Steady now Church!

Steady now Church!

The last few days and last two weeks have been stormy and shocking in our society to say the least. Even in our SBC of Virginia family we received news of a pastor and wife being stabbed (I am grateful to update you that they are recovering. Your love and prayers for them have been gratefully received). The evil and murderous acts against our brothers and sisters in the Charleston church drive us to our knees.

The action by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding marriage can shake us. SBC of Virginia, along with our Southern Baptist ministry partner: The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (www.erlc.com) can assist as you may have questions or seek resources.

Today, I simply want to share as a brother in Christ and fellow minister of the gospel that the Lord desires for His Church and His saints to stay steady and on course as we proclaim the gospel.

I am reminded of how in Hebrews 13, the Bible gives several statements intended to steady and strengthen our course as the church of the Lord Jesus:

  1. Let’s show our devotion to God as we show compassion for people. Hebrews 13:1-3, “Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.” Just this week I was able to see first hand youth mission teams serving the community in Central Virginia through our Fusion Camp; and the Imitate Camp takes place next week. Teams are ministering in earthquake shaken Nepal right now from SBCV churches.
  1. Let’s not just define biblical marriage, but let’s demonstrate it. Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.” 
  1. Let’s seek to be stewards of God’s blessings and share with others that Christ is the secret to satisfaction. Hebrews 13:5-6, “Our life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” 
  1. Let’s be prayerful for our church leaders. Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.”
  1. Let’s focus on our unchanging and sovereign Lord as we live in a changing and unsettled world. Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
  1. Let’s seek to be biblically correct even when it may be politically incorrect. Hebrews 13:9, Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.”
  1. Let’s praise the Lord Jesus for His sacrifice for sins and the salvation He offers to people. Hebrews 12:10-13,” We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the most holy place by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that He might sanctify the people by His own blood. Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace.” 
  1. Let’s remember that we are not home yet. Hebrews 13:14, “For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.” 
  1. Let’s make sure we worship the Lord Jesus and are witnesses for Him. Hebrews 13:15, “Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.”
  1. Let’s keep ministering and praying. Hebrews 13:16-19,  “Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything. And I especially urge you to pray that I may be restored to you very soon.”

A prayer for us all:  Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

 Scripture from Holman Christian Standard Bible

No Small Suggestion…

(This message was originally published on May 21, 2015)

Matthew 28:18-20 is simply and often referred to as The Great Commission. As followers of Christ we are called to “make disciples.” Some form of Christ’s commission is also found in the other places of the New Testament, but Matthew 28 seems to be the most heralded.   Christ has called us, has commanded us to proclaim the gospel unto the ends of the earth. The Great Commission is no small suggestion!

Since the New Testament era, church and mission leaders like the Apostle Paul have called upon churches to work together to plant, strengthen, and mobilize churches so the gospel of Christ is proclaimed. Likewise, this month of May marks the 90th anniversary of Southern Baptist church pastors and leaders adopting a strategy to unify resources for global missions and ministry. (May 13, 1925 was the date).  This unified and strategic missions support plan became known as “The Cooperative Program.”

SBC of Virginia churches have the opportunity to partner together in this time tested strategy to pray, give, and send. Through this “Cooperative Program” or Cooperative Partnership, a church is able to support a greater missionary force and have greater ministry impact. For instance, local, regional, national, and international mission fields are reached when a church provides financial support through the Cooperative Program of SBC of Virginia churches. Reasons for this plan:

Immediate Impact. It could take years for a church to develop a missions strategy. The Southern Baptist Cooperative Program allows for you to act now.

Mutual Support. Instead of missionaries having to constantly plead for resources, we work together to provide a system of mutual support so they can focus on their calling.

Global Strategy. Even though the world may seem to be getting “smaller.” It is still a big world, with many people groups. Even in Virginia, we are seeing a multiplication of people groups right here. The Southern Baptist Cooperative Program is a strategy to reach locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Personal, even though it is comprehensive. Because the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program is so comprehensive, you may think it is impersonal. But it is not. It is as personal as the boy who came to your church in 3rd grade, heard the gospel, went on a high school mission trip, was called to ministry, went to seminary, was mentored by pastors, planted a church…it is as personal as me (as so many others who have a similar story as mine).

