Election 2016Since the big June meeting between Donald Trump and about 1,000 evangelical leaders, including a handful of Southern Baptist pastors, the political conversation involving conservative Christians has dropped off noticeably. Christians have grown quiet on politics. Even the Twitterverse is quiet right now.

One exception: an op/ed piece in USA Today by Hobby Lobby CEO David Green pointing to the pivotal nature of the U.S. Supreme Court. “Make no mistake, the vacancy left by Justice Scalia and the subsequent appointment to fill his seat makes this presidential election one of the most significant in modern times.”

Green’s company was at the center of a 2014 judgment that allowed his corporation to refuse to pay for abortion-inducing drugs as part of its health insurance plan because of religious objections, despite requirements under the Obama Affordable Health Care Act. The high court’s ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby was 5-4. “It’s frightening to me to think that we—and all Americans—were just one vote away from losing our religious freedom,” Green wrote.

That’s the reason he gives for supporting Donald Trump. “(Hillary) Clinton has made no secret she believes government interests supersede the protection of religious liberty.”

Green’s concern for religious liberty is understandable and even commendable, but his essay serves to show that evangelicals are no longer a one-issue people.

Beginning with the emergence of the Moral Majority, evangelicals became a force and a voting bloc. Their anti-abortion theology drove evangelicals to candidates who were expressly pro-life. Fortunately, those candidates were often in agreement with conservative Christians on many other issues as well, so supporting them advanced a whole bundle of issues. It worked for 30 years.

Not so today.

Green’s commentary underscores that evangelicals are not all in agreement on the importance of any one issue any more than they support any one candidate. The world is too complex for a single-issue approach.

In this head-scratcher of election cycles, some evangelicals are valuing other issues as highly as pro-life and religious freedom: What about a candidate’s trustworthiness, honesty, temperament, and character? What is his or her history of relations with dangerous nations, prudence in peacetime or courage in war? What about the prospect of handling the nuclear codes?

Maybe many in the Christian community are relatively quiet on this presidential election because they’re still thinking about it.

And scratching their heads.

– DER

The BriefingCivil Rights report attacks religious freedom
According to Chairman Martin Castro of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, phrases such as ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ should now be considered “code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any other form of intolerance.” Those remarks are found in a new report that presents claims for religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws as a significant threat to civil liberties.

Pence shares faith at FBC Jacksonville
Staunch Christian and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, who proudly declared in June that his identity as a Christian comes before his politics, confessed Sunday that he once walked away from the faith to which he clings so dearly now.

NCAA, ACC cancel N. Carolina events
After the NCAA announced it was withdrawing seven championship events from North Carolina over the state’s anti-discrimination law, the Atlantic Coast Conference followed suit. The ACC stated it would move all neutral-site championships for the coming academic year out of North Carolina, including the football conference championship game in December.

Hungary to favor Christian refugees
This week, Hungary, which has during the past year come under pressure for its handling of Europe’s mass migration crisis, has become the first government to open an office specifically to address the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Europe. The move sets a precedent on the international stage.

Controversial appointee earns praise
David Saperstein, the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, is earning praise from across the political spectrum. At a time when violence against religious minorities has proliferated around the globe, Saperstein has shown himself diligent in confronting religious persecution. Because he held liberal views on LGBT issues and abortion, some conservatives objected to the nomination.

Sources: ERLC, Christian Post, Baptist Press, Christianity Today, World Magazine

Great Partners

ib2newseditor —  September 19, 2016 — Leave a comment

Recently my wife, Beth, left town for a few days to visit our sons in the Chicago area and to attend a bridal shower for our soon-to-be daughter-in-law Alyssa. I had a couple of local commitments, and so I agreed to take care of the home front while she was gone. I thought to myself, “This won’t be that hard. I’ll just do all the things she normally does, plus my stuff. There should be plenty of time left over to relax as well.”

How wrong I was. After a few days of preparing my own meals, doing the laundry, tending to the dog, and a dozen other surprisingly time-consuming duties, I realized the lawn needed mowing. Now before you judge me, let me point out that my wife says she likes to mow the lawn. She loves being outside, considers it good exercise, says it gives her a sense of accomplishment, and even uses it as prayer time. So I let her mow.

Our missionaries and staff couldn’t do what we do without the partnership of IBSA churches and the generous gifts of Illinois Baptists, especially through the Mission Illinois Offering.

Beth chose to be absent, however, on one of the hottest and most humid Saturdays of the summer. On top of that, our self-propelling mower recently stopped self-propelling. Its handle is held together by little plastic ties. And at least two of its wheels wobble badly. As I forced it up the hills and around the curves of our yard, I seemed to remember Beth saying something about perhaps needing a new one.

During the many times I stopped to wipe the perspiration off my brow and out of my eyes, I found myself thinking how much I missed not just my wife, but my life partner. I pictured trying to do both of our jobs all the time, plus parenting and serving in the church, and all the other responsibilities that we share. And I realized again that I can only do what I do because of what she does.

