May 2018

SBC: Joining the orchestra

May 15 2018 by Amy Whitfield, Guest Column

It was June 2006 when I walked through a tunnel into the Greensboro Coliseum and first saw the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in action. I watched in awe as a sea of paper ballots rose in the air time and again, and President Bobby Welch led 11,639 messengers through two days of actions that would affect the year to come. It was like watching a symphony. But as a new member of the orchestra, I often wondered what was happening and at times was unsure of what I was doing. I knew I had a great responsibility, and I wanted to approach it with the necessary deliberation.
After those two days, I determined to never stop learning about the processes of Southern Baptist cooperation. In the words of Aaron Sorkin (and perhaps Harry S. Truman), “Decisions are made by those who show up.” But “showing up” must mean more than our mere presence. We come together to make decisions about how we will work together for the spreading of the gospel to the ends of the earth. It must involve more than raising our hands in the air. It must involve our minds and our hearts. When we act, we should seek to understand.
The SBC is a body of people who are members of churches that have chosen to participate in cooperation with one another. When the Convention gathers to do its business, no single messenger carries more authority or privilege than another. Every vote carries the same weight, everyone sits under the same rules, and every individual has the opportunity to use his or her voice.
The SBC does not rule from the top down. Rather, it is a cooperative effort of the churches that does its business from the bottom up. The most important person in the SBC is the individual messenger, and when the deliberative assembly gathers, the denomination is doing its most important work: the work that determines the future of its cooperative ministries.
Engagement takes many forms. Whether we are giving our resources, serving with others in tough places, praying for missions, or raising a ballot, we are making the decision to stand with others who have the same desire to see the gospel spread throughout the world.
We truly can do more together than apart, and this is best accomplished by an informed commitment to participation. It is vital that participants have accurate knowledge of how our system works. Even more so, that knowledge should inspire us to engage in the process of cooperation more deeply, so that together we may pursue the mission of Christ.
Our systems are designed to work, but our processes can get messy because we are human. Working together will always require effort and patience, and dependence on the Lord’s grace. But even in the messiest moments, I choose to stand with others because I believe our hope is real and our mission is worth the challenges.
We learn so that we can engage. We engage so that we can go on mission together.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Amy Whitfield is director of communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. This article is adapted from the preface to her new book with co-author Keith Harper, SBC FAQs: A Ready Reference.)

5/15/2018 8:20:42 AM by Amy Whitfield, Guest Column | with 0 comments

Churches, your wireless sound equipment may stop working soon

May 14 2018 by Kenny Lamm, Guest Column

Many church wireless microphone and in-ear monitor systems operate in the 600 MHz frequency. Due to the increasing needs for more of the broadcast spectrum by wireless providers, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently auctioned off much of the 600 MHz frequencies to companies, including mobile phone providers.
T-Mobile spent $8 billion on 45 percent of the licenses and is aggressively expanding their wireless data network in the 600 MHz spectrum.
Any of your church’s 600 MHz devices that operate outside of a very narrow band of frequencies (listed below) must cease operating no later than July 13, 2020.
However, these devices may cease to operate effectively at any time depending upon when a wireless broadband company begins to use their newly-acquired frequencies.
These companies may use their newly-acquired frequencies at anytime. There are many cases where a microphone worked great one week and the next week the entire 600 MHz system was rendered useless due to a new transmitter coming on line in the intervening week.
Don’t assume you are safe to use your equipment until July 13, 2020. Consider it unreliable.

Bottom line

Replace all your wireless devices working in the forbidden frequencies as soon as possible. They may not work next week. Seriously.
There are only a few frequencies in the 600 MHz spectrum that still may be used for unlicensed wireless operations:

  • 614-616 MHz
  • 657-663 MHz

Note that the manufacturing, import, sale, lease, offer for sale or lease, or shipment of wireless microphones or similar devices intended for use in the United States that operate on the 600 MHz service band frequencies (617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz) is prohibited after October 13, 2018.
What will happen to our current audio equipment?
You will first need to verify whether or not it operates in the 600 MHz spectrum (other than 614-616 and 657-663). If it doesn’t, you have no worries.
If it does, first see if your equipment has a function to select a different frequency – one that may be allowable. If not, you will need to replace your equipment.
Many companies are offering trade-ins with discounts toward replacement systems. Below is a list of companies with trade-in/rebate programs and the dates by which you have to apply for the promotion.

