July 2002

Control over translation is key, Mohler says

July 12 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Control over translation is key, Mohler says | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Control over translation is key, Mohler says

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

A continuing controversy over the Today's New International Version (TNIV) Bible translation came into focus last month when Albert Mohler told a gathering of pastors that it is important for Southern Baptists to have a Bible translation they can control.

Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was speaking to a pastors' breakfast on June 10 during the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meeting in St. Louis. The breakfast was sponsored by the SBC's LifeWay Christian Resources.

LifeWay's trade publishing arm, Broadman & Holman, is promoting a new translation of its own, the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

Both the HCSB and TNIV are available only in the New Testament, with Old Testament translations scheduled to appear in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

The TNIV is published by Zondervan for the International Bible Society (IBS). It has come under fire from some conservative evangelicals, including a variety of Southern Baptists, who say its increased use of gender-neutral language pays homage to feminism and political correctness. Publishers and proponents of the TNIV deny the charge and insist the translation seeks to be "gender-accurate" in its translation of words that were intended to denote both men and women.

Mohler told the pastors that his first response to LifeWay's plans for the HCSB was lukewarm. "I think in many ways there are too many translations, and having one more translation is not necessarily a great thing," he said.

But the introduction of the TNIV led to a change of heart, he said. "Changes in the last several months have convinced me that in the end this is an important thing for Southern Baptists to do - if for no other reason than that we will have a major translation we can control."

Whether the HCSB becomes widely accepted as a "major translation" is uncertain, but it will have no competition from the TNIV in the 105 LifeWay Christian Stores. LifeWay president James Draper told the same gathering of pastors, "We will not be selling it in our bookstores."

Apparently not satisfied with Draper's pledge, messengers to the SBC did not approve a resolution decrying the TNIV until they had voted to append a specific directive that LifeWay should not carry the new translation.

The resolution says the TNIV "has gone beyond acceptable translation standards" and "alters the meaning of hundreds of verses" by translating some gender-specific terms in gender-neutral fashion.

Russell Moore, a member of the resolutions committee, presented the resolution. Moore teaches at Southern Seminary and writes a regular column for the "Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" (CBMW) Web site, www.cbmw.org. The CBMW has close ties to Southern Seminary and has spearheaded opposition to the TNIV. Criticisms in the SBC resolution echo complaints published by CBMW on its Web site.

CBMW officials recently sought to publicize their critique of the TNIV in a two-page display ad in Christianity Today. Editors of the evangelical magazine rejected it, however, citing a policy of not including criticism of parties within evangelicalism in its ads.

Earlier, the CBMW published a list of 100 evangelicals who oppose the TNIV, including several well-known Southern Baptists among them. The ISB responded with a list of 64 prominent supporters, also featuring both evangelicals and some Southern Baptists.

More recently, the ISB released a statement from the "Forum of Bible Agencies" (FBA), a consortium of 18 Bible translation agencies responsible for 90 percent of all Bible translation work, according to the release. Members include longstanding organizations such as the American Bible Society, the United Bible Society and Wycliffe Bible Translators, along with newer, mission-focused groups like New Tribes Mission, Pioneer Bible Translators, Trans World Radio and the Jesus Film Project.

The FBA statement said, "It is the consensus of the FBA that the TNIV falls within the Forum's translation principles and procedures."

Scott Bolinder, executive vice president and publisher for Zondervan, said, "The FBA is a definitive source on Bible translation. We hope their announcement will help correct misinformation about Today's New International Version."

The FBA released a later statement saying its comments were a private communication and not intended as a public endorsement. The FBA does not endorse specific translations, the statement said.

The Zondervan release quoted John Kohlenberger, known to Greek students as author of The Exhaustive Concordance of the Greek New Testament. "Having spent nearly 30 years studying biblical language, translation theory and the history of Bible translation, I am amazed and disturbed by the campaign against the TNIV," Kohlenberger said.

"The claims made by CBMW reflect some lack of awareness for the fundamentals of translation and for what has been acceptable throughout the history of Bible translation. Assertions that the TNIV distorts Scripture or caters to a particular agenda are absolutely false," he said.

Craig Blomberg, professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, said, "The group that objects to the TNIV does not reflect a majority of evangelical, New Testament scholars. In fact, most of these individuals have no translation experience.

