PLANO?The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Pastors’ Conference elected new officers and was challenged to persevere in faith and sound doctrine. The conference, which immediately preceded the annual meeting at Prestonwood Baptist Church, elected as president Rix Tillman, pastor of Exciting Immanuel Baptist Church in El Paso, Carroll Hambrick, pastor of Beverly Hills Baptist Church in Waco as first vice president, and Domingo Ozuna, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Grand Prairie, as secretary-treasurer.
The conference featured preaching from an ethnically and stylistically diverse slate of pastors in traditional preaching segments and in smaller breakout sessions.
Preaching from Malachi 1:6-14, Randy Weeaks, pastor of Walnut Ridge Baptist Church in Mansfield, warned that as Christians forget the greatness of God, they also forget to honor the things of God. Thus, their sacrifice lessens and their worship becomes meaningless.
“Aren’t you glad you belong to a convention that still honors the Word of God?” Weeaks asked, drawing affirmation from the crowd. “God’s family needs to be reminded that this is the book of life,” he said, referring to the Bible.
Weeaks said he is weary of Christians who put sports and social engagements ahead of Sunday worship. “My friend, as for me and my house, Sunday morning we’re going to church. Weeaks boys don’t like it a whole lot, but they don’t have a vote in the Weeaks family.”
Further, Christians often give monetarily what they can get by with, Weeaks noted.
“I know people who are tipping and not tithing,” wondering why they should give God the best. “Do you know why? ‘For he is a great king, says the Lord Almighty,'” Weeaks said, quoting Malachi. “He didn’t send us a blind and crippled animal; he sent the spotless Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.”
Worship also becomes meaningless when people make themselves the focus, Weeaks said. “We’re here tonight because he is a great king.”
A relative newcomer to the pulpit, Pastor Bryan Carter of Concord Baptist Church, Dallas, warned his more experienced peers that, just like Elijah, they too can fall prey to despair if they don’t learn a lesson from one episode in the prophet’s life. Carter recalled that Elijah ran in fear for his life and how he abandoned good sense and good friends out of desperation (1 Kings 19:1-9).
Although only a senior pastor for a year, Carter said he wished to relay what he’s learned from his experiences, knowing that even seasoned pastors face doubt and defeat. Carter said in the loneliness of his first months in a new state and new pastorate, he was just as guilty as Elijah when it came to forgetting all God had done for him and through him.
Carter said it’s easy to fall into thinking “victory is what God did yesterday. But this is today.” Feeling defeated, Elijah ran from his problems, and consequently, his friends, Carter reminded.
Without Christian friends in his church and fellow pastor friends, Carter said the pastor is left to his own devices.
“Elijah decided he didn’t need anyone to help him,” Carter said. Loneliness, he added, makes people vulnerable and will lead to sin as people seek connections from ungodly sources.
But in loneliness, God can teach. Elijah wished to die; God refreshed him and gave him what he needed “at that season of his life.” During that self-imposed isolation, Carter said, “God can remind us.”
God can also lighten the emotional load if pastors avoid comparing themselves and their ministries to others. Carter said God deals with each Christian based on what he expects from that Christian, not what he expects from someone else.
Troubles can be reduced, too, if pastors “erase their exaggerations.”
Elijah, like many pastors, Carter said, was burdened under a load that he did not need