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Two Simple but Powerful Words: Thank You

It’s just two words but they are incredibly powerful when flowing from a heart genuinely filled with gratitude. They can be delivered a number of ways; a text, an e-mail, or better yet, a handwritten note. Think what it means if you receive a call and the person on the other end simply says, “I wanted to call and just say thank you.”

And then there is the ultimate. Someone who gives you a hug or a handshake, looks you in the eyes and sincerely says, “thanks” for something you’ve done. Continue reading “Two Simple but Powerful Words: Thank You”

Depression: It’s Time to Openly Talk About It

We have a problem and we can’t ignore it any longer.

It’s time we were honest with ourselves and with each other. To pretend we don’t face a serious issue would be a life-threatening mistake. I’m talking about depression among pastors and ministers (and everyone else). Depression is a reality, and I can’t bear the thought of losing one more pastor, one more person, to depression that ends in suicide. Continue reading “Depression: It’s Time to Openly Talk About It”

The Cooperative Program Begins with Granny Tate

Randy C. Davis

Everybody has their love language. Granny Tate expressed hers by twisting your ear.

Hard.

Granny Tate was a tiny lady, but she was a giant to me. She really did twist your ear as an expression of love. I wouldn’t have minded if she had been a hugger. She was my Sunday School teacher at Shiloh Baptist Church, Saraland, Ala., when I was 11 years old. Even as a 6-foot plus senior in high school, I’d bend down so she could twist my ear. If Granny wasn’t twisting your ear, you weren’t cool. We loved that woman. Continue reading “The Cooperative Program Begins with Granny Tate”

The Mission Field Within the Mission Field

Aparna had no idea what to expect when she arrived in America and on the campus of East Tennessee State University. Johnson City couldn’t be more culturally different from her home in Northern India.

She didn’t know anybody when school started. One day she saw a group of people standing around and wandered over to see what was going on. It was the Pop-Tart Cart, a ministry of the ETSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry. Sure, it is a place to grab a pack of Pop-Tarts and a cup of coffee, but it is really a connecting point for BCMers to share the love of Jesus and the gospel with fellow students. One of them struck up a conversation with Aparna and invited her to the BCM. That invitation changed her life.

She made lots of new friends in the following weeks and frequently heard the gospel. It wasn’t long before she realized her need for a Savior and gave her life to Jesus. Awesome!

But the story gets better. Continue reading “The Mission Field Within the Mission Field”

The Childlike Awe at the Wonder of God

Davis Walker, 4-year-old grandson of Randy C. and Jeanne Davis, enjoys the beach for the first time in Florida.

I always love going home. The beauty astounds me.

I grew up on the Alabama Gulf Coast and love it. But it’s a little more than just loving it, it’s in my blood. The majority of my earliest memories are of water skiing up and down the canal, fishing off the coast of Orange Beach, shrimping in Perdido Bay, and sitting at the end of our pier drinking coffee and watching beautiful sunsets with my family.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a beach fix in years. Like many of you, our family loves the surf and sand, so we’ve been anticipating a vacation to Blue Mountain Beach, Fla.  Continue reading “The Childlike Awe at the Wonder of God”

Why I Am Thankful for Steve Gaines

Steve Gaines
-Photo by Morris Abernathy

Messengers to the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention stand at the threshold of two watershed days in our denomination’s history this week as the annual meeting convenes in Dallas. More importantly, these representatives from our network of churches play a central role in the outcomes that lie ahead.

There has been much in the news about Southern Baptists coming into this convention, and unfortunately little of it has been positive. Messengers have many decisions to make, and in my opinion one of the most important responsibilities is to prayerfully elect our next SBC president. But as we look beyond this convention, I want to look backward and express sincere gratitude to God and to the messengers who twice elected Tennessee’s own Dr. Steve Gaines as president of the SBC. Continue reading “Why I Am Thankful for Steve Gaines”

DR: A Storied History and Bright Future

An EF5 tornado dropped from the skies five years ago and roared across Oklahoma’s open spaces at 200 mph. It locked on Moore, Okla., then slammed into the modest Oklahoma City suburb filled with middle-class, salt-of-the-earth people. It bulldozed an elementary school. It was over a mile wide and ripped a 17-mile path through the heart of that city. The devastation was comprehensive: 24 people killed, more than 200 injured, and more than $2 billion in damage.

And within hours, Oklahoma and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams swooped in to serve people. Among them were nearly 40 chaplains caring for the emotional and spiritual hurts of people. But the great thing about Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers is that every person goes as a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, even if they are running a chain saw. Continue reading “DR: A Storied History and Bright Future”

Don’t Forget Tennessee’s ‘Least of These’

Randy C. Davis

I’ve got an old black and white photo of my father-in-law, Wilkerson V. Jones, standing next to Babe Ruth, one of baseball’s greatest players. Ruth of course, went on to baseball immortality and is among the sport’s pantheon of stars.

But in my book, Wilkerson went on to immortality too. His legacy is revealed in the lives he positively affected, including me. The interesting connection between Ruth and Wilkerson is that they both grew up in boys’ homes. Both had rough starts to life and it was effectively at a boys home where their lives took a turn for the better. It was people investing in them that made a difference. Continue reading “Don’t Forget Tennessee’s ‘Least of These’”

A Normal Tennessee Baptist Church

Normal is good. I’m a fan of normal.

I recently found normal in Howell, about an hour and 15-minute drive straight south from our house in Nolensville. The weather was nearly perfect for an early morning drive with my bride, Jeanne, and we wound our way along country roads through the beautiful rolling hills of Middle Tennessee.

Howell is a small community located between Lewisburg and Fayetteville. We pulled into the parking lot of First Baptist Church Howell and the thought came to my mind. First Baptist Church and the town of Howell are, well, normal.

According to the last census, if you draw a ring around Howell about eight miles from the center of town, the population of Howell is about 8,800. That’s not many folks, but it’s normal. And the church — First Baptist Howell — has between 75 to 100 people of all ages in worship, but that’s normal.

And Brian Gass, pastor of FBC, is bivocational. But that’s normal. Continue reading “A Normal Tennessee Baptist Church”

Living in Your Sweet Spot

If you have ever played sports, you are probably familiar with the term “sweet spot.” The “Sweet Spot” is the point or area on a bat, club, or racket at which it makes most effective contact with the ball (I am told that my golf clubs have a “sweet spot” but I have never actually found it!). In non-sports terms, the “sweet spot” is an optimum point or combination of factors or qualities.

I bring this up because it seems that church revitalization is often measured solely in terms of numbers – attendance, budget, etc. While these measurements can be an indicator of church revitalization, other factors need to be considered when determining the overall health of a church in the revitalization process. Some of the “health factors” can be more difficult to measure, but it is important to pay attention to the “sweet spot” on the church revitalization journey.

As we look at the pictured diagram, the place where all three circles come together would be the “Sweet Spot.” Let’s break it down to some practical steps in nurturing revitalization in the church. Continue reading “Living in Your Sweet Spot”