June 2017

Runners raise hunger funds at SBC

June 21 2017 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Lindsay McDonald had two good reasons for rising early June 14 for a 6:30 a.m. race of more than three miles – she really enjoys running, and she really believes in the ministry of Global Hunger Relief.
McDonald, a member of Casey (Ill.) First Baptist Church, was among 189 registrants for the first Global Hunger Relief Run on the second day of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Phoenix. By registering, McDonald and the other entrants contributed nearly $4,000 toward feeding the hungry in the United States and throughout the world.

Photo by Madison Hyleman
More than 100 people ran in a 5K in Phoenix June 14 to benefit Global Hunger Relief in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 13-14 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The event, sponsored by several Southern Baptist entities, raised $4,000 that will go directly to provide food to hurting people around the world.

Global Hunger Relief (GHR) is a partnership of seven Southern Baptist entities that collaborate to address hunger needs in the world. The Cooperative Program’s support of SBC entities enables 100 percent of the gifts received by GHR – whether through churches or the run’s registration fees – to be used in hunger projects implemented by Southern Baptist missionaries and partners.
She began enjoying running a couple of years ago and tries to run one or two 5K races in the summer or fall, McDonald said before Wednesday’s race. When she learned about the GHR run, McDonald said she thought, “This is a great way to get up and spend the morning.”
McDonald has seen the faces of hunger overseas. She was among Southern Baptist women from her state who went to Bangladesh about 18 months ago on a trip through the Illinois Baptist State Association. In that Asian country, McDonald and the others worked with missionaries from the International Mission Board (IMB).
“[H]unger is a real need” in Bangladesh, she said. Meeting someone’s physical need is “a bridge to the gospel to share Christ,” said McDonald, whose husband, Jon, is pastor of the church in Casey. Hunger “is a real need in our communities and in the world,” she said.
Overseas last year, GHR resources helped more than 600,000 people and touched more than 2,300 communities, according to the 2016 report. In North America, GHR helped provide 8.6 million meals, with more than 20,000 professions of faith in Christ counted.
IMB President David Platt, who participated in Wednesday’s 5K, said after the race, “Global Hunger Relief is one of the hidden secrets of the Southern Baptist Convention. The way this fund fuels poverty relief around the world through existing ministry that’s focused on proclaiming the gospel and planting churches is an incredible opportunity for Southern Baptists to meet urgent physical needs while addressing urgent spiritual needs.”
Platt expressed his gratitude “for these brothers and sisters coming out, running, giving of their time at the SBC to say, ‘Poverty matters to us, and we want to make the glory of Christ known in a world of urgent spiritual and physical needs.’”
Eighty percent of GHR funds are used overseas through the work of IMB and Baptist Global Response (BGR). The North American Mission Board (NAMB) distributes the other 20 percent of the money with the supervisory help of the Baptist state conventions.
The GHR partners – BGR, IMB, NAMB, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), SBC Executive Committee, LifeWay Christian Resources and Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) – seek to keep Southern Baptists aware of the international hunger situation and to alleviate hunger through feeding programs.
The Cooperative Program, the SBC’s unified giving plan, eliminates any need for hunger funds to be used for administrative, fundraising or promotional costs. In addition, food distribution channels already exist through IMB and NAMB.
Easily leading all runners across the finish line in Wednesday’s 5K was Jonathan McNair, 17, a member of First Baptist Church of West Valley City, Utah, which is a suburb of Salt Lake City. McNair, who runs for the West Cross High School track team, finished in 15 minutes, 51.7 seconds.
The top female finisher was Sara Nazemi, a Phoenix-area runner, in 19:09. The top Southern Baptist finisher among females was Erin Rainer at 19:56.7. Rainer is a member of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton, Fla.
Sponsors of Wednesday’s GHR event were the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, BGR, ERLC, GuideStone Financial Resources, IMB, LifeWay, NAMB, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the WMU.
The 5K and a one-mile fun run were held at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix.
Many churches give attention to the work of GHR, formerly known as the World Hunger Fund, on Global Hunger Sunday in October each year. More information about GHR is available at globalhungerrelief.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

6/21/2017 10:11:32 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

SEBTS, NAMB host annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast

June 21 2017 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

Transition was the topic of the 2017 Women’s Leadership Breakfast, in which Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the North American Mission Board partnered together to host more than 92 women on June 14.
The event was held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Phoenix.

Photo by Maria Estes
Kelly King speaks at the Women’s Leadership Breakfast hosted by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the North American Mission Board June 14.

Denise O’Donoghue, outgoing director of women’s life and assistant professor of ministry to women at SEBTS, introduced LifeWay Christian Resources’ Kelly King as the guest speaker.
King was appointed last fall as the women’s ministry specialist for Lifeway Women. She was formerly the women’s missions and ministries specialist for the Baptist General Convention in Oklahoma. She shared with women that morning about many life experiences that led her through times of transition and dependence on the Lord.
“We’re not just talking about one transition,” King said. “We’re talking about life transition.”
King shared that within months, her husband Vic had lost his job and she had been asked by Lifeway to take on the position she finds herself in today. This set the stage for them to move from their home of Oklahoma to Nashville, Tenn.
Also during this time, on Father’s Day in 2016, King shared that she found out she had diverticulitis, a disease that causes inflammation in the digestive system.
“I ended up in the hospital for five days – three weeks before my daughter’s wedding,” she said, but she counts it as a blessing.
“In the midst of all that, God was so good. God was so sweet because in the midst of all those scans, they also found that I had a mass on my kidney that would not have been detected if I had not had those pains.”
King used these stories to highlight the importance of God’s sovereignty in the midst of life’s seasons and taught out of Ecclesiastes 3:1-11.
“New leadership – new transitions – mean new opportunities,” she said.
King spoke of the process of grieving that comes with transition and talked about the difficulty that came in uprooting her life in Oklahoma.
In her explanation to women of Ecclesiastes 3:5, King asked, “Can we gather the things that are meant to trip us up and use them for God’s glory so that we prepare the way for His coming?”
She encouraged women that are in new seasons of leadership to learn from those who have had more experience, explaining that God has been teaching her the value of learning to be silent and listen as well as speaking with wisdom.
King also challenged women to remain faithful in their time in God’s Word.
“If you’re in a transition of leadership, there is no better place to be than starting in God’s Word every single day,” said King, “and submitting yourself to Him and saying, ‘OK God, today is Yours and in Your time, You will make things beautiful.’”
In closing, King led women in a time of prayer over those who were transitioning into a new leadership role in the past year.
LifeWay provided resources for the guests who attended the breakfast.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lauren Pratt is the news and information specialist for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

6/21/2017 10:04:11 AM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments

Laurie underscores proclamation evangelism at SBC

June 20 2017 by Myriah Snyder, Western Recorder

“This is the time for us to advance with the gospel; this is not the time for us isolate. This is the time for us to infiltrate and to permeate the culture and offer theology without apology,” Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., said during a celebration service at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on June 13.

Photo by Matt Miller
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., gives a message June 13 at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center. “Every church will not be large,” Laurie said, but every church should “have a constant flow of new believers coming in ... We can evangelize or we can fossilize.”

“This is our time together to reach our world,” Laurie said in a message on proclamation evangelism titled “The time is now.”
Laurie, who has announced his church’s affiliation with the SBC, was the speaker at the Harvest America crusade June 11 at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, which drew 38,000 in attendance and, combined with SBC-related Crossover outreach events, totaled 3,549 professions of faith.
Citing Billy Graham as one of his mentors, Laurie spoke on “how to extend an invitation and see people come to Christ in settings large and small.”
Laurie shared his testimony of “having to grow up fast” in the home of an alcoholic mother and a series of abusive stepfathers. In high school, he had no interest in religion, but because a group of unaffectionately termed “Jesus Freaks” hosted a meeting where the gospel was clearly presented and an invitation was given, he walked forward and responded to the gospel.
He would not have turned to Jesus as a 17-year-old had the preacher not had an invitation, he said.
“So I came to Jesus because someone invaded my world with the gospel and called me to Jesus Christ,” Laurie said. “That’s what we need to be doing right now. This will never be outdated. This will never be irrelevant because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.”
Two reasons Laurie sees why Christians, pastors in particular, don’t clearly invite people to respond to the gospel is because “we don’t care” and/or “a fear of failure.” He said he understands the intimidation pastors feel when they extend an invitation and no one responds. He also challenged pastors to consider how often they share the gospel and invite people to respond “off the clock.”
Sharing the story of Peter’s sermon from Acts 2, Laurie listed four reasons why this particular sermon yielded 3,000 new believers.

1. Peter was filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

“If you want to be effective following Christ and preaching Christ, you need to be filled again and again with the Spirit,” Laurie stated.

