What Really Happens Before The Exhibit Hall Opens?

As many of you probably already know, it takes a lot of work to set up an exhibit hall. Until I started at LifeWay 10 years ago, I had never been a part of exhibiting at a convention or conference. I’d attended a bunch of food shows, hotel conventions, etc, but had never been a part of the set up.

This year’s Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix will be my 11th consecutive one and each year I’m amazed at all the work that goes into setting up the exhibit hall. To help give folks a sense of what all goes on we decided to put together a short video from our set up this past Friday.

Hope you enjoy it!

Untitled from Byron Hill on Vimeo.

The Resurrection: What Difference Does It Make?

As we prepare to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, I wanted to share an article with you. It’s entitled, “The Resurrection: What Difference Does It Make?” and was written by Dr. Daniel L. Akin. Hopefully you will find it encouraging. I know I did.

In our postmodern world some might ask, “So what if Jesus did rise from the dead? I’m glad it works for you, but it’s not for me, it’s not where I’m at.” How should we respond to those who may not deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but who do question its significance and relevance for today? Let me share two significant moments in my own life.

Several years ago I participated in a short term mission trip to Thailand. This country is almost totally Buddhist and very resistant to Christianity. We have had little success in evangelizing Thailand. One day we hired a guide to take us around Bangkok. As we began talking I told him I was Christian. He politely informed me that he was a Buddhist, and then he asked me to explain what a Christian is. To my amazement he had never heard about Jesus. He kindly allowed me to talk for some time and when I got to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, he literally stopped the car and turned to me in the backseat to ask if I had really said that Jesus was raised from the dead. I said that was correct, and I went on to tell him that Jesus remains alive today as God and King over all things.

When I finished, this Buddhist from Thailand said nothing for several minutes. He then looked at me again and said, “If this Jesus really did come back to life from the dead, He did something that no one else has ever done. If that is true, He would have the right to make a claim on every person that no one else could.” That Buddhist man did not become a Christian that day. I do not know if he has, and I’ve never seen or heard from him again. He said he just could not believe that someone could come back from the dead, but he would think about it.

I do believe this: He saw the issue and what is at stake with crystal clear clarity. Now let me share a second experience.

Several years ago I became friends with a gifted and brilliant man named Mike Bryan. Mike is not a Christian. In fact he considers himself to be an atheist or agnostic, depending on which day it is. Mike is incredibly smart and intelligent. He is also quite curious. That curiosity led Mike to Dallas, Texas, and Criswell College around 1990 for the purpose of living within an evangelical community and writing about his experience. Surprisingly — especially to his editors —Mike did not produce the hatchet job they expected. He actually was quite complimentary about what he found, and so he wrote a book entitled Chapter and Verse: A Skeptic Revisits Christianity.

After spending almost six months with us: going to classes, attending a major pastor’s conference in Jacksonville, Fla., traveling on a mission trip, and observing a Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, it was time for Mike to leave and return to his home in New York City. My wife and our four boys had fallen in love with Mike and so we had him over for dinner before he left. After dinner, as we were sitting around talking, I asked Mike this question: “Thinking about all you have studied and experienced, what is the bottom line as you see it?” With no hesitation at all Mike responded, “That’s easy. It’s the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.”

Mike then proceeded to set forth the logic of the issue. “If Jesus rose from the dead then there is a God and He is that God,” Mike said. “Furthermore, the Bible is true because He said it was true and believed it was true. And, that means there is a heaven and a hell, and one’s relationship with Jesus is the deciding factor as to which way you go.”

I have often wished my seminary students, fellow theologians, and brothers and sisters in Christ who attend our churches saw the issue as clearly as this agnostic/atheist. If the resurrection is true, the rest of Christianity falls right into place. If, on the other hand it is not true, millions of us wasted our time on Easter Sunday. I am convinced, based on the historical evidence and the witness of the Spirit in my heart, it was not a waste!

Daniel L. Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

A Look Behind the Scenes at SBC 2010

Once again it’s that time of year. Time for the annual Southern Baptist Convention. This year we’re in Orlando, FL at one of the world’s largest convention centers. Needless to say, this place is huge and we’re only using a small part of it. Can’t imagine how large the group would have to be to use the whole thing!

As many of you know, a lot of work goes into pulling off a convention, especially one with a large trade show exhibit area. That’s certainly true with the SBC. Although the exhibit area feels a little smaller this year, it’s still pretty much a zoo during set up days. Good thing our area’s only 20’x30′. Doesn’t take nearly as long to set up as some of the braver folks!

We’re going to have a great time this year. If you’re going to be at the convention, please be sure to stop by and see us. If you’re not able to make it…here’s a little sneak peek at what we’re doing this year. Enjoy!

SBC 2010

5 Tips For Planning A Golf Retreat

I recently read a good post for planning a golf retreat from a friend, Scott Lehman. Scott is the founder and president of In His Grip Golf and we have partnered with Scott on several Pastors Masters golf events at Ridgecrest and Glorieta. In fact, if you’re going to be attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando this June, be sure to stop by our booth as Scott will be there giving a series of putting lessons.

Anyway, if you’re considering planning a golf retreat, here are some great tips from a golf pro!

I have been playing this great game of golf for over 40 years and have been on my share of golf retreats.  In fact, I am just returning from our In His Grip Golf Retreat that I hosted at Limestone Springs in Oneonta, AL.  A great course with a golf cottage on site.   Experience has revealed a few “best practices” and I would love to share them with you.

1.  Define your Purpose: You may want to talk to your guys first to see what would be their ultimate golf retreat experience.  I am starting to learn that guys want to play A LOT of golf, BUT, they also want some DOWN TIME.   We always try to use our In His Grip retreats to have a message in the evening or make it available for certain prayer requests.  This past weekend we spent time praying over our Senior Pastor who is battling cancer.

2.  Date and Location: Most of the golf retreats I have been on are either in the spring or in the fall.  When booking your date and location remember to stay away from course maintenance weeks and you may want to consider daylight savings time.

3.  Determine Your Budget: Hey, we are in challenging economic times and that means that our personal budgets are more sensitive than ever.  Searching the Internet for deals is still a great resource and most golf facilities need the business so don’t be afraid to ASK.

4.  Define your Formats Upfront: I like to send out the formats and teams ahead of time.  I also like to switch it up.  For example, we started out with a two-man scramble, then we had a two-man best ball and finished with a four-man scramble.  It’s a great way to build new relationships and allows for all playing ability levels to have a good time.

5.  Caravan to Build Camaraderie: We always try to have a central meeting point, like our church, and then load up the vehicles so we don’t have anyone driving solo.  It is amazing how many memories are also on the ride to or from the course.

I hope one or two of these keys will help make your next golf retreat experience more memorable.  You may even want to consider a survey from the guys to get their input.  Let me know what some of  your golf retreat experiences have been and what is your favorite golf retreat location and why?

I hope to see you on the course.  Scott