In 1873, a young Dwight L. Moody stood in the vestry of a Baptist church in Dublin, Ireland, talking with Henry Varley, an influential British revivalist preacher. During the course of that conversation, Varley uttered words that rocketed through Moody’s soul and altered the course of Moody’s future ministry.
The ovation lasted longer than most at a monthly staff meeting as Dr. Randy Davis shared the news that churches gave 2.2% more through the Cooperative Program than they did last year. Tennessee Baptists are the heroes in the narrative of Cooperative Program giving. While many state conventions struggle to fund ministries and missions, we’re experiencing growth. This increase appears to be nothing short of miraculous. We spent time together, thanking God for Tennessee Baptists and their pastors. Our churches said many things through their giving. Here are seven:
1. Momentum grows when UNITY drives the bus.
Tennessee Baptists have enjoyed unity for a number of years. Today we celebrate what happens when a network of believers locks arms to accomplish what they could never do alone. We all agree that Tennessee is a mission field. In other words, the turf war is over. There’s plenty of turf to go around. The network of cooperation boggles the mind. Just consider how the Cooperative Program works when we are united: A new church plant in Inner City Memphis needs the help of a Brentwood church. Disaster Relief needs the help of a small church in Shelbyville. A church in Brownville funds the BCM at UT Knoxville. A church of 50 members in Sullivan Association assures that an unnamed missionary in Central Asia continues to plant churches. There’s no end to the elaborate connecting points between churches and mission strategies. How is this possible? To a man, almost every Tennessee Baptist pastor knows the answer: The Cooperative Program. Continue reading “Seven Things that the Rise in Cooperative Program Giving says about TN Pastors & Churches”→
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.”
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”→
Everybody has their love language. Granny Tate expressed hers by twisting your ear.
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”→
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!
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.
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”→
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”→
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’”→