2. Peter preached Christ and Him crucified.

“That doesn’t mean that every message has to be evangelistic,” Laurie said, noting that preaching expository messages through books of the Bible gives people the whole counsel of God. Nevertheless, he encouraged preachers to “always save an evangelistic hook for the end,” no matter the topic.
He added, “You always want to get to the message of the cross of Jesus Christ because that is where the power is.”

3. Peter preached for a decision.

“My job, your job, our job is to preach the gospel. God’s job is to convert people,” Laurie said. “But as a part of preaching the gospel, we need to call people to Jesus.”

4. Peter articulated the gospel.

Laurie noted that there are many ways to hold an invitation, but he admonished that in any way it’s done to be “clear in your invitation as you call them to Christ.”
“You never know who is out in that audience,” he said.
He continued, “You can do this. You can see people start coming to Christ next Sunday. But you need to be intentional ... proactive ... clear in your invitations ... preach Christ and Him crucified ... you need to be urgent as you tell people that they need to come to come to Jesus.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Myriah Snyder is assistant editor of the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

6/20/2017 10:26:14 AM by Myriah Snyder, Western Recorder | with 0 comments

Jim Wells, outgoing SBC registration secretary, dies at 69

June 20 2017 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Jim Wells, a 15-term Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) registration secretary known for his humble leadership style, died June 17 following a seven-year battle with cancer. He was 69.

Jim Wells

First elected registration secretary in 2002, Wells oversaw messenger registration, ballot counting and reporting of vote totals at SBC annual meetings among other duties. He served alongside eight SBC presidents.
SBC President Steve Gaines called Wells “a humble servant of Jesus Christ.”
Wells “was a diligent servant and a godly, Christ-like man,” said Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. “He was a great encouragement to me and to many other presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention. We will miss him.”
When the advanced stages of cancer prevented Wells from attending this year’s SBC annual meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix, messengers adopted a resolution of appreciation that stated “countless volunteers” on the SBC Credentials Committee and among convention tellers “have witnessed transformative servant leadership through Wells’ humble, yet principled leadership style.”
As recently as June 9, the resolution stated, Wells said he was “confident in these final hours that God is in control” and that he was “looking forward to a day when we will worship at the feet of Jesus together.” Wells intended to devote his final days of life to “praying for the lost,” according to the resolution.
Messengers expressed in the resolution “their deepest and most sincere gratitude to God for the life and ministry of Jim Wells.” The resolution commended Wells for “assuring that each duly elected messenger ... was properly certified and that each messenger’s ballot was accurately counted.”
Highlights of Wells’ service as registration secretary included at least two SBC presidential elections decided by narrow margins. In 2016, Wells teased messengers when illegal ballots prevented either Gaines or North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear from achieving a majority on the second ballot. In 2006, Wells certified the vote count when Frank S. Page was elected president by a slim 50.48 percent majority.
Page, who now serves as SBC Executive Committee president, told Baptist Press (BP) Wells “was a truly good man” and “a man without guile.”
“He never sought the limelight but was always faithful to serve out his duties with integrity and competency,” Page said. “He was a friend to me as well as to many. His Christ-like demeanor was evident to all. He will be missed.”
Wells told BP June 2 he wanted to explain in an interview following this year’s SBC annual meeting “how much it meant” to him to serve Southern Baptists as registration secretary.
He also served the SBC on various committees over the years, including the Executive Committee from 1991-2001, winning election twice as the body’s secretary and serving two years as chairman of the Administrative Subcommittee.
Wells’ five-decade ministry included pastorates of nine Missouri churches, nearly 12 years as director of missions for the Tri-County Baptist Association in southwest Missouri and four years on the Missouri Baptist Convention staff as a liaison to DOMs.
SBC recording secretary John Yeats, who served with Wells all 15 years he was in convention office, told BP, “Very few men I know have the passion to know the ways of God like Jim did.”
“As [my wife] Sharon and I watched Jim and [his wife] Judy through his battle with cancer, they [conducted themselves] with grace and character that is an exhibition of their faith in our Lord Jesus,” said Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
“As a convention officer, Jim and Judy worked hard at the annual meeting in the behind-the-scenes work so that every duly elected messenger was registered and every ballot was accurately counted. They worked many more hours than just the sessions to help messengers and maintain protocols. We will miss their thoroughness and industriousness,” Yeats said in written comments.
Immediate past SBC President Ronnie Floyd, who nominated Wells in 2002 when he was first elected to SBC office, told BP Wells “did an outstanding job through the years” of serving the convention.
“While dealing with cancer, he served sacrificially,” said Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. “We talked numerous times through those two years and he took the ball each time and finished his assignment in a wonderful manner.”
Wells’ chief registration assistant Don Currence, minister of administration and children’s pastor at First Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo., was elected June 13 to succeed him as registration secretary.
Wells received undergraduate degrees from Hannibal-LaGrange University and Central Missouri State University and a master of divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was granted an honorary doctorate from Hannibal-LaGrange.
Wells is survived by his wife of 50 years Judy, a daughter and a granddaughter.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 24 at First Baptist Church in Ozark. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations in Wells’ honor to Hannibal-LaGrange to help fund education for ministerial students.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

