July 2005

WMU volunteers blanket Triad : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by Melissa Lilley

WMU volunteers blanket Triad : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

WMU volunteers blanket Triad

By Melissa Lilley
BSC Intern

GREENSBORO - Bonnie Edenfield slips a cell phone into her purse and wiggles it out again almost immediately. This time after the conversation ends she keeps the phone in her hand, ready to field the next call about scheduling lunches or shifting volunteers to different sites.

Edenfield, church and community ministries director for the Piedmont Baptist Association, is one of three local coordinators who prepared for more than a year to greet 710 MissionsFEST and FamilyFEST volunteers who swarmed the Triad cities of Winston-Salem, High Point and Greensboro.

Volunteers from 19 states blanketed the Triad July 16-22 to minister through backyard Bible clubs, Vacation Bible School, prayer walking, health fairs, block parties, landscaping and repairs. More than 400 N.C. Baptists participated, said Ruby Fulbright, executive director of North Carolina Woman's Missionary Union (WMU).

This year marked the first visit to North Carolina for MissionsFEST and FamilyFEST, part of WMU's Volunteer Connection. MissionsFEST is open to adults 18 years and older. First graders and older are eligible for FamilyFEST, offering a unique opportunity for adults to model a missions lifestyle to their children, their grandchildren, and other young people as they work side by side serving others

Since starting five years ago in Charleston, S.C., MissionFest's North Carolina effort is the largest yet and the first to combine more than one local Baptist association.

"One of the really nice benefits for volunteers is that MissionsFEST and FamilyFEST are prepackaged experiences," said Fulbright. "All a family or church group has to do is sign up and show up and WMU takes care of all the details. For many, this is a real incentive."

Pilot Mountain, Central Triad and Piedmont Baptist associations worked with national WMU's Volunteer Connection and North Carolina WMU to organize almost 50 mission project sites.

"It takes national and state leadership working alongside the associations - we all have our piece," said Kristy Carr, WMU's volunteer connection specialist. "It's all done by God and for God."

Meeting Physical Needs

MissionsFEST is a tradition for Doris Bryant, who utilizes 54 years of experience as a nurse to help others through medical missions. "It's pay back time," she said. "I've been given so much, it's time to be sharing."

This year Bryant does diabetic checks at a free health clinic. Twenty-six people came to the clinic the first day.

Local doctors care for patients and volunteers such as Bryant organize registration, do blood pressure and blood sugar checks and provide local health information. Volunteer dentists work in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina medical/dental bus.

While meeting immediate physical needs, volunteers use the clinic as an opportunity to share their love and faith. After waiting two hours to see the doctor because she did not have an appointment, Bryant said one woman was not impatient, but grateful. "The woman said to me, 'You are always smiling - I can feel that you care,'" Bryant said.

From Pearl, Miss., Bryant has participated in projects at five MissionsFEST sites. Just two weeks before coming to North Carolina she served in the San Diego, Calif./Tijuana, Mexico FamilyFEST with her 14-year-old granddaughter.

Volunteer Kim Stribling made the two-day trip from Vicksburg, Miss., with her mother and two children.

Stribling's father died in January and she wants her mother, who is a nurse, to see through FamilyFEST how she can still use her talents to serve others.

Stribling wants her 8-year-old son - already praying to be a doctor - to learn to devote all areas of his life to God.

"We are wrapping the servant towel around our arm and reaching outside the walls of the church," Stribling said of the FamilyFEST events. "I want my children to be prepared for the real world. This is real stuff - real people with real needs, with brokenness and hurt."

Stribling's desire to be at FamilyFEST with her children is so strong neither sickness nor strange territory keeps her away. The morning the family was to leave, Stribling's daughter spiked a 103-degree fever and had to visit a doctor before piling into the car.

By the sweat of our brow

A lunch break is still hours away, but already sweat trickles down red faces and empty water bottles decorate the sidewalk in front of Peck Elementary School.

