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Conference speakers urge Alabama Baptist pastors to ‘Preach the Word’comment (0)

November 21, 2013

By Grace Thornton

Conference speakers urge Alabama Baptist pastors to ‘Preach the Word’

The simple message of the Bible — preached without apology and coupled with intense prayer — is what’s needed for revival, according to speakers at the 2013 Alabama Baptist Pastors Conference.

The conference, held Nov. 11 at Whitesburg Baptist Church, Huntsville, followed the theme “Preach the Word.”

Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Ga., said he believes the Bible is a “book of revival.”

“When I read stories from the Bible, I know we are a long way from revival,” Catt said, preaching from the story of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37.

The Bible, he said, contains story after story of the people of God becoming “desperate and sick of themselves until they cry out to God” and receive a “great outpouring of the Spirit of God.”

Desperation is key, said Daniel Wilson, pastor of West End Baptist Church, Clanton, who kicked off the morning session.

“What we need is a preacher called out by God, sent down from heaven, filled with the Holy Ghost, lungs made out of leather who will preach the Word and let the chips fall where they may,” he said.

Wilson told the story of a pastor who went to preach to a group of prisoners and asked why some of the chapel’s chairs were draped in black. The warden told him the chairs were for the men headed to the electric chair. The pastor’s sermon would be the last message they heard.

Wilson said pastors should preach as if their congregation always contains black-draped chairs. “Your sermon may be the last sermon they ever hear,” he said. “We have to warn everybody and teach everybody so that we might present everybody perfect in Christ Jesus.”

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said pastors should teach everybody the story from the first three chapters of Genesis — God as the all-powerful Creator who initiated our redemption from sin.

“If we want to see our baptisms skyrocket, folks, all we have to do is take them the message from Genesis,” he said, noting that if pastors were really passionate about the truth of God’s power and salvation, “you won’t be able to keep your mouth shut.”

Dusty McLemore, pastor of Lindsay Lane Baptist Church, Athens, challenged pastors to preach the message with a “hot heart for Jesus.”

“Don’t abandon the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because that’s what saves,” he said. 

The things once called sinful are now commonplace in America, he explained, noting that America is losing hope of ever regaining its former morality and dignity.

“But our hope hasn’t changed — it’s still in Jesus Christ,” McLemore said.

Evangelist Jerry Vines said sin has a high cost, but that even in a culture that has redefined sin, God still offers forgiveness.

“When God forgives sin, praise God — He doesn’t rub it in. He blots it out,” Vines said. “I’m here to tell you tonight that there is hope for the sinner in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.”

There’s also hope for pastors who find themselves mired down in bitterness, said Tim Anderson, pastor of Clements Baptist Church, Athens.

That kind of “obsessive sorrow in our spirit” can make pastors feel that their joy has been stolen, that they “don’t sense the freshness we used to feel.”

But bitterness does more to the vessel in which it’s stored than the object on which it’s poured, Anderson said.

“Don’t refuse to withhold from someone in your life today [the forgiveness and grace] that Jesus so richly and freely gave you,” he said. 

And Alabama evangelist Bob Pitman told pastors not to feel as though they are permanently stuck in a dark place.

“Maybe you’re going through a dark time in your life — the condition of your pastorate, the failing condition of your health, the eroding condition of your marriage, and you feel like things just can’t get any worse,” Pitman said.

Pastors can lean on the power of “yet” found in Habakkuk 3:18, he said.

“When things can’t get any worse, remember the Person to whom you belong,” Pitman said. “He’s mighty and will never be put down, and we belong to Him. Remember the provision He has made for you.”

Also during the daylong meeting, pastors elected Teman Knight, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church, Montgomery, as the 2014 vice president.

They also recognized current conference president Fred Lackey, associate pastor of Clements Baptist, and affirmed the 2014 president, Kevin Blackwell, pastor of Valley Creek Baptist Church, Hueytown; president-elect Adam Dooley, pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church, Mobile; and treasurer Mark Smith, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church, Birmingham.

Michael Lewis, executive director for church revitalization and pastoral relations at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), made a monetary presentation to Lackey during the afternoon session. Lewis said the gift was from NAMB as “an investment in pastors.”

“We want today to bless you and refresh you,” he said.

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