Month: April 2007

Criswell provost: Qumran evidence should embolden Jewish outreach

SAN ANTONIO?Recent archaeological discoveries should encourage Christians to boldly proclaim the fulfillment of the messianic hope to Jewish people, a Baptist college provost told an international audience in San Antonio.

Speaking on the opening day of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism North America Conference meeting April 16-18 in San Antonio, Lamar Cooper reported on last year’s excavations by Criswell College students and faculty in conjunction with World of the Bible Ministries that could link the scrolls more convincingly to the Qumran community of Essenes, thought to have lived there between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D.

Cooper, also Criswell College executive vice president, explained why so much attention continues to be given to the Qumran site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were originally discovered 60 years ago.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have become one of the most important biblical archaeological finds of all time, though access to the writings did not extend beyond a few scholars until a decade ago. As researchers pored over the photocopies, Cooper explained, the contents of the scrolls?including a complete scroll of Isaiah and portions of every Old Testament book except Esther?proved to be even more remarkable than anyone suspected,

“All the romance of the Indiana Jones version of archaeology is gone in about 10 minutes,” said Cooper, describing the methodical labor by the Criswell excavation team working in temperatures that sometimes rose above 120 degrees. “Every volunteer discovers it is just plain hard work,” he said, describing one section set square in the open sun and dubbed “the pit of death.”

The Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism is a task force that rose out of an emphasis on reaching Jews presented to the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism.

LCJE holds an international consultation every four years, with regional meetings like the San Antonio event held annually. Particular attention is given to developments like the excavation Cooper described, based on the desire of LCJE members to declare Jesus Christ as Messiah to the Jewish people.

As a Hebrew scholar and teacher, Cooper offered an overview of Qumran and the messianic hope, noting the relevance of the Essenes’ commitment to the Word of God.

“The scrolls they produced have confirmed the accuracy of the Word of God,” said Cooper, giving particular attention to their text of the Book of Isaiah dated to 125 B.C. “It is providential that this, the most messianic book in the Old Testament, has been preserved in its entirety and delivered to us today intact.

The care and commitment the Essenes gave to the task of copying and preserving the text indicates a high view of Scripture that is the underpinning of the Bible as God’s infallible and inerrant word.”

Citing Luke 24:25-27, 44-49, Cooper emphasized, “The Essenes already knew what Jesus revealed to his disciples and followers, that the whole Old Testament was filled with words about him.”

Cooper also pointed to the highly developed moral code based on their messianic hope of a coming Teacher of Righteousness.

Faith a theme in eulogies of NASA shooting victim

LEAGUE CITY?”Just tell them about David and tell them about Jesus.”

That was the advice of Linda Beverly to her pastor when he asked what he should speak about at her husband’s funeral on April 26.

Each person who spoke at the memorial service for David Beverly, a NASA engineer who was fatally shot in his Johnson Space Center office April 20 by a NASA contract employee, mentioned his faith in God as being the fundamental element of who he was. Hundreds attended the service at Bay Area First Baptist Church in League City, including people from the upper echelons of Johnson Space Center to salt-of-the-earth motorcycle enthusiasts?a testimony to Beverly’s wide range of associations and friendships in life.

Friend and fellow biker Robert Maddocks said Beverly lived life to the fullest. His love for the Lord and his wife seemed closely rivaled by his passion for his motorcycles. Beverly and his wife, Linda, were members of six motorcycle clubs, attending rallies with groups and touring across the United States, Canada and Mexico on their own.

Before any motorcycle rally, designated bikers perform a pre-ride. The ride, Maddocks explained, follows the route of the rally in order to check road conditions. “I’m convinced, dear friends, he is conducting the ultimate pre-ride.” And to David, he added, “We’re all going to be joining you at [God’s] rally real soon.”

Beverly’s younger brother, Bill Jackman, said of him. “He was and still is my hero.”

But before he addressed the congregation about his relationship with his brother, Jackman read from Matthew 18 where Peter asks Jesus how many times a person is to forgive an offender. It was the only allusion to the shooting during the funeral, a service Pastor Randall Williams called an occasion to celebrate the life of Beverly and proclaim the name and fame of Jesus Christ.

Jackman recalled as a young boy tagging along behind his brother who was eight years older. It broke his heart when David left home for college and marriage, he said. And now, he added, “after all these years, he has left home again. He has moved on.”

Throughout the service, speakers pointed to the stalwart strength and genuine good-natured attitude of Linda Beverly.

