In the Third Century B.C., the Carthaginian general Hannibal occupied a portion of the Italian peninsula, much to the chagrin of Rome. Rome had difficulty defeating Hannibal because of his use of elephants in battle, which overwhelmed the Roman infantry formations.

In 202 B.C., a Roman general named Scipio Africanus had an idea to defeat Hannibal. Previous attempts by Rome to counteract Hannibal’s elephants included the release of pigs and use of carts with long spikes, had largely been unsuccessful. Scipio took a small army into Carthage forcing Hannibal to leave Italy and engage him there.

At the Battle of Zama, as the elephants came upon the Roman units, the Roman soldiers put Scipio’s idea into action—blowing large trumpets at them. The loud and discordant sound of the trumpets’ blast frightened the elephants into chaos, some even turning back into Hannibal’s infantry. As a result, Rome was victorious, and Zama ended the Second Punic War, setting the stage for Rome to become the world power that would eventually occupy Judea and play a role in the life of Jesus.

In the end, Hannibal’s defeat was caused by distractions. The sound of the trumpets distracted the elephants from their task.

As I travel all over our great state visiting with Oklahoma Baptists pastors and churches, I hear about many distractions they face. The culture at large, discouragement, lack of commitment by members, conflict in the church or community—the list is long of things that can distract both pastor and church from the calling to which they have been called.

How important it is right now for Oklahoma Baptists to be focused on the message and mission God has given to us! We must have a firm commitment to what really matters—the Word of God and the Great Commission—and not be distracted.

In light of this, the Oklahoma Baptists Annual Meeting theme this year is “Focused” taken from Phil. 4:8. This will be a great time for us to gather in worship, study the Word, connect with others in encouraging fellowship and celebrate all that God is doing among and through Oklahoma Baptists. I am praying that the Annual Meeting will be a time for us to renew our focus on growing in Christ and reaching the world with His Gospel!

This year’s Annual Meeting will be at Del City, First Southern on Monday-Tuesday, Nov. 13-14. There is a fantastic slate of speakers for the Pastors Conference during the day on Monday, and the Annual Meeting will meet Monday evening and Tuesday during the day.

I sincerely hope you will make plans to be at the Annual Meeting as I believe it will be a blessing and encouragement to you. See you there!