August 2005

Presentation software - worship at the click of a mouse : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

August 12 2005 by Jeremy Watson

Presentation software - worship at the click of a mouse : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005
Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

Presentation software - worship at the click of a mouse

By Jeremy Watson
BR Intern

The sound of pages rapidly turning before a prayer ends is less common now that many congregations look up, not down, when they sing hymns and recite passages.

With presentation software, an adequate projector and trained technicians, churches can display everything from lyrics and announcements to sermon notes and pictures on screens or walls instead of hymnals or bulletin inserts. Some software can even enhance services with media that hymnals and bulletin inserts could never produce.

"It provides much more flexibility and creativity in presentation and in song selection," says Chad Hall, pastor of Connection Church in Hickory and "new generation pastors" coach at the Baptist State Convention.

Software options for churches vary from programs designed for business presentations, like PowerPoint, to those explicitly developed for worship, such as SongShow Plus.

Here is an overview of four of the most used presentation programs in worship.

PowerPoint 2003

Developer: Microsoft

www.microsoft.com/PowerPoint

Price: $229 for new users; $109 as an upgrade from the 1997-2002 PowerPoint versions or any version of Microsoft XP, Microsoft Office 2000, Microsoft Office 97 and Microsoft Works; comes pre-installed on some newer computers

Compatibility: Windows or Mac

According to LifeWay, "Statistics show that around 90 percent of churches that show multimedia during worship use Microsoft PowerPoint."

One reason for PowerPoint's popularity is its ease of use. Users can create slide shows by simply choosing a template and entering text and images on each new slide.

In addition, PowerPoint 2003 offers audio and video capability and the option to make non-linear presentations, features that previous versions were lacking.

MediaShout 3

Developer: MediaComplete

www.mediashout.com

Price: $429

Compatibility: Windows only, but a Mac version is in the works

The newly released MediaShout 3 includes unique features, such as a database of 52 versions of the Bible, the ability to play DVD clips and a live editing feature that lets users create and preview slides instantly during worship.

A useful component MediaShout shares with the other two worship programs reviewed is dual-monitor support. This option, which requires two graphics cards, allows worship planners to show an audience only what they want them to see when editing presentations.

Other features these three programs have in common are the ability to import and edit PowerPoint slides and song lyrics from CCLI-created SongSelect's U.S. database of 6,000 worship songs and support for a variety of audio and video formats.

EasyWorship 2.3

Developer: Softouch

www.easyworship.com

Price: $399

Compatibility: Windows only

EasyWorship 2.3 is lauded for its intuitive interface. Trial users say it is simple to use.

Other advantages of EasyWorship are that it enables users to import songs from SongSelect in one click and to type anti-aliased text (text without ragged edges), including lyrics, over video.

The software also has more than 100 video transitions and cross fades.

SongShow Plus 5.5

Developer: Fowler

www.songshowplus.com

Price: $499.95

Compatibility: Windows only

With the latest version of SongShow Plus and SmartChurch, an add-on module sold separately, worship planners can control CD and DVD players, switch projectors on and off, and lower or raise screens, all without leaving their seats.

SmartChurch, a "black box," connects electronic equipment to computers and SongShow Plus 5.5 allows users to operate these devices with a mouse. Churches need to find out if their electronics are SmartChurch certified before making a purchase (visit www.smartchurch.net for details).

Another option that sets SongShow Plus apart is its advanced search engine for finding songs stored from SongSelect.

There are dozens of presentation programs on the market and most offer free trial versions on their websites. Churches should experiment with different programs to discover which is best for them.

8/12/2005 12:00:00 AM by Jeremy Watson | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 28: When Heaven Comes Down : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

August 12 2005 by Chadwick Ivester

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 28: When Heaven Comes Down : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005
Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 28: When Heaven Comes Down

By Chadwick Ivester
Focal passages: Revelation 21:1-7, 22-27; 22:1-5

"Heaven!" John Bunyan wrote, "It is called the paradise of God because everyone there will know such innocent delight and quiet beauty. All of John's visions were rich - but this is the richest: the very street of the city is made of gold."

Through the years I have heard many people describe what they think heaven will be like. As a rodeo cowboy, I heard some say that heaven would be one big rodeo. One preacher even said there would be flea markets in heaven. But with all the precious jewels, transparent gold, and pearls John describes, we must conclude that "there ain't gonna be no junk in heaven!"

Some say we will be able to do all the things in heaven that we enjoy here such as shopping, sowing, golfing, hunting, fishing and even gambling.