As Linda Beverly entered the sanctuary, followed by a long line of family members just prior to the start of the service, she turned to those gathered and waved at familiar faces, smiled and waved some more.

Williams closed the service with an invitation to salvation. Quoting 2 Corinthians 5:6-9, he said Beverly was ready to depart. “Even in his last moments he was a man of peace. He would say to you, you can have the same sense of purpose and meaning and it comes from God. Make sure you’re ready for your day of departure.”

Printed in the program were these words: “David’s faith in Jesus Christ guided him throughout his life. Those who believe in the Lord and Savior know this is but a temporary separation and that a joyous reunion awaits us with him.”

RELATED ARTICLES
Shooting victim was an

Shooting victim was an active Southern Baptist, greeter at his church.

League City?As David Beverly and William Phillips had lunch together on April 20 with another colleague, Beverly told Phillips about his faith in Jesus Christ. Later in the afternoon, back at their office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Phillips fatally shot Beverly, his supervisor, and then killed himself.

With the country still reeling from the mass murders at Virginia Tech University on April 16, Doug Belisle said he was stunned to learn that a similar tragedy had hit home with the news of Beverly’s death.

Listening to news reports that day, Belisle, like so many others in the communities that surround the Johnson Space Center near Houston, hoped no one he knew was involved in the reported shooting that occurred in Building 44 on the NASA site.

Then came bad news: Beverly, 62, a NASA employee and faithful member of Bay Area First Baptist Church, was the one who was fatally shot. The shooter was Phillips, who worked for NASA contractor Jacob’s Engineering Group Inc. News reports indicate Phillips was distraught over a poor job performance evaluation and feared being fired.

The Houston Chronicle quoted colleagues who said Phillips was not in danger of being fired. The Chronicle described Phillips as an unmarried loner who appeared obsessed with job security.

Belisle, adult ministries pastor at Bay Area First Baptist Church, said he began to question what he should say during Sunday morning services. Belisle knew three weeks prior that the church’s senior pastor, Randall Williams, would be out of town and that he was scheduled to fill the pulpit.

What he did not anticipate was the carnage of the previous week and that it would include a member of his own church.

The 31-year-old pastor knew that at moments such as this a congregation seeks words of peace from God and they expect the pastor to deliver it.

“As I looked over my notes at the pulpit, I thought ‘God put this on my heart three weeks ago.'” And so he preached the sermon he had originally prepared. “It turned out that it spoke perfectly to the situation.”

From Mark 10?the story of the rich young ruler?the pastor told his congregation, many of whom were grieving for the loss of their friend, that the ruler was given an identity check. Jesus’ response to the man’s question of how to attain heaven meant he would have to forsake all he had. Would the rich man’s identity be found in faith in Christ or in his possessions?

“God does that to us all the time by inserting crisis into our lives. Am I finding my identity in what I do or in who I belong to?” Belisle asked the congregation.

It was clear to the pastor and those who knew Beverly that his identity was found in Christ. Phillips, mistakenly assuming he was going to lose his job and what his relatives told the Houston Chronicle was largely his identity, could not see beyond the moment and lashed out with a deadly reaction.

Although Beverly enjoyed his job as a NASA engineer, it did not define him, Belisle said. Though his faith was barely a footnote in most news stories following the tragedy, Belisle said Beverly’s faith and commitment to his church and his wife, Linda, was prominent.

ARE YOU PREPARED TO GIVE AN ANSWER?

AUSTIN?When Muslim-born Afshin Ziafat of Houston asks youth camp crowds whether they know how to share the gospel with their friends, only a few dozen hands are raised. Meanwhile, halfway around the world, younger children in the Middle East are schooled in memorizing the Koran, spreading the message of a false religion, he said. As the two cultures are integrating, Ziafat questioned whether Christians are prepared to share their faith.

“What’s going to happen when the Eastern world grows up memorizing their Koran and our kids grow up really good at Halo?” he asked the crowd of 250 people gathered at Great Hills Baptist Church of Austin for this year’s Acts 1:8 SENT Conference, a missions mobilization event sponsored by the SBTC. “What do we do in our youth groups? We’ve got the Xbox games and we smear peanut butter on their faces and throw stuff to see if it sticks.”

Ziafat challenged missions leaders from churches and parachurch ministries to more adequately prepare themselves and their students “to give a defense to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is within you,” quoting from I Peter 3:15.

Reminding the audience that they were called to be ambassadors of Christ sent forth with a message, he warned that Christians too often become comfortable in the land to which they were sent out to deliver the King’s message.

