May 2002

Hand in hand with northern neighbors

May 31 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Hand in hand with northern neighbors | Friday, May 31, 2002

Friday, May 31, 2002

Hand in hand with northern neighbors

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Imagine holding a "Back Yard Bible Club" in Central Park, doing "beach reach" on Staten Island, or assisting in a construction project where most members are American - but speak Polish.

These opportunities and more are available through N.C. Baptists' newest partnership - with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA). Some Tar Heel Baptists participated in a partnership with the New York Baptist Convention during the early 1990s, and many others traveled to the "Big Apple" to assist in disaster recovery efforts following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The new partnership builds on those foundations to confront needs in what is arguably America's most concentrated mission field, at a time when New Yorkers may be more receptive to the gospel than ever. "Sept. 11 opened doors we never had before," says Lisa Chilson-Rose, director of volunteers and partnerships for the MNYBA.

The MNYBA serves an area stretching from 50 to 100 miles in every direction from Times Square, including suburban Long Island, the lower Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut. New York City alone has a population of 7.5 million in the city's five boroughs, roughly equivalent to the total population of North Carolina.

The New York metropolitan area encompasses 21 million people, who come from 170 nations and speak at least 50 different languages. According to a brochure produced by the MNYBA, the area includes more Roman Catholics than Rome and as many Jewish people as in Israel, but no religion has majority status.

Baptists have been in New York for three centuries, but there are only a few large congregations. Most of the 231 churches affiliated with the MNYBA are either non-white or non-English, with an average membership of less than 100 people. About 20 percent of the congregations are white, 20 percent are black, 25 percent are Asian, 16 percent are Haitian and an equal number are Hispanic.

New York has been targeted as a "Strategic Focus City" by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which has just one church for every 34,562 people in New York City. On the island of Manhattan, there is one SBC church for every 109,128 people. Nelson Searcy, who formerly worked on North Carolina's Baptist State Convention staff, is leading the strategic focus effort.

Chilson-Rose, who worked with N.C. Baptist Men prior to becoming volunteer coordinator for the MNYBA, is heading up the partnership efforts in New York.

The NC/MNYBA partnership officially kicks off with a student-led "Deep Impact" project the week of July 21-28, but there are many other partnership opportunities.

Current mission requests include street witnessing, construction, teacher training, "servant evangelism," Vacation Bible School, Backyard Bible Clubs, sports camps and musical concerts.

Locations vary from poverty-ridden inner-city areas to affluent suburbs, and the ethnicity of the local churches runs the gamut. Most of the projects will assist local churches, while some will support church planting efforts.

For a list of partnership opportunities in New York, contact Dan Bivins of N.C. Baptist Men at (800) 395-5102 or (919) 467-5100, ext. 327, or go to and click on the "International & Partnership" menu bar.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
5/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

N.C. Baptist youth gather for Bible Drill finals

May 31 2002 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

N.C. Baptist youth gather for Bible Drill finals | Friday, May 31, 2002
  • Books of the Bible (like Ruth, 2 Chronicles and Titus);
  • Scripture searches in which they looked up a verse they were given and then recited it (examples included Jeremiah 17:7, Psalm 103:1, John 13:34 and Deuteronomy 6:4);
  • Phrases from a scripture verse, (like "Made under the law" - Galatians 4:4-5);
  • Doctrinal statements like "the church" (Acts 2:42);
  • Responses to questions ("What shall I seek?" - Matthew 6:33).

    At the start of the Bible Drill, White, the caller, reminded the participants of the rules and asked the youth to relax as much as possible. He also requested the approximately 150 people attending to pray for everyone involved.

    Each group awaiting its turn was kept in another part of the church facilities. Last year some parents who heard the questions of previous groups tipped off their waiting children, White said

    "I know we're in competition, but we're all in the family of God," White said. "I thank the Lord for the youth who have given the effort to be here today."

    The purpose of Bible Drill is to get youth to use the Bible for doctrinal and ethical concerns, help increase their love of the Bible and give the youth poise and confidence, Whitehead said. She also hopes the youth will increase their understanding of the scripture they hide in their hearts.

    "We wouldn't want it just to be something they recite - that doesn't mean anything to them," Whitehead said.

    As part of the drill, the youth are asked to raise their hand if they step forward with an answer and they are wrong - even if they aren't called upon. During the state final, a hand was raised about five times. Raising a hand could be the difference in getting the highest score or not.

    When a hand was raised, White noted the gesture by saying, "Thank you."

    "That's a hard thing to admit. But God knows it, and they know it," said Whitehead, noting that integrity is also a character trait organizers hope to see. "To me, that makes the winners.... We don't ever want to lose the integrity of our drills."

