Posts Tagged Hamrick

Take No Bitterness into the New Year

Many people regard New Year’s Resolutions with the same disdain they attribute to the much maligned fruitcake. I am a proponent of both. For several years now I have made the same New Year’s resolution and I do my best to keep it. I will take no bitterness into the New Year. Whatever has happened during the past twelve months that tends to sour my disposition, cause me pain and create separation, I resolve to let go. Whatever offenses I have suffered will not be dragged into the New Year. As the years pile up, keeping my resolution doesn’t get any easier.

Forgiveness is not as easy as it might sound. Partly it requires developing a thicker skin and realizing that I take far too many things personally. I need to lighten up. This is one of the concepts my friend, Dr. Monty Knight, discusses in his book, Balanced Living; Don’t Let Your Strengths Become Your Weaknesses. Continuing with Monty’s philosophy, I don’t have to go to every fight to which I am invited. That is a major concept. Let it go. Tom Newboult, a minister of religious education, once told me that sin is giving more importance to the moment than it is worth. In other words, don’t dwell in the negative. I think Tom hit the nail on the head. What a great concept!

Turning a negative into a positive is another methodology for dealing with difficult situations. Since I administered a not-for-profit agency for most of my career, I am often attacked with, “Well, Mitch, you are just an idealist.” My reply is, “Thank you. I hope so.” The main thing about forgiveness for those of us who are Christian to remember is that we are able to forgive because we have been forgiven.

Susan Sparks in her book, Laugh Your Way to Grace, suggests that we rediscover the power of humor. She maintains that we take ourselves far too seriously. We need to repackage some of the comments that cause us pain.

Bitterness is a terrible task master. It will ruin your life and suck all the goodness you receive into a dark hole. I recommend a proactive approach. Go on an active campaign to make those around you glad that you are there. Build them up by helping them feel good about themselves. Say something nice. Compliment her or him in a real genuine way. Call the person by name. Offer a specific compliment about a real accomplishment. On the other hand when you receive a compliment acknowledge it graciously with a simple “thank you.” In my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, I discuss the power of words, but I am by no means the first to come to that conclusion. The psalmist said, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto thee, oh God, my strength and my redeemer.”

Dr. Arthur Caliandro gets right to the heart of the matter with a three word solution. “Life is now.” That statement is stunning in its simplicity. Live in the present. Don’t drag past hurts into today. I was part of a vivid demonstration of this principle. We were planning one of the annual John Hamrick Lectures while Dr. John was still living. A potential speaker was being considered. I called the speaker to extend an invitation. He told me that because he and Dr. Hamrick had been involved on opposite sides of a controversy, he would only come if Dr. Hamrick approved. When I told Dr. Hamrick of my conversation he didn’t hesitate. “That was then. This is now.” Wow!

I make no claim that getting rid of bitterness is an easy task. You and I have experienced great hurts. Unfortunately we have also inflicted great hurts. I know that I am in the process of becoming and that God is not finished with me. Practicing my resolution of taking no bitterness into the New Year has helped me live a more productive, less stressful life. I believe you will experience the same happy results if you give it a try. It will not be easy, but it is worth the effort.

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Grievous Words – Dr. Molly Marshall – Baptist News Global

The coarsening of public discourse is alarming, and great harm can be inflicted through venomous speech.

By Molly T. Marshall

“A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1, KJV) was one of the first Bible verses I learned as a child. Not only were we instructed to memorize this instruction, but to practice it, even with brothers at home. Not being a very quiet little girl, I was glad when I learned one could translate “soft” as “gentle.”

In a political season nearly devoid of civility, many need to return to Sunday school (or attend for the first time!) so that this wisdom might be inscribed in their hearts. The coarsening of public discourse is alarming, and great harm can be inflicted through venomous speech. Gentle answers are rarely heard.

Bullying by name-calling is acceptable neither for children nor adults. To be called a loser, weak, ugly or disgusting repeatedly, is more than disrespectful. It breeds contempt, one of the vilest human emotions. Hate-speech kindles rancor, which often escalates beyond words to acts of violence.

