September 2016

Front-line missionaries & you

September 30 2016 by Susie Hawkins

One of Christianity’s most compelling mission stories is that of William Carey, called “the father of the modern missionary movement.”

In 1792, William Carey, a poor English shoemaker, felt God’s call to take the gospel to the unreached in India. The mission society of his church appointed him to go, providing the funds for his travel with his mission partner, John Thomas.
 

Susie Hawkins

As the men in his prayer group prayed over him, Carey used the analogy of exploring a mine. “Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope,” he reportedly said. Andrew Fuller later recounted how he and the other men in that prayer meeting committed to partner with Carey and “never let go of the rope.”
 
The image of holding the rope has since become an integral part of missions philosophy and practice.
 
Those on the front lines plunge into jungles, deserts and parts of the globe where the gospel has never reached. But they do it with the backing of others who stay vigilant for them in prayer, resources and equipping in various ways.
 
The Great Commission requires an interdependent relationship between those who go and those who support them. We are all called to hold the ropes in some way for those who are on the leading edge of mission work.
 
Three things to remember as we “hold the ropes”:

 

1. Holding the ropes demonstrates the complementary nature of ministry.

We have this pattern in Acts, as the church at Antioch commissioned Paul and Barnabas for their first missionary journey by praying for them, recognizing their call by the Spirit and sending them out accordingly.
 
Paul later refers to fellow believers as “partners in the gospel” – those who were growing churches, making disciples and supporting the work of the ministry (1 Corinthians 3:9, 2 Corinthians 6:1, Philippians 1:5). The most gifted and capable of people must still have spiritual and emotional assistance as they work to fulfill God’s call.
 

2. Holding the ropes may mean serving in small ways.

It’s not as dramatic as supporting someone in the jungles of Myanmar, but is the local church ministry not just as important?

  • Someone has to mix the lemonade for the Backyard Bible Club.
  • Someone has to count out the cookies.
  • Someone has to deliver the literature.
  • Someone has to count wiggly little bodies and collect contact information.
  • Someone has to plan the transportation and lodging assignments.
  • Someone has to direct the sports activities.
  • Someone has to create a space and time for the Bible to be taught and preached as effectively as possible.

I suggest that these responsibilities are crucial as we hold the ropes particularly for those delivering the gospel message to young ears.
 

3. Holding the ropes has eternal significance, no matter for who or for what.

As we read in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Our service to others is actually our service to God. If we do it for the “least,” then we do it unto Him.
 
Maybe we hold the ropes for a mission family in an impoverished country, perhaps for a spiritual leader at our own church, or both. We are bound to one another; no one works alone. In that exchange with his friends, William Carey told them, “I’ll go if you are here holding fast, holding tight.”
 
God give us the grace to do that very thing.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Hawkins has been active in ministry as a pastor’s wife, teacher and volunteer and is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another. She and her husband O.S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, have two children and six grandchildren. This column first appeared at Flourish, an online community for ministers’ wives sponsored by the North American Mission Board.)
 

9/30/2016 10:49:32 AM by Susie Hawkins | with 0 comments



Every church can evangelize

September 29 2016 by Ernest L. Easley

Every church can evangelize, including yours!

Sadly, it can be easier to find a reason for not evangelizing than to find a path for evangelizing. “We’re just too small,” some may say. “We don’t have enough money” or “Our members are too old.”
 
The first church where I went to pastor years ago had renovated the worship center, painted and laid new carpet down in all the buildings. They were proud of all they had done. But when I presented a plan to go door-to-door sharing Jesus around our neighborhood, they balked.

Ernest L. Easley

The prevailing attitude was, “Pastor, if we do that, the neighborhood children will come in and ruin all we have just done. We spent too much money on our buildings to see that happen.” It’s no surprise that the church later went out of existence.
 
It’s time we begin finding ways to evangelize or we will fossilize.
 
We’ve seen EE (Evangelism Explosion), CWT (Continual Witness Training), WIN (Witness Involvement Now) and others. It’s time we see “ECE” – Every Church Evangelizing!
 
So where should a church begin in getting back to evangelism?
 

Casual opportunities

As we live out our lives across our communities, we need to begin seeing people like Jesus sees people: lost, lonely, hurting, empty and in need of salvation. Our casual conversations provide great opportunities for sharing Jesus with servers at restaurants, hairstylists, those who help with your grocery bags, shoe salesmen, gym members and everyone else you encounter.
 
We’re missing opportunities every day for sharing Jesus because we’re not looking for them. The next time you go out to eat, don’t see just a server, see them as a person God loves and who needs to hear about Jesus.
 

Current opportunities

Your church has current opportunities built into the weekly calendar for sharing the gospel that often are overlooked for evangelism.
 
When was the last time the gospel was shared during a Sunday School class or small group and an invitation given to receive Jesus? Don’t overlook these as opportunities for evangelism.
 
