February 2019

My IQ wasn’t high enough

February 7 2019 by Donald Kim

In junior high, I had an interesting run-in with IQ to assess people’s ability and aptitude for adapting.

I was in the seventh grade when I went to see my counselor in hopes of taking gifted and talented classes. She told me that I first had to take a test. OK, sure. The results came in and she gave me the news: I was neither gifted nor talented.
I was at a loss. I wrote a letter to my elementary school teacher back in California (I was in Texas at the time). She wrote back telling me that she went through my records and it was true: I did not qualify for the gifted and talented program there either. Schools in both Texas and California were unanimous in their assessment of me at the age of 11. My father wasn’t around – he had passed away that year. My mother wasn’t fluent in English.
So much for helicopter parents. I was on my own. Not gifted. Not talented.
My future was caving in on me. My limitations were in plain sight. The news was devastating.
But in retrospect, it was the best news I could have received. Nothing was a given for me. I didn’t have the natural gifting for schooling, but I was still there, and I remember loving my time in school. I frequently stayed afterward to talk to my teachers – to pick their brains. Thinking back, I didn’t know how selfless my teachers were in giving up time with their families to talk to me.
My underachieving IQ score didn’t determine the course of my life; it only made me hungrier with an appetite to learn.
We live in a world that wants to determine people’s worth through gifting and usefulness. Churches may make the mistake of assessing the quality of people by what they can bring to the table – or the offering plate. It’s almost as if there’s an SQ (spiritual quotient) test that can be administered to evaluate people’s value to ministry. But there is not – certainly not for increasing numbers, attracting more talent or stimulating spiritual growth.
I’m keen on reminding students at the college where I teach that I do not measure their worth by how they do in my class. If anything, I don’t remember test scores, though I will remember what they wrote in their papers from time to time. I tell them God has shown me repeatedly that He can use anyone – regardless of their capacity, regardless of who they are or what they’ve faced. Everyone is a wild card.
Why? Because the apostle Paul saw his inadequacy firsthand.
Facing the intimidating congregation in Corinth, he wrote to them telling them that he did not come with lofty words or wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1). He came in weakness, in fear and in much trembling (2:2). He reminds them of where many of them came from. Not wise. Not powerful. Not from noble birth.
The beauty of what God has done to redeem His people, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, is evident in His power: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
Over the course of my life, I may have picked up a few academic degrees that offer a redemptive narrative of some sort. In my mind, I’m still the same kid who was told nothing will come natural to me. No innate gifting. Not special.
As my IQ score revealed, I am the embodiment of the foolishness that Paul describes. I have not shamed the wise or the strong (at least to my knowledge). I’m sure that I can only boast in what Christ has done. He is still redeeming the lost; He is still raising up pastors who heed the call and humbly lead His church.
The work continues as He masterfully engineers the character of men and women to reach the lost and minister to the broken. Not with metrics. Not with fancy strategies or fanciful thinking. With His wisdom, He reaches beyond all understanding and into the hearts that yearn for more in this world.
Join me in this labor to advance His Kingdom. Let us boast in His work. Let us boast that we know Him.
As we read in Jeremiah 9:23-24: “Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
And so we strive. He is still working in our midst.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Donald Kim is assistant professor of Bible at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Scarborough College. This article first appeared at the seminary’s Theological Matters website, theologicalmatters.com.)

2/7/2019 10:39:28 AM by Donald Kim | with 0 comments

Billy Graham via TV and the big screen

February 6 2019 by Phil Boatwright

A year has passed since Billy Graham died on Feb. 21, 2018. I can’t help but think the world is worse off whenever a man of God dies; true believers have the light of Christ in them and when that light is removed, the world becomes a little darker. 

