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BGCT leader speaks of God’s call in message to Southern students

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Christian ministers should be faithful to the call of God, even when it is obviously leading them to a place of testing and trial, Bailey Stone of the Baptist General Convention of Texas told students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Oct. 17.

Stone, who serves as director of the BGCT’s state missions commission, said God sometimes calls ministers to a place where difficult circumstances exist. Stone said it is important to remember that God will not forsake the one whom he has called.

Preaching from the Mark 6 account of Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000, Stone said the disciples were confused when Jesus ordered them into the boat for departure immediately following the miracle. Following the miracle they thought he would remain and assert his political power and — backed by the throng that had just witnessed the miracle — overthrow an oppressive Roman government.

This is the way in which some ministers react to God when he gives direction that seems contrary to what would to be a better path, Stone said.

“When they [the disciples] finally shoved off [the shore], they probably were wondering what was going on,” Stone said.

“Have you ever been there, wondering what God is doing in your life? Many people are that way. They say, ‘Wherever he leads, I’ll go,’ but [when it happens] they have a tendency to say, ‘Lord, I’ll go if the salary is right and the perks are right and they provide a car and the other things, and if it’s a real challenge there.'”

Stone told of a time when, as a young minister, he received a call to Odessa, Texas, to a place he did not necessarily want to go. It turned out to be one of the most critical moves in his ministry, Stone said.

“If I had missed Odessa,” he said, “I would have missed half of my life. If I had missed Odessa, I would have missed one of the greatest challenges God ever gave me in all of my life. You and I must be willing to go where God wills though we don’t understand it.”

Stone said an example of this is Paul’s journey in Acts 16.

“[T]he Spirit of God would not allow him to go into Asia,” Stone said. “So he comes down to Phrygia and Galatia, and along the borders of Mysia and wants to go into Bithynia, which is a barbaric area. He could see a challenge there. He eventually went to what would become the European continent.

“He comes to Troas, he hears this man say in a vision, ‘Come to Macedonia and help us.’ So immediately, they get into the boat and go across the waters and land in Philippi. … The gospel starts to move across what would become the European continent and eventually down to the mission-sending United States of America. God always knows what he’s doing, even when you and I can’t fully understand. Be willing to say, ‘Put me in the boat and I’m ready to go.'”

Just as the disciples encountered a storm on the seas following the miracle, so do many ministers face tough circumstances, Stone said. And as the disciples saw Christ calm the storm, so must ministers trust him to do the same amidst their circumstances.

Stone recounted his bout with cancer 10 years ago. Suddenly, he faced a disease that he had counseled others through on numerous occasions.

“It’s a little bit different with you,” he said. “I had to face the very things I had said to others and apply them to me. I had to say, ‘Jesus, you’re good all the time. … [B]ut even though I can’t understand the circumstances of this storm. … whatever you want to do with me, here I am.’ That was 10 years ago and so far, things are all right. You never know when it’s going to come.

“One of my friends says that as Christians we think that there should always be a constant rain of cookies from God’s cookie jar in the sky. But it doesn’t work that way. Jesus said, ‘In the world, you’ll have tribulation, but take heart, because I’ve overcome.’ Though we don’t understand the storms that come, we must know that God is the master of the storm.”

This sermon can be heard online at www.sbts.edu/news/audio/speakers_chapel.html.
(BP) photo posted with in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: BAILEY STONE.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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