Note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to Rick Coram as being from Arkansas.
WARNER ROBINS – As a prelude to the annual meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention, Second Baptist Church of Warner Robins hosted the Inspirational Rally on Sunday night, Nov. 11. The evening of worship featured the music of Rhon Carter, pastor of music and worship at First Baptist Church in Statesboro, and a select group of musicians and vocalists from his church.
Host pastor Jim Perdue welcomed all those in attendance and Georgia Baptist Convention President Mike Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear acknowledged the veterans in attendance and gave a brief interpretation of the theme for the annual meeting – Mission Possible: Reaching Generation Yet.
Stone read from Psalm 78: 1-7 explaining. “The passage tells us that we must tell the coming generations about the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and focus on those not yet saved and the two generations yet unborn.”
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White surprised no one when he announced that he wanted to preach on giving. He spoke about one of his passions and indicated that giving is “a matter of the heart,” quoting George Herbert, the 17th century Welsh-born poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England, who wrote, “Thou that hast given so much to me, Give me one thing more, a grateful heart.”
White had three points to his message. He first spoke of the basic problem, citing humility as a missing attribute in our society and in the church as well. He then drew attention to his Auburn University necktie – blue and orange – and admitted that since the University of Georgia had won the gridiron battle over the War Eagles the night before that he was wearing the tie as a mark of humility, thus acknowledging the defeat of his favorite college football team. He explained, “If Auburn had won, I couldn’t have worn this tie. That would have been a sign of pride rather than humility.”
White had several football clips shown on the large screens in the worship center showing various football players scoring touchdowns and gloating over their athletic prowess, but then told about the interview D’Andre Swift, the UGA running back gave to a reporter after the game with Auburn. Although Swift had gained 186 yards against the War Eagles he appeared neither boastful nor proud. In fact, Swift said, “This game wasn’t about me. I couldn’t have rushed all those yards without it being a team effort.”
White indicated that if we understand that it is not about us, our focus will be on serving and supporting our missionaries who are sacrificially serving in 140 countries around the world. He declared, “If you believe the Word of God, you understand that we are to take all the gospel to all the people in all the world all the time.
White then spoke of the biblical pattern of giving and cited passages from Genesis 14:18, Genesis 28:18, Malachi 3:10, Mark 12: 40-42, Matthew 23:23 and II Corinthians 8:5 to illustrate that if God has your heart, he also has your pocketbook. He asked, “Who told these people to give? The people in these passages gave because it was in their heart to do it. We have a humility problem if we don’t find joy in giving.”
Lastly, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director moved to best practices. “Let me tell you, what your Cooperative Program and Mission Georgia giving does. This past year you invested $1,605,437 to help start churches. Your gifts provided $12,665,432 to reaching the next generation. Thank you for supporting missions at home and around the world, but there is more that we can do.”
“Don’t Ever Stop!” cried Evangelist Rick Coram, using Mark 14:3-9 as his text. He stated, “Mary, the sister of Lazarus, poured expensive oil on Jesus over 2,000 years ago and we remember it tonight. God never forgets our faithfulness or our service.
“First, don’t ever stop leaving your offering. I have a granddaughter who loves me, but she won’t give me anything she has to eat – not a M&M, not even a bean. The family took me out to eat on my birthday and my granddaughter wanted to sit next to me. I asked her to give me something on her plate, but she refused. Finally, she put something in her mouth that she did not like. She chewed on it for a moment and spit it out, slid her plate toward me and said, ‘here.’
“I am afraid that is how we treat our God. After we chew it up and spit it out, we give the leftovers to Him. God deserves our best. If we only offer God that which costs us nothing we might as well give nothing.
“Second, don’t ever stop living in obedience. This woman poured a year’s wages, 300 denarii, on the head of Jesus. If you are going to live in obedience you must put Jesus first. Although we believe this woman was Mary, her name is not mentioned in this section of scripture. And I believe that to Mary the mention of her name was not important. If your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life, you don’t need it written down anywhere else.
“Finally,” Coram declared, “don’t ever stop doing what you can. In fact, don’t worry about trying to do what you can’t do. The heroes in your church may be the people who fold the tables from which they will never eat or the people who cook meals they will never eat. The heroes may be the ones who sit on the floor and teach toddlers how to sing songs about Jesus or it may be the nursery worker who changes diapers.
“I was in a church on an occasion when the pastor was trying to raise a lot of money and one man stood up and pledged $1 million, another pledged $500,000 and others promised to give various large sums of money; and as each gift was announced there was a great applause. One elderly lady quietly said to the pastor, ‘I will give $100.’ There was no response from the audience, but the pastor had the wisdom to say, ‘I hear the applause of the nail-scarred hands of the Savior.’
“Mary did not only what she could, but she did what she could while she could do it.”
It is impossible to capture in words the spirit of worship that filled the sanctuary of the Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins at the pre-convention inspirational rally. Likewise, it is unreasonable to expect the reader of these words who was not able to be at the rally to fully understand the anointing of the preachers that spoke Sunday night, but be assured that God was present, lives were changed and those in attendance were challenged to give and live as if Christ were to return today.
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