October 2005

Giving plans mask division : Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2005

October 18 2005 by

Giving plans mask division : Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2005
Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2005

Giving plans mask division

Occasionally, a commentator or public official makes a statement or offers a proposal that hits the nail on the head. Their action goes against the standards or accepted norms of the day and very often lands them in a firestorm of controversy. Yet, deep down inside we say, "That is exactly how I feel or I wish I had the courage to say that." When bold statements or actions are proposed, the critics aren't far behind. In unison, they cry, "Who does he think he is or how intolerant of others can one person be?" The truth is often lost in the rhetoric that follows.

Could it be that such a bold proposal is now being offered to North Carolina Baptists by Ted Stone? Doesn't he really hit the nail on the head? Have we been playing games for 10 years in our State? Aren't we trying to do what we all know is impossible? Please everybody! Isn't division still division, even if it wears the mask of "alternate giving plans"?

Perhaps this November, it's time for North Carolina Baptists to support the truth.

Victor C. Blackwell

Roxboro, N.C.

10/18/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



Giving plans still work for N.C. Baptists : Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005

October 13 2005 by

Giving plans still work for N.C. Baptists : Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005
Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005

Giving plans still work for N.C. Baptists

Many people involved with our State Convention in 1990 would probably never have believed that the Convention would essentially still be intact in 2005. Thank you to all Baptist leaders who have cooperated over the years, even with differing opinions, to help this Convention continue as a body of N.C. Baptists committed to the life and ministry of our denomination in this state.

In my view, nothing has played a greater role in the continuity of the Convention than the giving plan options created in 1991 and 1995. The giving plans have allowed our churches to continue to partner together in many vital ways to serve others and spread the Gospel. As a N.C. Baptist, that has meant a lot to me.

Again this year at the Convention, the giving plan options - most notably Plan C - have been targeted for dissolution. Why? The system is not broken. 'Unity' should be more than an empty buzzword in our Convention. It should mean much more.

Importantly, Baptist laypersons are not concerned about this debate. They are not divided by the fact that churches give in differing amounts to different sources. When Baptists are working together to build churches, do hurricane relief, and feed the poor, they do not ask each other about what giving plans their churches utilize. These Christians simply want to work together serve others in God's name. That should be our model - working together. Working together is good not only for us, but for people everywhere who benefit from the great mission work of N.C. Baptists.

It is not too late to protect the giving plans and to continue working together. I plan to vote accordingly in November. I hope that you will do the same.

Jason Cogdill

Winston-Salem, N.C.

10/13/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



Study of gluttony needed : Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005

October 13 2005 by

Study of gluttony needed : Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005
Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005

Study of gluttony needed

I read with interest Chris Austin's article on the subject of alcohol in the October 15th (printed) edition. I was not surprised at the varying opinions of those pastors that were polled. What I would like to see someone do is undertake a study of gluttony and obesity in our Baptist churches, using the same sampling of pastors. That might also be very revealing. The Bible is clear on this subject. Much is made of alcohol abuse, and should be, but little is said from our pulpits on the abuse of food.

Warner Doles

Gastonia, N.C.

10/13/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



Freedom plan or giving ban? : Monday, Oct. 10, 2005

October 10 2005 by

Freedom plan or giving ban? : Monday, Oct. 10, 2005
Monday, Oct. 10, 2005

Freedom plan or giving ban?

During the 1960's, a Baptist deacon in the N.C. state legislature proposed the Speaker Ban Law for the states universities. The aim was to keep communists off our campuses. Another Baptist deacon who was a leader at UNC defended the freedom of speech. Both were good and sincere men. Freedom of speech prevailed.

We have Ted Stone of Durham again proposing a giving ban on our Baptist churches. Ted Stone is a good and sincere man whose story of recovery from substance abuse has been an inspiration to so many within N.C. and throughout our nation.

N.C. Baptists last November voted for the freedom plan for giving churches within our state. This year, if Ted Stone does what he says, N.C. Baptists will again have an opportunity to vote for the giving ban or the freedom plan.

John Singletary

Pittsboro, N.C.

10/10/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



The upside of down : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

October 7 2005 by Tony W. Cartledge

The upside of down : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

The upside of down

By Tony W. Cartledge
BR Editor

We live in a world where bad things happen.

That's a natural fact.

