December 2012

2012 – A glance back at stories of the year

December 31 2012 by BR Staff

As 2012 came to a somber close – one that included a deadly hurricane, a divisive presidential election and a horrific elementary school shooting – many might conclude it was a difficult year. But for North Carolina Baptists, – and others throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) – it also was a year of church planting, strong missions giving, outreach and signs of hope for the future. The Biblical Recorder has compiled a list of some of the more notable headlines of 2012. We hope it will provide a good look at one memorable year.
 

1 The election of Fred Luter

 
Though it was merely a formality when the official vote was taken, the election of Fred Luter as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in June was no less historic. He became the SBC’s first African American president. “[It is] one of the most significant events in SBC history since the convention’s founding in 1845,” said Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. “It makes a statement as to who we have become and what we hope to be in the future,” added Akin, who nominated the pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans as first vice president of the convention in 2011 during the annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. “I long for the day when the church on earth looks like the church in heaven. The election of Fred, one of the finest and most godly men I know, will move us further down that road.”
 
12-31-12year-(2).jpgFormer SBC President Bryant Wright, right, with the newly elected president Fred Luter at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans.

2 Marriage

 
On May 8, many N.C. Baptists celebrated the passage of a marriage amendment to the state’s constitution that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. In doing so, N.C. became the 30th state to define marriage in its constitution as being between a man and a woman. But the issue is far from settled. In November three states – Maine, Maryland and Washington state – voted to legalize “gay marriage,” bringing the total number of states where same-sex marriage is recognized to nine. The United States Supreme Court also announced that it plans to take up two cases involving the issue. Before being re-elected to a second term, President Barack Obama became the first president to publically support same-sex marriage. While many N.C. Baptists are pleased with their state’s stand on marriage, it could be overturned in the coming months if marriage is redefined nationwide.
 

3  Church planting

 
N.C. Baptists are leading a variety of church planting partnerships throughout North America and abroad. Through its Office of Great Commission Partnerships, the Baptist State Convention of N.C. (BSC) has focused its attention on leading Baptists across the state in partnerships in New York, Boston, Toronto and Moldova. In late October, a group of N.C. pastors traveled to Moldova on a vision trip to look for ways their congregation can partner with Baptist leaders in the country to plant more churches. In July, about 90 N.C. Baptists attended the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send North America Conference at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. More than 2,200 church leaders and pastors attended the event. Attendance nearly tripled initial expectations by bringing both young and older generations together to learn how they can plant more churches. This year, NAMB will follow up with conferences focused on church growth and revitalization. A conference will be held April 25 at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh. For more information online go to http://www.namb.net/revitalization/North_Carolina.
 

4 Giving

 
NAMB recognized N.C. Baptists in June at the SBC’s annual meeting in New Orleans for being the top state in giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. In 2011, N.C. Baptists raised $5.6 million for the offering. That amount was just over Alabama’s offering of $5 million. N.C. Baptists were also on top with $12.6 million in gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMCO) that year. The Dec. 22 issue of the Biblical Recorder reported that the SBC’s International Mission Board released a list showing that 17 N.C. Baptist churches were among the top 200 giving churches to the 2011 LMCO. Between the months of March 2011 and February 2012, those churches gave a total of $2.4 million to the offering. And for the eighth year, in an effort to increase its support for SBC ministries, the Baptist State Convention of N.C.’s Cooperative Program budget for 2013 includes a one-half percent increase of the allocation that will go to the SBC. The increase will bring the SBC allocation to 36 percent.
 

5 Calvinism

 
The issue of Calvinism or soteriology (the study of the doctrine of salvation) made headlines this summer when a group of Southern Baptist leaders signed a statement affirming what they call the “traditional Southern Baptist” view of salvation, which draws a distinction from “New Calvinism.” The document entitled “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptists Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” includes a list of signatures, some of whom are seminary presidents, state executive directors and former SBC presidents. Immediately following the release of the document, Southern Baptists took to the blogosphere to voice their thoughts on the issue. Some N.C. Baptists also wrote related letters and guest columns that were published in the Biblical Recorder. During the SBC’s annual meeting in New Orleans, leaders encouraged messengers to avoid divisive rhetoric and remain united for the cause of the Great Commission. Executive Committee President Frank Page also formed a committee to look for ways that both sides can come together on the issue.  The committee has met twice and plans to meet again. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, is among those serving on the committee.
 

