I am speaking at a Bible Conference in Cartwright, Oklahoma through Friday night. Cartwright is as far south in Oklahoma as you can get, located on the north side of the Denison Dam on Lake Texoma, about 65 miles north of Dallas on Interstate 75.
Ray Early and his wife Amy have been pastoring the people of First Baptist Church, Cartwright, Oklahoma for the last nine years. When Ray came as pastor the church averaged 19 in attendance with half of them being children. Today they have a new building, two morning services because the auditorium can't hold everybody in one, and the Spirit of God has moved in remarkable ways among the people.
Probably less than a mile as the crow flies from the church, located on on the southern shore of Lake Texoma, is the multi-million dollar lake home of Dallas billionaire H. Ross Perot. The home is gorgeous, the yacht docked beside the home is massive, and the view from the bay windows in the front of house as it sits on the hill above the lake must be spectacular.
Two sides of Lake Texoma. Two men who live across from each other. One man has all the wealth that the world can offer, the other man all the wealth that heaven can offer. One man is considered by those around him as a powerful human being, while the other man is considered by his church a very humble human being. One man has the prestige and adoration of the world, while the other man has admiration and appreciation of a small, but growing group of people he has faithfully pastored over the last nine years. As I drove to the hotel in Denison and crossed the Denison Dam after speaking at First Baptist Church, Cartwright, I couldn't help but think this thought. . .
"When will we get to the place in the Southern Baptist Convention where we recognize and honor those pastors and leaders who may not have the wealth, power, and prestige that so captivates the fancy of the world, but in their lives and ministries they exhibit a patient continuence in well doing, ministering faithfully to the very people to whom God has called them, and have ignored the temptation to measure their success in the terms and manner by which society and the world measure it?" In other words, can we as a Convention recognize that the true wealth and measure of a man is seen not in his reputation, but his character; not in his "success" but in his "faithfulness," and most of all not in the popularity or prestige he holds in the eyes of the powerful, but in the kind and gracious words spoken of him by the people who know him best --- his church?
As a Convention I think we may be beginning to move in the right direction in this matter.
Greensboro may show us how far we have come.
In His Grace,