June 2002

Youth are changing the world - and North Carolina

June 21 2002 by Derek Hodges , BR Intern

Youth are changing the world - and North Carolina | Friday, June 21, 2002

Friday, June 21, 2002

Youth are changing the world - and North Carolina

By Derek Hodges BR Intern

It is time once again time for summer break, and that means teenagers across the nation are packing their bags for summer vacations. For many that means the usual swimsuits and short sleeves. However, if you check the suitcases of some young people "vacationing" in North Carolina, you would find that, in with their summer fun gear, they are packing hammers, nails and paint brushes.

Many of these youth are part of the North American Mission Board's (NAMB) "World Changers" summer missions programs, a huge national effort to get more youth more actively involved in "kingdom work." While on a World Changers project, the youth don't just spend time renovating sub-standard housing, they also take time to minister to the spiritual needs of the homeowners, their teammates and anyone else who happens to stop by.

More than 400 youth arrived in Raleigh by bus and van the week of June15-22 to begin work in one of four North Carolina projects. The students were expected to raise living standards in 44 houses in one week alone.

Participants included youth from churches in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Those groups were divided by World Changers staff into crews with names like the "Toe Nails" and "Scrape, Splatter and Roll." Some ended up in groups with other members of their youth groups, some did not.

Braving mid-June North Carolina heat and humidity, the students went into the mission field with smiles on their faces and hammers and paint brushes in their hands. And, while none of them would say the work they did wasn't a challenge (some of them even had to overcome a fear of heights as they climbed around on the tops of two story homes), they did manage to hold on to their smiles throughout the week.

Sunny Musgrave, a chaperone from Hendersonville Baptist Church near Walterboro, S.C., served as her team's "Crew Encourager." She said she was "amazed" at how the youth kept on smiling through some tough work. "These kids are doing work that grown men get paid to do, and they're doing it because they love God," she said.

Musgrave added that the students were living out what Christians were called to do, saying, "A lot of times we Christians talk about service ... we're trying to teach these kids what it means to be slaves for Christ."

If these youth don't enjoy this work, they hide it well. Patrick McCaskill, a youth from Bethune Baptist Church in Bethune, S.C. said, "It has been awesome. I've never really done anything like it. This was my first time doing this. It definitely won't be my last. God really touched my life this week."

This was 13-year-old Catherine Carmichael's second year serving as a "slave for Christ." Carmichael, a youth from Walterboro First Baptist Church, described the entire experience in two words, "very rewarding." Being separated from their youth groups gives students a chance to interact with other Christian youth. "I had a lot of fun with my crew," Carmichael said.

Carmichael and her crew spent the week working on the roof of a home. They first stripped the old shingles, then added roofing felt and were scheduled to finish up Friday with new shingles, despite the threat of rain. Site supervisor Wayne Lake said he and the crew prayed that there would be no rain to hamper their work. And, Lake added, "God does answer prayers."

Rainy Friday forecasts for the Raleigh area quickly gave way to nothing but sunny skies.

Lake says the best part of the World Changers projects, which he started working on as a way to give back to God, is getting to meet all the inspirational youth from different parts of the nation. "People say this next generation is 'no good,' they need to come around these projects. They (the youth) sacrificed a week of their summer vacation to come out here and work and sweat," he said.

Obviously, the participants aren't the only ones who get something out of the week of service and fellowship. Homeowners like James and Cynthia Wilcox, who are called partners by the World Changers, also appreciate the work. The Wilcox' house got a new coat of paint inside and outside, new doors, ceilings and light fixtures were repaired and the bathroom saw some needed repairs.

"I love it. It's a blessing," Cynthia said, "It made a whole lot of difference, it's like a whole new house!"

Perhaps one of the most important parts of the week comes in the evenings, when the more than 400 participants gather in the gym at Fuquay-Varina High School for a worship service. The week's featured speaker was Steve Brown of Walterboro First Baptist Church. Thursday night's service included a live praise band, a video message from someone touched by World Changers, a message from Brown in which he challenged the students to "soar free," and an altar call that brought students from all over the room to pray.

Several participants named the worship services and the church group devotions that follow them as their most memorable part of the week. "The worship services are great," Carmichael said.

Jesse Freeman, co-leader of youth at Bethune Baptist Church, agreed that the community worship was his favorite part of the week. "Listening to these youth tell me what they've gotten out of it, that's been the best part," Freeman said, right after Thursday night's church group devotion.

Last year represented the first year that a State World Changers project was completed. For the 11 years prior to that World Changers had been a purely national mission, operated for the last five of those years as a ministry of the NAMB.

The first State World Changers was a project of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The youth in that first state-affiliated program did recovery work after Hurricane Floyd left many homes in the Eastern part of the state well below standard.

This year, the three participating states will operate 20 projects in 13 cities. Four of those 20 will take youth into three North Carolina cities to do work. More than 1,300 students are expected to participate in this year's state-affiliated projects in North Carolina, with nearly 25,000 expected to help nationally in all World Changers projects.

Work began the week of June 15-22 in Raleigh and Franklin and continued into the week of June 22-29 in Raleigh. Students in those two cities are doing construction-type work, spending their week renovating homes. The week of July 13-20 youth in Murphy will participate in a community project that will involve construction and other types of ministry projects, such as Backyard Bible Clubs.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
6/21/2002 12:00:00 AM by Derek Hodges , BR Intern | with 0 comments

Crossing into St. Louis

June 14 2002 by David Winfrey & Michael Leathers , Baptist Editors Network

Crossing into St. Louis | Friday, June 14, 2002

Friday, June 14, 2002

Crossing into St. Louis

By David Winfrey & Michael Leathers Baptist Editors Network

ST. LOUIS - LeAndrea Bell and Leah Hoffman were about to finish their morning assignment of door-to-door surveys when they knocked on a screen door and were greeted by the harsh barking of a large dog standing guard on the other side.

