Archives For Frank Page

Our differences are theological and generational—and growing.

Wittenberg Doors

Nailing his 95 theses to it on October 31, 1517, disgruntled monk Martin Luther made the church door at Wittenberg a famous 16th-century landmark, and a modern-day tourist attraction.

Five hundred years after Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation with his publicly posted list of grievances against Catholic church leaders and practices, to say the movement made a lasting impact on Christians of all stripes is a gross understatement.

Southern Baptists have certainly been shaped by the doctrines of the Reformation, but the question of just how Reformed we are has created a growing divide in the denomination. As Christians worldwide celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, Southern Baptists continue to wrestle with how deeply we will be people of the Reformation in the next hundred years or two.

In his 2017 book on the Reformation, Alec Ryrie wrote that “like all great revolutions, it had created a new world.” And, like all revolutions, the Reformation has come with its own set of growing pains. Over 500 years, believers and non-believers have struggled with the tenets of the Reformers, leading to the formation of many Christian denominations, and differing strains even within those groups.

Baptists have roots in the Reformation, but often hold with varying degrees of conviction to the five points of doctrine most closely associated with Reformed theology, or Calvinism.

In the past decade, the debate over theology in the Southern Baptist Convention has found a new home: Blogs have given voice to proponents of Calvinism, and also to those who consider their soteriological views to be more traditionally Southern Baptist. The two streams hold separate meetings and conferences, but also gather annually at the Southern Baptist Convention, and have pledged to focus on the primary issues of evangelism and the Great Commission, rather than letting secondary issues divide them.

But exactly what that looks like is unclear, as is how the theological debate in the Convention will ultimately affect Southern Baptist churches. With baptisms trending downward, the questions of why and how and when we do evangelism, and what we say when we do it, have never felt more important.

As Alabama pastor Eric Hankins told the Illinois Baptist, “The controversy (over Reformed theology in the SBC) isn’t driven by pragmatic issues of working together. It’s driven by the growing realization that the two soteriological systems are incompatible.

“Should I want to share the gospel [along] with someone who thinks I have a deficient view of the nature of conversion? We’re going to have to articulate very specifically why we want to continue to work together when we believe very different things, or one side is going to have to make some adjustments in its doctrine.”

Judging from the proliferation of passionate theological arguments shared over the past decade, that’s unlikely.

Diagnosing the divides
“I am not a Calvinist,” Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines wrote in an e-mail exchange earlier this year. Yet Gaines, pastor of a Tennessee megachurch, leads a denomination that most admit is increasingly Calvinistic in its leadership, if not in its pews.

“Without question, Calvinism is increasing in the SBC. How will that affect the SBC in the years to come? I don’t know,” Gaines said in the e-mail interview with Kyle Gulledge, editor of the blog SBC Today.

“I am not a Calvinist. I believe God loves everybody the same, Jesus died for everybody the same, and that anyone can be saved….If someone hears the gospel and is not saved, it is because they chose to reject Christ, not because God chose not elect them to salvation,” Gaines said.

“Many Calvinists would have a problem with what I just said. Yet, I am convinced that what I just said represents the prevailing theological beliefs of the majority of Southern Baptist laypeople.”

Gaines’ words are echoed in the principles that bond Connect316, a group of Southern Baptist pastors and leaders who organized in 2013 around what they called a “traditional” Southern Baptist understanding of salvation theology. At the recent Connect316 meeting in Phoenix, Hankins pointed to the influence of Calvinism in the SBC over the past 25 years, noting, “It’s clear that traditionalists, even though we are the theological majority in the SBC, are the minority in terms of leadership and influence in the convention.”

Much of that influence emanates from SBC seminaries, including arguably the most influential Southern Baptist Calvinist, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Many credit him with facilitating the rise of Calvinism in the denomination. And two of his former staff at Southern are now leading SBC seminaries as well, Danny Akin, president of Southeastern, and Midwestern President Jason Allen.

Together, three of the six SBC seminaries have schooled a generation of pastors in the Reformed perspective. The question is whether any of the remaining three will shift their theological slant when new leadership takes office.

