July 2005

Celebrate Biblical Recorder Day : Friday, July 8, 2005

July 8 2005 by

Celebrate Biblical Recorder Day : Friday, July 8, 2005
Friday, July 8, 2005

Celebrate Biblical Recorder Day

We trust that you want your congregation to be informed about important issues relative to our Baptist life and mission, and there is no more effective way to accomplish this than through acquainting them with the Biblical Recorder, the news journal designed specifically for members of the Baptist State Convention.

North Carolina Baptists serve God every day, in various ways, and the Biblical Recorder tells their stories.

We encourage you to:

1. Designate August 21 as Biblical Recorder Day, inviting members to be informed by subscribing to and reading the Biblical Recorder. If August 21 is inconvenient for you, you're welcome to choose another Sunday.

2. Order and distribute free posters and bulletin inserts.

3. Encourage members to subscribe to the Biblical Recorder through your church's current plan or as individuals.

4. Send new or updated orders to Amie Moore by e-mail to amie@biblicalrecorder.org, by mail to P.O. Box 18808, Raleigh, NC 27619-8808, or by fax to (919) 847-6939.

To assist you, we will provide a variety of resources, all free of charge:

  • Complimentary newspapers for distribution
  • Promotional posters and clip art
  • Bulletin inserts for use on August 21
  • Place your order today! Just tell us how many of each item you need by July 22 (no later than July 30), and we'll get them to you in plenty of time. Amie Moore, our circulation manager, will be happy to assist you or answer questions. Please send an e-mail, with shipping address, telling us how many of each item you need to amie@biblicalrecorder.org, or call (919) 847-2127 to order.

    Our gift to you: As our way of expressing thanks for your assistance, the person responsible for ordering and distributing promotional materials will receive a complimentary copy of A Whole New World: Life After Bethany, a new book written by Jan and Tony Cartledge.

    The book, a memoir of lessons learned through ten years of struggle and growth following their daughter's untimely death, is a helpful resource for all people who face grief, and for those who minister to them. It includes a group study guide and special sections on helping children and youth cope with grief.

    A Whole New World retails for $16, but is yours at no cost, just for helping us get out the good word about the Biblical Recorder.

    There are many state papers, but there is only one Biblical Recorder. We appreciate your support as we inform and encourage North Carolina Baptists to serve Christ faithfully, cooperatively, and effectively.

    7/8/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

    Finds letter offensive : Friday, July 8, 2005

    July 8 2005 by

    Finds letter offensive : Friday, July 8, 2005
    Friday, July 8, 2005

    Finds letter offensive

    I would like to make some observations about Lloyd Johnson's letter. I'm not often offended at such things, but his letter "Reason youth leave church unclear'" offends me deeply. I'm offended:
  • as a husband, because he suggests that the scriptural order of the home and the family as I understand it portrays my wife a second-class citizen, when it actually builds her up (Eph. 5).
  • as a parent, because he says it is wrong to condemn the gay lifestyle as wrong, when in actuality, scripture and nature teaches that it is wrong (Rom. 1).
  • as a moral person, because he says that preaching on the social issues of the day is wrong because it is political, but in actuality, Jesus and John the Baptist preached against political corruption (Luke 13:31-35; Mark 6:17-20).
  • as a human being, because he thinks that killing babies can be compared with putting murderers to death.
  • as a veteran and an American, because he implies that we shouldn't go after those who are trying to kill our troops.
  • as a Christian and a preacher of the gospel, because evidently he thinks that the preaching of the whole counsel of the word of God causes young people to leave the church.
  • What causes young people to leave the church is a media driven generation; uncommitted parents; lack of prayer; lack of role models; and "easy believism" being preached by liberal, seeker friendly, "don't want to offend anybody" type of preachers. But by no means does preaching the gospel force kids out of church. If they leave the church over biblical preaching, it's a spiritual issue, not a preacher issue, and definitely not a Southern Baptist Convention issue (Rom. 10:14-17).

