April 2018

Boston Marathon: Ky. Baptist recalls life-changing 2013 run

April 17 2018 by Mark Maynard, Kentucky Today

It’s safe to say, marathoner and Kentucky Baptist Amy Compston will never forget April 15, 2013.
It’s a clear and defining marker in her life. There’s the Amy Compston before that date and the Amy Compston after that date.

Kentucky Today, Mark Maynard
Amy Compston ran in her first of four Boston Marathons in 2013 when two bombs exploded near the finish line. She has run in six world marathons, including Chicago and New York City, and started the Amy For Africa mission a month after running in Boston five years ago.

The same could be said for her family members, 22 of them in all who were with her that day.
It’s the same that could be said for thousands of runners just like her who participated in the 2013 Boston Marathon that was disrupted by a terrorist attack when two consecutive explosions on the sidewalk bloodied the finish line, killing three spectators and injuring 264 others with at least 14 requiring amputations.
The race was halted, preventing many participants from finishing. More than 5,000 runners were still on the course and couldn’t complete the race. They were given medals and an entry into the 2014 Boston Marathon.
But that wasn’t Compston. She crossed the finish line about 30 minutes before the explosions detonated and sent Boston into a terrorized frenzy.
It was 2:50 EDT, race clock time of 4:09.43 – nearly two hours after the winners had completed the race – that the explosions rocked the world. Mayhem and confusion ensued not just hours, but days after the race.
Sunday marked the fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, but the events of that day remain crystal clear for Compston, who these days is better known as the Amy in the Amy For Africa mission that works and builds schools in Uganda. The life-changing event of becoming a missionary who runs for God didn’t happen until after the Boston Marathon although it definitely had an impact. She started Amy For Africa about a month after the race.
Compston, a member of First Baptist Church of Russell, returned to Boston to run in 2014, 2015 and 2016. She’s also competed in the Chicago Marathon and New York City Marathon and is an accomplished ultra-marathon runner as well.
But the 2013 Boston Marathon was her first marathon on the big running stage. Her preparation was intense, her goals secured and her anxiousness overwhelming as the day approached. Even on race day, while prepared, her nervousness was obvious. She paced and she prayed.
Her husband Chris dropped her off early on the chilly morning of April 15, 2013 so she could take a bus ride to the race starting point and he then staked out a place near the finish line so he could watch his wife fulfill a runner’s dream. Twenty-one other family members, 11 of them under 10 years old, had all come to celebrate in her completing the Boston Marathon. They would later join Chris in the jam-packed finish line area.
“It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly. Perfect running weather,” Amy remembered. “As I waited in the ‘runners’ village’ for the start of the race, an old lady approached me and asked if she could pray for me. She prayed only for my safety. I didn’t think much of it at the moment, except to think, ‘Wow that was sweet!’ But now, looking back, I see how that was the presence of God on that day.
“I have run several marathons and never has that happened, but on April 15, 2013, the Lord sent a sweet lady to pray a prayer of protection over me because He knew I was headed into enemy territory.”
Compston finished the race to family members cheering and taking pictures. She and her husband met in an area where runners go after the race, called their family and arranged to meet them at a subway station, instead of the spot where they had been most of the day. It turned out to be a potentially life-saving decision.
A short time later, Compston’s family heard the explosions near the finish line where they had been standing. Compston and her husband were waiting for their family at the station when a passerby told them about the bombing.
“The fear and disbelief that rocked Boston that day was intense,” Compston said. “No one knew where the next bomb was or if there was one. Cell phone lines were shut off, people were separated from their families. It was terrifying. But, in the midst of it all, God was reigning.”
Her first concern was to make sure her family was OK. Dialing her cell phone seconds before the lines went dead, she learned all of them were safe.
“When we saw on TV where the bombs went off, we were like, ‘… That’s exactly where we were at,’” Compston said. “God did protect us.”
The family members stood between the two bombs all day, leaving two minutes before they exploded when Amy’s brother, Andy Wesolowski, directed the family down an alley. They heard the bombs but were uninjured. She has been back to the scene several times and is overcome by emotion each and every time.
The attacks of April 15, 2013, touched off a manhunt that mesmerized the world. Boston ordered its people to shelter in place. Red Sox and Bruins games were canceled as police in tactical gear and armored vehicles fanned out across the city. Five days later, one bomber was dead, another was in custody, and locals had united around a social media hashtag that gave voice to their grit and resilience: #BostonStrong.
“The evil [that] Satan meant for that day has resulted in such good,” Compston said. “Many non-profits have spurred from that day that help people all over the world. I know in my life God used that day to change my entire course of direction in my life. He has sent me around the world to tell my testimony including the Boston bombing story. What Satan means for evil, God uses for good. His plan always prevails and He has used those bombs to change my life, my family’s life and I know many lives around the world.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Maynard writes for Kentucky Today, kentuckytoday.com, where this article first appeared. Kentucky Today is a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

4/17/2018 9:23:38 AM by Mark Maynard, Kentucky Today | with 0 comments

Mike Pence meeting sparks reports, prayer in churches

April 17 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Prayer for America’s leaders and reports of a pastors’ meeting with Vice President Mike Pence were among the components of worship in some Southern Baptist churches April 15.
The prayer times and reports followed an April 11 meeting involving Pence and several dozen pastors and their wives in Washington for the Mega Metro Conference, an annual gathering for pastors of Southern Baptist churches with average worship attendance of at least 3,000 or average Sunday School attendance of at least 2,000.

