March 2014

Obedience in spite of fear

March 25 2014 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

I hope you are hearing more and more from fellow North Carolina Baptists about impacting lostness through disciple-making. I also hope you are listening to God’s Spirit when He impresses you to pray for and converse with family members, friends, neighbors and acquaintances about the wonderful opportunity to accept Christ as Savior and grow in this relationship. There are many people in this state who do not even realize that God loves them and wants to give them eternal life.
 
Our supreme motivation to share Christ with others is His command to us in Matthew 28 to make disciples. In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, we learn that sometimes God uses one person to sow the seed of the gospel and another to water the seed, but it is God who actually gives the seed life. He is counting on us to share this good news with others, and He will fulfill His responsibility.
 
You are not alone if you are missing opportunities to share with others because you fear that you will fail, be rejected or mocked. However, we must each ask ourselves, “Am I willing to disobey God’s command for me just because someone may respond with unkindness?”
 
In his latest book, The Insanity of Obedience, Nik Ripken writes about missionaries and pastors who don’t make excuses. He tells about people he has interviewed in different places in the world who are persecuted daily; they are being tortured and beaten for sharing the love of Christ. Ripken reminds readers in Chapter 3 that Jesus’ ultimate priority for His followers is the sharing of the good news of grace.
 
As the Good News is shared, according to Matthew 10, Jesus assures us that there are times when persecution will occur. The goal, therefore, is not to reduce or eliminate persecution but to see persecution as Jesus sees it: as an inevitable result of the obedience of His followers.
 
The Apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 1:7-8, reminded Timothy that God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and love. He challenged him to not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, but by God’s power to accept his share of suffering for the gospel.
 
Instead of being shy and afraid of sharing the Good News, be confident that God will empower you by the Holy Spirit to do His command. Recognize that the reward of sharing the gospel is worth more than the risk itself.
 
Think about this reality: Our brothers and sisters serving Christ in different parts of the world are performing this task under the hardship of persecution. Is it logical that those of us living in North Carolina should remain silent in our Christian witness because we are afraid someone will not like us? What is your excuse?
3/25/2014 11:15:54 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Building unity and strengthening cooperation

March 11 2014 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Southern Baptists join hands and hearts together in our commitment to fulfill our Lord’s Great Commission. There is no limit to what we can accomplish if we are empowered by the Holy Spirit and living in obedience to His commands. Because we are imperfect people, we must find strength and unity within the body of Christ and cooperate together as a team if we are going to celebrate God-sized achievements.
 
We may not always move in unison because of our individuality and autonomy, but we can work in unity because of our mutual desire to reach the lost and disciple them. There will be occasions when we disagree with team members, but we should not let those differences of opinion short-circuit cooperation or lead us to express critical comments about our fellow workers in the Lord. If you are guilty of doing this, do you ever pause and consider your motive for sharing these condemnatory remarks with others? Surely, there are much better ways to work toward the resolution you are seeking.
 
Do you pray and ask God to intervene in situations that short-circuit cooperation and destroy synergy? It is amazing how the Holy Spirit will give wisdom and bring unity when individuals are willing to ask, receptive to hear and willing to do what God is asking.
 
Cooperating in love with our team members also plays an important part in protecting our Christian witness. I remember an occasion following a Baptist meeting when some individuals were telling me about their disagreement with a fellow ministry worker.
 
During this conversation, I became aware that an employee of the facility in which we were meeting was cleaning the room and could easily hear everything being said. I began to wonder if our Christian witness to this employee had been tarnished by the comments he had heard.
 
Hall of Fame college basketball coach John Wooden put together record-breaking teams at UCLA that not only won 10 national championships in a 12-year period, but also won 88 consecutive games and seven championships in a row. Wooden always taught his players the meaning of teamwork and working together toward a common goal. Rather than accepting personal credit when the team won a game, he gave credit to the team because the players cooperated and helped each other achieve the victory.
 
Wooden once said, “Much can be accomplished by teamwork when no one is concerned about who gets credit.”
 
As we pray and labor together, giving God all the glory for what He chooses to accomplish, His Spirit can work through us, and the power of sin will not have dominion over the Church. Winston Churchill once said, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” We must put God and others ahead of self and refuse to focus on differences that could divide us.
 
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Psalm 133:1
3/11/2014 10:04:35 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments