Conference speakers encourage evangelism, trust in God's provision

Release Date: Feb. 18, 2008

PLAINVIEW -- Obedience to God requires seeing people as God sees them as well as trusting him to provide for needs. That was the advice of the two keynote speakers for the opening session of the 87th Annual Panhandle-Plains Pastors’ and Laymen’s Conference on Monday, Feb. 18, hosted by Wayland Baptist University in Plainview.

Supported by eight area Baptist associations, the 87th conference featured Bible study by Wayland religion professors and special messages by Dr. Calvin Miller, noted Christian author and professor at the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Other speakers were Sandy Maddox, inspirational speaker from Orlando, Fla., who also led the women’s lunch session, and Leighton Flowers, director of youth evangelism with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. A special concert was presented by Christian singer Blake Bolerjack.

In his message, Miller read from 1 Kings: 21-22 about the downfall of King Ahab due to greed and selfishness, and referred to the passages about the prophet Elijah being fed by ravens and the widow during a hard time. Miller then shared his own work, a parable about a televangelist who met his fall after planning to deceive a sick woman so her insurance policy would allow him to purchase a new jet plane.

“It is an irrational, absurd season. We are living in a selfish, egotistical day,” Miller said, noting that the same attitudes plague people now that existed in Ahab’s day. “We have the call of God on our lives, and we’re never going to get rich, at least in money, but I wonder if the ravens can really keep us alive.”

Miller’s message focused on the “irrational, wonderful providence of God,” which he said should be the sustenance for pastors and other laypersons when struggling with financial issues. Relating a story about his own experience, when unexpectedly an anonymous donor provided for a year’s tuition at Oklahoma Baptist University, Miller encouraged believers to trust in God for provision and let those answered prayers sustain them.

“We often look at how bad our life is, and though hard times hit we try to hang on, but the honesty is that the irrational providence of God can carry you a long way,” he said. “If you love God and trust him, he will give you the desires of your heart, as long as your desires are for Him. He doesn’t care if you have things; he wants you to love His son.”

Drawing from Peter’s encounter with Jesus where He asked, “Who do men say that I am?,” Maddox encouraged the conference audience to make a point of taking Jesus to the people, one at a time.

“There is a world full of people out there beyond these walls who know something about who Jesus is but not everything,” she said. “The world is clamoring for our time and attention, and we often rush through our day and past the masses. We see the people but we don’t see them at all. And they are hungry for us to tell them about Jesus.”

Maddox shared a challenge her pastor had presented his congregation to focus on faces in the masses as they pass by, even snapping photos on a camera to encourage close-up encounters with people. The key, she said, is to focus on the face and then focus on the heart and soul and take Jesus to the people.

“Too many times we walk by people maybe every day, and they may just waiting for us to show them Jesus,” she said.

The Pastors’ and Laymen’s Conference included three sessions Monday, a morning session on Tuesday and the Pastors Masters golf tournament on Tuesday afternoon. A session for Hispanic pastors and laymen was also held Monday evening.