January 2019

Another abortion video goes viral

January 31 2019 by Josh Wester, ERLC

This week, a second video about abortion went viral. But instead of New York, this one was from the general assembly in Virginia. The video features a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates offering comments in defense of proposed legislation that would dramatically expand abortion laws in the commonwealth.
 
Like the legislation passed by the New York State Legislature last week and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the bill put forward in Virginia would remove nearly all restrictions on abortion up to the child’s actual birth. And as with the first, the exchange captured in the video is chilling.

Josh Wester

 

What does the video reveal?

 
Under current laws, abortions may only be performed in Virginia during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. Abortions performed in the second trimester must be performed in a hospital. But the proposed legislation being debated in the general assembly, which proponents call the Repeal Act, would remove these restrictions.
 
In the video, House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert asks the sponsor of the bill, Kathy Tran, “How late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?” Tran hedges in response, indicating that the bill allows for abortions based on either mental or physical health. But when Gilbert presses for an answer, Tran responds, “Through the third trimester. The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.”
 
Following that statement, there is a long pause.
 
Gilbert then asks the following, “Where it’s obvious a woman is about to give birth, that she has physical signs that she is about to give birth – would that be a point at which she could still request an abortion if she was so certified? She’s dilating.”
 
Tran replies, “Mr. Chairman, that would be a decision that the doctor, the physician, and the woman would make at that point.” To which Gilbert immediately asks, “I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.” And just before the clip ends Tran states, “My bill would allow that, yes.”
 
Watching the video is difficult. And it is little wonder that it is the second in as many weeks to go viral and draw attention to the issue. Abortion has long been a contentious issue in the United States, but there is an element featured in both of these videos that stirs our humanity: cruelty.
 
Abortion advocates once called for abortions to be “safe, legal, and rare.” But the goalposts have moved. We now live in an age where women are encouraged to “shout” their abortions. Last week we watched members and the gallery of the New York State Legislature stand and cheer when its version of this bill was passed. And here we see a member of the Virginia General Assembly defend a bill that would allow an infant’s life to be ended only days, hours, or even moments away from birth.
 
And this is simply too much to abide. How could one possibly help but imagine the kind of barbarism involved in taking the life of an innocent person – one well past the point of viability? For many, if not most, simply contemplating such an act makes them shudder.
 
Not only would this bill sanction abortion on demand through the third trimester and eliminate requirements that these procedures be performed by doctors in appropriate medical facilities, it would also remove Virginia’s informed-consent, ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period policies.
 
Speaking in support of the bill after the video began circulating widely on social media, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia appeared on a radio show to comment on the legislation.
 
Northam described the public reaction as “out of proportion” to the substance of the bill. But far from quelling the opposition, the governor’s remarks drew further criticism as he explained what would happen under the proposed law should a mother choose to seek an abortion while in labor: “If a mother is in labor … the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated, if that is what the mother and the family desired.”
 
At issue here is not privacy or safety, but barbarism. Simply put, this bill would further legalize violence against the vulnerable. And it is a tragedy that this is not apparent to all of us.
 
After the New York bill was passed, Russell Moore commented, “The closer one gets to the issue, the more one sees just how blinded by injustice people can get. Some who claim to be about protecting the weak from the strong are able to nonetheless completely ignore those, the unborn, who are politically unpopular in their tribe.” And this is certainly true. We live in a world that is fallen. All of us are blinded by sin.
 

Hope amid evil

 
But even in the face of this rising tide of abortion activism, there is good news. Polling shows that young adults are more likely than other demographics to support abortion restrictions, including the gradual implementation of pro-life legislation. These efforts to expand access to abortions in New York, Virginia, and elsewhere do not necessarily represent the future or a permanent trajectory.
 
What is required is vigilance and commitment. Those committed to the cause of life, who would see this dreadful movement reversed, must continue to work and pray. Advancing the cause of life takes many forms, from voting in elections to supporting crisis pregnancy centers. It includes showing up at city council meetings and cultivating churches that are prepared to receive and care for women, children, and families in need. It means showing the love of Christ and being a neighbor.
 
