By / Jun 24

There has already been a lot of ink spilled on the events of SBC21. But before we close the  book on a very good annual meeting, I thought I would take the opportunity to set forth a few highlights and offer my own perspective about the state of the SBC as we move forward together.

Few of us knew what to expect heading into this year’s annual meeting. From the messenger pre-registration numbers, we could tell it was going to be a capacity crowd that shattered attendance records from recent years. The number of anticipated messengers continued to climb in the weeks before the meeting, and as they did, curiosity and concern about what would happen rose along with them.

Would the annual meeting be a fractured and contentious two-day civil war? Would the debate over CRT reach a boiling point? Who would be the next president? And how would we feel when it was all over? Those were just a few of the questions being kicked around ahead of our time together in Nashville. 


But when the day finally arrived, something amazing happened: Southern Baptists came together. We didn’t just meet together physically; we came together under the banner of Christ. 

At the outset, I found myself sitting next to two men, older saints whose views and preferences (even clothing) in many ways certainly did not match my own. But we stood shoulder to shoulder and prayed next to one another. We sang praises to God together. At several points, we cast votes the same way. And when we didn’t, we simply turned to one another to discuss the reasons why. Honestly, it was wonderful. 

There is something special about being together in the room. For too many of us, two years without an annual meeting and the coldness of online discourse allowed a defensive posture to develop. But from my vantage point, that largely dissipated once we were in that room. I don’t mean that every person in the room was totally unconcerned about our differences. But I do mean that I think most of us felt grateful to be there together and proud of the faith and practice we hold in common.

Among the two big stories coming out of the annual meeting, our shared sense of unity is certainly one of them. Looking at the final tallies from the presidential runoff, you might think the two candidates being separated by less than 600 votes represents a deep divide. But if you were there, you know that one vote doesn’t tell the whole story, because on so many occasions, the room overwhelmingly expressed the same opinion on a range of issues. For my part, I could not be more grateful for the sweet spirit of unity that permeated so much of those two days.

Sexual abuse

The other major story coming out of the annual meeting was the resolve of the messengers to continue to address with absolute seriousness the scourge of sexual abuse among us. The abuse of the vulnerable is heinous. And it is especially so when those being preyed upon are victimized in places where they are supposed to receive spiritual care and instruction. Ahead of the annual meeting, significant allegations surfaced about the potential mishandling of the SBC’s response to the issue of sexual abuse in some of our churches by certain members of the Executive Committee. 

In response to those allegations, Grant Gaines and Ronnie Parrott, local church pastors in Tennessee and North Carolina, announced their intention to call for the newly-elected SBC president to appoint a task force to oversee an independent, third-party investigation of these allegations. Gaines called for that action in the form of a motion on the first day of the meeting. But because it involved a specific SBC entity, under the convention’s rules that action was automatically referred to the Executive Committee. The following day, Gaines rose to speak to the issue and urged those to whom it pertained to treat such allegations with the utmost seriousness. But when another messenger requested a floor vote on the issue, the messengers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the motion to form the task force to oversee the investigation.

To be clear, the investigation is merely that. It is an inquiry to determine what, if any, wrongdoing occured in the course of the Executive Committee’s response to the issue of sexual abuse. But even this reflects a firm commitment on the part of the messengers, and the whole SBC by extension, to accept nothing less than our very best efforts to make our churches places that are safe for survivors and safe from abuse. 

Ed Litton

The vote for SBC president was probably the most anticipated vote of the convention. And it was close. The four candidates each represented a unique vision for the future of the SBC. Each man also had a particular emphasis about what the SBC needed most at this time. Ultimately, after a memorable nomination speech from former SBC president Fred Luter, the messengers narrowly elected Ed Litton, pastor of Redemption Church in Mobile, Alabama. Providentially, Litton’s point of emphasis was unity. As a pastor, he has championed the ideas of racial reconciliation and worked with other pastors in his community to bring the body of Christ together and address points of tension and division. God willing, Litton will continue to lead efforts to pursue unity and reconciliation during his tenure as the leader of our denomination.


