April 29 2016 by
Lee Clamp, South Carolina Baptist Convention
I don’t know how I survived my childhood.
My mom never bought me a bike helmet. She let me lick the spoon knowing full well there were raw eggs in the cake batter. My dad made me drink water from a hose instead of a bottle. And when I left the yard to go play all day, I never had a cellphone.
If you were born before 1980, you’re probably thinking the same thing. Did our parents love us? Did they even care?
We grew up in a different world, where viewing continuous daily news coverage of horrific events was uncommon. It seems as though the days of exploration are over. Rarely do kids venture out of our sight. To protect them from evil, we feel compelled to hover over them. Evil has a way of invoking fear, but the church should be on the offensive, not the defensive.
In an effort to protect, we run the risk of paralysis. We have become a people who pursue comfort and are hesitant of adventure. If we hold our children too tight, we may squeeze the life out of them. I’m not suggesting that you let your 2-year-old wander through the woods unattended, nor am I suggesting your middle school child go off with friends for a week with no supervision. Protect them from the obvious.
What I am suggesting is to let their failure rate increase. When they dream a God-size vision, encourage them rather than pointing them in another direction. If the Lord leads them to a dangerous mission field, don’t hold them back.
We are in desperate need of risk-takers – those who will risk a successful and comfortable career for a life devoted to taking the gospel to the world’s unreached people. We need individuals who will risk ridicule in order to stand up for the truths of scripture. We need a generation who will sacrifice their lives for those in need, risk-takers who care more about the advancement of the gospel than the safety of a stagnant life.
“Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag,” we read in Luke 19:26 in The Message translation.
Protect your children from living an ordinary life. Protect them from playing it safe and striving for comfort. Protect them from a life of success and lead them toward a life of significance. Let them dream. Let them try. Let them fail. Who knows? In the process, they may change the world.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lee Clamp, evangelism group director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, is @leeclamp on Twitter and at facebook.com/leeclamp. Clamp is one of eight contributors to a new book, “Unite: Connecting Generations for Kingdom Expansion” featuring four pastors and leaders under age 40 and four over age 50. For more information, go to http://goo.gl/v0km3I.)
4/29/2016 11:18:54 AM
April 28 2016 by
Jake McCandless, Prophecy Simplified
Lee Clamp, South Carolina Baptist Convention | with 0 comments
I was privileged to hear the greatest missionary report I have ever heard not long ago. This report convicted me to my inner core, even though the missionary had a mission field of only one.
That’s right, just one, and he hadn’t even shared the gospel in the six months he’d been on the field.
His mission field wasn’t even an exotic place, just a mid-sized city in the Bible Belt. He wasn’t even a vocational missionary, but his story will continue to challenge me.
A midnight prayer meeting began with introductions, and midway through them a man from Hawaii introduced himself and shared his pressing prayer burden. He had a powerful testimony of God’s grace and had been blessed with a great career and now was enjoying retirement. There in Hawaii, he had a seemingly perfect situation – a beautiful house on the beach with just a quick walk to surf each day.
Life was good. Retired. The beach. Surfing. Three of his four children nearby. Several grandchildren to teach to surf and enjoy time with on the beach. His whole family was heavily involved in church there.
In the midst of all this, he received a call many parents have received. His youngest son, whose career had brought him to this particular city, told his father he no longer believed in God. This missionary’s son declared himself an atheist.
The son’s admission is a statement that has and will continue to bring many parents to their knees, but this man took his prayers a step further. Right then and there, he told his son he was moving and they would work this out. His son replied that he’d love to see his dad, but he didn’t want to be told about Jesus. The father told us he didn’t have to talk to his son about Jesus, he could talk to Jesus about his son.
So this man, the one sitting right across from me in that prayer meeting, had jumped on a plane, left the beach, left his three children, left his grandkids, left his big house and left a dream retirement in Hawaii to travel to the Deep South to live in a small apartment.
This missionary doesn’t have a timetable. He doesn’t have a plan. No strategy. He has already renewed his lease. He is just going to love on his son until his son is healed from the only incurable eternal disease – unbelief.
Parents regularly take time off work and make major adjustments to their lives when their adult children are sick, having surgery, or receiving medical treatment, but we don’t always recognize the most dangerous sickness – the sickness of the soul.
After spending several years in ministry, I have heard hundreds of testimonies from missionaries. I have heard from missionaries who faced persecution; missionaries whose lives were on the line each day; missionaries who had led thousands to the Lord. I have also read the heroic tales of William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Jim Elliot, Lottie Moon and others. But it was this man’s story – his is the greatest story I have heard. For I believe each believer’s first ministry is their family.
