Tulsa Reflections

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Attending Tulsa Workshop over the past thirty years has been an exceptionally wonderful experience. I’ve often wished I could get our whole church to attend because of the amazing amount of inspiration and information that takes place there. As a young minister attending the workshop I always thought that it would be a high point to be asked to participate in the presentations. Having been asked several times now, it really is one of the great blessings I have enjoyed.

There are so many thoughts as I consider the great experience at Tulsa this week that I’m sure I cannot name them all. But here are a few brief reflections.

Marvin Phillips was unable to be present because of health. It was the 40th Tulsa Workshop and I know he would have liked to have been there. Marvin Phillips and Terry Rush are the iconic figures associated with the workshop. My prayers are with Marvin and his family as his health struggles grow.

Meeting several people who I only knew via Facebook. Since Facebook took over our lives I have ‘met’ so many ‘friends’ and in print they seem to be such delightful people. It was a joy to connect with them in person and realize that you feel you already know one another. The ‘family reunion‘ ambiance of the workshop is such an inviting factor. There are some friends I only see once a year. I just wouldn’t miss it if I could help it!

Reuniting with Katrina Heroes. Among those I get to visit with are people who came to our rescue after Katrina. This year that was especially memorable as I visited with Canadian friends Charlie and Linda Whitfield. They came in a camper and spent several weeks helping out … and as we noted, it was ten years ago this month. Our conversation took right up where it left off. Chatting with Seth Simmons and others who came to help us was just a joy.

The speakers were top shelf, both challenging and informative. The classes and presentations I attended were excellent. It would be hard to say which one was best – because they all captured my attention and drew me to the Word. I’m glad they record these so I can listen later and gain even more from the lessons given.

These are my people. I know there are other great conferences out there with lots of blue lights, smoke machines, loud bands and well known evangelical speakers. Fair enough. But these are my people. When I hear them speak, I understand their framework. Even if I disagree with a point, I know they love the Church of Christ. When someone from outside our ‘tribe’ is invited to speak they have done so with great respect and I appreciated hearing a different perspective. I sometimes attend conferences outside of our fellowship, but when I do I realize that our folks do not come in second when it comes to presenting message and content.

There is one thing I do not like about Tulsa Workshop. Each year the crowd appears to grow a little smaller. The advent of the internet has given us the capability to hear these speakers on a weekly basis if we choose. There might be a thousand varied reasons why people do not come to Tulsa in the numbers that they used to, but it still makes me sad. There is no experience like sitting in the pavilion and lifting your voice with thousands of others in praise to God. The atmosphere is electric. It really energizes the spirit! If you have not been to Tulsa… or it’s been a while … I invite you to put it on your calendar.

For four decades now Tulsa Workshop has provided the talking points for our brotherhood. The workshop has made people mad and made people celebrate. I’ve probably felt both over the years! But one thing the workshop has taught me is that my brothers and sisters might not all think exactly alike on every issue, but they all love King Jesus and will join together to worship Him! I hope you’ll plan to attend next year’s Tulsa Workshop, March 23-26. The Theme is From Darkness to Light: Stones Rolled Away. Can’t wait!

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Note: The Tulsa Workshop faced a significant deficit this year. God will provide … and perhaps He will move you to help? If so, go to Tulsa Workshop website (HERE) and click DONATE. Thanks for joining me in helping keep Tulsa Workshop a great experience for generations to come.  JD