Archives For June 2015

Prayer_kneeling_blogColumbus | Southern Baptists prayed together for two hours Tuesday evening, calling on God to bring spiritual awakening and revival in churches, communities, the United States, and the world. They started with personal repentance, kneeling across the convention center as leaders from around the country led in prayers of forgiveness for prayerlessness, lack of evangelism, division, abortion, sexual depravity, negligence of “the least of these,” and more.

Pastors of different ethnicities led in prayer for racial reconciliation, and people gathered in small groups, standing shoulder-to-shoulder or hand-in-hand as they prayed for true unity. The church leaders then worshiped together on the stage, as the band led those in the packed auditorium to sing, “I am redeemed. You set me free.”

“…Tonight in Jesus’ name, we come together as one family, and we do it because of the blood of the Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world,” said SBC President Ronnie Floyd.

The evening turned toward revival, with more church leaders praying brief prayers for pastors and their wives, students, families, women, men, churches, and Southern Baptist leaders and workers.

Las Vegas pastor Vance Pittman said he had heard about revival, and read about it too. “But I have never experienced that kind of an awakening where I live,” he said, his voice breaking. “And I don’t know where you are tonight, but I am hungry to not just read about it, and not just hear about it, but to experience a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God on our nation like we have never witnessed before.”

After they prayed for spiritual awakening, Floyd led the congregation in prayer for the persecuted church. As the worship team and choir started singing, the crowd stood, many lifting their hands.

“Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me. My glory and the lifter of my head.”

Columbus | Today marked the official opening of business for the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention, beginning with worship led by Julio Arriola and the presentation of the Broadus gavel to President Ronnie Floyd. Below are some highlights from the day; check back this evening for an update on the SBC Call to Prayer.

After leading worship Tuesday, Julio Arriola (right) was elected music director for next year's Convention in St. Louis.

After leading worship Tuesday, Julio Arriola (right) was elected music director for next year’s Convention in St. Louis.

SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page (left) passes the Broadus gavel to SBC President Ronnie Floyd to start the business session.

SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page (left) passes the Broadus gavel to SBC President Ronnie Floyd to start the business session.

Douglas Carver, the North American Mission Board's executive director of chaplaincy, remembers veterans of the Vietnam War during a 50th anniversary tribute.

Douglas Carver, the North American Mission Board’s executive director of chaplaincy, remembers veterans of the Vietnam War during a 50th anniversary tribute.

Robert Walker (third from right) leads the pledge of allegiance with other military veterans. Walker is missions pastor at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago.

Robert Walker (third from right) leads the pledge of allegiance with other military veterans. Walker is missions pastor at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago.

Past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention pray for Ronnie Floyd and his wife, Jeana, prior to Floyd's president's address Tuesday morning.

Past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention pray for Ronnie Floyd and his wife, Jeana, prior to Floyd’s president’s address Tuesday morning.

Jedidiah Coppenger (left) moderates the annual Baptist21 panel discussion with (from left) Danny Akin, Albert Mohler, David Platt, Russell Moore and H.B. Charles.

Jedidiah Coppenger (left) moderates the annual Baptist21 panel discussion with (from left) Danny Akin, Albert Mohler, David Platt, Russell Moore and H.B. Charles.

Frank Page introduces the Great Commission Advance, a new challenge for Southern Baptist churches in areas including evangelism and stewardship.

Frank Page introduces the Great Commission Advance, a new challenge for Southern Baptist churches in areas including evangelism and stewardship.

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SBC President Ronnie Floyd delivers the President’s Message at the 2015 SBC Annual Meeting in Columbus, OH.

“We are on the battle ground, not a playground…the alarm clock is going off our in nation,” declared SBC President Ronnie Floyd in his message to the Convention this morning. “Now is not the time to push the snooze button. Now is the time to lead.”

Floyd left no room for confusion, making it clear where Southern Baptists stand on today’s major cultural issues. “Southern Baptists, we stand believing the Bible is God’s infallible, inerrant, authoritative and final word in all things. That’s who we are and that’s what we believe.”

He recited a litany of current issues the world faces—persecution of Christians by the terrorist groups ISIS and Boko Haram and some governments; the imprisonment of American pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran; same-sex marriage; broken marriages and homes; racism; and abortion.

“Now is the time to lead,” Floyd repeatedly told Baptists meeting in Columbus.

He immediately addressed the forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, warning it “could be a watershed moment in our nation’s history…This decision could add more fire to the already out-of-control sexual revolution.”

“America, we stand believing marriage is between one man and one woman in covenant for a lifetime!” Floyd declared. “We stand for biblical and traditional marriage. We do not need to redefine what God has defined.”

He told pastors, “This a Bonhoeffer moment for every pastor in the United States…we will not bow down nor will we be silent. We will hold up and lift up God’s authoritative truth on marriage. While we affirm our love for all people, we cannot deviate from God’s Word.”

Then he addressed Supreme Court. “The Supreme Court of the United States of America is not the final authority, but the Bible is the final authority and God’s Word and on this book we stand.

Quoting the late pastor and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Floyd stated, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

He also decried the current racial tensions in the United States. “I call on all leaders and Christians today to decry all racism and prejudice denouncing as sin against God and sin against one another.”

Floyd also called on Southern Baptist churches to wake up, quit their infighting, and come together.  “The Bible tells us in Revelation 3:7-8 that Jesus opens doors that no one is able to close. The church at Philadelphia was small and marked by obedience to Jesus Christ. It is not about the size of the church or your town, it is about your leadership to the commands of Jesus Christ.

Urging churches to rise up for the Lord, he said, “We can do what God has called us to do even in the face of spiritual warfare and cultural opposition. Now is the time for churches to lead and stand…We need a Jesus revolution in the United States! It is time for us to gather as Southern Baptists to lead the next great awakening.”

