Monday, June 29, 2009

2009 Southern Baptist Convention - Final Ponderings...

Another annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is now in the history books. I provided a small amount of information related to convention on-goings while in Louisville and found that I could not do justice as the time was so short. To this end, I will now share my thoughts on the meeting and what we might expect in the future.

1. Great Commission Resurgence - I feel confident the 2009 meeting will long be remembered as the Great Commission Resurgence Convention (GCR). This was the most highlighted and talked about pre-convention issue and it also received the most attention among the messengers attending the convention. The formulation of a task force to examine the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole was the first motion made when business opened and motions were received. It was the only motion brought to the floor of the convention for discussion and subsequent vote. It passed overwhelmingly as most realize a need for getting back to the basics of what we are called to be as Southern Baptists – intentional about winning the world for Jesus Christ! So what does this mean for the future of the SBC? Truthfully, nobody is sure at this moment. The GCR task force, headed by Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, will examine the structure of the SBC and look for areas of overlap and waste. It will report its findings and make any proposals in Orlando during the 2010 annual meeting. With the GCR being an attempt to analyze the SBC from the top down to see how Southern Baptists “can work more faithfully and effectively” together I will be very interested in seeing the outcome of the study and what proposals will be forthcoming. I will keep you posted on this important issue.

2. Attendance and Demographics – One of the great shocks of Louisville was attendance. Many thought this would be the most poorly attended annual meeting in years; however, it proved to be just the opposite. There were 8,790 registered messengers, 1,500 more than last year’s meeting in Indianapolis. As the recording secretary put it, "it was also a much younger convention." Nobody needed to tell me this as I saw young families all over the place. There were more baby strollers to dodge at this convention than at any other I have attended. With there having been talk that the SBC was in decline and younger pastors were dropping out left and right, it was a welcome sight to see the huge proportion of the convention being the 40 and under crowd. I see this as a very good sign for the future of the SBC.

3. Resolutions – There were a total of 26 resolutions submitted to the Resolution Committee for consideration. These are requests by individuals that the SBC messengers make a public statement regarding a particular issue. Some are very important while others are nothing more than the efforts of an individual to further a personal agenda. They are all examined by the Resolutions Committe with full awareness that this is where the media can oftentimes voice major criticism of the convention. The resolution that held the greatest potential for controversy was “On Racial Reconciliation and the Election of Barack Hussein Obama” which was unofficially known as “The Obama Resolution.” This resolution passed nearly unanimously as it appropriately affirmed the election of Obama as “a step toward nationwide racial reconciliation” but it heavily criticized the actions taken by him in instituting policies contrary to the Christian way of life and the Word of God. It strongly opposed Obama’s assistance to pro-abortion groups and his declaring June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month. There were other areas where opposition against Obama’s policies was voiced and all Christians were urged to pray for him as the president and for our nation. There were other very good resolutions considered and acted upon by the messengers. These can be viewed at

4. Election of Officers – Johnny Hunt, pastor of FBC Woodstock GA, was elected to serve as president for a second term. I have long held Dr. Hunt to be one of the finest preachers in the SBC and am highly supportive of his second term as president.

5. Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth – Due to the church’s on-going stance of allowing full participation in their fellowship by practicing homosexuals, the Executive Committee recommended there be no “cooperative relationship” with Broadway Baptist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. In essence, the church was prohibited from seating messengers and fellowship with the church and the SBC was suspended. This issue at Broadway Baptist has been a media sensation for months and the action by the SBC Executive Committee was appropriate.

6. Southern Baptist of Texas Gift – If any person wants a clear example why I am proud to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, they need look no further than Louisville. During the International Mission Board (IMB) report, Dr. Jim Richards, Executive Director of the SBTC, provided IMB president Jerry Rankin a check for $100,000 to be applied toward the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering shortfall. This money would immediately go towards helping put more missionaries on the field around the world. The SBTC does many things to which I give my hearty approval. We are the only state convention that forwards greater than 50% of all Cooperative Program monies received in the state on to the Southern Baptist Convention to be used nationally. We have no problem stating that we believe the Bible to be the totally true and inspired, inerrant Word of God. Also, world missions is the heartbeat of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention. I am so pleased to be part of a state convention that is strongly in support of the Southern Baptist Convention, stands on Scripture as the final authority, and is doing everything it can to fulfill the Great Commission. Praise God for the SBTC and for Jim Richards’ leadership of this state convention!

Well there you have my final wrap-up of the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention. It was time well spent and I am so pleased with what God is doing among Southern Baptists. We are clearly living in uncertain and unusual times that demand all Christians pray. We, the Christ followers who comprise the Southern Baptist Convention, have been appointed by God for such a time as this and we must not fail to be used by Him to effect quantum change around the world exclusively for His glory. What an honor it is to be part of a convention that has this as its goal!

