September 2013

Praying for our state conventions

September 30 2013 by Frank S. Page, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – State convention season is here!

I spoke at the Baptist Convention of New York’s annual meeting to kick off a full season of state convention travel. My goal is to represent the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to as many states as possible. The reason for this is simple: It is a time when I can touch the lives of a large number of pastors and church leaders.

Our cooperative ministries will only thrive when trust is strong among the churches, associations, state conventions and the SBC. I strive to encourage our state convention leaders in the common work for Christ in which we’re engaged. Trust is built when these relationships are strengthened.

Our state conventions serve as partners in many ways. First and foremost, they are involved in reaching people in their respective states with the gospel. They also provide specialized ministries to a large number of our churches.

With more than two thirds of our churches facing slow-growth or no-growth challenges, many of our churches are hurting. In most instances, when a church needs help, it is the state convention to which it goes for training, encouragement and assistance across a wide range of needs.

State conventions also serve as partners as the conduits through which our Southern Baptist missions and ministries receive Cooperative Program (CP) funds to do the work God has entrusted to them. They have taken significant steps in forwarding a larger percentage of CP funds to these SBC ministries, for which we are grateful. Partnerships developed over the decades remain strong as we join together to do the work of God at every level.

It took me a little over a year in my current role to get to every state convention and visit with the executive directors of those conventions. I have found these men to be deeply called and passionate about winning people to Christ. Interestingly enough, most come from the states they serve and have a deep passion for their home base. They also have a clear vision for reaching the nations with the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, both here and abroad.

I have often said that if we lose the base, we have lost the battle. We need to work as partners in encouraging one another. While we have many, many churches in our state conventions, particularly in the South, we desperately need to understand the lostness that surrounds even those churches.

If there was ever a time when we need to be strengthening churches to reach the lost, it is now. Our state partners are true helpers in that needed ministry.

Join me in praying for the work of our state convention ministry partners.
  • Pray for your state convention executive director.
  • Pray for the church planting and other ministry specialists employed by your state convention.
  • Pray for the ministry entities of your state convention.
  • Pray for and participate in the missions initiatives of your state convention.
  • Pray for the collegiate ministries in your state.
  • Pray for me as I continue my assignment of building relationships and hopefully deepening trust as we encourage one another in the good work of our Lord.
I am thankful for our state convention partners and pray this fall will be a time of deepening resolve and commitment to the work of our Lord.


(EDITOR’S NOTE – Frank S. Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.)
9/30/2013 5:30:51 PM by Frank S. Page, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Deliver us from the bubble

September 27 2013 by Todd Peebles, Baptist Press

SAN ANGELO, Texas – In seminary, students knew we had to be very intentional to connect with and share the gospel with people who have not been engaged with its message. That intentionality included classes in evangelism and campaigns around the campus to engage the community.

Sadly, it was easy to live life in the seminary bubble of people just like me, who do many of the same things as I. In a nutshell, the bubble isolates people from the world, disengages them from ministry to the lost, and gives a false sense of security. The bubble is not limited to the campuses of seminaries or Bible colleges; it also unfortunately affects local churches.

Getting outside the bubble requires us to be people of prayer.

My pastorate, Hillcrest Baptist Church, now realizes we were living in the bubble. It sounded something like this: “I can’t participate in this upcoming outreach event because I do not know any lost people!” Hillcrest is one of the 70 [percent] of churches that have plateaued or are declining. We have a church full of people who socialize with people from church and hang out with people from church. Sadly, we do not engage those outside our circle.

The looming question is how do we exit the bubble? We do not just wake up one day and the bubble is gone. I wish it were that easy, but it’s a process. The first step is actually one of the most painful; we must realize we are living in a bubble, a painful realization in itself. We must come to terms with our complacency with the gospel. Face it; living in the bubble greatly hinders our ability to reach out with the gospel message of hope.

I am reminded of Luke 10 where Jesus tells His disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest because workers are needed. The journey that we continue is difficult. Getting outside the bubble takes effort. The second step is to do whatever it takes to engage those around us with the gospel. We are the workers for the harvest! We must be people of prayer. In prayer, we must seek the face of God. We must be willing to submit ourselves to His will.

Thirdly, to move outside the bubble, we must start praying for the lost by name. If we are to become workers in the harvest then we must start praying for that harvest. It has to be more than “God bless the lost.” If we, as believers, are not praying for the lost by name, we assume it doesn’t matter. “Someone will reach them. Someone else will step up. They have to because I don’t know any lost people.” Right?

Praying for the lost by name will do great things in our hearts. First, we are calling names before God of someone who desperately needs His grace. Second, God begins to burden our own hearts because the lost is now someone we know. It’s personal! God begins to move in our own hearts as we intercede for salvation for the people we know. Third, a sense of urgency develops as we begin to strategize to reach them.