"I have read every verse of the TNIV," Blomberg said, "and, I believe the TNIV's treatment of gender-inclusive language with respect to humanity is in every case defensible."

Still, opponents of the TNIV maintain that the TNIV is, as Moore described it to reporters, "an inaccurate and misleading translation of God's Scripture."

The level of concern among detractors arises in part because the TNIV's predecessor, the New International Version (NIV), has become the preferred translation of many evangelical Christians. Critics of the TNIV fear that unwary shoppers will trust it as they did the NIV, and purchase it without being aware of the translational differences.

Mohler told the pastors about a recent visit to a bookstore, where he engaged in conversation with a customer who was having difficulty deciding which translation to buy. "Have some sympathy for the people who are trying to do this (choose a Bible)," Mohler said. "I want to encourage you to arm your people to know what they're doing when they walk into a bookstore and are choosing a translation.

"What they have in their hands is what they will have in their minds and what they will hide in their hearts."

(EDITOR'S NOTE - This article includes information from reporting by Baptist Press and the Religion News Service.)

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Pastor battles cancer but never misses a sermon

July 12 2002 by Laura Prevatt , Independent Tribune

Pastor battles cancer but never misses a sermon | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Pastor battles cancer but never misses a sermon

By Laura Prevatt Independent Tribune

Pastor Cam Ervin hasn't stopped preaching. Through chemotherapy, radiation and now, a cutting edge treatment at Duke University Medical Center, he's always made it back in time for Sunday's sermon.

In February, Ervin was diagnosed with cancer. Not long after, doctors removed a tumor the size of a lemon from the right side of his brain.

The prognosis was a virtual death sentence. Doctors warned Ervin that he had the most aggressive kind of brain tumor. They gave him only 12 months to live.

But none of this seemed to be bad news for him.

"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself in," he said.

Ervin's sister-in-law happened to be an old colleague of a leading neuro-oncologist at Duke. She told the doctor about Ervin's diagnosis.

Dr. Henry Friedman, who is working on a revolutionary treatment for cancer, asked Ervin to participate in a clinical study.

Ervin agreed, making the commitment to have all of his 33 treatments at Duke. He is hoping the treatment will increase his life expectancy by two or three years.

On Sunday nights, Ervin drove from his home in Concord to the hospital in Durham. During the week, he stayed with his brother who lives not far from Duke.

For seven grueling weeks, five days a week he endured simultaneous radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He also became the third person to test the new treatment, a complicated procedure meant to boost the immune system.

He has completed all three of the treatments and had some dendritic cells removed from his body recently to be tested to see what effect the injections have had on his system and the cancer. No one knows what effect, if any, the new treatment will have on his body.

He will now begin chemotherapy treatment - three different chemotherapy drugs will be administered over a 12-month period. In addition, he will have MRI's every 3 months to monitor the growth of the cancer.

On Fridays during treatment, Ervin drove home to deliver his sermon at First Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant.

He keeps a detailed voice message on the answering machine at the church, sometimes calling in from his hospital bed. His parishioners call to find out if he's alive and well.

Ervin also keeps a scrapbook filled with pictures of the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital. He documents his treatments and chronicles every step.

But Ervin is determined not to be just another patient. He's also on a spiritual quest.

"My mission for the next two years is not to get healed of cancer," he said. "There will not be a single doctor or nurse or valet that's not going to hear about my faith in Jesus."

He hands out a small booklet called Steps to Peace with God. He gives it to everyone he meets, hoping to reach them or inspire them with his story.

A book that has ministered to Ervin during his hospital stays, which was given to him, is A Bend in the Road, by David Jeremiah.

Ervin has lost his hair from the treatments and a prominent scar curves out about six inches above his ear. Doctors were unable to remove the entire tumor.

He describes the mass as a hand. It's the fingers that remain imbedded in his brain; to remove them would be too risky.

Still, he smiles. Ervin said the doctors are always remarking on how much he smiles, how upbeat he is.

"If I knew I was going to die in 12 months, I'd still be smiling," he said. "There is always hope in the midst of hopelessness."

Ervin's first brush with cancer came almost 10 years ago when his mother died as a result of a malignant brain tumor.

She was 65 when she died and in the prime of her life, Ervin said. She is one of the reasons he agreed to try the new treatment.

"The possibility of me being on the cutting edge, of saving thousands of lives, is the ultimate reward," Ervin said. "We could find out that it's the cure for cancer."

