From the desk of Michael Catt from Sept 26, 2004

This is from the desk of the pastor of Sherwood Baptist:

On the Changing of the Guard

From the Cluttered Desk… September 26, 2004 Volume 50, Edition 39

 

THE TIMES they are changing. To be honest, it’s a sad time for me as a pastor. The reality of these changes has hit me today. Although I am one that has no problem with change, there are changes I don’t always like.

 

TO BE HONEST, it started for me when Vance Havner died. Since 1985, there’s been no prophetic voice traveling the country, calling the church to repentance and revival. Vance Havner was the last of the 20th century prophets. Although not Southern Baptist, A.W. Tozer’s ministry, along with Havner’s and a few others, reminded us that we’re not as good as we think we are.

 

AS DR. HAVNER said about Bertha Smith praying at the Southern Baptist Convention, “She told God things about Southern Baptists that we didn’t want God to know.” So it is with the prophetic voice. Now we parade shields of brass where gold was once displayed. The tall timbers have been replaced by seedlings and saplings.

 

ALTHOUGH I ASKED GOD to let me be that voice when I was younger, it is obvious to me that He had different plans for me. Over the years, I’ve accepted that, but still believe that one day, I’d like to spend the last days of my ministry in a Bible Conference Ministry with an emphasis on revival and awakening.

 

WITH THE DEATH of Manley Beasley, we lost the voice of faith in our convention. No one could challenge Baptists to live by faith and believe God for the impossible like Manley. No one had been through more and come out on top more often than Manley. He was a living example to us of walking by faith.

 

WITH THE DEATH of Ron Dunn, we lost the last great Bible Conference teacher in Southern Baptist life. No one could wrestle with a text and make it more alive than Ron. The fact that he preached a dozen conferences here makes us blessed and accountable.

 

WITH WARREN WIERSBE ending his Conference Ministry, we have another change. To have had the privilege of getting to know Warren at a time when I had lost Ron was a blessing I could not measure. Having him preach here was a dream come true. Working on the web site, www.2prophetu.com with his blessings and encouragement has been a humbling experience. Our two Bridge Builder’s conferences were an encouragement to pastors in this region in ways that will not be known for years to come.

 

MOST OF MY FRIENDS in ministry are older than me. John Bisagno has now moved on from First Baptist Church of Houston. Dr. Bisagno did for FBC Houston what few pastors have ever been able to do. That church would have died years ago without his visionary, mission minded leadership. I’ll always treasure the privilege I had of preaching for him in the late 1980’s.

 

GEORGE HARRIS has passed the torch at Castle Hills. George has been a friend for a long time. He entrusted me to preach a revival for him in the 1980’s and he is one of the men who always encouraged me in ministry. We hit it off from day one and I count him as a dear brother and counselor.

 

BILL STAFFORD will one day have to slow down. He is the last one standing of Ron, Manley and Miss Bertha from those “Deeper Life” Conference days. We are privileged that we get to hear his heart every year.

 

JIMMY DRAPER is one of the hero’s in my ministry. Jimmy was the consummate pastor and has been one of the pillars of Southern Baptist life for decades. He has recognized the problem we have in our denomination in raising up new leaders and is spending his time helping us face our problem. I don’t meet many young Jimmy Drapers in my goings and comings.

 

NOW, ADRIAN ROGERS has announced his retirement. Effective in the Spring of 2005, Bellevue Baptist Church will have a new pastor for the first time in 32 years. They’ve only had three pastors for most of the last 75 years. That’s hard for me to even comprehend.

 

ADRIAN’S PULPIT MINISTRY is legendary. His sermons have been preached by more preachers than are willing to admit it. Love Worth Finding is viewed around the world. Since going to Bellevue, the church has grown from 9,000 – 29,000 members. It is one of the great churches of the world. The name Adrian Rogers and Bellevue have become synonymous.

 

IN HIS LETTER of resignation, Adrian said the three greatest qualities any pastor could hope for were evident at Bellevue. First, they believed the Bible and loved Jesus. Secondly, they loved one another and had a spirit of unity. Lastly, they believed the pastor was God’s anointed and appointed leader of the church. There you have it – a great pastor and a great church because they have all the right ingredients.

 

THESE ARE SAD DAYS for me. I count every one of these men as my friends. They have advised me, rebuked me, prayed for me, encouraged me, loved me and helped me. I’m not worthy to stand in their shadows or even whisper their names. They are men of whom the world was not worthy. Yet, God blessed us and continues to bless us because of their faithfulness to the Lord.

 

I AM, of all men, blessed. To have talked, prayed and eaten with these men is more than I could have ever imagined as a dumb kid growing up in Mississippi. The baton is being passed. The torch is being handed off. Elijah is leaving the field, but I wonder, where is the Elisha who will take their place? Where are the men who are committed to the study of the Word, the love of the church and an uncompromising gospel?

 

WITH THE CHANGING of the guard over the last few years and in the coming years, I pray we won’t replace Rangers, Seals and Marines with Draft dodgers. These men have paid the price. My generation is only interested in the perks. God help us if we don’t raise up a new generation that is better than my generation.

 

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