May 2012

Praying for a fruitful summer harvest

May 21 2012 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Every year thousands of middle and high school students head to the N.C. Baptist Assembly on Oak Island where they participate in youth weeks, which is a weeklong program that includes Bible study, worship, church group devotions, fun and fellowship.
 
Merrie Johnson is our Convention staff member whose responsibilities with youth ministry include oversight of youth weeks. Merrie’s dedication to helping students learn more about Jesus is a blessing to North Carolina Baptist churches. If you are not familiar with the opportunities available to your church through our youth ministry, I encourage you to visit bedotell.com.
 
Last year, eight youth weeks were held on Oak Island and one week was held at Mars Hill College. About 7,000 students attended throughout the nine weeks.
 
Year after year, the lives of teenagers across this state are being changed as a result of God speaking to their hearts during youth weeks. Last year, about 500 students prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior at youth weeks, and about 200 students answered God’s call on their life to full-time vocational ministry. When students come to Caswell they hear the gospel and it is changing lives. Thank you for supporting the Cooperative Program, because it is through your faithful giving that such ministries are possible.
 
As much as I am encouraged by these results, I know that the need to reach and disciple students is so great that we must still do even more. Fewer than four percent of the teenagers in North Carolina have a personal relationship with Jesus. Among teenagers throughout the United States, only 1 out of 10 has a relationship with Jesus, and 9 out of 10 churchgoing teenagers drop out of church by the time they graduate college.
 
Merrie made a statement earlier this year during the statewide evangelism conference that is important for every North Carolina Baptist to hear. She said, “We haven’t offered enough of the truth that it makes a difference in how they live. One transformed life can multiply to thousands. We have to disciple them.”
 
Students are hungry for truth and they want to make a difference in this world. It is up to us as leaders to invest in their lives and to model for them a life lived for God’s glory. Please begin praying for the students who will attend summer youth weeks. Pray for the students who do not know Christ. Perhaps they are going to youth weeks because a friend invited them, or maybe they have grown up in church but have never trusted in Jesus as their personal Savior. Please, pray that this will be the time when they give their life to Christ. Pray for the students who are believers, that this summer their faith and their resolve to live for Jesus will be strengthened.
 
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
5/21/2012 1:04:51 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Experiencing renewed worship

May 7 2012 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

It is hard for me to believe that we are already well into the month of May, and that the summer months will soon be upon us. Sometimes it seems like each year goes by faster than the one before. The busy pace of life only seems to continue gaining momentum, instead of ever slowing down.
 
As busy as we all are, I know it can be easy to just go through the motions of life. We move from one thing to the next as we try to juggle different schedules, and we cross items off our to-do lists only to find ourselves needing to make more lists. We must guard our minds against becoming so preoccupied with the things of this world that we sometimes unknowingly become spiritually distracted and take our eyes off Jesus Christ. Although it’s not always easy in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, I want to challenge us to let this be a year of renewed worship. Every aspect of our lives should be lived as an act of worship unto our God. 
 
We worship God in how we think by keeping our mind pure (Proverbs 4:23), and we worship God in how we speak to others by controlling our tongue (Ephesians 4:29). How we treat other people should also be an act of worship (1 Peter 4:8). Romans 12:1 instructs us to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. Every day is an opportunity to show the world our love for God by the way we worship Him as we live for His glory.
 
Just as we can sometimes fail to worship God in how we live, we can also come up short in truly worshipping God during our times of corporate worship with our church family. Kenny Lamm, our worship and music consultant, often says that worship is not about people on stage performing and the congregation serving as spectators. Do you ever find yourself just observing rather than worshipping during a church worship service? I must admit my own guilt.
 
Worship is about responding personally to the indescribable grace of Christ, expressing to Him our gratitude, proclaiming our love and praising Him for who He is.
 
If we are deliberately engaged in genuine worship of our Lord, it matters not if the music presentations or the sermon is good, we can still sense the presence of the living God.
 
Kenny is doing a remarkable job helping churches of all sizes renew their worship. If you have not read his posted articles or attended one of his training events, I encourage you to do so. These events are designed to help your church truly focus on the purpose of worship and to help you lead people into God’s presence through corporate worship. You can visit renewingworshipnc.org to learn about all the different opportunities available to you.
 
Worship should be part of who we are as believers in Jesus Christ. May our lives reflect the goodness and glory of our Savior.
 
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker!” Psalm 95:6
5/7/2012 1:36:34 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments