What marks a mature believer when he attends a conference? What are his expectations?
Lately, I have been considering how I, as a Christian, should approach attending a Bible conference, with regard to what my attitude and concerns should be. I have chosen to list and discuss a few expectations that I should be exercised about when sitting under the ministry of God’s Word at a conference. I trust that they will be to the mutual benefit of both the reader and writer. Perhaps we should all reflect upon the words of the Psalmist when he said, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee” (Ps 55:22).
First, I look for the Word spoken at the conference to AFFECT ME. I am hoping that the ministry will reach my heart. Sometimes it is a cold heart that needs perking up or a broken heart that needs patching up.
After the hurried activities of life, appreciation for spiritual things can easily become dulled and we need the sharpening edge of the spoken Word (Heb 4:12). Thus, I come to a Bible conference sometimes needing a fresh appreciation of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me. I need to enjoy hearing about His person; I need to be reminded of the price paid at Calvary for me, and that I am His possession and peculiar treasure.
There are other times, however, when I come needing, not a sharp touch, but the soft gentle touch from the spoken Word. There are troubles and trials that arise in life which need to be addressed. Encouragement from God’s Word is what is needed to be able to face life’s adversities (2 Cor 1:4). They can sometimes represent deep burdens of the heart in need of answers from the ministered Word.
Next, I approach a conference anticipating that the Word spoken might CORRECT ME. There may be subtle changes that have taken place in my life which can disrupt fellowship with God. Thus, I come with the hope that my motives, my mind, and my manner of life may be corrected. I find the conference to be a helpful time to once again focus on and adjust the direction for my life. Realizing afresh that He has done so much for me makes we want to live to please Him (Phil 1:21). I have found that conference seasons also help me to adjust my mind and thought process. The ministry of the Word corrects my thinking in regard to sin, self, and service. Worldly concepts that tend to minimize sin, maximize self, and marginalize service for Christ and to others, need correction (Phil 2:4). Moreover, my manner of life may need adjustment, too. Indeed, the Word of God, ably ministered, can give me the necessary help to correct my ways (I Pet 1:15).
Additionally, I look to the ministered Word at a conference to DIRECT ME (Prov 3:6). Obviously there are different directions needed for different trials of life that we have to face. Like many Christians, there are times when I might come to a conference with a desire to know the will of God regarding a problem that I might be facing. For example, there might be a burden as to what direction to take relating to a problem involving our children. Sometimes, however, conference ministry will not, and can not, provide me with a “Thus saith the Lord,” type of direction, but rather, the needed direction must be gleaned from the general principles found in the spoken Word (Rom 12:2).
My hope is that these few thoughts will be as much help to others as they have been to me. I trust they won’t be looked upon merely as a collection of my own directions, but that they will assist others to reflect upon their own expectation before attending a conference.