DALLAS (BP) -- "Daddy, are we there yet?" Oh, do I remember those days.
A few of you coming to the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas this year will hear those or similar words. Many of us recall the days when vacations were planned around the Southern Baptist Convention.
And we really do stand out in the crowds as "touristers." No matter how "cool" you are, or how skinny your jeans are or how long that broom skirt really is, folks, you are a tourist, and you will stand out in the crowd. Even locals will stand out. That lanyard around our necks says it all.
But that's not really a bad thing.
We will see old friends, make new ones and hang out with the "tribe" for a few days of refreshing. No, outsiders won't understand us, not even in the Bible Belt. The last time the SBC met in Dallas, the local newspaper used the old line to describe us -- "Southern Baptists came to town with $10 and the Ten Commandments and didn't break either one!"
My wife Cheryl and I drove around Dallas in 1974 for our first SBC, gawking at the enormity of the city. We registered and walked through the halls. I never saw such big hair in all my life! Some preachers looked like rock stars -- of the '50s! I thought Pat Boone had been cloned. But, we were there. It was our tribe and we were beaming with pride and anticipation. I saw pastors that my pastors had quoted. I was actually in the same room with them. Our hearts were full and our dreams were big.
Now we come together in 2018 in a different world. We, who Jesus said were to be salt and light, have seen the tasteless and at times walked in the dark. Billy Graham is gone, and no one has replaced him. That is not pessimism; that is reality. It is a good reality because in that reality, or maybe maturity, I have learned what Harold Lindsell once said, "Only God can turn the water to wine."
Although the world is tasteless and dark, we are children of the light. And in that Light, we see light. One of the bright lights at the 2018 SBC annual meeting will be the prayer room. I am inviting you to come pray there for 15 minutes as often as you want. God can do in a minute "exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20) if His people will call upon Him.
It is our desire for God to use our denomination for His glory. In this desire, the convention has a prayer room led by local prayer leaders. Our prayer room this year will be an exciting journey of prayer -- from connecting prayer in the home and church to taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We are asking people to volunteer for one or more 15-minute prayer segments as we seek to cover the Pastors' Conference and the annual meeting with prayer.
Will you pray 15 minutes? You may register to pray during all of the segments you desire at sbtexas.com/prayer. It does not matter how many people are in the segment. Pray when you can. Registration helps the prayer team prepare for you.
I look forward to seeing you in Dallas. And I hope you will use your social media platform to promote the link to the prayer room registration. Safe journey! Yes, kids, we are nearly there.