“You are first a Christian whose citizenship is in heaven. Even in America you are a foreigner and you are to be an ambassador.

SBTC Senior Missions Associate Terry Coy used Acts 10 to show the influence of one’s nationality, family, experiences and other factors to form a worldview.

“Every worldview comes under the scrutiny, correction and judgment of Scripture,” he reminded, noting Peter’s willingness to hear from God about his elitist and legalistic Judaism so that he might confront Cornelius with his inadequate worldview.

“The Word is inerrant and infallible. I am not. I get messed up when I pay too much attention to my background and experiences,” he said, adding that history, tradition, family and experiences can get in the way of what the Bible says.

“The Word steps on our toes, gets into our comfort zone, makes us queasy and uncomfortable. But the Word has the final word,” Coy said. “So although I hold to the core?like Peter?I still need to have much of my personal and cultural baggage examined and corrected.”

He warned against either the extreme of arrogance that confuses the message with a cultural way of life, a cultural or political ideology or a personal preference or experience and the relativistic tendency to give every worldview equal value.

When encountering an unbiblical, biblically incomplete or even an opposing worldview, Christians should speak the truth in love, showing respect and humility, he urged. Correcting an errant worldview often leads to misunderstanding or confrontation, Coy acknowledged. From Acts 11 he pointed to the necessity of Peter’s explanation.

“He did it well and verse 18 says they had ‘no further objections and praised God,'” Coy concluded, calling on Christians engaged in missions to examine their own worldview against the standard of Scripture.

Through nearly 30 breakout sessions, mission leaders from all over the nation challenged participants, ranging in age from 15 to 72. Representatives of the North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, SBTC and partnering groups were among those leading the sessions.

“This conference is designed for all of those who want to sharpen their skills in engaging the culture around them?from their local communities to the ends of the earth,” said Tiffany Smith, SBTC missions mobilization associate.

Several sessions addressed the preparation phase through prayer walking, living cross culturally, faith and finances, vocational calling, and missions and trip planning. Developing a vision for missions was the focus of sessions describing God’s heart for the nations and reaching a lost world.

Board affirms nature of God statement

GLORIETA, N.M.?A resolution on the Affirmation of the Person of God, drafted by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, was approved April 24 by the SBTC Executive Board.

The resolution prompted a lengthy discussion at the meeting of the need to distinguish the God of the Bible as different in person from the Allah of historical Islam and the Koran.

In March, Golden Triangle Baptist Association asked several Baptist bodies to state their views on the nature of God following an Austin event, sponsored by the ethics arms of another state convention, where the biblical God was equated with the Allah of Islam.

Specifically, GTBA asked both state conventions in Texas and the Southern Baptist Convention to confirm that all their institutions and employees, and related faith statements, affirm the article on the doctrine of God that is similarly stated in the 1963 and 2000 editions of the Baptist Faith & Message.

The SBTC resolution addresses the revelation of God in Scripture, describing the doctrine of God as the first and central axiom of Christian theology. Noting the SBTC regards the BF&M 2000 as its statement of faith and requires its affirmation by affiliating churches, employees and institutions with which it partners, the resolution answers the concerns raised by the association by affirming the biblical teaching of the person of God as expressed in the Baptist Faith & Message.

The statement further resolved “that we affirm that the God of the Bible is different in Person from the Allah of historical Islam and the Koran.”

Additionally, “We stand united in the faith precious to the church throughout the ages, and bear witness to the limitless majesty and glory of the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God,” and expresses continued prayer “that all peoples may come to know the God of the Bible through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord,” citing John 14:6-11.

Board member Nathan Lino of Humble expressed appreciation for the response sent by the Executive Committee, urging passage of an additional statement regarding evangelism strategies among Muslims that appear to equate the God of the Bible with the god of the Koran.

John Brunson of Houston asked fellow board members to affirm the resolution as a response to the association’s inquiry before considering a separate statement addressing the reference to God as Allah in mission strategies. After evaluating various ways to address their shared concern, board members asked Lino to write a resolution for consideration at their August meeting, giving time for all members to study the issue further.

Glorieta Conference Center provided the setting for the annual retreat as board member Steve Cochran opened the meeting expressing gratitude to God “for placing this lighthouse location here where many lives have been changed.”

The board declined to approve a motion to allow churches beyond Texas to affiliate with the SBTC, while welcoming those in nearby areas along state borders to participate in training and fellowship opportunities. The recommendation from the Executive Committee will be presented in the fall to the SBTC messenger body.