Over and over again I have read and heard preached that if a pastor succeeds at a church but loses his own family, then his ministry is a failure. The missionary endeavor of the man I met targets his number one ministry – his family.
This missionary left the 99 sheep in the pasture and is chasing that one lost sheep. When he heard the woman had lost her valued coin, he dropped everything to help in the search. This father is not merely the father of the prodigal watching down the road, but he has jumped into the pig pen. If we all would love our family so. If we all would see a relationship with Christ as one’s greatest need.
So in visiting with the greatest missionary I have ever met, I asked what he had done that day in his field. He replied that he was so thankful the prayer meeting didn’t start until midnight. He had gone out to eat with his son and spent the night playing pool with him. He had loved on his son and now would be on his knees at the altar from midnight until dawn. He had kept the conditions of his missionary trip – he hadn’t talked to his son about Jesus, but was about to spend all night talking to Jesus about his son.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jake McCandless is pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, Ark., and speaker for Prophecy Simplified at prophecysimplified.com.)
4/28/2016 10:11:38 AM
April 27 2016 by
Randy Adams, Northwest Baptist Convention
Jake McCandless, Prophecy Simplified | with 0 comments
Thirty years ago I began my first pastorate. It was a dying church – dead really. Today we would call it a “legacy church plant.”
There were 10 people who attended our first Sunday, all but one retired, with the one being a teenage boy. I’m not sure why the boy was there, except that he lived on the other side of the cemetery. The cemetery, the church and a small school building, long since closed, bordered each other. The Thurmond family gave the property for these three entities in the 1890s, each deemed important for a community in those days.
My wife Paula and I served that church for three and a half formative years, formative for us and for that church and community. I soon learned that the former pastor recommended that the church disband and give the building to the local Baptist association. He had reasoned this was their best option since they hadn’t baptized anyone in four years, only had a Sunday morning worship service with few attendees, and little prospect of seeing things turn around. The few attendees, most of whom had lived there all their lives, considered his suggestion but decided to give it “one more try,” which meant giving one more seminary student an opportunity to “learn on them.”
We moved into the parsonage, which hadn’t been lived in for a few years. They tried to get it ready for us, but they hadn’t killed the scorpions, which we killed by the dozens. Then there were the skunks under the house. I would sit up at night, with a light shining into the yard, waiting for the skunks to come out. I shot them once they got far enough from the house that they couldn’t get back before they died. The house wasn’t much, but it was rent-free, and that was most of our pay, so we were grateful to have it.
We had no neighbors, except cattle and the cemetery. And we had fireflies, hundreds of them that spring. One night I caught a couple dozen in a mason jar and released them into our bedroom. I must say, it was quite romantic having those fireflies lighting up our room. But they all died so I only did that one time.
When I think back on those days, I am grateful that we came from a church that taught us how to share the gospel and believed you had to take the gospel to the people, not wait for them to come to you. So that’s what we did. We began to visit the homes in that rural area, and a few more people started coming. The real breakthrough came that summer when Curtis Aydelotte gave his life to Christ.
I went to Curtis’ house and visited with his wife Kandy. She said that she would be at church with her kids but her husband wouldn’t because “he doesn’t go to church.” But the next day there he was. Within a month he received Christ and became the first person baptized in that church in four years. Curtis was 47 years old. He later told me that when I came to his house he was sick in bed with a migraine, but he could see me out the window. When his wife told him I was a preacher, he said, “Huh, a preacher who wears blue jeans. I think I’ll try that church.” That was 30 years ago and Curtis and Kandy are still serving Christ in their senior years.
Others soon came to know Christ. Families were transformed. The church grew. We never became large, but that church is still there today. The 10 there when we arrived are all dead, save the one boy, but the church remains.
A fellow seminary student asked me, “How do you get motivated to preach to so few people?” That was an odd question to me. Motivation was not a problem. For one thing, I was visiting people throughout the week, sharing Christ with them and inviting them to church. If they came and I wasn’t prepared for them, that would be a tragedy. Moreover, every individual who came needed and deserved to hear a well-prepared message from God’s Word just as much as the attender of a megachurch did.
A further motivation for me, I must admit, was that I was learning how to preach and how to pastor God’s people. These both required hard work. I was young and knew that I wouldn’t be at that church forever. But if I did not serve them well, why should God give me any other ministry? Besides, this was what God called me to, and I was having a lot of fun.
