my own understanding.  There are places in my life and ministry where an abrupt change must now take place, because I was doing things with my own mind, and in my own strength, and not depending on the Holy Spirit.  I needed to be straightened out on a few things, I needed revival and renewal to see my need for repentance, and that’s mainly what this conference did for me.

In another realm, it generated some questions.  I’m deeply troubled by issues related to spiritual freedom in Baptist life, and I was particularly disturbed by the revelation, something new to me, that candidates for Baptist missionary service must answer a question related to their personal spiritual giftedness, and are barred from service if their answer related to a particular spiritual gift is a positive one.  That’s the subject of another blog article, for later. 

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

8 responses

  1. Lee: It was so good to meet you. You are a passionate, kind man whose love for Christ is evident. You have put into words what I cannot. Thank you for posting this.

  2. Lee,

    If someone reading this thinks I’m speaking in flattery or hyperbole so be it, but, one of the profound moments for me was when I discovered, later in the conference day Saturday, that I was, in fact, talking to the Lee of the blog world. You have no idea how much your thoughtful, insightful and gracious comments on many blogs have blessed me.

    It was a moment of genuine widening of my Kingdom relationships to get you together with those thoughts and words that have already born fruit in my heart for months. Now I know you. How neat is that?

  3. Lee,

    Sorry. My intention was to end in exclamation not question form. My Managing Editor wife would have known that had she been here to catch it. Oh well, you know what I meant. And I really did enjoy our conversation.

  4. Alycelee says:

    Lee, I was thrilled when you came up and I saw your name tag. All I had to see what ‘LEE’ and I knew immediately who you were.
    It was a joy and honor to worship our God together and look forward to meeting you in San Antonio.
    Your reflections of the conference are right on. Thanks

  5. lees1975 says:

    It was a real joy, and I think probably just a bit of the work of the Holy Spirit, to find Alyce, Debbie and Merrill Kaufman and Bob and Peggy Cleveland all sitting at the same table when I walked through the door.

    It was a real blessing to put names and faces together, but even more than that to meet you all personally and experience this weekend conference with you.

    What a conference! I’ve relived it through the things you’ve written about it. Dorcas Hawker has written a detailed account of the content on her blog at Attorney Notes. If the Spirit leads Dr. McKissic to organize another one of these next year, I’ll block out the entire weekend, and bring as many people from my church as I can convince to come.

  6. Alan Cross says:

    Lee,

    Sorry I didn’t get to meet you! I would have loved to have said hello and to connect with you for a bit. Perhaps another time . . .

    I also am seriously contemplating some things in my own life. What does it mean to truly follow God and serve Him? What do I have to give up? Have I grown too comfortable where I don’t really need Him for anything? The recent encounters I have had with the Holy Spirit (including this conference), are shaking me to my core and I am trying to figure out what God is doing. You are not alone.

    On another note, are you saying that you are just learning of the new policy on private prayer language at the IMB, or that you are thinking about it in a new way?

  7. lees1975 says:

    I’ve been aware of the PPL policy at the IMB since Wade made headlines with his blog. When Dwight McKissic preached at Southwestern’s chapel on the subject, and that created a stir, my awareness was increased, and my thinking began to take shape as the issue related to denominational politics.

    At the conference, Jason Epps gave it a face, a name, and a personal testimony of his own experience, and I saw, perhaps for the first time, the full effect of this policy not only denying Southern Baptists a rightful opportunity to serve the Lord through their own denomination, but also the ability to share in a productive and effective ministry, in a place where it is so desperately needed.

  8. lees1975 says:

    Paul,
    Thank you so much for the affirmation. Coming from you, that means more than you will ever know.