I Am Encouraged!


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.

Agape’

Royce

Tulsa Workshop 2010


2009 was my first Workshop but I decided then it would not be my last. I met so many wonderful people, including fellow bloggers, and made friendships that are priceless.

Come experience the fellowship, worship, and preaching/teaching, and meet other church of Christ folks from across the fruited plain. Lord willing I’ll be there.

(Should I have a Grace Digest booth where I can sell autographed copies of my latest book? I could feature “Doughnuts with Dobbs” and have a John Dobbs meet and greet. (I think it would only be fitting to call the doughnuts “Dobbers”)  And, I could offer to laminate “Change Agent” cards for free!)

I hope you can come. I’d love to meet you.

Royce

 

Extra Time in Tulsa, Snow Day…


As we were enjoying the last day of the Tulsa Workshop a layer of global warming up to several inches blanket the greater Tulsa area making highway travel treacherous and eventually canceling flights. Since one of our group from Monroe/West Monroe is in a motor home and I and my traveling pal are in a pickup truck pulling a U-Haul with the display material for World Radio and Celebrate Recovery we thought it might be wise to wait until today to begin our trip home. 

I awoke this morning feeling rested and refreshed and ready to get going. I made coffee and decided to check my email once more before leaving and then realized it was 1:15 a.m. The coffee couldn’t just sit in the pot for five hours, so I am drinking the coffee and watching Fox News. Perhaps I’ll get a few more hours sleep before day breaks. 

The Workshop, “Evangelistic Revolution”, was a grand success in my view. This was my first time for this annual event but Lord willing will not be my last. Here are some highlights for me. 

  • I met several bloggers whose names I will not list because I don’t want to forget one which I’m positive I will do if I try to name them all. It was a joy to put faces with names and meet these fine young men, (every one many years my junior). These bloggers are very bright, gifted, serious followers of Jesus. I feel honored to know them and have them read my blog.
  • I was blessed and humbled by perhaps two dozen people who told me they read Grace Digest and enjoy it and have been helped in some way and blessed by reading. It is refreshing to know that in my tiny place in the kingdom the Lord can use me to encourage someone else, help someone understand God’s revelation better, and in some way build up a fellow follower of Jesus.
  • Patrick Mead. This funny man with a funny accent was both entertaining and challenging. His ministry at Rochester Hills church in Michigan is a marvel. Patrick is one to be imitated, at a minimum in principal and theory of ministry. Love them as they are, where they are, expecting nothing in return, and love them until they ask “Why?” Patrick is comfortable in his own skin, stepping outside the boundaries of church of Christ traditions for the sake of Christ. Much of what Patrick says and does must make some in our denomination nuts. But, he and his people are doing what most of the rest of us are not doing, fleshing out the life of Jesus right in the middle of Satan’s stronghold. It is my joy to have met Patrick and now cherish him as a friend and brother.
  • Edward Fudge. For several years I have learned from and admired this good man from afar. I have communicated with him a few times, asking his opinion about something I had discovered in my study of the Word, or complimenting him on something he had written. There is no person in churches of Christ that I respect more than this humble servant. Not only was I blessed to hear him speak three times but also had the opportunity to visit with him at the Workshop and over dinner. The experience was one I will always cherish and hold dear. Edward, like Leroy Garrett and others, who dared to put truth over church tradition, have paid a price. He has endured the scorn and slander of men who put human effort on a level with God’s grace. You should get a copy of Edward’s latest book, a commentary on the book of Hebrews. You can preorder it here. I hope God gives brother Fudge many more years of fruitful ministry. God bless you Edward Fudge.
  • I heard a common theme, the grace of God and the need to make His gracious offer given in the gospel known out where the people live, work, and play. Many of our people are awakened to the stark reality that the methods, and even perhaps the message, of the churches of Christ of a few decades ago just aren’t going to get the job of reconciliation done. There is no biblical precedent for expecting the lost to come to our churches, attend “gospel meetings”, or be drawn to a rigid set of rules and doing, doing, doing to try to get God to like us more. Please God let the trend toward grace and forgiveness continue at the expense of legalism and condemnation. May we as a movement be able to truly say “We preach Christ”.
  • Spending time with John Grigson has been wonderful. I have known John for about 9 years. His story is one of the love and the grace of God written on a human tapestry. John’s enthusiasm for ministry, his devotion to Christ, his hunger for the Word of God, and his contagious smile make this dear brother on of my favorite people on the planet. What a wonderful treat to be able to travel several hours with John and to enjoy his fellowship, something I will not soon forget.
  • Getting to know Mike Eppinette. We go to the same church each Sunday and Wednesday, I have heard him teach, and I have spoken to him, but this few days in Tulsa I have been able to get to know him a bit and it has been wonderful. Mike is a great speaker and fund raiser for World Radio and is always smiling and making everyone around him smile as well. He is a good man and I’m glad to call him friend.

 

My Tulsa experience has been absolutely wonderful and I am already looking forward to coming again in 2010. It is 3:28 a.m. and time for a nap.

 

Royce