Reflections on ICRS/IFCA

July 6, 2010

Well I’m back in the office after quite a few days on the road. We combined vacation with conferences and appointments this year. Not sure its a good formula, but that’s what our schedule allowed, and to be honest, all our three children care about at this point is a hotel with a pool. So we had an enjoyable time.

First, we spent four days in St. Louis. As a lifelong Chicagoan, I’ve always regarded St. Louis as a sort of inferior city, whose only claim to fame is a big steel arch. Oh, and the Cardinals who are always good and winning while the Cubs are perpetually terrible.

I have to walk back a lot of that, because our time in St. Louis was really wonderful. Its a very nice city, and unlike Chicago, there is actually free parking or cheap parking. There is plenty to do, including free zoos, museums, etc.

We ended up visiting the famous Arch. I was impressed by this structure. Its really quite something to behold in person. We actually took our family on the train and went up to the top. I don’t recommend this with three young children. Actually I think we should get some parenting award for it. But once up there, we enjoyed the incredible view of the city, the Mississippi, and Busch Stadium. The free Gateway To the West Museum at the bottom is really incredible.

Also, we were able to meet the New Hope Publishers team at the arch. I really love these guys and they are like family to me. And they got to meet my family for the first time, which was cool.

On Sunday, we got up early to go to church at Summit Community Church in O’Fallon, a St. Louis suburb. We went there because the Senior Pastor, John Ryan was Angela’s youth pastor at Glenview Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX. But just our luck, this was one Sunday he was out of town and the one Sunday they do a combined service at 10, so we totally missed the 11 o’clock service. But all was not lost, because Brandon, the youth pastor, is a longtime friend of Angela’s family and we got to talk for quite a while.

Sunday Night, I went to the America’s Center and enjoyed dinner with my friends from Crosswalk.com, who publish my weekly devotional. Then I enjoyed hearing from speakers like Randy Alcorn, Phil Vischer, and The Son of Hamas. Very interesting and refreshing.

The next day, Monday, was busy as I had two book signings, multiple radio appearances, and several meetings with my publisher and others.

I also got to walk the floor and see what is new in Christian publishing. There is a new seriousness in the CBA. Less “Jesus junk” and weird stuff and more substantive, serious, biblical books being published. I’m delighted to see that. I think the culture now is scared and shaken by economic and social upheaval and looking for truth. The truth of the Word of God is what this culture needs now more than ever.

On Monday, we left St. Louis and traveled to Springfield for the IFCA International Convention. Our church is a proud member of IFCA. We enjoyed four days of preaching, instruction, and fellowship. We came away just totally refreshed for ministry. We were challenged by Pastor Bobby Scott, Alex Montoya, Dr. Charles Petitt, and Les Lofquist. The ladies were encouraged by Martha Peace.

We spent an extra day down in Springfield, taking in the Abraham Lincoln Museum. I was visibly moved by the White House Exhibit. This is a world-class, state-of-the art look at the life of one of our greatest Presidents. I highly recommend it. Illinois has been a laughingstock lately because of our corruption, but we did contribute Lincoln and for that we can and should be proud. (Plus, after driving through hours of cornfields, its a nice respite!).