By Maggie Walsh
The Alabama Baptist
There are seven things every church in Alabama needs and that hell has, said Joel Carwile, pastor of First Baptist Church, Athens, at the 2018 Senior Adult Evangelism Conference on May 7.
Drawing from Luke 16:19–31, Carwile recounted the story of the rich man and the beggar. When both men died, the beggar went to be with Abraham in heaven while the rich man was tormented in hell.
“Death is sure,” Carwile said. “So because one out of one of us die, we should be telling others about Jesus.”
From hell, the rich man first had the clarity of vision to “see afar off” and know the truth and want to tell his family about it. Then he cried tears of agony over his earthly shortsightedness and eternal pain.
“You and I need to learn how to cry again. When was the last time you wept for someone who does not know Jesus Christ?” Carwile asked. “I believe that if we learn how to weep again, then the fire will return.”
In the same way that hellfire is all-consuming, so should be our fire for telling people about Jesus. And in order to keep that fire going, Carwile said, we have to remember what we’ve been saved from and “who it is who saves us.”
Verse 26 talks about the “great chasm” or “gulf” between heaven and hell, a “separation from that which is unclean.”
As Christians we need to have that same kind of separation between people and their sin, Carwile said.
“We wind up throwing people away instead of dealing with them one-on-one to their sin,” he said. “Let us love the sinner while hating the sin. Let us be willing to love someone who is different from us.”
Carwile went on to say that from hell the rich man prayed and had concern for his family still on earth.
“Prayer … does things that preaching and praise cannot,” he said. “You have to be willing to trust Him when you don’t trust yourself.”
This is especially true when coupled with concern for others. It’s vital that Christians not get caught up in preferences and think that church “is all about us,” Carwile said.
“You have to be willing to give up your preferences for the sake of concern (for others).”
With those seven things — vision, crying, fire, remembrance, separation, prayer and concern — the Church can start another pentecost, Carwile said.
Rick Evans, pastor of Dalraida Baptist Church, Montgomery, where the conference was held, preached on the doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus, or the “redheaded stepchild of doctrine” as he calls it.
“If preaching on the soon-coming of Jesus does not bring comfort to your heart there is something wrong,” he said.
“In our age group, you need to be looking for that day.”
Evans looks to the rapture with anticipation because it’s a rescuing of God’s people from impending danger.
And “as you examine your heart and your life as to where you are in your spiritual journey,” Evans said, you can look to Noah as a kind of barometer because Noah loved God with all of his heart, believed God with all of his mind when he was commanded to build an ark and trusted God with all that he had despite naysayers and ridicule.
‘Which group are you in?’
Or maybe you fall more on the side of Lot, who believed in God but allowed himself and his family to be pulled toward the sins of the world until he was deep in a backslidden condition.
“The day is coming and it’s coming soon,” Evans said. “Every person is in 1 of these 3 groups: like Noah, Lot or lost.
“Which group are you in?”
Charles Roesel, an 80-something-year old with the passion of a 20-something, stepped up to the podium to challenge the senior adults that there is still much for them to do.
“When you retire, if you do, you should move from success to significance,” said Roesel, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, Leesburg, Florida, with decades of experience in evangelism ministries. And sometimes that means wrestling with “the temptation of doing good stuff at the expense of doing the best.”
Living life to the fullest and for God’s glory “even as you get older,” Roesel said, requires a positive attitude, pleasant associations with those around you, passionate adoration for Jesus Christ and powerful anticipation for what’s to come in heaven.
Just look at Caleb in Joshua 14:6–15, he said. Caleb served the Lord “wholeheartedly” (v. 9) for 85 years and then received the inheritance that the Lord promised him, the land of Hebron.
The conference concluded with an altar call, and senior adults hit their knees before the Father.
Paid in Full, combined choir lead in worship
From southern gospel trio Paid in Full to the combined choir of nearly 100, those gathered for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions’ (SBOM) 2018 Senior Adult Evangelism Conference on May 7 had a toe-tappin’ good time as they praised God.
Paid in Full is based in New Albany, Mississippi, and is made up of Bradley Littlejohn, a math teacher; Lance Moore, a web and graphic designer; and Brock White, a police officer. The trio sang soulful medleys and classic hymns such as “Victory in Jesus.”
The choir led the congregation in worship, accompanied Paid in Full on several songs and also performed specials such as “On-Time God.” The choir included members of Heritage Baptist; First Baptist, Montgomery; Eastern Hills Baptist; and Dalraida Baptist, which was the host church for the conference.
Eileen Mitchell — state missionary with a focus on single adults, senior adults and family ministries for SBOM — also led the congregation in praise. (TAB)