Prayer is the catalyst that begins the process of moving outside the bubble.

While prayer is foundational it is not the only thing that must happen. As Luke 10 indicates, we must be involved with the unsaved. This is the part of the journey that requires intentionality. We must seek opportunities to engage with people outside the bubble. Again, prayer will play a vital role in the beginning of this process, as God will reveal those opportunities. We must be willing to take them. Sometimes this takes us out of our comfort zone. It may mean talking to someone we do not know. It may mean breaking our normal routines to seek new opportunities. There are many different ways this may unfold, but we must be willing to submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit within our lives.

One of the hardest parts of this journey is spending quality time with those in need of God’s saving grace. Through quality time, we begin to better know people. We know their hurts, their joys and even their needs at their present point in life. Giving time is difficult, especially in our busy, driven schedules, but it is an intentional, necessary step in meeting people and developing relationships.

This journey may seem daunting! The very thought of spending time with the “tax collectors and sinners” may not be high on our priority list. Obviously this is the case, since we are living inside the bubble.

It’s time to make new priorities. Let’s seek the Lord of the harvest for workers. Let’s pray for the harvest, the lost and each other. Let’s seek new opportunities, even if that takes us to uncomfortable places. Let’s make time to build relationships in hopes of sharing the gospel.

I challenge each of you as you read this to make the choice and commitment to live outside the bubble! I am intentional in my journey to get out of the bubble. Will you begin this journey with me to be the people God intends for us to be for His glory alone?

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Todd Peebles is pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas.)
9/27/2013 11:37:48 AM by Todd Peebles, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



What every dad should see

September 26 2013 by Phil Boatwright, Baptist Press

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – “Grace Unplugged” is the tale of a former rock star’s 18-year-old prodigal daughter who wants to find her own fame.

Grace Trey, portrayed by A.J. Michalka of “Super 8” and “The Lovely Bones” lineage, is a member of her dad’s praise and worship team, but the gifted singer and musician heeds the call of the secular music world. After she gets the music break of a lifetime and is thrust into the “real world,” her faith is quickly put to the test.

The film’s premise is certainly timely, as in reality we see former teen cable network stars forced to change their image for relevancy in today’s pop-culture that demands change over talent.

The makers have updated the prodigal son parable by changing the lead’s gender, and creating a father in need of as many lessons as his wayward child. The story is set in the music world, allowing Michalka to make full use of all her entertainment talents. She’s best known for her singing career as half of the duo Aly & AJ, renamed 78Violet.

Actress Shawnee Smith, who has personally tasted the bitter and sweet of show business, portrays in Grace Unplugged a loving Christian wife and mother. While the film focuses more on a father/daughter relationship, it also explores the downside of fame.

Smith too expresses hope that daughters across America see the movie.

“Somebody brought up Miley Cyrus last night. I hope she sees the movie,” Smith said. “I don’t know how she could watch it and not see how that world can molest your life. What’s dead somehow looks shiny. I remember being there. I relate to this story. I was in a rock band. I know that world.

“You feel [in the movie] the power of it. You quickly get onboard with that illusion,” Smith said. “And by film’s end, Grace sees what’s real and what’s truly satisfying. I hope all the Miley Cyruses see this film.”

The role is unique to Smith’s career, shaped by “Becker,” “Saw,” “Saw 2,” and “Easy Prey.”

“I was drawn to the film right away from reading the script. I wept,” Smith said. “There’s real substance to it. I just wanted to be a part of this movie. I loved the main character. I would be so happy for my daughter to be this woman. And I’m finally doing a movie she could actually see.”

Grace Unplugged is not afraid to mention the name Jesus. Perhaps most films do that, but here His name is not uttered in anger, but rather mentioned as a centerpiece in several characters’ spiritual lives. I’m sure this is the icing on the cake for devout Christian Michalka, to be the star of a movie meant to honor God, strengthen the body of Christ, and witness to members of an industry caught up in the Me-ism of celebrity.

The movie attempts to reveal the underbelly of the music industry, but in a family-friendly way. It adds a religious component, undoubtedly a real-life reality for former church singer Cyrus.

At a recent press junket in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to meet the movie’s writer and director Brad Silverman and its cast. What a pleasant surprise to discover that the film’s star, director and the producer are all followers of Christ, their openness concerning their faith deeply affecting other cast and crew.

The film’s faith connection is endearing and rare, Michalka said.