Like most, I had always been impressed with Dr. Graham’s gentle spirit and devoted love for mankind. I also appreciated his pioneering use of broadcast and film media. He knew radio, TV and movies could be effective tools for addressing our spiritual needs.
Long ago, Dr. Graham began preaching on radio and then moved into television where his crusades were broadcast to tens of millions. Though some were upset that he would go on “secular” shows, he wisely did. He appeared on the hits of the day, including “The Jack Paar Show” and “The Jack Benny Program.” TV pioneer Paar once asked him, “Are you criticized for coming on this show?” Billy good naturedly responded, “There are some who criticize me, but I always tell them, ‘Well, Christ went among the publicans and sinners, so I guess I can come on The Jack Parr Show.’”
In 1969, Graham even went on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.”
Now, for those unfamiliar with Laugh-In, this hip, fast-moving weekly hour of sight gags, one-liners, short skits and sometimes bawdy humor was groundbreaking television. Laugh-In humorously took on political and social issues, while changing the pace and content of comedy shows forever. Dr. Graham appeared on the last show of the second season.
This guest spot must have raised many a pew-sitter’s eyebrow, but Rev. Graham had a mission: to deliver a short message from John 3:16 on the highest-rated TV program of the day. I have it in my personal film and TV library; trust me, it’s amazing. The regulars paid him respect and the Holy Spirit obviously guided him as he reminded viewers of the need for Jesus Christ in their lives. Just amazing.
Let’s not forget his association with the motion picture industry. World Wide Pictures is an innovative production company and film distributor, established as a subsidiary of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. WWP has presented evangelistic movies in churches and movie theaters since 1953, with an estimated 2 million decisions for Christ as a result of those films – well, as a result of the Holy Spirit through those films.
Many of World Wide’s productions are available on DVD and I highly recommend the following: “The Climb,” “Joni,” “A Vow to Cherish,” “Something to Sing About,” “The Hiding Place” and “Road to Redemption.”
Several TV and film presentations have spotlighted Billy Graham and his ministry, the most recent being “Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey,” now available on DVD and digital HD, and I wholeheartedly recommend it for family viewing.
What truly stands out in this documentary is the clear depiction of Billy Graham’s love for the lost. What’s more, his example can uplift our own daily walk or ministry. Viewing the film reminds us of what God can do with a life completely surrendered to Him.
That’s really the point of this piece – God can and will use a yielded heart. Not everyone will preach to coliseums full of people, as Dr. Graham did – but we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 12 that the whole body of Christ is made up of many parts. The chapter further explains: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” He uses all His children for the furthering of His Kingdom.
For more than 60 years, Billy Graham preached the gospel around the world to an estimated 215 million people through 400 crusades and evangelistic rallies that were simulcast in more than 185 countries and territories. On top of that, he became a trusted spiritual adviser to many U.S. presidents and world leaders.
Don’t let that intimidate your Christian walk or work for Christ. I believe when Billy Graham first got to heaven, God wasn’t awed by Billy’s earthly ministry (or numbers), but pleased by his faith in Jesus. This, Billy Graham shares with many souls who aren’t so famous.
While we are humbled by Dr. Graham’s accomplishments, let’s remember, man sees the deeds of others, but God sees the intent of the heart. Our ministries are as important as Dr. Graham’s because they were given to us by God.
I look forward to befriending Billy Graham in heaven. That said, from a peek into the character of God through the scriptures, I’ve come to the conclusion that it will be an equal pleasure meeting everyone there, for we will regard one another through the loving eyes of Jesus.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Phil Boatwright is the author of MOVIES: The Good, the Bad, and the Really, Really Bad available on Amazon.com.)

2/6/2019 10:57:58 AM by Phil Boatwright | with 0 comments

Keep on going to church

February 5 2019 by Steve Playl

We got there about 10 minutes early but still were too late to get an inside seat, so we sat outside at the Robert F. Thomas Chapel. Music rolled through the front door of the little church house and joined the notes that were piped out through speakers set up nearby. Folding chairs were arranged on the chapel’s front porch and on the concrete “lawn” in front of the building.

An usher handed us a printed order of worship and pointed out that song books were available. As we glanced through them, we were approached by an energetic young man with a smile on his face and his hand extended.
“Hi! I’m Joey Buck, chaplain here at Dollywood. Welcome to our worship service. You’ve got the best seats in the house.” (The last statement was made despite the fact that we were actually out of the house.) “We are so glad you have joined us this afternoon.”
After ascending the chapel’s steps he greeted the folks near the aisle and made his way to the front of the single room. There he greeted the whole congregation and invited us to worship together at the Tennessee theme park in the Smoky Mountains.
Most of us didn’t know most of the rest of us, but we soon began to bond in our common faith in Christ. It was the last Sunday in 2018, and we were still celebrating God becoming a human baby, being born in a stable, singing praises to the one who loved us enough to come into the world, live as a man and die on the cross for our sins, and chaplain Joey didn’t hesitate to remind us of those truths.
Strangers, we greeted one another in the love of Jesus. Voices joined in a choir, more than a hundred strong as we sang Christmas carols and praise songs. The sermon was interwoven with song, as a message was presented from Psalm 148 reminding us to praise the Lord because He has raised up a deliverer not just the people of Israel, but all mankind.
As we contemplated the words of scripture and the speaker, we heard him invite all the kids to come up and form a children’s choir. Without rehearsal, they united their voices to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” I declare I think I heard our granddaughter Katie Grace’s voice above all the rest. She surely was not bashful in performing in her Dollywood debut.
We were dismissed with prayer, then invited to sing the benediction. Rejoining the Dollywood masses, gawking at the festive lights, our hearts overflowed as we continued to celebrate the Light of the World. We were surrounded by thousands of theme park visitors, but at the chapel – near the eagles which had been rescued and moved to the mountainside sanctuary – we were raised on “eagle’s wings” to praise the Creator.
What a great way to end an old year and kick off a new one! The writer of Hebrews reminds us in Chapter 10, verse 25 that we should “continue to meet together. ...” Usually it is good to meet with our church family, but when we have the opportunity to go to church with strangers who are fellow believers, let’s do it. Remember that in Christ, we are part of a big family, even at Dollywood.

