May 2014

Gosnell’s grisly anniversary

May 30 2014 by Penna Dexter, Baptist Press

At the one-year anniversary of the murder conviction of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell in mid-May, several pro-life organizations used the moment to press forward in behalf of defenseless infants.

Dr. Gosnell was found guilty of killing babies that were still alive after botched abortions and was convicted of 21 felony counts of illegal late-term abortion. He is serving three life sentences in state prison. Some of his former employees also are doing time.

Grisly as this episode was – and as much as we’d like not to think about it – pro-lifers are doing their best not to let it slip from American consciousness.

The Gosnell case helped paint a picture worth a thousand words for protecting women. The filthy and otherwise disgusting conditions in his Philadelphia clinic have helped push forward laws in several states requiring abortion facilities to meet certain safety standards and mandating that abortionists have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The atrocities uncovered at that horrible clinic also tell another story: As Arina Grossu, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, succinctly noted at a news conference on the one-year anniversary of Gosnell’s conviction, “The babies that Gosnell brutally killed felt pain.”

Grossu was referring not just to the little ones who didn’t die when they were supposed to in a botched abortion, but also the ones who did die – while still in the womb.

Sen. Lindsay Graham has introduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill prohibits the abortion of unborn babies after 20 weeks gestation, or five months, due to the excruciating pain they feel as the procedure takes lives. Mothers considering abortion need to be informed, and strongly reminded of that fact, as they are making their “choice.”

The House passed a similar measure a year ago and several states have enacted their own laws that cut off abortions at five months. The Senate bill has 40 co-sponsors, but Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to allow the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to come to the floor for a vote. He’s protecting pro-choice senators from having to explain their position on this in an election year.

He’s right to worry. According to an NBC poll, one in five people who say they favor abortion rights favor these “pain capable” laws.

While a growing body of research tells us that unborn babies feel pain at 20 weeks, if not earlier, medical textbooks and professional anesthesiologists generally agree that anesthesia and analgesia are warranted for fetal surgical procedures.

America is one of several countries that permit abortion on demand after 20 weeks gestation. Joining us in this category are China and North Korea, not exactly known as champions of human rights. This is inexcusable. We have the science to ban these late-term abortions.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Penna Dexter is a regular panelist and frequent guest host of Point of View, a nationally syndicated issues-oriented talk radio program. Her weekly radio commentaries air on the Moody Broadcasting Network and Bott Radio Network.)
5/30/2014 10:05:42 AM by Penna Dexter, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Critics slam a clean movie

May 29 2014 by Kelly Boggs, Baptist Press

Mom’s Night Out,” a movie currently in theaters, is being ravaged by film critics. On the popular Internet site Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates movie reviews, only 14 percent of reviews were positive.

The film features three mothers who seek to have a night out away from their families, especially their children. Predictably – it is a comedic movie after all – everything goes wrong and an evening of humorous chaos ensues.

The acting performances in the film are fine. Anchoring the cast are Sarah Drew of the hit TV show “Grey’s Anatomy,” Patricia Heaton of television’s “The Middle” and “Everyone Loves Raymond,” and Sean Astin who was in the “Lord of the Rings” films and starred in the movie “Rudy.”

So what is the problem critics have with the movie? Why did 86 percent dismiss the film?

Here’s a sampling of critic complaints:

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with faith-based entertainment. The problem comes when, as with any heavily slanted perspective, the faith takes precedent over the entertainment.” – Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News.

“Depressingly regressive and borderline dangerous, ‘Mom’s Night Out’ peddles archaic notions of gender roles in the name of wacky laughs... Why must faith-based offerings be so lame – worst of all – so out of touch with reality?” – Marc Snetiker, Entertainment Weekly.

“Outrageously enough, the moral of ‘Mom’s Night Out,’ seems to be that moms should never get a night out. This Mother’s Day weekend release is pretty much a PG-rated ‘The Hangover,’ but with an ill-fitting God angle that slowly wedges into the movie – an agenda that, in retrospect, explains the conspicuous lack of booze, drugs, and sex.” – Heather Baysa, Village Voice.