Maintaining Integrity as Leaders

(This message was originally published on May 14, 2015)

Yesterday, I was listening to a news broadcast as I was driving and a public official was speaking. I was struck by how intensely and detailed he made the case for his integrity in a decision he was announcing. In many professions today there is a growing emphasis on integrity. For example, the county I live in is considering police body cameras; our students are facing exams and state tests; businesses are dealing with accountability to their shareholders.

Jeff Iorg, recent speaker at our SBC of Virginia Empowered Conference and president of Southern Baptist’s Golden Gate Seminary, writes about maintaining integrity.*

The word integrity is rooted in the word “integer” – which means whole, complete or undivided. As a Christian, I am to consistently apply biblical principles in character and action.

Dr. Iorg shares three spiritual convictions that help maintain integrity:

1) I am in submission to Jesus as Lord. (Philippians 2:5-11)

2) I am a steward accountable to Jesus as Lord. (Luke 16; 1 Cor. 4:1-2)

3) I am in an authority structure affirmed by Jesus as Lord. (Romans 13:1-7; Matthew 28:18)

He goes on to share Four Prayers that exemplify a submissive attitude before Jesus as Lord that can help us maintain integrity as leaders:

  • “Lord, I am expendable, another day, or many decades, whatever pleases You.”
  • “Lord, I serve at Your pleasure. Use me, or not, whatever pleases You.”
  • “Lord, Your kingdom matters. Mine doesn’t. Advance Your cause, whatever that means for me.”
  • “Lord, You are God, I am not – help me keep that straight today.”

*For more on this subject, read “Maintaining Integrity” in The Character of Leadership by Jeff Iorg.

May we serve the Lord Jesus with abandon today! As always, the SBC of Virginia team is thankful for your ministry and praying for the gospel to be advanced through your ministry.

Your brother in Christ,

Brian Autry

Brother Al

(This message was originally published on January 8, 2015)

The sports world this week recognized ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, as he died this past Sunday. He was known for his charismatic and creative style as a sports broadcaster.

But, this week I have had the family and church of Brother Al in my prayers. Brother Al died this week after his own battle with cancer.

Brother Al was one of those men that make going to church even more joyful. He was a man who worked hard during the week. After being gloriously saved, he was also devoted to worshipping and serving the Lord.

I first met Brother Al almost twenty years ago. Fresh out of seminary, I was youth pastor to Al’s two children. They both are now grown and have children of their own. So much time has past, but Brother Al remained an ever constant encourager and active member of the church.

Even in the years that followed, whenever I was able to be back at that church, Brother Al always shared a warm smile, a word of thanks, and a hearty amen with me.

I guess it is his ‘hearty amens’ that I remember the most. Whether from a pew in the worship center, or from his chair in the choir loft, Brother Al was never bashful about encouraging you with a ‘hearty amen.’

Just the other week, I was preaching and someone said one of those ‘hearty amens.’ For a brief moment, I thought Brother Al was in the congregation.

Today, I simply want to encourage all of the brethren out there to never under-estimate the importance of being an encourager. You may think that you are just listening to your preacher, but rest assured your pastor(s) is listening to you too. I also want to encourage pastors to rejoice over the “Brother Al’s” that the Lord puts in our lives.

So, to all of the brethren out there who are such faithful encouragers, to those who are ministers of the Word – I simply want to say, “Amen!”

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)

The Cradle, The Cross, And The Crown

(This message was originally published on December 11, 2014)

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

The Billy Graham Association produced a resource that I enjoyed reading through this Christmas season, The Cradle, The Cross, and the Crown.

You can find a condensed version on their website at: http://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/december-2014/the-cradle-the-cross-and-the-crown/

You can find the booklet at various online booksellers as well.

In Philippians 2, in this tremendous Christological passage of Scripture, we are reminded to consider the Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown of Christ.

In the Cradle, we are reminded of Christ Jesus humbling Himself, being born in the likeness of men. It makes me consider that the Lord of the universe was willing to experience all the humiliation of humanity, learning to walk and talk, potty training etc., just to reach me.

At the Cross, we see Christ display God’s love and see Christ pay for our sins. In this season of ‘gift obsession’, may we keep in mind that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” As my pastor said the other day, Jesus is not only the reason for the season, you are too. Jesus came and gave His life for humanity.

With the Crown, we see Christ exalted at the right hand of the Father. Simply stated, “Jesus is Lord.”

In this season that can become so hectic and busy, may we take a Christmas vacation. Take time to visit the Cradle of Christ. But, also take a visit to the Cross. And finally, remember to consider His Crown. Christ is on His throne.

