I’m going to try to write about this weekend in beautiful West Virginia while it’s still fresh. But I’m also exhausted, so this post might be sketchy until I can process a little more.
Bottom line – the Disciples of Christ men’s conferenceweekend was full to overflowing with the Holy Spirit, and we were all humbled by the power and the presence of God.
TWO MOMENTS: Sunday morning, during worship, my friend Rev. Greg Ott challenged the men to share some “God Moments,” from the weekend – just a few sentences of affirmation and praise. These were scattered throughout the service., and around 20 men spoke directly from their hearts.
Worship, in the historic Christian Church at Bethany, was certainly one of my highlights. The sound of more than 200 men (plus the regular congregation of around 30), singing hymns at the top of their voices and from the deep places of their souls, accompanied only by piano, was deeply beautiful and stirring. However, God-laden as the hymn-singing was, I’m going to select two other moments for this morning’s post.
THE SOUND OF ANGELS: First, Saturday evening, during my keynote address at the Convocation Hall on Bethany’s campus. The level of receptivity among those listening was off the charts. The men nodded, “amen”-ed, broke into smatterings of applause at various moments, and laughed heartily both when I was funny on purpose and when I was funny without meaning to be. They were completely attentive.
It was as if the Disciples Men were cumulatively willing me to make a good presentation!
About ten minutes in, I had the guys practice a response to the reading from Joshua 6. I wanted them to shout – as one man – “This day belongs to the Lord!” at the point in the story where the people shout and the walls of Jericho fall down.
So we practiced the response until they got it down. Then I asked them to practice once more, this time jumping to their feet and throwing their hands in the air as they shouted. It sounded pretty darned good…
The men sat down again. I reminded them of their cue, and then read the scripture leading up to verse 20. And at the right moment, exactly on cue, a hall full with enthusiastic disciples of Jesus jumped to their feet and yelled “THIS DAY BELONGS TO THE LORD!!!!!”
When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed! Joshua 6:
Oh. My. Goodness. I had to pause close to five seconds before I could read the balance of the text, as I waited for the powerful echos of pure, life-charged praise to finish literally ringing in the rafters. It is a sound I will never forget.
BENEDICTION: At the end of worship Sunday morning I was invited to offer the benediction. I used the opportunity to summarize a couple of key points from my presentations, most especially that Jesus is not in the resuscitation business, but that the Lord of Life is in the business ofresurrection, re-creation, and new life.
As I finished – and this was the second amazing God moment – I had an “ah-ha” of inspiration and I said this:
“In the spirit of your amazing and resounding affirmation of praise Saturday evening, I’m going to ask all of you to put the conclusive punctuation mark on this conference by voicing this corporate benediction…
“Please say, with as much enthusiasm as the Spirit has given you, ‘MY JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!!!’”
And, let me tell you, did that affirmation ever ring around every recess of the Bethany Christian church! This weekend (because of so many things) more than 200 DOC men from all over the United States went home experiencing the truth of the Resurrection and the Life with every fiber of their being.
May that affirmation ring true in every church troughout this land!
All I can say is, “WOW!” – DEREK
PS – tomorrow I’ll probably write about the importance of this conference, and why folk such as General Minister Dr. Sharon Watkins were in attendance.