No one was coming to the door, so the two teenagers from Paducah, Ky., wrote "Big Dog" on their survey sheet, wedged some information about a local church into the door and decided to move on.

It was just one more adventure in their morning as they gathered information for Ballwin Baptist Church and talked about the Christian faith to people willing to answer their interview questions. The two already had interviewed an agnostic and bought brownies from a boy at a yard sale, among other things.

Bell and Hoffman were among the hundreds of volunteers from St. Louis and around the country who participated in Crossover St. Louis, a concentrated effort to share Christ's love with St. Louis residents before the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting. North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Bob Reccord told Convention attendees that more than 1,800 people had made decisions of faith through the concerted efforts of the volunteers.

Crossover dates back to 1989, when officials seeking to stem criticism for holding the annual meeting in Las Vegas added evangelistic work to the pre-convention program.

More than 60 churches in the metropolitan area took part in Crossover St. Louis. Most either coordinated door-to-door survey work or hosted neighborhood parties. Other activities included prayerwalks and visits to employees of East St. Louis strip clubs. Scores of out-of-state volunteers came to the convention early to help.

For the surveys, NAMB prepared maps and address lists for the pairs of volunteers willing to knock on doors. The surveys asked residents what local churches can do to make a difference as well as the residents' views on matters of faith. At the end, the pollsters asked the residents if the survey team could explain their Christian faith and how the homeowners could be sure they are going to heaven.

Coby Boyd, pastor of Bogey Hills Baptist Church, was grateful to have volunteers from Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Kentucky to knock on doors. "It's not the most comfortable thing in the world, but it's quite a huge blessing, and I'm honored to have them."

Bob Curtis, pastor of Ballwin Baptist Church, called the survey information an "invaluable tool for the long haul." Responses will provide a reservoir of information about area residents' beliefs as well as locate prospects for later visits, he said.

Church block parties combined games, face painting and music with food and refreshments to attract residents and introduce people to the churches.

Pastor Jeff Edington said the performance by his church's "Hands for Christ" team was a longtime dream. The team from Lebanon Baptist Church in Bagdad, Ky., weaves interpretive movement and American Sign Language in their performances with contemporary Christian music.

The 13 teenagers and 15 adults who traveled to St. Louis from Kentucky raised $1,900 to make the trip, added his wife, Debbie, who co-directs the team with her husband. "God has supplied double what we need. It has been amazing."

Across the Mississippi River, Baptists in Illinois held block parties and prayerwalks while other volunteers ventured into the region's topless nightclubs in a ministry reaching out to the dancers and waitresses who work there.

About three dozen women took gift bags for dancers and waitresses into seven of the strip clubs that dot southwestern Illinois. Three other clubs did not let the volunteers enter, but two of those agreed to distribute the gifts to their female employees. The bags contained New Testaments and gospel tracts as well as scented candles, toiletries, gum and jewelry. In addition to their club visits, the women also delivered bags and chilled bottled water, with a gospel message on their labels, to lower-income areas.

Westview Baptist Church in Belleville organized prayerwalks Friday and Saturday in neighborhoods near the church. Strolling by houses, teams prayed for residents inside and hung cards from their front doors to tell about the church. "May all within this house enjoy good health and peace," the cards read.

Several Hispanic church members from northern Illinois drove south to help Hispanic congregations and ministries in and around Granite City. At Garduno's, a neighborhood Mexican grocery store and restaurant, children played games at a small block party - or fiesta de cuadra - on the parking lot.

Shortly after noon, about a dozen people working the block party at Gardu�o's climbed into their cars and formed a motorcade to El Jalapenos, a Mexican restaurant a few miles away. There they distributed gift bags to the employees, many with relatives still in Mexico. Each bag contained a Bible, gospel tract and a copy of the "Jesus" video, all in Spanish, as well as phone cards.

"Phone cards are very important when your family's in Mexico," said Bob Burton, an Illinois Baptist State Association employee who helps start churches in the region. The gift bags, he said, were a way to thank the owner, who in April allowed them to hold a Bible study with restaurant workers every Sunday after closing. Since the study began, more than 20 employees and their family members have made professions of faith in Christ.

Not too far away, at the intersection of Illinois Route 111 and Interstate 55, another Hispanic congregation, Iglesia Agape, held a block party on a parking lot. Awnings provided shade from the hot sun. Games were set up in the parking lot, but several children passed on those as they tried to get their kites aloft. Volunteers served snow cones, cotton candy and cold beverages as a band played songs under the largest awning.

And at Jesus Place, a mission in downtown Granite City, a hundred or so people attended a block party nestled between two aging buildings. With a flatbed truck for its stage, a four-man band belted out songs ranging from Johnny Cash tunes to "Amazing Grace."

Children were drawn to the balloon-animal creations of Itsy Bitsy and Twilly, two colorful clowns who also go by the names of Jim and Margaret Williams. A line of kids also took turns grabbing a broomstick to knock the sweet contents out of an extraterrestrial pi�ata, playfully dangling from a fire escape.

Curtis, the pastor at First Baptist of Ballwin, said there's no way to measure what Crossover will mean to St. Louis. "You don't know what kind of long-term impact this is going to have on a metropolitan area."

