By: Melissa Lilley
WINSTON-SALEM – With each passing day, time continues to tighten its grip on all aspects of life. It seems these days the clock controls everything and people have more gadgets than they know what to do with to remind them of this fact. From wristwatches and alarm clocks to clocks on computers and cell phones, clocks are everywhere.
“Every moment of my day is mapped and planned out. I live by the clock,” Anne Graham Lotz said to those gathered at Calvary Baptist Church for the North Carolina Baptist Missions Conference. Lotz is founder of AnGel Ministries and daughter of Billy Graham.
But what happens when time is up? With each breath, every person on earth draws one day nearer to the day when his time on this earth will be up. When that day comes, every person on earth will stand before Jesus Christ. Are Christians living in light of that reality?
These are the questions Lotz pleaded with North Carolina Baptists to keep at the forefront of their minds.
Lotz spoke about how many of the signs mentioned in scripture that signal the end of human history and Christ’s return seem to be not only evident in the world today, but are increasing in frequency and intensity. For example, one indication of a spiritual sign that signals Christ’s return is near is the persecution of believers. Last year 200 million Christians around the world were persecuted for their faith.
National and environmental signs are also mentioned in scripture. Lotz said more than 130 wars are going on in the world today, 10 of those considered major. The last century saw more wars than all other centuries combined. Earthquakes and tsunamis and natural disasters are dominating the news.
Lotz believes the signs indicate Christ is returning soon. But regardless of whether or not people agree, the reality remains: Christ is still returning one day and everyone will stand before Him.
“One day, at any moment, could be my last,” Lotz said. “Live your life expecting to see Jesus any moment.”
Lotz said this means believers live in such a way that they are aware of the needs of those around them. Believers should work hard as unto the Lord, diligently and faithfully serving Him in the work in which He has called them. “Your overarching purpose is to reveal the glory of God,” she said. “Watch for opportunities to tell someone about Jesus.”
Lotz challenged the audience to live holy, blameless lives and to live in unity with one another. She asked believers to strive to make all they say and do a reflection of God’s love and glory.
Love God, Love Others
This year’s conference theme was “Love God, Love Others,” based on Mark 12:30-31. “First, we must love God. Then, we can love others,” said Richard Brunson, Executive Director-Treasurer for North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM). “You can’t love others if you don’t love God. If you love God, you’re going to want to love the things of God – which is other people.”
The April 1-2 conference featured worship led by the Annie Moses Band, break out sessions and testimonies from North Carolina Baptists about their involvement in missions through NCBM. Testimonies came from people who served in places like Vermont, Ukraine, Kenya, Haiti, Cuba and South Africa. North Carolina Baptists also gave testimonies about their involvement in mission efforts such as Deep Impact, Operation Inasmuch and Disaster Relief.
Author David Nasser spoke during the plenary sessions as well as during the youth conference (see related story).
Also a keynote speaker was Gary Chapman, author and speaker about marriage and family. Chapman also serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary.
Chapman spoke about how believers can gain a new perspective on life when they commit to “love as a way of life.” Drawing on research from his book Love is a way of life, Chapman explained seven ways believers can commit to loving others.
Christians can show love by simply showing kindness – even when others do not initiate or reciprocate that kindness. Love is demonstrated when people are patient and accept the imperfections of others. “Realize that impatience never changes reality,” Chapman said.
Believers must be forgiving, doing unto others as Jesus Christ has done unto them. “If you hold a lot of anger inside it will come out,” Chapman said.
Chapman encouraged the audience to begin thinking of every person they meet as someone who is valued and loved by God, and to show courtesy and humility toward people.
“Life’s deepest meaning is found in relationships: with God and with others,” he said. “The most satisfied people are those who have invested in the lives of others.”
For more information about North Carolina Baptist Men ministries, visit www.baptistsonmission.org.