Promotions run $50-$500 depending on the systems. Note that some expiration dates are only a few weeks away

  • Sennheiser, June 30
  • Samson, June 30
  • Lectrosonics, Aug. 30
  • Shure, Oct. 31
  • Audio-Technica, March 31, 2019

Do not delay taking care of this matter. Your equipment may fail at a very bad time!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article first appeared at Used by permission.)

5/14/2018 2:05:57 PM by Kenny Lamm, Guest Column | with 0 comments

Faith of our mothers

May 11 2018 by David H. McKinley, Baptist Press

There is an old hymn by Frederick William Faber written in memory of Catholic martyrs during the time of King Henry VIII. Somehow this hymn made its way into the Baptist Hymnal due to its militant call to remain vigilant in spiritual battle and steadfast in the defense of truth.

David H. McKinley

Though it has been many years since I have sung this hymn, it is something I clearly recall singing in my childhood. Maybe you can recall the melody as you read these words:
Faith of our fathers! living still
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword,
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!
While this hymn is an appeal for faith and faithfulness to God, it would do well for us not only to affirm the faith of our fathers, but also to honor and celebrate the faith of our mothers.
This Mother’s Day weekend, I have cause to celebrate the gift and grace of godly mothers. I was blessed to have a godly, Christian mother who filled our home with faith, hope and love. I rejoice to share my life with a godly wife and mother whose faith, perseverance and sacrifice are mirrored in our children’s lives. And together we have the joy of seeing our daughter and daughter-in-law shepherding our grandchildren toward the knowledge of God and the gospel of Christ in their own families.
The scriptures are filled with the courageous examples of women of faith who trusted God and followed the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jochebed, the mother of Moses, hid him after his birth and placed him in an ark among the reeds of the Nile. God honored her faith by allowing Pharaoh’s daughter to find Moses and by giving Jochebed the privilege of nursing, nurturing and sowing seeds of faith into this baby boy. Years later, Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24b-26 ESV). Who helped shaped Moses’ faith and courage? His mother.
Hannah knew the pain and alienation of infertility. She had an open heart, but empty arms – similar to my own family’s story that led us to adoption. In God’s time and through His grace, Samuel was born to Hannah, and by faith, she offered him back to the Lord. God raised Samuel up as a mighty prophet – a man who is often seen responding to the voice of God. From whom do I believe Samuel first learned to listen to God? His mother.
Ruth demonstrated remarkable faith in the book that bears her name. She was a Gentile outcast and, yet, she experienced God’s grace through a kinsman-redeemer. And God used Ruth to fulfill His prophetic plan: “Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king ... [and] Mary, of whom Jesus was born” (Matthew 1:5-6, 16 ESV). Who in Obed’s life said the words that will forever be etched in scripture, “... and your God shall be my God”? His mother.
Think of Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus – a woman of extreme faith. At the risk of public scorn and shame, she surrendered her body to God’s providential purpose in bearing the Savior of the world. Even Joseph, her betrothed husband, doubted her. Yet Mary endured the suspicion of immoral action, the tension of Jesus’ public rejection, and faced the horror of His sacrifice, following her Son to the foot of the cross. Who was rewarded for her faith at the resurrection of Jesus? His mother.
And what about Eunice and Lois? The apostle Paul named these remarkable women in connection with Timothy, Paul’s protégé in ministry and partner in church planting. Who were Eunice and Lois, and who taught young Timmy from childhood “the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ”? (2 Timothy 3:15). His mother and grandmother.
We do well to remember the faith of our mothers!
May I suggest this: Take time to give thanks for a mother’s faith. Call, write, tell her of your gratitude, not just for all she’s done, but also for her faith. Fan the flames of her faith!
Encourage a mother who is in the battle seeking to live out her faith in these difficult days. Pray for her. Commend her. Offer to help her in some practical way.
Mother’s Day 2004 was the last occasion I had to tell my mom of my gratitude for her faith and faithfulness to God before her passing. This weekend as I think of her, I encourage you to remember and rejoice in the gift of a godly mother.
Faith of our [mothers], holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David H. McKinley is pastor-teacher at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga.)