Chad Davidson, minister of music for Bellview Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., said the event also taught out-of-state volunteers how to share their faith when they get back home. "It's teaching them to love people," he said. "It's teaching them that they need to be a bold witness to their neighbors and their community."

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by David Winfrey & Michael Leathers , Baptist Editors Network | with 0 comments

Resurgence hasn't brought revival, evangelist says

June 14 2002 by Marv Knox and Mark A. Wyatt , Baptist Editors Network

Resurgence hasn't brought revival, evangelist says | Friday, June 14, 2002

Friday, June 14, 2002

Resurgence hasn't brought revival, evangelist says

By Marv Knox and Mark A. Wyatt Baptist Editors Network

ST. LOUIS - The "conservative resurgence" has not produced revival in the Southern Baptist Convention, evangelist Freddie Gage said at the conclusion of the first session of the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) annual meeting June 11. In his final address as SBC president, James Merritt exhorted Southern Baptists to be faithful to "the fight, the faith, the finish."

"I can remember in 1979 in Houston, Texas, and we had an all-night prayer meeting," said Gage, a prominent Southern Baptist evangelist who prayed the benediction after Merritt delivered his presidential address.

"I felt we were going to experience a revival, a revival of souls," Gage said. "It has not happened." He urged messengers to the St. Louis meeting to "ask the Holy Ghost of God to come down on us and for God to send a revival."

In his prayer, Gage asked God to "give us a passion and set us afire and give us a zeal for souls that the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses have."

The SBC's 145th annual meeting registered just more than 9,000 messengers.

In his final SBC presidential sermon, outgoing president Merritt warned the "danger of a lukewarm spirit" has replaced liberalism as the greatest threat to the convention. Merritt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Snellville, Ga., used his address to call the nation's largest non-Catholic denomination to faithfulness and a renewed emphasis on evangelism.

"We face a secular culture that is becoming increasingly strident and militant in its anti-Christian, anti-truth, anti-God mentality, and I fear the danger of facing this spirit with a lackadaisical heart," Merritt said. "We face a world whose heart is becoming increasingly cold that needs to feel the hot fire of evangelism, and I fear the danger of seeing this need with a lackluster passion."

He cited 2 Tim. 4:7-8 as a "blueprint" for Southern Baptists to be faithful until the biblical promise of Christ's return is fulfilled. The audience responded with sustained applause as Merritt first urged Baptists to be "faithful to the fight."

"Christianity is not for the faint of heart. There is no place for conscientious objectors in the kingdom of God," Merritt said. "When you come to Jesus, He does not invite you to a picnic. He calls you to a fight."

Merritt cited a newspaper account of a speech by a Dartmouth professor who noted Christian songs and prayer in schools now are "under proscriptions" while abortion, pornography and homosexuality have become commonplace.

"The very moment a parent suggests that some books are not suitable for elementary school children because of sexual explicitness or obscene language, the entire academic establishment explodes in indignation and cries 'censorship!' In contrast, whenever a school library discovers some long-forgotten volume which political correctness now decrees might offend one group or another, that book is instantly yanked," Merritt said.

"When the school inflicts books on youngsters which deliberately undermine the moral and religious convictions of parents, it is termed 'education.' But when parents complain, they are portrayed as 'narrow-minded' or 'intolerant.'

"More and more, we are being told to sit down, shut up, go along and get along, be inclusive, be tolerant, be nice and be quiet," he said. "We are told we ought to keep politics out of the pulpit, but I believe whenever the political impacts the spiritual and the moral, we have the biblical responsibility to address the political."

Referring to various protest groups who frequent SBC meetings, Merritt said, "They have let me know in their correspondence, 'We are not going away.' Well, I've got news for the pornographer, the adulterer, the homosexual, the pedophile and the abortionist: We are not going away either.

"We may be a denominational David standing against a world full of Goliaths, but we have the slingshot of truth in one hand and the 'rock of ages' in the other, and we are guaranteed to have victory in Jesus. And so, Southern Baptists, until he comes, be faithful to the fight," he told the messengers.

Second, Merritt called on Baptists to be faithful to the faith. "I want to say to every preacher here, regardless of your style of worship, whether you are sinner-sensitive, seeker-sensitive - I don't care if you don't have enough sense to be sensitive - keep the faith," he said.

Responding to popular church growth methods, Merritt said Baptists should be faithful to preach the faith. "We are being told today by some church-growth gurus, baby-boomer experts and church-marketing agents, 'Don't preach on hell, don't talk about money, don't mention politics, don't be controversial.'

"We ought to be real in the way we practice the faith, and we ought to be relevant in the way we preach the faith. But we should never shy away from preaching the whole counsel of God," Merritt said. "Drama is wonderful, praise and worship music is refreshing; but what God has promised to honor above everything else is the preaching of His word."

Citing a study by the SBC's North American Mission Board, Merritt said 84 percent of Southern Baptists "are not regularly involved in personal witnessing of any type." Baptists must get back to evangelism and realize "just like Jesus Christ, we have come to seek and to save that which was lost," he said. "If we ever lose that distinctive, we will fall by the wayside and join the ranks of other denominations whose corpses litter the religious highway today."

In addition to being faithful to the fight and the faith, Merritt said Baptists also must be faithful to the finish.

"God is not concerned with how fast you run in your race, but how far you run," he said. "It is not how you start the race; it's how you finish the race that counts with God. All that matters is that you hit the finish line with His approval.

"It doesn't matter what the politically correct, the intellectually elite or the financially powerful think about your ministry ... as long as when you hit that finish line the Lord Jesus is standing and the Lord Jesus is clapping when you get there," Merritt said.

