December 6 2013 by
Mark Coppenger, Baptist Press
NASHVILLE – At the moment, we're having a national brouhaha over health care. Perhaps it's a good time to put the matter of health in biblical perspective
Consider these 10 facets of the biblical witness:
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This column first appeared at the blog of BibleMesh, a website that teaches the Bible as a unified story pointing to Christ (online at www.biblemesh.com/blog). Mark Coppenger is director of the Nashville extension center for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and professor of Christian apologetics at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.)
Doctoring is biblical. Jesus honored the medical profession by calling Himself the Great Physician and by inspiring a doctor, Luke, to write much of the New Testament (Luke and Acts). Illness is real and there are physical resources for dealing with it.
God has graciously placed medical resources in nature. Proverbs 31:6 and 1 Timothy 5:23 speak, respectively, of alcohol as sedative and palliative. These passages anticipate a range of medications available for such purposes, from anesthesia to antibiotics (e.g., aspirin from willow bark and penicillin from mold).
Healing was a sign of Jesus' power and compassion. The Gospels are full of healing accounts, from blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10 to the centurion's servant in Matthew 8. And the prophets continually pressed their hearers to care for genuine victims of circumstance and oppression. Following His example and infused by His Spirit, Christians have been at the forefront of the healing arts throughout church history.
Primary responsibility lies with the individual and the family. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul says, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat," and in 1 Timothy 5:8, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." By extension, basic coverage for life's essentials begins at home, and we should not burden others unless we can't help it.
We are to be stewards of our health. In this connection, 1 Corinthians 6 teaches that our bodies should be regarded as temples of the Holy Spirit; Proverbs 23 tells us to "put a knife to our throats" if we tend toward gluttony. Though genes and physical circumstances have much to do with our health, much of it is still under our control.
The Bible commends prayer for the sick. James 5 directs those who are ailing to call on the church for intercession. And yes, miracles can happen.
Worry is a sin. While careful stewardship of our bodies is our responsibility, anxiety over potential lapses and shortfalls in care should not cripple us. Jesus reminds us of provision for "birds of the air" and "lilies of the field" in Matthew 6, and asks, rhetorically in Luke 12, who can add a day to his life by worry. Furthermore, Paul posts the antidote to anxiety in Philippians 4: prayer saturated with thanksgiving.
We're all dying. This has been the case since Adam's fall, in Genesis 3, where God said that Adam and his offspring would return "to the dust." In that sense, medicine is fighting a losing battle, and to presume to eliminate all maladies would be to emulate King Canute, who parked his throne on the seashore and then commanded the tide not to invade his land.
There is no substitute for truth. Regarding health care, the economics are complex, the discourse heated, the public policy ramifications enormous and the politics incendiary. The "father of lies" (John 8:44) loves to sow confusion in the midst of the conversation.
Those in Christ will inherit eternal health. As it says of the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21, God "will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain." This is the real, extended health care plan.
12/6/2013 11:43:34 AM
December 5 2013 by
David Jeremiah, Baptist Press
Mark Coppenger, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
EL CAJON, Calif. – The word "always" is frequently misused in our everyday conversations, simply because the definition and its application often do not match.
The definition of "always" is "at all times." If you think about it, no one is "always" late or "always" on time, but when we speak of the faithfulness of God, always is the correct word. God is always faithful to His promises – and understanding this attribute is the key to the life of faith that we long to experience.
If you desire a stronger faith, then isolate a difficulty and find a promise in the Bible that speaks to that problem. In Deuteronomy 7:9, the Lord is called "the faithful God." Psalm 36:5 says that His faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Psalm 37:3 tells us to "feed on His faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "… His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
As we trust the Lord to be faithful to His promises, we experience an inner peace that crowds worry to the corners of our minds, and then out the door.
When we realize that God is faithful to every promise He has made in the Bible, it instantly revamps our perspective. We can become Abraham-like, following in the footsteps of the man who "did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (Romans 4:20-21). He is always faithful to His promises.
Likewise, God is always faithful to His plan. The books of Daniel and Revelation (and other passages in the Bible) lay out God's plan for the ages. One of the joys of my ministry has been studying biblical prophecy and teaching the doctrine of the end times. Prophecy and providence go hand in hand. Prophecy is the prediction of what God is going to do while providence is His engineering of events to accomplish it. Providence is God guiding the course of global history as well as the affairs of the individual lives of His children.
