By Randy C. Davis
President and Executive Director, TBMB
It’s Thursday while I’m writing this and I’m thinking about what Friday represents for the world on this week we recognize as Holy Week. By the time you read this column, we will have had our first in-person Easter gathering in two years. I’m certain I will be hearing reports about how the day was an honoring celebration to a resurrected Christ across Tennessee and around the globe.
I think about the substantial joy of a risen Savior in contrast to our world — and even our denomination — mired in attitudes and cultures of cancelation, agitation, and aggravation. What if we turned our eyes toward Jesus and celebrated His preeminent glory, remember the great thing He’s done on our behalf? That takes intentionality and focus but the lesser things that so easily distract will fall away and be exposed for their worthlessness by comparison.
Pausing to count our many blessings will do our hearts, our churches and our conventions a great deal of good.
Blessing One: He is alive!
Let’s begin there (and we could end there!). No better news has ever been proclaimed than Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords — the One who was, and is, and is to come — is alive! Regardless of worldly affairs, we are never alone and there are no difficulties now or in the future that will diminish His presence or His power. Our risen God reigns in power and majesty and watches over those who are His.
Blessing Two: The spiritually lost are saved!
Reports roll in every week from across the state that people are being saved, baptized and are set on the road to discipleship.
Round Lick Baptist Church, Watertown, may currently be without a pastor but the church baptized nine on a recent Sunday, including a lady in her 80s. Westside Baptist Church, Morristown, recently baptized eight (doubling their 2019 total). And Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, has baptized almost 800 in the last 14 weeks! God-story after God-story keeps coming in. The gospel is being preached and souls are being saved.
Blessing Three: Missionaries are appointed!
During 2020, with all the global challenges and distractions, the International Mission Board appointed 422 new missionaries. That’s astounding. You had a hand in that gospel advance while simultaneously supporting an international mission force of 3,653 fellow Christ followers.
The primary reason Tennessee Baptists cooperate together, and together with other Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, is to advance the gospel around the world. Paul Chitwood, President of the IMB has said, “When the Great Commission is not the lead topic of conversation in Southern Baptist life, the other topics tend to divide us.” Let’s be united in our passion to take Jesus’ message of hope to the world as we make disciples of all nations.
Blessing Four: Generosity Realized!
When the pandemic hit, we here at the TBMB immediately prepared for a significant reduction in giving as we considered the unknown impact COVID-19 would have on ungathered churches. But God, working through the faithful generosity of His people, has been nothing short of a testimony to God’s faithfulness.
For example, Pastor Bruce Chesser, First Baptist Church, Hendersonville (and current TBC President), kicked off our fiscal year during Virtual Summit 2020 by presenting an extra $100,000 from his church to be given through the Cooperative Program. Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga, were financially blessed and wanted to be a blessing to someone else.
The church decided to pay nine months mortgage for a pastor hospitalized for more than six months due to COVID that resulted in a subsequent lung transplant. And a young man called to ministry and involved in one of your university Baptist Collegiate Ministries, was blessed by a generous layman who committed $1,000 a month for his living expenses while he is in seminary. Where God guides God provides!
Thank you for allowing Him to use you to support Great Commission work at home and around the world.
The report of blessings goes on and on. In fact, it would be impossible to write this column without the great hymn by Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1922), robustly ringing in my head: “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.”
Tennessee Baptists, 2020 might not have been what we expected or wanted, but let’s focus on Jesus, His resurrection and His Great Commission. And let’s count our many blessings.
It is a joy to be with you on this journey!