“Usually when I read a script, I look to see how I feel about the role, what drives the character. But with this script, it was really the faith behind it. And when I met Brad Silverman, and seeing his love for God and his passion for this film, it was so moving to me,” Michalka said. “I actually came home from the interview and cried. I was overwhelmed. It was so cool to be in a meeting in the dead center of Hollywood, but it had nothing to do with Hollywood. It had to do with the Lord. That’s rare.”

The film is more about light than darkness, Silverman said.

“I don’t want to glorify sin. I wanted it to be a heart issue. This girl has a heart change. She makes an intelligent decision for her. I didn’t want it to be about ‘how dark can I get this girl to go?’” Silverman said. “This is a coming-of-age story of a girl who has to wrestle with her heart, not a story on the evils of Hollywood. But I had to ask myself, ‘How am I going to tell this story in a PG way?’ Some people will say I didn’t go dark enough, but I don’t apologize for that.”

Kevin Pollak, who portrays a music agent/promoter, said focusing on the dark would cheapen the film.

“It cheapens [Grace Trey’s] decision and the audience’s experience if the music industry and her career represent hedonistic values. If it’s a true opportunity, a life opportunity that’s being experienced by her, then how much more difficult is that decision to choose family first? And faith?” Pollak said. “It’s only when given true opportunity that those decisions are more difficult to make. You just cheapen it all with a stereotypical dark side. It’s just too easy for her to say ‘What was I thinking? I’ve fallen prey to the demons,’ as opposed to ‘That’s what I thought I wanted.’”

Grace’s lesson in living her dreams leads to reconciliation with her father, her God, and her family, Pollak said.

One more theme that runs throughout the film is the question of “borrowed faith,” noted by producer Russ Rice.

“I hope the movie leads kids to examine themselves and their faith,” Rice said. “Do they own their faith, or is it merely borrowed from their parents?”

The film features the acting or feature film debuts of three music stars: Christian singer Jamie-Grace, American Idol Season 10 Finalist Pia Toscano, and an appearance by renowned Christian artist/songwriter and Grammy Award® winner Chris Tomlin.

Grace Unplugged will be released in theaters Oct. 4. For more information about the film and the companion book, Own It by Michael & Hayley DiMarco, visit http://www.graceunplugged.com/resources.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – In addition to writing for Baptist Press, Phil Boatwright reviews films for www.previewonline.org. He is also a regular contributor to “The World and Everything in It,” a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group.)
9/26/2013 2:52:24 PM by Phil Boatwright, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Dad, I think I know all the Bible stories now’

September 26 2013 by Trevin Wax, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – I had to apologize to my son recently.

We were on our way to church one Sunday, and he said, “Dad, I think I know all the Bible stories now.”

“Really?” I said. “All of them?”

“Just about,” he replied. “And I know all the songs we sing in church too.”

“That should make it easier for you to sing along,” I said.

“I don’t know why we keep going over the same stories and singing the same songs. Don’t they think we’ve got it down by now?”

“I’ve been studying the Bible and singing songs for a long time, Timothy. And I get something new from God’s Word every week.”

By this time, we were getting out of the van and walking toward the worship center. That’s when he said, “I don’t think we need to go to church every week. Why don’t we just wait until there’s something new to learn?”

I mulled over that conversation the rest of the day. We discussed it over lunch. Timothy’s grandmother, visiting us from Romania, started telling him about how she was reading through the Minor Prophets again, discovering things she’d forgotten over time. My wife started asking Timothy questions about stories she knew he wasn’t familiar with.

Meanwhile, I was wondering if the fact that our son is in a Christian home, Christian school and a Bible-teaching church has somehow overexposed him to the scriptures. He’s a 9-year-old with lots of Bible knowledge and entire chapters of the Bible memorized.

And then, it hit me. For months (maybe years), I’ve conditioned him to think that attending a worship service is all about learning. From our Saturday night prayers (“Be with us tomorrow, Lord, as we go to church and learn more about You”) to after-church conversations (“What did you learn in Sunday School today?”), our way of talking about church is predominantly educational. No wonder he thought we should move on. If church is school, then eventually, you graduate, right?

So, that night as I tucked him into bed, I apologized for not being clear on the reason we gather with other believers. “It’s not just about learning,” I told him. “It’s about worship. The learning is connected to our worship.”

“Is that why we sing the same songs?” he asked.

“Yes. When it’s easy for people to sing, they can concentrate on what they’re singing instead of struggling to learn a new song. Do you know how you like it when all the instruments fade away and you can hear everyone in church singing the same song as loud as they can – all of our voices harmonizing? That’s not about learning ... it’s about worship. All of us together, worshipping God for how awesome He is.”

“We did David and Goliath today,” he said. “I already knew all about it. And the teacher left out the best part – when David used Goliath’s sword to cut his head off!”