5/11/2018 11:31:26 AM by David H. McKinley, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Staying teachable

May 10 2018 by David Frasure, Baptist Press

We all understand the value of a good education, but even more valuable is a teachable spirit.
I know that after 35 years in ministry I still need to learn and grow in the very areas in which many think I am most proficient. Even the apostle Paul spoke of his personal need to continue to grow in his understanding of Christ (Philippians 3:12-14).

Dave Frasure

If Paul had to stay teachable, I certainly do as well. Here are a several things I am learning about staying teachable:

The enemy of a teachable spirit is pride.

Pride damages us in so many ways. It makes us think we don’t need counsel from others – especially from those younger and less experienced. It makes us think we don’t need to pray about an issue or seek God concerning a decision. It creates in us an unhealthy confidence in ourselves and a lack of dependency upon God. It causes us to shut down any constructive criticism and dismiss those who seek to help us.
Pride is something that God finds detestable, so when it enters our lives, it always leads to brokenness and discipline from our heavenly Father. Pride is so easy to see in others, but very difficult to see in ourselves. It is kryptonite to any kind of personal growth.

A teachable spirit is enhanced through difficult circumstances.

Our first response to a trial or conflict is to remove it as quickly as possible rather than see it as an opportunity to grow and learn. We often forget that God has sovereign purposes for our lives and is much more concerned with our spiritual maturity than our personal comfort.
There are just some things we cannot learn from a textbook. We must experience wrestling with God to learn what it means to surrender. We must have a crisis to know how to walk by faith and not by sight. We must learn to obey God when it is uncomfortable to do so, so we can learn obedience. We must experience sorrow to really know what it means to have hope. We must struggle in spiritual warfare to know we really have victory in Jesus. This is how we become thankful in all things. We are not thankful for the trial, but for what we are learning in the trial.

A teachable spirit moves us to a deliberate plan of growth.

Personal growth, as with any other kind of growth, is never accidental. Just like a garden, deliberate effort is involved to achieve the desired results. One must plow the ground and plant the seed correctly. Weeds and obstacles must be removed so that healthy growth can occur. As on the farm, God does His part, but we have to do our part to see growth and fruitfulness become a reality.
The potential for growth is in all of us. No matter how old or talented or educated we are, we still have a lot to learn. So, we need to read books, attend seminars, hear teaching, etc. We all need time for recreation, but we need not waste much time with trivial pursuits when there is so much to learn.
Of course, a teachable spirit is most evident in our personal devotion time with the Lord.
That’s when we either excuse our sin or receive His correction. That’s when we blame someone else for the conflict or we deal with our part of it. That’s when we make a correction in our lifestyle or we decide to take the easy path of least resistance. As the Holy Spirit teaches us in those intimate moments of prayer and Bible study, our response to Him is the ultimate test of teachable spirit.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dave Frasure is pastor of First Baptist Church in South Lebanon, Ohio, and the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association’s disciple-making catalyst.)

5/10/2018 8:19:18 AM by David Frasure, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

The right ingredients

May 9 2018 by Terry W. Dorsett, Baptist Press

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a very good cook. It’s not for lack of trying.
In my efforts to give my wife a break, I often cooked meals when our kids were growing up. I always tried to make them something special, but not always with positive outcomes. My kids love to remind me of some of my efforts to create culinary sensations.

