By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
BOSSIER CITY – Brad Jurkovich believes if they are not careful, pastors can develop a spiritually deadened heart.
“When our desire is more of everything else but God, then that is when our heart becomes dull for the Lord rather than on fire,” said Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bossier City. “And pastor, when your heart is dull for God then there will be a lack of passion to live the holy life He is calling you to live.”
Preaching from Psalm 51:1-13, Jurkovich spoke to those attending the 2015 Louisiana Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference about how King David’s dulled heart led him to sin.
Much like David at one time, pastors who are suffering a lack of passion for God should get to the point that they need the Lord.
“When you desire God more and more then you will have a heart that hungers for God then His high call of holiness will be a very real passion of yours,” he continued. “In your heart, do you desire more of God than anything else? Because out of your heart will flow everything else. Out of your heart will flow a desire to live for God and seek to live the Holy Life He has changed you and called you to be.
For those pastors with such a dull heart, Jurkovich reminded them there is hope, help and healing for every pastor who wants more and more of God.
“Pastor, because of Jesus we belong to God,” Jurkovich said. “We are His and we are not for sale. We have been rescued, redeemed, healed by Jesus. And He calls us to live holy lives so that we might represent Him powerfully to a lost world.
“By His grace we can,” he said. “When you desire more and more of God then this passion for personal holiness will grow in your heart.”
Jurkovich along with two others based their messages on “personal holiness” during the opening session of the Louisiana Baptist Convention Pastors Conference at First Baptist Church Bossier City. The messages were the first of the three-part theme “The Higher Call: Personal Holiness, Preaching, Evangelism” for this year’s Pastors Conference. The theme verse was Colossians 3:2.
Winning the sexual immorality battle
LBC Executive Director David Hankins challenged pastors to behave in a holy manner by avoiding sexual immorality. Basing his message off James 1:13-15, Hankins reminded pastors that giving into sexual immorality can result in “devastating consequences. It is going to destroy your family, your witness, your church.”
Hankins said because of recent news that found pastors were among those listed as users of the Ashley Madison website for people searching for an affair when hackers into the site released more than 37 million names of users in the summer, he felt it was needed to preach such a sermon on how to battle desire. He said that such an evil desire is never to be uncontrolled, involves every person and can be conquered.
To help in this battle, Hankins proposed four solutions. They are run from the sin by controlling the environment such as by not engaging in inappropriate conversations with female friends or stop bringing pornography into a computer or other device, recount by thinking of the possible consequences, resist the temptation and repent of the sin.
“We can win this battle of sexual immorality if we’ll turn it over to God and follow the steps He’s outlined for us,” Hankins said. “Let’s don’t lose.”
Walk in God’s way
LBC President Steve Horn said three things can keep a Christian from personal holiness. They are believers deciding that they know better than God, deceiving themselves with other voices and dodging the consequences.
Horn, who serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Lafayette, said much like God commanded in Isaiah 30:21, Christians should make a decision to walk in the way the Lord has directed.
“Maybe our issue of holiness is just that simple,” Horn said. “And when we hear God say to us, this is the way walk in it, we make the decision that it is the way we are going to walk.”
Much like the time of Isaiah, who God raised up with an urgent message that was needed to sound a warning message to society, such is the case today for personal holiness to happen in America, which has ignored countless warning signs from God.
“When we think about this one verse, maybe many in our society today have heard the voice of God and have heard him say this is the way walk in it but have walked in another direction,” he said.
Win the race
Leading off the second session of the Pastors Conference featured about the theme of evangelism was Philip Robertson, who reminded those in attendance that the Apostle Paul didn’t just ask them to run the race of the Christian faith. He called all believers to run to win.
Citing 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Philip Robertson said in his sermon that Paul related evangelism to a race. He said believers should have a passion for soul-winning equivalent to that of an Olympic athlete going for the gold.
To that end, Robertson challenged believers and Louisiana Baptist pastors to run the race for evangelism and run to win.
“What Paul is saying he’s urging us for the sake of the gospel, run to win,” said Robertson, pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville. “Run to win the prize. God didn’t call us just to run. God called us to run to win.”
Robertson said many more runners are needed to share the gospel. He suggested that evangelistic methods such as door-to-door evangelism are still effective and should be used along with other evangelistic methods.
“We need to run ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “This is no time for us to be slacking. When it comes to evangelism God didn’t call us to a walk in the park. He called us to run the race.
“I know running’s not easy,” he continued. “It’s a lot easier to walk than to run. But ladies and gentlemen, we run for the sake of the gospel. We need more runners and we need to run to win.”