Despite the dire declarations of self-styled prophets ranging from the famous to the obscure, drawing hard connections between natural disasters and divine punishment is fraught with pitfalls framed by our human limitations. As a result, I put little stock in prophetic pronouncements that connect Hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia and Rita to everything from New Orleans' seamy reputation to Mississippi casinos to the passage of state-sponsored gambling in North Carolina.

I find it hard to believe that the God revealed in Jesus Christ had anything to do with causing the death, destruction and suffering that continues in and around the Gulf Coast.

I do believe, however, that God can and does work with believers to bring good out of bad things, and we've seen evidence of that on every hand.

It has been particularly encouraging to see such positive response from North Carolina, a state that knows something about hurricanes. N.C. Baptists have not been the only ones to respond, by a long shot, but they have certainly been in the forefront.

As of Oct. 5, thousands of N.C. Baptist volunteers had traveled to the storm-ravaged areas, some staying for weeks at a time, to assist victims by providing food, water and showers; by helping them shovel mud or remove trees from their homes; or by offering compassionate hearts and ears to those who are hurting. Others have assisted refugees from the storm who were evacuated to Raleigh, Charlotte, and other cities.

The total number of workdays volunteered through relief and recovery efforts of N.C. Baptist Men alone has already exceeded 19,835 days, according to disaster relief coordinator Gaylon Moss. At the mediocre wage of $100 per day, that alone would be worth $1.98 million.

And that's just the beginning. After an e-mail appeal for churches to prepare food boxes packed with an assortment of staples to be distributed in the Gulf, the response was so overwhelming that partnership consultant Mark Abernathy, who was heading the project, had to ask churches that hadn't yet prepared their boxes to send money to cover shipping instead.

Within a two-week period, more than 13,000 boxes - each containing about $40 worth of food - were donated, packed, collected, and shipped to the residents of the Gulf. The effort required 13 tractor-trailers. Some churches included notes of encouragement and assurances of prayer. One lady was so pleased with the food box she received that she tracked down someone at First Baptist Church of Clinton and called to express her appreciation, according to pastor Ron Cava. It was the first assistance she had received, she said, before pledging to visit the church in person some day.

And that's not all. N.C. Baptist Men set up a relief fund as soon as Katrina hit, and donations poured in like the waters of Lake Ponchartrain rushing through a broken levee.

At the latest count, more than $3.9 million had been contributed by N.C. Baptist churches and individuals, in addition to $2.1 million received earlier for tsunami relief.

Some donations came from people for whom giving might be something new. My own son, for example, who just turned nine, was so moved by the plight of hurricane victims that he and a friend decided to set up a table in our subdivision where they sold snacks and lemonade. They invested their own money in supplies, wore cardboard signs saying "Help us please," worked in the sun all day, and donated $65 for disaster relief through N.C. Baptist Men.

Over near Enfield, youth and children from Dawson Baptist Church had the same idea. They set up a "Lemon Aid" stand at a local car show, where they sold lemonade and baked goods donated by members of the church. At the end of the day, they had raised $2,359.22 for the cause.

I am confident those stories could be repeated hundreds of times, and in different ways. Many churches and individuals have also donated supplies or funds through local contacts and other charitable groups.

N.C. Baptists are a generous and loving people. While going "above and beyond" to assist hurricane victims, we're also supporting our churches and contributing to the North Carolina Missions Offering, which provides funds for the needed infrastructure that keeps N.C. Baptist Men and Woman's Missionary Union going, in addition to supporting church planting and other needs.

When faced with real ministry needs, we tend to look past the theological differences and other issues that often divide us, and put them in the back seat where they belong. Instead, we major on the call to love as Jesus loved, and put that love into action through genuine compassion and surprising generosity.

And that's at least one upside of down.

10/7/2005 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments



Read the Bible in 100 minutes? : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

October 7 2005 by Tony W. Cartledge

Read the Bible in 100 minutes? : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

Read the Bible in 100 minutes?

By Tony W. Cartledge
BR Editor

In hopes of introducing more people to the Bible, a retired Anglican educator has spent two years in an effort to transform the Bible into a "page-turner" that can be read in an hour and 40 minutes.

Called The 100-Minute Bible, the abridged and rewritten version was unveiled Sept. 21 in ceremonies at Canterbury Cathedral.