Terry W. Dorsett

Perhaps my most disastrous meal was an ill-fated attempt to make au gratin potatoes. The recipe called for milk. We didn’t have any in the refrigerator but I saw a can of sweetened condensed milk in the cabinet and decided to use that.
In my naiveté, I wrongly assumed any milk would work. As you can imagine, it did not turn out well. Imagine candy-flavored cheesy potatoes! Yes, it tasted as bad as it sounds. I think our daughter only ate one bite. Our more courageous sons might have managed two bites. But the whole family realized pretty quickly it was not a combination of flavors we would be able to consume. The whole concoction ended up in the trash. And my kids have never let me forget it!
While that was definitely my worst culinary disaster, there were many more. I guess I am a bit thickheaded and have to learn the hard way. But in retrospect, almost all of my cooking disasters were because I was missing one or two ingredients for some recipe I was trying. Instead of going to the store and getting what I really needed, I would either leave those ingredients out or substitute something I thought would taste the same, but it never did.
But along the way I did learn an important life lesson: We need the right ingredients for a meaningful life.
When we leave something important out, or when we try to substitute something else for what we really need, life never works out like we had hoped. It fact, life often takes disastrous turns when we try to build it upon a bad idea and wrong beliefs.
As a teen I memorized 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “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, equipped for every good work.”
The truth I learned in that verse was that God’s Word has given us a recipe for living a meaningful and fulfilling life. As we study it and apply its principles to our daily lives, the Bible gives flavor and meaning to our relationships, our activities, our goals and our dreams.
But when we start ignoring things we read in the Bible or try to substitute something in the place of what God’s Word tells us, it always ends up badly. How many times do we have to make the same mistakes over and over again before we start following the recipe of life that God has given us?
Anything else, no matter how creative it may sound, will just end up creating a mess.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Terry W. Dorsett, online at, is executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England.)

5/9/2018 9:07:55 AM by Terry W. Dorsett, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Honoring spiritual mothers

May 8 2018 by Autumn Wall

Mother’s Day is coming fast! And let me just say, my mom is literally the best, just as you could say the same for yours. This coming Mother’s Day is a great day to get to honor those who have loved and cared for us teaching us to obey Jesus and love others.

Autumn Wall

But there’s another group of women we can also honor on coming Sunday: the spiritual mothers in our lives – women who have mentored us, poured their lives into us and encouraged us toward Jesus even though we aren’t biologically theirs.
For these women in your life, here are a few fresh ideas on how you can honor them as well on this upcoming Mother’s Day:
– Drop off a single flower at their home with a note attached saying, “Thanks for impacting my life!”
– Sit down and hand write a letter listing the top 10 ways she has impacted you over the years.
– Call her and tell her how much you appreciate her. Make it personal and specific by recounting at least one thing she has said or done that changed how you live your life to better represent Jesus as a result of her influence.
– Have a social media account? Tag her in a post honoring her for her input in your life.
– Personalize a gift with a Scripture she has taught you or challenged you with that was impactful. Put the verse on a coffee cup, journal, photo frame, etc., as a reminder of her influence.
Scripture commands us to give honor to whom honor is due (see Romans 13:7). Find a way to say thank you and make it really count for these amazing women who have invested in your life. Make your list today of who you will honor this Mother’s Day alongside your own mom (who I’m sure is close to as awesome as mine is).

5/8/2018 1:48:45 PM by Autumn Wall | with 0 comments

Prayer driving

May 7 2018 by Rick Lance, Baptist Press

Prayerwalking is an exercise in obedience to Christ. As an act of intercession on behalf of others, it is an attempt to saturate an area where people live with prayer that they might come to the love of Christ.
I have experienced firsthand the joy of prayerwalking. Most memorably, I have prayerwalked with international missionaries and others the streets of various cities in distant parts of the world where people need to hear and heed the gospel of Christ.

