As we wrapped up our time at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention this past week, I’ve been asked the same question by friends and reporters: “Are you discouraged?”
Honestly – No.
Disappointed? Yes. But discouraged? No, I’m really not.
While the candidate I supported for the SBC presidency was not elected and the direction was not changed, I am continually counseled by Scripture’s words in my mind:
- “Do not grow weary in well doing...” (Gal. 6:9)
- “Do not be discouraged…” (2 Chron. 20:15)
- “Press on toward the goal…” (Phil. 3:14)
Losing gives me the opportunity to lose with grace. Christ Jesus is still on the throne, and He is still the Lord of my life. He is still coming again soon and still calling sinners to Himself, desiring that not one should perish. He has still given me a job to do in being His ambassador to the world, His hands and feet to my neighbors, and His witness to the truth in a world where truth has been twisted and obscured.
We are called to do what is right whether it gains for us the outcome we desire or not.
And while there were certainly disappointments, we also enjoyed many great successes.
Charlie Kirk, a major defender of truth and Christian worldview, spoke at our breakfast and encouraged our Network to continue standing firm for the gospel. He reminded us we have two main goals: 1) Spread the gospel. 2) Make sure you can accomplish #1.
John MacArthur, a stalwart of the faith, also spoke at one of our events, calling us to remember that God often uses the remnant – the small group left over and set aside – to accomplish his purposes. We do, therefore, NOT grow discouraged in ever being a minority, but we rejoice in giving God the opportunity to bring glory to His name by doing what looks unlikely or impossible. What a word. What a charge.
Voddie Baucham, often called a Christian warrior, spoke at one of our events and reminded us not to be surprised when we are hated for following Christ and proclaiming the truth of Scripture. If the world hated Jesus Christ, the world will hate you, he said. And they cannot merely paint you as wrong but as evil.
Tom Ascol made a fantastic run for the office of the presidency. In the process of preparing for that nomination, he had myriad opportunities to speak the truth of the gospel to many, many audiences. He was able to raise some important issues that Christians need to consider, urged us to return to a position of fear and reverence in regard to our holy God, and modeled what it looks like to boldly proclaim truth without being unkind about it.
Jack Graham, our pastor while we lived in Dallas, joined us in bold support of Pastor Ascol for the presidency. What a major boon to conservative efforts, and what an encouragement he brought in being willing to lend his voice and influence to changing the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Javier Chavez also made a wonderful run for the office of recording secretary and in the process encouraged us all to make personal soul-winning a priority and to be missions-minded servant leaders.
I was also encouraged by the selfless contributions of many, many, many volunteers who contributed to hosting our events, communicating with members of our Network, and producing written news coverage, among so many other tasks. The comradery that exists in the Conservative Baptist Network – well, it is a special thing. I know many have been hurt and discouraged and even find themselves downtrodden because of difficulties they have faced serving in ministry, so it brings great, great joy to know that this simple Network of likeminded truth-loving people has brought to many of those people a respite from their pain and an encouragement to press onward. While the road may sometimes feel lonely, joyful gatherings of believers such as the Conservative Baptist Network family had in Anaheim remind us that we are not alone at all. Sometimes all a weary warrior needs to go on is another slightly less weary warrior to pick him up with a pat on the back, a bit of understanding, and an encouragement to keep going.
The Bible tells us the way is narrow and difficult that leads to life (Mt. 7:14). We should not be surprised by difficulty. Of course the way is difficult. If you have set your feet on the narrow path and haven chosen to live a life that boldly and genuinely honors God, seeks to bring lost people to salvation in Christ Jesus, and stands for unpopular truth, then Satan absolutely must oppose you. Fiercely. If you are unopposed, you should truly consider, “Am I doing anything that threatens to thwart the plans of the Devil?”
Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
We should not look for enemies where there are none or seek to be needlessly caustic. But neither should we shrink from the battlefields on which the sovereign Lord of Hosts has placed us.
Do not be discouraged, friends. When our lives are hidden in Christ, the victories and the losses all belong to Him. Because of this, we are free to live boldly joyful lives – all in His power, and all for His glory. So, be encouraged, and let’s get to work: Billions of people need the Lord. May we plead with God for another great awakening.