I love sunrises and sunsets. I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than a sunrise in all its glory or a sunset in all its splendor. The fact that our Lord has given us another day of abundant life on our way to eternal life is a special gift.
My friend, Paul Clark, Jr., loved the hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth.” I love it too. “For the beauty of the earth; For the beauty of the skies, For the love which from our birth, over and around us lies, Lord of all, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.” Continue reading “Count the Days and Make Them Count”→
President George W. Bush once stood in front of a group of people trying to make sense of the world that seemed to be coming undone around them. “One thing is for certain,” he said. “We did not ask for these challenges, but we will meet them. I say that with certainty because this nation has strong foundations and won’t be shaken. In this hour of our country’s history we stand in the need of prayer.”
That comment was made at the first post-9/11 National Prayer Breakfast and prior to the beginning of the longest war, the war on terrorism, in our nation’s history. I was at that prayer breakfast. I saw the resolute courage in our president’s eyes; I heard it in the tone of his voice. Continue reading “Reasons for Optimism About the SBC’s Future”→
The March 20 headline splashed across Christianity Today, The Tennessean and National Public Radio was one few in Southern Baptist life thought they’d ever read. There were variations, but in effect they all communicated the same thing: “LifeWay Christian Resources, the largest Christian retail chain in America, plans to close all 170 stores this year and shift its offerings entirely online.”
It was a sad day that revealed the lifelong emotional attachment many Southern Baptists have had with the bookstore. Frankly, generations of us have never known a world without a Baptist Book Store or a Lifeway Christian Store. Many expressed their anger with statements about how the bookstore was more than just books. It was the people who worked there — who ministered there — who made the stores what they were. Continue reading “Change Happens but the Mission Remains”→
Too often pastors develop an “old cowboy” mentality where they feel they need to “stay in the saddle” at all costs. Unfortunately, too many church goers feel their pastors should be old cowboys. That notion of pastoral “toughness” may sound romantic, but it rarely – if ever – ends well. Set aside the obvious sin of pride involved; no one can spiritually, emotionally or physically sustain it.
Pastor, if you feel you’re riding that horse, I’ve got four short statements of unsolicited advice you need to hear if you, your family and your ministry are going to survive. Somebody’s got to tell you so it might as well be me. I’ve ridden in that rodeo before. Continue reading “Somebody Tell the Pastor He’s No Cowboy”→
Great Commission work is like having a balanced diet and Acts 1:8 is the recipe.
You know the recipe: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” However, it is one thing to know the recipe, it is quite another to actually cook up Great Commission work. I believe Tennessee Baptists are great cooks.
April is the month we celebrate North American missions and offer support to Southern Baptist missionaries through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. As is so often the case, Tennessee Baptists rise to the occasion. Proof? Tennessee Baptists have given an average of over $4.4 million annually over the last five years through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. I believe our generosity flows because we see the need to saturate our country with the gospel. Continue reading “Tenn. Baptists Know the Recipe for Missions”→
Every personality profile evaluation I have ever taken identifies a particular character trait that is confirmed by my wife, family, friends, everyone I’ve worked with and by everyone for whom I’ve served as their pastor. I am a “bottom line” kind of man.
The Lord has taught me how to temper that trait with patience and grace when appropriate; but to employ that trait when needed. Unfortunately, we live in “bottom line” days, and I am embracing my bottom line self.
It is a heavy blow when God determines to bring to light that which is hidden in the shadows. Sometimes the Body of Christ must bear the weight of His judgment when He does.
Such a blow was delivered yesterday morning in an article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle. The headline was, “Abuse of Faith.” The extremely thorough story reported 20 years of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches that affected at least 700 victims. Far and away the majority of the victims were children or youth; and far and away the perpetrators were ministers. Just in the past decade, at least 250 people who worked for or volunteered in a Southern Baptist church have been charged with sex crimes. Continue reading “The Heavy Hand of God’s Judgment”→
What do a banker, a contractor, an elementary teacher, a chemist, an engineering professor and a farmer all have in common?
Answer: They are all faithful pastors.
Unbelievably, approximately 60 percent of the pastors in Tennessee are bivocational. Let that sink in a moment. The majority of the churches connected to the Tennessee Baptist Convention have pastors who have a vocation apart from their ministries as a church’s pastor. And, if you include churches that have fulltime pastors but whose wives have secular jobs in order to make ends meet, the number jumps to probably 75 percent. Continue reading “Serving the Growing Number of Bivo Heroes”→
The most gut-wrenching and soul-devastating site in the world is seeing women militantly demanding the right to kill their unborn babies.
