The Church of God is holding its national convention in Anderson this week. The opening service on Friday night was a memorial service for Robert Reardon, the past president of AU. My grandmother went to school with Robert Reardon in the late 30s; and my grandfather "Gramps" was acquainted with Bob Nicholson, who spoke at the service. Bob Nicholson is 83 years old and still perky and well-spoken. If I had heard him speak without knowing who he was, I would have never guessed his age! As I listened, I hoped that I will be so "young" when I am 83. At that moment, I realized that I must change my responses when people tell me how young I look. I must realize that the years are being good to me despite my pain, that God indeed restoring stolen time to me. It is natural for me to want to carry myself in a way that communicates authority; but my authority doesn't come from my age. It comes from God! It comes from wisdom. If I live in a way that exercises it, then I hope that it will be evident and that my physical appearance will testify to God's goodness to me!
The General director of the Church of God is Ron Duncan, who was my pastor when I was in high school. Between hearing him greet the people and encourage them to get to know someone they didn't know and "find out what God is doing in their lives because God is active ..." and hearing so many heritage songs that were sung in the church where I grew up; hearing Bill Gaither speak, remembering him teaching my college Sunday school class, and remembering hearing his music during my early and middle childhood, I spent most of the service transported back in time. I wish there were words to describe the experience adequately. There really are not. I keep feeling that we have lost something vital, and it must be reawakened. Sitting in the service last night, I thought about the old camp meeting accounts I have read; and I wondered why we are not experiencing such life-changing things now. Where are the healings? The things that inspire testimony? In one of the video clips, Reardon pointed out that most of the Church of God pioneers were just young people: 19, 20, 21 years old. Why have we become so stuffy?
This morning's speaker is Bob Moss. His daughter, Erin, chaired the service. Listening to her introduce her dad, I felt very sad. My dad doesn't display any negative emotion about leaving the ministry; but I was always envious of preachers' kids. My dad always sounded passionate in my mind when he preached; and I wished that when I became a minister someday I would be able to claim a strong heritage of active faith. I can't. I certainly have family members who did things with their faith; but they are not figureheads in the church. I come to the ministry because God called me here out of the mire that was the pain in my life, not because I descend from a long line of Church of God ministers. I must learn to embrace this heritage.
Today's speaker is Bob Moss. Maturity in Christ is being exponentially more than you would have been without Christ. 1 Cor. 3:1-6 talks about spiritual maturity. This raises questions.
Where is our focus? We are just the servants. We are given gifts by God. God has called us to be submissive to whatever spiritual gifts He puts before us, but we are often arrogant and focus on the gifts that we like instead of what builds the church. Shouldn't we organize the church with ministries oriented toward the new believers that God is going to bring in?
What kind of seed are you planting? [My thought: Who will water it?] You'll always reap what you sow. Some people sow trust, some suspicion; some faith and some doubt; some faithfulness and some distraction. The words that you say and the attitude of your heart are scattered like the wind. Only the Holy Spirit can criticize without wounding (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, June 17). [Bob read more out of this passage, and there is more good stuff there.] The Holy Spirit speaking to Jesus was sowing a seed of encouragement. Who are my good seed sowers? Christian maturity means that our focus is turned from ourselves to others. The great privilege of the faith is to take on the ministry of encouragement. God packs the power to grow into every seed. A 1,200-year-old seed was found in Masada and was planted in 2005, and it germinated and grew! The seed of the gospel with the right climate will grow. [That's something to remind me to pray!] What is the environment of my heart and my church?
Whenever you attempt to expand the kingdom of God, there is an intelligent darkness that opposes. It wants to distract the nonbelievers from hearing the gospel and the believers from preaching it. Purity gives power to the gospel. The enemy wants to prove that unity cannot exist.
What is God trying to germinate in my life and my church?