We saw a “little revival” in that church and community. It came as the pastor, and then the church, began to share Christ with others. It came as our little church gained confidence that God was at work and that they could invite people to attend with the confidence that God could use us to bring eternal life to others. Within two years, God even used our church to start another church about seven miles away. We were the first church to start a church in that association in about 10 years. That served to motivate other churches, much bigger churches, to do the same.
Those years at Fairview Baptist Church were good years. We learned a lot, and we saw God do a good work. If your church needs revival, share the gospel on a regular basis and lead your church to do the same. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to save a person from sin, and nothing revives a church like God’s people getting right with Him and then sharing the Gospel with others.
Several years ago I saw Curtis Aydelotte at a funeral. He told me that recently he had crashed his motorcycle and was sliding down the road, certain he would die. “It was amazing because I wasn’t afraid. I was sliding down the road and I knew I would be with God,” he said. “That’s the thought that hit my brain. I knew I’d be with God – and I wasn’t afraid.” Then he said, “I thought you’d like to know that.”
Curtis was right. I did like hearing that. It demonstrated that the Jesus he had come to know decades before, through the ministry of a little reviving church, is powerful, and His salvation is eternal.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Randy Adams is executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention. This column first appeared at his website, randyadams.org.)
4/27/2016 11:52:32 AM
April 26 2016 by
Diana Davis, Guest Column
Randy Adams, Northwest Baptist Convention | with 0 comments
Vacation Bible School – it’s not just for church kids! VBS can be a fantastic evangelism event. Catch a vision for how your VBS could impact eternity.
Here is a simple plan to involve every member of your church or small group to engage unchurched children in a life-changing VBS. It’s called: “I Invited 1”.
Issue a challenge.
The goal is for every individual in your church to personally invite one unchurched boy or girl to VBS. Anyone can do that. Specifically issue a call to every child, senior adult, youth, single adult, couple and college student to take the challenge.
Ask God to alert them to children in life’s path who don’t attend church – neighbors, acquaintances, schoolmates, strangers, work associates’ children, and then to personally invite the child to your church’s VBS.
Ask church members to bring the first name of that child next Sunday.
Make it easy.
As you issue the challenge, give each person one great-looking VBS invitation for the child they’ll invite. It can be a business-card size or larger-size invitation. Include the church website for details and online registration. Pray over the invitations and ask God to direct each person to a child who needs Him.
Make it visual.
Create a huge “Jesus loves the little children” wall display in a visible area of the church.
A couple of Sundays before VBS, provide greeters with colorful die-cut paper dolls to give to each church attender to write the first name of the child they’re inviting, and add it to the wall display as a prayer reminder.
Print well-designed, round stickers with large letters “I invited 1” for every person to proudly wear. Purchase and print sheets of circle stickers or order stickers from a printing company. You can do this for a couple of weeks. Picture this: grannies and 4-year-olds, teens and newcomers all wearing “I Invited 1” stickers. Wouldn’t it be fun if some needed a dozen stickers?
Announce the total number, who have been personally invited so far. Pray for them. Challenge others to invite one.
Strive for 100 percent involvement. Though many are already fully engaged in VBS planning, the majority of members probably can’t offer hands-on help because of work, schedule or health. Every person of every age and circumstance can invite one child. Imagine what God can do if every member participates.
Children’s Sunday School teachers can relay tips on how to invite friends, how to include and welcome newcomers, and how to invite them to your church after VBS.
Just before VBS begins, encourage members to remind the child they invited to come.
Instead of an all-church project, this could be done in your choir, women’s ministry, youth group, deacons, small group, etc.
Plan an enormous follow-up on Saturday after VBS and prepare to welcome many new parents and children on Sunday.
So wear your “I Invited 1” sticker with pride and prayers. And, VBS staffers – hold on to your hats! God’s at work, His church is excited about inviting, and this may be the most thrilling VBS yet.
Keep Jesus’ words from Luke 14:23 in mind: “So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.’”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Davis, on the Web at dianadavis.org, is an author, columnist and ministry wife in Pensacola, Fla. She is the author of “Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry” (B&H Publishing) and “SixSimple Steps – Finding Contentment and Joy as a Ministry Wife” (New Hope Publishers). Her newest book, “Across the Street and Around the World,” coauthored with her daughter Autumn Wall will be released by New Hope this fall.)
4/26/2016 12:16:17 PM
April 25 2016 by
Robert Thomas, Guest Column
Diana Davis, Guest Column | with 0 comments
“Is there a theology of washing the cat?”