What about worship gatherings? What about men’s and women’s ministry gatherings? What about children’s church and those other ministries that are already in place? Every one of them is an opportunity for sharing the gospel and giving people the opportunity to receive Jesus.
 

Created opportunities

Every church can create special events for sharing the gospel. Created events can take place around July 4th, Easter, Vacation Bible School (Southern Baptists continue seeing more children reached during VBS than any other created opportunity), Christmas, R.A. Racers, sports camps, Upward Basketball, block parties, neighborhood clean-up day, fall festival and other initiatives that are only limited by our imagination.
 
Every church can evangelize, including yours, be it through casual opportunities, current opportunities or created opportunities. Like someone once said, “Where there is a will, there is a way,” and that includes evangelism.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ernest L. Easley, professor of evangelism at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., led churches in Georgia and Texas during more than 30 years as a pastor.)
 

9/29/2016 9:08:20 AM by Ernest L. Easley | with 0 comments



The times in which we live

September 28 2016 by Rudy Gray

There was a time when Americans associated America with freedom. Today, we have lost touch with the concept of real freedom and have begun to think of it as the right to do as you please rather than the power and insight to do what is right.
 
Our culture has embraced the idea that truth is not absolute, but relative; subjective, not objective; and self-centered, rather than God-centered.
 
A nation that was founded on godly principles has become increasingly godless with the passage of time. As Election Day approaches, we face daunting challenges and problems that would have been unimaginable to our founding fathers.
 
We need the kind of change that politicians and political parties cannot provide.
 
LifeWay Research recently released the results of a survey of 1,000 Americans. Two questions were especially telling:
 
1. Is it morally wrong for an individual to identify with a gender different than the sex they were born? Amazingly, 45 percent said no, 14 percent said it was not a moral issue, and only 35 percent said yes.
 
2. Is it morally wrong to change the gender you were born with through either surgery or taking hormones? Again, it was almost unbelievable that 43 percent of the people surveyed said no, 11 percent said it was not a moral issue, and 42 percent said yes.
 
How did we get in this shape? We left our foundation and drifted away from the one true God. Too often, our churches fell short in offering God’s light to this dark culture.
 
As a nation, we allowed the rhetoric of radical untruth to usurp the voice of truth. Our Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage – something God’s Word clearly condemns. The current tumult over a person using whatever public restroom they want based on who they think they are sexually, rather than who they are by birth, is minor in comparison to what is coming. As our culture has become more and more godless, it has become more brazen in its immorality.
 
Radical Islam, meanwhile, continues to murder and destroy anyone who does not agree with its agenda. Terrorists not only seek to build a country on land they do not own, they seek to create mayhem in countries they cannot defeat on the battlefield. In this age of terrorism, Christians are prime targets. Franklin Graham has repeatedly said, “The fundamentalist Muslims hate us because they perceive us as people who believe in Jesus – Christians.”
 
Our Bible-believing pastors who preach the Word of God faithfully will unfortunately face increased pressure, and even persecution, in the future. George Orwell wrote: “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”
 
What Americans need to desperately know in the light of our cultural morass and worldwide radical Islam’s assault is the very truth this culture refuses to hear: the Word of God.
 
Apologist Ravi Zacharias has observed that we have a deep crisis of the American soul and that “we have no recourse, because the only cure has been disparaged and mocked by the elite and the powerful.” In a recent post, he bemoaned the death of “morality, truth and reason” in our culture. “We are sliding into the future with evil stalking us,” he said, “but we have no morality, truth or reason to guide us.”
 
In a time when the bondage of evil grows, we need the freedom and power of the one true God more than ever. In John 8:32, Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” He is the truth. His Word is truth. We have challenges before us that are so large, we can only meet them in the power of the God who is greater than the challenges we face. God’s people can make a difference in Him, through Him, and for Him.
 
God’s power is not diminished. His Word has not been weakened. He was the hope of the faithful in ages past, and He is our hope for such a time as this.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rudy Gray is editor of the Baptist Courier, baptistcourier.com, newsjournal of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.)
 
 

9/28/2016 8:41:51 AM by Rudy Gray | with 0 comments



Mindsets, ideologies & truth

September 27 2016 by Ronnie Floyd

The collision of mindsets and ideologies in America is real. Regardless of what our nation experiences or discusses, these varying mindsets and ideologies surface and collide.

Some say this ongoing collision of mindsets and ideologies will lead us to eventually implode.
 

Ronnie Floyd

When I was a young leader walking through a challenging time, however, someone gave me advice I have never forgotten: Remember things are never as good or as bad as you think. Truth about the situation lies somewhere in between the two.
 
This is very applicable for where things are in America today, as illustrated through the present campaign for president of the United States. In this time of competing platforms, parties and personalities, how do we deal with where things are in America? Here are four suggestions for this season in our nation:
 

1. Seek the real truth

Refuse to settle for media reports, political pundits and social networking to determine the truth about something. Information is available, so seek it out for yourself rather than hearing everything from a skewed perspective.
 
