Tag Archives: Bible conferences

Grace and Truth Ministries Conference

Willamette River, Salem, Oregon

Just back from attending the Grace and Truth Ministries 1st Annual Oregon Conference in Salem, Oregon, taught by Pastor Joseph Sugrue of Grace and Truth Ministries and Pastor John Farley of Lighthouse Bible Church in Florida.

Both men were mentored, trained and ordained by Pastor Robert McLaughlin of Grace Bible Church Somerset Mass, and now have their own congregations in Oregon and Florida.

It was an incredible trip and conference, maybe the best ever for me, despite how discombobulated I was.  SOOOO much happened during those 5 days that my introvert brain was — and still is — on overload. At times I felt like pieces of me were flying off in different directions.  I never seemed to know where any of my stuff was. Where was my camera? The rental car keys? My purse?  Where did I put my comb? My Bible? The sunglasses clip for my glasses…?

And last night, when I went looking for the folder where my Important Papers were, like the documentation for the car rental and, more important, the confirmation number for my flight today… I couldn’t find them. Though I looked in the car several times, and in my suitcase several times, and the drawers and under the bed…

Yes. Doing that very thing I just mentioned of going back to a place you know full well you already looked in and found nothing.

Well, it was late… And I was exhausted. And sleep-deprived. And, as I said, overwhelmed with input. I need time to process it all, and so far, it’s been a continuous stream of input.

As it turned out, I didn’t need a single one of those papers. And losing the sunglasses will finally force me to make an appointment with the eye doctor that I’ve put off for almost 2 years now. So, even in that, everything is just fine.

I’ll post more tomorrow when I find my brain…

Remembering Last Summer: Barah Ministries Arizona Conference

It’s 10:55pm Sunday night. I’ve not worked on Sky for three days. Or at least not directly, though I’ve continued to read and study about the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 — a study that unexpectedly has been paralleled by Pastor Farley’s lessons this last week. I love it when God does that.

But I’m tired now, and information about the churches is still rolling about in my head in disparate pieces, so I thought I’d put up a post I did last summer about the Bible conference I attended that, for one reason or another I never got around to publishing… kind of a walk down memory lane, especially since it occurred just a couple weeks over a year ago, when we were in the middle of trying to sell my mother’s house. Thus, in the interest of getting to bed before midnight tonight, I give you my report on the 2011 Barah Ministries Bible Conference held at Wild Horse Pass Resort near Phoenix:


On Thursday, May 13, over two months ago now, and a week after my car wreck on the morning of the yard sale, I went to Phoenix for a Bible conference. It was the day after we met with the realtor to finalize plans for my mother’s house going up for sale. My sister went home to Santa Fe, and I took off in my little gas-efficient rental car for the Wild Horse Pass Resort where the Barah Ministries Bible Conference was being held.

This conference, hosted by Pastor Rory Clark of Barah Ministries, featured two invited guest speakers, Pastor John Farley (who is my pastor now) and Pastor Robert McLaughlin (who was my pastor for over ten years until last fall). The latter man was the main reason I went. He urged us in January 2011 to attend and I believe I made my reservations in February, not at all sure I’d even be able to go given the situation with my mother at the time. But I gave it a shot nonetheless. If God wanted me there, He’d find a way. I never would have guessed the way He found, but that’s hardly surprising.

Anyway, the conference officially started Friday, but I went up Thursday afternoon. Being the introvert that I am, I know that even a two-hour drive through bright sun will zap my energy and I did not want to arrive zapped before I’d even heard a word of teaching. I drove up alone, listening to my June Murphy Come See a Man CD (you can find it here) — she writes and sings all her own songs and they are amazing. Filled with doctrine, and they won’t leave your head after you start listening to them! My favorite is  I Will…. or is it I AM…?  or…When I Say I Love You…  Wait, I really like Come See a Man, too. Okay, forget it. They’re all favorites.

Anyway, going early is always fun, because you run into old friends you haven’t seen since the last conference, and there’s lots of opportunity to meet and visit. My friends Kelli and Richard arrived shortly after I did, and we all got settled, then went to dinner and after that Kelli and I went out and lay on the lounge chairs by the pool (see picture above), looked at the stars and listened to the Bible class that had been taught earlier that same night in Massachusetts (where they held their own little mini conference in Pastor’s absence.) It was awesome. Listening to teaching about God while looking up into the vault of heaven was quite an experience.

