Archives For September 2013

pull quote_Kinder13HEARTLAND | Justin Kinder

On January 29, 2007, at about 10:30 at night, our daughter, Melody Anne Kinder, was born into this world. She is truly a miracle and a precious gift from God. Melody changed our lives completely and from the very start, as her parents, we wanted to raise her right. We wanted her to know right from wrong and to be equipped to handle all of the moral and ethical situations she will eventually face as she grows up in this world.

It didn’t take long for these teachable moments to arrive on the scene. Melody is now six years old and we have taught her why it is wrong to lie, cheat, steal, covet, and to throw temper tantrums, just to name a few. We have taught her to tell the truth always, to be loving to all people, and most of all to love God and to put Him first. We have modeled our faith in God in front of her all of her life.

Everything that we have taught her about right and wrong and about God has come straight from the Bible. It is our moral compass in this dark and sinful world that we live in.

When you boil things down and really look at life closely, you will see that there are essentially two opposing worldviews that exist in our culture – one sees God as creator, sustainer, and as the sovereign ruler of everything and the other leaves God entirely out of the picture. The first view is obviously the Christian worldview that we as Christians embrace and the second is what this sinful world embraces.

When you leave God out of the picture, life loses its meaning. Morals are defined by what feels right, feels good, and by what the majority says is okay to do.  But just because it feels good and the majority of people say that a particular sin is okay, doesn’t make it okay. We can’t trust ourselves to know what is right and wrong because our sinful hearts will only lead us astray.

I guess it should come as no surprise then the moral decline and failure that we see in our culture. When you leave God out of the picture, the downward spiral of sin and the pushing of the envelope in what is viewed as acceptable in our society only gets worse.  A prime example of this happened very recently. Miley Cyrus, who for the longest time was known as the good girl, Hannah Montana, recently performed a provocative dance routine on MTV. Our culture responded in two ways: You either were appalled by her dance or you thought it was a great performance.

There is clearly a moral dichotomy at work here.

As a parent of a young girl, my heart goes out to Miley Cyrus and also to all the girls who look up to her. I want them to understand that what she did on that stage was wrong, and not because I said so, but because God and His Word said so. Miley Cyrus is missing that moral compass in her life – Jesus Christ – and I pray that someday she will find Him.  As for my own daughter, I will continue to pray for her and continue to teach her God’s values and precepts that are found in His Word.

The Psalmist said in Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (ESV)  And in Psalm 119:105 it says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” I want my daughter to hide God’s Word in her heart so that when she is older and sees the world pushing the envelope of sin even further, she will know how to stand for God and for what is right.

Nates_column_0930COMMENTARY | Nate Adams

For several years now, my oldest son Caleb has been on a quest to climb the 58 tallest mountains in Colorado. They are known as “14ers,” because the summit of each one is at least 14,000 feet in elevation. I told him I would join him in this quest whenever I could, as long as my middle-aged legs and lungs hold out.

So this past summer, we were climbing again. And though I made it up and down six 14ers in about a week, only two of them were new conquests. Believe it or not, I chose to climb four of the mountains I had already climbed.

I know what you’re probably thinking. Why on earth climb the same mountains twice? The simple answer is that, this time, we wanted to take some new climbers with us. Caleb married Laura last January, and was eager to share his love for mountain climbing with her. And while my wife Beth has been supportive of our climbing efforts over the years, she had never climbed a 14er with us.

So we chose mountains that were familiar, and that we believed our understudies could climb too. On the hike itself, we went slower than we normally would, and stopped to rest more often. Of course it took longer. Yet there was a new kind of joy in the climb, and a new kind of satisfaction at the summit, even though we had been there before.

During that same week, I was finalizing IBSA’s proposed goals for 2014, goals that were to be approved by the IBSA Board at their September meeting. For months already, we had been talking about the vital importance of leadership development, both for pastors and for other church leaders. Instruction and training are valuable, we reasoned, but moving leaders to new levels of effectiveness will require deeper processes of personal growth and development.

As I worked on those goals, I reflected on our experiences climbing mountains. Many times before, Caleb and I had returned from a hike and described to others its unique challenges and what was required to make it to the top and back. Often we had urged others to come with us to those new heights, of course explaining what they would need to endure to get there. But none of that talk “about” hiking could compare with the experience of actually walking together, in relationship, up a mountain some of us had already climbed.

