Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in the Tampa area, opened the Florida Baptist Pastors Conference Monday morning with the question: What happens when God begins to sift us?
Everyone in the room is in one of two places: You either think you’re OK, but you’re really not, Whitten said. Or, you think you’re in a bad spot, but God says this is the best spot you could ever be in.
“Some of you may be discouraged, but you’re discouraged for the wrong reasons,” Whitten said.
At a conference like this, Whitten said: You’re afraid of the proverbial question: What are you running?
To which Whitten responded: “There’s a difference between growth and health, and we’ve got to get that [distinction] back.”
Whitten used the example of Peter’s betrayal of Christ in Luke 22:31-34 as his primary text. And he focused on how God sifts us for His purposes.
“God sifts us for introductions, interruptions and intermissions,” Whitten said. One thing is sure: Whenever God sifts us He never gives us an advance notice so we can mark it in our day planner.
But there are great spiritual benefits from being sifted by God, Whitten said. We get the prayers of Jesus, we get His promises and we get His presence.
Whitten encouraged those in attendance by telling them to look for those benefits.
“There isn’t anything about this that looks like God is in it,” Whitten acknowledged. “But He is.”
Following Whitten’s 8:45 a.m. message, attendees had the option of attending two different breakout groups—one at 9:30 a.m. and the other at 10:40 a.m.
The pastors conference will run through 4 p.m. Monday at Calvary Church in Clearwater. Afternoon speakers include Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Ken Weathersby, vice president for Convention Advancement with the SBC’s Executive Committee; and, Hershael York, senior pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Ky.