The issue arose after a motion was made at last year’s annual meeting by Michael R. Lovely of First Baptist Church, Queen City, requesting an amendment to the SBTC Constitution to allow out-of-state affiliations.

Board member Steve Swofford of Rockwall explained: “The committee felt allowing a church outside the state of Texas to affiliate?no matter how emotional the tie, how close they are to the border?would open us up to criticism that we are no longer a state convention,” h

Only churches can stop Baptist predators

Here’s the bottom line at the top: neither the Southern Baptist Convention nor any other Baptist denominational entity has any standing, any power or any official business intervening between a local church and even the worst minister they employ. Those who say otherwise either have no understanding of or no respect for the essential definition of Southern Baptist cooperation.

I say this in the context of calls for the SBC to maintain or even investigate cases of sexual abuse by pastors. Christa Brown of Houston claims to be such a victim and has started an organization and website aimed at “stopping Baptist predators.” I have no reason to doubt her testimony or to oppose her basic intent.

Her story is poignant and the details are terrible. The abuse she suffered obviously left her with pain and a justified anger toward those who took no reasonable action to protect her. No doubt her case is typical of victims who suffer abuse in our day. Again, I agree with her intent to stop predators.

At the same time, I would disagree with her by saying that I don’t believe there is anyone in denominational service who is less than horrified at the thought or reality of ministers who abuse people in this way. Mrs. Brown seems to think that if we cared we could find a way to make our polity work and still apply top down pressure on churches that are careless in their pastor search process. She also thinks there is something we can do to ordained ministers who practice or cover up sexual abuse in their churches.

Her proposal for Southern Baptists is that we create a database of ministers convicted of sex offenses and that we form an independent committee tasked to investigate charges of such abuse by ministers. Presumably the results of these investigations would also be posted somewhere so that churches can make sure that their ministers are not predators. Mrs. Brown’s rhetoric also implies that the denomination can exert some pressure on churches that do not take appropriate care in their ministry hiring process.

She’s wrong about something very important. There is no top down authority in the Southern Baptist Convention. The denomination does not direct churches or control ordination, as would be the case in many denominations. To make it otherwise in some small way would be to burn the village in hopes of thus saving it.

Our churches are the building blocks of all denominational organization. They are not local franchises of the national “headquarters” and they are not directed by any employed or elected official of the denomination. If SBC churches decided to affirm something horrible, as they did a couple of decades back regarding abortion, that becomes the stand of the SBC, regardless of what the president or any convention employee says on the subject.

I’d even go so far as to say that the impossible-to-imagine success of her proposal would make the problem worse. Denominations that work in hierarchy are more prone to the abuse of authority because individuals are apportioned more authority of necessity. Current cases where an individual has covered for a coworker or friend have been localized. Nationalize Southern Baptist power over local ministry and you will likely nationalize this very human tendency to wink at the sins of a friend and magnify the sins of a stranger or adversary.

There is simply more accountability in our bottom up polity than there is in any human hierarchy. It doesn’t look that way on paper but the theory never takes into account the fallen nature of mankind.

If I were Christa Brown, I would not be very convinced by arguments that point out the logistical nightmare of making such a list and constantly checking it for accuracy. Neither would I care about the certain damage an accused minister would face after being investigated, cleared, and perhaps having the results posted on a national website. Would you hire a youth director the whole church knows has just been cleared of child abuse?

She will not likely care about these things but they are easily predictable reality. The SBC would become too much involved in this work as our main mission. It would be endlessly controversial, result in many lawsuits, and still leave room for the abuse of power by those determined to prey on those in their ministries. Always be leery of an argument that requires us to believe that the potential of saving one person from harm justifies any action and is worth any cost. Nothing works that way and the payoff is rarely what we’d hoped.

For that reason I do not favor the motion being proposed by an Oklahoma pastor that we investigate the feasibility of such a database of offenders. This relatively small step wil

Welch: Southern Baptists must move from comfort zones to reach the lost

KATY?Bobby Welch is continuing his six?week tour across Texas, speaking at churches, sharing his Vietnam war testimony at “God and Country” rallies, and walking door-to-door to share the gospel. But each of these events is couched in an underlying passion to see the local church reach its neighbors and reverse a disturbing trend of fewer baptisms in Southern Baptist churches.

Welch, the Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, is also encouraging congregations to be a part of the convention in San Antonio, including the Crossover evangelistic outreach held prior to the convention June 9-10.