6  Chick-fil-A

 
The fast-food chain Chick-fil-A found itself in the middle of a media storm after their company’s president Dan Cathy shared his traditional views on family and marriage in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. The Biblical Recorder published a story on the interview in its July 7 issue. The story was later re-posted on Baptist Press’ website, which recently declared the story to be the site’s most read article of 2012. In the days to follow numerous mainstream news agencies focused on Cathy’s statement of support for traditional family values. Some ran headlines suggesting Chick-fil-A and its president were “anti-gay.” As support and criticism grew for the fast-food chain, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee announced Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which was held on Aug. 1. In the wake of some city leaders threatening to keep Chick-fil-A from opening new restaurants in their area, the company drew thousands of supporters that day across the country in support of its stand for traditional family values. This fall Chick-fil-A made headlines again when news reports suggested the company had backed off its stand by agreeing not to contribute to what critics called “anti-gay” organizations, such as Focus on the Family. Cathy later released a statement noting Chick-fil-A’s support for organizations that promote biblical family values remains the same.
 

7 Prayer, spiritual awakening

 
As a divisive election approached, Baptists through-out the state and around the country spearheaded a variety of prayer and fasting events that called for spiritual awakening in the country. On Sept. 2, just before the Democratic National Convention (DNC) held its meeting in Charlotte, about 9,000 people who represented more than 100 churches gathered for a city-wide worship event called Charlotte 714. Those who attended prayed, worshipped and were encouraged by a variety of speakers on the issue of spiritual awakening. Life Action Ministries promoted the event and continues to lead a prayer movement, called OneCry. That week the Metrolina Baptist Association and area churches, along with N.C. Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief ministry, led a variety of outreach efforts geared toward those visiting the city for the DNC. In October, leading up to its annual meeting in November, the Baptist State Convention of N.C. challenged Baptists in the state to participate in 30 days of prayer and fasting that focused on spiritual awakening. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Awaken.”
 

8 Disaster relief

 
N.C.’s Baptist Men’s disaster relief ministry had another busy year of relief efforts around the country as they helped people in need. A relatively busy year ended with relief efforts well underway in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated homes in the Northeast in October. Hundreds of N.C. Baptists descended on the area to minister to those who were impacted. The storm claimed more than 100 lives and caused widespread destruction from flooding, high tides and winds that reached around 80 mph. Thousands of homes were without electricity for weeks. During their Christmas break about 50 students worked with N.C. Baptist Men to help with relief efforts.
 

9 Discipleship

 
In July, the Biblical Recorder published a series of stories highlighting some of the ways N.C. Baptists are putting more focus on discipleship. The issue included a story on Chuck Campbell and how he is leading the Transylvania Baptist Association in Pisgah Forest to help church leaders define and teach discipleship. Other stories included how discipleship and mentoring changed Jim Gillespie’s life after he became a Christian. Today, Gillespie is pastor of men’s ministry at Richland Creek Community Church in Wake Forest. The Biblical Recorder followed up with related stories in later issues that focused on discipleship and outreach groups geared toward neighbors. The Baptist State Convention continues to lead an effort called 3D, which challenges churches to make discipleship a part of their congregation’s culture.
 

10 Great Commission Baptists

 
The SBC adopted Great Commission Baptists as an “unofficial descriptor” in June during its annual meeting in New Orleans. In 2011, Bryant Wright, president of the SBC and pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., selected a committee to study the possibility of changing the Southern Baptist Convention’s name. Some of the reasons behind forming the committee focused around the idea that the name had become outdated and too regional, too divisive and not reflective of today’s convention. After much discussion, the committee proposed an unofficial descriptor in February that could be used by congregations that felt more comfortable with using Great Commission Baptists. Though the final vote was closer than many had predicted, messengers approved the descriptor and appeared to move past an old debate – at least for now.
12/31/2012 2:58:39 PM by BR Staff | with 0 comments



Jan. 31 deadline for BSC nominations

December 31 2012 by BSC

North Carolina Baptists still have time to submit recommendations of people to serve on the Baptist State Convention’s (BSC) Board of Directors, the boards of the convention’s agencies and institutions, and convention committees.
 
The convention’s Committee on Nominations seeks diversity among the recommendations that will represent churches of various sizes, various professional and educational backgrounds, ethnic and racial diversity, geographical areas, different age groups, and lay persons as well as ministers.
 
Input from N.C. Baptists regarding nominations of individuals to serve is essential for the ongoing missions, ministries and evangelistic endeavors of the Baptist State Convention of N.C.
 
BSC bylaws require the following of the Committee on Nominations:
  • Recommend to the convention nominees from both small and large churches (under/over 400 members)
  • Limit churches to no more than six individuals from a single church serving on all convention boards and committees combined
  • Limit BSC Board of Director membership so that no more than one member from a church may serve on the Board at a time
An individual may only serve on a single committee or a single board at one time, whereas in the past individuals could serve in more than one place at one time. Therefore, it is essential for N.C. Baptists to recommend more individuals to serve on the Board of Directors and convention committees.
 