    In the youth speakers' tournament also held on May 18, Hannah Ford's older sister, Rebekah, was recognized for receiving the most points. Lauren Penny, of First Baptist Church of Buies Creek, received the second highest point total. Other youth speakers' tournament finalists are Emily Gallimore from University Hills Baptist Church, Metrolina; Rebecca Glover, Calvary Baptist Church, North Roanoke; and Kyle White, Harris Chapel Baptist Church, Tar River.

  • Friday, May 31, 2002

    N.C. Baptist youth gather for Bible Drill finals

    By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor

    THOMASVILLE - The first question in the state Bible Drill finals on May 18 at Carolina Memorial Baptist Church was straightforward and simple.

    Stuart White, the facilitator or caller, said the word "Ephesians." The nine teenage girls and boys participating waited for White to say, "Begin," and then opened the Bibles they were holding and turned to the New Testament book. Each of the nine had eight seconds to place their index finger on the page, look at White and step forward ready to recite the books preceding (Galatians) and following Ephesians (Philippians).

    All nine stepped forward.

    One of those was asked to recite the books, which was done correctly.

    White said "Thank you" and the teens stepped back, waiting for the next question.

    No mention of the answer being correct or incorrect was made. And that's by design.

    Jeanie Whitehead, coordinator of the Bible Drill and a member of the Congregational Services Team of the Baptist State Convention, said the BSC emphasizes the youth are not competing against each other. "They're in competition with the standard," Whitehead said.

    Judges know the answer, but they are looking for more than a right answer. They look for how quickly the youth finds the answer, how he or she holds the Bible and whether or not the youth keeps his or her eyes on the caller. Bonuses are given for being the first one to step forward.

    The 26 youth from across the state who participated in the state final had earned their way by scoring the highest number of points at a regional drill. Each is considered a state winner, Whitehead said. During the final, the youth participated in one of three groups for the opportunity to represent North Carolina at a multi-state Bible Drill demonstration at Ridgecrest the week of June 29 through July 2.

    Jonathan Taylor, a member of Fellowship Baptist Church in Lillington, was the high scorer.

    He has been involved in Bible Drill the past six years. The Bible Drill class at his church met on Wednesday nights beginning in October where they learned two to three verses a week. By the end of December, the class knew all the verses for the drill and then began to practice their proficiency with using those verses by having practice drills.

    His youth Bible Drill leader, Debbie Currin, tried to underscore the meaning of the verses they learned, he said.

    "When you're witnessing to people, you can always remember verses from Bible Drill," Taylor said. One of his favorites is Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Taylor used the King James Version.

    Hannah Ford of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone received the second highest point total. She and 14 other teens were taught by Denise Critcher who led the Bible Drill classes on Wednesday nights. To help the youth understand a verse, Critcher would talk about the subject of a verse, like wisdom from Proverbs 3:13, and also give activity sheets related to the topic.

    Ford studied the New International Version.

    Various questions

    The same series of 25 questions was asked of each of the three groups. Two of the groups used the King James Version and one group used the New International Version.

    Questions were asked in the following categories:

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments

    Texas missionary's e-mail factored in Rankin's mandate on BF&M

    May 31 2002 by Mark Wingfield , Texas Baptist Standard

    Texas missionary's e-mail factored in Rankin's mandate on BF&M | Friday, May 31, 2002

    Friday, May 31, 2002

    Texas missionary's e-mail factored in Rankin's mandate on BF&M

    By Mark Wingfield Texas Baptist Standard

    AUSTIN, Texas - When one Texas missionary received the January mandate from International Mission Board (IMB) President Jerry Rankin to affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M), he felt a burden for pain he might have brought to his fellow missionaries.

    Just a few months earlier, Austin native Scott McIntosh had a telephone conversation with Rankin that foreshadowed what was to come.

    McIntosh and his wife, D'Lisa, had served with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) mission board since 1993, first in Africa and then in Scotland. Most recently, he was team leader/strategy coordinator for IMB work in Scotland.

    In recent years, McIntosh said, he had grown concerned about the content of SBC Life, a publication of the SBC Executive Committee that is mailed free to pastors, church leaders and missionaries. "It got to where I couldn't open one of them without some kind of sly remark or moderate-bashing going on in the articles," he said.

    Acknowledging now that he was naive about denominational politics, he wrote an e-mail last spring to LifeWay Christian Resources, the SBC agency he thought published the magazine. In the e-mail, he asked that his name be removed from the mailing list "due to the constant focus on issues regarding the Baptist Faith & Message and disparaging remarks in article after article about those who hold, incorrectly, a 'low view' of Scripture simply because they do not agree with the changes in the current Baptist Faith & Message."