In the prayer that followed Merritt's sermon, Gage said, "I pray most of all today for Southern Baptists. Ninety-six percent of Southern Baptists never led a soul to Jesus Christ.

"God, send the fire, the power upon us in Jesus' name. Set us free from our personal agendas. Set us free in Jesus' name from dead orthodoxy, and once again fill us with your Spirit to go out and tell a lost and dying world that Jesus saves."

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by Marv Knox and Mark A. Wyatt , Baptist Editors Network | with 0 comments

SBC promotes family, 'kingdom' focus

June 14 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

SBC promotes family, 'kingdom' focus | Friday, June 14, 2002

Friday, June 14, 2002

SBC promotes family, 'kingdom' focus

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

ST. LOUIS - Messengers to the 145th session of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) elected new officers and heard about two major new initiatives during the 2002 meeting June 11-12 in St. Louis, Missouri.

The total registration of 9,608 messengers was far less than the 25,607 who registered when the Convention last met in St. Louis in 1987.

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church near Dallas, Texas, was elected Convention president. Paul Pressler of Houston, widely known as a leading architect of the conservative rise to power of the SBC, was elected first vice president. Neither Graham nor Pressler were opposed.

E. W. McCall, Sr. was elected second vice-president. McCall, pastor of St. Stephens Baptist Church in La Puenta, Calif., defeated Ernie Don Rogers, a pastor from Louisiana, and Robert Collins, a pastor who is president of the Missouri Baptist Convention. McCall is former president of the African American Fellowship of the SBC.

After several failed attempts in recent years, opponents defeated Lee Porter's bid for a 26th term as registration secretary. Porter was the last holdover from the period preceding the string of conservative victories that began in 1979. Jim Wells, a director of missions from Missouri, was elected by a vote of 1,839 to 1,222.

Two new initiatives were announced with considerable fanfare, though both are still largely conceptual.

SBC Executive Committee CEO Morris Chapman, Carlisle Driggers and James Merritt promoted a new "Empowering Kingdom Growth" (EKG) emphasis as "an all-out concentration on the kingdom of God." Driggers, executive director of the S.C. Baptist Convention, and Merritt, outgoing SBC president, are co-chairs of the EKG task force. Differing versions of the EKG concept have been promoted in South Carolina for the past 10 years.

In a press conference after the presentation, Chapman said EKG will not promote a series of goals, as an earlier "Bold Missions Thrust" program did, but will work from the bottom up, encouraging churches to seek God's kingdom and develop their own goals.

The task force is not promoting a program, Driggers told reporters, but a vision that calls for Southern Baptists to focus on the kingdom of God. "We are saying to the churches that you determine under God what God has for you to do. Then, how can we help you do that?"

Merritt said, "One thing I know for sure is that if the SBC does business as usual, our best days are behind us. ... We are really trying to say to Southern Baptists that we can't do business as usual, we've got to get out of the box and focus on the kingdom of God."

Tom Elliff, chair of a two-year old SBC Council on Family Life, announced a new initiative to be called "Kingdom Families."

"We have a crisis of family life in America," Elliff said. The events of last Sept. 11 were shocking, he said, because nearly 3,000 people died. "But every day, 3,000 families die," he said, indicating an ongoing crisis that must be addressed.

Elliff announced a "first-ever convention-wide rally to save the family" to be held in Phoenix on June 19, 2003, the day following the 2003 SBC annual meeting.

Elliff told reporters that the Council on the Family has developed a complete strategy that will be simple and Bible-based, in which pastors will play a key role in making their churches "virtually divorce-proof." The strategy will remain under wraps for the next year, however, as LifeWay Christian Resources and other Convention entities develop a full line of resources that will be marketed to support the effort. "We don't want to do it until we can do it right," Elliff said.

Even so, Elliff said Kingdom Families is not a program, but a movement. As the nation rose up and went to war after Pearl Harbor, he said, Kingdom Families calls Southern Baptists to rise up and fight to save the family.

The convention was also marked by a virtual visit from President George W. Bush, who spoke via satellite.

Bush congratulated Baptists for their growth, noting that "the Baptist form of church government was a model of democracy even before the founding of America."

Baptists have championed the separation of church and state, he said, but have never believed in separating religious belief from political life.

Southern Baptists and the Bush administration share common commitments to support a culture of life and strengthening of marriage and family as sacred institutions.

Bush promoted the federal funding of faith-based charities by saying they work as partners with the government, not as rivals. "We believe that the days of discriminating against religious institutions simply because they are religious must come to an end," he said.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Southern Baptists urged to march onward boldly

June 14 2002 by Tony Cartledge , BR Editor

Southern Baptists urged to march onward boldly | Friday, June 14, 2002
  • The cross' evaluation of the human condition is that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. "We used to accept God's evaluation of sin," he said, but now some people think they know more about it than God.
  • The cross' declaration is that people are lost without Christ. Hill said preachers across the country have "trimmed back the gospel" to appease a "pagan mindset."
  • The cross' propitiation provided the way through which "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe."
  • The cross' imputation of righteousness covers those who trust in Christ. "You're not saved by sanctification or being like Jesus, as wonderful as that is," Hill said.
  • The cross' renunciation of other roads to salvation means that Jesus is not just a good way to be saved but the only way to be saved.

    "Anybody that preaches a gospel that says Jesus is not the only way has covered the cross," he said.

    Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., put a twist on the theme, saying, "You only get the highest power when you do the greatest task."