Nominations are due Jan. 31, 2013. To make a nomination, visit recommend.ncbaptist.org. For questions related to the recommendation process, contact Cynthia King at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5501, or cking@ncbaptist.org.
 
See attached form.

12/31/2012 2:33:13 PM by BSC | with 0 comments



WMU-NC adds director of development

December 31 2012 by WMU-NC

After a visioning process the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) added a director of development to its staff.
 
Cindy Finley says it is “my desire to honor all our donors, whether their offering would be categorized by the world as a ‘large sum’ or a ‘widow’s mite.’ Jesus honored the woman who gave two small copper coins because she ‘put in everything she had.’
 
“She demonstrated her confidence in God’s provision. This is the type of woman I want to be, and I want to encourage other women to be as well.”
 
12-31-12wmunc175.jpgCindy Finley

Finley holds degrees from University of N.C. Chapel Hill and N.C. State University and has worked as a stay-at-home mom, motivational speaker and teacher, and fundraiser. 
 
Finley’s husband, Bill, is pastor of Inwood Baptist Church in Raleigh. They have seven children.
The director of development will direct the overall fundraising efforts,  secure contributions for the current year and develop future gifts for the continuation of WMU-NC’s missions and ministries.
 
The creation of this contract position came as a recommendation of the financial development work group to the Executive Board during its visioning process that began in January 2012. A search committee, appointed by Board President Tana Hartsell, included Shane Nixon, chair and senior pastor of First Baptist Church Mocksville; Bill Overby, director of development/trustor services of the N.C. Baptist Foundation; Wayne Wike, director of development at Wingate University; Kimberly Overton, former WMU Executive Board member and chief resource prosecutor with the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys; and Cindy Averette, counsel to the N.C. House and Senate Finance Committees.
 
Finley can be contacted at cfinley@wmunc.org or (919) 882-2344, ext. 208.
12/31/2012 2:17:54 PM by WMU-NC | with 0 comments



Former NFL player shares ‘Game Plan for Life’

December 28 2012 by Roman Gabriel, BR Sports Q&A

Renaldo Wynn has spent much of his life in the spotlight. He was a standout athlete, and was a defensive end at Notre Dame, where he played for legendary Irish head coach Lou Holtz.
 
As a first-round NFL pick in 1997, Wynn, who ended up playing in the NFL for 11 years, was an impact player for the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. His final stint in Washington united him with the legendary three-time Super Bowl champion head coach Joe Gibbs. Now Wynn works with Joe Gibbs Racing as director of Inner City and Prison Ministries of Game Plan for Life, the ministry arm of Joe Gibbs Racing. Wynn talks about his passion for ministry to youth and family through his work with Joe Gibbs Racing.
 
Q: What are some ways you are able to influence young people?
 
A: I didn’t realize the impact that I could have on young people’s lives as a professional athlete until I gave my life to Jesus Christ.
 
The most important thing that God has given me through my professional football career has been the opportunity to share my testimony and influence other people’s lives. … I have been able to speak to kids [who] listen to my advice because of my sports background. It’s an awesome thing to … have that kind of platform … and more importantly to use that platform to the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
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Renaldo Wynn works with youth and families through Game Plan for Life, the ministry arm of Joe Gibbs Racing. Wynn played for Coach Gibbs as a Washington Redskin and now directs Game Plan for Life’s inner city and prison ministries.


Q: What is it like working with Super Bowl champion and Sprint Cup owner Joe Gibbs, and Joe Gibbs Racing in Charlotte, N.C.?
 
A: I had the opportunity to be blessed and to play for coach. Playing for coach Gibbs with the Redskins will be something that I cherish for the rest of my life.
 
Now I have an opportunity to work for him outside football, and [see] him on a personal level day to day. I will say this, we all know he was a great coach. [But] he’s even a better person, and he’s so humble. And it doesn’t matter who [he’s] talking to.

We have over 450 employees at Joe Gibbs Racing. Whether it’s the man at the bottom of the totem pole or at the top, he treats everybody the same. You know, we’re actually a ministry that just happens to race cars. Coach is all about God first. He’s all about having that influence.
 
Q: Tell us a little bit more about Game Plan for Life, the ministry side of Joe Gibbs Racing.
 
A: We have two full-time chaplains, and Bob Dyer is our head chaplain. We have 16 different Bible study groups that are available here at Joe Gibbs Racing. We have a dig-a-little-deeper Bible study that’s made available on Wednesdays. [Gibbs] came out with the book Game Plan for Life about three years ago, and it was a New York Times Bestseller. Coach [Gibbs] had the opportunity to make that book come to life. I’ve had the opportunity to work here with my former Redskins teammate Derrick Crawford. We go out with the Game Plan for Life program on the road at least twice a month. We either call on churches or parachurch ministries, or [churches] call us to come out to their area to put on a “Game Plan for Life” event.
 
