We see many withering and perishing around us, many diminishing and dying. Those who fall away and are lost can not possibly be said to have died from a lack of food, for there is an unending bounty spread before us. They can only be said to have died from a lack of appetite—from a simple failure to take what is offered, what can feed them, what can strengthen and equip them for a lifetime of serving God and an eternity of enjoying him. It is not a lack of food that threatens any of us, but only a lack of hunger.
I was once told of a woman who lived in a cold-weather climate. She suffered from poor health and this in a part of the world where she could not easily get the nutrition she needed. Doctors suggested she travel to the tropics where the setting might be more conducive to a recovery. A few weeks after her departure she wrote to a friend to say, “This is a wonderful spot where I have access to all the good and nutritious food I could ever need. If only I could find my appetite I’d be well in no time.” But within weeks she was gone. In the end, it wasn’t a lack of food that took her life, but a lack of hunger.
And in much the same way, we have before us all the spiritual food we could ever need—enough to fill and sustain us for a lifetime, enough to carry us through the most difficult trials we can ever face, enough to fit us for life on this earth and an eternity of heaven. The question is whether we will take and eat—whether we will satisfy ourselves with the bounty spread out before us.
Do you attend the worship services of your local church? It is here that you will be fed good food.
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By Josh Buice — 8 months ago
This report contains real stories of real women who were abused or assaulted. It’s tragic. It’s painful to read. However, the real answer is found in the pages of Scripture and does not require the implementation of new methods, programs, or policies. Women and girls within local churches need to know that men, pastors, and the church as a whole is committed to obeying the Scriptures which address matters of abuse, sin, assaults, and sexual misconduct.
Over the last few years, we have witnessed a barrage of news stories emerge within the Southern Baptist Convention that point to sex scandals, misconduct, and abuse. In 2019, the Houston Chronicle report rocked the SBC world. It revealed 700 cases that spans over a 20 year period.
Although I am no longer a pastor of a church within the SBC, I speak as a pastor who spent many years in the SBC and feels the tension growing rapidly. In short, the criticism I provide in this article comes from a heart of concern.
The 2021 SBC messengers approved to allocate funds from the Cooperative Program for a large scale investigation into the allegations and claims of sex abuse cases. Guideposts was hired as an independent investigative firm, and the SBC is prepared to use up to $4 million dollars on this entire investigation. This is the largest of such investigations in the history of the SBC.
On Sunday, May 22, 2022, the report from Guideposts was published and made available to the world. Needless to say, it was a lengthy detailed bombshell report containing harmful stories of abuse victims and accusations against public figures and well known pastors within the SBC. Since the report was published, there have been many different responses. Obviously, pastors and leaders within the SBC are trying to process this news just a few weeks prior to a decisive presidential election in Anaheim, California.
At this crisis moment, the SBC can make the right choices to move in the direction of biblical sufficiency or the Convention can choose to walk down the pathway of pragmatism. That one decision could change the future of the SBC.
The SBC and Pragmatism
The SBC has a long historical commitment to pragmatism. Not only is the SBC the largest Protestant denomination in the United States with some 47,000 churches, it’s also the most pragmatic denomination. In 1954, the SBC adopted a growth campaign under the slogan ‘Million More in 54’ and the results were extremely harmful. The idea was to grow the SBC by one million members, but the tactics were program driven and pragmatic which led to false conversions. That’s why the SBC witnessed an overflow of unconverted church members rebaptized through the years following that explosive era of church growth models.
Pragmatism is the philosophy that encourages people to make decisions based on whatever will give them positive results. In other words, if it works—do it. Pragmatism originated in 1870s and continues to be a popular means of evaluation and assessment. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that – very broadly – understands knowing the world as inseparable from agency within it. This general idea has attracted a remarkably rich and at times contrary range of interpretations, including: that all philosophical concepts should be tested via scientific experimentation, that a claim is true if and only if it is useful.
Like anabolic steroids offer instant muscular growth to athletes, pragmatism offers church growth success at a much faster rate than a model that is centered upon the Bible alone. Once leaders taste this instant success, they become slaves to it. Rather than focusing on the Scriptures, they begin looking outside of Scripture to arrange their worship services in ways that will attract people to their local church—regardless of what the Bible says.
In 2010, Andy Stanley was invited to address the pastors during the annual Pastors’ Conference of the SBC. Andy Stanley told the story of Chick-fil-A, which originated south of Atlanta. As Stanley tells the story of Chick-fil-A leaders who were trying to figure out how Chick-fil-A could grow faster, he explains how company founder Truett Cathy pounded on the table and said, “I am sick and tired of listening to you talk about how we can get bigger. If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger.” The entire session was devoted to how pastors could learn from corporate America in making their churches better which would result in the community responding to make their churches bigger.
I recall being there in that session and looking around at a room filled with SBC pastors. What those men needed at that hour was more Scripture and less talk of corporate America. Yet, at every turn the SBC continues to turn to feed pastors pragmatism while promising them good results. It’s put on display and platformed at the SBC Pastors’ Conference and modeled through SBC leadership, Convention programs, and resolutions.
