Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Real Reason For Changing My Blog

Many e-mails have urged me to continue commenting on matters of the BGCT. I really started my blog for that reason. I was reading stuff on other blogs which I knew was not true, and terrible statements about people I knew to be honorable, so I decided to give another perspective, because no one else was doing so. Over the years I talked about what I knew, the work of the convention. As a retired BGCT staffer, I felt I understood some things about processes and policies that others were only guessing at.

Other bloggers had an agenda of distrust and sourness about the BGCT. I did not. I had only good memories of my work with the convention. I left on good terms and was happy about what I had accomplished. I had none of the rancor over leaving that other bloggers experienced, rancor which colored their opinions and statements. I also knew the hearts of some of the main characters in the "Valleygate" business. That made it easy for me to defend their character, while not their actions, or inactions. Men who were being accused by one blogger in particular as being dishonorable and self-serving were, I knew, not that way at all. So, I had to defend them. The worst that could be said of any of them is that they were "company men", or, as some put it, bureaucrats. I learned a long time ago that was not a bad thing if the bureaucrat was living the purpose of the organization, which was to serve the churches as best they can.

For all the reasons above I decided to begin blogging. By the grace of God my blog took off and readership grew far beyond my expectations. It seemed a lot of people wanted to hear something other than curses about the BGCT. That is not to say that I was not a critic when it called for me to be. I was, and believe I was right about a lot of things. I never attacked the people involved, as some did, but only the decisions and the actions that I believed were wrong. I have been proven correct in the years and months that have passed.

In any event, that is the reason I started blogging at all. Now, why did I decided to change? I guess you can say that was a generational decision. Everything changed for me when my granddaughter went and got herself a job at the BGCT. She did it on her own, without most people knowing she was my granddaughter. On her own merit, with her own skill set, she got hooked up with a good pastor who recommended her to people in the building. On her own she convinced people she had skills they could use. Over the past year she has proven to be a valuable asset.

Because I love her with all my heart, I did not want anything I wrote to come back on her. I did not want anyone thinking she was feeding me information about the goings on at the Baptist Building and I did not want to jeopardize her budding career in any way. This is an extremely talented young woman whose future in ministry is going to be awesome, just as her present already is. The decision I have made is to give her space to bloom without any interference from her pa pa. I would have died if anything I wrote came back on her. So, the best thing for me was to bow out of the convention blogging and direct my need to write in other areas.

Hopefully, all of you who have written me to keep blogging about the convention will understand why I have chosen not to do so. Maybe what I have chosen to say in this space now is not as interesting to all of you as it is to me, but that's just the way it will have to be. Seems to me that talking about helping people prepare for eternity is pretty important, too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The World Hurts…The Church Cares

The world is not very interested in how people feel. It is only interested in what they do. Let me explain what I mean.
Here is a headline you will never see in your local paper: JOHN SMITH FALLS IN LOVE WITH MARY JONES. The world isn't interested in that. However, if John Smith murdered Mary Jones, then you would likely see it in the paper. You see, love doesn't sell papers. Murder does. Aren't you glad the Bible wasn't written by the Associated Press? Aren't you thankful it was written by the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit cares about matters of the heart, matters that get us ready for eternity. Caring about people and their hurts makes the church able to discuss eternal truths with them.
I want this post to help you understand how your church can be a caring church in a hurting world, a church that earns the right to discuss eternity with people. I want it to help us understand that we look to Jesus to show us how we should deal with those whose hearts are breaking. The opening verses of John 11 illustrate the difference in man's view of news and God's view of it.
John 11: 1-2  "Now a certain man was sick. Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. And it was the Mary, who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick."
Now, these first two verses could have been written for a local newspaper. It is good reporting. Emotions have all been squeezed out and nothing remains but the facts. Look at the difference. "Now a certain man was sick." That is news! And the story goes on to tell who he was, where he was from and that he had two sisters. Just factual stuff. And, he tells us about the last time these two sisters met Jesus. Interesting reporting, but without any motivation.

But now look at verse three. "The sisters therefore sent to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick." See the difference? Suppose someone were to come to you and say, "There is a little child in (your town) who is sick." Oh? Is that right? Gee, thanks for letting me know. But, suppose someone came to you and said, "Your child, the child you love so much is sick." Quite a difference isn't there? Same kind of incident, but the reporting is personal. The one YOU love is sick. Do you realize that is the way God views the news every time anyone hurts? If an angel comes to God and says, "Father, (Name) is hurting", that angel must say, "Father, (Name), the one you love, is hurting."

And God's response will be proportionate because, you see, His heart breaks whenever any person's heart breaks. Anyone. And the bottom line is Christ in us will respond the same way if we let Him. The one you love is sick. The one you love is hurting. The one you love is lonely. The one you love is in pain. And on and on and on.

And so begins one of the most moving stories in the New testament. It's a story in which we are graphically reminded that God has emotions that respond to hurts and grief in a very real and personal way. I believe it is incumbent upon us to love people the way God loves them, to be affected by their hurting the way God is affected. We are His hands and His feet In this world.

I believe God's greatest grief, though, is reserved for those who reject His love, turn their back on Him, vow that He doesn't even exist. If the Bible tells us anything it is that God has done everything possible to make us aware He loves us and people still reject Him. There are consequences for rejecting God, and that is what grieves Him—having to administer those consequences.

Your church has the wherewithal to minister to people in your community that are hurting. God hurts for them. Do you?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two Worlds Sometimes Confuse Us

To begin with, I want to share a little story with you that appeared in our church bulletin. It was in response to a sermon our pastor, Dr. Don Guthrie, preached. When he told the story, people were so moved that he decided to reprint it in the bulletin. Here it is:

"In 1930 Arthur Stace attended a meeting for men at St. Barnabas Church in Sydney, Australia. As he heard the gospel, he found the strength to give up drinking. Six months later he heard Rev. John Ridley say, "I wish I could shout 'Eternity!' through the streets of Sydney". Arthur felt called to do exactly that.
So, he began to get up at 5:00 A.M. every day and he would go where he believed God directed him and write ETERNITY on the sidewalk in white or yellow chalk…fifty times a day for nearly 30 years.
The one-word sermon became part of the conscience of the city. On New Year's Eve, 1999 (32 years after Arthur's death, at the end of the New Millennium fireworks spectacular, there it was again, in letters fifty feet high on a bridge over Sydney HarborArthur's word--ETERNITY!  Well done, Arthur."

As one who, in the natural course of events, is closer to eternity than many of my readers, this subject is of increasing importance. From now on, this blog will be my chalk. I want everyone who reads these words to be aware of eternity, and the absolute need for each of us to preach about it, and teach about it as long as the Lord gives us breath. Not one of the hundreds of millions of people living on this planet will escape eternity. Every one of us will one day be there. In which world will we live? As we walk the streets of our world today we anticipate the world to come in eternity. We are often confused about this. The world as we know it today is not our final destination. The world of eternity is. Let's do all we can to clear up the confusion.

This blog will be dedicated to the proposition that our Lord Jesus desires that none perish, that is live the eternal death of hell. In fact, He wants all people to live with Him in Heaven, if only they would choose to do so. So, from this day forward the material seen on this blog will be designed to provide preachers and teachers with a little bit of information they can use to propagate the idea that "God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that all should come to repentance." It's a simple proposition, but an eternally important one.

BTW, I likely will not post as often as before, and then again I may post more often. That's just to keep you on your toes.