My heart has been heavy since I read something Ed Stetzer tweeted. Having been in a plethora of denominations he observed that (I paraphrase) the dysfunction in the SBC is not normal. Our anger and in-fighting is more than just a family fracas.
A sense of call, a burden has been growing within me to do what I do today. I realize that many will call me a fool. Many willl dismiss it. Some will even be angered. But I believe this is what I must do.
Anyone who has been around a while has to realize that what we are seeing this year is not normal. It not a harmless internal battle or a blip on the radar that the good ship SBC has to navigate as we continue our quest to fish for Christ. There is a hostility here, an evil spirit blowing that should disturb us all.
My first SBC was the first Conservative Resurgence SBC – 1979 in Houston. The 1980s were brutal years. Maybe my memory is fading with time, but I think the hostility we are seeing today is worse than what we saw in days of the CR. The verbal brutality, the back and forth of accusations – I just don’t remember it being then what it is now. We have surpassed the CR in convention anger, hostility, and recrimination.
Granted, blogging and other social media did not exist so much of what is played out in public was played out in private, so there’s a lot from back then I didn’t see. But my spirit is wounded by what I am seeing today.
We must have a spiritual renewal or we will do irreparable damage to the convention I have given my life to.
Multiple Pleas to Prayer
I saw someone dismissing a “call to pray” today because it was seen as a cynical political strategy. If that is so, the one asking for prayer is approaching blasphemy. If it is not so, the false accusation is a serious sin. To use prayer as a “strategy” in a political effort in the SBC is evil and to dismiss prayer as of no import evidences a disturbing lack of faith.
We are about to shipwreck the SBC and only a mighty work of God will save us. I intend to ask God to do that mighty work and I urge others to join me in calling on God to do it.
For the next month, I will devote myself to praying for the Southern Baptist Convention and the Annual Meeting. I will not write position papers or advocacy pieces about issues. When I arrive in Dallas, I intend to vote my convictions and I hope you will too.
If you are of a mind to join me, please do.
I was originally going to do one of those “sign-up” things, but honestly, how many of those do we need? You can log a comment to make a commitment if you’d like.
A Word about SBC Voices
Most of the guys don’t even know I am doing this. Here, we are a collection of independent writers and thinkers who agree on a number of things and disagree on others. I think a few of the guys may say, “Good job, Dave.” A couple others might wonder if they took my brain with my gallbladder and spleen last week. Several of the guys do not even believe in the kind of “God burdened my heart” phenomenon that started this.
No one else on the Voices team is required to join me in this.
I have not really been running things recently. I slept through the last two or three days. I hope to get back up on the horse at some point. But for now, SBC Voices is Adam, Brent, Alan, Todd, Jay, Doug, Mike and Mike (ours are still friends), and Scott, along with our faithful writing staff like William the Indefatigable, Mark the Missional, and others. I’m on the periphery right now.
That is not to say I don’t support them, they are just operating things without me – because I’m usually taking a nap (which I will do again as soon as I post this). Any of the guys are free to join me or they are free to think I’ve lost my mind. Don’t read any kind of split into this. This is just something I’m doing on my own and I am not asking any of them to join me unless they want to.
I affirm them if they decide to continue advocating for positions – as long as they continue doing it in ways that are godly and spiritually noble. I hope they accept that I am going to do what God has put on my heart to do.
I have yet to talk to anyone who doesn’t think the SBC has a problem. But everyone tends to think the problem is them and the solution is us. (Of course, God is on our side!).
1. ‘Operating in the Spirit
I have spoken to few people who were not absolutely certain that they had to solution to problems of the SBC. But look at an average comment stream here on Voices. People equally sure they are on the side of light and truth and God declare the other side wicked. I don’t know which side will win the votes in Dallas but there are going to be a lot of “losers” and a lot of “anger.”
Folks, this is not the way God’s people do business. A counselor showed me something one time and would ask you to listen. There are two lists in Galatians 5 – one describes the works of the Flesh and the other describes the fruit of the Spirit.
“…hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy…Galation5:20-21. I left out all the immorality-related one for now.
