The Gathering Opening Talks

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2018

Like most of us here tonight, I have read for years the story of Moses at the burning bush and his reluctance to return to Egypt and bring the people of Israel out of slavery and into the Promised Land.   “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”   Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”   “A staff,” he replied.  The Lord said, “Thr ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2016

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others coul ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2015

There are times when people ask what the theme of the conference is and without exception I tell them there never is an intentional theme.  We have no idea what the conference will be when we start thinking about next year. But sometimes a theme emerges that is totally unplanned and we are all surprised. Yet, this may be the first time in many years I have seen something ahead of time – but ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2014

He sat down, paused before he spoke and then said, “It’s too much for me to give thanks. I cannot be thankful for this.  I will never be thankful for this.” He and his wife had lost their son and someone with the best of intentions had quoted Paul’s instructions to the church in Thessalonika, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2008

When my father died last year right before the conference I was named the executor of the estate.  Like many executors before me, I had read some articles, browsed through a book and made a file on what my responsibilities were.  Frankly, I didn’t pay much attention because the day was always going to be a little further away.  So, even though I had a file and some basics in mind none of that prep ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2011

When you turn 65 your friends say things like, “Do you still have the fire in the belly?” and, of course, the response is “Yes, but it’s probably Mexican food.”  Others send you books on fanning the flames of marriage because the fastest growing divorce rate is for couples in their 60’s. AARP has turned up the heat on supplemental insurance and the financial advisors are preparing me for cutting b ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2010

Opening Remarks for Gathering September 16, 2010 San Diego, California I love hands.  So much of Scripture is about hands – hands that create, that work, that cover to protect and to fight.  We are held in our parents hands at birth and our own hands are held by our children and loved ones when we leave.  Hands hold and they let go.  Hands open and they close. Hands say hello and they say good-bye ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2009

Eight years ago here at Phoenecian I made some opening remarks for the first time.  As you recall, that was September 2001 and we had just experienced the still incomprehensible attack on the twin towers, the Pentagon and the resistance of those brave passengers on Flight 93 led by Todd Beamer.  Someone told me I needed to say something at the very beginning of our time together that week-end.  Si ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2007

An older and much wiser friend once told me to spend more time on the search for the right questions than right answers. How often that’s turned out to be true.  Even tonight I’m grateful for the influence of two men who asked a simple question over 2,500 years ago. I’m grateful for the conversation with God that followed as a result. I’m often asked about the vision of The Gathering.  Sometimes I ...[Read More]

Opening Talk – The Gathering 2006

This has been an interesting year for all of us.  I’ve been giving it extra thought because of three events that happened all at once for me.  First, our daughter, Catherine, was married on July 8th to Terry Jaimes.  Since then, I’ve been trying to learn the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3 about the season of life where you discover there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain.  We learn to let go af ...[Read More]