Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Great Commandment Baptist Convention

I read today that the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention is going to recommend a name change for the denomination.  They wish to add "Great Commission Baptists" to the name.  I understand the need to make the change from a regionally sounding name to one that is more universal.  However, I have some doubts about the current proposal.  First of all, if you are going to change the name, change it!  I understand the legal reasons to keep "Southern Baptist Convention" in the name but I can only think that the real reason to only "add" to the name is political.  Our leaders are afraid that a total name change will not gain approval of the rank and file of the convention.  If we want to be perceived as a national body then lets go all out and drop the "Southern" from our name.

I also understand the negative feelings some people get when they hear "Southern Baptist".  Again, that is all the reason to have a total change in the name.  The problem is that even the word, "Baptist" has negative connotations for many Americans.  So, in changing the name, why not take out "Southern" and "Baptist"?
Better still, why don't we try and fix the reasons Southern Baptists have such a negative reputation.  Perhaps we could start by letting folks know what we are for  rather than what we are against!

Finally, I am concerned about the name, "Great Commission Baptists".  We call ourselves, "a people of the Book" and have fought many battles to keep it that way.  Yet the term, "great commission" cannot be found in the Bible.  Now we have every right to call Jesus' final charge to His disciples "The Great Commission" for those are our marching orders.  And there is no question that the purpose of the S.B.C. is to fulfill this commission.  But I would prefer a more Biblical and all-encompassing  term:  "Great Commandment Baptists".  If we love God and love others then we will obey the great commission.  If we love God will be concerned with what He is concerned with, which includes reaching the lost and discipling them.  If we love others, we want them to be saved and become followers of Christ.  And if we love each other we will cooperate with each other(living up to John 17:21).  But our main problem is that we don't love others. In fact, we don't even love other Baptists.  In fact we don't really love everyone in our own local churches.  Maybe the name change I propose would cause us to concentrate on loving people rather than fighting over doctrinal integrity and worship style.
 My proposal is to have the sole name of the current S.B.C. become "The Great Commandment Convention"
Perhaps when we start living up to that name and have a better reputation we can add "Baptist".

Monday, February 20, 2012

One We Can Count On

I am getting increasingly frustrated with the campaign for President.  I see the candidates making promises that they must know can never be kept.  The Democrats blame the Republicans for lack of cooperation in solving the nation's economic problems while the Republicans are against anything the President is for.  Both sides are so beholding to special interest groups that they cannot do what is right and obvious.   Neither side seems willing to do what seems is the best thing to do.  To me some things are no brainers:  The Canadian oil pipeline; a union-free Boeing plant in South Carolina; outlawing abortion; raising taxes on the rich; cutting spending; amnesty for second generation illegal aliens; doing away with the income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax; reforming Social Security and Medicare; gun control on non-recreational weapons; Universal health care.  Some of the above are on the conservative side and some on the liberal side.  So what!  Lets just do the right thing!  But we won't see it.  All we will hear is empty slogans, unkeepable promises and pandering to party bases on the right and the left.

The bottom line is that we can't count on humans to be our saviors.  That position is already taken.  I will vote for someone, as I hope you will also.  But my faith is in the Creator of the universe who loves us and sent His Son to die for us.  I trust the One who knows what is best for me and actually has the power to make it happen.  Politicians, like preachers, will let us down from time to time, but Jesus never will.  We can count on Him!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Needful Thing 101

Read Luke 10:38-42

Key verse:  "you are worried about many things but only one thing is needed."  Lk. 10:41b,42a

When asked what the most important thing we can do is, Jesus responded that it is to love God "with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind."(Matt. 22:37)  If you love someone, you want to spend time with them.  We call spending time with God "prayer".  It involves talking and listening.  God isn't interested in our shopping lists as much as He is in us.  And what's more, He knows what is best for us.  He knows that when we spend time with Him, our lives are blessed in wonderful and powerful ways.  

When Jesus was invited to the home of Mary and Martha He gave a beautiful teaching on what is needed in our lives.  Martha was busy making all kinds of preparations for Jesus.  We have so many Marthas in our churches.  They are people like you and me who feel a need to be religious and do all sorts of things for God--things that are good to do and things that we ought to do.  But Jesus clearly says in this exchange with Martha that sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him is the most important thing.   If loving God is the most important commandment, and it is, then it is crucial to express that love.  I love my wife, Joy.  I know that doing things for her is an expression of my love.  But what she wants more than my good deeds is me.  She wants quality time with me and she wants me to listen to her.  Our God wants us and He wants us to listen to Him.  Good deeds are important--loving and listening to Him is foremost.  Interestingly, because I love Joy and love spending time with her and I love it when she shares her deepest thoughts with me.  

If we really love God then we will want to spend time with Him.  It will not be drudgery or duty, it will be something we look forward to and enjoy.  If you find that prayer is  not fun then perhaps you should pray that God will help you love Him more.   Maybe it is time for you to get honest with the Lord and admit to Him that you struggle to love Him.  If that is truly the case, He already knows it and I believe He loves it when we confess our weaknesses to Him.  Confession is a very important part of the talking part of prayer.  I know from personal experience that honesty before Him will result in our hearing God's words of forgiveness.  And if we ask Him to help us love Him more the Lord will do it.  

We need to get this right!  Prayer is not a discipline reserved for super-saints.   Listening to Him is not just for certain mystics.  It is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.  It is needful.