May 2003

Family Bible Study lesson for June 8: The Church - Growing Disciples

May 16 2003 by Kim D. Shaver , Luke 9:23-24; Ephesians 4:29-5:10

Family Bible Study lesson for June 8: The Church - Growing Disciples | Friday, May 16, 2003

Friday, May 16, 2003

Family Bible Study lesson for June 8: The Church - Growing Disciples

By Kim D. Shaver Luke 9:23-24; Ephesians 4:29-5:10

"There are very few followers of Jesus," someone once observed. "Most of us are distant admirers."

Yet, Jesus didn't commission us to "make admirers of all nations," but to "make disciples." The church becomes a community of grace as we help members grow as disciples, setting an example for others by living for Christ in all areas of life. Besides, distant admirers can never know the great adventure and abundance of walking with God.

Deny self

Luke 9: 23-24

Jesus tells us that the requirement of true discipleship is to "deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow Me." A "disciple's cross" is not ordinary trouble or hardship which is part of normal living, such as a sickness or the burden of hard work. Rather, it is the personal cost of following Christ. Denying self and taking up our cross involves our willingness to: lay down our personal comfort, lay down our convenience, lay down our dreams, fears, rights, opinion and reputation, if necessary, to risk obeying God unconditionally.

Yes, we should be willing to die for Christ. But more importantly, to live for Him as "living sacrifices." Following Jesus is always costly. However, God assures us that the rewards of obedience are far greater than the costs.

Imitate God

Ephesians 4:29-5:2

To "imitate" means to "be or appear like, to reproduce." The best way we can "imitate God," as Paul exhorts, is to "live a life of love." And, we live this life of love by loving as Christ loved us, "giving Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

That kind of unselfish, sacrificial, active love is humanly impossible. That kind of love is supernatural, possible only by allowing Christ to love through us by depending on the indwelling Holy Spirit.

When God Himself is our source of love, as He "sheds love abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit," then our love is indeed fragrant. It is winsome, life-giving, nurturing. It is a love people can feel and a love people can use.

Avoid wrong

Ephesians 5:3-7

Obscenity, coarse joking and "unwholesome, foolish talk" are so common today that we have become immune to them. Yet God desires for our words to be "seasoned with salt" and full of grace, reflecting the gracious presence of God in us. Our salt-seasoned words should help create a thirst in others for Jesus, the living water.

Paul says that our actions should also honor God. There should not even be a hint of sexual immorality or impurity in our lives. Indeed, God calls us to the highest standard of morality and integrity. "Be holy because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15).

Walk in the light

Ephesians 5:8-10

We are to "live as children of light." We are to live as a "chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9).

Light represents what is good, pure, true, holy and reliable. John writes in 1 John that "God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all."

If we are truly imitators of God, then we are to walk in the light. "And if we walk in the light, as He is in the light," we have blessed fellowship with one another and with God. This may be the sweetest reward of true discipleship.

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5/16/2003 12:00:00 AM by Kim D. Shaver , Luke 9:23-24; Ephesians 4:29-5:10 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for June 1: The Good Fight

May 16 2003 by Tommy Bratton , 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 6:2b-12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Formations lesson for June 1: The Good Fight | Friday, May 16, 2003

Friday, May 16, 2003

Formations lesson for June 1: The Good Fight

By Tommy Bratton 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 6:2b-12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8

What do you think Christianity is all about? Is the Christian meant to retire to a life of comfort or to persistently engage in the good fight of faith?

We would prefer our spirituality to bring a sense of well-being rather than a constant struggle. If we are to see the Christian life as a battle as Paul implies, many of us would rather be an observer on the sidelines instead of a soldier on the battlefield.

However, in his book Growing in the Life of Faith, Craig Dykstra states that, "The process of coming to faith and growing in the life of faith is fundamentally a process of participation." We are to be actively involved in the charge for godliness.