    Matt Ledbetter

    Glenville, N.C.

    7/8/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

    Scofield emphasizes prayer evangelism : Friday, July 1, 2005

    July 1 2005 by Melissa Lilley

    Scofield emphasizes prayer evangelism : Friday, July 1, 2005
    Friday, July 1, 2005

    Scofield emphasizes prayer evangelism

    By Melissa Lilley
    BSC Communications

    May marked the departure of a burgundy Dodge minivan across Wyoming. Through December, North Carolina Baptists will form teams of between four and six people to "prayer drive" the length and breadth of Wyoming's wide-open spaces.

    Chris Schofield, senior consultant for prayer evangelism strategies at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), is assisting in the ministry and said prayer walking is one idea he offers to individuals and congregations seeking a more satisfying prayer life.

    Encouraging and teaching Christians how to strengthen their prayer life is the heart of Schofield's ministry. After serving for seven years as pastor, he moved to Alpharetta, Ga. to lead the first prayer evangelism team for the North American Mission Board. While in Georgia, Schofield developed leadership and prayer strategies to support more than 5,000 North American missionaries.

    In March 2004 Schofield and his wife and four daughters moved back to North Carolina. The job titles have changed, but the purpose remains. "The Lord's activity has been the same. There is always this hungering in God's people to know about Him - He's calling people to pray and to come back to Himself," Schofield said.

    Recent meetings with four associational church leaders searching for God's guidance made the power of prayer real. "They're broken," Schofield said. "They sit across the desk and they're weeping, most of these being lay people. God has gripped their hearts."

    Schofield's ministry brings personal testimony to the power of prayer not only in the big issues, but also in the small things. At a prayer breakfast during a lay renewal weekend Schofield said the host was a woman whose husband was in the Marines serving in Iraq. The group prayed for the woman to hear from her husband.

    Soon after the prayer a knock came at the door, a bouquet of flowers sent by the husband. "She just wept and wept, and praised God for this encouragement in her life," Schofield said.

    For Schofield, unceasing prayer is a way of life. "Through the whole day God impresses people and things on my heart," he said. "I listen to people talking. When I talk with people on the phone, I try to pray with them before we hang up."

    Not uncommon is for Schofield to find prayer time behind the wheel, to feel lead to pray for a friend and then receive a phone call shortly after affirming the need.

    Schofield has helped produce materials offering suggestions for a more effective prayer life, such as the booklet "Prayer Prompts for Prayer Groups," available through the BSC. Prayer groups, intercessory focus and praying Scripture are key ways Schofield recommends to improve or continue in prayer.

    The prayer-centered life is one Schofield said never strays far from God. "Prayer is a relationship," he said. "It's not just talking but listening, and walking with Him in this world."

    7/1/2005 12:00:00 AM by Melissa Lilley | with 0 comments

    On the road to Greensboro : Friday, July 1, 2005

    July 1 2005 by Tony W. Cartledge

    On the road to Greensboro : Friday, July 1, 2005
    Friday, July 1, 2005

    On the road to Greensboro

    By Tony W. Cartledge
    BR Editor

    As messengers to the 2005 Southern Baptist Convention entered the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, they passed by a rather unassuming display inviting them to the 2006 convention, which will be held next June 13-14 in Greensboro. The display featured give-away placemats with a whimsical map of the Triad area, a selection of brochures, and North Carolina-shaped lapel pins with "Greensboro" written in bold script.

    After years of declining attendance, meeting planners recognized that the SBC, no longer drawing large numbers to put up their spiritual dukes in denominational conflict, could easily fit into smaller markets. This opened a number of possible sites in areas where Southern Baptists are concentrated.

    The city of Nashville, convenient to much of the Southeast and home to the SBC and LifeWay Resources, proved to be a popular choice. At the end of the first day, a press room posting said 11,700 messengers had registered, but the final count, reported by Baptist Press, shrank a bit to 11,641.