Rick Lance

During my tenure as a state missionary, I have also learned to do some prayer driving. Since I am often in my vehicle and traveling the highways and byways here in Alabama and beyond, I have learned to focus my attention on the communities and cities across our landscape.
When entering an area, I pray generally for the people who live there. In passing churches – many of them I know well – I pray for the pastor by name as well as the family of faith. My prayer for the church is that they will always see themselves as an outpost of the Kingdom of God and a church family on mission with the Great Commission.
If I pass a city hall or the courthouse, I pray for the political leaders of that area. When I pass through major cities on the interstate, I pray for those metro areas too. In the open rural areas of our state, I remember those who work in agriculture.
With all the roadwork on our interstates, I find myself sitting in traffic trying not to be frustrated. Roadwork signs are abundant in our state currently. I thought I saw a sign that indicated “Roadwork Next 187 Miles.” That was misreading on my part, but I must admit that I sometimes think the work on the roads is endless.
What is a good use of the time idling in traffic or rolling at a snail’s pace in roadwork-related traffic? Looking at Waze (a traffic and navigation app) and trying to see how many miles more of frustration I have? No, I try to remind myself that this is a good time to pray.
My prayer list is no different from yours. I pray for the needs of people. I seek to unburden myself of the worries and concerns that weigh heavily upon my heart. I see the cars around me and whisper a prayer for those people who are unknown to me.
Prayer driving is becoming a spiritual discipline for me. It has helped me to be in touch with the Lord and the needs of others. It has calmed my spirit and cleared my mind. There are times when I find myself lost in thought and prayer as I make my way traveling. Of course, do not do prayer driving with your eyes closed.
I cannot say that I enjoy driving in traffic or in the roadwork areas of Alabama, but prayer driving has served to remind me that this state is my first mission field and therefore it needs to be immersed in prayer.
Perhaps you can find some unique times of prayer while driving. It may bring clearer focus in your walk with the Lord as a contemporary application of Paul’s admonition, “Pray without ceasing.” I think the apostle would say, “Amen.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rick Lance is executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.)

5/7/2018 10:53:09 AM by Rick Lance, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Sitting on the runway...

May 4 2018 by Gayla Parker, Baptist Press

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are sorry for the delay, but it seems we cannot start the engines.”
Those are not the words you want to hear when sitting on a 747 jet in Japan hoping to make it all the way back to the U.S. from a mission trip. But those are indeed the words that came from the pilot as I sat on the runway in Tokyo.

Gayla Parker

We had already flown from Malaysia to the Philippines and then to Japan and all had gone well. But suddenly, the same plane that had just flown eight hours from Malaysia to Japan was no longer able to start its powerful engines. So there we were, sitting on the runway in a plane that could no longer fly.
After examination, it was determined that the issue was a clogged fuel filter. Ninety minutes later, the pilot announced that the fuel filter had been cleaned out and we would be taking off soon. By this point, my level of confidence had been a bit shattered. Almost two hours past our original departure time, we took off with a fuel filter that was no longer clogged and engines that would once again start and (hopefully) keep running throughout the upcoming 14-hour flight.
During the early hours of the long flight, I thought about our perfectly good engines being rendered useless by something as simple as a clogged fuel filter. (Or maybe I just didn’t want to sleep because I wanted to hear those engines running!)
I began to wonder about the spiritual lesson in that experience. Yes, there was a lesson in trusting the Lord to get you home safely. And there was a lesson in patience. And also a lesson in using the delay as an opportunity to share with seat-mates. There was even a lesson in overcoming the heat in the cabin over those two hours.
But the lesson that took over most of my thoughts was wondering if the “fuel filter” of my heart had ever gotten clogged and prevented me from being able to “fly” with the power God intended.
What might clog my “fuel filter”?

Perhaps not being intentional in studying God’s Word.

David tells us in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Being in the Word every day is my map for the day. It tells me how and where to “fly.” Philippians 4:9 reminds me to think on whatever is right, lovely and worthy of praise. My mind can stay focused on what really matters when I keep these things before me. But without having God’s Word hidden in my heart, it’s a little tough to know what really is right, lovely and worthy of praise. When I lose sight of that, I lose sight of the path that is lit. And soon, I’m left feeling burned out.

