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72-hour abortion wait prevails in Missouri

September 15 2014 by Brian Koonce, Baptist Press

It took until the final hours of the veto session late on Sept. 10, but the Missouri legislature has overridden Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes and joined two other states with the nation’s longest waiting periods before an abortion: 72 hours.

In what pro-life leaders are calling a major victory, women must now wait three days after an initial consultation with a doctor when seeking an abortion. Missouri’s previous waiting period was 24 hours.


The vote tally was 117-44 in the House and 23-7 in the Senate. With a two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, the bill reached 72.6 percent in the House and 76.6 percent in the Senate. (The original tallies when the bill was passed in the spring were 111-39 and 22-9.) In the Senate, debate had gone on for more than two hours in a Democrat filibuster before Republicans invoked the previous question and brought up the vote.

“We thank the Lord for our elected officials who voted with conviction” during the legislature’s special session, said John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Sen. David Sater, R.-Cassville, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate and a member of First Baptist Church there, said elected officials must remember that “unborn children are not abstractions to play politics with. They are human beings like you and me and deserve protection under the law.

“I firmly believe that most Missourians do not think three days is too much time to decide whether to bring a child into this world,” Sater said. “Another 48 hours could very well be the difference between a life saved and a life ended.”

Nixon vetoed the measure July 2 saying the bill was unacceptable because it did not allow an exemption for rape and incest. Missouri now joins Utah and South Dakota as the only states with 72-hour waiting periods, though Utah has the exceptions for rape and incest similar to what Nixon demanded.

“Nothing in this bill prevents any woman who has been a victim of rape or incest from receiving immediate medical treatment from health care professionals,” said Joe Ortwerth of the Missouri Family Policy Council. “This legislation assures that a woman considering abortion has sufficient time to evaluate accurate medical information concerning the abortion procedure. It also furthers a woman’s freedom to make an independent choice about abortion free from coercion from boyfriends, parents or sexual predators.”

There is only one abortion provider left in Missouri, a Planned Parenthood site in St. Louis. However, there is a location in Granite City, Ill., just a few miles across the state line where there is no waiting period.

Legislators also voted to override Nixon’s line-item veto of a budget increase to Missouri’s Alternatives to Abortion Program. It gives an additional $500,000 annually in tax credits for people who contribute to maternity homes and pregnancy resources, both of which were currently capped at $2 million each. The veto override passed the House, 123-37, and the Senate, 27-2.

These two pro-life votes were among 17 of the governor’s vetoes the General Assembly has overridden the special session.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Koonce writes for The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)

9/15/2014 1:01:41 PM by Brian Koonce, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Calif. convention expels 'Third Way' church

September 15 2014 by Terry Barone, Baptist Press

The California Southern Baptist Convention’s (CSBC) Executive Board voted Thursday (Sept. 11) to withdraw fellowship from a church whose pastor says he believes homosexual acts are not always sinful.

In a unanimous vote of the 35 members present (six were absent), the board voted to withdraw fellowship from New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., for holding beliefs contrary to the Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M). Article XVIII of the BF&M defines marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” Article XV states, “Christians should oppose ... all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.”

Board chairman Montia Setzler sent word to Cortez of the board’s decision on Sept. 12.

Setzler, pastor of Magnolia Church in Riverside, Calif., said the board was acting as the “convention ad interim” in taking the action. Article VI, Section 1 of the CSBC Constitution gives the Executive Board the “authority to act for the Convention between its sessions.”

This is the first time in 74 years of existence that the convention has withdrawn fellowship from a church, Setzler said. He added that the CSBC once opted not to receive Cooperative Program gifts from a church.

New Heart first made headlines when pastor Danny Cortez told the congregation in a February sermon he had “changed [his] stance on homosexuality.” The sermon, which Cortez posted on YouTube in March, has been viewed more than 46,000 times.

In the sermon Cortez acknowledged his endorsement of homosexuality “is a radical shift from the longstanding belief of our church. This is a radical shift from our statement of faith, aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Cortez argued that Romans 1 does not condemn all homosexual acts but only those committed in a spirit of violence or unbridled lust. He said modern homosexual relationships are different from the ancient forms of homosexuality Paul was referencing.

In a letter to a prominent gay blogger last spring, Cortez wrote, “The church just voted two Sundays ago, on May 18, 2014, to not dismiss me, and to instead become a Third Way church (agree to disagree and not cast judgement [sic] on one another ...). This is a huge step for a Southern Baptist Church!!”

A former elder at New Heart told Baptist Press that the church in reality never adopted any position on the issue and split into two groups in early June amid unresolvable deadlock.

Following Cortez’s controversial sermon, the congregation voted on four possible options and stipulated that it would separate peacefully if it did not achieve a two-thirds majority. According to the former elder, the four options presented were:

  • Terminate Cortez as pastor and maintain the traditional Christian view that homosexuality is sinful.

  • Take more time to consider the issue.

  • Establish New Heart as a “third way” church, neither affirming nor condemning homosexuality but “agreeing to disagree.”

  • Become a fully gay-affirming church.

Failure to achieve a two-thirds majority led to the previously agreed upon separation.