Author Michael Hinton said The 100 Minute Bible majors "on the stories that have entered the common consciousness, like Noah's Ark, Jonah and so on," but that the main focus is "on Jesus, because He is the central figure in the Bible."

Hinton told the BBC that most people don't know the Bible very well, and the shorter version "is an attempt to say, 'Look, there's a great story here - let's get into it and let's not get put off by the things that are going to be the sub-plot. Let's give you the big plot.'"

To do so, extensive passages were abridged. For example, the lengthy and attention-challenging Levitical codes that governed cultic regulations and various minutiae of life in ancient Israel follow a section containing the Ten Commandments, and appear as "Other more detailed laws governed diet, dress, personal relations, worship and every aspect of daily life."

More than 11,000 copies of the 100-Minute Bible have been printed for distribution to churches and schools, according to the BBC. The publisher expects it to be a best seller.

It's easy to decry the effort as a "Cliff Notes" version of the Bible that panders to spiritual illiterates.

Then again, getting someone to spend 100 minutes reading Bible stories is certainly better than zero minutes.

With luck, they'll want to read more, and seek out the real thing.

10/7/2005 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments



FaithSoaring is about anticipating the future : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

October 7 2005 by George Bullard

FaithSoaring is about anticipating the future : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

FaithSoaring is about anticipating the future

By George Bullard
BSC Acting Executive Director-treasurer

I easily admit ice hockey is not my favorite sport. I've just never been able to get into it.

Ice hockey reminds me of roller derby on ice. Are you old enough to remember that sport which originated around 1935? Roller derby is a full contact sport. So is ice hockey and football. Basketball did not used to be a full contact sport, but it is becoming that way.

But, back to ice hockey. One of the greatest players in history is Wayne Gretzky. He is credited with saying something like the following about his success in hockey: "I don't skate to where the puck has been; I skate to where it is going to be."

Whether Wayne or his father Walter first said this is under debate. Whether this is good or bad advice for a hockey player is a matter of opinion. The point, however, is this might be a great strategic statement.

How can this insight be applied to the work of churches? In many ways. One example is that often when churches build or renovate a building, they correct a past space problem by moving capacity to meet present needs. Wise churches build for the space they will need 10 to 12 years ahead.

Your state convention staff is seeking to anticipate the future rather than build programs, ministries and activities based on the past. We are seeking to anticipate the next great thing God will do among North Carolina Baptists.

We are seeking to deepen our relationships with congregations to understand how best to come alongside them and help them reach their full kingdom potential. We are seeking to increase the resources we offer to congregations through developing new materials such as the books we are publishing as Lake Hickory Resources. It is a privilege to serve you in this manner.

I have delayed for one column the details I promised you about our three FaithSoaring priorities. Our executive leaders need one more meeting to finalize the details. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, continue to let me know your ideas that anticipate the future of the state convention by communicating with me in one of the following four ways:

First, mail them to George Bullard, PO Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512-1107. Second, fax them to me at (919) 460-7507. Third, call the FaithSoaring response line at (800) 395-5102, ext. 111. Fourth, e-mail them to me at FaithSoaring@bscnc.org. Fifth, go to www.FaithSoaring.org and post them as a comment on a web log.

Your comments can affirm our strengths, reveal our weaknesses and inform our direction. Thank you for participating.

10/7/2005 12:00:00 AM by George Bullard | with 0 comments



Pioneers use technology to spread the gospel : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

October 7 2005 by Mike Connor

Pioneers use technology to spread the gospel : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

Pioneers use technology to spread the gospel

By Mike Connor
Special to the Recorder

Churches have been missing great opportunities for outreach by not encouraging pioneers in ministry through technology. But as churches slowly move into the 21st century, God is raising up pockets of skilled, creative people who are using technology to reach the greatest unreached people group - the digital agers.

Who are these ministry pioneers?

They are usually common ordinary people who have given their hearts and lives to the Lord, feel called to full-time Christian ministry and want more out of life than helping a company make a better bottom line.

They may be youth who develop their skills as volunteers and then go to work in a church.

They may be people who worked in the corporate world for years before realizing that the Lord wanted them to work in a local body of believers.

They know that the Lord has called them to use the language of the day - digital - to share the gospel of Jesus.

They realize that God has equipped them to use technology to share the unchanging gospel with a culture that is on the move and expects ready access to information.

