October 2018

No single artist dominated 2018 Dove Awards

October 19 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Cory Asbury’s “Reckless Love” ballad garnered the worship pastor three wins at the 2018 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, but no single artist dominated the night that recognizes work in 40 categories.
 

GMA Facebook photo
Corey Asbury’s "Reckless Love" was named Song of the Year, Worship Song of the Year and Worship Album of the Year at the 2018 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.

Reckless Love was named Song of the Year, Worship Song of the Year and Worship Album of the Year at the 49th annual event in Nashville Oct. 16.
 
“Isn’t it just like the Lord to take our failures and our overall jacked-upness and turn it into something beautiful?” Asbury said in accepting the Song of the Year accolade. “He takes our disappointments and he turns it into a dance floor. We get to remember how to be kids again.” Asbury is associate worship pastor of Radiant Church in Kalamazoo, Mich.
 
Zach Williams is the 2018 Artist of the Year, with his song “Old Church Choir” named Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year. The song’s writer, Colby Wedgeworth, captured Songwriter of the Year (non-artist). Matthew West, whose latest studio album is “All In,” was named Songwriter of the Year (artist).
 
Tauren Wells, former frontman for the Christian pop-rock band Royal Tailor, was twice honored at the event as New Artist of the Year and Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year. Wells is also featured in the Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year, “War Cry,” by Social Club Misfits.
 
For Jekalyn Carr, who debuted as a 15-year-old chart-climber in 2012 with “Greater is Coming,” the award of Traditional Gospel Album of the Year was her first major win. Her “One Nation Under God” album ushered in the honor for Carr, now 21.
 
Other top winners include Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Gospel Artist of the Year, and Urban Worship Album of the Year for “Heart, Passion, Pursuit”; Jason Ingram and Paul Mabury, Producer of the Year (team); the Gaither Vocal Band, Southern Gospel Artist of the Year; Mark Lowry, Southern Gospel Album of the Year for “What’s Not to Love,” and Jason Crabb, Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year for “Washed By The Water.”
 
Anthony Brown and Group Therapy’s “A Long Way From Sunday” was named Contemporary Gospel/Urban Album of the Year; Koryn Hawthorne and Roshon Fegan’s “Won’t He Do It” was named Contemporary Gospel/Urban Recorded Song of the Year, and Marvin Sapp’s “Close” won Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year.
 
Miel San Marcos’ “Pentecostes” was named Spanish Language Album of the Year. Alex Zurdo’s “Sin Ti” captured Spanish Language Recorded Song of the Year.
 
TBN will broadcast the awards program Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. Central Time. A full list of winners is available at doveawards.com.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/19/2018 10:31:39 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SEBTS marks record enrollment increase, expands programs

October 18 2018 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

The announcement of a record enrollment increase dominated much of the conversation during the bi-annual Board of Trustees (BOT) and Southeastern Society (SES) meetings at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C. With the approval of the Master of Arts in Student Ministry, SEBTS is poised to continue fulfilling its call to equip students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission.
 

SEBTS photo
Danny Akin

The M.A. in Student Leadership will be offered in partnership with Student Leadership University (SLU) in Orlando, Fla. The 49-hour degree has a 37-hour core focusing on theological, biblical and ministry studies. Students will train with recognized leaders in the field, have the opportunity to network with SLU, and receive world-class theological and biblical training.
 
“Being a student pastor is one of the most important roles in the church today,” said Brent Crowe, vice-president of SLU. “And I am incredibly grateful that SEBTS has created a program custom made for those influencing and shaping today’s students.”
 
“Capturing the hearts and minds of students with the gospel and teaching them to live their lives following Jesus is a crucial part of the church’s mission,” said Keith Whitfield, vice-president for academic administration at SEBTS. “We are excited about how this new degree will prepare leaders to equip a generation of students to give their lives for the cause of Christ in their communities and around the world. We are honored that SLU would bring their expertise and vast influence to partner with us.”
 
Other items approved by the trustees include:

  • Doctor of Ministry degree to include courses specializations in church revitalization and Great Commission mobilization.

  • Granting Bruce Little the title of “Emeritus Professor.” Little, who retired from SEBTS last year was formerly the senior professor of philosophy, director of the Center for Faith and Culture, a founder of the Schaeffer Society and director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Collection.

New trustee members Ed Litton, John Onwuchekwa, Shawn Dobbins, Zack Little, and Nate Millican were welcomed to the board. Additionally, new faculty members Julia Bickley, Ben Holloway and Scott Pace were introduced to board members.
 
SEBTS President Danny Akin gave an update on exciting developments happening within the school. Akin highlighted the growth of the North Carolina Field Minister Program, in its second year, providing over 50 current, long-term inmates in North Carolina a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry. Akin also noted that SEBTS enrollment has risen to over 4,200 students, which Akin called the, “single-largest leap in one particular year that we’ve ever had.”
 