In 2006, Mohler sat down with another seminary president to publicly discuss the growing theological divide in the SBC. Paige Patterson, 74, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a non-Calvinist, was Mohler’s foil in two standing-room only sessions during the Pastors’ Conference in Greensboro,

Baptist Press’ reporting on the conversation between Mohler and Patterson emphasizes both men’s congeniality toward one another, despite their clear theological differences. “This is a conversation among close friends,” Mohler said. Each warned those who would agree with them against vilifying the other side.

“I would caution my non-Calvinist brethren against the conclusion that the doctrine of Calvin automatically means that a person will not and cannot be evangelistic,” Patterson said. “…One of the commands that the Lord gives is to take the gospel to the ends of earth. No Calvinist worthy of his stripe would thereby disobey a command of God.”

Mohler urged Calvinists to remember their first priority. “It is not healthy to have a person who will drive across the state to debate Calvinism but won’t even drive across the street to share the gospel.”

The seminary presidents pointed in 2006 to the key area of impact for today’s theological debate: evangelism.

Multiple views

Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines (left) and other SBC leaders addressed several denominational issues, including theological differences, during a panel discussion at June’s annual meeting in Phoenix. With Gaines, panelists are (left to right) Albert Mohler, Danny Akin, ERLC President Russell Moore, J.D. Greear, Texas pastor Matt Chandler, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Executive Director Kevin Smith, and moderator Jedediah Coppenger.

Competing views on salvation
The level of debate intensified in the years leading up to 2012. Just before the 2012 SBC annual meeting, a group of Southern Baptists released “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” Primarily authored by Hankins, the document lays out “traditional” Southern Baptist understanding on salvation, and calls out some “New Calvinists” for trying to establish their position as “the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.”

In its 10 articles, the statement addresses points of doctrine affirmed by traditionalists, and others they reject. For instance, on the election to salvation, the traditionalist statement says, “We affirm that, in reference to salvation, election speaks of God’s eternal, gracious, and certain plan in Christ to have a people who are his by repentance and faith.

“We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation.”

Mohler, responding to the statement, said it was time for the two sides to come together and talk. “May God save us from dividing into tribes, even as we gladly and eagerly talk with one another about the doctrines we cherish, and especially when we discuss the doctrines on which we may disagree.”

The traditionalist statement set the stage for a potentially contentious annual meeting in New Orleans, the very year that the Convention was set to take an historic step.

Trying to find common ground
“Calvin’s been around 500 years, and we have to debate this now?” SBC President Fred Luter winningly joked about the SBC theological debate on a visit to Illinois in 2013, nearly a year after he was elected the denomination’s first African American president. “Why do you guys want to do this on my watch?”

Luter’s good-natured handling of the debate surrounding theology was mostly mirrored at the New Orleans convention, as speakers from the podium urged unity despite differences. Messengers approved a resolution on the “sinner’s prayer,” affirming it as a biblical expression of repentance and faith. And that fall, SBC Executive Committee

President Frank Page appointed a Calvinism study committee to come to a consensus—of sorts—as to how Baptists could work together despite theological differences.

Prior to the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston in 2013, the Calvinism study committee released its report. In it, the group, which included Calvinists and non-Calvinists, wrote about what principles ought to govern theological conversation within the SBC, and detailed specific points of doctrine.

The report also included specific suggestions for Baptists operating within the theological tension, like how candidates for ministry positions (and the search committees interviewing them) ought to be “fully candid and forthcoming about all matters of faith and doctrine.”

Mohler and Hankins had a public conversation about their experience on the study committee in the fall of 2013, modeling for seminarians at Mohler’s institution how to have a dialogue about areas of disagreement. When the conversation turned to evangelism, Mohler used the example of John Wesley and George Whitefield—leaders who had different soteriological views, but who shared the gospel the same way, he said.

“I think we can mislead not only others but ourselves in thinking that we have to have an absolutely common unified soteriology in order to tell people about Jesus because, if so, Southern Baptists would have had to stop doing common missions a very long time ago,” Mohler said.

Their conversation also touched on some of the more personal fallouts of the debate, with Hankins confessing that he as a traditionalist had been made to feel like his soteriology was deficient, or that he was dangerous.

Mohler countered that because they disagree, he does indeed find Hankins’ soteriological views deficient (to laughter from the audience), but not deficient enough to disallow missional cooperation.

