Recently, I observed a young father worshipping Christ during a chapel service. He had one raised and the other holding his crippled 18mo old daughter; she was enjoying a few minutes out of her wheelchair.
One of my dearest friends waits daily for his hospital-issued beeper to go off so he can rush his four year old daughter, “Leah,” to the hospital for a heart transplant—Leah’s heart will not last much longer.
Several years ago, a close family member was kidnapped, beaten, molested, and left unconscious in the edge of the woods; a few high school boys thought this was a good idea for gang initiation.
What emotions manifest when you hear these stories? Fury, for me! But, furious at who? Or what? Psalm 97:10—“O you who love the Lord, hate evil!”
Rarely are we reminded of Scripture’s instruction to hate sin. I do not have in mind the theological dilemma about whether or not God hates sin and sinners, but simply the fact that when Christians grow deeper in their love for God, their hatred for sin should deepen also.
Rape, incest, abortion, fathers who abandon their families, theft, sex trafficking, greed, million dollar mansions built next to tents and trailer parks, genocide, homicide, infanticide, suicide, sex trafficking—all man-initiated realities in God’s good world, but not what God intended.
Cancer, hunger, still-born babies, tornadoes that destroy towns, hurricanes that sink cities, tsunamis that devastate districts and earthquakes that cripple countries—all the effects of sin in creation that have taken the lives of countless millions.
How can these things be??? They are both the effects and outworking of sin.
And here’s the kicker, we are participants.
Men, every time you gratify yourself with a glance at a short skirt, a gorging at the buffet, or yet another draw-attention-to-yourself comment about who you know or what you’ve done, you fight for sin’s team. Ladies, each time you cover your mouth to whisper gossip, starve yourself so you’re more relationally marketable, or enjoy the thought that your kids are better dressed and better behaved than so and so’s kids, you fuel sin’s fire. As the redeemed of God, we certainly still struggle with sin, but it is not enough to “try harder to stop”; while resting in the sin-destroying work of Christ in our lives, we must increasingly hate sin and its effects. We must recognize that when we sin, we participate in the very evil that rapes women, kills children, starves families, and ravishes every ounce of order in creation. Hate sin!
But, love righteousness. God’s mission is to destroy this sin and evil that He too hates. By way of Christ’s finished work, and His Kingdom come, God will destroy death, sin and evil and restore all things to Himself where His people will reign with Him forever with righteousness and equity. What a privilege to share this great news with those who are slaves to sin, but can become slaves to righteousness.
As your love for God deepens, so should your hatred of sin. Don’t counsel porn addicts simply to “stop.” Help them understand that they’re contributing to the very thing that causes chaos and suffering in our world. Hate sin, but love, evermore, the One who has crushed it and will destroy it.
He bids us come and fight for His team. And, Christ, the team captain, “loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed [Him]…” Heb 1:9
At the 2011 SBC meeting in Phoenix I got to sit down with some key leaders in our convention to discuss the Cooperative Program (CP) and other significant issues facing the SBC. In this interview I shoot questions at Bruce Ashford (Dean of the College at Southeastern), Jimmy Scroggins (Pastor at FBC West Palm Beach), and Micah Fries (Pastor at Frederick Boulevard Baptist).
Here are some of the topics we discuss:
Here are some of the very interesting responses from these key leaders:
Conclusion- Here are some things I found interesting moving forward in the CP discussion. All 3 guys were passionate CP guys and committed to giving to it. However, two issues in their answers stand out that our Convention is going to need to think through in the near future.
Baptist21 is excited to announce that we will once again host a panel at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention to be held in Phoenix, AZ.
