February 2013

National Day of Prayer launches PRAY magazine

January 9 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, has introduced a new quarterly magazine, PRAY.

Photo submitted

While PRAY will seek to “encourage and equip Christians in how to pray more effectively,” Floyd noted to Baptist Press that “it is also published for men and women who lead local church prayer ministries.”
The National Day of Prayer publication “is just one tool we are using to mobilize unified public prayer for America,” Floyd said in a Jan. 7 news release.
“Through this resource, you can learn about how prayer impacts lives, find practical applications, and inspiration for your own prayer life.”
Orderliness is the theme of articles by Floyd and several others in PRAY’s inaugural January-March 2019 edition.
“In this issue, Dr. Ronnie Floyd writes about the wisest decision you can make: I will walk with God today. Getting our lives in order spiritually allows us to prioritize God’s work in our lives.
“Dr. Tim Clinton invites us to pray through our relationships – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the questionable. When our relationships are in order, we will naturally be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading because our thoughts are not as consumed with turmoil. And Rachel Cruz points out ways to order our finances, avoiding financial disasters and stress that can distract us and cause our prayer lives to become ineffective for the Kingdom.”
Clinton is president of the American Association of Christian Counselors; Cruz is the host of an online money management program, “The Rachel Cruz Show,” and author with Dave Ramsey, her father, of Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money.
Additional articles in the 40-page issue are titled “Praying Your Life into Order Physically” and “Six Biblical Prayers When Tragedy Strikes.”
Floyd was named as president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force in April 2017. He is the senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. How to Pray, with a 20th anniversary edition slated for April, is among 20-plus book he has authored.
Subscriptions for PRAY and information about other church-related prayer resources is available at the National Day of Prayer’s Church Prayer Leaders Network, prayerleader.com.
This year’s National Day of Prayer will be May 2 with the theme “Love One Another.”

1/9/2019 9:19:56 AM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments

Venezuelans find mercy in arduous exodus from tumult

January 9 2019 by Monica Starr, International Mission Board

Night descends rapidly on the small plaza where a penetrating drizzle falls onto the cold stone floor. About 35 men, most in short sleeves or sleeveless shirts, huddle under the only two trees.

Photo submitted
Venezuelans gather on a rainy night in a small plaza anxious to receive food and clothing as they trek through Colombia's Andes Mountains. At 7,000 feet above sea level, they still have another 3,000 feet to climb before the terrain eases as they flee Venezuela's economic collapse.