Or perhaps my “fuel filter” gets clogged when my prayer life is lacking.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray without ceasing” (NKJV). Do I really do that? Do I pray for the Muslim woman I pass at the mall? Do I pray for ministry awareness? Do I pray for eyes that see the sin in my life? Do I pray for my enemies as well as my friends? When I feel as if my prayers stop at the ceiling, is it because my spiritual filter is clogged? After all, Jesus told the disciples when they could not cast out the demon, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 10:29)
Most of us, at some time in our walk with the Lord, experience burn out, fatigue and feelings of powerlessness. Our engines just won’t start.
The good news is we are still bound for heaven, Jesus is still our Savior, and the Holy Spirit is still very much a part of our lives.
But perhaps our weariness is a reminder to take a bit of a sabbath and “clean out the fuel filters.” Like that 747 plane, once they are cleared, we will be more than ready for the long flight ahead with power to spare as His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gayla Parker is an adjunct professor at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas and author of Active Compassion: A Calling to Care. She has served in ministry for more than 30 years as a pastor’s wife, International Mission Board missionary and women’s ministry consultant for two state conventions. Her husband Freddy is pastor of LifeWAY Baptist Church in Little Rock. This column first appeared at the website of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

5/4/2018 9:25:24 AM by Gayla Parker, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Will our grandchildren have to apologize for this?

May 3 2018 by Sara Beth Fentress

Paige Patterson told a story at a conference nearly two decades ago about counseling a woman to remain in a dangerous household, despite the black eyes she endured, for the sake of her husband. The audio clip of that account recently sparked a great deal of controversy when it surfaced online.
Patterson responded to critics by releasing a statement to clear up “misrepresentations,” denying he had ever suggested women should stay in abusive environments. He then further defended himself in an interview with Baptist Press, and then altered his statements even more in a revision to his interview with Baptist Press.

Sara Beth Fentress

Despite the unclear clarifications, it appears the president of one of our beloved seminaries – my alma mater – has not retracted his dangerous advice to a victim of domestic violence.
So, I ask my fellow Southern Baptists, will our grandchildren have to apologize for this?
Historically, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has been slow to action and repentance on key issues where our voice needed to be loud and clear. It took us nearly 150 years to apologize for our shameful stance on slavery.
As a single, female, non-profit ministry leader who was born-and-raised Southern Baptist, I’m respectfully calling SBC leaders to consider the following thoughts:

Delayed obedience is disobedience.

Inaction and indifference to important issues significantly hinder our public witness and effectiveness in Great Commission advancement. May we be a people who are known for being quick to confess and repent.

We cannot sweep this under the rug.

There is a palpable quietness at a time when silence is not an option. Some leaders have spoken out on social media, but tweets are not sufficient. God has given us the Holy Spirit to embolden us to do hard things. This is a difficult issue, but we need a firm stance. Our integrity demands it.

Your followers eagerly look for leaders to rally behind.

People are watching and waiting to see what will happen. May our words be loud and our actions courageous to support the biblical truths we proclaim. As a convention, we stand at risk of losing more young men and women from a generation that is begging to see authenticity and vulnerability. Lead us.

We must value and honor women, especially the vulnerable.

Females, made in the imago Dei (Genesis 1:27), enhance the advancement of the gospel in ways that men cannot. Challenge men in your church to love, encourage, serve, honor and protect the women in their lives. Encourage women in your churches to be courageous and flourish in the gifts that God has given. Be a safe place for hurting people to seek refuge.

We must beg for God to intervene.

Our El Roi who sees us (Genesis 16:13) will be our teacher (Psalm 32:8) and protector (Psalm 121). By His Spirit and with our humble submission, the Lord can use imperfect people to point others toward the gospel of grace and truth.
I implore our leaders, let’s not give our descendants any reason to apologize for our silence and inaction on the significance and treatment of women. Please act quickly on this one.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sara Beth Fentress is the founder and executive director of 127 Worldwide, a non-profit ministry dedicated to helping people care for orphans and widows around the globe. She is a graduate of Carson Newman University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and currently a member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C.)

