by Walker Moore
You would think since I’ve written a book and continue writing a weekly article that I have some kind of degree in English or writing, but I don't. I went to a conservative Christian college and received a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies. That means I took lots of classes but didn't major in anything.
I must confess something: I can’t spel. Growing up, I wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box. Because I didn’t speak very clearly, everyone assumed I would spend most of my life in the bottom half of the class. I don’t feel too bad about that. Albert Einstein’s parents considered him a slow child, and I’ve read that he didn’t speak very well until he was nine years old. When his parents asked his teachers what profession should they guide him toward, the teachers said it didn’t matter. He would be a failure no matter what. I like to think neither Albert nor I was slow; we were just late bloomers.
One of the most difficult subjects for me was spelling. Every week, we had the dreaded spelling test. And our little country school had ways of motivating young students. If you spelled every word right, you got a free ticket to the Saturday matinee. To a young boy in rural America, going to the theater was a mystical, magical experience. I worked hard trying to learn to spell those words, only to get 75 or 80 out of 100 on my paper. I remember earning only one ticket to the matinee.
Unlike Albert, who said he couldn’t remember much of his childhood, I do remember mine; I just choose not to recall everything. It wasn’t my fault I couldn’t spell. The blame goes to whoever invented the English language. Take the word psychology. There is no reason on earth for it to start with a “p.” And if it starts with a “p,” then you should pronounce that letter: “p-ssssyychoolooogy”.” It even sounds better when you sound out all the letters. I can think of only one reason to throw in extra letters in a word, and that’s to keep a third-grade boy from getting a hundred on his spelling test.
One day, I was sitting in class and the teacher was passing out our graded spelling tests. She handed over mine with a big smile, for on top of the paper was written a bright red “100.” And attached to it was a ticket to the matinee show, Gulliver’s Travels.
Even though I wasn’t a speller, I was a reader, and I had read Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels.” That next Saturday, as the lights dimmed, I was drawn into Lemuel Gulliver’s travels as he encountered the strange Lilliputians. His journey took him to exotic places like Brobdingnag, Laputa and even the country of the Houyhnhnms. For the next hour, I was intrigued and curious about each place Gulliver landed.
Looking back, I can see that God had already put a yearning for the world in my heart. As I’ve served God in many different part of the world, I’m often asked, “What’s your favorite country?” My answer is always the same: the last one I served in. That heartbeat for the world in a third-grade boy was given by God and confirmed through books, movies and especially the Bible.
Even to this day, I’m a terrible speller. The only reason you don’t know it is that I have Spel Check on my computer. I wasn’t designed to win the school spelling bee, but I was designed by the Creator to engage other cultures. While you’re reading this, I’m living in the jungle, sleeping in a hammock under a thatched roof, fighting off mosquitoes and teaching the Bible in an Embera Wounan village. I have a better job than Gulliver.
Isn’t it something that the one time I got a 100 percent on my spelling test was the week Gulliver’s Travels was showing? Mom and Dad, your child is created for something special. You might have a child like Albert who ends up writing the theory of relativity, or you might have child who is a poor speller and ends up writing books and living in the jungle.
It’s never too late to start praying for your children to find what God has for them. Encourage them to dream aloud about their potential. If God can take a poor speller and city boy (we moved into town before I finished elementary school) and make him a writer and an expert at living in remote villages, there’s nothing He can't do with your children.
I wonder how my life would have turned out if the movie that week was “Pinocchio.”
by Evangelist Junior Hill
For more than 50 years it has been my distinct joy to extend a public invitation at the close of most of the sermons wherever I have preached. I do that because I have an intense and burning conviction that it is spiritually correct and biblically commanded. I am honored to stand with a great multitude of other preachers across the ages, who have faithfully and unapologetically called those to whom they have preached to repentance and open confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. Billy Graham himself, arguably the best known preacher of this generation, so often said at the close of his own crusade sermons, “I am going to ask you to publically confess Jesus tonight because those whom Jesus called – He always called publicly.” And a careful reading of the Bible does seem to indicate that to be true.
While there are some who may honestly and sincerely ask, “Where is a public invitation to the preaching of the gospel ever seen in the Bible?”, a far more appropriate and accurate question might legitimately be, “Where in the Bible is a public invitation to the preaching of the gospel not seen?”
“And I will go about Your altar, O Lord, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders” Ps 26.6b,7 (NASB).
SBC Today is pleased to announce a new feature: the Altar Call Report. As often as God is at work in your church through evangelism and baptisms, stop by the blog and tell the world about it. Glorify God, encourage other believers and witness to the world your good news about the Good News.
At the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston, Robin Foster asked an excellent question of Kevin Ezell during his North American Mission Board report: “After seeing last night that word was put out that we work together with Acts 29 and that we have partnerships, could you clarify that and also define exactly if there is any partnership formally or informally and how do we work with them if we do?”
