Derick Wilson, minister of worship at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Farmington, opened the Tuesday evening session of the 2017 BCNM Annual Meeting with music from Emmanuel's praise team and a combined choir from Emmanuel and First Baptist Church, Bloomfield. BCNM First Vice President Jared Bridge, pastor of Anchor Church, Albuquerque, presided during the session. After the music, Dan Sanders, pastor of First Baptist Church, Aztec, read 2 Timothy 4:5, gave a ministry challenge and led messengers in prayer.
Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Ga., spoke as the evening's keynote speaker. As an introduction, he shared his burden for people who live outside of the traditional Bible Belt. He said and his church have sponsored 10 church plants in the Western and Northeastern United States. Both areas lie outside the Bible Belt.
Catt titled his message, based on Philippians 1:18-22, The Life Worth Living. When the Apostle Paul faced the end of his earthly life in prison, he explained, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Catt said that everyone should live by that summary statement. "The essence of Christian life," he said, "is that God has called us to live for Christ. Dying will only be gain."
Catt encouraged listeners to fill the blanks in the following statement with personal, honest words: For me, to live is ________ and to die is ________. He declared that Christ is the only one that can actually fill in those blanks, noting that Jesus taught, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
“On my own it is impossible for me to do what God has called me to do. There is no demand made on my life that is not made on the life of Christ in me,” Catt continued. “Salvation is more than heaven or hell. It is also about how people live and how they impact other people.”
A Christian's words and language reveal whether Jesus Christ is real in their lives. That means his or her behavior should look different from unsaved people in the world. Unfortunately, he said, giving an example, the reported rate of Christian divorce or suicide is not that much different from the rate reported among the unsaved world. “The Holy Spirit is inside of us to make Christ real to the world,” he said. Paul, Catt said, lived a fruitful life because he held to the truth. Paul admitted, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
“There is no indication that Paul ever prayed to get out of that prison,” Catt shared. “Paul was chained, but the Gospel wasn't chained.” He continued, “If Christ is not your all-consuming purpose, you are a slave to circumstances, feelings and events.” He closed with a story of being mentored by Vance Havner during his early years as a believer. According to Catt, Havner taught him an important principle of Christian life: “It is one thing to say that Jesus is all you want, until He is all you have got. And then, you will find out that He is all you really needed.”