I could go on presenting slams from supposedly “open minded” critics, but I will spare you. It is clear that the reviewers could not stomach a movie that is clean, free from gratuitous nudity, promiscuous sex, foul-language and alcohol and drug consumption.

In essence “Mom’s Night Out” is a clean movie. The families portrayed in the film all attend the same church. One member of the mom trio is the pastor’s wife. There are a few positive references to God sprinkled throughout the movie. Nary a swear word is uttered. There is no drug use, no one gets drunk and everyone remains clothed.

While the critics might think a movie with a few positive references to God constitutes a “faith-based” film, I do not. However, to hear God’s name used as anything other than a reference point for curse words in a movie is likely received as refreshing by people who see faith as integral to their lives.

Again, “Mom’s Night Out” is nothing more than a fun film free from content that a significant segment of American society still finds offensive.

One critic said that “faith-based” films were out of touch with reality and, in this instance, missed the mark by portraying mothers who stay at home to care for their children. The stay at home mom angle was slammed by more than one critic.

Perhaps the critics of “Mom’s Night Out” should add reading of news to their film watching. USA Today reported the following last month: “Nearly three in 10 American mothers are now stay-at-home moms who don’t hold a job outside the home, reversing a long-term decline that hit its low point in 1999, a new survey finds.”

Research by the Pew Research Center shows “that the percentage of mothers of children under 18 who don’t work outside the home has risen over the past decade to 29% in 2012, up from 23% in 1999. Two-thirds of them are ‘traditional’ married stay-at-home mothers with working husbands,” USA Today reported.

It seems stay-at-home moms are a growing reality and, perhaps, many of them identify with the premise of “Mom’s Night Out.” The film, only showing on 1,046 screens, is doing well at the box office.

What I find most interesting is the wailing, weeping and gnashing of teeth by critics over a clean movie supposedly being unrealistic and out of touch with reality. Really?

Anytime a movie is criticized as containing too much sex, violence, alcohol, drug use or profanity by Christian or conservative groups, the film critics are quick to retort, “It’s just a movie. It is just entertainment. It isn’t supposed be confused with reality.”

Let me respond to the movie critics’ laments of “Mom’s Night Out” in kind. It is just a movie. It is just entertainment. Clean entertainment I might add.

The two top grossing movies (no pun intended) for the weekend of May 16-18 were “Godzilla” and “Neighbors” – two films that are far removed from reality.

“Godzilla” is a remake about a dinosaur-like monster who wreaks havoc on humans. “Neighbors” is about a couple with a new baby living in suburbia who have a college fraternity move in next door; debauched chaos ensues. In-touch and realistic? Hardly.

Seventy-three percent of reviewers per Rotten Tomatoes gave “Godzilla” a positive review and 75 percent liked “Neighbors.” However, 86 percent ripped “Mom’s Night Out.”

There is one consolation, one that really counts, and that is according to Rotten Tomatoes, 86 percent of movie-goers who have watched “Mom’s Night Out” liked it.

Movie reviewers who dismiss the clean nature of “Mom’s Night Out” as well as its positive references to God should take the advice of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.)
5/29/2014 9:00:42 AM by Kelly Boggs, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Soul-winning comes full circle

May 28 2014 by Paige Patterson

At 11 o’clock today (Saturday morning, May 24) our Lord made a visit to Cincinnati to ferry the precious soul of Larry Howell to his heavenly home.

His son Mark, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., was by his side together with Larry’s wife of many years, Donna. Mark’s wife Carmen was standing by also along with their girls Abi and Beka. That is about all who were there. Most of Larry’s friends were gone already, and since he was a commoner from Pennsylvania, this will not make anyone’s headlines.

But before you write this off as just another obituary, please know that this is a story that happened the way it should.

