For the fifth year running I travelled from rural Northumberland to the North-West of England for the ‘God’s Glory our Joy’ Conference and once again the fellowship, ministry and worship were thought provoking, heart warming and extremely challenging.
The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Engaging with God’ and it started on the Friday afternoon with a session for church leaders entitled ‘Walking with God’. Alec Taylor talked about the danger of people being involved in a lot of activity for God but having little or no communion with God. Communication is key to a close walk with God. We need to set time aside for regular communion with God. David, Daniel and the Lord Jesus himself all rose early to spend time with God the Father. Prayer needs to be a way of life for all church leaders, they need to ponder and meditate on the Word of God and be prepared to wait upon the Lord. Desire and discipline are critical if they are to maintain a close walk with God.
The rest of the conference is open to all Christians and started with a stimulating paper by Chris Hand entitled ‘This is Eternal Life’ where he looked at the subject of true and false spirituality. He defined true spirituality as knowing God through his Son Jesus Christ. He looked at where feelings fit into true spirituality, quoting extensively from Jonathan Edwards. He concluded that we must expect to make room for our feelings but avoid excesses. True spirituality is felt.
The Saturday started with Alec Taylor again who considered how we meet God in his book. He looked at how the Thessalonians met God through his Word and how Paul proclaimed the gospel to them rather than tell them stories of what had gone before in Philippi. He pointed them to Christ and reasoned with them from the scriptures. The message of the cross moved him and therefore he declared it to others. He looked at how the Thessalonians were eager to hear God’s Word and asked whether we had such anticipation and expectation when we meet to hear the Word preached. He then went on to look at how we meet God through his Word in private devotion.
Martin Grubb in the second session of the morning looked at how we present God to a godless world and listed seven things the Holy Spirit says about God and how he should be presented to an ungodly world.
The afternoon started with Stephen Rees considering how we engage with God in the church and particularly how in the local fellowship of God’s people we see and feel the truths we believe. Are our churches places where the presence of the Lord Jesus is felt by people?
This year three of the churches reported on events that had taken place in their fellowship over the previous twelve months and for the first time a pamphlet was produced that contained news reports from some of the churches represented at the conference. This was very informative and will be a useful aid for prayer as well as helping us learn from one another.
The conference ended with a closing sermon from Geoff King. A thoroughly enjoyable 24 hours and well worth the 360 mile round trip.
Pastor of Longorsley Mission, Northumberland