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Days 5 & 6 at the FGBC Conference

I took the liberty of playing one last round of golf on Wednesday.  Accompanied by pastors Dan O'Deens (Gateway Church in PA) and Clancy Cruise (Marysville GBC, Ohio), I attacked the Island Course here at Innisbrook and was effectively attacked back.  It was a brutal, yet BEAUTIFUL, golf course.  Although our scores were less than boastable, we all concluded that we'd wished we played the Island course more and Copperhead less.  Copperhead has the notoriety because it hosts a PGA tournament, but the Island course is downright more beautiful and more challenging.

Silas took a cruise to Shell Island and then went to the Loch Ness pool for some swimming.

Mcintosh The evening session began with a time of worship and some personal stories of how individuals feel that they have been impacted by the conference.  The evening's speaker was Pastor John McIntosh of the Simi Valley Grace Brethren Church.  Pastor John is incoming moderator of the fellowship and his message was an exhortation for us to invest in the future generations and pass along our faith.  He used II Timothy chapter 2 as his reference.

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Phil On Thursday morning, I attended the FGBC Delegates Brunch.  This is the official "business meeting" of the fellowship.  Two significant items of note were the acceptance of Community of Hope (Grace's daughter church in Surrey, BC) into the fellowship.  Philip Bryant introduced the church and the Canadians all hooted and hollered.  It was amusing.

The other item that was an encouragement to me was the election of Pastor Tom Hocking as the next moderator.  Tom is the lead pastor at Bellflower, California's Grace Brethren Church.  I don't know Tom at all, although I've known his name.  He took five minutes or so to share some things that were on his heart and he hit the bell hard with me.  After spending a week talking about our personal responsibility to share the Gospel with the disconnected, Tom shared his passion to see us as Jesus-followers to do this work in "team;" to do it together.  He also emphasized our need to not just help people discover Jesus, but to help them connect with God in a growing relationship and to also connect them into sound Biblical community.  Amen, Pastor Tom!  I'm with you!

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Sipool1 Once the brunch/meeting was over, the conference offically ended.  Silas and I went to hang out at the Loch Ness pool until the thunderstorms
Sipool2_2 ran us off.  So we spent the rest of the day watching tv, playing video games and eating.

Tomorrow Elizabeth and the rest of the Blair gang fly to Orlando.  Silas and I will be renting a van and driving there ourselves to officially begin our vacation in Mickey-town.


Day 4 At the FGBC Conference

Logo_2 Tuesday was a jam-packed day at the conference.  I confess that I skipped the morning session for a round of golf with Bartley Sawatsky (lead pastor at Grace) and Dan O'Deens (lead pastor at Gateway church in Parkesburg, PA).  It was an ugly but enjoyable round on the Copperhead Course here at Innisbrook.

Immediately after completing the round of golf, I hoofed it to the GO2 Church Planting luncheon where Dr. Tim Boal gave an outline of the details that led to the creation of this new church planting initiative which will hopefully be voted in as a new Grace Brethren ministry at the end of this week.  Additionally, we heard from some of the new GO2 field staff members, including Pastor Oscar Chavez, Rev. Jim Snavely and Rev. Jesus Munoz, as they shared their own reason for joining this team and the opportunities they saw on the horizon.

Personally, I am very excited about what GO2 is aiming to do.  I pray that the mission will be able to secure its financial base in order to get the ball rolling in the direction it seems to be headed.

On Tuesday evening, Pastor Jim Brown (the conference moderator and lead pastor at Grace Community in Goshen, IN) gave a hard-hitting message on our need as "the church" to do more to care for those who are in need around the world.  Pastor Jim rattled to crowd with stories and statistics of atrocities around the world, most of which seem to victimize children.  An offering was taken during the service and was given to a GBIM related mission called Project Hope & Charité.  The money collected (in excess of $30,000) will be used to send AIDS orphans in Africa to school.

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Silas spent another long and exhausting day at the Kids' Conference.  He went roller skating and swimming at Innisbrook's Loch Ness Monster Pool.  In between sessions in the afternoon, I took him to the pool by our room and he continues to improve his swimming.  I think by the end of the week he'll have it mastered!


