July 2001

Move doesn't change church's mission

July 27 2001 by Melissa Pendleton , BR Intern

Move doesn't change church's mission | Friday, July 27, 2001

Friday, July 27, 2001

Move doesn't change church's mission

By Melissa Pendleton BR Intern Raleigh's Tabernacle Baptist Church started a new history on July 22. After 127 years as a staple of downtown, Tabernacle moved to its new Leesville Road location northwest of the city. Members say it's a change in location but not in focus or mission.

Amidst a standing room only congregation the first Sunday in the new building, Pastor Mark White said he was pleased to see a space problem already exists. More than 400 attended.

"This is a tremendous day of celebration," White said.

He said the theme of the historic day was just like the words the congregation sang, "To God be the glory, great things He hath done."

Carolyn Robinson, longtime Tabernacle member, remembers special times at the Raleigh location. "I was married in that church, and so were my grandparents," she said.

Robinson was married in 1964, 72 years after her grandparents' marriage in 1892.

She said she has "sentimental attachments" to the Person Street location. However, she, like White, was overwhelmed by the "sweet, cooperative spirit" that surrounded the church's efforts to relocate.

"We could see God's hand moving throughout the whole process," she said.

Thanksgiving surrounds Tabernacle in this time of joy, Robinson said.

"I know Mark White was sent for such a time as this," she said.

Robinson is grateful for the guidance, foresight, and dedication of her pastor. White is thankful for Phil Stone, chairman of Tabernacle's building and steering committee.

No matter how they appreciate one another's efforts, everyone seems to agree that all the glory is to be given to God. From the pulpit, White summed up the entire experience.

"This was a cooperative effort, but it was first and foremost God's work," he said.

After only one Sunday service on its 30-acre lot, Tabernacle saw success from outreach efforts. White said more than 100 people responded to flyers passed out by the church.

Many in downtown Raleigh have enjoyed the lunches served by Tabernacle every Wednesday. Tabernacle will no longer be serving these lunches, but they will continue to offer supper at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday nights before church services begin.

The only missing part of the new building is the stained glass windows from the downtown church. These will be removed on July 30 and re-installed in time for Tabernacle's homecoming, the fourth Sunday in September.

Formal dedication of the new facility will be Oct. 21. Special recognition will be given to all of those who participated in the effort to move a well-rooted congregation into its new mission field and home.

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7/27/2001 12:00:00 AM by Melissa Pendleton , BR Intern | with 0 comments

North Carolina Hispanic pastors 'return home' to do mission work

July 27 2001 by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications

North Carolina Hispanic pastors 'return home' to do mission work | Friday, July 27, 2001
  • "They (the pastors) did a good job in communicating and the people responded well."
  • "A positive spirit in spite of unseen changes."
  • "The people responded well to the three U.S. Hispanic pastors and openly appreciated their efforts."

    It seems, however, that things can still go wrong on mission trips, even if you're a native of the country, fluent in the language and understand all the customs.

    The negatives? "Lost luggage (for almost two days), . . . projector kept going off when it got hot, . . . the sound system could have been better . . . and expenses a little higher than expected."

  • Friday, July 27, 2001

    North Carolina Hispanic pastors 'return home' to do mission work

    By Bill Boatwright BSC Communications When Cesar Carhuachin of Charlotte agreed to go on a mission trip to Peru last year, he didn't need to be told what the food would be like or what to expect from his Latin American hosts. He didn't need a crash-course on the customs of the region or Baptist life in that part of South America. Carhuachin, who serves as Hispanic pastor of Hickory Grove Church in Charlotte, is a native Peruvian. His Christian faith, in a large measure, is the result of Southern Baptist missionary efforts in his homeland. For Carhuachin, going on this mission trip was like, well, simply going back home.

    Carhuachin was one of three Hispanic N.C. Baptist pastors who participated in the unique mission enterprise resulting from a three-way partnership involving the Baptist State Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board and Lifeway Christian Resources. Joining Carhuachin was David Duarte, pastor of Iglesia Hispana in Greensboro and Hugo Gallegos, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Sanford.

    The project, called the "Covenant of Cooperation," is an agreement between the agencies that sets forth specific goals, areas of major focus, and stated commitments. The partnership is built upon the premise that volunteers who are natives of the region will bring a dimension to mission work that "outsiders," however well schooled in the culture and language, simply do not possess.

    "In Peru the churches need help in reaching people for Jesus Christ," Carhuachin said. "The Peruvians are open to hear the gospel from visitors from other countries. There, we are able to preach in plazas, share the gospel in the streets and do prayer walking."

    The Charlotte Hispanic pastor evidently was a "hit" with the folks back in his homeland. The Baptist convention in Peru has invited him to teach a conference in the seminary and bring a mission team from his church in Charlotte. He has agreed, of course, and also plans to do a similar mission project in Argentina.

    Pastor Gallegos from Sanford found the South American mission trip helpful to his work as a Hispanic pastor in North Carolina.

    "I'm more sensitive to the mission field and it's helped me a lot to project to my church that we need to be a missionary church. When I got back home, I preached a sermon on missions and fifteen people volunteered to go with me back to Peru next December. They are very excited," Gallegos said.

    David Duarte, the third member of the mission team and pastor of the Hispanic Baptist church in Greensboro, had a similar experience once he returned home.

    "I heard God's voice asking me to do something," he said. "As soon as I came back I made arrangements for our church to take part in a mission trip."

    The plans came through as 10 church members went in July to Tampico, Mexico, on an evangelistic and construction project for nine days.