I was in a seminary class when a professor posed this question. We had been reading through Richard Niebuhr’s popular book, Christ and Culture. My professor was building an argument for the view that Christ’s mission was to redeem, not just individual souls, but all of culture.
He said all Christians are called to this same task of culture redeeming. The odd question about cats was meant to emphasize that Christ’s work on the cross should influence every part of our lives. While the question initially flew over my head, the answer changed my life.
In my line of work, I have the honor of consulting with church leaders and those who oversee Christian educational institutions about how theology drives their practice when it comes to technology. Often, I discover they’ve not considered it.
The work I do, in their eyes, is a mundane aspect of business administration, almost a necessary evil. It’s a “secular” matter that only requires business wisdom, not theological convictions.
One problem: There is no aspect of life to which God’s wisdom doesn’t apply.
God reigns over all parts of the world. If Christ is truly the redeemer of culture, then we should be seeking ways to infiltrate Christian thinking into everything we do. Shouldn’t we let our theology drive even the way we make decisions regarding technology in our organizations?
In our beloved Christian circles we see two frequent trends: imbibing and abstaining. Some people think technology is intrinsically bad and should be avoided as much as possible.
“A church should never have wireless internet because students might find an opportunity to pursue pornography,” they might say.
Others believe it should be a part of every aspect of our lives and worship. “Let’s get our church members to tweet everything they do at church, even accountability time, so that we can be a part of the global scene,” some may say.
These examples are exaggerated, but they illustrate how we think. Perhaps we should think differently? What if we evaluated how this tool that’s available to us can be an agent of influence in our world?
What if we let a thoughtful theology of technology drive our practice?
I will stop short of proposing any final answers, because each organization might find they need to solutions that depend on their context. Each organization is different.
Of course these considerations apply to more than technology as well: What about architecture, landscaping, cleaning and even driving? In fact, let’s just say it applies to all things.
Let your theology drive your practice. In a world of imbibers and abstainers, be an evaluator.
I work with a school who provides a good example of letting theology drive practice. They have determined theologically that music contributes greatly to the soul’s capacity to worship. This theological emphasis leads them to train students to be great musicians and leaders of church music ministries. For these reasons they are choosing to spend more money than some would say is “necessary” to provide equipment that will help their students develop their talents. The desired result is that students will learn to practice excellence in music and lead their churches to do the same. The organization’s theology of music is helping them make the decision to spend the extra money needed that aids the fulfillment of the mission. Theology drives practice.
If your beliefs don’t drive your actions, your actions have already determined your beliefs. One of my favorite seminary professors had a well-known saying: “stated belief + actual practice = actual belief.”
It stings every time I hear that statement, because I realize there are places in my life where my practice doesn’t reflect my stated beliefs. Yet, the sanctifying work of Christ is always reforming my practice to reflect His Truth. Churches and organizations need this sanctifying work too.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Robert Thomas graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and serves his church as a “Lifechange” teacher. Robert works with Trident Technology Solutions as an account executive.)
4/25/2016 10:22:11 AM
April 22 2016 by
Joseph Bunce, Baptist Convention of New Mexico
Robert Thomas, Guest Column | with 0 comments
I was put in a difficult situation as pastor of a small Baptist church many years ago. One of the largest financial supporters for our little congregation had made a commitment to a friend that would require a significant change in our church’s doctrinal position.
He had promised that his friend could unite with our church by simply transferring his membership from a church that is viewed as a cult to this very day. My answer was that we would love to help this person find new life in Christ and follow in believer’s baptism, but we do not receive such transfers from churches that are not theologically sound. I also said I was certain that the church in question would not send any transfer of membership.
I was immediately threatened by the major giver and told we would accept this person by statement or he would withhold his giving to the church.
I will never forget the sting I felt as he said these words. I realized that I was heading into a dark storm, and my fear seemed nearly overwhelming. I am sad to say that my experience was not unusual. Many pastors have shared similar experiences when a significant giver was inappropriately leveraging them with the threat of withholding giving. I have talked with pastors who felt muzzled from clearly speaking the truth because of similar issues.
When I look at scripture, the very first act of church discipline is found in Acts, chapter 5. God was less than pleased with a couple who sought to use money for prestige and personal gain in the early church, versus the example of an early church member’s giving from a pure heart in Acts 4:36-37.
Let’s consider what we should expect as a Return on Investment (ROI) when we give money to the local church. Is ROI really the standard we want to use in our giving? Giving begins with God, and I can assure you that He was not looking at a Return on Investment when Jesus died for your sin and mine. His gift for my salvation is far superior to any return that I can offer Him.
