SBTC president: Press on regardless

AUSTIN?During his president’s address Nov. 13, Steve Swofford, pastor of First Baptist Church of Rockwall, encouraged messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting in Austin to press on for Christ regardless of circumstance.

With difficulties plaguing the ministry, Swofford asked Texas Southern Baptists “when people are like they are and the world is like it is, then what is the hardest thing to do in the Christian life?” The hardest thing for preachers, laymen and a young convention to do is to “press on regardless” in obedience to God’s Word and unchanging will, said Swofford, who was elected to a second presidential term.

“I believe with all my heart that the hardest thing to do in the Christian life is to press on regardless?to keep doing those things you know you are supposed to be doing,” Swofford said, noting that Paul admonished the early Christians to avoid growing weary in good doing.

“He wouldn’t have said that if it wasn’t hard to keep going. It is hard to fight the fight and keep the faith. It is hard to press on regardless. It is hard to stand up for what is right in a world that is falling down for what is wrong.”

“When we live in a day when Baptist churches are considering whether you should be baptized to be a member or not, when pastors are considering whether it is OK to drink, the conservative resurgence will never be over,” he said. “We need to press on regardless.”

Drawing parallels from the story of Peter fishing in the lake of Gennesaret in Luke 5, Swofford said Christians should press on despite failure.

With the crowds pressing Jesus to the water’s edge, Peter’s boat quickly took on the form of a “floating pulpit,” and the fishermen were given several lessons on how to follow Christ.

“[Jesus] said I want you to push back out there and let down your nets and press on regardless,” Swofford said, adding that Jesus requires the same obedience today. “He wants you and me to press on regardless. He wants us to press on first of all in spite of failure.”

Having fished all night without success, the fishermen’s failures are revealed in verse 5. “[Peter] didn’t say ‘we had a bad catch.’ He said ‘we didn’t catch anything.’ He wasn’t a weekend fisherman, he was a professional fisherman who took care of his family and made his living,” Swofford pointed out. “That day, the professional failed miserably. Yet Jesus said do it


Noting that each person in attendance has failed, Swofford shared one example of a personal past failure. Playing a football game against a team of district champions, the coach devised a trick play with Swofford as the key player. “I would stay in bounds, behind the line of scrimmage,”

Swofford said, adding that the play probably wouldn’t be allowed today. “There wasn’t a man within 30 yards of me. I was wide open, and the quarterback gave me a perfect pass. As that ball hit me, I could see cheerleaders hanging from my arms and all the glory.”

As Swofford spun around toward the end zone, he dropped the ball in front of his own bench. “I wish I could stand here before you and say after all those years that was the last time I dropped the ball in life, but it hasn’t been,” he said. “There is not a person in this room who hasn’t failed, but

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