Archive for the ‘SBC’ Category

Go, Send…or Disobey

Our Purpose and Mission…the Nations

It has been heard said on more than one occasion in Southern Baptist church’s “Who is the Lottie Moon and when will we get her paid off?” Although it may be a funny premise, the truth is that she won’t be paid off until the Lord returns! The Lottie Moon offering for International Missions is the yearly offering taken up by Southern Baptists for the purpose of world evangelization. Every dollar given to LM goes directly to the foreign mission field. Not one penny is kept for other causes. Our church celebrates this offering in a wonderful and unique way in and that we will designate one evening for an in gathering of our offering and as a church we will bring our gift to the alter and as a church family offer it to the Lord and to the cause of world missions. I love how we do this! As we all are beginning to pray about and focus on what the Lord would have us to give I thought I would offer some statistics to help direct our thoughts and prayers.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force reported that some 6 billion of the 6.8 billion people in the world are without Christ and over 3.5 billion have never heard the Gospel. In North America alone, 258 million are lost. In the unevangelized world, there are 20,500 full-time Christian workers and 10,200 foreign missionaries. In the evangelized non-Christian world, there are 1.31 million full-time Christian workers. That means we have apx one million Christian workers devoted to penetrating the darkness. However, when you consider the 6 billion that need Jesus then you begin to get an idea of the great need. Also, understand that in those statistics there is no distinction between and evangelical witness and that of someone who may not truthfully present the gospel. In SOuthern Baptist life we have a little over 5000 full time vocational missionaries on the field. This is startling! We must set our faces like flint towards the task of reaching the nations! We have the answer and we have the means of getting it done! THen what is the problem? Why is it “The least of these” are often the least on our thoughts and efforts? Well, for one thing the devil hates missions! He will do anything and everything to stop it. He will convince us that we cannot give and we must not go. This is a lie and a deception – The church has been called to GO! In fact, God has COMMANDED IT! God will never call His people to a task that He has not also equipped and empowered them to accomplish. SOmetimes we are just apathetic or to busy to think or act. Here is the reality that faces us…Hell is real, the lost will spend an eternity confined to it in suffering and separation, The Lord Jesus died so they would not have to, and the church has been given the mandate to make the story known! It is our privilege, honor and responsibility to do so. We really can make a difference. You can really make a difference. Give to Lottie Moon, support the Cooperative Program, support our own short term mission efforts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, better yet – Go on mission! All of these efforts are what we are called to – it is our MISSION. One man summed it up this way – “We give, we send, we go, or…we disobey, these are our choices” AMEN and AMEN! I pray God will grant you and yours a joyous and blessed Christmas – and may we all be reminded that we go… because He gave! It is our mission, it is our purpose. Here is a video to help us focus on the need and the call!

Clarification Please?

Lately I have been going back and forth with some folks on another blog which is known for it’s anti SBC stand (although it’s author is a SBC pastor) concerning just what is the nature of the gospel. There are some commenting on that blog that one can be a Mormon or Jehovahs Witness and still be a Christian. One poster stated that the only thing that really matters is love and that is the subjective actions of love towards others that saves us daily. My answer to this and other extra biblical claims…HOGWASH! Did I make that clear enough…if not let me say it again but this time a little clearer…H O G W A S H !

But equally concerning are the comments of those who believe that our salvation is either earned or perhaps actually validated by our actions and works. What this shows us is that there needs to be a clarification of the gospel in todays church. I am glad that the church in which I serve is very clear about this. We believe that salvation comes when we place our faith in Christ alone trusting Him alone for our forgiveness. There is no other name in which we can be saved and our salvation is based upon the precepts of scripture and not our own subjective approach to man made religion. I had posted a video some time back concerning the gospel but I think it is good to post it again. Dr. Moore does a wonderful job clarifying just what is the gospel. He will share with us that it is not:

1. Our good works

2. Our religious duty

3. Our own morality

4. Our own right standing

Our salvation is only found in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross where He paid the price for our sins thus appeasing the holy wrath of God so that we now have been reconciled by His blood. Three days later He was gloriously raised from the dead thus defeating death, hell and the grave! Thats the Gospel – Thats the good news! The Mormons do not teach it, the JW’s do not teach it…and apparently some very confused baptist are not teaching it…

 

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A Word On Alcohol

Recently a firestorm in the baptist blog world has arisen over the use of alcohol in moderation. Without getting neck deep in all of this let me simply say that my position is one of total abstinence and I am very surprised that this has even become an issue in SBC life. I do not believe it to be a real issue in our church’s, yet I do understand that we have people who drink…some in excess. This has always been the case and I assume will always be. I have placed for you’re reading pleasure a blog entry by Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a former professor of mine at the Criswell College, concerning his position on the whole matter. I find myself in great agreement with Dr. Akin although I readily admit that I have not dealt with the details in the same way he has. Perhaps I need to…

May we all agree that we should do nothing that would dishonor our Lord and bring reproach to His great name! I think we can all drink to that! A nice cold Dr. Pepper for me…or if I am feeling particularly feisty – a “Full Throttle” Energy drink!

