Saturday, June 14, 2008

Prayer Blog - 6/14/2008

CDB, assistant Pastor of Music and Worship at the Central Baptist Church of Bearden, officially announed his resignation in this week's bulletin. Please pray for he and his family as he seeks a new position.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 6/13/2008

Associated Baptist Press
June 13, 2008 (8-61)

IN THIS ISSUE:
SBC resolution could shrink church membership rolls further
Texas church targeted for ouster from SBC over homosexuality
Radical Islam among 4 apocalyptic forces threatening America, SBC’s Land says
Caspian more violent than virtuous, scholars say; but what about 3rd movie?
Opinion: The moral influence of a market economy

SBC resolution could shrink church membership rolls further
By ABP Staff

INDIANAPOLIS (ABP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention, struggling with a membership decline nationwide, passed a resolution June 11 that could significantly shrink church membership rolls even further.

Messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis also turned back efforts to encourage Christians to remove their children from public schools and asked Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.

A resolution calling on churches to “lovingly correct wayward members” -- intended to ensure only true and obedient Christians make it onto church rolls -- was toughened even more with two amendments that encourage tighter definitions of a “member.”

The resolution, which reflects the growing influencing of Calvinism in the SBC, comes on the heels of denominational statistics that showed the 16 million-member convention shrinking.

Membership fell in 2007 for the second time in a decade. Even more discouraging, officials said, baptisms in SBC churches dropped for the seventh time in eight years – down 5.5 percent in 2007.

The resolutions -- a total of nine were adopted -- are simply statements that reflect the sentiment of messengers gathered at a particular annual meeting and have no weight of law for Southern Baptists. However, as resolution committee chair Darrell Orman, pastor of First Baptist Church, Stuart, Fla., said when introducing the resolutions, these statements “speak to the nation.”

Other resolutions included statements:

-- Celebrating growing ethnic diversity within the SBC.

-- Encouraging Christians to participate in the secular political process but warning against “potential problems of politicizing the church and the pulpit.”

-- Affirming use of the term “Christmas” in public life.

-- Offering “wholehearted support” for a petition in California requiring the state to place a referendum on the ballot in November defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

-- Recognizing the centennial anniversary of the boys mission education group Royal Ambassadors.

The resolution on “regenerate” church membership drew two amendments that encouraged churches to tighten membership definitions. The original resolution called for “churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration of Christ’s lordship for all members” and urged churches to “maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability.”

It also urged churches to “restore wayward members,” reviving the principle of church disciple.

After much discussion, messengers adopted two amendments. The first, offered by Malcolm Yarnell, a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, added to the definition of a New Testament church.

The original included the definition “composed only of those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ, the local church’s only Lord, by grace through faith.” The amendment added as further definition: “which church practices believers-only baptism by immersion, (Math 28:16-20,) the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-30) and church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20).

Messengers adopted an amendment by Tom Ascol, prominent in the Calvinist-inspired Founder’s Movement in the Southern Baptist Convention, urging “the churches of the SBC to repent of any failure among us to live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership and any failure to obey Jesus Christ in lovingly correcting wayward church members.”

Calvinist doctrine has been on the ascent in the SBC in recent years.

The amendment encouraged “denominational servants to support and encourage any church’s efforts to recover and implement this discipline of our Lord Jesus Christ …even if such efforts result in a reduction in the number of members that are recorded in those churches.”

Southern Baptist leaders have been worrying publicly about the decline in SBC membership and baptisms, which they say reflects the fact three-fourths of SBC churches are stagnant or dying. Outgoing SBC president Frank Page predicted that, without intervention, half of the SBC’s 44,000 churches won’t exist by 2030.

Some messengers tried vigorously to amend the resolution against same-sex marriage to include an admonition to withdraw children from public schools – a frequent but unsuccessful initiative at recent SBC meetings.

Ron Wilson from Thousand Oaks, Calif., said if the convention was going to pass a resolution opposing same-sex marriage, they ought to encourage families to remove their children from public schools, “which are the main training grounds for the teaching of same-sex marriage.”

The committee, however, did not “want to dilute the emphasis of this resolution by bringing in the corollary issue of the education system,” Orman explained.

The resolution on ethnic diversity encouraged nominating committees to “identify ethnic leadership” for SBC service and encouraged them to “strive toward a balanced representation of our ethnic diversity.”

Ethnic congregations are the only growing segment of the Southern Baptist Convention. Without that growth, the decline in SBC membership would have surfaced much earlier.

The resolutions committee declined to present statements on several proposed issues — the importance of doctrine for true unity; appreciation for women serving in SBC churches; online voting for the SBC; Cooperative Program education; opportunities for women in ministry; affirming the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message; ordination councils; small churches; and support of Baptist schools.

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-- Reported by Norman Jameson. Greg Warner contributed to this article.

Texas church targeted for ouster from SBC over homosexuality
By Vicki Brown

INDIANAPOLIS (ABP) -- A Fort Worth, Texas, church, which long ago cut back its support of the Southern Baptist Convention, nonetheless could be ousted from that body because it welcomes homosexuals.

The possible ouster of Broadway Baptist Church, along with a move to expel churches with female pastors, may signal that the Southern Baptist Convention wants to further narrow the meaning of “friendly cooperation.”

Bill Sanderson, pastor of Hepzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, N.C., made a motion at the SBC’s annual meeting in Indianapolis asking messengers to declare Broadway Baptist Church not “in friendly cooperation” with the convention – which is the constitutional language describing membership.

The church, founded in 1882, has quietly included homosexuals in its congregation for several years. But a public dispute among church members over a pictorial directory -- and the pastor’s subsequent resignation -- brought the issue to the attention of Baptists nationwide, including Southern Baptist leaders who want to ban churches that affirm gays.

Sanderson’s motion, like the one targeting female pastors, was referred to the SBC Executive Committee, which handles the business of the convention during the rest of the year.

If eventually approved by the SBC next year, the effect of the motion would be to expel Broadway Baptist from the convention. But motions referred to the Executive Committee often result in no action.

The SBC’s constitution already prohibits churches that “affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior” from affiliating with the convention.

Rather than punishing only churches that send messengers to the annual meeting, the motion targeting Broadway could take SBC scrutiny to a new level by seeking out churches that violate the SBC’s constitution.

Harriet Harral, a former chair of deacons at Broadway, expressed regret that the motion had been made. “Baptists have traditionally upheld the autonomy of the local church,” she said in a telephone interview.

The motion targeting female pastors would again amend the SBC’s constitution to disallow affiliation by “churches which have female senior pastors.” It’s not known how many SBC churches have female senior pastors.

The convention’s “Baptist Faith and Message” doctrinal statement asserts “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” But Southern Baptists have not paired that declaration with a constitutional prohibition against churches with female pastors.

At the Indianapolis meeting, convention officials avoided a showdown over Broadway Baptist. Since the Texas church did not send messengers to the Indianapolis meeting, the order of business committee determined the convention did not face a credentials issue. But it suggested compliance with the SBC’s constitutional policy against affiliating with churches that “affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior” merits study.

Although some churches have been reprimanded at the national level in the past, the convention’s handling of the Broadway incident is unusual. Broadway sent no messengers to this year’s session, nor has it done so for several years. Generally, the SBC has refrained from interfering with affiliated churches unless the seating of its messengers is challenged at an annual meeting.

Baptist historian Lloyd Allen, a professor at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, cannot recall a similar occurrence. “They usually refuse to seat a church’s messengers, rather than for the church to be censured without messengers there.”

“It’s been rare, I think, for a church to be censured, but I suspect [the Broadway incident] might not be the first time” in the convention’s history that a church has been censured without representation, he said.

The convention has attempted to reprimand churches over the homosexual issue in the past. In 1999, messengers proposed two motions against Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., former President Bill Clinton’s home church.

That year Clinton had issued a proclamation to declare June as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” One motion at the annual meeting “formally suggested” the Little Rock congregation exercise church discipline against Clinton. The other requested the church’s formal position on the president’s policies. Both were ruled out of order.

Whatever decision the convention ultimately makes regarding Broadway might have little impact on the church, Harral noted. Like many other moderate and progressive congregations, the church has not sent messengers to the SBC annual meeting in several years and has pared back its Cooperative Program giving.

