If you had a choice, would you rather lose your memory or your eyesight?
That intriguing question was asked by Keith Gillming, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in St. Louis Missouri. If you lose your memory, you forget where you’ve been and who you’ve met. If you lose your eyesight, you can’t see what’s ahead. I am glad I don’t have to make that choice.
The 2017 Fall meeting of Baptist Bible Fellowship International at Friendship Baptist Church in Owasso, Oklahoma is all about Generations. Our society, including churches, is made up of all kinds of ages and generations. Sometimes it is a challenge, but it helps to be reminded to appreciate each generation. The older generation needs the vision and strength of the younger generation. The younger generation needs the stability and wisdom of the older generation.
David Klass, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Clancy, Montana shared the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4). They placed two piles of stones as a memorial of what God did for the nation of Israel. These stones were living witnesses that God honors faith and works on behalf of those who trust Him.
The hope of the future is based on the memories of the past that helps us better understand how to live in the present.
We need symbolic stones as constant reminders of God’s actions for us. It is too easy to forget. These ‘stones’ will
- Encourage present generations (Joshua 4:19-20)
- Educate next generations (Joshua 4:6-7,21-23)
- Evidence to the whole world (Joshua 4:24).
Michael Woodworth, pastor of Ocean State Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island reminded us to never forget we are part of a bigger story than we realize. All the way back to Genesis 12, God started the story by calling Abraham to leave his land and family and follow Him. If he did, God would bless the world through him. It was through Abraham’s family, the Jews, that God sent His Son. We are still part of that story today.
Michael reminded us not to forget some things.
- Don’t forget who knocked first. God called Abraham and God reaches for us.
- Don’t forget this is a journey. God continues to move us. Though God is everywhere, He does not live in our comfort zone. Are you settled?
- Don’t forget to see beyond what you can see. Abraham looked beyond his present time and saw a city and Jesus (Hebrews 11:10; John 8:56).
- Don’t forget we are wandering worshipers. This is not our home. We often too much in love with our culture. We don’t want to leave. But we are only temporary residents. Like Abraham, we are journeying between two worlds. But when we worship together, we untether from the world for a short time and re-engage with eternity. We are ‘holy tourists’ passing through doing the will of God.
But I suppose it was Keith Gillming who touched on my heart most. He is in a unique position to know the history of the Baptist Bible Fellowship and is part of its future. He reminded me not to neglect the past. As in golf, if you never get your back swing right, you will never hit the ball with power and direction.
Keith reminded me of some of the great men of my past: G.B. Vick, Bill Dowell, David Cavin, B.R. Lakin, John Rawlings, Jerry Falwell, and his own father, Ken Gillming, as well as many others. He brought back good memories and told wonderful stories from the inside lane of our movement.
Baptists don’t always get along. There are many groups and sub-groups of Baptists. Keith had an idea. Keith said, “It’s not because we are so mission minded, but because we are so hard to get along with.” Maybe he’s right. Leaders with passion and drive want to do their own thing and don’t always see it the same. But we are better together.
Keith’s advise if we are to be greatly used of God:
- Focus on the Great Commission.
- Refuse to fight the brethren. The cause is greater than personalities. It is easier to leave than stay and work it out.
- Be faithful.