Sunday, June 1, 2008

Endorsements: Dr. Frank Cox for President

This week we journey to Indianapolis to attend the 2008 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. I plan to cast my ballot in the presidential election for Dr. Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church, Lawrenceville, GA.

The Southern Baptist Convention is not about any individual. I've met a lot of nice people in the SBC during my lifetime whose life and service I would gladly choose to honor, but the presidency of our convention is not a "key to the city" to hand out as an honorary token of esteem. I've met a lot of skilled expositors or gifted leaders from whose gifts I have personally benefitted, but the presidency of our convention is not a "Lifetime Achievement Award" to mark someone's contributions. Rather, the presidency of the SBC fulfills at least two important roles.

First, the president of the SBC has the opportunity to be the foremost cheerleader and motivator to local church pastors and members in their service to the Lord. As such, I think that Frank Cox's example and message will be healthy to the churches of our convention. It is an example and message of faithfulness in ministry. Dr. Cox is still pastoring the first church he entered just coming out of seminary. His years there have not all been easy ones, yet he has persevered. Perseverance, as important as it may have been in the last decade, will (by my prediction) become an even more important ministry tool in the decades to come. His is also an example and message of sacrificial cooperation. North Metro sacrificially gives through the Cooperative Program. Theirs is an example worthy of commendation to our churches.

Second, the president of the SBC shapes the future of the convention through his appointments. I am confident that Frank Cox will make sound conservative appointments as our president. His stated philosophy of SBC polity is that we should select our trustees carefully and deliberately—making sure that we have the best trustees possible—and then trust our trustees to do their jobs well, holding them accountable to the convention not by neutering them and trashing our system of polity but by working through our polity as it has existed and served us well for several generations.

Until his nomination, I had never heard of Frank Cox. Now I find him successful enough to have accumulated the skills and relationships to be able to serve effectively as president, yet humble and just obscure enough (meant in a good way) to relate well to pastors from a broad swath of situations in our convention. I am far from the first to endorse him online. His blogging endorsements reveal a diverse informal coalition of support that includes people both east and west of the Mississippi; people at small, mid-sized, and large churches; people both closer and further to Geneva in their soteriology alike; and people transcending the generations in our convention.

In the face of that broad array of endorsements, I do not know that mine adds any momentum to his candidacy. Nevertheless, I am enthusiastic and hopeful in giving it, believing that Frank Cox represents precisely the sort of leadership that our convention needs in the coming two years.

8 comments:

CB Scott said...

And suddenly we all knew the lights were on in Bart's head.

:-)

cb

John Killian said...

Dr. Barber
Great endorsement.
John Killian

peter lumpkins said...

Bart,

I knew the voice of reason would prevail :^)

I hope you don't mind if I c/p a comment from my thread. Mark should have written the main post!


Peter,

I don't know that you and I have ever met. If we have and I have forgotten, please forgive me.

I left a national denominational agency (SBC) to return to pastor a local church (ClearView Baptist Church, Franklin, TN) just over a year ago. As I did so, I made a commitment not to attend another SBC Convention. [This for reasons I won't go in to here.] However, this was before I knew Frank Cox would be nominated for President of the SBC. I will now be making the journey to Indianapolis to register my vote. I will do so for the following reason.

I served on Frank's staff during the period of time he found out about Debbie's tumor. I was also there during the time of the attempted "overthrow" by a group of extremely mean-spirited church members. As his book points out, the two incidents were very close to one another. Looking back 24-25 years later, I don't see how (besides God's grace) Frank withstood the pressure. He and Debbie were still very young (in their 20's). But there was a spiritual maturity about them well beyond their years.

I slept in the floor of the waiting room of the Northside Hospital alongside Frank several nights at the time of Debbie's first surgery. He loved her as deeply as any husband I have known.

I sat through the worst business meeting I ever set through (before or since ... and I am a SBC pastor's son as well as a SBC pastor myself ... so I have set through my share). The group present that evening were strange faces for the most part to me and I had been on staff for 6 months to that point. They showed up only to create problems. The group that night voted to change most things Frank had led the church to change in the few years he had served as pastor. To this day, the only explanation I know for their not voting to dismiss Frank on the spot is the grace and sovereignty of God. It was a miracle.

