As a pastor, there were simply days that were more discouraging than others; days I was blinded to God’s goodness around me as I focused on the occasional wave of problems, carnal people and difficult situations.
God gave me this fix. When I was having one of those kinds of days, I took only a notebook and a pen and found a secluded room somewhere on our church campus. I would ask God to give me a clear picture of the victories He was winning, the miracles I missed and the forgotten moments of worship.
After minutes of prayer to the Father and more minutes of simply waiting before the Father, the Holy Spirit would begin revealing to me all of the Kingdom accomplishments through the church I was pastoring. The list would grow, and after 30 minutes – or some days 90 minutes – a long list of blessings was revealed. It was literally a time to “count my many blessings. naming them one by one.” I just needed God’s help to see them.
Gene Price is the pastor of Tumbling Creek Baptist Church, Gleason, and chair of the Collegiate Ministries Committee of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
During last week’s committee meeting at Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center, Pastor Gene shared with me a powerful illustration he used during a sermon. He said he put a black dot in the middle of a large piece of white paper, held it before the congregants and asked them what they saw. The response he got was a black dot. Then he asked if anyone saw all of the white space around that one single dot.
Where was their focus?
Loss of focus can have us gravitating to the most discouraging, disturbing, divisive “dots” in our lives. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. There are difficult dots that require our attention, but let’s not lose sight of the blessings, victories and Kingdom work God sends our way.
The admonition of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable, whatever is lovely – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things!”
Paul is calling us to focus.
But take the Southern Baptist Convention for instance. Several current issues have our attention and are hijacking Kingdom conversations. Certainly, these distracting dots need some attention, but not all of our attention.
I was asked by a pastor just a few months ago to give him one good reason to remain a Southern Baptist. My reply was this: “Let me give you 3,600 reasons. The 3,600 SBC missionaries serving around the world in some of the most difficult places are deserving of our prayerful, unified financial support.”
I’ll offer another for why being a Tennessee Baptist is so important. We are increasingly becoming engaged with Blue Oval City, Ford Motor Company’s electric truck manufacturing plant being built in West Tennessee.
We — Tennessee Baptists, like all of us — have an opportunity to potentially reach with the gospel the 90,000 people moving to our state over the next 10 years with the vision of planting 40 new churches. People are coming from around the globe, many from countries where they’ve never heard about Jesus. Any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field, and it is our mission field.
And here are some bonus reasons why we need to focus. There are approximately 9,000 children in Tennessee in need of foster care. There are more than four million people in our state who are spiritually lost.
Friends, we live in a serious day, and we need serious people seriously focused on Kingdom work and laboring together in joy-filled unity. As Tennessee Baptists, let’s be those kinds of people.
What I am saying is this: Don’t let the dots absorb your focus and cause you to lose sight of the great things God is doing around you in the sea of white space. Let the Holy Spirit have complete control of your heart and mind as He refocuses your attention and reengages you in a sweet relationship with the Heavenly Father.
So let’s focus, and keep our focus squarely on Jesus.
It is a joy to be with you on this Kingdom focused journey. B&R