The theme of this year’s Answers for Women conference is Defend: Ready to Give an Answer. God calls each of His beloved children to share the hope He has given us through Jesus (1 Peter 3:15). Yet how can we share this hope when so many are questioning the very foundation of our faith and false stories abound about Christianity? How would you answer a friend asking if Jesus truly resurrected? How do you share the hope of heaven among all the stories of visits to heaven? Is the Bible even God’s true Word? Should we be involved in things like holy yoga and contemplative prayer? We want to equip you with answers.
We have a great line up of speakers for Defend this year, including Tim Chaffey, Corey Abney, Grace Mally, Amy Spreeman, Bodie Hodge, Erin Benziger, and Marcia Montenegro. In addition to these tremendous speakers, we will have inspiring music provided by Lori Jean Smith. Lori and I met at Cedarville University 20+ years ago. She was a very talented musician then, so I know we are in for a real treat. We are privileged to have her perform in concert and to lead worship for Defend. Lori is thrilled to be a part of this year’s conference and wanted to share with my readers some of her testimony.
Growing up in a professionally musical family, it was inevitable that I would play a musical instrument of some kind. Truth be told, I began my violin studies as a ploy to end up with my grandmother’s keepsake violin instead of my sister . . . (mission accomplished). Despite multiple attempts to stop, once I started, my parents’ prayers prevailed, and I saw God’s clear leading through a series of events, as well as through my gift, to take a musical road in college and eventually my profession.
Competition with my sister growing up and then competition nationally in high school catapulted me into developing a sincere and explosive passion for worship through my instrument. When I was a junior in high school, God made it clear to me that playing music for the glory of God was no doubt my calling. I studied my undergraduate degree at Cedarville University where I was enriched spiritually and developed my skills as a musician to an even greater degree. Interestingly, I also was introduced to the ministry of Ken Ham during my tenure at Cedarville, studying earth and space science with Dr. John Whitmore. After graduating from Cedarville and desiring to be even more musically equipped, I completed my masters' degree at the University of Utah.
Now God has given me the opportunity of being a world-class violinist, constantly in demand across North America and abroad. Though classically trained, I am at home with a variety of musical styles. I have especially found a niche in Celtic and folk music deep in my Irish roots, and skillfully communicate beyond words with my instrument as I blend my unique style with rich, favorite gospel melodies. God has graciously opened doors for me, and I pray for an even wider audience and influence in the coming years. My purpose is that the name of Jesus may be made even more famous among His people, and to the world, by whatever musical means necessary. I also have the privilege to be an Artist in Residence at First Baptist Church of Orlando, Florida. I try to embody the saying of J. S. Bach, “I play the notes . . . but God makes the music.”
Think about the truth of Scripture, proven in all we see and know. God is good. God is all-wise and all-knowing. God is ever-present—in good times and in troubled times. He owns it all—and as Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “with God all things are possible.” The amazing thing about that is it is absolutely true. In the most impossible of situations, God's glory shines the brightest. At the end of my rope, that is where His grace makes itself manifest. In the year 2016 my world came crashing down personally, musically, and in all of my relationships—all the things I thought were lost forever God was able to redeem. That is a miracle-working God. I'm not of the mind that He sits up in heaven watching us flail and fail and at the crucial time swoop in like a sadistic superhero. Instead, I see God as intricately orchestrating our lives to reveal Himself—different facets of His character—with the purpose of relationship: the reason we were created in the first place.
I am constantly amazed that God in all His sovereignty and glory would have a minute in His busy day to ever think about my broken heart. But before I even know it, He has bound it up—it may not feel whole, but that is because my wholeness is in Him. When I cannot bear the tears of my soul, He has taken the overflow and put it in a bottle. He did not forget me when He named each and every star. He cares for me more than the birds of the field—I have no need to fear because God is with me. Emmanuel. God with us, with me, forever. And that is worth writing home about. Thank you Jesus. Amen.
Register today, and remember the price includes lunch on Saturday, free admission to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter for the attendee, and 20% off admission for accompanying spouse and children. This year’s conference will be held at Florence Baptist Church (20 minutes from the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter). Be sure to download the bulletin insert and promotional video from the event website to advertise the conference at your church.
Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!