Spinning the truth does not make something the truth. Truth is only truth. Seek it. Discover it. Share it.
 

2. Determine to make a difference

For those of us who know Christ personally, we are citizens of God's Kingdom first and America second. Therefore, we need to determine to make a difference. The necessity to do so is upon us.
 
Making a difference is not about making your own rules and leading others astray in them, but making a difference for the good and furtherance of our future.
 
In this volatile climate in America, determine to make a positive difference.
 

3. Have a good attitude

Regardless of what goes on in America, those who have a relationship with God will one day win for all eternity. Knowing this, the situation in America today should not determine our daily attitude.
 
We need to set our thermostat daily with a good attitude. Keep perspective about everything. This is not and never has been easy, but it is imperative for us to have a good attitude.
 
Refuse to sound forth your negativity before others both privately and publicly.
 

4. Talk to God about our nation daily

When we pray for America daily, it changes the way we hear things, see things, and talk with others about our country. We need to pray specifically and passionately.
 
As followers of Christ, this is imperative. Otherwise, we will join in the chorus of differing mindsets as they sing forth their personal perspective and their slant on truth.
 
I think we should use this Scripture set forth by the apostle Paul to pray daily about where we are in America:
 
We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. ...” (Colossians 1:9).
 
This is my prayer daily: “God, I appeal to You for You to overflow me with spiritual understanding; the ability to put things together biblically, spiritually and practically.”
 
Choose to make a difference. Now is the time to lead.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ronnie W. Floyd, online at ronniefloyd.com, is senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

 

9/27/2016 8:28:31 AM by Ronnie Floyd | with 0 comments



We are family

September 26 2016 by Randy Adams

If you’re over 50 the phrase “we are family” might bring the Sister Sledge pop song from 1979 to mind. But recent events have reminded me that Baptists indeed are family.

For example, when Jimmy Stewart of the Alaska Baptist Convention received devastating third-degree burns in July, he was flown to a Seattle hospital. Upon arrival, Northwest Baptist Convention (SBC) pastors and church members assisted the family with transportation and housing needs. A similar request came when a mission team member from Alabama was flown to a Seattle hospital in September. Staff at the Puget Sound Baptist Association responded to a request from his Alabama pastor who knew that his Baptist family in Washington would minister to his church member.


Randy Adams


Requests like these are not unusual. Recently a Baptist family member in the South requested that we find an Oregon church to help a friend in crisis, and we did. Another shared that when their child moved from Oregon to Massachusetts they contacted our Baptist family in Boston who helped the young couple move into their apartment.
 
In August our Northwest Baptist family sent 163 people from 32 of our churches to minister to 1,100 family members, missionaries, serving in Asia. Our missionaries depend on us to support them through the Cooperative Program but they also need their Baptist family to pray for them and join them on their mission field. They invited us to help in their training retreat because we are their family. Twenty-two of these same missionaries will spend nine days with us in early October, helping us know better how to reach Asian peoples living in the Northwest, among other things (details on our website at nwbaptist.org).
 
This summer we received an application from a church that wants to affiliate with our convention. The church has a large ministry, with several members serving in international missions and 13 members attending seminary. Their small group ministry includes learning Old Testament Hebrew and others for studying biblical theology at a very high level.
 
So why do they want to affiliate with the NWBC? They are looking for family. They are a church without the extended family that Baptists have. They don’t have associations, conventions, seminaries, mission boards and a support system beyond their own town. As Baptists, we even have an insurance and retirement system for our pastors, GuideStone Financial Resources.
 
Like all families, we have our disagreements, crazy uncles, loudmouthed cousins and dysfunctional branches on the family tree. Sometimes these things frustrate us. But where would we be without our extended family?
 
In November the NWBC family will gather in Spokane for our annual meeting. We will celebrate what God is doing in our Northwest family with abundant testimonies and worship. It will be a sweet time of fellowship. It is a good day to serve the Lord in the Northwest!
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Randy Adams, online at randyadams.org, is executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention.)
 

9/26/2016 8:32:50 AM by Randy Adams | with 0 comments



Evangelistic pastors

September 23 2016 by Chuck Lawless

In nearly 20 years of studying churches in North America, I have yet to find an evangelistic church that was not led by a strongly evangelistic pastor. Here are some general characteristics I’ve seen in these pastors:

1. They make themselves do evangelism. Some are naturally gifted evangelists, but many are not. They just know they need to do evangelism and they need to lead the way – so they intentionally choose to do what sometimes makes them uncomfortable.


Chuck Lawless

2. They hold themselves accountable to someone. They’re unafraid to keep somebody else informed about their evangelistic endeavors. They want the accountability and they want to model evangelistic faithfulness for others.
 
3. If they have staff, they hold them accountable to doing evangelism as well. That is, they work to build evangelism into the DNA of their church. They know the importance of leaders modeling the work of evangelism.
 