One of the highlights of any annual meeting are the sermons preached from the stage in the main hall. This year, J.D. Greear delivered his final sermon as president of the SBC. And he held nothing back. In it, he addressed the issues of sexual abuse and race within the convention. He called for Southern Baptists to keep our eyes focused on our mission and to avoid allowing politics to create division. 

Similarly, pastor Willy Rice of Calvary Church in Clearwater, Florida, preached the convention sermon. Rice challenged messengers to embrace not only the teachings of Jesus but the manner of Jesus as well. Specifically, Rice insisted that Southern Baptists should not be jerks in the way we treat others and warned of the divisiveness that often emanates from discussions online. Both sermons are well worth (re)watching in full.

Events & exhibits

Outside of the business of the convention are dozens and dozens of ancillary events and a massive exhibit hall. If you’re not careful, you can spend most of your time simply wandering from booth to booth picking up free swag. We had an incredible time at the ERLC booth talking to folks, giving away t-shirts, and highlighting the work of our Psalm 139 initiative that places ultrasounds in crisis pregnancy centers around the country (and soon the world). This annual meeting also featured a number of incredible events including the Send Conference, the SBC Women’s Leadership Network gathering, the seminary lunches, and the B21 panel. But an unexpected highlight for many, many people was the hymn sing that happened in conjunction with the 9Marks events that were hosted at First Baptist Nashville.


This year’s Resolutions Committee was an all-star team. They brought forward nine important resolutions that the messengers approved including resolutions on Baptist Unity, the Equality Act, the Hyde Amendment, and Race and the Sufficiency of Scripture. Each one was careful and precise, and to the best of my memory, all of these resolutions garnered strong support in the room. (We wrote about the ones pertaining to the ERLC here).

But at the conclusion of the time for resolutions on Tuesday, a pastor made an earnest appeal for his resolution on the abolition of abortion to be brought to the floor (it was one of several dozen the committee did not put forward to the messengers). Southern Baptists, never missing an opportunity to oppose abortion, voted convincingly to bring that resolution to be debated on the floor. 

The following day, the resolution calling for the abolition of abortion was debated on the floor. I ended up speaking against the adoption of that resolution from the floor, not because I opposed its aim but because there were (and are) troubling aspects about this particular resolution. As originally written, it called for the total rejection of any law or statute to curtail abortion that fell short of total abolition. That would mean that the vital tools employed by the pro-life movement such heartbeat bills, pain-capable bills, informed-consent laws, and parital-birth abortion bans would be taken off the table. 

After I spoke, another messenger successfully moved to amend the resolution to reopen the door for these measures. But even so, in my view, substantial problems remain with this resolution, which have now been addressed by seven SBC professors and separately by a member of the 2021 Resolutions Committee. Simply put, even the amended resolution provides no exception for the physical life of the mother and seems to indicate support for the prosecution of post-abortive women, both of which represent significant departures from both the SBC’s historic approach to this issue as well as the consistent messaging of the pro-life movement. The enemy in the fight for life is not vulnerable women but the abortion lobby: doctors, lawyers, and activists who profit from the destruction of innocent human life. Though women who pursue abortions unquestionably commit a grievous sin, it is still critical to distinguish between these vulnerable women and the abortion industry that preys upon them.

Ultimately, I absolutely affirm the messengers’ desire to make a clear statement demonstrating their resolve to end abortion at the nearest possible opporunity. And honestly, I believe that is what most believed they were voting for: a resolution calling for the immediate abolition of abortion. Unfortunately, this resolution went further than that in ways that actually repudiate the efforts of the pro-life movement in which countless Southern Baptists labor every day. In any case, it presents an opportunity to potentially revisit this opinion next year at the annual meeting in Anaheim, California.