In Tuesday’s chapel, Akin preached on Isaiah 52:13-53:12, titling his sermon, “The Passion of the Christ/The Suffering Servant of the Lord.” Akin laid out five ways this passage portrays the significant stages of the Suffering Servant’s career: Jesus’ exaltation, His rejection, His passion, His submission and His salvation.
 
“The penal substitution of Jesus Christ is not a theory. The exalted King died in the place of His rebel subjects,” Akin said.
 
During a dinner for SES and BOT members, three students shared how the generosity of donors has helped them pursue Great Commission training at SEBTS.
 

SEBTS photo
Ronjour Locke, professor or preaching and urban ministry, addresses the SEBTS board of trustees.

Following the testimonies, Akin highlighted the vision and mission of the school saying, “Our goal is to build a school that loves and serves others like we have been loved and served by Jesus, with no distinction between race, gender or socio-economics. Global … lostness is growing, I believe there has never been a greater urgency for a spiritual base to train navy seals for the mission. … We will only be able to accomplish what God wants us to do, all of us doing our part, all of us working together.”
 
On Sunday evening, Steven Wade, associate professor of theology, preached through Titus 2:11-14. Wade gave ways in which Christians can live rightly in this present life with a full view of the gospel in mind.
 
This full understanding of the gospel, Wade said, “defines everything about who we are and how we live.”
 
On Tuesday morning, SES members attended two breakout sessions, in which faculty and student panelists discussed ways that SEBTS has prepared students to engage in the Great Commission and how professors have created a Great Commission atmosphere in the classroom.
 
SES members give at least $1,000 to SEBTS each year and partner with the school to help train students in living out the Great Commission wherever they go. To learn more, visit sebts.edu/ses.
 
The next BOT and SES meetings will be held April 7-9, 2019.
 
To view photos from the two-day meetings, click here.

10/18/2018 11:14:01 AM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments



Q&A: Erickson on family, faith and food

October 18 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Erick Erickson, a journalist and media personality known for his strident defense of conservative politics, says a period of suffering in his life led to deep reflections on faith, family and the lack of civility in current political discussions. Those meditations resulted in a book framed as a letter to his children that includes stories from his childhood, thoughts about how to endure suffering and his family’s favorite recipes.
 


ERLC photo

Erickson sat down for an interview with the Biblical Recorder at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) 2018 National Conference in Dallas, Texas, where he participated as a speaker and panelist. He is editor of The Resurgent and radio show host for WSB Radio in Atlanta. He is also a Fox News contributor and doctoral student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
 
What follows is a lightly edited transcript.
 
Q: You published a book last year, titled “Before You Wake: Life Lessons from a Father to His Children.” Will you tell us a little about the book and why you decided to write it?
 
A: In 2016, I very nearly died. I had an influx of multiple blood clots in my lungs, to the point that while I was lying in intensive care, the doctor saw the scans and asked if they had taken the body to the morgue. That day my wife was diagnosed with a genetic form of lung cancer.
 
Not long after, I told my wife, “You know, I don’t think I’m going to make it.” She burst into tears and said that she had made a deal with God, and if He was going to take one of us, it would be her. I couldn’t sleep that night, so I got up and wrote a letter to my kids.
 
I wound up putting the letter on my website and was later asked to turn it into a book. It is as much a confession as it is a biography and a way to leave my kids their favorite recipes.
 
Q: Many people say they don’t care for politics and wish they watched less cable news. But it’s your job to be engaged in constantly changing political conversations every day. How do you balance that with other parts of life, like being a husband and father?
 
A: Hobbies. You know, I used to be a 24/7 political animal. Nearly dying makes you appreciate living a little more.
 
I took up cooking more passionately than I had before. My wife bought me a camera and told me we were going to get fat if I kept cooking. So, now I take pictures of the food that I cook. I also bought a kayak, so I can go out in the middle of the lake where no cell phones can reach me. I like to sit and enjoy nature.
 
When I started writing about my family’s health struggles, a number of people reached out and said, “I read about this and I want to reconnect. I had completely stopped paying attention to you or politics.” That was an encouragement for me to write about other stuff.
 
Q: Anyone who follows you on social media knows you like to cook. Is that something you’ve enjoyed your whole life, or a hobby you developed?
 
A: People think I’m joking when I say this, but when I was five years old, I was such a picky eater that my mom got fed up and told me to cook. She would help me, but I had to cook for myself – if nothing else, to appreciate the amount of work that she put into cooking.
 
I love it. It’s a great distraction, and I have found over the years that fewer and fewer people are willing to cook or have the time to cook. So, by being willing to cook and invite people to eat, you can find new connections with people. Even people you disagree with politically, you can find common ground around a bowl of gumbo.
 
Q: At some point in the last few years, American politics seemed to transition from rough-and-tumble to an all-out brawl. How do you think Christians, especially those who work in politics or media, can speak into our culture in ways that bring hope and healing?
 
A: One of the big conversations in politics right now is that we don’t have to be civil, and there are Republicans and Democrats saying it. Civility in politics is not a tactic or strategy, it’s a sign of character. I think Christians in politics need to be willing to be civil when other people aren’t.
 