    His brief e-mail further stated: "I realize that your paper aims to meet the needs of the majority of your readers, but there is a significant minority that does not share either the view or the constant barrage of negative remarks about others who also call themselves Southern Baptists."

    McIntosh concluded: "We would rather not be a party to such negative journalism in a paper designed for use by all Southern Baptists."

    Although McIntosh addressed the e-mail to the wrong entity, it made its way to the Executive Committee and the desk of its president, Morris Chapman. The next thing McIntosh knew, his phone was ringing in Scotland, and Rankin was on the other end of the line.

    According to McIntosh's recollection, Rankin told him Chapman had asked Rankin to call McIntosh and find out why he had written the e-mail about SBC Life and where he stood on denominational matters.

    A year later, McIntosh still holds no ill will toward Rankin for the call. "Jerry Rankin in my opinion is an honest, fair-minded person. I have never had any bone to pick with Jerry," he said.

    The only concern he had was Rankin's closing statement on the phone call: "Now we have to do some damage control, and this might cause the missionaries to have to sign the Baptist Faith & Message."

    Fast-forward to January of this year, when Rankin sent out a notice to IMB missionaries that he wanted them to sign an affirmation of the controversial 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. Such administrative action was necessary, Rankin said, because unnamed people were questioning the doctrinal integrity of IMB missionaries and he wanted to lay the matter to rest.

    "Imagine the pressure on me when I get the letter in January saying all missionaries have to sign the Baptist Faith & Message," McIntosh said. "I couldn't sleep for three days. I thought, not only have I lost my job, but my actions have caused irreparable damage to the missionaries who felt like I felt and couldn't sign that piece of paper."

    IMB spokesman Mark Kelly confirmed that Rankin called McIntosh over the matter, but noted that it is not uncommon for Rankin to call missionaries overseas. "He does it all the time, but not for 'damage control,'" Kelly said.

    By Rankin's recollection, he called McIntosh on his own accord, not because he was asked to do so by Chapman, Kelly said.

    Rankin's spokesman also confirmed that "this is one of the incidents that precipitated the request for missionaries to affirm the Baptist Faith & Message." However, he added, there was "no reason" for the McIntoshes to resign over it.

    "Scott and D'Lisa McIntosh were good missionaries, and in fact their resignation letter did not even mention the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message as any part of the reason for their decision."

    McIntosh said he has no animosity toward Rankin or other IMB administrators. But he does have a bone to pick with Chapman.

    "As far as Morris Chapman is concerned, that was a cowardly act," McIntosh said. "I grew up in Texas, where men act like men. If you've got something to say, you go straight to that person. You don't go around them to someone else."

    This incident demonstrated to McIntosh, he said, that SBC missionaries are not regarded as part of the SBC family but as merely part of an institution that has become politicized. He has yet to hear any response from Chapman or anyone else at the Executive Committee.

    Chapman, asked for a response by the Baptist Standard, said he did not believe any direct response to McIntosh was required. "I did not reply to Scott's e-mail because he did not inquire about anything. He expressed an opinion and made a request, which I honored."

    Chapman forwarded the e-mail to Rankin, he said, because it had been written by an IMB missionary and he felt Rankin could "relate to Scott personally about the e-mail" and would be "in much better position to respond" to McIntosh's concerns.

    "In forwarding the e-mail to Dr. Rankin, I inquired if he thought the type of concern expressed in Scott's e-mail was indicative of how a large number of international missionaries felt. I had every confidence that Dr. Rankin, if he felt a need to do so, would relate to Scott's e-mail in a manner consistent with normal communications between Richmond and missionaries on the field. Therefore, I had no reason to ask him to do anything specific about Scott's e-mail."

    Chapman said he believes he and Rankin responded "reasonably and sensibly" to McIntosh. "My e-mail to Jerry Rankin was a courtesy, and I felt I had allowed a course of action that would best serve Scott and the Southern Baptist Convention. I regret that Scott, for some reason, feels otherwise.

    "I can assure you he was neither ignored nor, to my knowledge, pressured. The extent of the pressure he may have felt was simply the fact that his e-mail had generated a response from the president of the International Mission Board. It appears to me that Dr. Rankin did exactly what any president of the IMB would do upon learning that a missionary was struggling with an issue within the Southern Baptist family. I assume he called to inquire if he could help in some way."

    The call from Rankin, however, was the next-to-last straw for the McIntoshes staying on as IMB missionaries, McIntosh said. The final straw was the mandate to sign an affirmation of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message, which the McIntoshes would not do.