As a preacher Ervin uses his illness to drive home a point in many of his sermons.

"One word sums up the past four months," he said. "Sovereignty. God is in complete control."

His congregation has rallied around him and the community has shown a great deal of kindness to him and his family.

He drives a car that was anonymously donated to him. Church love offerings have helped him pay expensive medical bills. And someone started a college fund for his daughter Brittany, who recently graduated from Mount Pleasant High School.

Something must be working, he said. People have responded to his story.

"I am able to hear things now that most people hear when they die. I guess maybe I've earned that right."

When asked why he thinks people have responded so generously to his illness and treatment - with gifts, cards and words - he said that "God is so good, and after you minister to people for a long period of time they want to love you back, and I have surely experienced this over the past months."

(EDITOR'S NOTE - This article was reprinted with permission from the June 2 edition of the Independent Tribune in Kannapolis.)

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Laura Prevatt , Independent Tribune | with 0 comments

TBA committee affirms BF&M 2000 in closed meeting

July 12 2002 by Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges , BR staff

TBA committee affirms BF&M 2000 in closed meeting | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

TBA committee affirms BF&M 2000 in closed meeting

By Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges BR staff

The Tuckaseigee Baptist Association's (TBA) Executive Committee voted behind closed doors July 8 to affirm the 2000 version of the Southern Baptist Convention's Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M 2000).

The move is not binding on the association as a whole.

During the same closed-door meeting, the Executive Committee voted to ask the association's credentials committee to "counsel" Cullowhee Baptist Church and First Baptist Church in Sylva over matters of faith and practice. A motion for the association to break fellowship with the two churches was ruled out of order.

At issue is Cullowhee's calling a woman co-pastor and the Sylva church's support of Cullowhee's right to make that move.

Mike Dellinger, the association's moderator and pastor of Webster Baptist Church in Webster, and three other pastors in the association spoke to the Recorder about the votes. The interim director of missions (DOM), Claude Conard, declined to comment on the meeting because it was closed to the public.

Tonya Vickery, co-pastor at Cullowhee, said the votes for the BF&M 2000, to counsel the churches and to close the meeting were about 40-15.

The vote to affirm the BF&M 2000 did not include a recommendation that the TBA as a whole affirm the statement.

The 2000 BF&M says that the office of pastor is limited to men. Tonya Vickery and her husband, Jeffrey, became co-pastors of the Cullowhee church in January.

The 2000 revision to the BF&M also deleted a line that said the "criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ."

Sylva First Baptist Church adopted a resolution in April supporting Cullowhee. The resolution says that First Baptist Church takes "an unshakable and immovable stance that Jesus Christ, rather than the Bible, is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice."

The Executive Committee's request that the credentials committee counsel the two churches comes about two and a half months after the credentials committee voted 3-2 that Cullowhee is in violation of the association's bylaws. The committee recommended that the church's messengers not be seated at the association's annual meeting in October and said the church should be removed from the TBA "unless corrective action is taken."

The report of the credentials committee was not on the Executive Committee's agenda at the July 8 meeting, Conard said.

Tonya Vickery said that she and two other members of her church voted for the Executive Committee's motion that the credentials committee counsel the churches. She said representatives of the church tried, but failed, to meet with the committee previously.

"We invite conversation," she said. "We don't invite someone telling us what to do."

Vickery said she found more support at the meeting than she expected.

Some of that support came from East Sylva Baptist Church. Pastor Charles Dean walked out of the meeting rather than participate in the closed session.

"I've been here 36 years. I've been in a whole bunch of association meetings," he said. "I've never, ever participated in a closed meeting."

Dean said he believes the 2000 BF&M was adopted as a "foundation for exclusion" so association leaders could point to it as the reason for voting out Cullowhee and Sylva First. East Sylva will likely withdraw from the association if it adopts the 2000 BF&M or kicks out Cullowhee, he said.

Wayne Hill, pastor of Sylva First, said his church "will not back off from supporting the Cullowhee church." He said if the association removes Cullowhee, his church would consider pulling out.

"I think if it got down to that being what we could do to support the Cullowhee Church, we would absolutely do that," Hill said.

Sylva First, East Sylva and Cullowhee gave nearly a fourth of the association's total church support in the 2000-2001 fiscal year, according to the association's financial information summary. The $9,600 in contributions accounted for more than 21 percent of the association's total receipts that year.

