June 2013

What Solomon (& Johnny Cash) can teach us about life

June 28 2013 by Allen Raynor, Baptist Press

THORNTON, Colo. – Life is filled with hurt, pain and regret. There are so many things each of us would do differently if given the opportunity to change the past. But, as we well know, time marches on and there is no going back. The best we can do is learn from the past and try to avoid making the same mistakes again.

It makes no difference whether a person is a prince or a pauper, we face the same ultimate reality – our own mortality. The wise King Solomon had quite a bit to say about this issue as he contemplated in the book of Ecclesiastes. He compares the pursuit and accumulation of this world’s goods as “grasping for the wind/air” in Ecclesiastes 1:14. When you look at his life, it is not difficult to conclude that if happiness and satisfaction could be found in the things this world has to offer, then Solomon would have been the happiest man who ever lived. When it came to wealth, he was rich beyond measure. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He had the utmost in power, position, wisdom and influence. If ultimate satisfaction could have been achieved through the things of this life, Solomon would have certainly possessed it in abundance. 

Singer and songwriter Johnny Cash was one of the most legendary music and cultural icons of the 20th century He sold millions of albums, had multiple number one hits, and even his own television show for a while. He possessed all the wealth and fame that goes with such great accomplishments. But, on Sept. 12, 2003, Johnny Cash died. In just one instant all that he had accumulated over his 70-plus years was left to someone else. Illness and death should not be among earth’s surprises but these tend to shock, nevertheless. 

Cash seemed to have a perspective that most do not. He had traveled a long way with God over his years from the depths of drug and alcohol abuse, a failed marriage, and a Christ-haunted existence, until ultimately coming to peace with God in mid-life. Later, as his death drew near, he recorded and released a song that became something of a strange capstone to his stellar career. Stricken by this time with diabetes, Parkinson’s, and other maladies, he recorded a song simply called “Hurt,” which was his adaptation of a 1994 song by Nine Inch Nails.

Cash alludes through his personalization of this song that he is at the point in his existence where he questions if he still has the ability to feel. Pain assuredly has now become his focus, and the only thing that hardly seems real. Trying to forget the past becomes something of a curse to his mind as he “remembers everything.” He asks rhetorically “What have I become?” As he reflects, “Everyone I know goes away in the end.” Certainly he had lost friends and loved ones. He even lived long enough to experience the painful death of his beloved wife June. 

Cash sings, “You could have it all,” which indeed, he must have felt that he did. Interestingly he sings of his “empire of dirt.” Indeed this will “let you down” in the end. He sings “I wear this crown of thorns” an obvious allusion to his identifying with Christ and to the fact that He matters when we do not and that life can only be truly understood in the context of the certainty of earthly death juxtaposed with the hope of eternal life through Christ. 

Solomon concluded the book of Ecclesiastes by writing, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments. For this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). I believe Cash sought to convey that, as human strength fades and ultimately fails, the dependence upon the person of Christ must grow stronger. He reflects that “If I could start again a million miles away I would keep myself, I would find a way.” I believe he is expressing his belief he had lost himself somewhere along the way; that he had sold out to a multitude of earthly pleasures and pursuits, plus the expectations and demands of others upon him when, in the end, it should have been exclusively about Christ.

We can certainly enjoy the things God has given, but what are the most important things to you? The simplest things in life are best. I would, quite frankly, rather spend an evening with my wife and kids than go on an expensive cruise. I would truly rather open the Bible and read than spend time watching a multi-million dollar Hollywood production. I would rather spend an evening talking and laughing with friends over dinner than to vacation in the world’s most exotic places. 

When people are near death, they prefer close family and friends around. They do not ask for big and important things, but rather the simple (a glass of water, a squeeze of the hand, a prayer, and maybe a smile). The gentle comfort of a loved one means more than if the president of the United States were to call on the phone. I believe Cash, by the end of his life, wished he had not wasted so many years chasing after the things most people spend their lives pursuing. In the end, many are left with emptiness. 

Jim Elliot, the slain South American missionary of the 1950s, said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Scripture is clear: It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that comes judgment (Hebrews 9:17). How much better our lives might be if we discovered this truth sooner, rather than later. May we all learn from those who have lived and died before.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Allen Raynor is interim pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Bailey, Colo. He previously served at churches in Oklahoma, Missouri and Colorado.) 
6/28/2013 2:53:50 PM by Allen Raynor, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Why gay marriage is good & bad for the church

June 28 2013 by Trevin Wax, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Christians believe marriage is defined by God and recognized by government. But many today believe marriage is defined by government and must be recognized by all.

For this reason, I’m not optimistic about the trends concerning marriage and family in the United States after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage rulings on June 26. Neither am I sure of what all this means for those who, in good conscience, stand against the tide.

But I am optimistic about the church of Jesus Christ. We’ve been through societal transformations before, and we’re sure to go through them again.

The conversion of Constantine to Christianity in 313 A.D., for example, was certainly good for the church. (We didn’t have to worry about being fed to the lions in the Coliseum anymore.) But many aspects of the church/state marriage turned out to be bad for the church. (True Christianity suffered under the weight of the state’s corrupting power.) Some see the positive aspects of that fourth-century societal transformation as far outweighing the bad (author/theologian Peter Leithart, for example), while others see the bad far outweighing the good (theologian/ethicist Stanley Hauerwas). The truth is, Constantine’s conversion was both good and bad for the church.

Now let’s turn to our society’s redefinition of marriage. If we truly believe Romans 8:28 that somehow, in some way, God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, then even when the culture swerves in an opposing direction, we ought to expect both benefits and challenges.

Among them:

1. The loss of a culture of marriage

Riding on a bus last week, I struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me. He told me he worked for the government, was in his early 20s and his wife was finishing her last year of college. Right away, I thought to myself: They must be Christians. Further conversation proved my hunch was right. How did I know? Easy. Few people get married when they’re in their early 20s and still in school. Couples either live together or postpone marriage until they’ve settled into a career. A 22-year-old with a ring on his finger might as well have been carrying a Bible.