4. They don’t lock themselves up in their office. Instead, they get involved in the community. They join local organizations. They work out in local gyms. They coach little league in the area. They go where lost people are.
 
5. They have prayer partners who pray for them to share the gospel boldly and clearly. These pastors have peers who take seriously the apostle Paul’s call for prayer in Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4.
 
6. They pray for non-believers by name. They regularly ask God to open blinded minds of family and friends (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
 
7. They often have a global heart that translates into local evangelism. The Great Commission is clearly both international and domestic for them. The evangelism they do in one context fuels their fire for the other context.
 
8. They use the pulpit for evangelism, but they don’t stop there. Seldom do they preach the Word without calling people to repentance and faith. At the same time, though, they don’t allow their pulpit evangelism to replace doing personal one-on-one work.
 
9. They tend to define “evangelism” narrowly (and properly, in my opinion). That is, it is never less than verbalizing the Good News of Jesus to a non-believer. Other good deeds may lead to sharing the gospel, but evangelism itself necessitates telling the Good News.
 
10. They grieve when they don’t see lost persons get saved. They so long for people to know Jesus – and they’ve so often seen people respond positively to their evangelistic message – that they weep when they see non-believers fight against the gospel.
 
11. They tend to be disciplined in Bible study and prayer. In fact, it’s their time with God that propels them into evangelizing.
 
12. They humbly speak of their evangelistic attempts. They don’t broadcast them, but nor do they miss an opportunity to illustrate for others that they’re doing evangelism. It’s tough to be a model if no one ever hears what you’re doing.
 
No pastor can address all of these areas at once, but all of us can strive to improve in some area. Pick one or two to strengthen in your life, and start moving in the right direction today.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chuck Lawless, online at chucklawless.com, is a vice president, dean of graduate studies and missions and evangelism professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.)

9/23/2016 8:03:50 AM by Chuck Lawless | with 0 comments



Pastor, love your Baptist association

September 22 2016 by Roger P. Freeman

The missions strategy for Southern Baptist Convention ministry through our churches is found in Acts 1:8, in which Jesus states:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

  • “Jerusalem” is missions through our local churches and Baptist associations to our “Jerusalem.”
  • “Judea” is missions through our state Baptist conventions to our states.
  • “Samaria” entails missions through our North American Mission Board to unchurched areas of the United States and Canada.
  • “The uttermost part of the earth” encompasses missions through our International Missions Board to unreached peoples in all nations of the world.

In tandem with our churches, the Baptist association is the first line of biblical missions. In this season when many local associations are holding their annual meetings, it is an opportune time to lovingly encourage pastors to be active and supportive. In other words, love your association.
 

Roger P. Freeman

By way of testimony, God has allowed me to serve as a Baptist pastor since 1969, such a holy honor. In each ministry, the director of missions/associational missionary (DOM) and associational relationships have been a strength and blessing to my walk with Christ and ministry. Thank you to the DOMs who have led those associations – Robert Mizelle, Wesley Pitts, Dennis Pulley, Rick Stevens, Robert Tyson, Rusty Sumrall.
 
Pastor, here are a few reasons for being active in support, involvement and attendance in our local associations.
 
Missions vision begins at home. Your associational DOM will be a great guide and resource as churches do local missions. Every DOM wants to be a help to the churches and a catalyst for new church plants and reaching souls for Christ and the gospel. As we unite with the vision of our state conventions, the association is more important than ever. As the late British missionary C.T. Studd once said, “The light that shines farthest shines brightest at home.”
 
Continuing education is a great benefit of attending associational meetings and pastors’ conferences. We must be lifelong learners. Each associational gathering teaches us about missions, Bible study and church leadership, thus aiding us to be more effective pastors.
 
Doctrinal issues in Baptist life have been best addressed by the local association, which predates both the state and national conventions. Great doctrinal statements like the 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith guided Baptist churches long before other great statements came along. The 1925 Baptist Faith and Message is modeled after this 1742 associational confession. When doctrinal issues arise among Baptist churches, the local association can address and handle them in an efficient manner better than at a state or national level.
 
Relationships we build in the association will make us and the church we serve stronger and more fruitful. Younger pastors need the wisdom of seasoned veteran pastors. Veteran pastors need the bright spirits of the younger pastor. We need each other. The “Lone Ranger” pastor is not the biblical model. We are soldiers together in Christ’s army. The DOM will be a friend and counselor for pastors. “Together for the gospel” is our motto.
 
Prayer support is our continual need. We are to “pray one for another” (James 5:16), and associational relationships give us many prayer partners. The sincere fervent prayers of fellow believers will carry the pastor as we fight the battles of life and ministry.
 
So, pastor friend, let’s love our association. We will be better laborers for God and our people. The local Baptist association is a blessing to the life and work of a pastor and a strength to the mission of our churches.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roger P. Freeman is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Nashville and the North American Mission Board’s Tennessee pastor ambassador and a former president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the Louisiana Baptist Convention.)