Larry Howell moved to Orlando, Fla., where he and Donna were employed. Their son Mark grew up there and while in high school was taken to First Baptist Church where soul-winner Jim Henry was pastor. Friends patiently worked with Mark until one wonderful day he received Christ as his Savior and Lord. After attending Carson-Newman University and playing on an NAIA championship football team, Mark sensed the call of God to the ministry.

Mark came to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to study. While pursuing his degree he met Carmen Patterson, my daughter. Everyone said, “Do not date her; she is the child of Paige Patterson.” Mark said, “Who on earth is Paige Patterson?” And he continued dating Carmen and married her.

One day Mark said to me, “My dad does not know the Lord, though he thinks he does. Could we take him hunting in west Texas?”

That is where I first had the opportunity to share Christ with Larry. While my son Armour and son-in-law Mark were chasing a deer, the two of us sat on Jerry Davenport’s ranch and talked for two hours. Larry listened thoughtfully but was not yet ready to make a decision. Some months later in a sunrise service in the hill country of Texas, Larry listened as his son Mark proclaimed the glories of the resurrection of Christ. When the now-addressed Dr. Mark Howell extended the appeal to come to Christ, he looked up and there stood his father Larry committing his life to Christ. Mark also baptized his own mother, Donna.

Today, I write in praise of First Baptist Church of Orlando, Fla. Not only did you precious saints of God give me one of the finest son-in-laws in history, but also what you set in motion through faithfulness to Christ’s command came full circle today when Jesus called Larry home. You led a boy to Christ. That boy became a preacher and led his mother to Christ and was preaching when his dad was saved. Rejoice!

Nothing we ever do is as important as sharing Christ with a high school boy. Only eternity will reveal what you set in motion, First Baptist Orlando, through your obedience.

Few will note Larry’s exodus. But that is not important anyway. Can you imagine his surprise and joy upon waking up in heaven? As Don Wyrtzen wrote, “… of touching a hand and finding it God.” And there will be hundreds more also. Can we all this day take a page from First Baptist Orlando and just take the time to lead a high school boy to faith in Jesus? All else pales before this assignment from God. This is the hope of the future, and it is how it is supposed to be.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Paige Patterson is president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.)
5/28/2014 11:04:59 AM by Paige Patterson | with 0 comments



Praying for unity in the church

May 27 2014 by Elaine Helms, Baptist Press

Prompted by an inter-cultural prayer meeting hosted by the North American Mission Board in November 2013, Southern Baptist leaders from around the country have called for a seven-day prayer emphasis to begin on Father’s Day, June 15.

Called “One in Christ,” the prayer focus includes daily scripture readings and prayer encouragements that will be sent to the smartphones of all who register at OneFather.org. Scripture readings include the six chapters of Ephesians and Jesus’ letter to the church of Ephesus recorded in Revelation 2.

Father’s Day week was chosen for the prayer emphasis since all believers have one Father and are, therefore, one family in Christ. The book of Ephesians, with its emphasis on unity, has particular relevance for the struggles experienced by the 21st-century church and was selected as the scriptural focus for the week.

The call to pray for unity in the church is not new. Jesus prayed for us, present-day Christians, in John 17:20 when He said, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world will believe that You sent Me.”

The end result of our oneness or unity is that people will believe in Jesus. That alone makes it a worthy goal. Praying in one accord was the hallmark of the early church and they turned their world upside down spreading the gospel, because of their love for Jesus and each other.