Ezell began his response dismissively with, “That’s the absolute first time I’ve ever been asked that,” before recovering with, “I do appreciate your question.” For good reason, Ezell has been inundated with requests asking him to justify the unequal partnership discriminating against Non-Calvinists:
Although Southern Baptists are willing to accept into our membership ALL Acts 29 Pastors who affirm the BFM 2000, the Acts 29 Network is UNWILLING to accept into their membership ALL SBC Pastors who affirm the BFM 2000.
Ezell explained our partnership: “We plant Southern Baptist Churches. Our church planters are expected to endorse The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and give to the Cooperative Program. We don’t ask questions necessarily about what type of conferences they go to or what type of support networks that they might be a part of.” Along with many others, I believe we should.
While conference attendance is irrelevant, I believe we must ask about their support networks. When we plant such churches, we enter into a financial partnership with a distinct religious organization whose beliefs clearly differ from ours. The SBC has labored to remain soteriologically inclusive. Why then should we partner with a network that is soteriologically exclusive?
Many Southern Baptists may be unaware that the doctrinal statement of Acts 29 excludes Non-Calvinists. According to their website, "Churches planted from within the Acts 29 network are expected to agree to the doctrine and mission of our network." Among those doctrinal statements that exclude some Non-Calvinists is an affirmation of total inability found in the statement, "Sin has totally affected all of creation including marring human image and likeness so that all of our being is stained by sin (e.g. reasoning, desires, and emotions)." Their view of election implies that it is unconditional: "We believe that the salvation of the elect was predestined by God in eternity past." The context makes it clear that this is not simply a foreknowledge type of election, but a predetermined type. Even more clear is their position on irresistible grace: "We believe that God's saving grace is ultimately irresistible." Clearly, these positions are much more narrow than those found in the BFM 2000.
Groucho Marx once said, "I refuse to join any club that would have me for a member." My concern is almost the reverse: “I refuse to pay for any network that would NOT have me for a member.” Make no mistake—when we partner with another organization, we are not only supporting our own. We are also supporting theirs. Many organizations have begun such partnerships believing they were using the other party to promote their own interests, only to discover later that the other party was actually using them instead.
Why would any of my Calvinist brothers ask me to support financially a network with a Statement of Faith that not only excludes me personally, but also contradicts The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 on the significant matter of soteriological neutrality, the very issue we are making a special effort to address in Southern Baptist life with such sensitivity and grace?
I gladly welcome the Truth, Trust and Testimony in a Time of Tension Report. It clearly describes both the kind of cooperation we should all promote and the significant differences we should all admit. But when Southern Baptist Calvinists bring a third party to the table whose standards for membership exclude their Non-Calvinist Southern Baptist brothers, the resulting friction is not due to a lack of charity on the part of Non-Calvinists.
Perhaps the affections of some Southern Baptist Calvinists are actually closer to the Acts 29 Network than to the SBC. The possibility is very real that church plants started primarily with Southern Baptist resources might fall into the hands of the other partnering organization. This situation is a bit like the old adage that you should “dance with the one what brung you.”
An indecisive young lady has one suitor who purchases her prom ticket, buys her corsage, takes her to dinner and escorts her to the dance hall. There she meets another suitor, who tells the first one to go fly a kite before engaging her in conversation, offering her a glass of punch and asking her to dance. If I’m the first suitor, I ask the lady to make a choice. She has the right to choose him over me, but they cannot expect me to pay for their date. This partnership does not work. I have been excluded by him and rejected by her.
Southern Baptist Calvinist Brothers, hear my impassioned plea. I don’t mind working together with you in fulfilling the Great Commission, but please don’t make me pay, through an unequal partnership, for the reformed vision of an organization outside of Southern Baptist life that accepts my money but not my membership. Acts 29 excludes me. Please allow me to reciprocate.
By Rick Patrick, Pastor
First Baptist Church
West Main Baptist Church, Alexandria, Tenn.
Ben Simpson, Pastor
A woman in my church contacted me about her friend whose husband was not a Christian and had been given only six months to live. I soon visited the man, but I didn't get very far. He clearly confessed to have never repented and believed on Jesus. I shared and demonstrated how we've sinned by breaking God's law, condemning us before God. I asked him if he were to die today, would he go to heaven or hell. He unblinkingly said he would go to hell. When I asked if that concerned him, he matter-of-factly said, "No!" I explained why it should concern him and how Jesus Christ died so that he could be forgiven, but the man wasn't moved. I gave gospel material to him and left. In the meantime, we prayed for him.
I came back four days later. We spent a long time pouring over the Scripture. After quite a bit of talking, I invited him to repent and believe on Jesus, but again, he wasn't ready yet. I got up to leave, and then a breakthrough happened. As we shook hands goodbye, he said to me with deep sincerity, "You've touched something in me today." I praised the Lord and told him to cry out to Jesus to save him from his sin when he was ready, as I'd already instructed him how to do. I told him as I walked out the door, "I hope that the next time I see you, you'll be a Christian."
When I came back a few days later, he was smiling. He told me how he had repented and trusted Christ. We praised the Lord together for God being so gracious to save him. What a blessing it was to have been used by God, to see another sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and who will never taste death!