Archive for June, 2007
June 27th, 2007 | 6 Comments | Posted in » Baptist Issues, In the News..., My Life / Family
Missouri Baptists have been up in arms recently (okay, so it seems we’re always up in arms, but bear with me) about the “Save Our Convention” movement. I’ve wondered what they’re all about for some time now, but simply wasn’t sure what to think. I greatly respect the leaders of the movement that I’m familiar with, yet I’ve heard nothing but anger and discord over what they’re doing. So… I’ve been conflicted. I haven’t heard their presentation directly, and I wasn’t sure I could trust the accounts of others (perception jades our accounts, it’s a fact of life), so I’ve simply tried to abstain from developing a strong opinion one way or the other on the group.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear from them firsthand… I attended the “Save Our Convention” meeting in Kearney. I think it’s safe to say I now have an opinion… albeit not necessarily just about SOC. To state it in brief?
Why would anyone want to take an active role in Missouri Baptist Convention life?
Yes, I’m serious. I attended as an interested layman, curious as to what all the uproar was about… and left wondering how Missouri Baptists will ever accomplish anything together. I’m left wondering if the MBC is even worth saving.
You’re probably wondering how I can say that, so allow me to elaborate.
Just over nine years ago, while I was a college student, I was engaged to a beautiful girl from the small town of Battlefield, Missouri. Nancy had insisted that if we were going to get married, that we needed to start going to church. Being head over heels for her, I agreed to go.
The first Sunday at First Baptist Battlefield blew me away. Pastor John’s sermon cut me straight to the heart… conviction. God started working on me. Nancy and I started attending Sunday School, and the wonderful folks there in the College and Career class accepted me wholeheartedly… even though I really didn’t have a clue about faith in Christ. I can’t remember how long we had been attending… but around April of ’98, God had been working on my heart long enough. While driving back to school late one Sunday, I asked Christ to save me and committed my life to Him.
At the time, I didn’t have a clue about the Missouri Baptist Convention, Southern Baptist Convention, conservative resurgence, etc… all I knew was that I was now part of something far bigger and better than I could have imagined in years previous. My sins had been forgiven… my eternal destination was secure… I had a Lord that was with me every moment of every day… I had a church family that loved and cared for me… all because Nancy wanted me to attend a Baptist church with her.
I know… my testimony is nice and all, but how does it relate to SOC? Keep reading, I’ll get there (eventually).
Since that point, I’ve heard the news, and I’ve read the articles… and all I’ve seen is controversy after controversy, political fight after political fight in our convention. Project 1000 and the battle vs. the moderates… the “renegade” agencies and the legal battle to win back control… the blow-up at last year’s convention… the controversy over the Journey… the investigative committee, culminating in our executive director’s dismissal… the theological review committee… now SOC vs. MBLA…
In nine years as a Missouri Baptist, these are the things that stand out in my mind. I’ve racked my brain since the meeting yesterday, and I honestly can’t think of one “Missouri Baptist” news story about a ministry, mission, or service project that stands out. Not one thing… just controversy after controversy.
Now maybe that’s just my ignorance of the convention and its activities, or my tendency to remember the negative… I don’t know. But it makes me wonder… if this is all I see when I think of the Missouri Baptist Convention, how many others are in the same boat? Even if it’s just one in every ten Missouri Baptists, it’s a sad statistic.
The question I have is this… when will everyone lay down their swords? If you were there yesterday, Pastor Ken Parker made a point… he asked a series of questions… who believes the Bible is inerrant… who believes abortion is wrong… who believes in the deity of Christ… etc. The point was that the commonalities of Missouri Baptists (SOC, MBLA, or other) far exceed our differences. When are we going to focus on our commonalities, stop all this ridiculous fighting, and move forward in a united fashion to tackle the issue that’s really important… reaching the MILLION plus lost folks here in Missouri?
As for SOC itself and the meeting yesterday? I didn’t get the impression that others had (see the Missouri Baptist list for more). It seemed to me the meeting went quite smoothly, with presenters doing as good a job as possible presenting their viewpoints in a calm and loving manner… but that the meeting went VERY far south when the question and answer period began and the fur started flying. That’s not to say that I approved of everything SOC had to say… simply that given the choice of things shared, they did as good a job possible in presenting their message. I wish I could say the same for the question / answer period… the dialogue… both sides… was truly disheartening.
Anyway, to me, once you’re able to put aside the problems in their presentation, SOC’s message is a good one. As I see it, there are six main points:
- We need change in our convention.
- We don’t need closely associated individuals (be it MBLA folks, SOC folks, individuals from the same church, individuals from the same family, or other) in positions of influence year after year after year.
- We need more strict rules prohibiting service on multiple committees, boards, and elected positions.
- We need to learn to agree to disagree on debatable matters non-central to the gospel.
- Missouri Baptists need to be better informed about convention activities.
- Missouri Baptists need to be more involved in convention activities.