Those videos were chilling. And so is the abortion clinic. The church is the body of Christ, and we can offer the world something better by opening our arms to the vulnerable.
 



(EDITOR'S NOTE – Josh Wester is director of stategic initiatives in the office of the president at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. This post first appeared at ERLC.com. Used by permission.)
1/31/2019 1:03:53 PM by Josh Wester, ERLC | with 0 comments



Teach our children

January 30 2019 by Christian Phan

Frederick Douglass was an African American who escaped from slavery and became a leader of the abolitionist movement, saying that “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
 

God wants us to teach our children about His Word and to train our children in becoming Christ’s disciples. These Bible verses underscore that teaching children about God’s Word is an important thing to do:
 
– “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
 
– “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
 
Children like to learn the Word of God and want to discover His plan for their future. Teaching children the Word of God is the only way of leading them to receive eternal life (2 Timothy 3:15, Romans 10:17), helping them to know God’s plan for their life (Psalm 119:1-2, Proverbs 3:5-6), showing them how to follow Christ (Matthew 28:20, Psalm 19:7-11), and guiding them to enjoy everyday life with God (Jeremiah 15:16, Psalm 119:9-16).
 
Because it is so important to train and shape children, God has given them the capacity to receive and understand spiritual truths from an early age. They have a great ability to remember stories, Bible verses and songs. Children like to discover and learn new things. We must do our best every day to help them know God more clearly, to love God more dearly, and to serve God more wholeheartedly. We want to see children to grow mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
 
The thing that was most enjoyable for me in 2018 was teaching basic theology lessons to the children of my church on Friday nights. We focused on the Bible, God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, angels, Satan, demons, humanity, salvation, heaven and hell.
 
Together, let us train our children to become Christ’s disciples.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Christian Phan is the founder and senior pastor of Agape Baptist Church in Renton, Wash.)

1/30/2019 9:58:35 AM by Christian Phan | with 0 comments



Seeing Jesus in the Holy Land

January 28 2019 by Redunda Noble

Our family recently returned from spending a week in Israel. It wasn’t my first time visiting the Holy Land, but it felt like it. Honestly, I could visit Israel a hundred times and each time it would feel like the first. It’s a special place to unplug from my hectic routine and spend time with Jesus.
 

Submitted photo
"Jesus walked the streets of Israel, calling men and women to repent," Redunda Noble writes of a recent trip to Israel in which she sought "to learn as much as possible about Jesus in the place where He lived, preached, healed and ministered."

I am always awestruck by how beautiful and peaceful the land is. You always hear news about wars and bombings in Israel. But as we traveled with our tour group, I saw God’s promise fulfilled to provide His people with a land flowing with milk and honey. I saw a blessed land with blessed people.
 
On this trip, though, I made a conscious effort not to act like a tourist. I was on a mission.
 
I wanted to learn as much as possible about Jesus in the place where He lived, preached, healed and ministered. I never left the tour group, but I removed every possible distraction from my mind. I kept my cellphone on airplane mode. I designated our son and daughter as trip photographers. I left my backpack and purse on the tour bus. I didn’t want the burden of a heavy load. I desperately wanted to hear God’s still small voice and see what He wanted me to see.
 
Once I made the decision to shut out the world, I began to see Jesus – obviously not with physical eyes, but as I read scripture and visited each site. I saw Jesus being baptized in the Jordan. I saw Jesus in the quiet solitude of the Galilean countryside. I saw Jesus on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. I saw Jesus feeding the five thousand and preaching the Beatitudes. I saw Him overturning the moneychangers’ tables at the temple. Everywhere I went, I saw Jesus.
 
On the last day of our tour we visited the Garden of Gethsemane. I saw where Jesus prayed with His disciples before He was betrayed by Judas. I saw where He was tried and condemned to death at the hands of Pilate and the Jewish leaders. I could see Jesus hanging on the cross at Golgotha.
 
That’s when it hit me: Many people who spent time with Jesus never truly recognized who He was.
 