Certain conventions of speaking are becoming more acceptable, seemingly necessary. It appears that in debates, pundit exchanges and town hall conversations, speakers not only interrupt their interlocutors, they over-talk them and sometimes actually yell at them. The most persistent voices drown out the others, and listeners are assaulted by the cacophony.

Private communication is no less fraught with discord. We have all read about the harmful things posted through social media that have led to devastating consequences for victims. The critical tone of emails and texts can spawn misunderstanding, and often recipients return in kind. Who among us has not wanted to use more caps and exclamation points when responding to an untoward message? Perhaps the buffer of technologically mediated communication leads persons to say things they would not say face to face.

Has it always been this way with humans? Apparently so, but grievous words are circulated more widely in our day. One of the foul fruits of the “fall” is the poisoning of the great gift of being homo loquens, the “speaking animal.” Even the remarkable scholar Martin Luther preached and wrote perniciously about the Jews. His inflammatory words detract from his stature as a reformer and theologian, and some have suggested added fuel to Hitler’s fiery denunciations.

Scripture offers a breadth of guidance on godly speech, probably because we humans fall so short of this practice. Here is a brief sampling from each testament.

From the Psalter we hear:

“The one who walks with integrity and works righteousness … speaks truth in the heart. This one does not slander with the tongue … (15:2-3).

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (19:14).

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips” (141:3).

Proverbs is replete with instruction:

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword. But the tongue of the wise brings healing” (12:18).

“The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable. But the mouth of fools spouts folly” (15:2).

“She opens her mouth in wisdom. And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (31:26).

From the Epistles we receive these exhortations:

“Let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29).

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6).

“Know this, my beloved: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger …” (James 1:19).

The Gospels also offer a pathway to follow:

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36).

“The good person out of the good treasure of his or her heart produces good, and the evil person out of his or her evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart one speaks” (Luke 6:45).

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person” (Matt. 15:11).

In this new year of mercy, so designated by Pope Francis, we have the opportunity to revise our speech. Rather than echoing the visceral and heated rhetoric that presently reverberates, we can use prudent and restrained language. Rather than derogatory pronouncements about those with whom we disagree, we can practice gracious words that build up others, for the common good.

For some of us, it may mean that we listen more and speak less. As the sages remind us, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he or she closes his or her lips, that one is deemed intelligent” (Prov. 17:28). That is surely a worthy pursuit!

 

Molly Marshall is president and professor of theology and spiritual formation at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, in Shawnee, Kan. Her weekly blog “Trinitarian Soundings.” Dr. Marshall was one of the favorite speakers at the Hamrick Lectures at First Baptist Church of Charleston.

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Hamrick Lectureship Check Presentation to the Ministerial Scholarship Fund

FBC Lectern for FurmanJanuary 17, 2016, would have been Dr. John A. Hamrick’s 100th birthday. We chose this date to honor him by turning the remainder of the funds in the Lectureship Fund to the Ministerial Scholarship Fund. I presented the check to Dr. Malcolm Clark chair of that fund. These are my remarks.

“Some of you did not know or experience Dr. John Hamrick. He was the most influential South Carolina Baptist of the last one hundred years. He was an outstanding preacher, a serious theologian, a Biblical scholar. He was a visionary with a keen ability to get things done. He loved Baptist history and was a leader in Christian education. Most of all, he was a man of great faith. He often said, “If God gives you a job to do, he will find a way for you to do it.”

The Hamrick Lectureship was a fitting tribute to him because of his love of our history and his devotion to Christian education; therefore it gives me great pleasure to honor his devotion to Christian education by presenting this check which represents the remainder of the lectureship funds to the Ministerial Scholarship Fund in the amount of 3,699.11.”

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Fifty Years of Blessings

Charleston Speech and Hearing Center Board member Mrs. A. Baron Holmes (Dewar ) was the first to tell me about First Baptist Church when I came for an interview, but Lester Hamilton was the first to invite me to visit.  He said, “When my wife comes to invite you to the church, tell her that her husband already beat you to it.” Nell was a paid visitor for the church.