Most of the contributions were from Sylva First, which gave $8,400 to the association that year. The church was the association's biggest financial supporter.

Conard, the interim DOM, said information about the meeting should not have been revealed to the Recorder. Robert's Rules of Order, which the association uses as its rules of procedure, says a member of a group can be punished if he or she violates the secrecy of an executive session, he said. The punishment could include a reprimand, a fine, a suspension or expulsion, he said.

"That would be handled in the association," Conard said.

Dellinger said the association's parliamentarian had told him that he was allowed to reveal "factual information" about the meeting.

"Legally, I can give you factual information about the votes that took place," he said. "Looking at Robert's Rules of Order, I don't think I violated anything by giving you factual information."

Conard said it would be "unethical" for the Recorder to publish details of the meeting. He initially hinted that the Recorder could face legal action if it published the information, but later backed off that position.

Conard said Steve Bialy, pastor of Greens Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, contacted the Christian Law Association in Florida regarding the issue.

Bialy said he contacted the group to find out if Tuckaseigee association's Executive Committee had to vote in public. The legal group told him the committee was a private organization that did not have to conduct business in public.

Bialy, who made the motion to break fellowship with the two churches, said it would be "incorrect" to say the Recorder could face legal action for publishing the information.

"But that information is not supposed to be shared," he said. "I would consider it highly unethical and unchristian."

Bialy, who is leaving the association July 21 for a New Jersey church, declined to discuss the meeting or his personal views about the issues.

Despite the differing views in the association, Dellinger and Vickery were encouraged by parts of the meeting.

Dellinger said that while one of the votes was being counted, the Executive Committee paused to pray for a pastor who had a brain tumor.

"It was powerful," he said. "It showed the whole association what we can do together for the cause of Christ."

Vickery said she was treated kindly by some of those who opposed her position.

"God will create something good out of the mess," she said. "I have full confidence in that."

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges , BR staff | with 0 comments

Family Bible Study lesson for July 28: God Wants Me to Be Under Control

July 12 2002 by Crate Jones , Daniel 1:1-15

Family Bible Study lesson for July 28: God Wants Me to Be Under Control | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for July 28: God Wants Me to Be Under Control

By Crate Jones Daniel 1:1-15

To be or not to be under control? That is the question. It's self control vs. God's control.

Frank Sinatra's song, "I Did It My Way" is one way; God's way is always the best way. Always.

The story's setting Nebuchadbezzar, King of Babylon, conquered Jerusalem. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, young men from royal families, were taken to Babylon. It was a strange land to them, with pagan customs. We would call it a secular society with few restraints - not unlike today's world.

These young captives were chosen to serve the king and had to go through a three-year training period. A time of testing faced them.

The king's delicacies and the kind of wine the king drank were to be their diet. A portion of this kind of food was offered to idols and a portion of the wine was poured on a pagan altar. To Daniel, such food and drink would defile him and his friends. He requested vegetables and water instead.

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5 is temperance or self-control. The words are not in our text, but the spirit of that later revealed truth is evident in Daniel's resolve to abstain. His "self-control" was really God's control.

The importance of control is seen in the saga of the prodigal son (Luke 15). He found himself in a far country and hit the skids through "wine, women and song." A portrait of unbridled "self-control" that led to living with hogs.

There, he took deliberate control-of-self and realized he'd played the fool. He hit the road for home. With his father's help, he learned to live under control at last.

Going deeper with God A certain well went dry every summer. The owners decided to dig it deeper. By digging through six feet of rock, the well never went dry again.

Our need to be under God's control is satisfied by drinking from His well of salvation. Jesus is "living water" that never ceases to flow. We find it by going deeper with Him.

When we try to keep self under control, it's like trying to hold a beach ball under water. Just as soon as you take your hands off, up it pops.

The apostle Paul faced the same dilemma: "For the good I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Rom. 7:19, NKJ). With that, many of us can identify. Paul was delivered from the control struggle by Jesus.

"Only God can enable Christians to have self-mastery and commit to exercise self-control." That enabling is the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Help from above There are times when we all have difficulty with control. Through Isaiah, God has given us a word of encouragement: "Thine ears will hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand or when ye turn to the left"' (Is. 30:21).

If we are heading in the wrong direction, He lets us know.

Jesus said, "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24).

For the Christian, the cross becomes "the way." It means death to self that Christ may live in us. We choose who will be on the cross and who will be on the throne. Control is decided.

When I was a boy in the '20s, garbage men drove wagons drawn by horses. It looked like fun and required no education. Sounded good to a kid who did not like school. I wanted to be a garbage man. My dream was fulfilled in seminary: one of my jobs on campus was to haul out the trash. God is good!

Later on, I wanted to be a cartoonist and be rich. I even promised the Lord I'd give Him a lot of money for missions. (A ruse to avoid a call to preach.) It did not work. He had other plans.

At age 19, during a youth revival, my will and God's were at odds. But in my heart I heard His voice. I knew He wanted me to be a preacher. My "yes" settled the course of my life.

I haven't always denied self; nor do I now. But my heart's desire remains: "Let go and let God have His wonderful way."

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Crate Jones , Daniel 1:1-15 | with 0 comments

Family Bible Study lesson for August 4: Creation - How Did it Begin?

July 12 2002 by Crate Jones , Genesis 1:1-3, 6, 9, 11, 14-18, 26, 31; 2:1

Family Bible Study lesson for August 4: Creation - How Did it Begin? | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for August 4: Creation - How Did it Begin?

By Crate Jones Genesis 1:1-3, 6, 9, 11, 14-18, 26, 31; 2:1

The purpose of this lesson is not to focus on what came into being at creation but on God's method of creating. Other phases of creation will follow in the next three lessons.

Probing how the world came into existence is ongoing. The secular mindset usually differs from biblical teachings. To some, there is no conception of the Creator, who with purpose and design "created the heaven and the earth."

Robert Ingersol, lawyer and politician, lived in the 1800s. For more than 30 years, he attacked orthodox Christian beliefs and lectured on his agnostic creed. For him, there was no God in creation. The world just happened.

In a lecture, he refuted the biblical account. At lunch, he commented on the beautiful arrangement of flowers on a table. "Who arranged them?" he asked his hostess.

She replied, "Oh, no one. They just jumped into the vase and arranged themselves."

"In the beginning, God" is the foundation of all that follows. It does not mean there was nothing before creation. It was the beginning of time and history as we know them. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always been.

Jesus prayed to God, "Thou loved Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). Again Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him "with the glory I had with Thee before the world was" (John 17:5).

The sacrificial death of Jesus was "foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Peter 1:20).

How then did God create the world? If it did not exist beforehand, He created it out of nothing. That's the basis of this study.

The Bible declares it was "spoken" into being. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Psalm 33:6,9).

Hebrews 11:3: "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made with things that do appear." We were not there when it happened, so faith is involved in our believing.

There is only one creator. We do not create, we rearrange, combine or use what God has already created.

The writer uses the mind God gave and paper from trees; bridges are built with iron ore from the earth; jewelry is made from mined silver and gold, The artist uses pigment. The preacher does not "create" sermons; hopefully, he puts words and thoughts together provided by God.

And even when we "create havoc," we use Godgiven emotions that have run amuck.

How long did creation take? Basically, there are two schools of thought. Some understand a "day" to be a 24-hour period; others believe it was long, extended ages of time. It's one of those neverending debates on which our faith in God's word does not depend and which should not bring division among Christians. Someday, we will know.

The highwater mark in the unfolding story of creation is the coming of Jesus into this fallen world. "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" to redeem mankind.

The greatest act in creation is salvation, made possible through the death and resurrection of Christ. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

I have a friend whom I have tried many times to lead to Christ. When he told me of his plan to go to a sinful place of entertainment, I tried to talk him out of it. He went. I prayed that God would make him so miserable he would have to leave.

Later, he told me: "I got so miserable sitting there, I had to get up and leave. I don't know what happened." I said, "I do," and told him what I had prayed.

After the tragic death of his sister, he called and said, "I want Jesus in my heart more than anything." We prayed and he received Jesus. He's a new creation in Christ.

Through Jesus, we can call the God of all creation "Father!"

