May 2018

Revival, judgment and the SBC mess

May 29 2018 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

An ominous spirit has fallen on the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). We have problems that can no longer be ignored or swept under the rug. Gut wrenching honesty is not an optional course to consider. It is the only option.
 
Pastors, bloggers, lay leaders and entity heads are publicly expressing profound chagrin over our current condition, all the while calling for deeper levels of prayer, fasting and self-examination.
 
Both secular and Baptist media have used words like “raucous,” “contentious” and “divisive” to describe the coming Dallas convention. Most journalists have extracted those descriptors from the blogs and social media posts of our Baptist family members. Grave concerns for the health of our denomination and the value of our gospel witness have reached levels I’ve not seen since the days of the Conservative Resurgence.
 
SBC Voices blogger and president of the SBC 2017 Pastors’ Conference, Dave Miller, wrote, “Things are a mess in the SBC right now, aren’t they?”
 
Calling for genuine revival, Miller lamented the conversations between brothers and sisters in the faith.
 
“The hostility, the crassness, the profane and degrading things that are being said on Twitter, Facebook and other such outlets are shocking,” he said. “It is as if people have embraced the works of the flesh and rejected the fruit of the Spirit. The political tactics of some have been shocking during this political season. ... revival is not a magical solution that absolves us of our responsibilities to do right, to seek God and to walk in His ways.”
 
SBC President Steve Gaines recently called us to prayer and fasting in preparation for this year’s annual convention. “Pray that during our meetings we will discuss issues in a united, civil, Spirit-filled way,” Gaines urged. “Pray that when we leave Dallas, we will do so with a genuine unity of spirit and purpose – to reach lost people throughout the world with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.”
 
Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, outlined the gravity of our convention’s health in a column titled, “The wrath of God poured out.”
 
“America’s largest evangelical denomination has been in the headlines day after day,” Mohler wrote. “The SBC is in the midst of its own horrifying #MeToo moment.
 
“Judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention. The terrible swift sword of public humiliation has come with a vengeance. There can be no doubt that this story is not over.”
 
Revival, judgement – both are partners in the movement we often call “spiritual awakening.”
 
My editorial published Aug. 30, 2014, carries the title, “Revival is like judgement day.” Those are not my words. They are the words of J. Edwin Orr who was likely the greatest scholar, teacher, student and proponent of spiritual awakening in the past century.
 
I heard him discuss the subject in his final sermon at Ridgecrest Conference Center in 1987. Orr said when revival comes, conviction exposes everything we have been ashamed to admit. Our pride, greed, lust, fears, motives, secret sin – all that identifies the ‘real me’ stares us in the face as though the dreaded day of judgment has arrived.
 
The masks are stripped off. The game of religious charades is over. Pretentious habits that I designed to build religious admiration from my peers are gone. Revival is like judgment day because in the experience of real revival, raw honesty wins and sincere confession flows like a mighty river. Truth is victorious.
 
Isaiah said he experienced revival and judgment in a single moment. In Isaiah 6 the Old Testament prophet said he “saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lifted up... .”
 
He heard seraphim crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
 
The experience was so convicting he responded, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts,” (Isaiah 6:3-5, NKJV).
 
Indeed, judgment day has come to the SBC.
 
Three entity head positions need to be filled. Two of those vacancies emerged from scenarios we would not have chosen. The presidency of the SBC is up for grabs, having devolved from a priceless moment of unity in June 2016 to an unnecessary state of contention in 2018.
 
Historically, revival movements like the First Great Awakening, the Welsh Revival and the Fulton Street Revival served to reshape secular culture and politics. Now secular culture and politics seem to be shaping Christian behavior.
 
Many grieve over the practice of secular political tactics in the SBC election process.
 
The website SBC Today (not operated by the Southern Baptist Convention) distributed a “voter guide” that was also published as a full-page ad in Louisiana’s Baptist Message.
 
It represents the worst element of secular politics and an unacceptable tactic in Baptist politics.
Voter guides that many of us distribute during secular elections at least ask candidates for their views and publish the results.
 
In the case of the Greear/Hemphill voter guide in question, unknown persons selected recent comments from Ken Hemphill and older material from J.D. Greear, using statements that the writer(s) believes represents the best of one candidate and the worst of the other. Some comments reported about Greear are dishonest or taken out of context.
 
This is not at all representative of the foundational truths conservatives sought to preserve through the Conservative Resurgence. We battled for truth, not for the propagation of deception. This is not the time to intentionally misrepresent a brother in Christ for political gain.
 
Many have expressed grief on two levels. First, that someone would abuse the truth in this manner, and second, that people in places of leadership have remained in a state of silent endorsement.
 
An encouraging note surfaced recently after Alabama pastor Rick Patrick posted a sarcastic, unbelievably crude comment on social media, then quickly issued a strong statement of apology. Patrick is one of the prime movers behind the SBC Today website. His sincere humility and grief over his actions took many off guard and elicited sincere statements of forgiveness from opposing voices. He has since resigned from SBC Today.
 