It is possible for us to see the revival and spiritual awakening we long for, and that God wants to pour out, if we simply love one another. That is easy to say, but often hard to do. The following are a few biblical prayers we can pray in agreement asking God to equip, empower and enable us to be one with Him and one with each other. May He grant our requests.
  • From Ephesians 4:2-4: Father, please help us to walk in a manner worthy of You and Your call to us. Give us a spirit of humility, gentleness and patience that we may show tolerance for one another in love. Help us to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
  • From Jeremiah 32:39: O Lord, we long for You to give us one heart and one way that we may fear You always for our own good and for the good of our children after us.
  • From Psalm 86:11-12: Merciful God, we are prone to wander, so please teach us Your way, O Lord; we will walk in Your truth; unite our hearts to fear Your name and to follow You closely. We will give thanks to You, O Lord our God, with all our hearts, and will glorify Your name forever.
  • From Colossians 3:13-15: Father, please give us a forgiving spirit to quickly forgive offenses, so that we can put on love which is the perfect bond of unity. Please let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts knowing we are called in one body. Make us thankful to You, dear Lord.
  • From Malachi 2:10: Father God, You are the Father of us all. You are the One who has created us and yet we often deal treacherously with each other bringing shame on the Name above all names. Forgive us Lord for our blindness and bring us to the end of ourselves, so that we focus on You and Your glory in the bond of peace. For Your name’s sake bring a spirit of unity to the Southern Baptist Convention that will draw people to Jesus.
  • From John 17:22-23: Thank You, Jesus, for praying for us to receive the glory that Your and our Father gave to you to make us one; that we may be perfected in unity, so that the whole world may know that God, the Father sent the Son, Jesus to demonstrate the depth of love You have for each other and for us. Your generous love is appealing; may we allow Your perfect love to flow freely through us to each other and to the world.
In celebration of the fact that we have one Father, you as an individual, your small group or your congregation are encouraged to join thousands of Christ followers across North America on a seven-day Scripture and prayer journey through Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers beginning on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15, 2014. Visit OneFather.org to learn more.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – All Scripture quotations are NASB, unless otherwise noted. Elaine Helms, who served as the Southern Baptist Convention prayer coordinator at the North American Mission Board from 2000-2010, is a member of the One Father Prayer Fellowship; director of ChurchPrayerMinistries.org; and was the prayer coordinator for My Hope America with Billy Graham 2012-2013. She is the author of Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know.)
5/27/2014 9:51:54 AM by Elaine Helms, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Interruptions that God uses

May 23 2014 by Sharon Yeats

The Lord is beginning a new work in my heart about how I view interruptions in my life. Little did I know when I bought a Bible study book by Priscilla Shirer Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted – that I would be in the middle of a health interruption several months later, but God’s timing is always perfect.

The book of Jonah, as Shirer recounts, is about a man whose life was interrupted by God. Jonah was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. God would give him a word and then he would share it with the people. 2 Kings 14:25 tells us that King Jeroboam set the border of Israel according to the Word of the Lord that Jonah received. Jonah lived in a prosperous Israel. Because he foretold good things to the people, he was probably popular, highly respected and appreciated.

Jonah’s interruption began in Jonah 1:1 when “the Word of the Lord” came to him: God was changing Jonah’s priorities and instructing him to go in an entirely different direction. He would be giving up his plans and the comfort of the familiar to go to Nineveh.

We have the privilege of reading the entire book of Jonah at one time, so we see all the events laid out at once. But Jonah didn’t have that opportunity. If he could have read all four chapters, he would have seen that what he saw as a huge interruption in his life was really an invitation from God to make a huge difference in the lives of people in Nineveh.

The Filipino people we have been ministering to had a huge interruption in their lives by Typhoon Yolanda. But as a result, they have experienced God’s love through the helping hands of Missouri Baptists. As we have shared with them, many of them have received Christ. The storm and the response of Southern Baptists from Missouri and other states have been God’s transformational instruments.

When the strategy for the Missouri disaster relief project was initiated, we were planning to assemble and distribute water filtration systems to the people, but the freighter carrying the filtration parts went down in rough seas. Obviously, when we heard the news of no water filtration, that was an interruption.

However, we shifted to construction. After all, the first word on mission trips is “flexibility.” So, we began restoring their homes and painting the school. The result was, we had more direct contact with people and many have received Christ.

I was excited about the plan to give the people clean water and disappointed when that plan was changed. However, God was more interested in them receiving Living Water.

I don’t know where this medical interruption in my life will take me, but I want to view it not as an “interruption” but as “God’s intervention” in my life for His purposes.