A group from Elkton, Md., shovels dirt and prepares an area for flowers. Teenage girls pull out roots and weeds and dig holes. Young boys stack tree limbs into wheelbarrows.

Brushing away from her face strands of hair falling out of the ponytail, Starla Ellison squats next to a bush and gathers debris and sticks, her hands already coated and face dotted with dirt. Nearby her daughter trims hedges.

Ellison comes from Spartanburg, S.C., with her husband, daughter and two sons for the family's first mission trip. Ellison said FamilyFest is opportunity to show her children what is most important.

"We're teaching our children how to be disciples, and they will teach our grandchildren - we don't want the chain to be broken," she said.

Ellison said watching her children serve others is priceless. "If they grow up and continue to do this, I couldn't ask for anything better," she said.

Peck Principal Francine Mallory said while the school district is supportive, all the needs of every school cannot be met, and volunteers make the difference.

"This is a school doing well academically, the teachers and students work hard and we want them to be proud of their school," Mallory said. "When the children come in August the school will be beautiful on the inside and the outside."

Bringing Missions Home

Meat has been cooking and desserts baking since early afternoon and at 6 p.m. it is time to go door-to-door and round up a few hearty appetites.

Members of Southeast Baptist Church in Greensboro and volunteers hosted a dinner for residents of a nearby mobile home community. Already reaching out to children in the community for several years, MissionsFEST is a chance for larger-scale outreach.

MissionsFEST mornings at Southeast include activities for the children such as music, Bible study, crafts and recreation. Tuesday night's dinner welcomes children and their parents for a meal and brief devotion time.

Adam Riggs is one of several students and youth for whom the project is especially close to home. Riggs lives in the mobile home community and said serving with and being encouraged by others is the push he needs to reach out to his neighborhood.

"I'm not shying away from missions," he said. "We're showing we care - not just saying it."

Helping people serve at home, MissionsFEST and FamilyFEST also connect local groups in service together. Though a mission site of their own, Northeast Baptist Church in nearby McLeansville helps at Southeast with the morning day camps.

In the afternoon church members return to Northeast, moving playground equipment and a fence from the back of the church to the front. A new highway will soon pass behind the church near the children's previous play area.

Telling the Story of Jesus

MissionsFEST and FamilyFEST help people share faith in their communities, with their neighbors and with people waiting to hear about Jesus.

While prayer walking, Myrna Moore from Tucker, Ga., brings the gospel to one woman's doorstep.

After easing into conversation, Moore asks about her relationship with Christ. The woman invites Moore in, together they read Romans 3:23 and Moore leads in a prayer of salvation.

"I believe seeds had already been sown," Moore said. "She was ready - it was wonderful."

Lasting changes

For Jan High, leadership, development and training specialist with N.C. WMU, the rewards were many.

"It was hard work physically and it was very hot, but it was exciting to see the grateful expressions on the faces of the church members as the projects were completed," High said. "The week was truly a partnership in many different ways - the greatest partnership being with God and His people."

Julie Keith, N.C. WMU youth specialist, enjoyed the opportunity to participate with her six-year-old son, Chandler.

"We had a great experience helping a church in Greensboro with VBS," she said. "Chandler told me that he was glad that we helped with the VBS and wants to go back next year to help."

Fulbright predicts that the echoes of MissionsFEST will continue long after the volunteers have gone home.

"MissionsFEST/FamilyFEST also raises awareness of missions, WMU and the associations and churches where the event is held," she said. "Good connections have been made for those who are serious about being involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission to continue being the hands and feet and presence of Christ."

MissionsFEST and FamilyFEST volunteers rally together again Sept. 17-24 in western Maryland and Clarksburg, W.Va. Mission sites for 2006 include Alabama, Hawaii, Wyoming and British Columbia.

For more information or to register, visit www.wmu.com/getinvolved/ministry/volunteer/.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - BR graphics editor Laura Rich contributed to this story. Also see related story on page 7.)