On our first visit we encountered an amazing, inviting and engaging group of young professionals. We left a similar group behind at Goodwood Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. When we heard Dr. John Hamrick preach the deal was sealed. Liz said, “It is formal enough for me and Baptist enough for you.”

When we joined, Dr Hamrick said to Liz, “I will ask you this, but I will only ask you once. Do you have any interest in becoming a Southern Baptist?” “No, Dr. John I don’t” “Welcome to the church,” he said. “The only thing you can’t do is to vote to give it to the Presbyterians.” Dr. Hamrick understood that she could not abandon the faith of her Presbyterian missionary parents. When David Redd became the Minister of Music and Worship, our cup was filled to overflowing. I came to First Baptist knowing how to praise God, how to thank him and how to petition him, but together Dr. John and David taught me how to worship. What a combination of talents. Of course the beautiful historic sanctuary inspires worship.

Our children, Suzanne and Michael, were baptized at First Baptist and Suzanne was married here.  In late August, 1989, Liz was rushed to St. Francis Hospital. During the terrible thirteen days that she was in intensive care and I remained in the hospital to be close, Dr. Scott Walker and G. W. Bowling never missed a day in visiting us. The people of First Baptist and Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she taught kindergarten, kept me well supplied with food and company. At Liz’s funeral Scott said, “When that aneurism hit Liz, God was the first to cry.” Two weeks after her funeral Hurricane Hugo devastated the sanctuary and the entire Charleston area.

When Carol and I were married at First Baptist nine years later by Dr. Hamrick, Dr. Tom Guerry and Dr. Monty Knight, the church welcomed her with open arms. She relished singing in the choir until she had to give it up late this summer. Carol asked Mary Peeples to represent her mother who was in a nursing home. Ann Fox coordinated the event.

We started the John A. Hamrick Lectureship in 1996. Dr. John’s life illuminated his faith. “If God tells you to do something, he will find a way for you to do it.” When Marshall Blalock arrived as our pastor, he fully supported the lectureship. He also supported Forty Days at First Baptist and Say Something Nice Sunday. None of these could have thrived without his support. Lori Lethco, Marshall’s administrative assistant, deserves a lion’s share of the credit for the success of these programs. There is nothing like the lectureship in the state. It is supported by contributions. The committee and especially Marshall are routinely criticized for our choice of speakers overwhelmingly by people not connected to the church.  Marshall simply states, “The people of First Baptist Church are sophisticated enough to make up their own minds.” The Hamrick Lectureship will celebrate its 20th. Anniversary in January, 2015.

When the editor of the Florida Baptist Witness wrote a front page editorial denouncing Say Something Nice Sunday as, “Gospel Free Sunday,“ Don Kirkland, editor of the Baptist Courier, asked Marshall if he wanted to respond. Marshall replied, “No. His words speak for themselves.”

The celebration of the church’s 325th. Anniversary in 2007 was a glorious affair. The Rev. Dr. Thomas McKibbens, now interim pastor of the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island – the first Baptist church in America, delivered an electrifying sermon, “The Theology of Friendship.” The service was followed by a congregational lunch at the John Hamrick Activity Center.

I have always loved church. I made my profession of faith public in Northside Baptist Church in Woodruff, South Carolina when I was eleven years old. The invitation hymn was, “Just as I Am.” I am grateful for the wonderful people in that small church that gave me a firm foundation that has allowed me to explore and expand my faith with assurance. “I know in Whom I Have Believed.”

October 6, 2014, is my 50th anniversary as a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston.  For about twenty seven of those I taught an adult Sunday school class after stepping in as a substitute. Although these fifty years have not been without heartbreak and pain, my family and I found a home. This is a loving, supportive church family. I have nothing but gratitude for the people at First Baptist and thanksgiving for the spiritual nourishment I have found here.

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