He knows the plans He has for us; our steps are ordered by the Lord; and He leads us in an appointed way. When tragedies befall us, we can't minimize or ignore them, but with the passing of time we increasingly understand that "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform," as a hymnwriter once put it.
George Truett was 30 when he was named pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas. His life took a tragic turn when he accidentally fired his gun and killed the Dallas police chief during a hunting trip. Truett was inconsolable in his grief. He felt certain that he would never return to the pulpit.
But Psalm 31 came forcibly to mind: "But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD.... My times are in Your hand...." (verses 14-15). Finally it was announced that Truett would return to the pulpit, and churches across Dallas cancelled their services to join him as a sign of support. He made it through the service and remained pastor of the church for the rest of his life. During his tenure, church membership increased from 700 to 7,000. The tragedy at the beginning of his ministry led to a helplessness of heart that enabled God to take over.
Our heartaches cannot be downplayed. They often cannot be understood. But God is bigger than our burdens and He is always faithful to His providential plans for our days.
God is always faithful to His people. How important it is to remember that truth! Even during a season of thanksgiving, we're prone to worry. This is the time of year when our minds whipsaw from elections to thanksgiving. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by world events or with personal circumstances.
But come what may, don't grow frenzied, troubled or panicked. You're under God's providential care. Our God is faithful to His promises, His plans and His people.
He is faithful to you. He always has been; He always will be.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif.)
12/5/2013 2:11:00 PM
December 4 2013 by
Johnny Hunt, Baptist Press
David Jeremiah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
WOODSTOCK, Ga. – I wrote this letter in late October while ministering to a people we [First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.] adopted in the Middle East. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning, my heart heavy for the nations. I could not get the recent shortfalls of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering off my mind. I got up and wrote what you are now reading. Please read each statement prayerfully and carefully. My wife Janet and I will personalize the challenge before we give it to our church. It is my prayer that God would use our church along with the fellowships of the Southern Baptist Convention to touch the unreached people groups of our world, especially those that are unengaged by anyone for the Gospel.
I have often heard it said that “if you don't see it before you see it; you will never see it." I can see Southern Baptists coming together on mission with purpose to empower a called-out people to touch the nations. Do you see it, the fulfilling of the Great Commission? There is a movement, a mighty movement in place in our hearts, our churches, our associations, our states and our convention. God is allowing us to join Him in touching the nations. We are coming together and it is rallying around our mission -- to make Christ known everywhere.
My heart has been moved as I have heard from [IMB President] Tom Elliff and others concerning the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. We have had a goal of $175 million for several years, only to fall short each year. We have been noted as a people on mission for God. It is my prayer that we would step up to the plate this year and empower our International Mission Board to do what God has called them to do -- send the called and equipped to the nations. Would you consider your Lottie Moon Christmas gift as your gift to the Lord Jesus Christ as we celebrate His birth?
I have often felt that what is important to you as a leader, the pastor, is what is important to your people. Let's make Revelation 7:9 important. Remind our people to get a glimpse of that day around the throne when every tribe, every nation, every people will be there because of God's marvelous grace and the faithfulness of His dear people to make the Gospel known.
By the will of God, I am going to lead First Baptist Church of Woodstock to send its largest Lottie Moon Christmas Offering ever. I am going to do it predicated on 1 Chronicles 29:14, that everything I have was placed in my hand by God. Even the gifts I give Him were actually His to me. I am going to challenge you and our people with 1 Chronicles 29:3, that we set our affection not on the house of God as David challenged the people in building the temple, but that we set our affection on the nations coming to know God. In 1 Chronicles 29:5 the people consecrated themselves to the Lord and in verse 6 they offered willingly. Let's give while our hands are warm. Remember you will never miss anything you give away and we are never more like Jesus than when we are giving. It is my prayer that each of us will do now what we will be glad we did when we stand before the Lord. Let's give in light of eternity.
I would like to make some suggestions to my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters:
Would you give more to Jesus through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year than you spend on any other person or gift?
Would you prayerfully consider giving the amount equivalent to a week's tithe to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering?
Would you pray about giving a week's income to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering?
Would you pray about having a Lottie Moon Christmas Offering yard sale with all proceeds going to the nations?
Would you pause right now and ask your heavenly Father what He wishes to give through you?
What would happen if we began to believe God to really help us be faithful and sacrificial in going and giving to the nations? I believe that if we will be faithful in giving our missions gifts, it will embolden our missionaries on the field. I believe our own churches will be overwhelmed by our unity around God's mission. We could make Jesus known in a new way around the world.