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by Melissa Lilley | with 0 comments

MissionFEST workers help church plant : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by Laura T. Rich

MissionFEST workers help church plant : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

MissionFEST workers help church plant

By Laura T. Rich
BR Graphics Editor

At just before 10 a.m. July 20 it was already hot at Deep River Park in High Point, but MissionFEST volunteers didn't seem to notice. They gathered in the covered picnic area to prepare for a day of ministry in the surrounding community.

Jon Smith met with adult volunteers to discuss plans for a neighborhood survey. The timing of MissionFEST is perfect for Smith, a local church planter.

Smith is working with three area Baptist associations - Pilot Mountain, Central and Piedmont - to begin North Star Church, a new church plant in a rapidly growing section of north High Point. Smith served seven years as pastor of Hamilton Baptist Church in Hamilton, which is now also sponsoring North Star.

Smith said there are 35,000-40,000 people living within a three-mile radius of North Star's target area with no Baptist church nearby.

North Star held a worship service July 17 as part of MissionsFEST, but normally gathers as a Bible study group, meeting at a local restaurant. Smith said he hopes to begin a couples' and a women's Bible study soon.

While the adults prepared surveys, a group of girls was busy creating colorful signs for a free car wash at a nearby intersection. By washing cars, the girls hope to advertise for the new church.

MISSIONFEST - Bethany Smith, left, daughter of church planter Jon Smith, and Jenni Godfrey, a MissionFEST volunteer from Grace Baptist Church in Madison, make posters for a free car wash in High Point. The car wash was part of an effort to share information about Smith's church, North Star Church.
Smith's daughter, Bethany, helped several girls from Grace Baptist Church in Madison wash color over the white poster paper. Jenni Godfrey said her efforts are all about getting the word out about the new church. Kellee Harney, Beyth Wilson and Jessica Harmon were equally excited to help out.

That afternoon, motorists were surprised to find that the car wash was totally free. One man purchased drinks and pizza for the entire group when they would not accept money.

Smith said he has already received several phone calls from people interested in the church after having their cars washed.

Teams of volunteers that left the park to survey the neighborhood knocked on more than 1,000 doors. Smith said he was surprised by the number of strong prospects the volunteers met.

Approximately fifty MissionsFEST volunteers participated in efforts at the Deep River site, Smith said.

"The volunteers did an excellent job," he said. "I heard not one complaint from anyone and we had some hot weather. They had wonderful attitudes."

The Deep River group also led a backyard Bible club, held a block party and prayer-walked through the neighborhood.

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by Laura T. Rich | with 0 comments

Bringing Britain back to church : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by Jeremy Watson

Bringing Britain back to church : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

Bringing Britain back to church

By Jeremy Watson
BR Intern

On July 21, 63 members of Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh flew to Birmingham, England to attend the Baptist World Alliance's Centenary Congress. Listening to ministers and workshop leaders was not, however, the purpose of their 13-day trip.

At the city's International Convention Center, Diana Greene, Hayes Barton's minister of music, led a chorus of adults, college students and youth in song before an audience of 12,000 congress participants. Their brief time at the congress gave Hayes Barton members a chance to have fellowship with Baptists from around the globe and learn from their diverse experiences.

Before their performance, the Hayes Barton delegation spent most of its time in and around the Scottish town of Dumbarton. There, youth, college students and adults took part in an array of mission projects at nearby churches and Overtoun House, a Victorian-era mansion built on an estate overlooking the River Clyde.

While they were in Dumbarton, the group promoted the ministries of three area congregations. At two churches, several college students and the Hayes Barton youth choir, Spirit Song, performed "Celebrate Life!" a musical that chronicles the story of Jesus' life in a way that appeals to people of all ages. Members of the community were invited to attend.

