Although bracketed by heavy snow events a few days before and after, the Western Kentucky Evangelism Conference went on as scheduled last week, featuring some powerful preaching and gospel music by the Kingsmen that could melt even the coldest of hearts.
Headlining the conference, which adopted the KBC’s theme, “Tell Your Story,” was New Orleans pastor Fred Luter, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Luter, using Romans 7 as a text on spiritual warfare, told the crowd gathered at Princeton’s Southside Church that while the Super Bowl is a big event, it doesn’t even compare to “the Super Bowl for your soul.”
Luter identified the opposing players in the battle who seek to control our body, emotions, thoughts and actions: “Satan vs. the Savior; Lucifer vs. the Lord.” As for the playbook, each opposing player has certain plays they want us to run. Satan wants us to do what society says, the ways of the world, but the Savior wants us to follow the word of God, he explained. “Our adversity, the devil is doing all he can, using every tactic he can, to get sons and daughters of God to mess up,” Luter warned. “Do you not know what the national anthem in hell is? ’I did it my way,’” he quipped.
Sometimes the battle gets so intense, he continued, explaining how the enemy attacks one’s ministry, marriage, home, family and finances. “Sometimes all we can do is cry out to our Heavenly Father.” The battle for your soul is serious and hard, he admitted. “But I came all the way from New Orleans to tell you: It’s a battle that we can win!”
Heralding the power of the person of Jesus, Luter affirmed, “The reason you can win this battle is because you’re not fighting by yourself.” The playbook says, “Greater is He that is in you!” Luter exclaimed. “In the name of Jesus, we have the victory, and because we have the victory, we have a story to tell.
Curtis Woods, KBC’s associate executive, delivered two messages on Jonah, calling him the “profligate prophet,” who ran away from God, and the “pouting prophet,” who lamented when the people repented. “If you are going to tell your story, you must realize your story belongs to God,” Woods said. If it belongs to you, you can decide when and where to share it; if it belongs to God, He decides how and where His story will be shared with a lost and dying world.
“A good many of us are like Jonah,” he observed. “We think our story belongs to us.” Warning that refusing to tell our story will result in atrophy and decline because of not obeying God, Woods charged, “Those who have received mercy must become conduits of mercy.”
Hershael York, pastor of Buck Run Church in Frankfort, spotlighted Rahab the harlot. “Rahab doesn’t come across as a mover and shaker,” he acknowledged. “Yet, her story is so compelling,” he said. “In a sense, it serves as a model for all of Scripture: A woman known for sin comes face to face with the God of the Bible.”
Pointing to her simple declaration of faith, “Your God is God,” York recounted how Rahab, along with her family, did not perish with those who were disobedient. Because she welcomed the Hebrew spies and chose to identify with the people of God, rather than her people, she was given a promise of hope. Observing that she was still called “Rahab the harlot,” York said his guess was that even the memory of sin highlights His grace. “God is not glorified by our sin, but He is glorified by a grace that overwhelms our past sins,” he explained.
“I can’t read this verse without identifying with Rahab,” he said, paraphrasing Hebrews 11:31: “Hershael, the sinner, did not die with the disobedient, because he gave a friendly welcome to Jesus, the Savior.”
Tennessee evangelist Jerry Spencer recalled how Paul and Silas were miraculously set free from prison at midnight in order that a jailer and his family might be saved. “Don’t underestimate what God can do!” he exclaimed. “Tell your story” he urged. “We are each evangelists. Don’t shun that responsibility and privilege. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you’ll see a soul saved and brought into the kingdom of God.”
Yet, a highlight of the day was hearing from Chris Turpin, who along with his wife, Stephanie, will be serving as an NAMB church planter in Staten Island, N.Y. Turpin formerly was pastor of Donaldson Church in Caldwell-Lyon Association. As Western Kentucky Baptists gathered around the young couple to pray for their ministry, it was a clear reminder of the call to “tell your story.”