It is my prayer that each of us would allow God to transform our hearts into hearts for the nations and realize that God indeed loves a cheerful giver and that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Southern Baptists, we can do this! In Jesus' name, let's all challenge our churches to give far over and above. Let's lead out as pastors not only by exhorting our people, but by emulating these principles of generous giving before them. Let the worshippers arise so that others may have the privilege to worship God with us. Let's exceed the $175 million goal. Let's do it in Jesus' name and for Jesus' sake.
Merry Christmas and God bless you,
Pastor, First Baptist Church Woodstock, Woodstock, Ga.
Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention (2009, 2010)
(EDITOR'S NOTE - The following letter by former SBC President Johnny Hunt, initially written to pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention, appeared in the Winter 2013/2014 issue of SBC LIFE, journal of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.)
12/4/2013 11:52:48 AM
December 3 2013 by
Thom Rainer, Baptist Press
Johnny Hunt, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
NASHVILLE – I received a query from a person recently who indicated his curiosity and perhaps concern about how pastors are treated at Christmastime. On topics similar to this, I typically hear from one or two persons who are eager to point to pastors who feel entitled or who are treated too lavishly.
Please hear me clearly. Those pastors are the clear exceptions. Most pastors receive little and expect little. They see their clear call to serve and to care for the congregation.
On Twitter, I then asked a simple question: What do you do for your pastor at Christmastime? For pastors, I asked what their congregations gave them at Christmas. Having long been concerned about how congregations treat pastors, I thought the issue of the Christmas gift would at least be an indicator of such concern.
Though my survey was not scientific, it was nevertheless revealing.
There were two dominant responses, each at about 40 percent of the total. One of those came from pastors or church members who shared with me that they indeed did give a gift to their pastor during the Christmas season.
The most common gift noted was a cash gift equivalent to one week of salary. The pastors who received such a gift expressed deep appreciation for the thought. I sensed no attitudes of entitlement in their responses.
A second dominant response, from both pastors and church members alike, was that the pastor received nothing at Christmastime. Church members were more likely to comment on this attitude than pastors. One person said: "If it's anything like pastor appreciation month, they won't even know it's Christmas."
My heart broke as I read many of those type of responses. My pain is not so much related to the failure of a church to give a monetary or material gift; rather, it's the failure of a church to acknowledge the gift that a pastor is during this season.
There are few hundred thousand pastors in America. The vast majority of them sacrifice and give for the sake of their congregations and for the glory of God. Many of them struggle financially and, often, emotionally.
A gift of some sort would do wonders for the pastor and the pastor's family. The amount or cost of the gift is not the issue here; it is the encouragement the pastor receives when he knows he is loved and appreciated.
As we approach the Christmas season, please remember your pastors and staff. Please let them know in some tangible way how much you truly value them.
(EDTIOR’S NOTE – Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. This column is adapted from a post at his website, www.ThomRainer.com.)
12/3/2013 2:12:04 PM
December 3 2013 by
Cameron McGill, Guest Column
Thom Rainer, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
About two months back, I came across nine steel car wheels
that had been stacked in a storage shed behind my house. Seeing they were just taking up space, I became inspired to put them to good use, in fact to put them to God’s use. I loaded them in my son’s pickup [and] headed off to the scrap yard to make a little extra cash to help out with a mission trip to Moldova that our church would be taking in October.
A terrible thing happened on the way to the recycling yard
. A friendly state trooper pulled me over [and] lectured me on the importance of wearing my seat belt. As I sat there waiting for the ticket to be written, I experienced all the stages of grief: denial (this cannot be happening to me); anger (how dare he pull me over, after all, I was trying to support missions
); depression (this is going to cost me big bucks) [and] finally acceptance (I might as well deal with it, I sure can’t change it)… but then came an unexpected stage – INSPIRATION! A message from God came to me as I was sitting there sulking, “Metals for Missions.”
Cameron McGill collects metal to raise money for Moldova.
I decided then [and] there that I would take a bad situation [and] made something good out of it. I began making calls (even before the trooper returned with my $182 ticket
) asking people to consider donating their scrap metal
to the church for missions
I was amazed at just how much junk people had that they would give their pastor if he’d just come [and] get it.