Countless people witnessed Jesus’ miracles while He was on earth. He taught them, fed them, healed them and blessed them, but many of those same people never fully trusted in Him. Jesus walked the streets of Israel, calling men and women to repent. He called twelve men to be His disciples. Judas was one of them, and yet, after three years with Jesus, he also failed to recognize Him as Messiah.
 
Many people living in Israel today are still looking for the Messiah, not recognizing that Jesus the Messiah has already come, and it left me overcome with grief.
 
My grief, however, turned to overwhelming joy when we visited the Garden Tomb. While standing in line to view the tomb, I saw crowds behind me. They all wanted to see inside. When I reached the front of the line and looked in the tomb, I saw that it was empty. It will forever be empty because God raised Jesus from the grave. Hallelujah!
 
I walked away smiling at the thought of how the knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection still makes throngs of people take pilgrimages to the Holy Land year after year. We peek inside a tomb we already know is empty. But that empty tomb reminds us that Jesus is Lord. It is a constant source of comfort for millions who visit. I personally met Asians, Africans, Europeans, Latin Americans and others from different parts of the world. They all come because they recognize who Jesus is. They come because Jesus is their Savior.
 
Many people today still do not recognize who Jesus is. They want the miracles, blessings and favor He gives but do not fully see Him as their Lord. Many refuse to shut out the world to diligently seek Him. Others want help, hope and healing, but reject His offer of salvation. “He came to his own,” the Bible tells us in John 1:11 (CSB), “and his own people did not receive him.” Do you recognize who Jesus is? Are you willing to receive and acknowledge Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
 
His own people did not recognize or accept Him. That fact is true. But we still have hope. As we continue reading to John 1:12, we find these words: “But to all who did receive Him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name.” My prayer is that you will recognize Jesus today.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Redunda Noble is a writer in Anderson, S.C., where her husband James is assistant professor of pastoral ministry and interim vice president for diversity and inclusion at Anderson University.)

1/28/2019 11:06:21 AM by Redunda Noble | with 0 comments



Who’s your Waffle House waitress?

January 25 2019 by Lee Clamp

You never know who you may run into at a Waffle House.
 
“What’s your name?” I asked our waitress as she gave us our menus. “Misty,” she said. We began to talk a little as I ordered a couple of eggs, and then I asked her how I could pray for her.
 

Our waitress looked at me with a puzzled expression and said, “Unspoken request.”
 
As Misty waited on us throughout the meal, I found out about her life and her church background. She had attended church in the past when she was in school. I talked with her about Jesus and asked her what she thought of Him. Then she said something profound.
 
“The Jesus I learned about in church seemed to love people a lot more than the church people I encountered.”
 
I told her I appreciated her being honest and agreed with her that Jesus did love people a lot more than we do. In fact, He loved them to even die for them.
 
I gave her my credit card to pay and encouraged her to give church a try again. I invited her to the church of a friend who lived near the Waffle House. She said, “I work every Sunday morning.”
 
A few minutes later, Misty came back to the table with a startled look on her face. “You’re Lee Clamp!” she blurted out. “I just Googled your name. You were my camp pastor at Summersalt youth camp when I was in middle school! That’s weird, isn’t it? I shouldn’t have told you I Googled your name.”
 
I sure was glad I was nice. We finished up our conversation, and I encouraged her to continue to seek the truth of Jesus.
 
If Misty is going to be discipled and cross over from death to life, it may need to happen at a Waffle House with a group of ladies who decide to meet her there at a time other than Sunday morning.
 
We will never saturate every life with the gospel unless the church goes outside the walls. We also must customize our disciple-making strategies. Our current strategy of Sunday morning Bible study at the church may need to be expanded to church-on-location.
 
Whose name might you have missed this week? Sometimes it’s hard to slow down enough to notice people. Maybe you need to go back and start a conversation. Who knows? They may already know you.