2/5/2019 10:20:48 AM by Steve Playl | with 0 comments

The playbook

February 1 2019 by John Yeats

For team-sport enthusiasts, you know that the playbook is one of a team’s essentials. It is much more than ‘Xs and Os.’

The playbook states the mission and the goals for the team and articulates what to do or how to act in certain scenarios.
When doing life, many wish, ‘If I only knew what to do.’ The truth is, as followers of Christ, we do have a playbook and it is the revealed, infallible, inerrant Word of God, the Bible. Although skeptics and the ‘no god for me’ folks would call this simplistic thinking, I beg to differ.
The God who created us, the God who has a purpose for every life, has chosen to show Himself powerfully in the life of the person who receives, believes and acts on the truths of God’s Word. Through difficult times, broken times, hallelujah times and all other times in life, God’s Word is ever true for every culture all the time. As the apostle Paul wrote, ‘All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17 CSB).
There are those who struggle with the authority of scripture. There are some who are convinced that scripture holds only kernels of truth and that the whole of scripture is not relevant to contemporary culture. There are some who think that because the Bible appears inconsistent with macro evolution, technology and contemporary social trends, it needs an adjustment to accommodate the needs of people in today’s culture.
The vast majority of Southern Baptists know the scriptures need no adjustment. The bulk of us believes the Bible is literally true – that its historical texts teach historical truth and should never be taught as myths or parables or dramas or mere suggestions. We never cease to learn the invaluable, inexhaustible truths in God’s Word. We will not be intellectually victimized by elitists who think followers of the Lord Jesus are unenlightened. We may lack in humanistic enlightenment or cleverness, but we know that the Word of God reveals God’s purposes and plans for people in whatever context we find ourselves.
2019 marks the 40-year anniversary of the Conservative Resurgence – 40 years of bringing Southern Baptist and state convention institutions back from the brink of a theological train wreck to rediscovering the power of God’s plans and purposes for our personal lives, our cooperative ministries and contemporary culture.
The retired president of the SBC Executive Committee, Morris H. Chapman, wrote a position paper for Baptist2Baptist.net titled ‘The Root of the SBC Controversy.’ He said, ‘What motivated these Baptists to risk personal criticism, jeopardize careers, lose friends, and embroil the Southern Baptist Convention in a controversy that could have eventuated in its disintegration? Was it power lust or right-wing secular politics or an affinity for fighting as some have accused? Absolutely not – these accusations are totally unfounded.’
Chapman continued, ‘The central issue that spawned and sustained the movement was the nature of scripture and its significance for the practice of Christianity as expressed through Southern Baptists. The controversy was ignited by the diminution of confidence in the Bible as the accurate and trustworthy written Word of God. Scores of God-called young people who had been birthed, baptized, and discipled in Bible-believing Southern Baptist churches went off to Baptist institutions of higher learning where they were robbed of their faith in the truthfulness of scripture by the very folk who were being paid by Baptists to strengthen their faith and prepare them for vital ministry. Many of these potential leaders abandoned Christian ministry. Worse yet, some remained to poison the churches with the same false doctrine. What tragic results of this lamentable epoch of unfaithful teaching! Gratefully, many of the young preachers weathered the assault on their Bible and their faith and were the very ones who led the Southern Baptist Convention to return to its roots.’
It is not enough to give lip service about the Bible or to collect factual knowledge about the scripture. A follower of Christ demonstrates his/her actual belief in the Word of God by the way he/she lives out an orthodox view of scripture and not someone’s existential rationalization or accommodation with the secular world.
In 1979, when the respected Adrian Rogers was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Southern Baptists drove a stake in the ground to say:
We are a people of the Book;
We live by the Word of God;
We teach by the Word of God;
We do church by the Word of God;
We are compelled by the Word of God to cooperate in missions and ministry;
We obey what the Lord has spoken in the Word of God to take the exclusive Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
We are the people of God on mission with the God who has chosen to reveal Himself through His Word.
His Word is our one and only ‘playbook’ for life and godliness.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – John Yeats is executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

2/1/2019 11:27:46 AM by John Yeats | with 0 comments

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