The problem, as stated above, lies in the presentation. I see several issues:
- While generic descriptions of their concerns probably wouldn’t have been respected either (in a lot of ways, this group seems to be facing a no-win situation), pointing fingers at specific individuals as problems definitely detracts from the core message. Even if the things stated about MBLA and others are true, voicing them seems to me to create more controversy than it diffuses… it looks like a personal vendetta, no matter how many words are said to the contrary. In the end, it may work out, but I fear the cure may be every bit as bad as the disease.
- The lack of continual public dialogue on these issues detracts from the message. In today’s age, we have come to expect an abundance of readily available information, delivered nearly instantaneously. I’ve seen nothing online about SOC’s concerns, so this hurts their cause. There are several venues this could take place… interaction on the existing Missouri Baptist mailing list, blogging, web forums, web sites, etc. This lack of information allows the few media outlets that have covered it to dominate the public perception of the movement. The few meetings held to date simply provide an insufficient level of communication.
- The plan to address these concerns, showing 1100 messengers, makes the movement look very political (even if that’s not the intent). It’s most regrettable that this was included… if we want meaningful change in our convention (which is put in motion by the voting of messengers), pursual of a specific quota of messengers who will vote a certain way is politics at its very essence. Let’s simply make sure issues are known, and let messengers vote.
The bottom line? I left the meeting more discouraged about the Missouri Baptist Convention than ever… not because I view anyone in MBC life as having ill intentions for our convention, but simply because we’ve apparently got too much pride to reconcile our differences of opinion in regard to its direction.
I pray that God will break our hearts over the condition of our convention, drive us to our knees to seek His forgiveness for the time we’ve wasted fighting with each other, draw us together to reconcile our differences, and move us out in unity to push back against the darkness of sin and lostness that permeates our state.
June 27th, 2007 | Comments Off | Posted in » Baptist Issues, In the News...
Unless you’ve had your head under a rock for the last couple years in the Baptist blog world, you’ve undoubtedly been aware of Marty Duren’s blog, SBC Outpost. You’ve probably also heard that he’d decided to retire the site following the San Antonio convention.
You may have wondered… what will be left to fill the void?
Well… SBC Outpost will, as it re-opens with a new look and slightly new direction on July 2nd.
Check out the following press release from Micah Fries, editor of the new SBC Outpost, for details.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2007
ST. JOSEPH, MO — On Monday, July 2, 2007, the online conversation concerning the future of the Southern Baptist Convention will move forward as a group of prominent bloggers merge their efforts to provide a forum for ministry ideas, missionary support, church revitalization, and denominational reform. SBCOutpost.com, previously administrated by Pastor Marty Duren of New Bethany Baptist Church in Buford, GA, will be launched as one of the premier sites for Southern Baptist news and commentary.
Little doubt exists that blogs have dominated the conversation in Southern Baptist life for the previous 18 months. At times, the conversation has engaged substantive issues of theology and ministry. At others, the dialogue has been shrill and divisive. With the launch of a newly reformatted SBCOutpost.com blog, the chance for elevating the meaningful dialogue and limiting the intensity of contention will arrive for all Southern Baptists.
Intentionally designed as a bridge for the diverse constituencies of Southern Baptist life, SBCOutpost.com will bring together denominational executives with rural pastors and church planters, missional pastors with traditional pastors, seminary theologians with Sunday School teachers, and field missionaries with their prayer partners. The day has passed for monopolies in news and information. SBCOutpost.com will seek to supplement, not replace, the excellent coverage of Southern Baptist life already offered online through Baptist Press, Associated Baptist Press, and various Baptist state papers.
SBCOutpost.com is singularly unique, however, in the chance for reader interaction and commentary, offering a forum for the discussion about the future of culturally-informed, Christ-honoring witness and ministry paradigms for the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition to this unique format, SBCOutpost.com will launch with the largest aggregate readership of any alternative news source dealing with Southern Baptist issues. The mission statement of SBCOutpost.com is “to provide interactive, substantive, and reflective dialogue for Southern Baptist churchmen and women to participate in shaping the future of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
The stated intention of SBCOutpost.com is to become the number one choice for discussion of Southern Baptist news and commentary, and the blog editors would like to encourage all Southern Baptist entities to include SBCOutpost.com as a part of their regular schedule of recipients for all press releases, news updates, and other statements as they are released to major media sources by emailing email@example.com.
It should be noted that I will be a contributor to the new SBC Outpost. I can’t imagine that my views will really have much to offer (I’m hardly a “prominent” blogger!), but I guess that’s something time will tell. I would anticipate my value to be primarily in the technical administration of things, but I’m also planning on contributing a regular column entitled, “The Layman’s Look”, tackling SBC issues from the perspective of an interested layperson. Although I’m not 100% certain what direction I’m going with the column, I will say this… if you’re interested in contributing your views to these columns in some manner, please let me know (you can e-mail me at the link in the left sidebar)… I might want to incorporate a few quotes into it, or maybe even some interviews.
Anyway… the fun begins (again) on July 2nd. Don’t miss the new debut of sbcoutpost.com!
June 26th, 2007 | Comments Off | Posted in » Just For Fun..., My Life / Family
Yes, I know… this has been floating around for about two weeks now on Baptist blogs, so yes… I’m late in posting this.