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Crate Jones , Genesis 1:1-3, 6, 9, 11, 14-18, 26, 31; 2:1 | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for July 28: Personal, Powerful, Unhindered

July 12 2002 by Haven Parrott , John 14:6-7a; Acts 28:31

Formations lesson for July 28: Personal, Powerful, Unhindered | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Formations lesson for July 28: Personal, Powerful, Unhindered

By Haven Parrott John 14:6-7a; Acts 28:31

A friend of mine wanted to surprise her busy husband by helping with the yard work, so she fired up their new mower and began to push. She muscled that mower around trees, labored mightily to propel it up their moderately-sloped front yard, and struggled valiantly to restrain it when it threatened to get away from her on the down grade. After much sweating and straining, the job was finished and Kathryn was spent.

That evening she related the exhausting experience to her husband: "Honey, I never realized what a chore it is to mow the yard. I can't believe you have the strength to tackle that job week after week."

David flexed his biceps a bit before responding, "Well, thanks, but it's really not so difficult - the mower does most of the work. That self-propelled engine really makes a world of difference."

After a moment of stunned silence, Kathryn yelled, "What do you mean self-propelled?"

Obviously, Kathryn hadn't known about that feature of the lawn mower. She was not aware of the help that had been built-in, just waiting to be engaged. All that perspiration and strife, all that exertion and struggle ... and all the while, there had been help available to complete her mission, help that would have made a difference.

Kathryn and I have shared a few laughs over her ignorance of lawn-mower engines, but I wonder if her experience isn't a parable of the way we often try to live the Christian life.

When we accept Christ as Savior, we're given a new nature. Our spiritual engines are "fired up," so to speak. Our sins? Forgiven. Our eternal destination? Secured. And, wonder of wonders, the Spirit of God takes up residence in our hearts for the purpose of living Christ's life through ours.

Yet, out of ignorance or stubbornness, we sometimes fail to engage the help that has been built in. We wear ourselves out when we try to live the Christian life without allowing the Holy Spirit to "propel" us - all the world sees is our sweat, strain and struggle. It's not exactly an appealing advertisement for the abundant life.

Jesus came to show God to the world "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John. 14:9).

He left to His disciples the same responsibility. But He knew they'd need help. So He promised the coming of the "holy helper," the one who, like Himself, would enable them to do what they were unable to do on their own - show the lost the way.

The disciples were familiar with Jesus' kind of help, because they'd experienced it firsthand. He had partnered with them for the purpose of glorifying the Father by enabling them to do some amazing things: walk on water, feed several thousand people with what amounted to no more than a Happy Meal - things that left no doubt in the observers' minds who should get the credit.

That kind of help is available for us, too. When we cooperate (translation: submit, permit, deny self, let Him have control), the Holy Spirit works some pretty amazing things in our lives, leaving no doubt as to who should get the credit.

In fact, enabling Peter to find money in the mouth of a fish is small stuff when compared to enabling bumbling, self-centered sinners to walk by faith instead of by sight, by the Spirit instead of by the flesh, by love instead of by lust.

If mowing is your mission, a self-propelled engine makes a world of difference. If showing God is your mission, a spirit-propelled lifestyle makes a world of difference. The "helper" waits to be engaged.

Dear Lord, use my earthsuit as Your mobile home today - Let my life be Your theater: take front and center stage. Monopolize my mind, overrule my will, saturate my soul - Possess all of me, Precious Spirit, I submit to Your control. No vacancy, Father! No room at all for what does not give You glory - Cover this parchment with Your ink, Lord; use my life to tell Your story.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , John 14:6-7a; Acts 28:31 | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for August 4: Becoming wise

July 12 2002 by Haven Parrott , Proverbs 1:7; 3:1-10

Formations lesson for August 4: Becoming wise | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Formations lesson for August 4: Becoming wise

By Haven Parrott Proverbs 1:7; 3:1-10

We have a little pond in front of our house. Several winters ago the temperature dropped low enough and long enough that it froze. Not solid, of course, but frozen enough to attract the interest of my cabin-fevered children. They begged for permission to slide on the ice.

Lean not on your own understanding

"Not in a million years," I responded.

"But it will hold us ... we're sure!"

"Nope. Sorry. Case closed." Or so I thought.

Dylan, whose rebellious, "prove-it" streak bears a striking similarity to his mother's, sneaked down to the pond anyway ... not so much out of a desire to disobey as out of his supreme confidence in his own understanding of "frozen."

I wasn't surprised. If I hadn't been the mom, I might've tried it myself.

So I watched him from the window ... watched as he tested the edges, glanced up at the house, and tested some more.

He didn't see me watching, so he got a little bolder. He walked a little further out onto the ice, grinned and slid. Grinned. Slid. Grinned again. Slid again - closer to the center of the pond this time. Laughed out loud. Slid again ... and then his left foot punctured the ice.

An expression of horror and disbelief replaced his cocky grin. He pulled his wet foot out, shook it all about, and hokey-pokeyed back to the shore.

He looked so cold and miserable, so incredibly forlorn, so absolutely betrayed by what he'd been sure would hold him, that I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

Dylan learned something that day about the limits of his own understanding; about how it doesn't matter how much faith you have if you have faith in the wrong thing; about how there are some absolutes that remain absolute regardless of whether or not people respect them; and about how disobedience always brings consequences.

The punishment Dylan received that day must've really stung, because not long after, when he overheard his older brother's tongue-in-cheek, "You can't make me!" response to my command to do some chore or other, Dylan wisely counseled: "Yeah, but she can make you wish you had!"

The beginning of wisdom Dylan took my word seriously after that ... I think he was scared not to!

Fear may not be the noblest reason to respect authority, but it's a great place to start.

Reminds me of myself: there have been times when I've obeyed God's word not because I wanted to, and not because I loved Him enough, but because I was scared not to. He is, after all, God. And, there've been times when I've failed to acknowledge His authority. I was so wise in my own eyes, so convinced that my own understanding was somehow greater than His.

The consequences that accompanied those unwise choices still sting. They make me wish I had obeyed Him.

I wonder how many cocky grins will melt into expressions of horror and disbelief when, at the juncture between death and beyond, folks who leaned on their own understanding realize they were sliding on thin ice. Folks who fear God less than they fear traffic cop, and so insist that the natural world has some origin other than the Creator. Folks whose attitude toward God is so casual that they'd, without so much as a tremble, strike the phrase "one nation under God" from our pledge. As if not saying so would make it true; as if man's arrogance could alter the reality of God's authority. Folks who refuse to respect God are like sandcastle sentries who bear arms against the assault of the incoming tide ... an exercise in both foolishness and futility. Because it's not a matter of if God's authority will be recognized and revered, it's just a matter of when.

"For it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God'" (Rom. 14:11).

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7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , Proverbs 1:7; 3:1-10 | with 0 comments

Paying the preacher

July 12 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Paying the preacher | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Paying the preacher

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

How much does your church pay the preacher - or the part-time music/youth/outreach director - or the custodian?

How much, on average, do other churches of similar size pay?

Many churches begin their fiscal year in October, and are currently preparing new budget recommendations. The committee responsible for that can now consult a recent survey of thousands of churches across the nation, including more than 800 from North Carolina.

A booklet summarizing the findings will be mailed to churches later, but the research is available now on the Baptist State Convention (BSC) Web site (www.bscnc.org).

Just click on "2002 SBC Compensation Study" from the BSC home page or the "Resources" page, then click the link at the bottom of that page. "Java script" must be enabled to access reports.

The Web resource, compiled by the Kentucky Baptist Convention, includes average salaries based on resident membership, average attendance (Sunday School or worship, whichever is higher) or budget of the church, and the age, education and experience of the minister. You can compare salaries in any state convention alone, or across the board (for the record, N.C. salaries are generally below the national average).

The Web site includes information for bi-vocational ministers and part-time staffers, though it does not break those down by the average hours worked.

For the first time, users can now create custom reports online.

Suppose your church averages 110 on Sunday morning, has 225 resident members and an annual budget of $175,000. You can plug in those numbers and find that the average pastor in a similar setting in N.C. makes $46,448 (salary, housing allowance and benefits). The total does not include reimbursable expenses such as travel, conferences and book allowances.

Let's imagine a larger church with 350 in attendance on Sunday, 800 resident members and a budget of $600,000. The average package in N.C. is $64,084.

Or a smaller church, with 65 attending, 150 members and a $75,000 budget? Those pastors average $34,174 in North Carolina.

Whether paying the piper or paying the preacher, it's good to be informed.

For more information, contact Johnny Ross (ext. 174) or Amy Strickland (ext. 171) at the BSC by calling (800) 395-5102 or (919) 467-5100.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Positive signs or posturing

July 12 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Positive signs or posturing | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Positive signs or posturing

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

One of the most frequent questions I hear is whether there is any hope for a Baptist future that involves more cooperation and less division, more ministry and less criticism.