Meanwhile, two young women scurry to pull together an improvised “tent” of black plastic trash bags while trying to keep a small girl dry in her fuzzy footsie pajamas. They select the top step of the plaza, against the wall of a closed building. Rain runs off the roof onto their shelter, collapsing it.
Nearby, under the narrow archway of the building, a young couple sit in physical exhaustion, leaning as far back as possible, their legs from the knees down with nowhere to go but out in the drizzle. Between their two bodies they try to shelter their eight-month-old son.
This is the first Colombian town of any size on the route up, over and along the high, arduous Andean mountains from the Venezuelan border, across Colombia to the Ecuadorian border, across Ecuador to the Peruvian border and – for some – across Peru to Chile or Argentina.
It represents only the first few days of travel by foot for Venezuelans fleeing the surreal collapse of their nation – once one of the wealthiest on the continent.
They are only a handful of the 200 to 500 Venezuelans who pass this way every day, some pushing the elderly in wheelchairs, many carrying a baby or child, a number well along in pregnancy, nearly all dressed for hot climates. Most have no money, no food, no connections outside of Venezuela. They have not eaten well for a long time in their home country, where a month’s salary will only buy two days’ worth of food. They have sold their homes and belongings to pay for bus fare across Venezuela to the Colombian border – if they are fortunate. Some cannot do even that, so they walk a week across Venezuela to the border – before beginning their long walk toward multiple countries.
Here in neighboring Colombia, the Venezuelans on this dark night on a mountain plaza are sore, hungry, thirsty, cold and wet. They have been walking steadily upward on the mountain highway for anywhere from two to four days. They carry with them everything they own in a backpack or luggage with rollers: perhaps a change of clothes, perhaps photos of family left behind, perhaps work boots for a hoped-for future job. They come from flat, hot plains or the sultry coast. They have never known cold – no more than what would be felt by opening a refrigerator door. They have never slept on the ground in a public plaza.
They have no coats, no jackets, no gloves, no sweaters, no scarves. Their socks (if they have any to begin with) and shoes are already in tatters. Their footwear is flip flops, cheap loafers or low-cost tennis shoes. They are all headed toward a 10,000-foot mountain pass where at least 18 people have recently died of hypothermia and exposure. They have no preparation, no resources for this appalling journey, and no idea what lies ahead.
Their survival depends on strangers. Some strangers are kind. Others are not. In a growing atmosphere of xenophobia against Venezuelan immigrants, some people are turning against them and some nations are slamming doors shut. In this town, this night, the townsfolk are in their homes, eating dinner, preparing for bed. They have seen floods of Venezuelans pass their shops and homes, all tired, all hungry, all penniless.
Then a small miracle comes out of the night. A van pulls up across the street. From it descend a weary band of missionaries.
Since early morning they have been driving up the mountain, stopping each time they see a group of Venezuelans, getting out, inviting them to put down their heavy loads and sit for a moment while they give the Venezuelans hot sandwiches and hot chocolate, bind up their tattered and broken shoes with silver duct tape, give out mountain clothing and gear donated by Colombian believers, hear their stories, tell them a story – one of God’s stories – share suggestions for staying well, cry with them, hug them, pray with them and encourage them along the way.
The plaza is the missionaries’ last stop. For 11 hours they have been hearing and seeing one heartbreaking story after another: the 16-year-old who has left home alone to find work to send money back to six younger brothers so they can eat. The elderly man who has worked the soil all his life. There are no seeds now, he says. He hopes someone will let him work their land and give him enough to eat. The woman in her fourth month of pregnancy whose intention in leaving is that both she and her baby live. The teenage girls walking to a 10,000-foot pass in sandals, capris and summer blouses.

Photo submitted
Early in their exodus from economic tumult, a group of Venezuelans visit with a missionary before beginning their taxing journey through Colombia's Andes Mountains.

The group of men on the plaza come to life as they realize that food – FOOD! – is being offered to them. And HOT CHOCOLATE. The two women receive their sandwiches and drinks, warm jackets and scarves. Expressing thanks, they quickly retire with the little girl to their reconstructed trash bag tent. A few feet away, the young couple under the archway barely have the energy to extend their hand for the sandwiches. All day and evening the missionaries have zealously guarded their one child-size blanket, watching for that child who most needs it. Now the pink crocheted blanket wraps their little boy. The father sits by his wife and child, completely unable to care or provide for them in any way. As he takes his first sip of hot chocolate, the hot tears begin to flow down his face and will not stop. 
The men are reluctant to let the missionaries leave. Here are people with jackets for them. More importantly, people who see them as human beings and know where they are going, and have information. “Will it be colder further on?” the men wonder. “Can anywhere be colder?” They are at 7,000 feet and still have another 3,000 feet in elevation to reach the pass, where nighttime temperatures range from 36 degrees to below freezing. Practical tip from the local pastor: don’t climb into the mountain heights while hot and sweaty – a sure way to get bronchitis. Cool off first. A tip from one of the missionaries: save the foil from the sandwiches. It can keep your hands warm.
Today, somewhere in South America these Venezuelans are still walking.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Monica Starr writes for the International Mission Board.)

1/9/2019 9:19:45 AM by Monica Starr, International Mission Board | with 0 comments

Baby-saving ministry ready to extend its reach

January 9 2019 by Grace Thornton, Baptist Press

Justin Phillips said it’s the best and worst thing he’s ever done with his life. Every day, he stands across the strip mall parking lot from a door marked simply G-3422. It’s sandwiched between two dollar stores.