Broadway members determined a number of years ago to funnel most undesignated receipts through the Baptist General Convention of Texas, with a percentage for state ministries and a percentage passing to the national CBF, said Harral, current Cooperative Baptist Fellowship national moderator.

The church has maintained a budget line item for cooperative giving, a piece of which is earmarked for the SBC in order to maintain membership. Church members also can designate gifts to the SBC.

The Executive Committee could reject the motion or investigate the church and return a recommendation to messengers to the 2009 annual session in Louisville, Ky. According to news reports, Broadway’s leaders intend to cooperate with any SBC investigation.

The debate over Broadway’s pictorial directory began last fall when a few gay couples showed up to have their pictures taken together. Some members felt that allowing the photos of the couples as families pushed the church from its “welcoming” stance to “affirming” homosexual behavior. Others saw refusal to include gay couples as demeaning.

The church ultimately determined to publish a historical booklet with directory information, but it would not include photographs of families.

Some members formed Friends for the Future of Broadway to challenge then-pastor Brett Younger’s leadership on a number of other issues. The group called for a vote to oust Younger, but 200 other members signed a counter petition to oppose his firing.

In March, a motion to fire Younger failed. In April, he resigned as pastor to accept a post as an associate professor of preaching at McAfee. He said his decision to leave Broadway was based on his desire to teach, not on the controversy. He preached his final sermon at the Fort Worth church on June 8.

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Radical Islam among 4 apocalyptic forces threatening America, SBC’s Land says
By ABP Staff

INDIANAPOLIS (ABP) – America is haunted by the “four modern horses of the apocalypse” – including homosexuality and “radical Islamic jihadism” – which threaten to destroy America and take over the world, according to Southern Baptists’ top ethicist.

Updating a biblical reference from the book of Revelation, which uses apocalyptic language to warn Christians of coming calamity, Richard Land said the four evil forces have “been let loose and are riding forth to wreak havoc and destruction in our society.”

Land identified the four modern horsemen of the apocalypse as the denial of the sanctity of human life, the deluge of hardcore Internet pornography, the radical homosexual agenda and its attempt to undermine marriage, and radical Islamic jihadism.

Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke during his agency’s report to the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis. He saved his toughest words for radical Islam, which he called a “death cult.”

“Radical Islamic jihadism has declared war on America and American civilization and Christianity,” he charged. “Radical Islamic jihadism is a death cult that has taken root within the religion of Islam. Not all followers of Islam are followers of radical Islamic jihadism. In fact, most of the people who have been killed by radical Islamic jihadists have been Muslims who refused to knuckle under to their perverted, twisted distortion of the Islamic religion.”

The one major obstacle to radical Islam’s attempt to take over the world is the United States, he said.

“The hope is not from Washington, D.C.,” he said. “The only answer is a revival that ripens into a spiritual awakening that will then become a reformation that will then shake America for Jesus Christ. That is the only answer.”

Land challenged Southern Baptists to make personal commitments to bring revival to America.

“Our nation needs a greater movement of the Holy Spirit and it will not happen without a great movement of the Holy Spirit within each of us,” Land added. And that will require personal repentance and prayer.

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-- Reported by Bill Webb

Caspian more violent than virtuous, scholars say; but what about 3rd movie?
By Lee Ann Marcel

WACO, Texas (ABP) --“You may find Narnia a more savage place than you remember,” a dwarf says in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

The dwarf is undeniably right. The second movie in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series is more violent and less virtuous than its predecessor, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, say two scholars who study the renowned Christian writer.

So is this the same Narnia that millions fell in love with in Walden Media’s first film? And what does Hollywood hold for the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia novels?

In Prince Caspian, the Pevensie children -- Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy – find the land they remember quite changed. They are summoned back in Narnia, where 1,000 years have passed since they left. The siblings are called back into combat with the creatures of Narnia to fight against the tyrant who has stopped the rightful heir, Prince Caspian, from ruling the land.

What ensues is a storyline that is noticeably more violent than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Ralph Wood, professor of Lewis and Tolkien literature at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, noticed the difference between the two movies. He felt the film lacked the magical quality that distinguished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

“I thought it was well done considering their basic intention was to create an action flick with a lot of excitement and a lot of battle scenes,” said Wood, whose many books include The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth.

“The first battle was entirely invented,” pointed out Wood. “It’s clear the filmmaker knew the teenage audience.”

Wood explained that the book had only one battle, and it lasted a minute. He mentioned that Lewis never went into the gory details of the battle.

“Lewis wants to avoid cheap violence,” said Wood. “He didn’t want to distract from his main point.”

In the novel Prince Caspian, Lewis attempts to convey a vision of pride that can corrupt even the best of intentions. Pride can weave its way slowly into our lives unnoticed until it rears its ugly head when we least expect it. Even the hero, Peter, can have a fatal flaw of pride.

Wood also pointed out the emerging character and strength of Edmund was portrayed well in the film. In the first movie, Edmund starts off under the influence of evil but eventually becomes a hero. Wood said that is Lewis’ way of showing a need for divine grace that can redeem evildoers.

“Overall, I’m grateful for the creation of a new generation of Lewis readers,” Wood said. “But those who haven’t read the book, I fear, will draw the conclusion that the movie is saying, ‘If we Christians go to battle we can wipe them all out.’ With a culture so obsessed with violence one could go to the movie and walk away with the endorsement of violence.”

Another scholar gave his thoughts about the adventure film Prince Caspian.

“I think the film, in some ways, was better than the first,” said Michael Ward, a writer, speaker, Anglican clergyman and Cambridge, England, native. He has recently released a book titled Planet Narnia in which he discusses Lewis' use of the seven medieval heavens.

Ward suggested that Lewis alludes to the heavenly realm of Mars, the god of war, in Prince Caspian. This explains the frequency of battles in the novel.

“The film got this part well, a little too well,” he said. “There was a great deal of violence and extra battle scenes than the book. And they also downplayed the trees’ role.”

In Narnia the trees are alive and move when Aslan the lion bids them to. Aslan symbolizes Jesus Christ -- a divine character who creates, sustains and redeems the world of Narnia. As he works to right wrongs, he triumphs over the tyranny of the wicked king, Miraz.

According to Ward, Mars was also known as a deity of the forest [Mars Silvanus]. The month of March, when the trees come back to life after winter, is named for Mars. Ward pointed out all the events of Prince Caspian took place in the Narnian month of “Greenroof,” the only month ever named in the Lewis novels.

“In the book, these two strands [war and trees] are carefully balanced,” he said, “though in the film 90 percent of it was battle scenes and 10 percent were the trees. The film gave a different feel than the book.”

Ward described another difference between the two novels. In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, there is a more distinct connection with the gospel. But in Prince Caspian there are less obvious ties.

“My suspicion is that most Christian viewers see the Christian messages and that some non-Christians do. And those who don't see these messages (both the Christians and the non-Christians) nonetheless may imbibe them at an imaginative level,” Ward said.

With the grand success of the first film -- $65.6 million in ticket sales -- it’s surprising that Prince Caspian only brought in $56.6 million. The next movie in line, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is set to be released in May 2010.

“I have to admit, the first movie was better than the second,” said Wood, “I hope this isn’t the mark of a downward trend.”

He likened it to a similar slump in The Lord of the Rings movies. In Wood’s opinion the first was better than the second and third movies.

“There is less room for inserting battles in this third [Narnia] story which seem to have dominated the first two adaptations so unduly,” Ward said, “Of course, that doesn't mean they won't try! But The Dawn Treader has such a mystical atmosphere that I feel that even the most tone-deaf adapter can't fail to sense it.”

However, Ward mentioned that there will be a different director for this third film -- not Andrew Adamson this time but Michael Apted.

“Michael Apted is a more mature filmmaker than Adamson and has done good work with Amazing Grace…. His brother is an Anglican clergyman. Of course, none of this means that Apted will necessarily understand The Dawn Treader intimately, but it does perhaps bode well.”

In the third movie, Edmund, Lucy and their cousin Eustace go across the seas with King Caspian on his ship, The Dawn Treader. They encounter mermaids, dwarves, and even dragons. Audiences may find the movie more venturesome than the second.