    Both these incidents piled on top of concerns the Texas couple already had been carrying related to the IMB's new strategy called New Directions.

    "The philosophy of the IMB has changed," he said. "For years and years, we used to put pastors into small works to build them up and find an indigenous pastor to pastor that work. But in New Directions, they decided to focus almost entirely on church planting, which is not a bad idea. I don't have a lot of problem with that, except for the fact that a lot of people began to feel disenfranchised."

    Missionaries like him, he said, "feel like our gifting is in pastoring. The job we felt like we could do the best was taken out of the program."

    The McIntoshes didn't like the changes but felt called to stay with the IMB. That's when he took the position as team leader in Scotland.

    But finally, this year they confirmed their decision to leave the IMB's service and return to a stateside pastorate. McIntosh now is completing his first month as pastor of Westoak Woods Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.

    "I have nothing against the IMB," said the graduate of Howard Payne University and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. "I'm a pastor now, and I plan to support the IMB. I don't plan to support the SBC as a whole."

    From his perspective, the mandate for IMB missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message is not the IMB's fault. Rather, he believes, blame for any trouble caused on the mission field lies at the feet of other SBC leaders.

    The McIntoshes were not forced to resign for refusing to sign the Baptist Faith & Message, but only because they had somewhere to go, he said.

    "It may have (forced us to resign) had we not found this church. By that time, we didn't have to make the decision."

    But there are missionary colleagues who have been forced into other choices, he said.

    "Most of the ones I was close to signed it for any number of reasons," McIntosh said. "One person told me they signed it simply because with whom they work it's a non-issue. Others flat out told me they signed it because they couldn't afford to be fired. Others signed it because they believed it. That's fine. I don't have a problem with that.

    "The majority I know were very uncomfortable with it but indicated they would not sign the first part (Do you agree with the Baptist Faith & Message?) but would sign the second part (Will you act in accordance with the Baptist Faith & Message?). It's a tough decision. I know some who haven't signed it yet."

    Even though it was emotionally painful to leave Scotland, McIntosh said he is glad to be home in Texas.

    "I'm very proud to be a Texas Baptist," he said. "They helped put me through school. One of the biggest problems the fundamentalist side has done was they came into Texas and tried to tell everybody what they had to believe. That's kind of bad politics.

    "It was a comfort to me over the years to watch Texas Baptists not fold under the pressure. I was very proud to be from Texas, very proud to be a Texas Baptist."

    Despite several missionary resignations caused by the IMB requirement, IMB Vice President Avery Willis told agency trustees that the "overwhelming majority" of missionaries will affirm the 2000 Faith and Message. Willis made the announcement at a May 22 meeting where he also announced that 10 missionaries had already resigned, citing the requirement as their reason for doing so.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield , Texas Baptist Standard | with 0 comments

    A New York state of prayer

    May 31 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    A New York state of prayer | Friday, May 31, 2002

    Friday, May 31, 2002

    A New York state of prayer

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

    I love New York - Manhattan, especially - for many reasons. If I ever get a Sabbatical, that's probably where I'll want to spend it.

    Lately, I've been translating some of that love into prayer, and it's a good time for it.

    Here's one reason: May 30 marked the official culmination of clean up and recovery efforts at "Ground Zero," where the towering buildings of the World Trade Center stood before being reduced to rubble by a terrorist attack last Sept. 11.

    In the aftermath of the tragedy, debris stood in piles 20 stories high. Today, the entire 16-acre site is a pit nearly seven stories deep. Millions and millions of tons of twisted metal, pulverized concrete, cables and wiring have been hauled off - but only after being sifted for the remains and personal effects of victims. More than 2,800 people died, many of them rescue personnel who had been called to the scene to assist others in escaping.

    On a recent visit to the city, Jan and I were able to visit with some of the officers at the Port Authority Police Department's temporary command post. The men we met had solid names like Mark, Steve, Carl, Ben. Dan was one of the most talkative. His younger brother, a fireman, was killed on Sept. 11. Dan had been assigned to another part of the city that day.

    Now, those workers who have devoted 24 hours per day for almost nine months to the effort of clearing the site and searching for remains have had to move on to more mundane routines. Some who have held their emotions in check while there was recovery work to do will inevitably crash now that all is done and there is nothing else to be found. Many will be asking very spiritual questions.

    It is a good time for Christians to pray that these dedicated souls, along with the families of the victims, will find comfort and encouragement and direction in a painful time of transition.

    Here's prayer reason number two: N.C. Baptists have entered a partnership with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA) - an association whose boundaries are circumscribed by a circle with a radius of up to 100 miles, centered in Times Square. That area alone includes 21 million people - more than two-times the population of North Carolina.