A pastor search committee from another church (larger) approached Frank and Debbie about coming to serve as their pastor. It would have been natural, understandable, and even expected for him to go. He walked into my office after visiting this church and told me about the opportunity and then he said, "What would you do?" I said, "Frank, I would take it." Immediately Frank said, "God is not going to allow it. I am to stay here as pastor."

I would like to think I would have the courage and the integrity to be obedient and clear about hearing God's direction in a situation like that, but I fear I might not. On several occasions since that experience I have wanted to quit. I have wanted to walk away from ministry. But each time, that conversation in my office has been replayed by the Holy Spirit. Surely, if Frank could hang on under unbearable circumstances (personal and professional) surely I can with God's help.

Needless to say, I will be Indianapolis to punch my chad for Frank Cox. It is not that I have anything against any of the other candidates. I love Johnny Hunt and pastored a church 7 miles from his FBC Woodstock. He always treated me with great respect. But God gave me a glance behind the curtain of one of His chosen men that was living out his calling in what was then a small church with no recognition or fanfare. Who stayed with the stuff in the most difficult of times when no one else knew who Frank Cox was, other than the Savior he was so committed to obey.

Mark Marshall
mxmarsh@clearview.org
mark-marshall.com

Thanks, Mark! With that, I am...

Peter

Mark said...

I appreciate Peter passing along my comment on his blog. Though I blog, I don't have the visibility in the blogosphere many of you guys have. So I wasn't quite sure where or how to get the word out in your stream. Thanks Peter for the help! Frank is the real deal.
Mark Marshall

Dave Samples said...

Gentlemen,

You make a compelling case for Dr. Cox. I'm not quite willing, though, to give him my vote at this point.

Honestly, guys I struggle with the IMB disqualifying what very well may be individuals gifted and called by the Holy Spirit. I very much wish the IMB would reconsider her guideline in light of, what I believe, is the plain teaching of Scripture. I have read all of the candidates statements to BP with my admitted bias that I am deeply interested by conviction in voting for a candidate who believes that there is room in the SBC tent for all of the gifts of the Spirit. I don't believe a "personal" prayer language should disqualify or even be considered one way or another in appointing IMB personnel. I don't want to pick a fight or even stir the waters. I'm just a simple small church pastor who reads the Bible and believes what it says (as you do as well). I find no biblical evidence that the gifts have ceased and to the contrary find clear biblical teaching that it is the Spirit who gifts whomever he chooses and that we have no right to tell another gifted part of the body that we don't need them anymore.

I should probably just delete this and move on in my reading but I will submit it for the sake of conviction.

I appreciate your comments and your high endorsement of Dr. Cox. I am certain, based on Mark's endorsement, that he will serve us well if elected.

Blessings upon you all!

Dave

Bart Barber said...

Dave Samples,

Very few of those who regard PPL as a human-concocted phenomenon would describe themselves as cessationists. What some call "discernment" I have oft discovered to be mere pickiness, prejudice, or negativity. By saying so, I am neither denying the reality of the gift of discernment nor denying the Holy Spirit the right to impart that gift. Rather, I am entering a discussion as to what the gift of discernment essentially is.

The debate about the spiritual gift of tongues is taking place along similar lines.

Dave Samples said...

Bart,

Well said. I think that all of the Spiritual Gifts could suffer the same scrutiny, and maybe should. The IMB most certainly should be examining the spiritual gifts (not to mention the lives) of potential candidates for authenticity. Not everything that is blamed on God is of God. That being said, My church has several "closet" tongues-speakers and I am, as of yet, unwilling to throw them under the bus. If they are less than genuine--God is their judge. If they are genuine and I judge them to be less than genuine--then God is my judge. (spoken from a mercy gift bias...lol).

Blessings upon you, my friend!

Dave

The Soul Theologian said...

Hey Brother Bart,

I'm just saying Amen to this post on your blog.

Mark's comments and testimony just brings it home for.

I love the name of this blog!