    "First, we must adopt God's agenda," Warren said, "to build His kingdom, a family of redeemed individuals from every nation. "If you want God's anointing on your life, you must care about what God cares about most, the redemption of lost people. He wants His lost children found."

    Believers who seek the highest power must abandon all distractions and focus on seeking first the kingdom of God, Warren said. "What's distracting you?

    "As long as there is one person who doesn't know Christ, you have to keep growing," he said. "We don't grow for our benefit, but because others need Jesus."

    There is no greater task than to reach the lost, Warren said. "To get the highest power, you must do the greatest task."

    Terry Fox, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan., said a model church is "a church that is impacting its community for the Lord Jesus Christ."

    The church at Antioch as described in Acts 11 was such a church, he said, because the hand of the Lord was upon it, so that a great number were believing.

    "I'm thrilled to be a part of the Southern Baptist Convention," Fox said. "I'm glad God has allowed us to have a conservative resurgence the last 20 years. ... I believe the Southern Baptist Convention is impacting the world because we are not ashamed of who we are."

    Fox said the model church had three characteristics - the right attitude, the right atmosphere and the right agenda.

    The right attitude has led his church to baptize 2,000 people in the past five years in inner-city Wichita, he said.

    The right atmosphere is not seen in "dead, cold, liturgical churches," he said, but through preaching the word of God and experiencing the power of God.

    The right agenda is found in personal evangelism, he said: "Soul-winning must be the No. 1 agenda of the church." Christians are not called just to make peace and feed all the hungry people, he said, but "to lift up the cross of Jesus Christ."

  • Friday, June 14, 2002

    Southern Baptists urged to march onward boldly

    By Tony Cartledge BR Editor

    ST. LOUIS - A variety of speakers challenged Southern Baptists to be faithful in proclaiming Christ to the world through theme interpretations at the June 11-12 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis.

    Bob White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, said the church began with boldness but has become powerless and needs to reclaim its heritage of bold preaching. Jesus' words in Acts 1:8 call believers to share the gospel boldly, White said, postulating that if the church had been more focused on evangelism, the world would be Christian and the events of Sept. 11 would not have happened.

    White said the verse "speaks of power" that comes from the Holy Spirit. Too many Baptists have been afraid to preach about the Holy Spirit for fear of the charismatic movement, he said. "Don't ever let anybody take the Holy Spirit from you, from your preaching, from your church," he said.

    The verse also speaks of people who are called to be missionaries in their own communities as well as around the world, he added. Jesus also spoke to the issue of place, instructing believers to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world, White said. He encouraged each person, church, association and state convention to question whether they are doing what it takes to spread the gospel from their own Jerusalem to the world.

    "It's not a time for Southern Baptists to look backward," he said, "but to march forward singing 'Onward Christian Soldiers!'"

    Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., and a former SBC president, said Southern Baptists need encouragement to live out their calling.

    God encouraged Paul through a vision recorded in Acts 18:9-10, Vines said, offering three promises designed to encourage Paul to keep going and not give up.

    God offered the promise of His presence, the promise of His protection and the promise of potential, Vines said.

    The world may hurt believers but cannot harm them, Vines said. "It is better to suffer pain living for Jesus than pleasure living for the devil."

    Vines encouraged Southern Baptists to see as Jesus sees, recognizing that even "depraved communities" are home to many potential people of God who haven't yet been converted.

    Alabama evangelist Junior Hill pleaded with messengers to proclaim the cross of Christ unashamed. He described a church near his home that allowed another faith group to use its facilities. While using the sanctuary, the other group covered a prominent cross with a white drape.

    "The twin gods of political correctness and religious pluralism" seek to cover the cross so as not to offend the secular world, Hill said, "But I am not ashamed of the cross!"

    Hill listed five reasons why he believes Christians should hold forth the cross:

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study Lesson for June 30: God Wants Me to Be Kind

    June 14 2002 by James Baldwin , 2 Kings 4:1-17

    Family Bible Study Lesson for June 30: God Wants Me to Be Kind | Friday, June 14, 2002

    Friday, June 14, 2002

    Family Bible Study Lesson for June 30: God Wants Me to Be Kind

    By James Baldwin 2 Kings 4:1-17

    I love the story of the business executive who was waiting in a crowded airport. Before boarding his plane he noticed a young boy alone in the corner, crying. The executive went to the boy and asked if he were lost.

    The boy answered, "Yes."

    The man took the boy to the nearest ticket counter and had the agent page the child's mother. While waiting for the mother to arrive the man bought the child ice cream and sat beside him on the floor.

    The boy looked up at the man and asked, "Mister, are you God?"

    "No," the man replied. "I'm just one of His children."

    After thinking a minute, the boy said, "I figured you must be kin to Him."

    Kindness is one of the characteristics that sets us apart as a child of God.

    Meeting needs (2 Kings 4:1-7) The focus of this section is supposed to be on the kindness of Elisha who asked the woman, "How can I help you?"

    I admire the woman of the story as well. She was willing to ask for help.

    Oftentimes pride gets in the way of our being willing to admit our need.

    Perhaps because her situation was so desperate, she swallowed her pride and sought out help. She was willing to offer what she had. Admittedly she did not have much in the way of resources; yet she identified and offered the little oil she had in her house. She was willing to think big. The blessing God had for her was limited only by the faith she had to receive it. The oil stopped flowing as soon as the jars she procured had been filled.

    Because she had faith to think big, God was able to fill enough jars for the woman and her sons to live.