Contributed photo
Justin Phillips takes a fulfilling moment to hold one of the lives saved through the ONElife for Life outreach in Flint, Mich. 

Every week, 20 to 30 babies are aborted there.
“We’re out there pleading with moms and dads to have mercy on their child, and we’ll help,” said Phillips, a full-time missionary with ONElife for Life, a ministry of ONElife Church in Flint, Mich.
Since ONElife for Life began in May 2016, dozens of babies that they know of have been saved out of G-3422. And the ministry has grown, said Eric Stewart, pastor of ONElife Church and president of ONElife for Life. They’ve acquired a building next to the strip mall that will be a pregnancy resource center and they’ve been given a bus that will be used as a mobile ultrasound.
They’ve also expanded their reach to conversations outside a second abortion clinic in town.
It’s been slow growth. Stewart’s big-picture goal is for Christians to have a presence outside each of the nation’s 720 abortion clinics. Right now, ONElife for Life is covering two.
Stewart and Phillips have been speaking in churches in recent months trying to awaken a desire to pick up the mantle.
When he speaks, Stewart said the first thing he does is ask the church he’s visiting to repent with him.
“For years, I did nothing, but if it’s really murder, then we have to face that reality,” Stewart said. “If someone drove into our town and wiped out an entire kindergarten class every week, we wouldn’t sit idly by and say, ‘It’s not affecting me.’”
The story of the Good Samaritan demands the liability of the bystander, he said.
Stewart said he thinks about it all the time, ever since he heard a story about how one particular church in Nazi Germany would sing louder on Sundays so they wouldn’t have to hear the trains chugging by on the way to the concentration camps.
“We hear that story, and do we not wish that there would have been Christians who went to the point of injustice and said, ‘No, we can’t let this happen,’” Stewart asked. “We have our opportunity now. We are living in the American holocaust, and we have the opportunity to [speak] in Christ’s name.”
For churches interested in being involved, Stewart and Phillips can provide training in how to start a ministry like ONElife for Life and have conversations with people outside abortion clinics.
They aren’t there to protest, Stewart said. They’re simply there to show love and offer mothers the help they need to bring a baby full term.
“We want to equip the church. We’ve learned how to train people to do this kind of ministry – we’ve learned from our own mistakes and would love to pass that along so that people don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Stewart said.
“We’ve thrown our lives into this, and we would love to duplicate it all over the place. We need gospel-saturated missionaries to confront the darkness and abolish the evil of abortion. It really is a life-or-death situation.”
There’s an emotional toll to the ministry of standing at a “modern-day concentration camp,” Stewart said.
There at their tent across the parking lot, Phillips and volunteers from the church have conversations with anyone who will talk to them. They offer to adopt the baby or cover any financial needs the parents might have for the baby’s first three years of life.
They remind each mother that God knows the baby in her womb.
Sometimes those babies are still aborted.
“But we’re compelled to go because we’re told to go to orphans in their distress, and these children have been disowned by their parents,” Phillips said.
And at least 85 have been saved. It could be more. They only know about it if a tearful mother meets them there on the edge of the parking lot and tells them she’s decided not to go through with it, or if the parents later choose to swing back by and let them meet the baby.
“Every month we have people who come back and say, ‘Hey, I never said anything, but here’s my baby,’” Stewart said. “So, we know there’s probably more.”
God is at work there, shining light into the darkest of places, Phillips said. “We just stand there and watch Him move. It’s all Him. He brings people to us and saves babies all the time.”
One woman told Phillips that she didn’t want to talk to him, but her legs just walked her over there. After talking with him, she chose not to go through with it.
“It’s a battlefield all the time, and it’s an honor to stand there proclaiming a message of hope,” Phillips said. “We do that, and God does the rest. We can’t change hearts, but He can.”
It hasn’t been without pushback. Sometimes the clinic will have people posted in the parking lot to “shepherd” women into the building so they won’t have conversations with Phillips. Other times people have approached him with threats.
But in Christ, Phillips said he knows he goes out victorious already.
“It’s a horrible ministry, horrible to watch it every day,” he said. “But at the same time, to be able to lay down our lives in that way on behalf of Christ and His love for these babies is incredible.”
For more information about ONElife for Life, visit onelifeforlife.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Grace Thornton is a writer based in Birmingham, Ala.)

1/9/2019 9:19:36 AM by Grace Thornton, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Clemson coach Chavis recounts radical transformation

January 7 2019 by Tim Ellsworth, Union University

Despite being a big-time college football player headed to the NFL, Miguel Chavis was on a path to destruction. Self-centered and vile. Hedonistic and drunk. A tough brute who partied hard and pursued every fleeting pleasure he could think of.

Photo courtesy of Clemson Athletics
Miguel Chavis, center, defensive player development coach for the Clemson Tigers, has been part of the team's rise to Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship against Alabama.

You name it, and Chavis, during his early years as a defensive tackle at Clemson, was probably guilty of it.
“I was living in the flesh for 3 1/2 years and was sexually immoral and addicted to pornography, and was really just captured and captivated and enslaved by people’s opinions of me,” said Chavis, now the defensive player development coach at Clemson.
But then God intervened in Chavis’ life, radically transforming the young man into something new and something good. He is proof that God can find what’s lost and fix what’s broken.
“He lights up a room when he comes in, just an energetic kind of guy,” said Jeremy Chasteen, the college and missions pastor at Crosspoint Church in Clemson, S.C. “Big old dude. He’s one of those guys you see and say, ‘Man, if he could come to faith in Christ, he’s going to have a big impact on people.’”
The new Chavis is doing exactly that. Heavily involved at Crosspoint Church where he came to faith, Chavis leads a college Bible study in his home and is working on a master of divinity degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
During the last semester of his senior year at Clemson in 2011, Chavis attended a service at Crosspoint Church where he heard a sermon from Pastor Ken Lewis on Ephesians 2:1-10 that changed everything. Lewis preached about being dead in sin, and how those who were apart from Christ were under God’s wrath. But yet, God in His love saved people by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of Miguel Chavis
A sermon in which he was "struck to the heart" set Miguel Chavis on the path to faith and his baptism by Ken Lewis, senior pastor of Crosspoint Church in Clemson, S.C.

“I remember being struck to the heart,” Chavis said. “For the first time I was given, really, the understanding of what sin is.”
Chavis went to sleep that night still thinking about the message he had heard. When he awoke the next morning, he felt the weight of his sin for the first time in his life. He realized how enslaved he was and how hostile his mind was toward God. All his life, he had lived only to satisfy his selfish desires and had found nothing to fill the hole in his heart.
“I fell on the floor,” Chavis said. “I’ll never forget it. I prayed to Jesus, and I challenged Him. I said, ‘Lord, if You’re real, I am believing right now for the first time, by faith.’”
The change in Chavis’ life was instantaneous. He began devouring the scriptures and evangelizing his teammates, fraternity brothers and family. He left Clemson and played professionally for three years, including stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Chavis then returned to Clemson as a graduate assistant on head coach Dabo Swinney’s staff and finished his degree before becoming an intern at Crosspoint and eventually joining the church’s staff as a student minister. Though he left the church staff a couple of years ago to return to a full-time coaching role at Clemson, he continues to serve Crosspoint in a variety of ways.

Photo courtesy of Miguel Chavis
The faith Miguel Chavis, right, embraced as a senior at Clemson in 2011 has carried him into the ministry and on missions trips such as one to Costa Rica with Clemson players.

