We called them “campmeetings,” and sometimes they were just that — with the main meetings in a big tent. For smaller groups, we went to the corners of the tent, or outside if weather permitted. We sat on folding chairs and were not always comfortable. We camped out in tents or small trailers. We loved those times.
The meetings were filled with singing, prayers, special music, and sermons that stirred our hearts. We went home determined to live better, read the Word more, and truly worship our Lord, who is worthy.
There were disagreements at those campmeetings while we sat under a shade tree and listened to discussions with varying opinions, usually on doctrine and prophecy. Sometimes these sessions were energetically conducted. I always thought the loudest voice there must have been the winner!
At the Milwaukee convention, our accommodations and facilities will be different. The large and small tents will become convention meeting rooms in a modern hotel with many comforts, but the purpose for coming together will be the same. We will sing praises to His holy name, send prayers toward the throne of grace, and hear sermons from God’s Word and His servants. These worship segments stand out to me as the most important part of convention.
Another valuable segment of our Milwaukee meeting will be the business sessions held each weekday. At our last convention the membership asked a committee to draft a set of new bylaws for consideration at this 2015 meeting. That committee has completed its work, and potential bylaws are prepared for us to consider.
As intense as discussions on doctrine and prophecy were in our history, expressions in favor of or against the newly proposed bylaws will be just as intense. They will be considered in an open forum so that all members present can voice opinions and suggest amendments. We will be reminded of the “rules” for our discussion, like how many times we can speak and the time limit for each speaker. Then will come the moment when we members will cast our ballots, either for or against the proposed bylaws.
Here are two things to prepare us for those business sessions.
First, when I walk to a microphone to speak, will I conduct myself in an ethical manner toward those I may disagree with? Will I speak with respect, without unkind remarks that may reflect on the intent or integrity of others?
This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other (John 13:35, The Message).
Second, when the ballots are counted, the results are announced, and business is completed, how will I react and behave toward those who were “on the other side”? Will the love Jesus asked me to display fall apart? Will my disappointment rise up and be revealed in ethical violations as I express myself or begin to distance myself from those with another view? Will I find myself in pockets of discontent, sharing my intense hurt and disappointment?
On the last day of convention, the Sabbath, will my heart be free to worship God without frustration, or will it be clouded with resentment? When we leave Milwaukee, will we be united so strongly by the Spirit that we can turn the world upside down with our faith and the gospel by truly being the church Jesus commissioned?
Let’s covenant together now that we will leave this convention so strongly unified in the purpose of Christ and the Church, and so strongly inspired as we worship His majesty, that the only one who will be disappointed will be Satan. Let’s allow no unethical behavior or speech in response to the outcome of the business sessions in Milwaukee. Let’s do our business in a godly manner, respecting and protecting each other in the process. Then on Sabbath we will pour our hearts out to the One who died on the cross for us. We will worship His majesty in unity.
The most important thing about convention is not our accommodations, the daily program, the great fellowship, the children’s and youth programs, music, workshops, or sermons. And it is not the business agenda. The most important time at convention is when we worship the Lord on the Sabbath.
Will we worship under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God and find delightful joy in the power of the moment, or will our Enemy influence us because of the potential anger and disappointment he might plant inside us? Defeat the Enemy, and let’s all worship God in the unity of the Holy Spirit.BA