    It is a consistent principle throughout Scripture that the measure of our faith determines the measure of God's work. When Jesus came to His hometown, "He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith" (Matt. 13:58).

    Extending hospitality (2 Kings 4:8-10) In addition to being a trademark of Southern culture, hospitality is a spiritual gift. Romans 12 list several of the spiritual gifts God has provided for His children to build up the body of Christ and to glorify His name. Although some commentators include only verses 6-8, I believe the list continues through verse 13.

    Hospitality and other acts of kindness are to be offered to the least likely recipients (Matt. 25:40), and the least likely to be able to reciprocate (Luke 6:34). The woman of Shunem apparently had no expectations that she would get anything in return for her kindness.

    That is what makes kindness such an astonishing thing to nonbelievers. "Why would you offer to do something kind for me? What is the catch?" they ask.

    We, then, have the privilege of telling them of the love and kindness of God who loved us and gave His Son for us.

    Asking nothing in return (2 Kings 4:11-17) Moved by the woman's kindness, Elisha asked what favor he could do in return for her hospitality.

    The woman showed her integrity in not asking anything from this man she recognized was a holy man of God.

    Unwilling to take her "Nothing" for an answer, Elisha promised her the improbable blessing of a child.

    Kindness loses some of its impact when payback is expected. Doing good becomes little more than tit-for-tat.

    A popular movie several years ago offered a different response to those who desire to reciprocate an act of kindness. "Pay it Forward" was the idea of a young boy who was challenged by his teacher to devise a plan to make a difference in his world. Rather than "paying back" an act of kindness, the recipient was to "pay it forward," to find someone else in need to whom they could demonstrate kindness.

    What if Christians started such a plan and gave God the credit? I believe our world would be a little bit brighter.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Baldwin , 2 Kings 4:1-17 | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study Lesson for July 7: God Wants Me to Do What's Right

    June 14 2002 by James Baldwin , 2 Kings 22:1-2,11-13,18-20; 23:21-25

    Family Bible Study Lesson for July 7: God Wants Me to Do What's Right | Friday, June 14, 2002

    Friday, June 14, 2002

    Family Bible Study Lesson for July 7: God Wants Me to Do What's Right

    By James Baldwin 2 Kings 22:1-2,11-13,18-20; 23:21-25

    Occasionally, in cleaning the church on Monday mornings, our custodian will find a Bible that has been left behind. We call the name embossed on the cover to tell the person we found his/her Bible. If the person is someone I know well, I may wait a few days before calling.

    "Tell me," I will ask, "How's your quiet time been this week?"

    I am shocked by how many people have not even realized their Bible is missing. It causes me to wonder how often a Bible is read when it can be lost at church for days or even weeks at a time.

    The Scripture passage for this lesson tells a horrifying tale of a Bible lost at church. Unfortunately it was the only Bible in the church. I encourage you to read through these two chapters and observe how far we can stray from God's will when we are not living in accordance with the word of God.

    A Righteous king (2 Kings 22:1-2) The Bible records that Josiah "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David."

    Remember that Josiah was only eight years old when he assumed the throne of Judah. He had never seen a Bible, nor ever heard the Bible read.

    How then did he know how to live a righteous life?

    The Bible testifies that some people "show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them" (Rom. 2:15).

    We are judged by what we know, not by what we do not know (Rom. 2:12). Josiah did have the example of King David to follow as a man after God's own heart. Following in the footsteps of David helped Josiah remain on the path of righteousness.

    Have you considered who might be following in your footsteps?

    Wallace Norwood wrote a poem that includes this verse:

    You are writing each day a letter to men;

    Take care that the writing is true.

    It's the only gospel some people may read,

    This gospel according to you.

    A Repentant king (2 Kings 22:11-13, 18-20) Once the Bible had been found and read, Josiah realized how disobedient the people of Judah had been. Overcome with remorse, Josiah tore his robes and wept before God.

    He began immediately to take steps to align the lifestyle of God's people with God's word.

    True repentance always involves a change of direction.

    There have been numerous times I have found myself driving on the wrong road. One time, on my way to a ski slope in West Virginia, I came upon a sign announcing: "Bristol, Tennessee - 15 miles." I was sickened to realize I had spent the last hour on the wrong road. None of my moaning and apologizing, however, got me any closer to where I wanted to be. It was only by turning the car around and going in the opposite direction that I finally reached my destination.

    A poster in a local high school office tells the truth: "God allows U-turns."

    An obedient king (2 Kings 23:21-25) Chapter 23 details the extent to which Josiah made corrections in order to be obedient to God. He removed altars and idols and "all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem."

    Before God can use us, we must become vessels fit for Him.

    Avery Willis tells of a group of missionaries in Indonesia who became burdened over the lack of response to their work. Finally, during an extended season of prayer, God spoke to the group; "I cannot work in this place because I have no clean vessels to use."

    The missionaries fell before God in confession and repentance. Within months a revival began that resulted in thousands coming to trust Christ as Savior and Lord.

    Josiah continued his quest for righteousness by observing Passover in accordance with the word of God.

    We cannot be content to discontinue sinful practices: We must also do those things God has required of us.

    Obedience to God is a sign of how much we love Him. (John 14:23).

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Baldwin , 2 Kings 22:1-2,11-13,18-20; 23:21-25 | with 0 comments

    Formations lesson for June 30: The Shema - A Nation's Call to Devotion

    June 14 2002 by Haven Parrott , Deuteronomy 6:1-25

    Formations lesson for June 30: The Shema - A Nation's Call to Devotion | Friday, June 14, 2002

    Friday, June 14, 2002

    Formations lesson for June 30: The Shema - A Nation's Call to Devotion

    By Haven Parrott Deuteronomy 6:1-25

    Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation set the black man free, legally, from the scourge of slavery.