    That was the highest number since 2000, when 11,951 gathered in Orlando. The 2004 meeting in Indianapolis drew 8,600, while just 7,077 made their way to Phoenix in 2003. Year in and year out, one of the largest contingents of messengers typically comes from North Carolina. Tar Heel Baptists led the field at the 2003 meeting in Phoenix, but dropped to fifth in Indianapolis with 567 messengers, just one short of host state Indiana. Neighboring Kentucky had the most, with 861.

    N.C. Baptists were fifth again in Nashville with 814 messengers, well behind host state Tennessee (1,955), but closer to Georgia (1,021), Kentucky (989), and Alabama (857), states which sandwich central Tennessee.

    Online registration attracted 9,225 early-enrollers this year, though only 7,407 of them actually made it to Nashville. Maybe some of them got sidetracked in Pigeon Forge.

    When the SBC comes to Greensboro next year, it will be the first time in 90 years that the convention has been held in North Carolina. The last was in 1916, when 2,125 messengers made their way to Asheville. The SBC also met in Asheville in 1902 (1,093 messengers). Wilmington hosted the 1897 meeting of 724 messengers, and Raleigh welcomed 304 messengers, way back in 1872 when women weren't allowed to attend. That's a total of four conventions in 160 years.

    Meanwhile, Texas has hosted 18 conventions, Georgia and Missouri 16 each, Tennessee 15, Florida 11, Louisiana 10, Kentucky 9, Virginia 8, and Alabama 6.

    Site selection has more to do with host cities than with the states, but even so, it's enough to make one feel a bit unappreciated. Tar Heels are not alone, however: only three conventions have been held in South Carolina, and none since 1882. Mississippi Baptists hosted their lone SBC meeting the year before that.

    Given the facts of geography, one might predict that the total number of messengers coming to Greensboro next year will drop back below 10,000, though it's possible that something might stir up enough messengers to eclipse the count in Nashville. In either case, you can be certain that North Carolina will have the most, possibly a fifth of the total.

    While Greensboro can boast nice convention facilities, the city offers considerably fewer entertainment distractions than Nashville's downtown strip, and nothing within easy walking distance of the coliseum. Thus, more of the messengers might spend more time in the actual meeting, unless they drive down to N.C. Zoo in Asheboro, go pottery shopping in Seagrove, or let the kids decide between Celebration Station and the "Wet 'n Wild" Emerald Pointe Water Park.

    With a significant portion of Southern Baptists feeling that they have been excluded from the tent of full participation, SBC meetings are much smaller and calmer these days, with plenty of preaching and annual reports featuring impressive videos, but little to decide that isn't cut and dried. That is unlikely to change in Greensboro.

    To stir up a little excitement, I suggest that we introduce fellow Baptists to a fine Tar Heel tradition by staging a big eastern style vs. western style barbecue cook-off in the coliseum parking lot, and really spice up the meeting.

    We'll just have to explain that "western" means west of the Cape Fear, not the Mississippi.

    7/1/2005 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments

    The other end of the pen : Friday, July 1, 2005

    July 1 2005 by Tony W. Cartledge

    The other end of the pen : Friday, July 1, 2005
    Friday, July 1, 2005

    The other end of the pen

    By Tony W. Cartledge
    BR Editor

    When the Raleigh News and Observer recently published an article about our family, it felt a bit odd to be on the other end of the pen and the lens.

    We were featured as part of a larger article on the subject of how one's faith can inform the grieving process. We were invited to talk about what we have learned since losing our daughter Bethany to a drunk driver in 1994, and the author was kind enough to mention a book we wrote about the experience, called A Whole New World: Life After Bethany.

    Since I'm accustomed to holding the pen and clicking the shutter, it felt a bit strange to answer another interviewer's questions and then wonder why she chose to use certain parts of the interview instead of others.

    Likewise, it was fascinating to watch a professional photographer at work, and then try to guess why the photo editors chose to feature a stark, sad-looking portrait from the many images taken.

    Maybe they wanted to evoke the darkness of grief and loss with hints of hopeful light, or to catch the attention of readers experiencing dark times of their own.

    In any case, we were glad for the opportunity to say it's okay to cry, to have questions, or to be angry - even at God. It's okay to struggle for a long time.

    Some people need to hear that.

    But, they also need to hear that, while you never really "get over" grief, you can get through it. Even in darkness, there is hope.

    We wanted to say it is important to own your pain and be a good steward of it: with God's help, something good can come, even from our sorrow.

    We wrote the book believing that, through encouraging others, something good could come from our experience of losing Bethany.

    A friend even helped us find a good laugh in the dark photo that pictures Jan, me, and a solemn, bare-footed Samuel standing in the cul-de-sac. "I like the subtle message," he said: "Please buy the book - our son needs shoes!"

    7/1/2005 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study lesson for July 17: Being Joyful : Friday, July 1, 2005

    July 1 2005 by Chadwick Ivester

    Family Bible Study lesson for July 17: Being Joyful : Friday, July 1, 2005
    Friday, July 1, 2005

    Family Bible Study lesson for July 17: Being Joyful

    By Chadwick Ivester
    Focal Passages: Philippians 4:4-13,19

    Pursue Joy

    Philippians 4:4-5

    The Apostle Paul was bound in chains in a dark, gloomy dungeon at Rome when he penned this letter. If anyone should have been anxious and depressed, it should have been Paul.

    Yet he wrote to the Philippian believers to exhort them to persevere in the faith and to speak words that reflect their faith. Picture that image. Paul, in prison, encouraged his free brethren by telling them that Christ gave him peace and made him free in every circumstance.

    Avoid Worry

    Philippians 4:6-7

    Worry is a sin. Worry shows our lack of faith in the Omni-Sufficient One, and should spur us to the Lord's throne of grace through prayer.

    When a person engages in private communion with the Lord through prayer, petition, and thanksgiving, the grace and mercy of God dissolve that person's worries. Personal prayer is the most important weapon of the Christian life to dissolve anxiety.

    My prayer life was "lite" and practically nonexistent when I enrolled for my studies at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in 1999. Soon, the Holy Ghost convicted me that if I were going to be used by Him, I must have an active and consistent communion with Him. I also realized that having daily communion with our heavenly Father is important for all of God's saints.

    A significant dose of anxiety hit me during a very troubling time in 2001. Gracie, my daughter, was born seven weeks premature in Charlotte (100 miles from my home) - and at the beginning of a difficult quarter at Fruitland. Subsequently, Tina, my wife was forced to forfeit her established cosmetology business of 12 years to tend to our "preemie" for eight weeks. And my ministry in the church where I was serving as youth pastor was coming to a close! I felt like the pressures of this world were going to crush my soul. Every morning I would wake up a basket case, vomiting due to the high level of anxiety.

    By God's word, I realized that I didn't need a prescription for Xanax, I needed peace from God. I received God's peace that melts fears, breaks strongholds, and frees us to live for Christ, even in the bleakest situations.

    Think & Act Rightly

    Philippians 4:8-9

    The battle for peace begins in the mind. The proverb, "garbage-in/garbage-out," is true. We must examine every thought and discard all that dishonor God. For example, thoughts of pornography will eventually cause corrupt behavior. We must dwell on things that glorify God.

    Sanctified living begins with sanctified thinking, as we make "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

    In a household with three children under 5, Tina and I know well the proverb, "monkey see, monkey do." Paul was an imitator of Christ, and he wanted the Philippians to be imitators of him - his doctrines, his words, and his actions.