For Chavis, his faith in Christ is the foundation for that service and for the way he approaches his job as a coach at one of the elite college football programs in the country. On Jan. 7, Clemson will face Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship for the third time in the last four years.
“The way I love my players, that means I won’t cheat when we’re recruiting,” he said. “That means that we’re not gonna break NCAA rules. That means that we care about our players regardless if they tear their ACL and they can play for us or not. That means that we serve our players – this is a very, very big slogan I hear that’s core and central to our program – that we serve our players’ hearts and not their talents.”
Chavis doesn’t know where the Lord will lead in the future. He has a heart and passion for theology and ministry – “I could see him as a church planter one day,” Chasteen said – but he also loves coaching. For now, he and his wife Megan and their two young sons are content with where the Lord has placed them and the opportunities they have to invest in college students and football players.

“If I could do anything, I would serve here for as long as I can,” Chavis said, “until Christ calls me somewhere else.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)

1/7/2019 6:35:44 PM by Tim Ellsworth, Union University | with 0 comments

Greear to launch ‘Who’s Your One?’ with associations

January 7 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A Jan. 31 simulcast for associational leaders will help launch Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President J.D. Greear’s “Who’s Your One?” evangelistic initiative among the 1,000-plus associations within the Southern Baptist network.

BP file photo by Bill Bangham
SBC President J.D. Greear, who will address associational leaders during a Jan. 31 simulcast, called Baptist associations "a valuable partner in cooperation."

“Who’s Your One?” encourages every Southern Baptist to intentionally build a relationship with one person over the course of 2019, share the gospel and invite that person to trust Christ as Lord and Savior.
“Associations have always served as a valuable partner in cooperation, mobilizing churches together,” Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., told Baptist Press (BP). “Our own local [Yates Baptist] Association, under the leadership of Marty Childers, provides a great structure for church revitalization, racial reconciliation and partnership evangelism in our city. It only seemed natural for every association in the country to work together.”
Sponsored by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Yates Association, the simulcast will begin at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time and feature Greear’s introduction of “Who’s Your One?” to Yates Association pastors as they gather for a luncheon at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham. Other associations that sign up online will receive login information to broadcast the event live.
Following Greear’s address, Johnny Hunt, NAMB’s senior vice president of evangelism and leadership, will introduce a “Who’s Your One?” evangelism kit being produced by NAMB for release in February. The kit is designed to help pastors lead a multi-week emphasis in their churches encouraging every member to become more focused and intentional about evangelism.
Hunt told BP, “The ‘Who’s Your One?’ evangelism kit is going to be a huge help to pastors throughout our convention as they seek to mobilize their congregations for evangelism. Our associational leaders can play a key role in helping churches engage with this effort. We are grateful for their partnership and look forward to seeing how God is going to move as thousands of Southern Baptists become focused on sharing their faith.”
The simulcast also will feature a question-and-answer session with Greear, Hunt and Yates Association pastors.
Ray Gentry, executive director of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders, has encouraged associations around the SBC to host their own pastors’ luncheons during the simulcast or show the event video, which will be archived, to pastors at a later gathering.
“The event is an opportunity for Pastor Greear to speak directly to our associations, recognizing the critical role associations play in equipping our churches for ministry,” Gentry wrote in a Dec. 20 email to associational leaders. “...Can you imagine the impact if every church in our associations were filled with people asking God each day to allow them to lead one person to Christ this year?”
Childers, missional strategist for the Yates Association, called the simulcast “a great example of Baptist collaboration.”
“We are just thrilled about hosting the event,” Childers told BP, “because we do get to hear from our SBC president and hear his vision. I think that will go a long way. I know J.D. has a heart for Baptist churches and Baptist associations.”
Additional information about the simulcast is forthcoming on the SBCAL website, sbcassociations.org, and SBCAL social media channels.