Not long ago, a friend who lives in D.C. told me that whenever he sees a young father and mother pushing a stroller with a couple of kids, he immediately thinks they must be Christians. Why? “There just aren’t a lot of intact families in our area. When you see one, you just assume they’re religious.”

Now, I recognize that traditional family values do not equal biblical Christianity. Plenty of folks from other religions see marriage as the cornerstone of civilization (including Mormons, Orthodox Jews and Muslims).

But these two examples give us a window into the future of marriage and family in North America. The picture of a man and woman who wait until their wedding night to consummate their relationship and then remain committed for 40, 50, even 60 years as they grow in their love for each other and raise their kids and enjoy their grandkids simply isn’t the norm anymore. It’s likely that churches will be one of the few places you’ll find people married more than 60 years.

The arrival of same-sex marriage is just the next train stop on a journey that began with the proliferation of birth control in the 1950s and 1960s. When pleasure and reproduction were divorced from a holistic understanding of sex, the idea that sexual expression and childrearing should be reserved for the committed relationship of a husband and wife began to disappear. Add the abortion culture of the 1970s, the establishment of no-fault divorce, an increase in single moms and deadbeat dads and the rise of reproductive technologies, and it’s no wonder that people today don’t think of marriage as a central institution for bringing new life into the world but instead as an emotional and sexual union of two partners.

The bad news: When you look at other countries that legalized same-sex marriage decades ago, you notice a dramatic reduction in the number of people getting married. In all likelihood, we will soon resemble our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world: We will stand out for being the very thing that our grandparents would have thought ordinary. One of God’s greatest gifts to us in common grace (the institution of marriage) will be disregarded, leading to a number of societal ills and further breakdown of the family.

The good news: In our churches, we have the opportunity to show the world a better way. To show the world what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like. To show the world the difference between a covenant and a contract, the difference between commitment based on feeling and a covenant based on faith.

The absence of a marriage culture will make biblical marriage stand out all the more. We’ll be ordinary oddballs. So let’s not waste the opportunity.

2. Threats to religious liberty

One of the concerns of the religious community about legalizing same-sex marriage is the potential threat to religious liberty.

The bad news: As the norm of marriage shifts, individual Christians will find themselves in situations where they face penalties for refusing to violate their conscience. We’ve already seen this take place when Christian caterers, for example, feel conflicted about taking part in a same-sex wedding. Threats to religious liberty are not good news for the church because they cause us to spend time and energy in preserving “space” for us to live according to our religious convictions without fear of reprisal.

The good news: These threats may bring about in the church a much-needed change of mindset. It’s time we recognized we are no longer the “moral majority” and embrace our identity as the “missional minority.”

My friends in Great Britain and Romania tell me it’s a noble task to serve Christ when you are clearly in the minority. Though the challenges often seem insurmountable, God’s people have the opportunity to learn how to love those who oppose us, to serve and suffer under governmental or cultural bigotry, and face hatred with respect and kindness. So let’s recognize our minority status and learn to serve those who we’re called to show God’s love.

3. The cost of conviction

When it comes to churches and denominations, we will soon see who is truly tethered to the authority of God’s Word no matter what way the wind is blowing, and who is conforming to the pattern of this world. Churches that embrace the new definition of marriage will show themselves to be in step with contemporary society and radically out of step with the Christian church for 2,000 years.

The bad news: Being a convictional Christian, especially in matters related to sexuality, morality and marriage, likely will mean the loss of cultural clout and respectability. We will pay a personal and social cost for our beliefs, and we need to be prepared.

The good news: Sociologist Rodney Stark has shown that one of the most powerful engines of early church growth was the fact that membership cost something. Why? For one, paying a social cost tends to screen out those who would fain religiosity in order to receive respect from society. Also, knowing you are the minority and may be ostracized for your views increases the level of commitment and participation of those who follow Christ.

The evangelical witness may be leaner in numbers in coming years, but the upside is that the witness may be even more potent. The gospel of God’s love in Christ is no less powerful in 21st-century America than in first-century Rome.

So, let’s love God, love our neighbors (even those with whom we respectfully disagree) and remember the good news that in God’s law court, all who repent and believe in Christ have the verdict of “justified” pronounced over them. And there’s no court on earth that can overturn that.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Trevin Wax is an editor at LifeWay Christian Resources who blogs at theGospelCoalition.org.)
6/28/2013 2:50:33 PM by Trevin Wax, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

How should same-sex marriage change the church’s witness?

June 27 2013 by Russell D. Moore, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has now ruled on two monumental marriage cases, and the legal and cultural landscape has changed in this country.

The court voted to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and remand the decision of the Ninth Circuit in the Proposition 8 case, holding that California’s Proposition 8 defenders didn’t have standing. The Defense of Marriage Act decision, meanwhile, used rather sweeping language about equal protection and human dignity as they apply to the recognition of same-sex unions.

But what has changed for us, for our churches, and our witness to the gospel?

In one sense, nothing. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is calling the cosmos toward His Kingdom, and He will ultimately be Lord indeed. Regardless of what happens with marriage, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That’s why it rocketed out of the first century from places such as Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which were hardly Mayberry.

In another sense, though, the marginalization of conjugal marriage in American culture has profound implications for our gospel witness.

First of all, marriage isn’t incidental to gospel preaching. There’s a reason why persons don’t split apart like amoebas. We were all conceived in the union between a man and a woman. Beyond the natural reality, the gospel tells us there’s a cosmic mystery (Ephesians 5:32).

God designed the one-flesh union of marriage as an embedded icon of the union between Christ and His church. Marriage and sexuality, among the most powerful pulls in human existence, are designed to train humanity to recognize, in the fullness of time, what it means for Jesus to be one with His church, as a head with a body.