The struggle over truth

In his appeal to Timothy, Paul reinforces the need to teach sound doctrine and to oppose the false teaching of others, whom he calls "bereft of the truth" (1 Tim. 6:5). There are many ways people may be untruthful, one of which is to think too highly of oneself.

Paul sees the battle as the fight between godliness and selfishness. Paul criticizes the false teachers who were more focused on building themselves up rather than proclaiming Christ.

Paul warns Timothy of those who cause controversy and stir things up with their words. By creating division, they become the leaders of their faction. But Paul tells Timothy that these desires for gain lead only to ruin (1 Tim. 6:9).

The challenge from within

The good fight is not only about the challenge from others, but also the challenge from the evil that is within us. Paul reminds young Timothy of the deception of prosperity (1 Tim. 6:9). The love of money has taken many away from the faith they once held. But Paul reminds Timothy that all we have comes from God. We brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it (1 Tim. 6:7).

Paul seems to understand Jesus' statement that we cannot love two masters (Matt. 6:24). The love of money consumes us with greed and discontentment, which leads to all kinds of evil. Paul's call to Timothy is to pursue the love that serves and endures. The love of money makes false promises, but the love that comes from faith and contentment produces true riches.

The exhortation to Timothy

Paul challenges Timothy to fight against the trappings of selfish gain. But the battle is not just a struggle against evil. The fight is called "good" because it is a fight for the truth. Truth for Paul is having one focus - Christ, and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). This pursuit of "righteousness" and "love" leads to faith, contentment and good conscience.

The contentment that Paul talks about is not a contentment that leads to passivity. Instead, it is a contentment that comes from singleness of heart and leads to doing our best to further the truth.

St. Augustine tells us that "our hearts are restless until they find rest in Christ."

Finishing strong

In Paul's final encouragement to Timothy, he looks back on his life of faith. Paul experienced the joy of fighting the good fight of faith and sees the end of his life coming soon (1 Tim. 4:6). Yet the end of his earthly life is only the beginning of a glorious life with God in heaven. Paul says, "For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain" (Phil. 1:21).

Paul's finishing the race teaches us that the Christian life is not a sprint, but a marathon.

If we are to trust God with our eternal life, we must trust Him with our daily life. We may be tempted in every way but we must fight for truth. The truth is that God is love, that God has promised eternal life to the faithful, and that Christ lives in us and through us.

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5/16/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tommy Bratton , 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 6:2b-12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for June 8: Putting First Things First

May 16 2003 by Tommy Bratton , John 15:1-17

Formations lesson for June 8: Putting First Things First | Friday, May 16, 2003

Friday, May 16, 2003

Formations lesson for June 8: Putting First Things First

By Tommy Bratton John 15:1-17

All of us are concerned about having purpose in our lives, to know what God has in store for us. Yet our life of prayer and discipleship is often swallowed up by our busy, hectic schedules. When we are not intentional about abiding in Christ, we are tempted to look elsewhere for strength and purpose. However, Jesus tells us that abundant life is impossible apart from Him. It is vital to make our relationship with Jesus of first importance before we face the challenges life brings us.

This text looks at the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples after they left the upper room and journeyed toward the Kidron valley (John 18:1), located in the shadow of Gethsemane's garden.

In a matter of hours, Jesus would be betrayed, arrested, mocked and crucified. But before the disciples face those tragic events, Jesus sets forth the fundamental priorities of life.

Dependence

In the last of the "I am" sayings in John, Jesus offers an image of a vine, branches and the vine grower. This metaphor expressly links the community of faith with the source of their power - Jesus.

The Christian finds strength and purpose by abiding in Jesus. Abiding involves an attitude of dependence on Christ. Jesus emphasizes that we are helpless to produce fruit apart from Him (John 15:4-5).

Producing fruit is not something that we can will to happen on our own. The only way to produce fruit is to abide in Jesus, the vine, and to let the love of God flow from the vine through us.