So one evening with tired legs at the bottom of a mountain, I drafted a new 2014 goal for IBSA about Leadership Development. The first part of the goal describes the more than 20,000 trainings IBSA delivers every year, in areas ranging from Sunday School to evangelism to worship leadership and student ministry. But the second half of our new Leadership Development goal says we will “engage at least 200 pastors, staff, church planters or leaders in spiritual, relational leadership development processes, striving for breakthrough growth in leaders that helps transform churches and their effectiveness.”

The IBSA Board unanimously embraced this new goal, along with its implications.  Helping church leaders grow and develop at deeper, more transformational levels will require new processes, new commitments, and perhaps even some new venues and facilities.  For example, we will be exploring the feasibility of how both IBSA camps and a possible new leadership retreat center in Springfield may contribute to the “spiritual, relational leadership development” of our churches’ leaders.

There are many pastors and leaders who have climbed their own mountains in ministry, and who can help other pastors and leaders up those mountains.  We believe enlisting them in a more intentional leadership development process may be just what is needed for the “breakthrough growth” that “helps transform churches and their effectiveness.” After all, as I learned again this summer, helping someone else up a mountain you’ve already climbed can be even more satisfying than simply climbing it yourself.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Chaplains on the ‘front lines’ of cultural change
The North American Mission Board has released updated guidelines for Southern Baptist military chaplains serving in the days after the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act. The guidelines reiterate Southern Baptist doctrine, Baptist Press reports, and the expectation that SBC chaplains will not participate in or attend wedding ceremonies for gay members of the military.

The policies are already causing some to say Southern Baptist chaplains should step down from their posts, Southern Seminary President Al Mohler blogged Sept. 17. “Make no mistake, the moral revolution driven by those who demand the total normalization of homosexuality and same-sex relationships will not stop with the crisis over military chaplains,” Mohler wrote. “But at this moment, the chaplains are on the front lines of the great cultural and moral conflict of our times.” Read the full story here.

Iorg: America applauds immorality
The trouble today isn’t the rise of immorality, said Golden Gate Seminary President Jeff Iorg during the school’s fall convocation. “The troubling issue is the applause” that now accompanies it. After a summer that saw the U.S. Supreme Court abolish the Defense of Marriage Act, Iorg addressed students and faculty on the topic of “Ministry in the New Marriage Culture.”

“The last step of rejecting biblical morality is when people applaud or celebrate those who legitimize immoral practices,” he said. “We have reached that point in America.” Watch Iorg’s convocation address at GGBTS.edu.

Chicago tops FBI’s homicide list
Chicago had the highest number of murders of any city in 2012, according to FBI information released this month. At 500, the city’s homicide rate rose 20% above 2011, and was 81 more than New York City, which is three times as populous. So far in 2013 there have been fewer homicides, but Chicago has seen recent rashes of violence, including a Labor Day weekend during which eight people were killed and at least 25 more injured by gun violence.

Pastor Michael Allen, whose Uptown congregation was shaken by a drive-by shooting near the church steps in August, tweeted Sept. 17: “Praying against the spirit/culture of violence and that God would replace that with His Spirit of peace.”

Baby ‘Messiah’ keeps his name
Messiah McCullough
will keep his biblical first name, thanks to a ruling that overturned Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew’s earlier decision to require his parents to change it. Ballew ruled in August that the 8-month-old be named “Martin” instead of his given name, because the word Messiah is a title “that has only been earned by one person – and that one person is Jesus Christ.” The baby’s parents appealed her decision and this month won the right to name their child the 387th most popular baby name. Read the full story at ChristianPost.com.

Mullins’ story told on screen
“Ragamuffin,” a new film detailing the life of Christian musician Rich Mullins, will premiere early next year. Best known for an authentic approach to his faith and for praise songs like “Awesome God,” Mullins died in a car crash in 1997. The biopic, produced by Green Color Films, has a trailer online at ragamuffinthemovie.com.

The nations need You

Meredith Flynn —  September 23, 2013

pull quote_PLATTHEARTLAND | David Platt

Editor’s note: David Platt, pastor and author of the New York Times bestseller “Radical,” led this Prayer for the Nations during the Sept. 10 inauguration of SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name in all the earth. O God, cause Your name to be made known as holy among all nations. We confess that You are sovereign over every country and You hold every leader, every king, every queen, every dictator, every prime minister and every president in the palm of Your hands.