The following Sunday I was scheduled to speak at one of our state’s most generous missions-giving churches, though they are far from the largest. In 2015, this faithful church gave by far the state’s largest Mission Illinois Offering.

They are between pastors right now, and I had already planned to try and encourage them from Philippians 1, where Paul says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

As I introduced the text, I found myself telling them about the unsustainable few days I had just spent without my wife. I told them those days had really made me appreciate the value of a good partner. And then I thanked them sincerely, from my heart, for their partnership in the gospel, not just this year, but for so many years.

Without the partnership of local IBSA churches, we could not have planted 23 new congregations last year, or delivered 20,000 trainings to pastors and church leaders, or mobilized more than 24,000 missions volunteers.

Across the state this month, hundreds of IBSA churches will receive the Mission Illinois Offering, focused on reaching more than 8 million lost people here in our state. Some offerings will total a few hundred dollars, and some several thousand. But together, they help form a powerful partnership in the gospel that gives my prayers joy as well.

Beth is back, and this week we bought a new lawnmower. It’s one small way I can thank my wife for being a great partner. Our missionaries and staff couldn’t do what we do without the partnership of IBSA churches and the generous gifts of Illinois Baptists, especially through the Mission Illinois Offering. Thanks for being great partners.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

Offering Day

ib2newseditor —  September 18, 2016 — Leave a comment

Mission Illinois Offering  Week of Prayer Day 8

MIO-box-smallToday many churches across the state will collect the Mission Illinois Offering. With a goal of $475,000, the ministries in this prayer guide depend on faithful giving in order to continue reaching people for Christ. The Mission Illinois Offering is the most direct channel through which Illinois Baptists can fund mission work close to home and really invest in the things important to us here.

Mission Illinois encourages the work of local congregations, is built on solid Baptist doctrine, and helps share Christ in every setting where IBSA missionaries serve. Missions giving through this offering helps equip and mobilize people to reach our specific mission field—the lost and unreached people in Illinois.

Pray for IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams and all the missionaries and staff of IBSA. Pray for generous giving during your own church’s offering for state missions.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering

Watch Nate Adams’ video, “Turn on the light.”

Stronger Churchers

ib2newseditor —  September 17, 2016 — Leave a comment

Mission Illinois Offering Week of Prayer Day 7

MIO-box-smallStrong ministry depends on strong churches. More than 20,000 times each year, IBSA trains leaders in worship, evangelism, discipleship, missions, and more. For pastors and leaders who find these to be especially challenging times for their churches, IBSA’s zone consultants are experts in church health and growth who are nearby and available to help. One example is Sylvan Knobloch who has led and lifted up pastors in his 35 years with IBSA. He urges churches to consider the needs of others first and to engage a process of rejuvenation.

Another team member is Brian McWethy, a church planter and pastor in Amboy who is serving as zone consultant in the northwest corner of Illinois. That region, including Rockford and the Quad Cities, has fewer churches than any other part of Illinois, and the few churches there need strength and encouragement.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering

Pray for church health director Sylvan Knobloch, and for team leader Pat Pajak and IBSA’s consultants in ten zones who serve to build up pastors and churches across Illinois.

Watch IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams in “Our Frontier State.”

Mission Illinois Offering Week of Prayer Day 6

MIO-box-small75% of Illinois’ 13 million people don’t know Jesus Christ. Almost 2 million residents are from outside the U.S. and many more have not understood their need for salvation. In Chicagoland, for example, “every block is a different world, every community is a different community with different races, different beliefs,” said Kenyatta Smith, planter and pastor of Another Chance church in Chicago’s Inglewood neighborhood.

In an area filled with killing and violence, Smith is dedicated to bringing the hope of God back into this community and offering people “another chance” just like he got, through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And he’s planting a second congregation in nearby—but very different — Evergreen Park.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering

Pray for spiritual awakening in Illinois, and the unreached people who live in our state.

Watch Kenyatta Smith’s story, “Reaching unreached people in Illinois.”

Mission Illinois Offering Day 5

MIO-box-smallHundreds of children, teens, and church leaders visit IBSA’s camps at Streator and Lake Sallateeska. Whether for a quiet spiritual retreat, or a fun week filled with games and summertime activities, these sites are home to many fond memories. And many young people have come to know Christ and have committed to ministry. The missions camps challenge students to think about mission work locally and worldwide. And worship and leadership conferences held at Christian colleges train teens to be leaders in their own churches.

“People who might not be as receptive in another setting are open to hearing the gospel” in a camp or retreat setting, Mike Young said of the Streator camp.

Pray for expansion of our camp facilities and programs, Steve Hamrick who leads student music conferences, camp directors Philip Hall and Mike Young, and the staff and volunteer leaders of Super Summer and other life-changing experiences.

Watch this slideshow of students enjoying their camping experience at Streator and Lake Sallateeska Baptist Camps.

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