August 2003

Family Bible Study Lesson for September 7: "Kingdom Qualities"

August 22 2003 by Mary Fillinger , Matthew 5:1-16

Family Bible Study Lesson for September 7: "Kingdom Qualities" | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Family Bible Study Lesson for September 7: "Kingdom Qualities"

By Mary Fillinger Matthew 5:1-16

The use of words changes or evolves with time. Thirty years ago the word "bad" always meant something negative or wrong, but in our contemporary culture, the meaning of "bad" is more ambiguous. Some people use the term "bad" to imply "good." That may be strange to our ears, yet it is part of the evolution of language in our own day.

Some terms in Matt. 5:1-16 also convey ideas that have been colored or changed by our culture and society. Jesus spoke of people who are poor in spirit or in mourning, of those who are meek, who desire righteousness, who are merciful, who are pure in heart, who work for peace, and who suffer persecution as being blessed, or happy. Few people today would connect happiness with being poor in spirit or in mourning. Yet, the promised reward is far more precious than all the money in the world. We may not always be happy with the circumstances, but happy with the fact that we are blessed, and that we have all the resources we need to live a life that will reflect the character of the Lord Jesus.

We all possess qualities that determine how we handle the various situations that come our way. In the scripture, Jesus explains that there are certain character traits that we need to diligently desire or improve in our lives. These traits allow us to be more effective in our service and also prepare us for our eternal life with Him. Everything we do should hinge on what we are being led to do by the Lord rather than on how we prefer things to be done. By considering just two of these character-building qualities, we may be able to see which areas in our own lives need some extra attention.

Unexpected blessings (Matthew 5:3-4) You can only be blessed when you come to the end of your own resources - or, to quote a popular phase, "to the end of your rope." When you come to the place that Jesus is all you have because you have hit bottom or can't manage anymore on your own; then and only then will you find He is all you need. It is the only time in life where less equals more.

"Blessed are those who mourn," Jesus said. We may be saddened by the death of a family member or someone deeply loved. We may be "soul-saddened" over sin in our personal lives, or in others' lives. None of us can prevent death from occurring: like birth, it is a part of life. However, we can do something about the condition that our world finds itself in today. We can witness and show others the way to life everlasting. Finally, we can strive to keep our own sin confessed and allow the Lord to control our lives.

As we face the situations that come into our lives with the Lord's help, we can show gentleness to others, and demonstrate compassion and Christlike love for them. We can live with godly integrity, displaying a peace that passes all understanding so we can guide others into living as Jesus did.

Appropriate attitudes (Matthew 5:11-16) The character of the believer is expressed through our attitudes. Our character is proved by our reaction to the world. We are to be salt and light for the world. We must be ready, willing and spiritually able to stand strong in the face of trial or persecution.

That is the challenge God is placing before us as we stand with our feet firmly planted in the soil of our past, wrapped in our present hopeful joy, looking toward the future.

I believe God calls us to be full stewards of His salt and light in our individual lives, in our communities, and in our universal witness as a people of faith. We are witnesses to the buoyant nature of God, for we float on a great wellspring of the joy of living; God is our ocean depth of happy rest! We also inherit the charge to be the light of the world - we are living witnesses to the light that shines in the darkness, preventing darkness from overtaking the world.

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by Mary Fillinger , Matthew 5:1-16 | with 0 comments

Family Bible Study Lesson for September 14: "Kingdom Attitudes"

August 22 2003 by Mary Fillinger , Matthew 6:1-8, 12, 14-18

Family Bible Study Lesson for September 14: "Kingdom Attitudes" | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Family Bible Study Lesson for September 14: "Kingdom Attitudes"

By Mary Fillinger Matthew 6:1-8, 12, 14-18

Jesus' teachings in the "Sermon on the Mount" begin with Matthew 5, the subject of last week's lesson. The teachings continue in chapter 6.

Public and Private Works (Matthew 6:1-4) Works cannot reconcile us with God or obtain grace for us, for this happens only through faith, believing that our sins are forgiven because of what Jesus did on the cross. He alone is the mediator who reconciles the Father. Whoever imagines that he can accomplish this by his works, or that he can merit grace, despises Jesus and seeks his own way to God, contrary to the gospel. As Paul says in Rom. 5:1, "Since we are justified by faith we have peace with God."