    In The Civil War, author Shelby Foote said of that document which, theoretically, became effective January 1, 1863: "The word spread from Capitol Hill out across the city, down into the valleys and fields of Virginia and the Carolinas, and even into the plantations of Georgia and Mississippi and Alabama. 'Slavery Legally Abolished!' read the headlines, and yet something amazing took place. The greater majority of the slaves in the south went right on living as though they were not emancipated. Throughout the period of reconstruction, the Negro remained locked in a caste system of race etiquette as rigid as any have known in formal bondage, and every slave could repeat with equal validity what an Alabama slave had mumbled when asked what he thought of the great emancipator whose proclamation had gone into effect: 'I don't know nothin' 'bout Abraham Lincoln, 'cep they say he sot us free. And I don't know nothin' 'bout that neither.' How tragic! A war was being fought, a document had been signed, slaves were legally set free, and yet most continued to live out their years - and many of their children, some of their years - in fear, saying, 'I don't know nothin' 'bout that neither.' In a context of freedom, slaves chose to remain slaves. Even though emancipated, they kept serving the same master throughout their lives."

    Unfortunately, it wasn't the first time in history that freed slaves chose to remain in bondage . . .

    They say he sot us free . . .

    Three thousand years earlier, the Hebrews lived out a similar tragedy. Through the blood of the Passover lamb, the Great Emancipator provided their deliverance from Pharaoh's oppression. Though the entire fledgling nation left Egypt physically, many among the multitude stayed behind mentally. These were those who grumbled as they gathered manna, whined as they gulped water from the rock, and complained as they contemplated the cloud.

    Forty years of contending with those of stiff necks and short memories motivated Moses' message in Moab. His prescription for preserving the gift of freedom, salvation from slavery, was simple and profound: "Love the Lord your God with all of yourself - heart, soul, and mind. Prize no one and no thing above the knowledge of and communion with your Savior. Bind yourself to the One who set you free. And make sure you teach your children daily about the deliverer's deliverance so they can never claim that they "don't know nothin' 'bout that." Discipline yourselves to be devoted to Him, or you'll find yourselves being disciplined by Him."

    But the Hebrews forgot to remember, and it wasn't long before they began to look more like the surrounding culture than the sovereign Creator.

    Tragically, the nation that had been so gloriously set free eventually found itself in Babylonian bondage. And although their disobedience could not negate their identity as God's covenant people, it surely affected their fellowship with Him, their enjoyment of His blessings, and their ability to accurately advertise Him to the nations.

    Don't know nothin' 'bout that . . .

    Hundreds of years later, the apostle Paul communicated an obvious observation as he echoed Moses' message with a Messianic twist: "It was for freedom that Christ set you free" (Gal. 5:1). Christians have been set free from sin's power of enslavement in order that we might walk free of it, not wallow around in it.

    Enjoyment of that freedom requires from us what it required from the Israelites: that we prize the knowledge of Christ above the desire to cater to the culture. Our disobedience to that precept cannot negate our identity as God's covenant people, but it surely affects our fellowship with Him, our enjoyment of His blessings, and our ability to accurately advertise Him to the nations.

    Let us, whose freedom has been purchased by the blood of the Passover Lamb, purpose to never live as if we don't know nothin' 'bout that.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , Deuteronomy 6:1-25 | with 0 comments

    Formations lesson for July 7: God's Plan

    June 14 2002 by Haven Parrott , Isaiah 49:1-6; Mark 7:24-30; Romans 10:1-15

    Formations lesson for July 7: God's Plan | Friday, June 14, 2002

    Friday, June 14, 2002

    Formations lesson for July 7: God's Plan

    By Haven Parrott Isaiah 49:1-6; Mark 7:24-30; Romans 10:1-15

    Through the mouths and pens of the prophets the Father made known His plan to provide salvation for all through One. Then the Creator became the Christ and accomplished it on the cross. Now His Spirit proclaims the gospel message from another body: His church - you and me.

    Care to contemplate the magnitude of the mystery of God in us?

    My heart, Your home? My will, Your throne? What a mystery: that God above - almighty God of love! - would choose to dwell in me.

    To think, O Lord, this fleshly shell, once self-consumed and bound for hell, could be transformed, restored, renewed into a temple fit for You!

    How can it be, O Consuming Fire, that Deity should wear such humble attire?

    Why, Father, would You choose to grace this earthen vessel, this unholy place?

    My flesh is corrupt, my mind's full of pride, my heart's been blackened by sin.

    How, O Lord, could this house ever be clean enough for You to live in? There's nothing good in me, O God; I'm stubborn to the bone.

    I'm stiff-necked, strong-willed, and so full of my self: O God, I can't be Your home!

    "Yes, Child, you can ... but not as you are. Give Me your hut, your tent of skin - and I'll remodel it from within.

    I'll need you to cooperate, to let Me be the boss, for there are things you treasure, Child, that you must count as loss.

    I'll tear down walls and clean out closets and throw away the trash.

    Your plans, your schemes, your cherished dreams I'll burn with My fire, I'll reduce them to ash.

    I'll paint and plaster and hammer and drill ... let Me break and melt and mold your will.

    I'll shine My searing, holy light on all your hidden places;

    Of fleshly thoughts and motives, desires and ambitions, I'll sweep away all traces.

    You'll know the sacrifice of self; and yes, there will be pain.