For the next month or so, I picked up every broken bicycle, discarded lawn chair, rusty BBQ grill, tin can [and] of course, spare wheel in Bladen County that I could get my hands on (after asking permission of course). But it went much further than I could have ever imagined as our entire community got behind the effort. Cars, trucks, tractors [and] commercial items were taken to the scrap yard with the same instructions: “Put it on the church’s account.” After six weeks of metal recycling (which is good for the environment [and] the church), we have raised about $6,000 for missions in Moldova [and] New York where our church has adopted two churches. Now that’s what I call turning lemons into lemonade.
“Metals for Missions
” is a God thing. Only He could orchestrate such. Environmentalists call it repurposing (turning junk into treasure). I’d say this is eternal repurposing … Imagine, scrap metal in Dublin, N.C., turning into missions in Moldova [and] New York.
So maybe you’re wondering how you can afford to be more involved in missions. While I cannot tell you exactly how God will choose to bless you [and] enable you to be on mission, I can tell you this… “Where’s there’s a wheel
, there’s a way
. Moldova here we come!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Cameron McGill is pastor of First Baptist Church in Dublin and second vice president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He wrote this before visiting Moldova in October.)
12/3/2013 1:54:20 PM
November 26 2013 by
Rob Phillips, Baptist Press
Cameron McGill, Guest Column | with 0 comments
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Christians sharing the gospel
in Muslim-dominated countries take incredible risks. And converts from Islam to Christianity are routinely banished, imprisoned or murdered.
So, how do Christian missionaries teach Muslims
about Jesus when Islam denies His deity and death on the cross? And how do new converts from Islam to Christianity worship Jesus without inviting severe persecution?
One attempt is “Chrislam
,” the bringing together of Christianity and Islam. Proponents of Chrislam say that because the Qur’an mentions Jesus and affirms certain biblical teachings about Him, Christianity and Islam share at least some common ground.
They further argue that if Christians avoid the offensive term “Son of God” when referring to Jesus and, instead, emphasize His role as prophet rather than divine Savior, Muslims are more open to the gospel. Once they come to faith in Christ, Muslims may continue to worship at a mosque, pray Muslim prayers and even partake in a pilgrimage to Mecca.
behind Chrislam seem sincere. Believers want to be, like the apostle Paul, “all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some
” (1 Corinthians 9:22). But the problem with Chrislam is that it strips away, or at least masks, the essentials of the gospel, according to Joshua Lingel, Jeff Morton and Bill Nikides, editors of Chrislam: How Missionaries are Promoting an Islamized Gospel
Their book is a well-researched challenge to so-called “Insider Movements” – Christian missionary efforts
that to some extent embrace Chrislam. The premise of their book is that Insider Movements are not a viable strategy for evangelical missions to Muslims.
The authors provide both clarity to the issue of Chrislam and correction to a well-intentioned movement. Christians genuinely want to see Muslims come to faith in Christ. However, the gospel has always been an offense
, and it can be no less of an offense to Muslims than to the Jews and pagans of the apostles’ day.
And, to be sure, Christianity and Islam are incompatible
. Consider the following:
First, Allah and Yahweh are different deities. Allah is unknowable and unapproachable; Yahweh is personal, knowable, and invites us to approach His throne of grace. Allah has never spoken directly to a human being; Yahweh has spoken to people throughout history and continues to do so today. Allah reveals his will but not himself; Yahweh reveals Himself in creation, conscience, the canon of scripture, and Christ – the Word who became flesh (John 1:14).
Second, Muhammad denied the Trinity, the Fatherhood of God, the Sonship of Jesus, the deity of the Holy Spirit, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and many other Christian doctrines.
Third, Christians must not call themselves Muslims for the sake of evangelism. Islam defines a Muslim as one who submits to Allah and Muhammad.
Fourth, Christians must not encourage new converts to Christianity to call themselves Muslims, stay in a mosque, pray toward Mecca or travel there on a pilgrimage. These are religious practices that demonstrate submission to Allah. Rather, new converts should be urged to follow Christ and become part of a fellowship of Christians.
Fifth, Bible translations that deliberately mistranslate the Greek and Hebrew terms for Son, Son of God, Son of Man, or Father should not be used to evangelize Muslims.