Even pious works have no spiritual benefit in themselves, and practicing them in public adds nothing to their efficacy.

Prayer and Fasting (Matthew 6:5-13, 16-18) In Matthew 6, Jesus focuses attention on proper attitudes for prayer. Jesus contrasts proper prayer with hypocrisy.

The very things that we do to worship God - giving, prayer, fasting - can turn out to be nothing but hypocrisy if our attitude is not right. If it is not done for God's glory alone, it is not worship - it is hypocrisy.

Notice that Jesus says, "when" you pray, not "if" you pray. Prayer is expected of every believer. Prayer can be offered with a pure motive, or with mixed motives. The Lord teaches us the true spirit of prayer by giving us two opposites, contrasting the spirit of hypocrisy and the spirit of humility.

It is not wrong to pray in public. It is not wrong to pray on the street corner; it is not wrong to pray in a public meeting. But it is wrong to pray anywhere if the goal is to be seen by men to impress them.

Prayer is a declaration of our dependence upon God. Every time I pray, I am saying, "God I need you!" We ask God's forgiveness because we know we are dependent upon Him to forgive. We thank Him in prayer because we know that whatever we are or have has come from Him. We petition Him because only He can give us what we need. We know that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, and prayer is humility in action. It is saying, "God, I can't do this, so I come to you acknowledging my need."

Does your prayer life declare that you are dependent upon God for everything?

Jesus modeled an appropriate manner or prayer in verses 9-13, the familiar passage we call "the Lord's prayer."

In verses 16-18, Jesus speaks of fasting. In scripture, "fasting" is described as the abstaining of food for spiritual purposes. Fasting, as discussed in Scripture, has nothing to do with going on a diet, but is a spiritual matter.

Fasting is that discipline which tries to recapture our hunger for God. Fasting expresses that passion to know Him more. Fasting and prayer are almost always linked together in the Bible, usually as "prayer and fasting," (Matt. 17:21; Acts 13:3 and 14:23). This indicates that the latter (fasting) is designed as an aid to the former (prayer).

Why fast? It is a means of humbling ourselves before God. It helps us to focus our prayers. It is a way of saying that having more of the giver surpasses having the gifts. It helps restore our focus from ourselves to the good things God places in our lives. This kind of God-centered fasting tenderizes our hearts, helping us to find our contentment in Him.

Forgiveness - and being forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15) Although our sins are forgiven, we don't stop sinning. When we sin and do not repent of that sin, it affects our relationship with God. We don't stop being His child, but we lose an intimacy, our communion is broken. The gospel brings judicial forgiveness. And obedience, along with confession of sin, will bring the joy that comes from relational forgiveness.

In verses 12, 14-15, Jesus taught the importance of forgiving as well as being forgiven. We can't have one without the other.

Here is forgiveness: when you think that you or someone you care about has been wronged, forgiveness means resisting revenge, not returning evil for evil, wishing them well, grieving at their calamities, praying for their welfare, seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you, and coming to their aid in distress.

All believers stand daily in need of forgiveness. A literal meaning of this is: "Forgive us our sins in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us." If we pray this petition with unforgiveness toward some, we are asking God not to forgive us. Think about that.

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by Mary Fillinger , Matthew 6:1-8, 12, 14-18 | with 0 comments

Formations Lesson for September 7: "Practicing Faithfulness: Fleeing Temptation"

August 22 2003 by John Norman Jr. , Genesis 39:1-20

Formations Lesson for September 7: "Practicing Faithfulness: Fleeing Temptation" | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Formations Lesson for September 7: "Practicing Faithfulness: Fleeing Temptation"

By John Norman Jr. Genesis 39:1-20

Joseph's spiritual roller coaster ride began when his siblings decided to have some fun with the troublemaking younger brother.

Because the brothers had enough of his bragging about dreams of fame and fortune, they decided to do away with him by throwing him into a pit. Then, as traders passed by on their way to Egypt, the brothers (except Reuben) sold Joseph to the traveling merchants and pocketed 20 pieces of silver. However, Joseph's story does not conclude with the close of Genesis 37, for it appears that the God of Abraham and Sarah had other plans for the young man from Canaan.