    The mission partnership, the first one of its type among Southern Baptist Convention affiliates, teams North Carolina Hispanic consultant/trainers with counterparts in South America, making the project a true "two-way" mission experience for everyone involved. The goal is to learn from one another, rather than one group showing another group how missions "ought" to be done.

    "We plan to get as much out of this for our Hispanic churches as we will give to those churches in South America," said Larry Phillips, consultant with Hispanic churches in North Carolina and coordinator of the project.

    "Our goal at this point is to learn from each other (mentor training) and to energize the North Carolina team. We want our North Carolina team to return home with a vision for missions as well as new experiences and information that will enhance church growth among North Carolina Hispanic congregations," said Phillips.

    The Baptist State Convention is responsible for enlisting consultants, covering travel and local personal expenses and coordinating training with the two SBC participating agencies. Lifeway provides resources and works with the South American conventions to promote and coordinate the training events. The International Mission Board assists with local arrangements, provides missionary support and provides leaders for church planting conferences.

    From all reports, the North Carolina Hispanic leaders got off to a good start in the project, with plans already underway to send a team to Chile, Peru, and Ecuador the end of this year.

    "The group that came to teach us about church planting was a tremendous blessing," wrote David Trigoso, president of the Baptist Convention in Peru. "Everyone that have participated in these conferences have been not only impressed, but willing also to teach others how to grow in God's Kingdom."

    The North Carolina team also received positive feedback from the International Mission Board and Lifeway missionaries in their evaluation of the special project. The "Covenant of Cooperation" agreement mandates a written report be made after each team returns home from the field. Statements about the efforts included:

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    7/27/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications | with 0 comments

    Student Summer Missionaries 'give something back'

    July 27 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

    Student Summer Missionaries 'give something back' | Friday, July 27, 2001

    Friday, July 27, 2001

    Student Summer Missionaries 'give something back'

    By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor Western Carolina University student Charlie Patrick wanted this summer to be different. In previous summers, the college senior had made money working at a plastic cup plant or attended summer school.

    "This summer I didn't want it to be about me," Patrick said. "I wanted to give something back."

    He decided to participate in the Baptist State Convention's Student Summer Missions program, and he was chosen to work at the Kinston campus of Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina.

    Thirty-three college students are participating in the summer missions program. Assignments range from orphan ministry in Kenya to flood relief in Grifton.

    Beth Wright, interim campus ministry associate with the Baptist State Convention, said the state convention had more people apply than positions that could be funded. The missionaries are paid from money collected this past school year by Baptist Student Unions across the state. This year the amount was $85,000.

    Patrick, a social work major who is a member of Sophia Baptist Church in Sophia, hopes to work with the homeless population after graduating from college. His work at the children's homes showed him that God's love isn't just for those who have kept their "noses clean."

    "In nine weeks, I've seen how God has moved in these kids lives," he said.

    "I think sometimes we unfairly stereotype children in this type of setting," he said.

    As part of his mission, Patrick led Bible studies at each of the campus' eight cottages. Some of the best times, though, have been sitting on the front porch with the teens and talking about issues they're facing.

    "This summer has been different. I've learned a lot about myself, about others."

    Natalie Crenshaw, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is participating in the summer missions program for the second consecutive year. Last year she served as a youth minister in Australia.

    This summer, the Harrisburg native is learning about the separation of religion and the government by serving at the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.

    The mission work in Australia was hands-on, she said, while this summer required more thinking. She has attended congressional hearings about President George W. Bush's faith-based initiatives (including some where the joint committee's executive director, Brent Walker, spoke), attended a series of lectures on the role of religion in education, and provided administrative help in the office.

    "I've had to really figure out how I believe," Crenshaw said, noting the joint committee staff has encouraged her to think about the issues on her own. Although she said she had not figured out her thoughts completely on church-state issues, she has "a lot of the pieces."

    A member of Providence Baptist Church in Harrisburg, Crenshaw in considering a double major that would include political science.

    "I think I've learned I don't want to live in Washington, but it has been a good summer," she said.

    Other missionaries, their schools, ministries and places of service are as follows:

    International Anna Goodman, Mars Hills College, youth and children's ministry, Australia; Rebecca Sloan, Campbell University, youth and children's ministry, Australia; Chrissy Parker, Mars Hill, youth and children's ministry, Australia; Dana Yates, Western Carolina, youth and children's ministry, Australia; Joe Taylor, Wake Forest University, local church ministry, Cuba;

    And, Roy Thagard, N.C. State University, agricultural ministry, East Asia; Michelle Ayers, Wake Forest, orphan ministry, Kenya; Ashley Norman, UNC-Chapel Hill, orphan ministry, Kenya; Amber McGinnis, UNC-Charlotte, orphanage/AIDS education, South Africa; Sarah Murphy, UNC-Charlotte, orphanage/AIDS education, South Africa;

    And, Steve Gough, Applachian State University, backpacking evangelism, Southeast Asia; Rachel Satterwhite, Wingate University, backpacking evangelism, Southeast Asia; Hahn Tran, Gardner-Webb University, college ministry, Thailand; James Atkinson, UNC-Chapel Hill, college ministry, Thailand; Joey Bridges, UNC-Chapel Hill, college ministry, Thailand;

    United States Greg Mathews, UNC-Charlotte, local church ministry, Alaska; Michael Stone, Gardner-Webb University, local church ministry, Alaska; Jodie Hurley, Campbell University, youth ministry, Canada; Amanda Wilson, UNC-Chapel Hill, Jubilee Partners, Georgia; Adam Jarrell, N.C. State, inner city ministry, East St. Louis, Illinois;

    And, Kelly Garrett, Western Carolina University, Metro Baptist Association, New York City; Sabrina Frantz, Western Carolina University, Metro Baptist Association, New York City; English Ivie, UNC-Chapel Hill, deaf ministry, Texas; Lea Mayes, UNC-Charlotte, missions center, Texas.