Furthermore, our relationship with Jesus is ultimately a product of God's grace. When we abide in Christ's love, our joy is made complete (John 15:11).

What a gift!

Productivity

Jesus tells the disciples that God is glorified when they "bear much fruit" (John 15:8). In Gal. 5:22, Paul defines the fruit of the Spirit as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

Bearing fruit is a natural byproduct of abiding in God.

In order to produce this fruit, we must submit ourselves to God's pruning, which may be painful but beneficial (John 15:2).

Hebrews 12:6 reminds us that God's discipline is based on love. Times of discomfort may well be a sign that God is working to shape our lives so that we might produce an abundance of the fruit of the Spirit. We must remove those areas of life that hinder God's love from flowing through us.

Love

At the Passover Feast, Jesus enacted the extent of His love by washing the disciples' feet (John 13:1-17). His example of servanthood was a living lesson of humility and service to others.

As Jesus journeys closer to the cross, He uses the language of friendship to describe His relationship with His disciples. The great love of Christ, soon to be expressed through the ultimate act of sacrifice on the cross, transforms Jesus' relationship with His disciples to one of deeper intimacy.

What do you do with a friend? The master and servant have a relationship marked by obligation. However, friendship is always marked by the sharing of intimacy. You tell secrets and share opportunities with a friend. You are willing to take a midnight phone call from a friend. Friendship is based on love.

Jesus invites us into an intimacy that joins our hearts as one. His great example of love on the cross must cause us to stop and consider our call to love.

What is our first priority? Job? Spouse? Children? Each is important, but it is in the love of God that we must abide. If that love is our priority, we will be fruitful in all aspects of our lives.

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5/16/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tommy Bratton , John 15:1-17 | with 0 comments



Can we grow the kingdom?

May 9 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Can we grow the kingdom? | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

Can we grow the kingdom?

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

What can Southern Baptists do to grow the kingdom of God? At the annual convention meeting in St. Louis last summer, messengers approved a strategic initiative called "Empowering Kingdom Growth," commonly called "EKG."

The emphasis began with no stated goals, but some aspects of the program are taking shape. A new "Empowering Kingdom Families" program and a line of supportive resources will be unveiled at the pastor's conference prior to the meeting in Phoenix this June, and LifeWay is also promoting new "Kingdom Focused Churches" materials, but other aspects of the emphasis remain vague.

Ken Hemphill, who recently announced his departure from the presidency of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), has been named to head up the EKG emphasis and bring it more focus.

To promote understanding of the concept, LifeWay Christian Resources held a conference for Southern Baptist Communicators at Ridgecrest April 30-May 2, and I appreciated the invitation to participate.

Speakers included LifeWay president Jimmy Draper, SWBTS provost Craig Blaising (author, with Darrell Bock, of Progressive Dispensationalism), LifeWay executive Gene Mims (author of the newly released The Kingdom Focused Church), Tom Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Ok, and author of the forthcoming Unbreakable! The Seven Pillars of a Kingdom Family, David Hankins, SBC Executive Committee vice-president for Cooperative Program and Carlisle Driggers, executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, which pioneered a similar program.

Participants struggled with what we mean by the "Kingdom of God," whether Southern Baptists can retain their distinctive identity and still be "kingdom people," and how the SBC can best promote its new emphasis on kingdom values.

I personally struggle with how to communicate an emphasis that has what I believe to be a self-contradictory name. Naming the enterprise "Empowering Kingdom Growth" implies that Southern Baptists can actually empower kingdom growth - that we can do something that will make God's kingdom bigger.

But the Bible clearly teaches that God's kingdom already fills the universe and encompasses every race and tribe, so there is little we can do to expand it.

The expression "kingdom of God" never appears in the Old Testament, but the concept is everywhere, and it can be summed up in two words: Yahweh rules! Every writer from the Pentateuch through the historical books to the Psalms and the prophets wrote from the perspective that there is a God, and that God is the boss. The Lord is King.