Q: What can men expect to get out of one of these Game Plan for Life events?
 
A: Getting men off the sidelines and into the game, and start discipling other men. When I talk about men, I’m talking about non-believers, men [who] would never come into church but will to hear about football and NASCAR from a Christian’s perspective. We talk to men about: God, purpose, health, money and career, struggles, and relationships and family. In this atmosphere men’s lives can be impacted, creating an atmosphere for men to be successful and relevant, where men want to disciple other men.
 
Q: Tell our readers how they can get involved with Game Plan for Life.
 
A: Please go to our website at www.gameplanforlife.com. Just contact us by phone or email on the website, and Derek and I can talk to you about how we can bring a Game Plan for Life event to your city, church, parachurch ministry, or church men’s group. We want to partner with your leaders about bringing this special event to you. On Dec. 14 Coach started a weekly online chalk talk on our Game Plan for Life website. Coach Gibbs is very transparent. [He shares] about his life and his faith and principles of life that have allowed for his success on and off the field. So make sure you tune in on the site. Also [go] on our website – no strings attached – [ask] for a free Bible and we’ll get that to you.  
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III is president of Sold Out Ministries. He hosts Sold Out Sports on Saturday nights 8 p.m. EST on American Family Radio, and is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Contact him at (910) 431-6483 or soldoutrg3@gmail.com. His website is www.soldouttv.com.)
12/28/2012 1:51:24 PM by Roman Gabriel, BR Sports Q&A | with 0 comments



N.C. college students use break to help hurricane survivors

December 28 2012 by Baptist Press/Biblical Recorder

North Carolina Baptist collegians – and other students from around the country – sacrificed part of their winter breaks making homes livable again for residents spending the holidays in dwellings damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
 
Nearly 50 students worked alongside N.C. Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief Ministry in New Jersey the week before Christmas. The students, which were broken up into six teams, received a day of training before beginning efforts at their relief sites on the 17th. Most spent the week cleaning out debris and mud from damaged houses.
 
“They are doing a fantastic job,” said Sharon Chilton-Moser, the project leader for N.C. Baptist Men. “They could be at home asleep – that’s what college students do. … [But] they’re doing [the work] without complaint.”
 
Chilton-Moser said she hopes to see more students answer the call and to start a “pattern of service” with a desire to help those in need.
 
12-28-12collegenc.jpg

Contributed photo

College students from North Carolina spent part of their Christmas break helping Hurricane Sandy survivors.


“We’re investing in future relief,” Chilton-Moser said. “I wanted to plant some seeds in some hearts … a lifetime calling.”
 
Nearby in New York, about 325 students are working with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) efforts through Jan. 22 on Staten Island and in other affected areas. At least 27 groups of students will gut homes, haul debris and minister while living in a tent village at Staten Island’s Zion Lutheran Church.
 
“I love helping people,” Florida collegian Patricia Lally said, “and telling them about Jesus.” Lally, a student from Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, was part of an early-arriving group of students who built living quarters for subsequent groups and began mud-out efforts with Alabama disaster relief volunteers.
 
This represents a new level of student involvement in SBDR efforts, laying a groundwork for the next generation of people involved in the critical ministry. Last year more than 300 Liberty University students worked in an SBDR response following Hurricane Irene in upstate New York.
 
“College students have a strong desire to be involved in these types of opportunities,” said Fritz Wilson, NAMB’s SBDR executive director.
 
Wilson also said the college students are providing a much-needed cadre of volunteers during the holidays. 
 
With service times lasting a week, students will fill a need left by traditional disaster relief volunteers who have spent more than a month in the area.
 
“Many of our regular volunteers who’ve been responding for over a month simply have used up a lot of their [vacation] time,” Wilson said.
 
“The college students are willing to say, ‘I can carve out this week’ during their winter breaks and still spend the holidays with their families.”
 
Through student efforts, Southern Baptists also are tapping into new opportunities for church planting and other ministry in the Northeast.
 
Since Sandy made landfall, N.C. Baptists, alone, have provided 596,000 meals, completed 520 projects, and reported six professions of faith.
 
All Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers have served a total of 1.75 million meals, cleaned debris from nearly 900 homes and made 4,300-plus ministry contacts.
 
Volunteers have shared the gospel with some 775 people resulting in more than 80 professions of faith.
But the long-term gospel impact SBDR volunteers are having on New York will reveal itself in the weeks, months and years to come, leaders said.
 
“The response of these student volunteers to the Northeast not only is building our ability to respond to disaster, but it’s also building in these younger volunteers a greater understanding of mission work in North America,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said.
 
Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB’s disaster relief fund.
12/28/2012 1:36:12 PM by Baptist Press/Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments



Post-game trash collection fuels BSU missions

December 28 2012 by Lanie King, Baptist Press

OXFORD, Miss – Students at the University of Mississippi’s Baptist Student Union (BSU) have traded trash for cash to raise money for summer missions.

The Grove, Ole Miss’ 10-acre site for tailgaters at the center of the Oxford campus, is always covered with plastic plates, fried chicken, leftover cookies and everything in between after a home football game. BSU students have had the unique opportunity to partner with the university’s landscaping employees to clean the Grove in the evenings after each home game.

Baptist Student Union members have received part-time pay for Grove cleanup for eight years. The school’s landscaping staff hasn’t always had the extra hands that BSU brings for the job. Jeff McManus, Ole Miss’ director of landscape, airport and golf services, said a university crew cleaned the Grove on Sunday mornings in the past from eight to 14 hours, clearing 40-50 tons of garbage.

“With BSU here, we’re working shorter hours. Our staff is not beaten down after every ball game,” McManus said about the two- to six-hour cleanups with the extra help. “When BSU comes in here, it’s like a breath of fresh air coming through, and we’ve got all of these extra hands.”
12-28-12bsu.jpg

Photo by Tanner Marquis

Ole Miss Baptist Student Union members Kyle Tanner, left, a business major, and Tucker Stafford, a civil engineering major, join in cleaning the Grove, the popular tailgating spot on the campus after the Texas game on Sept. 15. The students help fund BSU summer missions. The BSUers, earning funds for summer missions, picked up a record 87 tons of refuse.


McManus said the students meet each night’s challenge with a good work ethic and a good attitude.

“The BSU students have definitely been a godsend, so to speak, and we have been blessed by them and really appreciate the value they bring to the campus,” McManus said. “They are a big morale boost to our guys.”

Blake Johnson, a senior journalism major from Houston, Texas, said he believes the optimism he and other BSU students maintain through the long hours and late nights comes from a desire to minister to the campus and an awareness that they are raising money to send students nationally and internationally for missions.

“We think to ourselves, ‘I’m doing this to spread a message, and I’m doing this to raise money to spread that message,’” said Johnson, a member of The Life Church in Oxford, a church plant sponsored by First Baptist Church, Oxford, the ONE8 Network, and Mississippi Baptists’ Margaret Lackey State Missions Offering.

Johnson also said the BSU students know that their strength comes from Christ – especially during the Grove cleanup after Ole Miss played the University of Texas on Sept. 15. Students began the five-hour task at 1:30 a.m. and picked up a record 87 tons of garbage.

“I was thinking Jesus. That was all I had to run off of, and I think we were all thinking the same thing,” Johnson said. “I think that says a lot about our students that we didn’t give up.”

McManus said that he and others also notice that BSU students are spurred by something greater.

“They seem to have a higher purpose and a higher calling for what they are doing, and it’s not just about getting the task done,” he said. “They do a great job with it. They feel they’re contributing to a bigger cause.”

Students also enjoy the time together during Grove cleanup.

“One of my favorite parts is just the idea of the fellowship that you get out there,” Johnson said.

With the last campus game of the 2012 football season completed on Nov. 24, McManus looks forward to Grove cleanup next season despite six home football games scheduled in a row.

“I think BSU will step up to the challenge again,” he said. “I’m not fearful at all because I know we have a great partnership with them.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reprinted from the Baptist Record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.)
12/28/2012 1:15:05 PM by Lanie King, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Baptist Press’ most-read stories of 2012

December 27 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE (BP) – A story that put Chick-fil-A in the national spotlight and led to hundreds of thousands of customers showing their support is Baptist Press’ most-read story of 2012.

That’s according to Google Analytics, which tracks web traffic. In fact, four of the Top 10 stories for 2012 were about Chick-fil-A. But the list also shows readers were interested in matters of doctrine and Bible history.

Following is the complete Top 10 list for 2012, with each slot accompanied by a brief description and a link to the original story:

1. “‘Guilty as charged,’ Cathy says of Chick-fil-A’s stand on biblical & family values.” In July Baptist Press re-posted a story from the Biblical Recorder newspaper that quickly put Chick-fil-A in the national spotlight – and eventually led to hundreds of thousands flocking to the restaurant for Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. It remains the most-read story in Baptist Press’ history on the Internet. http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38271

2. “Statement on Calvinism draws approval, criticism.” In May a group of current and former Southern Baptist leaders signed a statement affirming what they called the “traditional Southern Baptist” understanding of the doctrine of salvation. It sparked a debate over what Southern Baptists believe on the issue and whether there is room for both sides in the convention. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37939

