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Tampa enlivened by evangelism rallies

TAMPA, Fla. (BP)–Amid the influx of visitors for Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1, the Tampa Bay Baptist Association ushered in the week with “Super Evangelism” rallies to the east, north and south of Raymond James Stadium.

With flyers plastered in their foyers and in nearby neighborhoods, members of three churches and visitors gathered to hear popular New Orleans preacher Fred Luter Jr. beginning Jan. 26.

During a three-day blitz of sermons ranging from “God’s bail-out plan” to “The Super battle for your soul,” Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, said while the Steelers and Cardinals compete out on the field, “nothing compares to the battle for your soul.”

The revival-like services each drew attendance in the hundreds — young and old, families and teens. A few wore football jerseys — and each evening service began with energetic singing by a full choir and ended with an altar call.

From Wall Street to Main Street to where the people are, everyone is looking for a “bail-out,” Luter said at First Baptist Church in Temple Terrace, Jan. 26.

Basing his message on John 3:16, Luter said the only hope is in Jesus, calling Him the “Super bail-out” who predates the president, Congress or any political party that might think they have solutions.

At Manhattan Baptist Church in Tampa Jan. 27, Luter said God chose believers to be “productive and persistent players on the team.”

Comparing the game of football to the Christian life, Luter said God took a chance — in spite of “Satan [giving] God a negative scouting report on every one of us.”

“Some of us should not have been drafted by God,” Luter said, yet “Jesus will show you how to be a productive player on our team.”

Referring to teams when they score touchdowns, Luter noted it’s not each player whose name is on the scoreboard when the score gets recorded, but it’s the team’s name. Likewise, Christians were “drafted on God’s team” and need to work together.

“God’s team is not just for first-time draft picks,” Luter said. “God’s team is for every member on the team.”

Reserving his strongest Super Bowl comparisons for the final rally, Luter said Jan. 28 at First Baptist Church in Brandon that “The Super Battle for your soul” rages within every person.

Calling Sunday’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals “the most watched game in all the world,” Luter used Romans 7:15-25 as his text, saying God expects believers to live their lives based on the Word of God.

“Whose report will you believe; the world’s or the Word?” Luter asked after naming a list of social issues reflecting the world’s view and then giving Scripture references refuting those opinions.

A key to winning the battle is prayer and “sometimes you got to call on God all by yourself,” Luter said. “I’m just so glad God is not a God of a second chance, but another chance.”

Unlike Sunday’s Super Bowl, Luter said an eternal outcome already has been determined.

“The grand prize for the Super Bowl is the Vince Lombardi trophy,” Luter said. “The grand prize for the spiritual battle for all believers who hang in there … who win the Super Bowl for your soul is heaven.

“How do you know we are gonna win the battle?” Luter asked rhetorically. “The game is fixed. The game is already won. Jesus won…. The Bible says we are victorious.”
Joni B. Hannigan, managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness (www.floridabaptistwitness.com), is in Tampa covering activities that are part of Super Bowl week.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan/Florida Baptist Witness