Life happens so quickly and it’s easy to keep your head down and get caught up in the day-to-day bustle. But when you pause and look around, that’s when you wonder, “Am I making the difference I need to be making?”
This was the question posed to the more than 500 men gathered at the Building Men of Strength conference held March 9–10 at Union No. 3 Baptist Church near Gadsden.
It’s hard to argue that any man made more of a difference for Christ in this generation than Billy Graham. Evangelist Scott Dawson kicked off the conference with a brief tribute to the recently deceased evangelist.
“Let’s live our lives so that God can trust us,” Dawson said. “God trusted Billy Graham and Billy Graham trusted in God and now is in heaven with Him.”
Everyone has a fear of reaching the end of their life and realizing they didn’t make a significant difference, said evangelist Bob Reccord.
Being a difference maker
There’s a life that we can look at, Reccord said, to see what being a difference maker really means. It’s the life of a man who was born in an obscure village, who never traveled more than 200 miles, who “did none of those things you usually associate with greatness.” But today He is the central figure of all the human race — Jesus.
“That life, gentlemen, that life is standing at the door of your life and He’s knocking,” Reccord said, speaking from Luke 14:15–23. “And He wants you to come. … From the very beginning His call was to come.
“What’s your excuse? … What are you waiting for to be ready (to follow Jesus)? What is it that you want to achieve? There is nothing that can fill the hole in your life except God the Creator in the form of Jesus Christ.”
Reccord also encouraged the men in attendance to step up and lead the disciple-making charge. “Throughout the history of Christianity, women have brought the energy for the Church,” Reccord said. “But God has intended from the beginning that it is men who bring the strength.”
Preaching from Hebrews 12:1–2 the following day, Reccord encouraged participants that “no failure is fatal” and “no failure is final” — “it may just be the greatest step forward into what God has created you to be.”
In each person’s race it’s important to first be joined with Christ through faith and second to be united with fellow believers, Reccord said.
‘Surrender the weight’
“There are some of you right here who need to surrender the weight you’re carrying,” he urged. Until the hurt, bitterness and unforgiveness is cast off and laid at the feet of Jesus, you can’t run your race well. At best, Reccord said, you’ll be stumbling under the weight of it.
“Lay it down. Then get up and finish your race.”
Retired racecar driver Hank Parker Jr. spoke to the men on finding purpose in Christ. He told participants of his struggle with finding his purpose in the shadow of his father, a professional fisherman with a powerful testimony.
Parker came to faith as a 25-year-old through the persistent discipleship of the Motor Racing Outreach chaplain.
Parker said it wasn’t the chaplain’s communication skills that brought him to Christ, but God working through him.
Parker connected this experience to Paul proclaiming his purpose in Colossians: to advance the gospel and make disciples.
“Your purpose is rooted much deeper than what you do,” Parker said. “My purpose in life isn’t to be a good race car driver; it isn’t to get out of my daddy’s shadow. That’s not my purpose.”
His purpose, and the purpose of every believer, is to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Parker challenged participants to begin looking at their lives, their careers, their families and their friends as opportunities to put their God-given purpose into action.
“Advancing the gospel and making disciples starts where you live, work and play,” Parker told the audience. “It starts where you are.”
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia, spoke on the importance of having a righteous conscience. According to Hunt, the conscience is a divine alarm system installed by God in every human being He creates. The conscience shows right versus wrong and even compels people to do right.
He referenced 1 Timothy 1:5, 19 in saying that a good conscience is needed to carry out the command of God to advance the gospel and make disciples.
‘Cleaner window … more light’
“The conscience may be compared to a window that lets in the light. God’s law is the light and the cleaner the window, the more light shines in.”
Referencing Matthew 18:3, Hunt said that men should become like children in this area, because it is as children that our consciences are clean and clear.
With faith in Jesus, strength to lead, belief in his God-given purpose and a clean, childlike conscience, men can radically change the world and no longer be, according to Hunt, “the untapped reservoir of energy for advancing the kingdom of God.”