ARLINGTON?More than 1,000 people attended the Conference of Texas Baptist Evangelists (COTBE) meeting Feb. 9, hearing challenges from conference preachers Bill Britt, Bruce Northam and Johnny Hunt to answer Christ’s radical call and to trust God as their power source.
The COTBE meeting, which preceded the emPOWER Conference of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention at the Arlington Convention Center, included music from the Randy Fair Family, Don Thornton and Jim Holcombe.
Britt, an evangelist from Mesquite, said God is calling Christians not to be cool or popular but to be soul winners who answer the “radical call of Christ.”
Citing German preacher Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s statement that when God calls a man, “he bids him come and die,” Britt said “when you get saved, you quit being the big shot. You become the little shot and God calls all the shots.”
Britt noted that when Saul of Tarsus was converted, he was a terrorizer of the church intent on stopping it, but he relinquished his plans for God’s plan.
Houston evangelist Bruce Northam told the audience the believer’s power is in God alone. Preaching from 2 Kings 2, Northam noted that when Elisha assumed Elijah’s mantle of power, Elisha asked, “Where is the God of Elijah?”
His was more than a question; it was a quest, Northam said. “The God of Elijah is what Elisha sought,” not just his mantle.
“With him all things flourish and without him nothing will work.” Northam noted “the same God is with us as was with Elisha, the same God as was with Peter and Paul.
“The power is where it used to be. The power is where it’s always been, not in the mantle, but in the God of Elijah.”
Johnny Hunt, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., preached from 1 Kings 17, emphasizing the importance of being “there” in God’s will, whether showing one’s face before God or hiding in God.
“There’s no place like being there (in God’s will),” Hunt said, noting his first “there” was his first church pastorate in South Carolina. “If you are there, let the blessed storms come. Nothing will keep you there like knowing you are there.”
Hunt said his second there was moving to First Baptist Church of Woodstock during a church split; the church was a laughing stock in the community and others couldn’t understand why he’d take that pastorate, he said.
“But I was there.”
Hunt said there are times God leads believers into the desert to hide you in preparation.
“When God hides you he’s preparing you. If you show up before he’s finished preparing you,” you will fail, he said.
Some churches are full of dry bones, but “if you preach faithfully to these bones, sooner of later the winds of God will blow.”
Too often, “When the brook dries up, we start sending out resumes.” Stay on mission until God moves you, Hunt warned.
Hunt noted God met Elijah’s needs through a brook, birds and a widow. “When God calls you somewhere, he’s preparing someone to meet you there.”
“God is looking for people who will allow him to be himself in them. ? Are you there?”
Betty Moni, music evangelist from San Antonio, said she assumed she had to be a “super Christian” until the burden got so heavy so could no longer hold it up. She said she was so discouraged she prayed, “If this is all there is, take me home.”
During a Bible conference, God impressed on her through a sermon Ephesians 5:18’s command to be “filled with the spirit.”
“God forgives and he heals and he teaches us through our failures.”
Moni said her grandson taught her a profound lesson one day when she asked the little boy how he was able to get the basketball high enough to make it in the hoop.
“I’m little but my Daddy is big,” her grandson explained, “and he will lift me up and make me stronger.”