“Yes, that is pretty cool,” I told him. “And you already know the story of David and Goliath. But the point of hearing the story again and again is not so that you learn more facts about the story. It’s that you are amazed again at God using a little guy like David to do something big for His people. That’s the way God is. That’s why we sing songs like, ‘How Great Is Our God’ in church and ‘Glorious and Mighty.’ We are worshipping Him for what He has done.”

“I like those songs.”

“Me too. And next time we sing them, think about the story of David and Goliath, and how powerful God is.”

“So it’s not just about learning.”

“Nope. The church isn’t a class you go to, son. It’s a people you belong to. It’s about worship. I’m sorry, son, if I’ve made you think otherwise.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project, encompassing Bible study resources for adults, students and children from LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
9/26/2013 2:45:30 PM by Trevin Wax, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



A well-woven life

September 25 2013 by David Jeremiah, Baptist Press

EL CAJON, Calif. – Perhaps you’ve never woven fabric at a loom, but you and I are sitting at the loom of life, spinning out our days like a weaver.

Waking or sleeping, we’re forming our lives according to the choices we make and the convictions we hold. Some people spin the fine linen of a righteous life; others find their lives unraveling or becoming tangled in knots and snarls.


Tailor made

A well-woven life is tailor-made by the Master. When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, He designs a perfect pattern for each of us. The psalmist said, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous. ... You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in Your Book!” (Psalm 139:13-16).

The Lord is a God of infinite variety, and your life’s purpose and pathway will be different from those of every other person who has ever lived.

Have you ever showed up at a function to find someone else wearing the same dress, an identical sport coat, or the exact tie you have on? That happens because most clothing today is mass-produced. But God’s plan for our lives is never store-bought, and it never comes off the rack. When He is your Lord, your life is a one-of-a-kind tapestry in progress; and He who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion.


Stain-resistant

A well-woven life is also stain-resistant, like the slogan says: “Resists Whatever Life Throws at It.” The Bible describes our lives as garments stained with sin, but Jesus’ blood washes them white as wool (Isaiah 1:18). We can’t live a stain-resistant life by our own efforts. “Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before Me” (Jeremiah 2:22). Though sin had left a crimson stain, Jesus washed it white as snow. Now He wants to present us as a “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27).

Think of it: Not only stain-resistant but permanent-press – no stains or wrinkles. In literal terms, this means we should endeavor to keep our lives free from sin. I think of the old Welshman who would hold his shirt up to the setting sun to see if it could be worn another day. His wife would snatch it and throw it in the hamper, saying, “If it’s doubtful, it’s dirty.”

What we weave into our lives day by day becomes the fabric of who we are. Don’t interweave cheap, dirty threads with clean, quality ones. Our lives should be holy to the Lord.


Flame-retardant

The fabric of life also needs to be flame-retardant. The apostle Peter said we may have to pass through fiery trials so our faith may be tested and developed to the praise, glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7 and 4:12). Suffering can have a positive purpose.

If you’re beset by bills, illness, prodigal children, remember the Bible is packed with stories of faithful people who suffered similar afflictions, promises to claim during the period of trial and verses of hope, joy and peace for every occasion.


Sunday best

Finally, the well-woven life dresses in the wardrobe of praise and thanksgiving – always in a state of worship toward our triune God.

Our wardrobes may be modest, but we can craft a garment for the soul made of super fabric, incapable of becoming frayed or threadbare. A well-woven life may suffer adversity, but it never falls into irretrievable depression and it’s never a pauper at heart, for Jesus gives us a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3).

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org. This column has been approved by Turning Point for redistribution in Baptist state newspapers and in Townhall.com; for other reprint requests, contact Myrna Davis at mdavis@turningpointonline.org.)
9/25/2013 3:49:54 PM by David Jeremiah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Climate change faces reality check

September 25 2013 by Craig Mitchell, Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas – OK, so did anyone else read about the leaked copy of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sixth assessment on climate change?

The IPCC report is due at the end of the month, and for true believers in climate change, it is an inconvenient truth. The report admits and cannot explain why there has been no significant increase in world average temperatures since 1997. And it admits that IPCC scientists’ computer models have been dramatically wrong.

It also appears that the world is much less sensitive to changes in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Consequently, any rise in temperatures from an increased amount of CO2 may take a number of decades. Nonetheless, IPCC scientists believe there is a 95 percent chance that climate change (such as it is) is a man-made phenomenon.

The Daily Mail in London reported Sept. 14 that Judith Curry, head of climate science at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, said the leaked “summary for policymakers” showed that “the science is clearly not settled, and is in a state of flux.... The consensus-seeking process used by the IPCC creates and amplifies biases in the science. It should be abandoned in favour of a more traditional review that presents arguments for and against – which would better support scientific progress, and be more useful for policy makers.”