Joseph in Charge (Genesis 39:1-6a) If you look at a map, Egypt is not geographically too distant from the land where Joseph began his journey. But spiritually, the distance Joseph traveled would be like going from Raleigh to Timbuktu.

Far from his father and his family, Joseph was "taken down to Egypt," where he was sold to one of the Pharaoh's officers by the name of Potiphar. Away from everything he held near and dear to his heart, Joseph must have wondered if God was also absent in that strange place. Yet, God was with Joseph in his new home.

Everything that Joseph touched turned to gold. As a result of this ability, Potiphar placed Joseph in charge of his household, which literally made him second in command.

This place of prominence afforded Joseph great opportunity, for when he spoke, it was as if Potiphar himself were speaking. However, not only did the place of power bring privilege, it also brought temptation. Just when Joseph thought things were going wonderfully right, they once again turned terribly wrong.

The Accusation (Genesis 39:6b-18) Whether we want to admit it or not, we judge people by their outward appearance. No matter if they are short or tall, small or large, we often determine their worth as human beings by the way they look on the outside. Even though Joseph's golden touch made Potiphar's home prosperous, the lady of the house determined that his worth to her was of the intimate variety.

Potiphar's wife judged Joseph on the fact that he was "handsome and good looking." When Joseph would not succumb to her advances, he became the focus of a smear campaign and was accused of attempted rape. To make matters worse, because Joseph was a Hebrew, and thus a slave and a foreigner, he was not given the chance to defend himself against the false accusations.

In the Pits Again (Genesis 39:19-20) I have seen a poster that reads something like this, "Being popular does not make you right and being right does not make you popular." This seems to sum up the situation Joseph faced when he found himself standing alone before Potiphar's judgment and suffering the consequences of having done the right thing. Once again, it was as if Joseph was in a hole.

As Christians, we all face temptations in our lives. There isn't a day that goes by that we are not tempted by something.

Many Christians see this reality as a defeat of their spiritual character, believing that if they are tempted, then they must not be spiritual enough. Others believe they can handle temptation on their own, without any divine guidance to assist them.

Two things about Joseph's encounter with Potiphar's wife need to be remembered. One, even the spiritual elites are tempted - no one escapes. Remember that Jesus was tempted, too. The thing that sets Christians apart from non-Christians is not whether we are tempted, but what we do in response to that temptation.

Second, even though we flee from temptation as Joseph did, we may still wind up in the pits. For that reason we must rely on God's spirit not only to help us refrain from temptation, but also help us with the consequences of being faithful.

Like Joseph, we want God to be with us in good times and bad. In the face of temptation, we are called to be faithful to our God and to that which is right and true.

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by John Norman Jr. , Genesis 39:1-20 | with 0 comments

Formations Lesson for September 14: "Faithful Stewardship: Planning for a Rainy Day"

August 22 2003 by John Norman Jr. , Genesis 41:39-57

Formations Lesson for September 14: "Faithful Stewardship: Planning for a Rainy Day" | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Formations Lesson for September 14: "Faithful Stewardship: Planning for a Rainy Day"

By John Norman Jr. Genesis 41:39-57

Have you ever talked with someone who lived through the Great Depression? They look at the world differently than those of us who have always had everything our hearts desired. Something I have learned from these courageous individuals is that one should never waste anything. Everything, and I do mean everything, has a useful purpose.

Take my mother, for instance, who was born in the year of the stock market crash. Even as a child during those dark days of depression, she learned to plan for tomorrow by saving today. To this day, she will use a piece of cellophane wrapper to the point of destruction by washing it over and over again. Now that's faithful stewardship!

But what about our spiritual lives? Can the wisdom of those who have lived during economic hardships be applied to our relationship with God? Does the knowledge gained from planning for a rainy day lead to the saving of our souls for eternity? Does the stewardship of the material have an impact on the wellness of the spiritual? For a glimpse at an answer, let us return to the story of Joseph.

Joseph's Rise to Power (Genesis 41:39-45) Joseph has once again emerged from the pit, winding his way to a place of prominence in all of Egypt. He has risen to be Pharaoh's right-hand man, in charge of the accumulation and distribution of Egypt's food supply.

