The 2012 GA began at 8:30 am with a devotional by Rich Jensen. He began by quoting the opening lines of Charles Dickens', A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." With this opening, he proceeded to describe the pastoral ministry; good times filled with encouragement and joy, and difficult times filled with discouragement and grief. The devotional was very encouraging as he spoke to the heart of the pastoral ministry. He closed by sharing a story of a man he led to Christ that God used to greatly encourage his ministry. We all need such encouraging blessings upon our ministry.
The remainder of the morning was filled mainly with reports, primarily regarding the many church plants God is raising up among ARBCA churches. It was a blessing to hear of what God is doing among us. We broke for lunch at 12:30--ham sandwiches and clam chowder; a taste of New England.
At 4:45 we returned to the church for the first of our three theological discussions. The topic was "Incarnational Ministry." The idea is that missions should be modeled after the incarnation of Christ; i.e. He came as a helpless infant, as a man to identify with men. He came as a Jew to immerse Himself in the Jewish culture, etc. We should be willing to immerse ourselves in the culture to which we are ministering. Various comments were expressed regarding the lack of Scriptural support for the incarnation of Christ as a model for missions, especially using Philippians 2.
Supper was at 5:45 - a choice of Shepherds Pie or Chicken Pot Pie. I had both--quite tasty. Our host church, Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel of Chicopee, MA, is showing us wonderful hospitality.
The evening worship service began at 7:00 with Pastor Earl Blackburn from Heritage Baptist of Shreveport preaching on "The Wonder of the Incarnation." (The incarnation of Christ is this year's conference theme.) Using John 1:1-5; 14 as his text, Pastor Blackburn led us to gaze with wonder upon the incarnation of our Lord.
1. His Eternal Existence - Verses 1-5. He was always with God, always was God. He was Creator of all, the source of all life, and actively involved over all creation.
2. The historical entrance of the Son into this world. Verse 14 - "The Word became flesh." He was human in every way, physical in every way. It was a Condescending Entrance - "He dwelt among us." It was a Identifying Entrance - "He dwelt among us." It was a Sympathizing Entrance - "He dwelt among us"
3. The incarnation was a Divine exhibition - Verse 14 - "We beheld His glory." It was an exhibition of glory, grace and truth.
The conference makes for a long day, but one filled with wonderful fellowship and preaching.