Refreshed – Impressions from WBC

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From the desk of…

by Dave Hudson, Major –

People came to the Western Bible Conference for differing reasons. Some needed a break from the routine of their lives; others looked forward to the conference for years. Expectations ranged from very high; to one man whose wife had told him a week prior that he was going to attend. Regardless of the reasons or expectations, no one left disappointed. One person in line for the final lunch said, “I can’t find anything to complain about.”

The theme for the weekend was REFRESH. We all came with the need to have God refresh some part of our lives. One woman needed to have her walk with God renewed. As she put it, “I came here feeling my spiritual life was dry and empty; I am leaving sensing God’s rivers flow through me like never before.” A man in my small group shared that he felt valued for the first time in his life.

The teaching throughout the week was exceptional. Commissioner Israel Gather, National Commander, brought inspirational messages every evening that not only challenged our lives and be our best for Christ; but also directed us to the power source to live victorious lives. Dr. Bill Ury, professor of systematic and historical theology at Asbury University, led Bible studies each morning through the Gospel of Mark. According to Dr. Ury, Mark’s “in your face Gospel” doesn’t mince words but is bold and direct, in teaching the purpose and mission of Jesus.

On Thursday morning Dr. Ury talked about the story of the woman who poured the expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, found in Mark 14. He shared about the different perspectives of those around Jesus. Including the practical view that felt it was a waste of something that could be sold and used for a better purpose. However, Jesus did not focus on the contents of the bottle, but the bottle itself. Mark uses a word found nowhere else in Scripture when he says “she smashed the bottle.” It could never be used again. The bottle represents our lives in obedient submission to God. We erroneously focus on our abilities, or lack thereof, and struggle to live a life worthy of God. We get into endless comparison games that lead to either self-serving purposes or the feeling of worthlessness. Jesus, on the other hand, focus’ on our “smashing” of our lives at his feet and turning ourselves totally over to him. Of the woman, he said, “She did what she could” (vs. 8).

As I said, all of us came to the conference needing God’s refreshment in some area of our lives. My need was to release the people and place I dearly love. After four wonderful years serving God in the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division, the time has come for me to leave. I think back over the four years; add up all the good things that have happened, subtract all the bad, and try to determine if I was successful. Come to think about it, I am not much different than the disciples while watching the woman smashing the bottle. Jesus, all the while, asks me, “Did you do what you could (to honor and submit to him)?” I want to feel good about what I did; Jesus wants me to feel purposeful about him. Thinking about this, following the Bible study, I began to release those I hold dear. It does not mean that I do not love and care for them less; but rather I turn them over to one who loves and cares for them much more.

It was announced that there will a Western Bible Conference in 2010; that is great news. I am not sure of the theme; but one thing I know is regardless of the theme, the location or the guest leaders, God will have his purpose for the week; for that I can hardly wait.

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