He arrived at this position because of God's gift of interpreting dreams, which in the beginning was what got Joseph into trouble with his brothers. But now, that gift has empowered Joseph to tell Pharaoh the truth about the famine, which is on the horizon, and because of Joseph's wisdom, Pharaoh has promoted him to a place of honor in order to prepare for the drought. To symbolize this honor, Joseph is given a ring for his finger, a chain for his neck and a garment for his shoulders. He is also given a chariot in which to ride. Once again, Joseph has arrived at a significant place of power.

Joseph Remains Faithful (Genesis 41:46-57) Thirteen years have passed since we were first introduced to Joseph tending his father's flocks. Over that time a lot has happened to the dreamer from Canaan.

The ups and downs of Joseph's past have faded into the distance (note the name of his first child, v. 51), and now he has become prosperous in a land where he first arrived as a prisoner (remembered in the name of his second child, v. 52).

Throughout Joseph's sojourn in Egypt, he has remained committed in his responsibilities. Now, in his new position as agricultural secretary, Joseph is once again called on to be faithful to Pharaoh, to the Egyptians and to God. Even though Joseph has put his past behind him, it seems the lessons he learned during the highs and lows of his life have prepared him for the task at hand - being a faithful steward of Egypt's food supply.

According to the story, during the seven good years Joseph gave instructions for the collection of grain throughout Egypt. This preparation may have seemed foolish to some, but Joseph knew that a day would come when the famine would create a shortage of food.

As the fields dried up and no longer produced grain, the harvest came to an end - the seven years of famine had begun. During those difficult days, however, Egypt had plenty to eat because of the faithful stewardship of Joseph. He "opened all the storehouses" in order to provide for the people's needs. Joseph conscientiously prepared - now he freely gave.

Our spiritual lives are filled with highs and lows, feasts and famines. Sometimes we walk on the mountain, other times we crawl through the valley. So, I wonder if Joseph's story could teach us something about spiritual stewardship?

Should we understand the mountaintop experiences of our faith as times of preparation? Should we take seriously the idea of planning for tomorrow and be faithful spiritual stewards as well as faithful material stewards?

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by John Norman Jr. , Genesis 41:39-57 | with 0 comments

Every good work

August 22 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Every good work | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Every good work

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

With Labor Day at hand, America celebrates the value of honest labor. In fact, we prize work so highly that other countries look at us and shake their collective heads. Americans work more hours per day and more days per year than just about anybody.

Have you heard about French, German and Italian workers getting 30 to 40 paid vacation days per year, taking entire months off?

It's true.

They do.

Surveys I've seen suggest that Americans average from 10 to 13 paid vacation days, and many workers take off less time than they have available.

We honor work, which is one of the reasons our productivity levels are always among the highest in the world.

Unfortunately, to squeeze extra profit and productivity from their personnel, American businesses have taken to downsizing their staffs while requiring remaining employees to work longer and harder - an unhappy subject to be chased at another time.

Europeans shake their heads and say we suffer from Vacation Deficit Disorder, and they might be right.

Be that as it may, I've always thought Labor Day observances should focus on more than the work we get paid for, or the work required to keep our houses off the Health Department's watch list.

The Bible often speaks of work that is good, but the term is rarely applied to vocational labor. In the Bible, "good work" is that which we do as obedient servants of God.

Nehemiah, for example, urged the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of their city as a means of declaring their trust in God, referring to it as a good work (Neh. 2:18).

Jesus defended the woman who poured expensive ointment on His feet against those who criticized her extravagance, saying she had done a good work to Him (Mat. 26:10, Mar. 14:6).

Paul prayed that God would bless the Christians in Corinth so they might abound in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8), and expressed confidence that God would continue to enhance the good work begun in them (Phil. 1:6).

He prayed that the Colossians might be fruitful in every good work (Col. 1:10), and that God would strengthen the Thessalonians in every good word and work (2 Thess. 2:17).

Timothy was told that the office of bishop carries on a good work (1 Tim. 3:1), that those who purge themselves of dishonorable things are prepared for a good work (2 Tim. 2:21), and that church support of widows should go only to those known for their good works (1 Tim. 5:10).

The letter of Titus speaks of false teachers who shun good works (1:16), and encourages believers to be ready for every good work (3:1).

The best of our good works are not done for hire, but for the glory of God and the love of the people God has created.

That's why I appreciate people like Mary Conyers so much. After a long career of supporting church programs as a secretary with the Baptist State Convention, you would think she'd be ready for a break.