God owns everything. Psalm 24:1 tells us that God is Lord over all. Colossians 1:16 explains that all things were created by Him and for Him. Deuteronomy 8:17-18 both promises and warns when it states that God is sovereign over our ability to make wealth. In an instant, He can prosper or destroy us financially. 1 Corinthians 4:7 asks an interesting question, “What do you have that you did not receive?”
Stewardship means we are not owners, but managers of everything God places at our disposal. That is why tithes and offerings are merely one aspect of our stewardship. God also holds us accountable for how we spend our time and how we use our talents. 2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us that we will stand before God and give an account of stewardship.
We make a major error if we think money can provide anything lasting. Possessions cannot provide satisfaction (Ecclesiastes 5:10), significance (Luke 12:15) or security (Proverbs 23:5).
Having dealt with that errant church member more than 30 years ago, the experience taught me a great deal. I had to learn to trust God to provide for my family’s every need. My responsibility was to seek God as Matthew 6:33 instructs.
The threatening man I faced went to the church’s deacons and shared his demands. The deacons were nonresponsive, and I felt more alone than ever. I could not understand why they would not step up and take a stand. I praise God that our association of churches had a godly director of missions who walked beside me. He reminded me there are times that leadership may even cost you your job by staying true to scriptural convictions.
That counsel prepared me for one of the most difficult evenings of my life.
It was a Wednesday night prayer meeting, and you could cut the tension with a knife. The big giver was noticeably absent and emotionally present. I was walking to the front of the auditorium when the church treasurer handed me a note. I thought it was a prayer request. One sentence read, “I guess you know that you ran off 10 percent of our church’s budget.”
I knew the time had come to settle the matter once and for all. I stood before the core of our people and said, “Tonight you all will decide to either follow me or fire me.”
I sent my wife to gather the boys and we went home. I told the men of the church to please stop by the house when they had made a decision. I was scared. The home we lived in belonged to the church. My meager bank account would not last long. In about two hours, a couple of men came by and said, “Preacher, God called you here and we are going to follow you.” The rest is history. We lost the big giving family that night and God sent others to more than cover the need.
My biggest lesson from this experience had nothing to do with anything other than I learned that every gift I would ever place in the offering plate was God’s with no strings attached, period.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joseph Bunce is executive director of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.)
4/22/2016 9:43:51 AM
April 21 2016 by
Ronnie Floyd, SBC President
Joseph Bunce, Baptist Convention of New Mexico | with 0 comments
The annual Pastors’ Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has a long-living legacy. During the days of the Conservative Resurgence, it helped set the agenda and atmosphere of the subsequent annual meeting of Southern Baptists.
3 distinctives of the Pastors’ Conference
While the agenda may change annually, these distinctive principles set the tone.
1. Preaching rules the conference.
The Pastors’ Conference highlights some of America’s finest biblical preachers and calls fellow pastors and laypersons to action.
2. Worship sets the atmosphere.
The Pastors’ Conference is distinctive due to powerful, uplifting worship. It can be a tremendous outlet for pastors and their wives.
3. Encouragement is the heart.
At its best, the Pastors’ Conference gives heart-warming, life-changing encouragement to pastors. In fact, it has been used of God to save the ministry of many pastors.
2016 – Pastors’ Conference legacy continues
Pastor John Meador of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, is the president of the 2016 Pastors’ Conference. He has gathered a powerful group of preachers who will not just preach the Word but encourage you to follow Jesus fully and do ministry passionately.
The theme, “Live This,” is based upon 2 Timothy 4:5-6. The goal is to challenge and equip pastors to mobilize and train their people to take the Gospel into their community more effectively. John believes, as I do, God wants to use the local church pastor to lead the way in reaching his community for Jesus.
Please go to sbcpc.net to learn more about this year’s Pastors’ Conference, including speakers and session details. It begins Sunday evening, June 12, and concludes Monday evening, June 13.
A final testimony
Some of the most dynamic moments in my life and ministry in the SBC occurred during the Pastors’ Conference. I remember the 1979 Pastors’ Conference in Houston, Texas, when I heard W.A. Criswell, Adrian Rogers and James Robison. It was my first convention and I had never been in such an environment.
Stan Coffey, one of the Pastors’ Conference presidents and a friend who is now in heaven, asked me to preach at a Pastors’ Conference for the first time in 1988 in San Antonio. That evening, we were all sitting on the edge of our chairs and I will never forget W.A Criswell’s message, “The Curse of Liberalism.”
