Warmth. Kindness. The love of the Father. Deeply tender pastor.
That is what we experienced at The First Baptist Church of Santa Anna, TX. I wish I could convey to you what this experience was like for us. It was refreshing to see a group of people who were not about the business of the church. They were simply being the church. Beautiful.
(I hate having my picture taken)
Our speaker Robert Barge from Wherever Ministries. He was challenging, convicting, and wonderfully down to earth. I took several pages of notes. Here are some highlights:
* If you have ever blamed a minister for your lack of spiritual growth, you might need a personal revival.
There are 2 prodigals in the story of the prodigal son. One went to live in open sin and his heart yearned to return to his father. He was restored. The other was the older brother who was there physically and yet worked begrudgingly for his father. He learned nothing of the compassion of his father and seemed to only endure relationship with him. It never says if their relationship was restored.
~ Grace is conditional. The condition is that it must be received.
The privileged of God often begrudge grace given to others even though we have been with the Father the entire time. (ouch) Are you begrudgingly working for your Father and your heart is far from him?
This is not all we were called to. We are called to complete abandon. We are often so proud of what we give that it hides what we don't.
Most of us are living so below the line of our calling that a godly person would have to backslide to fellowship with us. (ouch again)
We are commanded to ask for daily bread!!
Some of us have to get mad before we will think...(despising prophetic utterance)
If we wait until we are comfortable doing what we are called to do or until we are fully equipped we will never be of any use to the Kingdom of God.
Repent. Believe. Come. Follow Me.
Are you practicing what you have learned in Scripture?
Let go of whatever you are holding onto. Listen to the still small voice of your Father.
Deny yourself is not saying to deny sin, but the one who craves it
How can I be of any good to the Father's kingdom when I am so wrapped up in mine?
Take up your cross daily (a deadly proposition). It indicates humiliation, suffering, and death. It means to be ready for anything that man might throw at you. This road cannot be turned away from. It ends in death.
When is the last time your commitment to Christ led you to sacrifice anything?
What we did apart from Church:
Santa Anna is a town of about a thousand people. That always means your accommodations will be interesting. We were not disappointed. We arrived behind a Tahoe with a huge dead deer strapped to the back on a little shelf attached, I assume, specifically to hold dead deer once you kill them. We are met by Ginger, a truly unique and nice woman. This establishment was once a Texas Ranger station and each room is named after an ex-ranger. Our ranger was Ranger Miller. There was a lovely (creepy) picture of him in our room always looking over us. I tried to get Denbigh to take it down and replace it with a picture of Chuck Norris (Walker Texas Ranger). I thought that might make some people confused and that made me laugh. I have an odd sense of humor. We took in the sights and discovered some lovely shops and eateries. We visited nearby Brady,TX and saw our fabulous friends Reece and Kallie who treated Denbigh to birthday lunch. We had dinner with some other friends from Bangs, TX. Those lovely people are Brandon and Joanie Fagan. We were struck by the kindness of many of the people there who kept doting on us. We were particularly struck by Ray and Betsy Jones. Kind and godly cannot even begin to touch on what we saw in these people. We love them.
Ray Jones and Denbigh
The Bird Cleaning Station at the end of our accommodations ( and the mountain!)
Our room and beloved Ranger Miller's star.
The old and gorgeous opera house turned BBQ joint in downtown.
A view from our room.