The faction that went with Cortez retained the name “New Heart Community Church” and the articles of incorporation.

The faction that went with Cortez was the subject of the CSBC’s action.

Setzler told board members he and CSBC Executive Director Fermín A. Whittaker along with D. August Boto, executive vice president and general counsel for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, met with Cortez and a member of his church on Wednesday, Sept. 3 in the Los Angeles area.

The “best thing for convention leadership was to actually hear from” Cortez, Setzler said. “It’s easy to be misquoted and misunderstood ... so we wanted to actually hear from him. It was a cordial meeting.”

Setzler added, “We came away believing that Cortez still believed what he had written to the blogger.”

Cortez was given an opportunity to attend the CSBC Executive Board meeting on Sept. 11 and speak, Setzler said, but “he did not choose to do that.” According to Setzler, Cortez affirmed during the Sept. 3 meeting with convention leaders that New Heart “still would like to be a Southern Baptist church.”

Setzler said he and Whittaker informed Cortez that the CSBC Executive Board was likely to deal with the matter of his church one way or the other. Setzler said he told Cortez that he “did not expect that there would be an outcome that allowed the belief system that the church had adopted to remain compatible with California Southern Baptists.”

When an Executive Board member asked in the Sept. 11 meeting how Cooperative Program funds given by New Heart would be handled, Setzler said, “We have not offered money back because money given is given in good faith and spent” for the purposes intended.

After the vote, Setzler said, “I came away grieved that we could not come to an agreement of them moving back to what I would consider to be a biblical stance on this issue. So it is not with any joy, it is out of a sense of loss” that the decision was taken.

“This was not done lightly and ... we took extra steps in order to be able to clarify and know and not assume what [the church’s] stance was,” Setzler said.

When asked about potential “restoration” of the pastor and church, Setzler responded, “It is our hope that under the pastor’s leadership, the church would be led back to compatibility with the articles of faith we follow as a convention. Should the pastor and congregation arrive at that conviction and reverse their current stance on homosexual practice and behavior, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss resuming fellowship with New Heart Community Church.... I believe restoration is possible, and I think there would nothing but Kingdom joy if that were to happen.”

At least three board members prayed for Cortez and the congregation.

In related news, the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association’s executive board recommended in July that the association not seat messengers from New Heart at its Oct. 11 meeting. If the board’s recommendation is adopted, the association will not receive any New Heart contributions, director of missions Mark Hammond told BP.

The association has not cashed New Heart’s checks since news broke of Cortez’s announcement that he approves of some homosexual acts. If the association votes not to seat New Heart’s messengers, all of its uncashed checks will be returned, Hammond said.

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (EC) chairman Mike Routt told BP he “thought it likely that the EC would consider the same issues the California convention did and perhaps act on the matter” during its meeting Sept. 22-23 in Nashville.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – With reporting by Holly Smith, managing editor of the California Southern Baptist, and David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

9/15/2014 9:41:11 AM by Terry Barone, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Boston kicks off Send North America Experience tour

September 15 2014 by Joe Conway, NAMB/Baptist Press

The fall tour of the North American Mission Board’s Send North America Experience debuted Sept. 8 at Tremont Temple Baptist Church. More than 1,100 attenders lined up around the block passing the final resting place of Paul Revere and dozens of other patriot’s headstones on their way to hear a message from David Platt, worship with the Passion Band and learn more about living life on mission.

Aaron Coe, NAMB’s vice president for mobilization and marketing, recounted that D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham have preached in senior pastor Denton Lotz’s pulpit in Boston, Mass. He is one in a line of prominent preachers who’ve led the nation’s first integrated congregation.

Coe hinted that history is not finished with Tremont.

“A group of ordinary Baptist men felt called by God to build a church that did not charge for pews [a custom common in colonial America],” Coe said. “They believed that every life on mission matters. We believe that every life on mission matters. It is time for the church to stop making excuses and take action.”


NAMB photo by John Swain
North American Mission Board vice president for mobilization and marketing Aaron Coe reminded those who attended the Boston Send North America tour stop of the significance of Tremont Temple Baptist Church. The location has hosted Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham, among many others.

Coe led the gathering, made up of many Bostonians, and scores of people from around the northeast, to pray for the city, its leaders and for Jesus to be known in the region.

One of those Bostonians was Drew Dolan, a mechanical engineering student at Northeastern University. He was there with fiancée Amada Bringhurst to hear Platt and “explore what God is doing here in Boston and see how we can be a part.”

Platt, newly elected president of the International Mission Board, reminded the ethnically diverse gathering not to underestimate the power of God’s Spirit.

“I want to encourage you and exhort you that God has placed you here for a reason,” said Platt, who remarked that some eight out of 10 residents of the northeast do not have a relationship with Christ. “What will you do with your moment?

“Don’t underestimate what God can do with ordinary people. God uses ordinary people with extraordinary power from the Spirit of God to accomplish His purposes. Every Christian has been commissioned to preach the gospel and empowered to share the truth. And never dilute the essence of the gospel,” Platt, who used the example of the church founded at Antioch by ordinary followers of Christ [Acts 19:11], said.

