James MacDonald, Senior Pastor: Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago, Illinois
The Church in America is in trouble. Six thousand close their doors each year in the United States of America. Only one tenth of pastors are finishing in the ministry. The presence of God is often no longer in the church. A time to leave the church is when God leaves.
A church is not a place to make pagans feel more comfortable in.
Pastor MacDonald spoke at length on Exodus 32-33 and Moses and Aaron.
The church in America, symbolized through Aaron, is choking on what they think is better than God.
God’s manifest presence is forfeited through stubbornness.
Exodus 33:16 “For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated. I and thy people that are upon the face of the earth.” (KJV)
Francis Chan, Author/Former Teaching Pastor Of Cornerstone Community Church, Simi Valley, California
Movements start when the founder knows God. Movements die when people follow the founder. Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin…….” (KJV) We need to get alone with God. Chan shared that he struggles with insecurities……..sometimes he doubts God’s love for him. [A rare quality for a “big name” speaker to be so candid and transparent. It was refreshing]. Mark 14:34; Isaiah 53:10 and the suffering Jesus of Calvary was a theme that Chan touched on at length. “It is all about Jesus.” [Chan said this and then it struck me that this is the motto at Trinity Baptist Church]. Are you resting in the cross? Do you know Him? Are you secure in the cross?
Chan’s heart was stirred as he went deeper into his message and he shared that he was troubled by the spirit of Southern Baptists. Something was missing and he could not put his finger on it. He said he could see something wrong in our eyes. Everyone took him seriously and we got down on our knees and Chan led us in prayer. Chan’s troubled heart reminded me of Jesus in the garden which he spoke about previously. This was the close of the pastor’s conference and it gave us a lot to meditate and pray about.
Rick Warren Senior Pastor: Saddleback Church, Lake Forrest, California
Rick’s theme was on the topic of suffering for God’s glory. Rick lost his son last year and spoke exclusively on suffering:
“To be blessed, you must suffer. Thorns precede the throne. The most blessed ministries are the most attacked ministries.”
Suffering For God’s Glory
Five Ways God Uses Suffering (Romans 8-12)
II Corinthians 1: Many will give praise because of your suffering.
Rick Warren testified at length about his son. He took an extended sabbatical from Saddleback during this time of pain. Rick’s son Matthew died last year at the age of 27.
“We are all challenged and mental.” Rick was suggesting that we all have problems.
How to use pain for God’s glory-
1)To draw closer to God (Rick had a four month sabbatical after Matthew died). You need the presence of God, not explanations. Rick used Job as an example.
2)Draw closer to other people. Ephesians 6:2.
3)Use the pain to become more like Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 4:10.
4)Use the pain to help others.
5)Use the pain as a witness to the world. Philippians 1:12. Paul’s pain modeled his ministry.
Rick also said that his ministry is attacked because he is an “evangelist,” especially to Muslims and homosexuals. He referred to his critics as Pharisees. In my thirty three years as a Christian and Southern Baptist, that is the first time I ever heard a pastor complain on a public platform about fellow pastors and others who do not agree with him. I believe that the criticism he receives is directed at his compromising stance with the above two people groups. Rick has said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Furthermore, Rick vacillates and equivocates as to whether or not homosexuality is sinful, depending on to whom he is speaking. No one has ever criticized Rick for taking the Gospel to anyone.
There will be one final entry for the last two speakers– James MacDonald and Francis Chan.
J.D. Greear Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
Southern Baptists feel there is something they should be doing that they are not doing. Illustration- Pastor Greear went into a long comparison of Baptists and “lawn chair Larry.” Remember him from years ago? He lived in the middle of our country, and out of boredom tied countless helium balloons to his lawn chair, carried a rifle with him and up he went. He thought he would shoot out the balloons out one by one in order for his decent to occur. It did not work out that way and Larry ended up in the stratosphere.
90% of evangelicals have never shared their faith outside their families. Paige Patterson: “We are not teaching discipleship.” We are greater than John the Baptist because we have the Holy Spirit, and knowledge of the crucifixion and resurrection. John 16:7; 14:12.
God does not change the world through anointed preaching. He changes it from Monday to Saturday. Antioch, Alexandria, Rome– They were the largest Christian churches and we do not know who founded them.
The secular world will no longer ever attend church. (this is a cultural problem that we have inherited)
Would you give your church away to start another church? When you send out leaders, others will take their place. Illustration for this point: Jesus multiplying the fish and loaves.
Tony Evans Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, Texas, had to cancel due to stormy weather, Tony was replaced by Alex Amaya-
Alex preached from the scripture Revelation 12:11 and The Blood Of The Lamb was his title.
Hudson Taylor “God always uses the weak things of the world in order to accomplish His sovereign will.”
1)The Blood Of The Lamb wins the battle against Satan.
2)As Does The Word Of Our Testimony. Alex shared his testimony…..
Johnny Hunt Pastor First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia
1)Remarkable Event vs. 1
2)Rejoicing Expressions vs. 2a
3)Recognized Experience vs. 2b
4)Redeemed Expression vs. 3
5)Restoring/Refreshing Event vs. 4
We define the Gospel but we must declare it.
We are not baptizing teenagers. 36,000 Southern Baptist Churches did not baptize a single teenager. The longer you are a believer, the further removed you are from unbelievers.
Psalm 126:5 “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Bob Cook ” If you can explain what is going on, God did not do it.”
We go from the blessing of being saved to the burden of being saved.
The Iranian in prison: “I would rather share Jesus in prison than be free.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was saved in a Primitive Methodist Church. The verse from Isaiah was God’s tool that brought him under conviction: “Look unto the Lord (Jesus) and be saved.”
“The light that shines the farthest, shines the brightest at home.”