 
 
9/22/2016 7:07:04 AM by Roger P. Freeman | with 0 comments



Reaching students – in their own words

September 21 2016 by Shane Pruitt

One of the things I love most about young people is if you want to know what they’re thinking, all you have to do is ask them. Sometimes, you don’t even have to ask.

I sat down and asked students some probing questions over the last year whenever I was speaking at student camps and conferences, discipleship events, young adult worship services, etc.


Shane Pruitt

“What do adults need to know about your generation?” I typically asked in starting the conversations. It was an incredible journey in becoming a student myself so that I could hear from this generation about reaching their generation.
 
With that in mind, here are some ideas for reaching students gleaned from their own words:
 
1. Students want to be seen as people, not projects. If the focus of a church in reaching students is to be seen as cool, trendy or relevant, then it is missing the point. Have a desire to reach students because they are made in the image of God, they have souls and they matter to the Kingdom of God. No one wants to be someone’s project, including students.
 
2. Students want to be a part of “doing” something. They want more out of church than sitting on a pew, listening to sermons, going to potluck dinners while waiting on a rapture bus to swoop down to pick them all up. They are not scared to die young; however, they are terrified to die at a ripe old age while not having done anything significant with their lives in their own eyes. They are not typically impressed by a church’s size or budget. They’re more interested in being noticed relationally and in what the church is doing outside the walls of the building.
 
3. Students don’t despise adults. People tend to think that students don’t want anything to do with the older generation. However, this generation is in desperate need for the older generation to invest in them. This is largely a fatherless generation. They often seek out or are more open to discipleship or mentorship than we tend to believe. But they won’t know how to ask for it, so they ask you to “hang out.”
 
4. Students value the “why” over the “what.” They do not typically want to do something just because it’s the way it’s always been done or because it’s what their family has always known. They are not driven by heritage. For example, students are not going to be Southern Baptists just because their parents were. If we can’t answer their “why” questions or we get defensive over their questions, we’ll lose them. Be ready to answer their honest questions with love, patience and kindness. Their experience with something or someone will often dictate their views more than history will.
 
5. Students don’t want to be seen as the future of the church. Remember, if they’ve been redeemed with the blood of Jesus, then they’re the church right now. So, let them have some ownership of the ministry and be patient with them when they mess up – possibly a lot. A great way to keep students engaged in the ministry is by constantly communicating, illustrating and empowering participation in the vision and mission of the church.
 
6. Students are more globally minded. Most students are up to date on world news and affairs, especially in the area of entertainment and music. This generation may drive the older generations a little crazy because they may seem to be less patriotic to the USA. However, this is simply not the case; they just value other countries, cultures and citizens equally. They tend to view things from a global perspective instead of a national perspective. It’s very possible that the Lord may accomplish the Great Commission through their interest in the nations. Educate, disciple and mobilize this generation toward the nations; they’ll love you for it.
 
7. Students want authenticity and transparency. Nearly all students quickly grow weary of gimmicks and sleek presentations. The more transparent and vulnerable a communicator is, the more students connect. There was a time when speakers/teachers were told not to use themselves in personal illustrations; however, this generation wants to hear those personal stories. As adults, if we act as those who have it all figured out and are not in desperate need of God’s grace daily, we’ll lose their attention because they won’t believe that we’re “being real” and that our faith is unattainable for them.
 
I’m personally encouraged by this generation of students. Even as an adult, I resonate deeply with their views. I believe God will use them to further the Great Commission, perhaps more than any previous generation.
 
May they not be seen as projects, but instead as extremely valuable people who need to be reached through the gospel, discipled in the gospel, and set free with the gospel to reach other students for the glory of Jesus Christ.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shane Pruitt is director of missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

9/21/2016 7:39:29 AM by Shane Pruitt | with 0 comments



Your Facebook identity

September 16 2016 by David Jeremiah

When Mark Zuckerberg was a teenager at Phillips Exeter Academy, he kept up with students’ names and faces by using a “face book” – a booklet published annually containing the names and pictures of students and faculty.

Zuckerberg is now 32 and a billionaire as the result of creating his own face book: Facebook.com, the largest social networking site on the Internet. Since Facebook has more than 1 billion registered users, there’s a chance you are a member or have a friend or relative who is.
 

David Jeremiah

A place where lots of people know your name

The TV comedy Cheers used its theme song, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” to touch a nerve in American culture: the need to connect with others. Cheers’ characters met daily to stay in touch, proving the theme song’s premise: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.”
 
That’s what Facebook has become – a place for “friends” to share life. I put “friends” in quotations because on Facebook the term is used loosely, to put it mildly. If you aren’t familiar with Facebook, a “friend” is someone you are linked with and with whom you can share information, pictures and the like. Some people accumulate “friends” for the prestige factor. But most people genuinely want to be in touch with family, acquaintances and, yes, actual friends.
 