If the screenwriters remain faithful to the book, audiences will have a lot to look forward to, Ward suggested.

Of the final three chapters, Ward said simply: “Heart-breakingly beautiful. A taste of heaven.”

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Opinion: The moral influence of a market economy
By David Gushee

(ABP) -- I was at the Mall of Georgia the other day, walking by a brand new car that for some reason was being displayed in the open air, just off the food court. It had all the marks of a new car, including one of those information sheets in the window telling the onlooker about its gas mileage and average annual fuel costs.

I have to admit that I don’t remember the make or model of the car. But I do remember that it promised 15 whole miles per gallon in the city, and 23 on the highway. What I was most struck by was that it calculated average annual fuel costs with gas priced at $2.80 a gallon. And this was a new car. Was it so recently that gas actually cost $2.80 a gallon? Oh, the good old days!

For those who wondered just what it would take for Americans to change their conspicuous consumption of gasoline, the answer seems to be a price of $4 per gallon. From the four corners of society, the news is in -- $4 per gallon demands a lifestyle transformation for all but the richest Americans.

News stories abound with the details: More and more people are unable to fill their tanks when they go to the gas station. Trying to scrape by until the next paycheck, many are running out of gas, their old cars and trucks abandoned by the side of the road. For the first time since the 1970s, gasoline is regularly being siphoned out of cars by thieves. (Remember gas cap locks? They’re back.) The poorest are spending as much as 15 percent of their take-home pay on gasoline and are facing choices of gas vs. meat and gas vs. health care. Some employers are sending cars around to pick up their workers who cannot afford to drive to work.

General Motors is looking to sell off its Hummer unit. No one wants Hummers, that ultimate symbol of conspicuous consumption. SUV sales are plummeting. On the other hand, dealers cannot keep the hybrid Prius in stock. There is a two-month wait to buy a Prius in many locations. GM is rushing to bring the Volt, an electric-powered car, to market by 2010. The use of mass transit is up considerably.

Long-term trends in housing will be affected. In Atlanta, for example, where “the good life” has long been understood to mean a move to the northern suburbs accompanied by a grinding 20-mile commute one way, the combination of gas costs and traffic nightmares demands reconsideration. Some predict the partial or wholesale abandonment of certain exurban neighborhoods, with their long commutes, and McMansions, too expensive to maintain. Combined with the problems in the housing market and the rise in foreclosures, in some areas this suburban/exurban collapse is already happening.

What are we to make of all this? Should we be looking for politicians who will promise an end to the pain? What does this mean for stewardship and the life of the church?

One disappointing lesson is that the market often affects behavior a whole lot better than moral suasion. For decades, a number of church leaders and environmental activists have been calling Christians and other Americans to a simpler lifestyle. But with gas at $2 a gallon, few cared. People adjusted their “inner attitudes” while driving their Hummers to church. Now smaller cars, less driving, working from home, and mass transit look a whole lot more compelling.

The government does have a role to play. It would have been rational government policy to require higher fuel efficiency standards even when gas was $2. And there are things that government can do now to both ease the burden on the most desperately affected and aid the transition to a radical transformation in our national energy use. But still, nothing focuses the mind like paying $75 to fill up your car with gas. Some are suggesting that the best thing government can do to change American habits is to ensure that gas never goes below $4 a gallon again.

Churches and families will get those energy audits, build greener buildings, buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, and stay closer to home. The pleasures of a quiet evening around the dinner table or the fellowship hall will be rediscovered. People will turn off lights and stop cooling their buildings to the freezing point in the summer.

It would have been nice if a hundred earnest books and a thousand sermons had triggered these behavioral changes. Necessity seems to work better. I guess human beings really are sinners.

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-- David Gushee is distinguished university professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University. www.davidpgushee.com

Bible Trivia - 6/13/2008

Question: In what OT prophetic book is the following quotation found: "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy."?

Answer: Joel. (Joel 2:28)

Comments: This verse provided Peter's text for the first Christian sermon - explaining the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21).

"It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28, NASB)

Word of the Day - 6/13/2008

Timbrel

A timbrel is a tambourine or similar instrument.

After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry land, Miriam and her fellow Israelite women celebrated by playing timbrels and dancing.

Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. (Exodus 15:20, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/13/2008

I spent my Thursday doing my best impersonation of MLM. As he is out of town, I assumed his ministerial responsibilities at the church and hospital visitation outside the church walls. This proved far easier than we originally thought.

The morning began at 8:30 (yes, am) rehearsing the skit I would be involved with for Vacation Bible School (VBS). I learned two big lessons and many smaller tidbits about acting. First, acting is far more difficult than it looks, as I had always suspected. Secondly, I am not an especially gifted actor. Perhaps with some work, I could be adequate. Suffice it to say I am not a natural.

Things like "cheating front" that came natural to my experienced cast mates were minutia I had to learn. I played Jeremiah the prophet and TW (pictured) portrayed his scribe Baruch. Every time I said his name, I wanted to say, “Baruch! Baruch! Baruch is on fire!” Yes, I know. No one would have gotten it.

I was given a great deal of liberty with my lines. I did them differently with each take. The only time I received the veto signal was when instead of saying, “God has hidden us from the king’s officials,” I said “God has made us harder to find than Osama Bin Laden.” In the section that required me to pantomime, I simply continually mouthed the word “Jihad” for my own amusement. Other than being completely uncomfortable acting, I had fun with the job and really enjoyed the people I worked with.

ASR helped me fit into my pastel burlap sack and matching sash. ASR took her role very seriously. She portrayed the king who burns Jeremiah and Baruch’s scroll. Not only did she paint a beard on her face, but the pillow she used to simulate obesity was purple to indicate royalty. It is worth noting that her husband did not kiss her with this look. It is also worth noting that “kiss” and “lips” use the same key functions on a cell phone (5477).

I really liked ASR. In between performances, she told me of her whirlwind romance at age 32. She met her husband on August 4th, was engaged by August 24th, and married December 19th. Her version of the story was far more detailed than mine.

After two performances (I like to think of the second one as a requested encore), I went to see what hospitals I would be visiting. Believe it or not, in my huge church, not one person was sick! Perhaps they heard I was visiting and requested not to be visited. In any event, my afternoon freed up.

SMA and I decided to eat lunch at Gridiron Burgers, a restaurant with a Tennessee football theme in Turkey Creek. SMA is a far bigger fan than I. We were met by WRK and SMA's perfectly behaved nephew, SS.

I learned that SMA had visited Parkwest Medical Center on Tuesday night (June 11th). It seems he was going down his stairs and jumped. While he intended to leap forward, his body jumped up. He hit his head. His face soon became a crimson mask and WRK was enlisted to drive him to the emergency room. Unfortunately, there are no photos of him bloodied. (What could be more important in crisis than documenting the event?) He waited only twenty minutes before receiving four staples to the scalp and he is fine. Life is certainly never dull with SMA.

WRK is well. She is working Mondays and Wednesdays at WebTec Converting. She was to learn on Friday whether or not she would also be working part-time for Knoxville Furniture Alliance.

SS is also well. He recently filmed a televison commercial for Jewelry Television, where his father serves as vice president of marketing. If it becomes available online, I will post a link. We spent much of the afternoon teasing SS about his nonexistent girlfriend.

On Thursday night, I “worked” a shift with JTH at MoFoS. PCR visited with his girlfriend, Amber. They had big news. They will be getting married on October 27th, the anniversary of their first date. The event will be on a South Carolina beach. I hope this works out. PCR deserves some happiness.

