Mid afternoon today, Carol and I returned from Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Tulsa Workshop. The Tulsa Workshop is an annual gathering of Church of Christ people who meet for worship, including great singing and preaching, and a great exhibit hall filled with booths promoting Christian schools, children’s homes, missions, ministries, church architects, publishers, etc. and several sellers of Christians trinkets.
This was my second year to attend and I enjoyed it just as much as last year. Meeting friends I made last year and making new ones were highlights of our experience. It was very encouraging to have several people introduce themselves as Grace Digest readers. I was literally shocked when one very well-known preacher, one of the key-note speakers, told me “I read your stuff and really like it…“. It just shows to go you that you never know!
It was especially nice to meet Al Maxey, a New Mexico preacher and prolific writer and thinker. I have admired his work and we had corresponded a few times but I was delighted to meet him and hear him speak three times. He speaks as well as he writes and his messages were timely and much needed.
I was able to spend time with and share a meal with Edward Fudge, who has become a special friend and mentor, and one of the best men I know, relief worker Mike Baumgartner. Dr. Joneal Kirby the founder of Heart to Home Ministries, and her assistant Lauren Vincent were also at the table. Other friends to numerous to mention were there and we enjoyed their company and their ministries during those days.
In my view, the most encouraging and exciting thing about our trip to the Tulsa Workshop this year was the preaching. Everyone I heard speak lifted up the Lord Jesus Christ and made clear that He alone can save a sinner from their sins. Frankly, in some Church of Christ gatherings you are likely to hear more about the Church of Christ than the Christ of the Church but not this time. The message of grace is sweeping across the churches like a prairie fire and again and again God’s grace, demonstrated in Christ Jesus our Lord, was reinforced by each key-note speaker I heard.
Perhaps, just perhaps, New Testament Christianity is finally being restored! I love the ancient plea “We are only Christians but not the only Christians“. It is a theme I can embrace and wear with pride. I don’t completely agree with everything any Christian group teaches but I have found in the Restoration Movement some dear followers of Jesus with whom I expect to be in fellowship with eternally. Every group has its baggage, some history they would like to forget, and a scattering of knuckleheads that are at best troublesome.
I will quickly admit that I am not infallible, the needle on my sanctification gauge is not to the “full” mark, and far too often I don’t love like I should and still call myself a follower of Jesus. I and you are works in progress. On our way toward being like Jesus may each of us major on Jesus and minor on everything else and love everyone in his stead. Love them ’til they ask us why!
Thanks for reading Grace Digest. I sincerely hope it is a blessing and honors Christ.