    Be Content

    Philippians 4:10-12

    Paul learned how to be content whether he was bound by chains in a dark, gloomy dungeon or freely preaching the gospel to an entire city. His contentment was anchored in Christ.

    Be Strengthened

    Philippians 4:13, 19

    A sick hospital patient must depend upon an intravenous (IV) line for nourishment. Similarly, Paul said he received his strength from Christ, who infused inner strength into him. Christ's Spirit is a direct "IV" into the soul of every believer.

    This abounding promise penned from a dark dungeon shows how God's peace dwelt in Paul's heart. How often do we suffer from spiritual amnesia, forgetting how the Almighty One has sustained us time and time again?

    When your spiritual foresight becomes bleak and dim, recall the spiritual hindsight of God's past victories for you. Spiritual hindsight, which is always in focus, will refresh your faith in knowing that God will sustain you in Christ.

    7/1/2005 12:00:00 AM by Chadwick Ivester | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study lesson for July 24: Discerning Truth : Friday, July 1, 2005

    July 1 2005 by Chadwick Ivester

    Family Bible Study lesson for July 24: Discerning Truth : Friday, July 1, 2005
    Friday, July 1, 2005

    Family Bible Study lesson for July 24: Discerning Truth

    By Chadwick Ivester
    Focal Passage: Colossians 2:6-19

    Build on the Foundation

    Col. 2:6-7

    Doctrinal heresies invaded the church even in the days of the apostles.

    Paul told the Colossians to embrace the "sound doctrines" of the gospel that he and the apostles taught them. His "sound doctrine" was anchored in Christ being the Messiah - God in the flesh.

    We should base all of our doctrines on Christ and His gospel. The legalistic religious leaders noticed that the uneducated apostles' boldness and uncompromising stances on the doctrines of the gospel were anchored in "being with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). Charles Spurgeon wrote, "I love the doctrines of grace, I love the church of God, I love the Sabbath, I love the ordinances; but I love Jesus most!"

    Evaluate the Teaching

    Col. 2:8-15

    The biggest problem our church generation faces is the outbreak of theological heresy that replaces sound biblical theology and Christology with carnal philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition.

    Biblical heresy floods into millions of households via conventional, cable, and satellite TV. Many churchgoers have acquired "Touched-by-an-Angel" theology while watching TV and using their Bibles as drink coasters. They have no perception of sound biblical theology.

    When I enrolled in Fruitland, I was challenged to align my beliefs with the doctrines of the gospel and not with the "traditions of men." I found that many of my doctrines were based upon Della Reese and "Hair-Channel" theologies that distort the Christ of the Bible.

    Every philosophy we have should be based upon the God-Man Christ via the Holy Scriptures. Christ (the Living Word) and the Scriptures (the written word) can never be separated. The Jesus of the Bible must remain the Jesus of the Bible. "Jesus loves me this I know! For the Bible tells me so!"

    Paul refuted the heresy of the Gnostics and Jews by boldly proclaiming Christ's deity - fully God and fully man. This doctrine is what distinguishes orthodox Christianity from cults cloaked with Christian rhetoric.

    Christianity cannot be blended with cults or other religions. Jesus clearly stated, "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). This statement from Jesus is the most offensive truth in the Bible. It destroys the myth that all religions lead to heaven.

    He lives

    Col. 2:10-12

    A question and a pastor's dreadful comment caused a reaction in one of the hearers. The question was this: "Why should I worship a dead Jew?"

    The sermon began this way: "Good morning - it's Easter! You know, folks, it really doesn't make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I am concerned, His body could be dust in some Palestinian tomb. The main thing is, His truth goes marching on."

    That question and statement inspired Alfred Henry Ackley to write the famous hymn, "He Lives," that includes the powerful statement: "You ask me how I know He lives: He lives within my heart!"

    Transforming power

    Col. 2:13-15

    Paul amplified the transforming power of God that is evident in a believer's new birth. The sins of every believer were eradicated on Christ's cross. This truth is portrayed in the great hymn, "It is Well with My Soul." The writer stated that "Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul! ... My sin - Oh, the bliss of this glorious tho't: My sin not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my Soul!"