I was reminded of this last week when I saw a photo of women vociferously protesting for the right to “keep abortion legal.” How I pray to God that in my lifetime I’d see the end of the systematic killing of the precious babies God knits together in the wombs of their mothers. Unfortunately, the systematic killing of unborn children is a global epidemic of unimaginable proportion.
According to research done by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization founded 50 years ago and heavily supported by Planned Parenthood, more than 55 million unborn lives per year – 55 million per year – are terminated as a result of “induced abortion” as the report describes it.
Let me offer some perspective. That total is the equivalent of annually killing everyone in South Korea (population 50 million), Kenya (48 million), Colombia (48 million), Spain (46 million), Argentina (43 million) and Canada (36 million). In fact, more babies are murdered every year through induced abortion than the population of 198 of the 233 countries listed in the United Nations database. Let those figures sink in. Read this paragraph again. Every year it is like we terminate the people of entire nations.
I struggle to comprehend these numbers. The atrocity of such mass murder is a scourge on humanity and a tangible example of the inherent depravity vigorously alive in the heart of man.
I confess to feeling over-whelmed, and if not careful, I can find myself wringing my hands in despair. I sometimes feel helpless, wondering what one man can do against such a tsunami of death.
But then I remember Scripture like, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21); “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
And there are so many more passages that call me – call us – to stand against such evil and fight for the unborn.
We are called by a loving Father to love these babies because He loves them.
I wish with one stroke we could end this global genocide, but that isn’t going to happen. We will have to chip away one opportunity at a time.
As a Tennessean and as a Tennessee Baptist, I am proud that nearly five years ago we fought back by voting for Amendment 1, the so-called “abortion amendment” that made it much more difficult to obtain an abortion in our state.
If you recall, Tennessee had become the “abortion destination” for the surrounding states because of how lax abortion laws were here compared to more stringent laws in neighboring states. Tennessee abortion providers even promoted in other states the ease with which someone could travel to Tennessee to obtain an abortion. It was big business. It was an embarrassing stain on a state that claimed to be the Buckle of the Bible Belt.
Fortunately, Christians along with other like-minded people rose up and together led a grassroots charge to change that stigma through the Yes On 1 movement.
Despite organizations like Planned Parenthood pumping millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat Yes On 1, Tennesseans cooperated together and voted in favor of the amendment by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.
Never one to accept defeat of their murderous practices, Planned Parenthood and others fought back. They appealed the vote through the Sixth Circuit Court then to the Supreme Court, which upheld the circuit court’s unanimous decision that Amendment 1 was legal and could stand.
In December, the Tennessean reported that the last remaining abortion clinic in Nashville was closing its doors. Cooperating together, we struck a blow against evil, but we must not become prideful, satisfied or complacent. Evil does not rest or quietly die in defeat. It fights back with a vengeance.
At the time of the Supreme Court’s decision last fall, Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life said, “Pro-life Tennesseans must be resolute not only in our commitment to defending this victory, but also to being measured in the introduction of new laws that can’t yet be held as constitutional under existing court precedent. Equally important is the election of a pro-life Governor and pro-life legislative super-majorities who understand where we’ve been as a movement, where we want to go, and how to best get there.”
We must be diligent and participate in the process of protecting life. However, this battle is ultimately not won in the court system but in the hearts of people. The greatest way to see abortion die is to see lives changed by the saving power of the gospel. The greatest way we can love Tennessee’s unborn children is to share the love of Jesus with their mommas.
It is a challenging road at times, but it is a joy to be on the journey with you.
There have been some excellent Bible teachers over the last 100 years. Without reservation, I count the late Dr. Ron Dunn as one of them. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and anointed to teach like few men I have ever known. Every message articulated careful biblical exposition, clear illustrations and practical applications. He kept it real, relevant and preached with a compelling word from the Lord.
I was visiting Dr. Dunn and his wife, Kay, at their home in Dallas in early 1991. He gave me a signed copy of his then latest book, “Don’t Just Stand There Pray Something: The Incredible Power of Intercessory Prayer.” I will always remember that visit with the Dunns, and the title of the book has forever been etched on my mind. Continue reading “Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something!”→