Archives For November 2012

Some people read about God, sing about God, talk about God. But how radically different it is to know we have the privilege of living every moment of our lives in the presence of God?

Kenny Qualls, pastor of FBC, Arnold, Mo.

Heard at the IBSA Pastors’ Conference

DECATUR, Ill. | When we get offended and stay offended, we’re dangerously close to allowing unforgiveness to take root, said Ronnie Floyd during the IBSA Pastors’ Conference at Tabernacle Baptist Church.

We have high expectations of people, Floyd said. “When our expectations are not met, we take offense and we stumble, and [it] becomes the foundation for unforgiveness in your life.”

Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Arkansas, encouraged pastors to let go of the things that offend them now and have offended them in the past, whether it was other people, life’s circumstances, or God’s activity. He spoke from Luke 7, where Jesus said, “And anyone who is not offended because of Me is blessed.”

“Ministry can be mean, ministry can be tough…When we are in even the best of conditions, offense occurs. We stumble. At times, you have to deal with stuff relating to unforgiveness. And just like a bad tooth, you’ve got to get it out of your mouth.”

But there’s good news, too, Floyd said. “God wants to use everything in your life for good. Everything in your ministry for your good.

“Some of your stories today are messy and curvy. I’ve got good news. God wants to use you.”

 

DECATUR, Ill. | Pastor Wes Feltner of Tabernacle Baptist Church kicked off the annual IBSA Pastors’ Conference with a message from Genesis 50.

“Do you believe in the reality that your life and circumstances of your ministry [are] absolutely working toward a divine purpose that maybe you can’t see right now,” Felter asked the audience of pastors and their families. Teaching on the life of Joseph, who was betrayed by his own family, sold into slavery, and wrongly accused and imprisoned, Feltner exhorted his listeners to remember that ministry brings a mix of blessing and bitterness.

“Church life is a carousel of victory and defeat. That’s Joseph’s life, that is his ministry and I daresay many of us can relate to that.”

But Joseph’s example says we can stay faithful despite the worst persecution and frustration, Feltner said. Here’s what Joseph knew that you and I must know if we’re going to remain sane in this thing called ministry: God always works it for good.”

Editor’s note: The IBSA Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting begins today, November 13, in Decatur, Ill. Check back here for updates, or follow along on Facebook.com/IBSA and Twitter.com/IBSA.

THE BRIEFING | Two teams of Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are serving now in the hurricane-ravaged Northeast U.S. IBSA’s Rex Alexander reported that a flood recovery team from Three Rivers Association is serving in the hard-hit North Oyster Bay area of Long Island, where they’ll assist with mudout and chainsaw projects.

A feeding team of 31 people from Illinois also is in New York this week, serving on Staten Island. The team, representing 21 Illinois churches and 14 local associations, will replace a Kentucky Baptist team and use that state’s kitchen trailer already in place.

“I was very encouraged that we put together such a large team in about two days when we were asked to replace the Kentucky volunteers,” Alexander said. He’s already received a request to be ready to replace the team with more volunteers next week.

The Illinois workers join a strong Disaster Relief response that’s been at work in New York and New Jersey since immediately after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. Southern Baptist volunteers have provided 670,000 meals so far, and leaders are preparing for an extended, multi-faceted response, said national DR coordinator Fritz Wilson.

“Although we’ve been told by New York officials that some of our kitchen operations may consolidate in the state, they told us to expect to continue providing meals into December,” Wilson told Baptist Press.

Close to 900 Southern Baptist volunteers from 27 states and Canada continued to provide ministry with shower trailers, mud-out and clean-up crews, and home repairs. Wilson is providing leadership from the New York and New Jersey incident command centers hosted by Raritan Valley Baptist Church in Edison, N.J. A second NAMB mobile incident command center is in transit to the church.

The Sandy response will also include childcare provided by Disaster Relief volunteers, with units en route from Ohio and South Carolina. Planning continues to allow college students to use their holiday breaks to voluntarily serve in the affected areas.

For more on the Disaster Relief response to Hurricane Sandy, go to NAMB.net/dr.

-With information from Baptist Press

HEARTLAND | Monday, November 12

O love that wilt not let me go,I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekst me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

(George Matheson, 1882)

Check out Ascend the Hill’s version of the classic hymn below.

COMMENTARY | Ed Stetzer

Editor’s note: This column first appeared at BPNews.net.

The presidential election is over, and I am sure many, like the little girl who cried “no more Bronco Bamma or Mitt Romney,” are breathing a sigh of relief that the season of contention and the barrage of political ads are over for now. Still, we are left to move on as we begin a second term for the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, and it is time for us to consider what that means from this point forward.

