SBC Life Articles

Pause, Reflect — But Do Not Linger

A milestone is often the reason for pause in our pilgrimage of life and career and is both beneficial and refreshing. To pause and reflect is always a healthy exercise. It should be done in the presence of the Lord for His Word says, In thy presence is the fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). Ten years ago by the invitation of this body and the call of God, I was inaugurated as president of the Executive Committee. Thanks to you, other Southern Baptist leaders, and God's grace, these have been ten of the best years I have ever experienced. The work is both challenging and rewarding. What helps make it so are the thousands who have gone before us.

While our members may serve two full terms of four years, a few have served ten years if completing another person's abbreviated term. Consequently, this is the first year in which no member could be serving on the Executive Committee who was a member in 1992. As the years have come and gone, the rotation of members has been seamless, leading to prudent and wise decisions made on behalf of the Convention. Your job is one of the toughest of all volunteers who serve in any capacity in the Convention because you are primarily assigned the responsibility to facilitate the work of the other entities and you are expected to have your fingers on the pulse of all SBC entities.

Throughout these ten years, you and those who have gone before you have brought intelligence, insight, and wisdom along with a determination to put your own self interests aside and make decisions based upon what's right not for a few, but for all Southern Baptists. You have made decisions with your eyes upon Jesus, your mind and heart guided by the Holy Spirit, and your feet planted firmly upon the Solid Rock. You have taken time to be informed, to seek the Lord's counsel, to listen to both solicited and unsolicited advice, and then wade through it all to separate facts from anything less. All the while you have walked by faith in striving to obey God, honor and glorify His Name, and act upon His leadership in your life.

You have exercised your independence as born-again believers who are elected by fellow Southern Baptists to act upon their behalf. In your decision making you have acted responsibly in spite of being faced on occasion with information overload and extensive efforts of others to influence your opinion for whatever the reason. You have taken time to hear the words of the still small voice speaking to your heart.

Today is a time to pause and reflect. In doing so, I want to say thank you from the depths of my heart for your prayers, leadership, and encouragement. I am genuinely grateful to serve the Lord in this position and thank you for helping make it a wonderful and enriching experience for Jodi and me. We love you.

I believe God has looked favorably upon us in our earnest search to do His perfect will in every matter. No issue has been flippantly disregarded or dismissed by this body nor will it. You are serving God and His people with distinction, humility, conviction, courage, and Christ-like character. I know our brethren and sisters across the country would ask no more or less.

In the last twenty-three years I have stood without reluctance or hesitation, in fact with deep conviction, that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, Word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts. I had believed it long before a battle for Truth erupted within the Convention. Why else preach the Bible if it is not the absolute, authoritative Word from an almighty God? Why would a man of faith spend his time defending the right to preach a watered-down gospel if he is going to decide what is true and what is not. It makes absolutely no sense. Does preaching God's Word mean we will often find ourselves in conflict with the world's standards? The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" Why? Because God has an absolute, once-for-all-time standard that never changes. The world has an ever-changing standard. Those people who hold to nothing more than the world's standard will find the waters of the world swirling around them and washing over them. Ultimately if they do not trust in Jesus, confessing Him as Savior, Lord, and King, they will be swept away spiritually by the rushing waters of the world.

Today is a time to pause and reflect. In doing so, I thank God for Southern Baptists who, in spite of the struggle required, have gotten it right. Our forefathers reached the same conclusion. We are a people lashed to the Book, the Bible, until that day we see Jesus. Then we shall experience all we have imagined in our mind's eye when we think of what it will be like when we see Jesus. How do we know? God has given us a glimpse of heaven in His Holy Word.

Today is a time to pause and reflect. From reflection upon the past, visions and dreams for the present and the future always emerge. It's how God leads His dear children along. He has wired us so we can understand Him when He speaks to us. We shall have no fear because we know God is with us.

From a background of our thoughts and thanksgivings for the past, we are inclined to ask the question, "What does God have planned for us now?" For you see, nothing more strenuous than walking one day at a time, one step after another, quickly leads to ten years, a decade of time gone never to be regained. Are we as God's people, Southern Baptists, spending time wisely today? The question begs for an answer that can only be answered in the individual heart. Shall we spend our time wisely in the days ahead? Surely the Lord is glorified by our asking the questions. Those questions lead to others that you have heard so recently.

Am I a Kingdom person? If not, how can I be? If so, how shall I live? Please listen with your heart for a moment. The mission statement of the Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis states, "Empowering Kingdom Growth is an initiative designed to call individual Southern Baptists to renew their passion for the Lord Jesus and the reign of His Kingdom in their hearts, families, and churches from which God can forge a spiritual movement marked by holy living, sacrificial service, and global witness." The vision statement is "to seek first the King and His Kingdom."

As the emphasis upon the Kingdom of God begins to take root in the life of our Convention, the Lord has drawn my attention to questions I must ask myself.

The Kingdom of God is about Kingdom Identity, the state of my relationship with Him. Do I talk with Him often and listen to what He says?

The Kingdom of God is about Kingdom Character. Do I obey His Kingly rule in living life daily? Is my heart's desire to glorify His Name?

