New Beginnings

Having just attended one of the premier Christian conferences in the United States it almost goes without saying that I came away from it changed. How much so remains to be seen and worked out in a practical day-to-day way—but if being equipped can get you through the next couple of life phases then I am already on my way there.

It always amazes me to see how many people want to move on to the next level in all things spiritually-Christian and that as I looked around the meeting room how many of the people didn’t look like the type that I would have over for dinner on a Friday evening. They are probably looking around the room and wondering what all these strange people are doing there as well.

The conference location: the former Heritage Grand Hotel built by Jim Bakker between 1978 and 1985 as a part of what was known as PTL ministries. In and of itself this is a major shift in spiritual dimension that the world does not often see. What had been cursed and left for decay is being used by a large ministry to bring health and healing to a new generation other than the one that sowed their money into the original PTL concept and facility.

During its heyday, PTL saw about 6 million people visit it annually and was the third most visited location besides Disneyland and World. I remember taking the kids and hanging out at the waterpark attraction all day almost 20 years ago. It was a nice facility that played Amy Grant type music and was family friendly. Today, only the island it was built on remains. It would have cost a fortune to fix it and it was torn down years ago.

This past weeks conference was called a Worship and Warfare conference and consisted of 6 meetings over three days with each meeting lasting from 2 to 3 hours. The first hour or so was spent in musical worship which was always good if not always approaching intense. Various musicians ministered throughout the conference with Jason Upton being one of my favorites. These musical times were each followed by a teaching and imparting time with my favorite being Bishop Joseph Garlinton, a black charismatic preacher from Pittsburg. If you remember the Promise Keepers march on Washington, he was the praise and worship leader for the few songs that were sung that afternoon on the mall.

Anyway—I could go on and on and chase a few more rabbits and do a play by play description of all that took place but that is not my intent—maybe more later on.

As I mentioned, Joseph Garlington was one of my favorites—his delivery is unlike any preaching I have ever heard. He came onto the stage with his personal pianst who—for the whole hour and fifteen minutes—played amazingly appropriate music lightly behind the preaching. Garlington would often break out into song, using the words of his text as the chorus and verses. Sometimes, the rest of the Morningstar worship team would begin playing as well and a crescendo would be reached and then the music would taper off and we would be back in the auditorium listening to this black fellow from Pittsburg lay it all out for us.

He is the whole package—funny, informative, inspirational, self-effacing and very purposeful and precise. He was a man who knew what he was going to say even before he stepped to the podium but didn’t let that keep him from slipping in the little holy ghost things that helped me and the rest of his listeners get the most of what he was trying to say.

One nugget that I came away from the conference with is this: One of Garlinton’s parrishioners came to him and told him that he had recently gotten into the habit of giving God thanks every morning in a very precise and deliberate way. He would thank God for his wife and kids, his home, his job and his heath, etc. After doing so he felt like he had opened a window into the kingdom of God that he could walk through and be blessed the rest of the day.

I have simplified this story for relating here but I think you get the point. In giving God thanks we are in a sense creating a kairos moment in time.

Wikipedia says this about kairos:

is an ancient Greek word meaning the “right or opportune moment”. The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential
time, the latter signifies “a time in between”, a moment of
undetermined period of time in which “something” special happens. What
the special something is depends on who is using the word. While
chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative nature.

The concept seems very biblical and is not manipulative in nature. We give thanks when the promise is given not when the money hits our bank accounts. If we find that we haven’t given thanks for something that happened yesterday, what makes us think that something is going to happen today.

Anyway, there is a lot more here than meets the eye in a casual sense. But as far as nuggets go and spending three days at a Christian conference, I think that it has paid for the trip. What do you think?

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