Sixth, Christians should not use the Qur’an as scripture. While the Qur’an speaks of Jesus in many places, it teaches another Jesus, a different spirit and a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
Finally, it is impossible for a person to be both a Christian and a Muslim. Despite an ever-growing trend toward syncretism – the belief that all is one – the gospel stands apart as the only good news
for sinful people, and Christ alone is sufficient for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
The differences between Islam and Christianity as to the person and nature of God and his prophets – and what constitutes scripture – are vast and the similarities are few.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rob Phillips is director of communications for the Missouri Baptist Convention with responsibility for leading MBC apologetics ministry in the state. This article first appeared in The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Phillips also is on the Web at www.oncedelivered.net.)
11/26/2013 12:48:17 PM
November 25 2013 by
Frank S. Page, Baptist Press
Rob Phillips, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the month of November, Americans traditionally set aside a day for Thanksgiving. Obviously, it is a time of food and fellowship and family time for millions and millions of Americans. That is as it ought to be. However, scripture tells us that we need to give thanks at all times and in all seasons.
In the scriptures, Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the following words: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
That passage is precious to me. It gives a guiding principle for life. It calms my spirit. It lets me know that in every circumstance I am to take my life’s needs to the Lord, with thanksgiving.
Many know this month marks the time of year when our oldest daughter died. Though it is now some years ago, the 27th of November will always be a day remembered in the Page household as a day when our lives changed forever. Our daughter took her life that day.
Yes, it changed our lives ... and it has taught us many lessons.
One of those lessons is to take our life’s needs to the Lord. The amazing truth of God’s scripture is that when we do that, a peace which truly does transcend human understanding guards our hearts and minds.
Humans cannot understand that in their carnal nature. However, in our spiritual nature, we understand that God gives supernatural ability to have peace in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances.
I pray that you will rejoice with me today for the many great things God has done. I pray that you will rejoice with me that God gives us a supernatural ability to handle life, even hard times in life, in a way that is not understandable by our world.
So, when I call for people to give thanks, we have much to be thankful for! We need the peace of God and we need the God of peace. Happy Thanksgiving!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Frank S. Page is president of the SBC Executive Committee.)
11/25/2013 12:08:23 PM
November 25 2013 by
Kelly Boggs, Baptist Press
Frank S. Page, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
ALEXANDRIA, La. – Thankfully, many of the founders of America were literate. If they had been unable to commit their thoughts to writing, the secularists of our great nation would have already succeeded in erasing religion in general, and Christianity in particular, from any significant role in United States history. There is no more poignant reminder of our religious heritage
than the national holiday of Thanksgiving.
Some historians try to downplay and even deny the religious motivation for the Pilgrims’ voyage to the New World. However, upon reading the thoughts of these brave adventurers
there is no doubt as to why they left family and friends to undertake such a dangerous and difficult journey. As they prepared to leave their ships and set foot on dry land, the Pilgrims drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact. In part, the document reads:
“In the name of God, Amen, We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, ... Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony....”
Given the context in which the Mayflower Compact
was produced, it is difficult to interpret it as anything but a religious statement of purpose – even a Christian statement.
The first English settlers of the land that would become the United States found the first year in their new home difficult. Almost half of the original 101 colonists perished during a harsh winter. However, with the aid of Indians who had befriended them, the surviving Pilgrims managed to cultivate and reap an abundant harvest. Desiring to express their joy, they called for a celebration of thanksgiving in the fall of 1621.
Dedicated secularists have sought to revise history
in order to downplay the significance religious faith played in the lives of the Pilgrims. The assertion is made by some “historians” that the initial thanksgiving was a feast honoring the Indians. It is true the Pilgrims were appreciative of the help they received from their native friends, however in their writings they indicate their praise and thanks were directed to Almighty God.
William Bradford, who served as governor of the fledging community, recorded in a journal titled Of Plymouth Plantation
the Pilgrims thoughts about one particular Native American named Squanto. Bradford wrote:
“About the 16th of March , a certain Indian came boldly amongst them and spoke to them in broken English. ... His name was Samoset. He told them also of another Indian whose name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England and could speak better English than himself. ...
“[A]bout four or five days after, came ... the aforesaid Squanto ... [He] continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He showed them how to plant corn, where to take fish and other commodities, and guided them to unknown places, and never left them till he died.”
Many historians believe the Pilgrims may not have made it without Squanto’s help. It seems Bradford indicates as much. However, it is clear he believed it was the providential hand of God
who brought Squanto into the lives of the Pilgrims. The initial thanksgiving was ultimately about the Lord’s providence and not merely the native people of the New World.