    North Carolina Jamie Fincher, Western Carolina University, Metrolina AIDS Project, Charlotte; Sara McDonald, N.C. State, flood relief, Grifton; Terri Shelton, UNC-Chapel Hill, flood relief, Grifton; Nikki Jones, Campbell University, Baptist Children's Homes, Thomasville; Heather McClain, Campbell University, Prodigals Community, Winston-Salem;

    And, Teresa Bridges, Appalachian State University, church ministry team, Asheville; and Catherine Williams, Wingate University, church ministry team, Asheville.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    7/27/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments

    Unbelievers in Baptist churches: an 'affront to God,' speaker says

    July 27 2001 by Jeff Robinson , Baptist Press

    Unbelievers in Baptist churches: an 'affront to God,' speaker says | Friday, July 27, 2001
  • SBC churches totaled 15.9 million members but only 5.5 million in total attendance on any given Sunday morning. "Only 33 percent of those who are supposed to be members care enough to come," Ascol said.
  • The typical SBC church has 233 members but an average attendance of only 70 persons for Sunday morning worship.
  • Beyond Sunday morning, only one member in 10 takes part in further church activities.
  • Less than one of every 10 persons who make decisions through the evangelistic efforts of Southern Baptist churches is active in the church one year later.

    Ascol called such membership statistics a "sham" and "an affront to God."

    Baptists have assumed for so long that they understood the meaning of the word "church," yet scores of Baptists, even pastors, are hard-pressed now to define the word, Ascol asserted.

    "At the heart of our Baptist understanding of the nature of the church is the principle that says church members must be born again. The belief in a regenerate church membership is one of the foremost ecclesiological distinctives in the history of Baptists," Ascol said, pointing to confessions of faith reaching back to the first generations of Particular and General Baptists, to the Anabaptists and even to a minority faction within the Westminster Assembly.

    Still, the more critical test of regenerate church membership is its biblical fidelity, Ascol said. He noted that the Baptist commitment to believers' baptism is built on biblical arguments for a believers' church against the objections of those who would baptize infants.

    Ascol quoted an array of passages from the New Testament, all of which address the church as "children of God by faith," "saints in Christ Jesus" or similar terminology. He cited Luke's comment in Acts 2 that "the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

    "The churches of the New Testament were comprised of believers and we don't have any evidence that suggests otherwise," Ascol said.

    Said Ascol, "When Baptists insist on maintaining what they call a practice of 'believers baptism,' while neglecting the necessity of regenerate church membership, they fall into a trap that is worse than the temptations and errors of paedobaptism."

    To return purity and true unity to the life of Southern Baptist churches, Ascol called for a recovery of the doctrine of regenerate church membership along with church discipline - two marks he said were missing from the contemporary SBC church. Christ's command to carry out church discipline, along with the method, is unambiguous in his words in Matt. 18:15-30, Ascol said.

    "A church is a holy communion," he said. "It is to be comprised of saints, holy people. That is why none but the regenerate are qualified to be members. A local church has the responsibility to encourage holiness in its membership and discourage unholiness. And for this purpose, God's Word gives us very clear, and in some regards, very simple instructions regarding discipline."

  • Friday, July 27, 2001

    Unbelievers in Baptist churches: an 'affront to God,' speaker says

    By Jeff Robinson Baptist Press WILMORE, Ky. - Is the Baptist Faith and Message being contradicted by Baptist church rolls? That's the question Tom Ascol posed during the 2001 Southern Baptist Founders Conference, July 17-20 at Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky. The Founders Conference is a national meeting of Southern Baptist pastors and church leaders who embrace Calvinism.

    Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., pointed to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as continuing the historic Baptist commitment to regenerate church membership. In practice, however, the denomination reflects a wholesale departure from it, he said, citing a North American Mission Board (NAMB) study indicating trouble at this crucial point of biblical doctrine, as well as church membership rosters filled with the names of "inactive" or missing members.

    The doctrine of regenerate church membership holds that only born-again persons may be members of a local church. It is a historic Baptist distinctive, championed by all the historic Baptist confessions of faith, including the 1925, 1963 and 2000 statements of the Baptist Faith and Message.

    "Our practice doesn't measure up to our confession," Ascol said. "The overwhelming majority of Southern Baptist church members give little or no sign of spiritual life. There are countless studies that have been done in the past 15 years that validate this."

    As evidence of this jettisoning of regenerate church membership, Ascol cited figures from the SBC's 2000 church profile and a study conducted by the North American Missions Board which showed that:

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    7/27/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jeff Robinson , Baptist Press | with 0 comments

    Will the real fundamentalists please stand up?

    July 27 2001 by Mark Wingfield , A News Analysis

    Will the real fundamentalists please stand up? | Friday, July 27, 2001

    Friday, July 27, 2001

    Will the real fundamentalists please stand up?

    By Mark Wingfield A News Analysis DALLAS, Texas - Say the word "fundamentalist" in Baptist circles, and most people immediately think of the far right wing of the faith. But there's a growing use of the term to characterize attitudes and actions on the left as well - and sometimes even in the middle.

