VACAVILLE, Calif.—The California Association of Regular Baptist Churches met for its Annual Bible Conference May 9–11 at Orchard Baptist Church.
The conference was the first face-to-face meeting of the association since 2019, bringing joyful fellowship and reunion among the pastors and members of the churches.
Addressing the theme “Refresh and Renew,” David Strope, interim national representative of the GARBC, spoke on “Ministry Lessons from the Long Haul,” and Dave Lunsford, executive director of the Baptist Network Northwest, spoke on “Finishing Ministry Well.”
Lunsford “refreshed attendees through messages on endurance and faithfulness in God’s Word,” says Chips Ross, pastor of Westwood Baptist Church, Fresno, California. “Using personal stories and songs, Dave spoke from the heart to the heart.”
In one of his messages, Lunsford shared how to minister with joy and peace: by looking at the example of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Particularly when we face hardship, hostility, and criticism, we can look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).
What would have happened if Jesus, when someone criticized Him, “got mad and went home?” Lunsford asks.
“Criticism is to be expected,” he says. From that criticism might be things we need to learn or reject, even rejecting something “silently at times,” Lunsford says. “We should hear the criticism but not let it drive us away from ministry.”
Lunsford encouraged people to set their eyes on Jesus, knowing that He will accomplish His work through us, “however much it may be.”
The day before the conference, David Strope spoke at Orchard Baptist Church’s worship service. In a message that Ken Doan, pastor of Orchard Baptist Church, calls “timely and encouraging,” Strope addressed what it truly means to know and live the perfect will of God.
“God’s will—known, believed, and lived—is good, acceptable, and perfect,” Strope says, referring to Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“But what does the ‘will of God’ mean in this verse?” he asks. Does it mean whom to marry or what job to take? This verse is not talking about the future, Strope says; rather, the “will of God” means the Word of God.
“God has not given us His Word for any other reason except for our best, our greatest, human fulfillment and the experience of life eternal with Him,” Strope says.
Holding up his Bible, Strope urged people to “give God your life, proof that the will of God—this wonderful Book—is indeed good, acceptable, and perfect. Know. Believe. Live. God’s will is good. There is no improvement on the will of God.”
Throughout David Strope’s visit to the church, “his heart for the local church genuinely shined through,” Ken says.