Juneteenth proved to be one of the more productive days for a PCA gathering as the annual assembly came to an end approximately a half-day early. I started the day with a quick shower and shave. I brush on the shaving soap and am now using my grandfather’s double-edged razor. That’s a #tbt for you. Then I was off to Starbucks for a latte, morning bun and banana. Next, I walked the mile to the Hilton where the GA was held for a half-hour meeting with Larry Bolden to discuss my writing workshops and how Wellspring Group might be able to use some of the concepts, and then we discussed the State of Your Heart book idea I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks. Larry loved the book idea, likes organizing the manuscript around themes and subjects. I explained that it had struck me recently that the SOYH updates that we do so often are effective teaching tools for those who read them and perhaps we should share those more widely. Larry suggested considering a 365-days format and that we could add some essays on how to write your own SOYH and some of my thoughts on journaling and examining our lives.
I then went upstairs to the Assembly business meeting to hear reports and vote on recommendations and nominations for committee members. In the Mission to North America report, the church planting report from Hutch Garmany who is planting a church in rural Trenton, GA, and Alejandro Villasana planting Christos Community Church a bilingual church in Norcross, GA, particularly inspired me. The plant in Trenton was launched by Rock Creek Fellowship on Lookout Mtn. and the one in Norcross is from Perimeter. I was impressed by their desire for heart level change and deep connections to Jesus not numbers and facilities. Many of the reports being given were from the committees that met on Monday and Tuesday.
Before lunch, we got started with the report of the Overtures Committee that is chaired by our good friend and fellow Intown elder Jim Wert. In truly an amazing move, Jim recommended that the committee’s report and recommendations be passed in omnibus and it did! Except for a handful of exceptions. He was doubtful, but the GA Moderator Bryan Chapell gave it a go and worked through a much simpler process to pass on the less controversial overtures. We, then, with Jim’s leadership, acted on a couple of the overtures that were pulled out of the omnibus action. We then recessed for lunch until 1:30.
During the break, I read a bit in Matthew 26 about Jesus’ suffering in Gethsemane. This is a very familiar passage to us, but I was particularly impressed with how Jesus ask his Father three times to take a way this cup of suffering and death. Might we be too timid in our request to the Lord to change our situations? Even Jesus asked three times, so we might feel free to ask the Father more than once, certainly. I also ate an apple, a peanut butter balance bar and a glass of water (inquiring minds…).
After lunch, I ran into Nathan Parker, an extended family (Phelans) friend who was recently called to Pinelands Presbyterian Church in the Cutler Bay suburb of Miami. He’s the senior pastor there since February. He said that it has been quite a cultural adjustment after spending the past three years in the UK earning his doctorate. Earlier in his vocational journey he was a youth minister (and probably other things) at ChristChurch in Atlanta. He sends his best to the Phelans, Intown and Atlanta.
Also, I had my all caps ENCOUNTER of the day when I talked with Dr. Marvin “Cub” Culbertson a ruling elder from Dallas. Cub has been in medicine (ENT doctor) for 68 years! There’s a major wing in a hospital in Dallas named after him. I talked about him in a previous blog. Yesterday, he was on the escalator behind me and asked, “How are we doing?”
I turned to discover a straw-hatted gentleman with a big smile and I said, “Great! How are you?”
And he replied, “As always, I’m better than I deserve.”
I then saw his nametag and said, “Dr. Culbertson! It’s great to see you!” I proceeded to introduce myself and reminded him that he had given me some advice back in 2008 at the GA in Dallas when I had a stomach virus. We had talked on the phone a couple of times and subsequently emailed each other.
He said, “Well, did my suggestions work?”
I said, “Yes. You suggested I go across the street to Denny’s and get some grits and some hot tea. And I felt much better after eating the grits and drinking the tea.”
He said, “Good. That’s why I’m here.”
Cub then took my hand and prayed for me and for himself. In his prayer, he looked forward to being with Jesus in heaven for both of us, but “sooner” for him he hoped. I asked him if I could give him a copy of my book “Sacred Heart Attack.”
“Of course! Can I share it with others?” he asked.
“Sure. Let me sign it for you.” I said.
He had already taken it and was asking me questions as he flipped through it. “Here, I like this page for you to sign, “ he said. It was the page with this quote on it from Henri Nouwen: The word lifts us up and makes us see that our daily, ordinary lives are, in fact, sacred lives that play a necessary role in the fulfillment of God’s promises.
How appropriate is that? Again, I felt God’s presence bringing a sacred moment in the midst of a busy day. That’s why He’s here.
To be continued…