    In a July mailing to members of Texas Baptists Committed, Executive Director David Currie used the term "fundamentalists of the left" to describe those he perceives to be advocating that the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) change course and become open to homosexual practice.

    The CBF "will not grow unless it is a traditional Baptist organization and not led by fundamentalists of the left," Currie wrote. "Baptists are conservative, Bible-believing, Jesus-following people, and CBF must reflect that as well as the Baptist General Convention of Texas."

    Currie isn't alone among Texans in using the "fundamentalists of the left" label in expressing frustration over business conducted at the CBF general assembly in Atlanta last month.

    Robert Prince, pastor of First Baptist Church of Vernon, said he left a CBF debate over the homosexuality issue and said to his wife, "I found out today there is a fundamentalism of the left."

    What he experienced there, he said, was the most direct evidence of this brand of fundamentalism he's seen. "Some of those present were interested in affirming the gay lifestyle. They inferred that those who condemn homosexual practices are on a par with those who affirmed slavery and racism in the Old South."

    That's a line of reasoning Prince and many other Texans attending the debate didn't agree with. They perceive homosexuality to be unlike race in its determination.

    Yet those who see homosexuality as having a purely biological root leave no room for debate with those who disagree, Prince said. "The militancy and the passion among those who affirmed the gay lifestyle made me think of fundamentalism."

    Cecil Sherman, a former Texas pastor and the CBF's first chief administrator, said he's long been convinced there's a fundamentalism of the left. He saw it early on in discussions among moderate Baptists who felt they had been disenfranchised from the Southern Baptist Convention by fundamentalists of the right.

    In those early days, some demanded that CBF should have its own set of mandatory beliefs, including, for example, full affirmation of women in ministry. Sherman recalls asking: "What would make that different than the fundamentalists who are requiring that I have certain things in place to be part of the SBC? I can't see that you're different from them except agenda."

    Although CBF largely has avoided demands that its affiliated churches share any rigid doctrine, tensions still exist on such matters.

    Sherman sees these tensions most exposed "at the edge of CBF, on the women's issue and homosexuality issue."

    On these issues, there are people who "are willing to tear up the organization for the sake of their issue," he said. And that reminds him of what moderate Baptists thought they were fleeing in the SBC.

    "Fundamentalists were ready to tear up the SBC if they couldn't control it. Fundamentalists of the left are willing to tear up CBF if they can't control it."

    Within the world of moderate Baptists, most all of whom would shun the term "fundamentalist" to describe themselves in any way, there are differing opinions on who is most like the right-wing fundamentalists they jointly disdain.

    So-called centrists see those to the left of them sometimes acting as fundamentalists. Progressives on the most open-minded side of Baptist life sometimes see centrists as acting like fundamentalists in demanding that no one rock the boat.

    Fundamentalism can be a condition that afflicts not only the right and the left, but also the center, said Walter Shurden, professor of Christianity and director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University.

    Not only that, Shurden said, there's a fundamentalism "of those who claim not to be on the right or the left or in the center."

    Fundamentalism is "not so much an ideology as it is an attitude, an attitude of intolerance, incivility and narrowness," Shurden said. "It is an attitude that says, 'We have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and we are going to impose it on you and control the system so that you will have to knuckle under to it.'

    "It is an attitude that cuts off microphones, rudely terminates debate, stacks committees and centralizes power in order to control. It is not restricted to the right or the left."

    For his part, Shurden doesn't see much of a true left anywhere in Baptist life. Those who talk of a "fundamentalism of the left" are "fundamentalist, centrist and conservative Baptists" who use the term in attempts to keep control, "to isolate, denigrate and demonize those who do not agree with them, especially on issues of women in ministry and homosexuality," he said.

    Likewise, Frank Tupper, a veteran Southern Baptist theology professor now teaching at Wake Forest University, said he sees talk of a fundamentalism of the left as an attempt by some within CBF to do "the same things to persons with whom they disagree as the fundamentalists who demonized the moderates in the SBC."

    "The apocalyptic rhetoric that open discussion leads to death is an old line from SBC losers who want CBF to perpetuate the old SBC," Tupper said. "That's not a new way to be Baptist."

    So, will the real fundamentalists please stand up?

    "Historically, fundamentalism referred to those 20th century American Protestants who reacted negatively to science and acted militantly against any reading of the Bible other than a wooden literal reading," noted Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics in Nashville, Tenn.

    "Today, fundamentalism is a description applied to militant extremists who demand that others embrace their way or hit the highway," he added. "In addition to American fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism flourishes in Israel and Muslim fundamentalism infects Arab nations such as Iran."

    Besides promoting opposing agendas, fundamentalists of the right and left often use different appeals to make their case, added Keith and Helen Jean Parks, veteran Baptist missionaries now living in Richardson.

    "The left usually bases theirs on knowledge, education, pseudo-intellectualism and sophistication," the Parkses said. "The right bases theirs more on a few doctrinal issues, on an aggressive verbal evangelism and a claim to a narrow view of biblical truth."

    In one sense, two extremes of any religion may become opposite sides of the same coin, said Randall Balmer, a noted Christian sociologist and professor of American religion at Columbia University.

    He saw this a few years ago, he said, while working on a network TV documentary on creationism. "The people defending evolutionary theory were no less fundamentalist than the creationists."

    The most common characteristic shared by fundamentalists of the right and left is "a lack of self-critical capacity," said Balmer, who is completing a new encyclopedia of evangelicalism to be published next year.

    "Fundamentalists both right and left tend to view their cause as right and justified and harbor very little or no doubt about that conviction. ... That's the characteristic that strikes me again and again, the absence of the ability to be self-critical."