1/25/2019 1:05:04 PM by Lee Clamp | with 0 comments



When People Cheer Abortion

January 24 2019 by Russell Moore

Many were alarmed and dispirited by footage this week of raucous cheering in the New York State Senate chamber. The “Happy Days Are Here Again” sort of celebration wasn’t for a bill to guarantee health care or repair roads or to reform the government. The applause and laughter was instead for a bill to remove any protections as persons from unborn children at any stage of pregnancy. While this video does indeed tell us much about the culture in which we live right now, I actually think another piece of footage tells us more.
 
A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of a video series in which children ask questions of an adult. One episode featured an adult who was a mortician, for instance, in order to talk about death and grieving. This particular episode was a conversation between children and a woman who has had an abortion. What struck me the most is that it was a kind of Sunday school.
 


ERLC Photo
Russell Moore

As someone who believes strongly in Sunday school, I’ve always bristled at the use of the term “Sunday school answer.” I get what the term is meant to imply: a shallow, surface-level answer that is given by children because they know what the adults around them expect. An old pulpit cliché would often talk about the Sunday school teacher who, about to tell a story about a squirrel, asked children what was furry, with a bushy tale, climbed trees, and stored up nuts for the winter. One child is said to have replied, “I know the answer is ‘Jesus,’ but I’m just trying to figure out how to get there.” The point of the cliché is that there’s a real answer, but then there’s the answer one is supposed to give.
 
That’s what appears to have happened in this interview between the abortion-rights activist and the children. The children seem to be trying to give the “right” answer. One says that abortion is okay, as long as it for “good reasons.” This answer is obviously the wrong one, as the adult seems to chastise him for differentiating between “good” reasons and “bad” reasons. Children keep using the word “baby” in reference to the “choice” that abortion is supposed to be about. The activist, whenever encountering some moral hesitation about abortion, asks the children whether their families are religious, as if to explain some irrational repression. The children seem to be trying to find what it is the adults want them to say, but there are some moral realities they can’t help but bump into along the way.
 
That’s both the good news and the bad news for those of us who believe in human dignity and the protection of human life, regardless of age, size, or vulnerability. In order to see the realities around us, we must have a thick Augustinian vision of both human createdness and human fallenness.
 
The fallen nature of humanity is evident. Who could cheer the potential to stop the beating hearts of children who are, in some cases, just weeks away from birth? And the closer one gets to the issue, the more one sees just how blinded by injustice people can get. Some who claim to be about protecting the weak from the strong are able to nonetheless completely ignore those, the unborn, who are politically unpopular in their tribe. And others, who are allegedly “pro-life,” are sometimes viciously antagonistic to the lives of others who are similarly politically unpopular in their mirror-image political tribes. The culture of death means that life is valued in terms of its power, and that is far deeper, and more dangerous, than just a momentary culture war.
 
If all we could see was the psychic wreckage of the Fall, we would be tempted toward despair, not only about justice for the unborn but about every aspect of the call for justice for the weak, a call for justice mandated by the life of Christ himself (Psalm 72:1-14). But the Fall is not the end of the story, nor is it the beginning.
 
People are created in the image of God, endowed not only with certain unalienable rights, as Mr. Jefferson correctly put it, but also with consciences that, in moments when not protected by the sin nature, can perceive the goodness of creation and the inevitability of judgment (Romans 2:15-16). We speak about those the world doesn’t want to hear about – whether they are unborn children or abused women or neglected elderly or scapegoated migrants – not because we are “winning” on the issue at the moment, but because we must speak, conscience to conscience, with Judgment Day in view.
 
A sense of God’s creation keeps us from despair. A sense of the human Fall keeps us from triumphalism. In holding both together, we see the City of God and the City of Man together, one hurtling toward death, but the other Marching to Zion. Some of the consciences cheering on abortion, or slavery, or racism, or a multitude of other ghastly injustices may well be turned around, and may in good time lead in the cause of life and dignity and justice. Others will not. But whether we “win” or “lose” in the short-term, we see the full picture. We know, as Father Zosima put it in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, “Your work is for the whole; your deed is for the future.”
 
