Finding Sadness and Gladness

I recently read two stories that bring me sadness and gladness:  one about the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and their attempt to “get the fires” of evangelical fervor burning and then one about the devastating wildfires looming over Colorado Springs. 

Sadly, the first story was more of a “simmering out” of the once proud (maybe that was the problem) Southern Baptist Convention I cut my theological teeth on and is not the real emphasis of this writing today, but it makes me sad. 

The other story is one that provides an odd backdrop to my denominational convention and it makes me glad.  It is the story of 5,000 women In Colorado Springs lifting their voices in praise and worship to God at a Living Proof Live conference featuring Bible teacher Beth Moore. 

As most are aware, fires have devastated nearly 18,000 acres in the Waldo Canyon area of Colorado Springs, burning 100s of homes and forcing the evacuation of 32,000 people.  Auuthor and Bible teacher Moore said, “There was no doubt that this is where we needed to be this very weekend.”

It is important to realize that Living Proof live events are sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention which is the backdrop for both my sadness and gladness.

In a subdued beginning to the conference, Moore set the tone by saying, “Pain, peril and threat put us in a posture to listen [to God] like nothing else.”  She then asked women who had been evacuated or lost their homes entirely to stand and allow others to pray for them.  Moore prayed for the 65 women and led the attendees in a reverent responsive reading.

Moore debated whether she should change her material because of the emotional weight the fires brought to the Colorado Springs community but concluded her message was applicable.

“Sometimes we need a new start, but what we need more often is a good finish,” Moore said, directing attendees to Acts 20:24 as her focal passage.  “You and I live in a culture of a million starts and a handful of finishes. We need the strength and presence of mind to finish well.” 

Colorado Springs resident Danielle McIntire said the local wildfires “are the worst thing we’ve ever had to deal with, and it has been truly frightening. But this event is exactly what we needed. Beth has reminded us to look at this through God’s eyes and give our burdens to Him.”

“So many have lost everything they have and feel like it’s the end,” McIntire said. “So what a perfect topic for us — God’s not done. It’s not the end.”

Worship leader Travis Cottrell announced Friday night that 100 percent of a special offering taken would be directed to relief efforts in Colorado Springs.

Cottrell added — to applause — that Moore’s Living Proof Ministries would match the offering dollar-for-dollar.  “Let’s shake the earth with our giving spirits,” he said.  Attendees gave $85,591, for a total offering of $171,182 contributed to relief efforts in the surrounding communities. 

Wonderful you say.  Yes it is.  But do you not find it sadly interesting that Beth Moore is a woman and a phenomenal Bible teacher that serves in a denomination whose recent statements about women would not allow her to teach a Bible Study class in many of that denomination’s churches let alone be a pastor?  Also note, her Bible teaching, books and conferences make millions of dollars for LifeWay Christian Resources of our convention and I, for one, suspect that is one of the reasons our denomination is in decline.  And please know, I find no gladness in this.

After over three decades of managing and motivating people in the local church as a pastor, I now spend my waking hours heralding the call for living in redemptive, reconciled relationships. I simply call them “stay in the room” relationships.