But there is another side to putting yourself “out there” on a social networking site like Facebook.
 

Your life – for all the world to see

Once you go public on Facebook, you are inviting the entire world to know about your life – or at least hundreds of “friends.” The larger your “friends” network, the more likely someone will read something you thought would stay private and make it public. For that reason, Facebook becomes a source of accountability.
 
For Christians, Facebook is another opportunity to ask ourselves, Who am I? Who is the person I am presenting to the world? What are my friends learning about me? Is my Christian walk matching my Christian talk? Am I the same person on Facebook as I am in church?
 

Living a life above reproach

It’s always been true that “you can run, but you can’t hide” – and the internet has made it doubly true. But we shouldn’t want to! What can we do to live the kind of life the apostle Paul called “blameless,” or “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2)? How can we live a life in which there is no dividing wall between public and private?
 
First, live intimately and honestly before God. When the double life King David had been living was brought to light by a prophet from God, he recorded his psalm of contrition for all to read (Psalm 51). What he thought was hidden had been in God’s sight all along.
 
David’s other great testament to transparency is found in Psalm 139 where he confessed that God is everywhere and sees everything. He concluded with what should be our prayer daily: “Search me, know me, test my heart, show me anything You see that I don’t see. And lead me in Your way” (Psalm 139:23-24, paraphrased).
 
Second, live openly before the Word of God. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that everything is “naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” God shows us what He sees in us by the “living and powerful” Word of God, revealing the “thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Psalm 119:9 reminds us that we “cleanse” our way by “taking heed according to [God’s] word.” Meditating “day and night” on “the law of the LORD” will result in the “reproof” and “correction” we need (Psalm 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:16).
 
Third, live accountably before others. Hebrews 10:24-25 affirms that we are to motivate “one another” to live a life of “love and good works,” “exhorting one another.” Family is our first line of defense against living with double standards. The family of God should be second. If you are not in a small group or some other context with Christians, you are missing out on one of the chief blessings of the body of Christ: accountability for a life of holiness.
 
If you are a member of Facebook, use it as a place to cultivate the life you want your best friend, Jesus Christ, to see daily.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Jeremiah is pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., and founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information on Turning Point, visit DavidJeremiah.org. Used with permission.)
 

9/16/2016 11:31:30 AM by David Jeremiah | with 0 comments



The breathtaking hypocrisy of the NCAA

September 15 2016 by N.C. Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam

Citing a commitment to “fairness and inclusion,” the NCAA announced September 12 that it will move seven championship events out of North Carolina during the 2016-17 school year.
  
The hypocrisy of the NCAA’s “commitment” is breathtaking. The organization selectively boycotts North Carolina for policies it claims are unique to our state – but actually are common throughout the nation – and for daring to disagree with a sweeping federal mandate by the Obama Administration – a mandate that is currently being challenged in court by 24 other states. The NCAA is in violation itself of the civil rights provision of Title IX as interpreted by the Obama Administration. Let’s look at the facts.
 
FACT #1:  The NCAA claims that the “dynamic” in North Carolina is different from other states. But North Carolina state law on discrimination is the same or very similar to that of 28 other states and the statutory law of the Federal government. The NCAA will want to take a careful look at its activities and those of its thousands of members in these 28 other states in order to understand its “commitment to fairness and inclusion.”  
 
Proponents of the Charlotte type discrimination ordinance say it has been enacted in 200 cities nationwide. Their leader, Rep. Chris Sgro, says it is 100 cities. Whether it is 100 or 200 means that about 10,000 other cities and towns nationwide do not have a similar ordinance. How many NCAA events, members or fans are located in these 10,000 other cities and towns?  
 
FACT #2:  North Carolina has been joined by 24 other states in challenging President Obama’s bizarre interpretation of the word “sex” in Title IX (education funding) relating to “discrimination.” The first was North Carolina Governor McCrory and Secretary Perry v. U.S. Department of Justice. Twenty-three other states have joined the battle. In addition, G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board of Virginia is on appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court, and deals with the same issue. The U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-3 NOT to allow the President’s interpretation to go into effect pending final decision. Since the NCAA would no doubt like to solidify its “commitment to fairness and inclusion” by avoiding these 25 states, here is a complete list: Alabama, North Dakota, Arizona, Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas, South Dakota, Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia, Mississippi, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Nebraska, Virginia – Gloucester County and North Carolina.
 
FACT #3: LGBT persons have the same rights in North Carolina that the rest of us do. Let me explain in detail.
  
What is discrimination? American citizens who are North Carolina residents have a full panoply of rights that come from the United States Constitution, United States Statutes, the North Carolina State Constitution (particularly Article I of the Declaration of Rights), state statutes and local ordinances. These rights are available in full to almost everyone.
 
Article I Section I of the North Carolina Constitution provides as follows: “The equality and rights of persons. We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.”
 