Shortly after the first thanksgiving celebration, Edward Winslow wrote a letter titled: “A letter sent from New England for a friend in these parts, setting forth a brief and true Declaration of the worth of that Plantation, as also certain useful directions for such as intend a voyage into those parts.” In the communication Winslow gave a brief chronicle of the Pilgrims’ first year in the New World. Throughout the letter he made it clear that the thanksgiving gathering was for the purpose of giving thanks to God
“who hath dealt so favorably with us.”
By placing their thoughts and convictions on paper, the Pilgrims left a written record for their motivation in settling the land that would become the United States of America. They came to establish a place where of religion, specifically their understanding of Christianity, could freely be pursued and practiced.
I find it interesting that even many atheists and agnostics pause to observe America’s Thanksgiving holiday. Though they attempt to assuage their secularist consciences by insisting it is national day for celebrating family, gratitude for friends or the extoling of nebulous positive thoughts, the historical record is clear; Thanksgiving – a religious holiday – is a significant part of our heritage.
As a nation, we take time the fourth Thursday of each November to remember the first colonists and thank the same God who inspired and sustained their courageous journey of faith. If gratitude to God is not on your menu this Thanksgiving, you miss the entire point of the holiday.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.)
11/25/2013 11:58:07 AM
November 22 2013 by
Steve Masters, Baptist Press
Kelly Boggs, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
NASHVILLE – What can you do to help a student or young adult have a lifelong faith?
Here are a few practical
things – whether you are a parent, grandparent, youth leader or church staff member –- to help students in your church grow and mature in Christ.
Encourage mission involvement
Going on church and youth mission trips is one of the best ways for a student to personalize
his or her faith. As the director of an on-campus collegiate ministry, when I ask incoming college freshmen why they stayed close to Christ during their high school years, many of them share the importance a mission trip or mission involvement had in strengthening their walk with the Lord. Consider participating in a mission trip and local mission ministries as a family. Organize your service with several families in your church.
Live it out
As a parent or grandparent, be an example to students. They are watching and observing how you live out your faith
. Are you having a daily quiet time? Are you memorizing scripture? Are you using your spiritual gifts? Are you sharing your faith with your co-workers, friends and relatives? Are you involved in local missions and the mission trips of your church?
If your son or daughter really is like you spiritually, what kind of Christian will that make them? Are you a 24/7 Christian or just a weekend warrior? If you aren’t living out your faith, then chances are great that your son or daughter will follow in your footsteps.
Help them get to know the staff and adults in your church
Students need to be a part of the total church, not just the youth ministry. Be creative
in helping them get to know the church staff and other strong Christian adults in your church. I am convinced that students “catch” Christianity as much as they learn it. As they spend time with other strong Christian adults, students grow in their faith.
Realize the importance of the summer student conferences
Many youth groups participate in a summer conference such as World Changers
, Student Life
. These weeks can be invaluable in helping students grow and mature in their faith. As they spend a concentrated period of time in Bible study, prayer and worship, they “catch” a passion for Christ from the camp leaders and counselors. They develop strong friendships with other students and the adult leaders of your church.
Plan your vacations around major youth conferences your church attends. Make sure your older students don’t let summer jobs or sports activities keep them from participating. Valuable spiritual growth can be missed.
Connect graduating seniors to campus ministries
As a collegiate minister for more than 30 years I can confidently say that being able to contact
incoming students months before they arrive on campus greatly increases our chances of reaching and involving the student. Visit sbccampusconnect.net
to connect with your student’s campus ministry. To contact the BCM director visit bcmlife.net
Encourage high school juniors to be Senior Disciples
Senior disciples commit to being leaders in their youth groups and to reaching out to their high school for Christ during their senior year. They can sign up at seniordisciple.net
Encourage high school grads to be Collegiate Disciples
Collegiate Disciples commit to being involved in a local church and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the college or university they attend, as well as being a disciple for Christ while in college. Students can sign up at collegiatedisciple.net
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Steve Masters serves as Baptist Collegiate Ministry director at Louisiana State University and as transitions coordinator for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. This article first appeared in Parenting Teens magazine published by LifeWay.)