The pro-life, pro-human dignity work is a long arc, and the more people know what we are talking about, the more will oppose it. We speak still, and, ultimately, we win. I suppose what I mean to write here is a Sunday school answer, one that is both true and beautiful.
 
I know the answer is “Jesus.” We’re just watching to see how to get there.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article was originally published at russellmoore.com. Reprinted by permission.)

1/24/2019 12:02:43 PM by Russell Moore | with 0 comments



The most difficult journey

January 23 2019 by Keith Shorter

When the phone rings at 4:30 a.m., it’s rarely good news. I picked up the phone and heard a familiar voice – my brother Larry.
 

“Keith, this is Larry. I’m calling to tell you goodbye. The doctors say I’m not going to make it.”
 
My wife and I were at a pastors’ conference in Jacksonville, Fla. We got up, packed our things and headed to Duke University Medical Center, not knowing if we would get there in time.
 
Throughout the day as we traveled, I kept getting calls from Larry’s daughters and wife.
 
“Are you guys getting close? Well, hurry.” Then an hour or two later, “Are you guys getting close? Get here as fast as you can.” Each time they sounded a little more anxious than the last.
 
When I finally walked into Larry’s room that evening, I was grateful that we had a chance to talk for a few minutes and say our goodbyes. Within an hour or so, he was in the presence of Jesus.
 
Anniversaries are usually happy occasions – unless it is the anniversary of someone’s death. Jan. 26 of this year will mark the one-year anniversary of Larry’s passing. It’s still hard to believe that this special man is gone.
 
If you have lost someone you loved and are facing the anniversary of their death in 2019, my heart goes out to you. Your loss is real, and your life is different than it used to be.
 
This year those days that used to be special, like holidays and birthdays, can be emotional landmines. I call it “the year of firsts.” That first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first birthday without your loved one can be especially difficult to get through. Prepare yourself ahead of time for the grief that will come gushing out on those days. Read your Bible and draw strength from it. Try to end the day by thanking God for the time that you did have with that special person.
 
If your loved one was a Christian, may I remind you of an obvious but important truth that may help you: They are no longer with you but the God they served still is. The psalmist David wrote this special promise in Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.
 
If you are a parent, you probably have run to the side of a child who has fallen and is crying. You don’t turn away from them in those painful times, you are drawn to them. You want to help them because they are hurting. So does God. Your loving heavenly Father is drawn to the brokenhearted.
 
Nothing hurts like losing someone you love. Losing a spouse, a child or a parent, or grandparent can leave an ache inside you that can feel as if a piece of you is missing.
 
In those days when your house seems empty and your heart is hurting, remember that God is near. Death separates us from those we love, but it never separates us from the One who loves us most.
 
Grief is likely the most difficult journey you will ever take. Thankfully, when you know Jesus, you never walk that road alone.
 
Recently in church, we were singing one of my favorite songs. I began to think of my brother Larry as we sang. Tears trickled down my cheeks when we got to the chorus:
 
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

1/23/2019 10:38:15 AM by Keith Shorter | with 0 comments



Little school casts a big shadow

January 22 2019 by Steve Scoggins

One out of five Southern Baptist pastors in North Carolina have attended a little school hidden in the mountains near Hendersonville, N.C. Many South Carolina pastors also came from this little school. That place is Fruitland Baptist Bible College.
 

Fruitland is a two-year school that was created to train people for future ministry. It offers an associate’s degree in religion/Christian ministries.
 
I have taught at Fruitland off and on since 1993. I consider it one of the greatest privileges of my life to teach these men and women who will serve in ministry. Why have so many chosen to attend this school, and why does it have such a positive impact on so many lives?
 
Fruitland has had great leadership. I have served under four presidents. David Horton, our current president, continues the tradition of exceptional leadership for our school. The level of commitment to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina can be seen in the fact that three former presidents of the state convention, as well as our current president, teach there.
 