Merry Christmas from all of us at the SBC of Virginia! Thank you for your church’s partnership in the Gospel as we work together to plant, strengthen, and mobilize churches.

Click for our latest SBC Spotlight Update: http://www.sbcv.org/articles/detail/sbcv_spotlight_december_2014

Your brother in Christ,

Brian Autry

Jesus Is Worthy

(This message was originally published in October 2014)

I know Sunday is coming. Perhaps you have also had a tough week. Maybe you are just feeling like you are at max capacity.   I can have the same thoughts and experiences. However, yesterday evening, as I was helping teach a Bible Study for High School students at church, I was reminded that Our Lord Jesus is worthy!

So, I simply want to pass along two different lists that I are not original with me that can helped me to simply Praise Jesus.

JESUS IS WORTHY – “A to Z”

Jesus is…

Ancient of Days, Alpha & Omega, Anchor, Advocate, Author, Almighty
Bright Morning Star, Bread Of Life, Branch, Bridegroom, Beginning &End
Christ Jesus, Chief Cornerstone, Champion Of Salvation, Chief Shepherd
Dayspring From On High, Door to the Sheepfold, Deliverer from Darkness
Emmanuel, El Shaddai, Elohim, Everlasting Father, El Gibor, Example
Finisher Of Our Faith, First & Last, Friend Of Sinners, Forerunner
Great High Priest, Good Shepherd, God, Great Physician, Glory Of Israel
Head Of The Church, High Tower, Holy One, Hiding P lace, Hope Of Glory
I Am That I Am, Image Of God, Intercessor, Immortal, Invisible
Jesus Christ, Judge, Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah-Rapha, Jehovah-Shalom
King Of Kings, King Of Glory, Kinsman Redeemer, Keeper of the Keys
Lord of All, Lamb of God, Light of the World, Lion of Judah, Living Water
Messiah, Most High God, Maker, Man Of Sorrows, Master,
Narrow Way, Nebuchadnezzar is Fourth Man in the Fire, Nazarene
Only Begotten Son, Offering Once And For All, Offspring of David, Oil
Prince Of Peace, Prince Of Life, Prophet Like Unto Moses, Power Of God
Quickener Of Transgressors, Quietness & Confidence, Quieter Of Storms
Rose Of Sharon, Rock Of Salvation, Root of Jesse, Resurrection & Life
Son Of God, Son of Man, Servant, Savior, Shiloh, Strength, Song, Shield Teacher,
True Vine, The Way, The Truth, The Life
Underneath Are The Everlasting Arms, Unction from The Holy One
Victor, Virgin-Born, Veil-Splitter, Vice-Ruler at the Fathers Right Hand
Word Of Life, Witness, Wonderful Counselor, Warrior, Wisdom of God
X-Crucified, Xempt from Death Forevermore
Yeshua, Yoke-Destroyer, Yes & Amen, Yahweh,
Zion’s Stone, Zeal for the House Of God, Zacchaeus House Guest

JESUS IS WORTHY – “from Genesis to Revelation”

In Genesis – He is the seed of woman.
In Exodus – He is the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus- He is Our High Priest.
In Numbers- He is the Cloud by day and a Pillar of Fire by night.
In Deuteronomy – He is the Prophet like unto Moses.
In Joshua – He is the Captain of our Salvation
In Judges – He is our Judge and Law giver.
In Ruth – He is our Kinsman and Redeemer.
In 1 & 2 Samuel – He is our Trusted Prophet.
In 1 & 2 Kings – He is the Lord our King.
In 1 & 2 Chronicles -He is our Reigning King.
In Ezra – He is our Faithful Spouse.
In Nehemiah – He is the Builder of broken down walls.
In Esther – He is our Mordecai.
In Job – He is our Redeemer.
In Psalms – He is the Lord our Shepherd.
In Proverbs – He is our Wisdom.
In Ecclesiastes – He is our Lover.
In the Song of Solomon – He is our Beloved Fair one.
In Isaiah – He is the Prince of Peace
In Jeremiah – He is the The Balm of Gilead.
In the Lamentations – He is the weeping Prophet.
In Ezekiel – He is the wonderful four faced Man.
In Daniel – He is the fourth man in the Fiery Furnace
In Hosea – He is the faithful Husband
In Joel – He is The Holy Ghost Baptizer
In Amos – He is the Burden Bearer
In Obadiah – He is Mighty to Save
In Jonah – He is our foreign Missionary
In Micah – He is the Messenger with Beautiful feet
In Nahum – He is the Avenger of Gods Elect
In Habakkuk – He is God’s Evangelist
In Zephaniah – He is Our Savior
In Haggai – He is The Restorer of God’s Lost Heritage
In Zechariah – He is the Fountain Open in the house of David
In Malachi – He is the Son of Righteousness with Healing in His Wings.