At Overtoun House, teams assisted in renovating the mansion and beautifying the estate by doing construction and gardening work. Hayes Barton members also labored at the house's day camps for pre-teens and performed segments of "Celebrate Life!" for the children. The group lodged at the house for part of the trip.

Hayes Barton pastor David Hailey said his church found out about Overtoun House through an Internet search for mission opportunities in Britain. According to the house's website, Overtoun serves as a "Christian centre for hope and healing" for the people of West Dunbartonshire, a Unitary Authority Area of Scotland. West Dunbartonshire's council has leased the property to Bob Hill, an American missionary who uses the facility for outreach.

Hailey said two of the church's goals for the trip were to share the gospel and to "form positive relationships with the children in the community surrounding Overtoun House and to be the presence of Christ among them."

"To many people, the thought of doing a mission trip in Scotland or England sounds a little strange," said Hailey in an e-mail interview. Some Baptists in the United States erroneously assume "that many or most of the people (in Scotland and England) are actively involved in the Christian faith," he said. Hailey contends that the United Kingdom (U.K.) is "a fertile mission field."

Residents of the British Isles are no strangers to the good news of Christ. The Christian faith has been preached in Great Britain and Ireland from the 4th century onward. It was on these islands that Henry VIII defied the Vatican, Protestantism flourished, and the founders of the world's first Baptist, Methodist and Quaker churches were born.

In spite of its rich Christian heritage, the vast majority of the U.K. is alienated from public worship. Mirroring trends in the United States, a steady decline in church attendance has marked the last two decades. In May 2004, BBC News Online reported that while 74 percent of U.K. citizens consider themselves to be Christian, only 7 percent attend church services regularly.

Like the rest of the U.K., Scotland has seen church attendance plunge. The decline in membership prompted the Church of Scotland to declare the country "pagan," according to a BBC News Online story. Hayes Barton members hope that their time in Great Britain contributed to a revival in church activity.

To ensure that everyone who wanted to go could afford the approximately $2,250 cost, Hayes Barton conducted extensive fundraising efforts. Through yard sales, auctions and donation requests, the church raised enough revenue to cover the expenses of all participants.

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by Jeremy Watson | with 0 comments

Experiencing the Baptist world : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by Tony W. Cartledge

Experiencing the Baptist world : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

Experiencing the Baptist world

By Tony W. Cartledge
BR Editor

They came 12,000 strong, or more, from at least 112 countries.

There were Indian Baptists, Chinese Baptists, American Baptists and Russian Baptists. There were Baptists from Nicaragua and Nigeria and New Guinea, from Sweden and Sri Lanka and Swaziland. Georgian Baptists in furry hats mingled with Mizo Baptists wearing feathers. Vibrant costumes from Africa and Asia glimmered like colorful nebulas orbiting the darkened arena. Young Britishers joined Germans and Mexicans in raising both hands and voices in praise.

To describe the opening session of the Baptist World Alliance's Centennial Congress as inspirational or encouraging would waste a perfectly good opportunity to use other words like scintillating or mesmerizing. It's the sort of thing for which the phrase "You have to see it to believe it" was coined.

A choir of 150 Korean children dressed in colorful costumes and dazzling smiles sang and danced; young adults from Nagaland chanted in feathers and furs.

Banner-bearers representing all 211 member unions of the BWA weaved their way around the arena as delegates stood and sang "Let the living water flow, O let the living water flow, let the river of your Spirit flow through me." During brief pauses, more than 40 people in national dress came to a raised stage in the middle of the arena to declare the congress theme, "Jesus Christ living water" in their native tongues.

There was joy. There was warmth. There were tears.

A youth group enacted a drama about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, then did interpretive movements pointing to Jesus as someone sang "Bridge over troubled water." A Korean duet sang "Fill My Cup, Lord," then BWA president Billy Kim preached about Christ as the water of salvation.

The following morning, in Bible studies scattered through the halls of the convention center complex and even spilling into downtown civic buildings, delegates listened and learned, prayed and participated, sang and searched the scriptures.