“I would not want to be in cooperation with someone who’s soteriology I felt was deficient in a way that harmed the gospel and made common evangelism and missions impossible….If I felt that your soteriology was deficient in any way such as that, this isn’t the kind of conversation we’d be having.”

Castle at Wittenberg

Inside the castle at Wittenberg on a Reformation tour (right), Southern Seminary President Al Mohler preaches in the chapel where Luther regularly spoke.

Igniting evangelistic fire in both camps
The 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas could be the next time the theology debate is poised to make an impact on Southern Baptist life. Gaines will complete his second and final one-year term as president, and could nominate North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear for the office. Gaines mentioned that prospect in 2016, after Greear withdrew his candidacy to prevent a second run-off election between the two.

At the 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix, Gaines confirmed the account, but declined to speak further because he and Greear haven’t discussed it since, according to the North Carolina Biblical Recorder.

Prior to the 2016 convention, Gaines and Greear were viewed as representative of different parts of the SBC: Gaines, then 58, is by his own admission “not a Calvinist.” Greear, then 43, represents a generation that has increasingly embraced Reformed theology. Before Gaines’ election in St. Louis, The Christian Post online newspaper said in a headline, “SBC votes today on whether Millennial Reformed theology represents the future.”

In the end, unity and a cooperative spirit won out. The candidates met, each seeking a way to avoid division, and both volunteered to step aside before Greear ultimately convinced Gaines to accept his concession.

In 2018, should Greear be nominated and elected, he would be the first of his generation of Reformed thinkers to hold the office of SBC president. He also would have the responsibility that all SBC presidents hold to name the Committee on Committees, which names the Committee on Nominations, which nominates trustees for SBC boards. Gaines recently outlined that process, in answer to a question by SBC Today about how everyday Southern Baptists can have a voice in SBC life.

“If ‘the grass-roots, mom-and-pop Southern Baptist members’ want their voice to be heard, they need to elect SBC presidents that will appoint SBC Committee on Committee members who will appoint people who share their convictions,” Gaines said. “They should attend every SBC annual meeting and vote for the SBC president who will best represent their views.”

Gaines has made prayer and evangelism the markers of his presidency. At the June annual meeting in Phoenix, he encouraged all Southern Baptists to focus on evangelism, “regardless of their doctrinal convictions on the matter,” Baptist Press reported.

“Our world is going straight to hell and we need to be one in telling people about Jesus and not letting these secondary things divide us,” Gaines said during a panel discussion hosted by Baptist21, a network of younger Baptist leaders.

He has appointed a soul-winning task force to reverse the trend of declining baptisms and to renew evangelism in the denomination. Greear is part of the team.

“The main thing we can do to go forward is to focus on winning people to Jesus Christ,” Gaines said in Phoenix.

“If you’re a Calvinist or a non-Calvinist, you don’t know who’s lost and who’s saved. I would just say if you’re going to be a Calvinist be a Spurgeon Calvinist, and let’s go out and tell people about Jesus Christ. The bottom line is this: we’re supposed to ask people to repent and believe in the gospel.”

– By Meredith Flynn with reporting by Baptist Press

The Briefing

Charlottesville violence: SBC leaders urge prayer
Southern Baptist pastors and leaders denounced racism and called for prayer in the wake of white nationalist protests that turned into violence and death in Charlottesville, Va. Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), described the rally as “a gathering of hate, ignorance and bigotry. “

Pro-life billboard reaches Chicago’s South Side
The Illinois Family Institute has rented a large billboard on the south side of Chicago with the message: “Abortion Takes Human Life.” It’s located at 59th and Wentworth, overlooking the Dan Ryan expressway (I-90/I-94), just 3 miles south of the White Sox Stadium, west of The University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. The message will be seen 3.86 million times during the month of August, reaching residents all around Chicago’s south side.

Stericycle cancels contracts with abortion centers
The nation’s leading medical waste disposal company has cut ties with hundreds of abortion centers, according to a pro-life activist group. Stericycle, which has a record of hauling aborted fetal waste despite a company policy against doing so, recently reiterated its policy against taking fetal remains and told the group Created Equal that it has “canceled hundreds of contracts with women’s clinics” over the past few years.