When Jewish people offer prayers of blessing before eating, they usually begin "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe ..."

When Christians gather for worship, we often sing, "Rejoice the Lord is King," or a praise chorus about God's kingship. It's pure hubris for us to think that any human work can make the kingdom any bigger than it is.

Which is not to say that we cannot participate with God in kingdom work. God calls His followers to a unique relationship within the kingdom. For example, God's covenant with Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 affirms that Yahweh is Lord of all peoples, but He offers a special, treasured, covenant relationship to those who listen to Him and follow Him. 1 Peter 2:9 quotes this as a promise to the church as the new Israel.

When Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom, He declared that the kingdom was present in His ministry in a way it had not been experienced before.

I believe we are indeed called to declare the good news that the kingdom of God has been revealed in a new way through Jesus Christ, and that its benefits and responsibilities are waiting for those who will receive it - but that's not empowering kingdom growth as much as encouraging human surrender.

We don't make the kingdom itself any bigger, but encourage more people to live more faithfully as subjects of the king who rules, whether they acknowledge Him or not.

I found the second issue particularly intriguing, as several speakers struggled with the concept of whether Southern Baptists can be sold out to the kingdom and sold out to their Southern Baptist identity at the same time.

Some observers have expressed a concern that if we put too much emphasis on the kingdom of God, it might lead Southern Baptists away from a doctrinally oriented focus and toward the more ambiguous concept that we're just supposed to love each other.

My concern is that that won't happen.

I'm all for any emphasis that encourages Christians to be more faithful servants of the king, obeying Christ's command to love God and to love one another, in keeping with God's purpose for humankind.

For that to happen, however, we must catch a kingdom vision that goes beyond our own denominational and doctrinal kingdoms.

Such is my prayer.

TWC

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



'Push on, push on'

May 9 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

'Push on, push on' | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

'Push on, push on'

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

A pre-project visit for a summer mission trip in Lagrange, Ga. provided the opportunity to visit with my old friend Johnny Brown in nearby Hogansville.

I served a church in Hogansville many moons ago, and met Johnny through what I jokingly called my "hog-killing ministry."

Johnny's wife Carol had been attending our church, and I learned from her that Johnny was planning to slaughter a couple of sows for sausage one night. So, I sharpened my best knife and just showed up.

It was so cold that the porkers' blood froze before it could soak into the ground, but we managed to get the job done. It was the first time I'd ever skinned a hog, but when you're making whole-hog sausage and not curing the hams or side meat, there's little point in saving the hide.

That night led to a friendship that's now almost 30 years along.

Johnny retired from Southern Bell some years ago, and opened a barbeque restaurant in a pasture behind his house. People drive from all over on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for "Q & Stew," ribs or steaks.

The fare is good, but Johnny is more fun than the food. He's known for spouting a collection of aphorisms like "Don't worry 'bout the mule going blind, just load the wagon!"

Or, "If that ain't so, then grits ain't groceries and the Mona Lisa is a man."

When obstacles arise, you can count on hearing him say "Push on, push on."

Johnny has faced more than his share of obstacles the past few years. He lost a kidney to cancer some time back. Since then he's had heart surgery, developed severe diabetes, and had to go on dialysis three times a week. He has no feeling in his legs or feet and has lost all but the "went to market" and the "stayed home" piggies from his left foot.

It took me a while to catch on when he first explained that he'd had surgery to amputate his "roast beef" toe.

With the faithful help of family and friends, you can still find Johnny's famous "washpot beans" on the menu every weekend, served up with bottled Cokes, a healthy dose of rustic atmosphere, and the afterglow of Johnny's famous good cheer, even when he's not well enough to preside in person.

Just watching him "push on" was well worth the trip.