In a conversation with a true believer in climate change last year, I was asked why I did not believe in it since I have a strong science background. After all, I tested aircraft and spacecraft as a USAF officer and engineer for 12 years and two more as a commercial space launch contractor.

I told him there was something about the way the science was done that left me suspicious of the claims. In other words, it did not pass the “sniff test.” He replied, “That is not very scientific.” Since he did not have any kind of science background, he could not appreciate my instincts about the methodologies that were being used. There are many others who now are saying the exact same thing that I thought.

What are the practical implications of all of this?

First, there is no reason for green fuels (which pollute more than gas). There is no reason to stop using coal as an energy source. Since there is no energy crisis or environmental crisis, energy prices can fall. This also means that there is less need for a Department of Energy and an EPA. Finally, we can stop worrying about human overpopulation of the earth. What is most ridiculous about this fear is that by 2050 human population will be in decline everywhere.

Even worse than those scientists with wrong theories are those who, while lacking a scientific background, also have a flawed theology.

Some of these believe that “Mother Earth” is a fragile creature. Or perhaps they believe that God designed this world to be so unstable that He could not sustain it with man as the dominant species. They seem to neglect the fact that we live in a fallen world.

In Genesis 1, we find that the world is designed by God to sustain life in general, and human life in particular. God created man after His image and made man the steward of the created order. This does not mean we can be irresponsible with the world’s resources or its environment. But it does mean that we don’t have to keep scaring our kids about something that is not going to happen.

Our God is one we can trust with our future. After all, this world is not our eternal home.

Rather than focusing on global warming (or cooling), we should focus on more important ethical issues such as abortion and euthanasia. And, most importantly, we must never lose sight of giving the gospel to the lost.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Craig Mitchell is associate professor of cultural studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the seminary’s Land Center for Cultural Engagement.)
9/25/2013 3:41:18 PM by Craig Mitchell, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Henry Blackaby & social media

September 24 2013 by Thom Rainer, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – We received the information early Sept. 20 that well-known Christian author and speaker Henry Blackaby was missing.

Because of his close relationship to LifeWay Christian Resources professionally and to many of us personally, we made the decision to change the blog schedule at ThomRainer.com and related social media so we could get the word out about his disappearance.

The hours that followed were tense. On Friday evening, we learned that Blackaby experienced a heart attack and became disoriented.

Christians around the world were able to hear through social media of his latest purported location according to his credit card charges during the 29 hours he was missing. Of course, we were praying he was the one actually using the credit cards – and he was.

Social media & the unity of the body of Christ

It was amazing to see Christians from various backgrounds come together in unity for this man so many people love.

The critical spirit, level of disagreement and nitpicking we Christians sometimes exhibit to the world subsided. Whether the social media venue was Facebook, Twitter, blogs or other forms, we were one with one purpose.

Social media & the power of prayer

One part of the social media exchange regarding Blackaby was informational. Through various venues, we learned he was missing, where his credit card was used, the model and color of the automobile he was driving and the license plate number. All this information passed along through social media became instrumental in finding him.

The greater use of social media, however, was the articulation of prayers by thousands of believers. Nearly 200,000 unique visitors visited my blog Friday. I was overwhelmed with the number of people expressing prayers in writing. Christians from all over the world were banded together for good and for God’s glory; the power of prayer was so clearly evident.


Social media & the glory of God

We are all well aware of the evil and hurt that takes place on social media. We Christians are keenly aware our own witness is often compromised by the words we choose to write about one another.

But the problem is not social media; the problem is our hearts. We make a conscious choice to use this instrument for good or for evil.

The story of the disappearance of Henry Blackaby is a poignant and powerful reminder of what we Christians can do when we unite in love, even over something like Twitter or Facebook.

Though Blackaby faces a road of surgery, treatment and recovery, this story did have a good ending. He was found. He is safe with his family. For that we give God thanks.

But even if God had not answered our prayers in the way we were hoping, this story would still have been incredible. For a brief season Christians were united in purpose and prayer, focused on our commonalities instead of our differences.

Ultimately, the story of Henry Blackaby and social media was a reminder for all of us who call Christ our Savior. I for one can say without reservation that I was reminded that I am to do all things for His glory. And that includes my participation in social media.

I pray God will remind me to ask before I strike another key on the keyboard, before I write another blog post, before I comment one more word on Facebook, before I tweet anything or post a photo on Instagram: Am I doing this for good or evil, for myself or for the glory of God?