And nobody argued about theology.

It wasn't on the agenda.

The meeting's only agenda was to celebrate Jesus Christ and the calling we have to proclaim God's thirst-quenching message of hope and healing in a dry and hurting world.

For someone who has been to too many Baptist meetings that focused on other things, the experience was frankly refreshing.

The world of Baptists is so much bigger, broader, and brighter than the one we know in America alone, it's hard to imagine - but well worth a try.

Praise the Lord, and pass the imagination.

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments

Viva les domestiques! : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by Tony W. Cartledge

Viva les domestiques! : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

Viva les domestiques!

By Tony W. Cartledge
BR Editor

When Lance Armstrong triumphed in his stupefying seventh consecutive victory in cycling's Tour de France, he did so with a lot of help from his team. Armstrong's steely determination and his strong legs and lungs are legendary, but not enough to gain the victory. The champion's teammates protected him so thoroughly that race-watchers sometimes had difficulty finding his yellow jersey.

Individuals get the glory in races like the Tour de France, but the team's eight domestiques (French for "house servants") do more than their share of the work.

On long runs, they surround the star rider to protect him from crashes and shield him from the wind so he can conserve energy.

When he gets hungry or thirsty, one of the domestiques slows down, grabs an armload of food or water bottles from a trailing support car, then accelerates until he can rejoin the group and share the bounty.

When the primo rider needs a bathroom break, team members stay with him, then help forge the way back to the main group, or "peloton."

Amazingly, when the race leader has a flat tire, takes a spill, or stops to answer the call of nature, other contenders also slow down and wait for him to get going again. Despite the intense competition, Tour de France competitors consider it bad form to take advantage of someone else's misfortune.

You can bet the NASCAR boys are unlikely to adopt that custom.

The best cycling teams have domestiques with varying specialties. Some are particularly skilled at setting the pace during the fast, flat stages of the race, while others are better at showing the way on mountain climbs.

On some occasions, when they're not really needed for other things, one or more of the domestiques are allowed to join a group of breakaway riders and vie for a victory in one of the Tour's individual stages. They never forget, however, that their primary job is to ride in service to the star and get him to the podium at the end of the race.

For those who claim to live in service to Christ, there's bound to be a lesson in there.

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments

BSC staff is FaithSoaring : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by George Bullard

BSC staff is FaithSoaring : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

BSC staff is FaithSoaring

By George Bullard
Acting BSC Executive Director-treasurer

How is your Baptist State Convention staff going to run the race that empowers kingdom growth during this interim between executive director-treasurers?

By FaithSoaring.

FaithSoaring is the operating theme for the work of your convention staff during the interim. It is based on 2 Cor. 5:7 which admonishes us to walk by faith rather than by sight.

FaithSoaring means this interim is not a time to wait and see, although we will certainly watch and pray. Rather it is a time to soar with great faith into the future toward which God is pulling us as ministers of the gospel.

FaithSoaring means there is much to be done over the next six, 12 or 18 months - however long the interim may be.

FaithSoaring means your convention staff has within its heart, soul, mind, and strength spiritual and strategic yearnings to live into our full kingdom potential, and we are not satisfied to run laps under a NASCAR caution flag.

We are in the race and we drive toward the checkered flag.

We want to honor the ministry of Jim Royston.

We want the owner of the vineyard to find us at work in faithful, effective and innovative ways.

We want Jesus to come to us in the garden and find us not asleep, but doing the work of the kingdom.

With all this in mind, what will FaithSoaring mean for you and your church during the next six, 12 or 18 months? It will mean you have a convention staff focused to help your congregation reach its full kingdom potential.

On August 25-26, the executive leadership group will be going on retreat, and we will prayerfully review goals and actions for the interim currently being suggested to us by your convention staff. We plan to cast a FaithSoaring future story. This future story will be open-ended, dynamic, ever-changing, and broadly-shared. It will be the focus on our convention staff work for the next six, 12 or 18 months.