1/7/2019 6:35:31 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

WMU’s Camp Mundo Vista under new management

January 7 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

Camp Mundo Vista, a retreat center near Asheboro, N.C. that has been operated by the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) for nearly 50 years, will soon come under new management, according to a recent press release.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Caraway Conference Center and Camp will manage daily operations and take financial responsibility for Mundo Vista beginning Feb. 1. The property, which sits on the same 1,100-acre plot of land as Caraway, is already owned by the BSC and had been leased to WMU-NC.
Jimmy Huffman, director of Caraway, called the agreement a “win-win” for both camps, allowing Caraway to grow and WMU-NC to continue its current programs.
“We will be able to expand our ministry footprint and also offer retreat accommodations to many groups we are currently having to turn away,” Huffman said.
Amy Boone, executive director-treasurer of WMU-NC, said, “This new agreement allows us to use Mundo Vista as we always have, providing our own programming for year-round WMU-NC-sponsored events that minister to women and girls and promote missions education and involvement.”
The press release cited recent staffing changes, budget restraints and a “desire to be good stewards of financial resources” at WMU-NC as reasons for the new arrangement.
Boone said the deal will also allow WMU-NC to “utilize financial gifts to expand our service to the churches and promote fulfillment of the Great Commission around the world.”
Find out more at wmunc.org and caraway.org.

1/7/2019 6:35:17 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 0 comments

Richard Brunson named finalist for 2018 Tar Heel of the Year

January 7 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

Raleigh’s News & Observer revealed its 2018 Tar Heel of the Year Dec. 29.

Richard Brunson, executive director-treasurer of North Carolina Baptists on Mission (NCBM), was among the finalists, along with William J. Barber, Rihannon Giddens, Jaki Shelton Green and William Lewis.
Barber, who led the state’s Moral Monday rallies as the leader of the North Carolina NAACP, was named the 2018 Tar Heel of the Year. Nominations for the honor came from readers. The newspaper usually relies on staff nominations for the recognition, which started in 1997.
Brunson has led NCBM since 1992 and has been integral in disaster response in North Carolina and beyond.
“God is a good God, and I think God wants us to be working for good in other people’s lives,” Brunson said in his interview with the paper.
Giddens is a Grammy Award winner and a recipient of the 2017 MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” fellowship. Green is North Carolina’s poet laureate, and Lewis is the executive director of PineCone.

1/7/2019 6:35:03 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 0 comments

John Stonestreet expounds on faith, culture and worldview

January 7 2019 by BSC Communications

John Stonestreet serves as president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is a speaker, writer, cultural commentator and host of Breakpoint Radio, a program and podcast devoted to Christian worldview founded by the late Chuck Colson.

Stonestreet is passionate about illuminating a biblical worldview for today’s culture, and he will be the keynote speaker at this year’s N.C. Baptist Disciple-Making Conference on Tues., Feb. 26 at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point.
Stonestreet took some time to answer questions related to worldview, cultural engagement and what he plans to share at the conference. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation.
Q: For those who may not be familiar with it, can you describe the Colson Center and your role there?
A: The Colson Center stewards one aspect of the rich legacy of Chuck Colson after his many years in the prisons. He became concerned that the prison population was exploding in America and realized brokenness was happening upstream.
That drove him into studying some of the great thinkers like William Wilberforce, Abraham Kuyper and others who turned him on to the concept of Christians understanding their faith as a complete worldview, so they could engage the culture well.
Chuck spent the last 20 years of his life talking about culture and how the church should be involved in bringing restoration. Everything that belongs to that part of Chuck’s legacy is under our purview. Our podcasts, website, Colson Fellows program and Wilberforce Weekend – which is our big conference every year – are designed to help Christians understand what’s happening in the culture from a biblical worldview and to encourage, motivate and equip them to engage the culture as Christians.
Q: At the outset of your book A Practical Guide to Culture you write, “Culture is a big topic and is much more easily theorized about than engaged in.” Why are believers often hesitant to engage culture?
A: I think there are probably a number of reasons. One is they are not aware of how culture is shaping them. They are like proverbial fish who don’t know they’re wet.
If you are not intentionally stepping out, taking a look at it, trying to evaluate it and trying to be intentional about understanding it, then you just end up swimming in the cultural waters.
Another aspect is what you might call the cocktail party pressure – the social cost for going against the cultural tide. No one wants to be a jerk, and no one wants to be called a bigot, so there is pressure. We don’t stop and engage it; we just go along.
Also, there is a lack of equipping. One of the most descriptive phrases we’ve heard of where Christians are, comes from Christian Smith’s work several years ago when he said many young people are moralistic, therapeutic deists. In other words, they want to be good people, nice people and happy people, and ultimately that’s the extent of how they understand their faith applies to life.
When all believers have ever heard are sermons and Bible teachings that are moralistic or therapeutic – in other words this is how you can behave and this is how you can feel better – then they haven’t been equipped to understand worldview battles beneath our culture. There’s a lack of awareness, and maybe if they are aware of it, there’s a lack of feeling equipped. We don’t see engaging the culture as any central part of discipling believers, and I think it needs to be.
Q: Your book covers a lot of topics (entertainment and consumerism to sexual orientation and gender identity). What are some of the cultural shifts we need to understand in order to engage our neighbors with the gospel?
A: In addition to what we call in the book “cultural waves” – the things we feel – there’s the undercurrent, things that have shifted over the last several decades that have changed what it really means to experience the world today. One is the shift to the information age.