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for May 25: Serving God Together as a Family

May 9 2003 by Crate Jones , Acts 18:1-4, 24-28; Romans 16:3-5a; 1 Corinthians 16:19

Family Bible Study lesson for May 25: Serving God Together as a Family | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

Family Bible Study lesson for May 25: Serving God Together as a Family

By Crate Jones Acts 18:1-4, 24-28; Romans 16:3-5a; 1 Corinthians 16:19

As a student at Wake Forest, I once lived with the Steen family in a house on a curvy street. Late one night, an inebriated hot-rodder barreled into Harold's '33 Willis, slamming it into the car behind it. Being in the middle, all bowed up, it looked like it had just taken a deep breath.

His wife, Vertie, sat up in the bed and excitedly asked, "Harold, what was that?"

He calmly replied, "Aw, go back to sleep. It wasn't anything but somebody ran into the car."

He went out to check, knowing that God had provided the car and was sure He would provide another. He did - a better one at that. This family had something the Lord wants all families to have: Unwreckable faith, hope and love.

Labor with God's people

Acts 18:1-4 NIV

On Paul's second missionary journey, he met a Christian family: Priscilla and Aquila. They became friends. All were tent makers and supported each other in their ministry.

They were Paul's extended family, providing a place for him to stay and a source of encouragement.

Christians working together should not be in competition. One ought to complement (something that completes) the other.

Throughout our ministry, my wife has truly been a helpmate. God gifted her with talents of teaching, speaking, singing, counseling, a heart of love and husband-encourager

At times, when she taught or had delivered a heart-touching message, someone would give me a piece of advice: "You'd better watch out; she's a better preacher than you are."

My reply was: "I know it. And she's a better teacher, she can sing and she's prettier."

We do not compete but seek to complement one another.

Mentor other believers

Acts 18:24-28 NIV

A mentor is a teacher, advisor - a helper of someone's deficiencies. Priscilla and Aquila were mentors to Apollos who needed help with his theology. "They explained to him the way of God more adequately." Then, in public debate. "he proved from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 18:26,28).

All of us need mentoring at times. Being a fresh graduate from seminary, more times than one, I might misquote a verse of Scripture in a sermon or make some other blunder. "Papa" Thomas, in his 80s and a deacon at Cartledge Creek Baptist Church, would gently correct me. He helped my spiritual growth by his knowledge and, especially, by example.

I think of Mrs. John McLeod, English teacher at Mars Hill. My English and grammar needed a major overhaul. As ministerial student, Frank Rogers, once said, "I wouldn't have recognized a preposition if I'd met one coming down the road."

She would stay with me after class, put sentences on the blackboard and explain them. Her love for students still lives in my heart. Now, when I see a preposition, I can say, "Howdy!

Open homes for Christian fellowship

Romans 16:5a NIV

Paul's friends opened their home to him; we can do likewise. During our years at Rolesville Baptist Church, we had twice-monthly meetings in our home with the young people.

We laughed, sang, shared concerns, studied the Bible and got on our knees to pray.

One night, our small son, Mark, prayed his first public prayer. It was short and powerful - just two words, "Dear God," but it was enough. The presence of Jesus and the love of the Holy Spirit were always evident.

Then we would gather around the piano, sing hymns and fun songs, enjoy refreshments, laugh some more and say goodnight.

A number of those young folks went into Christian service. Ray Frazier, nephew of the late Dr. Winston Pearce, became a pastor and now serves as an intentional interim pastor.

In a letter we recently received from him are these words: "I recall often with thanksgiving the influence you two are on my life and ministry. Most often, when I'm explaining to a search committee or elsewhere, who I am and how I came to be who I am, I mention the youth gatherings in your home and the prayer times there. Thank you again, so very much."

As the old song goes, "Precious memories; how they linger, how they ever flood our souls."

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by Crate Jones , Acts 18:1-4, 24-28; Romans 16:3-5a; 1 Corinthians 16:19 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for May 25: Noble Tasks

May 9 2003 by David Stratton , 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:17-22

Formations lesson for May 25: Noble Tasks | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

Formations lesson for May 25: Noble Tasks

By David Stratton 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:17-22

"Can you do the job?"