Within the next 30 days we will be starting a digital FaithSoaring e-zine available to every N.C. Baptist that will seek to keep opportunities, challenges, and prayer concerns before you as our convention family.

We want to be vision casters for N.C. Baptists.

We want to be people who seek to reach our full kingdom potential.

We want to be people who are FaithSoaring.

We want to report to the January 2007 meeting of the Board of Directors an interim of accomplishment through FaithSoaring, rather than reporting that we were in a posture of wait and see.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - The BSC Executive Committee named George Bullard acting executive-director-treasurer on July 12.)

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by George Bullard | with 0 comments

BSC position doesn't match Jesus' actions : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by

BSC position doesn't match Jesus' actions : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

BSC position doesn't match Jesus' actions

Regarding the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina's (BSC) position on the Alliance of Baptists, I really missed the part in the Bible about Jesus excluding anybody. The Samaritan wasn't a good Jew or disciple, but Jesus spoke pretty highly of him? Jesus ate with tax collectors, visited lepers, and saved a prostitute from being stoned. And there was that "least of these my brethren" thing He said.

And now the BSC refuses nominations based on a church's affiliation with the Alliance of Baptist? Just because they have a statement rejecting discrimination against a particular group of people?

The focus of the Baptist Alliance statement is, "As Christians and as Baptists, we particularly lament the denigration of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers in this debate by those who claim to speak for God."

If the BSC objects to this statement to the point of banning those who belong to a church that affiliates with the Alliance, I must assume the BSC not only supports the denigration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers, but also denies others the right to believe differently?

If this is true, what does it mean to be a Baptist? What does it mean to be a Christian?

L.F. Eason

Cary, N.C.

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 14: I Shall Return : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by Chadwick Ivester

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 14: I Shall Return : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 14: I Shall Return

By Chadwick Ivester
Focal passages: Luke 21:5-9, 25-28, 34-36

Moving our focus from Jesus to the allures of the world is easy to do. This is exactly what Jesus' disciples did when they were consumed with the beauty of the temple in Jerusalem. They expected Jesus to be awestruck by its beauty also. Yet Jesus shattered their "warm-fuzzy" moment of admiration by prophesying the destruction of the temple.

The World Trade Center in New York City generated awe among many who saw the twin towers reaching 110 stories into the sky. Designer Minoru Yamasaki even marveled at the buildings: "The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man's dedication to world peace ... because of its importance, becomes a representation of man's belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and through cooperation, his ability to find greatness."

Thousands of tourists marveled at the World Trade Center on Sept. 10, 2001. Yet the next day, in less than two hours, it collapsed into a monstrous pile of rubble because of the most horrific terrorist attack in history.

May this remind us that the temporal things of this world, no matter how majestic and invincible they may seem, only bring temporary delight. Only when we admire and worship Jesus, the true Temple of God, will our affections never be taken away or destroyed (Luke 10:42).

Jesus' disciples had not yet understood Him as God in the flesh. They immediately wanted to know when the destruction of the temple would happen. He then directed their attention to Himself to teach them about His second-coming.

Watch Out for Frauds

Luke 21:5-9

Ravi Zacharias wrote: "Something that is counterfeit is, by definition, intended to closely resemble what is genuine. Counterfeits are made of things that are valuable: jewels, works of art, currency. The more closely they resemble the genuine article, the bigger the threat they pose. The Department of Treasury does not concern itself with studying Monopoly 'play money,' and curators do not waste time examining poor copies of masterpieces. Those charged with protecting something precious realize that imitation is the most dangerous form of thievery."

The culture we live in has adapted pluralism as a supreme value. Therefore, it is very profitable for us to take heed to Jesus' advice about counterfeit messiahs.

Jesus warned His disciples that many counterfeit messiahs would come seeking to deceive the multitudes.