Afterwards, I visited KLTW, KJW, and RAW and watched the Celtics defeat the Lakers 97-91 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. We actually watched only the second half as their DirectTV was out again. They have literally had to call after every billing cycle as DirectTV charges them more than $200 on a bill that was negotiated at $38. Naturally, KLTW handled this situation as she handles all of the interpersonal problems for this group. She soon had the problem remedied and the television working. We watched a great second half comeback as Boston erased a 20-point deficit to go up 3-1 in the series. We told the DirectTv representative we would talk to her next month...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

View from 315A

The draft for the second annual Pilot Rocky Top Basketball League was held last night at 7 pm at Ray's ESG. Games begin Monday at Bearden High School. The teams are as follows with overall draft number in parentheses:

HT Group: Tyler Smith (1); Courtney Pigram (11); Daniel West (12); Michael Jenkins (23); Cole Rose (24); Greg Hamlin (35); Kyle Huckins (36); J.T. Blair (47); Chris Conner (49); Ryan Walden (60)

Toyota of Knoxville: Wayne Chism (2); Dane Bradshaw (10); Rashard Lee (13); Andy Tipton (22); Tony White Jr. (25); Kirill Yakvolev (34); Isiah Brown (37); Jared Stevens (48); Jimmy Boone (50); Dan Walter (59)

Rays ESG: Scotty Hopson (3); Bobby Maze (9); Brian Williams (14); Logan Johnson (21); Steven Pearl (26); Alex Oliver (33); Alex Bowers (38); Ben Williamson (46); James Gallman (51); Mario Mcclurie (58)

News-Sentinel: Damon Johnson (4); Ron Slay (8); Renaldo Woolridge (15); Phillip Jurick (20); Jalen Steele (27); Raul Placeras (32); Cameron Sharp (39); Jeremy Saffore (44); Chauncey Thompson (52); Keith Bauer (57)

Richardson Construction: John Mueller (5); Terrence Oglesby (7); Stanley Asumnu (16); Josh Tabb (19); Bobby Guyton (28); Elmar Kuli-Zade (31); Michael Blue (40); Rob Zalucki (45); Skylar McBee (53); Adam Plavich (56)

1st Tennessee: Cameron Tatum (6); John Higgins (17); Jordan Howell (18); Zach Hyatte (29); Ben Bosse (30); Eryk Watson (41); Marko Costic (42); James Boo Jackson (43); Justin Walker (54) Dustin Brown (55)

Bible Trivia - 6/12/2008

Question: Which book contains the following prophecy of Jesus' trial: "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."?

Answer: Isaiah. (Isaiah 53:7)

Comments: This passage (Isaiah 53:7) was the portion of Scripture which the Ethiopian eunuch was reading when Philip found him. (Acts 8:32) Philip used this passage to begin leading him to Jesus.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7, NASB)

Word of the Day - 6/12/2008

Amaurosis

Amaurosis is partial or total loss of sight, especially in the absence of a gross lesion or injury.

Jacob took advantage of his father Isaac's amaurosis to steal his brother's blessing. (Genesis 27)

Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, "My son." And he said to him, "Here I am." (Genesis 27:1, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/12/2008

On Wednesday, I met the drama team I would be working with the remainder of the week at our church’s Vacation Bible School (VBS).

I quickly learned that I was the only actor with no training in the group. Naturally, I have a prominent roll in my first skit on Thursday. While I know there are no smalls parts (only small actors), I found myself wishing I had a smaller part.

The director, JLW, is the managing director of the WordPlayers, a local Christian acting troupe. The supporting cast featured DGF (who I had seen in The Trip to Bountiful on May 4, MEI (“Betsy”) and ASR (“Amy”). The latter two had been in drama groups at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. If ASR did not drive 200 miles weekly to teach at Roane State, she too would be in the WordPlayers.

The two youths in the skit were Thomas Waldrupe (TW) and Joel Weber (JW). TW played the Wizard in Christian Academy of Knoxville’s recent production of Once Upon A Mattress. JW, the middle of JLW’s three sons, also acts.

So I fit right in...

We rehearsed the Jeremiah-Baruch drama many times on this day. I have four lines, but they do allow me to showcase my range. I begin with dramatic lines and then moves to comedic fare. This would be great if I had any range. In the scene we are depicting (Jeremiah 36), Jeremiah is really good at delegating at best or really lazy at worst. My interpretation is the former, naturally.

I was given my costume - a pastel pink robe with a pastel blue sash. At least they match. Fortunately ASR was there to teach me to put it on, arms first and then the neck. She once worked in a huge production of a Dickens' play at Joel Gregory’s church at the time, Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth. After pasting hundreds of mutton chops on volunteers there, she had little trouble working with this untrained volunteer. I also had the advantage of learning from MLM’s mistake. He forgot to take off his sneakers earlier in the week, a mistake I aim not to copy.

I enjoyed my church visit as I got to catch up with some old friends like JLC and SQP. I also conversed with our senior pastor, LWF, who is portraying “Senior Dude” as part of this week’s festivities.

The big scandal of the week was that for the first time ever, children participating in the summer daycare program were not allowed to participate in Vacation Bible School! Participants whose family were church members could, but others could not. One child (Katelyn Cornwell) goes only one week and that is so she can attend VBS. The VBS play area was right outside of the Annex where the summer care program meets. So all they would see of VBS was the other kids having fun. This is horrible! Fortunately someone saw the error in this and remedied the situation. By Tuesday the daycare kids were included. Nothing says Jesus like excluding those who are not church members. I was appalled.

After my rehearsal, I visited the Verizon store. I explained that I needed to upgrade my policy in regards to pictures as my last bill was inordinately high. I explained that I take a tremendous amount of shots of KJW. The salesman was very helpful and I soon added $10 and 500 photos a month to my plan. After this he asked, “Do you have a camera phone?” Really?

On Wednesday night, JTH and I ran errands before meeting Mr. X at Applebees at 10 pm. I visited with his parents while he cleaned up. (His case of OCD makes me look normal.) His father CEH (“Homer”) was to receive the last in a series of injections the following day (June 12th). Thus far they have not alleviated any pain. Even clothing hurts to touch his skin, so he no longer wears a shirt around the house. While a topless Homer would ordinarily be a welcome addition to any home, the reason makes this situation sad. Please keep him in your prayers.

JTH and I went to Oak Ridge where we went to Mr. K’s and Wal Mart. When we got back to Knoxville, we visited Marshalls (where we got his father a soft t-shirt) and Target where his friend and co-worker MM is registered for her wedding. I really feel that the registries should only print off what has not been bought. It would be far less confusing. Also, while I understand the benefit of registering as no one wants several hundred toasters, I think it is sad not to be surprised by gifts. But what do I know? I have never gone through the process.

While at Target, we ran into ZC’s aunt. She had just eaten with him at a Mexican restaurant where he had tricked his younger cousin into saying, “I have a cat in my pants” in Spanish. Well played, Sir.

Applebees was great as usual. Mr, X, now a full-fledged Kroger employee, let us in on some Kroger news. The new Kroger being built in Farragut in an abandoned K-Mart (next to an existing Kroger) will be the nicest one this side of Cincinnati. There will even be a jewelry department as Kroger owns Fred Meyer Jewlers. While I am no jewelry expert, I just do not see myself buying jewelry from a grocery store...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 6/11/2008

Associated Baptist Press
June 11, 2008 (8-59)

IN THIS ISSUE:
Establishment candidate Johnny Hunt wins SBC presidency on 1st ballot
SBC officials reject idea of sex-offender database
SBC business items include bids to re-join BWA, oust churches
Baptists to have place to worship, baptize near historic Jordanian site
Volunteers in missions: Short-term workers make long-term impact
Volunteers in missions: Texas church’s reach extends to Macedonia’s families

Establishment candidate Johnny Hunt wins SBC presidency on 1st ballot
By Robert Marus and Lonnie Wilkey

INDIANAPOLIS (ABP) – Atlanta-area pastor Johnny Hunt was elected Southern Baptist Convention president over five contenders on the first ballot June 10, returning control of the 16 million-member denomination to its fundamentalist establishment.

On the first day of the 2008 SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., received 3,100 votes (52.94 percent) out of 5,856 ballots cast. His vote thwarted a runoff that many SBC watchers had expected in the record field of candidates.

“In the context of uniting, my heart as president would be more in the context of holding high the flags of what really represents Southern Baptists,” he said, in remarks to reporters immediately following the announcement of his election. “And so I hope to unite our hearts around the things that we believe that Christ is most committed to.”

Hunt said he hopes to represent that view of Southern Baptists to the broader public as well. He lamented that, in their support for conservative issues in the “culture war,” Southern Baptists “oftentimes … come across as only what we’re against.”

Hunt will replace South Carolina pastor Frank Page, who won an upset victory to the first of two one-year terms in 2006 as the candidate favored by reform-minded bloggers and younger pastors.