And the answer, generally, is something like, "I'm always hopeful, but I have more hope than confidence."

I do not have any hope that Baptists as we knew them through most of the 20th Century will be united again in our generation, at least on the national level. The division has grown too deep and too bitter.

The powers-that-be who control today's Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have consolidated their dominance in ever-growing fashion, using the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M 2000) statement as a clear line of demarcation for partnering with those who pass the muster of "doctrinal accountability" and rejecting those who do not.

Every edict on every level that requires endorsement of the statement is another nail in the coffin of cooperation and another step away from the traditional Baptist aversion to creeds.

On the other hand, those who have distanced themselves from the SBC, including those who participate in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), are growing more comfortable in their self-identity apart from the former fold, feeling less of a need to reference SBC life at all.

The sharpest struggles of today are on the state and associational level, where individuals pushing for SBC-style uniformity have led some state conventions and associations to adopt the BF&M 2000 as their standard of doctrine, leaving churches that don't sign on in an uneasy limbo or out in the cold altogether.

Other states and associations have resisted the call to conformity, continuing to emphasize local cooperation without expecting unanimity about national affiliation.

The level of division in either setting is directly proportional to the zeal of those who have particularizing agendas.

Such hope as I have for our future lies in the as-yet-unproven ability (or desire) of contemporary Baptists to accept one another despite their doctrinal differences, to wish each other well and agree to live in peace, if not in the same national convention.

There have been encouraging signs recently, if convention statements can be taken at face value rather than as political posturing.

Southern Baptists declared at this year's convention that they plan to focus future efforts on "an all out concentration on the kingdom of God," as outgoing president James Merritt put it.

Cooperative Baptists announced two weeks later that they intend to be the incarnation of Christ in the world, following Jesus' example in living and relating to others.

If the two national entities mean what they say and their supporters buy into the twin visions - if SBC and CBF Baptists will truly focus on living for the Kingdom of God and becoming more like Jesus - then neither will have the time or the inclination for sniping at the other, and local believers can work together in peace.

Is there any chance that will happen?

One can only hope.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Being a Christian in a non-Christian world

July 12 2002 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

Being a Christian in a non-Christian world | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Being a Christian in a non-Christian world

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer

For most of us Baptists who grew up in the South - especially those of us over age 50 - missions was primarily the business of missionaries who served in other countries, or at least, in some other part of our country. We would occasionally be reminded of state and associational missions - this usually meant reaching out to a language group or some other special category of people "not like us." Otherwise, we could assume most people around us held basic religious beliefs similar to our own.

Everybody I knew, with a couple of exceptions, at least said they were a member of some church somewhere. Attending regularly, of course, was a different matter. But non-members were a rarity, indeed. I also assumed that even those with little or no church affiliation held to some Christian beliefs similar to mine. I thought we all basically agreed on the essentials of the faith.

I'm not sure of all of that anymore. Religious beliefs have changed more than most of us probably realize - or care to admit - over the past several years.

I read a story about a religious poll taken recently that asked more than 2,000 adults across our country about their religious understandings. If these findings are correct - the poll said it had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percent - I'm in more of a minority than I had realized.

When asked whether Christians should attempt to convert people of other faiths to Christianity or is it better to be tolerant of people of other faiths and "leave them alone," almost three-fourths (71 percent) said to leave them alone.

Some 78 percent of those polled said that all religions have elements of truth where only 17 percent thought their religion was the only true religion.

The story about this poll, appearing in the June issue of Baptists Today, pointed out how Americans had become more tolerant of other people's faith than concerned to convert them.

"For many centuries, Christians have thought they had the truth, and that other people did not have the truth in the same way," said Robert Wuthnow, sociologist from Princeton University. "And now, Christians are not quite so sure of that. They are more likely to say, 'This is true for me.' And that radically changes the meaning of truth, when it's just true for you and not necessarily true for somebody else."

While most Baptists would probably register with the minority in these polls - i.e., we believe we should share our faith and that truth is the same for everyone - I'm not so sure we don't act as if we believe with the majority.

Do we share the gospel or do we prefer to leave people alone? Are our beliefs true only for us and people like us, or is our faith something for everyone? Are we primarily driven by toleration or by evangelization?

International missionaries go to non-Christian countries knowing they'll be part of a minority. It looks like the rest of us are rapidly becoming part of a minority as well.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments

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