Such people are usually called to work as a technology coordinator, an associate pastor of technology ministries, a media minister or similar ministry position. At first glance, their responsibilities seem similar to their counterparts in the corporate world.

The duties often include the areas of media and information technology (IT). Some churches divide these responsibilities among a group of people. Others wrap them together in one.

Traditional media responsibilities include radio, television, sound, lighting and image magnification using presentation systems. Tape ministries might also fall under this realm.

On the IT side, duties might include asset management, software licensing and helpdesk support for church staff.

But the responsibilities often go farther.

As churches expand, they are using more technology. Some churches currently use computers to manage financial needs, church membership, outreach and other aspects of church growth. Some use the Internet as an outreach tool.

Some churches now realize that construction costs have risen so high that building a large, traditional worship center is no longer feasible. Instead, they technologically extend their ministry into multiple venues and multiple sites.

As electronics change, even more functions are becoming computerized and fit for networks.

Sound and video systems are now working across computer networks instead of dedicated cabling. Teams of people are needed to monitor systems running in multiple venues and multiple sites.

Ultimately, technology ministers realize that their job is not to minister to technology, but to people. People of like minds and hearts must come together to share their passion for ministry through technology. The technology minister must lead these people closer to the Lord and equip them to share the gospel in today's language in an uncompromising way.

Many people today have become technological consumers.

They buy and sell over the Internet, watch and listen to news and weather over the Internet, and even purchase music and videos over the Internet.

They expect to have products delivered almost immediately after paying for them.

They have 500 channels of mostly non-beneficial information and entertainment at their fingertips.

For the first time in history, people all over the world can witness events in almost real-time via the television, radio and the Internet.

Just as international missionaries in remote villages in faraway lands must learn about that culture, technology ministers must strive to find the pulse of the digital culture and understand how best to communicate the gospel. Those who do not understand the culture, customs and language will be hampered in their efforts to share about Jesus and His love.

The church should use every available means of sharing the gospel. Technology is no exception.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Connor is the associate pastor of technical ministries at Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews.)

10/7/2005 12:00:00 AM by Mike Connor | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 23: Honor God in His Church : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

October 7 2005 by Catherine Painter

Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 23: Honor God in His Church : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 23: Honor God in His Church

By Catherine Painter
Focal passage: Ephesians 3:14-16, 20-4:7, 11-13, 15

Be Empowered by God's Spirit

Eph. 3:14-16

"We have something new," I mused, spying the rake in our car.

"I'll keep it in a church closet," my husband Jack said. "With our church near the interstate and its steeple visible from the exits, we attract so many people asking for handouts. We always help those in need. I just plan to suggest they help us in return. There are always leaves to rake around the church."

Through the years many stopped by, pleading distress. When Jack proposed work for money, their "Theme and Variations" went: "I'm happy to rake leaves; just let me step across the street for a pack of cigarettes, and I'll be back!"

When Jack retired 21 years later, the unused rake remained a silent legacy to some who view the church as a social service agency. Others view it primarily as a membership roll, a tradition, an organization of "good" people, or simply a building with stained-glass windows.

How do you view the church? As the body of Christ, a community of all who claim Jesus as Savior and are claimed by "the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named"? (See Eph. 3:14-16.)

Seek God's Glory

Eph. 3:20-21

After defining the church, Paul prayed that Christians might "comprehend ... what is the breadth and width, height and depth"- the only New Testament reference to all four dimensions of the universe - not concerning astrology, but the theology of God's boundless love (vv. 17-19).

Paul ended: "Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think - according to the power that works in you" (v. 20), as if inviting us to fill in the blanks with things Christ does beyond all we imagine.

My list includes God's saving grace (Heb. 7:25), strength during times of testing (Heb. 2:18), my eternal security (Jude 24), and my transformation into the likeness of His glorious body (Phil. 3:21). I also marvel at being appointed to teach (2 Tim. 1:12), when many readers are better qualified.

Paul continued, "to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (v. 21). Picture dwelling "forever" in God's glory that dwelt in Christ before creation, and now dwells in the church through His Spirit's presence!

Live in a Worthy Manner

Eph. 4:1-7, 11-13, 15

Paul urged Christians "to walk worthy of the calling" (4:1). This "walk" is not a path, but a way of life through which others see Christ in us.

A little boy approached a woman on the beach, asking, "Lady, do you believe in God?" Surprised, she nodded. "Do you go to church?" he asked.