None of them are ultimately sovereign over anything. You are ultimately sovereign over everything. You alone are Lord, You alone are holy, You alone are mighty, and You alone are just, so we pray, O God, particularly in our day, rise up and cause Your righteousness and Your peace and Your justice to reign among the nations.

And in Your justice, we pray, remember mercy. Have mercy upon those in high positions. Have mercy upon the hungry, the weak, the oppressed, the poor, the neglected and the persecuted. Have mercy upon our friends and upon our enemies, upon those who are near to us and upon those who are far from us. And have mercy upon Your church, O God.

Help us, by Your grace and with Your Gospel, to proclaim Your glory to the ends of the earth, particularly among the peoples who have yet to hear of Your love.

Lord Jesus, the nations of the world need You. We need You to save us from our sin and to save us from ourselves, and we praise You for Your life, Your death and Your resurrection, which make such salvation possible. By your blood, you have ransomed men and women for God from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, and so we pray today for the nations in anticipation of the day when You will receive the praise You are due from every people group on the planet … in anticipation of the day when You will usher in a new heaven and a new earth and Your people drawn from every nation of the earth will dwell with You in holiness and happiness, safety and security, free from sin and suffering, forever and ever.

We are still today, and we know that you are God. And we trust, we hope, we know that You will be exalted among the nations, and You will be exalted in all the earth. Toward that end we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

David Platt is pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. This column appeared at BPNews.net.

MIO_blogDAY 8: Watch “Churches Together”

“Illinois is a mission field. It’s our mission field,” IBSA executive director Nate Adams said. But do Christians here really feel that responsibility?

“We simply have to have more aggressive evangelism, church planting, collegiate ministry, ministry centers – all these kinds of efforts to get out into the lostness of our state.” Illinois is a big state, and as believers, we are charged with sharing the Gospel here. At least two-thirds of Illinois residents don’t know Christ. And the lostness is concentrated in the urban centers.

1,000 churches and church plants comprise the Illinois Baptist State Association. IBSA can help churches “win lost people to Christ on their own mission field and in an Acts 1:8 ripple effect on the world,” Adams said. The impact of churches together is far greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Churches together advancing the Gospel can bring hope and faith to the 8 million or more lost people in our state.

Read: Matthew 12:38-41

Think: What is my personal responsibility for missions in Illinois?

Pray for the $475,000 goal of the 2013 mission offering. Pray we surpass the goal in order to expand our work. Pray about your commitment.

MIO_blogDAY 7: Watch “Nations at our Doorstep”

Campus ministry is effective for evangelism. Young and exploring, college students are often open to the Gospel. But campus ministry is also a challenge. Illinois has 172 campuses and 800,000 students. Some 34,000 of those students are from foreign countries. Chase Abner welcomes those challenges as opportunities.

Since we first told of Chase’s work at SIU Carbondale, where he met and led students such as Feng Yu to Christ, Chase has joined the IBSA leadership team. He is leading ministry on campuses across the state. And he is helping churches reach out to the college and university students near them.

“Time and presence” is what it takes to minister to college students, he says. Often far from home, as Feng was, students simply need someone who will “be there” for them. And that opens a door to introduce the greatest friend of all, Jesus Christ.

Read: Jonah 4:7-11; Acts 17:10-12

Think: Coming to faith sometimes involves hard questions. What questions have you faced that may help others believe?

Pray for the 30 campuses with Baptist-led student ministries. Pray for collegiate evangelism strategist Chase Abner and campus pastors and leaders. Pray for IBSA churches to reach out to local college students.

MIO_blogDAY 6: Watch “Bring Hope”

Pastor Cureton is optimistic about his new church in East St. Louis. With help from Illinois churches, Cureton is transforming a dilapidated storefront into a place of joy and celebration, welcoming 50 or more to worship on Sundays.

“Our shelter in this community was recently shut down so we have a lot of women and children on the street. They don’t have clothes, shoes. On any given day, 15-20 people knock our door. They’re hungry.”

Cureton is grateful for the partnership of his local association, several suburban churches, and IBSA. “We need more men and women who will stand up and fight for the cause of salvation, who will knock on doors and ask, ‘Mister, Ma’am, do you know Jesus?’”

Read: Jonah 4:1-6; Matthew 25:31-40

Think: What is the role of compassion in sharing our faith?

Pray for 28 new churches that IBSA helped start in the past year, including Light of Christ in East St. Louis. Pray for Pastor Cureton and planters who are reaching people with hope and faith.