Photo from Twitter
Vice President Pence met April 11 with Ronnie Floyd, center, and fellow pastors attending the Mega Metro Conference in Washington.

Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, host of this year’s Mega Metro Conference, said Pence gathered with the pastors during one portion of a 90-minute briefing with White House senior staff at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
“I thought if the vice president spent five minutes with us it would be outstanding,” Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, told Baptist Press (BP) in written comments. “In reality, he spent about 20 minutes with us, speaking to us and affirming the administration’s great commitment to ... the sanctity and dignity of human life as well as the great commitment of advancing religious liberty in America and across the world.
“He also assured the group that the president and the entire administration needed the prayers of people and the churches across America,” said Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. “Our pastors and wives absolutely loved hearing from the vice president and so appreciate his personal commitment to Christ.”
Pence tweeted a photo of his meeting with the pastors and wrote, “So good to see Pastor @RonnieFloyd and faith leaders in town for the 2018 Mega Metro Conference.” President Donald Trump “and I are grateful for the prayers, support, and ministries of all these great men and women of faith. God bless them all!”
The previous evening, conference attendees met with and prayed over Sam Brownback, the Trump administration’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom.
On Sunday, Floyd told Cross Church about both meetings and led in prayer “for our nation ... especially in relationship to the matters in Syria,” he said. “But as always, I called upon our people to pray for America and our leaders.”
At First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., pastor Bruce Chesser told about the meeting with Pence and passed along the vice president’s thanks for Americans’ prayer support. Then Chesser led the church to pray for government officials at all levels of American life.
“I pray regularly for our leaders in worship so that was not unusual,” Chesser told BP via email. But Pence “specifically asked us to thank our people for their prayers and ask them to continue.”
Chesser said he was “impressed” with Pence’s “sincerity and his humility.”
“I knew he was a person of faith,” Chesser said, but following the meeting, “I realized the depth of his faith more fully. He had a good sense of humor and a winsome spirit about him. It was a great experience.”
Pastor Brandon Park of Kansas City, Mo.-area Connection Point Church also reported the meeting to the congregation he leads, which prays regularly for government leaders.
Park told BP he was struck by “the sheer number of born-again, evangelical Christians that are working for” the Trump administration as well as the access they grant to evangelical leaders.
Pence, Park recounted, said “there’s more about this country that unites us than that divides us, and we need to come together and focus more on what unites us as a nation.” Park viewed that comment as “a help [to] bridge some of the political divide that’s out there.”
Pastor Brian Stowe of First Baptist Church in Plant City, Fla., said attendees in both the congregation’s Sunday-morning worship services applauded when he reported on the meeting with Pence.
“I talked about his being unashamed of his Christian faith,” Stowe told BP, and about his expression of thanks for prayer support.
The gathering with Pence reminded Stowe “of the influence we can have as we lead our churches, as we lead our communities to have a stand that’s morally right,” he said.
The Mega Metro Conference, which meets in a different city each year focused on local church ministry, the pastorate, prayer and leadership, according to a news release from Floyd.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/17/2018 9:23:23 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

National Day of Prayer: Unity in nation, among churches

April 17 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Unity across the nation and among churches spanning all denominations, generations, races and cultures is the overarching plea of the 2018 National Day of Prayer, scheduled for May 3.
Mobilizing people across the nation in public prayer events May 3 – capped by a nationally televised and livestreamed prayer service at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) at the U.S. Capitol Building – is the day’s goal, event president Ronnie Floyd said at nationaldayofprayer.org.