6/20/2017 10:18:21 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

What is ‘alt-right’ movement? ERLC provides answers

June 20 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The alt-right social and political movement is in the spotlight after the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) condemned alternative-right white supremacy at its 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix.

Photo by Adam Covington
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, identifying himself as a messenger from Grace Church in Nashville, speaks from the floor of the SBC annual meeting in favor of a resolution condemning alt-right white supremacy.

What is the alt-right movement?
Many Southern Baptists aren’t familiar with the term, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Russell Moore said in the June 14 “The Weekly,” ERLC’s email newsletter on news and opinion from the public square. Speaking from the floor of the annual meeting as a messenger from Grace Church in Nashville, Moore was among those encouraging adoption of the resolution condemning “the anti-gospel of alt-right white supremacy.”
“What I point out is just how dangerous and present the alt-right is,” Moore said in The Weekly. “When people recognize what it is that the alt-right believes, … I haven’t talked to anyone who doesn’t immediately reject that.”
ERLC Communications Specialist Joe Carter offered five facts about alternative right white supremacy.
– The term “alt-right” was coined in 2008 to refer to those who believed the conservative political movement in America was not concerned enough about white identity and racialism, the idea that the human race can be easily divided into well-defined racial and genetic groups. Alt-righters believe in “race realism,” “human biodiversity” and believe that whites are either genetically better than others or, if all races are equal, whites need to be preserved and protected.
In other words, alt-righters promote white supremacy, white nationalism and other forms of racial separatism.
– The alt-right is not a single movement, but an umbrella term for a host of disparate nationalist and populist groups associated with the white identity cause and movement. Included are white supremacists including neo-Nazis, religious racialists including Kinists, neo-pagans of the Heathenry religious movement, internet trolls using the “4chan” image board website and its “pol” politically incorrect board, and other groups enamored with white identity and racialism.
– White identity is the defining concept that unites the alt-right. The groups oppose non-white immigration and interracial adoption and marriage that lead to what they call “white genocide,” defined as the replacement of the white race by other racial groups.
– The alt-right is characterized by three beliefs that while equally repugnant, Carter wrote, are not synonymous, namely white supremacy, white nationalism and white identity.
White supremacy is the belief that lighter-skinned or “white” racial groups are superior to all other racial groups.
White nationalism is a political view that merges nationalism with white identity, Carter said, and supposes that other racial groups must be excluded or marginalized in order to preserve the white race. White nationalists believe in “white states” with majority-white populations and are frequently concerned with “white genocide.”
–The term alt-right was first used by former conservatives, but the movement itself is not a conservative movement, Carter said, quoting University of Alabama professor George Hawley.
“The modal alt-right person is a male, white millennial; probably has a college degree or is in college; is secular and perhaps atheist and [is] not interested in the conservative movement at all,” Carter quoted Hawley from a Washington Post article.
What puts the movement on the “right” is that it shares, along with conservatism, a skepticism of forced egalitarianism. But that’s generally all it shares with mainstream conservatism, Carter said.
“In fact, many on the alt-right hold views associated with progressivism (e.g., support for abortion and gay rights and opposition to free-market economics),” Carter wrote. “The confusion about the movement’s politics lies in thinking that extremist groups are on each “end” of the left – right political spectrum.
“It is more accurate to consider them through the lens of the horseshoe theory, a concept in political science that claims the far left and the far right, rather than being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum,” Carter said, “closely resemble one another, much like the ends of a horseshoe.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
Related articles:
SBC denounces ‘alt-right white supremacy’
Resolution against ‘alt right’ prompts NAAF statement

6/20/2017 10:18:02 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NAMB: Every church can pray

June 20 2017 by K. Faith Morgan, NAMB

Church planting is the responsibility of every Southern Baptist church, and that responsibility begins with prayer. That was the message delivered by Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on June 15.