Hunt was widely expected to win that election but pulled out of the contest at the last minute. His triumph this year reflects a return to a pattern that began in 1979, during which the establishment candidate won election in 25 of 27 years. The reformers who supported Page did not coalesce behind a single candidate this year.

The other candidates Hunt defeated were:

-- Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., who received 1,286 votes (21.96 percent).

-- Avery Willis, retired vice president of the SBC International Mission Board, who received 962 votes (16.43 percent).

-- Bill Wagner, a former missionary and president of Olivet International University in San Francisco, who received 255 votes (4.35 percent) and was nominated by Wade Burleson, leader of the younger conservatives.

-- Les Puryear, another blogger-pastor from Lewisville (N.C.) Baptist Church, who received 188 votes (3.21 percent).

-- Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., and a former SBC second vice president, who received 45 votes (0.77 percent).

Many of the reformers -- including Burleson -- had complained about what they consider an unnecessary narrowing of the parameters of cooperation in Southern Baptist life.

Hunt, widely hailed for his mentoring programs for younger ministers, said he would like to reach out to more young SBC leaders. But, at the news conference, he said that he had not heard complaints about disillusionment with the SBC from the young pastors he sees at conferences.

“I’ve never had one to ask me about the issue of tongues, women in ministry -- I think those are the things that our convention dealt with back during the conservative resurgence -- and the ones that really held to that found a real home in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” he said, referring to the moderate group that broke off from the SBC in the 1990s.

Nonetheless, he encouraged Southern Baptists not to dwell on what has divided the convention in the past. “If we keep our hearts on what has united us, it will lead us to our best days in the Southern Baptist Convention,” he predicted.

But Southern Baptists must be realistic, Hunt continued, noting that last year the convention baptized fewer people -- with a membership of 16 million -- than the convention did in 1950 with six million members. “What’s wrong with this picture? We have a larger army [today]. We ought to be taking more territory.”

When asked why the convention is showing a decline -- including a slight decline in overall membership -- Hunt said pastors must step to the plate and take responsibility. “We can’t blame God. We can’t blame our denominational leaders.”

“What we [pastors] find important, our people find important,” he observed.

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SBC officials reject idea of sex-offender database
By Drew Nichter

INDIANAPOLIS (ABP) -- Citing Baptists’ “belief in the autonomy of each local church,” a Southern Baptist Convention official announced May 10 that the denomination’s Executive Committee would not support the creation of a database of sexual offenders in SBC churches.

“Southern Baptists believe that the local church in New Testament times was autonomous, and thus our local churches are autonomous,” Executive Committee President Morris Chapman said in his address to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis.

The announcement was greeted with disapproval from some Baptist child-abuse activists.

The move came in response to a motion, passed nearly unanimously by messengers to last year’s SBC meeting, asking officials to study the database idea. Oklahoma pastor and former International Mission Board trustee Wade Burleson requested a feasibility study for such a registry “in order to assist in preventing any further sexual abuse or harassment” in Southern Baptist churches, as stated in the motion.

However, in its report to messengers, the Executive Committee noted, “it would be impossible to assure that all convicted sexual predators who ever had a connection with a Baptist church would be discoverable for inclusion on such a list.” The report also stated that a Baptist-only database would likely omit sexual offenders coming to SBC churches from other denominations.

But one Baptist child-abuse activist said that was a strange rationale.

“Interesting objection -- that not all perpetrators could possibly be included,” said Dee Ann Miller, an Iowa mental-health and former Southern Baptist missionary. “I'm sure people in every state could argue the same, yet names of convicted offenders are readily available to the public. So why would 100 percent be expected of any list? That's like saying: ‘Don't arrest any murderers because you might miss some!’”

The committee recommended that SBC churches use the Department of Justice’s national sex-offender database, calling it the best resource for protecting congregations against employing known abusers.

But Miller said that list is incomplete as well, and could best be used in conjunction with other databases.

“The limitations concern me far more than the fear that some perpetrators will be missed. My experience in listening to Baptist stories, along with many, many more in other denominations over the past 15 years, is that MOST will be missed,” she said, in e-mailed comments. “So why not have a convention database, make it readily available, and have a preliminary note warning people that they should also consult the government database?”

Burleson asked a similar question. He noted that a reporter asking him about the recommendation showed him two names of registered sex offenders who are on a database the Executive Committee currently maintains -- a list of Southern Baptist ministers.

“If we’re going to have a database with information about who’s a Southern Baptist pastor, then it would seem to me we ought to clean that database up and take off anybody who’s a sexual predator, or have some kind of notation on it, or not have it at all.”

By and large, the Executive Committee stood on the position that the autonomy of the local church superseded any jurisdictional authority the convention may have to create its own database, explaining that there are numerous SBC entities and resources already in place to assist churches in thwarting sexual predators.

“The convention’s role is to encourage, empower and educate local churches as to how to best do their local work to protect our precious children,” Chapman said, in an impassioned address on the broader issue of child sexual abuse.

The committee’s action came nearly a month after a staff minister at a prominent Dallas-area Southern Baptist megachurch. Prestonwood Baptist Church Minister to Married Adults Joe Barron was arrested and forced to resign over his alleged involvement in an online underage sex sting.

In his report, Chapman referred to the incident, and applauded Pastor Jack Graham’s swift action on the matter.

Likewise responding to critics who suggest that the Executive Committee’s action on the sex-offender database is insufficient, Chapman cited SBC resolutions passed in 2002 and 2007 supporting thorough punishment of sexual predators.

“Never let it be said … that we are anemic in the fight against sexual abuse,” Chapman said. “To say so is a false accusation.”

One of the most prominent activist groups on clergy sexual abuse released a statement saying that the recommendation was an insufficient response to Burleson’s original motion, asking, “Where’s the study?”

“I hope Southern Baptists will hold their leaders accountable and insist on a real, honest-to-gosh study,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests. “Baptist officials could start by at least setting aside a designated budget for a real study, and they could hold hearings with experts from other faith groups.”

But Burleson said that, although he may disagree with the decision not to recommend the database, he believed the Executive Committee studied the matter seriously.

“I think they gave the investigation due diligence,” he said. “Anybody who heard Morris Chapman speak cannot say that he didn’t take the issue seriously.”

In other Executive Committee-related business, messengers:

-- Approved the 2008-2009 SBC operating budget, which included a line item for “Global Evangelism Relations.” When asked about the item from the floor, Bob Rodgers, an Executive Committee official, said it was a new initiative born out of the SBC’s withdrawal from the Baptist World Alliance in 2004. Rodgers said the initiative’s goal is “to continue to develop relationships and fellowship with Baptists around the world.”

Chapman later introduced former SBC President Bobby Welch as strategist for the initiative. Welch called the program an “iron-clad demonstration” of the SBC’s obligation to make “global relationships for the future.”

He also emphasized that the new program is not intended to interfere with the work of the SBC’s North American Mission Board or International Mission Board. Global Evangelism Relations “will always have a view to be a complement and encouragement” to both entities, Welch said.

-- Approved a recommendation to encourage all SBC entities, churches and new church plants to involve, engage and create more ministries for people with disabilities.

-- Approved a 2008-2009 Cooperative Program allocation budget of $205,716,834, an increase of more than $5.1 million from the current budget.

-- Approved three future convention sites: Nashville, Tenn., in 2013; Baltimore in 2014; and Nashville again in 2019.

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-- Greg Warner and Robert Marus contributed to this story.

SBC business items include bids to re-join BWA, oust churches
By Marv Knox

INDIANAPOLIS (ABP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention will consider rejoining the Baptist World Alliance, removing churches that hire women pastors and restricting agency heads from serving as SBC president.

Messengers presented those and 20 other motions during the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis June 10-11. Motions request the convention to take action, and the vast majority of them are usually referred to pertinent SBC agencies for consideration and report to the following year’s annual meeting.

In Indianapolis, messengers referred 10 motions to the Executive Committee, ruled six motions out of order, sent five to various agencies or committees, saw one withdrawn and affirmed, but took no action on another.

Motions referred to the Executive Committee included proposals to:

-- Reconsider the SBC’s 2004 decision to withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance, composed of more than 200 Baptist conventions and other organizations around the globe.