Day 3 At the FGBC Conference

Gbcsupper_2 Another good day at the conference.  The highlight today was a dinner we had this evening with the entire Grace Brethren Canada team.  Between the Ontario churches and the Surrey, BC church, Canada has nearly 40 people at the conference.  We all got together for bbq at a joint called Sonny's (where I ate a whole whack* of ribs) and got updates on all the churches and got to know one another a little better.

Convertible1_4 Convertible2_2 After supper, Ted and Elise Adomanis gave Silas and me a ride back to our room in their (rented) convertible.  It was fun; the first time Silas has ridden in a car with no lid.

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Silas spent his day at the Grace Links mini putt site working on his golf game and and - evident by his pink cheeks and shoulders -  a good bit of time at the Loch Ness swimming pool on site here at the resort.

I managed to get another round of golf in at Copperhead.  Didn't play all that well, but had a few highlights and the course is stunning.

*a "whack" of ribs is more than a rack.


Day 2 At the FGBC Conference

Today's been an eventful day.

And it's not over yet!

Cahill2 This morning I attended a session at the conference taught by Mark Cahill.  Mark is the author of two popular Christian books on "evangelism."  I had read one of the books about a year ago, before I knew that he would be speaking at our conference.  The book (One Heartbeat Away) was a gift from an old friend in Texas.

First off, it's very well written.  Mark Cahill is an outstanding communicator and a passionate evangelist.  Personally, I have some challenges with his evangelism "style," but certainly not his mission.  It is clear, both from the book and the message I heard this morning, that he takes his call and responsibility as an evangelist with utmost seriousness, duty and honor.  If only more Christ-followers were like him; if even they (we) all had an ounce of Mark's passion for sharing the message of hope through Jesus, what a world this would be.

Anyway, the part that I struggle with the most is that Mark's message centers around the eternal consequences of knowing (or not knowing) Jesus.  Hell is a real place.  Heaven is a real place.  My belief is that the Bible is true and that no one enters Heaven without entering under the grace of Jesus as savior.  But what I felt was missing from Mark's message this morning (and from the book) is the message of God's love, His desire to be known by His creation, His desire for intimacy with His creation, His desire to be worshiped by His creation.  The Jesus story didn't start with (and won't end with) offering a "get out of Hell" ticket.

Let me clarify that I do believe that Mark Cahill believes that we as humans are to be engaged with God in an ongoing relationship.  I'm confident by the fruit that is evident in Mark's life that he is "plugged-in" to God.  I'm just saying that he doesn't seem to talk about it alot.

Mark Cahill is "gifted" as an evangelist.  It is a spiritual gift.  Not everyone has that spiritual gift.  But all Jesus-followers do have the responsibility of evangelism.  How can we as a church (and Mark Cahill Ministries) best equip those that do not have that spiritual gift fulfill that commandment?

I've got another session with Mark in an hour!  We'll see where it goes!

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Innisbrookcopperhead5 I also got a partial round of golf in at the Coppperhead golf course this afternoon.  Silas was at the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry.


Day 1 At the FGBC Conference

Silas and I arrived in Tampa in the late hours last night for a week at the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches International Conference.  This is an event held every two years and features guest speakers from both within and outside our fellowship.

This morning, I attended a session taught by Pastor Dan Gregory (Community of Hope, Columbia City, IN).  Pastor Dan gave a lesson based on Luke chapter 5.  In today's culture, many people refer to themselves as "Christians."  But Jesus never called us to be Christians; He called us to be followers.

As Dan expounded on this passage he made a statement that rings true with me:

"If we are Christians (Followers of Jesus) then we should be fishing (for men).  If we're not fishing, then we're probably not Christians (Followers)."

Dan used the example that our lives represent the "net" that we cast for the sake of engaging those that don't know Jesus into a place where they can encounter Him.  I like that imagery.

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While I was attending the "big people" conference, Silas was attending the Kids' Conference.  They went to the beach.  Here's a photo of the booty he returned with!

Shells