Iranian youths mass converting to Christianity
The massive rise of Christianity in Iran, especially among youths, continues despite the Islamic government’s efforts to suppress the faith. Even Islamic leaders admitted that more and more young people are choosing to follow Christ. According to Mohabat News, which reports on the persecution and state of Christianity in Iran, the “exponential rate” of Christian growth has been a factor for the last couple of decades.

Two-thirds of Americans say they’re sinners
Two-thirds of Americans (67%) say they are sinners, according to a new study from LifeWay Research. Most people aren’t too happy about it—only 5% say they’re fine with being sinners. As America becomes more secular, the idea of sin still rings true, said Scott McConnell, executive director of the Nashville-based group. “Almost nobody wants to be a sinner.”

Sources: Baptist Press, Illinois Family, World Magazine, Christian Post, Christianity Today

Opening Day of the SBC

ib2newseditor —  June 13, 2017

Opening Day SBC

The first official day of the Southern Baptist Convention is underway, following three days of pre-meeting activities. Outside the Phoenix Convention Center, LGBT protestors are standing in a circle on the corner nearest the main entrance, receiving instructions on how to talk with messengers about gay and transgender issues,

In the press room, the question is “How soon before someone on the platform says, ‘The Southern Baptist Convention only exists two days a year?’” It’s an inside joke for people who cover the convention 365 days a year, but who recognize that our un-denomination only takes official actions when messengers gather annually to vote.

On the platform, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page is presenting the gavel to SBC President Steve Gaines, who, tapping the ancient mallet gently on the podium, declares the meeting officially open.

And, after 21 days of fasting and prayer, Gaines begins explaining the rules for conducting business, and starting a meeting themed “Pray: For such a time as this.”

Pastor of the Memphis-area megachurch Bellevue, Gaines is expected to be re-elected to a second one-year term as president. Illinois’ own Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, will complete his term as first vice-president.

The main issue, as best we can tell, is whether messengers will bring any motions concerning the future of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and its president, Russell Moore. Speculation among convention regulars is that the ERLC will not be chastised for actions in the 2016 election that perturbed some pastors and church members—but messengers can bring most any kind of motion.

The last opportunity for introducing new business will be at 3:45 p.m. (PT) today. Moore’s report is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. It will be the last item of business.

Watch the livestream at http://live.sbc.net/.

-Eric Reed in Phoenix

Church planter Scott Venable (second from right) shares about the process of starting Mosaic Church in Wicker Park, during a listening session hosted by SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page.

Church planter Scott Venable (second from right) shares about the process of starting
Mosaic Church in Wicker Park, during a listening session hosted by SBC Executive Committee
President Frank Page (photo below).


NEWS | Frank Page
is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, but he also carries the title CEO, which he has often said means “chief encouraging officer.” Operating in that role, Page joined pastors and church planters in northern Illinois for two “listening sessions” in August.

Throughout the year, Page has met with leaders in several states. In Chicagoland, he and members of his staff hosted church planters at a luncheon in Edgewater to discuss specific ministry challenges related to planting in the city. They also were at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church for a session with more than 50 leaders.

“I think the key is building relationships and building trust,” Page told SBC Life about the listening sessions. “It’s time to build some momentum on correct relationships.”

Broadview Pastor Marvin Parker said he was impressed Page “is taking the time to go around the country, to hear what SBC pastors are talking about.” In the Chicago sessions, Page and leaders addressed several issues:

Page_blogChurch size and diversity. Page previously has called small churches the “backbone” of the convention. In the session at Broadview, he told leaders that a large majority of Southern Baptist churches run 100 people or less, said Pastor Don Sharp. “And to me, that’s a story that needs to be told over and over and over again,” said Sharp, pastor of Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church in Chicago.

“…We hear these stories of people coming in places and [the] membership’s quadrupled and the baptisms are off the board, so to speak, but it doesn’t speak to many of us” pastors of small churches, Sharp said. Faced with the comparisons, leaders can fall into fear that they’re the reason their church doesn’t measure up.

“If nothing else, I came out of that meeting with a sense of, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, and leave room for God to do the rest.’”