“America needs God now, more than any time in our generation,” said Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). “America is broken. Division is undeniable and unity is missing. Racial tension is alarming. Lawlessness abounds. Reconciliation appears impossible. Government cannot fix us. Politics will not heal us.”
“Pray for America – Unity” is the 2018 theme, based on Ephesians 4:3, with event participants encouraged to address statewide, regional and national concerns, Floyd said in one of several videos at nationaldayofprayer.org.
“There’s at least one thing we can all agree on today: America needs prayer,” Floyd said. “The National Day of Prayer is biblically based, Jesus-centered and Holy Spirit empowered.”
SBC Pastors’ Conference President H.B. Charles will be a main speaker at the national observance, Floyd told Baptist Press (BP), and Floyd will interview First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs pastor Frank Pomeroy, whose congregation is recovering from the mass murder of 26 worshipers during a November 2017 Sunday service in the small Texas community. Going Beyond Ministries founder Priscilla Shirer, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president Samuel Rodriguez and other evangelical leaders will participate in the program.
Floyd said the National Day of Prayer “has thousands upon thousands of gatherings across the nation on May 3,” many of which are listed at nationaldayofprayer.org.
“While this has a national focus, it also has a global impact,” Floyd said, adding that it also could lead to a national spiritual revival.
The prayer gatherings will be held in churches, schools, businesses, government offices and outdoor venues, many led by Southern Baptist pastors or laypeople. In 2017, an estimated 2 million Americans observed the event in over 30,000 events across all 50 states, Floyd said.
Prayer gatherings are autonomous, but national leaders encourage a 25-25-40-10 breakdown, with 25 percent of the prayer time focused each on local and state concerns, 40 percent on national concerns, and 10 percent given to a national prayer led by Floyd and available in text and video at nationaldayofprayer.org/national-prayer.
“While each gathering and observance is different, we are praying all will be forwarding our theme for unity,” Floyd told BP. Unity in the nation, communities, churches, families, workplaces and among all ethnicities is among prayer concerns recommended on the event’s website, as well as prayers for the U.S. military and government, media, businesses, the educational system are also recommended.
Free resources, promotional items and event planning aids also are available at nationaldayofprayer.org including a digital toolbox with prayer guides and videos. An expanded catalog of purchasable promotional items, including prayer journals, tote bags and T-shirts, also is available on the site.
Watch the national observance on Daystar, at nationaldayofprayer.org, or on the event’s Facebook page.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/17/2018 9:06:50 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

Baptists join podcast boom

April 16 2018 by BR Staff

The digital world of podcasts is expanding at a remarkable pace, and many Southern Baptists are taking advantage of the audio platform’s popularity to broadcast their message across the web.
Unlike articles and some other sources of information, podcasts allow for personal, conversational interaction with current events, said Amy Whitfield, communications director for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and co-host of SBC This Week, a weekly news program focused on Southern Baptist life.

Baptist Press file photo
Amy Whitfield and Jonathan Howe, center, interview Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the podcast “SBC This Week,” which reached its 100th-episode milestone April 28, 2017.

“A podcast, particularly one with multiple regular hosts, allows for more lively discussion and banter,” she told the Biblical Recorder. “We actually get to explain our thought processes and ask each other questions. The more conversational nature of a podcast also allows listeners to get to know the personalities of the hosts.”
Podcasts were first launched into cyberspace in the early 2000s but gained mainstream attention in 2005 when Apple included a podcast feature in its iTunes music player software, according to Wired magazine.
The rise of Apple’s iPhone and mobile data networks triggered a second wave of attention in 2008, as listeners gained the ability to download podcast episodes on the go.
The latest and largest popularity boom began around 2014, which some attribute to Apple’s release of a dedicated podcast app on the iPhone, in addition to the breakout success of an investigative journalism program called Serial.
In 2017, the daily reach of podcasting grew by 46 percent among Millennials (ages 18-34), faster than any other audio medium, according to Edison Research.
While traditional radio still owns the largest share of total listener time, a Pew Research report said more than 21 percent of Americans over the age of 12 listen to podcasts regularly.
A trio of Southern Baptists kicked off an “almost weekly” show in 2017 called The Potluck Podcast, SBC, which features commentary on Southern Baptist issues.
“We started the podcast to talk about something we all love – the SBC,” said co-host J.R. Parks, a deacon at Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C. “During the last year, I’ve been excited to find myself more involved with the SBC at various levels. I hope we can inspire other people in our age group to engage more with the SBC.”
Podcast episodes vary in length, usually ranging from 15 minutes to more than an hour.
Many podcasts release new episodes on a daily or weekly basis. Sometimes they are categorized by seasons, depending on the show’s content. A small number of podcasts have experimented with releasing entire seasons at once, hoping to mimic the success of binge-watched Netflix shows.
Whitfield and co-host Jonathan Howe, director of strategic initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, started podcasting in 2015 not knowing how long they would continue, Whitfield said. They wanted to talk about news in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and thought others would share their interest.
“We are two Southern Baptists who have chosen to be engaged in the process, and we wanted to invite others to be engaged as well,” said Whitfield. “But engagement has to begin with information, and we decided to bring it in the form of a conversation.”
Throughout the week, Whitfield and Howe monitor religious and mainstream news outlets for content, relying heavily on Baptist Press (BP) and Baptist state newspapers. They typically record on Thursdays, edit the episode and then post the next day.
For a segment called “This Week in SBC History,” Whitfield looks back at archived material from BP and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. “I just look at the same week in a number of years and tell the story that interests me,” she said.
J. Allen Murray, pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Lake Toxaway, N.C., and Jared Cornutt, student pastor of First Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala., co-host The Potluck Podcast, SBC with Parks.

