Someone said I should stop and smell the roses.
So I went to Branson to the Spring Time Jubilee Conference. The Jubilee is held twice annually for mature and senior adults.
The fall Jubilee will be held in Gatlinburg, Tenn., in late September.
Both feature old time gospel singing and preaching.
In Branson I heard speaker Johnny Hunt, former president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. He is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.
Entertainment was black gospel singer, Lynda Randle, who performs with the Gaithers. Randle is a gifted inspirational singer noted throughout the gospel world. She had brought her wheelchair-bound mother to the Jubilee conference and introduced her during the performance.
I talked with Mrs. Randle as she sold CDs following the performance. She said she felt led to bring her mother from Washington, D.C., to live with her after her mother suffered a severe stroke. "The people who had been caring for her weren't good to her," Mrs. Randle said. She said it hasn't been easy dealing with her mother's illness and her own busy traveling engagements, but she felt it was the only alternative.
The Perrys, a gospel group, also performed at the Jubilee. Also appearing were The Inspirations, a popular gospel group.
Dino, a gifted pianist, played many classical and gospel songs in concert. He has appeared In Jonesboro, on television, and has a Branson show. He was a crowd favorite.
Speaking of crowds, the Tri-Lakes Center where the activities were held, has a seating capacity of 3,000 and all seats were sold out. There were bus loads of people from all across the land. I should note that until I attended this year's Jubilee, I had never heard of it. I traveled by bus with 27 members or guests of Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro. Our tour bus driver was a woman; therefore she got plenty of teasing from the men who kept asking her if she was going to "ask for directions."
Our tour guide was Mike Martin, pastor of senior adults at Central Baptist Church.
On day two of the Jubilee, comedian and gospel singer Mark Lowry entertained. He is a member of the Gaither Vocal Band and is well known for his comedic act. He sang his signature song, "Mary, Did You Know?" Last Year Lowry was a performer at the Helping Hands Gaither concert in Rector.
A highlight of the Jubilee was a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley, noted pastor, author and speaker. Using the life story and trials of Joseph as written in the Book of Genesis, Stanley preached about trials and what one should do when faced with trials. He used scriptures Romans 8:28 and Psalms 103:19 and Isaiah 55:8. "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose."
Dr. Stanley read the scripture that says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." He said that we don't always understand God's ways and we shouldn't make quick judgments. "He's in charge with absolute power."
Dr. Stanley explained that God is working tomorrows (the future) and we don't always understand that.
He told how God had a plan for Joseph's life through different trials Joseph faced. Despite those trials, Joseph rose in leadership from a young man, without station or influence, into the number two position in authority in all of Egypt, subject only to Pharoah.
First Dr. Stanley recounted how Joseph's 11 brothers hated and envied Joseph because he was his father Jacob's favorite son. Perhaps he was favored because Joseph was born in Jacob's old age. They also hated Joseph because he had two dreams that indicated that one day his brothers would bow down to him.
When Joseph was 17 years old, his brothers, except for Rueben, plotted to kill him. Instead they threw him into a pit, then later sold him to slave traders bound for Egypt. The brothers faked Joseph's death.
They covered Joseph's richly ornamental robe with goat's blood, then took the robe to their father as evidence that Joseph had been killed. Jacob thought his beloved son was dead and he mourned.
Even though Joseph suffered the trial of rejection by his brothers, God favored him when Joseph was bought by Potiphar and quickly rose to a position of trust in Potiphar's household. Joseph was entrusted with everything in his master's house, except his wife. Joseph wasn't going to betray that trust, Dr. Stanley said.
But his trials were not over. Angered because Joseph refused her repeated sexual advances, Potiphar's wife had him thrown into prison on false charges.
But again the Lord was with Joseph and granted him favor with the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge and he was soon overseeing the entire prison operation, Dr. Stanley said.
While in prison, Joseph correctly interpreted the dreams of two prisoners, the cupbearer and the baker of Pharoah who were confined after they had offended Pharoah. This dream incident was later brought to the attention of Pharoah, who also had a disturbing dream that he wanted Joseph to interpret. None of the wise men of Egypt was able to interpret the dream.
Joseph got himself cleaned up and was brought from the dungeon and came before Pharoah. He interpreted Pharoah's dream to mean there would be seven good harvest years to be followed by seven years of severe famine.
Joseph was then appointed by Pharoah to devise a strategy to save the people from this famine. Pharoah moved Joseph into the number two position of authority in all Egypt, subject only to Pharoah.
You know the story. The dream came true. When the famine reached the land of Canaan, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to purchase food. They did not recognize their brother. Joseph pretended to be a stranger, then put the brothers through a series of disastrous events before he revealed his identity and rejoiced with them.
And, yes, Joseph's youthful dream did come true when all his family bowed down to him.
"Conform to Him." Dr. Stanley said. "He is sufficient."
"Don't give way to changing emotions and be careful of false interpretations. Obey God and leave consequences to Him."
Midway through his sermon, Dr. Stanley mentioned briefly his personal trial when his wife left him in 1993. After a long separation they were divorced after 44 years of marriage. "I don't know why it happened," he said. "I would do anything for her."
He said he faced the trial by turning to the scriptures. He told the Jubilee crowd that his personal struggles make his messages more credible to people who are hurting. They have told him so, he said.
"Focus on God, not crisis or pain. Recall His help in the past," he said.
Dr. Stanley is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., and he is founder and president of In Touch ministries. He served two terms as president of Southern Baptist Convention in 1984-86.
By the way, when I arrived home last Thursday, I didn't have any roses in bloom, but I did smell the purple irises.