At the time, SBC critics charged the worldwide umbrella group of being “too liberal,” echoing a refrain from the schism that split the SBC in the latter decades of the 20th century. More recently, the SBC has sought to build an organization of conservative groups worldwide. That has included apparent attempts to siphon some Baptist unions, particularly in parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, from the BWA.

Larry Walker, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Dallas, proposed the SBC-BWA reconciliation.

In an interview, Walker stressed that many small Baptist conventions and unions -- many of them located where Baptists and other Christians face daily persecution -- need the support and encouragement of the SBC, the world’s largest Baptist denomination. And, he noted, the SBC would benefit from relationships with faithful Baptists who bravely and humbly persist in the face of overwhelming odds.

-- Amend the SBC’s constitution to disallow affiliation by “churches which have female senior pastors.”

This proposal would modify the denomination’s governing document, which regulates convention membership. The convention’s Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement asserts, “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” However, it is not binding on local churches, and several SBC-affiliated churches have female senior pastors.

-- Change SBC bylaws to disqualify presidents of SBC agencies and institutions from serving as president of the convention.

In the early part of the 20th century, agency heads frequently led the convention as president. The only living institutional head who simultaneously served as SBC president is Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the architects of the ultra-conservative movement that gained control of the SBC in the 1980s and ’90s.

Early this year, Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., planned to run for president. But an illness and springtime surgery forced him to withdraw.

-- Declare Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, to be not “in friendly cooperation” with the SBC. The church has engaged in a highly public dispute regarding whether or not homosexual couples could be pictured together as families in the church’s directory. The church ultimately determined to publish a historical booklet with directory information, but it would not include photographs of families.

Since the church did not send messengers to the Indianapolis meeting, the order-of-business committee determined the convention did not face a credentials issue. But it suggested compliance with the SBC’s policy against affiliating with churches that “affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior” merits study.

-- Change the terms of service for SBC agency trustees. The proposal would eliminate multiple terms of three and four years, limiting each trustee to a single seven-year term.

-- Set new eligibility requirements for service on SBC committees, commissions and boards. Nominees would be required to “give evidence of having received Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior,” hold membership in a church that supports the SBC Cooperative Program unified budget, be in good standing with a local church, abstain from using alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs, and “support all the principles” in the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message doctrinal statement.

-- Change SBC election procedures so that, if no candidate receives a majority vote on the first ballot, the two candidates with the most votes would face each other in a second round. Currently, in a multi-candidate ballot, all candidates who make it into the top 50 percent on the first vote are entered in the run-off. Some observers had anticipated a run-off election for the SBC presidency this year because of a broad six-candidate field.

-- Create a “standardized form” on which the SBC’s six seminaries would report their enrollment and other data.

-- Amend SBC bylaws to direct convention agencies and institutions to “accommodate other events that support the work and mission of Southern Baptists” during the week in which the annual meeting is held each summer.

-- Study how to improve cooperation with other denominations and “work with all men of goodwill to improve society and the establishment of righteousness rooted in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and his word.”

Messengers referred one motion to all 12 SBC agencies and institutions. It asked the SBC organizations to be “more child-friendly and family-oriented” when they plan events in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting.

LifeWay Christian Resources, the convention’s publishing house, received referrals of two motions. They asked the convention to:

-- Print the Baptist Faith & Message in the five most dominant languages represented within the convention’s congregations.

-- Provide technology that will allow churches and associations the capability to videoconference and/or teleconference through their websites “in a secure and Christian environment.”

The SBC Committee on Order of Business received two motions. They suggested:

-- When a candidate is nominated for SBC office, either the candidate be presented on stage or his picture be shown to messengers on video screens.

-- After the SBC president calls the annual meeting to order, the American flag would be posted in the meeting hall, accompanied by an honor guard composed of representatives of the five U.S. armed services.

Messengers agreed with the order-of-business committee and President Frank Page in declaring six motions out of order. Primarily, these motions failed to pass muster because they sought to instruct convention trustees or other groups -- an action beyond the messengers’ scope of authority. They urged the denomination to:

-- Forbid program personalities at SBC annual meetings from reading from or citing LifeWay Christian Resources’ Holman Christian Standard Bible “or any translation that questions the validity of any Scripture or verse.” Messenger Eric Williams of Belle Rive, Ill., claimed editors of the Holman Christian Standard Bible “believe that there are verses in the [biblical] text that do not belong in the Bible.”

-- Instruct the six SBC seminaries to charge students who take classes over the Internet the same tuition rates they charge on-campus students.

-- Mandate that “all colleges, universities and seminaries that receive Cooperative Program support be responsible to report … that they teach creation science in their science programs as the true beginnings of life on earth as recorded in Genesis.”

-- Provide at-cost compact discs of the sermons preached at the SBC Pastors’ Conference and the annual meeting.

-- Accommodate hearing-impaired messengers to the annual meeting by providing amplification devices and/or closed captioning. Hearing devices already are available.

-- Provide direct financial support for Watseka Baptist Church in Watseka, Ill.

One motion was withdrawn by its maker. Messenger Rick Reeder asked the convention to receive a love offering to support disaster-relief efforts provided by the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana in the wake of floods that ravaged southern Indiana the weekend before the annual meeting. The order-of-business committee countered that collecting such an offering would be difficult logistically. It also suggested the best method for helping flood victims was being implemented through the SBC North American Mission Board’s disaster-relief program.

President Page urged messengers and other Southern Baptists to support the NAMB disaster-relief program by contributing online through the NAMB website. Reeder then agreed to withdraw his motion.

A final motion generated no specific action, but received a strong endorsement from Page. The motion called on the SBC Executive Committee to “lead our SBC to repentance and a new emphasis on biblical holiness and godly living.”

“A Holy Ghost revival is the only hope we have,” Page said. “Any call like this comes from the heart of God.”

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Baptists to have place to worship, baptize near historic Jordanian site
By Vicki Brown

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Baptist visitors to Jordan will soon have a place to worship near the historic spot traditionally viewed as the site of Jesus’ baptism.

King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan has conveyed a plot of land to the Baptist World Alliance for a Baptism Center to be constructed on the bank of the River Jordan, alongside many other church buildings being built in the area.

The Baptism Site Commission, an independent board of trustees appointed by the king, will own and manage the center, expected to be completed and opened next spring.

According to the commission’s website (www.baptismsite.com), the site, known as Bethany Beyond the Jordan, is a “legally protected National Jordan Park.”

BWA president David Coffey and King Abdullah II first discussed a possible center for Baptists in September. Discussions continued with the king’s special envoy and personal advisor, Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammed, who also chairs the commission. The pair reached an agreement during Coffey’s visit to the site May 26.

As part of the agreement, an inscription will be placed at the center’s entrance: “The Commission of the Site of the Baptism of Jesus Christ welcomes here in particular foreign visiting pilgrims from the member churches of the Baptist World Alliance.”

Baptist pilgrims to the site will be able to worship and be baptized at the center.

“We are greatly honored that King Abdullah has granted the global fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance the privilege of using the Baptism Center as a place of worship and pilgrimage,” Coffey said in a June 2 press release from the Washington-based BWA.

“I know that many Baptists and other evangelical Christians will visit the site as pilgrims and some will choose to confess their faith in Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism.”

Coffey noted that he and Prince Ghazi discussed several issues at the May meeting, “including the distinctive meaning of Christian baptism for Baptists and the boundaries of religious liberty.”

Also attending the May session were Nabeeh Abbassi, immediate past president of the Jordan Baptist Convention; its current vice president, Bahij Aqeel; and Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Baptist Society and Middle East representative for the European Baptist Federation.

“This is an act of appreciation for Christian presence in the region and a celebration of existing bonds between Arab Christians and Muslims,” Costa said. “Baptists of the Middle East are grateful for His Majesty’s invaluable gesture, and we welcome worldwide Baptist pilgrims to come and experience Middle Eastern hospitality.

In other BWA news, Coffey has been named to a three-year term on the Tony Blair Faith Foundation advisory council.

Former British Prime Minister Blair launched the foundation on May 30 to promote respect, friendship and understanding among major religions and faith as “a force for good.”

The advisory council includes other Christian leaders, such as Baptist pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California, and representatives from other faith traditions, such as Judaism and Islam.

