Director of Missions

Stay Close and Clean

“Stay close and clean.” I first heard that phrase from Dr. Johnny Hunt when he preached in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I was a young seminarian at the time. He stressed that it was essential for ministers to guard themselves at all times so that they would not dishonor themselves, their families, friends, and more importantly the Lord Himself. Dr. Hunt said that we should seek to be close and clean before the Lord. He stated the bleak statistics for clergy who fall into morally inappropriate relationships. His statement rang in my ears when I recently read the Biblical Recorder that the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Frank Page, had resigned due to a “morally inappropriate relationship.” This is devastating news in so many ways, especially for his family. 

Dr. Stephen Rummage, chairman of the Executive Committee of the SBC, stated, “This news, we understand, will bring great sorrow. I have shared with the Executive Committee officers what Dr. Page shared with me, including Dr. Page’s repentance and deep regret that his actions have caused pain for others. My heart is broken for Dr. Page, his family and everyone affected. I believe I speak for the entire Executive Committee in saying that we are committed to provide them the spiritual and emotional support they need in the coming days. We also recognize the stewardship we owe the Southern Baptist and the watching world to communicate with truth and candor and to honor the Lord in our actions and decisions.” (The rest of Dr.   Rummage’s statement can be found in the April 7th addition of the Biblical Recorder.)

So what is required of us as leaders and laity? The charge from the Lord has always been clear. We are to be a Holy people who walk in righteousness and integrity. Colossians 3:5 tells us, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 tells us to, “ Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is  outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The Scriptures are replete with warning and admonitions to guard your heart and your mind. You must be   intentional in your spiritual walk to act according to the dictates of Scripture. Obedience to the Word of God is an act of worship and serves as a protector of your soul, character, and integrity. “Be sober, be vigilant;   because your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).

Stay the Course,

Eric Cook