Same-sex marriage is on the march, even apart from these decisions, and is headed to your community, regardless of whether you are sitting where I am right now, on Capitol Hill, or in a rural hamlet in southwest Georgia or eastern Idaho. This is an opportunity for gospel witness.

For a long time in American culture, we’ve acted as though we could assume marriage. Even people from what were once called “broken homes” could watch stable marriages on television or movies. Boys and girls mostly assumed they had a wedding in their futures. As marriage is redefined, these assumptions will change. Let’s not wring our hands about that.

This gives Christian churches the opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place. Permanent, stable marriages with families with both a mother and a father may well make us seem freakish in 21st-century culture. But is there anything more “freakish” than a crucified cosmic ruler? Is there anything more “freakish” than a gospel that can forgive rebels like us and make us sons and daughters? Let’s embrace the freakishness, and crucify our illusions of a moral majority.

That means that we must repent of our pathetic marriage cultures within the church. For too long, we’ve refused to discipline a divorce culture that has ravaged our cultures. For too long, we’ve quieted our voices on the biblical witness of the distinctive missions of fathers and mothers in favor of generic messages on “parenting.”

For too long, we’ve acted as though the officers of Christ’s church were justices of the peace, marrying people who have no accountability to the church, and in many cases were forbidden by scripture to marry. Just because we don’t have two brides or two grooms in front of us, that doesn’t mean we’ve been holding to biblical marriage.

The dangerous winds of religious liberty suppression means that our nominal Bible-Belt-marrying parson ways are over. Good riddance. This means we have the opportunity, by God’s grace, to take marriage as seriously as the gospel does, in a way that prompts the culture around us to ask why.

The increased attention to the question of marriage also gives us the opportunity to love our gay and lesbian neighbors as Jesus does. Some will capitulate on a Christian sexual ethic. There are always those professional “dissidents” who make a living espousing mainline Protestant shibboleths to an evangelical market. But the church will stand, and that means the gospel which Jesus has handed down through the millennia. As we stand with conviction, we don’t look at our gay and lesbian neighbors as our enemies. They are not.

The gay and lesbian people in your community aren’t part of some global “Gay Agenda” conspiracy. They aren’t super-villains in some cartoon. They are, like all of us, seeking a way that seems right to them. If we believe marriage is as resilient as Jesus says it is (Mark 10:6-9), it cannot be eradicated by a vote of justices or a vote of a state legislature. Some will be disappointed by what they thought would answer their quest for meaning. Will our churches be ready to answer?

This also means we must change the way we preach. Those with same-sex attractions, who follow Christ, will be walking away from what their families and friends want for them: wedding cake and married life and the American Dream. Following Jesus will mean taking up a cross and following a hard narrow way. It always does.

If we’re going to preach that sort of gospel, we must make it clear that this cross-bearing self-denial isn’t just for homosexually-tempted Christians. It is for all of us, because that’s what the gospel is. If your church has been preaching the American Dream, with eternal life at the end and Jesus as the means you use to get all that, you don’t have a gospel that can reach your gay and lesbian neighbors – or anyone else for that matter.

Same-sex marriage is headed for your community. This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done. It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

And that’s good news.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Russell D. Moore is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Reprinted from his Moore to the Point website, www.russellmoore.com.)

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6/27/2013 11:16:24 AM by Russell D. Moore, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Waiting on the other shoe

June 27 2013 by R. Albert Mohler Jr., Baptist Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – On the last day of its term, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled [June 26] on two same-sex marriage cases. Both are important cases, and both will go far in redefining the most basic institution of human civilization.

The court knew it was making history. A majority of the justices clearly intended to make history, and future generations will indeed remember this day. But for what?

In the first decision handed down today, the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, is unconstitutional.

Specifically, it found the federal government’s refusal to recognize a same-sex marriage that is legal in a state to be unconstitutional. The court left in place the DOMA provision that protects states from being required to recognize a same-sex union that is valid in another state.

In the Proposition 8 case, the court’s majority held that the plaintiffs in the case, representing the people of California, lacked legal standing to appeal the lower court’s decisions that found Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional.

In 2008, a majority of voters in California passed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage in that state as the union of a man and a woman, effectively overturning a California Supreme Court ruling that had legalized same-sex marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in that case today means that the decision of the Federal District Court stands, presumably meaning that same-sex marriage will be legal again in California. This is presumably the case, but not necessarily, because of disputed provisions in California law. Courts in that state will have to sort out those issues.

Of the two decisions handed down today, the DOMA decision is, by far, the most important and wide-reaching.

In the court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court has ruled that Congress was motivated by a specific moral animus against homosexual marriage and homosexual citizens when it passed DOMA. As such, the court ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional.

Is the DOMA decision a new Roe v. Wade?

It is virtually impossible to exaggerate the future impact of the DOMA decision, but it is not yet a new Roe v. Wade. Instead, it sets up a future legal challenge from any citizen in any state that does not have legal same-sex marriage. The court’s decision in that future case, surely not long in our future, will be the new Roe v. Wade – a sweeping decision that would create a new “right” that would mean the coast-to-coast legalization of same-sex marriage.

Today’s decisions do not take us there, but they take us to the precipice of that sweeping decision. That is especially true of the DOMA case.

Striking at the heart of DOMA, Justice Kennedy wrote: “The history of DOMA’s enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, a dignity conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence.”

As evidence of this judgment, Kennedy cited a document from the House of Representatives in 1996. That statement proposed that DOMA expressed “both moral disapproval of homosexuality, and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.” That document went on to state that DOMA would protect the government’s “interest in protecting the traditional moral teachings reflected in heterosexual-only marriage laws.”

In the view of five justices, that meant the death of DOMA. They ruled that the only reason that Congress passed DOMA in 1996 was because it wanted to single out same-sex couples to be denied access to marriage, and it did so on moral terms.

