Archive | September, 2015

One pastor’s thoughts on the International Mission Board situation

23 Sep

In recent days, I have had a number of people both inside and outside the church I serve who asked me my thoughts on the well-publicized financial issues at the International Mission Board. I decided to share them here in hopes that it will encourage people to become more informed and prayerful.

First of all, the International Mission Board must balance its books, and new IMB President David Platt is to be commended for dealing with the situation. Like just about every other Southern Baptist, it was news to me when Platt announced that IMB had run an operating deficit in excess of $200 million over the last several years. This deficit had been covered through reserves and the sale of overseas assets.  To be honest, I was floored to learn of this situation.  As a senior pastor of a church that gives very generously to SBC missions, our local church would never operate in this manner. Certainly, every church from time to time dips into reserves due to lean years in giving or unexpected expenses.  That is why you have reserves in the first place. However, living off of reserves cannot be a continual way of life for a church or any organization. Eventually what comes in must match what goes out.

The IMB is dealing with hard realities and it is not easy. For years, we have heard that we have more people willing to go than we have money to send. The reality is that we do not have the money for those we have already sent. It pains me greatly to write these words, but that is the truth. In excess of 80% of the IMB budget is personnel; no surprise given that it is an organization that sends missionaries.  My understanding is that IMB is going through the process of offering buyouts and early retirement to a substantial number of field missionaries and staff at IMB headquarters in Richmond, Virginia all in an effort to get to a financially sustainable level of personnel.  I personally know IMB missionaries who are making agonizing choices about their futures. It is extremely painful for all involved.

Furthermore, David Platt has made clear that he intends to change much of the way IMB operates and its missions philosophy. The specifics of exactly what that looks like are still unclear to me as an outside observer. Some have questioned his election to the position, his missions philosophy, and support of the Cooperative Program. No one questions Platt’s passion for taking the gospel to the nations. Personally, I believe it is past time to stop rehashing those issues. David Platt is the leader of IMB regardless of how anyone feels about how he got there. Count me as one pastor who is willing to support him and give him a chance. I am praying that he leads IMB and Southern Baptists to our greatest days of missions and gospel advance.

I am a strong believer in and supporter of the SBC Cooperative Program.  Hopefully, what will eventually come out of all of this is a leaner, healthier, stronger IMB and a renewed vision for funding missions in our churches. Now is not the time to cut back. Uncertainty and a little controversy is not the time to withdraw. It is the time to set our hands to the plow and stay faithful in the work. I will attempt to lead the church I serve to give more to the Cooperative Program and more to the special missions offerings (Lottie & Annie) in 2016 than we have this year.

 

Reminders on September 11

11 Sep

It’s hard to believe that it’s been fourteen years since that terrible day: September 11, 2001.  Each year on this day, my mind goes back to that day and its horrors.  Time marches on.  Only the students who are in high school now have any memory of that day. The vast majority of those in school now only know of September 11 from the internet, history classes, and television. Please allow me to share some personal reminders on this day…

1)  The Lord is our only true security.  So many people were absolutely stunned that an attack could happen on American soil. The truth is that any of our lives can be turned upside down on any given day. In a country of over 300 million people if a person or group of people decide to commit an act of terrorism every instance of that cannot be stopped. Our security in Christ is the only true security we have.

2)  There is evil in this world that must be confronted. The September 11 attacks brought Americans face to face with the fact that there are people in the world who are willing to ruthlessly slaughter innocent people in the name of their religion or their cause.

3)  Pray for and honor those who serve our country. Certainly, this includes our military men and women, but let’s not forget our law enforcement and fire departments.  These men and women are literally on the front lines of keeping us all safe, and their pay often doesn’t reflect the danger and stress of what they do.

4)  Pray for revival to come in America.  Back in 2001, there were many Christians praying for a spiritual awakening to happen in our nation.  September 16, 2001 saw the largest church attendance possibly in our nation’s history.  That Sunday remains the largest attendance many churches have seen in their history.  Many were hopeful that September 11 would be the beginning of a great turning back to the Lord.  Sadly, that was not the case. Keep praying.

5)  Love America and be thankful for it. September 11 is a great reminder that we are all Americans. Certainly, our country is hurting in many ways and so many are concerned about the direction we are headed. However, America is still the greatest country in the world, and I am thankful to be born and raised in the USA!  The school my children attend encouraged the students to wear red, white, and blue today as well as for the football game tonight. I applaud that emphasis. We must raise this generation to love our country because there are many who do not.

 

Catch up on the PRAY message series

1 Sep

The feedback from people regarding the PRAY message series has been a great blessing and encouragement to me. To be honest, it has probably challenged me personally as much as any series I have preached in some time.  Here are the links to the individual messages in the series…

“How to Pray:  When Prayer Comes to Life”    Luke 11:1-4

http://lakesidebaptist.com/media/media-player.htm?2015_08_16AM

 

“How to Pray:  Praying for What Matters Most”   Luke 11:1-4

http://lakesidebaptist.com/media/media-player.htm?2015_08_23AM

 

“Powerful Prayer”  Luke 11:5-13   

http://lakesidebaptist.com/media/media-player.htm?2015_08_30AM