Once the election was “called,” I prayed for the president again. I asked God to guide him and give him wisdom as I will continue to do for the next four years.

I don’t endorse specific candidates publicly. I also gave both campaigns the opportunity to answer questions on my blog so that we could be well informed as we went into the voting booths. However, it is no secret that the candidate who was supported by 57 percent of Protestant pastors did not prevail. Furthermore, it is no secret that most evangelicals did not support President Obama. So, there is a lot of disappointment among many Christians.

It is appropriate, then, for us to ask the question, “What now?” Well, here are some observations and suggestions:

1. We must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war.

For decades, the “religious right” has focused its energies on winning the day through political means. But this year, voters in more than one state appear to have clearly passed referenda supporting gay marriage. This marks the first time for any state to legalize same-sex marriage by the expressed will of the people rather than through court rulings or legislation. While this certainly does not mean we should stop legal or political efforts completely, it does mean that we should begin thinking about what it looks like to be the church in a “post-culture war” era. We need to be prepared to defend the protection of religious liberty as we move into the future.

2. The fight for the unborn continues.

This year one of the major political parties, at their national convention, actually celebrated and cheered the right to abortion. This is a shift from the posture in years past, when at the very least it was seen as something that we hoped to keep to a minimum. In fact, that same party actually removed the language from their platform that referred to keeping abortions “safe, legal, and rare.” Rod Snyder, of Young Democrats of America, said in our interview that President Obama does believe that we should work to reduce the number of abortions, but still, this development in the party that has secured the highest office in the land is cause for grave concern and even grief. We need to continue to fight for life through education, advocacy, ministering to women and promoting orphan care in our churches. President Obama, I am ready to partner with you on the part where we start reducing abortions.

3. The “Mormon Moment” is not something to be dismissed and forgotten just because the election is over.

In recent days, much discussion has centered around how we should view Mormonism. I have made the case that while it does qualify as a cult in the theological sense, I do not think that we should use that language in general. Many people jumped to the conclusion that I was saying this for political reasons in order to elect Governor Romney. However, this has been my position for some time, and it continues to be my position after the votes have been counted. This election has brought Mormonism to the forefront of people’s minds, and we should not forget our responsibility to reach out to our friends and neighbors for Christ. Just because the conversations die down doesn’t mean that the mission goes away.

4. We must remain respectful and law-abiding citizens, regardless of this outcome.

We exercised a tremendous right, perhaps the greatest privilege that we have as Americans. Over 200 years ago, a group of very brave men stood up against “taxation without representation” and fought to develop a nation in which its citizens could have a voice. We only need to look at pictures in recent years of brave men and women in countries like Iraq dipping their fingers into purple ink and showing their happiness and pride over the right to cast their vote. We have that privilege. We exercised it this year. We will exercise it again. Regardless of the outcome, that is a great privilege and shouldn’t be taken for granted. We now need to go back to our homes, our schools and our places of work and be respectful and gracious to others who have also used their voice.

5. When our King returns, He won’t be riding a donkey or elephant.

For those of us who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nothing has changed. The Gospel is still real, and we still serve a God who has declared victory over sin and death. Anything that we do through political means is not to hold back the darkness lest it will overtake us. Rather, the charge to the church is to advance a Kingdom that has already prevailed. Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, our King is still sitting on His throne.

So let’s all slow down, take a deep breath and do the same thing we did yesterday — preach the Gospel, love people and engage in God’s mission.

Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research. Amy Sullivan of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary contributed to this article.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

As Americans (at least, those who didn’t vote early) head to the polls, here’s a sampling of the latest politics news and commentary:

CNN’s Belief Blog looks at the faith of both presidential candidates – how they’ve been shaped by their beliefs, and how their faith has been shaped by the campaign. President Barack Obama’s spiritual advisors say his time as president has “significantly deepened his faith,” according to CNN, while former Governor Mitt Romney has faced questions about his Mormon faith for his entire political career. Click on the links to read both stories, or go to religion.blogs.cnn.com.

Southern Seminary President Al Mohler shares specific ways to pray for the country and its future president today.

Christianity Today calls 2012 “the year of the personal endorsement,” citing numerous evangelical leaders who have spoken publicly in favor of a particular candidate. Billy Graham, Richard Land, and more than 1,500 pastors voiced their preferences this year, even as a Pew Forum survey found two-thirds of Americans believe church leaders should not endorse candidates. Read the full story.

Amidst the politics, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy continues to cause big trouble on the East Coast. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief workers are among those working to help meet basic needs for thousands of people displaced by the storm. As of Friday, November 2, more than 450 volunteers from nine Baptist state conventions were working in at least six states affected by the storm, including a chainsaw team of Illinois Baptists serving in New Jersey. Read the latest on the relief effort at BPNews.net.