3. “Andy Stanley’s stance on homosexuality questioned.” In April and May megachurch pastor Andy Stanley was criticized for a sermon illustration involving a gay couple in which he labeled adultery, but not homosexuality, a sin. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37742

4. “Chick-fil-A’s Christian ties stir college opposition.” In March, before the Chick-fil-A media storm truly started, Baptist Press ran a story about opposition to Chick-fil-A restaurants on college campuses. The story spotlighted the student senate at Northeastern University which voted to end negotiations to bring the fast-food chain to campus. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37344

5. “Chick-fil-A, in nat’l media storm, swims against cultural tide.” The nation began focusing on Chick-fil-A in July and August, and it quickly became obvious that the restaurant was different from businesses such as General Mills, Nabisco, JC Penney and Target, all four of which seemingly compete to appear the most supportive of gay marriage. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38301

6. “Q&A: A first-century fragment of Mark found?” In February, a New Testament professor said during a debate that a first-century fragment of Mark’s Gospel may have been found. If true – and confirmation could come in 2013 – it would be the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament, placing it in the very century of Christ and the apostles. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37197

7. “As Titanic sank, he pleaded, ‘believe in the Lord Jesus!’“ The Titanic sank 100 years ago, and Baptist Press remembered the anniversary by posting a column by Douglas Mize recounting how one of the victims – pastor John Harper – pleaded with those onboard the ship to trust Christ before they perished. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37601

8. “Obama: Sin is what doesn’t match ‘my values.’“ In the first few months of 2012, an interview President Obama conducted in 2004 about his faith got a second look after being re-posted on a popular website. It showed that on several major doctrinal issues – including sin, heaven and the gospel’s exclusivity – he steps outside historic Christianity. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37310

9. “Some Chick-fil-A news reports called ‘distorted.’“ With the nation focusing on Chick-fil-A in July, Biblical Recorder editor K. Allan Blume – who wrote the story that started the storm – said many of the media reports of his conversation with the company’s president were “distorted.” http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38314

10. “T.D. Jakes says he has embraced doctrine of the Trinity.” In January, Bishop T.D. Jakes said he has moved away from a “Oneness” view of the Godhead to embrace an orthodox definition of the Trinity – and that some in the Oneness Pentecostal movement now consider him a heretic. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37054

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
12/27/2012 2:59:50 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Antique globe spurs seminary to heightened LMCO giving

December 27 2012 by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press

WAKE FOREST – It all started with an antique globe-shaped bank.

The tattered grapefruit-sized trinket helped spur students, faculty and staff of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C., to give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

In early December, the staff of Southeastern’s Drummond Center for the Great Commission Studies needed an ornament for the staff Christmas tree competition, and the globe bank was chosen. Kristine Wager, administrative assistant for the associate directors of international and North American missions and an SEBTS student, added a small sign to the bank saying “Lottie Moon Christmas Offering” with an arrow pointing toward the coin slot.
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Photo by Kelly Hunter

An antique globe-shaped bank helped spur Southeastern Seminary students, faculty and staff to give more generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.


After the competition, Greg Mathias, the globe’s owner and the department’s associate director of international missions, asked Wager to retrieve his collectible. Wager decided to keep it on her desk and asked anyone who came by if they had spare change to give to Lottie Moon – “and people just did.” One professor even brought his “change jar” from home – full to the brim with coins – to give to the offering.

But Wager didn’t stop there. As a former journeyman – a short-term missionary with the International Mission Board – from 2008-10 in East Asia, she knew what a “blessing” the Lottie Moon Offering is for the nearly 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries in supporting them and their ministries so they can concentrate on being Christ’s heart, hands and voice to those who have not yet heard the gospel message.

The day before a chapel service when gifts to the missions offering would be collected, Wager carried the globe to all of the seminary’s offices, asking for spare change. Give they did – change, dollars and checks – and if they could not give then, many made notes to remind them to give at the chapel service the next day.

“By the time I got back to my office, the globe was so heavy it was a relief to put down!” Wager said with a laugh.

Her rallying paid off – Southeastern gave $3,556 this year to the offering, a 36 percent increase from their 2011 total of $2,620.44.

“Where we are generous and where we give of ourselves and of our things, that really reveals where our hearts are,” Wager said. “I think that’s super exciting that our hearts are 36 percent more geared toward missions than they were last year.”

But Wager doesn’t take credit for this increase – she knows that her department and the entire seminary are devoted to the Great Commission.

“It wasn’t just me – my personal passion – but really the community of passion that is cultivated at Southeastern. … I think that’s just an attitude filtering down from Dr. [Daniel] Akin [SEBTS president], how he’s so committed to the Great Commission and to missions in general, it really does go into everything that we do. … down to our faculty members, to our staff and to our students as well.”