Photo by Matt Jones
NAMB President Kevin Ezell, right, interviews Dan Coleman, a church planter in August, Maine, during Ezell’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention June 14. “Pray for encouragement,” Coleman told messengers. “Physically it’s cold in Maine. It’s also spiritually cold.”

“We believe at NAMB that churches plant churches, and churches send missionaries – churches of every size,” Ezell said. “Often, when we talk about church planting, some might believe that’s for larger churches, but I want you to know that every church – all 47,000 Southern Baptist churches – can be involved in missions. We believe the very first step to doing that is to pray. Every one of us can pray.
“I want to urge you, and really beg you, to pray for our church planters.” Ezell said as he introduced an intentional effort to involve every church and church member in planting through prayer support by registering at PrayForPlanters.com.
Testimonies from NAMB-endorsed church planters both in video and in person highlighted the importance of intercession for these missionaries on the front lines in North America.
“Dr. King said, ‘To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.’ I think we’ve found that to be true. We’ve found prayer to be the lifeblood of the church,” said one planter in a video interview.
“Prayer is sometimes not the means to an end. It’s sometimes the end in itself,” added another. “I think knowing that other people are seeking the Lord on our behalf, it’s a constant reminder that what we’re being called to do, it’s not a human thing. It’s a God thing.
Church planter Dan Coleman ministers in one of the most unchurched states – Maine. Pew research calls Maine one of the three least-religious states in the nation. He asked the convention to pray for him and his family as they minister in this difficult area.
“Pray for encouragement,” he said. “Physically it’s cold in Maine. It’s also spiritually cold.”
Even in the midst of challenges, Coleman is seeing God transform hearts with the gospel. His plant regularly has 1,200 attendees at its four weekend services, and “at least 90 percent of our members are new believers,” he said, reinforcing Ezell’s statement that, “When we say church planting, we mean evangelism.” In fact, about 42 percent of baptisms in New England are in churches planted since 2010. Coleman’s church averages 100 baptisms a year.
“When you give faithfully to the Cooperative Program, and when you give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, you’re supporting missionaries like Dan Coleman and his family,” Ezell said. “I want to thank you, Southern Baptists, for how you sacrificially give so that our missionaries can plant churches all across North America.”
Sending church pastor Ronny Raines of Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee noted that getting involved in church planting has strengthened his own congregation, too.
After attending a Sending Church Lab at the NAMB, Raines was praying about where God might be leading his church to plant. “We had a sense that in the shadow of our steeple was a church that needed investing in,” he said. As a church family, they began to support a local Hispanic church plant and its bi-vocational pastor.
“We find that when people start looking into planting a church far from them, they start opening their eyes to the needs right around them,” said Ezell, later noting that the converse is also true as there is a unique symbiosis between local, national and international missions. “What happens here in North America affects our witness internationally. What happens internationally, affects our witness here,” Ezell said.
The final segment of the presentation featured another sending church pastor, Roger Spradlin, co-pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif. Spradlin shared the story of Karen Watson, a member of his church who was killed while serving in Iraq with the International Mission Board in 2004.
Watson’s death, Spradlin said, made a significant impact on the church.
“Very few people in our church knew where she actually was serving,” Spradlin said. “When people found out where she was when she was killed, people became keenly aware of her sacrifice. Not only in losing her life, but in her willingness to go to such a dangerous place for the gospel.”
Missionaries serving in North America and around the globe have been inspired by Watson’s story.
“Thank you, Southern Baptists, for the missionaries you send,” Ezell said in closing. “Thank you for the missionaries you send across North America and for the missionaries you send across the world. We have a unique family here. We’re not perfect but we are unified when it comes to getting the gospel to the ends of the earth. It’s all about His glory.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – K. Faith Morgan writes for the North American Mission Board.)

6/20/2017 10:13:18 AM by K. Faith Morgan, NAMB | with 0 comments

‘Genuine burden’ needed for the lost, Hunt says

June 20 2017 by J. Gerald Harris, Christian Index

Looking at the apostle Paul’s passion for lost souls, former Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Johnny Hunt preached from Romans 9:1-3 at the SBC June 13 in Phoenix.

Photo by Bill Bangham
Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives a brief sermon June 13 during the afternoon session on the first day of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center. Believers must develop a passion like the apostle Paul’s to win lost people to faith in Christ, Hunt said.