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Volunteers in missions: Short-term workers make long-term impact
By Jenny Pope

COLUMBIA, Mo. (ABP) -- Kevin and Naomi Scantlan of Columbia, Mo. feel called to international missions.

But as integrated technology services analysts at University of Missouri Health Care and church lay leaders, committing to years abroad really isn’t feasible.

That’s why they’re planning their second mission trip to Kenya, along with eight fellow members of Memorial Baptist Church, to provide medical services and teach vacation Bible school to orphans and at-risk children supported by Buckner International. The Texas Baptist agency operates several benevolent ministries.

The Scantlans are among the 2-3 million Christians from the United States engaging in short-term missions work around the globe annually today, according to Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Global Missions Coordinator Rob Nash. In 1984, that number was 18,000.

“This is a profound and revolutionary shift,” Kevin Scantlan said.

“For much of the 20th century, the only U.S. Christians engaged beyond the United States were missionaries, diplomats and military types. With jet planes and globalization, this reality [has] shifted dramatically.”

Buckner International President Ken Hall remembers growing up in a Baptist family and struggling with the “call to missions.”

“For too long, we were led to believe that being called to missions meant 30 or 40 years in Africa,” he said. “That led to a lot of guilty feelings, but it also provided a good excuse for not becoming a missionary.”

Hall believes all Christians are called to be missionaries and that the Bible mandates it in Matthew 28:18-20, when Jesus issued the Great Commission.

“First-century missionaries were not so much vocational missionaries as professionals with a vocation that went on missions,” he said.

“Paul was a tentmaker … he didn’t stay in one place. The book of Acts records Paul’s three missionary journeys. In reality, Paul was a short-term missionary.”

Wendy Norvelle, associate vice president in the office of mobilization at the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, sees volunteers as involved not only in hands-on ministry, but also in strategic planning.

“We are seeing a new generation of volunteer missions, where churches are becoming strategically involved with particular teams or people groups overseas and in longer-term relationships. Churches and those who go on short-term mission trips are at the table in developing mission strategies. It’s a brand new strategic environment,” Norvelle said.

“In a sense, we’re moving away from the word ‘volunteers,’ and instead are using ‘short-term mission teams.’ We really do see that the [local] church has a strategic role in fulfilling the Great Commission and in being a significant partner in reaching people groups.”

Many critics question the effectiveness of short-term missions, but Hall sees their impact on children and families every day.

Buckner sends about 4,000 volunteers on short-term mission trips each year to minister to orphans, at-risk children and families in the United States and nine countries around the world.

These volunteer missionaries travel to support indigenous Christian staff employed by Buckner to provide follow-up evangelistic work in orphanages, distribute humanitarian aid, train and support foster families and network with Christian churches to provide sustainable ministries to aid children and families in need.

“Short-term missions workers can have an impact,” Hall said. “But that impact is far greater when we work with people inside the country, who prepare for our trips and help us work in a culturally sensitive and effective way.”

Norvelle agreed. “If [short-term and long-term mission workers] are together in developing strategy, it’s an asset. The key is that the strategy is one that everyone buys into,” she said. “The longer-term missionary perhaps has an insight into the culture and the beliefs and worldviews [of a region] which a church at the beginning would not have, though a church can learn it. But the energy and creativity of short-term mission teams can enhance” the work of long-term missionaries.

The Scantlans may be organizing their first church trip to Kenya, but they’ve already seen a huge response among members through fundraising and prayer support. Although future plans have not been made, Kevin Scantlan expects his church will continue to support the work they’ve started.

“One church cannot support a whole area,” he said. “But if you get a number of churches who do that and partner together … maybe not so much with each other, but through an organization like Buckner, you can make a bigger impact.”

Building relationships and making the missions experience personal “can be a life-changing thing for someone,” Naomi Scantlan said. “And not just for us, but for the whole church. If we don’t get involved ourselves, then it doesn’t change us.”

Personal involvement changed Dallas Baptist University student Chris Holloway’s life. He said he’s seen his passion for people and for international mission work grow since he took two short-term mission trips to Guatemala with Buckner in 2007.

“These trips really opened my eyes to see that God is not just the God of America, but the God of the whole world,” he said.

Though he currently works as resident director on DBU’s campus, Holloway said he’s entertained the idea of moving to Guatemala to pursue full-time mission work with orphans.

“These trips have given me a deeper heart for missions and for the need for missions,” he said. “So whether or not I end up as a businessman or a full-time missionary, I know that I will definitely be involved in missions for the rest of my life. … It’s a passion.”

Jeff Byrd, associate pastor for missions at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, has seen a domino effect in his church of Christians growing as leaders after participating in short-term missions.

“The church body is strengthened by this faithful obedience and by participating in God’s plan,” he said. “We have numerous examples of individuals that have experienced this transformational power in their lives and gone on to become church leaders, mission-team leaders and missionaries. … They’ve become more active in every aspect of the church’s ministries because they went on a mission trip.”

Park Cities takes an average of 10 international mission trips each year to Guatemala, Cuba and Kenya -- five of those through Buckner.

Byrd stresses that, while the impact of short-term missions is effective, it does not outweigh the importance of long-term missionaries or “career” missionaries.

“Short-term volunteers cannot be effective without a recipient infrastructure,” he said.

Victor Upton, vice president of missions resource for Buckner, said that employing in-country Christian personnel is the key to the agency’s work abroad.

“Long after we’re gone, the indigenous personnel are the ones who will carry on the work,” Upton said. “Whether it be feeding programs, group homes, foster care, kinship care…they are the true missionaries. We’re just there to support.”

When violence broke out in Kenya following its presidential election early this year, Buckner staff was in the field caring for children, working with churches and talking with public officials, he said.

“Many of the long-term U.S. missionaries had to leave, but we were in constant contact with [staff]. We were still able to sustain operations.”

Nash thinks that the focus of any ministry efforts, in the United States or abroad, has to be on mission sustainability.

“I’m glad that many short-term responders grasp the fact that a single mission trip that lasts a week can make a real difference in the lives of both the participants and the people to whom they minister,” he said.

“I’ve seen a short-term responder’s life absolutely revolutionized because of the experience. But the greatest transformation comes in a long-term engagement that is strategic and sustainable.”

Karen Hatley, a former missionary in the United Arab Emirates, agrees.

“The problem with short-term missions is that people often look at them as, ‘Oh, this is great for me’ … but their work should definitely be part of a long-term goal or commitment, whether to a certain area or people group or ministry,” said Hatley, who works with WorldconneX, the missions network of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Using short-term mission volunteers, global Christians and long-term missionaries would be the ideal situation for maximum impact, she said.

“But it takes a lot of work to collaborate and work together and listen to each other,” she added. “It’s important for Americans to come in as the learner, helper and supporter.”

Nash thinks the global church will play the most critical role in missions in the 21st century.

“The global church has joined the U.S. church in a dramatic way,” he said. “In many instances it’s much more spiritually and missionally vital than the U.S. church.

“It is important that we connect these Christians who serve effectively around the world and that we bring them into partnerships with each other so that all of us are more strategic as we share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

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-- Robert Dilday contributed to this story.

Volunteers in missions: Texas church’s reach extends to Macedonia’s families
By Patricia Heys

PRIDDY, Texas (ABP) -- Their church building may be small and unassuming, but members of one tiny Texas church are making a powerful impact on children living in the ghetto of Skojpe, Macedonia.

A few years ago, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Darrell and Kathy Smith spoke at Priddy Baptist Church, about 25 miles east of Brownwood, Texas.

The Smiths told the congregation about their ministry in Macedonia -- the languages, culture, ethnicities and the needs. The Smiths, who have served with the CBF since 1996, have been involved in environmental sustainability projects and ministering to children and families living in poverty.

Priddy Baptist Church -- with about 30 members and half that number in average attendance -- was moved by the Smiths' stories of Macedonian children living in poverty. A few months later, the church invited the Smiths to speak again.

“When we were invited back, the church wanted to know more about the kindergarten project,” Darrell Smith said. “The kindergarten had touched the heart of this church and given them a vision for where God was working.”

Macedonia has no state-sponsored kindergartens or preschool programs, but children still are required to pass a test before they can start first grade. The kindergarten started by the Smiths and CBF field personnel Arville and Shelia Earl provides a free education to children living in the ghettos of Skopje, who otherwise might not have access to education.