Thank God for the safe return of Henry Blackaby. And thank God we believers got to taste for a brief season what it means to come together for His purpose and His glory.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Thom Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. This column was first posted on his blog at ThomRainer.com.)
9/24/2013 10:30:16 AM by Thom Rainer, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Former NFL player’s offer of mercy rejected by most

September 24 2013 by Kelly Boggs, Baptist Press

ALEXANDRIA, La. – Most teenagers understand they need their parents for money, shelter and sustenance. Too many teens do not understand they also need guidance, discipline and correction. It seems there are also some parents who are utterly clueless concerning the latter issues. 

A former NFL player is trying to impart a lesson about responsibility and forgiveness to a group of young people in Stephenville, N.Y. But it seems the parents of the teens are obstructing the valuable life lesson.

The second home of Brian Holloway, a three-time Pro Bowl player who starred with the New England Patriots from 1981-86, was broken into by teens over the Labor Day weekend and approximately 300 teens invaded for a wild party that included alcohol and drugs. 

If the breaking and entering were not enough, the teens trashed Holloway’s home, causing $20,000 in damage. They broke furniture, put holes through walls, spray painted graffiti throughout the house, urinated on carpets and stole several items. 

Holloway was alerted to the situation by his son who became aware of the destructive situation via tweets being sent by teens at the party. “I’m looking at these tweets,” Holloway told CNN, “and they’re saying, ‘I’m partying with the NFL.’ ‘I’ve never seen so much alcohol in my life.’” Holloway contacted police, but the damage had been done. 

What is even more shocking than the behavior was the attitude the kids displayed in the midst of the melee. Judging by the tweets, they seemed to take pride in the drinking, drugging and destruction. 

“I blew past furious to what’s important,” Holloway told CNN. “How do we save these 300 lives that thought this was a good idea?” The Christian, who is now a motivational speaker, began a campaign to hold the teens responsible for the damage.

Holloway also indicated he wanted to address the problem of teenagers using alcohol and drugs. “So, I used the same technology they did,” he told CNN. He compiled a list of names gleaned from the tweets and created a website called www.helpmesave300.com

On the site, Holloway has posted many of the tweets along with photos the teens at the party posted on Twitter. Law enforcement is using the same information to identify those at the party. Most, if not all, of the 300 will be identified, CNN said. 

Holloway took an additional step. He invited the teens who destroyed his home to take responsibility by coming to his home to help clean up and repair the damage. The clear implication was that the consequences could be mitigated if the kids would take responsibility for their actions. 

Holloway posted the following on the website: 

“I want to thank the parents and community leaders that have taken a stand for these children’s futures; everyone deserves a chance to turn their life around. 

“I’ve got some ideas: 
“1. Could it be possible to turn this moment into a movement? Where the 300 students, with a new commitment to a bigger future actually became ambassadors to reach 3000 or maybe 30,000 other students? That would save a lot of lives. 

“2. Would it be possible to have a group of parents and community members join with these students and the DARE program and MADD program to send another urgent message about the dangers of drinking, drugs, crime and violence? That would probably save lives. 

“3. Suppose these students came together and created a voice of accountability and reconciliation that spread across the country with all the power and speed of social media? It’s happened before. That would definitely save lives. 

“4. Suppose it was possible for the parents and students involved to determine the best consequences for what did occur? That could save the lives of their children and more. Like, why do I need to press charges? They can handle this, right? Or am I totally off my rocker, or totally soft on what did happen?”
Holloway’s website message indicates that he understands that teens make mistakes. He also would like to be redemptive, not involve law enforcement and allow parents to mete out their own corrective measures. 

How was Holloway’s gracious offer received? Only one teen who attended the raucous free-for-all at his house showed up to help with clean-up and repairs. Several parents are upset with Holloway and have threatened to sue him for posting their teen’s tweets and pictures on his website. 

“Parents are upset with me when their child was in my house ... taking drugs, using roofies and drinking,” Holloway told CNN. “And they’re going to be upset with me?”

It is a shame that Holloway’s redemptive offer has been rejected. It seems the irresponsible teens who drank, drugged and destroyed have parents that are just as irresponsible as their children. The parents’ responses might even indicate why their children are the way they are. 

The Bible makes it clear that parents are to discipline children and correct them when they misbehave. Whether this involves corporal punishment is up to the parents. Neglect correction and a child will become selfish, self-centered and spoiled. 

“Discipline your son,” Proverbs 29:17 states, “and he will give you comfort; he will also give you delight.” Earlier in the same passage the Bible says, “A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). 

The teens who destroyed a man’s home and their parents were offered mercy. Brian Holloway only wanted them to take responsibility and perform restitution by helping repair what they’d damaged. 

The teens’ parents rejected his gracious offer and even threatened to sue him. It seems Holloway cast his pearl of mercy before swine and they trampled it. They will now have to deal with the justice of law enforcement and reap what they have sown. 