11/22/2013 2:10:51 PM
November 22 2013 by
David E. Prince, Baptist Press
Steve Masters, Baptist Press | with 2 comments
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – “Lord, thank You for the life of this beautiful little girl. Thank You for adding to the heritage of this family. Help her parents raise her in the fear and admonition of Your holy name. Even as we celebrate her birth, I pray that by Your sovereign grace she will experience new birth through faith in Jesus Christ. Lord, give her a future husband who loves You and serves You and will protect, provide and love her as Christ loves the church. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
As I lifted my head in that hospital room after praying for the family and their newborn baby, I carefully gave the child back to her mother. I saw the grandparents who were in the room glaring at me with astonishment on their faces. The grandfather spoke up and said, “What kind of prayer was that? Why would you already be talking about a husband? She may not even get married! Who knows what she will become?”
These grandparents were not liberal progressives. They were Bible Belt conservative evangelicals who would heartily defend every word of the Bible as God’s inerrant Word and would be appalled at the notion of legalizing same-sex marriage.
The moment hit me like a ton of bricks. Without a doubt, the proponents of same-sex marriage have lost an understanding of what marriage really is – but, in alarming ways, so have evangelicals.
The end result of the widespread legalization of same-sex marriage will not be a broadening of the definition of marriage but the destruction of the institution. We evangelicals must acknowledge that our own failure to communicate the meaning and gospel significance of marriage has hastened the cultural confusion and decline of the sacred institution. Evangelicals often tell children that their education, career and individual success should be firmly in place before they should even think about marriage. After all, if they marry too young, they won’t be able to accomplish their individual dreams and become successful people who lead lives of significance.
At the same time, we act befuddled that a generation we have taught to put themselves first does not understand the importance of self-sacrificial relationships beginning with marriage and family.
Too often we feed our children the junk food of narcissistic self-esteem along with a side of the American dream then wonder why they do not have a healthy Christian worldview. We pair culturally shaped dreams about what our children will become along with a romanticized view of love and marriage, which is rooted in notions of self-fulfillment rather than self-sacrifice. Christian marriage, however, is a gospel-magnifying, self-sacrificial commitment that teaches us what love is over time as we practice long-term fidelity.
The current divorce culture is grounded in the same perverse idea of marriage as a means of self-fulfillment. If marriage is simply about your means to a personal end, then it’s right to consider it an addendum to the pursuit of your personal goals and to walk away when it’s no longer functioning to your benefit. After all, many evangelicals reason in abandoning their spouse, God would not want them to live in an unhappy, unfulfilling relationship – a reasoning that sounds eerily similar to the contemporary argument for same-sex marriage.
In some ways, the younger generation has become more conservative in recent years, as seen by its growing opposition to abortion, while at the same time approving of same-sex marriage. Why? Evangelicals must be willing to face the reality that what we have taught them in our churches about marriage as self-fulfillment provides them no logical reason to oppose same-sex marriage.
Our assertion that marriage is a lifelong monogamous relationship between a man and woman marked by a lifetime of fidelity rings hollow when we have taught them that self-oriented achievement should be valued above marriage and children. When an evangelical parent tells a college-educated daughter who is planning to become a stay-at-home mom, “Are you sure? I don’t want you to waste your gifts,” it is evident that many evangelicals are just as confused about marriage as the homosexual community. When an evangelical father says to his son, “What do you mean you’re getting married? You need to finish law school,” it is clear that the confusion regarding marriage doesn’t stop at the LGBT meeting.
How can evangelicals effectively defend marriage in the culture when we no longer practice and advocate Christian marriages in our churches?
Could it be that evangelical churches and Christians have been offering an edict about marriage but not an alternative? Could it be that the evangelical sexual abstinence movement has fallen short because it has simply focused on saying “No” to promiscuity without a reciprocal “Yes” in championing Christian marriage? Could it be that evangelical impotence in dealing with the pornography crisis in our churches is partly because we have allowed marriage and sex to be defined in terms of self-fulfillment rather the gospel-centric, self-sacrificial commitment?
The Creator of the universe pronounced that it was “not good” (Genesis 2:18) that man should be alone, and He gave to man a woman who was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh (Genesis 2:23), with whom he was to become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24) and “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). The apostle Paul declared that this marriage union was created to be a living picture of the mysterious one-flesh gospel union between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32).
Being pro-marriage will begin with evangelicals who stop saying it is good that man should be alone until his 30s after he has a good education, career and individual achievements. And with evangelicals who stop saying don’t be fruitful and multiply too much; after all, you will not to be able to afford a nice home in a good neighborhood. In fact, we ought to tell them the good news that Christian marriage and the glorious gospel it represents liberates them from the ball and chain of trying to live the American dream.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., professor of Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)
11/22/2013 1:56:00 PM
David E. Prince, Baptist Press | with 0 comments