I must admit that, being very familiar with the ministries of guys like Ray Comfort and Todd Friel, I wasn't sure I'd get much out of the Transformed Conference.
Still, I was excited to go with my fishing buddy Charlie and 2 others from our church who wanted to be encouraged and equipped on how to share their faith. I knew I'd enjoy the fellowship on the drive (no, I didn't drive) and maybe pick up a few pointers along the way that would help me to share my faith more effectively. I can say that in a real sense, I left this weekend truly Transformed. Any Christian that has a chance to spend a few hours on a Saturday at the Transformed conference ought to do so. You'll be glad you did.
The first speaker was Ray Comfort. God used Ray's "Hell's Best Kept Secret" message to save me, so I've been familiar with his ministry for quite some time (my way of saying I really don't remember the date of my spiritual birthday). I forgot how funny Ray is! Somebody sneezed in the audience, and Ray said, "God bless you! See? Every sneeze is an opportunity to witness."
The thing I remember most from Ray's message will probably stick with me for some time. He challenged us: If you knew you would get $10,000 for every person you witnessed to, could you swallow your fears and share your faith? If we love money that much, how much more should the horrifying reality of Hell and our love for the Savior compel us to share our faith?
The next speaker was Todd "friekishly tall" Friel, who gave us a vivid picture of the true meaning of the biblical word "repentence." He said, "What if I told you we were going to drive south of here (we decided to drive to Venice - one of very few places south of Kenner), and you got in the car and we drove and drove for hours on end. You notice that it's getting colder, and you get the feeling we're going the wrong direction. Your feelings are confirmed when you see a sign that says "Canada - 40 miles.
"Now what would you want me to do? Change my mind about the direction we're going? No. You'd want me to do 6 things.
1. Recognize that I'm going the wrong direction.
4. Turn around.
5. Start driving in the opposite (correct) direction.
6. Keep going until we get there.
Said Todd, "THAT'S biblical repentance." God commands all men everywhere to repent (and trust the Savior) because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.
Next up was Mark Spence, the dean of the School of Biblical Evangelism at Living Waters. I like Mark, because he's a to the point, practical, hands-on guy. He went through some video clips and strategies for dealing with people of different backgrounds. I love Mark's "ok, so what? What do we do with all of this?" style.
The final speaker was Emeal "EZ" Zwayne. EZ packed a whole conference's worth of exhortation into about 30 minutes. He talked faster than an auctioneer. He used probably at least 5 illustrations that would help me in witnessing, if he talked slow enough for me to catch them all. Luckily, you can find videos of other Transformed conferences on Youtube. When I have more time, I'll get all of the illustrations down.
He did present the Jesus A-Z poem. I actually memorized that poem today, so that I more readily have a framework to remind myself of all the reasons Jesus is worthy of praise. Praying is hard. Distractions come and I lose focus very easily. The Jesus A-Z poem helps to remind me that I'm in the throne room of almighty God when I come to pray, and that He's altogether lovely, the chief cornerstone, the bread of life, the Great Physician, and all those other amazing things.
Another thing EZ said that really stuck out to me was this: "Biologically, I'm a Father. Nothing I can do will change that. The question is: what kind of Father am I? You are an ambassador of Jesus Christ. The question is: what kind of ambassador are you?"
But the most amazing impact on the conference came afterward. If you don't have someone in your life that is stirring up the gifts that God has placed in you, please, I beg you, pray fervently for God to bring you that type of person. I know now, more than ever, why God's word tells us not to forsake assembling together.
Why do I say that? Stay tuned for the next fishing report.
TO BE CONTINUED...