Yet none of these outlandish views of heaven are found in the Scriptures.

Some establish criteria they expect to find in heaven before deciding if they want to go.

Hank Williams Jr. sings, "If heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, I don't want to go!" Joe Diffie, desiring the pleasures of the flesh over heaven, sings, "Prop me up beside the jukebox when I die, Lord I want to go to heaven, but I don't want to go tonight." Someone even stated that if their beloved dog was not in heaven they didn't want to go because they wouldn't be happy in heaven without it.

All these descriptions of heaven are low because many have a low view of Christ. Christ is not that "One Pearl of Great Price" to the multitudes. The only criterion we must put on heaven is what scripture records - nothing more, nothing less.

New Heaven and New Earth

(Revelation 21:1-7)

J.C. Ryle wrote, "Heaven is essentially a holy place - The Lord of heaven is a holy Being, the angels are holy creatures. Holiness is written on everything in heaven. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. You must be prepared for it on this earth. Most men and women hope to go to heaven when they die. But few, it may be feared, take the trouble to consider whether they will enjoy heaven if they got there."

Glory of God

(Revelation 21:22-27)

In heaven, there will be no need for the sun.

Without the sun, this world would not exist. Likewise, without Christ heaven would not exist. Yet, millions imagine heaven to exist without Him.

The sun heats the earth and without it, this earth would be an iceberg. All the beauty of the earth derives from the sun because without the sun we could not see it. In the same way, the heavenly streets of gold must attribute their beauty to the glory of the Lamb who illuminates them.

Darkness in this world comes from being hidden from the sun. The moon reflects the sun's light so that we can have light in the night when our part of the earth is hidden from the sun. Yet, in glory, the saints will never have any interruption from the everlasting presence of the Lamb.

Thomas Boston wrote, "Christ - the Lamb of God - will perform all of the functions that these lesser lights perform here on earth." Christ's glory is more radiant than 10,000 suns.

Boston also stated, "We who are saved from death and ourselves enjoy the glory and sweetness of God's glory that we see reflected here in this world."

Presence of God

(Revelation 22:1-5)

Believers are prepared for heaven in the here and now, and enjoy glimpses of God's glory and presence through sermons, songs, worship services, personal prayer, and devotions. But in heaven we will experience God's glory directly from the source: Christ the Lamb.

Boston wrote, "The Spirit uses the word, 'Lamb' because He wants us to understand what will be our delight in heaven. The blood, the death, and bloody victory of Christ the human being will be of eternal use to us. Christ as the Lamb of God is the foundation of our eternal delight."

8/12/2005 12:00:00 AM by Chadwick Ivester | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 4: Dead End Ahead : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

August 12 2005 by Chadwick Ivester

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 4: Dead End Ahead : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005
Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 4: Dead End Ahead

By Chadwick Ivester
Focal Passages: Ecclesiastes 1:13, 16-2:8, 18-22

Dead End of Intellectual Pursuits

(Ecclesiastes 1:13,16-18)

Many persons seek happiness by attaining knowledge. The pursuit of academic and intellectual knowledge is never-ending, but happiness and contentment will never be attained when knowledge itself becomes the goal of happiness and contentment.

Only when a person's happiness is based upon knowing Christ will they be content. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians that he determined to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:1-2).

The most intellectual scholar can have every degree attainable, but if he or she does not know Christ, that knowledge is worthless. A little knowledge of Christ, if applied to the soul by the Holy Spirit, is greater than all the knowledge of this world.

John Flavel wrote, "The most eagle-eyed philosophers were but children in knowledge, compared with the most illiterate Christians... Many learned philosophers are in hell, and many illiterate Christians are in heaven."

Dead end of physical pleasures

(Ecclesiastes 2:1-3)

It is dangerous to seek happiness in the "good things of life" rather than in Christ. We live in an epicurean (pleasure-seeking) culture. This philosophy proclaims, "Eat, drink, and be merry!"

Solomon learned that the temporal pleasures of this world could only bring temporal satisfaction. Even the greatest comforts of this world can only satisfy the soul for a season.

Dead end of accumulated possessions (Ecclesiastes 2:4-8)

The "American (or Secular Humanistic) Dream" for satisfaction and success in the world is as follows:

Graduate from high school and enroll in college. Maintain your health: diet, exercise, and attain lots of will power. Meet the perfect mate and fall in love. Graduate from college and attain a high-paying job with great benefits and retirement. Marry your college sweetheart.