There’s an idea percolating in secular culture that you can’t win if you’re nice. I don’t think that’s true, and I don’t think Christians can surrender to that temptation. We’re supposed to reflect something more eternal than short-term politics.
 
Click here to watch Erickson’s keynote address at the 2018 ERLC National Conference, titled “The Suffering Family and the Goodness of God.”

10/18/2018 11:13:18 AM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



SWBTS trustees move forward, uphold Patterson firing

October 18 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

In a meeting characterized by unity despite differences of opinion, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SWBTS) trustees voted to uphold the trustee executive committee’s decision in May to terminate former president Paige Patterson.
 

Photo by Adam Covington, SWBTS
Southwestern Seminary trustees prayed for their presidential search committee during an Oct. 17 general session of the board.

Trustees revisited Patterson’s termination at their Oct. 15-17 meeting based on a motion, referred to Southwestern by the Southern Baptist Convention in June, “that the whole board of trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary consider revisiting their original decision concerning Dr. Paige Patterson.”
 
The board also heard a report from its presidential search committee and affirmed an administration decision to discipline a faculty member – though the faculty member was not named during the board’s one public session.
 
“I was deeply worried about this meeting,” said trustee Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, adding he “forbade” his wife and children from attending. “I should have brought them not only because it wasn’t bad, but because it was good.”
 
Trustees convened for committee meetings and informal “working sessions” Oct. 16-17 that were closed to the public before holding one public, 45-minute “general session” Oct. 17, in which they voted without discussion on the matters considered in private sessions.
 

‘A 10-percent difference’

 
New Mexico trustee Jonathan Richard moved that the full board ratify “the executive committee actions since the last full board meeting.” The executive committee’s actions included terminating Patterson May 30 after the full board had moved him to president emeritus status a week earlier. See related Biblical Recorder stories here and here.
 
The 34 trustees present at the Oct. 17 general session adopted Richard’s motion on a voice vote with what Baptist Press estimated as no more than four negative votes.
 
Following the general session, Barber and South Carolina trustee Wayne Dickard discussed the vote with BP and the Southern Baptist TEXAN news journal in an interview approved by the board. Barber, a trustee executive committee member, voted for ratifying the committee’s actions. Dickard, not an executive committee member, voted against it.
 
Dickard said he was “sad” at Patterson’s departure, and Barber fought back tears as he discussed it.
 
“We’re all Christians, and we’re not angry with each other,” said Dickard, an evangelist and retired pastor. “We differ greatly. Bart and I voted in different directions on a number of different issues. That doesn’t make him my enemy.”
 
Dickard believes the “process” and the “result” of the executive committee’s dealings with Patterson were flawed, including the committee’s decision during a series of meetings in April and May to waive a requirement of Southwestern’s bylaws that 10-days’ notice be given for all executive committee meetings. He also believes the executive committee violated a requirement of Robert’s Rules of Order that a committee not “pass motions that conflict with the full board.”
 
Barber said waiver of notice requirements for meetings is “common practice” for boards and that Patterson skipped “numerous” meetings of the executive committee in April and May where “matters of great significance were discussed,” though he could have attended. Then Patterson declined a formal request that he attend an executive committee meeting, Barber said.
 
Ultimately the relationship between Patterson and the board became unworkable in Barber’s view. However, Barber noted “people ought to listen” to Dickard’s concerns as they evaluate whether circumstances “were extenuating enough to justify” the executive committee’s departure from standard operating procedures.
 

Photo by Adam Covington, SWBTS
“Bart [Barber] (left) and I voted in different directions ... That doesn’t make him my enemy,” said SWBTS trustee Wayne Dickard.

One reason to move forward, Dickard said, is that Patterson “didn’t have the votes on the board to remain here. ... In May, I thought he had those votes, and the first vote that was taken [in the May 22-23 meeting], he did have them. But today he doesn’t have the votes on the board to still be president.”
 
Barber said it’s difficult to state one main reason Patterson departed because “we have a 40-member board” and “there are at least 40 answers to the question of why.”
 
Trustees who vote differently “may agree on 90 percent of what we talked about, but there’s a 10-percent difference that nudges me onto one side of the line and nudges him onto the other,” Barber said.
 
Trustee chairman Kevin Ueckert told BP, “We had things to discuss that were difficult and challenging. Everybody experienced a great deal of encouragement because of our common belief that God is leading us forward as a seminary around our core mission.”
 

Other business

 
Before the board heard a report from its presidential search committee, trustees voted without opposition to “ratify and affirm” Ueckert’s “appointment of the” committee and “pledge support and prayer.”
 
Trustees laid hands on the search committee and spent nearly 10 minutes praying for them.
 
Search committee chairman Danny Roberts reported the committee received “dozens of recommendations” during its initial period for receiving public input. The committee is working through those recommendations and will reopen the opportunity for public input if “we go through the process and we sense God’s man” is not among the initial set of individuals recommended.
 