(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, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.)
9/24/2013 10:15:54 AM by Kelly Boggs, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Stronger together – state Baptist conventions and SBC

September 23 2013 by R. Albert Mohler Jr., Guest Column

Fall brings the opening of the new school year, the energy of the season of autumn and, for Southern Baptists, the meeting of the state Baptist conventions. In coming weeks, most of our state conventions will be holding their annual meetings. Pastors and laypeople will gather from local churches and assemble as a convention of Baptist churches. There is a glory in these meetings, and they affirm our need for these state conventions and their ministries.
 
A younger generation of Southern Baptists may well be unaware of the importance of the state conventions and their work. They would be well-advised to attend their local state convention and catch a vision of what the Baptist churches in their states are doing together.
 
Americans are regularly reminded that states matter. Our political system respects the role of the individual states, and most Americans identify not only as citizens of the United States, but as residents of their respective states. This does not make our nation weaker. We are stronger because the states retain an important role in building communities and building the nations. As our national experience has shown, there is great gain in recognizing the priority of the local, even in the building of the nation.
 
In Southern Baptist life, the same is profoundly true of our state conventions. If the state conventions did not exist, we would have to invent them. There is a need for Baptist churches within every state to coordinate and combine their energies for the cause of the Great Commission and the task of reaching the communities in their own state and region. This does not weaken the Southern Baptist Convention – it makes us stronger.
 
Respect for the state conventions comes naturally to me. As a boy, I participated in camps and programs for children and young people. Soon after my conversion, I boarded a church bus and headed for Lake Yale, the assembly of the Florida Baptist Convention. The first real exposure I had to the scope and scale of Southern Baptist mission work came when I was a nine-year-old boy sitting in the auditorium at Lake Yale. I came back year after year, attending Royal Ambassador Camp and an assortment of camps and retreats and conferences. The imprint of those experiences remains on my life even now.
 
As a young man called to the ministry, I headed to Samford University where I received the gift of education for ministry from a school founded by Alabama Baptists – at least part of the tuition for my education came directly through the Alabama Baptist Convention. As a young ministerial student, I was exposed to preaching and evangelism through the Alabama state evangelism conferences and I saw the cooperative ministries work by attending the Alabama Baptist Convention annual meeting. When I was elected president of the student Ministerial Association, Samford’s president, Dr. Leslie S. Wright, invited me to attend the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions with him. I learned how Baptists work together.
 
Later, as a pastor and seminary student, I saw the cooperative ministries of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and was able to participate in its work. Later, I was elected editor of The Christian Index and shifted my ministry to the context of the Georgia Baptist Convention. I was immersed in the life of that state convention, and I saw first-hand that it was doing important work that would otherwise be left undone.
 
When disaster strikes, state disaster relief teams are first on the scene. When a pastor needs help, the state convention is close at hand. When strategies for reaching America’s urban areas are developed, state conventions are on the front lines. State conventions remember the rural churches and are there to combine strengths and walk alongside those congregations serving the heartland.
 
At the same time, the state conventions have the world on their hearts. Increasingly, our leading state conventions are increasing their commitment to the support of national ministries and the reaching of the nations. Many of these conventions have taken courageous steps to send a greater percentage of Cooperative Program funds to the cause of reaching the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. These state conventions have made sacrifices for the Great Commission cause and are mobilizing churches to reach not only their communities, but the world.
 
Now is the time for Southern Baptists committed to the Great Commission to show up and support our state conventions, to attend our annual convention meetings and to support every effort to reach our individual states, our nation, and the nations with the gospel.
 
As a committed Southern Baptist, I would not know who I am without the state conventions that have contributed so much to my life and ministry. As president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I am proud and thankful to be in partnership with every one of our state conventions, and I want my students and faculty to share this pride and gratitude.
 
So, as the Southern Baptists in your state head for their annual meetings, determine to join them, to pray for them, to support them in Cooperative Program giving, and to strengthen the Great Commission vision and energy you will find there.
 
Southern Baptists will never be bolder in mission and ministry than when we strengthen these bonds and stand together. Bring the full wealth of your conviction and the full passion of your desire for reaching your state, our nation and all nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Stronger together. Serving together. Sending together.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – R. Albert Mohler Jr. recently celebrated 20 years as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. This column first appeared at his website, AlbertMohler.com.)
9/23/2013 6:15:00 PM by R. Albert Mohler Jr., Guest Column | with 0 comments



God before government: The key to unlock revival

September 23 2013 by Rit Varriale, Guest Column

During the last few years, there have been a number of court cases that have demonstrated a surge of judicial tyranny taking place across the United States. 
 