The time is now, Floyd said. “I really believe if the 59 presidents that came before me could speak to us about the times we are living right now they would agree now is our most defining hour as Southern Baptists….fixed by a sovereign God as a moment of destiny.”

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Update: 4,870 messengers are now registered at the SBC Annual Meeting in Columbus.

Columbus | Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd gavelled in the 2015 Annual Meeting this morning, starting a day in which messengers will complete much of the business scheduled for this week’s meeting. This morning: a 50th anniversary tribute to veterans of the Vietnam War, Floyd’s president’s message, and reports from the SBC’s six seminaries.

Afternoon business includes election of officers, committee reports, introduction of new motions, and the report of the SBC Executive Committee. As of Tuesday morning, 4,482 messengers are registered here in Columbus.

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Julio Arriola (center) is the first Mexican-American to serve in the role of Convention music director, Ronnie Floyd said in introducing him this morning. Arriola is global worship pastor at Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas.

Tuesday culminates with tonight’s Call to Prayer, streamed live on sbcannualmeeting.net and broadcast this evening on Daystar Television Network. Check back here for updates throughout the day!Choir_SBC

Mark Dever and Russell Moore (center) answered questions from 9Marks' Jonathan Leeman (left) and Phillip Bethancourt of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (right).

Mark Dever and Russell Moore (center) answered questions from 9Marks’ Jonathan Leeman (left) and Phillip Bethancourt of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (right).

Columbus | The culture has changed and is continuing to change–there’s no mistaking it. But Christians don’t have to live in fear, leaders said Monday night at a post-Pastors’ Conference gathering.

When asked what he would tell churches in the face of sweeping cultural change, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore quoted Luke 12:32: “Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”

“The main thing that I would say,” Moore said at the meeting hosted by the 9Marks ministry, “is let us be joyful, hopeful, convictional people who are not panicked, who are not distressed, and who are not tossed about by the wind.”

Moore echoed his Sunday evening Pastors’ Conference message, when he referred to the argument some have made about Christians being on the wrong side of history when it comes to cultural change.

“Brothers and sisters, we started on the wrong side of history. The right side of history was the Roman Empire. The wrong side of the history was a Roman cross. And the Roman Empire is dead, and Jesus is feeling fine.”

At the 9Marks meeting, Moore and Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., fielded questions submitted by the audience. The questions on current social issues covered a variety of topics, including homosexuality, transgenderism, and race. Dever, who also serves as president of 9Marks, urged pastors to pray with their congregations about pressing issues, and not just 3-minute prayers during transitions in the worship services. One of the main sources for his pastoral prayers, Dever said, is The Washington Post.

“…You need to pray for five or ten minutes; I mean, give some thought to your prayer.” When the Westminster Assembly of the 1640s would hold a day of prayer, they would pray as long as they would preach, Dever said. An hour-long sermon, followed by an hour-long prayer. “And the pastors would prepare their prayers every bit as much as they would work on preparing their sermons.”

Nearly 400 years later, maybe that’s an idea worth revisiting.

David_Platt_PastorsConference“The more we aggressively take the gospel into other cultures,” said International Mission Board President David Platt, “the more forcefully we will face the adversary on his doorstep….And let us be sure, he will not go down without a fight.”

Preaching the final message of the 2015 SBC Pastors’ Conference, Platt said, “Unreached people are unreached for a reason…all the easy ones are taken.”

Columbus | The SBC Pastors’ Conference continues today, and the nearby exhibit hall is busy too. Keep checking back here for more news from Columbus!

Pastors' Conference attenders prayed this morning for Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is imprisoned in Iran. Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, was interviewed by Conference President Willy Rice.

Pastors’ Conference attenders prayed this morning for Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is imprisoned in Iran. Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, was interviewed by Conference President Willy Rice.

In the first prison where her husband was held, said Naghmeh Abedini (left), so many people were coming to faith in Christ that they had to exile him.

In the first prison where her husband was held, said Naghmeh Abedini (left), so many people were coming to faith in Christ that they had to exile him.

Travis Cottrell, worship leader at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., leads "Revelation Song" during the Pastors' Conference Monday morning.

Travis Cottrell, worship leader at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., leads “Revelation Song” during the Pastors’ Conference Monday morning.

In the SBC exhibit hall, the North American and International Mission Boards have adjoining spaces--and complementary giveaways. NAMB has coffee mugs printed with the airport codes of each of its SEND focus cities. IMB has coffees and teas from countries and regions around the world where missionaries are serving.

In the SBC exhibit hall, the North American and International Mission Boards have adjoining spaces–and complementary giveaways. NAMB has coffee mugs printed with the airport codes of each of its SEND focus cities. IMB has coffees and teas from countries and regions around the world where missionaries are serving.

Jeff Calloway (left), NAMB's city missionary to Cleveland, talks with visitors at the NAMB exhibit.

Jeff Calloway (left), NAMB’s city missionary to Cleveland, talks with visitors at the NAMB exhibit.

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SBC President Ronnie Floyd (left) is interviewed by LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer in the exhibit hall.

SBC President Ronnie Floyd (left) is interviewed by LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer in the exhibit hall.

Rosaria Butterfield, author of "The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith," is one of several authors who will sign their books at the LifeWay Store here in Columbus.

Rosaria Butterfield, author of “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith,” is one of several authors who will sign their books at the LifeWay Store here in Columbus.

Cliff Woodman, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist in Carlinville, visited the exhibits with his wife, Lisa, and son, Daniel.

Cliff Woodman, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist in Carlinville, visited the exhibits with his wife, Lisa, and son, Daniel.