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DR AKINS ARTICLE  

The Case for Alcohol Abstinence

Oct 14th, 2010 by Daniel Akin Print This Post

I readily confess to a personal bias when it comes to the issue of alcohol.  My wife Charlotte grew up in the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home because her parents were alcoholics.  Her father died a lost alcoholic.  Her mother, by God’s grace, was saved on her death bed.  Her body had been ravaged by the twin killers of alcohol and tobacco.  Today her sister and brother are lost alcoholics as is most of the rest of her family.  My sister Joy and her husband Kevin King adopted a daughter born with fetal alcohol syndrome.  She began life with two strikes against her through no fault of her own.

Today there are more than 40 million problem drinkers in America.  Alcohol is the number one drug problem among teenagers.  One in three American families suspects that one or more family members have a drinking problem.  Misuse of alcohol costs our nation $100 billion a year in quantifiable cost.  Because of these experiences and many more, I have often said that even if I were not a Christian I would have nothing to do with alcohol.  There is simply too much sorrow and heartache connected to it.  Avoiding this devastating drug is simply the wise thing to do.

This year at our Convention we again passed a resolution calling for abstinence from alcohol.  The resolution passed overwhelmingly, but it did generate significant debate both during and after the Convention.  Some have accused those supporting the resolution of being pharisaical and legalistic, traditionalist and anti-biblical.  It is said that we fail to understand Christian liberty and freedom, and that we even stand against Jesus.  These are strong accusations from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  However, are they correct?  Are those like myself who believe abstinence to be the best lifestyle choice really guilty of these charges?  Let me respond as graciously and kindly as I possibly can, explaining why I hold the position I do.  I share my heart with no malice or ill will toward anyone, but from a desire to honor the Lord Jesus, and to protect others from the evils alcohol has visited on so many.

We should remember from a Baptist perspective that there are historicalprecedents for affirming abstinence.  In 1886 Southern Baptists issued their first resolution on alcohol.  Since then there have been almost 60 resolutions that in a united voice have addressed the risk of alcohol and the wisdom of abstinence.  For 120 years Southern Baptists have made clear their stand on this issue.  Individual Baptists no doubt continue to take a drink as they had before 1886, but the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole has been crystal clear on where it stands for a long time.  I am confident that our forefathers understood the issue of Christian liberty as they passed these resolutions.  I am grateful for this tradition.  I believe we should continue it.

There are moral reasons for affirming abstinence.  John Piper teaches the wisdom of abstinence because alcohol can be a mind-altering drug, and it can be addictive.  It does not help one in doing the will of God and can genuinely be a hindrance.  Further, he notes “the carnage of alcohol abuse” and therefore chooses to boycott such a product.  He then adds, “is it really so prudish, or narrow to renounce a highway killer, a home destroyer, and a business wrecker.”  Some questions are in order and deserve an answer.  Does alcohol make me a better person?  Does alcohol draw me closer to God?  Does alcohol help me run the race faithfully to the end (Heb. 12:1-2)?

Some respond by saying the issue is not abstinence but moderation.  They draw an analogy to both eating and sex.  There is however a significant difference.  We must eat to live.  We must engage in sex to procreate.  Alcohol is not a necessity for life or good living.

I am in total agreement with my spiritual hero Adrian Rogers who said, “Moderation is not the cure for the liquor problem.  Moderation is the cause of the liquor problem.  Becoming an alcoholic does not begin with the last drink, it always begins with the first.  Just leave it alone.”  My friend James Merritt wisely says, “It is impossible to be bitten by a snake that you never play with.”  Alcoholism cannot strike unless it is given the opportunity.  That potential becomes real with the first drink that one takes.

There are biblical reasons for practicing abstinence.  Let me quickly note several. 1) It is consistent with the principle of edification (1 Cor. 6:12).  Alcohol does not build you up or make you better for Jesus.  Avoiding it ensures you will not harm yourself with it.  2) It is consistent with the principle of refusing that which enslaves (1 Cor. 6:12).  Alcohol is a drug that can impair the senses and has a potential addictive element.  Like addictive pornography, it should be avoided at all cost.  3) It is consistent with the ethic of love for believers and unbelievers alike (1 Cor. 8:13; 9:19-22; 10:32-33).

