It was early in the morning and the temperature was rising rapidly. By late morning it had passed the 110-degree mark in the desert. As I drove to my first visit at First Southern Baptist Church in Palm Springs, I thought about the heat and wondered how many would venture into the sizzling temperature to attend church.
As I entered this beautiful campus, I was impressed with the facilities - a newly remodeled building, a repaved parking lot and most important, a cool worship center. However, I was most impressed by the welcoming spirit this congregation extended. Everyone was so friendly, I found myself wanting to stay longer.
The pastor invited me to say a few words and the members made me feel quite at home. How wonderful to experience the love of Christ from the hearts of His children.
I am blessed with the opportunity to visit many congregations like this because of my position as the CEO (chief encouraging officer) of California Southern Baptist Convention.
The pastor's message that morning was on target. It was inspirational, focused and touched the lives of many in the audience at their point of need.
As I left, the heat was no longer unbearable, because I had been refreshed by an oasis of love from fellow Christians.
I believe this is what many Californians want - an oasis - where they can be refreshed from the struggles they encounter - at home, at work, at school, at play.
One of the ways California Southern Baptists attempt to provide such an oasis is through the California Mission Offering, emphasized in September. Our churches are encouraged to spend the month praying for missions in the Golden State and giving to the special offering, which helps California Southern Baptists provide oases - a church-start, a cup of cold water, a healthy church or an associational project - to refresh those in our communities.
The offering was inspired by one of my predecessors, S.G. Posey, who believed the answer to the problems of our state, nation and world was Christ. I also believe Christ is the answer. The California Mission Offering is one avenue of cooperation for CSBC churches to proclaim Christ throughout our state.
I encourage all of our churches to set challenging goals for this year's CMO.