The Third Leg

post date: June 29, 2012

With our good friend Ian Leitch.
I am writing this from our hotel room in Seattle. We arrived here late last night after a longish day that started with me preaching my final message at the MEF conference in Colorado Springs. Later this morning we’ll board a cruise ship for an Alaskan cruise sponsored by Camp Forest Springs in northern Wisconsin. 

This starts the third leg of a trip that began at Cannon Beach, Oregon, took us to Colorado Springs, and now has us back in the Pacific Northwest. The weather here is cloudy and relatively cool compared to Tupelo where the temp today is supposed to reach 105.

Our time in Colorado Springs will remain in my mind forever because of the Waldo Canyon Fire. Over 300 homes were destroyed and over 30,000 people were forced to evacuate by the fire that swept through the hillsides overlooking the city. Things came to a head late Tuesday afternoon when the fires were at their worst. That night was the most distracted service I can remember in 40 years of preaching. We had a smaller crowd than usual, which is understandable given the news about the fire. I had a particular sermon in my mind to preach, but as the evening wore on, it became clear that my message would simply not be appropriate given the concern that filled every heart. So I preached instead on “But If Not” from Daniel 3. Throughout the evening people left the service, including some friends who were told they needed to evacuate their home because it was in the path of the fire. This was one occasion when the preacher and the people were equally distracted.

Meanwhile the conference went on day by day, following the vision born 31 years ago to provide a Bible conference with amazing music and clear Bible exposition. Jamall Badry first invited me to come to MEF in 2005. This was my fifth time to be part of the conference. After Jamall died in 2010, Johnny Hall stepped forward to pick up the mantle of leadership. Over the years I’ve shared the platform with men such as Erwin Lutzer, Colin Smith, Liam Goligher, James Ford, Eric Alexander and Charles Price. Ian Leitch from Scotland is a particular crowd favorite. Besides Ian, this year the speakers included Brad McClain, Jeff Adams, H.B. Charles, Jr., Judy Reamer and Jeannette Clift George. The list of musicians is vast. Probably there is no conference in America that has more musicians and preachers at the same time.

To say this was an unusual week would be an understatement because of the fire happening just a few miles up the road. Several times the smell of smoke in the city was overpowering. We prayed often for those in the path of the flames and for the brave men and women working to save lives and to contain the fire. Not surprisingly, most of the speakers and musicians came back again and again to the theme of God’s sovereignty. In times of uncertainty and fear, we need to return to Rock of our Salvation. 

It was a good week in which God helped us along the way. We did what David did in 1 Samuel 30:6 when he encouraged himself in the Lord his God. 

The first two legs of our three-week trip are done. Now we are in Seattle where we are about to go north to Alaska. More about that later.


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