    Sherman recalled a conversation he had years ago with Adrian Rogers, who he considers to be one of the SBC's prime fundamentalist leaders. Sherman quoted Oliver Cromwell to ask, "Pray thee, has it occurred to you that you might be wrong?"

    He now asks the same question of some to his left as well.

    The end result, according to Prince, is that fundamentalism of any stripe destroys institutions and cooperative efforts by demanding rigid conformity to doctrine.

    Fundamentalists "are passionate about issues that historically have been secondary concerns in the community of faith," he said. "SBC fundamentalists didn't care how many churches left as long as they had a doctrinally pure body. CBF fundamentalists of the left feel the same way. They couldn't care less that they would lose every church in Texas if they affirmed homosexual practices."

    In the old SBC, Prince said, missions was the glue that held things together. "In a sense, fundamentalists in the SBC and CBF try to make other things the glue."

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - Wingfield is managing editor of the Baptist Standard in Texas.)

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    7/27/2001 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield , A News Analysis | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study lesson for August 5: Following the Risen Lord

    July 20 2001 by Catherine Painter , John 21:4-7,12-13,15-22

    Family Bible Study lesson for August 5: Following the Risen Lord | Friday, July 20, 2001

    Friday, July 20, 2001

    Family Bible Study lesson for August 5: Following the Risen Lord

    By Catherine Painter John 21:4-7,12-13,15-22 "Please, just this once, go fishing with Dad and me," Jack pleaded. I detested baiting hooks, but forsaking my philosophy: "If where I'm going isn't better than what I'm leaving, I'm staying home," I yielded.

    We arrived at a borrowed, seldom-used cabin in threatening weather. Morning brought a bone-chilling rain. Claiming the weather, our clothing and the unkempt, musty cabin unsuitable, the children and I spent the day in a motel enjoying books and games I had secretly packed.

    That night the men returned with a sizeable catch. The difference between the two parties was a love for fishing and a lack thereof.

    Jesus Will Come to Us (John 21:1-13) Jesus called disciples away from fishing. Now, like a movie entered at some point other than its beginning, we come full circle as John records this final fishing scene.

    Initially, Jesus called, "... follow me and I will make you fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). With their positive response, He transfigured their fishing skills - patience, persistence and knowledge of fish and equipment - to soul winning.

    Now He calls, inviting a negative response: "Friends, haven't you any fish?" Their one-word answer, "No," reveals embarrassment. I wonder how often I, too, have fished for this thing and that thing, catching nothing.

    At Jesus' direction, they cast their net on the other side and discovered the difference between success and failure is as simple as the width of the boat and Jesus in command.

    Some see intentional symbolism involved. Both Latin and Greek naturalists claimed the Galilean Sea contained 153 varieties of fish - the exact number the disciples caught.

    Was Jesus proclaiming His gospel to be universal and inclusive? That there is room in heaven for all willing to be caught (John 14:2-3) in a net of security that won't break (John 10:28-29)?

    Did Peter drag the net to shore to show his future leadership in the church? And was Jesus assuring us that when we revert to former ways (v. 3), He provides a way of return?

    Jesus Will Ask If We Love Him (John 21:15-17) True Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ (Gal. 2:20). Ready to commit His cause to unreliable disciples and ascend to heaven, Jesus mentions nothing to discuss or clarify. He draws up no creed for their acceptance. His only foundation is "Do you love me?"

    Knowing Peter's three denials will haunt him, Jesus offers three opportunities for Peter to confess Him.

    Our language falls short in translating the Greek words for love. Twice Jesus asks Peter for God's deepest unconditional love (agape), but Peter responds both times offering brotherly friendship (philos).

    It's the third question that reaches the heart of the gospel (v. 17). Jesus asks, in effect, "Simon, is this lower level of love the extent you can go?"

    Peter answers, "Lord, you know all things. You know I love (phileo) you." Jesus, not bringing Peter to the highest level, descends to his level and commissions him: "Feed my sheep" (v. 17d).

    We sense Jesus' confidence that by serving Him, Peter's love will rise to the level Jesus craves.

    The Lord seeks our response to His love as well, knowing that how we love Him determines what we think of Him, what we'll do for Him and how closely we'll follow Him.

    Jesus Will Challenge Us to Follow Him (John 21:18-22) When Jesus prophesies Peter's death by crucifixion, Peter glances toward John, asking, "What about him?"

    Jesus replies, "...what is that to you? You follow me."

    As with Peter, the issue is my love. I'm not to compare myself with others. This story grips and thrills me, for I have exposed my very soul to its truth.

    On the night Jack proposed marriage, I pulled away from him and fled to my dorm, only to find God waiting on the other side of the door (Ps. 137:7-10).

    I had heard other calls - to education, career, pleasure, pleasing loved ones - but none so sweet as God's call that night: "Follow me."

    I banged my head against my bed, my face wet with tears. God was calling me to forsake plans and pleasures I wanted to keep, to serve where I felt unqualified, to walk where I had not intended to go.

    He was calling me to feed His sheep - our future congregations - His dearest treasures for whom His Son laid down His life.

    I didn't know how to feed sheep, nor had I considered the depths of my love for Christ.

