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Alabama Baptists gather with, pray for elected officialscomment (0)

February 16, 2012

By Jennifer Davis Rash

Alabama Baptists gather with, pray for elected officials

Alabamians love winning, Rick Marshall explained to the nearly 500 people attending the annual Legislative Prayer Luncheon in Montgomery on Feb. 8.

“We celebrate championships ... and want to be identified with winners,” he said jokingly referring to the state’s three back-to-back national championships in college football.

“But there’s a difference in winning and being a champion,” said Marshall, pastor of Eastern Hills Baptist Church, Montgomery, and featured speaker for the luncheon targeting the state’s elected officials. “Winners are concerned with momentary victory. ... Champions are looking for the right time to make a difference. ... Champions are people with character.”

Noting that Alabama Baptists and other people of faith want to be a source of strength and encouragement for their elected leaders, he said, “We are praying for you. We seek the best for you. We believe the best about your motives.”

Leading a government and legislating for people can be hard but God is there, Marshall said.

“When you are God’s person in God’s place and God’s time doing God’s will in your life, He will guide you. ... God will keep us moving forward. You have the opportunity by the way you live, legislate and share your life to show that God is faithful.”

Ephesians 5:15 points to wise living that develops champions with character, he noted.

First “our time is limited. The writer (of Ephesians) said to be careful how you live. None of us know whether we’ll get to live out our term of service. We don’t get a second chance to live out our character or our wisdom.

“Take advantage of the day in which you live, making the best of every opportunity,” Marshall said.

Second “our trouble is management. The passage says we are to live as wise men and women,” he noted. “Wise men and women go about managing well, but managing is more difficult than attaining.

“The mark of maturity is not attaining but managing well what we’ve attained.”

Third “our task is eternal. We must be men and women of character and destiny. There are always people behind us to whom we hand the baton.”

“We need not look back at faded glory of the past but live in the day to do what God has called us to do,” Marshall said. “We never exceed on the outside the gifts we are given on the inside by our Creator.

“We elected you because we wanted someone we could trust,” he told the legislators, judges, governor and others. “God is placing you in a position of trust that does not fade away. Pursue the highest goals and protect them with prayer.”

Prior to Marshall’s message, Gov. Robert Bentley shared a few personal comments.

“There is a God that loves us, and He guides our lives every day, and we should never be ashamed to say it,” he said. “The decisions we need to make, we need to pray about and ask for wisdom. The decisions we make, if He helps us, will be the right decisions.”

Also on the program were Rep. Richard Laird, D-Roanoke, and Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville.

Laird read Psalm 100 and Scofield read John 14:1–14.

The luncheon is sponsored by the Alabama Baptist Convention’s State Board of Missions (SBOM). Baptist pastors, directors of missions and entity leaders from across the state serve as hosts for the event. Montgomery-area faith leaders of other denominations also attend regularly.

SBOM Executive Director Rick Lance presides over the program, and state convention officers lead the prayers.

The event is organized  by Joe Bob Mizzell, director of the SBOM office of Christian ethics, and his ministry assistant, Joanne Farmer.

And while he has been organizing it for more than a decade, Mizzell actually has been involved with the luncheon for about 50 years.

He first started attending as a pastor in the 1960s and then presided over it for a few years before joining the SBOM staff.

“It’s been a great event over the years,” he said, noting the interest among government officials continues to grow.

With his retirement date set for Aug. 15, this was his last Legislative Prayer Luncheon to organize.

To end on a personal high note, Mizzell scheduled his 15-year-old granddaughter Thomason Bryan as the special music. “To have her singing for us was very special and made my heart beat fast,” he said.

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