By Cynthia Laird, Senatobia District Communications Coordinator
Batesville First UMC hosted the Enduring Faith Conference on Saturday, February 1, with keynote speakers Rev. Keith Keaton, pastor of Carthage UMC, and Mary Jane Kennedy, an Explorer's Bible study teacher in Brandon, Mississippi. Rev. Ed Temple, the host pastor, led the opening prayer and Brooke Wright and Travis Carpenter led the praise music.
Kennedy spoke of the time in a Christian's life when they experience salvation and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell. She told of the sunshine days when blessings are tangible and happiness abounds. Then she spoke from experience of the storms that test our faith. As she spoke of Abraham being tested by taking Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice, she said "sometimes you do not get to bring Isaac back down the mountain with you." It is these times of trial when we must have that enduring faith to know that there is hope and God will see us through.
Rev. Keaton spoke of love as the cornerstone of our faith--love for God and love for people. This love is not always easy because we are to extend this love to all people, not just friends and family. Keaton told of an interview he watched on television about a civil war in the Congo in which both sides committed genocide. A little girl in a refugee camp told that all of her family except herself and a great aunt were slaughtered. The interviewer asked her what she would say to the people who did this. She bowed her head and said, "Lord, forgive us our sins. Lord, help us to love others as we would want to be loved."
Keaton said that our faith must be established if we are going to make a difference in the world. We can be involved in godly activity without following God. To establish faith, we must break out of our pattern and recognize Jesus and seek His will. Keaton talked of his search for a song to convey this theological goal of seeking and conforming to God's will for our lives. The song that came to mind was The Hokey Pokey. In our busyness, we often follow the part that goes "put your right hand in, take your right hand out . . . put your left hand in, take your left hand out." The kind of faith that endures, a faith that is in God's will, leads us to "put your whole self in . . . do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around" as God turns us in the direction that is His will for our lives.
As we approach the season of Lent, we can know that God gave His all and He wants our all. May we seek to have an established faith, a faith that endures, a faith that allows God to turn us around and a faith that draws us ever closer to Him.