“We have made great progress,” Roberts said. “We feel very, very encouraged, and we are firmly convinced the Lord’s going to lead us directly to the man that He has already called. Please continue to pray for us.”
 
In the only other business matter on which the vote was divided, trustees adopted a motion “to sustain the action of the administration” on a “faculty disciplinary matter.” The faculty member in question was not named, and there seemed to be three or four negative votes on a voice vote.
 
Interim Southwestern president Jeffrey Bingham described the trustee meeting as “three days of renewal, three days of refreshment, three days of amazing, God-given unity.”
 

SWBTS campus responds

 
Outside the meeting, students and faculty said the seminary community has exhibited a range of emotions since Patterson’s departure, with some feeling trustees made the right move, others experiencing deep grief and others somewhere in between.
 
“Overall, the school is still functioning very smoothly,” said Kara Goff, a bachelor of music student. “I was expecting the transition to be a little more bumpy. I was expecting a little more tension between different groups on campus.”
 
Despite “some areas of hurt,” Jesus “has been kept the center of attention,” Goff said, noting students and faculty have gathered to pray for the transition at least three or four times this semester.
 
Goff’s sister Meredith, a bachelor of biblical studies student, said students have expressed “minor anxiety as they’re thinking through and praying about who the next leader needs to be.”
 
Rickesh Patel, a master of theology graduate who has been accepted into the doctor of philosophy program, said the “few” changes on campus this fall have been mostly “small.” Still, students by and large are not “100 percent” clear about why Patterson was terminated.
 
Song Lianmang, a master of divinity student said the transition “has left more questions in one way or the other. The information we know usually comes from press releases the trustees have given out. People are ... shocked.”
 
Amid the transition, Patel said, Bingham “is a humble leader who’s helped the seminary through this new semester. The goal of Southwestern still remains the same: to train men and women in their calling.”
 
The mood on campus, said theology professor Malcolm Yarnell, “is one of sorrow yet anticipation.”
 
“Nobody on this campus is pleased with how events transpired earlier this year, but every constituency – students, staff, faculty, alumni, trustees, donors, friends – has expressed excitement for the future,” Yarnell said. “We repent with mourning, but we rejoice with providence, for we sense God is guiding our community toward a future characterized by servanthood, humility, freedom, excellence and loyalty to Jesus.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/18/2018 11:12:24 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



ERLC panel: Openness about brokenness needed

October 18 2018 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Christians need to be more open about their personal and family brokenness to give hope to those inside and outside the church, panelists said Oct. 12 during the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) annual national conference.
 

Photo by Karen McCutcheon
Philadelphia pastor Eric Mason speaks on gospel hope for broken homes while fellow panelists Sam Allberry and Ann Voskamp listen Oct. 12 during the ERLC 2018 national conference in Grapevine, Texas.

The panel addressed “The Sin-shattered Family: Gospel Hope for Broken Families and Broken Homes” during a main session of the conference at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. About 950 people attended the three-day event – titled “The Cross-shaped Family” – that concluded Oct. 13.
 
Jamie Ivey, an author and podcaster from Austin, Texas, told attendees, “I think actually what the world wants to see is broken people who are redeemed and loved, and instead ... we’re leaving out our brokenness.”
 
What Christians should be sharing, she said, is: “[H]ere’s our family’s brokenness; here’s my past brokenness; here’s my current brokenness. Well look how amazing Jesus is that He pursued me, that He loves me. ... That is something that the world is looking for.”
 
Church leaders can promote this in their members by being more open about their sin, Ivey said.
 
“I am always surprised [when] people tell me they have never heard their teaching pastors confess any sins on stage,” she said. “We would do a better job for our church people if they saw that modeled from the top down.”
 
Sam Allberry – global speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and formerly a pastor in Great Britain – told the audience a “massive obstacle” to openness among Christians “is this kind of church culture where people think, ‘I need to look good so that Jesus looks good.’”
 
That attitude “is killing our churches” and “cuts against the gospel of grace,” he said. “We need to be real with each other. We’re [in the church] not because we’re good. We’re here because we know we’re not.”
 
Eric Mason, lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, encouraged Christians to “run towards [their] brokenness with Christ in the power of the Spirit by faith, believing not only He can heal their brokenness in the family, but He can also redeem it and use it.”
 
People outside the church “are hungry for the incarnation of the church, for us to be an incarnate community that lives in the city, loves the city ... and reflects what biblical family is versus railing on the problems of the community,” he said.
 
Best-selling author Ann Voskamp said scripture is central to living out Christianity in a home.
 
Christians should “acknowledge our brokenness and we are in dire need of hope,” she told the audience. “And when you have lost all hope, when you open up the pages of His Word, you find hope again. And when you’re looking for hope in the future, you find hope in God’s faithfulness in the past.
 
“Biblical hope is not waiting on good circumstances. It’s waiting on a good God.”
 
Her husband has led their family of nine to read the Bible every time they have a meal, Voskamp said.
 