The group also discussed diversity in the SBC, and the need for more ethnic groups to be represented in convention leadership, Sharp said. He paraphrased Page’s words: “The election of Fred Luter (as the SBC’s first African American president) should not be an anomaly…it shouldn’t take another 30 or 40 years for something like that to happen again.”

Cooperative Program education. The CP is Southern Baptists’ main method of supporting missions around the world, but it doesn’t have a Lottie Moon or Annie Armstrong to help promote it. “One of the keys for the future is to somehow put a face on the Cooperative Program,” said IBSA’s Dennis Conner during the Edgewater meeting of church planters. “We are deep into a cultural shift where people want to know the people they support.”

That challenge is something his team deals with every day, Page said, asking for ideas. The planters suggested using social media or daily news briefs to connect Southern Baptists with missionaries they support through the Cooperative Program.

The Executive Committee’s Ashley Clayton suggested a more foundational plan to help communicate the importance of CP giving in the next generation. “Perfunctory” support for CP has been tailing off for several decades even among older Baptists, Clayton said. There’s a need to elevate again Baptists’ core values, like international missions, reaching unreached people groups, planting churches, and theological education.

“These are core values, that when you say it in a room full of pastors, they nod their heads, they’re in agreement, they go, ‘Yeah, I’ll support that.’”

The Chicago challenge. Also in Edgewater, Page heard from Chicagoland church planters about how long it often takes to grow a church. Michael Allen, city coordinator for Send North America: Chicago, said he tells planters, “When you come to Chicago to plant a church, buy a cemetery plot.”

“In other words, don’t come to Chicago thinking I’m going to try this church planting thing and see if it works out….Many [church planters] who start do not last, and I think primarily they didn’t realize just how hard the ground is, and how much gumption you have to have.”

Page told the leaders around the lunch table that he understands the role of a sponsoring church pastor, but hasn’t had personal experience as a church planter. “I don’t even pretend to understand what you might be going through,” he said.

“I will tell you that what I hear, what I’ve seen in the past four to five years, is that things are changing across our nation….Even in the deep south, we’re seeing an encroaching lostness in some areas that is profoundly more than what you might think.”

The planters and Page discussed the temptation church planters have to move to a new place with the hope of winning the city, but without really understanding its culture and context.

Page said he was praying for “an indigenous move of God, that native Chicagoans will be able to reach the city for Christ, in addition to those that God does bring in from the outside that has called, and equipped, and [that] have the staying power to get it done.”

Christopher and Annette Robinson (right) pray alongside Linda Woods-Smith and Inez Parker at the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore. All four are Broadview Missionary Baptist Church.

Christopher and Annette Robinson (right) pray alongside Linda Woods-Smith and Inez Parker at the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore. All four are members of Broadview Missionary Baptist Church.


Baltimore |
Southern Baptist leaders called an impromptu prayer meeting this morning, asking messengers to gather in small groups and pray for four things: personal revival, revival in our churches, revival in the Southern Baptist Convention, and national revival.

Page_prayer_small

SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page leads in prayer for revival in the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I am a crier. I admit that,” SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page said during the prayer time. “Anyone who knows me knows that I cry easily… sometimes I ought to weep and I don’t.

“I don’t see a lot of weeping for lost people, or for our nation. I don’t see a lot of weeping in the church for anything other than when the service goes too long.

“I’m not going to ask you manufacturer tears…But I am asking that our hearts will be so sensitized for lost people that we have tears.

“May we have tears of regret, of repentance, but also tears of concerned for the lost.

“‘Where are the tears?’ is my question…For lost people, for our nation, for a convention that often seems to have lost its first love.”

Disaster relief volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention visited families whose homes and livelihoods were disrupted by Typhoon Haiyan. The volunteers listened to the families’ heartbreaking stories and prayed with them, then distributed badly needed food and building supplies.  BGR photo, via BP

Disaster relief volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention visited families whose homes and livelihoods were disrupted by Typhoon Haiyan. The volunteers listened to the families’ heartbreaking stories and prayed with them, then distributed badly needed food and building supplies. BGR photo, via BP

THE BRIEFING | Posted by Meredith Flynn

Nearly three months after Typhoon Haiyan, some aid organizations have completed their work in the Philippines. But Baptists are gearing up for a long-term relief effort, led by Baptist Global Response.

