October 6, 1999

Texas Baptist Forum
Tragedy & revival
___As the pastor of Wedgwood shooting victims Justin Laird and Joey Ennis, I thank Texas Baptists for their prayers and outpouring of love and support for our church.
___Although this tragedy is one of the greatest ever to impact Texas Baptists, a greater tragedy would be for us simply to care for the wounded and return to our complacent lives. May this tragedy be a catalyst for prayer, repentance and revival!
___My mind goes to the story of the Levite and his viciously murdered concubine. Word
E-mail the editor at marvknox@baptiststandard.com.
of our tragedy has been carried to the four corners of the world. "Everyone who saw it said: 'Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!'" (Judges 19:30).
___Let Texas Baptists respond to the Wedgwood tragedy as the Israelites of old. Let us assemble ourselves together "as one man" before the Lord (Judges 20:1). Let us engage the enemy as God directs (Judges 20:9). Let us endure any and all costs (Judges 20:21, 25). Let us weep, fast and pray until God grants us victory (Judges 20:26-28). Let us wield the weapons of our warfare-- prayer and preaching the gospel --until every town in Texas is set ablaze with revival fires (Judges 20:48).
___Already, more than 100 souls in the White Settlement area have been saved in the wake of this tragedy. Pray that this may be the foretaste of a mighty movement of God.
___ Jim Gatliff, Pastor
___ First Baptist Church
___ White Settlement

Excellent choice
___I will never forget the hospital visit made to my wife and I by Charles Wade (newly elected executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas). My wife was five months pregnant when we learned our son, Alex, had died in the womb.
___This tragedy occurred while I was a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We were not members of First Baptist Church in Arlington, but my wife worked at FBC in the child development center.
___Dr. Wade came to visit us during this sorrowful time. I was shocked when he entered the room. But I should not be shocked, because he is called to minister in the name of Jesus. He is an excellent choice to lead Texas Baptist into the year 2000 and beyond to minister in Jesus' name.
___ Mike Midkiff
___ Marshall

The real issue
___Is the real issue about prayer at high school football games that we want to pray but cannot? Or is the problem someone is trying to tell us what we can or cannot do?
___In our small community (1,500 residents), our students have not indicated any interest in praying. On Sept. 15, we held a See You at the Pole prayer rally at the high school, and 12 people participated.
___Are adults any more interested in praying? Our Wednesday prayer meeting has an average attendance of 18, which is 27 percent of our active members. If the adults are so concerned about praying, why aren't they attending prayer meeting?
___The problem is not that people want to pray and cannot. The problem is that people don't like being told what they can or cannot do. This is a political rights issue, not a spiritual issue.
___If people want to pray before football games, let's really pray. We can pray before the game outside the stadium. Wouldn't that be a great witness?
___I wish people wanted to pray and were being told they couldn't. But that's not the real issue. People don't want to pray. They demonstrate that every week they don't attend prayer meeting. They just don't want to be told they can't pray.
___ Leslie Puryear
___ Sabinal

Liberal propaganda
___Please quit putting so much propaganda about the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and other moderate and liberal trends in your paper and on your website.
___Almost 5,000 Southern Baptist foreign missionaries still need the prayers and support of Texas Baptists. The three Sunday School lesson series from Southern Baptist Convention sources are the best ever!
___The direction the Standard is taking is confusing and divisive in our local churches.
___ Paul W. Stephens
___ Austin

Balanced approach
___My teacher and mentor, T.B. Maston, often warned his students, "The greatest danger to Baptists is the loss of freedom for our state papers." Control of the media by some denominational power brokers prevents many Baptists from reading some stories and all sides of other news events.
___How glad and grateful I am that the Baptist Standard has maintained a balanced approach to Christian journalism by preserving a healthy independence. Too many state Baptist papers lack that.
___As I read the letters to the editor, I remember another Maston observation: "When both extremes attack you, that probably means you are in the right spot!"
___Continue speaking the prophetic word we need. It sometimes hurts. But it also heals. Thanks for being in the right spot (most of the time)!
___ Joe E. Trull
___ Wimberley

Second best
___I miss the old songs. Sometimes I wonder if I'm out of God's will or if I'm just that old hippie trying to hold on to the old but surrounded by the new. I feel like the captured Jews when they were told to sing and their reply was they could not.
___I did not rebel against my parent's songs but learned them by heart and sang them with joy. Each song had a message, showing God's love for me. The church has gone overboard on praise songs. Can they touch a sinner's heart like "Amazing Grace," "Nothing but the Blood" or "At Calvary"?
___Why have we settled for second best? Did it happen because the 20-year control by conservatives has taught our song leaders a "better" way? You hear only them and a loud organ.
___Is there sound when a tree falls in the forest? Do people sing when never heard? How sweet it is when no instruments are blaring and the leader steps back and there are voices.
___The captured Jews are no longer captives ... they're singing.
___ Rex Ray
___ Grand Prairie