This seems to be the main question in filling a position. Read the help wanted ads and it becomes clear that our task-oriented society emphasizes the duties of a job more than the qualifications for it. Yet our texts have a different priority when it comes to church leadership positions.

In the most detailed New Testament discussion of church offices Paul barely mentions the duties of the offices. Rather than concern with what church leaders ought to do, the emphasis falls on who church leaders should be. Character is elevated above performance.

Three words, two offices

In our texts three terms referring to church offices are used: "elders" (1 Tim. 5:17-22), "overseers (or bishops)" (1 Tim. 3:1-7), and "deacons" (1 Tim. 3:8-13). William D. Mounce in his commentary on the "Pastoral Epistles" in the Word Biblical Commentary makes the case that these three terms are used of two offices. The word translated "elder" is a general term for church leaders applying to overseers, deacons and perhaps others. Overseers provided general oversight to church work and they were distinguished by their teaching function. Deacons on the other hand saw to the day-to-day service needs of the church.

At the early stage of church history, in which these passages were written, a highly structured church leadership model had not emerged. To be sure the New Testament describes definite leadership in the church. However, the evidence suggests a considerable degree of flexibility in the leadership processes of the early church.

In our fast changing times we would do well to learn from the highly adaptable leadership structure of the New Testament.

Qualifications, honor and criticism

In 1 Tim. 3:1-13 Paul lists the qualifications of overseers and deacons. Much debate among evangelical Christians today focuses on whether or not certain phrases in this passage bar divorced persons and women from the offices of pastor and deacon. No matter which side of the argument one may be on we must acknowledge that the debate is a function of our culture, for it certainly was not of paramount concern to Paul. However at the very least, based upon this passage, one cannot say that females or divorced persons are automatically excluded as pastors or deacons. The text simply does not allow such a dogmatic conclusion.

Far more important to Paul than the gender and marital history of overseers and deacons was the character of those who would hold these offices. The complete list of qualifications is too long for treatment here. Yet they may be summed up in the statement that overseers were to be "above reproach." The word "likewise" at the beginning of the list of deacon qualifications indicates that deacons were also to have a good reputation.

In 1 Tim. 5:17-22 Paul indicated that elders (i.e. overseers and deacons) should be honored appropriately and criticized carefully. The passage does not indicate that overseers and deacons are completely above criticism. However, it acknowledges that those in church leadership are "easy marks" and that care should be exercised in leveling accusations.

Reputation outside

Paul was concerned with false teachings circulating among the Christians in Ephesus to whom this letter originally applied. Mounce points out that nearly every quality listed for overseers and deacons has a negative counterpart among the false teachers listed elsewhere. Many try to make 1 Tim. 3 a separate church leadership manual. However, both of our passages must be understood in the context of a particular historical situation in which false teachings threatened the reputation of the church in the community. In that context Paul taught that the church needed leaders with a good reputation. Specifically leaders were to "be well thought of by outsiders" (1 Tim. 3:7, NRSV).

In previous lessons we have learned that the Ephesian heresy somehow burned bridges toward those outside the church rather than building them. In the current passages Paul saw careful selection of church leaders as a key to dealing with the problem. The church needed leaders above reproach who would attract to the church the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) rather than repelling them.

Are church leaders who are attractive to outsiders also attractive to those choosing church leaders today?

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by David Stratton , 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:17-22 | with 0 comments



BSC president has cancer

May 9 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

BSC president has cancer | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

BSC president has cancer

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

Baptist State Convention (BSC) President Jerry Pereira has been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer.

Pereira, pastor of First Baptist Church of Swannanoa, has received a report that he has melanoma cancer, according to a statement released May 9 by the church.

"He is undergoing further tests and has physical challenges ahead," the statement said. "Please remember him, his family and his church family in prayer. He is seeking counsel and treatment at Baptist Hospital."