As Kennedy argued in his majority opinion, “The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states.” In doing so, he argued, the Congress had passed a law that “violates the due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government.”

Nevertheless, even as Justice Kennedy castigated Congress (and presumably former President Clinton) for making moral judgments, he could not resist moral judgments of his own. He wrote of our society’s “evolving understanding of the meaning of equality” and declared that the states have the right to confer on same-sex marriages “the equal dignity” of a marriage between a man and a woman.

By finding that the moral judgment of Congress in opposing same-sex marriage was wrong, he asserted, quite forcefully, that opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in animus or hatred. In other words, Justice Kennedy, joined by four other justices, believes that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong. In condemning a moral judgment, he arrogantly made a moral judgment.

While the immediate effects of the striking down of DOMA’s federal definition of marriage are not specifically clear, it does mean that the federal government will now be required to recognize any same-sex union declared to be legal in any state, extending full recognition and extending all federal marriage benefits to that same-sex marriage.

The Obama administration will have to make a myriad of decisions about how this is to be done. Interestingly, this will put President Obama, who last year “evolved” into full support for legal same-sex marriage, on the hot seat once again.

Scalia the prophet

Back in 2003, when the Supreme Court struck down all state laws against homosexuality, Justice Kennedy also wrote the majority opinion. That opinion, in the case Lawrence v. Texas, set the stage for today’s majority opinion authored by the same justice. In 2003, Justice Kennedy argued that laws restricting homosexual acts and relationships were driven by moral animus against homosexuals and homosexuality.

He acknowledged that this moral judgment is both venerable and deeply rooted in the moral traditions of Western civilization, but he condemned such laws and, writing for the majority, struck them down. He employed the very same logic today in striking down DOMA.

Back in 2003, Justice Antonin Scalia issued a scathing dissent to Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion: “Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as a formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest’ for purposes of proscribing that conduct ... what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples?”

Justice Kennedy insisted in 2003 that the Lawrence decision did not involve homosexual marriage and did not imply any necessary recognition of same-sex unions. In response, Scalia retorted: “This case ‘does not involve’ the issue of same-sex marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court.” He concluded: “Many will hope that, as this Court comfortingly assures us, this is so.”

As Justice Kennedy himself made abundantly clear today, Justice Scalia was right 10 years ago. Justice Kennedy’s protestations that the Lawrence decision did not involve same-sex marriage were wrong. It is hard to avoid the moral conclusion that he was then both intellectually dishonest and disingenuous. The decision handed down today proves Justice Scalia to have been a prophet. He told the truth, and Justice Kennedy, in his own words, has proved Scalia to have been right.

In an equally scathing dissent handed down in the DOMA case today, Scalia called the decision “jaw-dropping.” He castigated the court’s majority for usurping the democratic process and for condemning all opposition to same-sex unions as “irrational and hateful.”

Even though the court did not rule today that all states must legally recognize and allow for same-sex marriages, the handwriting is on the wall. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion implicitly invites any citizen who resides in a state that does not allow for same-sex marriage to claim that his or her constitutional rights are violated on the basis of the court’s opinion handed down today. You can count on a challenge of this form arising in short order.

As Justice Scalia noted in his dissent today, “As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.”

The court’s majority did not want to pay the political price that a decision as immediately sweeping as Roe v. Wade would have cost. Instead, the majority decided to send a clear signal that such a case will now be well-received. It struck down DOMA by employing a logic that, as Scalia noted, cannot stop with the striking down of DOMA. It can only stop with the full legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states by judicial fiat.

But wait, for there are more shoes to drop. In his opinion today, remember that Justice Kennedy wrote these crucial words: “The history of DOMA’s enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, a dignity conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence.”

What about laws against polygamy? Was Justice Kennedy even aware of just how sweeping this statement would be? Laws against polygamy were explicitly passed in order to “interfere” with the “equal dignity” of multiple-spousal marriages. Justice Kennedy’s opinion, now the court’s decision, destroys any legal argument against polygamy.

The Christian church and marriage

The Christian church does not ask the U.S. Supreme Court, or any other human court, what marriage is. Marriage is a pre-political institution defined by our Creator – for His glory and for human flourishing.

[The June 26] decisions will create serious religious liberty challenges for all churches, Christian institutions and Christian citizens in this nation. But the greatest impact of these decisions is the further marginalization and subversion of marriage. The destruction of marriage did not start recently, and it did not start with same-sex marriage, but its effects will be devastating.

Christians will have to think hard – and fast – about these issues and our proper response. We will have to learn an entire new set of missional skills as we seek to remain faithful to Christ in this fast-changing culture.

And, as warned by Justice Scalia, we do so knowing that we are waiting for the other shoes to drop.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. This column first appeared at his website, AlbertMohler.com.)

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6/27/2013 11:08:55 AM by R. Albert Mohler Jr., Baptist Press | with 0 comments

The mission remains

June 27 2013 by Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research

NASHVILLE (BP) – The largest Christian ministry devoted to helping homosexuals struggle against their attractions apologized last week to the gay community and announced it was shutting down.

Today [June 26] the Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed in 1996. The court also declined to rule on Proposition 8 from California.

In doing so, same-sex marriage recognition remains a state issue and (although this is not completely clear at this time) it appears to remain legal in California as it is in 12 other states and the District of Columbia. Also, the U.S. government will recognize the legality of those marriages with respect to federal benefits.

Needless to say, our culture is changing – quickly and dramatically – on this issue. But how should Christians respond?

Our typical response has been to post blogs, write articles and send tweets to shout about our opinion and speak out against those who differ. That’s already happening. But I’m not sure that is the best approach right now. Why? Because courts don’t determine biblical morality, and regardless of what government does, churches shouldn’t stop their mission.