The seminary has taken up an offering for missions every year since Akin became the seminary’s president in 2004.

“It’s hard not to be excited about missions at Southeastern,” Wager said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Laura Fielding is a writer for the International Mission Board. Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and through the Cooperative Program help Southern Baptist missionaries around the world share the gospel. Gifts for the offering are received at Southern Baptist churches across the country or can be made online at www.imb.org/offering where there are resources for church leaders to promote the offering. Download related videos at www.imb.org/lmcovideo.)
12/27/2012 2:47:40 PM by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Engaging Muslims is focus of evangelism conference

December 27 2012 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

A recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life projects that the global Muslim population will continue to grow at a faster pace than any other demographic during the next two decades. The study projects that by 2030, one out of every four people in the world will be Muslim.
 
In North America, the Muslim population is projected to triple in Canada, where Muslims will account for more than six percent of the population by 2030. In the United States, the number of Muslims is expected to more than double during the same period, from less than one percent of the population in 2010 to almost two percent by 2030.
 
“We need to train people to understand Islam and to understand Muslims, so they will have the confidence to engage them in conversations and talk to them about the Lord,” said Marty Dupree, evangelism and church growth team leader for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
 
“This is an important issue because there is so little engagement of Muslims from the church.”
 
Dupree is praying that the 2013 annual state evangelism conference, to be held Feb. 25 at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, will encourage North Carolina Baptists to engage Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Understanding, Loving and Relating to Muslins” is the conference theme.
 
“We are not trying to use this conference to condemn Islam,” Dupree said.
 
“We want to equip people to love and understand and then be able to relate to Muslims so that they can feel confident sharing the message of Christ with Muslims.”
 
Dupree believes fear is the greatest barrier that prevents Christ-followers from witnessing not only to Muslims, but also to people from all backgrounds and cultures.
 
“Many times we are afraid that we won’t be able to answer their questions or that we might offend them and they will reject us,” he said. “But I have found the exact opposite of that.”
 
Dupree said Muslims are generally curious about spiritual matters and are willing to engage in spiritual conversations one-on-one.
 
Believers do not need to know all the answers, but they must be willing to engage in conversation with the purpose of sharing Christ, because eternity is at stake.
 
“I want Muslims to know that they can go to heaven. Through Jesus Christ, like anyone else, they can have access to the eternal Father,” Dupree said.
 
Mike Licona, associate professor of theology at Houston Baptist University and president of Risen Jesus, Inc., who will speak during the morning plenary session, said “It’s not one of these things where Christians need to fear offending Muslims by proclaiming Christ as God’s Son.
 
“We can say that, and they will respect us for that because they respect firmness and conviction.”
 
Licona said one way believers can be more confident engaging Muslims is by studying the Bible, learning basic theology and knowing how to explain the deity of Christ and how Christ claimed to be God.
He also said American Christians need to adopt a missionary mindset.
 
“Everyone needs to realize that they are a missionary now,” he said. “We don’t have to go to foreign countries to be a missionary because God is bringing Muslims right here.”
 

Speakers, highlights

The conference features other well-known pastors, apologists and experts in the field of sharing the gospel with Muslims:
  • Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, La.
  • Zane Pratt, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism and associate professor of Christian missions, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Alex McFarland, director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics, North Greenville University
  • Nabeel Qureshi, director of Creed 2:6 Ministries
  • Nik Ripken, expert on the persecuted church
Luter and Licona will speak about the gospel in culture during the morning session, Pratt and McFarland will address the issue of Islam and America during the afternoon session, and Qureshi and Ripken will teach about understanding, loving and reaching Muslims during the evening session.
 
During the Monday afternoon session attendees will participate in a special panel discussion relating to Islam and America, and will be able to submit questions for the panel discussion.
 
Questions may be submitted prior to the conference by emailing evangelism@ncbaptist.org.
 
In addition to plenary sessions, the conference includes a special pre-conference workshop that will be held Sunday, Feb. 24, from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church.
 
Topics include the basics of defending the gospel, how Christian families can reach Muslim families, and how families can live together on mission for the gospel.
 
Alex McFarland will also lead a special workshop for students related to apologetics.
 
The conference and pre-conference workshop are free and registration is not required.
 
For more information, visit www.ncbaptist.org/cultureach.
12/27/2012 2:36:34 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



About those shepherds ...

December 27 2012 by Stephen Douglas Wilson, Baptist Press

MAYFIELD, Ky. – The account of the shepherds in Luke’s nativity passage (Luke 2:8-20) continues to fascinate modern readers. Receiving an angelic message that the Messiah was born in nearby Bethlehem, these shepherds left their closely guarded flocks of sheep to seek the good news themselves.