“…The need is massive,” BGR Executive Director Jeff Palmer told Baptist Press. “We are initiating large-scale work with communities, local believers and volunteers and will be constantly assessing and gauging the effectiveness of our choices.

“Please continue to pray for our team members and volunteers as they help in the face of overwhelming needs. Pray that we choose the most strategic and effective places to work that truly help people physically and spiritually.”

The biggest repair needs are for water systems, homes and schools, Baptist Press reported. BGR has created a housing kit that will construct a small home on stilts for about $250. The goal is for the construction projects to breathe life into the local job market, Palmer said.

“The community has a labor force needing work, and capable, skilled men will be contracted to work alongside [a] U.S. disaster response team and local volunteer labor when available.”

Disaster Relief chapters from five state conventions – Missouri, California, Tennessee, Kansas-Nebraska, and the Southern Baptists of Texas – have adopted different areas of the Philippines. Read the full story at BPNews.net.

Other news:

Frank Page addresses denominational fault lines in ‘State of the SBC’ speech
The president of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee began a Jan. 15 speech with an analogy about earthquakes. “Fault lines happen even in organizations,” said Frank Page during a “State of the SBC” address at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “And like on the earth, where the fault lines and tectonic plates come together, pressure builds. If that pressure is not alleviated, then deep damage occurs.”

Page addressed some of the denomination’s current and past fault lines, including the debate over Reformed theology. He also spoke about the task force he appointed to study how Baptists with theological differences can work together. “Do I think that fault line is fixed forever? Hardly. But I said to them in all honesty, ‘I want us to work together so that we can at least win some people to Christ for now. Can we do that?'”

Read the full report by Midwestern’s Tim Sweetman at BPNews.net, and click here for a link to Page’s address.

Church ministers through abortion recovery class
Dr. Chris Midkiff likely didn’t know what kind of bombshell she had just dropped during a women’s leadership meeting at Bethel Baptist Church in Troy. The OB/GYN mentioned an abortion recovery Bible study she’d read about called Surrendering the Secret. Some of the women in the meeting personally understood the need for such a study. Read the story here.

One Baptist prof’s take on the Grammy’s
You’ve probably heard about the 33 couples, including some same-sex pairs, married by Queen Latifah during Sunday’s Grammy awards show. The song performed by Macklemore during the ceremony “took aim at Christians and their views on marriage,” blogged Denny Burk, an associate professor at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky. But the lyrics got one thing right, Burk said: We all come from one creator God. Read his post here.

Giving thanks in all things

Meredith Flynn —  November 28, 2013

cornucopiaFrom Baptist Press: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, to pray for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world during 2013. Baptist Press is carrying columns during the year encouraging Southern Baptists to pray in specific areas and for specific needs in petitioning the Father for spiritual awakening.

By Frank Page

In the month of November, Americans traditionally set aside a day for Thanksgiving. Obviously, it is a time of food and fellowship and family time for millions and millions of Americans. That is as it ought to be. However, Scripture tells us that we need to give thanks at all times and in all seasons.

In the Scriptures, Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the following words: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That passage is precious to me. It gives a guiding principle for life. It calms my spirit. It lets me know that in every circumstance I am to take my life’s needs to the Lord, with thanksgiving.

Many know this month marks the time of year when our oldest daughter died. Though it is now some years ago, the 27th of November will always be a day remembered in the Page household as a day when our lives changed forever. Our daughter took her life that day.

Yes, it changed our lives … and it has taught us many lessons.

One of those lessons is to take our life’s needs to the Lord. The amazing truth of God’s Scripture is that when we do that, a peace which truly does transcend human understanding guards our hearts and minds.

Humans cannot understand that in their carnal nature. However, in our spiritual nature, we understand that God gives supernatural ability to have peace in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances.

I pray that you will rejoice with me today for the many great things God has done. I pray that you will rejoice with me that God gives us a supernatural ability to handle life, even hard times in life, in a way that is not understandable by our world.

So, when I call for people to give thanks, we have much to be thankful for! We need the peace of God and we need the God of peace. Happy Thanksgiving!

Frank S. Page is president of the SBC Executive Committee.