‘Faith in Practice’ : Three-day chapel series tackles topics of brokenness, bitterness, hope in light of the fall and the gospel

Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., speaks about bitterness in one of three chapel services during Faith in Practice Week. | Photo by Annie Richoux

By Samantha Adams, Staff Writer

Never has the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel seemed so full for a special Thursday chapel than on Oct. 20, the second day of Union’s annual Faith in Practice chapel series, said Dr. Gregory Thornbury, vice president for Spiritual Life and dean of the School of Theology and Missions.

Students who attended the three chapel services heard Dr. Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Fla., discuss brokenness, bitterness and restoration  — subjects not often covered in chapel addresses.

Thornbury said the purpose of Faith in Practice week is to talk about the second part of the Great Commission, which is often forgotten. Referencing Matthew 28:16-20, he said after the command to “make disciples of all nations,” Christians are instructed to teach believers how to obey God’s commandments.

In each chapel address, Scroggins said God created a perfect world, but sin led to brokenness.

The Gospel, he said, allows people to repent of sinfulness and recover from the effects of sin.

“Every time you violate God’s design, you end up with brokenness,” Scroggins said. “The Gospel lets us recover and pursue God’s design.”

Effects of unwise decisions will never be taken away fully in this life, Scroggins said. Instead, he encouraged students who are professing Christians to deal with their brokenness by reminding themselves the judgment for their sin has been satisfied on their behalf in Christ and to begin looking for ways the Holy Spirit is causing a resurrection, a change for the better, in their lives.

In discussing bitterness, Scroggins gave biblical examples of people expressing to God their natural desire to “get revenge” on the people who mistreated them.

“Hurt really hurts, and God doesn’t deny that,” Scroggins said. “But the Bible says if we are going to be transformed by the Bible, we are going to go through a metamorphosis.

“We are supposed to be changed by the Gospel so that our normal responses (to being hurt) no longer hold sway.”

He closed the series by talking about Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son recorded in Luke 15.

Scroggins said one of the messages of the parable is God wants Christians who have drifted spiritually, relationally, sexually and socially to return to him.

This visit was Scroggins’s first to Union, but not his first introduction to the Union community. Dr. David S. Dockery, university president, was Scroggins’s professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. There, he also  met Thornbury, who was a fellow student.

Before moving to Florida with his wife and eight children, Scroggins lived with his family in Louisville, where he served as dean of Boyce College, Southern’s undergraduate school.

Anna Ezell, senior intercultural studies major, said she knows the Scroggins family well, because he also served on the pastoral staff at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville with her father, Dr. Kevin Ezell, who is now president of the North American Mission Board.

Anna Ezell said Scroggins has lived as an example to students, and has helped many recover from brokenness and bitterness through accepting the Gospel.

“He was known (at Highview Baptist Church) for actively loving the youth in our church,” she said. “He walked through so many things with students over that 12-year time. He ministered to people where they were in life.”

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