    I continue to stumble and fall, but like Peter, I rise again and follow.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    7/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , John 21:4-7,12-13,15-22 | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study lesson for August 12: Obeying the Risen Lord

    July 20 2001 by Catherine Painter , Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:1-8

    Family Bible Study lesson for August 12: Obeying the Risen Lord | Friday, July 20, 2001

    Friday, July 20, 2001

    Family Bible Study lesson for August 12: Obeying the Risen Lord

    By Catherine Painter Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:1-8 "Please, don't let anybody be here," I prayed, ringing the doorbell during witness training. A kind lady invited us in, directing Nan and me to her den. I pleaded, "Lord, if I do this, I'll cry." I kept my promise, barely seeing the words I shared. Finally, I asked if she would receive Christ as her savior.

    "Yes, because you wept over my sins." Even I never wept over my sins. "May I keep that book? I've just realized my son is not a Christian either."

    "Didn't I tell you?" Jack asked when I shared the outcome. "Your greatest ability is availability."

    The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) Jesus' imperatives ring: "Go," (not send). "Make disciples," (not converts - that's the Spirit's job). Not to disciple a convert is like leaving a baby on the delivery room table.

    "Teach ... everything I have commanded," (no revising His message to accommodate popular thought). Why, then, don't Christians share their faith more freely?

    Could inconsistent lifestyles leave many feeling they have nothing to say? Henry Drummond wondered, "How many are kept out of God's kingdom by the unlovely characters of those professing to be inside?"

    I feared rejection. I waited to become expert, like learning to swim before getting into water. Then I remembered there were expert strategists in the Israelite army, but a shepherd boy with substandard equipment slew Goliath. Why did I fear?

    I enjoy wayside witnessing. I probably won't see the person again, and I might take him to heaven! Often I do.

    On the night before completing this study, I shared with a lady in a mall, not by chance, but by Ephesians 2:10. I enjoy discussing what Christ did 2,000 years ago. I prefer sharing what He did this morning.

    Witnessing can be as simple as a deaf man going to church to show whose side he's on, to a martyr's giving his life for Christ. Some cross oceans; others cross streets. Some encounter hostility; others face indifference.

    Someone said, "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one." I disagree. My life doesn't speak; my lips do. Elton Trueblood said, "It's not enough to give cold water. It's necessary to tell why."

    Jesus made it clear; we're to witness verbally.

    The Promise of the Spirit (Acts 1:1-5) Jesus appeared to His disciples for forty days. The intervals between His appearances grew longer, teaching them to act on their own, preparing them for the coming of His Spirit.

    Jesus bids them wait in Jerusalem, and not go into the world in fleshly energies.

    A boat is moored in the inlet. The tide's out, the boat's on its side, its keel in the mud. We can strain and use jacks to get it up, or wait for the incoming tide to bear it up. Better to wait for the power of the Spirit, instead of launching out in our own strength.

    The Call to Be Witnesses (Acts 1:6-8) We're more inclined to argue the Holy Spirit than to experience Him, but we're powerless without Him. The Spirit is Jesus without flesh and bones, to whom He referred, saying, "... surely I am with you ..." (John 28:20b).

    John Wesley said, "The world is my parish." Wanting to sample what he meant, Jack and I went as evangelists to Romania with doctors, dentists and nurses. We spent our days witnessing and our evenings sharing the day's victories for Christ.

    Our team was blessed with Christian translators. Another team had no victories to report and their translators were merely tolerating us. Christina rolled her eyes as we told of people coming to Christ.

    We asked our leader why he hired non-Christian interpreters. He explained he couldn't get Christians to leave their jobs to interpret.

    The next morning, I went to breakfast for a banana and sat beside Julie. I asked, "Are you and Christina Christians?"

    "We were born Christians."

    "Are you aware that Jesus said we cannot be born Christians - we must be born again to experience salvation?"

    "I never heard that."

    I shared the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus and asked if she wanted to be born again. We wept and embraced as she invited Christ into her life. Her first words as a Christian were, "I'll win Christina." That night their team reported victories for Christ also.

    Until then I couldn't share John 3 without my Bible. That morning I could because I "received power" (v. 8a). I went for a banana and returned bringing a soul to Christ.

    Jesus provides power to meet demands. We are not to do God's work in human strength. St. Augustine said, "Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not."

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    7/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:1-8 | with 0 comments

    Formations lesson for August 5: Being Forgiven

    July 20 2001 by F. Calvin Parker , Psalm 51:6-14

    Formations lesson for August 5: Being Forgiven | Friday, July 20, 2001

    Friday, July 20, 2001

    Formations lesson for August 5: Being Forgiven

    By F. Calvin Parker Psalm 51:6-14 The Shinto religion of Japan lays great stress on purity and cleanliness. Worshipers at a shrine first rinse their hands and mouth with water from a large stone basin. A priest may further purify the worshipers by waving over them a branch of the sakaki tree, a sacred evergreen. In one ceremony a priestess dips a leafy bamboo branch in boiling water and shakes it over herself and her devotees. Similar rites are observed in many religions, for the human desire to be cleansed and forgiven of one's sins is universal.

    Forgiveness is cleansing (Psalm 51:6-9) The author of this heart-searching psalm obviously feels unclean before God. He is tormented by a feeling of guilt. Perhaps he is ill and believes God sent him the illness as a punishment for sin. His prayer for cleansing uses three vivid images.

    First, "Purge me with hyssop." The psalmist recalls the ceremony in which a priest dips twigs of the hyssop plant into blood or water and sprinkles people who have been in contact with a leper or a corpse. Hyssop was used somewhat as sakaki is used in Japan.

    Second, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The English Baptist preacher Alexander MacLaren, who lived before the days of washing machines, made this prayer highly graphic: "Wash me, beat me, tread me down, hammer me with mallets, dash me against stones, rub me with smarting soap and caustic niter - do anything, anything with me, if only these foul spots melt away from the texture of my soul."