As Priscilla Shirer states in her study of Jonah, “When we sign up to follow Christ, we automatically signed up to be open to Divine Interventions – God interruptions. While His call might not always be convenient or easy, responding to it should not just be a duty but our joy.”

Living a life devoted to Christ doesn’t mean we don’t have aspirations or that we shouldn’t make plans, but it does mean that we should be open for God to intervene. We should hold our dreams and plans in our hands and not in our hearts. We should be open to the Divine Interventions that come our way to mold us in His image. We can trust Him to have the best plan for us.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sharon Yeats is the wife of John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
5/23/2014 11:23:39 AM by Sharon Yeats | with 0 comments



Millennials & a new social witness, Part 2

May 22 2014 by Owen Strachan

How can younger evangelicals who have no inclination to start a PAC or accost people on the sidewalk while holding impressively weathered clipboards engage in public square witness?

Let’s consider four broad ways forward.

First, young Christians can recover a sense of social agency

I find a striking paradox in the mind of many Millennial Christians today. We love Bonhoeffer, and we thrill to Wilberforce’s daring and spectacularly successful efforts. When it comes to our own moment, though, we feel beaten down. The culture seems so big and bad and scary and foreordained, and so we toggle back to Facebook and retreat to our Bon Iver playlist.

Something’s not clicking here. Millennial Christians need to recover a sense of agency in the culture. Almighty God is our benefactor, and He’s got way more power than any billionaire the New Yorker might profile in 8,000 skeptical words.

I have utterly no idea what the future of America and the West looks like. Things in general are not promising, to be sure. Much seems to be slipping away from us in our day. But I resist a narrative of our culture suffused with gloom and written in stone. In the face of some jaw-dropping defeats, we also are seeing some enlivening gains, especially in the pro-life realm. God is unstoppable, and of the reign of His kingdom there is no end. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Second, young Christians can speak up for truth on behalf of flourishing.

Part of what has pushed some Millennials away from being the speaking church is that we have not always heard our leaders make the biblical connection between rightness and health, truth and flourishing. But what is true is always what is best. We need to make this elegant connection on moral matters.

Millennials have an opportunity today to speak on matters of sexuality and gender, for example, from the perspective of both rightness and health. It is wrong to change God’s super-intelligent design for the family, for example. But we also must make clear that altering the family will not lead to human flourishing. Let this message ring out from a thousand missional pulpits (or elevated coffee tables, as it were).

Third, young Christians can count their lives and reputations as nothing.

Millennial believers are cursed by a desire to be popular. We want friends, virtual and actual. We don’t want to be tagged with the epithet greater than that which cannot be known: awkward.

I understand this desire. It’s no good thing to be hated for its own sake. But we must not forget the long, bloody and glorious tradition of courageous Christian public witness. It starts with Moses holding court in a pagan Egyptian throne room, extends to Daniel praying in public and thereby facing down a horde of Persian courtiers eager to see him torn limb from limb, jumps to the grisly martyrdom of John the Baptist for offering a short course in public ethics, and peaks with Christ before Caesar, sacrificial and triumphant in death (Exodus 5-11; Daniel 6; Matthew 14; 27).

However nimble and winsome we young evangelicals must be, we also must shake the heavens with our prayers for courage, the courage to speak even in the face of persecution so that evil and death might lose and righteousness and neighbor-love might win.

Fourth, young Christians must play hardball when necessary.

In practical terms, this means not only engaging the culture when a particularly momentous vote or decision is at hand, but in the many smaller events that lead to the historic ones. Our new social witness must be marked both by love and by an appropriate evangelical Realpolitik. Not every issue is created equal. But we must not consent to a death by a thousand cultural cuts, either.

Millennials have extensive and often-overlooked biblical precedent for this kind of action. We can cite Joseph acting shrewdly as an administrator of the state for the goodness of his people, Esther using her queenly position to advocate for the salvation of the Jews from genocide (working closely with Mordecai) and the apostle Paul appealing to his Roman citizenship as just a few biblical examples of the kind of gracious hardball we can play in the public square (Genesis 41-47; Esther 2-10; Acts 22-26).