At an April 23 rally at the First Baptist Church of Katy near Houston, Welch told the sold-out crowd that although he was a Christian when he fought in Southeast Asia, he was not living the life of a believer. Consequently, he faced death with great trepidation and disgrace?not the fear of dying but the shame of facing his Lord after living a worldly life, he explained.

Welch was not expected to live when his limp, nearly lifeless body was loaded onto a helicopter from a field in Vietnam. When he awoke in a hospital days later he asked for a glass of water and a Bible. His recommitment to his faith was solidified.

That commitment is evidenced in Welch’s passion for evangelism. In an interview before the Katy rally, Welch spoke with urgency about the church’s commitment to winning the lost.

“The local church is everything,” he said as an explanation of why he is, once again, touring the country in an effort to stir local churches to action. The SBC, he lamented, is unable “to unify our efforts” for evangelism and discipleship. The declining numbers of baptisms within the convention are evidence of that lack of unity, he said, even though the SBC does some large-scale things such as the Cooperative Program well.

At the invitation of Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Welch is touring Texas in an encore to his “Everyone Can!” evangelism tour as SBC president from 2004-2006. Welch said his concern over the decline in baptisms is not about numbers. It’s not about filling pews. The decline, he said, indicates a lack of evangelism and discipleship effort at a local level.

“Are people coming into the church as in days past?” he asked. “Even the brightest spots are fading spots.”

There seems to be a cycle that, if uninterrupted, is self-perpetuating and actualizes itself in a consistent increase in church membership, he said.

“Baptism is a huge step toward discipleship,” he added, but baptism does not happen without evangelism. Evangelism leads to belief, to baptism, to discipleship, to church involvement, to more evangelism, Welch explained.

“One way to measure that?discipleship?is baptism. It is an indication of people coming into the church and getting involved.

“I have a suspicion that we’re leaving out all of it,” he said.

In the process of “doing church,” evangelism and discipleship are being left behind, partly because evangelism does not come naturally to most Christians, Welch said.

“Evangelism is the hardest thing to do. It is not our nature.”

Welch also said there is sometimes a resistance to intentional evangelism.

“In this day and time you can’t reach people with intentional evangelism,” Welch said, mimicking the argument of critics.

Prior to shooting, NASA supervisor witnessed to troubled employee




League City, Texas ? As David Beverly and William Phillips had lunch together last Friday with another colleague, Beverly told Phillips about his faith in Jesus Christ. Later in the afternoon, back at their office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Phillips fatally shot Beverly, his supervisor, and then killed himself.

With the country still reeling from the mass murders at Virginia Tech University on April 16, Doug Belisle said he was stunned to learn that a similar tragedy had hit home with the news of Beverly’s death.

Listening to news reports last Friday, Belisle, like so many others in the communities that surround the Johnson Space Center near Houston, hoped no one he knew was involved in the reported shooting that occurred in Building 44 on the NASA site.

Then came bad news: Beverly, 62, a NASA employee and faithful member of Bay Area First Baptist Church, had been fatally shot. The shooter was Phillips, who worked for NASA contractor Jacob’s Engineering Group Inc. News reports indicate Phillips was distraught over a poor job performance evaluation and feared getting fired.

The Houston Chronicle quoted colleagues who said Phillips was not in danger of getting fired. The Chronicle described Phillips as an unmarried loner who appeared obsessed with job security.

Belisle, adult ministries pastor at Bay Area First Baptist Church, said he began to question what he should say during Sunday morning services. Belisle knew three weeks prior that the church’s senior pastor, Randall Williams, would be out of town and that he was scheduled to fill the pulpit.

What he did not anticipate was the carnage of the previous week and that it would include a member of his own church.

The 31-year-old pastor knew that at moments such as this a congregation seeks words of peace from God and they expect the pastor to deliver it.

“As I looked over my notes at the pulpit, I thought ‘God put this on my heart three weeks ago.'” And so he preached the sermon he had originally prepared. “It turned out that it spoke perfectly to the situation.”

From Mark 10 ? the story of the rich young ruler ? the pastor told his congregation, many of whom were grieving for the loss of their friend, that the ruler was given an identity check. Jesus’ response to the man’s question of how to attain heaven meant he would have to forsake all he had. Would the rich man’s identity be found in a faith in Christ or in his possessions?

“God does that to us all the time by inserting crisis into our lives. Am I finding my identity in what I do or in who I belong to?” Belisle asked the congregation.

It was clear to the pastor and those who knew Beverly that his identity was found in Christ. Phillips, mistakenly assuming he was going to lose his job and what his relatives told the Houston Chronicle was largely his identity, could not see beyond the moment and lashed out with a deadly reaction.