In Matthew – He is The Messiah
In Mark – He is The Wonder Worker
In Luke – He is The Son of Man
In John – He is The Son of God (he is the Word)
In The Acts – He is The Foundation of the Church
In Romans – He is our Justifier
In 1 & 2 Corinthians – He is our Sanctifier
In Galatians – He is the Redeemer from the curse of the law
In Ephesians – He is the Christ with Unsearchable Riches
In Philippians – He is The God that Supplies All of Our Needs
In Colossians – He is the Fullness of the Godhead Bodily
In 1 & 2 Thessalonians – He is Our Soon Coming King
In 1 & 2 Timothy – He is the Mediator between God in Man
In Titus – He is The Faithful Pastor
In Philemon – He is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother
In Hebrews – He is The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant
In James – He is Our Great Physician
In 1 & 2 Peter- He is The Chief Shepherd
In 1- 2 & 3 John – He is Love
In Jude – He is The Lord Coming with 10,000 of His saints
In The Revelation – He is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords

Marriage

(This message was originally published in October 2014)

Background 

I was one of the 57% of Virginia voters that supported the referendum that resulted in the Marriage Amendment to Virginia’s constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman – November 7, 2006.

On February 13, 2014, a U.S. District Court in Norfolk ruled that the amendment was unconstitutional, though the Judge stayed the ruling pending appeal. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling. State officials declined to defend the constitutional amendment. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case, letting the lower court decision stand.

What now?

The church must and should always stand upon biblical ethics. This is not the first time, but the issue of marriage is one of the most profound cases in my lifetime, when biblical ethics seems to now conflict with legal and governmental policy. As churches and pastors, more than ever we must articulate a clear and sound biblical ethic of marriage to our congregations and communities.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the statement of faith that the Southern Baptist Convention adopted (as did the SBC of Virginia), reflects the biblical ethic of marriage and family:

XVIII. The Family

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.

Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage.

Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Churches should clearly state their position on biblical marriage. Your governing documents and statement of faith should reflect this understanding. In the past, it may have been assumed. It seems clear that we must no longer assume – but clearly teach and uphold biblical marriage. SBC of Virginia is available to consult and to connect you with other churches and professionals who can assist churches as needed.

Each church can be a lighthouse in the midst of lostness, confusion, and darkness. The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be proclaimed. Repentance, redemption, and restoration remain our message. Dr. Russell Moore, in his blog on October 6, 2014, offers helpful and thoughtful words to consider. You can find his statement at: http://www.russellmoore.com/2014/10/06/same-sex-marriage-and-the-supreme-court-what-now-for-the-church/

We must each endeavor to celebrate and communicate marriage and family life as God has ordained. We all know of examples where Christ has not been honored and represented well in marriage and family life by those claiming Christ as Lord. The 1st Century follower of Christ lived in an age of lostness, confusion, and darkness. These first followers of Christ impacted an empire with their words and deeds. May the Holy Spirit empower us to live out the biblical ethic of marriage and family life in the 21st Century. The lost world must see the church shine the light of healthy, redemptive, biblical marriage and family life.

Pray for one another and encourage one another. SBC of Virginia churches are not alone in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. We are not alone in holding to the biblical ethic and teaching on marriage and family. Personally, I am thankful for the continuing work of partners like the Family Foundation of Virginia, the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and others like them giving much of their energies to helping churches be salt and light.

Finally, I am not intending to give a political commentary or legal opinion, but hope to simply be an encouragement spiritually and practically as we seek to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ as SBC of Virginia churches – and more importantly I pray that my marriage and family will honor the name of the Lord Jesus. By His grace and for His glory, I make this my prayer. Thankfully and respectfully, I do not require Supreme Court justices to take up a case to make this my prayer. I regret wholeheartedly that certain authorities in America do not uphold the biblical ethic of marriage. But I know this for sure: Almighty God, who created man and woman, has made it clear throughout the ages that He has taken up the case for marriage and family. In God We Trust.