ARLINGTON–“Give Me This Mountain!” was the theme for the 2007 SBTC Bible Conference Nov. 11-12, and conference speakers addressed the hardships and victories associated with three sub-theme: “Striving Through the Fire,” “Staying with Faithfulness,” and “Seeing by Faith.”
Those attending the Bible Conference, formally called the Pastors’ Conference, concluded by electing officers for the 2007-’08 Bible Conference.
The new Bible Conference officers are: Gregg Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church, president; Franklin Callaway, pastor of Truevine Missionary Baptist Church, Spring, vice president; C.C. Phillips, pastor of Unity Spirit Baptist Church, Houston, secretary-treasurer.
The outgoing officers–President Don Wills, Vice President Billy Norris and Secretary-Treasurer Lyn Holley–were recognized for their service.
The conference voted to approve the formation of a committee to study formally changing the name of the conference from “Pastors’ Conference” to “Bible Conference.” The recommendation will be made at the 2008 conference, although the name Bible Conference is being used.
Striving Through The Fire
Addressing the themes for the conference, pastors pulled from a variety of biblical sources as they warned pastors to expect conflict and struggles within their churches and their personal lives as they strive through the fire.
But being prepared for those times, as guest preacher Ernest Easley said, will enable Christians to stroll through the furnace instead of struggling there, referencing the account of the three Hebrew children in Daniel 4.
“The time and place to decide is long before you find yourself striving through the fire,” Easley said. Referring to the commitment of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Easely noted, “They didn’t bow because they had devotion. They didn’t bend because they had conviction. They didn’t burn because they had protection.”
Easley, pastor of Roswell Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga. said pastors can expect to experience adversity but they will, as their predecessors did, be able to endure.
“Not,” Easley said, “because you are able, but [God] is able.”
Dennis Baw, pastor of Glenview Baptist Church, Fort Worth, said Paul in writing to Timothy to come to Rome quickly as he was held prisoner there and to bring Mark with him recognized his need for good friends.
“Who is standing with you?” he asked.
Recalling Isaiah 43:1-3, Baw reminded the congregation that God promised to see his people through the water and fire. By believing God’s promises and remembering what God has done for them in the past, Baw exhorted those gathered to look to the future.
Director of evangelism for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, Joe Lightner quipped that the global warming threat espoused by former vice president Al Gore is not an original warning.
“It’s ironic that the Bible warns of a global warming.” Quoting 2 Peter 3:10, Lightner recounted the prediction that one day “the elements will be destroyed by fire.”
Knowing that the fire is coming, Lightner said Christians should be all the more diligent in preaching
Jesus. Christians should stop being “Christian enough” and live holy and righteous lives so not to be ashamed when Jesus returns. Pastors, he said, must boldly preach the “inconvenient truth” without apology.
Staying With Faithfulness
During Monday’s session, pastors tackled the issue of “Staying with Faithfulness.” Speaking directly from the Bible Conference theme passage, Joshua 14:12, Callaway, the pastor from Spring, noted that Caleb claimed the mountain that had been promised to him by God and the fact that the man had been faithful to his Lord. Callaway warned Christians to not lay claim to something that has not been promised.
“Today people are preserving in areas in which God did not call them,” Callaway said. Jesus himself, Callaway said, could have claimed many things for himself. When confronted by Satan, Herod, or Pilate, Jesus could have claimed all that they had but he only wanted the job of one man–Caiaphas.
Callaway envisioned Jesus pointing to Caiaphas and stating, “Bingo! Your job is the one I’m after. I’m
going to set myself up as High Priest.”
Jesus, the pastor said, claimed the mountain he was sent to take so “we could know the good and perfect will of God–which mountains we are supposed to claim.”
If the church works hard for the mountain, they will leave this world as “weary warriors,” just like King David, claimed Ted Traylor, pastor Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla. Recounting the final days of David in 2 Samuel 23:13, Traylor said David came to the end weary from working for the Lord, but he had not labored alone.
Surrounding David was a band of 30 leaders, three of whom were particularly faithful, risking their lives to draw water from a well in Bethlehem, a town surrounded by their long-time enemy the Philistines. Having such people around themselves is essential for pastors.
“We dare not walk this road alone.”
Traylor asked the audience, “Have you ever risked your life for another. Have you ever been a water fetcher for a hurting brother or sister?”
As fundamental as it sounded, Pastor Tommy Oglesby, South Jefferson Baptist Church, Fort Worth, simply told the congregation to “find some good footsteps to follow.” He asked, “Is it too simple to say we should model our ministries after the Lord Jesus?”
Oglesby, citing Luke 4:16-20, noted Jesus set the example of being faithful to participating in the synagogue and reading the word of God. The proclamations of Jesus Christ are the only truths to be taught. “Keep preaching Jesus,” Oglesby concluded.
Seeing By Faith
Closing out the Bible Conference portion of the convention were Gregg Matte, the newly elected conference president, and Fred Lowery, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bossier City, La.
Matte said individuals and churches must wait on God and discern his call, taking time to pray, fast, and meditate on the Word before sharing that call or vision with others. Citing Nehemiah 2:1-5, Matte noted four months passed between the time the prophet heard news of his beloved Jerusalem and the time he was given the opportunity to make his concerns known to King Xerxes.
Matte said timing is essential to discerning and implementing the will of God. Believers must be patient to move in God’s time and in God’s place. But churches to need to act, Matte urged. Too many Texas churches, he said, have become complacent and comfortable and no longer reach out to the community around them.
“In Texas, if we do not reach the next generation and Hispanics in 20 years, you’ll be out of business.”
The king, Matte noted, asked Nehemiah what he wanted. When given that question from the King of Kings, Matte said Christians should ask for vision to reach Texas for Christ. Don’t get stuck doing the same old, same old. Move forward.”
To claim a mountain, Lowery said believers must see the world the way Jesus does and never compromise the gospel. When that happens, Lowery said, “We’ll cry like girls, men. When was the last time you cried over your community? Or have you gotten satisfied?”
Once a believer or a church becomes convicted to actively seek and save the lost, they should be prepared for attacks from Satan. “Be prepared to be hated,” Lowery said.
The Apostle Paul endured such hardships but was encouraged to forge on by the words of God in Acts 18:9. Do not be intimidated and silenced, even though Satan will use all kinds of tactics to quiet the voices of the saints, Lowery urged.
Success, too, can squelch the witness of a church. “Once a [SBC] church builds a new church it never grows again.”
So many churches, he added, have “settled down and become social, turned inward” and in so doing have forgotten about the Great Commission. “Are we telling our neighbors? Do we know our neighbors?”