Role in sharing the gospel
Clint Pressley said that God has chosen every believer as a vehicle to share the gospel.
“Saving people is God’s work,” said Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. “Sharing the gospel is ours.”
Basing his message off Acts 8:26-40, Pressley said that evangelism is orchestrated by God, executed by man, must be based on the Bible, centered on Christ and celebrated with great joy.
Pressley said that just like Philip was called to reach the Ethiopian with the gospel, God may ask other Christians to do something “completely out of the loop.”
He said that Christians should not be afraid to share the gospel but yet have the boldness to obey.
“When it comes time to speak to people about Christ we don’t need to be afraid,” he said. “It’s God that does the saving. We do the sharing.”
Call to evangelize
Jon Reed said pastors must make personal soul winning a priority during the week if they want their congregations to do the same.
Reed, founder of Focused Evangelism in Buford, Ga.,said that in 1 Samuel 14, Jonanthan and his armor bearer engaged in the battle, which caused the entire army to get involved.
“When they saw the faith and the favor of God on two warriors, they all wanted in the battle,” he said. “When pastors and evangelists work together we can take back the territory that God has mapped out for us. Our congregations need to see great revivals with great harvests.”
Reed said that the current generation needs to see the power of God come about. He said that God is wanting to give revival, but believers are the ones getting in the way of that happening.
“Maybe we shouldn’t gage our successes on budgets, buildings, and numbers of soldiers, but whether or not our soldiers are fighting the good fight of faith,” he said. “Something is seriously wrong when 95 percent of our soldiers aren’t engaged in the battle. Pastors, evangelists and teachers will answer to God for this.”
It’s different now
Opening the final session of the Pastors Conference on the theme of preaching was Waylon Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Church Covington.
Called into preaching as a teenager, Bailey said this field of ministry is much different now than when he started.
For the first time in American history, Millenial Christians that include this generation of pastors, will grow up as a minority.
Not all is hopeless, he added.
“While things have changed here on earth and while things have changed here in America, things haven’t changed in heaven,” Bailey said. “We worship the unchanging God.”
Bailey said that now is not the time to say all is hopeless because Satan is doing his best to discourage believers, making them feel that now is the time to give up the fight.
“America needs the church more today right this very minute that it has ever needed the church in my lifetime,” Bailey said. “And we need to be a people who get ready and who decide we will serve and do certain things because God has called us to preach and has called us to be the church.”
Frank Cox addressed the question of why so many seminary graduates leave the ministry five years after graduation.
“Why is it so many of us are not willing to live for what so many were so willing to die for in time’s past?” asked Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga.
Cox said he is also troubled by those who remain in the preaching ministry, some try to be culturally relevant instead of sticking to biblical preaching. He said pastors have been called to the light to the darkness and proclaim the Word of God.
“You’ll never have major impact in this world unless you proclaim the word of God from the assurance of your salvation,” Cox said. “You’ll never be the preacher you need to be if you’re always struggling and doubting your salvation.”
He added that for those who proclaim to the higher calling of a pastor, it requires an act of surrender.
“What we need in the Christian life is not better living,” he said. “We need better dying. We need to be totally abandoned to Jesus.”
HB Charles reminded pastors that the assignment God gives them has not changed throughout history.
“It has always been the will of God to save the lost and sanctify the church through biblical preaching,” said Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., preaching from 2 Timothy 4:1-5, “Paul’s charge to Timothy is Christ’s charge to the church, then now and always – preach the Word. This is not just a charge to pastors and preachers. The entire church needs to embrace the charge of this text. Not only does the church need this text but the world needs this text.”
He encouraged pastors to finish the race and do so well.
“The high call of faithful preaching is that you stand on the word of God,” he said. “Despite what’s happening today, you do so in light of that day. No matter what the church does, preach the word, faithfully, in season and out of season, til you cross the finish line and hear the Lord say well done.”
In addition to messages and music, the Pastors Conference included election of officers for 2016 and presentation of the inaugural Louisiana College Pastoral Ministry Award of Excellence.
The 2016 Pastors Conference officers are Nathan Davis, pastor of First Baptist Coushatta, president; Jason McGuffie, pastor of First Baptist Tallulah, vice-president and Thumper , Thumper Miller, pastor of First Baptist Mansfield, secretary-treasurer.
The winners of the inaugural Louisiana College Pastoral Ministry Award of Excellence. LC gave awards to three winners, in the categories of Sunday morning worship attendance of up to 100, up to 500 and more than 500. They were Roger Johnson, pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Rayville., in the category of up to 100, Joe Senn, pastor of Crockett Point Baptist Church in Winnsboro, in the category of up to 500, and Bailey, in the category of more than 500.