June 2019

Southern Baptists won’t tolerate abuse, racism

June 24 2019 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

In a moving moment during this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting, SBC President J.D. Greear invited victims of sexual abuse to stand as he and others led in a prayer of lament, repentance and sorrow over the instances of abuse that have taken place within our convention.
 
As many women and men stood courageously, a spirit of brokenness and repentance filled the arena of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center. One day earlier, messengers in attendance overwhelmingly approved proposed changes to the SBC’s constitution and bylaws that would deem sexual abuse and racial discrimination as grounds for a church to be declared not in friendly cooperation with our convention.
 
In Birmingham, Southern Baptists took a strong stand and made a definitive statement that said to the world that we are not going to tolerate any form of abuse or racism. While we acknowledge what has taken place and repent over what has happened, we are not going to let it continue. Southern Baptists, the greater Christian community and the world at large has a right to expect and demand better from individuals in leadership positions. Most importantly, scripture demands we take these actions.
 
I’m thankful for the work of the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group that was appointed by President Greear last year. The group, along with the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has developed a resource titled Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused that is now available to every church at no cost. You can access the resource at churchcares.com.
 
During this year’s meeting, SBC leaders encouraged every church to take the “Caring Well Challenge” by committing to work through the resource as a church. You can learn more at caringwell.com. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina also has dedicated resources to assist our local churches to recognize, report and respond to cases of abuse. You can learn more about these resources by contacting state convention staff member Cheryl Markland at cmarkland@ncbaptist.org.
 
As President Greear noted, issues of abuse and racism are gospel issues and aligned well with this year’s meeting theme of “Gospel Above All.”
 
Our Lord Jesus Christ cared for the weak and the vulnerable, and He warned against those who would cause them to stumble.
 
Every single person possesses infinite worth because they are made in the image of God. There is no place for discrimination on the basis of gender or ethnicity within the body of Christ. Also, we must do all that we can do to equip and encourage our brothers and sisters to serve the Lord in places of leadership that are affirmed by scripture.
 
Among the highlights of the SBC annual meeting for me each year are the reports from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB). NAMB reported on progress being made in church planting and baptisms in some challenging places for ministry. Once again, the IMB, under the leadership of the new president, Paul Chitwood, held a moving celebration for missionaries who are being commissioned and sent to the mission field. These things remind us as Southern Baptists of our commitment to get the gospel to the nations.
 
Although I am deeply troubled that the number of baptisms showed another year of decline across the SBC, I celebrate every new convert who has come to faith in Christ. I pray that every Southern Baptist will wake up to the condition of lostness in our state and nation and prioritize personal evangelism and discipling new believers.
 
As our convention continues to emphasize the “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative, I challenge every North Carolina Baptist to begin praying for, spending time with and having gospel conversations with someone they know who does not know Christ.
 
During the NAMB report, Johnny Hunt shared that if just 10 percent of all Southern Baptists led one person to Christ in the next year, we would see the highest number of baptisms in the history of the SBC.
 
May we all prioritize our lives so that the gospel is supremely above all we do.
 
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV).

6/24/2019 1:15:35 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



6 characteristics of godly fathers

June 11 2019 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Throughout the pages of scripture, God reveals Himself to us in His Word as our heavenly Father. The Bible tells us that as our perfect Father, God loves us unconditionally, provides for our needs, guides us along life’s journey and will never leave us nor forsake us. These are comforting truths!
 
When we think about God as our Father, these truths also provide us with some principles to live by as earthly fathers. God has entrusted men with a great responsibility to provide spiritual leadership in their homes and to their families. Even the best of earthly fathers may not fulfill all of these responsibilities perfectly every day, but they are biblical characteristics that we can strive to achieve daily by submitting ourselves to God each day and allowing Him to do this through us by the person and power of His Holy Spirit.
 
• Godly fathers love their family.
 
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes that husbands should love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). That is a love that is selfless and sacrificial. One of the best things a father can do is to love his wife and not be shy about letting their children know. This is a great way to teach your son to love his mom and his wife after they are married.
 
• Godly fathers lead their family.
 
In the Old Testament, Joshua made a strong and clear commitment about following God when he declared, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
 
Men must not neglect the calling and responsibility to provide spiritual leadership in the home. Take time to lead your family in Bible reading and prayer.
 
• Godly fathers provide for their family.
 
There are many verses in the Bible that point to God as our provider, but perhaps the most famous one is Philippians 4:19 in which Paul writes, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” In the same way that God provides for our physical, spiritual and emotional needs, we should strive to do the same for our families.
 
• Godly fathers impart wisdom.
 
We know God’s holy, inspired and inerrant Word is the ultimate source of wisdom and truth. Deuteronomy 6 instructs us to impress God’s truth upon the hearts of our children and instruct them as we rise up, sit at home, travel down the road and lie down (v. 6). Look for ways to impart God’s truth through the daily rhythms of your life.
 
• Godly fathers provide correction.
 
Hebrews 12 reminds us that God always disciplines us out of love, and we must strive to do the same with our children. Paul also encourages fathers not to provoke or antagonize our children to anger but to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
 
• Godly fathers demonstrate forgiveness.
 
The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 gives us a picture of what the heart of our heavenly Father is like. After the son returns home having squandered much of his father’s wealth, the father runs to him, embraces him, forgives him and restores him to his place in the family.
 
What a beautiful picture of what God does for us! May we strive to model that picture of forgiveness within our families.
 
Perhaps you are burdened by guilt because you feel like you have failed your family in these or other areas. Perhaps your own father did not reflect these qualities, and you are suffering from a strained relationship with him. Or perhaps you have lost your earthly father and you are mourning his absence and missing his presence. The beauty of our relationship with God is that He forgives, restores broken relationships and gives us another opportunity to do the right thing.
 
May we look to our perfect heavenly Father for comfort and strength in order to be a dynamic godly father for the good of our family and the glory of God.
 
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” – Ephesians 6:4 (ESV).

6/11/2019 4:47:04 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments