May 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for May 19: Ministry in Time of Conflict

May 3 2002 by James Baldwin , 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3-17

Family Bible Study lesson for May 19: Ministry in Time of Conflict | Friday, May 3, 2002

Friday, May 3, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for May 19: Ministry in Time of Conflict

By James Baldwin 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3-17

A friend tells of a time of transition in his church that created conflict within the body of believers. After several months of hostile business meetings, the pastor called the deacons together to discuss the issues. As the group gathered, the pastor said that he wanted the deacons to spend some time praying for God's will before they began to discuss anything. One deacon sat back in his chair, with his arms folded across his chest, and said, "Preacher, I didn't come here to pray. I came to fight!" He may have been more honest than a lot of us when it comes to conflict in the church.

Appeal for unity (1 Corinthians 1:10) Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with words of praise. He expressed his thanksgiving for the grace and knowledge and spiritual gifts they had received from the Lord. But there was something missing in the church. There was a spirit of division in the body that hindered their witness to the world. Paul would later say to this same group of believers, "If I speak in the tongues of men and angels ... If I have the gift of prophecy ... If I give all I possess to the poor ... but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Disunity: evidence of worldliness (1 Corinthians 3:3-4) I remember a tract that was popular when I was in high school. It used these verses to describe a "carnal Christian." Although Paul's readers were Christians (note the word "Brothers") they acted like everyone else. Their jealousy and quarreling were evidence that they had not matured in their faith. I have witnessed conflict in churches that resembled two children fighting over a cat. It seemed that both parties would rather kill the cat than let go of their control. I asked a director of missions why some people seemed angry when new converts joined the church. "They don't see another child born into the kingdom," he replied. "All they see is another vote against them in a business meeting." God, save us from ourselves!

Role of leaders (1 Corinthians 3:5-9) The mindset that says, "I want things my way!" is contrary to the spirit of Christ. Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). Paul understood that he and Apollos were not competing for power or popularity in the church. He knew they were only servants of God, and only God could bring forth growth. He wanted God to receive all the glory for what happened in the church.

Jesus told a parable of a servant who had worked hard all day in the fields. Should he expect the master to cater to him when they get back to the house? Of course not. His response will be, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty" (Luke 17:7-10).

We need to remember that the church belongs to God. It's not about me!

Foundation of unity (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) Jesus is not only the foundation for the church; He is also the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). As such, He provides the direction for the entire structure.

Some Baptists have interpreted Paul's appeal "that all of you agree with one another," to mean that we should all endorse the same statement of beliefs. They validate their position by quoting, "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3, KJV).

It seems to me that if two have agreed to follow Jesus, they will not walk far from each other.

Seriousness of disunity (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) These verses are often misquoted as an argument against suicide. In fact, the verses address a different, yet just as serious, affront to God. The Greek word for "you" in verse 16 is actually plural. We would say, "Don't y'all know that y'all are God's temple?" The warning is against those who destroy the body of Christ through gossip, slander, discord and enmity.

I shudder when I think of some people who have torn churches apart. When you tear down the bride of Christ, you have to answer to Him.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Baldwin , 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3-17 | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for May 19: Our Present Abundance and Need

May 3 2002 by Haven Parrott , 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Formations lesson for May 19: Our Present Abundance and Need | Friday, May 3, 2002

Friday, May 3, 2002

Formations lesson for May 19: Our Present Abundance and Need

By Haven Parrott 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

My husband, who is quite handy with home repairs, was fairly confident that replacing a bathroom sink wouldn't present much of a challenge. The new basin wasn't exactly the same size as the old, but Mike compensated by cutting away part of the chair rail molding to ensure a snug fit, flush with the wall. The entire process, from ordering to installation, stretched over 4 days.

Finally, the moment of truth came, and Mike called me into the bathroom to witness his tool time triumph.

"Ready? Watch this!" he said as he turned the hot and cold handles wide open. We hadn't, of course, expected Niagara Falls ... but we had expected something a little more impressive than the tiny trickle that eventually meandered its way out the faucet.

Dismayed and disgusted, Mike checked and rechecked his work, but he just couldn't figure out what had gone wrong. Obviously, there was a flow problem. Our inability to access the abundance of water we knew was available was incredibly frustrating!

It became clear we needed professional help, so we called Brian, a contractor friend. Brian grinned as he quickly diagnosed the dilemma. I think the technical term he used to describe the situation was, "Well, duh." Turns out the little filter in the mouth of the faucet was choked with sawdust from the molding Mike had trimmed. Brian merely removed the sawdust and the water flowed freely.

Clogged channels Clogged pipes and clenched fists, both restrict the accessibility of available abundance. But recipients of grace are to be channels of grace, not holding tanks. Grace hoarded is grace misunderstood.

Somewhere along the line we picked up the idea that what we have (time, energy, health and money) belongs to us.

What? Don't we know? We are not our own, and neither are our resources. What we have came from God!

Selfishness is the sawdust that clogs channels of blessing.

Kingdom economics Consider how Jesus went about feeding the five thousand. He could have merely commanded, "Be filled!" and it would have been so. Or, He could have made individual portions of bread and fish materialize directly in front of every man, woman and child. Instead, Jesus placed the bread and fish into the hands of His followers and entrusted them to disperse the blessing.

We have been charged with the profound privilege and responsibility of partnering with Him in the provision process. As kingdom citizens, we are to practice kingdom economics by supplying the needs of others from the abundance the Father makes available to us. The gifts God gives to us are not just for us. We are to allow them to flow through us.

When we dare to hoard the abundance we have been entrusted to distribute, we betray that we prefer the gift to the Giver.

"In God We Trust" is engraved upon our currency. But do our spending and giving habits give evidence to the fact that those words have been engraved upon our hearts?

The breadth of our generosity is what reveals the depth of our gratitude to the One who packed an infinite measure of grace into a finite container of flesh, delivered it to earth, and then watched as we ripped it open.

Amazing, abundant grace - there's more than enough to go around.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 | with 0 comments

Amazing facts about amazing women

May 3 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Amazing facts about amazing women | Friday, May 3, 2002

Friday, May 3, 2002

Amazing facts about amazing women

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Did you know that N.C. Baptist women have been organizing to support missions since the 1700s? One of the first organizations was called the "Hyco Female Cent Society."

Did you know that 37 delegates from the "Female Benevolent Society of Raleigh" were present when the Baptist State Convention was founded in 1831?

Did you know that in 1877 a resolution was made at the annual BSC meeting to commend the missionary efforts of what was then called the "Women's Central Committee of North Carolina" - but it died on the floor because some of the brethren thought women should not be encouraged in mission endeavors?

Did you know that when the Home Mission Board (after years of encouragement) agreed to support a women's missions organization in 1883, someone objected because he believed such recognition to be "the entering wedge to women's rights or platform speaking?" Another man wisely declared that if they did not allow women to work with them, the women would work without them.

Did you know that the N.C. "Woman's Central Committee of Missions" was founded in 1886 - and that its first meeting was held in the offices of the Biblical Recorder? Editor C.T. Bailey's 16-year-old daughter, Sallie, became corresponding secretary for the group.

Did you know that the Woman's Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention was formed as an auxiliary in 1888, but the State Board of Missions would not permit Tar Heel women to align with the new movement, for fear that it might "prove a danger"? The N.C. organization was allowed to sign on two years later.

Did you know that Fannie Heck, the first president of the N.C. women's mission organization, was a crack shot, expert horsewoman and skilled wood carver, in addition to being an accomplished seamstress, artist and inventor?

If you'd like to learn more about these and other amazing facts about WMU of North Carolina, including more recent developments, get yourself to a phone and order a copy of Dot Allred's newly released And So Much More: Living Legacies of North Carolina Women on Mission.

For information on purchasing the book contact Pat at the N.C. WMU office, (919) 467-5100 locally, or (800) 395-5102 toll-free, ext. 244.

Get the book, and learn so much more about some of God's choicest women.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Somebody stand up for WMU

May 3 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Somebody stand up for WMU | Friday, May 3, 2002

Friday, May 3, 2002

Somebody stand up for WMU

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

When a bunch of preachers get together, it's not unusual to hear an occasional speaker taking ill-founded pot shots at the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU). It has been that way for years. Sadly, such maligning of the SBC's prayer and missions auxiliary continues unabated, and it's about time somebody spoke up for WMU.

A speaker at one of Bailey Smith's "Real Evangelism" conferences, held recently in Charlotte, reached a new low. I suspect the staff and members of the host church were as appalled as I was by his surprising assault.

The sermon in question was delivered by Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. He was introduced as a regular speaker on the "Real Evangelism" circuit.

In the course of his sermon on "Why Some Preachers Commit Adultery," Reavis praised pastors' wives as "the heroes here today" and offered to speak words of encouragement to them.

What he actually said was "I want to jack you ladies up a little bit."

Perhaps wanting to affirm a minister-wife's right to choose her own areas of interest and involvement at church, he "jacked them up" by saying, "I want you to know, ladies, you don't have to go to WMU if you don't want to. You tell 'em Brother Herb said you don't have to!"

Then, inexplicably, he launched into a diatribe against the WMU. Spitting words of disgust like a string of stilettos, Reavis huffed, "Sit around and listen to a bunch of women read out of a book about people going to hell somewhere else when they wouldn't walk across the street to win somebody to Jesus in that town!

"All they do in them meetings is sit around and gripe about who doesn't come - honey, don't go if you don't want to, don't go!

"And if we got an old mean WMU lady here today, honey, don't mess with me" (he's shouting now) - "today's not the day to mess with me!" (a notch above shouting) - "I've had it up to here!" (pausing between adjectives) "I've had it up to here with carnal, carping, backslidden, mean, ornery, demon-possessed, lost Baptist people who need to get saved" (even louder now) - "I've had it up to here!"

A chorus of cackles, hoots and shouts of encouragement - which I pray came from out-of-state visitors - punctuated the tirade. After it died down, Reavis added, "If those women say that ugly stuff to you, don't you let it get you down. God loves you, God put you in your husband's life, and God's gonna bless you and He's gonna crown you. ..."

Reavis then told the pastor's spouses not to be like women who turn to Madonna and Cher for inspiration.

And he accuses WMU women of saying ugly stuff?

It pains me to acknowledge that Reavis is not the only one to disparage WMU. There was considerable applause from the crowd. And, I've heard such harangues before, though not in this state, and never with such ferocity.

I don't know why any pastor should bear such anger and bitterness toward WMU, or how he could be so appallingly unappreciative of WMU's amazing ministries, or why he would choose to vent such poison before a gathering of pastors and spouses who have been raised up, loved, encouraged and prayed for by WMU ladies throughout their lives.

I do know that the brother owes more than 113,000 WMU members a huge apology for defamation of character, and that's just in North Carolina.

Some people might think this is not my business, and they would be correct. It is our business. When someone uses a high profile platform to spew unfounded vitriol and to slander some of the very best people that Baptists have ever produced, it's not my cause, it's everybody's cause.

I don't claim that WMU is perfect, but on the index of saintliness and selfless service, most WMU ladies I have known are way up there.

Mother's Day is upon us; an appropriate time to remember that millions of Baptists can count those maligned WMU ladies as our spiritual mothers. Whether we first felt their love and care through "Sunbeams" or "Mission Friends," or first encountered the challenge of missions through their education programs, Southern Baptists owe much of what we know about God's love for us - and about God's love for lost people in other parts of the world - to those very WMU ladies that some critics now seem to find so contemptible.

Let pastors and laypeople across our state take up the gauntlet cast down by this spirit of animosity toward WMU. May we not let this Mother's Day pass without earnest words of tribute and gratitude to those spiritual mentors whose love and leadership, pennies and prayers have proven to be as faithful as a mother's heart.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

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