I think I changed my DHD topics about 5-10 times in the past 48 hours. The original intent was to be six takeaways from this week’s Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
By the way, I wasn’t much of a “foodie” as I projected in last week’s DHD. Limited to walking and didn’t find out I was a few blocks away from North Market (a major “foodie” hangout I am told) until hours before my flight home, my eating experiences were rather unoriginal (twice ate at Subway).
I’ll cover a few SBC takeaways, but there is a lot of stuff happening here in the last few days that I thought I needed to broaden the scope a bit. Let’s get to it.
- Prayer meetings in Columbus and Charleston
Earlier this week, I experienced an intentional observance of racial reconciliation at the SBC meeting. Church leaders of various ethnic groups participated in a major highlight of the event, a two-hour prayer meeting, crying out to God to, among many requests, unite the Convention with a riddance of prejudice and hate in our churches and communities. Seeing a white pastor from Florida and a black pastor from Philadelphia embrace each other at center stage definitely inspired me.
Then, two days later, the horrible occurrence happened at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. It is unthinkable someone would kill nine people during a church prayer meeting, and to hear the suspect intentionally allowed a woman to escape in order to make known his evildoing, this is just gut-wrenching.
Though this may stir some to promote this act with racial divisions, I know it has brought many from different ethnic congregations together in prayer. I was encouraged to read the reaction from Citadel Square Baptist Church, which is on the same block as Emanuel AME. CSBC is planning a special prayer emphasis this Sunday, June 21.
I have no doubt, God was present at the prayer meeting in Columbus and Satan was instrumental in the murders at the prayer meeting in Charleston. However, I know God is supreme, and somehow, someway He will once again overcome evil with good.
- Tramel meets Lankford
Sports columnist Berry Tramel is visiting our nation’s capital this week, and the Oklahoman’s website is featuring his travel blog. Yesterday, Tramel wrote about visiting Sen. James Lankford. Two of my favorite people (my favorite sportswriter in the state and my favorite politician in the world) connect on Capitol Hill. Love Tramel’s descriptions of Lankford, and I agree with his conclusions. Check out the blog post here.
- Speaking of favorite people…
The list is full of great experiences I had at the SBC meeting, and three of the top experiences involve Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and currently my favorite national Christian leader. I got to hear his sermon at the Pastor’s Conference (summary of his sermon can be found here) and hear his panel discussion with Mark Dever of 9Marks (here’s a brief summary of the discussion, but it won’t do justice). Attending this panel could be my favorite experience of the whole SBC meeting, as Moore expressed so much wisdom about the social issues that relate to today’s church.
My third favorite experience does not just involve Moore but also two others of my favorite people – Rosaria Butterfield and Al Mohler. All three participated in a panel discussion in the SBC’s final session, covering the topic of the Church responding to the culture change as it relates to homosexuality and same-sex marriage (story on the panel discussion here).
Mohler you may know as president of Southern Baptist Seminary and prominent SBC leader. Butterfield is somewhat new on the radar who, as a lesbian and professor of women studies at Syracuse University, was doing a study on Evangelical Christians with the intention of discrediting until she met a pastor and his wife who led her to Jesus. You can read some of her remarks from the discussion, as well as Mohler’s, in the above link, but believe me, you need to hear Butterfield speak. She will step on toes, but her message needs to be heard in the Church. I’m glad SBC attendees had the chance to hear her.
- ‘In Christ Alone’ gives me chills
As with many Christian conferences and meetings and of course worship services, music is always involved. I won’t be a curmudgeon and gripe about different music styles or how loud praise bands are. I am one who enjoys all kinds of worship songs, though I do have my preferences, just like you and everybody else.
As I was attending one of the early sessions, most of the songs being sung were unfamiliar to me. One song in particular bothered me because it featured a certain passage that I found confusing. I won’t get into it now. If this certain song becomes more popular I may bring it up in a later DHD.
However, after a bevy of unknown ballads, an intro was played that made me say aloud, “Ah yes!” This one I did know, and I kid you not, thousands of others seemed to respond the same way because the volume of singing greatly increased.
“In Christ alone, my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song…”
I am now convinced “In Christ Alone” ranks aside “Amazing Grace.” The details this song shares of the Gospel could soften even the hardest of hearts.
“No power of hell, nor scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand…”
If you are unfamiliar go to this site, and let the Gettys share with you this powerful song.
“Til He returns or calls me home—here in the Power of Christ I’ll stand.”
- By the way, did you hear about James MacDonald and his church?
James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Chicago and well-known author, announced his church voted to join the Southern Baptist Convention. I don’t know the actual size of the church’s membership, but this is really good news, especially with the recent stories of how the SBC is diminishing.
MacDonald is an influential leader, and I’m glad he and his church have joined the SBC and have come to the understanding of how more can be accomplished for the Gospel through cooperative giving.
- Thoughts on My Dad
I’ll end with reflections about my dad, as this Sunday is Father’s Day. This August, it will be four years since my dad passed away. I remember him for his love of sports and his lasting Christian example.
Regarding his love of sports, Dad seemed to be an expert on game announcers. His favorite was Vin Scully. His least favorite was Dick Vitale (guaranteed to be muted when Dad was watching his called games). I can’t help but think of my dad when I hear both of these commentators, as well as others. Even with those who have recently come on the scene, I often think “I wonder what Dad would think of this guy?”
As far as his Christian example, one of the most inspiring experiences I had with him was near his time of death. Dad suffered from congestive heart failure, and I would take him to his doctor’s appointments. After we were finished with one of these appointments, he told me to wheel him over down the hall. He needed to speak with a nurse he recognized. As we approached the nurse, he asked her how her daughter’s softball team was doing. The nurse beamed as she gave Dad the successful report, but I’ll never forget how she ended the conversation, “I’m so glad you came to see me. You just made my day.”
At 90 years of age, in poor health, unable to walk, Dad still was encouraging others.