The court decides what is legal and appropriate for a secular, civil government.

Our own LifeWay Research findings show that 58 percent of American adults agree same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue, and 64 percent believe the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States is inevitable. Despite evangelical Christian belief (and the beliefs of many other faiths) that homosexual activity is personally sinful, society has increasingly decided gay marriage is legally permissible.

But to an ever-increasing majority of our culture, that view is discriminatory and, ironically, they sometimes appeal to scripture for their justification. When President Obama announced his “evolution” on the issue last summer, he quoted Jesus’ Golden Rule. Proponents of same-sex marriage hold that societal change is necessary to treat others as we would like to be treated, regardless of our views of morality and sin. Christians have always taught that God’s standard and intent is one man, one woman, one marriage, for one lifetime. That position makes sense to us based on the Bible’s clear teachings.

We must realize that believing what the Bible says about sexuality will increasingly put us at odds with our culture. Pressure will continue to mount to accept a worldview rooted in cultural acceptance rather than biblical revelation. And we must prepare ourselves for the day when acceptance will not be enough – affirmation may be demanded to be a part of society.

For those Christians seeking to witness real cultural impact, our public conversation should not begin with opposition to homosexuality – but with our witness for Christ in word and in deed. We need to show grace and friendship to those who struggle while holding fast to what the Scriptures teach. Without hiding our beliefs, we need to look for opportunities to have conversations, build relationships and demonstrate grace.

For example, I was preaching at Pathway Vineyard Church in Maine on the Sunday after the state of Maine legalized gay marriage. After such a strong statement and shift in the culture around them, what did the believers there do? The same thing they did the week before: loved people, served the hurting and preached Jesus.

Maybe we should follow that example this Sunday. And next Sunday. And the next.

The mission remains

Regardless of the Supreme Court rulings, your church – as well as mine – has the same mission it did last week: We are to love people and share the Good News of Christ with them.

I know it feels like many are reeling from these court rulings. As I wrote in November, Christians are increasingly considering the reality that we might be on the losing side of the culture war. In truth, it will take weeks – and possibly months – for us to understand the full weight of this Supreme Court decision.

But we should not panic. It does not help to speak in ways that do not honor Christ. The sky is not falling. Jesus is still King and God is still sovereign.

We cling to the cross, stand on the rock and remain steadfast in the hope found only in Christ. For we alone have that hope. And it is that hope which we are commanded to share with the world, whether Christianity is the cultural norm or not.

Fifty years ago, Christians comprised the mainstream in America and were fully accepted as a cultural majority. Many during that time did not stand up for those who were weak and marginalized. The “good old days” so often longed for were also times of racial oppression, gender discrimination and theological confusion. So, pining for those “moral” days of yore is like chasing a mirage. The past simply wasn’t that great for many when Christians had more influence.

During those days, Christians preached loudly and boldly the lostness of people without Christ and the need to “get your family in church.” We railed against atheists and Hugh Hefner. They were not necessarily mad at us, but we were mad at them without apology for the lies and immorality they promoted in our world. Over the past five decades, they returned the favor, marginalizing our faith as out of touch and culturally unacceptable.

As Kingdom citizens, we are at an historic crossroads. We can either get furious at them again and perpetuate the cycle (as I am afraid some of us are already doing) or we can respond like Jesus. Our mission demands the latter.

After all, we can’t hate a people and reach a people at the same time.

If we are going to reach the world – including those who believe same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue – we must learn to love them. All of them. Not just the ones who look like us, dress like us, worship like us, believe what we do or share our cultural traditions.

So, don’t rant on Facebook. Don’t lose your temper on Twitter. Don’t rage to your neighbor or co-workers.

We can address religious liberty concerns as they come with firm resolve and Christ-like humility. Even though the playing field may have changed, the mission of God has not. We are not here to protect our ways and traditions. We exist to show the world the love of Christ and share with the world His Good News.

No election, referendum or court ruling will ever change that.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research. This column first appeared at ChristianityToday.com/EdStetzer.)

Related stories/opinions

Gay marriage prevails at Supreme Court
Marriage defenders express disappointment
Guest column: How should same-sex marriage change the church’s witness?
Guest column: Waiting on the other shoe

6/27/2013 11:02:30 AM by Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research | with 0 comments

Wanting a mom & dad – the children of same-sex couples

June 26 2013 by Eric Metaxas, Baptist Press

NEW YORK – The Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to redefine marriage – and we’re hearing a lot of claims about how well children do when they’re reared by homosexual couples. Sad to say, some of those claims are being made to the Supremes – and they are completely false.

One man who knows a little about this first-hand is Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez, who teaches at California State University at Northridge. Lopez, who says he’s bi-sexual, was raised by his lesbian mother and her partner. And while he’s for civil unions, he’s against redefining marriage.

At “Public Discourse,” a website run by the Witherspoon Institute, Lopez writes of the great professional risk he took when he and Doug Mainwaring filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court. Risky, because Lopez knows how vicious homosexual activists can sometimes be when anyone disputes their claims. Lopez is speaking out in part because he was asked to do so by others raised by same-sex partners, but who fear the repercussions of going public with their feelings.

Contrary to what the gay lobby claims, Lopez writes, children raised by same-sex parents “deeply feel the loss of a father or mother, no matter how much we love our gay parents.”

These children know they are “powerless to stop the decision to deprive them of a father or mother,” he adds. And this decision comes with serious and often permanent consequences. For instance, they “feel disconnected from the gender cues of people around them,” and long for a role model of the opposite sex.

While they love the people who raised them, they experience anger at their decision to deprive them of one or both biological parents – and “shame or guilt for resenting their loving parents.”

The so-called “consensus” by psychologists and pediatricians on the soundness of same-sex parenting is, Lopez writes, “frankly bogus.” The truth is, there is no data to support that assertion.