Finally, thank you for your prayers for me as I hosted the Annual Alumni and Friends banquet in my role as National Alumni President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. All went very well.

Remember, "Never yield your shield, stay in the battle!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SBC 2009 - #2

It has been a very long day at the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

It began at 8:15 with the gavel dropping and the meeting coming to order. I have heard some phenomenal preaching, great reports from agency heads and seminary presidents, and some interesting motions made from the floor of the convention. All-in-all the convention has been calm and peaceful with very little to report to those who look for conflict behind every corner. I'm pleased with what has transpired today and look forward to another productive day tomorrow as we close out the convention for another year.

Several items to point out -

1. A total of 8,400+ registered messengers are in attendance. Not too bad considering that this convention is not in the most populous of places in Southern Baptist life.

2. The Great Commission Resurgence was the most debated item of the night and it passed with flying colors. In a nutshell it is a call to examine ourselves and move back to the basics of doing the work God has called Southern Baptists to be about. I was/am very in favor of this taking place as it will prove to energize and stimulate areas of the Convention that have grown stagnant. A task force will be named tomorrow that will begin the study process and make recommendations to the Convention next year.

3. One of the greatest highlights of the Convention was when Dr. Jim Richards, Executive Director of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention handed a check for $100,000 to Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board. This money was a small effort of the SBTC to do more to alleviate the shortfall in money needed for sending missionaries to the field. If you want to know why I love the SBTC it is because they have a genuine heart for mission work around the world through the Southern Baptist Convention. God bless the SBTC and the work we are able to accomplish through this state convention in Texas.

4. Another highlight was having my son hang out with me this evening as we attended the evening debates/discussions and listened to the IMB report. It was a true joy having Jordon by my side and introducing him to so many of my pastor friends within the convention. It was a blessing indeed! The girls took it easy tonight and let the guys hold down the Convention fort.

That's a brief update on what has transpired. Tomorrow the resolutions will be discussed and voted upon. It will be interesting and I will post more tomorrow.

Also, as president of the National Alumni for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary it is my honor to host the annual Alumni and Friends luncheon. Please pray for me that I do a superb job in carrying out my duties tomorrow.

My eyes are very tired so therefore the pillow beckons my company. Talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Southern Baptist Convention 2009 - Pt. 1

We are in Louisville, KY for the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention. This will be the largest business meeting most have ever seen. There will be 7,000-8,000 registered messengers who will be hearing some powerful preaching and all motions and resolutions coming from the SBC. My plans are to keep you updated on what is going on through my website for the next 2 days. So, after tonight I will shout back with some details.

For now, these are some items we will be looking at -

1) Great Commission Resurgence - There is a movement in the Southern Baptist Convention to get back to the basics as to what we are all about - the Great Commission. As you know, many have quipped that the SBC is in a state of decline and that if something is not done there will be no convention in a matter of a generation. I am not one who feels that we are drying up and disappearing. I am convicted, however, that a Great Commission Resurgence is powerfully needed and that the SBC needs some energy and momentum. I will post more details on this as it comes available.

2) Resolution on Barrack Obama - A resolution has come forth from a prominent black pastor in Arlington, Texas calling the SBC to affirm Barrack Obama's presidency. No comment on my part right not, but I will update you as this comes forth from the Resolutions Committee.

3) Election of Officers - I am fully expecting Johnny Hunt, pastor of FBC Woodstock, GA, to be reelected to a second term as president. There will be others elected and I will post on that as it comes up.

All in all I do not expect a contentious convention. In fact, due to it being seen in that light there are some who will stay home. We will see what happens and I will let you know.

UPDATE - I am still writing the 10 things I've learned after 27 years of marriage and will post them upon my return from Louisville.

I'll be in touch.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We've Only Just Begun...

On this day, 27 years ago, I stood in Spring Baptist Church watching the woman I love walk down the aisle on the arm of her father. Little did I know, as he patted her hand looking into her eyes, he was making one final offer to help her escape. I am thankful that on that day she decided to ignore her father’s offer as it was the fantastic beginning of two different lives becoming one.

I was raised on country music – the Red Headed Stranger, Waylon Jennings, The Gatlin Brothers, David Allen Coe, Jerry Jeff Walker and other “redneck” recording artists of the 70’s. Andi could sing every Beatles song ever written word for word. The Bee Gees, Carpenters, and Journey sang the lyrics that came through her 8 Tracks. She was from an upper middle class family living in the suburbs of the 4th largest city in America. I was a country boy who wore boots and hauled hay in the fields that dotted the countryside around Tyler County. She was a Gloria Vanderbilt girl and I was a Levi’s and Tony Lama boy. She was a Spring Starlette; I a Woodville Eagle. We were different in 1,000’s of ways. Yet, in just a short period of time those differences would begin to become one.