Other podcasts with Southern Baptist hosts:

The Briefing: Daily news and cultural commentary by Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Signposts: Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), answers questions about theology, ethics and issues concerning the church, and features various guests

The Way Home: Weekly conversations with Christian leaders and Dan Darling, vice president for communications at the ERLC

Not Another Baptist Podcast: New Mexican pastors Kyle Bueerman and Matt Henslee host weekly, sometimes humorous discussions about ministry topics related to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Ministry-related podcasts:

No Campus Left: A podcast about current issues relating to collegiate culture and ministry

N.C. Asian American Ministries: Highlights Asian American leaders and their ministries to impact lostness among Asian populations in North Carolina and beyond

The Front Pew: North Carolina pastors Chris Griggs, Ben Rudolph and Matt Capps discuss life, ministry and mission

Rainer on Leadership: Twice a week, Jonathan Howe and Thom Rainer provide practical training for leaders and pastors of local churches

From the Lectern: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Office of Kingdom Diversity hosts conversations and interviews about serving others across cultural lines

Pastor Talk: Marty Duren, executive editor for LifeWay Pastors, asks ministers about issues that matter in the local church.

Many churches and other ministries use podcasts to distribute sermons and other ministry related content.

Although news often enters the discussion, the Potluck Podcast hosts do not claim to be reporters.
“Other places do a better job at that than us, but we love giving our commentary about those things,” said Murray. “Sometimes we hit things hard on the political issues and sometimes we’re joking around.
“We talk about the Southern Baptist Convention – whether it’s theology, politics or current events – and give our perspectives. The three of us have different perspectives. One is a pastor, one a youth pastor and one is a deacon. And we just love talking about Southern culture. We love where we live and the things that make up the South.”
Since the first episode in February 2017, listeners have heard from a wide variety of Baptist leaders including two seminary presidents – Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“We want this to be informational and funny,” said Cornutt. “A lot of the humor comes out in our ‘Southern Culture’ time, which we close every episode with. It is a listener favorite and where some of the best banter happens.”
Whitfield said her favorite episodes to produce for SBC This Week are those around the new year.
“We always take the first episode of January to focus on questions that we have for the year ahead in the SBC. Then at the end of the year, we do the typical reviews, top 10 lists, but we also look back at those questions to see if they have been answered. It’s a great way to keep a bigger picture of developments in the SBC.”
Howe said he enjoys the SBC annual meeting wrap-up episodes in June.
“Amy and I are both absolutely exhausted at the end of the annual meeting.
“But when we meet to record, it’s so satisfying because we’ve just finished the high point of our year, and there’s always so much to process.
“It’s like giving an interview in the locker room after playing in the Super Bowl.”
Hosts for both SBC This Week and The Potluck Podcast encourage listeners to be involved in Southern Baptist life. Recent news reports suggest that podcast listeners are more engaged with audio content than listeners of other platforms, such as AM/FM or satellite radio.
Multiple podcast networks told Wired that listeners are getting through 80-90 percent of episodes on average, while skipping relatively few ads.
“There’s a level of dedication that comes from podcast listeners that you otherwise don’t find,” a podcast network executive told Wired magazine.
Podcasts are available on Apple’s Podcasts app, Google Play, Stitcher, Overcast, TuneIn Radio and other digital media outlets.

4/16/2018 2:59:07 PM by BR Staff | with 2 comments

Memphis pastor: Go ‘all in’ for ethnic unity

April 16 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

As many churches strive to achieve more ethnic diversity in their pews, they often discover that maintaining unity in a multicultural congregation means hard work.
Jason Cook, associate pastor at Fellowship Memphis, told the Biblical Recorder in an interview that all people have “tribal tendencies” and church leaders must continually “push Christians toward each other.”

ERLC photo
Jason Cook, associate pastor at Fellowship Memphis, participates in a Facebook Live interview with Lindsay Nicolet during the MLK50 Conference in Memphis, Tenn.