    North Carolina Baptists will assist the MNYBA in supporting programs and activities designed to share Christ's love in New York City, to plant new churches and to strengthen old ones.

    Rick Astle, director of missions for the Columbus Association, is serving as prayer coordinator for the partnership. Astle, who has made two recent visits to New York City for "prayer walking" and preparation, is recruiting "9-11 Prayer Warriors" who are willing to commit time each day to pray for the people of New York.

    Prayer volunteers are encouraged to pray at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., devoting 11 minutes of prayer to one or more of 11 "prayer tracks" targeting specific needs in New York. Persons wishing more information should contact Carla Foster in the N.C. Baptist Men's office by calling (800) 395-5102 or (919) 467-5100, ext. 331, or by sending an e-mail to

    And here's prayer reason number three: The BSC/MNYBA partnership will kick off July 21-27 with "Deep Impact New York," a project that will involve about 175 students (7th grade through college) from 10 N.C. Baptist churches. Students will plug into existing ministries and reinforce efforts to begin new ones, taking with them energy, creativity and a passion for Christ. "Deep Impact" projects will also send students on ministry to Caswell, Honduras, and inner city areas of Charlotte.

    John McGinnis, student missions consultant for N.C. Baptist Men, asks N.C. Baptists to offer a special prayer every Tuesday for the students who will participate, and for the people with whom they will work.

    Lisa Chilson-Rose, volunteer coordinator for the MNYBA, is asking New York Baptists to do the same.

    For more information, contact McGinnis at or Chilson-Rose at

    I grew up thinking that New York was far away and populated by really strange people called "Yankees." On Sept. 11, we all learned that New York can also seem very close and even Yankees can feel like family.

    It's a good time to pray for our family - not just the new one in New York, but the one we know here in North Carolina, as well.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    A taste of heaven in Hell's Kitchen

    May 31 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    A taste of heaven in Hell's Kitchen | Friday, May 31, 2002

    Friday, May 31, 2002

    A taste of heaven in Hell's Kitchen

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

    One of my favorite sections of Manhattan is an area on the western side of midtown, centered around 9th and 10th Avenues.

    The area is called "Hell's Kitchen." It has an old reputation for being home to illegal sweatshops and the desperate immigrants who have slaved in them through the years, and I suspect that has something to do with the name.

    Today, visitors to the city know Hell's Kitchen mainly as a mixing bowl of ethnic residents - who have inevitably brought with them their favorite foods.

    Twice, Jan and I have been lucky enough to be in Manhattan during a Hell's Kitchen food festival, giving me an opportunity to eat my way through 20 blocks of ethnic fare.

    There was spicy lamb stew and satay from Indonesia, pad Thai and curried fish from Thailand, Greek souvlaki and Middle Eastern falafel. There were Latin American cakes made of cornmeal and cheese and slow-roasted flank steaks from Columbia, sliced thin and hung on a rotating rack above a charcoal fire. There were fruit drinks from the Caribbean, veggie dishes from India, and fresh ears of corn roasted in the shucks.

    I confess: I didn't eat it all, but scarfed down far more than my minimum daily nutritional requirement, and topped it off with a greasy, Coney Island style funnel cake.

    Now it's back to the jogging trail.

    But, as I put in extra miles to work off food from around the world, I am reminded to pray for nations both near and far.

    That's easy to remember: the food came near, now I must go far.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 16: God Wants Me to Live in Peace

    May 31 2002 by James Baldwin , Genesis 26:17-31

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 16: God Wants Me to Live in Peace | Friday, May 31, 2002

    Friday, May 31, 2002

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 16: God Wants Me to Live in Peace

    By James Baldwin Genesis 26:17-31

    Life is full of injustices. A friend of mine once took a load of logs to be cut at a sawmill. When he returned to collect the cut lumber, half of it had been sold to someone else.

    Another friend sold a car to a man and signed the title over to him, yet was never paid for the vehicle.

    People of the world urged my friends to take these villains to court. Instead my friends walked away from the situation, leaving the culprits to deal with their guilt. They may have lost something in material terms, but they gained something far more valuable. They gained the peace that comes from knowing they had done nothing to hinder their witness for God.

    Conflict (Genesis 26:17-22) Isaac discovered how unjust people could be. On two separate occasions he had his servants dig wells to provide water for his family. Local herdsmen came and insisted that the wells were rightfully theirs. Isaac could have stood up for his rights. After all, he had dug the wells. His family had already established a homestead there.