To wrap this up, I would simply say that for myself and so many others, this year’s annual meeting was a surprising and welcomed breath of fresh air. Regardless of which candidate we may have supported to succeed Greear, last week so many Southern Baptists were able to come together and remember how wonderful it is to partner with millions of other Baptist Christians through the SBC for the purpose of reaching and discipling the nations. From my vantage point, we were unified and filled with joy, and we left with confidence that the SBC has exciting days ahead of us.

By / Jun 18

Earlier this week, messengers to the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, voted to adopt nine resolutions, seven of which were related to ERLC concerns, issues, and legislative priorities. Here is a recap of the ERLC-related resolutions:

Baptist Unity and Maintaining Our Public Witness 

This resolution state that the messengers of the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting commit to:

  • Pursue holiness, act with the aim of love, engage others with charity, and consider one another in how we represent ourselves, our churches, our Convention, and, above all, the gospel of Jesus Christ in our speech and conduct at all times and in all places; 
  • Not permit our personal, social, theological, or political interests to supersede the urgency of evangelism and distract us from the task of the gospel’s advancement through the whole world;
  • Exhibit Christ-honoring patience and kindness upon those with whom we disagree;
  • Protect the witness of Jesus Christ before a watching world by wise use of all forms of communication, whether in verbal speech, written word, or social media, so that others may see Christ in us and desire to know Him personally.

On the Sufficiency of Scripture for Race and Racial Reconciliation

This resolution states the messengers:

  • Affirm the sufficiency of Scripture on race and racial reconciliation;
  • Reaffirm agreement with historic, biblically-faithful Southern Baptist condemnations of racism in all forms; 
  • Reject any theory or worldview that finds the ultimate identity of human beings in ethnicity or in any other group dynamic; 
  • Reject any theory or worldview that sees the primary problem of humanity as anything other than sin against God and the ultimate solution as anything other than redemption found only in Christ;
  • Reject any theory or worldview that denies that racism, oppression, or discrimination is rooted, ultimately, in anything other than sin; 
  • Reaffirm the 1995 resolution “On Racial Reconciliation on the 150th Anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention,” which includes, “That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27),” applying this disposition to every instance of racism;  
  • Affirm that our reconciliation in Christ gives us the opportunity and responsibility to pursue reconciliation with others so that we can display and share the hope of the gospel with the world.

On Taxpayer Complicity in Abortion and the Hyde Amendment

This resolution states the messengers:

  • Condemn any effort to repeal the Hyde Amendment as morally abhorrent, a violation of Biblical ethics, contrary to the natural law, and a moral stain on our nation;
  • Call on Congress and the President to uphold the Hyde Amendment and all pro-life Amendments, to protect life, and to prevent taxpayers from being complicit in the moral evil of abortion; 
  • Call on Southern Baptists to work through all available cultural and legislative means to end the moral scourge of abortion as we also seek to love, care for, and minister to women who are victimized by the unjust abortion industry.

On the Equality Act 

This resolution affirms that the messengers:

  • Will extend love and compassion to those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender and invite all members of this community to trust in Christ and to experience renewal in the gospel; 
  • Will proclaim that Christ offers forgiveness of sin for those who turn from their sins and believe on Christ;
  • Believe effective Gospel ministry to individuals who consider themselves part of the LGBTQ community requires speaking to them and about them with respect and Christlike love, while holding firmly to our biblical convictions on these issues and encourages Southern Baptists to engage discussion of the Equality Act and related issues with this in mind; 
  • Strongly oppose the Equality Act and urge Congress to reject this dangerous legislation, which represents one of the greatest threats to religious liberty in our nation’s history; 
  • Affirm the role of churches in providing compassionate care, biblical truth, and restorative hope to men, women, and children, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, while joyfully celebrating God’s good design in sexuality as clearly expressed in Scripture.