But Mary has grandchildren, and when one of those grandchildren innocently stumbled across a pornographic site on the Internet, a crusade was born (see story, p. 1).

Mary and others she has recruited have worked countless hours to get a law passed requiring all Internet pornography sites to use .xxx as a domain name so they will be more readily identifiable.

I suspect, and Web-savvy consultants confirm, that pornographers will find ways to circumvent the restriction, which in any case would apply only to sites based in America.

So why persevere? Because, even though digital smut-peddlers can probably work around a law, it could make life a little more difficult and a little more expensive for those who profit from human weakness by degrading human sexuality.

Passing a law may be more a matter of show than effect, but as BSC "web-minister" Shane Nixon tells me, "the show has an effect."

If nothing else, the effort holds a candle against the darkness and speaks a strong word in defense of children. It is a good work.

What sort of "good work" are you doing beyond what is reflected on your paycheck? How much time do you invest in ministry to the poor, the hungry, the imprisoned, the sick with whom Christ identified?

The Bible makes it clear that we are not saved by our good works - but we are saved for good works, that others might see Christ in us.

That's the kind of work that makes a good Labor Day a good labor day.

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School Lessons | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

The monsoon rains of 2003

August 22 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

The monsoon rains of 2003 | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

The monsoon rains of 2003

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

If the Lord "sends His rain upon the just and the unjust," as the Bible says, then both groups around central North Carolina might just as soon get a little less divine attention.

Thirty years from now, we'll be telling our great-grandchildren "Yep, I'll never forget the summer of naught-three. That was the year of the monsoons."

After several years of drought, the Lord knows we needed rain, but every day?

We recently took our boat out for only the second time this year. I was determined to get it on the water, whether I had any fun or not.

I dare not even suggest a family camping trip, which triggers hurricanes even in a dry year.

Between showers, I devoted an entire Saturday to installing a path of stepping-stones so I can go out the back door to feed the dog without having to wear mud boots. My back still hurts.

I bought gallons of wood preservative to treat a new backyard fence in June. It started raining the day it was finished, and the fence hasn't been dry enough to paint since.

I've cut ankle-deep grass more than once - still wet - and watched my squash rot on the vine from too much water.

I've washed my car just to see it bathed in a new coat of road grime.

I've strolled into the grocery store under balmy skies, and then had to hustle back (with arms full) through pelting rain.

I've driven to the golf course for a long awaited first round of summer, only to be greeted by a torrential downpour.

I've watched Saturday plans get gully-washed away, and Sunday hopes go down the sewer.

And I don't know how lucky I am.

I've been muddied, but not flooded, as others have.

My towels won't dry, but there are people in parts of Africa who haven't had significant rain in years. I can go to the store if my tomato vines fail, but their lives depend on sufficient moisture to grow corn or wheat.

While I complain about a soggy yard behind my nice dry house, there are people sleeping under bridges, huddled among the puddles.

When grumpiness grows, perspective can bring a refreshing breeze.

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School Lessons | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

God's man for two seminaries

August 22 2003 by Ted Stone , Baptist Press

God's man for two seminaries | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

God's man for two seminaries

By Ted Stone Baptist Press

DURHAM - Eleven years ago area media accounts of the election of Paige Patterson to the presidency of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary carried the prediction by the more ardent detractors that his coming would result in the death of the Southern Baptist seminary.

There were many denominational loyalists who wondered if the hard-driving Texan, who had earned his spurs as a leader in the conservative resurgence, would be a good fit for the more traditional East Coast seminary. After all, he was fresh from the presidency of Criswell College, and some feared that such a background ill-prepared him for the educational challenges of higher education.

Friends and enemies were greatly surprised at the disarming, friendly demeanor of the Baptist leader who had been falsely heralded as a bully and administrator of an inquisition. By God's grace, blessed with the visionary leadership of Dr. Patterson, the struggling campus in Wake Forest, N.C., began to rise from the ashes of despair to the pinnacles of Christian service it enjoys today. Some faculty members retired while others chose to teach at other schools, but not one single faculty member was fired during the days of changeover.

Dr. Patterson's passion for evangelism and missions became evident during the early days of his tenure. Church planting became a priority, and students were encouraged to discover the meaning of missions firsthand by active involvement across the world. The seminary president and his wife Dorothy often traveled to foreign lands to offer encouragement to their dedicated young students.