    But trust Me, Child, I promise you: My work is never in vain.

    You may not always understand the process that I use; the methods and the timing are Mine alone to choose.

    For before your birth I had in mind a blueprint of your days: a picture, you see, of what I created you to be; and that image, Beloved, is a reflection of Me!

    So I came to this earth and emptied Myself into the form of a man, and I sacrificed Myself on a Roman cross to fulfill My eternal plan.

    I became your sin, I paid its price, I conquered your last enemy - I sought you and bought you with My very own blood: Child, how can you resist Me?

    For I am your Maker, your great High Priest; yes, I am the Lamb that was slain.

    My blood was spilled and My body was broken to rend that veil in twain.

    All this was done through My one and only Son so that we could be reconciled;

    I love you so much - can't you see it by now? - I'd rather die than live without you, Child!

    And I knew, Precious One, that you'd be unable to please Me all on your own ... so I've provided a gift, the gift of My Spirit: He'll make your heart My home.

    He'll create a clean heart in you and give you the desire: My will to do.

    He'll comfort and guide, convict and counsel, enable, enlighten, empower;

    My fruit will bud and blossom in you: an irresistibly fragrant flower.

    Your earthen vessel will become a container of water turned to wine;

    My oil will flow through your lampstand, Child; from you My light will shine.

    I've got you in My hand, Dear One, and I'll never let you go - for I've begun a work in you, and one thing you must know:

    I finish what I start, Beloved, My word I always keep.

    Yield to me, rest 'neath My wings ... this Shepherd loves His sheep.

    And there is more to this design than your eyes will ever see, for there are those who'll look at you and catch a glimpse of Me!

    I have sheep who are still lost, Beloved, and your life is meant to be a living advertisement that beckons them to Me.

    Perfume every place with the aroma of Me, in all that you say and do: for there are lost sheep watching, Child, and their picture of Me is you!"

    Oh yes, dear Lord! I'll be Your home: take this tent of flesh for Your dwelling.

    Conform me to Your likeness - whatever the cost - till all my life is telling through words and deeds, touches and glances, of Your limitless grace, Your matchless love, Your provision for second chances.

    Pour me out, Father; fill me with You! I'll be a living sacrifice - so that all who come face to face with me will see 'not I, but Christ'!

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , Isaiah 49:1-6; Mark 7:24-30; Romans 10:1-15 | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 23: God Wants Me to Persevere

    June 7 2002 by James Baldwin , 1 Samuel 1:1-2,4-7.10-17,19-20

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 23: God Wants Me to Persevere | Friday, June 7, 2002

    Friday, June 7, 2002

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 23: God Wants Me to Persevere

    By James Baldwin 1 Samuel 1:1-2,4-7.10-17,19-20

    Sisyphus was the legendary king of Corinth according to Greek mythology. As punishment for offending the gods he was condemned to roll a heavy rock up a hill in Hades, only to have it roll down again each time it neared the top.

    The legend of Sisyphus has become a symbol for perseverance.

    The Greek language has two specific words for perseverance. One pertains to difficult circumstances a person might be forced to bear again and again. The second word refers to a difficult person one might have to endure.

    Paul uses the latter word in his list of the fruit of the Spirit.

    The story of Hannah helps us understand why this fruit is so sweet.

    Provocation (1 Samuel 1:1-2, 4-7) "Elkanah had two wives, one named Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none." In these few words the stage is set for a lifetime of pain and conflict.

    In biblical times, having children was a sign of God's blessing upon a family. "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him" (Ps. 127:3).

    Inability to conceive, therefore, was a tremendous disgrace to a woman.

    Rather than demonstrating compassion toward Hannah, "her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her." It would seem that rivalry between wives would be almost inevitable, especially when they shared the same house and the same husband every day.

    "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life" (1 Tim. 1:15-16).

    The Bible clearly relates patience to mercy and forgiveness. Jesus is the ultimate example of one who demonstrated patience toward us. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).

    We are never more Christ-like than when we demonstrate patience and mercy toward those who have wronged us.

    Prayer (1 Samuel 1:10-17) Hannah could not do anything about her situation, but she knew the One who could. Three things strike me about the prayer of Hannah.

    First, she was honest. "In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord" (v.10). Hannah's prayer may not have sounded very polished, but God heard her prayer because it came from her heart.

    Second, she was persistent. "As she kept on praying to the Lord ..." (v.12) is the description of her prayer.

    I always knew what my children really wanted for Christmas when they asked me every day for the same thing. Often we give up on God before He is convinced we are serious about our request.

    Third, she was trusting. Once Eli assured her that God had heard her request and that it would be answered, "her face was no longer downcast" (v.18).

    The Bible says, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb. 11:1).

    Hannah had only God's word that she would have a son, but that word was all she needed.

    Provision (1 Samuel 1:19-20) The bottom line is that God answered Hannah's prayer and provided her with a son.

    Let us not ignore the fact, however, that He used Elkanah in the process. "Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her" (v.19).

    God certainly could have answered her prayer without Elkanah (after all He did it with Mary.) But more often than not God chooses to use humans to accomplish His will.

    I recently received a letter from one of our missionaries who wrote, "I am constantly amazed that God has chosen to use sinful persons such as us to spread the precious gospel of His Son."

    Had Elkanah failed in His part of God's plan He would have missed the blessing of partnering with God in the redemption of His people.

    The same is true for all of us. Pray that we will not miss the opportunities God places before us.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    6/7/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Baldwin , 1 Samuel 1:1-2,4-7.10-17,19-20 | with 0 comments

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