Recent studies by LifeWay Research reveal that 93 percent of Protestant pastors believe churches should work toward racial diversity, while more than half of people in the pews did not agree their church should become more diverse.
Cook, who was a speaker at the MLK50 Conference April 3-4 in Memphis, Tenn., said churches should expect obstacles to multicultural unity around the topics of musical preferences, preaching styles, interpersonal relationships and all other areas of congregational life.
Being a multiethnic church is the “first hurdle to cross” in being a cross-cultural church, he said. “I prefer the term cross-cultural because that implies people are bumping into one another and getting some of me on you, and you on me, rather than still being segregated within the church.”
Cook said developing a cross-cultural church is not like a software update, where minor details are upgraded to add the desired features.
“This is like the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk,” he said. “It has never been seen before. ... What you create in that space will borrow from cultures but it doesn’t center on one culture.
“The cross-cultural church is born, not out of the adjustment of periphery issues. ... It is built and born out of a genuine concern to see people come together. We have to change not just what we do, but how we see.”
Cook added that “interracial conflict” is inevitable, and he encouraged congregations to have the “will and resolve” to be strengthened by disagreements, not destroyed by them. “Many people are so squeamish about conflict, that at the first sign, they bolt,” said Cook. “I believe sometimes you have to make war in order to have peace.”
Addressing musical preferences, Cook said, “In a multiethnic church, there is a mandate for everyone to feel at home, and no one to feel at home. If we are a true multiethnic church, then there are aspects of the service where you are going to feel at home ... and there will be other parts of that service where you will feel wildly uncomfortable and outside of your cultural experience.”
He also said “mono-cultural” preachers can hinder progress toward achieving ethnic diversity.
“That means everything from stage presence, to voice inflection and intonation, sermon points, how you arrive at those points and how you make those points, illustrations, pictures and how you think through your sermon holistically, has to be at the very least bi-cultural.”
Interpersonal relationships, or community, can also be affected by unspoken cultural expectations. Cook said visiting coffee shops as recreation or venues for spending time together was one example of a white cultural preference, adopted by many churches and ministries, that is often not held by non-white Christians.
“The fact that white people paid money for coffee at a coffee shop was weird to me until as recently as six years ago. ... Five bucks for a cup of coffee – to do what? To talk? Brother, that’s odd,” he said with a laugh.
“Where I’m from, you go get a big can of Folgers, Maxwell House or Community, then you brew a pot at home, and you drink your coffee and talk.”
He also said the location and ethnic makeup of church small groups are important, but often overlooked.
“We’re all essentially looking for a place where we belong and where we feel safe ... because, after all, the church is a heavenly outpost on earth that is a reflection of a heavenly reality,” Cook said.
“But far too often, many of my white brothers and sisters have sought that emotion and feeling so strongly that it is to the neglect of many who don’t look like them.”

Cook encouraged churches and church leaders to consider four expectations as they strive for ethnic diversity among their congregations:

1. “Representation matters. Qualified, high-level, decision-making leaders that are non-white matter … The [ethnic] ratio among leadership needs to look like your congregation.”

2. “Developing a cross-cultural church will be the hardest thing you ever do in your ministry, so if you don’t sell out to it, it won’t happen. There is no dipping your toe in this water. You have to go all in.

3. “Expect attrition. Expect people to not be with the program, but also expect [other] people to come to your church and feel at home.

4. “Do not give up, because it’s worth it. From cover to cover, scripture boasts of a multicultural reality in heaven that is fostered because of what God does through us here on earth. Don’t quit. Keep going, but gird your loins, because it’s hard, man.”

4/16/2018 2:47:48 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Take ministry moments with ‘Open Hands’

April 16 2018 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

All Christians are called, gifted and sent.
“But God can’t use us if we don’t give Him what we have with open hands,” said Richard Brunson, executive director of North Carolina Baptist Men (also known as Baptists on Mission), to more than 1,200 people at the 2018 Missions Conference April 6-7 at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte.

BR photo by Steve Cooke
Bryan Loritts, who serves as pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Mountain View, Calif., spoke at the Baptists on Missions Conference April 6 at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Brunson referred to the “Open Hands” theme during the main sessions as did featured speakers – Bryan Loritts, pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Mountain View, Calif.; Vicki Grossman, director of operations for the Good Shepherd Ministries in the western region of Guatemala; Kyle Idleman, teaching pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky.; Jennifer Rothschild, author and speaker; Terry Rae, founder of Africa for Christ and former general secretary for the South African Baptist Union; and Tom Richter, pastor of Cullman (Ala.) First Baptist Church.
The Annie Moses Band led music for the event.
Referring to John 6, Brunson said the boy who had the loaves and fishes “could have kept what he had for himself. [God] gives you and me the freedom to hold onto what we have with clenched fists or open hands. “God can’t work if we don’t give Him what we have.”

‘Not where I once was’

 Loritts said to look for fruit in people’s lives.
“Just because you hang out in the same environment as Christians doesn’t make you saved,” he said. “If I hang out in a garage, it doesn’t make me a car.”
Struggling with the flesh continues to be a battle throughout life, he stressed.
“Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet,” Loritts said. “I should also be able to conclude that I am not where I once was. I am a work in progress. When the Spirit of God moves into your soul, He begins to change you.”
He warned against confusing philanthropy with love.
“You can write a check but not love,” he said. “You can serve out of a sense of duty and obligation and not love.”
For a real picture of love, believers need to review the pastor and prostitute story of Hosea 3.
“If it doesn’t go through seasons of strangeness, it ain’t love,” he stressed, talking about the tribalism of churches today.
He mentioned Fox News Church, CNN Church, Republican Church and Democrat Church.
“It’s not the church of Jesus Christ,” he said. “If our churches look that way, our dinner table looks that way. To emancipate the one who wronged him cost [Hosea] everything he had (Hosea 3). If it doesn’t cost, it ain’t love. If you ain’t paying a price, it ain’t love.”
He mentioned a son that is making some awful choices but he and his wife are trying to help any way they can. The couple doesn’t “expect claps of affirmation because that’s what you expect parents to do.”
Loritts said many believers “want Nordstrom quality community at thrift store prices,” adding that “we don’t want to be inconvenienced.”
But that’s not how God works.
“[Hosea] doesn’t give [Gomer] the standard before he redeems her,” Loritts remarked. “If he did it would have been conditional on her works.
“This is the gospel: God always rescues and redeems us before He gives us the standard.”

