By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
LAFAYETTE – How does a pastor fulfill his ministry?
That was the question speakers set out to answer during their 2014 Louisiana Baptist Pastors Conference sermons Nov. 9-10.
“We have a tough culture and somehow as a leader we have to learn how to listen to the voice of God and not the voice of others,” said Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd. “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Citing Luke 1, Floyd said to fulfill one’s ministry, a pastor must learn to rebuke the voice of Satan, refuse the voices of others and release one’s self to God.
“When was the last time you surrendered your life and calling to Jesus Christ?” he said. “We need to stop telling God what He can’t do and we need to stop telling God what He should do. We need to start reminding the Lord what He has done and start declaring to God what He can do.”
In addition to inspiring messages, the two-day conference “Fulfill Your Ministry” was based on 2 Timothy 4:45 and also featured music by First Baptist Lafayette and Pineville choirs, Scotty Blackwell and family and Broken Vessels of DeRidder as well as a monologue of Christ’s birth, ministry on earth, death and resurrection by Wesley Brainard, founder of Charakter Ministry of the Arts in Tulsa, Okla.
2015 Pastors Conference officers also were elected. They are Eddie Wren, pastor of First Baptist Church Rayville, president; Nathan Davis, pastor of First Baptist Coushatta, vice-president, and Chad Guilbert, pastor of Edgewater Baptist in New Orleans, secretary-treasurer.
LifeWay Christian Resources CEO Thom Rainer said to be strong in their ministries, pastors should meditate on 2 Timothy 2:1-7 in what he calls some of the most critical verses to finish well.
In the passage, Timothy shares three types of people pastors should be like – a soldier, an athlete and a farmer.
He encouraged pastors that if they work hard and persevere like the soldier, athlete and farmer, then a blessing will follow.
“My heroes are pastors,” Rainer said. “It is that which is changing the world because God is working through churches and pastors.”
When facing spiritual battles in ministry, one of the best passages to run to is Joshua 1, according to Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Jacksonville, Fla.
To conquer those spiritual battles, pastors must face their fears, face the facts such as tenacity and God’s timing and togetherness and follow God in obedience.
“It is when we become obedient to God that we will experience God-given victory,” Brunson said.
In his sermon, Tom Shepard, pastor of the Church at Addis, challenged pastors to come to a point where they are transparent and broken before their congregation.
“Let your people know that you do not walk on water,” Shepard said. “Point them to Christ.”
Citing 2 Timothy 4:5, pastors must endure hardship because trials will happen.
“It is necessary for us to create endurance to be able to run an effective race,” he said. “The long hours and the tough situations, understand they are there to develop you.”
Many times when a crisis arrives, pastors may cry out to God to change the circumstances.
However, God may instead want pastors to say, God change me.
“If you are in a crisis and God has placed you there and God has not released you, never give up,” Fred Lowery, retired pastor of First Bossier, told the pastors.
Lowery said that among those biblical characters who experienced crisis in their own lives, one whom pastors and other Christians can learn from is Joseph. He said the desire of those who wanted to hurt Joseph became God’s instrument to help him.
Among the lessons learned from Joseph are:
• Going through adversity is inevitable and unavoidable
• When life goes wrong, trust God and do right
• Crisis is God’s gift to us
• There is nothing so bad that good cannot come out of it
• God is with us
In his sermon based on 2 Timothy 3:14-4:4, LBC President Steve Horn said that to persevere as a Christian in a broken world, a solid foundation is needed.
But the good news, Horn said, is that the foundation has already been provided.
“The good news about this needed foundation is we have it – the truth found in the Bible,” said Horn, who serves as pastor of First Lafayette. “This is a book that claims what no other book claims. It claims to be inspired by God. It is God-breathed. Here is the very breath of God.”
Horn said that sometimes others may instead of accepting the foundation provided, they may choose to question the validity and relevance of the Bible.
When that happens, Horn encouraged pastors to truth the Word and its power, teach the Word with perseverance and teach the Word with patience.
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley said that now may seem like a difficult time to be Southern Baptist, with a dip in baptisms, giving and church attendance.
However, Kelley said that if the apostle Paul was living in today’s world, he would embrace the challenge, as he did in Romans 8:31-39.
“He would say wow,” Kelley said. “What an opportunity to embrace the love and power of God.”
He said that no matter what the circumstances may be, Christians are in the grip of the love of God. And that, Kelley said, makes a huge difference in the end. For if God is for us, then who can be against us.
“To be certain of God’s love is to be certain of God’s help,” Kelley said.
For his part, Lawrence Phipps said that pastors are like shepherds. To that end, he shared four things shepherds can do while caring for their people.
Shepherds tell the truth, train the believers to evangelize, teach believers to learn and model love, said Phipps, founder of It’s Life Ministry in Montgomery, Ala.
K Marshall Williams
A spirit of worldliness is rampant in today’s society, which greatly troubles K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church Philadelphia, Pa.
To navigate through the difficult roads and valleys along the Christian journey, Williams offered a prescription of pilgrimage in his sermon, based off 2 Corinthians 4:5.
“Today my spirit is grieved,” he said. “My spirit is vexed because men are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. They’re in hot pursuit of perishable product.”
Williams said though burn out and discouragement may occur for pastors in ministry, they must do whatever they do for the glory of God.
“You do the right ministry for the right motive, God will remember that,” he said.
Additionally, Williams said pastors must learn to encourage others as well as themselves.
“If you are discouraged, God will comfort you in the midnight hour,” Williams said. “Be encouraged because the joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Finally, Williams said seek first the Kingdom of God.
“We must be broken,” he said. “He wants you to broken so we can bear one another’s burdens. Sometimes God will hold the necessary to create in us a desperation and a longing for Him and His presence and His sustaining power. In order for revival and spiritual awakening to come in our land, we’ve got to be broken.”