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2008.06.01

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Mark Marshall

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

Byron

Let me say right up front that I do not really know and I am not voting for any of the candidates. I'm biased and subjective in all of this anyway. Les Puryear is my personal favorite, for reasons I have already stated. However, if he were not running, I would have to endorse Frank Cox.

There are three main points in Frank Cox's response to the Baptist Press questionnaire that have left quite a favorable impression on me. First, and perhaps most importantly, he has served one church straight out of seminary for 28 years under some very difficult circumstances at times, and not quit, and not weakened in ministry-this is admirable. Second, the SBC needs a healthy dose of optimism grounded in truth right now, in my opinion, and I believe Frank Cox will bring this to pass by encouraging repentance and change where this is needed, and helping strengthen the good in our denomination. Third, I believe he is building a real bridge to Calvinists in the SBC by maintaining friendships with those who hold to this doctrine, and I believe he will seek fairness and goodwill among all believers in the SBC. I hold he creates a false dichotomy between Calvinistic belief and belief in the "whosoever," which is unnecessary. I would recommend to all the article "Will Calvinism kill Evangelism?" by Ernest Reisinger, available at Founder's (can be searched). But aside from this, I am impressed that he has developed and maintains friendships with Calvinists, while seeking mutually respectful and understanding dialog, which is a very healthy sign.

selahV

Peter...if I were in Indy, which I will not be, I would raise my ballot for Frank Cox. He is, in my opinion, the man for us in this time. I will be urging all who I know to vote for him. selahV

Byron

Peter, is Frank Cox your pastor? I do not remember reading it anywhere. If you said one way or the other anywhere, then sorry, I missed it.

peter lumpkins

Mark,

Thank you for logging on with such a positive story about Dr. Cox. Great men are made in the fire and I feel Dr. Cox possesses the inner strength, theological stability and visionary depth to represent our Convention to the watching world.

Thanks again. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Byron,

Thanks for your words about Les. Also, no, Dr. Cox is not my pastor though if I lived closer he would be! My family lives west of Atlanta and he is Northeast of Atlanta...

SelahV,

Thank you for your warm words about Dr. Cox--not to mention your good sense (don't tell Byron I said that ;^)

Grace, all. With that, I am...

Peter

Mark Marshall

Peter,

Thanks for sharing my comment about Frank Cox. I saw in on "Barebones"(?) web. Though I blog, I am not in the main stream of SBC bloggers as some of you guys are and was hoping one comment on one of your blogs might help to tell the story. Thanks.
Mark Marshall

selahV

Mark, thank you so much for sharing that story about Dr. Cox. It gives me such joy to know a man of God like he is in our midst. selahV

Ron P.

Peter,

I got to meet Dr. Cox last week here in Fort Worth. I was moved by his genuine humility, his servant attitude and his integrity (all of which was shared above by Mark). Yet, this humble man appears to be a man of conviction. I do not believe that the SBC could have a better nominee this year than Dr. Frank Cox.

Blessings,

Ron P.

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