BSC Executive Director-treasurer Jim Royston asked everyone in the convention to pray for Pereira, his family and his church.

"During our regular Monday chapel service this week, we set aside a special period of prayer for Jerry and other members of the Pereira family, asking God to give them the strength to face the challenges before them," he said.

Pereira decided to run for BSC president in 2001 after Charles Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, withdrew because of a recurrence of his cancer. Pereira went on to defeat Raymond Earp for the post, continuing a string of conservative victories for the BSC's top elected office.

Pereira has been pastor at the Swannanoa church since 1985. He previously served as pastor of Central Baptist Church in Spruce Pine and as assistant pastor and minister of youth at First Baptist Church in Valdese.

Pereira has been a frequent speaker at Billy Graham schools of evangelism and describes Graham as his mentor.

Raised as a Roman Catholic, Pereira became a Southern Baptist two years after committing his life to Christ in 1974 while serving in the Army. He graduated from Mars Hill College in 1978 and received his master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1981.

Pereira spoke at a Conservative Carolina Baptist rally in Pleasant Garden last month. He said then that he is thankful to be part of the N.C. Baptist team.

Pereira said he believes the BSC is an instrument to build the kingdom of God and to win people to faith in Jesus Christ.

"Some day I will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus and I want Him to say that in my tenure as president of your convention that I sought to lead people to rally under the banner of the lordship of Jesus Christ," he said. "My heartbeat is evangelism and it's missions and seeing people hear the gospel. I don't take that for granted."

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Crossover Arizona to emphasize partnerships

May 9 2003 by James Dotson , Baptist Press

Crossover Arizona to emphasize partnerships | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

Crossover Arizona to emphasize partnerships

By James Dotson Baptist Press

PHOENIX - The annual evangelistic effort surrounding this year's Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meeting will offer opportunities to touch more than just the immediate Phoenix area with the gospel of Christ- the whole state is getting involved this year.

Crossover Arizona will bring block parties, door-to-door visits and other evangelistic efforts to the metropolitan Phoenix area June 14 - the Saturday before the June 17-18 convention. The following weekend, churches in other parts of the state will sponsor similar events.

Jerry Martin, state coordinator for Crossover Arizona and director of missions for Valley Rim Baptist Association in Mesa, said pairs of Arizona churches will partner with each other on successive weekends. Most of the national volunteers are expected for June 14, although the second weekend does give volunteers more options for both date and location.

"Here in Arizona we see it as a way to get us unified across the state on sharing the gospel," Martin said. "We know that will overflow into making a difference in the West."

Phoenix-area Southern Baptists are familiar with working together on evangelism efforts, having just completed a Strategic Focus Cities effort that resulted in more than 11,200 professions of faith and 38 new churches since 2000.

Mitch McDonald, evangelism director for the Arizona Baptist Convention, said Crossover Arizona developed out of the effectiveness of that effort. "We knew that the convention was coming in 2003, and we began praying and thinking about that. It kind of grew out of that discussion that this would be a follow-up event for Strategic Focus Cities."

Crossover Arizona events will be similar to those of past Crossover efforts, Martin said.

"We'll be using block parties, random acts of kindness, prayer walking and door-to-door surveys. Some of the surveys will be saturation evangelism, and some of them will be other kinds of community surveys that the local pastor wants," he said.

One of the "random acts of kindness" events - also known as Compassion in Action - will involve volunteers working with Mountain View Baptist Church, passing out free bottles of water and taking opportunities to share their faith on nearby hiking trails.

A "skate park takeover" planned by three Phoenix-area churches will involve a variety of ministries to skating and skateboard enthusiasts, volunteer coordinator Deb Wolfrey said. Ministry opportunities include demonstrations, free videotaping of skaters, free adjustments, a live band and free food in a block party setting.

Several other churches have noted that June 14 falls on Flag Day and will be taking the opportunity of passing out small flags in public places and engaging people in conversations about their faith.

