Sometimes I think Christians do not celebrate enough.
I can say that, when I served as a pastor, I missed some opportune times to pause and thank the Lord for His bountiful blessings because, as a pastoral leader, I was busy looking at the next thing on the agenda.
As a state missionary, that oversight has been a challenge for me as well.
In the spirit of celebration and expressing gratitude to the Lord and to His people called Alabama Baptists, I would like to mention a few matters worthy of celebration.
Last November, Alabama Baptists at our state convention voted unanimously, with enthusiasm, to adopt a plan to exchange keys (deeds) with Baptist Health. They are to build us a new facility, approximately 45 percent the size of our current one on their property in Prattville.
In turn, we will deed our current property in Montgomery to them.
As many of you know, this current property and facility are located next to Baptist Medical Center South.
In a recent telephone conversation, a friend and fellow Alabama Baptist said to me, “The decision we made to exchange keys with the Baptist hospital is something we need to celebrate. I don’t think we have done enough of that. Let’s celebrate it.”
My friend is correct. We do need to celebrate this gift from God. Let us celebrate the fact that the work on the new facility has begun and that reports to the State Board of Missions will be made as progress continues.
By next convention meeting in Huntsville, the building will be almost complete. We will occupy it by the first working day in January, if not before that time.
Let me be confessional with you. I have walked the halls of our current facility and thanked God for the foresight of my predecessors, such as A. Hamilton Reid, who led us in the past to locate here on South Boulevard. I am grateful to George Bagley, Earl Potts and Troy Morrison for utilizing this facility in Great Commission ministries during their times of service.
My prayer for some time has been, “Lord, lead us to a new facility where we can better serve Alabama Baptists in a more cost-effective way.”
Of course, others have prayed as well. I cannot and I need not go into detail about this move. However, I must say that this whole episode has been providential in my opinion. I do not use that word often, but I truly believe it applies here in this situation.
Another reason to celebrate is that 2016 gifts through the Cooperative Program were slightly higher than the year previous. That may not sound like much, but we should put this into perspective.
Since the Great Recession, the contributions through the Cooperative Program have not normally increased from year to year. In 2016, Alabama Baptists gave more than $370,000 dollars through the Cooperative Program than the previous year.
I thank the Lord that the giving pattern for CP is moving in the right direction.
The inaugural year of our state missions offering named for Martha Myers and Kathleen Mallory exceeded our goal of $750,000. The amount given to the Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering exceeded $950,000.
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This is a real cause for celebration among our Alabama Baptist family. Our $1 million goal in 2017 is definitely reachable, and we ought to be able to exceed in a hallelujah fashion.
We are still receiving reports concerning baptisms. We do know that almost 5,000 professions of faith were made in Vacation Bible School. This is a PTL cause for celebration.
Lives have been changed, and the Kingdom of God has been advanced. Let us celebrate these new members of the family of believers.
I could go much further in citing reasons to celebrate and to offer gratitude to the Lord.
Among them I would remind us that Alabama Baptists remain a pacesetter in Cooperative Program giving as a state convention in SBC life. We are equally known for sacrificial giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
We should never celebrate out of a sense of self-serving pride. No, never! But we should celebrate what the Lord has done in and through us as His people on mission with the Great Commission.
Thank you, Alabama Baptists, for your exemplary service in Great Commission ministries.
Thank you, Lord, for being a God who blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.