Buy a new home in the nicest, newest neighborhood in your town. Obtain a couple of dogs, a vinyl fence, and a new SUV. Have a couple of kids and raise them in a wholesome environment with lots of activities. Work your way up the "corporate ladder." Build a lucrative retirement and retire at an early age. Live in Florida for the winter and the mountains for the summer.

Then, oh no, you die! But that's all right. "The person who dies with the most toys wins!" Right?

Attempting to be satisfied with temporal objects leads to failure and eventually hell.

We must know that every car will eventually end up in the junkyard. Good jobs will only last a lifetime, and may not last that long. New houses will one day be eaten by termites. A spouse can only bring a lifetime of joy, and that's not guaranteed. Bodies that are strong and healthy will eventually become weak and diseased. Money that will last a lifetime will only last a lifetime, if that long.

The pleasures and riches of this world are temporal. Yet God made the soul everlasting. Seeking temporal objects of this world can never satisfy the everlasting thirst and hunger of the soul.

Dead end of personal achievements

(Ecclesiastes 2:18-22)

Millions of people seek personal achievements to bring themselves happiness. As a former professional rodeo cowboy, I once sought happiness apart from Christ by chasing my "Gold Buckle Dreams."

Throughout my eight-year career as a bareback bronco rider, I obtained a small piece of fame and prestige in the rodeo arena. I finished the 1997 rodeo season ranked 12th in the world standings in the International Professional Rodeo Association.

I accumulated a few gold buckles and trophy spurs. Where are they now? Collecting dust on my son's shelf. I wasted eight years of my life seeking happiness apart from Christ by chasing "Gold Buckle Dreams." Vanity!

Soul satisfaction can only be found in the eternal self-existing One, revealed in Jesus Christ. All other objects of satisfaction are temporal and will soon fade away. Henry Scougal wrote, "The worth and excellency of the soul is to be measured by the object of its love."

May Christ, and Christ alone, be the object of your love and satisfaction.

8/12/2005 12:00:00 AM by Chadwick Ivester | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for Aug. 28: Repairing Relationships with the World : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

August 12 2005 by Haven Parrott

Formations lesson for Aug. 28: Repairing Relationships with the World : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005
Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

Formations lesson for Aug. 28: Repairing Relationships with the World

By Haven Parrott
Focal passage: Genesis 9:1-17

Rain Restrained, Sin Remains

Regarding God's flood, there's bad news and good news.

The bad news is that the genocide of all but eight of earth's sinners didn't exterminate sin on earth.

The good news is, God never expected that it would. He cherished no unrealistic notion that the elimination of most sinners would somehow cure the ones He spared. This is made plain in Genesis 8:21 when, after closing the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky, God reminds Himself "that the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth."

He was not surprised, therefore, by Noah's drunkenness or by Ham's satisfaction in Noah's nakedness or by the building of a tower of power on the plain in Shinar, or by any of the countless number of unrecorded post-Flood sins of Noah and his kin.

No, the point of the flood wasn't the washing away of sin. The preservation of even one sin-stained soul would have rendered that purpose ineffective.

If God's primary purpose had been to wipe out sin He would've wiped out humanity. He didn't, and that leaves me grateful to be wondering why He didn't.

From a human standpoint, annihilation of sin would be an understandable reason, a justifiable reason, for a just God, a God who hates sin, to send a flood that eliminated thousands upon thousands of sinners. Yet we know God knew the flood wouldn't even begin to make a dent in the sin problem, so the purpose of the flood must've been even bigger than the eradication of sin.

What on earth could be more important to a holy, pure, righteous, just God than the eradication of corruption, impurity, unrighteousness, and injustice?

Beyond the Rainbow

God declares the end from the beginning, "and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'" (Is. 46:10)

Or, as John Piper put it, "God runs history from the future" in order to accomplish His purpose for creation in general and humans created in His image in particular: for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of His glory (Is. 43:7, Hab. 2:14).

To completely destroy all those created in His image would have been a surrendering of His primary purpose. Eradicating sin by destroying sinners leaves no one to behold, no one to have knowledge of or fill the earth with the mind-boggling glory of a God who is so committed to Himself that He will not allow His hatred of sin to thwart His purpose for sinners.

And so He hung a rainbow over Noah and his descendants as an umbrella of protection from Himself, from the wrath they deserved but wouldn't get because God is marvelously unfair in our favor, for His glory.

It takes a big God, a wonderfully terrible God to destroy sinners. It takes an even bigger God, a terribly wonderful God to spare sinners while maintaining His own righteousness.