An outstanding Ph.D. program was instituted for the first time at Southeastern, and a thriving liberal arts college was founded. The student body grew by leaps and bounds.

Dr. Patterson always has been accessible to students, faculty and others who love the seminary. His office is crammed with mementos from mission trips and safaris. That he is an avid hunter is no secret to his admirers. And the presence of his loyal dog in his office or the front seat of his car is an everyday event. Those who have been fortunate (and there are many) to enjoy the hospitality of Magnolia Hill, the presidential residence, know that the president and his much-respected wife are renowned as top-notch hosts. They love people!

When I returned home from the trustee meeting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in April, at which our beloved President Ken Hemphill announced his resignation to pursue another area of denominational service, I was sad at his departure and frustrated with challenging problems that still needed to be resolved at the institution long considered the flagship seminary of our denomination.

The rumor mill was active, and the media speculated that Paige Patterson might be a leading candidate for the presidency of the largest evangelical seminary in the world. Because of my deep concerns for the future of Southwestern and the ties that had been developed with the Southeastern president during my tenure as a member of the Southeastern Board of Visitors, I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Patterson in his office at Wake Forest.

I poured out my soul, discussing each of the pressing needs at Southwestern. I knew already that this man of God shared my enthusiasm for evangelism, and I carefully told him of the dream that I shared with Southwestern professors Roy Fish and Malcolm McDow to see a school of evangelism established on the Fort Worth campus. And then he added to the conversation, "I believe there is a great need also to see a chapel erected in the heart of the campus!" I shouted "amen!" loud enough to be heard on the second floor of the administration building, for I had discussed only a few months prior that same vision with Southwestern Vice President Jack Terry. Dr. Patterson, soon after arriving in Wake Forest 11 years ago, had turned his attention to developing an exciting and challenging chapel service as the core of the daily activities. Those attending this service at Southeastern are always impressed by a full house in attendance, and in recent years Southwestern chapel service, held in a less worshipful atmosphere, an auditorium, rather that a chapel with a steeple like the worship center at Southeastern, has lagged far behind with less than 200 often in attendance.

I asked my friend to join me in prayer for God's will to be done. We both knelt on our knees and prayed without ceasing, seeking God's plan for the two seminaries, both of which had special places in our hearts. When we returned to our chairs, I asked the seminary president for permission to recommend him to our search committee at Southwestern. I could feel his inward pain, because he and his wife have both come to love Southeastern so much. I knew, too, that those of us who love Southeastern would be grateful to retain the services of Dr. Patterson until the Lord calls or until He comes. But because this faithful servant seeks nothing except to do God's will, he honored my request, and I mailed the recommendation letter to each search committee member. Many of these men were already praying that God would call a leader in the mold of Dr. Patterson.

My fellow trustees agreed with me that at Southwestern we need a president of great strength and fortitude, a team player, who will be emboldened by the knowledge that he daily seeks to walk in the steps of Jesus. Paige Patterson is such a leader. For weeks Dr. Patterson and his wife prayerfully sought for evidence of God's clear call in the proposed move, and once they had found peace in God's leadership, the trustees of Southwestern on June 24, under God's direction, formally and unanimously extended the invitation. When the trustees agreed to pray daily that Dr. Patterson follow in the steps of Christ in leading the seminary and asked him to, in return, pray for God's leadership for the trustees, the newly elected Southwestern president added, "Please pray always that God will grant me wisdom for the decisions that I must make." Remembering the human tendency to rush important matters, he reminded us that he was keenly aware that his every decision would greatly impact individuals and their ministries.

Certainly there will be some who will expect and others who will wish for the new president to come bearing a sword of change, or a broom to sweep clean the institution's past history of service. Just as the fortunetellers were mistaken in their dire predictions 11 years ago, so will these current prognosticators be greatly surprised at the heart and spirit of this dedicated servant of God.

Dr. Patterson has a great appreciation for the legacy of the heroes of the faith who have helped develop Southwestern. There is no question that he will remain faithful to the charge of B.H. Carroll, the first president of Southwestern, who urged his successor, "see to it that every day and hour, every month in every year, every year in the long future, this Seminary is kept lashed to the Redeemer" ("The Legacy of Southwestern," James Leo Garrett, editor, chapter 2 by Roy J. Fish, p. 21).