“The apostle Paul writes with a burdened heart,” Hunt said, “because his own brethren, those near and dear to him, had refused to accept the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior and Messiah.”
Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., addressing the topic of “Paul, the Soul Winner,” noted, “It is not without significance that Paul’s words in chapter 9 follow hard after chapter 8, for only a man who knows the Spirit-filled life of Romans 8 can appreciate the evangelistic heart throb of Romans 9.
“I have come to believe through my own experience that you can never win people to the Lord unless somehow you develop deep down in your heart a genuine burden and compassion for them to know the Lord,” Hunt said.
He recounted once confessing to his church, “The longer I am in the faith the further removed I seem to become from those for whom Christ died.”
“The crying need today is for us to have a burden for people who are on their way to hell,” Hunt said. “We must lovingly urge them to follow Christ and flee the wrath to come.”
In expounding his text, Hunt noted three things of importance: the sincerity of Paul’s passion for the lost; the sorrow in his passion; and the sacrificial heart of his passion.
Referencing Paul’s words, “I could wish myself accursed from Christ,” Hunt said the apostle was saying he would be willing to be separated from Christ and spend eternity in hell if that is what it would require to get people saved.
“Some would say that it is impossible for Paul to be accursed from Christ because of the Bible’s teaching on the eternal security of the believer,” Hunt said. “Paul had just written Romans 8 describing that nothing can separate us from the love of God. However, by wishing himself accursed from Christ, Paul was simply saying, ‘I am willing to do whatever it takes to reach the lost.’”
Hunt cautioned, “Don’t try to analyze Paul’s statement, for it is not spoken under the coolness and calmness of logic, and maybe sometimes there is too much coolness and too much calmness of logic. Here is the eruption of a man who is so in love with lost people that he loses all sense of reason and logic, and his heart bursts out in unfathomable compassion and he says, ‘I would be willing to go to hell to reach them.’”
Hunt related that after he was saved he was eagerly seeking to win people to Christ and one of his professors at Gardner-Webb College described the combination of his newly found faith and passion for the lost as “ignorance on fire.” Having been a member of Hunt’s church and knowing about the professor’s description of Hunt, Ken Hemphill, during his presidency of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, once introduced him by saying, “I had rather be ignorance on fire than an intellect on ice.”
“We must proclaim the gospel, but remember, it is not good news unless it gets there on time,” Hunt said.
He concluded with this story:
“The powerful soul winner and founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, was once asked, ‘Do you think you have the best training program to teach people how to witness for Jesus Christ and win souls to Jesus?’
“William Booth replied, ‘No, I don’t think my methods are the best methods. I think the best method of giving people a burden for lost souls would be to take them to the devil’s hell and allow them to experience what it is to be lost in hell, separated from God for an eternity in the fire that could never be quenched. Then I believe men would truly have a burden and know what it is to be soul-winners, because they would see what it is to be lost.’”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – J. Gerald Harris is editor of the Christian Index, christianindex.org, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.)

6/20/2017 10:10:14 AM by J. Gerald Harris, Christian Index | with 0 comments

Preach the unchanging Word, exhorts Roger Spradlin

June 20 2017 by Shannon Baker, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

Drawing from 2 Timothy 4, pastor Roger Spradlin urged attendees to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting to preach the unchanging Word of God amidst the “Titanic” changes in today’s post-Christian America.

Photo by Matt Jones
Roger Spradlin, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., gives the convention sermon for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix June 13. He preached from 2 Timothy 4:1-5, focusing on the job description God gives pastors.