5/3/2018 11:23:38 AM by Sara Beth Fentress | with 2 comments

Too much is at stake

May 2 2018 by Nathan Lorick, Baptist Press

It’s a great day to be a Southern Baptist! We are the largest Protestant denomination in America on mission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We have six of the greatest seminaries in the world. We are experiencing a church planting movement that is nothing less than amazing. We have the missions funding mechanism in place that is the envy of other denominations. We have a doctrinal statement that allows us to be narrow enough to hold fast to scripture, yet broad enough for us to work together to change the world. How can you not be excited about the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in these days?

Nathan Lorick

Yes, we have our challenges. All organizations of our size have obstacles to overcome – we even more so since spiritual warfare is involved. However, we must remember that God has placed us here together for such a time as this.
There has been a significant amount of discussion regarding the upcoming SBC annual meeting in June. Some of this discussion has been helpful and healthy; some has not. Discussing the issues at hand in our annual meeting is not a bad thing. In fact, having these conversations is evidence that Southern Baptist pastors and leaders genuinely care about our cooperative work and are committed to our future together.
As we move toward the SBC meeting in Dallas, may I suggest we keep a few things in mind for the sake of unity?

1. We are not the enemies.

It is easy and natural in an SBC presidential election year to pick or choose a candidate who best aligns with your preferences. This is expected and is why we have the opportunity to vote. However, it is not healthy to tear down brothers in Christ to make a point. We must remember in expressing differing opinions or preferences that we are not each other’s enemy. We have an enemy that not only wants to destroy us but takes joy when he doesn’t have to work at it because we are destroying each other. May we remember that our mission is not self-destruction but Kingdom advancement. We only do this when we are focused on the task and realize we are in this together.

2. We must be burdened for the mission.

Do you remember the time when God called you to serve Him in ministry? What a powerful and joyful moment we get to experience as ministers of the gospel. I can still remember the exact place I was when I began to feel that call. We must keep in mind that God called us to serve His Kingdom, not ours. We must find ourselves more concerned with the work of the ministry than with the ever-passing issues of an annual meeting. I am not implying the SBC annual meeting lacks significance. It is absolutely essential. However, we must remember we are not politicians. We are preachers. We must be burdened for our communities, cities, nation and world. We must keep in perspective that God has called us to advance His Kingdom, and the best way we can do that is together. Can we really expect God to bless our convention if we are more bothered by the issues we will face in Dallas than we are burdened for the mission for which He has called us? We must not spend more time on articles, blogs, emails and voter guides about an election that will be over in a few weeks, than we do leading the people we have been entrusted with to live on mission for Christ. I implore us to come to Dallas so burdened for a move of the Holy Spirit that all these other things will fade into the distance.

3. The time for unity is now.

We are at a crucial time in Southern Baptist life. Two of our entities are seeking leaders. We can’t afford to be divided into factions over secondary issues. Too much is at stake. I humbly call on all of us to realign our hearts and minds to that of our Lord Jesus. We are privileged to be a part of a body that gives us ballots to vote. This is what we should do and move forward together. We need God’s man, whoever that may be, but we need him through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not manipulative efforts on any side. Friends, we need a move of God among us. We cannot expect such a move of God if we are not emptied of ourselves. Let’s come together in unity in Dallas, burdened together for a spiritual awakening.
We are living in exciting times. We have the honor of being part of such a great denomination. However, it is time to lay down our arrows and seek the face of God together. There are millions whose eternities hang in the balance of us being united in the mission and task that God has created for us. Will you join me in praying for a move of God among us? Will you join me in relentlessly loving each other and moving forward together on mission? I believe that greatest days for the SBC are ahead. My prayer is that we will move forward and experience it together.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Nathan Lorick is executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention.)

5/2/2018 9:40:05 AM by Nathan Lorick, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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