On Abuse and Pastoral Qualifications

This resolution states the messengers:

  • Believe that any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor; 
  • Recommend that all of our affiliated churches apply this standard to all positions of church leadership

On the Uyghur Genocide

This resolution states the messengers:

  • Condemn the actions of the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghur people, and that we stand together with these people against the atrocities committed against them; 
  • Call upon the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China to cease its program of genocide against the Uyghur people immediately, restore to them their full God-given rights, and put an end to their captivity and systematic persecution and abuse; 
  • Commend the United States Department of State for designating these actions against the Uyghur people as meeting the standard of “genocide”; 
  • Commend the ERLC for their ongoing advocacy for the Uyghur people and for being among the first major organizations to advocate for their cause; 
  • Strongly urge the United States government to continue to take concrete actions with respect to the People’s Republic of China to bring an end to the genocide of the Uyghur People, and work to secure their humane treatment, immediate release from reeducation camps, and religious freedom; 
  • Implore the United States government to prioritize the admission of Uyghurs to this country as refugees, and provide resources for their support and resettlement;
  • Earnestly pray for the Uyghur people as they suffer under such persecution and pray for the Christian workers and relief workers who bring the Uyghur people physical aid and the message of hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, so they can experience freedom found only in Christ.

On the Coronavirus Pandemic

This resolution states the messengers: 

  • Mourn the lives lost to this disease, awaiting the day when “Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Addendum: During the meeting, the messengers also voted for the creation of a task force, appointed by the new SBC president, to oversee an independent review of the Executive Committee over allegations of mishandling reports of sexual abuse. 

By / Mar 29

Nearly 300 years ago, Jonathan Edwards penned his now-famous Resolutions. According to Stephen Nichols, these 70 resolutions were recorded by Edwards at a moment when he was nearing the end of his ministerial training, taking “advantage of the opportunity to pause and reflect on the type of person he wanted to be and the way in which he wanted to live his life.” In effect, with his Resolutions, Edwards wrote a “system of checks and balances he would use to chart out his life–his relationships, his conversations, his desires, his activities.” Informed by the Word of God like few others, Edwards, with this “advice to himself,” set guardrails to keep his feet on the way of faithfulness. 

We need a resolution

Undoubtedly, countless of us have benefited from Edwards’ advice. It is in that vein that I propose a set of resolutions for the day in which we live, specifically in our American cultural-political context. 

What kind of people are we becoming? What kind of life do we want to live? These were the sorts of questions that Edwards paused and asked himself, and these are the very questions that we must pause and, with Christlike humility, ask of ourselves. In a political culture rife with disrespect, slander, and self-serving theatrics, behaviors that the church is regularly seen participating in, we find ourselves in dire need of our own Godward guardrails.

So, as we go forward, may the following resolutions serve as a system of checks and balances meant to stay our feet on the way of Christ and engage others with the heart of Christ. 

10 political resolutions for 2021 and beyond

I want to begin with Edwards’ own words: “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.”

  1. Resolved, to view others, regardless of religious or political affiliation, as persons made in the image of God, and to treat them as such. 
  2. Resolved, in politics, as in life, “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God” (Micah 6:8).
  3. Resolved, to be devoted to the truth, most especially God’s Word, but, likewise, truth generally, taking care not to purport that which is untrustworthy and/or false. 
  4. Resolved, to act instinctively toward others not with skepticism or cynicism but, regardless of one’s religious or political affiliation, to assume the best and give the benefit of the doubt unless proven otherwise. 
  5. Resolved, to always speak and act with charity. 
  6. Resolved, where appropriate, to exercise the courage required to participate in local, state, and/or federal civil service, whether as an official or simply an engaged citizen, for “the peace and prosperity of the city” where God has placed me (Jer. 29:7).
  7. Resolved, as far as it depends on me, to never allow political affiliation to dissolve my fellowship with a brother or sister in Christ, a family member, a friend, or a neighbor.
  8. Resolved, to hold elected officials accountable to the standards of the office to which they’ve been appointed, and to do so with charity and respect, for their good, for the good of those they represent or govern, and for the public witness of the church.
  9. Resolved, to be a good church member, family member, friend, neighbor, and citizen. 
  10. Resolved, to reserve my first and strongest allegiance to Christ and his kingdom, recognizing that “to love my country best I must love Christ first.”