“[T]his has been the most formational habit we have had as a family – that if you sit down at the table to eat any dead food, you make sure you get up from the table knowing that you have eaten living bread,” she said.
 
“[I]f we’re going to be Christ-centric, we need to be Word-centric.”
 
The church can help by living as the family God has established, Allberry said.
 
“[T]he gospel creates family,” he told those in attendance and those watching on live stream. “It brings about family relationships that weren’t there beforehand. If we can make sure that our language about church family is not just lip service but expressing the spiritual reality, that’s got to be an amazing witness” to the world.
 
“You come to this group of people, and you will find family and you will become family,” he said of the invitation to those outside the church. “That’s powerful.”
 
In his Oct. 13 conference keynote address, Allberry said, “Our family is not just people who have the same last name as us, but people who have been baptized into the same name as us, people who share the Lord’s table with us.”
 
Dan Darling, the ERLC’s vice president for communications, moderated the panel. Four other panels during the conference’s main sessions addressed the education of children, the strengthening of ministry marriages, sexual abuse and assault, and adoption, foster care, special needs and mental health.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/18/2018 11:11:06 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Atlanta accepts $1.2M settlement with Kelvin Cochran

October 18 2018 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

The Atlanta city council has agreed to a $1.2 million settlement with former fire chief Kelvin Cochran over his January 2015 termination for his views about marriage and sexuality.
 

BP file photo
Kelvin Cochran

The city council voted 11-3 after an executive session Oct. 15 during which city attorneys recommended a settlement and legal fees negotiated with the religious liberty organization Alliance Defending Freedom, which has handled Cochran’s court case, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
 
Beyond the city council’s decision, Cochran told Baptist Press on Oct. 17, God has been faithful through what he calls “the fiery trial.”
 
He has had numerous opportunities to give his testimony in worship services and to speak at men’s meetings and conferences. He also completed a doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership in May through Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
 
The Atlanta city council decision was celebrated by the Alliance Defending Freedom but bemoaned by the former mayor, Kasim Reed, who had fired Cochran, a highly decorated fire official and former U.S. Fire Administrator under President Obama.
 
Prompting the settlement was a federal judge’s ruling last December declaring as unconstitutional city requirements that an employee must obtain pre-clearance for publishing a book such as Cochran’s 162-page men’s devotional that included a brief section describing homosexual behavior as immoral.
 
Federal Judge Leigh Martin May granted summary judgment to Cochran that Atlanta’s pre-clearance rules violated the Constitution’s First Amendment by restraining speech in advance and inviting “unbridled discretion” by the city to approve or deny outside work.
 
However, Cochran and the Alliance Defending Freedom did not succeed on the other First Amendment claims in the case. May granted summary judgment to the city on Cochran’s claims of freedom of speech retaliation, freedom of association retaliation and viewpoint discrimination. She also refused to agree that Atlanta had violated Cochran’s free exercise of religion.
 
ADF senior counsel Kevin Theriot stated in a news release, “The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech. It also can’t fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods.”
 
Theriot said the city “is compensating Chief Cochran as it should, and we hope this will serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants.”
 
The Journal-Constitution reported that the city had “concluded that a federal court ruling in the case from December left taxpayers exposed to an even larger payout if they didn’t settle with Cochran.”
 
A spokesperson for Atlanta’s current mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, was quoted as saying, “The comments of Kelvin Cochran were not reflective of who Atlanta is as a tolerant and inclusive city.... [B]ased upon findings of the Court that could have resulted in taxpayers paying millions of dollars in damages and litigation fees, a negotiated settlement was recommended by legal counsel.”
 
A city investigation under Reed had found no evidence of discrimination by Cochran in directing the fire department. Cochran, in comments to Baptist Press in November 2017, said he created the Atlanta Fire Rescue Doctrine to establish “a culture of justice and equity” and to seek to remove “racism, sexism, favoritism, cronyism, anything that would interfere with a wholesome work environment for any people group within the fire department.”
 
Reed, in a statement to the newspaper, nevertheless voiced his disapproval of the settlement.
 
“I believed, and continue to believe, that his actions, decisions, and lack of judgment undermined his ability to effectively manage a large, diverse workforce,” Reed said. “At a time when civil rights, human rights and inclusion are under attack both locally and nationally, this decision sends the wrong message to individuals in the LGBTQ community and to all Atlantans.”
 
Cochran is now the chief operating officer at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta, a Southern Baptist congregation. The men’s devotional book he wrote, available online from Amazon, is titled Who Told You That You Were Naked? from God’s question to Adam in the Garden of Eden.
 
The overall theme is helping men overcome condemnation, Cochran said, whereas the media portrays it as “anti-gay,” narrowing in on a brief section of the book from Galatians 5:19-20 in listing the works of the flesh.
 
Cochran told Baptist Press of “five things that I have learned in my experience” from “people that we hold dear in the Bible that have gone through persecution.”
 
“The first one is, God always prepares His children to face persecution. ... We wouldn’t be going through it if He hadn’t drawn the conclusion that we were ready.
 