Academically, the faculty is more than equal to the task. Each one has at least a master’s degree and many have doctoral degrees as well. We have arrangements with schools such as the College at Southeastern in Wake Forest and North Greenville University to accept our student’s course work toward a bachelor’s degree. Southeastern has expressed its pleasure with the quality of students we send them.
 
Fruitland is amazingly inexpensive in its tuition and fees. A student can take a full load of 16 hours for less than $600 total tuition for each quarter.
 
That is less than the cost of one class at most colleges. The cost of room, board, tuition and books together is around $1,800 a quarter. 
 
How can Fruitland offer a great biblically based education that trains ministers at such a low price? Two reasons:

  • Because of your support through the Cooperative Program; and,

  • Because most of the faculty teach one day per week, receiving only small part time salaries.

There is more to Fruitland than just the courses that are taught. The camaraderie that is felt among the students is something you have to experience to understand. Our students grow close to each other and develop friendships that last for life. They pray together and worship together in a daily chapel experience. This is unashamedly a strong Christian school.
 
One other factor that makes us unique is the fact that the majority of teachers are people who serve as pastors during the week.
 
Students are being taught by people who preach every week, visit their people in the hospitals, do funerals and are a part of the “real world” of Christian work. What the students receive is not just academic theory, but truths that have been proven in the life of local churches.
 
If you are looking for a place to grow in the Lord and train for future ministry, or if you are looking for a place to send those who are called to ministry in your churches, please consider Fruitland Baptist Bible College.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Steve Scoggins is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)

1/22/2019 10:23:42 AM by Steve Scoggins | with 1 comments



WMU-NC celebrates Camp Mundo Vista’s 50th anniversary

January 21 2019 by Allison L. Markwood

Where is your perfect place to get away and reconnect with God? In what sacred spaces have you heard His voice and responded to His calling? Where has God trained you for the ministry you are a part of each and every day?
 

For many women across North Carolina, this space is Camp Mundo Vista. A small plot of land on a mountaintop near Asheboro, Camp Mundo Vista has impacted the world, and this year celebrates 50 years of being a training ground for women in missions and ministry!
 
Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) established Camp Mundo Vista in 1969 as a Girls in Action (GA) camp where girls could come for a week during the summer to escape everyday life, encounter God, interact with missionaries and learn to listen for God’s calling on their lives. The women of WMU-NC knew many missionaries had surrendered to God’s call at camps such as this, and they wanted to provide that opportunity for girls in North Carolina. As Sara Ann Hobbs, one of the original dreamers of Camp Mundo Vista, said in her dedication speech in June 1969, “we ... aim to develop that heart sensitivity to the voice of God that makes it easy for Him to be heard and makes it imperative that He be followed.”
 
In the past 50 years, God has certainly fulfilled this original dream for the camp! Today, there are missionaries who have served in many places around the world who trace their callings back to Camp Mundo Vista.

Kimberley Johnson, staff member from 1987-1991, recalls, “I answered God’s call into missions sitting on a rock in Unit 2 during my quiet time. God sent me to Bogota, Colombia, to serve with the [International Mission Board] International Service Corps.”
 
Martha, who was on staff in 1996 and who took her daughter to Mother-Daughter camp several years ago said, “Camp Mundo Vista encouraged my own daughter to pray about God’s leading of missions in her future and planted the seed for a mission opportunity for us to experience together.” After staying in contact with the missionary they had met at camp that summer, Martha and her daughter traveled to Thailand last year to help host medical clinics.
 
For every woman who has served internationally or become a career missionary, there have been hundreds of others who have dedicated their lives to the Lord at Camp Mundo Vista and chosen to live on mission every day because of their time there.
 
Though initially just for GA camps, Camp Mundo Vista developed into so much more. In the off-season, different organizations hold meetings there, and WMU-NC utilizes the facilities for retreats and trainings. There have been specific events for minister’s wives, military wives, teenagers, college students, missionary kids, and many other groups. One especially meaningful tradition at Camp Mundo Vista each year is the retreat for women incarcerated in the N.C. prison system. God has moved through this retreat in mighty ways by reminding inmates, counselors and volunteers alike of His grace for each of us and by restoring lives to Him.
 