For Christ and the common good

As Americans, we have the pleasure and the privilege of engaging directly in the politics that govern our country. As Christians, we have the responsibility to do so in a way that is pleasing to the God who made us and “determined our appointed times and the boundaries of where we live” (Acts 17:26). It is a privilege and responsibility that should be exercised with integrity, great care, and sobriety. May these resolutions serve as guardrails for faithful Christian civic engagement, for the glory of God and the good of our society. And, like Edwards, may these resolutions signal and enact our “utmost determination to bring every area of our life under subjection of the Lordship of Christ.” 

By / Jan 1

As we welcome another year, our attention naturally turns to the future. We ask questions like, “What will the new year hold?” Or, “What will I accomplish this year?” And even, “What will God do in 2019?” Such future-oriented questions are right and good when marked by humility and dependence upon God. Yet, when the former mercies of God in previous years are forgotten, our confidence in the future grace of God is shaken. So, how can we avoid such forgetfulness in the new year? How can we remain confident in God for the future? I have two suggestions based on Joshua 4, which tells the story of the Israelites crossing over the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

First, we must remember that all future plans and resolutions are dependent upon the Lord and should be submitted to his will.

As the Israelites entered into the Promised Land, the Ark of the Lord’s covenant went before them. The Ark represented the presence of the Lord among His people. As the priests entered the waters of the Jordan River with the Ark, the water was “cut off before the Ark.” The miraculous presence that the people would need in the years ahead was preceding them. This principle reminds the reader of what Solomon teaches us in Psalm 127 regarding how “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

As we enter the new year, whatever our goals and resolutions may be, we must recognize that we are fully dependent upon the Lord to bring them to fruition. The satisfaction of our needs, the fulfillment of our goals, the success of our efforts must be humbly submitted to the will of God, who goes before us in all things. Practically speaking, this means that we must be more concerned with the will of God in our lives.

Moreover, while we might not always know the specific details of God’s will in every situation, we are able to know the principles of His will that should guide our goals and plans in the New Year. As we make resolutions, we must remember that God’s will for us is sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3). When we think about the future, whether it be the satisfaction of our needs or the fulfillment of our dreams, growth in holiness should be our priority. Such growth in holiness is completely dependent upon God working in our lives to conform us to the image of his son, Jesus Christ. We do not move on from holiness with each year that passes. Instead, we grow deeper in holiness, just as we have in past by the grace of God.

Second, we must be intentional about remembering the mercy of the Lord in the good times and the bad times.

If you read Joshua 4, you will notice that there are two sets of stones in the story. There are stones taken from the Jordan River to be placed as memorial stones at the place where the Israelites crossed over into the Promised Land. These stones were taken from the river during the harvest season. We know this because Joshua 3:15 and Joshua 4:17-18 tell us of the overflowing banks of the Jordan during this time. Thus, the memorial stones taken out of the river would be a reminder during the harvest season. Another set of stones, according to Joshua 4:9, were to be placed in the Jordan River. Unlike the stones on the banks of the Jordan, the stones placed in the river would only be visible during the low seasons.

The Lord was giving Israel two reminders of his mercy at different seasons of their time in the land. During the harvest, they would be reminded of God’s abundance. During droughts and famines, they would be reminded of God’s faithfulness. Whatever the season, they could remain confident that God was good and faithful to his people. Similarly, we should also be intentional about remembering the mercy of the Lord. Maybe this year will be the year that alongside your resolutions, you take time to reflect upon and remember the mercy of God in your life.