Wild Horse Pass Resort Lobby

The next morning I got up early, went down to the great rotunda (see the photo above) and got a latte and a muffin (they had no scones 🙁 ) and ate it by the giant window overlooking the pool, man-made river and golf course.  Below is a shot of the ceiling. There were birds flying about inside as well. And the rocks to the right are an indoor waterfall. Random Native American flute music plays here pretty much all the time.


After I’d finished my muffin and latte, and written a bit in my journal, I set out to explore the grounds, eventually finding a place under a cottonwood tree where I could sit down and finish doing my morning pages.

It was a beautiful morning in a beautiful setting and I loved the opportunity to just sit and enjoy the stillness. It had been a long time since I’d been able to relax and not have to worry about running off somewhere to take care of something…

After I finished my pages, I headed back toward my room, and on the way found a heron fishing in the stream that runs right by the hotel rooms.


Here’s a close up:


(I’d just gotten started using my new camera back then and was tickled to death with the close-ups I could get)

The conference started at 10am and was excellent as all of them are. There is always so much going on, from the doctrine taught, to the happenstance meetings in the halls, to the long talks over lunch or in hotel rooms… It’s just a wonderful time to fellowship with God’s people, drink in His word in concentrated doses, strengthen old connections and make new ones.

And now, back to this summer, June 2012 — I have a new conference to look forward to in a couple months in Portland. Already have my tickets. Can’t wait to see everyone! And to see what lessons God has prepared for me there.


Two Days Later

Well, here I am, two days after the conference, finally able to post. Sunday was communion and a fabulous message on how when we truly believe we are reconciled to God and there is absolutely nothing more we have to do, when we are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are holy, blameless, righteous and the work has all been done, only then are we truly able to have a right relationship with others. Being wholly at peace with everything that happens in my life, knowing it comes from the hand of a God who loves me, who is for me, who will never leave me, no matter what I do, or don’t do, knowing there is nothing for me to do really but relax and take advantage of what He’s provided, then I can turn to others with a heart of restoration…

Once you get rid of the unrealistic expectations and the guilt and the demands you put upon yourself and just revel in His love and provision, once you stop judging yourself for never measuring up, then you can stop judging others. Then you will stop, because there is no need. If you have no expectations, for yourself or for others (and why would you, seeing as we all, in the flesh, have sick heads and deceitful hearts. We’re idiots really, especially when we think we’re wise and with it. We’re doofuses, pretty much completely at the mercy of forces outside ourselves which can descend at any moment and we can do nothing about it. Yet, we deceive ourselves into thinking we have control. That we can protect ourselves, do the right thing, avoid the problem, the disaster, the pain.

When in all likelihood the problem, disaster or pain is precisely the portion God has for us today.

Anyway, after the final message we went across town to the after conference party where I talked my throat sore. Great conversations. When my mother asked me today if we had a dinner at the conference, I suddenly realized how different these are from what she must think. From the normal conference someone might go to. These are more like family reunions. With great teaching. And conversations all revolving around that teaching, and the things that are going on in our lives which are always amazingly similar.  Activities develop as the Lord orchestrates. And orchestrate He does. Right down to the specific chair He wants someone to sit in at times.

Mary Hugill and I were looking forward to getting together for a long, face to face visit, but it seemed that every day we were pulled away and brought elsewhere. Finally on that last Sunday, we went into the dining room at the house where the party was held and sat down at the table. Before we could even begin the conversation, people began to join us. Somehow chairs were inserted between us, and soon both of us were engaged in conversation, just not with each other. That’s okay. We knew we were having the conversations God wanted us to have. And then, after all that, after numerous other conversations, I suddenly got hot and had to go outside. As I came around the corner I wanted right into Mary and the next thing you know, we were going outside for a walk. Down to the small lake we went to sit on a stone bench and watch the canvasbacks glide about the water where we talked until the sun went down and we got cold enough we had to go back in.

….Contented sigh….

It was a VERY good conference. But already I can’t wait for the next one, which will be in New England this summer.

Opening Day

A friend emailed me a response to my last post on the 2010 AZ conference:

“…not that I would ever want to put pressure on anyone….but I would love an everyday posting from your perspective of the conference…would help with the blues I get when I miss one…but no pressure. ha lol”

Okay, Rita, did you read Pastor’s notes or something? Haha. Working phrases from the first lesson… “Relax!” “No more saying, ‘I’m sorry'” and “Stop putting pressure on yourselves to live up to unrealistic expectations…”

The first message was awesome. As I was driving over, I was talking to the Lord, asking Him questions about things I was not understanding and in less than an hour, Pastor just answered them. Not only those, but his words re-emphasized some of the things that the Lord has been talking to me about lately.