Because I am an example to others, I will make certain no one ever walks the road of sorrow called alcoholism because they saw me take a drink and assumed, “if it is alright for Danny Akin, it is alright for me.”  No, I will choose to set an uncompromising example of abstinence because I love them.  4) I will seek my joy and filling in the Spirit not in alcohol.  I love the Phillips translation of Ephesians 5:18 which reads, “Don’t get your stimulus from wine (for there is always the danger of excessive drinking), but let the Spirit stimulate your souls.”  Psalm 4:7-8 adds, “You [O Lord] have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.  In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  5) It is true Jesus drank wine, and I am sure I would have had I lived in the first century.  However, there is no evidence that he ever partook of “strong drink.”

As Bob Stein has carefully documented, “The term “wine” or oinos in the ancient world, then, did not mean wine as we understand it today but wine mixed with water… To consume the amount of alcohol that is in two martinis by drinking wine containing three parts water to one part wine [a fairly common ancient ratio], one would have to drink over twenty-two glasses.  In other words, it is possible to become intoxicated from wine mixed with three parts water, but one’s drinking would probably affect the bladder long before it affected the mind.”  It should also be noted that children would have drank this diluted mixture of water and wine.  It seems clear that there is no one-to-one correspondence with first century wine and twenty first century distilled liquor.  Concerning the latter I believe the Lord Jesus would have no part.

Let me conclude with some practical considerations.  Should those who practice abstinence look down on those who do not?  The answer is an unqualified no.  That is pride and therefore is sin.  It is true that alcohol has contributed to many going to hell, but pride, no doubt, has done so in even greater numbers.  A smug, prideful abstainer without Jesus is just as lost as the poor drunkard who is always in search of another drink.  Those who believe in abstinence should be gracious and humble, kind and caring, loving and patient.

As a pastor or church leader, would I demand abstinence for church membership?  No, I would not.  Would I demand it for leadership?  Absolutely!  The principle of Proverbs 31:4-5 is appropriately applied here, “It is not for Kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.”

I agree with John MacArthur.  Can I say it is always a sin to take a drink?  No.  Can I say it is almost always unwise?  Yes, because it violates the biblical principles of wisdom and witness.  One of America’s leading pastors is Andy Stanley.  He wrote a book entitled The Best Question Ever.  That question is this, “What is the wise thing for me to do?”  I challenge anyone to show me the superior wisdom of drinking “in moderation,” as opposed to not drinking at all.  This is not legalism but love.  This is not being anti-biblical but pro-brother and sister.  This is not working for evil but for good.  Given the world in which we live I believe such a lifestyle honors the Lord Jesus.  I believe it pleases Him.  Without question it is the wise thing to do.

On Grace and Proper Priorities

I love reading Oswald Chambers. His devotional works have been a source of blessing and challenge to me through the years. Some of his theology can be problematic but his application more often than not is dead on! In one of his entry’s he makes the point that often times we trust man in disregard to God. His premise is that this is why many times we are frustrated and disappointed by man and his/her behavior to the point of utter despair.

“If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be, absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God.”

We all need the work of grace in our lives in order to be fit for the Masters use! I am surprised somewhat knowing Chambers view on sanctification that he admits this! Could it be the reason we see the petty quarrels and the back biting in our church’s (and dare I say convention?) is due to the fact that we have placed man above God in priority?

“Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others.”

I know I need to hear this ‘blast from the past’ How bout you?

Swindoll said it this way, “Never be caught unaware by the tendancy of people to dance the dance of the foolish”

Or maybe one of our old children’s choruses fits even better:

“He’s still working on me…”

aren’t ya glad He is?

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The elephant in the room

The term “The elephant in the room” refers to that which is obvious but which we often just ignore. For the American church there are so many that one would be hard pressed to even begin to name them. Collectively it is our obsession with self and our ignorance of a lost and dying world and dare I say, culture which is preoccupied with personal pleasure and gain and often times oblivious to the call of the Great Commission. We are all participants in this strange game of lip service christianity and Madison Avenue living. (The computer I am typing this blog on could feed a family in Eastern Africa for a year!) One of the opportunities that is right in front of us is the blessing that comes from Christian families doing foster care and adopting orphans. During last years SBC there was a resolution encouraging the same. This year during the pastors conference we heard a wonderful message  (I would link it but they do not have it up yet) from Russell Moore on the importance of Christian families answering the call to foster and adopt. Dr. Moore has also challenfed us through his excellent book “Adopted for Life” where he shares his adoption story as an adoptive parent and then points us to the biblical challnege of at the very least considering adoption as a viable responsibility as Christians.

