2009 FBSC Annual Meeting, Pensacola
PENSACOLA (FBW)—Florida pastors didn’t let the threat of Tropical Storm Ida stop them from encouraging one another in a singularly-focused 2009 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference at Olive Baptist Church Nov. 8-9.
The pastors were called to preach with “honor.” They were called to “honor” their wives and bring “honor” to their noble profession.
Ultimately, pastors were called to the pulpit and to “honor” God in everything they do.
“You see signs with ‘Honor’ with a medallion here,” said Olive Baptist Church pastor Ted Traylor. “The Bible tells us that the workman that rules well in teaching and preaching is worthy of a double honor—timia in the Greek New Testament. The goal of our conference is to see all pastors live up to timia.”
Attendees heard powerful messages from Traylor, Bob Pitman of the Adrian Rogers Center for Biblical Preaching in Tennessee, Don Wilton of First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, S.C., Bartholomew Orr, pastor of Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southhaven, Miss., and Alabama evangelist Junior Hill. Michael Cloer, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, N.C., led pastor’s responses. There were also 20 roundtable discussions on topics from what happens after you plant a church to staying fresh while doing some of the most exhausting work on the planet (see related story).
Calling Levi, a group of four vocalists, led worship, along with Marc Ivey, who is artist in residence at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.
A Pastors’ Wives Conference led by Jean Stockdale of Standing Near The Cross Ministries. Stockdale, who lives by the conviction “a joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22) mixed humor with a strong message for wives to honor their husbands.
Conference President Clayton Cloer, pastor of First Baptist Church of Central Florida in Orlando, led the business session. The new officers elected for 2011 were David Hughes, pastor, Church by the Glades, Coral Springs, president-elect, and for 2010, Jim Pennington, pastor, First Baptist Church in Navarre, president; Brad White, pastor, LifePoint Church, Tampa, first vice president; and Brad Stading, Bayless Highway Church, Starke, second vice president.
Preaching from 2 Timothy 2:20-21, Traylor spoke about how Paul penned a letter for young pastors while he was sitting in jail waiting to die. He was ready to “go to his reward” but stayed focused on encouraging others. He lived an honorable life and wondered what caused one to walk in dishonor in their Christian life. He also questioned how pastors could walk in dishonor.
“Paul took the word timia and negated it to put an ‘a’ in front of it,” Traylor said. “Take a word like moral. Amoral means without morals. Some have honor, some are without honor.”
Traylor said there were four things that cause a man to be dishonored:
Liberalism dishonors a man of God. Traylor said when a man leaves the Bible, he dishonors the role of the bishop. “If you do not stand and preach the exclusivity of Christ, you are a liberal,” he said. “(Inerrancy) is the most hated doctrine in the world. When you preach it, heaven smiles on you.”
Youthful lusts dishonors a man of God. Paul said pastors need to pursue righteousness. “Most people think of passion, sexuality, popularity, power and prestige,” Traylor said. “People pat you on the back and lift you up. You may have to be like Daniel and be all alone. If not, you will be atimia. How do you overcome it? Grow up! You need something to bring maturation in your soul. You need self control. Become a servant.”
Laziness dishonors a man of God. Pastors must be diligent. They must be workman and not be ashamed, he said. “If you mine gold out of the Word of God, you are going to have to work. Throw all your soul into it. Laziness will catch up with you.”
Words will dishonor a man of God. Paul repeats this over and over, said Traylor, and said there are several references that mention watching what comes out of your mouth. “Paul said ‘They hear my lips. You better guard your lips’ (verse 14). Paul said words can put you below reproach ... don’t wrangle with others. You have to use your words and be careful.”
Traylor asked every person at the conference to stand and read 1 Peter 5: 1-4, which tells pastors to shepherd the flock and feed the sheep. Traylor said he wants a pastor who does that.
“I’ll throw everything at the Master’s feet and He gets all the honor,” Traylor said. “I want Him to say, ‘Preacher, pastor, timia is on you.’ I want people to pray and honor the pastor.
“There is a power that comes from that. It will humble your soul to know that you have been charged to break theBread of Life as Granny used to say, ‘From the Book.’”
Bob Pitman was called to preach when he was 16 years old during a Saturday night revival service. He said when God called, he went forward and surrendered. He didn’t know if running away was an option.
Since that time, all Pitman has known has been preaching the Word. Pitman, dean of the Adrian Rogers Center for Biblical Preaching at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tenn., said that it is an honorable profession. Using 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 as his text, Pitman said pastors should not preach for themselves but for Jesus.
“If you fulfill God’s mandate to preach and preach the right message in the right manner for the right motive, that’s the honor of preaching,” Pitman said. “When you step on the other side and hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ that is the greatest honor of preaching.”
In the passage, Paul tells the Corinthians about the theme of the ministry. He suffered persecution but wrote that if God calls you to preach, it’s His mandate.
Pitman said pastors need to preach publicly with authority. He said it’s not done in a corner, nor to each other, but to the world that needs to hear the Gospel.
“We preach to all kinds of people,” Pitman said. “It’s not hard to preach to the saints on Sunday. God’s people love the Word, but we are not to just preach to the saints, but other folks.”
Pitman said you need to see the preacher’s message. There is no preacher who can bring conviction of sin, conversion to the lost, or put the Holy Spirit in the heart of a person, get a soul out of hell or into heaven.
“Christ Jesus is the Lord,” Pitman said. “We talk about sports and weather in our churches. Jesus is the boss, in charge. He is our message.”
The pastor’s manner is very important, according to Pitman. He said it’s important that the pastor remember he is a servant and not a dictator.
“We don’t have to deal in craftiness, deceitfulness. We are servant leaders,” Pitman said. “Baptists can be led, but can not be driven. They will follow you but not be pushed about by the preacher. We’re not CEOs or business wizards. We serve the Lord Jesus and his people, the church.
“If people know you love them, they will battle hell with water guns,” Pittman said. “But if you don’t love them, they will hang you out to dry. You have to care for the sheep.”
Finally, the preacher’s motive makes a huge difference. Pitman said God is not interested in your agenda, wizardry, creativity or ingenuity.
“The biggest failure in the world is a person who is a success at things God doesn’t care about. God is not interested in things that occupy a lot of our time. God is interested in things that glorify His Son, Jesus, our Master, our Redeemer. If you preach for any other motive, you may amaze your masses with your oratorical skills and sway the masses. But it will all be burned up in the fireplace of God one day.”
Don Wilton passionately encouraged the pastors to feel honored about being a pastor. He said it wasn’t the easiest thing to do and there are times where one wants to leave the pulpit. But Wilton said, “I believe with all of my heart that there is no greater calling than in God’s economy to be the local pastor of a New Testament church.”
As an example, Wilton told a story of one of his visits with Billy Graham. Graham said, “Don, I wish I could be like you.” Wilton asked what he meant and Graham said, “All I have gotten to do is stand up in stadiums around the world and preach. I often wish God allowed me to be pastor of a congregation of people. That is where the heart of God meets with the people for whom Christ died.”
In preaching out of Colossians 1:24-29, where Paul wrote about a sacrificial service to Christ, Wilton said God will take you to a level where people have never been. “Something takes place that is part of God’s intended purpose for one called to shepherd the flock,” Wilton said. “It’s intentionally designed to be placed on the local New Testament church, and given to the pastor first of all.”
Wilton tried to answer the question of why pastoring is such an honor by citing four reasons in the text. And, in true Wilton fashion, he referred to them as “humdingers.”
The honor of pastoring lies in the pastor’s fellowship in Christ’s sufferings. Wilton said he believes there are more people inside the church suffering than outside. “Someone has to be prepared to stand up and lead the people,” Wilton said. “We must bow our heads before the throne of grace and ask God to make me what you want me to be. The expectations are placed on you to serve (God) and you must be willing to take upon yourself the afflictions God places upon the church.”
It lies in the pastor’s acceptance of God’s commission. Wilton said it begins with a pastor’s salvation, exists because of the pastor’s call to serve God and lies in the pastor’s presentation of the Word of God. “What an esteemed honor and privilege God gives us to fellowship in Christ’s sufferings,” Wilton said. “We must accept God’s commission to do what He tells you to do.”
It lies in the pastor’s presentation of the Word of God and it lies in the pastor’s total dependence on God. “At the end of the day, God’s energy does two things: validates my labor and energizes my struggles.”
Wilton said pastors must be totally dependent on God in the battlefield of life and hand it all over to Him.
“When I serve the Lord, I don’t understand these things,” he said. “I’m worn down, weary. I wonder if it’s worth it. I preach Sunday by Sunday and few respond. At that point, the grace of God falls down upon His servant and pulls you up.”
Bartholomew Orr said Jesus is still able to make a difference in our marriages today by:
Being the invited guest. Jesus was invited to the Galilee wedding and we must include Jesus in marriage through salvation. “We must be sure to be born again,” Orr said. “We must put the Lord on top of the list, on top of our life. Momma told me we will need Jesus in our life. We tell Him to just come on in and make Yourself at home.”
Being the innovative genius. Mary informed Jesus what the need was at the wedding. “If we want our marriage sweet and full, we must inform Jesus of our marriage needs through prayer,” Orr said. “Let Him be the first source and not last resort. Proverbs 3 says trust in the Lord in all the ways. He will direct our pathway. He is always creative in providing for our needs. Grace is sufficient to meet all of our needs.”
Being the involved God. Orr said we need to involve Jesus in marriage through obedience. Following God isn’t easy or logical. Jesus told the marriage servants to fill the waterpots and take the liquid to the governor. He turned it into the finest wine. “If we just only obey and put in to practice ... we don’t pick and choose what we want to obey,” he said.
Being the invaluable God. Orr said only Jesus can increase the success of marriage though enjoyment. Changing water into wine was the beginning of His miracles and a sign from Jesus Himself. “Jesus is in a class by Himself,” Orr said. “We can taste and see His joy. We can be satisfied with His provisions. He wants the best for us.”
In staying with the “cooking” theme, Orr described how to make a marriage better using kitchen utensils and a napkin:
• A knife: “We need to stay sharp, stay on the cutting edge. We need to study the Word of God. You need to know your wife. If we can quote Scripture, we should be able to quote her shoe size.”
• A fork: “We need to stay selective. We need to know what to pick up. We need to know what arguments to stay away from. A fork gives us the privilege to know what to pick up and what not to pick up.”
• A napkin: “We need to stay sensitive, be forgiving. We must remember our courting days. We need to stay loving. Jesus looks beyond our faults and gives us our needs.”
• A spoon: “We must stay sweet, savoring the moments. Some things you don’t eat with a fork. You need to savor the time. Savor sweet nothings the Lord gives us with our spouses.”
Orr said the time to start honoring wives is right now.
“Every day with our wives will be better than the day before,” he said. “Love your wife like Christ loved the church. With Jesus, it gets sweeter as the days go by. We can have the best marriage, the best times of our lives, when we follow Momma’s recipe.”
For those who think the Bible isn’t relevant in today’s cruel world, Alabama evangelist Junior Hill begs to differ.
Using 2 Timothy 2:1-7 as his evidence, Hill told Florida pastors that they have to be strong in the face of daily battles. He exhorted the men to stay focused on the task God called them to do, as Paul wrote to Timothy in this letter. Pastors should push on like a good soldier who serves, an athlete who strives and a farmer who sows.
“I don’t know of any other Scripture more appropriate to a man of God,” Hill said. “It sounds like it was written for our generation.”
Using warfare, athletics and farming as metaphors for the Christian life, Paul gave Timothy interesting observations that Hill said pastors should take to heart. Hill said the call to the pastorate is one that must never be discarded, even during the most difficult times.
Hill told a story about a time he preached at a seminary and spoke with one of the professors, who told him that there were many students who didn’t want to be preachers because they didn’t have a sense of a divine call and had seen so many problems among pastors.
He reminded pastors they are not in ministry because of their own desires, but because of God’s sovereign work in their lives.
Noting that fellow high school students would have laughed at the idea he would eventually be a preacher, Hill said God used him as a preacher precisely because of his inferior abilities.
Hill said that being a pastor can bring comfort that must never be demanded, but you have to endure hardness. He said a seminary student asked him how long it takes until being a pastor is easy. Hill had a simple reply: “Never.”
“God didn’t call us to a picnic, He called us to a battle,” Hill said. “We’re soldiers. We have a tired body, a
discouraged heart and an empty pocketbook. You might be a pastor at a church where they don’t like you. You say, ‘God, get me out of this place.’
“Let me remind you, God called you to endure hardness,” Hill said. “We pamper this world. Whatever happened to the Bible that said, ‘Take up your cross and follow me,’ and that ‘he that denies me is not worthy to be my disciple?’ Serving Jesus is not easy and will never be easy. Give me preachers who will endure hardness.”
Hill told the men that being a pastor brings a commitment that must never be distracted. He said Paul told Timothy to not get entangled with the affairs of this life, to not get involved in the world. When that happens, you lose sight of what you’re doing, Hill said.
“I believe the main problem with the Southern Baptist Convention is that we have lost our focus on the main thing God called us to do: win souls for the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “We have churches all over the country devoted to saving the environment. The problem isn’t (the earth) cooling. We just lost the heat of the Holy Spirit of God.“
Hill said pastors have a commander who cannot be displeased. He said he will never criticize a preacher, but pastors have lost sight of whom they ultimately have to please. It isn’t deacons, the media or society.
“Paul says we are to please the One who called us to be a soldier,” Hill said. “Don’t think about what the culture thinks about me. Wonder about the One who knows me best thinks about me. Can He say you are a man of God? Genuine? The real article?
“I have a suspicion that we believe we have to change the culture by being like the culture, and the culture is not our judge. Our judge is the God who made the culture,” Hill said.
Finally, Hill said there is a crown that must never be defiled. He said it doesn’t matter how big your ministry is or how many in your church have been baptized. It all comes down to “if you do not cross the finish line plain, pure and undefiled, you will be a disappointment to the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I’m 73 years old,” Hill continued. “The finish line is too close to turn back now. I will press on. I will go forward and do all I can for Jesus. I’ll run hard across the finish line. If I can’t run, I’ll crawl. If I can’t crawl, I hope someone pushes me across.”
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.