Please pray for Larry Crabb, Sam Storms, Ralph Winter, and me as we prepare to speak at the fifth annual Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, January 27-29. Pray for Shelley Solin who bears a tremendous administrative load in making this conference happen. And call to volunteer to help her with details.
I long for the congregation of Bethlehem to own this conference as our ministry to 200 pastors. That’s how many I am praying will come this year (150 last year). If you will pray like Daniel did, God will dispatch such help from heaven that the spiritual effect of the conference will be tremendous. Your prayers will be multiplied in hundreds of churches and lives.
The theme this year is: God, Congregation, and Codependency. Larry Crabb, the keynote speaker, seems biblically balanced in being sensitive to the pain of dysfunctional relationships and yet skeptical about the place of God in typical codependent thinking and therapy. Recently he said, “I’m concerned that the codependency movement is becoming a way of life—even a religion.”
I have asked him to address three questions: 1) "To Whom Are We Preaching" Are people’s problems significantly different from former generations? How has our therapeutic and addictive society shaped our people? 2) "What Is the Codependency Movement?" What is right and what is wrong with it? How is it affecting our concept of wholeness and healing? 3) "How Then Shall We Preach?" What is the biblical path toward wholeness? How do preaching and counseling work together in the process of Biblical transformation?
Samuel Storms, Pastor of Christ Community Church in Ardmore, Oklahoma, will come at the same complex of issues from the pastor’s perspective under the title: "A Passion for Preaching and a Passion for People: Teaching Truth and Touching Hearts." This is going to be personal and powerful (maybe, painful).
Missionary statesman and strategist, Ralph Winter, will bring things to a climax with an address entitled, "Finishing the Great Commission with Unfinished People: Should We Wait till We Are Well?" What about all the introspective, self-preoccupied, hyper-sensitive, unparented, wounded, abused, addicted, depressed soldiers? Is this a new thing in the history of missions? Are we sicker than we used to be? Can the task of world evangelization be finished by such unfinished people?
I hope to fit in by doing a biographical study of William Cowper, who 200 years ago in England was frequently suicidal, yet wrote "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood" and "God Moves in a Mysterious Way." One of his lesser known hymns is stunningly relevant. Take it as a prayer for us and for our churches:
Heal us, Immanuel, hear our prayer;
We wait to feel your touch;
Deep-wounded souls to you repair,
And Savior, we are such.