Last week we traveled to Florida to participate in the first Calvary Regional Conference of the year. Before attending the conference my wife and I were able to visit the church we planted almost 20 years ago in Brandon, Florida. We were so blessed to see so many people we love still walking with the Lord and loving one another. I was thankful for the privilege of sharing the Word of God with the people of God at Calvary Chapel Brandon. One of my dearest friends pastors the church; his name is Marc Orozco. He has done such a wonderful job the last ten years, faithfully serving the congregation there. Following our time in Brandon, we headed over to Calvary Chapel Merritt Island for the regional conference, the theme of which was "Times of Refreshing," taken from the book of Acts. The very first time we attended this conference our middle son, who is now 20 years old, had just turned one. Then, Pastor Chuck was there and we took our son to Pastor Malcolm's office where Pastor Chuck dedicated our boy. So many memories came flooding back. That conference was and continues to be an oasis for weary workers to be strengthened in ministry. It was wonderful reconnecting with old friends and co-laborers from the East Coast.
I am happy to report that we did indeed experience times of refreshing. We were all gathered together in one accord worshipping the Lord in Spirit and Truth with a mutual love for one another and the bond of peace. We heard some wonderful messages from God's Word by John Miller, Ray Bentley, Lloyd Pulley, Razz Vasquez, and Neil Spencer. Corporately we were all desperate for the outpouring of God's Spirit and His presence to be among us. The Lord did not disappoint. It was one of those conferences where I felt like I didn't want to move from that spot and didn’t realize until I arrived how much I need times of refreshing to come from the presence of the Lord in my own life.
I don't often receive visions from the Lord; however, during our time of worship the Lord showed me something in my own heart that I shared with everyone at the conference during an afterglow. The Lord showed me a vision of an embattled Roman Soldier. His face was dirty and scratched from fighting. Then I saw a hand reach for the breastplate of the soldier. As the hand pulled the breastplate down there was a visible wound to his heart. Yet he was so engaged in battle it seemed that he did not realize he had been wounded. As the breastplate was removed the wound began to heal. I sensed that the Lord was not only speaking to me but perhaps many more in that room. It's easy to be so engaged in the battle that you don't realize you have been wounded in the fight. You are fearful of taking down armor lest your heart be exposed to a fatal attack. But unless you allow the armor to come down your heart can get infected with bitterness and it can take over your whole life. The Bible says the Lord is near to those who are of a broken heart. Our Lord is a healer, a great physician. After that word was given many people identified with the vision and came forward to receive prayer. As well, I received a loving touch from the Lord.
I am excited for our next regional conference to be held in California at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs from April 3 through 5. Many of my favorite Bible teachers will be there teaching God's Word. I am thrilled to be able to take our pastors and leaders to this event for a time of encouragement through the Word.