One of the most practical ways to pursue such remembrance is through journaling. This practice helps us remember God’s work in our lives. As the psalmist tells us, “we must recount the wondrous deeds of the Lord” (Psa. 9). If you are not already journaling but would like to start, I would recommend, if possible, keeping a handwritten record in a nice journal with a nice writing instrument. Take the time to slow down and reflect upon the months, weeks, and days that have passed. If you are inclined to write in your Bible, you can also make notes in the margins as you meditate on God’s Word. Think about how God has sustained you, answered your prayers, given you wisdom, and helped in your times of need. When you are down and discouraged, write those burdens out in a form of petitions to God. Ask him to prove his faithfulness to you in the midst of the crisis and the sorrow.

When the Israelites saw the stones that had been placed in the Jordan River to be seen during the seasons of droughts and famines, there is no doubt that they were living through difficult times. Yet, the stones in the Jordan, much like the words in our journals, can serve to remind us that God is the God of our yesterdays, our todays, and our tomorrows. He will not leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). He can be trusted!

In summary, these two simple yet profound principles for the New Year can provide the direction that we need to not only start well but finish well. May the Lord help us all recognize that we are fully dependent upon the LORD for the satisfaction of all of our needs and remember that God is good and faithful in every season of life. If we spend some time this year reflecting upon God’s former mercies, then I believe we will be better prepared and more confident in his future grace.

By / Feb 21

I, ­­­___________________, hereby resolve, by the power of the Holy Spirit working within me, to seek to

Act like a man in watchfulness and strength, fulfilling my duties to my God, to my church, to my family, to my employer, to my neighbor, to my nation, and to all nations, governed by the precepts of Scripture and guided by integrity of heart (Job 38:3; 40:7; Prov. 11:3; Jer. 29:4-7; Matt. 25:14-46; 28:19-20; Luke 10:25-37; Acts 1:8; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Tim. 2:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:13-17);

Bless the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten me again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for me, kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet. 1:3-5);

Confess my sins to the Lord and to others forthrightly, striving to keep a clear conscience before God and man, knowing that if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear my prayer and that he who covers his sins will not prosper (Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:13; Acts 24:16; James 5:16; 1 John 1:9);

Delight myself in the Lord, trusting in Him thoroughly, serving Him unswervingly, committing my way to Him unreservedly, and waiting on Him expectantly, thereby positioning myself properly to see Him act powerfully, granting my heart’s desires accordingly, to the glory of His name (Ps. 37:3-7);

Encourage every soul God brings across my path, building up rather than tearing down, blessing rather than cursing, letting no corrupt communication proceed out of my mouth but that which is good for edification that it may minister grace to the hearers (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27-28; Rom. 12:14; Eph. 4:29; 1 Thess. 5:11);

Forgive others just as God in Christ has forgiven me, a helpless sinner, covering my sins through His atoning sacrifice, carrying them from me as far as the east is from the west, and casting them into the depths of a crimson sea, never to be charged against me (Ps. 103:12; Is. 1:18; 43:25; Micah 7:19; Eph. 4:32);

Give unto the Lord the firstfruits of my labor, bringing all the tithe of my increase into the storehouse, along with offerings as I’ve purposed in my heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but gratefully, for God loves a cheerful giver (Prov. 3:9; Mal. 3:10; 2 Cor. 9:7);

Humble myself in the sight of the Lord, who then will lift me up, for whoever exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted, as God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Matt. 19:30; 23:12; Mark 10:31; Luke 1:52; 14:11; 18:14; James 4:6, 10; 1 Pet. 5:5-6);

Invest in the lives of others as a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, evangelizing the lost, discipling the found, and uplifting the cast down, developing and using my spiritual gifts and natural talents for the expansion of the Kingdom and the building up of the saints (Matt. 25:14-46; 28:19-20; Luke 10:25-37; 1 Cor. 12:1-31; 2 Tim. 2:2; James 1:22);

Join the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before me walking by faith, not by sight, refusing to sell God’s blessings for a pot of porridge to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, but instead esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of this world, for without faith it is impossible to please God (Gen. 25:29-34; Heb. 11:1-40; 12:1-2);