    Rather than fight this battle and live in constant conflict, Isaac turned the other cheek and dug another well.

    There are some battles worth fighting but few of them have anything to do with possessions or property. I have seen families divided over furniture and real estate, placing stuff over relationships. It is true that our friends and family are the only things we can take with us to heaven.

    Assurance (Genesis 26:23-25) God was obviously pleased with the decision Isaac made to avoid conflict. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Rom. 12:18). God promised to reward Isaac's faithfulness by increased blessings and numerous descendants.

    So often we go though life clutching on to what we have that we leave no room for God to bless us. When we approach life open-handed - willing to give, willing to share, even willing to lose - then God is able to fill our hands. He will not always give us more stuff, but He will give us peace and contentment. As Paul said, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Phil. 4:12).

    Resolution (Genesis 26:26-31) Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, was moved by Isaac's behavior. He, no doubt, had heard of the encounters regarding the wells. He saw how God had blessed Isaac for his willingness to turn the other cheek. He came to Isaac, wanting some of what Isaac had.

    I love the following story found on the front of a greeting card: A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

    "I've been thinking," he said. "I know how valuable this stone is but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone."

    Abimelech stretched the truth by claiming that he and his people had "always treated you well and sent you away in peace." Isaac saw no need to set the record straight. He was willing to forgive and to live in peace with his neighbor.

    Before we can live peaceably with others, we have to be willing to forgive past hurts and wrongs. We are afraid to let someone "off the hook" when they have wronged us in some way.

    The truth is that the one with an unforgiving heart is the one "on the hook." We are freed to move forward only when we forgive.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Baldwin , Genesis 26:17-31 | with 0 comments

    Formations lesson for June 16: Sabbath and Jubilee - Rest and Renewal for the Nation

    May 31 2002 by Haven Parrott , Leviticus 25:1-26

    Formations lesson for June 16: Sabbath and Jubilee - Rest and Renewal for the Nation | Friday, May 31, 2002

    Friday, May 31, 2002

    Formations lesson for June 16: Sabbath and Jubilee - Rest and Renewal for the Nation

    By Haven Parrott Leviticus 25:1-26

    I'll need your help for this illustration. Imagine you've just arrived at the theater to enjoy a play entitled "The Bible."

    Soon after you take your seat, the orchestra begins the overture. The audience grows quiet as the house lights go down. The music swells, subsides and the drama begins.

    Oddly enough, however, the curtain remains closed. As you wait for someone to raise the curtain, you notice that the stage is backlit, so the actors' shadowy forms and gestures can be seen as they perform behind the curtain. Though the dialogue is slightly muffled, the plot is discernible and compelling.

    So compelling, in fact, that you forget the curtain is still closed until, suddenly, early in the second act (i.e., the New Testament), the curtain splits apart to reveal the stage. And it looks just like you'd imagined it would!

    You are amazed at the strange familiarity of the set that, until now, you've seen only in the theater of your mind.

    But where are the actors? The characters you've come to know so well?

    Wait a minute ... here they come.

    Correction, here he comes. But who is this person? The actor takes his place, center stage. He stands alone in the spotlight with his arms raised, embracing the audience with open palms.

    Talk about stage presence - his gaze finds yours and you cannot look away. His smile takes you captive. Who is this man?

    And then the dawn of recognition: "Oh, my God." Exactly!

    Slowly you realize that all the dialogue and drama that went before, behind the curtain (B.C.), had all been about - and only about - this one character.

    You realize that this actor is not only the star of the show, but that he is the plot, the theme, the author, the producer, the director, the set designer, the sound engineer, the promotion coordinator ... it's all about him.

    When stating His job description, Jesus borrowed words from the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Lk. 4:18, 19).

    Clearly, the Old Testament is the chronicle of the coming Christ. He is hidden in plain view among the books of law and history, poetry and prophecy.

    Early in the play, many years before the curtain parted, God set up the Sabbath system for the children of faith: every seven days, every seven years, every seven sets of seven years.

    The weekly Sabbath observance was about resting and remembering. The Sabbatical year was about resting, remembering and trusting God to provide deliverance that didn't depend on deeds. (Translation: salvation by grace alone.)

    The year of Jubilee, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, was about rest, remembrance, redemption and release for the captives.

    The Sabbath system was a shadow.

    When the curtain in the temple was rent, the substance to which the shadow gave witness was unveiled. The star was revealed.

    The believer's Sabbath is not a date, but a person. He is our rest, our redeemer, the One who released us from the bondage of slavery to sin. We are the children of faith, heirs to the Promised Land.

    Let us remember and take refuge in Him.

    Let us celebrate Christ, Who is our Jubilee!

