By Todd E. Brady
Special to The Baptist Paper
You can lose respect for someone leading the cause without losing faith in the cause itself.
Willie McLaurin has become the latest leader in an all-too-frequent line of leaders in Southern Baptist Convention life to leave in disgrace. McLaurin abruptly resigned from his role with the SBC Executive Committee Aug. 17 after admitting he had falsified information on his resumé (see story, page 18).
Another cringe-worthy moment for the SBC.
There has been a lot of ugliness on the national level but Southern Baptists like me would rather focus on my local church right here at home.
In my opinion, the good and godly Baptists are those I go to church with, not the denominational leaders we read about in the headlines.
I have been encouraged that our convention is acknowledging and has made progress concerning the sex abuse issues highlighted by the 2019 “Abuse of faith” story in the Houston Chronicle. We have come a long way, and we still have a long way to go.
One of my favorite professors in college was a religion professor. He was a tremendous communicator and an excellent teacher. I sought to take him for whatever he taught each semester. I remember sitting in my Old Testament Survey Course one Monday morning when the university president walked in, told us that our teacher had committed immoral and illegal acts, and introduced us to our new teacher.
I was shocked, to say the least. At a formative time in my life, someone I liked and respected had been deceptively living a life contrary to what he was teaching.
Then and there, I realized for the first time that a person may let you down, but you can’t let that person get you down. I had to make the conscious decision that I was not going to punt the whole proverbial system because one person in the system was untrustworthy.
Sure, they say a bad apple spoils the whole bunch, but we are misguided if we think the whole bunch is like that one apple.
A bad apple will spoil the bunch if it’s left there for any amount of time, but the whole bushel of apples and the bushel basket itself are not bad simply because one apple has been found to be bad.
To use another phrase, we can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We may lose respect for a person, but we can’t allow that person to cause us to lose faith.
It is terribly short-sighted and irresponsible to blame the entire organization for the fault of one person — or a handful of people — regardless of the visibility or role that they had.
I’m old enough now to have experienced fellow minister friends, who since school days have engaged in immorality, committed illegality and disqualified themselves from ministry. While these things are unfortunate and while there is always grace and forgiveness, my responsibility is to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season [I] will reap, if [I] do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
I am thankful and continue to remind myself that my faith is not in other people, regardless of how much I like or respect them. Instead, my faith is in Jesus Christ, the one who “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
Editor’s Note — Todd E. Brady is staff chaplain and advance funeral planner at Arrington Funeral Directors in Jackson, Tennessee. He and his wife have five sons and are members of Cornerstone Community Church in Jackson.
Kindness changes everything
By Gene Mason
Leadership Ministries, Inc.
Frustration in general is at an all-time high. We have lost our patience as a nation.
And we have also lost in many cases the ability to simply be polite and civil to others.
The root of civility is a biblical quality for all people, including leaders: kindness. Ephesians 4:32 instructs us simply: “Be kind to one another.”
To be kind is to be friendly, generous and considerate.
Other positive characteristics branch off from kindness: empathy, sincerity, thoughtfulness, acceptance, helpfulness. …
Kindness may be a revolutionary tool for your life and leadership. … The reality of today’s culture is that a kind person will stand out from the crowd.
Kindness has become a rare commodity.
With Christ no more icky layers
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (1 Cor. 5:17).
By Rhonda Rhea
The Missouri Pathway
When my kids were younger, my sons came up with a brilliant plan to cut down on their getting-dressed time.
They proposed putting on seven shirts on Monday. Tuesday morning, peel off the outer Monday shirt. Hello, Tuesday shirt. They would save their favorite shirts for Sunday. The last layer. The deep one.
We had a good laugh imagining what that last layer might’ve been like by Sunday.
Beauty is only skin deep, sure, but a Sunday shirt semi-attached to armpits for six days? Probably deeper. But not a good kind of deeper. Ew.
It’s almost reflexive to allow ourselves to think of our salvation as a clean shirt we’re wearing over all the others.
Like we’re wearing Jesus on the outside, covering all the “ew” beneath. But according to 1 Corinthians 5:17, we’re not “ew.” We’re new. All the way through. Those old, icky layers have “passed away.”
You’ve given your life to Jesus? You’re no longer wearing yesterday’s sin. You’re wearing His righteousness.
What a relief. Dirtied up your life? Spilled a lot? Your cleanness is based on Jesus, not you. His sacrifice completely covers — praise God — every layer.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article has been edited for space.
Christians are not inherently anti-innovation and technology. We view this as a fulfillment of the creation mandate, taking the raw materials of God’s world and as people made in the image of a Creator, creating things.
And yet we should be wary of ways in which, in a fallen world, technology can form or malform our souls. I think especially about Internet discourse, where a daily habit of disembodied warfare can work to shape our thinking and character, working at odds with the Spirit’s work of sanctification.
We should constantly be asking if our digital habits work against sanctification and the development of the fruits of the Spirit.
The Land Center for Cultural Engagement
“I always have an overwhelming sense of failure after I preach, and my sermons never equal what I aspire to. I encourage myself to know I’m still learning, and next week I have another shot at it,” said Hershael York, Kentucky pastor and professor of Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Oh girl, I don’t know about you, but some days I feel just plain wobbly deep down in my soul. Do you know what I’m talking about? I feel like I just get shaken up way too easily.
But God shows us how to live stable and unshakable even when the ground rumbles beneath our feet. He tells us how to not wobble when the winds of life blow fast and hard. And, it’s all about where we’re focused.
“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Ps. 16:8).
Social ministry is an organized process of Christ-like concern for the physical, mental-emotional and relational well-being of persons and groups both inside and outside the Christian community of faith.
Morris Murray Jr.
“We live in a generation that doesn’t know the Bible. We must teach them what the Bible is, how we got it, what it says and how we can live it out,” said Daniel Edmonds, director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions office of Sunday School/discipleship.
“I was struggling quite a bit, and I felt like I wanted to write something that felt like a cry — like something I would actually sing, like in a prayer. This one really is [a prayer song]. It’s knowing that I need God. I need the presence of the Lord … and I need it so deeply … that I have to cry out sometimes,” said Christian singer/songwriter Katy Nichole on the inspiration behind the song “Please.”
“The world of church is changing; we all know that. There are fewer and fewer people attracted to a building, so we have to figure out how to take the church to people,” said Travis Collins, pastor of First Baptist Church Huntsville, on recording sermon videos for TV Church.
“Serving as a pastor just takes a toll, and many say they can’t do it anymore. And the ones who are retiring or quitting, we’re not seeing them regenerate through the younger generation,” said Robert Mullins, founder of PassionTree Network, a group that “exists to encourage and equip men to fulfill their calling from the Lord as disciple-making pastors.”
“The growing threats of secularism, social unrest and international conflict will only increase the need for chaplains,” said Ken Lovett, who is teaching a new chaplaincy course at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “But with tensions high around the globe, we need to be equipping chaplains for future situations that haven’t yet broken the horizon.”