In 1747, a young sailor by the name of John Newton was sailing aboard the “Greyhound’ bound for Liverpool. Newton had arrogantly defied God’s standards and ignored God’s word, living a life of debauchery. Suddenly a fierce storm struck his ship. Death for all aboard appeared imminent. Suddenly the words of Proverbs 1:24-27 flashed before Newton’s mind: “Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.” Proverbs declares that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). In that desperate moment, Newton repented of his foolishness and cried out to God for salvation. Of course, we know he went on to become a beloved minister in England and to pen one of Christianity’s most cherished hymns, “Amazing Grace.” Wisdom had been calling out to Newton but he had turned a deaf ear until it was almost too late. Throughout the first chapter of Proverbs, wisdom calls out for those who desire her and proclaims that those who seek her, will find her. We can only wonder how many times that same invitation falls on deaf ears today.

If there was ever a time that desperately calls for God’s wisdom it is today. Church, government, business leaders and well as those leading their children desperately require God’s wisdom. Life is far too complicated and the stakes much too high to be careless in handling what God has assigned to us. I was so pleased to recently speak at a revised and expanded spiritual leadership conference hosted by Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on January 25-26. People came from as far as California to attend. One man drove from Denton, Texas. Another drove fourteen hours from Kentucky to attend. People took time off work, booked hotels and drove great distances in their search for God’s wisdom for their lives and leadership. It was a powerful time. Many told us it was the best conference they had ever attended. We are planning to hold these conferences across the country. The next one may be in South Carolina.

BMI is also looking at developing a leadership coaching ministry where people can contact BMI to enlist a leadership coach to walk with them as they seek to take their leadership to another level. We also want to develop a consulting arm at BMI where churches and other organizations can hire a BMI consultant to walk with them through challenging times such as working through a split or looking for their next leader. We certainly appreciate your prayers as we seek the Lord’s guidance in knowing what the next steps should be. It would be great to see you at one of the upcoming conferences!

Reading

It is always interesting to read from those who seek to encourage ethical living apart from any reference to God. I recently read Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership by Craig E. Johnson. While it has some interesting discussions, it, like so many books like it, falls short when it does not reference God and His Word. The fact is that it is impossible for an atheist who believes in the evolutionary dictum of “survival of the fittest” and who rejects any notion of life after death or final judgment to persuade us that we should be kind to one another! Conversely, I met Vishal Mangalwadi in Geneva last December. His book, Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations seeks to demonstrate how nations cannot prosper apart from abiding by basic biblical truths.

Travel

January took off at full speed. I spoke on Sundays at Brookwood Community Church in Simpsonville, SC; Green Valley Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL; Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison, MS; and Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC. I also taught in three CEO training meetings in Atlanta and Dallas; led a pastors/wives retreat in Black Rock, NC; spoke at a spiritual leadership conference in Rocky Mount, NC; taught a week-long master’s class on revival at North Greenville University and spoke at a prayer conference in Hildebran, NC. On top of that, I discovered I had a bulging disk in my neck that caused me tremendous pain all down my right arm. My right hand was numb for several weeks due to the pain. Not the kind of condition you want to have while traveling non stop! I would appreciate your prayers that my doctors would find me some relief. They did give me an injection which is supposed to alleviate the pain in my nerve and so far it has partially helped.

I’d appreciate your prayers for my travel this month. I’ll be in Aiken, SC speaking on Fresh Encounter; Hilton Head, SC speaking to military chaplains; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary speaking in chapel (and seeing if my son Mike attends!), speaking at Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh where my son Mike is a member; a Kingdom Advisors conference in Atlanta, speaking to Christian educators in Birmingham, AL; leading a series of meetings at Five Forks Baptist Church in Simpsonville, SC; and speaking at Mount Hermon Baptist Church in Danville, VA on Fresh Encounter. I’d also encourage you to be watching for Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine in the next few months as I’ll be writing some articles for them on the Christian’s response to the future.

These are challenging times and days when we truly need God’s wisdom for all we do!

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