"I thought that was a great idea for being able to talk to people about their beliefs," Wolfrey said.

An Inner-City Evangelism workshop will also be held June 10-13, and the North American Mission Board's Inner-City Evangelism team will participate in other Crossover events, Martin said.

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by James Dotson , Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Lunsford named president at Mars Hill

May 9 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Lunsford named president at Mars Hill | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

Lunsford named president at Mars Hill

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

After a tumultuous three-week period in which a leading candidate for president was roundly rejected by faculty, students and college supporters, Mars Hill College trustees voted May 9 to name interim president Dan Lunsford as the school's new president. Lunsford was tapped as interim president in January 2002, after former president Max Lennon resigned under pressure.

"We are proud of the accomplishments Dr. Lunsford has made during the past year and a half, and we look forward to his continued commitment of leading Mars Hill College," said Fred Pittillo, chairman of the Mars Hill College board of trustees.

Pittillo and some other members of the trustee's executive committee had earlier promoted the candidacy of Rick Brewer, vice president for planning and student affairs at Charleston Southern University, for the position.

Brewer was brought to campus on April 22-23 for meetings with students, faculty, staff and college supporters. Afterward, the faculty, students and alumni expressed overwhelming opposition to Brewer's candidacy, believing that he would bring an agenda to transform the school into a much more theological conservative institution.

When Pittillo announced that the trustees' executive committee would meet at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute on May 1, some members of the presidential search committee complained that an agreed-upon process had been violated. The search committee had not been given an opportunity to consider feedback from Brewer's visit before making a formal recommendation to the trustees, said George Peery, chair of the faculty and a member of the search committee.

Meanwhile, Brewer insisted that he had no pre-packaged plan for Mars Hill, and declined to withdraw his name from consideration despite the growing opposition.

Some trustees reported that they received a packet of information promoting Brewer's candidacy on April 30, more than a week after the campus visits and just prior to the May 1 meeting.

Sources close to the trustees told the Recorder that 20 of the 36 trustees agreed in a conference phone call April 30 that they would oppose Brewer's candidacy. During what was reported to be a four-hour meeting on May 1, which trustees not on the executive committee were invited to attend as observers, a decision was reached that Brewer's name would not be presented when the trustees met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday morning, May 9.

School officials did not disclose details of the May 9 meeting, but released a statement that afternoon saying trustees had named Lunsford president.

Prior to taking over as interim president, Lunsford had served from 1998-2002 as dean of the School of Education and Leadership at Mars Hill.

The son of Fred and Gladys Lunsford, he is a native of Marble, N.C. Fred Lunsford was a longtime director of missions of the Truett Baptist Association for Cherokee and Clay counties of North Carolina. Dan Lunsford grew up in the Little Brasstown Baptist Church, and is a current member of Mars Hill Baptist Church. His early experience includes work at Truett Baptist Camp.

From 1990-1998, Lunsford served as superintendent of Henderson County Public Schools. During his tenure there, he was responsible for the administrative management of the second largest school system in Western North Carolina with a membership of more than 11,300 students, more than 1,500 employees and a budget of more than $57 million. From 1983-1990, Lunsford served as superintendent of Orange County Schools. He also worked as associate superintendent for instruction, assistant superintendent for instruction, director of instruction and elementary principal - all within the Orange County School District. He began his career in 1969 as a sixth-grade teacher at Holloway Street School in Durham.

Lunsford is an alumnus of Mars Hill College, graduating in 1969 with a bachelor of arts in elementary education. He earned masters of education and doctor of education degrees at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has participated in postdoctoral study at Vanderbilt University in 1984 and the Superintendents' Executive Program at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Government in 1989.

Lunsford maintains strong involvement in community and professional organizations. He and his wife, Beverly, live in the Mars Hill community.

(Mars Hill Director of Communications Marla Milling contributed to this story.)

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



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