GRAPEVINE, Texas – SBTC President George Harris of San Antonio spoke of the importance of future generations knowing the meaning behind the building about to be constructed. Basing his message on the account in Joshua 4 as God instructed Joshua to collect stones as a memorial, Harris warned against another generation arising “that knew not Joshua nor the works of the Lord” without a clear testimony of the significance of the groundbreaking.
“To the generation that follows us it ought to say this is a sign of a group of people who were committed and dedicated to the perpetuation of the Word of God to lost humanity,” Harris explained. “We began a new convention because of some things we believed in and it was worth our devotion, commitment and edification. It is to point to the hand of God that has made this possible.” He added that it is unprecedented during a downturn economically for a state convention to be running two million dollars above budget.
In addition to the building serving as a sign to be remembered, Harris said the strategy is to be repeated. He observed in Joshua 4:12-13 that the children of Israel hurried over the Jordan River. “They were not sure how long that water was going to hold back,” recognizing God provided an opportunity. Similarly, he said, “We do not know how long these good days are going to last. We must be busy about what God has called us to do. We live in an urgent time.”
Harris also noticed that two tribes and a half tribe were armed in front of the Israelites. “However we want to couch that ? spiritual, educational, technological armor, their strategy was that they didn’t lay their weapons down just because God was doing a miracle for them. They realized they would be called upon to use them, and we need to arm ourselves.”
Even in the groundbreaking service, Harris said the there were examples of an older song, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, that ought to be sung, as well as introducing a new song, Reaching Texas written by SBTC evangelism associate Tom Cottar. “We have a little bit of the old as well as the cutting edge touching the future.”
Harris reminded that a battle often results in casualties and carnage. “The secular world in which we have been called to serve has taken its toll upon Christianity, our denomination, preachers, and our families.” Having been in that battle for nearly 50 years, Harris said, “This is not just an ordinary convention. We’re an extraordinary convention. We are the Green Berets for the day and need to look at ourselves like that and not be content.”
Another element Harris described from the passage involved an example to be respected, noting the high regard the Israelites had for Joshua and Moses. Instead of organizing a committee, Harris said God always brings to the forefront a leader. “When he comes under the authority of God, people come under his authority and follow his leadership.” Harris praised SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards as a man to be respected and supported in following the vision God has given him.
Harris recognized that the children of Israel had nothing to lose, having been in bondage and the wilderness. “Five years ago when we began we dared to risk. We didn’t have anything to lose.” With a sign of remembrance, a strategy to repeat and an example to be respected, Harris said Southern Baptists of Texas must never be afraid “to risk and put our feet in the water.”