Part of the deal may be that I have recently been experiencing a season of personal spiritual renewal and redirection. But I also heard similar comments from other pastors, seminary professors, and from others who serve in various denominational positions on the state and local levels.
There was a focus on Revival and Spiritual Awakening.
Great Awakenings, cannot be scripted, nor scheduled by men. God sends Revival and Awakenings in His time and according to His plan, but I do believe we should pray for and seek such Divine refreshing. Not to simply "Bring America Back To God" as is often said, but to advance the Kingdom of God on the planet. While the SBC is far from perfect, I am thankful that there is such a commitment to take the Gospel to the nations and reach the thousands of unreached people groups out there - in the Americas and to the ends of the Earth. It is also a blessing to see the concerted effort to bring more diverse ethnicity to the Convention here in the USA.
Even though there are differences among SBC pastors and churches when it comes to soteriology, ecclesiology, and even eschatology, I see (at least for now) a desire to focus on the cause of Christ that unites us in fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandments, and not focusing on the secondary and tertiary issues that the Enemy would use to divide us.
Who among us have not been shocked and saddened by the senseless act of violence that took place at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC this week? A young man, apparently acting alone, took the lives of a pastor and eight other members of his congregation as they gathered for a Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting and Bible Study. It is obvious, from the assassin's comments, that this was a crime born out of hate and racial prejudice. There has been a lot of that going around for a long time - both here and abroad.
The pundits and politicians have wasted no time in mounting their personal soap boxes. Our President immediately seized upon his desire to ban firearms. However, this crime was not done with a high powered automatic assault weapon (as many wish to ban) but with a simple handgun. The race baiters have jumped with both feet into the mix with their vitriol. Some pundits have talked about the "mental health": issues that have often led to disturbed individuals striking out in acts of terror and violence against individuals and groups.
I know it seems over simplistic, but I truly believe that we (and certainly we who are Christ Followers) come to understand that racism, political zealotry, hate groups, terrorists, etc are all simply symptoms of the true problem that causes incidents like this. It is the sin problem that is the root. It is the fallen nature of man and the depravity into which we were born, that manifests itself in so many ugly ways, The ancient Hebrew prophet, Jeremiah nails it when he wrote in his prophecy, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; "
Political actions, philosophical beliefs, and legislation, nor education will never solve this problem.
The only hope is through Jesus Christ. He died to take care of our sin problem.
More reason for fervent prayer for a true God sent revival in the hearts of His people, and their understanding of the urgency to share the Good News of Christ with EVERYONE.
As we pray for such an awakening, let us remember the families of those whose lives have been touched by this senseless act of violence. Let us remember the Emmanuel Church, which has lost a pastor and several members. Our hearts must break for these our brothers and sisters in Christ, and do not forget the many believers around the world who are facing persecution, imprisonment, and even death simply because of their faith in our Risen Lord.
Isn't it a blessing to see people in Charleston, in the face of obvious racially motivated killings, coming together for prayer, rather than rioting and looting in the streets. This is certainly more Christlike behavior. May God comfort those who have sustained personal loss, the entire community, the church, and let's not forget the young man who perpetrated this horrendous act. May he, somehow, by God's Grace find peace for his soul.
Today marks the 44th Anniversary of the day that Linda and I made our Marriage Vows before God and a crowded church building full of witnesses. He has been our rock and shield for all these years, faithful and merciful in every way. I want to thank Him for preparing and sending to me, one of the three best people I have ever known, one whom He ordained that I should walk hand in hand with through life. I also want to thank Linda for her kindess, faithfulness and love. She has rejoiced with me in times of blessing, and nursed me through times of sickness, even times when it looked like we were approaching the valley of the shadow of death. She has fulfilled her vows "in sickness and in health", "for richer and for poorer", 'for better and for worse", and "to love, honor and cherish". I could not be more blessed. Happy Anniversary sweetheart.