In the fall of 1978 my life changed dramatically as we moved to the suburbs of Houston. My brother and only sibling had been killed in an accident that devastated my mother and me. Months later my widowed mom married a man she had been seeing and soon I was seeing Woodville in my rear view mirror headed for Spring, Texas.

Life in Spring was strange and unfamiliar but God provided. I made friends, found a job, endured high school and then one day – one of the top 10 greatest days of my life – a high school buddy hit me in the halls and said, “Hey Byron, Andi likes you.” I was floored! I mean, come on, I had noticed her but never talked to her. I had admired her incredible beauty from a distance but never once dared approach her. And now, the thought that this beautiful girl liked me was almost too good to be true. It was a call to action!

We went on our first date to “The Mariner” in May 1980 (I still remember what she wore that night). I graduated from high school a few weeks later and we saw each other almost every day during our first summer together. We were quickly falling in love and it was wonderful.

We went to more movies at Greenspoint Mall than should be allowed and sat for hours in Bennigan’s eating steak fingers, chimichangas, ultimate nachos and drinking iced tea. We talked and talked, looking at each other with “googly eyes.” I hung on every word she said and as we laughed together our love grew. We saw concerts together and swam often in the pool at her house. Life was good and love was flourishing for both of us. It was the closest thing to paradise I had ever experienced. God had rescued me from the dark days of tragedy by sending a beautiful young lady into my life who cared about me. We were destined to become soulmates and best friends. Then the moment of truth came…

After we had dated 18 months we were on our way to an Eddie Rabbit concert when talk turned to marriage. This was not the first time we had dreamed of marrying, but that night it took a more serious turn. Now I have to admit, I have always been embarrassed by my sloppy, juvenile tactics as I popped the question. There was no nice restaurant, no holding her hand while on bended knee, not even an engagement ring – you ladies are thinking, “You should be embarrassed” – there was simply a 19 year old guy who knew he was in love and that the best thing of his life was in the car with him at that moment. So in my youthful exuberance and before I could help myself, I blurted out the question – “Do you want to marry me?” Andi was a little shocked at my bluntness and perhaps a little surprised when she asked, “Is this it?” I grinned an affirmation, said “yes” and all of a sudden we were headed to the altar six months later. We’d only just begun.

After a six month engagement we were married at Spring Baptist Church on June 12, 1982. We did the Texas triangle for a honeymoon – San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and back to Houston. Upon our return, we set up house in an apartment off Southwest freeway and settled into a wonderful life together. We both worked long hours at our jobs but we spent every other bit of time together. I was paying my way through college so money was usually tight but we were happy! We talked for long hours and dreamed together of all God had in store for us. We traveled when we could and ate at a new restaurant just about every week. We became better than best friends. That was 27 years ago and yet to this day our love is so fresh I sometimes feel like we’ve only just begun.

For 27 years I have talked to Andi every day and but for just a few days of business travel or hunting, I have laid my head on the pillow beside my wife every night. There has never been one moment I have regretted saying “I do” to this woman. I have admired her tenacity and courage as she delivered our three babies. I have watched her spiritual strength and trust in God grow. I have seen her beauty increase with every day and our love grow beyond anything we could have dreamed or imagined on our wedding day. I have watched her arise in the morning early, take her bible and journal in hand and get alone with God for her strength for the day. I have counted it a great privilege to hold her hand as she cried and give a shoulder when she wept. Even in the days when we didn’t know what was coming our way, the one rock-solid truth we knew as a couple was that we had each other and with God’s help we would make it together!

I am blessed! I wouldn’t trade it for anything! And if God will answer my prayer that we get 70 years together then we’re not even half-way there yet so again... we’ve only just begun!

Andi, I love you more today than on any day we’ve ever had together and I will love you more tomorrow than I love you today! Thank you for loving me. BATW

(My next post will share with you 10 truths I have learned from marriage and ministry that every person who is newly married or planning to get married should hear. I will post it Monday.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Almost Persuaded...

There are many who have a close walk with Christ and yet wonder if they are making any impact on this world. If you are one of those, perhaps the attached video will help you realize that what held true for the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6 holds true today. This verse reads, "I (Paul) planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth." Now the Apostle is not talking about vegetable gardening; he is describing the development process of saving faith in the life of a person. It is all a work of God, we simply are allowed to participate by planting a seed or watering the salvation soil through a word or action on Christ's behalf. To see the impact of someone almost persuaded, check out the attached video. When you are finished, say a prayer for God's Spirit to grab hold of this man and saving faith to be realized.

I will post later in the week, but for now - Never yield your shield; Stay in the battle!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Embrace the Struggle...

In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, he tells the story of the Memorial Cup hockey championship in Vancouver, British Columbia. To say that hockey in the frozen lands of the north is not huge is equivalent to saying that people in Dallas know nothing of a team with a star on their helmet. As I read his story, I found most intriguing the description of the winning hockey team’s locker room. More specifically, just a hand-painted banner hung on the wall of the locker room that read "Embrace the Struggle." As I pondered those three words I saw a picture of life in so many ways. Let me explain...

How many times do we fail simply because we encounter difficulty or pain and refuse to embrace it on the road to victory? Whether a personal fitness challenge, weight loss goal, playing sports at the next level, becoming the best in your profession, or more importantly, walking more deeply with God, how often do we not achieve success because we refuse to embrace the struggle? I am utterly convinced the reason we do not experience more victories in our lives is due to an unwillingness to put forth the effort to overcome the obstacles we face. The temporary pain of perseverance through trials outweighs the satisfaction of the desired achievement.

I have long held that it is rarely the most gifted intellectually who finds greatest success in life. Nor is it the one born with a silver spoon in his mouth who stands atop the pyramid of success most often. It is the one who faces adversity, hardship, pain, and difficulty and yet through gritted teeth takes another step forward in spite of the immensity of the struggle. It is the one who endures hardship because the feeling of victory far outweighs the struggle to get there.

What are you facing today where the words “Embrace the Struggle” are necessary for you to advance onward to victory? Why not write those three words on a piece of paper that you will see often and pray for strength today. Hebrews 12:11 says "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." In other words, embrace the struggle and expect the harvest!

Never yield your shield; stay in the battle.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Look...

Psa7872 has a new look.

In the header you see from right to left some of the phases of my journey through this life. The lion is the mascot of the high school from which I graduated. Yes, the U of H represents where I received my bachelors degree. The seashell is actually a pectin and is the national trademark for Shell Oil Company where I spent a number of years as an accountant before God changed our life and called us to full-time ministry. Therefore, the cross seems a fitting final item as this is where God has called me to remain - at the foot of the cross in my service to Him. It has been an incredibly exciting journey thus far, one that I wouldn't trade for anything.

I hope you enjoy the new look. With this completed, I will posting a little more regularly so stay tuned.

Never yield your shield; stay in the battle!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Do Not Fear...

Fear is a reality for far too many Christians. Every day they awake to find themselves afraid of unseen dangers lurking in the shadows of their imaginations. This type fear is irrational, unnecessary, and certainly not from God. It can center upon finances, personal health, relationship issues, work related problems, or any of a thousand other areas to which Satan seeks to saddle the believer. So, let me give you two pointers if fear of this type is something you are confronting at this moment in your life.

First, realize that a feeling of fear is really a call to action. It is a time to put on the whole armor of God and stand firm. It is a time to cinch up the belt of truth (the Word of God) in your life and fasten down the breastplate of righteousness that ensures your position and standing before God. It is time to be bold and brave, remembering that through Christ all things are possible, including your overcoming this assault on your peace by Satan. It is time to pray with increased determination. In Isaiah 41:10, the Bible says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” You can believe it Christian!

Second, let me encourage you with something I found several years back from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a pastor in England in the 1800's. Read and ponder his creative word pictures as he describes reasons we should not fear. My prayer is that God will use these words to speak to your heart as they did mine years ago when I first read them.

"God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for He is able to do all things. Believer, till you can drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till you can break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, you never need to fear. Think not that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. While the earth’s huge pillars stand, you have enough reason to abide firm in your faith. The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and who trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply you with daily strength. While He is able to uphold the universe, dream not that He will prove unable to fulfill His own promises. Remember what He did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how He spoke and it was done; how He commanded, and it stood fast? Shall He that created the world grow weary? He hangs the world upon nothing; shall He who does this be unable to support His children? Shall He be unfaithful to His word for want of power? Who is it that restrains the tempest? Does not He ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds His chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of His hand? How can He fail you? When He has put such a faithful promise as this on record, will you for a moment indulge the thought that He has outpromised Himself, and gone beyond His power to fulfill? Ah, no! You can doubt no longer.

O You who are my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of Thy grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of Thy strength can never be emptied by Thy friends or rifled by Thine enemies. 'Now let the feeble all be strong, and make Jehovah’s arm their song.'"

Remember... Never yield your shield; stay in the battle!
In Christ alone,