He introduced his message with these words: “We have a full program tonight, so we begin. May I speak on The Curse of Liberalism? Because of the opprobrious epithet ‘liberal,’ today they call themselves ‘moderates.’ A skunk by any other name still stinks!” The crowd exploded! The next day, Jerry Vines was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
I have missed only two Pastors’ Conferences since 1979, have been humbled to speak many times at this conference and was privileged to serve as its president in 1997 in Dallas. It has a special place in my life and ministry.
Come to our 2016 SBC Pastors’ Conference. You will be glad you did. John Meador, thank you for leading us as president. We are praying for you and the conference.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. This column first appeared at Ronnie Floyd’s website, ronniefloyd.com.)
4/21/2016 10:26:45 AM
April 20 2016 by
Paige Patterson, SWBTS
Ronnie Floyd, SBC President | with 0 comments
“Training? You will not need any training! You just need a passion for the USA, for democracy, and a love for the fight. Watch a few videos about war, and you will be as good as any Special Ops operator in the Marines. Don’t waste your youth. Volunteer now.”
“Whatever you do, avoid pre-med and medical schools and steer clear of all hospitals. Watch some videos on delicate cardiac surgery and attend a few lectures, and you will be as ready as anyone. And people will flock to you to perform this surgery on them.”
Young man, you have been called to do the most delicate, life-saving surgery in the entire world. You must deal every day with the souls of men, which will never die. They will become consummate evil in hell or perpetual good as a result of Christ’s work. And you must take strongholds and attack them, often alone. You have to understand all that can be known about this and how Jesus provides a solution.
May I offer you 10 reasons why you should attend Bible college and/or seminary? People who propose the opposite either did not attend an intensely missionary, soul-winning seminary or else paid little attention while they were there. So consider my suggestions before God.
There is a biblical prohibition against placing a novice in a lead ministry position. 1 Timothy 3:6 specifically states this position. A novice does not specifically reflect age. A 50-year-old could be a new Christian. But it is certain that while there is much that a 22-year-old can and should do for God, he is vulnerable to misunderstandings and misapplications and even heresy just because of insufficient guidance and training. He needs the seasoning of several years of seminary.
The critical exposure to sound doctrine, to clear biblical truth and to the Bible in its linguistic format of Hebrew and Greek are strategically important. If these factors are unimportant, even unnecessary, then Christians have wasted their time and energy for 2,000 years.
Learning to walk carefully with God can be done in relative isolation, but it seldom is. A good seminary will teach that through the lives of its professors. How many times have I heard of one of our late evangelism professors, “I walked out of Roy Fish’s class and was never again the same.”
The situations that you will face in ministry are a thousand times more complicated than you can imagine. Facing those situations in class and learning the value of biblical counseling is essential to effective ministry.
In seminary, you make lifelong friendships that uphold you in hours of need and that establish a sense of cooperative effort and prayer, which is irreplaceable.
Mission trips and other guided experiences under the watchful eye of wise and experienced personnel provide correction and guidance often otherwise missed.
Being an effective preacher or teacher does not arise naturally. God’s gifts are indispensable, but as one begins to employ the gifts God has given, the guidance of others is also from the Lord. There is no place more important for receiving this mentoring than in seminary.
If one is to serve as a Baptist minister or missionary, he must comprehend the unique contribution of Baptists and Anabaptists to the world. I have met few without seminary training who had any idea about these things. It takes a while to do enough reading and have sufficient discussions in the coffee shop to begin to see the wisdom of these great men of God.
Learning how to study is a skill with which few are born. Studying with a cadre of godly professors will teach something much more valuable than subject matter. You actually learn how to discover truth and distinguish truth from error.
The birth of a baby is an exciting moment. But it is no longer exciting if that baby never matures. And to mature takes time. Spiritual maturity does not happen immediately. Some progress more quickly than others, but this is always a process – sometimes a painful process. Seminary provides the environment for this development.
The apostle Paul was clearly well-taught in Hellenistic philosophy. Further, he held an equivalent of an M.Div. from Gamaliel in the Jerusalem seminary. When he was saved, he did not unleash himself on the world immediately but retired to the desert for several years to rethink his theology in the light of Christ. That example is worth imitation.
Please hear my heart. I would not want to be part of a denomination or church that had an educational requirement for the ministry. I believe with all my heart that in every generation God calls and uses men who do not have the benefit of formal education. But the history of doctrine is replete with examples of what has often happened to people who educated the mind but not the soul and of those who nourished the soul but neglected the mind. Both leave their heritage of burnout and of heresy.