“Every major move of the Spirit of God is the result of prayer for the power of God,” he noted. “Do not let prayer be a supplemental part of your life or your church. Prayer must be a fundamental part of your life and your church.”

The event, one of more than 20 scheduled across the U.S. and Canada, is a prelude to NAMB’s Send North America Conference, Aug. 3-4, 2015, in Nashville. The Boston attenders also provided an offering of more than $6,000 to help fund a Boston church plant. Boston is one of 32 Send North America cities where a concentrated focus on church planting is part of the Send North America strategy. It is a strategy that resonates with Boston tour stop participant Cameron Liner.

“We all moved here from Oklahoma to be a part of what God is doing in Boston,” Liner, speaking of his wife and friends, said. “Tonight was a great reminder that we have to continue to follow God in obedience. If you know you need to do something, you need to do it.”

Liner is a member of Charles River Church, planted by Curtis Cook. Cook and his team were hosts for the Boston tour stop. Cook also serves as city coordinator for Send North America: Boston.

Coe told the gathering that one goal of the tour stop was to encourage believers and remind them they are not alone.

“Do you really think there is hope for me?” asked 26-year-old Amber Smith*, who represented a trend toward a younger audience at the gathering. Smith is a former drug dealer who survived a rough childhood. “I’m so glad [the tour] came to Boston because now I know that people really do care about me.”

At the end of the night Drew Dolan said he knew he was in the place God intended him to be.

“I felt God speaking to me in the first worship set,” he said. “It was to the point of becoming overcome with emotion, which doesn’t come easily to me. It was also incredible worshiping next to my fiancée. We felt shaken by the mission we are given for this city and this region.”

To learn more about the Send North America Experience, visit snaexp.sendconference.com. To register for the 2015 Send North America Conference, visit sendconference.com. Explore being a part of Send North America: Boston at http://www.namb.net/boston/.

*Name changed due to the sensitive nature of Smith’s past.

9/15/2014 9:18:52 AM by Joe Conway, NAMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Tim Tebow joins ‘Good Morning America’

September 15 2014 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

Tim Tebow, the popular former college and pro quarterback revered and criticized for his Christian faith and his on-the-field prayers that coined the word “Tebowing,” continues to make headlines this year as a football commentator – and now as a morning show contributor.

Tebow, an analyst for the SEC Network and ESPN, has signed on with “Good Morning America,” ABC News announced Thursday (Sept. 11). A member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., Tebow will be a part of the show’s “Motivate Me Monday,” a non-football series. “Tebow will appear in studio and live on location in towns across America with a wide-range of reports that motivate and inspire,” the ABC release said.

Tim Tebow

The Heisman-winner who played for the University of Florida has garnered positive reviews from the media as a college football commentator for his warm personality and knowledge of the game. Earlier this year Tebow drew praise for his pregame analysis and predictions for the BCS National Championship game. Tebow predicted the Florida State University Seminoles would beat the Auburn University Tigers 35-31. Final result? FSU won 34-31.

“Tim is a SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal,” ESPN Vice President Justin Connolly said in the news release after Tebow signed on with the SEC Network last year. “He will be a significant contributor to the compelling content we will deliver.... Tim brings a wealth of knowledge about the game, the conference and the passion among SEC fans.”

Before becoming a football analyst, Tebow’s public declarations of his Christian faith set off a nationwide discussion about whether professional athletes should keep their religious faith to themselves.

Many evangelical Christians rallied around Tebow as he played two seasons for the NFL’s Broncos in Denver, helping lead them on a playoff run in 2012. He then played a year for the New York Jets before being cut in the 2013 preseason by the New England Patriots. Tebow has said in past reports that he still hopes to play quarterback in the NFL.

Some Tebow supporters have cried foul over the secular media criticizing the quarterback for being too outspoken about his Christian faith while other athletes – the NBA’s Jason Collins and NFL’s Michael Sam – have drawn praise for going public about their sexual orientation.

This season, much of the news media hailed Sam as a hero for being the first NFL player to publically announce he is a homosexual. Sam even shared a kiss on national television with his boyfriend after the St. Louis Rams drafted him this spring. The team cut Sam a few weeks later, but the defensive end soon garnered headlines again when he made the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shawn Hendricks is managing editor of Baptist Press.)

9/15/2014 9:05:30 AM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Platt: Opposition reveals our beliefs

September 12 2014 by Erich Bridges, IMB/Baptist Press

The rise of militant secularism – and increasing efforts to make the practice of biblical faith socially and legally unacceptable – are slowly raising the cost of discipleship in America.

“In one sense, I’m thankful for the trends in our culture, and even in the church, that are causing us to ask, ‘OK, do we really believe the Bible?’” said David Platt, who discussed a range of missions-related issues during an interview following his election as president of Southern Baptists’ International Mission Board on Aug. 27.

“Do we really believe this gospel that we claim to believe?” Platt asked. “Because more and more, cultural Christianity is just kind of fading to the background. People are realizing if you actually believe in the gospel then that’s not as accepted as it once was. It’s actually looked down upon as narrow-minded, arrogant, bigoted and offensive. Obviously, we want to be humble in our embracing of the gospel but it’s becoming more costly in our culture in a way that’s good – in the sense that this better prepares us [for] what we’re going to be a part of around the world.”