Over the past 50 years, Camp Mundo Vista has undergone many changes. The facilities have been updated, the pathway to the Outdoor Chapel is now paved, and there is a new zipline among many other things.
 
Though much is different, God’s presence is still tangible, the mission is still the same, and the view is still breathtaking. Though you physically look out on a small forest, at Camp Mundo Vista your heart begins viewing the world through God’s eyes.
 
There is much to celebrate, and WMU-NC wants you to be part of this historic year! Here are four ways you can join Camp Mundo Vista’s awesome story:

  • On June 1, 2019, WMU-NC will host a 50th anniversary celebration and a reunion for all former camp staff. If you worked at Camp Mundo Vista, please come celebrate with us. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime event to worship with your Mundo sisters! Please check out MundoReunion.com and register today!

  • Another great way to get involved is to make Camp Mundo Vista part of your children’s ministry at your church. WMU-NC is hosting a one-day missions event for boys and girls on March 9, and preparations are already underway for a fantastic girls’ camp and mother-daughter camp this summer. Spots fill up quickly, so visit wmunc.org and make your reservations today.

  • Please also consider giving a gift in honor of Camp Mundo Vista’s anniversary to the Heck-Jones Offering, which funds WMU-NC and all its events. Visit wmunc.org for more information about the offering and to give online.

  • Finally, please celebrate with us by praising God for all He has done at and through Camp Mundo Vista, and by praying for His continued blessings for another 50 years.

 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Allison L. Markwood is the assistant recording secretary for Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina and formerly served on the camp staff at Camp Mundo Vista. She attends Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro.)

1/21/2019 4:22:13 PM by Allison L. Markwood | with 0 comments



Count the sheep

January 17 2019 by David Jeremiah

The late-1960s TV comedy “Get Smart” featured a lovable, bumbling secret agent, Maxwell Smart, and his partner, Agent 99. Agent 99 was smart and classy, yet humble, and was always there to rescue Smart when he bumbled himself into a predicament.
 

Although Maxwell Smart was the comedic star of the show who always managed to blow his cover and reveal his presence to the enemy, Agent 99 was the true secret agent who got the job done in a professional way.
 
I want to use this image to ask you to become a different kind of agent: God’s “Seekret” Agent.
 
The number 99 plays a notable role in one of Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:1-7). Jesus introduces us to a shepherd who has a flock of 100 sheep. When he counts his flock, he discovers one is missing. So he leaves the 99 sheep and goes in search of the one lost sheep.
 
God wants each of us to be that kind of “Seekret” Agent who is continually aware of the need to seek out those lost sheep that have not yet made it into the sheepfold of God’s safety and salvation.
 
Two important lessons can be drawn from the parable of the lost sheep. It is not just a parable about evangelism. It is also a parable about the value of every lost soul, regardless of who they are, how far they have wandered away, and what effort might be required to bring them back.
 
It would be wrong to apply this parable only to your middle-class neighbor who does not yet know Jesus Christ. While that neighbor represents a lost sheep who needs to be found, there are other sheep that will require a different kind of effort on our part to reach. They are the ones for whom Seekret Agents are required to do their most skillful, prayerful work so that they might be found.
 
Jesus told the parable of the one lost sheep because the Pharisees and scribes were criticizing Him for eating with the most despised sinners in their culture. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day regarded despised sinners as having no value. They were so far from God that trying to rehabilitate them via the law of Moses was out of the question.
 
Yet Jesus placed Himself right in their midst. Every lost sheep has value to God. And, it appears that the farther away a lost sheep has wandered, the more rejoicing there is when it is found! That would have been complete heresy to the religious leaders to whom Jesus spoke the parable.
 
If you want to become one of God’s Seekret Agents, you must be willing to:
 
1. Count the sheep. When Jesus looked out upon humanity, His heart was broken. If we have no sense of where people are spiritually, how can we have a burden for seeking the ones who are lost?
 