The Kingdom of God is about Kingdom Priority. Am I willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ? Is He first, foremost, and forever as He was when I was saved, or when He called me to preach the gospel? Is there any chance that upon looking into the deepest recesses of my heart, I will discover that in reality, I no longer posses an all-encompassing abandonment in my allegiance to Him? Even though unintentional, have I lost my first love?

The Kingdom of God is about Kingdom Family. Have I led my family to have a spiritual purpose with definite Kingdom practices?

The Kingdom of God is about Kingdom Perspective. Am I willing to set aside lesser goals such as personal aggrandizement and pursuit of the things of the world? Do I value the ministry of other Christians, refusing to criticize those who may be less gifted or simply different from me? Do I lift them up in prayer or tear them down in criticism?

The Kingdom of God is about Kingdom Calendar. Do I work with a sense of urgency that Christ is coming soon? Do I value the importance of redeeming the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16)?

Jim Cymbala said in one of his books that when people break down in their behavior, backslide into sinful living, or grow cold in the Lord, it is because their faith breaks down first. For the Christian, a departure from living for Jesus is a weakness of faith. Years ago I heard someone say, "What a person loves the most is what he/she talks about." Do I find myself talking about Jesus? Can others tell what means the most to me when I speak?

In conversation with me, do you readily come to know I first love Jesus? Even though God has given me a most wonderful and devoted wife, beautiful children and gorgeous grandchildren, my first love could not and today cannot be my family!

My first love cannot be myself, but Jesus.

My first love cannot be my ambitions, but Jesus.

My first love cannot be things of the world, but Jesus.

How far is my heart from the heart of God?

God has a plan for each and every Christian, but He wants us really to know Him, Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior. Faith and only faith is the switch that releases God's power in our lives. Peter wrote that it is through faith [that we] are shielded by God's power (1 Peter 1:5).

My daughter and son-in-law are parents of three wonderful sons. From the time the first one was a tiny tot, Scott has asked them, "Who's got the power?" Of course, they were taught that Daddy had the power.

The answer is more than a little distorted because, in actuality, Grampy has the power.

More seriously, while the answer may be wrong, the question is on target. We need to ask ourselves, "Who's got the power?" Not the power of persuasion, not the power of politics, not the power of pride. Who's got the power? Only one word is sufficient. Jesus. When I do what Jesus leads me to do, in the Spirit with which He walked on the face of the earth, I will begin to have the divine power God has always wanted to release in our lives.

The Bible says, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble (James 4:6). He further adds, Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:10). Where do we begin to be a Kingdom person? In the verse tucked in between the two I just read, God's Word says, Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you (James 4:7).

A milestone is a time to pause and reflect, but never to linger.

I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world's delight;
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
I will hasten to Him, Hasten so glad and free,
Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.



The Christian And The Kingdom Of God

Am I a Kingdom person? If not, how can I be? If so, how shall I live? How can I measure if I am indeed a healthy, Kingdom Christian? What traits will be present? Consider these questions:

1 Kingdom Identity. Is relationship with Christ my first priority? Is my personal conversion experience valid and vivid? Do I enjoy regular private devotion and public worship? Do I possess an unwavering, public commitment to Jesus as the only Lord and Savior of all?

2 Kingdom Character. Is obedience to Christ's kingly rule evident in my conduct and lifestyle? (In my language, in my relationships, and in my use of possessions?)

3 Kingdom Priority. Do I live for the sake of the King and His Kingdom? Are my energies directed to Christian aims? How do I spend my time and money? Am I willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ?

4 Kingdom Family. Are the principles of Christ lived out in my home? Do I honor my parents? Is my home life a positive testimony to the world? Do I honor my spouse and encourage her/him to walk with Christ? Am I modeling for my children a vibrant Christian life? Does my family have a spiritual purpose with definite Kingdom goals?

5 Kingdom Perspective. Do I have an understanding of the comprehensive nature of the Kingdom of God? Am I willing to set aside lesser goals such as personal aggrandizement, economic prosperity, cultural or national stability, or other parochial or temporal aims? Do I carry out my ministry as part of the larger Kingdom enterprise? Do I value the ministry of other Christians as part of the Kingdom of God, even when I am not responsible for it and get no credit for it?

6 Kingdom Calendar. Do I labor with a sense of urgency? Do I value the present opportunity, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16)?

The Church And The Kingdom Of God

How can my church have a Kingdom mindset? Consider these questions:

Do I help my church keep the "big picture" in mind, recognizing the gravity and the urgency of Kingdom business as we plan and execute our ministry? Do I encourage my church to recognize our local ministry as part of a larger whole? Do I subjugate my own desires in order that the whole Body of Christ may be served? Do I endeavor to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? Do I challenge my fellow church members to be salt and light in every arena of their lives, bringing glory to God (Mt. 5:13-16) and growth to the Kingdom? Does my church have a heart for the Kingdom of God around the globe? Do we pray for the Kingdom to come in all the earth? Do we value Kingdom work done by others? Do we send resources (personnel, money) to other strategic battlefronts and cooperate with Christian efforts beyond our own locale?

    About the Author

  • Morris H. Chapman