“What should never change in the Southern Baptist Convention is the proclamation of the Word of God,” Spradlin, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., told messengers during the SBC’s annual sermon June 14 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
From the passage, Spradlin noted the apostle Paul was in prison, soon to be executed, and was “passing the baton” on to the younger Timothy, cautioning him (and pastors today by extension) that being a Christian leader “is a serious business.”
“Our primary responsibility is to preach God’s Word – not our opinion,” Spradlin said, pointing to 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word!” He said many today prefer “dialogue rather than monologue” and “multimedia presentations” over sermons. But “God’s plan always included preaching, even ‘the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe’” (1 Corinthians 1:21 NKJV), he said.
Accordingly, too many preachers start with felt needs and then turn to the biblical text, he said, noting he has focused on expository preaching at the same church for the past 34 years. “We must start with scripture [in context] and then apply it.”
Secondly, “we should preach at every opportunity, not just when it is convenient,” Spradlin noted, pointing to 2 Timothy 4:2, “Be ready in season and out of season.”
That means, we preach no matter how we feel physically, psychologically or even spiritually, he said. “We should never lower our preaching to our living but elevate our living to our preaching.”
He also urged his listeners to be biblically balanced when they preach. Noting some pastors avoid preaching through whole Bible passages because of their tough subjects, Spradlin said preachers should “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
“If we rebuke and not offer hope, we have added to their burden. If we preach hope with no rebuke, we are complicit in their culture of sin,” he warned.
Pointing to 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, ... [but] have itching ears,” Spradlin said preachers should preach to please God rather than men. They should do this, he noted, especially in a day when people just want entertainment.
Why are there so many shallow sermons in America? Because there is such a demand for them, Spradlin said, cautioning, “Often people don’t know what they really want to hear until they hear it.” Preaching should focus on the gospel and not the prosperity messages prevalent today.
Relating Paul’s admonition to “be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:5),” Spradlin said it seemed people “want to be envied for what they have instead of admired for who they are” and seek to avoid pain and adversity. And yet, God uses adversity and hardships to deeper one’s faith.
“There is no shortcut to a holy life,” Spradlin said. He urged perseverance, saying there is a cumulative effect, “... precept upon precept, line upon line ...” (Isaiah 28:10) when hearing the Word of God.
But the mark of biblical preaching is not knowledge, he added, noting that knowledge alone makes one like the Gnostics who pursued secret meanings in the scriptures. The effectiveness of preaching is not in the preacher but in the power of the message. Preaching does not make “man better” but makes “dead men alive,” he said.
If we’re not careful, we spend all our time on developing the right ambiance – referring to the right lights, sound, coffee café, children’s ministry and other programs. He urged focus on the function of declaring Jesus instead of focus on these forms.
“Changing forms of ministry may seem to bring success, but it will never bring succession,” he said, noting people cannot put a marriage back together or heal the addicted. “But Jesus, in a moment, can. Jesus is the only unique message we have!”
He added, “We must be careful that nothing in our character distracts from Jesus. ... Our message is Jesus!”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in Columbia, Md.)

6/20/2017 10:06:35 AM by Shannon Baker, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware | with 0 comments

H.B. Charles extols prayer, Christ’s priesthood

June 20 2017 by Mike Schueler, The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma

Emphasizing the opportunity for bold prayer in light of Christ’s role as great high priest, pastor H.B. Charles preached from Hebrews 4:14-16 at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) June 14 in Phoenix.

Photo by Bill Bangham
H.B. Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., preaches from Hebrews 4:14-16 June 14 during the afternoon session on the second day of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“These verses declare to us that Lord Jesus Christ is our great high priest who in and of Himself provides everything faith requires to live for God,” said Charles, newly elected president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference. “Here we find why we as believers, why we as the church, why we as a convention must stick with Jesus no matter what.”
Charles, who pastors Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., explained that during Old Testament times there was a strict separation of power between the offices of prophet, priest and king. But he said Jesus alone perfectly fills each of these roles: Jesus the prophet declares the mind of God, Jesus the priest provides access to God and Jesus the King exercises the rule of God.
“Our great high priest has done more than pass through the veil of an earthly temple, He has passed through the veil of the heavenly temple,” Charles said. “He is more than Mary’s baby, Abraham’s seed or David’s son. He is the Son of the living God.”
Charles pointed to two great exhortations for Christ-followers in the Hebrews passage: hold fast to the confession of faith in Jesus and draw near the throne of grace (in prayer) with confidence. Christ’s identity as God’s Son makes Him worthy of our faith, Charles said, while His human experience allows Him to sympathize with our weaknesses in times of need.
“Jesus was tempted in every respect as we are, yet He was without sin,” Charles said. “We can find in Him the strength, hope and power we need to live for God in troubled times.”
Describing verse 16 as one of the most “wonderful invitations to prayer” found in scripture, Charles said it is the only time in the New Testament the phrase “throne of grace” is used. “But because of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, we can find at God’s throne a fountain of grace,” he exclaimed.
“All who make the great confession of faith in Jesus Christ can come,” he said. “We do not need an ordained priest, we do not need a guardian angel – we do not need any other mediator. Jesus Christ is everything we need.”
Christians can not only approach Christ in prayer constantly, Charles added, but with confidence.
“The good news today is that because of Jesus we do not have to pray like some desperate beggar asking a wealthy stranger for a big favor. Because of Jesus we do not have to pray like a guilty criminal standing before a stern judge asking for a lenient sentence. Because of Jesus we can pray as confident children coming before a loving Father. What a privilege.
“We need help that only God can provide, so that we might leave this place to carry out the Great Commission ... and be bold, passionate witnesses for Jesus Christ.”
To hear Charles’ full sermon, visit sbcannualmeeting.net, select “Program” and then “Wednesday Afternoon.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Schueler directs marketing and communications for The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma.)