Topic: A discussion on issues in the SBC, particularly “Mission”
When: During the Tuesday Lunch break of the SBC (June 14th)
There are still many details to be determined, such as: location, cost, etc… stay tuned for more information in the days ahead
6. Election of Frank Page as the President of the EC: 2009 witnessed the announced retirement of EC President Morris Chapman who had unfortunately ended his time opposing the GCR. The SBC annual meeting saw the election of his replacement, Frank Page, a former SBC President. The EC acts on behalf of the SBC the 363 days the Southern Baptist Convention is not in session. Like Ezell, Page has been busy with restructuring the EC as well. Part of this restructuring saw the elimination of the job of VP for News Services and executive editor of Baptist Press, held by Will Hall, and consolidation from five divisions within the EC to three divisions (see article below for more on the restructuring).
Accompanying Resources: Florida Baptist Witness article on the Restructuring of EC
7. Popularity of Radical: David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills (a Southern Baptist congregation), had his book Radical reach the NY Times Best Seller list. Platt’s popularity as a preacher and proponent of international missions has grown exponentially in the SBC and in the greater evangelical world. This book details the radical life that should characterize every Christ-follower. Platt’s emphasis on international missions, care for the orphan and poor, and disciple making were certainly a catalyst for the Great Commission Resurgence. The ideas put forth in the book have begun to catch on at his church and other churches as well. It is possible that his preaching and this book may be a vehicle for a Great Commission movement among Southern Baptists and the greater evangelical world.
8. The Year in Statistics: It couldn’t be a year in review for the SBC without examining some of our numbers. The most significant number: CP giving is down. In addition, baptisms were up 2.2% from the previous year, but membership was down .42%. Many interpretations could be drawn from these numbers, so we won’t dabble in the interpretations. However, we do hope that steps will be taken in local, state and national agencies so that people can give more generously and confidently to the CP. We also hope there will be a major focus on discipling those who are baptized and regenerate church membership. It is not helpful to have an increase in baptisms but not an increase in Christ-followers.
Accompanying Resources: BP article highlighting the annual church profile statistics
9. Gospel-Centered Movement: A refocus on “Gospel-Centrality” is sweeping across denominational lines. This refocus has influenced B21 tremendously. So, we are very thankful that this appears to be taking off in the SBC. Our convention of churches has for many years struggled with legalism, moralism, preaching that aims for behavior modification, poor hermeneutics, and many other threats to the centrality of the gospel. Several examples can be mentioned to highlight that this is taking off in the SBC, such as Matt Chandler’s sermon at this past year’s SBC, the popularity of Tim Keller among SBC Preachers, and recent resolutions at the SBC that focused more on Gospel implications than petty boycotts or “pet-sin” bashing. One such example is a resolution on Gospel-Centrality passed by the messengers to this past year’s SBC (see the resolution below). It is the hope of B21 that the resolution passed by messengers of the SBC will be more than platitudes in our lives and churches and that a true movement of gospel-centrality is at work among us.
10. Focus on Adoption in the SBC: There is a new focus among Southern Baptists on the care of orphans and on adoption. This has been spurred on by many factors such as Dr. Russell Moore’s book Adopted for Life, David Platt’s Radical, and the focus on adoption by Kevin Ezell at this past year’s SBC pastor’s Conference. This focus seems to be capturing the hearts of the SBC and broader evangelicalism. This, of course, is a welcomed development.
Accompanying Resources: check out more about the adoption focus from last year’s SBC Pastors Conference and a new book to be released in April by Tony Merida and Rick Morton entitled, “Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care” (Check out some of the endorsements, including one by B21’s Jon Akin)
On June 15th, 2010, the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention voted to pass the recommendations put forth by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. Following this meeting, it was unclear how soon the passing of these recommendations would begin to trickle through our convention. Within these last four months several decisions have been made that I believe are indications that something is going on among our convention of churches much earlier than many anticipated.