2. Value the sheep. The religious leaders of the day saw no point in reaching out to “sinners.” But Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). If we are willing to reach out to a nice neighbor but not a hated or disrespected person, then we cannot be a Seekret Agent for God.
 
3. Seek the sheep. Since the religious leaders wouldn’t allow sinners into their community, Jesus left “religion” and went to find the lost sheep. God’s Seekret Agents have to be willing to go where the lost sheep are, often outside the boundaries of organized religion.
 
If we are to defeat the chaos that Satan has brought into our world, we will have to become agents of God who seek the lost. It’s what Jesus did. And it’s what He expects us to do as well.

1/17/2019 9:16:56 AM by David Jeremiah | with 0 comments



Your forever family

January 15 2019 by Shane Pruitt, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

It’s way too easy to find blogs, articles and books on “what’s wrong with the church” – ways she has fallen short of what God has called her to be and what changes she needs to make to attract and keep the next generation.
 

And, you know what? I’ve written several of them myself. As the church, we should always strive to be better in reaching our neighbors and the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
However, what about the things that are right with the church? Thankfully, the Word of God is effective at clearly pointing out what is beautiful about the body of Christ.
 
Let’s step back, take a deep breath and be reminded about what’s right with the church.
 

The church is your forever family.

 
We can all be guilty of mentally removing ourselves from the church universal or the church local. But you can’t forget that if you have been bought by the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives in you, you are the church. You will always be a part of it, even when you try to run from it.
 
When God saved you, He saved you into a family. In fact, some people are closer to their spiritual family than they are their physical family. The church is God’s answer to loneliness. As the church, you get to laugh together and cry together. You get to rejoice together and mourn together. The most beautiful word in it all is “together.” Just like with your physical family, you may get annoyed, frustrated and angered by your spiritual family. However, we don’t run and abandon them. We press in, love them and serve them.
 
As we read in Ephesians 2:19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
 

Besides the Holy Spirit, there is no greater force in the world.

 
When the church is unified and mobilized, nothing can prevail against her. When it comes to responding to disasters, sex slavery, orphan care and basically any other human need, the church is the greatest responder of them all. Do we always get it right? No. Are we late to the party sometimes? Yes. However, when the church, fueled by the Holy Spirit, rallies around a cause, the world takes notice.
 
I got to see this firsthand when one of the largest floods in U.S. history hit my home state of Texas after Hurricane Harvey. The unified church responded quickly and stayed long after the news cameras had left. In fact, they’re still working today, recovering and rebuilding.
 

The church maximizes the effectiveness of your life.

 
Every born-again follower of Jesus has been called to do three major things through the Great Commandment and the Great Commission: love God, love people and make disciples.
 
Have you ever noticed that the majority of our high calling as followers of Jesus has more to do with others than with us? We are called to love God (someone else), we are called to love people (someone else), and we are called to make disciples (someone else). And, to do this, we are given spiritual gifts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to strengthen others in the body of Christ.
 
And the more you serve, love and pour your life into others, the more joy, hope and peace you tend to have. The church isn’t an organization created to fulfill your preferences; the church is a people created to know the Lord and to serve others. It truly maximizes the effectiveness and legacy of your life.
 

The church has an awesome husband.

 
We can’t forget that the church is the bride of Christ, and what we have to say about her is taken seriously by her groom – Jesus. Imagine if folks constantly had a lot say about what’s wrong with your spouse, that he or she has lost touch with reality and is always doing things with the wrong motives and style. And if your spouse ever wants to see his or her children again, massive changes are needed to cater to those who have left or are threatening to leave. If these were the comments constantly made toward and about your spouse, it likely would be disheartening and could even cause some righteous anger.
 
Granted, there are many things wrong with us, there are changes we often need to make, and many times we miss the mark. However, there are many things right with us and good in us as the church. And the best thing about us is our husband, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He doesn’t need us, but by His grace and love He chooses to use us to do amazing things for His glory.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shane Pruitt, @shane_pruitt78, is director of evangelism for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

1/15/2019 10:10:23 AM by Shane Pruitt, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention | with 0 comments



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