    Stick with the Substance

    Col. 2:16-19

    The same gospel that saved Paul is the same gospel he preached to the Colossians, and the same gospel that saved them. How glorious the thought as I recall the contents of the gospel message that saved me: god is holy and hates sin. Man is a sinner and is separated from God. Christ saves sinners.

    The same gospel that saved me in 1992 is the same gospel I must faithfully preach now until I breathe my last breath.

    7/1/2005 12:00:00 AM by Chadwick Ivester | with 0 comments

    Formations lesson for July 17: Your Judea : Friday, July 1, 2005

    July 1 2005 by Haven Parrott

    Formations lesson for July 17: Your Judea : Friday, July 1, 2005
    Friday, July 1, 2005

    Formations lesson for July 17: Your Judea

    By Haven Parrott
    Focal passage: Luke 4:40-44

    The Witness Wave

    Jesus' final human words describe something resembling a wave, a witness wave: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8, NIV) Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Earth's ends.

    The Spirit-empowered wave of witness is to wash over our family, drench our familiar, reach farther, and finally soak into the sands of some foreign shore. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Earth's ends. Family, Familiar, Farther, Foreign.

    From the Father

    To be sure, the witness wave does not originate with the witness any more than the waves of the ocean originate with the water. Wind causes waves. The wave that sweeps family, familiar, farther and foreign originates with the Father.

    "And when day came," says Luke, "Jesus departed and went to a lonely place" (Luke 4:42). Even the Son went to the Source before diving into the day's sea of needs, and so should we.

    The freshness of our relationship with the Father determines the effectiveness of our witness to family, familiar, further and foreign. A stale witness is the evidence of a stale relationship. It's that morning visit with the Windmaker that gets our wave of witness moving. Without the Wind, the wave of witness remains motionless.

    To the Familiar

    Jesus moved from the deserted place (time with the Father) to the daily place. If there'd been day-glo paint on the bottom of His sandals and the sun shone black light, we'd see that Jesus' tracks crossed, criss-crossed, and re-crossed themselves all over Judea, the boundaries of which were, for the most part, within a day's walk of Jerusalem.

    The region of Judea was familiar territory to Jesus. It was the realm of the routine, His all-in-a-day's-walk workplace, for Judea was where Jesus did His job: "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose. And He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea" (Luke 4:43-44). For Jesus, going to work meant going to the next town, meeting the next need, healing the next illness, freeing the next captive, revealing God to the next seeker, proclaiming the kingdom to the next hearer.

    Jesus' witness was all in a day's walk, all in a day's work. So is ours. If there were day-glo paint on the bottom of our shoes and the sun shone black light, we'd see that our tracks also cross, criss-cross, and recross themselves all over the field of the familiar, the domain of the daily.

    Our Judea is where we do our job, where our witness happens all in a day's walk, all in a day's work. For us, going to work as His witness means meeting the next need, encouraging the next traveler, proclaiming Him at the next opportunity, washing the next foot.

    The well-worn roads, the daily round, the much-traveled path: this is our Judea. So Jesus still has a job in Judea, only now He works through those who are working out their salvation in the familiar places.

    7/1/2005 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott | with 0 comments

    Formations lesson for July 24: Your Samaria : Friday, July 1, 2005

    July 1 2005 by Haven Parrott

    Formations lesson for July 24: Your Samaria : Friday, July 1, 2005
    Friday, July 1, 2005

    Formations lesson for July 24: Your Samaria

    By Haven Parrott
    Focal passage: Psalm 82

    Find a story worth telling

    This past year I assumed a new role: drama teacher. Though many would consider me a drama queen, the truth is I'm about as qualified to teach drama as quantum physics.