For example, as I was falling into the hurry phase yesterday before going to pick up my mother to take her to get her “leucine shot” and lamenting how I always get flustered and tense and tight when I do, the Holy Spirit said, “Jesus was never in a hurry.”

That stopped the racing “gotta do this, gotta do that” thoughts tumbling through my head. I still had an objection, though: “Yeah, but He didn’t have people expecting Him to be there at a certain time.”

And the answer: “Jesus was late for the wedding.”

The wedding at Cana. Yes. He was. Hmmm. So what exactly does that mean? Well, for one, I think that it’s more important to stay in fellowship and not get all tense and flustered than it is to “be on time.” And boy but that provokes an interesting responding thought… Because my first inclination is to say, “No, it’s right to be on time. It’s honorable. It’s considerate.” Perhaps, but what good is being considerate if you’re out of fellowship?

Think on that for a few moments. It kind of turns all one’s thoughts (or at least mine) about what’s right and how we’re to be on their heads.

Anyway that was yesterday. Today I got up, my DH and I went to breakfast and I got to the conference about 15 minutes before time to start. Ran into people from Oregon right off. Don’t know them well, but hopefully I’ll remember their names after this time.. Larry, Barbara, Gail.

I went on and there was Mary with a present for me! Ooh. “Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!” she said. But before I could put my stuff down to open it, I spied Larry and Pat and had to give them a hug and their daughter, Debbie, and… their son who was at our conference for the first time! I think I made him terribly uncomfortable when I hugged him, but too bad. I remember when I used to feel that way too. Anyway, turns out he’s been a new name on paltalk, kctwister, so that was cool to have the face with the name and more important in this case the relationship with the name. I am soo jazzed that he was there.

Then I saw Marc from Florida and said hi to him, and Debbie and her hubbie from Wyoming. I love Debbie but had never met her husband before… And suddenly Pony is swiping me away from them to meet the new people she’d brought, who just happened to have connections with Mary and Patrick Hugill… and a little boy about the same age as Hugill’s… Then finally, just before service I managed to open my package and it was just right — a really pretty journal (Mary knows me well: I can never have too many journals) and a CD of favorite music she made. And while I did that Lorraine and Theresa were there from Northern Arizona and they are so cool. I loved talking to them, too…

And then after all that and more I skipped… it was time for class. And class was amazing.

Opening line: “In this conference we’re going to be noting the importance of learning to live in the rest and peace that comes from understanding you’ve been reconciled to God.”

Snippets and thoughts: We need to relax, to take away the expectations and rules we’ve made for ourselves. Stop caring what others think. Stop thinking about how you have to improve this and that about yourselves. The thing I tend to do in the morning — cycling through all I have to do, adding task by task as I go — STOP it! God’s done all the work and provided everything we need for both the natural and the spiritual life. So I don’t have to worry about any of it. Don’t have to worry about the book or the chores. If I’m filled with the Spirit, God will see that what He wants done is done…

Afterward people swirled around making plans. I was invited to spend the day with one group at the Desert Museum, but that didn’t seem what I was to do. They left and I ended up going out to the hotel patio to sit with various “royal family” and share a burger with Kelli until I got too hot and sun blind and decided it would be nice to come home and reflect on what had been taught.

Can’t wait for the next installment tonight, and if I can remember to bring the camera this time, maybe I’ll even take some pictures.

2010 Tucson Arizona Bible Conference

Well, it’s conference time again, and for this one I don’t even have to leave town. The 2010 Arizona Bible Conference officially begins tomorrow, but I’ve already been down to the Doubletree Hotel to welcome arrivals… Hah! That sounds so civilized. Actually I’m jazzed to reconnect with everyone.

Familiar faces from GBC in Massachusetts, from Florida, Colorado, Wyoming, California. Met some new people from Pennsylvania and it happened again — though they were strangers, something clicked and it felt like I’d known them forever.

Went off to dinner with Mary Hugill and her family from Utah and it was wonderful to sit about in the Taco Bell talking about everything, stuff I can’t talk about with very many people. The likemindedness is such an energizer! And a reminder of what true unity is all about.

Tomorrow the teaching begins with class at 10am and 7:30 pm. Who knows what the afternoon will bring, but I expect it’ll be cool. I may or may not be able to post tomorrow, though I’m going to try. I don’t think I’ve ever done  day by day postings in the midst of a conference before, so we’ll see. Right now I have to publish this and go to bed so I won’t fall asleep in class tomorrow (ha, fat chance of that!)