"Counterfeit currency would not exist if there were not such a thing as genuine currency," Zacharias said. "Likewise, the existence of counterfeit spirituality actually testifies to the reality of a true spirituality. False messiahs exist because they are imitations of the true Messiah."

The most effective way FBI agents are trained to detect counterfeit money is by studying the genuine article. May every Christian do the same by studying the Christ of the Bible, the Genuine Article!

Look for Redemption

Luke 21:25-28

Since 2001, humanity has experienced many turbulent events including 9-11, the War in Iraq, the recent hurricane epidemic, the Asian Tsunami disaster and the London terrorist attacks. These events have brought fear to millions. These events should not alarm us because Jesus said such things would happen before His second-coming.

For those who don't believe in Christ these events should be a call to repentance (Luke 13:1-5). Yet for the Christian they are definite reminders of our Lord's second-coming!

Remain Diligent

Luke 21:34-36

People who focus on the world have no regard for Christ's second-coming. That is evident by their ungodly living. Yet the Christian anticipates our Lord's coming by diligently living a holy life.

The Lord Jesus gives a great promise, "If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also" (John 14:3).

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by Chadwick Ivester | with 0 comments

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 21: It's in the Books : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by Chadwick Ivester

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 21: It's in the Books : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 21: It's in the Books

By Chadwick Ivester
Focal Passages: Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Revelation 20:11-15

Everyone Will Give an Account

Romans 14:10-12

Judging others is easy to do.

Paul saw among the Roman Christians a much too common habit of judging one another. He stated to them the sobering truth: Everyone will give an account! This accountability is universal.

"The account we shall render will not be corporate but separate - every man for himself," said William S. Plumer.

The fact this judgment is an appointment that every man and woman will keep should humble us all and spur each person to practice self-examination.

"Oh my heart, it is useless to try to evade the truth or hide your failures, for a judgment day is coming, a day when God will judge humanity's secrets through His Son," John Bunyan said.

Build to Last

1 Cor. 3:10-15

Salvation is not of works but of God's free grace in Christ (Romans 3:24).

Nonetheless, God created every believer "in Christ Jesus for good works"(Ephesians 2:10).

The apostle told the Corinthian Christians that their service and works for Christ will be evaluated by the just Judge! How will your works hold up when tested by the fire of God's judgment?

The believers' judgment will not be like that "of irresponsible slaves and sinners, but like sons and daughters, stewards, and servants of the Lord Jesus," Bunyan said.

Only God-centered works will survive God's judgment. Every work motivated by self will be consumed by the fire of God's judgment.

Avoid the Second Death

Rev. 20:11-15

Four books will be opened at the Great White Throne of Judgment, according to Thomas Boston.

The first will be the book of God's remembrance, or omniscience (Malachi 3:16). This is an exact record of every person's state, thoughts, words and deeds being good or evil.

The second will be the book of man's conscience (Romans 2:15). The conscience is a sensor going with every person wherever he or she goes, taking an account of deeds done in the body, and noting them in a book.

The third will be the book of the law. This book is the standard for right and wrong, and in addition to the rule, it gives the sentences for violating those standards. This book agrees with the two previous ones.

The fourth book will be the book of life. In this the name of every genuine believer is written. Those written in the book of life were redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, called, justified, adopted and sanctified. They will be raised up by Christ at the last day without sin, blameless before the just Judge (Romans 8:29-33).

By nature, all people are under the curse of the first three books. But the judgment is removed from the believer by virtue of his or her union with Christ.

The sobering reality is that anyone whose name is not found written in the Lamb's book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire. This biblical truth destroys the heresy of universalism (that everyone will be saved). Make no mistake about it, this scripture does not teach annihilation either. Jesus said those sentenced to hell will be there forever alive where "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44).

"The damned in hell shall long to die, yet be ever dying, but never dead, in the lake of fire forever," Boston said. "A lake of fire, where they will be ever swimming and burning; a pit, whereof they will never find a bottom."