    Third, "Blot out all my iniquities." This means to erase them from the record and hold them against me no more.

    This threefold prayer brings to mind the threefold process a modern dry cleaner often uses to renew a soiled garment: spot removal, cleaning, sanitizing. The psalmist wants his spiritual cleansing to be that complete.

    Forgiveness is restoration (Psalm 51:10-12) The psalmist longs for a fresh act of creation, which only the Creator can provide. "Create in me a clean heart" uses the same Hebrew word for create that is used in Genesis 1:1. This prayer is especially apt if, as the psalm's traditional heading declares, it is the cry of David after Nathan has confronted him about Bathsheba. The king has committed adultery and murder and tried to cover up these heinous crimes. He needs a wholly new heart.

    The psalmist further prays for the revival of something that has died but should have been kept alive - the joy of God's salvation. When our sins are forgiven and we are right with God, we experience deliverance from fear, from guilt, from self. Stated another way, we know the ecstasy of release from dread, from a bad conscience, from our ego. There is no greater joy than this.

    Forgiveness is enablement (Psalm 51:13-14) Verse 13 suggests that when we have been forgiven and restored to fellowship with God, we can be effective evangelists. So long as there is a contradiction between our words and deeds, between lip and life, our witness is seriously impaired. This truth gets top billing when the flagrant sin of a TV evangelist is exposed. But even the chief of sinners - witness the apostle Paul - can become a credible witness for Christ through repentance and forgiveness.

    In 1956 Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and three other missionaries were speared to death by Huaorani Indians in the Ecuadorean jungle. Forty years later, Steve Saint, Nate's son, met with the murderers, now Christians, and listened to their stories of that terrible event. "They knew that all of us have experienced God's forgiveness," Steve wrote, "and that they had nothing to fear from me."

    Mincaye, the Indian who had killed Nate Saint, gave his testimony at the Amsterdam 2000 evangelism conference. "My heart was black and sick in sin," he said with Steve interpreting, "but I heard (that) God sent His own son. ... He washed my heart clean." Then Mincaye exhorted the assembly: "Go speak (about God) all over the world. Let's take many with us to God's place in heaven." The message was powerful, coming from one who had been forgiven much.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    7/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by F. Calvin Parker , Psalm 51:6-14 | with 0 comments

    Formations lesson for August 12: Gideon

    July 20 2001 by F. Calvin Parker , Judges 7:1-25

    Formations lesson for August 12: Gideon | Friday, July 20, 2001

    Friday, July 20, 2001

    Formations lesson for August 12: Gideon

    By F. Calvin Parker Judges 7:1-25 The book of Judges describes a time of general lawlessness and savage warfare in the ancient history of Israel. This "dark age" may have been two centuries long. There was a succession of judges whose judicial functions, if any, were eclipsed by their military roles. These judges, including Gideon, led the Israelites in fierce battles against their pagan foes.

    Gideon had many wives, and they bore him 70 sons. He also had a son by his concubine in Shechem. After Gideon's death, this son, Abimelech, hired killers to murder his 70 half-brothers, only one of whom escaped. Gideon himself was a ruthless fellow who not only slaughtered the enemy but also took reprisals on fellow Israelites who earned his displeasure. Because the elders of Succoth withheld food from his troops, he tortured them to death by tearing them with thorns and briers. Such gruesome stories have led some writers to call Judges an R-rated book.

    There are also some positive things to say about Gideon. After testing God twice with a fleece of wool, he did what God told him to do, no matter how odd the command. In this way a frightened farmer became a brilliant military strategist who vanquished the enemies of Israel. A grateful people tried to make him their king, but the hero flatly refused. Unlike our generals Grant and Eisenhower, Gideon bowed out of the limelight and retired to his home.

    Gideon's tiny band (Judges 7:1-8) This passage relates how Gideon mustered an army of 32,000 to attack the Midianites, who had long oppressed Israel and plundered its land. God intended to give His people victory and relief but knew that with so large an army, the Israelites would claim the credit for themselves and not for God. So He commanded Gideon to dismiss the soldiers who were afraid. This action reduced the army to 10,000. Then God ordered a further reduction based on how the soldiers drank water. The details are murky, but if this peculiar test was consistent with the first one, the soldiers chosen to fight were those who proved most alert to a surprise attack. The troops were pared down to a mere 300, less than 1 percent of the original 32,000.

    Einstein once said that if 2 percent of our population would take a personal, resolute stand against war, it would mean the end of war. Perhaps he was right. If, with God's help, 1 percent of an army can win a war, with God's help 2 percent of a population should be able to prevent a war. "Blessed are the peacemakers," said Jesus, referring to a tiny band indeed.

    In my youth the Baptist Student Union promoted the "Master's Minority Movement." Among the inspiring speakers I heard were Frank Leavell and Chester Swor. They encouraged students to sign an eight-point covenant between themselves and their Lord, a covenant by which, among other things, they abjured worldliness, sought out prayer mates and kept the Sabbath day holy. Only a dedicated few could sign so demanding a covenant. But the movement was significant because of a cardinal truth: a little leaven can leaven the whole lump.

    Trumpets, Jars and Torches (Judges 7:9-25) The tiny band of Israelites was vastly outnumbered by the enemy forces, which are likened in verse 12 to a swarm of locusts. But Gideon directed a surprise attack by night, using incredible tactics that confused and routed a superior army. The sounding of 300 trumpets, the breaking of 300 jars and exposing of 300 torches, the shouting of a war-cry from 300 throats - these carefully timed dramatics made Gideon's band seem like a multitude. Each of the 300 soldiers played his role to the hilt.