    However, accepting the chorus teacher position at North Rowan High School meant being responsible for the drama class, and I soon found myself in the presence of 30 teenage thespians every weekday morning at 10:45. Scary.

    I approached this new role the same way I've approached all the other scriptless, no-time-to-rehearse roles life has handed me: I took my place on stage and began ad-libbing. In other words, I barely stayed a day ahead of my students. So I checked websites, scoured curriculum guides, and read theater history books in a desperate attempt to keep my very dramatic drama students meaningfully busy for 90 minutes everyday.

    About halfway into the first act (first semester, that is), I felt I was playing to an empty house. The audience was there all right (the noise gave them away) but they weren't with me, weren't focused, weren't impressed. And then one morning during the drive to school I realized that I'd been trying too hard, had been - in a sort of tomato-tossing reversal - throwing so much of my newly discovered theater information at my audience that they were too busy dodging the onslaught to learn anything.

    And then it hit me: effective drama is really just about finding a story worth telling, and then telling it in a way worth hearing. That insight revolutionized my approach to teaching drama, and the fall semester was a success. In fact, I returned for an encore performance (spring semester, that is).

    Tell it in a way worth hearing

    As witnesses of the resurrected Christ, we definitely have a story worth telling, a story we should not only love to tell, but a story we should live to tell. Yet we must take care to tell the story most worthy of telling in a way worthy of being heard.

    This is especially challenging when the witness wave carries us farther than the familiar. Jesus called this farther-than-the-familiar place "Samaria."

    Though Samaria was not so far from Jerusalem geographically, it was miles away from Jewish thinking in terms of perspective, lifestyle, religious convictions and accepted practice. Samaritans were repulsive people to the Jews of Jesus' day.

    By way of application, our Samaria represents the people we'd rather not associate with, much less witness to. Only we don't have that luxury. Jesus denied our license to select to whom we'd witness when He deliberately traveled into Samaria, sat down beside a well, and engaged a sexually immoral (oh, no!) Samaritan (you're kidding, right?) woman (now that's really going too far!)

    Perhaps we'd understand how scandalous, how revolutionary Jesus' intentional involvement with the woman at the well was if, just for the sake of discussion, we think of her as the lesbian at the well. After all, one form of sexual immorality is no less sinful than another. So consider this: what if the immoral woman who'd had five husbands was instead an immoral woman who'd had five wives? Does that repulse you? Yeah, well that's an application of "you shall be My witnesses in Samaria" for us, ya'll.

    The gay/lesbian community, a community way farther than the familiar for most of us, has moved into our communities. Whether we like it or not, Samaria has come to us.

    In case you think I'm reaching here, let me share a few personal examples of how the "farther" has invaded my familiar. This school year, more than a few high school girls told me of their same-sex activities and asked what I thought.

    Last week, while chaperoning a group of Centri-kids at UNC-Asheville, it was impossible not to notice the presence of the gay/lesbian community by way of publications, announcements, and advertisements in the Student Union where we ate our meals. Several days ago, while browsing through the bookstore on the campus at Appalachian State University, I came across a large collection of gay/lesbian literature.

    And just this past weekend, a church friend spoke to me about the seminar called "Diversity Training" he was required to attend at the bank where he works. His new boss has a same-sex partner and my friend is struggling with how to be an effective witness in a familiar workplace that now feels very unfamiliar. My friend's convictions about his boss' sin are clear. His tactics for engaging the sinner are not.

    Oh yes, we definitely have a story worth telling, as well as an audience that desperately needs to hear: "They do not know nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness." (Psalm 82:5)

    But how do we tell the story in way they'll hear? If you're still reading because you think I have the answer to that, better move on to another article. I do know this: not engaging the Samaritan is not an option. Preaching at the Samaritan is rarely effective. Somehow we must follow Jesus' lead and not let the sin keep us from telling/living the story of the One who saves.

    7/1/2005 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott | with 0 comments

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