Strength through fire

Rothschild recently lost her father. She talked about things that shake you in life. “Blindness is the most difficult thing I deal with,” she said, but there are other things that can cause you to shake … when your child makes tough choices that terrify you or when you lose a loved one.
“We feel shaken for all sorts of reasons,” she said. “When God allows something to shake you … it’s because He wants to use it to shape you, shape your understanding of who He is, shape your future.”

BR photo by Steve Cooke
“When God allows something to shake you … it’s because He wants to use it to shape you, shape your understanding of who He is, shape your future,” said Jennifer Rothschild, a speaker and author living in Missouri.

Last fall, when she was involved in a busy speaking schedule and balancing visits to see her sick father, she was feeling overwhelmed. “I needed to be in too many places, and I was running on empty,” she said. “I was spent. If we are so fixated on our present situation we may miss His presence.”
Two praying ladies on either side of her middle plane seat helped, as did a cup of coffee sent by her husband with another passenger boarding the plane.
“When God’s glory comes down, our issues come up,” she said. “When we really see who God is, we really see who we are.”
Before her dad’s illness, she would proclaim self-reliance and emotional self-control as strengths of hers. She doesn’t let her blindness keep her from many things. She brags about putting together her furniture that came in pieces. “Our strengths can be our greatest liabilities,” she exclaimed. “Our strengths can keep us away from God.”
In scripture, there are references to purification through fire. God uses fire to purify His followers.
She mentioned the Manzanita tree that grows in western North America. The tree rarely flowers until there is a forest fire. “The heat of the fire breaks open that hard shell and then the beauty is revealed. You may feel shaken,” she added. “It’s fire that makes us flower. It’s that difficulty that helps us see God.”

God will carry you

Having to preach and speak often, Idleman admits to sometimes dealing with anxiety. If he “messes up” a message on Saturday night, “it gets in my head,” he said. He will wake up early Sunday morning, and he asks his wife to pray over him before he preaches that morning. “She will put her hands in my hands,” he said, and “she will pray God’s courage into my life. God’s strength [is] more important than what people might think. She’ll pray me out the door.”
Much of the anxiety people experience “comes because we were caught off guard,” he said. “God, as a Father, just wants to say to you, ‘Can I get that for you … that weight that you’re carrying?’ And if you need Him to, He’ll carry you as well.”

God is ‘on the loose’

Richter spoke of the woman, who with open hands, poured out perfume on Jesus’ feet (John 12).
“The reaction of the people is, ‘What a waste!’” Richter stated.
The perfume used represented “the very best Mary had,” he said, calling it an heirloom worth $45,000. It was a one-time use container. She broke it open to use it on her Jesus. The best could take so many forms, challenging college students, retired people or those with money. “How much perfume is in the sanctuary? When it’s your child, grandchild.
When you bless that, that’s perfume,” Richter stressed.
Richter recounted Jesus’ triumphal entry, the “messianic fervor boiling over,” the trumped up charges, crown of thorns, the whipping, mocking, the nails, etc.
“Messiah’s kingdom was supposed to have no end,” he said. “The disciples are terrified. They didn’t know it was Easter.”
Richter’s favorite verse follows the women arriving at the tomb. The angel speaks to them, saying, “He is not here.”
But the angel doesn’t clarify where Jesus is.
“It seems we have a deity on the loose,” Richter said, stressing that whether it’s a closed country of a closed heart, God can find a way to get past a locked door.
“That’s why you keep preaching,” he said. “That’s why you keep disaster reliefin’. You don’t know which heart He’s going to touch next. When [Mary] got her moment, she took it with open hands.”
As one of the final parts of the conference Brunson recognized Scott and Janet Daughtry as volunteers of the year. Both have served in numerous capacities with NCBM. Currently Scott is serving as disaster relief logistics team leader and Janet is international ministry projects coordinator. They have four children and five grandchildren.
Next year’s Missions Conference will be back at Hickory Grove April 5-6. Brunson confirmed Richter was returning to speak.

4/16/2018 2:39:27 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

SEBTS begins East Asia leadership initiative

April 16 2018 by SEBTS & Baptist Press staff

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SEBTS) Global Theological Initiatives (GTI) office is creating an East Asian Leadership Initiative office with Minwoo Jang as coordinator.
Jang, a native of South Korea, is graduating from SEBTS with a Th.M. in May and is seeking to enter the Ph.D. program.

