February 2018

Practice fervent prayer

February 19 2018 by Milton A. Hollifield, BSC executive director-treasurer

In late January, I had the privilege of reporting to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Board of Directors about the progress that N.C. Baptist churches and their members have made related to our strategy of “impacting lostness through disciple-making.”
The many highlights of my report included stories and examples of more individuals being engaged with the gospel, more churches being planted, more young people and college students being reached and discipled in their faith and increased financial support of missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program and other special offerings.
I give all praise and glory to our God for how He is working in and through North Carolina Baptists to advance the gospel and make disciples, I reminded the board that all of the progress we are celebrating in fulfilling this strategy is happening because of the prayers of His people.
Prayer has been at the forefront of the disciple-making strategy from the beginning. Prayer guided the strategy’s development as it was considered and adopted by our board and our messengers in 2013. And since the strategy’s implementation in January 2014, prayer by convention staff, pastors, church leaders and laity has undergirded every aspect of our work.
In fact, as the strategy was being developed, we revisited the seven pillars for ministry that I had written in 2006 soon after my election as the executive director-treasurer. These biblical concepts serve as core values to help us as a convention stay focused on our mission of assisting N.C. Baptist churches to achieve what God has called them to do. The very first one of these seven pillars is practice fervent prayer because it aligns our hearts and minds with God’s heart and His mission.
A number of people who attended the special “Broken Before the Throne” prayer gathering held in conjunction with last November’s Annual Meeting have conducted similar prayer services in their churches. Others have inquired about how they could do so. I encourage your church to have observances similar to this while asking God to do a spiritually refreshing work within your local fellowship.
Convention staff have made all of the resources from the prayer gathering available for pastors and ministry leaders to access and utilize in developing a prayer gathering in your church or region. These materials, as well as a video recording of the prayer gathering from the Annual Meeting, are available online at ncbaptist.org/prayergathering. Contact us if you need help in planning a prayer event.
Also, I want to encourage you and members of your church to attend a most important upcoming statewide prayer gathering during the weekend of March 9-10 at Lake Hills Baptist Church’s Candler campus in Candler, N.C., near Asheville. The theme of this year’s prayer gathering is “Awaken: Return to Me.”
Chris Schofield of our state convention’s Office of Prayer and host church pastor James Walker invite you to participate in a rich time of prayer, worship and preaching of God’s Word during this year’s event. More information is available at ncbaptist.org/awaken. Come believing and expecting God to do a new work of revival in you.
In closing, I also encourage you to be in prayer for this year’s Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. The designated week of prayer for this year’s offering is March 4-11.
Because of your generosity, North Carolina Baptists have ranked at or near the top in financial support of this special offering for many years. Prayer resources, missionary profiles and other resources are available at anniearmstrong.com.
N.C. Baptists, thank you for praying and for allowing God to work through you to impact lostness and make disciples.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” – Colossians 4:2.

2/19/2018 3:11:04 PM by Milton A. Hollifield, BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments

Strive for racial reconciliation

February 6 2018 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

As we approach Racial Reconciliation Sunday on Feb. 11, I’m thankful for the strong stands and statements against the sin of racism that have taken place within our denomination, particularly during the past year.
North Carolina Baptists were among at least five state conventions that adopted resolutions denouncing racism during their respective annual meetings last fall, joining Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.
Those measures on the state level came just a few months after messengers attending the national Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)  annual meeting last June in Phoenix, Arizona, passed a resolution “On the Anti-Gospel of Alt-Right White Supremacy.” Resolutions that were adopted in North Carolina and other states affirmed the sentiments expressed by the resolution adopted by the SBC.
In written comments made to Baptist Press, Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he thanked God “that our denomination has committed itself to opposing the satanic scourge of racism and to promoting racial unity.”
I am glad that our state and national conventions have let it be known that racism in any form or expression is antithetical to the very gospel of Jesus Christ that we proclaim. Yet even as these resolutions were adopted, we saw ugly incidents and demonstrations across our land which showed that racism is still alive in our nation and underscored the reason why such statements need to be made by our denomination.
Although we have made good strides in our nation and even in our own denomination related to racial reconciliation and race relations, there is still a lot of work that remains to be done. While I applaud the resolutions that have been adopted and statements that have been made, I know that no resolution or statement about race or any other issue can change a person’s heart and attitude. However, God can and He is willing to do that so you can change your behavior.    
Consider the question that John the apostle asks in 1 John 4:20 about how can we profess to love God when we do not love our brother? I encourage us all to prayerfully examine our hearts both individually and corporately and then repent of any of the sins of racism that the Holy Spirit exposes to us.  
Ask God to help you love individuals you have not loved because of their ethnicity. Reconcile means to come into a new and positive relationship with another person. Establish new relationships and show mutual respect to all people. While I am thankful for a day like Racial Reconciliation Sunday, let’s strive for racial reconciliation every day and not just one day.

If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” – 1 John 4:20 (NKJV).

2/6/2018 8:03:35 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments