The best thing about PTP? We’re supposed to sum that up on the evaluation sheet for this huge event that Glenn and I just finished in Sevierville, Tennessee. The retreat center’s halls are empty now, the tabernacle has been dismantled, our legs feel kind of like noodles, and the Bible Plinko is in the back of our SUV. Polishing the Pulpit is finished for 2012 and we are in reflection mode. Conversations, friendships, counseling sessions and worship scenes swirl in our minds. It’s really been an internal blessing with eternal benefits.
PTP began several years ago in a home in Jacksonville, Alabama when three preachers met for a weekend to exchange sermon ideas. The largest venue that they can find in the area now has challenges accommodating the crowd which, for the last few years has been growing by about 500 people per year. This year’s count was just over 2500. But the crowd isn’t the best thing about PTP for the Colleys.
It’s incredible that an event-turned-phenomenon like this can start with a few exchanged sermons and morph (in just a few short years) into a multi-tracked convention with tracks for elders, preachers, wives of elders, deacons, wives of deacons, wives of preachers, children, teens, members and more. The great thing about these tracks is that you don’t have to declare. You can jump tracks all you want. I love that part since I am a preacher’s wife, an elder’s wife, a parent, a member and a speaker. I am easily overwhelmed, but this is a really good kind of overwhelming event. But that’s not the best thing about PTP this year.
I have been incredibly blessed (so much so that when I pray, I ask God consistently, “Why me, Lord? How is it that I get to do this?”) to have been privileged to speak to the ladies at PTP for all of the years that a ladies program has existed. The ladies class began in Pigeon Forge several years back with a core of about 12 women in a one-class-a-day format. As it has simply exploded since that time, I’ve been so blessed to watch. We are filling up rooms and ballrooms simultaneously and the families we represent are benefitting in ways that will never be publicized, but will populate heaven. This is one of the best things about PTP this and every year.
Kids just get VERY excited about the program. “Kids” and “excitement” and “program” are hardly ever in the same context. But here, the concepts co-exist. As one of my friends’ five-year-old son recently said, “I cannot wait to go to ‘Polishing the Pit-bull!” Service projects, the bigger than life apologetics mole, “Digger Doug”, Bible games, Nerf Wars, a historically accurate reproduction of the tabernacle, youth singings, and speakers that are passionate and interesting will make your kids beg to come back again and again. But that’s not the best thing about PTP, for me.
Four hundred women committing to a deep Bible study on the topic of “sanctification” for the next year was definitely a highlight for me. I cannot wait to see the fruits of this study. Be sure to check out the podcast on www.thecolleyhouse.org this Tuesday night at 7:00 CST for details. Lots of personal studies are currently occurring as a result of last year’s Digging Deep study. Pray about these. Enroll in the study you can read about on Monday’s blog post.This is over-the-top exciting for me, but not the best thing about PTP.
The speakers. Being blessed to hear Alan Highers on doctrinal issues or B.J. Clarke on the Passover Lamb or Eric Lyons talking to teens on the age of the earth or Tom Holland talking to 2000 people about heaven is just about as close as you get to the actual place. The messages are just about the very best parts of PTP.
Resolve. That’s got to be just about the best thing about PTP. I have seen teens turn the corner from selfishness to caring at PTP. I have seen parents learn the secrets of discipline that very well may make the difference in eternity for their children. I have seen men take home the key to successfully overcoming pornography and I have seen mothers understand for the first time what it means to be a keeper at home and then leave determined to fulfill that sacred charge. I have seen couples on the fast track to divorce resolve to make a sanctified home for the Lord. And years later, I am witnessing the fruits of these changes that began at a PTP counseling session or in a class tailored for folks in their situations. That is one of the very best things about PTP.
But for Glenn and me, selfishly, the very best thing about PTP is the Clarkes, the Sippers, the Andersons, the Benavideses, the Thompsons, James Weaver, the Owens and ourselves. These are OUR families. They are the ones in our congregation. They are the ones who worship with our family at West Huntsville who were feasting at the spiritual table. They are the ones who are coming home with the renewed zeal, the fresh ideas, the determined fortitude, the increased knowledge. They are the ones who will be using the resources for the kingdom in Huntsville, Alabama. For Glenn and Cindy Colley, in a spiritually selfish (is that an oxymoron?) way, we are most thankful for and blessed by God’s Providence in bringing these precious souls to PTP. Among these families, there are 22 children (three sets of twins, no less…I think that’s a record for one church at PTP). Just start thinking about the children of these children who will one day benefit from their coming and you begin to see the potential for our family at West Huntsville. We are just so rich at the gracious hand of our powerful God! Our church will be strengthened, our outreach magnified, our children’s classes enriched, our families fortified, and (Praise God!) our evangelism empowered as a result of these eight families having attended. I hope we can have sixteen families in 2013. We love every family at West Huntsville and would love for every family to get to enjoy and grow from this feast.
If you’ve never been, may I challenge you to put it on your calendar for 2013? It will be well worth a couple of school and work days missed. It could be financially feasible if you start that little savings account for PTP now. If you are really wanting to go and simply are unable to swing it all by yourself financially, check out the website at www.polishingthepulpit.com. If you are an elder’s wife, the idea of an eldership helping a family go to PTP may be something you can “help” your husband think about. Whatever the contribution you can make to your congregation’s participation, you will be blessed. I can hardly see how eight families can attend without ultimate enrollment additions in the Lamb’s Book of Life. For the Colleys, that’s the best thing about PTP.