Dear Members of the Tennessee General Assembly:
As president of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, head of the public policy arm of the SBC and a group of concerned Middle Tennessee pastors, we are writing to help articulate the perspective of our churches.
In Tennessee, upward of 20% of the populace identifies as Southern Baptist. The members of these churches … care deeply about life and the protection of all people made in the image of God. They believe in protecting innocent children from violence and struggling people from self-harm.
Thus, we are writing to urge you to act to support Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to strengthen our state’s order of protection laws to protect the broader population from those who are a danger to themselves or others.
His framework is a thoughtful approach to ensure we protect the constitutional rights of citizens while also helping to protect potential victims from dangerous individuals.
Allowing law enforcement to work with loved ones in order to lead a process that involves full due process in the judicial system, this will ensure individuals who could cause great harm are temporarily kept from accessing weapons, protecting them and others from potential tragedy.
Southern Baptists believe “God has spoken clearly throughout Scripture to the value and dignity of every human being as created in the image of God” (see “On the Imago Dei” resolution adopted at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting).
From its very first chapter, Genesis 1, through the rest of its pages, this truth resonates throughout the Bible. As a people who believe in the authority of the Scripture, it informs our approach to every public policy issue.
As Bible-believing Christians, we further believe government is ordained by God to be His servant in matters of justice, protecting the vulnerable from those who do evil (Rom. 13:1–7). As Americans, we also concur with the ideals of the founders that the proper role of government is to protect the life and liberty of its citizens. …
At its 2018 annual meeting, (SBC messengers) adopted a resolution titled, “On Gun Violence and Mass Shootings.”
In that resolution, the SBC expressed its grief over “the epidemic of gun violence resulting in mass shootings across America,” praised the heroism of law enforcement officers and first responders, and “call[ed] on federal, state and local authorities to implement preventative measures that would reduce gun violence and mass shootings while operating in accordance with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.” Governor Lee’s proposal does that.
(In the “On the Imago Dei” in 2022, SBC messengers reaffirmed) the sentiments of the 2018 resolution. They “pray[ed] for our … leaders to recognize the seriousness of the ongoing threat … and to take concrete steps toward solutions that uphold the dignity and value of every human life, especially the most vulnerable among us.” Governor Lee’s proposal does that.
Further, in several places, the 2022 resolution affirmed the worth and value of all people. Those suffering from mental illness, even those who may have violent propensities, are made in the image of God and to value them means to protect them from self-harm as well as to take action to protect others from those that seek to inflict harm. Governor Lee’s proposal does that.
Sadly, as last month’s Covenant School shooting tragically reminded us, these are not issues that take place “somewhere else.”
As Tennesseans, we urge the Legislature to pursue policies that help protect the vulnerable from harm in our great state. As Southern Baptists, we want to see the government take steps to help end this “epidemic of gun violence.” Governor Lee’s proposal does that.
As an elected member of the Legislature, you now have an incredible opportunity before you. We have great confidence in you as you face this pivotal moment and have the opportunity to advance the cause of protecting the vulnerable citizens who are your charge. This action is desperately needed.
By Tennessee Baptist leadership, other ministry leaders
Excerpt from April 19 letter
‘Order of protection law’
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has called on the Tennessee General Assembly to establish an “order of protection law” to “provide the broader population cover, safety, from those who are a danger to themselves or the population,” according to media reports. Also, on April 11 through an executive order, he set a 72-hour time limit to report new criminal activity and court-documented mental health information to the Tennessee Instant Check System, the state criminal background system.
“Just serve where you are … right here, right now … be faithful in that and God will open the doors along the way as He wants to open them, where He wants to open them and when,” said Catherine Renfro, NAMB’s director of evangelism. “At the end of the day there’s one person who deserves to be famous, and that’s Jesus.”
“Groups and relationships that are centered on the Word of God unify a congregation and motivate people to work together on the mission of the church,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “Churches with few people participating in groups are not in a healthy position to be making more disciples.”
CAN or WILL? More than once, my wife, Kasi, and/or I have received messages saying, “You need to stop saying that God CAN heal your son Titus, and start saying God WILL heal your son.” As though my wording is holding God back, and my faith is not strong enough to say WILL. This is where theology that is not grounded in TRUTH can be harmful. I always INTENTIONALLY say that, “God CAN heal our son.” Just because God CAN, doesn’t necessarily mean He WILL here on earth! (Now, I do believe He WILL in eternity.) The Apostle Paul prayed for God to remove a “thorn of the flesh.” However, as far as we know from Scripture, God chose not to remove it. Did Paul lack faith? Did he get his wording wrong in the prayer? Nope! God was using it in Paul’s life. FAITH is not using the right wording to manipulate God to do what you want Him to. Faith is trusting that God CAN, but even if God is choosing not to — He has a WILL that is bigger and better than our “hopes that He WILL.” FAITH is the ability to TRUST God even when you don’t understand, even when it doesn’t make sense and even when He is not doing what you want Him to. Because, He has a WILL that is far more glorious than our WILL.
May His WILL be done…
North American Mission Board
Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, remembers how evangelist Billy Graham showed support to the school. “When we started Beeson Divinity School, he was a great encourager.” The school established a Billy Graham chair of evangelism with Graham’s blessing. “We asked him and he kindly agreed,” George said. “He appreciated the vision we set forth of an interdenominational school. He was very supportive.”
5 ways to strengthen your marriage
Relationships can be difficult and hard to maintain.
In the midst of busy schedules, it can be all too easy to take your spouse for granted. Past hurts, miscommunications and unmet expectations are all factors that can cause relationships to become strained and sometimes break.
In many cases, simple changes can make a huge difference in our relationships.
Here are 5 ways to love your spouse more intentionally:
- One action daily.
If you know your spouse’s love languages, you can do one thing each day to communicate in that love language.
- Be mindful.
Be aware of your partner’s wants and feelings.
One of the best definitions of love is “to seek the highest and best for the other person, regardless of our own wants and desires.”
Creating a safe environment for both parties to share those vulnerable thoughts, feelings and needs is essential. Healthy communication can only happen if each person feels comfortable sharing hard truths.
- Feel the feeling.
It’s okay to feel hurt or angry but take a moment to dig down deep to understand it fully — and then communicate calmly with your spouse.
- Say thank you.
Find a reason to be thankful and be intentional. By practicing gratitude, we can undermine Satan’s attempts at slowly building a wall of resentment between you and your spouse.
By Pastor Dave Walsh
Ariton (Ala.) Baptist Church
From the Twitterverse
There is a huge difference between contending for the faith and being contentious. Many do the latter thinking they’re doing the former. Then when they get flack, they use it to reinforce that they are taking a bold stand.
“Our convention needs a purified tongue, sanctified social media, and a broken heart over this lost world.”
Wise encouragement from
This question slapped me in the face, broke my heart & brought me to tears bc I realized my heart wasn’t in the right spot.
If Jesus came into our home tonight & said, I’m going to answer every prayer you prayed last week, how many souls would come to know Christ because of our prayers?
The unanswered questions and unresolved tensions of life in this broken world are not left there by God to discourage us and lead us to deconstruct our faith, but they exist to drive us deeper into trusting in God’s providential hand and sovereign rule.
“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You. You will make known to me the way of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.’”
—Psalm 16:2, 11
The Pharisees wanted Jesus dead because He disrupted their pretentious piety of quibbling over minute doctrinal applications like which herbs to tithe while they ignored the vulnerable, exploited, oppressed and powerless. Theological precision ≠ True religion before our God.
God’s power is always expressed for a purpose. When God, the king of the universe, grants power to people, it is so they can do his will and bring him glory. #WaysofGod