Few of us can predict what the future of America will be. Whether poll numbers on social questions rise or fall among youngsters, I am not most concerned with data. I am most concerned with the church and its future. Extraordinary and altogether necessary attention has been paid to our identity as the listening church. More attention needs to be devoted to our tricky, historically problematic, but hugely important identity as the speaking church. May we do so in coming days, speaking love and truth, never giving up, never abandoning our neighbor, never falling silent.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Owen Strachan is assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.)
5/22/2014 12:56:06 PM by Owen Strachan | with 0 comments



Millennials & a new social witness, Part 1

May 21 2014 by Owen Strachan

They are born after 1980. They don’t know much about Thatcher, but they do know about Bieber. They take “selfies.” Much discussed, oft-misunderstood, they are the Millennials.

A December 2013 poll of this much-fretted-over demographic offered fresh light on their political views. Harvard University’s Institute of Politics conducted the poll and found that 35 percent of Millennials approve of Democratic congressmen and just 19 percent approve of Republican congressmen.

This data leads to rumination both sociological and theological. How, exactly, will Millennial Christians – in a jaded generation but not of it – engage with politics, with the public square? The way Millennials, of which I am one, answer this question will play a vital role in the public prospects of Christianity in America and the West.

The last 30 years have left many Millennials with some baggage. The fire-breathing model of engagement practiced by some leaders of the “Moral Majority” left many Millennials with a bad taste in their mouth. The disillusioned and confused Millennial masses include many young pastors and scholars who find their identity in the vibrant “big gospel” movement of the last decade (like The New York Times, you may have just heard of it). Young Christian leaders today often express a desire to distance themselves from the Moral Majority et al, adopting an “apolitical” or relatively indifferent political stance.

This is a partly helpful and partly unhelpful response to their heritage. It is helpful because it means that many young church planters and pastors and thinkers will avoid reducing the faith to a policy position. They will focus on making friendships with people not like them and living a “missional” way of life. The church will be the listening church, a spiritual body of believers that gathers to hear the lion of the Scripture roar from His Word each week.

This response is unhelpful because young Christian leaders might forget that the church must also be the speaking church. Many Millennial leaders understand the dire need for evangelization of lost friends, but fewer grasp the importance of public square witness. Few of us Millennials will emulate the Moral Majority at its apex, but we also must recognize that, in their imperfect way, various figures of this group spoke courageously on behalf of the unborn, the natural family and the moral fabric of the nation. There was real bravery, and real sacrifice, in this witness. It came at a real cost in a culture and society that now reads any attempt, however noble, to intervene in others’ lives as hostile and injurious.

Unlike the Moral Majority, many Millennials are quiet as a church mouse on public square issues, save for a vocal rejection of past tactics. But if your only significant act of public square proclamation is a sneering disavowal of Jerry Falwell, you’re doing it wrong. A church inspired by the gospel, aware of its claim on all of life, and in tune with a historic tradition of figures like Augustine, Wilberforce and Colson, cannot content itself with exquisitely calibrated public neutrality. Neither can it accept the velvet muzzle its opponents offer. It cannot dance like a celebrity cha-chaing his way back to the C-list when a confused church member asks for guidance on cultural questions of grave import.

It must speak. It must offer a new social witness.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Owen Strachan is assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.)
5/21/2014 11:11:12 AM by Owen Strachan | with 0 comments



Are you a published author?

May 20 2014 by BR staff

The Biblical Recorder will print a list of books published by North Carolina Baptists in the July 19 edition. We invite you to tell us about your published work. Whether the writer is a pastor, director of missions or member of a North Carolina Baptist church, we welcome your submission. We believe your work may be an encouragement to others, so tell us about your book.
 