“Number two is the hardest of the five things, and that is, there are worldly consequences for standing on biblical truth and standing for Christ.
 
“Number three, there are Kingdom consequences ... [that] are always greater than the worldly consequences.
 
“The fourth thing is that when we endure persecution, God is glorified on a greater scale.
 
“And the fifth thing I’ve learned is that when we have the courage and faith to stand, a life of blessings escalates ‘exceedingly, abundantly above all we could ever ask or think,’” he said, citing Ephesians 3:20 in the New Testament.
 
Cochran was a member of the SBC Resolutions Committee in 2016, presenting to the convention a resolution affirming Southern Baptists’ commitment to biblical sexuality and urging the protection of religious free exercise.
 
The resolution stated in part, “Experience and recent history have shown that when the government redefines marriage as anything other than between a man and a woman, the police power of the state is brought to bear to enforce that redefinition, resulting in an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/18/2018 11:06:10 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Beth Moore: Parenting goal focused on Jesus

October 17 2018 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Beth Moore’s primary parenting goal was for her daughters to know Jesus is everything, the popular Bible teacher told the audience at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) 2018 national conference.
 

Photo by Karen McCutcheon
Bible teacher Beth Moore shares about parenting during an interview with Russell Moore Oct. 12 at the ERLC national conference in Grapevine, Texas.

Moore answered questions from ERLC President Russell Moore in an Oct. 12 session during “The Cross-shaped Family” at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. The three-day event attended by about 950 people was held Oct. 11-13.
 
“The main thing I was after with them was that I wanted them to know that Jesus was everything,” Moore said of her two daughters, “that He wasn’t just authority and the Big Boss that was just looking for them to mess up. But He was every single, wonderful thing in all of life.
 
“He was the biggest joy of my life, and I wanted my kids to understand that.”
 
Moore has taught the Bible in conferences in all 50 states and multiple countries since founding Living Proof Ministries in 1994.
 
Russell Moore – no relation to Beth – observed her adult daughters “don’t seem to be cynical at all,” in contrast to some children of church and ministry leaders.
 
“I think that the huge explanation for that is – in just basic terms – the pure grace of God,” Beth Moore responded.
 
Her husband Keith and she have always dealt with reality and talked openly with their daughters when they experienced hurt from outside, Moore said. She acknowledged both Keith and she came from “such hurt and brokenness” – she as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and he as someone with extreme post-traumatic stress disorder.
 
Moore “never acted like everyone else had it together because we didn’t,” she said. “[W]hat [her daughters] weren’t cynical about was Jesus, because Jesus did come through just exactly the way He promised He would.”
 

Photo by Karen McCutcheon
Author and speaker Beth Moore said the main thing she wanted her children to learn was "[Jesus] was the biggest joy of my life."

The Moores will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in two months but not because they successfully followed the right steps, she said.
 
“We had such complexity inside our home that I would long to hear somebody speak to: ‘What if it seems like none of it works the way that the steps were supposed to go?’” Moore recalled regarding an early marriage conference she attended.
 
“The steps didn’t work, but Jesus did,” she said of their marriage. “We flat out made it and are making it on Jesus Christ.”
 
In their home, the signal that she needed to speak out was when she saw their daughters were not flourishing, Moore told the audience.
 
“You can flourish under a lot of hardship, but if somebody’s getting crushed, that’s when you start speaking up,” Moore said, adding she tried to figure out “what does submission look like when there are times when you feel like, ‘Man I don’t think my kids are flourishing under these conditions and in this situation.’”
 
Sometimes, a fight appears necessary, Moore said.
 
“I feel like a fight is worth having if a fight is for us instead of with us,” she explained. “I didn’t mind fighting with Keith if I was fighting for our marriage. I didn’t ever mind fighting with my children if I was fighting for them.”
 
Her teaching ministry was not as complex when her daughters were children as it is now, Moore said. She is grateful “God was building the ministry at the same time my family was growing. And so the ministry grew up with the kids,” she said.
 
Moore “studied like a maniac” during the girls’ school hours but served them as a typical mother, she told conference attendees and the live stream audience. After the Bible conferences began, she would be gone two or three nights a month while Keith cared for the girls when they were young, she said.
 
Her daughters are her best friends – but not because she prioritized being their friend over being their mother, Moore said.
 
“I was not afraid to be Mom,” she said. “Either one of them would tell you, ‘Mom could get fire in her eyes.’”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/17/2018 10:59:54 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Rainer calls on churches to get a little scrappy

October 17 2018 by Aaron Wilson, Baptist Press

Back in high school, LifeWay CEO and President Thom S. Rainer spent many Friday nights playing tailback for what he calls a scrappy football team.
 

He noted they weren’t the biggest, fastest or most athletic players, but because of the team’s grit and determination, they overcame a bad season to make it into the quarterfinals of the state playoffs the following year.
 
