I love the Miami Pastors' Conference. That's where I am now. I first attended last year... and the fresh winds of like-minded fellowship had me determined to come again this year. I'm glad I did.
The time in Miami started with a longer than usual wait at the baggage carousel in the Miami airport. I don't know what happened; just noticed about 3 or 4 flights that arrived after we did but left well ahead of us through customs. No big. Thinks picked up quickly.
I shared the van ride to Glendale Baptist Church with two brothers who attend Glendale and a new brother, a new friend, Kent from Treasuring Christ in Raleigh, N.C. We had a sweet van ride reflecting on pastoral ministry, especially plural leadership, and mostly on the implications of the gospel for unity across ethnic lines. It was great discussion. Ken and other members of the team that planted Treasuring Christ are committed to laboring in the city among diverse peoples and reflecting the beauty of God's wisdom in the church, the one new man, new nation in Christ. To see the radical zeal (though, as humble as he was, he wouldn't call it this) this brother and the team have displayed in picking up their lives from comfortable surroundings and moving to the heart of the predominantly African-American city-center section of Raleigh is commendable, humbling, and faith-building. This is really how the conference began for me... a new friend, a deeper impression made by the gospel.
We arrived at the church after a quick stop at the hotel so I could change into a suit. I still can't preach without one. And trying to do that in a predominantly African-American church--southern African-American church--feels downright irreligious. Shirt and tie on... we made it to the church where I spotted Kenny. Kenny is a good brother that labors as an elder with Ken Jones at Greater Union Baptist Church in Compton, CA. A good soldier in a real battle field. Also saw Derrick and his wife, Heather. They're new laborers at Glendale. Derrick attended the conference last year as a student from Southern working a booth promoting the seminary. He got an associate pastor position out of his troubles! I think two more Southern students were there this year working the table :-). Keep 'em coming Dr. Mohler!
And what a blessing... there was Tom Ascol of Founders' Ministries and this blog. Good to see him again. And by the way, Founders has released an excellent edition of James P. Boyce's Abstract of Systematic Theology. If you don't have this, you should pick up a copy.
Following seeing some of these guys, we moved to the main meeting area. I am greatly encouraged at what the Lord is doing here. Glimpses of heaven. The room is significantly more diverse this year than it was last year. Maybe ten percent of the room is comprised of Hispanic brothers. Another ten percent white brothers. The large majority were African Americans. But these are encouraging signs of the trans-ethnic unity like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ share. I'm so thankful for those Hispanic and White brothers who have come to labor with us, to encourage us, and to be edified by us. I'm excited about what this can mean, about the foretastes of glory that can be continually stirred in our joint labors and our churches as we live out this aspect of reconciliation provided for and effected in the Gospel of our Dear Savior. Foretastes.... I can't wait for the full course!
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