Thursday, June 11, 2009

Racist No More

This Sunday I am preaching on Ephesians 2:11-22. In this passage, Paul focus is on the racist division that existed between Jews and Greeks. The division between the group was severe to put it mildly. Throughout this passage Paul teaches that Jesus destroyed the dividing wall between these two waring groups and He made them one through the cross.

As I have been studying this passage, I can't help but to think of the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. A few years ago I helped plant a church, The Chapel, in the La Mesa area. We ultimately affiliated with the SBC, but were hesitant for a number of being the history of racism within the denomination. The longer I have been Southern Baptist, the more I am growing to appreciate this denomination. Unlike many other denominations, the Southern Baptist Convention has repented from it's sins and moved in the right, biblical, direction.

This week in my study, I stumbled across the statement of the SBC convention repenting of their racist heritage. I wept reading it and thought I was worthy of sharing here:

Resolution On Racial Reconciliation On The 150th Anniversary Of The Southern Baptist Convention
June 1995

WHEREAS, Since its founding in 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention has been an effective instrument of God in missions, evangelism, and social ministry; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures teach that Eve is the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20), and that God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him (Acts 10:34-35), and that God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth (Acts 17:26); and

WHEREAS, Our relationship to African-Americans has been hindered from the beginning by the role that slavery played in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention; and

WHEREAS, Many of our Southern Baptist forbears defended the right to own slaves, and either participated in, supported, or acquiesced in the particularly inhumane nature of American slavery; and

WHEREAS, In later years Southern Baptists failed, in many cases, to support, and in some cases opposed, legitimate initiatives to secure the civil rights of African-Americans; and

WHEREAS, Racism has led to discrimination, oppression, injustice, and violence, both in the Civil War and throughout the history of our nation; and

WHEREAS, Racism has divided the body of Christ and Southern Baptists in particular, and separated us from our African-American brothers and sisters; and

WHEREAS, Many of our congregations have intentionally and/or unintentionally excluded African-Americans from worship, membership, and leadership; and

WHEREAS, Racism profoundly distorts our understanding of Christian morality, leading some Southern Baptists to believe that racial prejudice and discrimination are compatible with the Gospel; and

WHEREAS, Jesus performed the ministry of reconciliation to restore sinners to a right relationship with the Heavenly Father, and to establish right relations among all human beings, especially within the family of faith.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Sesquicentennial meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm the Bibles teaching that every human life is sacred, and is of equal and immeasurable worth, made in Gods image, regardless of race or ethnicity (Genesis 1:27), and that, with respect to salvation through Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the racism which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past; and

Be it further RESOLVED, 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); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to be doers of the Word (James 1:22) by pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:6), to the end that our light would so shine before others, that they may see (our) good works and glorify (our) Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16); and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we pledge our commitment to the Great Commission task of making disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19), confessing that in the church God is calling together one people from every tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9), and proclaiming that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only certain and sufficient ground upon which redeemed persons will stand together in restored family union as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 7, 2009 Baptism

This last Sunday we at Valley Baptist Church celebrated our two year anniversary of restarting the Church. The last two years have been some of the hardest and most rewarding years of my life. The greatest reward is watching God move in the lives of people. He is so good and so faithful.

In celebrating our restart we had a baptism at the community pool. Pictures are worth a thousand enjoy!

Yes, I set the standard high for priestly baptismal attire, I actually was bummed because I left my shades in the car....

This is a picture of friends and family gathering to celebrate this special day!

The girls were a little disappointed that they were at the pool but couldn't swim....just didn't seem right to them!

I started my message by reading the account of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. Rick had a bottle of Jordan River water that we added to the pool following the reading. That was kind of cool...if you are into that sort of thing!

This is a group shot of all those who were baptized.

Here is Deborah sharing her testimony...I had to hold back my tears as she spoke...

Below is a the sequence of Bob being baptized:

And Fran...we are cracking up because I just asked her husband how long he wanted me to hold her under! :) He loves her and said to make it quick!

Abigail taking the plunge...

Next up, Erica...

And Emily....

Finally Jill and Deborah...