First Thoughts

The Southern Baptist Convention in 2022: A Sketch of Where We Are

A Glorious Mugging Participating in the Southern Baptist Convention can feel like a mugging. The days are long, disorienting, often brutal, and when it is all over you feel sore. Don’t get me wrong. I love the SBC, and always appreciate the unpretentious majesty of a room where celebrity pastors and rural preachers all get a ballot and an opportunity to speak. But we all know the days can be long and the issues painful. If the SBC in 2022 was a glorious mugging, then I want to provide a police sketch of the event. That is to say, I want to describe where we are as a convention now that the votes have all taken place in Anaheim. Here are five broad strokes describing the SBC as I see it today. 1. The SBC Wants to be Conservative There has been a lot of talk about liberal drift in the SBC....

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Where’s Dad? A Call for Men to Lead in the Home

Reclaiming a Biblical Vision for Dads To say that our culture is confused about gender and gender roles would be the understatement of the century. Young girls are trained by the feminists to be aggressive in the workplace, while young men are domesticated and told to be gentle lambs who must never mansplain. This has produced a topsy-turvy situation where society’s ideal woman is a dominant leader, and the ideal man is passive, gentle, and always agreeable. While this vision is bad for society at large, it is especially damaging in the home. A home led by a domineering wife and a passive husband is a disordered home. If First Baptist Church is going to reach all of Jacksonville, our marriages and families must look remarkably different than the culture. Our homes must be places where dads...

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Five Sins Regarding Abuse

I should start by being clear that I am not saying there are precisely five—and only five—sins regarding the issue of abuse and that you will find those five sins catalogued here in an authoritative fashion. That is not my point. My point is that we are living in a time when many in the church are dealing constantly with issues related to abuse. As we go through this season, it is crucial to make clear that when we are talking about abuse, we are talking about sin. This issue is about something that is morally repugnant in the eyes of God. And we are not only talking about sin—singular but sin—plural. There is more than one moral monster in view here. Here I am going to talk about five sins that Christians must grapple with if we are ever to find our way out of this current darkness into...

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Taking Back the Rainbow: Christianity, Homosexuality, and Gay Pride Month

The Ironies of Gay Pride Month Four strikingly sinister ironies define the secular celebration of gay pride month. First, is the false advertising that says we are devoting merely a month to the celebration of homosexuality when, in truth, our culture demands the near-constant celebration of homosexuality every day and every month of every year. Second, is waving the banner of “pride” over a lifestyle choice that is transparently sinful. God has the sovereign right to dictate the attitudes of our heart, and God’s own Word says that he opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Third, is the insistence from our sinful culture that anyone who opposes the infinite manifestations of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle is on the “wrong side of history.” God has the exclusive right to determine...

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God Has Been Merciful to Us: Three Reasons to be Encouraged by the Devastating SBC Report on Sexual Abuse

The SBC Report on Sexual Abuse We have been waiting for months for the Report of the Independent Investigation to detail sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention and the response to that abuse. That report was released yesterday afternoon; I read it with great interest and a broken heart. The report is full of abuse, pain, cover-up, and sin. Every Christian must mourn the shocking mistreatment that so many precious people received at the hands of those charged with their care. The report is long and complex with many details, but at the risk of oversimplification, I want to communicate the report’s findings in one sentence. For years a group of leaders in the Southern Baptist Executive Committee resisted openness, transparency, and protection of sexual abuse victims out of a...

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Biblical Hospitality: Practices of Grace (Part 2)

Practicing hospitality is a way to share God’s grace and bless others. But practicing hospitality requires just that – practice. If hospitality isn’t part of your thought patterns or family’s regular routines, then knowing where to start or how to do it might feel overwhelming. Biblical hospitality presents two challenges to us. First, hospitality in the Bible is a command. It’s not optional. Almost every instance of the word “hospitality” in the New Testament is connected to an imperative (Cf. Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9). Second, hospitality is active. Romans 12:13 says we are to “seek to show hospitality.” We can’t just idly sit around and wait for opportunities for hospitality to come upon us, though they might. We are to be looking out for occasions to open our homes and hearts to others. It’s...

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Biblical Hospitality: Avenues of Grace (Part 1)

In this two-part blog, we’ll first look at what the Bible teaches about what hospitality looks like. The next installment will contain a list of practical helps and tips for engaging in real-life hospitality in your home. Biblical Hospitality It’s a scary word – hospitality. It’s a word that often strikes fear in the hearts of Christians. We’re busy, and our homes can be messy, and – oh no – our kids just drew 13 smiley faces on the wall with permanent marker. “Hospitality” conjures to mind elegant table settings, fanciful three-course dinners, and spotless homes with well-mannered children. But thankfully, that’s not what biblical hospitality has to look like. In a single verse, Paul provides for us a biblical definition of hospitality. In Romans 15:7, he says to “welcome one another as...

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FEAST on the Bible

The Finitude of Feasts For many of us, the celebration of Easter last month would not have been complete without a feast. Savory slices of prime rib and sweet servings of honey-baked hams filled our plates and our stomachs. Gravy-laden mashed potatoes and glazed carrots, and Easter salad rounded off our rejoicing. Elbow to elbow with our closest friends and loved ones, we experienced the joy of pleasing our palates and celebrating the glorious resurrection of our Lord. But inevitably, the delight of a happy palate and a full stomach dwindles. The satisfaction is short-lived. In the end, we are left with a few good memories to relive and a few extra pounds to lose. An Infinite Feast Feasts are wonderful but finite. But what if there was a feast you could participate in every single day that...

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The Joy Set Before Mothers

The sun comes up, and Jenny is at work. My wife rises early to make sure the children are fed, and she goes to sleep late to care for them. The work of cleaning the dishes, picking up toys, changing diapers, instructing hearts, tending to injuries, navigating sibling conflict, and running a home is constant. Every day there is work to be done, and each day brings needs, wants, and demands. My wife is not alone. There are mothers across the world who are hard at work in their homes. It does not matter if the children are six weeks old or sixteen years old; each stage of parenting brings about challenges. The work of motherhood is continual, consistent, and challenging. And it does not make sense to most people. The world does not understand the glory of motherhood. This is because home is...

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Why Do Baptists Baptize? (Part 2)

Baptists are thankful for our rich and deep heritage. But sometimes, even in Baptist churches, people can be confused as to why we baptize. In this post, I am describing three reasons that people often think are the reasons that Baptists baptize but are actually not. 1. Not Because Baptism Is Required for Salvation  This is a vitally important clarification to make. Baptists obviously think that baptism is very important; it’s in our name, after all. However, we want to be crystal clear that we do not believe that baptism is required for salvation. Sadly, many even in Baptist churches are confused about this. I do not think it’s because they were directly taught it, but somehow they have picked up this doctrinal confusion. I have interacted with many children who have expressed a desire...

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