How dreadful a place!

Eternity in the lake of fire has no clock or calendar.

"Consider how many drops of water form the sea, as big as the bill of a pelican could carry," Jeremiah Burroughs said. "And suppose that this pelican was to carry away one drop every thousand years; yet this pelican will sooner empty that mighty sea and the torments of the damned souls should be just beginning.

"Eternity is always beginning - never ending - Oh, how dreadful will it be to them!"

Reader, is your name written in the Lamb's book of life? Only those names written in that book will avoid the second death!

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by Chadwick Ivester | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for Aug. 14: Repairing Relationships with My Neighbor : Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 2005 by Haven Parrott

Formations lesson for Aug. 14: Repairing Relationships with My Neighbor : Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005

Formations lesson for Aug. 14: Repairing Relationships with My Neighbor

By Haven Parrott
Focal passage: Genesis 20

Tangled Vines

The first year I had a garden, I learned the sinister truth about morning glories. See, morning glory and string bean vines look an awful lot alike. In fact, the ability to discern between them is what separates the novice gardener from the veteran.

So I just didn't realize, not long after planting bean seeds, that morning glories, with their heart-shaped leaves looking for all the world the same as the leaves starting to sprout from my bean seedlings, were growing up right alongside my bean bushes.

Then they began growing up on my bean plants, twinin' 'round and whisperin' their pretty stories, siren songs really, because before long those morning glories were choking the life out of my bean plants. It was not until the morning glories blossomed that I realized they'd been masquerading as bean plants.

I was furious, of course, at the deception. How could something so beautiful be so deadly? It was a tangled mess. And it was hard work getting it all untangled, which meant tracing those morning glory vines to their roots and carefully pulling them out so as not to damage my beans.

Tangled Truths

Abimelech also found himself dealing with a tangled mess, thanks to Abraham's deception. Ignorant of Abraham's ruse, Abimelech just didn't realize he was dealing with two separate, but not equal, truths until the situation blossomed into something real close to fatal for him and his household.

What Abraham told Abimelech about Sarah looked an awful lot like the truth. It was, in fact, half of the truth about her identity, because she was his half-sister. It was that other truth, the one about Sarah being Abraham's wife, that Abraham conveniently forgot to disclose.

But Abraham's failure to mention that his sister was also his wife didn't make that truth any less true. And so, the twin vines of Sarah's identity grew together in Abimelech's garden until God gave him eyes to see the danger.

I can't help wondering just how easily the words "Hey Abimelech, I'd like you to meet my sister," instead of "Hey, Abimelech, I'd like you to meet my wife," rolled off the tongue of the father of the faithful. It encourages me, albeit in a twisted sort of way, to observe that he who generally walked by faith and not by sight occasionally let the fear of what he saw eclipse the Unseen.

But hadn't God promised an heir to Abraham through Sarah? And didn't that promise imply that Abraham would need to be alive to produce that heir? Yet Abraham's answer to Abimelech's query as to why he'd failed to tell the whole truth, "Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife," (Gen. 20:12) reveals that Abraham's fear of death choked his faith in God's promise of life, thereby strangling the integrity of his witness to this pagan king.

Like Abraham, I too have let my fear choke my faith, resulting in the doing of "things that ought not to be done," (Gen. 20:9), thereby strangling the credibility of my witness to the non-Christians around me.

Dishonesty - not just not telling the truth but not telling the whole truth - always makes for relational knots not easily untangled. And I wish scripture recorded that Abraham, the believer, was the one to come clean with Abimelech and make restitution. He didn't, and apparently, wasn't planning to. That fact alone makes for a real messy Bible story - a story not about how believers should act but about how we often do.

Nonetheless, by the grace of God, the choking vines of half-truths and lies can be traced to their roots and pulled out, making growth once again possible.

7/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott | with 0 comments

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