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“Jim Crow is dead. Jesus is alive!”

Those words were tweeted by Dr. Russell Moore today in response to Fred Luter’s election as the first African-American president to the Southern Baptist Convention. So far, I have teared up every time I have heard them or said them to someone else. But why? Why is a white 26 year old from Alabama crying over today’s proceedings at the Southern Baptist Convention? The short answer is, “Jesus is alive!”

As co-author of this blog, I’ll take the opportunity, however, to give you the long reason. I was born in Birmingham, AL. There isn’t a square mile in the state that isn’t stained with the horror of racism and the sacrifice of the Civil Rights movement. Moreover, I come from a long line of white men who hated black men.

As much as I am Alabamian, I’m Southern Baptist, maybe even more. I was Southern Baptist born, Southern Baptist bred, and when I die I’ll be Southern Baptist dead. As some have said, they were my tribe, so to speak. I identified with them culturally, morally, and philosophically. When I began to read my Bible and understand it, I became Baptist in my theology. I grew up in a Baptist church. I was a Royal Ambassador, never missed a vacation Bible School, and can’t dance to save my own life. I went to a Baptist university, served with the Baptist mission board (the International Mission Board), and attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am Southern Baptist.

But what does that mean? Well, in 1845, at the inception of the Southern Baptist Convention, it meant two things. The first was a desire to plant churches in the South, which the Northern Baptists within the American Baptist organization refused to do. The other was a desire to send missionaries who were slave owners, which the Northern Baptists, rightly, refused to do. Thus a split occurred and dark heritage was born.

Today, the grace of God overcame that heritage. The Lord has given the Southern Baptist Convention Fred Luter as the man to lead us for the next year, and, hopefully, two years. Fred Luter’s ancestors were slaves. They weren’t even thought of as human, much less Southern Baptists. He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it.

Is Fred Luter’s election as president the end of our good work? I sure hope not. I hope it’s the beginning of a long line of Southern Baptist presidents that represent that childhood song we all know: “red, and yellow, black, and white.” I think it does represent change and grace. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the gospel: changed by the blood of Jesus, who gives grace to wretched sinners like us.

And that’s why I can’t stop tearing up. Jesus is alive and the shackles of slavery are broken. Only God can take a racist, blind convention of churches and give them a descendent of slaves as their president. Sola Deo Gloria!


Out of the Mouth of Babes

Here in Louisville, I teach 7th grade boys Sunday School. It’s a sanctifying process for both them and me. There are some guys in there that, honestly, stress me to the max. There are others though that, already, point to Christ in so many areas of their lives. I was blown away and convicted by one of them this weekend.

The student ministry held an event where guys could preach to their peers and other church members and receive feedback. One of my 7th graders accepted the challenge and preached his 12 year old heart out. It made me think of several things in regards to pastoral ministry and the future.

The first was that it was simply convicting and challenging. He preached out of 2 Timothy 2:
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!”

One thing he said was to look at the life of a soldier. If the soldier loses focus on the battle field, people die. If we, as leaders in the church, lose focus and get tangled by the world, people with die spiritually. Men, we’re going into battle. This thing isn’t to be taken lightly.

The second thing I thought about was the importance of raising up men in the church to carry forth the Word of God. Much too often, congregations are allowed to simply walk through the motions and are never raised up as leaders. Leaders are something you go pluck fresh from somewhere else. Is this what the New Testament did? Throughout the pastoral epistles Paul refers to Timothy as his “true child in the faith.” He reminds him of his mother and grandmother who raised him to love the Word. Paul also reminds him of when the elders laid hands on him. All these suggest that Timothy has been raised up to lead the church that he has now been entrusted. He wasn’t a graduate from Jerusalem Theological Baptist Seminary. We need to raise men up. I’m thankful that I’m a member of a church that is doing that.