On July 31, with heavy hearts at leaving behind the magnolia-laden campus where God had used them in such a special way, yet buoyed by the sure knowledge that their move was directed by God, the Pattersons headed westward for a brief weekend visit in Arkansas with daughter Carmen, her husband Mark Howell, pastor of Little Rock's First Baptist Church, and the grandchildren. On Sunday the couple will continue on to Fort Worth and the exciting challenge that lies before them. They have already named their new residence "Hacienda del Pastor." Early Monday morning, Aug. 4, Dr. Patterson and his loyal dog Noche will head for the office and the mountain of seminary business that has been awaiting the new president's arrival.

Dr. Patterson has been God's man for the 11 years spent in the town of Wake Forest, and by God's grace he will he occupy that same special designation at Fort Worth, "God's man for this special time!"

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Stone is president of Ted Stone Ministries, a member of Southwestern's board of trustees and Southeastern's board of visitors. This column has appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun and Baptist Press.)

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by Ted Stone , Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Being faithful, doing good

August 7 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Being faithful, doing good | Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

Being faithful, doing good

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

How often do you do good deeds, as scouts are taught to do?

How often do you "practice random acts of kindness," as bumper stickers implore?

A recent study on "Altruism in Contemporary America" reveals that it's not your rural upbringing or your motherly empathy that lifts your propensity for good-deed-doing above the average, but your faith.

According to the National Opinion Research Center, men are just as likely as women to lend a helping hand. And, city slickers will give a hand up or a hand out just as quickly as country folk.

But church-going people - and especially those who pray regularly - are more inclined to be kind than those who don't attend.

The two-year study of 1,366 people reported that the average American does 109 good deeds in a given year. Those who never attend church report an average of 96 altruistic acts, while regular attenders reach out and touch someone 128 times in the same period. Those who pray, the report said, do three times as many good deeds as those who never pray.

I'm delighted to know that church folk are on the top of the heap.

I'm amazed that the heap is so short.

Even the league-leading 128 good deeds in a year works out to barely one helpful act in three days, while we have myriad opportunities to show kindness with every sunrise.

Of course, the poll only tracked 15 specific deeds. There must have been other beneficent acts that weren't on the list.

The most commonly practiced good deed, by the way, was spending time talking to someone who felt depressed. Spending time listening might be an even good-er deed.

How often do we smile at a tired cashier? Let another driver merge in front of us? Hold the door for the person behind?

How often do we contribute time or money to the poor, to missions, to children?

How often do we go out of our way to make our spouse's life a bit easier, or a friend's, or a stranger's?

If I couldn't find more than 128 good deeds to do in a year, I'd be ashamed. That's a good starting place, but church folk should aspire to more goodness than that.

That's why one of the first Bible verses we teach our children is Ephesians 4:32a: "Be ye kind one to another."

Every day.

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School Lessons | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
8/7/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

'Without fear and without favor ...'

August 7 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

'Without fear and without favor ...' | Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

'Without fear and without favor ...'

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

With this issue, the Biblical Recorder has thrown itself a birthday party in print, marking 170 years from its initial appearance as The North Carolina Baptist Interpreter, published by Thomas Meredith.

Some folks have wondered why we would make a big deal out of 170 years, rather than waiting for 175.

There are several reasons for that.

One is a simple reality with which anyone over 10 years old is familiar: any birthday divisible by 10 has the potential to be a big deal. We talk about "the big four-oh" as a life-changing event, and celebrate "the big five-oh" with black party hats. If any human should reach "the humongous one-seven-oh," it would no doubt be an event.

Another reason is that 175 years is five years away. With the uncertainties of life in general and Baptist life in particular, who knows where we will be in five years? "Carpe annum!," I say.

Speaking of Baptist life in particular, it's rarely inappropriate to highlight Baptist history, and this issue gives us an opportunity to reprise the Recorder's ongoing role in reporting that history and in upholding the freedom-loving ideals that have been dear to Baptists.

Finally, we're following a precedent set by then-editor Josiah Bailey, who saw fit to make a big to-do of the Recorder's 70th anniversary, though he waited until the year had ended to do it. In early 1904, Bailey distributed a commemorative cardboard poster depicting early editors (see p. 6), with an impressive statement of the paper's ideals on the back.