6/20/2017 9:59:52 AM by Mike Schueler, The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma | with 0 comments

Platt encourages pastors: ‘Engage in SBC ecosystem’

June 19 2017 by Julie McGowan, IMB

The International Mission Board (IMB) is in a stable financial position, “setting the stage” to send more missionaries to share the gospel, IMB President David Platt reports to the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.

Photo by Matt Jones
IMB President David Platt gives a report to messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention June 13. “The stage is now set for Southern Baptists to stop decreasing and start increasing the number of missionaries we have serving around the world,” Platt reported to applause.

“We take seriously our responsibility and stewardship from the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to our cooperative mission efforts,” Platt assured messengers. “And especially in light of Cooperative Program giving up, I want to thank you and continue to encourage pastors across this room to engage in the entire ecosystem of the Southern Baptist Convention – all of us working together.
“There is no question that the IMB is able to do what it does as a result of every facet of the SBC, from local churches to associations to state conventions, and all the entities we partner with,” he said.
Platt thanked Southern Baptists for increased giving to the Cooperative Program and approximately $153 million given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. He noted the IMB no longer uses property sales for operations and that the mission board’s reserves are funded at appropriate levels.
“In other words, the IMB is healthy financially, and what that means is, the stage is now set for Southern Baptists to stop decreasing and start increasing the number of missionaries we have serving around the world,” Platt reported to applause.
Platt highlighted a redesigned IMB.org online site, created to help churches of every size send more men and women around the world on mission trips and as members of missionary teams.
Hundreds of current missionaries sent Twitter-length reports* to share with messengers how they are seeing God at work around the world, with messengers hearing a number of them:

  • In one country, they’re training 25 mixed-background believers as church planters through an underground Bible school in a highly persecuted context.
  • Physical access to another country has become more difficult, but they’ve seen more than 250,000 digital Bibles distributed and hundreds of gospel conversations started inside that country over the last year.
  • In Eastern Europe, the Bible has now been translated and printed in the Udmurt language for the first time in history.
  • They saw the first church ever started among a Muslim people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • A woman learned at a Value of Life training in South Asia that abortion is not God’s will. In seeking forgiveness, she found salvation through Christ.
  • In Southeast Asia, they’re equipping a national couple who will go for two years this August to reach a diaspora people group of 500,000 migrants.
  • In East Asia, they helped a believer plant a church over the last seven months in one of the hardest places in that part of the world. Ten people have now confessed Christ and 12 others have already been baptized.
  • In North Africa, they trained up and sent out a small group of Muslim-background believers to a country hundreds of miles away. Those believers have now planted 20 churches with over 220 people baptized.
  • In one region known for having one of the highest concentrations of lostness in the world, they’re seeing churches start, grow and multiply.
  • One Sub-Saharan African missionary said, “I am seeing lost people come to the Lord every day. Many times I am discipling them from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.”
  • Two missionaries hiked over sand dunes to carry the gospel to remote Muslims. They were arrested. The government warned them not to go back. They kept going back, and now a church has been planted there with 17 baptized believers.
  • One missionary shared the gospel with a man from South Asia. He put his faith in Jesus, was baptized and then led 10 of his friends to Christ and started a discipleship group with them. Five weeks later, he died in a car accident, and now he’s with Jesus while his discipleship group is multiplying.
  • One couple with kids said that after two and a half years in North Africa and the Middle East, their family has shared the gospel with more than 800 people in the people’s heart language, Arabic.

“This is the work of the IMB,” Platt said. “And this is happening every single day. ... Disciples are being made, churches are being planted, pastors are being trained and missionaries are being sent from the nations to the nations. And ultimately, God is being glorified among people and entire people groups who until now had never heard the name of Jesus.
“This is the work of the IMB and, Southern Baptists, I want to call us to send limitless more missionaries to do that work all around the world.”
*Specific locations cannot be shared for the security of IMB personnel and national believers.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie McGowan is IMB public relations manager.)
Related articles:
IMB now on firm ground, Platt reports
Southern Baptist churches send 31 new missionaries

6/19/2017 10:35:06 AM by Julie McGowan, IMB | with 0 comments

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