IMB photo
David Platt, addressing his first missionary appointment service as IMB president, tells 50 new workers, “We’ve been invited by God to be part of making His salvation known among people that He loves, and we know that when we share this gospel, people are going to be saved ... somebody from every tribe, nation and people group.”

Platt acknowledged that Christians now face such questions as: Do we believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ enough to lose friends, social status, a scholarship or a job over it? Do we believe it enough to suffer for it?

Despite the higher cost to live and declare the gospel in America, Platt stated: “We’re not going to shrink back in light of the resistance that’s there.” Instead: “We’re going to step up, rise up and say we want to see His glory proclaimed no matter what it costs us, because we believe He is our reward.”

Amid America’s longstanding religious liberty coupled with the prosperity of the richest economy in human history, Platt noted: “We need to realize the clear New Testament teaching that it is costly to follow Christ, that the more your life is identified with Christ, the harder it will get for you in this world.”

He continued: “We need our eyes opened to that reality. I think we’ve been almost seduced by the spirit of cultural Christianity that says, ‘Oh, come to Christ and you can keep your life as you know it.’ No, you come to Christ and you lose your life as you know it. The more you’re active in sharing the gospel, the more unpopular you’ll be in many ways, the more resistance you’ll face. ...

“[But] it helps you realize this is what our brothers and sisters around the world are facing in different places. If we’re going to join with them in spreading the gospel, then we need to be ready to embrace that ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,’” Platt said, quoting the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:12.

During months of praying about leading Southern Baptists’ global mission enterprise, Platt said God had instilled in him a “deeper, narrowing, Romans 15 kind of ambition, where Paul said, ‘I want to see Christ preached where He has not been named.’” The whole concept of unreached peoples, “of nearly 2 billion people who have never heard the gospel, is just totally intolerable,” he said.

With most unreached people living in places where religions, cultures, governments and extremists oppose – sometimes violently – the transmission of the gospel and the making of disciples, Platt said he realizes: “Making disciples of all nations will not be easy, and the more we give ourselves to reaching unreached peoples with the gospel, the harder it will get for us.

“But the beauty is the more we identify with Christ [in America], the more we’ll be ready to identify with the sufferings of Christ [overseas] as we go. And we’ll realize, whether here or there, the more we give ourselves to this mission, [the more we’ll] believe in the depth of our heart that He is our reward and that the reward of seeing people come to Christ is worth it. This is just basic theology of suffering in mission. How has God chosen to show His love most clearly to the world? Through the suffering of His Son, a suffering Savior.

“So how is God going to show His love most to the world today? Through suffering saints, through brothers and sisters who identify with the suffering Savior.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erich Bridges is IMB global correspondent.)

9/12/2014 10:14:38 AM by Erich Bridges, IMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Truett Cathy: His ‘good name’ celebrated

September 12 2014 by Tim Palmer, Baptist Press

The life of Truett Cathy was celebrated by 2,000 people who packed the auditorium of First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga., and hundreds more in an overflow room Wednesday (Sept. 10). The memorial service encompassed stirring music and humor – and an overriding testimony to a patriarchal faith in Jesus Christ.

Cathy, a Baptist churchman who founded the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain and contributed to an array of charitable causes, died Monday, Sept. 8, at his Atlanta-area home. He was 93.

Frequent Scripture passages spiced the memorial service, including one of Cathy’s favorites, Proverbs 22:1: If you must choose, take a good name rather than great riches; for to be held in loving esteem is better than silver and gold.

Cathy earned great riches in the restaurant business but he laid up greater treasures in heaven, such as the eternal influence of teaching an eighth-grade boys’ Sunday School class for six decades.


Pallbearers leave First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga., after a memorial service for Truett Cathy, famed entrepreneur of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain.

One former class member, Joshua Werho, paused in his duties as an usher to recall his Sunday School teacher. He really liked teaching that age because it’s the transition to becoming young men, Werho recounted, repeatedly using the word passionate to describe how Cathy taught.

Cathy challenged the youths not to let the world corrupt them and to guard their hearts for the women they would marry, Werho said.

Another former student, Woody Faulk, told the memorial service crowd about the time he found Cathy in the woods on a February day and asked what he was doing. Cathy said he was picking early-blooming jonquils for a Valentine’s Day bouquet for his wife Jeannette. When Faulk asked him why he didn’t just order flowers from a florist, Cathy replied, Don’t you know how much florists charge to deliver on Valentine’s Day?

Faulk used the story to point toward Cathy’s authentic personal faith. I saw that love in action, Faulk said.

Cathy’s faith is worthy of emulation, Faulk said. I want to live like that too, he said. Don’t you?

Cathy’s grandson, Andrew Cathy, recalled lessons learned from his grandfather. Don’t take yourself too seriously was one. Take what you do very seriously was another.

Charles Carter, who served as First Baptist’s pastor for 27 years, called it a high honor to bring the message in Wednesday’s service. Carter drew from Romans 12, saying that Cathy followed the exhortations in the oft-quoted passage.