Minwoo Jang

The new initiative will focus on engaging leaders across East Asia who serve both in theological education and the local church. Specific attention will be given to contextual training of leaders within their own nations as well as those who have relocated to urban centers outside East Asia. The initiative also will work with other offices at SEBTS to help increase the seminary’s East Asian student population on campus and online.
John Ewart, associate vice president of GTI, said it is a privilege to serve Christian leaders within their context. “We recognize how God continues to work in the East Asian church to impact the entire world,” he said, “and our prayer is to be able to assist his work in any way possible.”
Danny Akin, SEBTS president, stated, “It has been my prayer for some time that God would use [SEBTS] to impact the East Asian community both here in the United States and around the world.” He voiced appreciation “to have Minwoo on board to help determine and guide us in the best pathways for that impact to become a greater reality.”
Jang said he is “blessed and honored” to become the East Asian Leadership Initiative’s coordinator “to serve East Asian leaders as they are trained and equipped for the Great Commission of Jesus Christ both on and off campus.”
Through a combination of occasional face-to-face and distance learning, SEBTS’s GTI currently is helping provide biblical training for proven, positioned leaders on six continents serving churches, mission boards and seminaries.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary staff.)

4/16/2018 9:24:36 AM by SEBTS & Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments

Sutherland Springs expresses accountability to donors

April 16 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Donors supporting First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs after the mass murder of 26 worshippers there can be assured of the church’s integrity in handling donations, the church said in an April 12th open letter.
The statement comes after concerns related to the use of funds for victim relief have been raised, a spokesman for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) confirmed to Baptist Press (BP) April 13.

Image by Myrick Gurosky and Associates, provided by the North American Mission Board
First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs, Texas, will undertake new construction – seen in this design sketch – beginning in May. The buildings will be completed in early 2019. The church noted in an April 12th open letter that donors supporting the church can be assured of the church’s integrity in handling donations after the congregation experienced one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

A network composed of First Baptist Sutherland Springs leaders and members, community representatives, banking officials, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the SBTC has assisted the church in handling funds and in-kind donations honorably, the church’s Restoration Committee chaired by First Baptist member Pat Dziuk said in the letter and an attached factsheet.
“The committee has been deliberate and prayerful, and has coordinated with other groups offering support, to respond to needs and exercise good stewardship and honor the intent of various donors,” the letter said. “Donations received for victim needs are kept in accounts separate from church operating funds and will only be used for that purpose.
“We are committed to integrity in the allocation of this money.”
Gary Ledbetter, SBTC communications director and editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, told BP the committee’s intent “is to ensure donors that funds are being handled carefully and that financial requests for victim relief are being answered as quickly as possible.” The committee is still tabulating the total value of cash and in-kind donations received, he said, and will release those figures to the church when available.
The church meets three times weekly in a temporary facility on church property, is growing in membership and remains grateful for support that has come from many sources, the letter said.
“Our church has been richly blessed in the months since the tragedy of last November. Prayers, comfort, counseling and material assistance have come to us from our neighbors and from congregations around the world,” the letter noted. “God has used all these people to help bring us through a terrible ordeal. ... We are grateful.”
NAMB is accepting donations toward a two-phase rebuilding project First Baptist pastor Frank Pomeroy announced March 27, with plans to start construction on a sanctuary and education building in May. NAMB has committed to provide funds to cover any construction costs not covered by donations, being accepted at restoresutherlandsprings.com and namb.net.
Separate from building project donations, the Restoration Committee is charged with receiving and distributing funds and services to church members impacted by the tragedy when 26-year-old Devin Kelley, now deceased, barged into worship services Nov. 5, shot to death 26 people and wounded 20 others.
“The Restoration Committee has been working to serve the individuals and families personally impacted,” the letter said. “Money and in-kind assistance have been received to provide counseling and to meet tangible needs such as handicap access for wounded members, medical supplies, living expenses and legal fees related to probate issues for those with losses. These gifts received to alleviate the needs of victims are being disbursed to directly pay for the needs of the victims.”
The committee enjoys a diverse membership including longtime and new church members, community residents and retired executives with experience in financial, insurance, real estate, charitable and governmental matters, according to the April 12 factsheet. Pomeroy is a non-voting member of the committee.
“We believe God has sustained us during difficult days,” the letter said. “He has used people from all around the world to encourage us and to provide material support we very much needed.
“Our prayer and intent is to continue to serve our Lord and our neighbors here in Sutherland Springs,” the letter noted. “... We pray that God will continue to comfort and bless many, even in the wake of grief and loss.”
Among facts the committee released:

  • The church has no authority to collect or distribute GoFundMe accounts set up in individual names, as GoFundMe distributes those funds to designated beneficiaries;
  • The church opened a Wells Fargo account for victim assistance separate from normal church offerings and expenses;
  • The church established a second specialized lockbox account with Amegy Bank to process donations through a professional, independent third party, establishing an independent data record;
  • The church’s insurance company, Church Mutual, has paid all costs associated with leasing a temporary sanctuary the church is using and has also paid all legal costs the church has incurred.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/16/2018 9:19:21 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

TRUSTEES: Endowed post, female board chair at SEBTS

April 13 2018 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

Scott Hildreth was installed April 10 as the George Liele Director of the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies, the first endowed directorship at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).