Prepare yourself for the ministry to which God has called you through the sacrifice of study in a seminary that emphasizes doctrine, leading men to the Savior, the world mission endeavor and the discipline of carefully walking with God. Do yourself a favor. Do the world to which you will minister a favor. If there is any way possible to make it to a Christ-honoring seminary or Bible school, do that.
Relatively few move from high school baseball directly to the Major Leagues. Fewer still from high school to the NFL. And heart surgeons untrained are non-existent, and Special Ops that proceed untrained are soon dead. How can men and women engaged in the most complicated, demanding work in the world with more at stake than all other professions think that it is best to avoid the most intense preparation?
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Paige Patterson is president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.)
4/20/2016 11:15:27 AM
April 19 2016 by
Paul Stam, Guest Column
Paige Patterson, SWBTS | with 0 comments
Since the North Carolina General Assembly responded to the Charlotte City Council’s unpopular bathroom ordinance by approving House Bill 2
(HB2) and Gov. Pat McCrory
signed the bill March 27, a national smear campaign has lobbied businesses and individuals to shun the state. Many businesses have acted irresponsibly and even irrationally to show disapproval of N.C.’s alleged statement of “hate” against the LGBTQ community. One of the most hypocritical actions was PayPal
’s reversal of its intention to build an operations center in Charlotte.
We believe our readers need to read Rep. Paul Stam’s response to PayPal’s intimidation. Paul B. “Skip” Stam Jr. has served the North Carolina General Assembly as a Republican since 2003. He is an attorney and the current House Speaker Pro Tem. Stam is a member of First Baptist Church, Apex.
– The Editor
On March 16, PayPal announced that it would gladly receive $3.6 million from the state of North Carolina to locate a new facility near Charlotte. Then on April 5, PayPal President & CEO, Dan Schulman
, announced that it would not move to North Carolina because of the passage of SL 2016-3 (also known as HB2). Certainly, this was not because of the bathroom/locker-room situation since the bill did not even apply to private business facilities.
PayPal was incensed at the so-called failure of the legislation to include extra special protections for sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity. PayPal lawyers apparently did not realize that this was the same law in effect on March 16.
PayPal currently maintains its operations center and main office in Nebraska and has a technology center in Arizona as well as a data service office in Texas – all states with similar discrimination policies as North Carolina.
The problem for PayPal is that 31 other states (and the federal government) also lack those categories for extra special protection.
So PayPal would be limited to 20 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
But PayPal will need to narrow its list further.
In the publication Rich States Poor States (alec.org/publication/rich-states-poor-states
) and the publication by the National Tax Foundation on Tax policy (taxfoundation.org/article/2016-state-business-tax-climate-index
) the following states are in the bottom 15 in economic or tax climate. PayPal would certainly want to avoid these states.
See list of worst states for fostering business developments in box at right.
Now PayPal is down to only five states: Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Utah.
But PayPal has another problem: It does business in 25 nations where homosexual acts are a crime, according to a release from Congressman Robert Pittenger’s office dated April 6.
So it would certainly want to reduce its footprint there. It would also want to stop its plans to expand to Cuba and would want to eliminate its operations in the People’s Republic of China. Each have brutal communist dictatorships.
Hopefully this research will be helpful to PayPal in its search for a new location more compatible with its principles.
4/19/2016 9:46:38 AM
April 18 2016 by
Paul Stam, Guest Column | with 0 comments
I grew up in rural Mississippi, an area rich in agriculture. My grandfather, a cattle farmer, lived across the road from my home, so I was raised knowing the smell of freshly cut hay and the sounds of cows mooing as my grandfather’s tractor motored towards the pasture.
As I study about the intersection of faith and work, my mind often roams back to those rolling pastures in southern Mississippi, and I ask myself, “How would this impact all of the farmers at home?”
This is an effort to answer that question. To practice his vocation in accordance with God’s righteous will, the farmer works as a servant of God, creation and his neighbors.
The farmer serves God
Throughout Scripture, God’s many acts reveal His character. His creativity is one of the first characteristics we see. All things that spring from the earth, whether a chicken or a stalk of corn, come from the sovereign act of God, and this indicates His ownership of all things. Therefore, the wise farmer seeks to bring all of his work under the lordship of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
This truth even affects the farmer’s motivation in work. Many people labor tirelessly on homesteads to feed their families, while others toil to inherit wealth and prosperity. Scripture is clear that God’s ultimate purpose is His own glory. The farmer, then, must match God’s highest desire, having His glory as the fuel that powers all labor.