“…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
Now, here’s the question.
In your interactions with other Baptists, especially those who disagree with you, those from the “other side” are you operating from list 1 (the flesh) or list 2 (the Spirit)?
Please understand, if you are redeemed, there is no excuse for fleshly behavior, no matter how badly “they” act. You do you, and you are redeemed by Christ and indwelled by the Spirit.
I realize that there have been too many times I’ve operated from the flesh list instead of the Spirit list. We cannot accomplish the work of Christ with the weapons of the flesh – but how have we tried.
And that brings me to this:
2. Walking by Faith
If I am really so certain that my way is God’s way then I know that God is working to accomplish his purposes. I shouldn’t have to struggle in the flesh because I know that if I am right, the power of the Spirit is at work to accomplish that good work.
The reality is that our aggressive fussing comes because, at the root, we don’t trust God to handle things. If I truly believe “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, then I don’t have to try to answer every insult. If I believe that I can walk by faith and not by sight, then I can trust God to make a way for what is right and good.
I would hazard a general accusation.
One could suspect that based on the way we behave leading up to the convention, we don’t really trust God to accomplish his will and purposes.
3. This is my decision – not incumbent on anyone else.
I am not trying to stop anyone from speaking, politicking, or doing anything you feel is right. I am telling you what I intend to do and why. I do think we ought to examine our ways, check our hearts, and ask God if he is pleased.
4. Commander of the Lord’s Army
Remember Joshua, who was scouting the city of Jericho. He saw a mighty warrior and asked him if he was “on our side or their side.” A great question. But he refused to answer He said that he had come as the commander of the Lord’s army. I know who I am going to vote for and who I want to win, but perhaps God is saying to us, “It is time you stopped asking me if I am on JD’s side or Ken’s side. The pertinent question is are you on my side?”
Here are 12 Prayer Requests that I will pray and would call on you to pray with me. I will make every effort to see that they are not partisan in any way.
1. Pray that God would move powerfully at the 2018 SBC Annual Meeting to unify us in spirit and empower our minds and hearts to be men and women of wisdom and grace who operate on God’s agenda according to God’s truth. May God unite us by His Spirit so that our theological, racial, political, and other divisions fade.
(I realize there is some controversy with that – sorry That is my heart).
2. Pray for yourself, that each of us will enter with a humble heart committed to serve God and one another from gavel to gavel. Humility is an individual act.
3. Pray for Steve Gaines and the other officers, and all stage personnel tasked with running the convention. May God grant them wisdom, spiritual power, and grace.
4. Pray for HB Charles and the preachers of the Pastors’ Conference, that they might preach God’s word in power and prepare our hearts for the business sessions.
5.Pray for the Resolutions Committee, which is already doing its work. Resolutions can express key truths but also become points of controversy. Ask God to grant them wisdom and grace to speak truth plainly.
6. Pray for the Executive Committee and its staff as they operate the convention. They keep things running smoothly and put in long hours. Pray for Augie Boto, Jimmy Draper, and everyone else in that organization.
7. Pray for all our elections, especially the presidential election.
8.Pray for the nominations committee and it work.
9. Pray for all business to be transacted at the convention, that we will know what is right and best.
10. Pray for those who come feeling hurt, injured, and angry because of the actions of others. Ask God’s grace to help people to find forgiveness and reconciliation.
11. Pray, as God commanded, for your enemies.
Note: Make a Matthew 5:44 list of those who anger you or have hurt you deeply. For the next month, pray daily that God will bless them. This is not the time for imprecatory prayers but for grace. I intend to write an follow-up post on this.
12.Pray for what is on your heart.
Would you join me in prayer? Not perfunctory prayer, but heartfelt, genuine prayer.
Let me say this one more time.
- Some may join this call to prayer and feel led as I have to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” (Sorry for pulling that our of context – I know teeth are grating!)
- Others may devote themselves to prayer and also pick up weapons for battle. David was still a man of prayer when he slew Goliath.
I am asking you to pray, not trying to control your actions.
God save the SBC.