Keep my heart with all diligence, walking by the Spirit with integrity of heart within my home, setting no unclean thing before my eyes and covenanting with my eyes that I will not look upon a woman lustfully, mindful that a young man cleanses his way by taking heed according to God’s Word (Job 31:1; Ps. 101:2-3; 119:9; Prov. 4:23; Gal. 5:16);

Love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself, being kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another and esteeming others better than myself, looking ever and always to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, who demonstrated the highest form of love by humbling Himself and becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37-39; Luke 10:27; Rom. 12:10; Phil. 2:3-8; Heb. 12:2);

Make every effort to add to my faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly affection; and to brotherly affection, love, for if I have not love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3; 2 Pet. 1:5-7);

Navigate the billowing seas of life guided by the compass of Scripture, with my eyes fixed not on my storm but on my Savior, the Captain of my salvation and Commander of my soul, the omnipotent Lord who reigns supreme over wind and wave and can immediately steady my feet, still my storm, and station me on dry land (Matt. 14:22-34; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21; Heb. 2:10);

Open my mouth for the voiceless, rescuing those who are being drawn toward death and imploring a confused and deceived culture to choose life, not death, for every human life is an image-bearer of the Creator (Gen. 1:26-27; Deut. 30:19; Ps. 82:3-4; 139:13-16; Prov. 24:11; 31:8-9);

Preach good tidings to the poor; to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God; and to comfort all who mourn, giving them beauty for ashes, oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Is. 61:1-4);

Quiet my soul daily before the Lord, drinking deeply from His Word and sitting silently in His presence, seeking to know Him and to hear from Him, ascribing to Him the glory due His name and worshipping Him in the beauty of holiness, for great is the Lord and greatly to be praised (Ps. 29:2; 46:10; 62:1, 5; 145:3; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 2:2-3);

Remember the tender mercies of the Lord, recounting His magnificent workings in my life, from the biggest of breakthroughs to the smallest of details, meditating on all His work and talking of all His deeds that His name will be remembered in all generations (Ps. 45:17; 77:10-12);

Study to show myself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth and ready always to give a reason for the hope that is in me, with gentleness and respect (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:15);

Trust in the providential timing of Almighty God—the Sovereign Lord who can do all things and carries out His plans in the fullness of time—not limiting the Holy One of Israel or charging Him with wrongdoing for trials that brew and temptations that ensue during seasons of wilderness and wait, but keeping my eye on the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, my Deliverer who leads His people like a flock (Gen. 18:14; Ex. 13:21-22; Job 1:22; Ps. 77:20; 78:41; Jer. 32:17, 27; Luke 1:37; Gal. 4:4; James 1:12-15);

Uphold the high vision God has given me of marriage—a picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church—loving my wife even before I know her and preparing to lead her in all godliness and to lay down my life for her just as Christ laid down His life for the Church, meanwhile praying that my bride-in-waiting, a precious jewel to be found, would cultivate virtue through a deepening walk with God, that we would not arouse or awaken love until it pleases, and that in covenant marriage the Giver of life would bless us with fruit of the womb whom we may teach faithfully to know and to love Christ, for he who finds a wife finds a good thing, obtaining favor from the Lord, and children are a heritage from the Lord (Gen. 1:28; 2:24; Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 127:3-5; 128:1-6; Prov. 18:22; 31:10; Song 2:7; 3:5; 8:4; Jer. 31:3; Hab. 2:2-3; John 15:13; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:7);

Value every moment as a gift from God, redeeming the time because the days are evil and asking God to teach me to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom to know and to carry out His will, for He who began a good work in me will carry it out until the day of Jesus Christ (Ps. 90:12; Eph. 5:15-16; Phil. 1:6);

Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, with all patience and longsuffering with joy (Col. 1:10-12);

X-ray my innermost being, inviting God to search me and know my heart, to try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139:23-24; 1 Cor. 11:28);

Yield my will to God just as Christ yielded His will to the Father all the way to the cross, drinking the cup He prepares for me, all the while trusting Him to show me the path of life, for in His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11; Matt. 26:38-42); and

Zero in on God’s all-encompassing purpose for my life: to know Him and to make Him known, testifying with both my life and my lips that Jesus Christ—the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the crucified Lamb and the coming King—is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11; 3:10; Rev. 1:8, 11, 17; 22:12-13, 20).

