First Thoughts

SBC Survival Guide | Part 4: Race

Divisions Over Race Division over the issue of race is one of the greatest threats to unity in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This breaks my heart. Some of that heartbreak goes back to something I learned from my mom in childhood. Before my mother became a Christian, she would never have been confused with a virtuous woman, but with all her faults she was never a racist. My mom won scorn and lost friends when she invited an African American woman to join her and several other women at a party in our home in Kentucky. Several of the women were embarrassed, some of them left, and all of them talked about it. My mom knew it would happen and did not care. She loved her friend and thought the fault was with the women who were wrongly offended. That example always meant a lot to me. It...

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Should Christians Date Non-Christians?

All the right factors seem to be in place-cute charm, dreamy looks, social suave, a pleasant appeal, and even conservative convictions. The only thing missing is… Jesus. Perhaps you have thought something like: “They are so close to the truth, and they love so many good things the Bible supports! Surely they would be compelled to follow Christ fully if they were enticed by a godly companion!” As tempting as it might be to date a nice unbeliever, I am not convinced this is the way to go about evangelizing. I do not think the way to share Christ is through candle-lit dinners and gushy love notes. The way of the great commission is not “flirt to convert.” I believe there is a better way to display the love of Christ and protect your soul. True Love Is Soul Deep What do you find romantically...

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SBC Survival Guide | Part 3: The Baptist Faith and Message

Unity and Truth The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is as divided now as it has been at any point since the conservative resurgence. That resurgence began in the 1970s, long enough ago that we can no longer take for granted that it is understood by the youngest in denominational life. The conservative resurgence began in response to division in the SBC, and that division was over theology. On one side of the division were the liberals (called moderates) who proved to be the minority in Southern Baptist life but had taken over leadership of various institutions in the SBC. On the other side of the division were the conservatives, a majority of those in the convention, who were unwilling to allow the convention to slide into liberalism and death. Conservatives knew that if the SBC was going...

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Christians and Cohabiting Couples

Christians can respond to cohabiting couples in all the wrong ways. Some Christians endorse living together. Some treat it as the unpardonable sin. Others avoid cohabiting couples like the plague because they do not know what to say. How should Christians respond (or not respond!) to couples living together? It is true that marriage is a Christian institution. It was designed by God to declare the good news of Jesus Christ to the world (Ephesians 5:22-33). A husband is supposed to lay down his life in sacrificial service for his bride-just as Jesus did. A wife is supposed to submit to her husband in the same way the church submits to Christ. It is a beautiful representation of the gospel. Therefore, cohabitation is an unchristian handshake. It grates against the good design of God at every...

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A Christian Response to the Ukraine Invasion

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine Since last week the world has held its breath as Vladimir Putin engaged in a reckless, corrupt, shocking, and terrifying invasion of Ukraine. Everyone is waiting with bated breath to see where this all goes. The reality is that nobody knows. Now that the invasion has begun, not even President Putin knows how this will end. As I have been watching the news and trying to think through a faithful, biblical response, I have been transfixed by the way several striking images are illustrating the headlines. I want to point to three images from three news stories that help identify three faithful Christian responses to this tragedy. Response 1: Heartbreak The first image is absolutely horrifying. It is a picture of a nameless and defenseless woman that was released...

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Health and Hope: An Update on My Medical Journey

On Friday, February 25, I took the latest step in the long journey I have been on regarding my health. Because so many have reached out about how I am doing, I wanted to share an update with you. Here is the update. Background In 2017, I began experiencing concerning spasms on the right side of my body. For a brief period, the doctors suspected something terrible like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or a tumor, but quickly ruled these problems out. Eventually, they discovered that the problem was a dislocated cluster of blood vessels in my brain that was putting pressure on one of my cranial nerves. Once the problem was discovered we began a lengthy season of discovering how to treat it. We met with numerous neurosurgeons and tried several different medical interventions to seek...

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SBC Survival Guide | Part 2: The ERLC

Christians, Politics, and Division Politics is tough for Christians. On a good day, it can be surprisingly challenging for Christians to know how to apply biblical truth to political issues. For example, there is no doubt about the biblical commands for generosity (Luke 3:11). But how does this command to generosity impact our political engagement? Some Christians apply this by enthusiastically participating in the government-funded welfare state. Others apply it by objecting to that welfare state so that their resources can be preserved from the government and freed up for private generosity in their church and other ministries. My point is not that there is no right answer to that dilemma, but that this is just one political issue where Christians have regularly disagreed. Christian political...

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How Do You Watch a Movie Like a Christian?

Netflix. Hulu. Disney+. Paramount+. Amazon Prime. HBO Max. Encanto. Boba Fett. Redeeming Love. Ted Lasso. Squid Game. Spiderman. Should Christians be entertained by these platforms, movies, and shows? Is it possible to consume the latest movies or binge-worthy shows and glorify God? How? From the ultra-conservative who only watches movies recommended by their pastor, to the movie connoisseur who somehow finds “the gospel” even in the most explicit content, the entertainment we consume often creates blurry lines for Christians. How can we bring biblical clarity and biblical purity to bear on our entertainment choices? Here are six principles to help you fight for purity: 1. Research You should never feel victimized by sin in your entertainment choices. In our day, there are several resources...

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SBC Survival Guide | Part 1: Abuse

A Convention in Trouble The Southern Baptist Convention is in more trouble than we have seen in a long time. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of our convention is at stake. Southern Baptists have always been able to resolve their problems, and I have confidence that we can again, but this urgent moment is going to require the very best of each one of us. A great deal depends on how we address several issues in Anaheim this June. I have already addressed the importance of leadership. In the weeks ahead, I am going to address several other problems that Baptists must begin to solve as we prepare to meet in Southern California this summer. One of the most significant issues is abuse. A Sad History of Abuse Scandals The Roman Catholic scandal of priest abuses was breaking when I...

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Romance Novels and the Bible

Some of the best-selling books on the market are romance novels. Year after year this genre continues to be successful.  As with anything, there is a spectrum. Some of the “love” stories aim at middle and high school students who are experimenting with romance for the first time. Other stories target a more adult audience and keep both men and women coming back for more. There is also a spectrum as it relates to sexual content and delivery. The range is vast with Emma on one end of the continuum and Fifty Shades of Grey on the other. Some romance novels are pure, reserved, and lovely while others are impure, erotic, and sinful. This is not only true for the secular world, but it is also true for the Christian world. There is a market for “Christian romance novels” and the spectrum of sexual...

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