Scott Hildreth

The installation of Hildreth, assistant professor of global studies who has led the Drummond Center since 2009, was among the events and decisions during SEBTS trustees’ April 8-10 meeting, during which the Southeastern Society of seminary supporters also met at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
The election of trustee officers marked a historic moment in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), with Becky Gardner believed to be the first female trustee chair for a seminary, according to the institution’s examination of SBC Annuals.
Gardner, a trustee since 2010, is superintendent of Peoria Christian School in Peoria, Ill., and a member of Woodland Baptist Church in Peoria.
Also elected as trustee officers were Thomas Mach of Xenia, Ohio, vice chairman; Alex Gonzales of McKinney, Texas, secretary; and Charles Cranford of Charlotte, N.C., treasurer.
Another milestone during the trustee meeting was the election of Adrianne Miles as assistant professor of English and linguistics, the first female elected to the SEBTS faculty in 15 years. Miles was appointed to SEBTS’s faculty in 2014, having been an adjunct professor since 2010.
Also elected to the faculty was Tate Cockrell as associate professor of counseling. Awarded faculty promotions were Chip Hardy to associate professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages; Allan Moseley to senior professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; and Keith Whitfield to associate professor of theology.
Trustees approved a $29.1 million budget for 2018-2019, along with:

  • Curriculum revisions and new curriculum additions to include a doctor of education with an emphasis in biblical counseling, a master of arts in Christian studies in Spanish and an associates of arts in Bible and theology.
  • Three new endowment accounts: Panichello Student Aid Fund, DeForest Student Aid Fund and Swann Missions Aid Fund

SEBTS President Danny Akin, in his report to trustees and Southeastern Society members, highlighted key marks of progress of the seminary.
“You are witnessing a miracle in what is today Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a miracle worth believing in; it is a miracle worth praying for; it is a miracle worth supporting,” Akin said.
Among the achievements he cited:

  • A 13.9 percent increase in enrollment during the past year, nearing 4,000 students by the end of the academic year.
  • An 8.4 percent increase in the non-white student population since 2010.
  • A 9 percent increase in the female population since 2010.
  • A 21 percent increase in accepted applications in the last year.

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board and pastor-teacher at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C., preached at Tuesday’s chapel service.

Photo by Maria Estes
Becky Gardner of Peoria, Ill., elected as chair of SEBTS’s trustees, is flanked, from left, by Thomas Mach of Xenia, Ohio, vice chairman; Charles Cranford of Charlotte, N.C., treasurer; and Alex Gonzales of McKinney, Texas, secretary.

Following Platt’s sermon, 14 international church planting students were commissioned to serve in unreached parts of the world.
The seminary also honored two outgoing trustees, Daniel Godfrey and Todd Linn, during Tuesday’s chapel.
On Monday afternoon, the Southeastern Women’s Fellowship hosted a lunch to highlight scholarships awarded to female students. The goal of the Women’s Fellowship is to provide multiple tuition scholarships each year and opportunities for participants to advance the support and encouragement of female students. The lunch honored the 2018 scholarship recipients, and attendees raised an additional $4,850 for more women to receive theological training and impact the Kingdom.
Southeastern Society members give at least $1,000 to SEBTS each year and partner with the school to help train students in living out the Great Commission wherever they go. To learn more, visit sebts.edu/ses.
The next meeting of trustees and the Southeastern Society will be Oct. 14-16.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lauren Pratt is Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s news and information specialist.)

4/13/2018 11:03:59 AM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments

IMB presidential nominations accepted through May 15

April 13 2018 by Baptist Press & IMB

The International Mission Board’s (IMB) Presidential Search Committee announced April 12 it is accepting nominations for the Southern Baptist entity’s next president.
The committee, chaired by Chuck Pourciau, senior pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., said in a statement they will accept nominations through May 15 by email at imbsearch@broadmoor.tv.
“The International Mission Board Presidential Search Committee has benefited greatly from your prayers and input during the early stage of this process,” the statement said. “We continue to desire your help as we seek the person God has chosen to be the next leader of the IMB.
“... We covet your prayers until this task is done.”
On Feb. 12, David Platt announced plans to transition out of his role as IMB president. He noted he will continue to serve until a new president is selected. See related report.
Trustee chairman Rick Dunbar named a 16-person committee to find Platt’s replacement during the trustees’ Feb. 28-March 1 meeting in the Richmond, Va., area. Read full list of committee members in this report.
Also, see full statement from the search committee below:
The International Mission Board Presidential Search Committee has benefited greatly from your prayers and input during the early stage of this process. We continue to desire your help as we seek the person God has chosen to be the next leader of the IMB.
Currently, we are in the process of receiving nominations and will continue to accept nominations for the position through May 15, 2018. If God leads you to submit a nomination to the committee, please do so by emailing us at imbsearch@broadmoor.tv.
We covet your prayers until this task is done.
The IMB Presidential Search Committee
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shawn Hendricks is editor of Baptist Press. David Roach, Baptist Press’s chief national correspondent, and Julie McGowan, the International Mission Board’s public relations manager, contributed to this report.)

4/13/2018 10:59:07 AM by Baptist Press & IMB | with 0 comments

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