"I do," she replied.

"Great!" he said. "You can hold my quarter while I go swimming."

Living in a worthy manner "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love" (4:2), we experience "unity of the Spirit," resulting in "peace that binds (us)" together (v. 3). Then we "build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in knowledge of God's Son, (growing) into ... Christ's fullness" (vv. 12-13).

Paul urged, "... speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head - Christ" (v. 15). "Every way" includes widening our friendships to love lost people. The world's demand for love is greater than its supply; otherwise, hunger and hatred would not leave their debris of misery. While we cannot supply the world's need for love, what about people living next door and working beside us?

The deeper we grow in Christ, the fuller life's view becomes. We'll never deplete our love, for "All we send into the lives of others comes back into our own."

10/7/2005 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 30: Follow God's Example : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

October 7 2005 by Catherine Painter

Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 30: Follow God's Example : Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 30: Follow God's Example

By Catherine Painter
Focal passage: Ephesians 4:22-5:2, 8-10

Acknowledge Your New Life

Eph. 4:22-24

I left teaching after our first baby's birth and served my pastor husband as his youth director.

After having enjoyed the climate surrounding youth reared by Christian principles, I returned to teaching after eighteen years, draped in my cloistered lifestyle.

My high school students compared me to Betty White's character on TV's Golden Girls: na�ve and falling for anything. Lying more effectively than I could tell the truth, some of them hoodwinked me to their sheer delight.

Finally, a colleague confided, "You cannot believe anything a student tells you." Shocked, I replied, "Then I'm not sure I can work here."

Polls reveal that lifestyles of many professing Christians differ little from those of people claiming no personal relationship with Christ. Church attendance, Bible study, and worship do not greatly impact their behavior.

Researcher George Barna commented, "People don't act like Jesus because they do not think like Jesus."

The apostle Paul might have said: "Many claiming to be born again have not 'put off their former way of life, corrupted by deceitful desires and allowed Christ to renew ... their minds'" (4:22-23).

Implement Continuing Change

Eph. 4:25-31

Our white baptismal robes symbolize "putting on the righteousness and purity of Christ." This "putting on" begins with rebirth and should continue until we die. Surveys show that a majority of Christians confess their need to implement continuing change in order to experience spiritual growth.

When did you last initiate change in order to grow spiritually? Don't worry. Paul did it for us by insisting that Ephesian Christians obey six commands to "put off" sin and "put on" Christ. Underline those you have completely accomplished.

Commandment 1: Put off falsehood. Paul wrote, "Since you put away lying, speak the truth, each to his neighbor, because we are members of one another" (Eph. 4.25).

Commandment 2: "Be angry and do not sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger" (v. 26). When we open our mouths in anger, the devil steps in. By keeping our mouths shut, we "don't give the devil an opportunity" (v. 27), and avoid resembling Tam O'Shanter's wife, described as "Gathering her brow like a gathering storm, nursing her wrath to keep it warm."

Commandment 3: Don't steal (v. 28). Frank Pollard described a boy eyeing his neighbor's apple tree. The neighbor called, "Johnny, are you trying to steal one of my apples?" "No, sir," he answered, "I'm trying not to."

Commandment 4: "No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear" (v. 29).

Commandment 5: Don't grieve God's Spirit, "who sealed you for the day of redemption" (v. 30). Read the terrible account of Israelites who perished in the wilderness even after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Num.14:11-23), and then discover God's response to anyone who grieves His Spirit (Isa. 63:10).

Commandment 6: Put off "all bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander," (v. 31). Put on kindness, "forgiving one another, as God forgave you in Christ" (v. 32). A wise Indian chief said, "Do not judge a man until you walk three months in his moccasins."

Imitate the Compassionate Father

Eph. 5:1-2, 8-10

Using today's jargon, "Behave like Christians, for God's sake!" Spiritual growth, unlike salvation, is not instantaneous but a lifelong process.

My personal strategy: review Paul's commands, confess my need for growth, ask God to show me where to begin and commit to imitating God. When deeply rooted behaviors take time to dislodge, I'll seek His compassion.

Do you thoroughly imitate Christ? If not, walk "in love, ... as children of light ... discerning what is pleasing to the Lord" (5:2, 10).

And look for me along the way.

10/7/2005 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter | with 0 comments



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