Speakers Encourage Conference Audience to Find Rest, Joy in Jesus

PLAINVIEW – With a theme of “Encountering Jesus,” speakers at the 86th Annual Panhandle-Plains Pastors’ and Laymen’s Conference encouraged attendees to find both rest and joy in Jesus Christ while serving in their churches and communities. Held Feb. 19-20 at Wayland Baptist University, the conference welcomed hundreds from the area for worship and fellowship.

D. L. Lowrie, pastor emeritus of the First Baptist Church in Lubbock, brought words of encouragement to pastors and laypersons alike in a series of messages for the conference about encountering Jesus in everyday situations of service and ministry. David Dykes, pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, brought a series of messages about individuals who encountered Jesus in the Bible and the results of those experiences. Howard Batson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Amarillo, spoke on the Lordship of Jesus. Other speakers included Bill Tinsley of WorldconneX and Randy Newberry, mobilization strategist with the International Mission Board, both of whom spoke on ministry and missions opportunities.

Lunchtime meetings on Monday brought encouragement to men and women as Dykes spoke on leadership principles from the life of Jesus, and Jerrie Ann Salvato of Sheffield encouraged women with her testimony and songs about finding rest and healing in Jesus.

Lowrie’s Monday afternoon message, based on John 3, dealt with finding encouragement for ministry in small churches in a “megachurch world.” Citing John’s response to those who questioned his dwindling followers who had begun following Christ, Lowrie said John refused to be discouraged, as he fears many pastors and laymen in smaller church settings become.

“The perception in small churches is sometimes that they aren’t adequate in some way and they are always being compared to the big megachurches. Instead of finding the joy in ministry, they suffered depression and frustration,” Lowrie said. “The way to have joy in ministry in these settings is to look at John’s response.”

According to Lowrie, John found joy in ministry was rooted in gratitude, a joy of service and that of accomplishment.

“What you’re doing is designed by God. You may be there because that’s the pleasure of the Father and a gift of His mercy, not a reward for your piety or righteousness,” he said. “As John said, ‘A man has nothing except what he has received from the Father.’ You should find joy in service to God by giving your all for that church in His name.”

Lowrie said pastors and laypersons alike should find joy in helping others encounter Jesus through the ministry roles each plays.

“We nurture a love for the Lord, not a love for ourselves. You’re to measure your ministry not by how people feel about you but by how they feel about the Lord,” he said. “That’s why John could say, ‘I’m happy to decrease as long as He increases.”

Dykes preached on several encounters with Jesus, including that of the demoniac in Luke 8. The scenes, as he interpreted them, featured a disturbed man, a demonic prayer for mercy, “deviled ham” as the demons are cast into the swine, and a delivered man, brought to sanity by Jesus’ healing touch.

“We sometimes try to treat the symptoms of a problem, but Dr. Jesus always goes to the root cause of a problem,” he said. “Anyone who comes to Him finds that His power will change them for eternity.”

Salvato provided special music for the conference, with music ministers from various area churches leading congregational singing. A special session for Hispanic pastors and laypersons was held Monday night, and the conference officially closed Tuesday afternoon with the Pastors’ Masters golf tournament.

Officers for next year were elected as well. They include President Richard Laverty of First Baptist in Perryton; President-Elect Steve Martin of Parkview Baptist in Plainview; First Vice President Troy Richardson of Temple Baptist in Amarillo; Second Vice President Gerald Bastin of First Baptist in Crowell; and Secretary/Treasurer Charles Bassett of First Baptist in Weatherford.