A few examples include:
  • the Christian photographers in New Mexico who refused to take pictures of a same-sex wedding;
  • the Christian bakers in Oregon who similarly refused to bake a cake for a homosexual ceremony;
  • the Christian couple in Hawaii who have a privately owned bed and breakfast and are being forced to entertain homosexual patrons despite their desire to run their B&B as a Christian environment;
  • the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA and its willingness to let Prop. 8 in California remain overturned;
  • the cases in North Carolina involving Forsythe and Rowan County commissioners opening their meetings with sectarian prayer, that is, prayer in Jesus’ name. 
Today, we have come to the place where it’s criminal for Christian business owners to refuse service to homosexuals, but it’s perfectly acceptable for homosexuals to harass conservative Christians and bully them, via the courts, into violating their religious convictions. 
 
Many pseudo-intellectuals have recently argued that the right to discriminate on the basis of religion is one right that a tolerant society does not protect. Ok, let’s try to make sense of that statement. A tolerant society does not allow religious people to discriminate based on their religious convictions, but it does allow people of same-sex persuasion to subjugate based on their sexual convictions? Sure, that makes a lot of sense – wink, wink. 
 
In the name of tolerance, our judicial system has embraced totalitarianism.
 
Consider the ruling of the New Mexico Supreme Court as articulated by Justice Richard Bosson, who stated that the “price of citizenship” for the Christian photographers is “to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different.” 
 
Elsewhere, Justice Bosson stated that the photographers would now be, “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” and that they, “can no more turn away customers on the basis of their sexual orientation … than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims.” Don’t overlook the subtle but powerful tie to the civil rights movement. Curtailing racism is admirable. Coercing Christians to participate in homosexual and Muslim ceremonies is an anathema. 
 
So, how do we, the church, make a difference? 
 
Here are three areas of prayer and action:
  • Christians must unite across denominational lines and work together in order to defeat the radical liberalism and secularism that prevails in our courts. Current North Carolina politics and last year’s marriage amendment are great examples of what can be done when the church unites.
  • Christians must be willing to recall judges and politicians that disregard the will and voice of the people. This was recently accomplished in Colorado with the recall of two Senators over the issue of gun control. Arguably, the issue of religious freedom and the right to live out one’s religious convictions in the public square is more important than the issue of gun rights. Thus, if the people of Colorado were motivated to dismiss politicians for guns, Christians all across the nation should be motivated to dismiss politicians for God.
  • Christians must commit to a new era of revivalism where the goal of the revival is not individualism packaged in religious language, but the goal of the revival is to obey God before government. 
Many people lament the fact that revival has not broken out in our land. Yet, Acts 4 and 5 teaches us why revival has not taken place in America. In Acts 4, after being harassed by the authorities and commanded, “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus,” the church prayed for boldness (Acts 4:29). In answer to their prayer, the leaders of the church proclaimed the name of Jesus regardless of the authorities’ demands. In Acts 5, the leaders of the church were again bullied by those in power. After being rebuked for preaching in the name of Jesus, Peter responded tersely, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” 
 
This is God’s word for the 21st century church, and it is the key to revival. However, Peter did not stop there. In Acts 5:32, he said, “we are His witnesses to these things [the ministry of Jesus], and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
 
Understood within the context of Acts 4 and 5, the Holy Spirit is “given to those who obey Him” [God] over and against human authorities.
 
It doesn’t matter how many Graham family crusades we have. It doesn’t matter how large our churches become. It doesn’t matter how burdened we are for the lost. If we are not willing to obey God before government, we will not experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We have not experienced revival because the American church is more committed to the government than it is to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 
 
When the government tells us to stop praying with our children at institutions that our tax dollars built, we stop praying. 
 
When the government commands us, “not to speak at all in the name of Jesus,” we do exactly what we’re told. 
 
When Supreme Court justices tell us that we are, “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire [our] lives,” we do everything but what Spirit filled Christians should do, namely, obey God rather than government. 
 
When will we experience a true revival in our nation? We will experience a true move of the Holy Spirit when Christians unite across denominational lines and when Christians are willing to recall judges and politicians who reject the voice and vote of the people. Indeed, we will experience true revival when Christians are willing to tell the courts, with all due respect, “you can take any ruling that compels us to violate our religious beliefs straight back to hell where it originated.”
 
When it comes to our religious beliefs we have one rule – the rule of faith that proclaims, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” 
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rit Varriale is pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church, Shelby, and chair of the Christian Higher Education Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Varriale is the author of Reformation in Responsibility, which is currently out of stock on Amazon.com but can be purchased in bulk for $6 per copy by contacting info@theappian.com.)
9/23/2013 6:03:46 PM by Rit Varriale, Guest Column | with 0 comments



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