Anyway, Micah Fries tagged me, and now I’m supposed to post five things I dig about Jesus. I hope nobody minds, but that’s about the only rule of this game I’m following (it looks like just about everyone I know has already been tagged!).
Here’s my list:
- I dig that though there’s nothing of worth that I can bring to Him to deserve it, He loved me enough to take my sin upon Himself on the cross. Grace is an amazing thing.
- I dig that He’s fully God, yet fully man. Blows my mind, but it’s very cool… I know He can relate to everything I go through.
- I dig that everything He said almost 2,000 years ago is still applicable in my life today.
- I dig that His teachings were deep enough to confound even His closest followers… sure makes me feel better when I don’t get something!
- I dig that He uses the most unlikely of people to change the world. It makes me wonder… why not me too?
June 21st, 2007 | Comments Off | Posted in » My Life / Family
Hey everyone… today is a special day for Nancy… it’s her birthday!
Nancy, if you read this, know that Jeffrey, Jenna, Allison, and I are all hoping that you have a wonderful day. We love you!
June 20th, 2007 | Comments Off | Posted in » In the News..., Just For Fun...
Interesting news today… the Vatican has issued a new set of ten commandments… for drivers.
Check it out here.
Speaking of driving and the Vatican… this reminds me of a good joke…
A few years back, the Pope was visiting New York. Being a very important person, his chosen mode of transportation was pretty obvious… a stretch limo. Only the best for the Pope, of course.
Anyway, as the Pope walks up to the limo, the driver, being the polite host he’s supposed to be, asks him, “Is there anything I can do to make your trip more enjoyable?”
The Pope replies, “Well, there is one thing. It’s been years since I’ve driven anywhere myself. Would you mind if I drove?”
The limo driver was in a pickle… here was the most powerful religious leader in the world, asking to drive? How would he possibly explain it to his boss?
Considering the circumstances carefully, he replied, “Your holiness, I’m really not supposed to let anyone drive… but considering that you ARE the Pope, I’m sure my boss would make an exception. Here’s the keys.”
The Pope hops in front, revs the engine, and smiles broadly. He shifts to drive, pulls away from the curb, and accelerates to speed.
A few minutes later, they pull onto the interstate, and the Pope opens it up. They’re travelling about 90 mph, and fly by a highway patrolman. The patrolman flips on his siren and chases them down.
As the Pope rolls down the window, the patrolman begins. “License and regist… Um… excuse me.” The patrolman rapidly returns to his vehicle, and grabs the radio.
“I need the chief, and I need him now!”, he exclaims to the dispatcher.
“What’s going on?”, the dispatcher replies.
“I don’t have time to chat… just get me the chief!”
Moments later, the chief is on the radio… “What’s going on out there?”
“We’ve got a serious problem, chief… I just pulled over a limo, and it’s someone VERY important. I don’t know what to do!”, the patrolman stated in a disturbed voice.
“How important?”, replied the chief.
“VERY IMPORTANT!”, the patrolman exclaimed.
“Tell me you didn’t pull over the governor!” said the worried chief.
“It’s not the governor… this person is way bigger than that!”
“The president?”, replied the chief.
“Even bigger!”, exclaimed the exasperated patrolman.
The chief was growing impatient. “Well, just who in the world DID you pull over?”
“Well, he has the Pope for a driver,” the patrolman replied. “I think it’s Jesus!”
June 17th, 2007 | Comments Off | Posted in » Christian Living, Devotions / Bible Studies
This morning’s Sunday School lesson focused on Paul’s preaching regarding the resurrection to the Corinthians. As I taught the lesson, one particular verse stood out to me. I’ll include a larger passage to provide context…
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
Did you catch the verse that stood out to me? Yeah, I know… obvious from the post title… “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
Now, it’s obvious that the context in which this verse was written to the Corinthian church is FAR different from that which struck me as important… Paul wrote this passage in an effort to bring the Corinthian church back to the fundamentals of their faith, to combat the teaching of some that the resurrection of Christ was not real. But the verse rings true far beyond that.
For me, this verse was an important reminder of a simple fact… that faith in Christ is for far more than just this life. Why is that important? Simply because it’s so easy to get caught up in the here and now. Faith so often boils down to a “Lord Jesus, please help me through this” type of prayer… a “Lord, help me with this struggle” plea… a “God, what are you doing in this situation” query… or even a “Lord, where are you?” cry. We lose focus of the purpose of the death and resurrection of Christ… to bridge the separation between us and God that our sin has created… to enable salvation and eternal life.
While the Corinthian church needed to realize that resurrection was a critically important truth of the gospel message, we often just need a reminder to focus on the entirety of God’s plan. Don’t get me wrong… our relationship with Jesus IS for the here and now as well as for eternity… but a focus on eternity can help us get through the here and now.
I know… simple concept… but it’s the obvious that often seems most profound to me.
June 15th, 2007 | Comments Off | Posted in » My Life / Family, Pictures
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any Friday photos (sorry Debbie!), so I’ve got a bit of catching up to do.
Today’s theme? Outdoor fun.
Jenna… planting flowers!