Bailey was widely respected for his work with the Recorder, and known for his piety. He also served as president of the "Anti-Saloon League" and went on to become a U.S. Senator.

A century later, Bailey's words still ring with power and vision. "Although far older than the average religious newspaper, the Biblical Recorder is yet in its youth," he wrote, "even as the Baptist cause and the Baptist mission to the race are yet only in the beginning of their glorious running.

"Editors have passed and editors will pass, one generation after another shall be gathered to the fathers; but this paper shall catch new strength from each generation, and so maintain its life in ever renewing power.

"It is ours to carry on as nobly as we may in our day and to hand it down at length as an heritage to the oncoming generation freighted with all the best qualities of the religious life and thought and work of our time."

Bailey went on to affirm his desire for the paper to maintain the best ideals of the past, to provide a "constant source of religious refreshment to the Baptists of North Carolina," and to promote unity by informing Baptists about "missions, education, the orphanage and the other recognized objects."

Bailey spoke of wanting the Recorder to be "a light in the homes of the people," encouraging both parents and children in faith and devotion to "the inner and higher life."

The concluding words of Bailey's designs for the Biblical Recorder toll as true in 2003 as they did in the opening years of the previous century. While informing and encouraging Baptists, he said, the Recorder should be "at the same time standing for public righteousness; treating all men justly and making record of events without prejudice and without fear and without favor; a paper to rely upon; a paper to trust; a paper to take to one's home, to one's heart; a paper to love and to cherish."

With this issue we renew our own commitment to upholding those sterling ideals through yet another generation.

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School Lessons | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
8/7/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Celebrating the Biblical Recorder, warts and all

August 7 2003 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-Treasurer

Celebrating the Biblical Recorder, warts and all | Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

Celebrating the Biblical Recorder, warts and all

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-Treasurer

I literally cannot remember a time when we didn't receive a Baptist state paper at our house. Growing up in the 1950's and 1960's in Johnson City, Tenn., it was the Baptist and Reflector, the state paper for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. We were always regular subscribers. My mother and father made sure of that. Without the state paper, they reasoned, how else could we know what was going on in our denomination?

I first "met" the Biblical Recorder as a seminary student at Southeastern in 1976. I remember being impressed with its in-depth approach and willingness to cover Baptist news, including the controversies. Some readers, both then and now, would have preferred only to read the good news stories. But that was not the mission of the Recorder.

Telling Baptist stories, both the ones we like as well as the others, must always be the business of Baptist state papers. It is important, in my opinion, to report both the good and the bad. The Bible never sugar-coated its characters. The adventures of King David, for example, include the story about Goliath as well as the one about Bathsheba. The Apostle Peter is portrayed as one of Jesus' favored disciples as well as someone who denies his Lord at the time of the crucifixion.

Telling the Baptist story in proper balance seems to be the concern of many readers today. When we were "all more of one mind" the task of balance was a great deal easier. Of course, balance to some means telling my side favorably and the other side in a negative light. I'm always surprised by those who believe that telling only one side will make the other side simply go away. It's almost like: If we don't talk about it, it's not really there.

The Biblical Recorder has an obligation to tell us as much of our Baptist story as possible. All of our other institutions and agencies - colleges, children's homes, etc. - are not under a similar mandate. They only tell their story. The Recorder does not exist to promote itself but rather to report on what others are doing. In our Baptist world today, sometimes those reports are less than enjoyable.

The role of state papers today is undergoing definite changes and challenges. Subscriptions have dramatically declined while production costs have risen. The price of postage today is more than what printing and postage costs together only a few decades ago. Newspaper circulation of all kinds has suffered over the past 25 years.

People today obtain their news from many different sources - radio, television and the Internet. State Baptist papers must resist staying too closely aligned with one method of news distribution - a regular printed publication. We need to get the news out to the people, by whatever means.

It cost a lot to tell Baptists about their denomination, both financially and politically. I personally give several paid subscriptions each year. How about you? Do you have a friend who would like a gift subscription to the Biblical Recorder?

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
8/7/2003 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-Treasurer | with 0 comments

Displaying results 1-10 (of 15)
 |<  < 1 - 2  >  >|