Saturday, February 25, 2012

Southern Baptist Convention: Change Our Name?

Southern Baptists are all abuzz over the recent discussions concerning the possibility of changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention to something else. Yep, once again various factions within the SBC have made enough noise concerning the idea of changing the name of the convention that talks have gained enough traction to move forward.

These discussions got very serious as the current SBC president Bryant Wright appointed a task force to study the possibility of a name change. Thankfully, that group arrived at the conclusion that a descriptor in addition to the SBC name would be preferable to actually going about legally changing the name of the convention. Bravo! With the brand equity the SBC name has and the huge undertaking a legal name change would entail, this is really the only conclusion to these discussions. Of course, there will now be a great deal of discussion concerning the use of the new descriptor "Great Commission Baptists". There is little doubt that this will eventually be the topic of another blog on the topic.

So why change the name anyway? Are we trying to reach the lost or competing with others who are seeing their churches grow while the SBC has seemingly plateaued or is in decline? In his charge to Timothy, Paul warns about those who want teachers to simply tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim 4:1-5). We are to preach the Gospel. It doesn't matter if it is inconvenient or if it is not what people want to hear.

Honestly the terms "Southern" and "Baptist" might create issues for some. So also does the use of the word "church". These are the excuses the evil one uses to convince people not to listen when the Word is proclaimed. If we want to get the attention of the communities around us we must first live our lives like the Bible says we ought to. Before someone will listen to what the Bible teaches, people want to know if the person teaching it is also living it.

We must begin with ourselves. What we call our convention should be irrelevant in terms of reaching the lost. Having said that, there is a great deal of equity in the SBC moniker and it should not be cast aside. If an individual congregation so desires, they can call their church "ABC Church" and not mention "Southern" or "Baptist" in their name. A few might visit that would otherwise pass them by. The real impact is the effectiveness of said congregation's personal discipleship and outreach. The name on the door has no impact on the hearts and motives of the people inside.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Remembering Mrs. Annie Mae Sudduth

Annie Sudduth

SALTILLO - Annie Mae Hester Sudduth, 83, died Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, at Gilmore Memorial Hospital in Amory. She was born on Jan. 31, 1929, in Pontotoc County to Alvis and Ollie Mae Shempert Hester. She married Billy Francis Sudduth and they made their home in the Tupelo area where she worked as a seamstress in the garment industry, attended Grace Memorial Baptist Church and raised a family. She was a very good cook and enjoyed preparing meals for her family. Her greatest joy in life was her children and grandchildren.

A celebration of life service will be at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Tupelo Chapel of Holland Funeral Directors with Bro. Joey Holcomb officiating. Private burial will follow in White Zion Cemetery. Holland Funeral Directors is in charge of the arrangements.

Survivors include her son, Jimmy F. Sudduth (Lora) of Lake Piomingo; one sister, Dot Griffin of Houlka; four grandchildren, Tim Sudduth of Tupelo, Mickey Sudduth (Jennifer) of Lake Piomingo, Donald Sudduth (Rebecca) of Tupelo and Sue Brunty (Demian) of New Carlisle, Ind.; 11 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild; and a host of nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; one son, Donald Lynn Sudduth; three brothers, Alton, Ottis and Willis Sudduth; and very close friend, Mary Hester.

Pallbearers will be Tim Sudduth, Mickey Sudduth, Donald Sudduth, Tommy Sudduth Jr., Chris Sanchez and James Tate.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today and from 1 p.m. to service time Thursday.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, Mississippi Chapter, 1900 Dunbarton Drive, Suite 1, Jackson, MS 39216.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Whitney Houston: A Few Thoughts

The funeral service for pop star Whitney Houston has come and gone and the world gathered to remember her music, celebrate the accomplishments in her career, and talk about the comeback that was in the works but was not to be. The Houston family was gracious and allowed a single camera into the church where the funeral service took place and for a brief period of time, there were no attacks against those who follow Christ. In fact, in her final act Whitney Houston brought America to church for a few hours.

Missing from the conversation is just how far Whitney strayed from her Christian faith. My friend Ray Carroll mentions how there will be much written about Whitney in the coming days. No doubt he is correct! Whitney strayed far from the things of God as her well documented troubles have attested. But that is not the point of this blog. Her troubles will be discussed at length by others and I shall not add my voice to what will likely be a rather loud chorus.