Who can participate?
  • The author must be a member of a Baptist church in friendly cooperation with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
  • The book(s) must have content related to Christian ministry, biblical theology or Christian growth.
  • The book(s) must have a print date of 2012, 2013 or 2014
  • All submissions must be received by July 1.
  • Multiple submissions are welcome by one author, as long as each work meets the requirements.
The author must submit the following information:
  • What is the title of the book?
  • What is the author’s name?
  • Where is the author's church membership? (church and city/town in N.C.)
  • What is the publication date?
  • Who is the publisher? (Self-published companies are allowed)
  • Is the book fiction or non-fiction?
  • What is the purchase price of the book?
  • Where can the book be purchased?
  • Is the book available in e-book format? If so, where?
  • Please provide a summary of the book in 325 characters or less, including spaces (that's characters, not words).
Please send all information by email in a Word document attachment to editor@brnow.org. Include your contact information in case we have a question.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – If a significant number of submissions are received, the BR reserves the right to extend the list to other issues.)
5/20/2014 12:52:50 PM by BR staff | with 2 comments



Daily prayer & solitude

May 19 2014 by Roger S. Oldham

At a time management seminar I attended some years ago, the leader made a plea that every busy executive must begin each day with what he called “planning and solitude.” His premise was that those who disciplined themselves to have a daily quiet time away from the din of the daily bustle were far and away more productive than those who just rushed headlong into each day’s activities.

The phrase stuck: “planning and solitude.” How very similar to a phrase I had heard from numerous pastors and Bible teachers: “prayer and solitude.”

As I read scripture, I am struck again and again at how frequently the ideas of prayer and solitude are joined. For example:
  • Mark 1:35 — “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
  • Matthew 6:6 — “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Other passages draw attention to the effect of quietness, stillness and solitude.
  • Isaiah 32:17 — “The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”
  • Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
  • 1 Kings 19:11-12 — “And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”
And then there is this verse:
  • Isaiah 30:15 — “For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not.”
The final four words of this verse are both intriguing and challenging: “But you would not.”

Why would one not want to follow the Lord in obedience? Extrapolating from the immediate context of Isaiah 30, why would one not want spend time alone with the Lord? Why would one be so caught up with busyness that spending time with the “Holy One of Israel” was not even part of his or her schedule? And, more personally, why do I allow myself to get so caught up with the demands of everything else that I dismiss my time with the Lord as of little utilitarian value in light of all the “important” things I must get done?

Christian singer Larnelle Harris recorded a song titled “I Miss My Time with You.” The song was written from the Lord’s perspective, lamenting that Christ-followers seem to be too busy serving the Lord to actually spend quality time with the Lord: “You’re too busy, busy trying to serve Me; but how can you serve Me when the spirit’s empty?!”

Our schedules reflect our values. How highly do we value our relationship with the Lord? Do we cultivate a relationship with Him through solitude and prayer? Do we actually untether from our devices – smartphones, iPads, laptops, televisions, digital readers – long enough to hear the still small voice of our Savior?

O, that His righteousness were our hunger and thirst (Matthew 5:6)! The promise of being filled is profound: “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roger S. Oldham is vice president for convention communications and relations with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.)
5/19/2014 10:26:05 AM by Roger S. Oldham | with 0 comments



Education & the single woman

May 16 2014 by Candi Finch, Baptist Press

Are you too smart for your own good?

Put another way: Do certain academic degrees make you less likely to be “marriage material”? That type of question is one I get at least once a month. Seriously.

In recent weeks, I’ve been asked three different versions of it:
  • Will getting a Ph.D. mean that no guy will ever want to marry me?
  • If I get a master’s degree, will that intimidate a possible future spouse?
  • If I choose a certain concentration over another, will it scare away guys?
As a single woman who is finishing her Ph.D., I understand why my students are asking these questions – though, in full disclosure, if they catch me on a less-than-content kind of day, I wonder if they are really asking: “If I pursue a certain degree path, will I end up like you?”

You can Google “Are educated women less likely to get married?” and get a myriad of studies, statistics and news stories on the subject from secular sources. You can even find out which cities give single women better odds of meeting single men. However, my Christian sisters, this issue is not about playing the odds or finagling your circumstances.

It comes down to obedience.