Instead, as political scientists Leon Kass of the University of Chicago and Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University note, “Claims that science provides support for constitutionalizing a right to same-sex marriage must rest necessarily on ideology” – and “ideology is not science.”

By contrast, we have a great deal of research proving that the best possible home for children is one led by a married mother and father. Two “fathers” and two “mothers” cannot begin to compare, because, as Professor David Popenoe of Rutgers University explains, “The two sexes are different to the core, and each is necessary – culturally and biologically – for the optimal development of a human being.”

This is more evidence that God’s plan for families – children reared by a married father and mother – is the best one. And it’s why – no matter how well-meaning homosexual couples may be – it is “unconscionable” as Lopez puts it, “to deliberately force a state of deprivation on innocent children.”

If the Supreme Court decides to ignore biological and psychological reality and redefines marriage to include homosexual couples, adoption agencies will be under even greater pressure to place children with same-sex couples. What’s best for the child – a married mother and father – will no longer matter. And more children will be left, as Lopez writes, “to clean up the mess left behind by the sexual revolution.”

Please pray with me that God will give the Supreme Court wisdom on this vitally important matter of marriage – and the courage to use it.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Eric Metaxas is an author and the voice of the Breakpoint radio commentaries. From BreakPoint, June 3, 2013, reprinted with permission of Prison Fellowship, www.breakpoint.org.)
6/26/2013 1:53:54 PM by Eric Metaxas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

10-18 hours to prepare most sermons

June 26 2013 by Thom S. Rainer, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE  – Most church members give little thought to the amount of time it takes a pastor to prepare each sermon. In reality, sermon preparation is a large portion of a pastor’s workweek. Unfortunately, this work is invisible to typical church members. They don’t realize the enormous amount of time it takes just to prepare one sermon.

I recently conducted an unscientific Twitter poll to ask pastors how much time they spend in sermon preparation. For this question I asked for the amount of preparation time for one sermon. Many pastors must prepare more than one sermon per week, so their workload to prepare to preach is even greater.

I am pleased and appreciative for the number of responses I received. Here are the results of the poll by three-hour increments:
  • 1 to 3 hours — 1 percent
  • 4 to 6 hours — 9 percent
  • 7 to 9 hours — 15 percent
  • 10 to 12 hours — 22 percent
  • 13 to 15 hours — 24 percent
  • 16 to 18 hours — 23 percent
  • 19 to 21 hours — 2 percent
  • 22 to 24 hours — 0 percent
  • 25 to 27 hours — 1 percent
  • 28 to 30 hours — 2 percent
  • 31 to 33 hours — 1 percent
The results were fascinating to me. Here are some key points I found in the study:
  • Most pastors responded with a range of hours. I took the midpoint of each range for my data.
  • 70 percent of pastors’ sermon preparation time is the narrow range of 10 to 18 hours per sermon.
  • Keep in mind that these numbers represent sermon preparation time for just one sermon. Many pastors spend 30 or more hours in preparing messages each week.
  • The median time for sermon preparation in this study is 13 hours. That means that half of the respondents gave a number under 13 hours; the other half gave a number greater than 13 hours.
  • Most of the respondents who gave a response under 12 hours indicated they were bivocational pastors.
  • If the sermon was part of a series, the pastors indicated they spent even more upfront time to develop the theme and preliminary issues for the sermons to be preached.
  • Many of the pastors are frustrated that they don’t have more time for sermon preparation.
  • A number of the pastors indicated that finding consistent and uninterrupted sermon preparation time was difficult.
Most pastors have workweeks much longer than we realize because of the invisible nature of sermon preparation. As for me, the results of this poll have caused me to pray even more fervently for my pastor. His work is long. His work is never-ending. But the work he does is vitally important.

I pray that we all will remember to pray for our pastors every day.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. This column first appeared on his website, www.ThomRainer.com.)
6/26/2013 1:52:05 PM by Thom S. Rainer, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Avoiding giving in to sin

June 25 2013 by Candi Finch, Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas – Can you think of the last time you gave in to something you know you shouldn’t have? What causes you to lose heart, give up on doing good, and give into temptation even when you know it is wrong? 

Consider Galatians 6:9: “Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.” I love this verse because of the promise it offers: In God’s time, the proper time, the harvest or the benefits of doing good will come. The results are not up to us; they are in God’s hands. We are just called to be obedient. Paul was writing to a group of Christians, and he knew that they may be tempted to give up and stop being obedient to God. He was warning them against this temptation.

I have spent some time the last couple of months meditating on what causes me to grow weary and to want to stop being obedient. Now when I say weary, I am not talking about being physically tired because of lack of sleep or something like that. The word Paul uses for “grow weary” in the Greek actually means “giving into evil.” This is a kind of spiritual weariness that causes you to want to give up on doing good and give into sin. One source even suggests this word means “losing heart and becoming a coward” because you are essentially giving up on doing what you know is right.

Ever been there? Me too. I know the good I am supposed to do, yet there are times I willingly choose to sin. That crushes and grieves me! I have become a coward because doing the good thing, doing the God thing, is too hard or the payoff isn’t immediate enough. Or, frankly, sometimes my character is just plain weak. I remember a time when I thought it would just be easier to lie rather than face the consequences of my sin, just compounding sin upon sin.

Paul understood this struggle, so he wasn’t writing to the Galatians as someone who didn’t understand the temptation or struggle. Paul faced his own struggle with doing good. In Romans 7:14-25 he talked about the spiritual battle that raged in his own life (and that rages in each of our lives), and he said in verse 19, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”

As I have been thinking about what has caused me to give into sin in the past, I have noticed several recurring patterns and symptoms. I have come up with a five-letter acrostic using the word “weary” to help us talk about those things that may cause you and me to be spiritually weary and tempted to give into evil:


Here, I actually do mean physical weariness because the truth is that there are times when I am physically tired and give in to sin more easily. If I get worn out and don’t take time for real rest, I find myself getting really impatient and short-tempered with people. Adequate sleep, along with eating properly and getting exercise, actually helps me in this. I also have found that real rest doesn’t necessarily come from inactivity – just vegging out on the couch for a couple hours in front of the TV doesn’t usually solve my problem. In some cases, it makes it worse if I end up watching junk.