    In our day Gideon's name is celebrated in a voluntary organization, Gideons International, which distributes Scriptures throughout the world. Its emblem, appropriately, is a two-handled pitcher (jar) with a torch. According to its Web site, the organization has 140,000 members in 175 countries and distributes more than 56 million Scriptures a year. That is an average of 400 Scriptures for each member. Using a weapon so potent as the Bible, people committed to God's work can achieve results beyond measure.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    7/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by F. Calvin Parker , Judges 7:1-25 | with 0 comments

    A multitude of misperceptions

    July 20 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    A multitude of misperceptions | Friday, July 20, 2001

    Friday, July 20, 2001

    A multitude of misperceptions

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor There is an inaccurate but often-repeated misconception that the Biblical Recorder provides too much coverage - or slanted coverage - of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) or other "moderate" Baptist issues. These charges are unfounded, but repeated often enough that I need to address them. First, several truths must be considered:

    (1) Some who say we have too much CBF coverage believe that even one article is too many.

    (2) Other critics want us to cover the CBF but only from a biased and critical point of view. Some readers believe that, if their own bias is not reflected in an article, we must be biased in the other direction. We are committed, however, to a fair and objective presentation of the news that impacts N.C. Baptists, whatever our individual opinions.

    (3) Some folks formed their perception of the Recorder years ago, and no longer bother to read it - yet they continue to criticize, as if they know what we do.

    (4) Some say we should ignore the CBF because only 5-7 percent of the BSC churches support the CBF through the Baptist State Convention (BSC), but they fail to account for the many BSC churches that contribute to the CBF directly, and the many individuals who contribute to the CBF. One cannot assume that all churches that don't send money to the CBF are supporters of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Last year, nearly one-fifth of all BSC churches gave zero dollars through the Cooperative Program.

    It is reasonable to suggest that hardly more than 20 percent of N.C. Baptists show any real involvement in denominational life. Of those who care about such things, a large percentage either support the CBF or are interested in it.

    One could argue, then, that it would be appropriate for the Biblical Recorder to devote a comparably large percentage of its space to the CBF.

    We don't do that, however. First of all, we don't play percentage games when choosing news. We publish the news that is most relevant to N.C. Baptists without regard to whether it relates to the BSC, SBC, the CBF, Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB), Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC), the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), or any other group of Baptist people.

    Be that as it may, here are some numbers that reflect the true story:

    During the past calendar year (from the second July issue in 2000 through the first July issue in 2001), we printed 426 stories related in some way to the BSC, the SBC, or the CBF (we did not count the many short BSC-related items from "Church Events" and "Around the State" or national-interest stories that don't relate specifically to Baptists).

    Of those stories, 57.3 percent were about the BSC, 36 percent about the SBC, and 6.7 percent about the CBF. One who plays the space-percentage game could argue that we are clearly biased in favor of the SBC, which got more than 5 times the coverage devoted to CBF. The bulk of our coverage, of course, relates to the BSC.

    I have heard some people claim that we show an unfair preference for Associated Baptist Press (ABP) to the exclusion of Baptist Press (BP). We actually rely on our own staff (42.8 percent) and BSC contributors (30 percent) for the majority of our news. Beyond that, 9.6 percent of our stories were from BP and 8.4 percent from ABP. Another 8.4 percent were compiled from multiple wire reports. When choosing news sources, we use the material we believe is most accurate and objective.

    On page two, the editorial pieces I wrote during the past year were mostly devotional or reflective (52 percent). Thirty-six percent related to the BSC, 6.9 percent related to SBC issues, one editorial (less than 1 percent) dealt with CBF, and 4.6 percent were public issue-oriented.

    Our "Tar Heel Voices" (letters to the editor) on pages two and three reflect the mail we actually receive from readers. Twenty-four percent represented a clearly conservative point of view, 22 percent a more moderate stance, and 54 percent dealt with other issues or called for readers to quit squabbling and focus on our common mission.

    There are some readers who sincerely believe the conflict would go away if the Biblical Recorder became a promotional tool only and did not report on controversial news. I believe that is also a misperception. To censor the Biblical Recorder of news content - or of any single category of news content - would rob it of its very life and usefulness to the kingdom of God.

    If the Biblical Recorder put its head in the sand, the conflict would not go away. Baptist Press will continue to publish the SBC leadership's point of view via its Web site and e-mail distribution system. The CBF's fellowship! newsletter and Web site will continue to promote the CBF leadership's perspective. Mailouts produced by CCB, MBNC and other advocacy groups will not cease publication.

    If the Biblical Recorder stopped reporting on the news, the BSC's one objective voice would be lost, and the field of opinion-shaping would be left for advocates only. That would be a disservice to N.C. Baptists and a violation of our commission.

    When the Biblical Recorder was purchased by the BSC in 1939, a charter of operation and guidance was approved by the messengers. It says the Biblical Recorder exists " ... to bring said periodical to the point of the greatest efficiency and influence in behalf of the causes fostered by said Baptist State Convention, the Baptist cause in general, and the promotion of the kingdom of God on earth; and in order to attain these ends, to maintain and safeguard the inalienable rights and privileges of a free press, these rights and privileges being consistent with the traditional Baptist emphasis upon the freedom, under Christ, of both the human spirit and Baptist churches."

    That is our reason for being, and we will stand by it.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    7/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

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