That’s a really big deal. Now, in the culture we have access to more information and we are more highly susceptible to confusion and deception. There are so many ideas coming at us all the time. We say in the book that the information age is really the ideas age. Often ideas come at us without a strong argument, without really being proven and maybe even are mischaracterized. So, we don’t have a real keen sense of discernment when it comes to ideas, because it’s easy to be deceived.
We’re in a culture where we’re more connected but also more relationally isolated than ever before. It’s one of the great ironies – we have more ways to talk to each other and more people report being lonely.
There’s a great opportunity there because the gospel is centered around the God who became flesh, so there’s a relational component to the Christian worldview that others don’t have.
Also, there are issues with sexuality, marriage and gender. A lot of times we see those as separate issues, but fundamentally all those issues are about identity. And we tend to look at those issues in moral terms. So, when it comes to all the issues about sexuality and marriage, a lot of times the church is having a moral conversation while the culture is having an identity conversation, which is why we’re often shooting past each other. 
Q: The 2019 Disciple-Making Conference will focus on how to be salt and light in a rapidly changing culture. How can we do that and where do we begin?
A: First of all, we have to know what we believe and why we believe it. We need to be really clear that when we talk about Christian truth, we’re not talking about things we believe are true; we’re talking about things that actually correspond with reality. I think that’s the jump a lot of people need to make – the difference between saying I believe this and being able to articulate and make the case that Christianity as a worldview best explains the way the world actually is.
We’re not going to be salt and light if we’re just addicted to being relevant at all costs.
That’s the irony of it. In order to reach the world, a lot of times we just want to be relevant, but the larger culture is confused on fundamental issues about what it means to be human, what’s right and wrong and what the answer to the world’s problems are. So, if we try to be relevant ... we’re actually going to be irrelevant to what’s actually true.

1/7/2019 6:33:53 PM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

National CP 4.5% under YTD budget projection

January 7 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

Contributions to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee in December were 4.50 percent below the projected budget for the first quarter of the current fiscal year. And they were 0.19 percent above the amount received during the same period last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee Interim President and Executive Vice President D. August Boto.

As of Dec. 31, gifts received by the Executive Committee for distribution through the Cooperative Program (CP) Allocation Budget totaled $46,315,254.71, or $86,029.25, above the $46,229,225.46 received through the first three months of the 2017–2018 fiscal year. The fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. The December total is $2,184,745.29 below the $48,500,000 YTD allocation budget projection to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America.
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church can contribute to the ministries of its state convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC through a unified giving plan to support both sets of ministries. Monies include receipts from individuals, churches and state conventions for distribution according to the 2018-2019 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
Meanwhile, year-to-date designated giving of $10,232,108.45 was 11.95 percent, or $1,388,252.43, below gifts of $11,620,360.88 received in the first three months of the last fiscal year. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities. Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief, Disaster Relief and other special gifts.
CP allocation receipts for SBC work for the month of December totaled $14,779,341.27. Designated gifts received last month amounted to $3,753,123.64.
State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to SBC national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.
The convention-adopted budget for 2018-2019 is $194 million and is disbursed as follows: 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education through the six SBC seminaries and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The SBC Executive Committee distributes all CP and designated gifts it receives on a weekly basis to the SBC ministry entities.
Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the timing of when the cooperating state Baptist conventions forward the national portion of CP contributions to the Executive Committee, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions, the number of Sundays in a given month, and the percentage of CP contributions forwarded to the SBC by the state conventions after shared ministry expenses are deducted.
CP allocation budget gifts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state convention offices, to the state Baptist papers and are posted online at cpmissions.net/CPReports.