Evangelism is lacking

Our one purpose for remaining on this earth after we have been saved is to go and tell other people about how to be saved and how to live the Christian life (Matthew 28:19-20). When I am sharing my faith regularly, it has a positive, energizing impact on my walk with the Lord. However, the reverse is also true; when I am not sharing my faith regularly, this is often an indication of my own spiritual weakness and weariness.

Actions replace time with God

This is the top contributor to spiritual weariness in my life. Doing ministry is never a substitute for spending time alone with God, reading His Word. In fact, there are many instances in the Bible when people were going through the motions, yet their hearts were far from God (Isaiah 29:13; Hosea 6:6). If I consider those times when I have really struggled with sin (even while being actively involved in ministry), the one common denominator is that I was not regularly spending time in God’s Word. Now, that doesn’t mean that when I do spend time with the Lord, all my temptations cease. What happens, though, is that God’s Word gives me strength to resist giving into evil (Psalm 119:11). God’s Word turns me into a courageous conqueror over sin instead of a coward who loses heart and gives into sin (Romans 8:37).

Relationships aren’t refreshing

We aren’t supposed to live the Christian life as lone rangers, yet I have done this at times. I may surround myself with people who aren’t encouraging me to run the race with endurance. I even may distance myself from my “iron sharpens iron” friends who keep me accountable. I avoid the very people who could help me not to grow weary! Over and over, Paul talked about how certain believers helped “refresh” him in his walk, literally reinvigorating him to keep doing good (Romans 15:32; 2 Timothy 1:16; Philemon 1:7). This doesn’t mean you should only surround yourself with believers, of course, because we are called to evangelize the lost. But it does mean that you need people in your life who challenge you to keep doing good, even when it is hard.

Yeast is influencing

In Galatians 5:9, Paul used a baking illustration and warned the believers that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. He was specifically talking about the impact that wrong beliefs could have on their whole life. So, by yeast, I am referring to anything that influences or infects my life. Some yeast that has negatively influenced my own life has been taking in the world’s influence through binging on TV or movies, my own wrong motives, wrong beliefs, and even unconfessed sin. When I have allowed any of those things in my life, it has caused me to grow weary. The Bible encourages us to lay aside those things which easily trip us up and cause us to sin, and instead fix our eyes on Jesus. The author of Hebrews says if we will do that, then we “will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

What about you? Be honest with yourself. What causes you to grow spiritually weary? Are there patterns that need to change so you will not be tempted to give into evil? It is not enough for us to just identify destructive symptoms, habits or patterns; we must then do something about it.

Let’s not be those Christians who act like we have it all together while we silently wallow in our sin. Find someone who will hold you accountable and encourage you and build you up to continue to do the good you know you ought to do (Hebrews 3:13, 10:24).

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Candi Finch serves as assistant professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and is nearing the end of her Ph.D. studying systematic theology. This column first appeared at BiblicalWoman.org, a blog of Southwestern Seminary.)
6/25/2013 3:22:09 PM by Candi Finch, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Iron men & the Manhattanization of Mayberry

June 25 2013 by Jeff Christopherson, Baptist Press

TORONTO – Nearly a century ago, my grandfather’s family, a large brood of tall, thin Norwegian immigrants, settled in rural South Dakota. With the promise of fertile land of their own, they, among thousands of others, migrated north to become “homesteaders” in the fertile plains of Saskatchewan.

In less than 30 years, Saskatchewan’s population swelled more than 10 times – from 90,000 in 1901 to 920,000 in 1930. Scores of families packed in Model T Fords hobbled their way down the dirt trails to find their new lives, breaking ground and planting crops in rich virgin soil. Saskatchewan, like most of North America, was largely rural.

But things have changed. We have urbanized.

Even though the total population of my home province has not significantly increased since 1930, its concentration definitely has – it too has become increasingly urban. As the last bastion of rural utopia in the minds of many, it is now considered to be more than 65 percent urban. Tucked into their subcompact cars, former farmers have migrated to the cities to provide for their families. Today’s farmers are far fewer, and their farms are much larger.

From where Model Ts once migrated out, Honda Civics are now coursing back in. More than 82 percent of North America’s people now live in cities, and the numbers continue to climb at a disquieting rate. The Mayberry we had once known and enjoyed is becoming a nostalgic memory.

Historically, evangelicalism kept up to rapid rural population trends through an inventive and necessary institution called the bivocational planter-pastor. These were iron men who farmed their own land, raised their families and sensed an overwhelming call of God on their lives to bring Good News to their neighbors.

Through the integrity of their own testimony and reputation, they formed congregations in schoolhouses, farmhouses and barns. These humble leaders did not consider themselves clerics or religious professionals – just servants and stewards of history’s Greatest News. Armed with this gospel, they planted church upon church and changed the social-spiritual landscape of North America. My great-grandfather, Christian John Christopherson, was among their number.

Today, we find ourselves in a similar moment of history. Migration patterns have led to the majority of North America’s populace living in highly concentrated groupings of ethnically diverse peoples. What once existed as an anomaly isolated in Manhattan has become our social norm. A single building holds more residents than the Mayberry many of us once called home. A sea of similar buildings surrounds this building. Cranes interrupt the skyline with the incessant construction of new high-rise buildings designed to house the burgeoning populace requiring a place to call home.

As the super-density of population increases, many of our church planting and evangelism models lose their effectiveness. The Manhattanization of North America requires a new strategy and a new kind of church planter – an iron man of a new order – one who works in the city, raises his family in the city and, with the integrity of his testimony and a clear call from King Jesus, brings Good News to the city.