Clayton King Teaching Pastor, Campus Pastor Liberty University
Clayton honored other men– Johnny Hunt and Jake Thornhill.
Clayton heard God’s voice twice: “Preach the Gospel.”
God’s Glory For Giving Up
I Kings 19:1-9
Elijah wanted to quit because he was discouraged-
2)thirsty and hungry
3)running from Jezebel
We need to get away from ministry. Take the wife out and turn off the phone.
Get alone. vs. 3 Just you and God. A spiritual formation takes place.
Get honest. Adrenaline goes up on Sunday and comes down on Monday. Schedule no meetings on Monday.
Get rested and fed. Take a nap.
Get up. Get going now that you are rested. Get back to work.
Eric Mason Lead Pastor: Epiphany Fellowship, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ephesians 5:15-20 (a praise break in the scripture between doctrine and practice)
Glorifying God Through A Godly Resolve
Good preaching results in : God Glorified/ Saints Edified/ Satan Horrified
Watch out being a people pleaser: Acts 19:21; II Thessalonians 1:11
1)That you will live a life of spiritual discernment. *Be honest where we are and where our cultural “norms” are. You don’t walk right to get saved, you walk right because you are saved. To be unwise– lack spiritual discernment.
2)You must resolve that you will maximize every season that the Lord gives you. (vs. 16)
3)You must resolve that the Lord will be the strongest commitment in your life. Nothing else can take His place. We need the Holy Ghost in all things. The Holy Ghost is not the step child of the Trinity.
* Baltimore is a beautiful and historical city to visit. The inner harbor is totally restored and a boon for tourism. One can glance at Fort McHenry, the location that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key. A ferry boat ride will take you there. The colonial ship Constellation is docked in the harbor. There is the expected cuisine for the sea food lover, and streetcars are making a big come back in Baltimore as in many other cities. They started a long term project in 2012 that will eventually cover the entire city. I thought I was in New Orleans or San Francisco as I saw one going down Howard Street for the first time!
* Our conference and convention was held at the Baltimore Convention Center. If they built a catwalk from the convention center, one could have walked on it to Camden Yards because it was that close. Camden Yards, of course, is where the Orioles play baseball. Camden Yards is a little over twenty years old, and a “retro” built ballpark. That is, it was built intentionally as parks were one hundred years ago. They have a smaller version of the famous “Green Monster” wall in Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts, and one wall covered in ivy just like Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. A warehouse named Camden Yards is adjacent to the playing field, hence the name of the ballpark. I took my son Matthew there in the 90’s when he was a tween, and now twenty plus years later, he took the ole’ man to the ballpark as a Father’s Day treat. Those who planned the convention made sure the Orioles were playing at home while we were there. A lot of people attended at least one game.
* Ahhhhh, the millennial generation! Are they fun to watch or what? My son and I for instance, handle finances in entirely different ways. I do not believe Matthew could tell you which president is on the one, five, ten, twenty, fifty, or one hundred dollar bills. He could honestly tell folks that he does not have a penny to his name. But boy does he know how to flash the plastic. I use the card only for a hotel booking or paying for a flight. He uses it to purchase coffee and absolutely everything else. His siblings are the same with money and so are most of their peers. I have heard that we are gradually headed to a totally cashless society and they all have the jump on me. I guess I am old school and can say with W.C. Fields: “Cash on the barrelhead.”
There were no major items voted upon in this year’s convention. The meetings went very peaceably without protesters. There was security on hand. There were 5,129 registered messengers on the last count that I heard, and some more messengers surely came later. Ronnie Floyd was elected as our new president. Ronnie ran in the past for this position without success. Perhaps the Lord held him back for such a time as this. Ronnie Floyd, a pastor in Arkansas, received around 1800 votes. A Korean Southern Baptist pastor from a northern state, received about 1400 votes. Interestingly, a deacon from a very small church voted for his pastor who was totally unknown and without major accomplishments—— he was simply a faithful pastor with integrity who represents a great many of the rank and file pastors throughout the SBC. This pastor received 5% of the votes– in other words one out of twenty people voted for him. I believe that Ronnie Floyd may possibly be the last of the “old guard” of traditional Southern Baptist presidents. That is, well known Caucasian pastors from large churches in the Bible belt states in the south. Our president rotating off is Fred Luter from Franklin Street Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fred is an African American pastor and a very strong orator who touches the heart. After Ronnie Floyd, I would expect a great variety and diversity in the backgrounds of future SBC presidents. Fred Luter was a trail blazer in this sense as he represents a minority ethnic group. This is indeed very good and the way it should be.
Here are some interesting statistics and figures that were shared with us involving missions. Frank Page officiated the International Mission Board (IMB) part of the program. There are 3,000 unreached people groups across the globe. There are 4,810 IMB missionaries. There was an emphasis on the island nation of Cuba. Cuban Christians want to see people evangelized and the nation is open to soul winning and evangelism as never before. In Cuba, there are 7,000 people groups and home churches winning the lost to Christ! One of their sayings is: “It is NOT about the church, it is about the kingdom.” The Cuban government has extended religious freedoms and there is currently an open window in Cuba for the Christian church to thrive.
I will sum up the preachers and their messages, special artists, and musicians from the Pastor’s Conference in a following entry.
We just completed our attendance at the Pastor’s Conference (June 8-9) and Southern Baptist Convention (June 10-11). When time permits, I will give a recap of our interpretation of these events. We listened to thirteen sermons, several reports were given, and measures were voted upon. The conference and convention are always a great barometer of the direction and focus of our denomination in relation to the culture around us. Furthermore they highlight our strengths and weaknesses, renew our focus, celebrate our victories and point out areas where we need to improve.