One quick disclaimer: My thoughts here are directed specifically to my single sisters. I want us to think through the wisdom in God’s Word regarding the matter of your education and a possible future spouse.

4 things to consider regarding your educational path

1. Obedience to God is your first priority. At the end of the day, we each must discern the will of the Lord for our lives as best as we can and then live in obedience with Him as His servants (Galatians 1:10).

Ladies, that doesn’t mean we do whatever we want and just tell people, “God told me so.” Be careful what you attribute to the leading of the Lord. He never contradicts His Word when He leads us. If you think the Lord may be leading you down a certain educational path and have sought godly advice on the matter, then walk in obedience down that path.

When you choose an educational track based more on what a “some guy” in the future may think over the clear leading of the Lord, you have made a human being more important than God.

2. Loving the Lord with your mind is a good thing. In fact, we are commanded to love the Lord with all of our mind (Luke 10:27). Sisters, God made you – and any intellectual acumen you possess comes from Him. Don’t be ashamed of it. (Don’t be prideful of it either; see 1 Corinthians 8:1.) Use it to bring honor to the Kingdom.

By the way, some of the smartest women I know are married. You don’t check your intellect at the door when you say “I do.” Smart women get married every day.

While a husband is called to be the spiritual leader in the marriage relationship, a wife is called to be a helper to her husband. I have seen married women use their theological training in order to help their husbands in countless ways – by using it in service to women in the church, by investing in the spiritual development of their children, by being a trusted sounding board to her husband. The list can go on and on.

3. “Tricking” a man into liking you is a recipe for disaster. I am not sure who starting telling women to act dumb or only eat salads on dates to “get a guy.” (Probably the same, cruel person who invented corsets or the one who dreamed up high heels or pantyhose – just saying!)

Seriously, though, when we try to maneuver our circumstances or be deceitful in this way, I am afraid we have more in common with the foolish woman of Proverbs 7 who tried to entrap a man with her words and actions (Proverbs 7:21).

Worldly wisdom may offer you 15 steps to acting like a dumb girl so you can get attention, but godly wisdom says a righteous person acts with integrity (Proverbs 20:7, Psalm 101:2). Plus, do you really want to marry a guy who makes you feel like you have to dumb yourself down in order to attract him? A wife is commanded to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33), and manipulation is not a sign of respect. As one of my spiritual mentors recently told my class, the man who makes you feel embarrassed about your intellectual abilities is probably not the right guy for you anyway.

4. Don’t waste your singleness. You don’t know how long your single season of life will be. Don’t waste that time pining for what you don’t have right now.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 says that your time of singleness allows you to be devoted to the Lord without distraction. Spend this season, for however long it lasts, deepening your relationship with the Lord. And if you never get married, you have spent your life pursuing God – not a bad deal! Learning to cultivate a spirit of contentment while single will only help you if you do get married someday (Philippians 4:11).

Let me hasten to add that wanting to be married is not a bad thing at all. I am pro-marriage – and so is God. However, I have seen far too many women make marriage an idol in their lives and then make really bad decisions. (The same can be said regarding education – it can become an idol just like marriage). If the desire to be married (or any other desire) becomes more important to you than the desire to be obedient to the Lord, you have a problem. Sisters, being married to the wrong man is far worse than not being married at all.

I love what Marian Jordan said in her book Sex and the City Uncovered: “As a single girl, there are two truths that I must hold in balance in order to be content. First, God created me for relationship, so my desire for a husband is not wrong; it is good. Second, even though I was designed to be in relationship, my ultimate contentment, satisfaction, and happiness will never be achieved simply through a human relationship. I was designed for something far bigger, far greater, something far more satisfying” (pp. 56-57).

So, let’s be honest. Does a little learning scare away the boys? Possibly – in some cases. But is that really the type of guy you want to marry? When considering a degree path, the question we all should ask is: “Where are You leading, Lord?”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Candi Finch, assistant professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, currently working on her Ph.D. dissertation in the area of feminist theology.)
5/16/2014 11:07:44 AM by Candi Finch, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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