A new song
___I often see letters from saints expressing dislike for "contemporary praise songs," calling them a "bulletin ditty" or that they "have little meaning." These saints want to sing the songs that they know and grew up with.
___I understand and believe we need to keep singing the wonderful hymns of faith! However, what do we do with the exhortations in the Bible to "sing a new song"? (Literally, "fresh thing" used eight times in Psalms and Isaiah.) Should we ignore these Scriptures because we do not like new songs?
___Worship is an attitude of the heart, a lifestyle, not a page from the hymnal or a style. There are six days remaining when Christians can worship in whatever style they most prefer, but corporate worship is for all believers, old and young. Whether we use "songs, hymns or spiritual songs" does not matter to God. All are equally acceptable to the Father when sung with a pure heart. Our corporate worship services should be testimonies of the greatness of our God, not altars to our own stylistic musical preference.
___Worship is not for our benefit, but God's. We worship him because he is our Savior, not because we like the songs. Yes, worship has wonderful benefits for us, but let's worship the way the Bible instructs, "in unity," so others will see our love for one another and believe in Christ as a result (John 17:21).
___Let's worship God, not style.
___ Danny Davis
___ Dallas

Gas stations
___Why are our churches not filling up? Maybe we need a new approach to church.
___Church is like a gas station. We bring our spiritual cars to the gas station to fill up. Some cars are good on gas and can make it to the next Sunday before filling up again. Some cars do not get as good gas mileage and come back on Wednesday to fill up again. Some thought their car was really good on gas and went out into the highways and byways of life and ran out of gas. There they sit on the side of the road of life until someone comes from the gas station with a gallon of gas.
___Let's get into Sunday School, the garage at the gas station, and get tuned up and take the gas to those on the side of the road. We need to fill it up each time we go to church so that we can take a gallon of the gospel to so many on the side of the road. Some will need to be towed back to the gas station, while others will just need a little gas from you.
___ John Patterson
___ Malone

Broken hearted
___Amen and Amen again for John and Lisa Price's comments that prayer is alive (Sept. 22). I also amen Lonnie Odom's comments about being dismayed over political onlineonlycorrectness (Sept. 22). Actually, "dismayed" is not the word. I am broken-hearted.
___Over and over again, we see God's people taking a lackadaisical attitude over the spiritual condition of people and the spiritual warfare that is prevalent.
___I get angry when I hear comments like, "If we pray, then other groups will want to pray." So what! Who are they praying to? The I Am is the one and only true God. All others are mere idols. Read 1Kings 18. Elijah prompted the prophets of Baal to pray so that they and others would see who was truly God.
___It is time that God's people stand up and say that there is only one true God and stop trying to be politically correct. We need to become God correct. We need to stop wavering between two opinions. If God is God, then let us follow him, not just in the matter of prayer, but in all areas of our lives. God has commanded us to follow and obey him. Let us stop trying to please the world and begin pleasing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
___Norm Green

Attitude adjustment
___I'm writing in reaction to Bob Stith's online letter, "Wrong attitudes," in which he calls onlineonlyJames Dunn "mean-spirited" (Sept. 29). Does Bro. Stith know him? Is he talking about the James Dunn I know? James Dunn happens to be one of God's choicest servants. He is one of the most thoughtful and caring persons I have ever met. It saddens me that someone would call him "mean spirited."
___Wrong attitudes--I wonder about the attitude of a Christian who calls a fellow Christian by such a hurtful epithet as "mean-spirited"--especially when the epithet is as wrong as this one is when applied to James Dunn.
___Really, fellow Christians, let's try to have really Christian attitudes toward each other.
___Alcides Guajardo

Pastorate not a 'career'
___American Christianity will be transformed when we begin to realize that pastor is not a onlineonlyposition in a local church, but a way we relate to God and his people. (John 21:17).
___George Otis strongly implies that communities can be transformed when Christian leaders affirm God's hand on our lives (Sept. 22).
___We need to know that God has placed us in ministry in our particular community. Yet search committees seek out well-trained men to do a good job. Pastors are called into a professional career.
___Pastors can practice a simple test of their calling. Will you continue to minister in your community even if the church forces your resignation? Will you continue to serve God out of the pulpit or apply for another job in another church?
___A ministry dependant upon position and salary is ministry. Look to our persecuted brethren around the world. They should be the true heroes of our faith.
___James Johnston
___St Paul, Ark.


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