Carter described Cathy as larger than life – someone who pursued his hopes and dreams while making the world a better place. Noting that Cathy viewed his work in food service as a divine call, Carter said, We could all do well to follow his example.

Even after earning fame and fortune, Carter said, Cathy kept God first. That’s a hard line to walk.

Carter concluded with words addressed to Cathy himself. You’ve left some awfully big shoes to fill. We’ll do our best.

Both of Cathy’s sons also addressed the service. Don Bubba Cathy recalled that his father lived in the same small house for more than 60 years, but he had a 200-car garage. Don’s Sunday School story was that his father threatened no-shows with going to their houses and having Sunday School around their beds.

Dan Cathy, who succeeded his father as Chick-fil-A’s chief executive officer, said he counts the 61 years they shared as precious. I’ll proudly live in the shadow of his legacy for the rest of my life.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Palmer is an Atlanta-area writer.)

9/12/2014 9:51:17 AM by Tim Palmer, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NFL/Ray Rice stir domestic violence blogs

September 12 2014 by David Roach, Baptist Press

After professional football star Ray Rice was suspended by the National Football League (NFL) indefinitely for knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in Atlantic City, Southern Baptists took to the Internet to give a biblical perspective on domestic violence.

“Often, men who abuse their wives or girlfriends will seek to hide under the cover of therapeutic language, as they seek to ‘deal’ with their ‘issues,’” Southern Baptists’ lead ethicist Russell D. Moore wrote in a blog post for CNN Sept. 10.

“There is no question that a man who would abuse a woman is socially and psychologically twisted,” Moore wrote, “but we should not allow this to in any way ameliorate the moral and public evil involved in these cases. The state should work, at every level, to prosecute the abusers of women and children in a way that will both deter others and make clear society’s repugnance at such abuse.”

Rice, a two-time All-Pro running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was suspended for two games initially, after a video showed him dragging the unconscious body of Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, out of a casino elevator following the assault in February. When an elevator surveillance video showing the actual assault surfaced Monday (Sept. 8), the Ravens released Rice and the NFL handed down his indefinite suspension.

Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said both the government and the church have a responsibility to confront violence against women. Part of the government’s responsibility, he said, is to make justice “clear and decisive enough” that women will report abuse and not fear repercussions from the men who harm them.


Churches must “address the spiritual and moral realities behind” domestic violence by disciplining men who abuse women and teaching about biblical gender roles, Moore said.

Christians “are the people who believe that every idle word and every hateful act, no matter how covered up in this life, will be brought into the open at the Judgment Seat,” Moore wrote. “We ought to warn men that their cowardly and predatory acts toward women do not escape the scrutiny of God.”

Among other Southern Baptists to comment on the Rice situation:

Owen Strachan, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, wrote that public outrage over Rice’s actions demonstrates widespread acknowledgment that women possess unique dignity which must be protected.

“The justly-outraged response of America to Rice’s abusive act has shown us that though we might ideologically deny that women deserve courtly treatment from men, we still practically believe they do,” Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College, wrote in a blog post at patheos.com. “There is something particularly awful, in other words, about Rice knocking out the woman he ostensibly loves. This act of violence is different than a fight between him and a hulking teammate. As many commentators have recognized, a man brutalizing a woman is terrible in a unique way.”

The physical strength of men has been granted to them by God and should be used to protect others rather than harm them, Strachan wrote.

“What would godly men do if they saw a situation like the one Ray Rice created?” Strachan wrote. “They would know, most likely, that if they stood between him and her, they would get dropped, flat out. They would be knocked out. But they would step in all the same. What’s more, they would do so gladly. They would sacrifice their safety and their body and their very life for others. Men stand in the middle. Men get between.”

Emily Ellis, a publishing team leader at LifeWay Christian Resources, lamented that 42 percent of pastors say they rarely or never speak about domestic violence in their churches, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.

Ellis said the biblical pictures of Boaz covering Ruth with his garment and God covering His people contrast with the video of Palmer lying “exposed and humiliated on an elevator floor.”

“Instead of Rice ‘covering’ her, as God has commanded men to do, he exposed her. He abused her. He misused his God-given strength to harm her,” Ellis wrote in a guest post on LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer’s blog.

Evan Lenow, assistant professor of ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, identified 1 Peter 3 and Ephesians 5 as key Bible passages to guide husbands in proper treatment of their wives. Though often controversial, adopting biblical gender roles in the home leads to harmonious families, he wrote in a blog post.

“While our society cringes to see the video of a man striking his fiancée, the solution to the problem is often equally despised. This is because the teachings of Scripture are counter-cultural,” Lenow wrote.

“It is unpopular to tell a man that he should treat his wife as a weaker vessel. It is out of favor to say that a wife should submit to the loving leadership of her husband as to Christ. But I think counter-cultural is the way we should go here. While culture walks swiftly down the path of violence, the words of Scripture call us men to honor, love, and cherish women,” he wrote.

Alex Duke, editorial manager for 9Marks, a ministry associated with Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., used the Rice incident as an opportunity for evangelism. In an article posted at The Gospel Coalition website, Duke addressed non-Christian sports fans who might stumble across his writing.