In his new book, Scrappy Church: God’s Not Done Yet, Rainer calls on churches to bring a similar mentality to revitalization – something he believes is attainable if churches are willing to roll up their sleeves and get a little scrappy.
 
“I have seen many so-called hopeless churches become turnaround churches,” Rainer said. “I have seen congregations defy all the doom-and-gloom prognosticators. I have seen churches spit in the face of the objective facts that say it can’t be done.
 
“I call these turnaround churches ‘scrappy churches.’” he said. “While scrappy church leaders are not blind to the difficulties around them and in their congregations, they remain certain God is still at work.”
 
Rainer believes many churches in North America resemble the state of an overwhelmed team when they say things like:
 
– “We can’t reach young families; they go to the big church that has all the children’s and student stuff.”
 
– “We don’t have the money or the people the other churches have.”
 
– “We can’t compete with the megachurch in our town.”
 
But in Scrappy Church, Rainer tells stories of real churches that are in a new mode of revitalization and that – for the first time in years, maybe decades – are experiencing hope.
 
“I see the beginning of a movement of profound church revitalization in so many congregations,” Rainer said. “And if the pattern continues, we could see as many as 100,000 churches move from decline to growth, ineffectiveness to effectiveness, divisiveness to unity, and hopelessness to hope.”
 
Rainer said the past few years have been a season in which he felt a deep burden to help churches define reality – insisting that many struggling churches must change or die. However, in the coming season, Rainer says his emphasis will shift to communicating more about what God is doing in churches that are truly revitalizing.
 
“My first step of hope will not only be sharing stories but discerning how God is specifically working in scrappy churches,” said Rainer, who recently announced plans to retire in the coming year. “And though I will never suggest we can discover some formulaic or programmatic answer to church revitalization, we can observe the work of God and discern how that work might apply to our church and our context.”
 
Scrappy Church is available exclusively at LifeWay Christian Stores and LifeWay.com. A free secret guest survey is available at ThomRainer.com/ScrappyQuiz to help leaders identify just how scrappy their church is and what low-hanging fruit can be harvested to improve ministry to the community.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Wilson is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.  Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/17/2018 10:59:38 AM by Aaron Wilson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Food trucks open doors for Florida church

October 17 2018 by Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Convention

Thomasville Road Baptist Church in Tallahassee is using food trucks on Wednesday night as a way of engaging and building relationships with their community.
 

“You meet a lot of different kinds of individuals at food trucks,” said Brooke Miley, missions ministry associate. “They offer a non-awkward opportunity to start a conversation with someone you might not get to talk to otherwise,” added Josh Blight, community outreach pastor.
 
Tallahassee has a strong food truck culture. Food truck owners have even organized into associations and have robust social media followings. Every day food trucks post where they will be located, and people check on that and go grab food from the particular truck they’re craving, said Miley.
 
“So we get people on our property who are not here for church, but it gives us the opportunity for them to get to know us.”
 
At Thomasville Road we are about uplifting and ministering to the community, said Blight. Their hope is that when someone in their community is looking for spiritual guidance or support they will turn to Thomasville Road. “Food trucks play into that because it gives us visibility,” he said.
 
“You end up close to people as you’re waiting for your food order and can start a conversation easily,” said Blight. “You might open with ‘Oh have you ordered that before? Is it good?’ and build from there.”
 
Also, food truck stops are set up in a way that strangers end up sharing a table to eat a meal together and that kind of setting is conducive to conversations and new relationships, added Blight.
 
As a college town, Tallahassee is also very diverse. Students come not only from other states but even from other countries. Sometimes they want a taste of their home countries or home states and food trucks tend to satisfy those cravings with diverse menu options. It might not be exactly the kind of food from their specific country, said Blight, but it’s close enough to where it reminds them of home.
 
On a typical Wednesday night there will be between 100 and 150 individuals buying food at the trucks. That number includes church folks there for Wednesday night service as well as those just there for the food trucks.
 
“It’s not just good for the people who come buy the food but it also helps local business owners,” said Miley, giving them visibility and space to do business.
 
For a church wishing to start a similar service, Blight suggests first checking to see if there are any food truck associations in their area. And for those places where food trucks are not popular, he suggests integrating whatever mobile food service is popular. In some places for example, barbequing in parking lots is popular and the church can work to integrate that.
 
“Be open, honest and clear with the business you’ll be working with,” he said. “Let them know what your goals are and what you expect from them.”
 
While still a very new community missions endeavor, Miley has big hopes. “We’re hoping that with consistency our community will be drawn to our church.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article appeared on the website of the Florida Baptist Convention, flbaptist.org. Keila Diaz writes for the Florida Baptist Convention. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/17/2018 10:59:09 AM by Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Convention | with 0 comments



Chibok girls’ struggles subject of HBO film

October 17 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

“And by God’s grace, we’ll make it,” one of 276 Christian schoolgirls Boko Haram kidnapped from Chibok proclaims in the preview of an upcoming HBO documentary on the captives who’ve been released.
 