Long before the flood, He knew exactly what would be required to uphold His commitment to His glory: instead of destroying all the sinners He would destroy His only Son. The washing away of sin would be accomplished not with water but with blood.

God made His covenant with Noah with a view to, and from, the cross, for all the promises of God are in Christ, "wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us." (1 Cor. 1:20)

Since rainbows are the result of rain falling while the sun shines, perhaps the covenant sign Noah beheld was the result of the falling of God's tears for His Son's shining sacrifice.

8/12/2005 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for Sept. 4: The Adolescent David - Waging Battles of Giant Proportions : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

August 12 2005 by Haven Parrott

Formations lesson for Sept. 4: The Adolescent David - Waging Battles of Giant Proportions : Friday, Aug. 12, 2005
Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

Formations lesson for Sept. 4: The Adolescent David - Waging Battles of Giant Proportions

By Haven Parrott
Focal passage: 1 Samuel 17:42-49

Youthful Confidence

I'm looking at a photograph of my oldest son, Dane, taken at the beginning of his senior year in high school, and what I see is the very picture of youthful zest and confidence, a fresh-faced reminder of everything exciting about being on the edge of seventeen: big dreams and no doubts.

It's a close-up of cool. Dane's smile is easy and self-assured as he leans nonchalantly against a tree, arms crossed, chin tilted up, head slightly cocked. His blue eyes gleam with a certain "I've-got-life-by-the-tail" look, and it doesn't hurt that he's awfully handsome, to boot.

Giant? What Giant?

The picture of Dane at 17 that hangs on my wall informs the picture of David at about the same age that hangs in my mind. I imagine a similar air of can-do confidence emanated from the freshly anointed, eager-for-action adolescent who strode calmly into the line of battle and wondered aloud why no one had stepped up to shut up the giant who taunted the armies of the living God and scornfully mocked the name of the Lord of Hosts.

Contemporary athletes are not the first to engage in "talking trash," trying to intimidate, upset or distract their opponent with a flying tongue. Goliath was a master trash talker, but he met his match in young David.

To David, Goliath's words were fightin' words, plain and simple. David's youthful na�vet� afforded him the wisdom of disregarding the apparent danger in favor of the greater reality: God's power to deliver and His zeal for His name is stronger than any evil giant or any giant evil.

David's uncomplicated trust in that straightforward truth gave him the guts to engage the heavily-protected warrior in mortal combat and enabled him to see what the jaded, more experienced Israelite soldiers had missed: the gaping hole in Goliath's armor.

What I love most is that David appears to have considered no other option than immediate action and no other outcome than absolute victory.

Foolishness or Faithfulness?

Sometimes faithfulness looks like foolishness, right up to the moment the giant is felled.

Older and Bolder

The story of David's by-faith defeat of Goliath beckons me to remember the simple, excuse-shattering truth that God is huge and powerful and alive and active, regardless of what circumstances may suggest to the contrary.

The story also reminds me that authentic faith sometimes requires more than taking a stand. Authentic faith in the Lord of Hosts requires me to break the stalemate by storming into the fight and audaciously attacking the enemy with brazen, in-your-face confidence, wielding the weapon of God's living and active word with the same degree of skill David exhibited when he slung the sling that shot the giant-felling stone.

Getting older should mean getting bolder in the faith. Too often I find myself just getting jaded. And so I wince even as I welcome the challenge to complacency this familiar Sunday School story offers: fearless, bring-it-on, looks-like-foolishness faith in God in the face of giant obstacles always (eventually if not immediately) results in our victory and His glory.

8/12/2005 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott | with 0 comments



Thank you, N.C. Baptist Men : Friday, Aug. 5, 2005

August 5 2005 by

Thank you, N.C. Baptist Men : Friday, Aug. 5, 2005
Friday, Aug. 5, 2005

Thank you, N.C. Baptist Men

In 1963, our family moved into an old, small two-bedroom house down near the Pigeon River in Clyde, N.C. Three of us children grew up in that old house. Our father and mother grew old in that old house. A few years ago, our mother passed away leaving Daddy alone in that old house. Everywhere you looked there were remnants and records of our living, loving, and even leaving in that old house. The walls and shelves were loaded with pictures and artifacts of our family. There were souvenirs, whatnots and keepsakes of our history. There were still pencil marks in the hallway with initials and dates, recording how much each of us children had grown from year to year.