“I’m struck by my propensity to, like Rice, hide the truth about myself despite convincing evidence to the contrary,” Duke wrote. “... But there is someone who has all the evidence, all the footage, someone who knows and has seen and can recall every minute detail, frame by frame by frame. I don’t know your feelings about the Bible, but I trust its every word. So I believe the author of Hebrews when he writes, ‘And no creature is hidden from [God’s] sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.’

“If today’s technology can watch us from the tucked-away corners of casino elevators, how much more can we be sure the creator of the eye and the giver of sight sees all things? Only repentance and faith in the enfleshed, risen Son saves us totally from our sins, private and public, broadcasted and hidden (Rom. 5-8),” he wrote.

Joe Carter, ERLC communications director, noted “9 Things You Should Know About Intimate Partner Violence.”

“In 48 population-based surveys from around the world, 10-69 percent of women reported being physically assaulted by an intimate male partner at some point in their lives,” Carter wrote at The Gospel Coalition website. “In large national studies, the range is between 10-34 percent.”

Carter added, “According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 women (22.3 percent) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men (14.0 percent) have experienced the same. Female victims frequently experienced multiple forms of IPV (i.e. rape, physical violence, stalking); male victims most often experienced physical violence.”

Jeremy Pierre, assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press that an article he published last year may help churches and pastors considering the topic of domestic violence in light of Rice. In the article Pierre urged churches to “promote a culture of safety for oppressed people in the congregation” and discipline abusive men.

“Wives should be reminded that by remaining quiet about abusive husbands they insulate them from the loving correction they need to save their souls from destruction,” Pierre wrote in the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. “It is not loving to hide domestic abuse; it will only bring destruction. To the victim as well as the perpetrator. No matter how many times an abuser feels guilty and promises not to continue, without help from others, the pattern will continue.”

Pastors should always alert government authorities in cases of violence and sexual abuse, Pierre wrote.

“Many well-meaning pastors may, in attempt to show grace, treat violence as ‘church family business.’ This is both illegal and foolish. Part of godly authority is exacting the consequences of a man’s actions on him. An abuser must be accountable to the law, regardless of the state of his repentance,” Pierre wrote.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

9/12/2014 9:29:09 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Bivocational, small church council named

September 12 2014 by Baptist Press/SBC LIFE

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) President Frank S. Page has named a 21-member Bivocational and Small Church Advisory Council to serve through 2017, SBC LIFE reported in its fall issue.

Calling the local church the "headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention," Page named the council to help the Executive Committee and other SBC entity leaders gain greater understanding of and appreciation for the perspectives of churches served by bivocational pastors and churches with Sunday school attendance of 125 or less.

The council will provide information, insight and counsel to EC staff relative to the special needs and concerns of Southern Baptist bivocational and small church leaders, and it will serve as a bridge to pastors who often lack the flexibility or resources to participate in SBC meetings, SBC LIFE reported.

The council will neither launch nor execute ministries; its purpose is consultation, communication and cooperation. Members represent a cross-section of the country and reflect the SBC's cultural diversity.

During Page's four years at the helm of the Executive Committee, he has maintained a proactive agenda to "encourage the cooperation and confidence of the churches, associations, and state conventions and facilitate maximum support for worldwide missions and ministries," as noted in the EC Mission Statement in its official organization manual.

Page has visited each SBC entity leader and state convention executive, seeking to build and strengthen relationships and gain insight in addressing questions of cooperation among the different SBC entities and the cooperating state convention ministry partners.

The Bivocational and Small Church Advisory Council joins a list of such councils Page has named during his tenure, including groups addressing the Hispanic, African American, Asian American and multi-ethnic communities among Southern Baptists.

As early as 2013, Page began meeting directly with pastors to build and strengthen relationships, listening to their perspectives on cooperation and SBC work as well as updating them on SBC ministries. Since January, Page has met with more than 400 pastors in 14 states where he has had other SBC-related duties. The Bivocational and Small Church Advisory Council will work with Page to expand the reach of these listening sessions among their friendship networks.

Council members are Ira Antoine Jr., Minnehulla Baptist Church, Goliad, Texas; Vernon E. Beachum Jr., First Baptist Church; Fort Ashby, W.Va.; Paul Biswas, Cambridgeport Baptist Church, Cambridge, Mass.; Fredrick Brabson Sr., New Covenant Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn.; Bobby Clark, Abbott Baptist Church, Mansfield, Ark.; Gordon Donahoe, Neely's Bend Baptist Church, Madison, Tenn.; Ray Gilder, Gath Baptist Church, McMinnville, Tenn.; Kenny Heath, Grace Baptist Church, Cumberland, Md.; Hal Hopkins, Lighthouse Baptist Church, Breinigsville, Pa.; Stephen R. Jones, Central Baptist Church, Alameda, Calif.; Pusey Losch, Mountain View Community Church, Richfield, Pa.; Henry Luckel, Ethne Church, Larkspur, Colo.; Gary Mitchell, First Baptist Church, Chataignier, La.; Joel Perez, Iglesia Bautista La Cosecha, Okeechobee, Fla.; Michael Pigg, Philadelphia Baptist Church, Lithonia, Ga.; Shannon Smith, Westside Baptist Church, Fremont Campus, Omaha, Neb.; A. Scott Tafoya, Indian Nations Baptist Church, Albuquerque, N.M.; Mark Tolbert, Bedico Baptist Church, Ponchatoula, La.; Elizondo Marcos Villarreal, Iglesia Cristiana Bautista, Lufkin, Texas; Cliff Woodman, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Carlinville, Ill., and Joe Young, Calvary Chapel, Parchman, Miss.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – SBC LIFE is the journal of the SBC Executive Committee.)

