Readers respond with letters to editor
The biblical understanding of the phrase “Seeking the Lord” means “Seeking His presence.” We are to “seek His presence continually” (Ps. 105:4).
Unfortunately, there are times in our lives God’s “face” — which is the brightness of His personal character — is hidden behind the curtain of our carnal desires and willful sinfulness.
We live in a time of extreme selfishness and self-gratification. Therefore, it must be a conscious choice to direct our hearts toward God. “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5).
God shows Himself to us in the evidences of His grace. We are to constantly set our minds toward God in all our experiences, to direct our minds and hearts toward Him through the means of His abiding presence and His amazing grace.
The great obstacle in seeking the Lord is pride. Therefore, humility is essential in seeking the Lord.
The great promise to those who seek the Lord is stated in 1 Chronicles 28:9: “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.”
And when He is found, there is great reward. God Himself is our greatest reward. And when we have embraced Him, we have everything.
As Southern Baptists, we stand in a dilemma of controversy created by man’s selfishness and pride. We must come clean of our sins before our gracious God. We must confess our pride to Him. We must turn away from our self-centeredness. We must seek our Lord’s holy presence in our personal lives, our churches and our denomination.
In Revelation 2:4–5, Jesus describes and exhorts the church in Ephesus. It is a mirror image of many of our churches today: “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (with quotes from John Piper’s 2009 article “What Does It Mean to Seek the Lord?” at desiringgod.org)
Director of missions
Coosa River Association
I have seen much about the problems we have had with sexual improprieties among our church and even denominational leaders. May I offer a word of caution?
First, I know James has said, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” But we need to be careful that we do not put ourselves in the place of God. He is the one who can judge, not we.
Is there a need for discipline? Absolutely, but be careful. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
Second, please be sure of your facts before you start exercising discipline. Sexual sins are disgusting, of course. I get that. But there have been times even in Scripture where men have been falsely accused.
Remember Joseph? He spent years in prison because he was falsely accused by the wife of Potiphar. And it still happens today.
One retired pastor in Mobile was put on a published list of offenders because he had the same name as another (not in Mobile) who was the actual offender. Yes, the truth came out, but that falsely accused pastor had his reputation damaged and was spiritually harmed by this mistake.
My point is: be careful. Let God be God. He is the final judge. He will have all the facts and is always righteous.
Thank you for the article about Jones Dairy in Walker County in the June 2 issue.
As a teenager in 1969–70, I worked at the dairy as part of a vocational project sponsored by FFA. I worked primarily in the feed mill, making feed for the cows at the dairy and the pigs at the farm.
During this time they still sold “All Jersey” milk and had local delivery trucks. The work was hard, but the Jones family was always good to the employees. I have fond memories of my time working there.
Retired director of missions
Winston Baptist Association
Understanding the theology of spiritual gifts helps us escape the temptation to see Christianity as a merely individualistic faith — about me and my needs and happiness. It allows us to see ourselves as members of both a local body and a worldwide communion of saints. It allows us to resist two false ideas:
- I am not needed in the kingdom of God.
- The entire work of God rests solely on my shoulders.
Neither statement is true, and every church needs people with a multitude of gifts.
When a body of believers faithfully submits to Christ’s calling, there’s a beautiful harmony of people using their gifts side by side for the sake of the gospel. (excerpt from Lifeway Research article)
Land Center for Cultural Engagement
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Every Christian is supposed to be involved in serving the Lord actively. That’s the general call or universal call to ministry. [But] don’t mistake the healthy Christian life for a call to ministry,” said Larry Hyche, who served 20 years in local church ministry before his current assignment as men’s spiritual development specialist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
Are you out of order?
Envision standing before the Judge of all the earth only to be told you are out of order.
Abraham asked, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25b).
Who is the Judge of all the earth? Jesus is, and He explains, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:22–23).
Jesus warns, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and done many wonders in Your name?’
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:21–23).
Ephesians 2:8–10 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
The three key words are by, through and for. We must not get them out of order.
Many try to reverse the order attempting to be saved by good works, thus bypassing God’s grace.
If your hope is heaven, make certain you don’t get these key words out of order, or you will be called out of order by the Judge of all the earth for all eternity and consigned to a place called hell.
Franklin L. Kirksey
“You have to know your identity in Christ,” said Matt Daniels, Baptist campus minister at the University of North Alabama. “We are free from sin because of the cross. Knowing that should give us the confidence to flee temptation.”
How can we seek God in silence in a noisy world? Many Christians have a special place and time for Bible reading and prayer. A friend uses his back porch for morning devotions. Great saints of previous generations wrote about rising early before the world grew noisy to spend time with God. I’ve also known Christians who schedule devotional time later at night after their children are asleep and the house is quiet. And churches may have prayer rooms available for quiet time with God. Seeking God in silence is important. It helps us to focus on spiritual truth rather than popular broadcast entertainment. In the silence, God has promised to fill our hearts with His loving presence.
Pastor Michael J. Brooks
Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster
If we are Christians, we’re no longer representing ourselves, we’re representing Christ.
It’s in the name. And how we live should reflect that. We no longer live for ourselves. We live to spread Christ’s love to the world.
Our actions, our work, the way we talk and the way we treat others all should point to God.
Our “jersey” has His name across the front. And we should be living with our dedication to that name and not our own.
“A neighbor isn’t just someone who lives near us or is like us. Our neighbor is anyone in need we might encounter and be in a position to help through our time, efforts and resources.” said Roy E. Ciampa, Armstrong Chair of Religion, Samford University.
“Anytime someone comes to faith, it’s a miracle to see the work of God in their life,” said Molly Petry, an International Mission Board worker.
Disappointment is part of living in a world that’s not always fair.
Pastor David L. Chancey
McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia
From the Twitterverse
An easy life does nothing to bring about character. Character is forged in the fire of trials.
This is one of the biggest challenges today: lovingly, patiently, boldly and firmly helping people who genuinely believe they’re doing the will of God understand that they’re actually working against His will.
Do not let quarrelsomeness with its love of empty victory creep into our midst, for our aim is the elimination of all discord. Surely this is the meaning of the expression “Peace be to you.” —Clement of Alexandria, commenting on 3 John 15
Never does a person see any beauty in Christ as a Savior, until they discover that they are a lost and ruined sinner.
Before Christ can be with you, beside you, ahead of you and over you, He must first be IN you!
Friction is healthy and creates energy. Faction is toxic and creates division. One of the challenges for organizational leaders is cultivating friction while fighting against the tendency toward factions.
Student ministry is not for the faint of heart. It can be exhausting and oftentimes discouraging. But this morning I got to pray with a dad who has been drawn back to faith because of his daughter’s love for the church. Praise God for His lovingkindness. It was an amazing morning.
If you’re able to sin without the Holy Spirit convicting you, then you probably don’t have the Holy Spirit.
If we do not live out the gospel we confess to believe in, why would anyone else believe it? Your words & your life have to match to be effective in sharing your faith. Are you pursuing Christ daily?
God help me if I start doing exegesis by threat and fear that I have upset someone’s cultural view or social agenda.
As Christians, Jesus Christ already lives in you. The need is not for Him to increase, but for the barriers to Him to decrease. Let Him shed away your discouragement, pride and misplaced desires.