There are exceptions. Aliens do not have the right to vote, whether here legally or illegally. Children do not have the right to enter into most contracts nor the right to vote nor the right to buy alcohol. Those who by mental disease are not able to conduct their own affairs may be declared incompetent by a Court. Their rights are protected and enhanced by the appointment of a Guardian. Convicted criminals lose some of their rights. Even convicted criminals have the right in most circumstances to not undress or use the bathroom in the presence of a person of the opposite sex.
 
Each of us has the same rights when facing the same circumstances. For historical reasons the exercise of these rights has been protected by additional constitutional or statutory provisions.
  
Article I Section 19 of the North Carolina Constitution provides: “Law of the land; equal protection of the laws. No person shall be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.”
 
The 14th Amendment (Section 1) to the United States Constitution provides: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
 
In contrast, what the NCAA asks for is extra special rights based on the undefinable “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”               
 
FACT #4:  The NCAA and its member institutions are NOT in compliance with the civil rights provision of Title IX as defined by President Obama. If the association tried to get into compliance it would destroy half (women’s athletics) of its reason to exist. This requires some explanation.
 
On May 13, 2016, the United States Departments of Justice and Education issued a joint letter explaining a school’s obligation under Title IX regarding transgender students. It came with an implicit threat of denial of Title IX funding. Almost all, if not all, NCAA member institutions receive Title IX funding.
 

The Problem

The letter claimed to rely on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The letter stated that: “[g]ender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth … Under Title IX, a school must treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their education records or identification documents indicate a different sex … Under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.” (emphasis added)  
 
Title IX requires that, “[N]o person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any academic, extracurricular, research, occupational training, or other education program or activity operated by a recipient which receives Federal financial assistance.”
 
Title IX requires that schools treat females and males equally with respect to participation, opportunities, athletics scholarships and treatment of male and female teams. Title IX athletic regulations were extensively debated by Congress and became law in June of 1975, giving high schools and colleges three years and elementary schools one year to comply.
  

The Departments of Justice and Education’s Solution for Athletes

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Education (DOE), the solution is simple: “Title IX regulations permit a school to operate or sponsor sex-segregated athletics teams when selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or when the activity involved is a contact sport.” However, a school may not “adopt or adhere to requirements that rely on overly broad generalizations or stereotypes about the differences between transgender students and other students of the same sex (i.e., the same gender identity) or others’ discomfort with transgender students”
 
One of the purposes of Title IX was to create the same opportunity and equality of treatment for male and female student-athletes. The regulation requires that any member of the "underrepresented sex" (the sex that has the fewest opportunities) must have an opportunity to play on the team of the overrepresented sex if that player is not provided with a team of the player's own sex. Since males have more opportunities than females, a male playing on a female’s team would take away a participation opportunity for an underrepresented sex (female). Thus, in the interest of the "class" (all females), males are not allowed to take spots on a female’s team even though the reverse is permitted. Males have no right to try out for a female’s team if there are more males playing sports at that particular school than females.
 
There is little research on the impact of students’ participation based on age-appropriateness, and, as the letter notes, the policies needed at the collegiate level may not be the same at the high school or even middle school level of competition. “[P]olicies that may be appropriate at the college level may ‘be unfair and too complicated for [the high school] level of competition.’”
  
States and school districts have previously used discretion to enact their own policies concerning transgender students on school teams. Some have allowed transgender students to play on teams consistent with their gender identity regardless of their sex assigned at birth. Others evaluate the student’s eligibility for gender-specific school activities by considering their school records, medical history or the student’s gender-specific advantage of their participation. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association, for example, adopted a rule that, “A Student’s gender is denoted by what is listed on the birth certificate.” In North Carolina, and in most states, the birth certificate can be changed under medical certification.
 

The NCAA and Title IX

In April 2010, the NCAA Executive Committee adopted policies to include transgender student-athletes. The NCAA Office of Inclusion “encourages thoughtful development of policies and practices that provide fair participation opportunities for all student athletes, including transgender individuals.” The two bylaws affected were 1) mixed team status and 2) the use of banned substances. So long as the student is receiving hormone therapy, transgender students are permitted to participate in sex-segregated sports consistent with their gender identity.
 
There are problems with these bylaws:  The “mixed team status” rules violate President Obama’s new civil rights “law.”  Students may be forced by NCAA schools to show their medical records for proof of hormone therapy. This violates President Obama’s new interpretation of civil rights under Title IX. 
 

NCAA “Mixed Team Status” Policies

1. A trans male (Female to Male) student-athlete who has received a medical exception for treatment with testosterone for diagnosed Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for purposes of NCAA competition may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team without changing that team status to a mixed team.
 