You may think it’s odd to speak of God’s glory in relation to the mundane activities of agriculture. After all, does motivation ultimately affect the way you shovel out a horse’s stable or dig a posthole?
It may be difficult to see an observable difference between the everyday practices of the Christian and non-believing farmers, but that is far from saying there is no difference at all.
Motivation is huge in the Lord’s eyes. A farmer who labors for years, driven by the glory of God, is pleasing to God, even if his daily practices are only slightly different than an atheist farmer.
King David exclaimed, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork (Psalm 19:1).” God fashioned the universe so that from the slow-flowing brook to the soft hum of the horsefly, creation is united in singing the chorus of God’s glory. The farmer joins in by using the earth to display the glory that God has bound into its essence. For instance, God’s glory is displayed when a small pack of seeds produces a bounty of butternut squash. Therefore, there is an obligation to use all of God’s resources to display God’s glory, and this obligation influences how farmers steward the resources entrusted to them.
The farmer serves creation
Few vocations are as observably connected to creation as farming. The farmer literally experiences the curse that God first pronounced in Genesis 3:17b–18, working the soil to produce food and goods. As a result of intense labor, some farmers choose to use the land without consideration of its good.
Wendell Berry explains in The Unsettling of America, “The standards of cheapness and convenience, which are irresistibly simplifying and therefore inevitably exploitive, have been substituted for the standards of health (of both people and land).”
It is this “standard of cheapness and convenience,” as Berry puts it, that drives many American farming practices. Godly farmers must critically reflect on how Scripture informs their treatment of the land the Lord has given them.
Dependence upon the land should drive the farmer to sustainable practices in food production. Though God has filled the earth with vast amounts of workable land, resources are not unlimited. Farming practices can do great harm if they are only a means to profit, not as a resource entrusted by God. This truth drives farmers to truly value their property, and consider shrewd uses for it. To state it another way, wise farming considers the long-term health of the land, seeking to unlock the life-giving potential of the land.
Scripture bears out this truth. God made provisions for the welfare of the land, such as allowing fields to have a Sabbath rest every seven years (Leviticus 25:3–4). God graciously guards the land from being overworked.
Wise care also extends to livestock. There is a temptation to view farm animals, such as cattle and chickens, as mere instruments of production, no different than a hammer. Whether used for food production or food itself, animals possess inherent worth.
Proverbs 12 depicts the righteous man as caring for the life of animals, and Deuteronomy 25:4 forbids the muzzling of an ox while it treads wheat. God cares about the welfare of His creatures, whether they are headed for the slaughtering line or not.
The farmer serves his neighbor
We may be tempted to romanticize farming, viewing the farmer as a lone laborer providing food for himself and his family. While that may be partially true, farming practices have a wider impact, whether on customers or hired workers. Therefore, the godly farmer must consider how faith impacts his or her treatment of others.
The guiding principle is love. After all, Jesus told His listeners the second greatest commandment was to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). The application to farming is simple, yet far-reaching. For instance, love for one’s customer will drive excellence in production quality, while also keeping the farmer from overcharging. Love for neighbor governs every decision, from crop selection to produce packaging.
Love is not only for those with money in their pockets, though. God prescribes care and grace for those with nothing. Consider, for example, the gleaning laws of Leviticus 19. Business practices say this approach is unwise, costing potential profit. But the Lord says otherwise. The one blessed with plentiful harvest should act graciously toward those experiencing the difficulties of destitution.
Love for neighbor need not be limited to the present neighbor, either. As one’s sin can have a profound impact on future generations, such as dysfunctional relationships or poor reputations, so can a farmer’s production methods affect those after him. For instance, overworking the land can lead to the desertification of large pieces of earth, which causes future generations to look elsewhere for food.
The modern-day farmer, like any other worker, must use godly wisdom to navigate the changing landscape. After all, technological advances constantly promise greater productivity. In addition, farmers must now compete in a globalized agricultural market, not just with the farm across town.
Hopefully this article is a small step toward helping farmers see their work in light of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. And it is the servant-mindedness of Jesus that farmers must imitate. Though they may spend the majority of their work surrounded only by livestock and crops, farmers should view solitary labor as loving acts of service to God, His creation and His children.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Cody Cunningham is the Faith & Work Intern at Chapel Hill Bible Church. He blogs periodically at codycunningham.com. This post first appeared at intersectproject.org)
4/18/2016 4:30:31 PM
Cody Cunningham | with 0 comments