In addition to annual contributions to missions, Priddy Baptist members gave $17,000 last year to support the Skopje kindergarten, and have pledged to do the same again this year.

“We are a very small church, and contact and support for this project gives us a sense of contributing to a cause outside and greater than ourselves,” pastor Butch Pesch said. “We love the Smiths and the Earls and are thrilled to have a small part in what God is doing in Macedonia.”

The church’s funds have provided educational opportunities for 40 children, paying for the kindergarten's expenses for half the year -- utilities and rent, plus backpacks and school supplies.

“Just as hope came into the world as a small child, so hope has come to the families of the kindergarten through the efforts of a small church,” Kathy Smith said. “Though they might never meet each other, Priddy Baptist has changed the lives of these children and their families. Only God knows how these seeds of hope that have been planted will sprout and grow.”

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Prayer Blog - 6/11/2008

Tomorrow I am scheduled to appear at a trial as moral support for part of a dear friend. Until the trial is finished, I am unable to comment further. Please keep this young man in your prayers.

Bible Trivia - 6/11/2008

Question: How many "Marys" stood near the cross when Jesus was crucified?

Answer: 3. (John 19:25)

Comments: Jesus had some supporters present during his public execution - many named Mary.

Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25, NASB)

They are most likely listed in terms of protocol with the elder and most honorable listed first. Though some translations assert that this verse speaks of three women, there are likely four: (1) The mother of Jesus; (2) His mother's sister; (3) Mary the wife of Clopas and (4) Mary Magdalene. It is unlikely that Mary's sister was also named Mary.

Further the four women may be seen in juxtaposition to the four soldiers present who performed the crucifixion, and this may explain the transition from the incident presented in verses 23-24 to the scene which follows in verses 25-27.

Word of the Day - 6/11/2008

Compunction

Compunction is a feeling of uneasiness or anxiety of the conscience caused by regret for doing wrong or causing pain; contrition; remorse.

Matthew is the only gospel that records Judas' compunction after his betrayal of Jesus. (Matthew 27:3)

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, (Matthew 27:3, NASB)

Note: This painting is The Remorse of Judas by Edward Armitage (1817-1996).

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/11/2008

Tuesday went like the wind, but not without me getting to see some of my friends. (Read: Lynyrd Skynyrd reference.)

I ate lunch at Soccer Taco with SMA and WRK. We experienced perhaps the worst service I have ever had in my life, or at least since a 2001 trip to Charleston. Admittedly, the place was crowded and there was a soccer game ongoing at the time (Spain pounded Russia 4-1 in the opening game of the Euro 2008 championships), but no one sat me for ten minutes and it took approximately forty-five minutes to get our food. If nothing else, it piqued by appetite. We have a theory. There were three Caucasians working as servers. There should be a cap on how many white people can work at a Mexican restaurant and Soccer Taco has exceeded their limit.

I am not certain if it was to make up for the woefully inept service or not, but our waiter left a plate full of guacamole on our table. Not a ramekin, not a dish, but an entire plate! We did not ask for it. Maybe we looked like people who really liked guacamole. I do not know what that says about us. Sadly, we ate very little of it.

WRK celebrated her 22nd birthday on Friday at the Buttercup Restaurant & Tea Room in Lenoir City. A discussion of tearooms ensued and she was adamant that the Apple Cake Tearoom is not in fact an actual a tearoom. WRK really takes her tearooms seriously and I would advise that if the subject is broached with her, tread softly unless you are a tearoom expert. Thankfully, I am not.

SMA had spent the previous day playing “best ball” golf teaming with RLN against BR in what amounts to a handicap match. They lost by a stroke. Big money was at stake as had BR lost he would have owed the duo $10. Not apiece, but collectively. Their news was that their friend “Skohl” won $68,000 for placing fifth at a circuit event of the Word Series of Poker. They once visited him in Ohio where they all attended a Maroon 5 concert. Seriously.

After lunch, I rushed to Farragut to meet, KLTW. She was in need of a chauffeur as their Lincoln LS was in the shop again. So we drove to Seymour, Tennessee, to procure KJW who spent the day with her Nana. Nana had fixed her hair and she was especially cute on this day.

We stayed and visited with Nana and played with KJW for some time. I reached a new milestone on this day as I eclipsed the 1500 mark in KJW photos taken by my camera phone. I have taken more photos in her two years of life than the rest of my life combined.

We then hit the road back to Farragut. KJW had not taken a nap all day but she managed to sleep in the car on the way home. We now have this extra car seat as Nana bought a new one and supplied us with her old one. This way we do not need to continually move the bulky car seat out of the LS. If you have a baby and the financial means to do so, I highly recommend purchasing an extra car seat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Prayer Blog - 6/10/2008, #2

Lifelong family friend ALH called tonight and asked me to perform his wedding at 6:15 on August 23rd. I am honored. Please pray for his wedding and his marriage.

Prayer Blog - 6/10/2008

HFM is in Baptist Hospital as he awaits surgery tomorrow at noon (June 11th). HFM has long suffered with atrial fibrillation. In February, his doctor increased his medication by 50%. One of the side effects of this treatment was a decrease in his heart rate. He has feinted twice in the last three weeks, the last instance occurring on Saturday. After getting checked, his doctors determined that a pacemaker should remedy his present ailment. One will be implanted tomorrow at noon. He should be out of surgery by 1 pm and home by Thursday.

As always, HFM has a great attitude. He has been flaunting his beautiful lakeside view to his wife, CSM, who has always wanted to live on the water.

Please keep HFM and his heart in your prayers.

Bible Trivia - 6/10/2008

Question: What kind of wood was Noah's ark made of?

Answer: Gopher wood. (Genesis 6:14)

Comments: God's directions for building an ark were explicit. Among the details he specified was the type of wood used to construct the ark.

"Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch." (Genesis 6:14, NASB)

The exact type of wood used to construct the ark is unknown. The term "gopher" appears only in Genesis 6:14. The Greek Septuagint (LXX) renders this xylon tetragonon - "squared timber". The Latin Vulgate was translated "lignis levigatis" or "smoothed (possibly planed) wood".

English translations typically leave the word untranslated, transliterated from the Hebrew - "gopher wood." (ASV, ESV, KJV, NASB, NKJV, NLT, RSV). The Message reads "teakwood." The Amplified Bible leaves the reader with a choice: "gopher or cypress wood."

The NIV and NRSV also interpret the word as "cypress wood", though their is a Hebrew word for such wood (erez). This interpretation was first posed by Adam Clarke (1769-1832) citing the resemblance between Greek word for cypress, kuparisson and the Hebrew word gopher. Unfortunately, the languages are entirely unrelated. The cypress theory has been supported as it is large and strong.

The CEV tales the safest route as it reads simply "good lumber." That God would wish the ark to be constructed with good lumber would be hard to argue.

Word of the Day - 6/10/2008

Malinger

To malinger is to pretend illness, especially in order to shirk one's duty, avoid work, etc.

David's son Amnon malingered to bait his beautiful half-sister Tamar into his chambers. When he got her alone, he raped her.

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill; when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, "Please let my sister Tamar come and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand." (II Samuel 13:6, NASB)

This paiting is "The Rape of Tamar by Amnon" by Philip van Santvoort. It is displayed at the National Gallery in London.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/10/2008

As the heat continued in Knoxville on Monday, our summer Bible Study began its summer movie tour at Regal Downtown West where we screened Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I always feel good when I support Knoxville’s “art house” theater. Unfortunately our group of four (WAM, MLM, CMU, and myself) constituted half of the movie’s audience.

The film is a docudrama tracing Ben Stein’s quest to discover whether or not those who believe in Intelligent Design (ID) are victims of discrimination in academia. I will post a review and our group’s findings after we reconvene on Friday, June 20th. Our schedule will follow the watch one week and review the next pattern throughout the summer. We will try to meet on Thursdays but with it being summer, the schedule will be flexible.

While at the theater, I received my Regal Crown Club card, which many of you already own. One accumulates points and on certain days receives special discounts at the theater. It is free, so there was no risk with it.

I also learned that I will be participating in the "Summer Breeze" Bible Study this summer. If you would like a list of readings for devotion, contact me.