So help me God. Amen.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33

By / Feb 21

A new year signals a new beginning. With the simple turn of the calendar from one year to the next, millions of Americans resolve to turn over a new leaf, to make a fresh start. And that often entails New Year’s resolutions, many of which have already been abandoned and forgotten in 2014. It’s February, after all.

As creatures of habit (and of failure), many of us return to the same resolutions year after year. Among common commitments toward change: exercise more and lose weight, save more and spend less.

Such goals are commendable, to be sure, even as motivations to get one’s physical and fiscal house in order vary widely. But what about the spiritual dimensions?

For believers, we all ought to strive to care for our bodies and to steward well the financial resources God has entrusted us. After all, Scripture instructs us that our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit” and that we should “glorify God” in them (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Bible is replete with financial counsel, too, warning that “the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Prov. 22:7). To devote proper attention to these areas of life is to walk in wisdom.

But annual ambitions toward a “new you” ought not to end here. How many of us resolve, seriously, toward growing in godliness?

The apostle Paul reminds us that “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). Paul’s purpose here is not to dismiss care for our human bodies—he even says it has “some value.” He is, though, pointing us to the weightier matters of life, things that will carry into the next life and yield “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

The devoted Christ-follower—a “new creation” in very identity (2 Cor. 5:17)—pursues these things, and earnestly so. Yet, this righteous course we seek to travel often becomes a fog. We stumble and fall. We easily lose our way. One reason for seemingly perpetual distraction and disorientation may well be that our sincere desire to maintain clear vision and sure footing is cast merely with single spoken breath, rather than captured intently with pen and paper and set always before our eyes.

Popular advice to anyone charting a new course—or simply returning to an old, tried and true one—is to write it down. Scripture advises this too. Consider God’s instruction to His people Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9 ESV).

This call to “write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” led me to consider the placement of God’s Word in my own home. Shortly after moving into a different apartment last year, I determined to permeate my humble abode with the fragrance of Christ. One of the most life-enhancing things I could do, I thought, would be to keep the Word of God always before me. Not simply an open Bible on the table, though that’s a good start, but something more.

That “something more” turned into a 26-point Scripture-saturated statement I titled “The 830 Resolution”—830 is my apartment number—each action point beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, A to Z. Far from exhaustive in scope, the resolution, now framed and hanging, serves as an ever-present reminder of God’s all-encompassing purpose for my life: to know him and to make him known, to testify with both my life and my lips that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It is, in short, a resolution toward godliness.

While the 830 Resolution originates from the perspective of a single male, most of it applies to any believer, in any season of life. I share it here—imperfect as it may be and impossible as it will be for this broken man to always follow—in the hope that it might be of help to someone else, a fellow traveler.

So feel free to make it your own. Re-title it. Pull out sections and replace them with different ones. Or, better yet, start afresh and prayerfully write your own, from A to Z. After all, the source material God provides—the Bible—is vast. His story therein of love and redemption through Christ for fallen and sinful man is a call both to enter into his grace and to shine forth his glory. Make it your story.

And revisit it often. Tuck your resolution in your Bible, stick it to your refrigerator, hang it on a wall. Place it somewhere you’ll see it often, and be reminded of why you’re here and what this life is all about anyway.

As for next year, if by God’s grace another turn of the calendar comes around for me, perhaps I’ll write a new resolution. But maybe not. Quite possibly, no doubt having stumbled and fallen many times along my journey, I’ll just keep these same words hanging on my “830” doorposts for yet another year. Praise God we can always begin again.