DALLAS (BP) — Kie Bowman, pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, preached the convention sermon from Ezekiel 37, calling on Southern Baptists to ask God to breathe life into families, churches and the Southern Baptist Convention at the annual meeting in Dallas June 13.
Bowman, this year’s alternate convention sermon preacher, stepped in to give the meeting’s keynote message after Paige Patterson, former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, withdrew June 8.
During his message, Bowman noted that “Ezekiel was a priest. That means he had spent his entire life ministering around the things of God in the temple of God,”
“But in 597 B.C.,” he noted, Ezekiel “was captured as a prisoner of war and taken to a pagan culture, and 10 years later he got word that the temple had been destroyed. That means that everything he’d ever prayed about, everything he’d ever hoped for, everything he’d ever worked for was evaporated in the winds of war.”
God led Ezekiel, in a vision, to “the ultimate example of his shattered hopes and the desecration and the devastation of his national dreams — an army of skeletons,” Bowman said. “… This once great army was lying scattered on the desert floor.”
The message God gave Ezekiel 2,600 years ago was one of hope and life, he said, and it applies to believers today.
“This message is still a message of hope and life to your situation because our God is a God of life and a God of resurrection, and anything that looks dead to you may be the next God raises back to life,” Bowman said.
God wants bones to live again in the 21st Century, so He calls believers to speak life, he said. Some messengers may be struggling in their marriages or with their children or in their ministries, Bowman said.
“Some of you may be just struggling with where we are as a convention. We’ve heard some sobering reports. Yes, we believe in the Good News. Yes, we’re optimistic, but it’s going to be an uphill battle and we all know it.
“… It may feel like to you that there are a lot of dry bones around your life, but here’s your good news: God specializes in raising the dead, and nothing is impossible with God,” Bowman said. “Anything God has ever done before He can do again, and anything God’s ever done anywhere He can do here, and anything God’s ever done with anyone, He can do with you.”
In Ezekiel 37, God gave the prophet some strange advice, Bowman said: Preach to the ones who will not and cannot hear.
“God’s solution to the biggest problem imaginable, a valley of dry bones, was pretty simple: Declare the Word of the Lord to a culture that will not hear or cannot hear, and just keep declaring the mighty works of our sovereign God who says, ‘I will give you life.'”
God also calls His people to spiritual life, Bowman said. “It occurred to me this isn’t a passage about dry bones at all. This is a passage of Scripture about our God’s amazing ability to raise the dead. And He does it by His Word when it is anointed by His Spirit.”
The message from God to His people today, Bowman said, is, “I’ll put my Spirit into defeated, dry, dead circumstances and situations and families and churches and denominations and people, and I will make you live again.”
“You and I have a choice to make today. We can live in our own strength and we will have the same spiritual impact as the prayer lives of a robot,” Bowman said, “or we can invite the Holy Spirit of God to breathe life into all of our dead places.”
Believers never grow spiritually by accident, he said, so if they want an Ezekiel 37 moment in their families, churches and ministries they must be intentional. In closing, he called the convention to a time of prayer, urging messengers to come forward and ask God to “breathe life on our churches, on our families, on our ministries, on our convention.”