Patrick is to be commended for his act of repentance. We hope others who have written or spoken evil of their brothers will follow his example.
 
Let’s pray for revival – not the kind that excites our emotions, but one that breaks our will under the judgment of God.
 
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).
 

5/29/2018 11:04:30 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 2 comments



Are we teachable?

May 1 2018 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

What is the most significant step a Christian can take to live fully for God’s purpose and glory? Some may answer by quoting the great commandment – love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Others will likely talk about the Great Commission – take the gospel to every person on earth.
 
With full appreciation for the importance of these two great commandments, I prefer this answer: humble yourself, position yourself to be teachable and stay there.
 
I’ve never coached in team sports, but I can imagine how impossible it must be to coach a young athlete who thinks he has nothing to learn.
 
The coach is forced to confront that player with the ultimatum, “be teachable or get off the team.” The team cannot excel in the context of an arrogant player. He will never learn from the experience of the coaches or his own mistakes. He’s doomed to failure and drags the team down.
 
On the other hand, being teachable changes everything. Instead of feeling like a victim of circumstance, the teachable follower of Jesus asks God to reveal the lessons he needs to learn.
 
Being teachable opens the door to view everyone around us differently. Instead of seeing others as competitors, we know them as people who walk the same path, fellow learners who share our imperfections.
 
Rather than looking down on them, we look up to them. We hunger for the lessons we will learn from them.
 
The prerequisite to “teachability” is humility. By definition, the proud are self-sufficient and arrogant, therefore unwilling to learn.
 
Although Jesus was all-knowing and did not need to learn anything, everything He did was an act of humility. He modeled humility perfectly.
 
In the first 11 verses of Philippians chapter 2, Paul underscores the value of humility in all relationships and points to Jesus as the example. “He humbled Himself,” Paul wrote in verse 8, “and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (NKJV).
 
Since humility is the quality that God uses to accomplish His purpose, we will never know God’s perfect plan apart from intentional, personal application of humility.
 
Maybe we don’t teach and preach on the subject often because we feel unqualified. I certainly identify with that hesitation. It is an intimidating subject. But we cannot ignore both the high value the scriptures place on humility and the frequent emphasis scripture gives to the subject.
 
Some examples are, “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” 1 Peter 5:5b, NKJV.
 
He who despises the word will be destroyed, But he who fears the commandment will be rewarded” Proverbs 13:13, NKJV.
 
This one really comes on strong. “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” Proverbs 12:1, NKJV.
 
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” Proverbs 9:9, NKJV.
 
One often-quoted verse we use to proclaim the accuracy of scripture also underscores the importance of applying the Bible to our learning process. “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness...” 2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV.
 
Did you get that? Profitable, valuable in the learning process. But, learning only happens in the context of humility.
 
Our friend, Chuck Lawless, offers an excellent perspective on measuring our teachability.
 
I commend this “quiz” to you with the prayer that you will discover greater effectiveness and live fully for God’s purpose and glory.
 

A quiz: Are you a teachable person?

I recognize that I’m not always teachable, so I hesitate to write this post. At the same time, humility is to be a mark of the Christian (James 4:6) – and humility is characterized by teachability. Use these questions to determine how teachable you are.
 
1. Are you quickly defensive when someone disagrees with you? If your first response is to defend yourself and your position, you’re not very teachable.
 
2. Do you go out of your way to be right? I’ve known some people who never let an argument die until they’ve shown they’re right.    
 
3. Do you avoid listening to, reading from or talking with others who differ from you? A closed mind is evidence of an unteachable heart.   
 
4. Do you blame everyone else for your failures? When everyone else is at fault, you never have any reason to learn.
 
5. Do you talk more than you listen? Listeners usually learn; talkers often talk because they want their “wise” voice to be heard.
 
6. Do you tend to find fault with others? One of the easiest ways to show a lack of teachability is to continually find the specks in somebody else’s eye while not seeing the log in your own (Matt 7:3).
 
7. Have you made it thus far on your charisma more than your efforts? People who live on their charisma have little reason to keep learning. Why do you need to learn when everybody loves hanging out with you anyway?  
 
8. Do you pray and then act, or do you act and then ask God to bless it? If it’s the latter, you’re not even asking God to teach you; you’re expecting Him to agree with you.   
 
9. What have you learned that’s changed your life in the last year? The last six months? If you’ve not learned anything that’s made a difference in your life, it might be because you’ve seen no need to learn.
 
10. Would your family and co-workers say you’re unteachable? If so, you probably are – regardless of how you answered the previous nine questions.
 
If you recognize that you need to be more teachable, ask God to make you humble today. If, on the other hand, you see yourself as thoroughly teachable, you might still need to ask God to humble you.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chuck Lawless is professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Doctrinal Studies and Vice President for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Used by permission from ChuckLawless.com.)
 

5/1/2018 8:56:30 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments