Friday, October 20, 2006

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Discipleship is costly, Fish reminds NAMB missionaries, chaplains
October 09, 2006
By Martin King

Roy Fish, interim president of the North American Mission Board, challenged 89 new missionaries and chaplains to radical discipleship during a NAMB commissioning service Oct 1. BP Photo

Roy Fish challenged 89 newly commissioned North American missionaries and chaplains to "pay the price of radical discipleship" during a commissioning service Oct 1 at First Baptist Church in Duluth, Ga.

"I marvel at the depth of commitment, gifts and variety of ministries you are called to," Fish told Southern Baptists' newest missionaries and chaplains.

"Tremendous potential walked across this stage this morning potential to shake a county, a large city or even a state or province," Fish said. "But reaching that potential is going to cost you something. Radical discipleship does not come at bargain basement prices."

As NAMB's interim president, Fish delivered the charge to the new workers who are serving in 29 states, provinces and territories in the United States and Canada.

In the commissioning prayer, Bobby Boswell of Georgia expressed appreciation for the candidates' surrender to God's calling and for "parents, grandparents, pastors, Sunday School teachers, mission leaders and other Christian leaders who led these special servants to the Lord and to understand His special calling."

Boswell, as assistant executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, represented the vital partnership between NAMB and its 42 state Baptist convention partners across North America. "We hold the ropes and will pray for you and work diligently to support you through the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering," Boswell said.

NAMB supports more than 5,300 career, limited term and Mission Service Corps missionaries in the United States and Canada who serve in a variety of ministries including starting new SBC churches, doing evangelism, leading campus and inner-city ministries and serving churches through state and associational offices. NAMB also serves as Southern Baptists' national endorsing arm for 2,600 SBC chaplains ministering in military, healthcare, correctional, corporate and public safety settings.

Fish explained that, according to 1 Corinthians 9, the cost of radical discipleship is threefold.

"Radical discipleship will cost you your privileges, prejudices and luxuries," he said.

"[The Apostle] Paul said he could exercise his rights but that he loved the Lord and the world so much that he gave up his rights and privileges. Are you willing today to say, 'I don't have any rights. I yield them all to the Lord?" Fish asked.

Addressing the matter of prejudices, Fish said, "We love to minister and attempt to reach 'our kind of people,' but you never find that phrase in God's vocabulary. But Paul gave up his prejudices, his social and religious preferences, that his evangelism might not be hindered," Fish said.

"If you say, 'I don't have any prejudices,' just know that they will always sneak up on your blind side. Prejudice doesn't send a calling card and announce itself. When was the last time you witnessed to a liquor dealer, a prostitute or a homosexual? Bring your prejudices to our Lord and ask Him to help you see people through His eyes."

The longtime evangelism professor said radical discipleship also will cost a follower of Christ his luxuries "not a million-dollar home or a Rolls Royce, but luxuries like majoring on minor things instead of major things.

"We often give first-rate loyalty to second-rate causes," Fish said. "We Southern Baptists talk about being an evangelistic people but do you realize that it takes 44 of us to win one person to faith in Jesus? That's not majoring on evangelism!"

Fish concluded that radical discipleship would cost believers the luxury of being soft on themselves. "Paul said he disciplined his body to be in subjection to the Lord. His appetites didn't control him. My passions shouldn't control me. I rule them.

"How many people do you know who had successful ministries until they began to dabble in that which was questionable, refusing to bring their bodies under subjection? Today they are washed up on the shore of uselessness and that great potential has gone by the wayside.

"As missionaries, chaplains and church members, you don't have the luxury of being soft on yourself," Fish said. "Commit yourselves today to paying the price of radical discipleship." (BP)

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