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , Leviticus 25:1-26 | with 0 comments

    BSC will work with CBF churches

    May 24 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    BSC will work with CBF churches | Friday, May 24, 2002

    Friday, May 24, 2002

    BSC will work with CBF churches

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

    A Baptist State Convention (BSC) decision to deny funding for a new church in Hendersonville does not signal opposition to supporting Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) churches, the head of the BSC said.

    Jim Royston, executive director-treasurer of the BSC, made his comment at the BSC General Board meeting May 21. Board members asked for more details about why church start funds were denied to the Providence Baptist Church of Hendersonville.

    Glenn Phillips, pastor of First Baptist Church of Goldsboro, said he thought the church had met all the criteria for assistance.

    Royston replied that the issue came down to the General Board's affirmation in January of a policy that calls for the BSC to work primarily with local associations. The policy allows for exceptions, but permits preferences of the geographic association to remain primary.

    Representatives of the Carolina Association, where the church is located in Henderson County, told BSC officials that support for the church would cause disharmony in the association, which requires member churches to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Providence Baptist has been criticized because it is aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) but not the SBC, and because its pastor, Gail Coulter, is a woman.

    Speaking of BSC officials, Royston said "Nobody involved had an intent not to fund the church or be critical of the church or its pastor. This is the first time that a church identified with CBF has not been funded in the traditional way."

    Royston said some have counted 14 churches affiliated with CBF that have received church start funding from the BSC, but the number is uncertain because BSC officials don't normally ask potential churches about their national affiliations. "We're not anti-CBF," he said. "We're pro-N.C. Baptist. We intend to work with N.C. Baptists of all stripes."

    Royston asked "Am I disappointed that this church couldn't be funded? Yes. Am I still struggling to find ways to avoid situations like it in the future? Yes. We felt like to the best of our ability we were doing what we were asked to do. We didn't feel great about saying no to a church. If it had been critical to the survival of the church it would have been even tougher. I hope it's not a trend."

    Phillips asked officials to clarify that funds were denied primarily because the local association would not support it, even though Providence is a member of another association.

    Milton Hollifield, executive team leader for the Mission Growth Evangelism group, reviewed the application process, reminded board members that funding is channeled through associations, and affirmed that the Carolina Association had indicated a belief that funding Providence would impact the harmony of the association.

    Hollifield said many hours of telephone calls, conversations, and prayer preceded the decision. "We had to make the best decision we could in a 'no win' situation," he said. "I want to reiterate that this does not mean the BSC is not working with CBF churches. We have and we are. We don't ask national affiliation. We're trying to start N.C. Baptist churches."

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/24/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    Missions emphases highlight General Board meeting

    May 24 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    Missions emphases highlight General Board meeting | Friday, May 24, 2002

    Friday, May 24, 2002

    Missions emphases highlight General Board meeting

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

    North Carolina Baptists will venture north to Alaska for two more years, and will raise state missions funds while observing a day of prayer on September 11 following actions taken by the Baptist State Convention (BSC) General Board, which met May 21-22 at Caraway Conference Center.

    Partnership Missions Richard Brunson, who serves BSC partnership coordinator and Baptist Men's director, brought updates on the BSC's four ongoing partnerships, and described a variety of disaster relief efforts.

    Brunson said N.C. Baptists served 34,800 meals in New York City and Washington D.C. in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

    More recently, BSC volunteers operated shower and laundry units in Harland, Ky. and Mason, Ky. after the area was struck by flooding.

    In West Virginia, also struck by floods, a feeding unit has operated since May 4, Brunson said, providing more than 39,000 meals. "Mud out" groups have also worked in Welch, W. Va., and a water purification unit has been set up in the town of Kimball.

    Teams were also sent to Maryland following tornadoes in early May.

    Brunson announced the need for three N.C. teams to join a food distribution project to aid Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Volunteers will purchase food in bulk, repackage it into smaller quantities, and hand-deliver to homes in cooperation with Baptist and other evangelical churches in the area.

    The Alaska partnership, now in its third year, has been a great success, Brunson said. Volunteers numbered about 600 the first year, 1,200 in 2001, and may reach 1,300 this year, the last one scheduled for the partnership.

    Brunson read a request from David Baldwin, executive director of the Alaska Baptist Convention, asking that the partnership be extended through 2004. The General Board approved the extension without opposition.

    Although disaster relief and recovery work in Honduras has been going on since Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1998, the BSC entered a more formal partnership in 2001. Most requests have been filled for 2002, Brunson said, with about 600 volunteers expected to participate. Project requests for 2003 will be released later.