Dorothy and I began foster ministry 7 years ago when we were in Texas. We did not start it with the purpose of adopting, however, we have adopted one child and are in the process of adopting another. (A boy we fostered in Texas) It is not always easy, often times frustrating, always time consuming and in the end worth every second! I do not know if the Lord will allow us to foster in the future now that we are in Northwest Arkansas. I cannot help but believe that we will, especially as more room is made available in our home. I cannot imagine our life without our 2 new sons and the opportunity to have made a difference in the lives of those we were able to care for.

My simple challenge on this Fathers Day weekend is that we might echo the words of the Psalmist in celebrating a God who is the Father to fatherless and simply pray about the command of scripture we find in James 1:27

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

There are thousands of children that need not only the care of a loving parent, but also the love of a forgiving Savior. Maybe God has not called you to foster or adopt, but then again, how will you know unless you ask Him?

there is an elephant in the room – let us not ignore him any longer.

To Blog or not…

There is a lot to be said about change. Some of it good, some of it not so good.

I have vowed to make a change in my life. It is not loosing weight, it is not saving money, it is not anything really that significant at all. However, it is important to me. It involves discipline. I have on two occasions started blogging only to find myself giving it up after a short period. Why? Simply put, I was not disciplined enough to stay the course. Now a blog is really nothing of great significance. Those of us who feel that our little rants are news to the world are really exercising our most narcissistic tendencies. Yet still I think blogging can be a good thing. It really is nothing more than purposeful journaling with a much wider audience. Many have used blogging in what I believe to be a very negative purpose, especially in Southern Baptist life. Many have used it for great good. There are some who have done both. I also readily admit that this is simply my opinion and that some would see it very different. Either way, blogging is a tool in many ways to exercise the demons in us and to be a part of this wonderful information age in which we live. My topics will range from everything from the Christian life to theology and church and kids and movies and sports and the price of tea in China! I would imagine there will be a healthy dose of Southern Baptist life and issues also. I am interested in what you would like to read about. Let me know!
Tomorrows post will be on voyeurism and Southern Baptist Blogs. The 21st century cyber train wreck!

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It is the small things that matter

I won’t kid you…it’s the truth…really…I am not playing…MINISTRY CAN BE TOUGH!

The truth is that the ministry for me is God’s call on my life to serve His people. I do this in various ways, the chief being the expositional preaching of the Word of God. I also have the task of leading our church in the work of discipleship and reaching the nations. This is sometimes a real challenge because often times folks really do not want to be led. I know there are times that I don’t!  Please do not misunderstand me, there is no greater joy in the world than to serve as a Pastor of a local church. I am just saying that there are those times that it can be a difficult task. Different opinions, ideas and an ever increasing conflicting culture can lead to some real frustration. Of course the way to deal with this is to take it to the Lord, listen to your critics (They may be right), stay filled with the Spirit and let God love on you and lead you, then step out and be Gods man!

Just today a fellow staff member and I were talking about a situation he is aware of where there is a pastor struggling and a church hurting because of conflict. I have been a part of conflict and I can assure you it is never fun. However, if we are centered in on the conflict of our lives and in particular our church life, we may miss the ‘small’ things that really matter.  I have a former staff member who is now a pastor and has been going through a tough time in his new pastorate. He called me tonight to inform me that a major victory had been won. With excitement in his voice he told me how the church had decided to begin using a few praise songs in their worship and to utilize a projector to help folks with the new songs. This may not seem like much to you, but it marked a major victory in the life of his church and his young ministry! He is excited because instead of fighting, folks listened and moved forward…maybe just baby steps to many of us, but to this young pastor it was sheer victory!

Tonight in my study before our Wednesday night service I had the privilege of leading a man to faith in Christ. He has been visiting in our church for a couple of months and had come to the point that he was ready to become a follower of Jesus. There was no fanfare or superfluity of activity in his decision. Just a presentation and discussion of the gospel and a simple prayer. Another name written down in glory! A commitment to follow Jesus as Lord no matter what…by faith!

This past year there has been a lot of discussion and even conflict in our Southern Baptist Convention. Southern Baptists are no strangers to conflict and disharmony. This week it came to a close with the adoption of the GCR report and a dynamic new change of direction for our historic convention. There was an abundance of press and coverage and a great deal of attention. Folks like to pay attention when Baptists fight. The vote was taken and history was made, but meanwhile in church’s across America, small steps were taken in the process of making disciples of the nations. Classes were taught, sermons were preached, children were loved, students were challenged and ministry was accomplished. You won’t read about it in the paper or see it on the local news but you can be there first hand when you join yourself to ministry through your local church, and remember, when ministry gets tough, when conflict is evident, when direction is questioned, we must simply trust God, move forward and realize that it is indeed the so called ‘small’ things that matter.

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