9/12/2014 9:24:33 AM by Baptist Press/SBC LIFE | with 0 comments

Mental health & the church: ‘People are looking for mercy’

September 11 2014 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Pastors must learn how to help troubled souls and remove the stigma associated with mental illness, Rick Warren and Tony Rose said in a video discussion with Russell D. Moore, president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“The phrase ‘mental health’ or ‘mental illness’ does not equal crazy,” Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., said in the video posted at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entity’s erlc.com website. “A lot of people think that mental illness means people out of touch with reality. Ninety-nine percent of us – and I include all of us – struggle with mental health issues, and we’re not out of touch with reality. Depression is a mental health issue. Worry is a mental health issue. Compulsion is a mental health issue.... Fear is a mental health issue.”

Warren spoke of a brain disorder he has that causes him to get dizzy and experience partial blindness when he has an adrenaline rush. The disorder once made him faint as he stood up to preach, leading to a years-long struggle with fear and depression that included trips to Christian counselors, he said.

“When I start sharing stuff like that, then that causes my church to be able to open up about” their own mental health issues, Warren said.


Screen capture
“The phrase ‘mental health’ or ‘mental illness’ does not equal crazy,” Rick Warren (right), pastor of Saddleback Church, says in a video panel with Russell D. Moore (left) of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Kentucky pastor Tony Rose, chairman of a Mental Health Advisory Group formed by SBC Executive Committee president Frank S. Page.

Rose, chairman of the Mental Health Advisory Group formed by SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, said pastors should learn to evaluate the causes of people’s troubled souls so they can provide spiritual help as needed and refer individuals for medical help when appropriate. He referenced as a good model the pastoral procedure followed by Puritans, Christians who sought to reform the Church of England’s doctrine and worship in the 1500s and 1600s.

First, Puritan pastors evaluated whether a person trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior, Rose, pastor of LaGrange (Ky.) Baptist Church, said. Then they evaluated whether the troubled individual suffered from “melancholy” – a broad label the Puritans used to describe conditions akin to what today’s mental health professionals refer to as depression.

Puritan Richard Baxter represents a “classic” example of pastoral wisdom regarding mental illness, Rose said. Baxter once said according to Rose, “Preaching a man a sermon with a broken head and telling him to be right with God is equal to telling a man with a broken leg to get up and run a race.”

Pastors also must evaluate whether a troubled person is experiencing the consequences of sin, an attack of Satan or a sense of the Holy Spirit’s desertion, Rose said in the video, released in mid-July.

Pastors aren’t the only ones who should be concerned with mental illness, Warren said. All relationships, minds and bodies are affected adversely by the Fall of man, and believers should try to alleviate that brokenness wherever they can, he said.

Warren, whose son Matthew committed suicide last year following a battle with mental illness since childhood, noted that one in five children struggle with mental illness. The average age for the onset of depression used to be in the 30s, Rose said, but now is 14.

Given the pervasiveness of mental illness, dealing with it compassionately is a challenge that churches must embrace, the pastors said.

“If the church could be a church of mercy, we would have no evangelism problem,” Warren said, “because people are looking for mercy.”

To view the 16-minute video, click here.

Rose, in a Q&A with Kentucky’s Western Recorder newsjournal, elaborated on the need for applying the gospel to the arena of mental health. He noted that some Christians don’t understand the varied causes and remedies for mental disturbances.

“From my 26 years of pastoral ministry, I have learned that Christians are not immune to mental illness. I have seen almost the entire spectrum of mental and emotional issues among the precious people of God whom I have been privileged to serve. Depression, eating disorders, suicidal tendencies and actual suicides, cutting – and the list could go on,” Rose said.

“Sometimes Christians become mentally and emotionally disturbed because of personal sin. This kind of case is the easiest to deal with. Help the person confront the sin, confess the sin and repent. Forward movement can be made from there. But if we make all mental and emotional maladies the product of personal sin, repentance is our only remedy. Telling someone who is mentally disturbed due to a biological, genetic or physiological cause to repent will not help him or her heal; it will only cause hurt,” he said.

Rose urged believers to approach the subject of mental health with humility, acknowledging its intricacy.

“There are times when we in the church can get a bit dogmatic about what the Bible teaches concerning mental health,” Rose said. “For myself and others, the greatest ingredient we need in addressing these difficult issues is humility. There are many things we just don’t know, and there are times it is fully appropriate and helpful to work with professionals to help us with situations that are immensely complex.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

9/11/2014 9:35:22 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Elliff’s IMB tenure one of energy and prayer

September 11 2014 by Tess Rivers, IMB/Baptist Press

There are three qualities that many would say characterize former International Mission Board (IMB) president Tom Elliff: boundless energy, a passion for prayer and a heart broken over lostness.
When IMB trustees unanimously elected Elliff to lead the missions agency in March 2011, the then 67-year-old former missionary, pastor, two-time Southern Baptist Convention president and IMB vice president made it clear that he had big plans.