    Fewer volunteers are participating in the partnership with Baptist groups in Southeast Asia, which began this year. About 100 volunteers have enlisted for 2002, Brunson said, but many other opportunities remain.

    The BSC's newest partnership, with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, is just getting underway. Project requests are now being distributed, Brunson said.

    Budget Issues Executive Director-treasurer Jim Royston told General Board members that the BSC's income from Cooperative Missions Giving is slightly ahead of last year's pace, but still 2.46 percent below budget, through May 10. If the trend continues, Royston said, the BSC could face a $900,000 shortfall in its $37,125,000 million budget for 2002.

    With budget planning now underway for 2003, Royston said "The budget for next year will probably be flat line ... it will be the most austere budget we've had in the past few years."

    Royston said funds will be shifted to ensure that priority needs are met, including support of the "Pursuing Vital Ministries" emphasis and increased leadership development for Hispanic ministries.

    About 90 new BSC churches were started in 2001, Royston said, about half of them based on a language other than English.

    At-Large Election Board members elected Betty Joyner, of First Baptist Church in Ahoskie, to an at-large seat on the 21-member Executive Committee, which acts for the Convention between sessions.

    The seat was vacated when Caroline Jones, who was elected to the post in January, was tapped as president of N.C. Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) during the WMU annual meeting April 19-21. The state WMU president sits on the Executive Committee by virtue of that position.

    Mike Whitson, pastor of Indian Trail Baptist Church, was also nominated for the at-large seat.

    N.C. Missions Offering Dan Euliss, who is responsible for promoting the annual North Carolina Missions Offering, announced that the week of prayer for North Carolina missions will be Sept. 8-15. Since Sept. 11 falls on Wednesday of that week, churches will be encouraged to host community-wide prayer services to commemorate the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

    The theme for the 2002 emphasis is "Light in a Ground Zero World."

    "Many people are anxious, fearful, and hurting as a result of the attacks," Euliss said. "We want to invite people to recognize the darkness in their own 'ground zero world' and to find the light of Jesus Christ."

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/24/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    Offering a 'Gateway to Hope'

    May 17 2002 by James Dotson , Baptist Press

    Offering a 'Gateway to Hope' | Friday, May 17, 2002

    Friday, May 17, 2002

    Offering a 'Gateway to Hope'

    By James Dotson Baptist Press

    ST. LOUIS - Southern Baptists will seek to offer a "Gateway to Hope" June 7-9 as part of Crossover St. Louis, the 13th annual evangelism emphasis conducted prior to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting.

    More than 81 local churches in seven associations have committed to participating in the effort, and hundreds of additional volunteers from other areas are expected.

    Benny King, executive director of the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, said Crossover St. Louis will kick off a summer-long evangelistic emphasis in the area under the banner of "Gateway to Hope."

    Some of the highest-profile events during Crossover will be block parties, in which local churches and outside volunteers offer food, fun and entertainment in local communities - along with an opportunity for individuals to hear and respond to the gospel. Forty-seven such events have been scheduled for Crossover.

    Students from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will spearhead block parties in 20 mobile home communities and two high-rise apartment buildings, according to Bill Curp, director of missions for Jefferson Baptist Association.

    Elsewhere, First Baptist Church of Maryville, Ill., will host up to 4,000 people at three separate block parties in nearby towns - including one to be held in conjunction with the Village of Maryville's 100th anniversary.

    "We felt this would create a less threatening environment and encourage more to attend," said Cindy Carnes, communications director for the 1,200-member church. "We are experiencing a very positive response from the community, staff and members."

    Other church sponsored events include prayer journeys, door-to-door personal evangelism and evangelistic sports clinics for area children and youth. Also scheduled are entertainment-based street evangelism teams, inner-city personal evangelism, a ministry to night-club employees and dancers and a "Kindness Explosion" ministry that will give away bottles of cold water and other items along with a message of the hope found in Christ.

    "We could use at least 400 more volunteers for the Kindness Explosion events alone," King said.

    Also part of the Crossover effort is an advertising campaign focused primarily on evangelistic television commercials, sponsored jointly by the North American Mission Board and state Baptist conventions in Missouri and Illinois. Respondents to those ads and a direct-mail coupon will be offered a free "Jesus" video.

    More than 25,000 people have made professions of faith through Crossover efforts since 1989, when messengers attending the annual meeting in Las Vegas first sought a way of making an impact on their host cities with the gospel.

    For more information or to request a volunteer assignment with Crossover St. Louis, individuals or groups should contact Doyle Echols via email at, or telephone (314) 569-1190, extension 305. Information also is available online on the Volunteer Mobilization Information System,

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/17/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Dotson , Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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