Monday, August 29, 2016

We're Not in Kansas Anymore....

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog I called "The Nashville Turnaround". You can go further down this blogsite and read it if you are interested.  This blog is a similar post with different characters, but instead of Nashville, it was an overnighter to Kansas City and back.
Nic Collins and I left Ennis, Texas at 6am last Friday morning.  Our first stop was in Fort Worth to collect my son T.J. from his apartment there.  The next stop was at a QT for coffee.  I stepped out of Nic's truck and was immediately met by a panhandler named Ashley.  Ashley had her story down pat; she had a particular medicine that she needed and had part of the money, all she needed was for me to add to it.  One could see this as either an obstacle or an opportunity, and this was one of those times where the Holy Spirit prompted me to speak.  I asked her if she knew Jesus, and she said she did. I asked her to tell me about Him, and she came back with a pretty good answer.  I gave her a Gospel of John and encouraged her to read it, and I contributed to her medicine fund. I also told her we would pray for her. (That's your cue to pause while you are reading this and pray for Ashley.)

We had T.J. in the pilot's seat since he knows his way around and through Fort Worth better than either Nic or me.  We were right in the middle of the rush hour traffic and there is so much construction on the roads going north from Fort Worth, it took us two hours to get as far as Denton.  We had a couple of other brief stops on the way, and with all of that, we just got to the church on time for the conference to begin at 6pm.
Stephen Miller led the praise music throughout the conference.  His music was a blend of praise choruses mixed with some up tempo Christian hymns.  I was glad that T.J. enjoyed the up tempo hymns, and actually seemed to enjoy them more than the praise choruses.  He said he liked them because he could remember the words from singing along in church as a child, but he liked these a lot more than when they were accompanied by only a piano and organ. (T.J. worships regularly in a church that has a more contemporary style than I am used to).
One of the speakers was Travis Rosen. Rosen is one of the older contestants on the Ninja Warrior TV series, but at age 42, he was still able to do a standing back flip on the stage!  He has been a top five finisher several times on Ninja, one of the points he made was, "When you find yourself debating with the Lord, that's a pretty good sign that he has already told you what you need to be doing".
Jonathan Evans is the son of Dr. Tony Evans.  He played in the NFL, and in addition to other vocations, is the Chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys and attends Southwestern Seminary.  He spoke about God often speaking an unsettling word...and as he considered God's command to Abraham to "go"...he looked it up in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and a couple of other language.  Everytime, it just means GO!
As a comedian, Brad Stine would remind you of Robin Williams.  He has a lot of the same mannerisms and voice inflection, but does a great job of mixing spiritual truth with his comedy.  Most of the time he spoke about men, but he also pointed out the differences of the "Fee male".

You may have seen T.C. Stallings on the big screen in "Fireproof" or "War Room". His testimony is that success is a blessing from God, and that he knows that God does not need him, but that God chose him.  I really liked one of his analogies.  He said that Jesus can take the wheel, but when He does He will be driving the car in front of you.  It is your choice to follow him or not, we are not forced to go along with him in the same car.

Friday ended pretty late for these three guys after the long drive.  A significant storm occured in Kansas City that night, and by the time we made it to our hotel room it was after 11pm.  It seemed we had just closed our eyes when the alarm sounded, but after a good breakfast we were back at the church and looking forward to the next speakers.

The Benham Brothers pick on each other as they speak and are very entertaining.  They have been very successful in real estate, but their fame came when they stood up for their belief in Jesus, even though it meant the cancellation of a very lucrative television program.  "Boldness must be preceded by brokenness".
The adventurer Jimmy Sites used the story of the hunting of wolves without bullets, arrows, or traps to illustrate how Satan lures us into a false sense of security then destroys us by our own lusts.  We must remain alert and ever vigilant.
Donnie Smith honors the Lord in the workplace as CEO of Tyson foods.  If the employees in the breakroom are animatedly talking about the football game from the weekend, he might say how their pastor really nailed his sermon yesterday!
As a Christian professor and author, Owen Stachan was one of the deeper speakers at the conference.  He left us with a number of great thoughts, including, "Manhood is not a genetic accident.  Men are hardwired to be men, and men need the Gospel of Jesus.  The core of manliness is to be like Jesus."
The final speaker was one I had really been looking forward to hearing, and was one of the main reasons we chose to do this overnighter to Kansas City.  Dr. Johnny Hunt is a well know Pastor from North Carolina and has been at Woodstock, Georgia since 1986.  He is known for leading Pastor's conferences and has served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention.  His testimony is tremendous, and his preaching is engaging.  His text was 1 Kings Ch 17 about Elijah going where God sent him, and God providing everything he needed when he got there!  There is a place of God's purpose, and God never calls without commanding, just as he commanded the ravens to feed Elijah at the brook Cherith.

We left Kansas City soon after noon and were back in Ennis by 9pm.  T.J. is already looking at the conference in New Orleans in 2017.  Come go with us!