SBC’s Land comments on Supreme Court’s upholding of partial birth abortion ban

NASHVILLE, Tenn.?Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in Nashville, Tenn., released a statement April 18 on the Supreme Court’s upholding of a federal ban on partial birth abortion.


Land commented: “The 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the ban on the barbarous and grotesque procedure known as partial birth abortion means the procedure is now mercifully against the law in the United States of America. The procedure involves a partially born baby, most often viable or full-term, being delivered except for its head and then being killed through the insertion of a surgical instrument into the partially born infant’s brain.

“This decision is a powerful and timely reminder of the enormous significance of presidential elections and their pivotal impact on the makeup of the Supreme Court.

“If Al Gore or John Kerry, rather than President George W. Bush, had made the nominations to replace the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist and retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, then this monstrous partial birth abortion procedure would have likely been upheld by the highest court as constitutional in the land in a 6-3 vote, rather than being struck down 5-4. It would have been a decade or more before there would have been an opportunity to change the balance of the court in favor of this monumental step for justice for our partially born and unborn citizens.

“Thank God for President Bush, and thank God for Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.”

Outrages enough for all

I saw a bumper sticker last week that read, “If you aren’t outraged, you’re not paying attention!” There was probably a story or cause behind it but it seemed to suit our times in an ironic way. I disagree with the message, by the way.

This issue of the TEXAN has stories of events that we could all agree are outrageous. Children are beheaded for being from Christian families; their murderers get a prison sentence more appropriate for a bank robber. Other Christians are murdered in Nigeria and Ethiopia for rejecting another “peace-loving” religion. Nursing homes are forbidden from blocking the killing of clients by “merciful” physicians–on the home’s own property. An influential segment of the Israeli government is suggesting that evangelism should be made illegal. And so it goes. It’s all outrageous, and not just this paltry selection of terrible things.

Add to this a selection of things that some of my fellow Americans find upsetting but I don’t so much, and you’ve got a potential rebellion on every corner. Let’s not, though.

I am trying to pay attention. On my better days, I’m not outraged so much as saddened by the parade of sorrows that depraved humanity joins with such energy. We see some of the aftermath of mankind’s best efforts at fixing things in places like Brooke Army Medical Center. It can be shocking and poignant until it leaves us speechless, but I reject the notion that we should be hopeless, or often furious.

Outrage is occasionally useful. Jesus was outraged when he cleared the temple. Moses was outraged when he came down from Sinai the first time. Determination is useful more often; so is faith, and also hope. These things are far more common than fury among those God gave us for examples.

We are not without comfort in the midst of daily alarms. Neither are the more immediate victims of murder, war, and injustice.

We also know that the redemptive purpose of God is more than sufficient for the things that frighten us (Romans 5:15-21). We know that the most unanswerable tragedy is already in the process of being worked out (Romans 8:18-25). The best use of our time, then, is to find our calling–our part of the load, and bear it well. To be distracted by every news brief or e-mail forward is to be like the general who got on his horse and rode off in all directions.

And no general who rode a horse ever had the access to information (much of it outrageous) that we have today. We hear about a home invasion in Wichita and double check our doors assuming it could happen in our home, any minute. We read about a city council across the country from us that wants to ban the pledge of allegiance and we get our back up on that community’s behalf, even if ours is very different. It’s not usually our part of the load, so it’s a distraction.

Of course, those who seem to me to be too often in the outrage mode are trying to recruit workers for their cause. They assume, maybe rightly, that many of us watch complacently instead of seeking our own calling. In an effort to engage the passive in the fight, a fight, any fight, they send their calls out as broadly as they can. I guess that was the clumsy intent of the bumper sticker. Understandable but overdone.

So give peace a chance. There is a place of engagement between complacency and freaked out. There’s a place for each of us that still leaves us peace amid the storm. The men Jesus gave his peace to in John 20:21 were mostly future martyrs. The same is true to a lesser degree of Paul’s “grace and peace” greetings in his letters to churches.

No one is denying that the storm is real. There is horror in seeing the innocent and the guilty alike swept overboard as the ship lurches and rolls wildly. There is a role for those who guide the ship into the wind, another for those who manage the sails, a huge role for those who rescue the perishing, and a place below deck for those who mend the injured. There is just not much need for people who only shriek and complain.

It’s more likely that those of us who are not usually outraged know something that the easily panicked do not get. We are paying attention and agree that things are serious. That’s why we preach a hope more serious and pertinent than any action that has entered into the heart of man.