By Mark A. Taylor
The words of the hymn filled the Cincinnati convention center on the evening of July 1:
Come, thou fount of ev’ry blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace.
Several thousand who had gathered for the opening worship service of the 2008 North American Christian Convention sang from the heart. I joined them, moved by the blessing of being in their number.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
If the hymn was unfamiliar to the younger ones there, older singers compensated. But “loudest praise” washed over us in every main session, not only when we sang old songs but new ones too. Sometimes the singing was accompanied by full worship band, but just as often it rose above the soft background of an acoustic guitar played by a single leader.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above;
praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
The lyrics suggest an urgency that was part of the week’s theme, “Living Dangerously.” “The ministry is not easy,” president Cam Huxford said. “If it’s easy for you, you’re not doing it right!”
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be;
let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wand’ring heart to thee.
“This is my favorite part,” the worship leader said just before we sang those words. Mine, too, I thought, contemplating the examples of goodness standing all around me.
Seeing them is one of the main reasons I love the NACC. Old friends from churches I’ve attended or visited. Ministers and teachers and other leaders I’ve known through the years. Their goodness, no God’s that they’ve sought to copy and acquire, points me to him like no sermon. Nevertheless, the challenge of Cam Huxford, the creative imagery and storytelling of Jon Weece, the testimony of Jud Wilhite, and the straightforward exhortation of Ben Merold showed preaching at its best. I brought copies of their sermons home to relish again.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
When he was NACC president, Bob Russell said he needs the accountability provided by his association with those who attend the convention. None of them can force me to live for God. But seeing them reminds me that I want to and that he can do something wonderful with that commitment.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
Watch for our issue dedicated to NACC coverage September 21.