Even though Daddy was the only one left to live there, all of that stuff brought him, and us children, a great deal of comfort, security and satisfaction. It was home.

However, the floods of last September washed that away. Very little could be salvaged that could prove that we had ever been there. The house and almost everything in it seemed to be a total loss. But the worst part for me was that for the first time in his 75 years our Daddy looked lost, alone and beaten.

But thanks to the generosity of many people and the efforts of N.C. Baptist Men, Daddy moved back into his house in May. Other than the roof, it is a brand new house. There is not a single spot that Baptist Men did not repair or replace. That old house is in the best shape it has ever been.

I know Baptist Men couldn't replace Daddy's past but you sure have put a lot of hope and happiness in his future. From the Ralph Trull family, thank you so much.

Eddie Trull

Franklin, N.C.

8/5/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



Church loses in state partnership : Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005

August 4 2005 by

Church loses in state partnership : Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005
Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005

Church loses in state partnership

Almost every time I read a newspaper or news magazine there will be an article on or at least a reference to a Christian leader seeking to organize the Church to become involved in the political arena. Each time, I am reminded of the late Dr. Donald Cook, who taught for many years at Southeastern Seminary and later at Gardner-Webb. Dr. Cook told me that almost without exception throughout history whenever the church and state entered into partnership, the church lost. Certainly Christians should evaluate the positions of public officials as to whether they are consistent with the teaching of Jesus. This evaluation may determine how they vote and how much support they give to a public office holder. However, it is a danger to the cause of Christ when an individual church or the greater church seeks to become entangled with a political organization. Politicians like complete loyalty. Christ demands complete loyalty. An organization cannot serve both.

As Christians, we should "give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." When we do not keep the two separate, both are hurt. The cause of Christ is hurt as we compromise belief to further a political cause. The state is hurt when it loses the critical analysis of its policies by a completely independent church.

Gary Trawick

Burgaw, N.C.

8/4/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



Lottery presents dangers : Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005

August 4 2005 by

Lottery presents dangers : Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005
Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005

Lottery presents dangers

I want to commend and thank Sidney Fletcher of Wingate (July 9, 2005 printed issue of Biblical Recorder) for expressing my convictions and fears concerning the lottery exactly. Regrettably, most people outside of my church whom I have shared my convictions with refuse to see the dangers that the lottery presents.

His letter bears reprinting often.

Jo Lynn Ransom

Bladenboro, N.C.

8/4/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



Editorial prophetic, not divisive : Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2005

August 3 2005 by

Editorial prophetic, not divisive : Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2005
Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2005

Editorial prophetic, not divisive

I personally do not see how Tony Cartledge's remarks in "Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin" are divisive. In fact, I take his article to be a prophetic lament of the tragic possibility that N.C. Baptists will no longer be able to enjoy the continued cooperation and shared commitment for the ministries of the Baptist State Convention (BSC). Rather than cause division in the body, its intent is quite the contrary. It is a call for all N.C. Baptists to remember, for several years now, how we have managed to avoid the fracture other state conventions have experienced and to continue to work together for the cause of Christ.

I do think he has correctly identified several issues that powerfully suggest a change is coming. It appears to me that actions and words of some folk in the BSC are intended to further consolidate power and fracture the body. I am very sad about this and pray we can find a way to continue to work together.

I think all N.C. Baptists should be profoundly sad over, what appears to me, a steady progression towards exclusion, and disenfranchisement. I pray the BSC does not go the way other state conventions have gone.

Philip Rackley

Cary, N.C.

8/3/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



Go along with majority or leave : Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005

August 2 2005 by

Go along with majority or leave : Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005
Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005

Go along with majority or leave

I simply wanted to add my voice to those who have already spoken in regard to Tony Cartledge's comments in "Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin.". I've been serving in North Carolina for six months now, and I keep hearing how N.C. Baptists try and partner moderates and conservatives and accomplish the Great Commission. This article does not reflect partnership.

Cartledge's remarks are divisive in nature and continue to support the moderate camp's alarmist stance to generate division over whether the current Southern Baptist Convention holds traditional Baptist views. One of the hallmarks of the SBC is the messengers speak by way of support of or rejection of resolutions and actions taken during convention sessions.

The majority has spoken. The convention is conservative.

The Recorder needs to accept this reality and quit publishing so much moderate, divisive verbiage. Join the voices of the majority, or focus on reaching people for Christ with your moderate theology in some other convention ... but do not claim you are partnering with the SBC when you are obviously bent on division within the convention.

Kenneth Priest

Hendersonville, N.C.

8/2/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



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