In the last video recording of Whitney “performing” she sings part of Jesus Love Me. Regardless of how far she strayed from the faith of her youth, Whitney Houston was certain that Jesus loved her! Though she was weak and ill, Jesus loved her. That we might all, including Whitney, be free from sin, Jesus bled and died on a tree. Yes, Jesus loves Whitney Houston. And He loves me too. We cannot be certain of the salvation of another, only our own. So, are you as certain of your standing before Holy God as Whitney Houston was?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Johnny Hunt Men's Conference 2012 Review

A small group of men from our church attended the 20th Johnny Hunt Men's Conference this weekend. I was amazed at the presence of over 6,000 men coming together to worship the Lord and grow deeper in His word. Of course, the folks at First Baptist Church Woodstock did an incredible job hosting the conference. That this would be the case was never in question. The love they always show guests regardless of the event is a huge blessing and is one of the reasons I enjoy visiting their campus. For my readers who are not aware of this, my family and I live just a few short miles from this church.

Johnny Hunt is an excellent expositor of the Word and is always a joy to hear preach. He also is not afraid to tackle the tough issues of our day when he brings a message from God's word. The breakout sessions I attended were amazing! A special mention to Allan Taylor for the "Thinking Like a Disciple of Jesus Christ" breakout session Friday night. Far too many of us fail to think like a disciple in our everyday lives! Allan reminded those attending his sessions of the importance of doing so.

Planning is already underway for the 2013 Men's Conference at FBCW. I am already planning on attending! For those men who visit my blog and are close enough to attend I encourage you to consider making the trip to Woodstock GA. It is an amazing experience that will I am confident you will find rewarding.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Review - Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible

Howard G. Hendricks & William D. Hendricks. Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 1991, 2007. 392 Pg. $18.99. ISBN 0-8024-0823-0. Reviewed by Christopher L. Sanchez, Seminary Student.

Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible is both a practical and timeless book aimed squarely at the Bible student who struggles with studying God’s word. First published in 1991 and revised and updated in 2007 by Dr. Howard Hendricks and his son Bill, this book essentially captures the class long taught at Dallas Theological Seminary by Dr. Hendricks (p. 8). The book opens with a thoughtful introduction discussing the reasons people do not study the Bible, why they should, and introducing Hendricks’ process for such study.

After laying the necessary groundwork, the book transitions into the three main sections that are discussed in great detail over the next 300 plus pages: observation, interpretation, and application. Hendricks states without reservation that people no longer know how to read explaining the shift from a word-based society to an image-based society (p. 66). He then presents ten strategies for first-rate reading that his readers should find quite helpful followed immediately by six things the student of the Bible should look for during their study.

The authors move seamlessly from observation to the next section focused on interpretation. In typical fashion, this section opens with a chapter explaining the value of interpretation (p. 199 – 205). Hendricks also reminders readers that differences in interpretation will occur and that it is important to keep in mind that the conflict is not in the Scriptures but in the limited understanding men have of the text (p. 211). He then goes on to provide five very helpful keys to interpretation.

After his treatment of proper interpretation, Hendricks moves on to the section that addresses application. Perhaps the most neglected area of Bible study, application is the evidence of a life transformed. Hendricks wisely spends the time to explain that there are things about a person that remains the same from cradle to grave pointing out that people are God’s workmanship (p. 308).

Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible is written in very a readable style that makes putting the book down difficult. It is rare that this reviewer has been able to make such a statement about a reading assignment during studies at Liberty. It is this readability that is a key strength of the book. Another key strength of the book is the impression the reader has of actually attending a class being taught by Dr. Hendricks. The personal stories used to relate the material are an integral part of the presentation of the material.

Though difficult to critique, the brevity of both the sections on interpretation and application do give this reviewer pause. With observation consuming nearly half of the text, one would expect a treatment of interpretation and application to be as thorough. This is clearly not the case. If length were a concern, the section on observation could easily be shortened without losing the essential strengths of the material allowing for a more in depth treatment of interpretation and application.

Overall, this is a book that is beneficial to seminary students, lay leaders, and new believers alike seeking tools to better understand the Bible. In the opinion of this reviewer, the best use of Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible may be as a primer for those newer to the faith seeking to develop those basic skills for really studying Scriptures. Dr. Hendricks has taught countless students techniques for better understanding God’s word.