2. A trans female (Male to Female) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.
 
If either of the above occurred, colleges and universities would see a decrease in the number of women’s collegiate sports teams. Once a team is changed to “mixed-team status,” that team is no longer able to compete against females nor is that team classified as a female team. As of 2011, the number of female athletes was still far behind the number of male athletes. The NCAA reported that the gap seems to be narrowing from its 2014-15 data with the average NCAA institution having approximately 437 student-athletes, 247 males and 190 females. However, if the Departments of Justice and Education prevails on their purely subjective gender identity policy, there WILL be a decrease in the number of women’s collegiate teams since they will become “mixed teams” under NCAA rules.
 
In order to comply with Title IX funding, women and men must be provided equitable opportunities to participate in sports. There is no requirement to offer identical sports but rather an equal opportunity to play. If more teams transition to mixed teams, female athletes will suffer. Mixed teams are permitted to play all-male teams and compete in the men’s championships, but mixed teams are NOT permitted to play against all female teams nor are they permitted to participate in the women’s NCAA Championship. If there is a team of 30 females and 1 male, the team must compete in the men’s championship. Female teams will ultimately suffer from a lower level of competition. Some talented female athletes will be less likely to join athletic teams since they will only be playing other mixed teams or all male teams.
 
Institutions must also demonstrate a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex. However, where more female teams transition to mixed teams, this will no longer be expanding opportunities for the underrepresented sex: female. Eventually, no schools will be in compliance with the rules required under President Obama’s new law on Title IX.
 

Use of Banned Substances  

The NCAA’s bylaws states that, “Any transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatment related to gender transition may participate in sex-separated sports activities in accordance with his or her assigned birth gender.
 
• A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who is not taking testosterone related to gender transition may participate on a men’s or women’s team.
• A trans female (MTF) transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team.”
 
The provisions in these bylaws are in direct conflict with President Obama’s new law on Title IX.
 
In 2010, a female identifying as a male was allowed to play on a women’s collegiate NCAA basketball team because the individual had not undergone hormone treatments. If this player had undergone hormone treatment or the transgender athlete was a biological male identifying as a woman who wanted to play on the women’s team, the player could not have participated.
  
A transgender student-athlete in track and field won many honors and a national championship in women’s hammer throw but identified as a male. The athlete was allowed to continue competing in the women’s category because the athlete had not undergone reassignment surgery or hormonal treatment which is consistent with NCAA regulations. If this athlete had undergone hormonal treatment, the student would have had to compete in the men’s division according to NCAA policies.
 
The NCAA provides additional considerations for the student-athlete when transitioning to the other sex. The student must submit a letter of request to participate on a sports team to the director and include with that letter a note from the student’s physician documenting the transition status and identifying the hormonal treatment and documenting of the student’s testosterone levels if relevant. This NCAA requirement is in direct conflict with President Obama’s new law on Title IX.
 

The Effect on Women and Title IX Funding

According to the Department of Justice “there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.” The Department of Justice’s interpretation of Title IX concludes that these athletes should have been able to participate on either team that their self-determined gender aligned with, regardless whether they had taken hormones or sex reassignment surgery. No medical diagnosis or treatment should be required since “requiring students to produce such identification documents in order to treat them consistent with their gender identity may violate Title IX when doing so has the practical effect of limiting or denying students equal access to an education program or activity.”
 
According to the DOJ’s analysis of Title IX, the NCAA will be in violation of Title IX and its member schools may lose federal funding if they do not amend their policies concerning athletes and sex-reassignment surgery and hormone treatments. But then, what would be the effect on competition? A male could self-identity as a female and demand a position on the team. Will women put up with having an anatomically correct male in their shower rooms and in their hotel rooms on travel days? Some may; most will not. None should be asked to do so.
 

The Unfortunate Reality

If the letter of advice from the Department of Justice and Department of Education is converted into a law by the Federal Courts then the days are numbered for collegiate, high school and professional women’s sports. Title IX was conceived as a boon to women in sports but will now be used as a weapon against them.
 
FACT #5: The NCAA also claimed to have made its decision because “North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community” – a vague reference to SB 2/S.L. 2015-75. In the litigation over that law not a single LGBT person has cited one instance of being denied service. In fact, the law provides how marriage services are provided to everyone legally entitled to marry. The NCAA has no reference to any other concern or issue on that point.
 
FACT #6: The NCAA cites as a reason for its decision that 5 states (and some cities) prohibit travel to North Carolina. That would be a reason to sanction those states and cities. To sanction North Carolina for that reason gives power to the “heckler’s veto.”
 

Conclusion

If the NCAA wants to solidify its commitment to “fairness and inclusion” and restrict its activities to states that meet its litmus test for an “inclusive atmosphere,” it should expand its deliberations to include the 24 states suing the Obama Administration and the overlapping 28 states with policies similar to North Carolina’s, while also turning the spotlight on its own policies regarding women in athletics. Soon it will no longer be the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This column was adapted from a press release. It is used by permission. View the full document here.)


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9/15/2016 9:25:13 AM by N.C. Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam | with 0 comments



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