1/7/2019 6:33:36 PM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments

Though not in Congress, N.C. pastor at ‘peace’

January 4 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

With his apparent election to Congress still uncertified nearly two months after Election Day, former pastor Mark Harris said he is wounded by questions about his character but determined to persevere in his quest for public office.

Screen capture from WRAL
Congressional candidate Mark Harris told reporters Jan. 3 he stands on his "good name and reputation" amid an election fraud investigation.

Meanwhile, a Baptist associational leader in Charlotte, N.C. – where Harris pastored First Baptist Church until 2017 – said churches and pastors are praying for Harris. On Christmas Eve, Harris told Metrolina Baptist Association executive director Bob Lowman he feels “a peace” amid media coverage and allegations of election fraud.
Harris, who has denied any wrongdoing connected with the election, told reporters Jan. 3 that questions about his integrity are “painful and hurtful” aspects of the post-election fiasco.
“We went through a tough campaign in the fall,” including ads “that took my sermons out of context,” “twisted” them and attempted “to create an image of me that was nowhere near where I am as an individual,” Harris told reporters in Raleigh, N.C., after meeting with state election investigators. He apparently was referencing attack ads about his preaching on biblical gender roles.
“But I must say, as painful and hurtful as that was, this has been even worse because I don’t have anything that’s more valuable than my good name,” Harris said. “And I intend to stand on that good name and reputation that I have built over 30 years as a senior pastor in the state of North Carolina and the leadership that I’ve been able to bring.”
Harris was president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 2011-2013 and served on the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee. The new Congress was sworn in without Harris in Washington about the same time he addressed media in Raleigh.
Unofficial election results from North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District showed Harris, a Republican, defeating Democrat Dan McCready in November by 905 votes out of nearly 283,000 cast. However, the State Board of Elections refused to certify the results amid claims of irregularities regarding absentee ballots. Media reports have alleged election fraud.
Before the Board of Elections resolved the claims, a state court dissolved the board in a separate case. Harris filed court documents Jan. 3 asking a Wake County Superior Court judge to certify the election results immediately while election fraud investigations continue.
“We don’t believe that the number of ballots in question would change the outcome of this election,” Harris said.
A new Board of Elections won’t be in place until Jan. 31, and the state’s political parties have squabbled over Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposal to appoint an interim board.
Media reports have speculated new primary and general elections eventually may be called.
The 9th District election “is complete chaos,” Charlotte television reporter Joe Bruno told NPR, “and it changes every day.”
Harris told Charlotte’s WBT radio Dec. 28 he would run again if new elections were held. “I answered a call to do this, and I have been running,” he said. “And I will run until there’s nowhere else for me to run in this election.”
Harris added, “We have simply been trusting God each day that truth would be revealed.”
Lowman, Harris’ longtime friend, said Harris told him before a Christmas Eve worship service he “had a peace” about the election and has thought often about the song “God Will Make a Way.”
“There have been the predictable partisan comments from people across the board,” Lowman told Baptist Press. “But at least from what I’ve heard from Mark and others connected with that process ... it’s not that they want their way. They just want the right and truth to come out.”
Churches, pastors and other Baptist leaders, Lowman said, “have been rallying around to pray for” Harris and his wife Beth “as well as for the process.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – With reporting by Allan Blume, editor of North Carolina’s Biblical Recorder news journal.)

1/4/2019 10:47:43 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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