Theologians tell us that the angel’s message represented God’s annunciation of his Son’s birth to the common people of Israel, but who were these shepherds?

The shepherds of Bethlehem persisted in an honorable occupation that also claimed various Old Testament figures, including Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, Moses, David, Job and Amos – just to name a few.

They largely kept flocks of the broad-tailed sheep (ovis laticaudata) that can still be found in the Holy Land today. Allusions to the highly prized “fat tail” of these sheep can be found in Exodus 29:22 and Leviticus 3:9.
12-27-12shepherd.jpg

In terms of their daily and nightly chores, shepherds were responsible for grazing and watering their charges, protecting them from human theft and animal predation, shearing the sheep at the appropriate time, milking them for dairy products and providing them for ritual sacrifices and/or human consumption during important feasts. As a general rule, dairy-producing and wool-producing sheep were too valuable to be a daily menu item.

Although the Old and New Testaments ascribe great personal honor to the men and women of this occupation, the shepherds of the era of Christ’s birth appeared to be less honored in the Jewish tradition.

The rabbis who produced the Talmudic literature (written around A.D. 200-500 but containing oral traditions from before, during and after the earthly lifetime of Jesus) often regarded shepherds as dishonest and prone to violating Jewish law.

Likewise, Philo, a Jewish sage in Egypt and a contemporary of Jesus, wrote that shepherds “are held to be mean and inglorious” (On Husbandry, 61).

Nevertheless, God often uses unlikely vessels to further His will. According to the Jewish Mishnah (A.D. 200 but also containing longstanding oral traditions of previous ages), animals in the vicinity of Bethlehem (specifically Migdal Eder – “Tower of the Flock”) could be offered for Temple sacrifices (Shekalim 7:4).

According to Eusebius, a Palestinian Christian leader of the fourth century in his work, “Concerning the Place-names in Sacred Scriptures” (Section B, 196), Migdal Eder was located one Roman mile east of Bethlehem (a Roman mile of 1,000 paces is a little short of our mile by 143 yards).

If the shepherds of Luke’s account were those who kept flocks potentially destined for the Temple at Migdal Eder, they especially would have been receptive to the angel’s message.

Both the geographical locations of Bethlehem and nearby Migdal Eder are mentioned in Micah’s prophecy of the Messiah (Micah 5:2 and 4:8). In regard to Migdal Eder, this locale too is linked to the coming of the King.

If the shepherds tending the flocks for the Temple stationed at Migdal Eder constitute the shepherds of the Luke account, then the annunciation to the shepherds would fulfill that aspect of messianic prophecy.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds, accompanied by a great light (Luke 2:9), their first reaction was sheer terror. Nevertheless, the angel calmed them and told them that the Messiah had just been born in nearby Bethlehem.

While not revealing the exact location in the city for the child, the angel related that the child was the one swaddled in binding cloths and lying in a manger (v. 12). After the angel was briefly joined by a heavenly host that praised God, they left the shepherds.

The befuddled shepherds, however, decided to view the Christ child. They could not pass up the opportunity to view the “Lamb of God.” After a short walk to the city (only about one mile if Eusebius is correct), they found the child with his parents.

They not only praised God for both the angelic message and visit with the child, they shared this news with others (v. 17-20). Those hearing this account by the shepherds also were amazed.

The annunciation to the shepherds of Bethlehem demonstrated God’s love for the common people. Previous annunciations of the Lord's birth had occurred only to family members like Mary, Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth.

The first annunciation to those outside of the family were not to the priestly establishment in Jerusalem or those of Herod’s royal house or to the rich landowners of Judea but rather to these common shepherds whom the rabbinic tradition had tarnished.

Indeed, the good news was not to be a respecter of persons. Simple shepherds, like the later fishermen and farmers among the disciples of Jesus, would be both the recipients and purveyors of the gospel.

Today many shepherds in the Bethlehem area and in other parts of Israel/Palestine still seek and profess Christianity, and their stories can be located on the Internet and in the popular press. In the 20th and 21st centuries, many of them achieved some recognition from the evangelical Christian community in the United States.

For instance, Stephen A. Haboush chronicled his experience as a Palestinian shepherd in his work “My Shepherd Life in Galilee.” The long tradition of shepherds seeking to follow God in faith extends from Abel, the son of Adam, to the present day. The shepherds located near Bethlehem on the night of the Lord’s nativity were a very important chapter of that long tradition.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Stephen Douglas Wilson is dean emeritus and chair of the history department of Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Ky., and a member of the SBC Executive Committee.)

Related story

Modern shepherds corral nativity animals
12/27/2012 2:20:09 PM by Stephen Douglas Wilson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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