Where will we find these iron men?

Fortunately for us, King Jesus has already been calling them. These heroes are resident in our cities and humbly, obediently are giving themselves away for the sake of the gospel. Without fanfare they have opened their apartments, boardrooms, local libraries and factory break rooms so that their neighbors and co-workers can experience a God of love.

Are you one of them? Let us know. Let me know. If we are going to reach our communities with the gospel in the places where the world is moving, bivocational pastor-planters will create the agile and effective mission force required for this sustainable work.

The Manhattanization of Mayberry requires these leaders.

If you believe God is calling you to bivocational church planting, please explore namb.net/mobilize-me. We want to help you.

If you are already a bivocational pastor, the North American Mission Board has resources to support and encourage your faithful service. Learn more at namb.net/bivocational-pastors.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jeff Christopherson (@Christopherson3) is a missiologist, church planting strategist and NAMB’s vice president for Canada and the Northeast regions.)
6/25/2013 3:18:38 PM by Jeff Christopherson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Praying for our Baptist headquarters

June 24 2013 by Frank S. Page, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – I love the local church. Local church ministry is in my blood. It is my calling. It is my passion.

During my report at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting on June 11, I said that the headquarters of the SBC is not in Nashville. It is not in Richmond. It is not in Alpharetta or Dallas or Louisville or Wake Forest or New Orleans or Kansas City or Mill Valley or Fort Worth.

The headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention is the local church! 

It has names like ...
  • Rock Springs, Geyer Springs, Quail Springs or Spring Hill
  • Hillcrest, Ridgecrest or Southcrest
  • Green Acres, Green Hills or Great Hills
  • Emmanuel (with an E) or Immanuel (with an I);
  • Lone Oak, Hickory Grove or Fruit Cove.
  • Chets Creek, Red Bank or Southcliff
  • Crestview, Clearview, Fairview or Longview Heights
  • Kingsland or Kingwood
  • Istrouma, Anastasia or Hibernia
and scores upon scores of First Baptist churches scattered across the nation.

It is located on busy thoroughfares and neighborhood streets of cities across the nation. It can be found at the intersection of winding roads crisscrossing the countryside. It is a storefront church in the inner city or a house church in an apartment complex. It is a gathering of bikers, cowboys or white-collar professionals. It is my church. It is your church.

I love personal evangelism. Sharing Jesus with the lost is in my blood. It is my mission. It is my passion.

I was able to get out for a few hours on Saturday afternoon during Crossover Houston and share the gospel with a precious family who did not know the Lord. Now they do. 

We conducted a lot of Convention business during those days in Houston but nothing was more important – or exciting – than this Kingdom business!

And yet, days before the annual meeting, a distressing report was released by LifeWay. Our Annual Church Profile report showed the lowest number of baptisms reported by our churches since the 1940s! While the percentage of churches that actually submit an annual church profile is on the decline (only about 82 percent this year), the evangelistic effectiveness this statistical snapshot shows is definitely a cause for concern.

I have pulled together some sad figures. In 1962, our 32,892 churches baptized 381,510 souls for Christ, an average of more than 11 baptisms per church. Fifty years later in 2012, our 46,034 churches reported 314,956 baptisms, an average of less than seven baptisms per church.

Friends, this breaks my heart! We are in desperate need of personal revival and church renewal that results in evangelistic fervor and passion!

David got the order right in his Psalm of Penitence:

“God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

“Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.

“Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.

Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.” 

(Psalm 51:10-13, emphasis supplied)

When our hearts are clean, our spirits are steadfast, His Spirit brings assurance, and our joy makes melody in our hearts, we will have willing spirits and sinners will be responsive!

Is the converse true? If sinners are not responsive, does this say something about us? Maybe the joy and assurance of His Spirit have been overwhelmed by spiritual apathy, weariness or malaise. It could be our hearts are not truly cleansed before the Lord in daily surrender. Perhaps our spirits are neither steadfast nor willing.

The normative Christian life is a productive Christian life. The qualitative soil of Jesus’ parables always bore quantitative, measureable fruit! If fruit is not being borne, something is desperately wrong.

We must pray as never before!

So, how do we pray? 

Yes, we join NAMB in praying the TenTwo – at 10:02 each day – morning or night – to pray that that the Lord will send forth laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2).

Yes, we join IMB in the School of Prayer for All Nations – to walk closer with God, to pray more fervently for spiritual awakening, to intercede more effectively for missionaries and the nations, to mobilize others to join you in prayer.

But, more.

Let us pray that God will expand our lost friendship network in our own city through intentional efforts. Most people are won to faith in Christ by friends. If we have no lost friends, no wonder we see no fruit!

Let us pray that God will lessen our fears and loosen our tongues to speak of His great salvation. The one thing all verbs that describe witnessing encounters in scripture have in common is that they are verbal, that is they are spoken. There is no such thing as a “silent witness.”

Let us pray that God will guide us to a “chance” encounter with someone today who longs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are out there. Until He returns, His Spirit will not end His wooing work in the hearts of the lost. 

Let us pray that God will nudge me to find someone in our church family (whom He will also nudge to join me) as a “witnesser in training.” Both evangelistic fervency and evangelistic fluency are more caught than taught. The Lord will use us to guide others into the wonderful, joyful work of evangelism.

Let us pray the Lord will lead our pastor to form an accountability friendship with another pastor, that the two of them will spur one another on “to love and good works”(Hebrews 10:25). Spurgeon said it well in “The Soul-Winner” – “God uses the faith of his ministers to breed faith in other people.”

Let us pray that not a Sunday will go by without the baptismal waters being stirred in our church! We believe God answers prayer. When we earnestly beseech Him for souls, He will respond.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Frank Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)
6/24/2013 3:26:36 PM by Frank S. Page, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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