“I’m coming with a vision,” Elliff said at the time, “and I will serve as long as God gives me grace and energy.”

On Aug. 27, IMB trustees elected David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., to succeed Elliff as IMB president.

In February 2014, when Elliff asked IMB trustees to begin the search for his successor, he promised to “run through the finish line, until such a successor is found.”

Heart for ministry

Born in Texas, Elliff is a fourth-generation Oklahoman and third-generation pastor. He served with his wife Jeannie as an IMB missionary to Zimbabwe in the early 1980s. They resigned in 1983 after their daughter Beth was seriously injured in a car accident there.


IMB Photo
Tom Elliff, who served as IMB’s 11th president, often described himself and other Christians as “chasers of darkness” who are “looking for the black holes of sin in our world and thrusting into that darkness the Light of the glorious gospel of Christ

He was twice elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, in 1996 and 1997. He shepherded several key churches in the denomination, including First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Okla., where he was pastor from 1985-2005.

Elliff then served as IMB senior vice president for spiritual nurture and church relations from 2005-09. In that role, he taught and counseled missionaries and helped mobilize churches throughout the convention for missions involvement. From 2009-11, he led Living in The Word Publications, a writing and speaking ministry he founded in 2005. He is the author of numerous books about prayer, spiritual awakening and family life.

In his years as International Mission Board president, Elliff never seemed to slow down. He introduced a number of initiatives at the missions agency, including Embrace, in which churches commit to make disciples among previously unengaged, unreached people groups; Ready Reserve, which allows former field personnel to volunteer for overseas missions; Marketplace Advance, where business leaders and other professionals leverage their skills for the sake of the Great Commission; Global Connect, in which IMB partners with churches who are fully funding and sending out their church members as a part of their ongoing work among a people group, and the School of Prayer for All Nations, which equips churches in prayer for the nations.

Chasers of darkness

“We are chasers of darkness,” Elliff often said, “looking for the black holes of sin in our world and thrusting into that darkness the Light of the glorious gospel of Christ.”

Elliff’s urgency and passion for the lost grew from an experience he had as a young pastor and swim coach. After a particularly grueling practice with his swimmers, Elliff jumped into the pool to relax. Floating on his back, he heard a voice: “I hear you’re a preacher.” Elliff opened his eyes and saw one of his swimmers standing on the edge of the pool. The boy had questions about God, Elliff recalled, and asked if they could talk.

“I didn’t take the time to talk with him then,” Elliff said. “Instead, I told him that we would set up a time.”

That meeting never happened, and later Elliff learned the boy took his own life. That experience instilled in the young Elliff a deep sense of urgency to make Christ known at every opportunity. It also drove him to his knees in prayer.

Passionate in prayer

In remarks at a farewell luncheon for the Elliffs on Aug. 27, IMB executive vice president Clyde Meador noted Elliff’s passion for prayer.

Shortly after arriving at IMB as president, Elliff asked that a portion of his office suite be converted into a prayer room. Outfitted with a kneeling bench and a map of the nations on the wall, he spent time on his knees every day interceding for a lost world and those working to share the gospel of Jesus with them.

“You prayed for 10 IMB staff members every day and devoted so much of our meeting times to prayer,” Meador told Elliff during the luncheon. “Thank you for praying.”

David Uth, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., and former IMB trustee board chair who led the search for Elliff’s successor, also noted Elliff’s passion.

“I’ll never forget the day we sat together … and I watched as you wept for the nations,” Uth said. “Your passion for the lost is greater than any I’ve ever seen in anyone.”

Humble cheerleader

At his final SBC annual meeting as IMB president, in Baltimore, Md., in June, Elliff thanked Southern Baptists for the opportunity to serve but acknowledged that God was leading him to step aside.

“We believe people support what they help create,” Elliff said. “And it seems we have an entire generation of Southern Baptists who’ve yet to have an opportunity to help us create who we are. There comes a time when leaders need to be cheerleaders.”

During the Aug. 27 IMB trustee meeting, amid cheers and applause, Elliff, 70, handed the reins of Southern Baptists’ international missions organization to Platt who, at 36, is the youngest president in the history of the 169-year-old institution.

Fighting back tears, Elliff called Platt’s election one of the most exciting moments of his life, adding that he and his wife Jeannie have been praying for Platt and his wife Heather since before Elliff became IMB’s president in 2011.

The next day, Elliff sent a parting email to IMB personnel.

“I’ve never been a fan of long goodbyes,” Elliff wrote, as he welcomed Platt to his role. “There is a world of darkness awaiting the arrival of folks like us who chase darkness away with THE Light ... Let’s all join him in his fervent determination to take the Light to the ends of the earth.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tess Rivers is an IMB writer. Erich Bridges contributed to this article.)

9/11/2014 9:09:27 AM by Tess Rivers, IMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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