In the wake of the Houston Chronicle report, Beth Moore entered the conversation with an argument that women needed more women in places of leadership so that they could find help in moments of crisis. Moore spoke in Dallas at the ERLC’s Caring Well conference:
By Isaias Munoz — 1 year ago
Those who fear God have no need to fear anything else. And those who walk in the fear of the Lord walk in the path of God’s favor, one that chiefly promises life everlasting (Prov. 8:32-36). The world can neither tamper nor thwart what God has promised His people. Because eternal life is ours, we can boldly stand in our convictions.
No word better describes the prophet Daniel. Believers have long marveled at his willingness to boldly endure a night in the presence of hungry lions—knowing that death was a likely outcome—because he esteemed God over man.
There is a simple moral in Daniel’s story: stand for God, no matter the consequences.
And the application seems obvious. Have the same courage as the prophet. Don’t compromise your convictions, even if death is the result. Of course, following Daniel’s example isn’t always as simple. That kind of conviction can be costly, and oftentimes dangerous. Daniel-like courage can come at the price of life itself, and who is willing to pay that?
To understand why Daniel had such courage—and how we can as well—we need to understand that the fuel for Daniel’s courage was not his convictions. It was the God he served.
Obviously, Daniel was a man of conviction. However, he didn’t build those convictions himself. Instead, he saw the will and work of God in him and all around him.
True and experiential knowledge of who God is and what He’s doing transformed Daniel.
Our pagan society—our modern-day Babylon—is not all that different than the society of Daniel’s day. Twenty-first century believers have much in common with the people of God in the ancient world. We too are aliens in a foreign, pagan land. We too are asked to compromise our beliefs, pledge allegiance to men over God, and forsake our devotion to our Heavenly King. And if we are to share Daniel’s resolve, we must draw our courage from the same source he did. The stories we tell about this great man of God are less about the man and more about his God. Though the call to be courageous and faithful can be difficult, it is not impossible because it is not dependent on our strength. Our courage can be the same as Daniel’s because our God is his God.
In this article, I will share three encouragements for a courageous life that can anchor our gospel courage not in ourselves, but in the gracious and generous God who grants deep-rooted convictions and life-long faithfulness.
God Establishes Where We are Planted
The book of Daniel begins by describing the tragic fall of the Jewish people into the hands of the Babylonians (606-605 BC). The narrative describes a complete takeover by a king, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who believes he defeated Yahweh Himself when he transported “vessels of the house of God… to the house of his god, and the vessels into the treasury of his god” (Dan. 1:2).
Having seemingly stripped the Jewish people of their God, Nebuchadnezzar then asked and demanded whatever he wanted of them. He drafts the sons of Israel into his personal service (Dan. 1:3-5), and he educates these Hebrew boys in the customs and systems of Babylon. He even administers name changes that disassociate these men from their heritage and instead assimilate them into a new, pagan culture. Given those circumstances, Daniel would have had every reason to be broken, distressed, or indignant. But that is not the case because Daniel recognizes God’s providence in his life. Daniel 1:2 holds the key to Daniel’s courage in a hostile environment. It says the chaos, the loss of a home, the dominance of a foreign power, the need to assimilate to a new culture were ordained by God Himself. “The Lord handed Jehoiakim king of Judah over to him” (Dan. 1:2). What Nebuchadnezzar never imagined was that his conquest of God’s people fit perfectly into the will and purposes designed by God for His people.
The world did not slip out of God’s grasp in Daniel’s day. Neither has it today. In God’s wisdom, he always plants his people in fertile soil where they can live and minster with courage. What good is courage if it is unnecessary?
By Mitch Chase — 2 weeks ago
By meditating on the Word, we are orienting our hearts to heavenly glories and eternal truths. We are willingly subjecting our fickle selves to what stabilizes and roots us. Meditation is our unhurried pursuit of knowing God through what God has said. Let us, then, delight in the Word through meditation on the Word.
Nobody wants to have stale devotional times in the Scripture. So let me tell you a secret that’s not really a well-kept secret at all (and nor should it be). If you want your heart to be stirred with delight in the Word, meditate on the Word.
Meditate sounds strange to some ears, because the Eastern practice of meditation involves emptying your mind. That’s not what I mean, and that’s not what the Bible means, by the term “meditate.”
In Psalm 1:2, the blessed man’s delight is in the Torah, and on God’s law “he meditates day and night.” The verb doesn’t mean trying not to think. It’s to deliberately think about what one reads. It’s to ponder, to mull over.
Sometimes you may wake up ready to read the Scripture because delight has led you there. But other times (even most times?) you come to the Scripture by discipline in search of delight. As we reflect on what God has said in his Word, our souls are being nourished by the truth and wisdom of God.
Meditation requires us to slow down. We live in a hurried age, a busy cultural atmosphere. But a hurried and hectic life will not cultivate a healthy spiritual life. Attention spans are undermined by a TikTok way of thinking. The role of the Word in our lives is not meant to be sporadic, occasional, or peripheral.
The blessed man in Psalm 1 meditates “day and night” (v. 2), which highlights the occupying role that the Word has in his mind and life. Meditation requires sustained attention, and sustained attention requires time.