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In Mich., Beth Moore goes out on a limb

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (BP)–In a region where thousands are out of work and struggling, it might appear ironic for nearly 7,500 women in Grand Rapids, Mich., to sing praise songs.

Yet the two-day conference indeed provided a spiritual lift via the messages of Bible teacher and author Beth Moore and praise and worship led by Travis Cottrell.

“When we began planning this event for Grand Rapids last year, we optimistically thought we might have about 4,000 women attend,” said Amy Cato, one of the women’s event coordinators for LifeWay Christian Resources.

“Given how hard Michigan had been hit with job losses and the state of its economy, we thought it was realistic to expect a smaller gathering. But when we began seeing the registration figures rise, we were thrilled,” Cato said. “When pre-registration hit about 7,300, we knew God was blessing beyond our expectations.”

Grand Rapids was the fourth stop on a 12-event Living Proof Live schedule this year.

In the end, the tallied numbers revealed that the gathering not only drew about 7,500 women, but they came from 24 states and Canada.

Moore, who presents a different Bible study topic at each Living Proof Live event, chose “Lessons from Out on a Limb” for Grand Rapids. She said as she prayed and God gave her that topic, her first thought was “trees?”

But in doing some research on the state of Michigan, Moore discovered that about 50 percent of the state is forested.

“OK, trees!” she said.

Using the Scripture passage from Luke 19:1-4 as her base, Moore compared attendees to Zacchaeus, the man who climbed up in a tree to get a better view of Jesus when He entered Jericho.

“We all want a look at Jesus,” Moore said. “But are we willing to climb higher to see Him? Are we willing to go up a tree and out on a limb for it?”

Moore also spoke from Judges 9 about Jotham’s fable, a scriptural metaphor using personification of trees looking for a king to reign over them. She said the biblical principle reveals that as much as people like to rule, their deepest heartfelt desire is to be ruled over.

“Like those trees, we want, we long, to be reigned over,” she said. “We want to have something bigger than ourselves.”

As an example, she told about a time she and her husband Keith were in South Africa staying in a small safari hut on the plains. The area had no electric lighting, so no light pollution.

“Keith woke me up during the night and said, ‘You’ve got to come see this,'” Moore said. “It was a really cold night. He had a pot of coffee ready for us. We took the blankets from our room, wrapped them around us and had our coffee in our hands. We had a small porch on our hut that was right on the edge of a bluff overlooking a large lake. I walked out on the porch, looked at the sky and it absolutely took my breath away. I have never seen so many stars. It looked like the sky was a sheet of black crepe with holes punched in it. We could really see why the galaxy is called the Milky Way.

“Then, when we looked down, the lake was perfectly still and all those stars were reflected in it. So, here were the stars — above us and at our feet. I have never, never felt so small in my life. I couldn’t breathe. It was just too big, too big!”

Continuing with the tree theme, Moore reminded women to look at the fruit of any activity or ministry in which they choose to become involved.

“If you want to see the value of something, see what comes out of it,” she said. “A tree will be recognized by its fruit.”

Moore said people want to bear fruit in their lives. “We can live with pain better than we can live with purposelessness,” she said. “If you want to estimate the value of something, see what fruit it produces.”

As the May 21-22 sessions came to a close, Moore reminded attendees that, like Zacchaeus, they were going to have to climb down from the tree and go home. But, also like Zacchaeus, Jesus was going to their houses with them.

“Even if you are the only Christian in your family, it only takes one person to change an entire generational line,” she said. “Go out with Jesus and prepare to be mighty.”

Other Living Proof Live events scheduled for 2010 are Aug. 13-14 in Lexington, Ky.; Aug. 27-28 in Richmond, Va.; Sept. 18 in Rosemont, Ill.; Oct. 1-2 in Lowell, Mass.; Oct. 29-30 in Spokane, Wash.; and Nov. 19-20 in Rapid City, S.D.
Polly House is a corporate communications specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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