By Elizabeth Prata
Sitting here in the rainy dark, I have unpacked from my three days away at the 2020 G3 Conference in Atlanta. G3’s tagline is Gospel-Grace-Glory. It is a heavily Christian conference, focusing on preaching, doctrine, and more preaching. The theme this year was “Worship.”
I attended with two younger ladies from our church, and also attending from our church was our teaching pastor and his wife, and one of our teachers in the church. Also a friend who I haven’t seen in a long while who I used to go to church with but is now a pastor somewhere else. He brought his son to the conference on the last day. The young boy wore his best suit coat, held his Bible tightly, and asked “Can we meet John MacArthur?”
On this last day of the three-day event, at which about 5500 people attended, we were privileged to hear sermons by Costi Hinn, Tom Ascol, and Steve Lawson who closed us out. Devon Kauflin / Sovereign Grace Music provided the music to which we sang all 3 days, and it was good.
The preaching at this conference was top-level, best of the best anywhere. I was immensely blessed to have heard these men whom I have followed for all of my walk with Christ: Voddie Baucham, Paul Washer, Costi Hinn, Steve Lawson, Joel Beeke, Derek Thomas, John MacArthur, Tim Challies, Josh Buice, Phil Johnson, and the live podcast of Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker at Just Thinking. I heard Philip Webb sing live, what a privilege, and of course the aforementioned Sovereign Grace Music and the Foto Sisters sang with us to the glory of God.
A few thoughts:
It was the best 3 days of my life.
I was thinking how refreshing it was to see so many children, youths, and mothers at the event. Costi Hinn thanked the organizers for making this the most family friendly conference he’s ever seen. He said it was “like ShepCon for families”. I agree.
When Costi Hinn was converted and began speaking and then preaching, writing books and attending conferences, there was a huge amount of buzz. The buzz was from people I trusted so I did not dismiss it, but I reserved judgment. I wanted some time to pass before I got on what could be a trendy bandwagon, hoping that instead it would be righteous buzz due the Spirit for a gracious conversion.
After hearing Mr Hinn preach today I believe the buzz is well-deserved. The man is a wonderful truth-teller, standing firmly on the Rock of the Word, unashamed and fervent for the Lord. It was one of my top three sermons of the event. It was amazing to see what the Spirit is doing with him and with the other men in their labors for the name of Jesus, whether new to the faith as Mr Hinn is, or have faithfully preached and pastored for over 50 years, as John MacArthur has done.
I fell in love with the song from CityAlight “Christ is Mine Forevermore”.
I was so happy that the songs sung at the conference are the same ones we sing at our church. I boast in what the Spirit is doing at our church, and I’m relieved that the elders take the same care with the doctrine in the music as they do with the doctrine in the preaching.
If you are not familiar with the men and their pastorates and ministries and why I was so excited to see the speaker line-up, this conference was like the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, Tony Awards, and VE Day all rolled into one.
There are so many people I can think of to thank. My boss, who allowed me to take two work days away from my job. The elders who encouraged us to go and purchased our tickets. My church friend who drove to Atlanta and back and got us a hotel room the first night. Josh Buice for his heart in bringing such good and edifying material to the people. Pray’s Mill Church volunteers for ALL they did to ensure a smooth and good time for the attendees. All the attendees who were like-minded, joyful, and eager to hear just as much doctrine and sermonizing as they could throw at us. The cavernous auditorium was packed out the first session to the very last.
But my praise and thanks begins and ends with the Holy Spirit. In September and October of last year I was feeling spiritually stagnant and emotionally melancholy. In a rut. Getting tired. Drooping.
I prayed to Jesus for help. “I need something, Jesus. I love my house, my job, my church, and my life. You gave them all to me and I am not complaining. But I need a refreshment, a revival, a jolt into the well that is getting kinda low.”
In tears I write this, as I recall the providential care my Father provided in this prayer’s answer. Things “fell together” and to my amazement I wound up in Atlanta listening to the best of the best living preachers and rejoiced with 5500 like-minded Christians, met internet friends, and joined in grace and love with some of my church family. I had prayed to the Spirit to sustain me while there so I would not faint with sensory overload or lack of energy, and He did that too. All our travel, check-ins, and transitions from one thing to another were smooth and perfect.
The Lord was behind this three days as He always is behind our lives, but in this case specifically knitting together a special time of flowering. I don’t know His reasons for wanting me to go. Certainly to learn more about Jesus, and I did. Certainly to pray, praise, and sing His glories, and I did. Perhaps to encourage someone else, or maybe for Him to ready me for another labor in the near future that He wants me to do for His name. Time will tell.
All I know is, we serve a mighty God, an Ancient of Days, and LORD of Hosts, but a God who is Father, Shepherd, and Comforter. He fed me springs of refreshing water, allowed me to glimpse more deeply into who He is, and gave me music. He revived me, showering me with grace upon grace. O, how can I ever thank Him? How?
Worship. Worship Him and Him alone. Worship reverently, in fear and trembling, in love and gratitude, with an eye on my walk and the other eye on His glories in heaven above, His throne, and His undimmed glory blazing out among the universe and stars, and shouting Hallelujah.