Following the appointing of the GCR Task Force in June of 2009, several Southern Baptist State Conventions formed task forces to study how each state could better allocate their monies in order to be used for the advancement of the gospel to the nations. Three State Convention Task Forces have given strategic recommendations that will help to streamline our convention structures and see more money going to advance the gospel to underserved areas of our country and to the nations. In addition, other State Conventions are in process of making changes to the way they operate in order to streamline and send more money on to the SBC. This is an exciting time in our convention. Here are five encouraging items to pay close attention to and pray for:
The Kentucky Baptist Convention. On August 23rd, 2010, Dr. Hershael York, Chairman of the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Task Force, said, “Kentucky Baptists will move to an even distribution of Cooperative Program receipts and set an ambitious goal of increasing missions giving.” The move to changing the Cooperative Program allocations between KBC and Southern Baptist Convention causes to an even 50 percent-50 percent split is set to take place over the next seven years with the bulk of the shift occurring in 2011. Currently, only 38% is forwarded to the SBC headquarters.
These recommendations have not been approved yet, but will be presented to messengers on November 16th at the Kentucky Baptist Convention Meeting in Lexington. Part of what Baptist21 anticipates, as an outgrowth of the GCR, is that those who supported it will need to go to their state conventions and continue to be a part of the process of changing convention structures and allocations.
The Florida Baptist Convention. On September 23rd, 2010 the Imagine If Great Commission Task Force proposed four priorities for the Florida Baptist Convention. One of these priorities is “moving Florida’s Cooperative Program income distribution to a 50/50 division between state and national entities within four years.” Currently, only 40% is forwarded on to the SBC headquarters. The final draft of the recommendations will be presented to and voted on by the messengers at the Florida Baptist State Convention’s annual meeting on November 8th-9th.
The Nevada Baptist Convention. It was revealed on September 21st, 2010 that “Nevada Southern Baptists will vote in October to merge their state convention and four associations into one entity and increase their Cooperative Program missions giving by two-thirds over the next five-year.”
Hoyt Savage, the chairman of the 14-member task force and pastor of Foothills Baptist Church in Las Vegas said, “It was out of the box. It’s painful. But we want to not only survive, we want to thrive. This proposal is the way God opened up to us that we could continue working together and not be pulled from one allegiance or the other, where churches could stay focused on the main thing and maintain a single focus of church strengthening and church planting.”
The recommendations call for division of Cooperative Program receipts to reach a 50/50 division in 2015. These proposals will be voted on at the Nevada Baptist Conventions annual meeting on October 18-19th. Props to Hoyt Savage, the 14-member task force, and all Nevada Baptists for taking these steps to streamline their convention structure for the advancement of the gospel! This “out of the box” decision does not need to be overlooked. It may be something that other state conventions need to consider as they move forward in evaluating their structure and allocation.
The Dakota Baptist Convention. Earlier this month Dakota Baptists approved a new budget for 2011 that is $15,800 less than the 2010 budget. Executive Director Jim Hamilton states, “We’re trying to tighten our belts.” Baptist Press notes “the 16/84 DBC/SBC allocation in Cooperative Program giving reflects a .5 percent increase in funds for national and international missions causes. The dollar amount also is expected to increase, from $41,075 in 2010 to $42,400 in 2011.” These changes reflect a desire by Dakota Baptists to get more money from the churches to where the name of Jesus has not been heard.
The North American Mission Board. Recently, my former pastor Kevin Ezell was voted in as the new president of the North American Mission Board. Kevin ushers in a new era and future for NAMB. Kevin has a track record of detecting, mentoring, and encouraging pastors and church planters. This will be invaluable as he leads this organization to foster church planting among SBC Churches. Many have commented that he is a tremendous leader and is an excellent choice for this position. If you have yet to read up on Kevin, I encourage you to do so. Here are a few articles:
In Conclusion, I know that more changes in our convention are coming. There are still more decisions, tough decisions that will need to be made by our convention entities as they continue to evaluate how they operate. I believe the changes that come will be for the good of our convention and for the good of getting the gospel to those who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.
I believe the greatest days for Southern Baptists are ahead of us. If the trends we are currently seeing in our convention entities continue, we will see more money allocated to places of greatest need. My hope is that other state conventions would also evaluate how they allocate their money and decide to adjust in order to get more to underserved areas of our country and to the nations. Praise God for brave, faithful Southern Baptists across our nation who are sacrificing for gospel advancement among the underserved areas of our nation and the unreached people groups of the World.
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