By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
MANDEVILLE – In a day when immorality is rampant, God has called men to step up and become spiritual warriors in the midst of the darkness, Steve Gaines said.
“If the men of the church will be men of prayer, men of God, men who will lead and not let everyone else do it, we can have that revival that so many people out there are praying and pleading with God for us to have,” Gaines said during “The Charge” men’s conference, Feb. 8-9, at the First Baptist Church in Mandeville. “By faith, we’re going to have revival.”
Citing Philippians 2:5-11, Gaines, pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, and 2016-17 Southern Baptist Convention president, urged men to remember that Jesus was Lord before He came to the earth, and while He was on earth, and as He died on the cross — and that He will be Lord when He returns.
LIVE FOR JESUS
Gaines said Christ transformed his life when he was a freshman at the University of Tennessee-Martin.
In February 1976, he returned from a night of partying in Memphis, Tennessee, he said, when the Holy Spirit asked if this was a lifestyle he desired.
“I can remember saying, ‘No. This is not what I want,’” he recalled. “Then I heard these words: ‘You follow me.’”
Gaines committed to follow Christ wholeheartedly at that moment, and was licensed a year later to the Gospel ministry.
“I don’t know where you are,” he told the men. “I don’t know if you are saved. Wherever you are, God’s got a new level for you to go to.
“We’re in warfare,” he said. “If you want to be like a man, be like Jesus. It takes more of a man to live for Jesus than to live for the world.”
Gaines told the men they will encounter fierce opposition in spiritual warfare, such as demonic forces.
“There are still demons in this world,” Gaines said. “They are smarter than you. They are stronger than you. They are not intimidated by you.
“They are not afraid of you but they are terrified of the Jesus in you,” he said. “The only hope you’ve got against a demon is the Jesus in you.”
BE CHRIST IN THE CULTURE
An estimated 225 men from 25 churches attended “The Charge” to hear messages by Gaines, participate in breakout sessions and enjoy a Cajun buffet supper. The conference was formed out of a partnership between First Baptist Church, Mandeville, Louisiana Baptist Convention, New Orleans Baptist Association and the church men’s leadership team.
Tim Butler, First Mandeville’s men’s ministry leader, said the conference was designed to encourage men to model biblical manhood in a hostile culture.
“In America, it’s very challenging to be a Christian man,” Butler told the Baptist Message. “The world is against God’s plan and design for family. That requires the man to be the servant leader of his home, wife and children. It’s critically important that men don’t just go through the motions, but grow in spiritual maturity and lead their family.”
The conference is one of several tools church leaders are using to reach men in the area. These include a monthly large group session featuring a devotional and fellowship time, and a small group ministry that kicked off soon after the men’s conference.
“We are realizing the critical importance of getting men into the small groups so they have an accountability partner,” Butler said. “They may not open up in a large group of guys, but that small group of four men gives each man that accountability time and a chance to grow with each other. It’s important to have friends who have the same Christ-like values and give you godly counsel.”
IMPACT THE WORLD
Interim Pastor Jake Roudkovski, also a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, was led to start the men’s conference shortly after he came to First Baptist Mandeville in 2017. The church was holding a men’s retreat, but he believed they could reach even more men with the conference.
“When I came as interim pastor, I saw a church eager to impact the community and region,” he said. “When I shared they could impact the region with a men’s conference they got on board. We felt a ministry geared toward the men of this region was missing and we wanted to fill the gap.
“This ministry is so important because we ask men to step up as leaders, but sometimes do not provide adequate training for them,” he continued. “This could be a catalyst for revival. If you have a man who leads his family well and serves the Lord well, the family unit is complete and can impact a church, community, state and nation. It’s a domino effect that could take place and that excites me.”