SPARK, Hot Springs, is in the books now and I am going to keep touting the spiritual advantages of attending one of the SPARK lectureships when one of these programs, jointly hosted by Polishing the Pulpit and a local church, visits your area. There are some things you can count on in a SPARK program. One is sound teaching and lots of it. Another is a feeling that your hosts really want you to be there and are appreciative of the distances driven and the effort expended by those attending. Yet one more is the sweet fellowship that grows into lifelong Christian friendships within the community of fellow believers with whom you are spending the week.
I often hear of the good old days when gospel meetings lasted for a couple of weeks and multiple baptisms occurred. I think those two-week meetings really had nothing on this intensive lectureship that included more lessons than a two-week gospel meeting and likely fewer distractions from the world in between the messages from the pulpit. And this lectureship included three baptisms as of the time I left. One young lady, Callie, confessed the Lord and put him on in baptism prior to the beginning of the service on Tuesday night. Then later, as the invitation song was being sung, another young lady, walked down the aisle and asked to be immersed for the remission of sins. Then as we bowed for the closing prayer, a dad shouted from the back, “Wait, we’re not done yet,” and one more was baptized before we went home. (Their pictures are here.) I could have stayed and done that all night! SPARK could be the catalyst–the spark–for the kind of zeal and Bible knowledge that characterized those good old days in the mid twentieth century when the church was spreading like wild fire. Sparks make wild fires!
My favorite session was the Digging Deep class we had on Monday. We had fourteen congregations of diggers represented from seven states. If you don’t think that kind of meeting is exhilarating, your shovel is dull. It was an amazingly encouraging fellowship representing a larger and purposeful study fellowship. God is just good all the time, but you see glory clearly in a room full of diggers who are chiming in with enthusiasm about nuggets they’ve found on the glory dig.
But it’s also hard to top the “response” we had in the women’s class on Tuesday. That was the day we discussed the command to love our husbands from Titus 2. We discussed how that love, in that passage is phileo in the Greek—friendship love. I urged women to find something they could enjoy doing with their husbands; to even learn to love some hobby that’s important to a spouse. So one brave soul went home that night to a husband who asked her for the thousandth time to try and “get a deer” with him. “I’ve got one in my sights, already,” he said and you don’t know how much I would love for you to kill this deer. All sorts of things that she’d rather do came quickly to mind (You know, dishes, washing her hair, having a root canal…) And then phileo, from our class, came to mind and she said “Okay, let me try.”
This pretty little wife and mother of three shot that eight point buck with a crossbow, hitting him right in the heart (the spot you’re going for) and the 9:30 p.m. moonlight found her in the woods tracking and then field dressing her deer, alongside her husband. She said “I was way more excited than I thought I would be. It was fun! My heart was pounding. But my husband!…Oh!… I could not believe the look on his face when he realized I was going to do this! That look was worth it all. And I will be hunting again soon!”
Ezra, my grandson who just turned five, really wanted me to “hurry up and finish teaching those ladies.” He gets impatient when he can’t reach me for our regular FaceTime sessions. He told me to just tell them that “God does everyfing fuh us. And Mammy, if dey obey God, den give dem a pwize. But if dey don’t do what God says, den don’t give ‘em one.”
Well that’s pretty much just a big over-simplification of what the week was about. We are going to get a big prize if we obey. Let’s all be around that throne for the sweetest fellowship of all!