Screen capture from HBO preview video
More than 100 Chibok schoolgirls formerly held captive by Boko Haram are featured in the upcoming HBO documentary "Stolen Daughters."

Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram” showcases 103 Chibok schoolgirls struggling to regain normalcy nearly five years after their ordeal began. More than 100 Chibok girls remain captive or missing since the April 2014 raid on the Government Girls Secondary School in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok.
 
The documentary comes as Leah Sharibu, the victim of a separate Boko Haram raid and kidnapping at a girls’ school in Dapchi in February, remains captive. The terrorists first threatened to kill Sharibu, a Christian, but as recently as Oct. 15 said they would instead keep her alive as a slave.
 
Together, the schoolgirls are a fraction of the thousands of women, girls and boys Boko Haram has kidnapped during its 10-year terror rampage aimed at establishing Sharia law across Nigeria. During the same period, the terrorists have killed an estimated 20,000 to 28,000 people, mainly Christians and moderate Muslims, and displaced millions more.
 

Stolen Daughters

 
HBO bills Stolen Daughters, airing Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. Central Time, as a message of hope and survival.
 
Girls featured in the documentary lived for a time at a government safe house where they received education and counseling, but eventually progressed to a residential, government-funded program at the American University of Nigeria, HBO describes the documentary at hbo.com.
 
The documentary will be of little comfort to parents of more than 100 Chibok schoolgirls still missing, the leader of the Chibok Girls Parents Forum told the advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) in response to a Baptist Press inquiry.
 
“If the video is on the already released girls, the parents whose girls are still in captivity would be negatively impacted, as it will only remind them of their own daughters still missing,” forum chairman Yakubu Nkeki said in comments the ICC forwarded to BP. “If it were on those yet to be released, it will rekindle hope and we will be happy with that. Those already released are on hand and we are no longer worried about them.”
 
Nkeki and the parents he represents believe some of the missing girls may be living in poor conditions at a camp for internally displaced persons. He told the ICC the account of a woman who escaped Boko Haram captivity and encountered as many as seven Chibok girls in poverty in a military camp in a Cameroon section of Sambisa Forest.
 
“This woman told us that there were seven other Chibok girls at the village she was held at, that those girls had been married to the Boko Haram men just [as] she was, and some of them had either two or three children,” Nkeki said. “She said they were starving so badly and would often scout on trees to see if they could find some kind of edible fruits, or pick some leaves to cook some food with.
 
“The government is certainly aware, but not doing anything,” Nkeki said. “We want to see the government taking concrete steps to rescue the remaining girls.”
 
A parent the ICC identified as Lawan said the documentary will be of little use to parents in Chibok, who have little access to media.
 
“Releasing a video by whosoever, about the girls that are already here doesn’t help,” Lawan said in comments the ICC relayed to BP. “We feel upset with this kind of thing.” She told an account similar to Nkeki, although it was unclear if the two were speaking of the same Chibok girls at the displaced persons camp.
 
Lawan’s own daughter may be among those living in food-deprived conditions in a camp, she told ICC, based on an account she heard from a woman who escaped Boko Haram.
 
“I have felt devastated and broken. I feel sick,” Lawan said. “Other parents of the girls still in detention are also now grieving afresh on hearing the news about the condition of their daughters.”
 
Many Chibok parents have little hope of finding their daughters alive, ICC representative Nathan Johnson told BP.
 
“They’re really losing hope at this point,” Johnson told BP. “We’re really trying to keep hope alive. There’s always a chance. But the longer and longer it gets, it’s obviously less and less likely that they will come back.”
 
About 106 girls are still missing, Johnson said, but it’s unclear how many of those are still alive.
 
At the very least, Johnson said, the documentary “will give insight into the trauma and terror that (Boko Haram) uses to attack the people of Nigeria. It will also show the true strength of these young women.
 
“Boko Haram is still one of the top three most active and deadliest terrorist groups in the world,” Johnson said.
 

Leah Sharibu

 
ICC is among many advocating for the release of Sharibu, including the Christian Association of Nigeria, the American Center for Law and Justice and the Lift Up Now grassroots organization led by native Nigerian and North Carolina Southern Baptist Adeniyi Ojutiku.
 
Boko Haram had threatened to kill Sharibu and two Red Cross aid workers that the terrorists kidnapped if the Nigerian government did not meet its demands by Oct. 15. Instead, the terrorists killed Hauwa Leman, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) worker, and vowed to keep Sharibu “as a slave for life,” The Cable of Nigeria reported as the deadline passed.
 
In a video clip Boko Haram released to The Cable, Leman was forced to kneel before being shot at close range. In September, Boko Haram killed another aid worker, Saifura Ahmed, one of two workers Boko Haram kidnapped with Leman in March.
 
Boko Haram said the remaining aid worker, a Christian named Alice Ngaddah who works for UNICEF, will also be kept as a slave, The Cable reported.
 
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Sharibu’s mother Rebecca that he will seek Sharibu’s freedom, Channels TV reported Oct. 3.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.  Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/17/2018 10:58:49 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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