What if?

by Mike Nichols

During the past few months, rhetoric from both sides of the Michael Brown shooting has been stated and restated, renewed once the grand jury found the officer who shot Brown should not stand trial.

That rhetoric was again stated and amplified by Eric Garner’s death and subsequent similar outcome through a Staten Island grand jury. We have shouted screamed at one another, to our equal irritation. We have done nothing to resolve our difficulties, not settled our differences, and failed to find answers that are satisfactory to anyone.

During these four months, FBI statistical averages tell us that 1,452 more young black men died violently, and 1,350 of them died as the result of violence against them by other black men.

During that same four months, people in the U.S. have become polarized in their opinions and thoughts about people of other ethnicities. Many white people have blamed the black community, particularly their leaders who continue to cry out for civil rights justice, for obscuring their own difficulties with charges of racism and institutional bias. Continue reading

Sexual assault and the Imago Dei | ERLC.com

ERLC-Final-Mark-crop3About a month ago, I put a pot of water to boil on the stove and, while waiting, opened Facebook. As I scrolled, I saw the same article posted by friend after friend, and the headline screamed out below each one: “A Rape on Campus” and then, to my shock, “at UVA”. Trembling, I clicked through and read the article about my community, Charlottesville, Va., with incredulity.

We are all now familiar with the fallout. Outrage. Details in doubt. Editorial notes. Journalists in question. As a whole, the story and its aftermath have become convoluted and confused.

But here in Charlottesville, the foundational issue at the heart of the article—sexual assault—lives on. There have been hushed conversations, confessions of long-held trauma, and confusion regarding the university administration. Continue reading →

The Gospel Centered Woman | The Gospel Centered Woman

Gospel Centered WomanThe Gospel Centered Woman: Understanding Biblical Womanhood through the Lens of the Gospel

Two thumbs up. Author and blogger Wendy Alsup has done what many others have overlooked. In writing for Christian women, most err in one of two ways. Some describe discipleship of women in a way that’s undifferentiated from men. Others only address the specific roles of wife, mom, homemaker, single, career woman, and so forth in a way that neglects the larger issues of discipleship that actually empower their performance of those roles from a gospel perspective. Roles that require submitting and helping aren’t fueled by the commands themselves. These actions witness to something that has preceded. Many people get this wrong, and droves of women spend fruitless hours trying to be the perfect person their study books describe. They end up on the hamster wheel of performance and appearance, never progressing beyond comparison with their contemporaries—who serve as their measure of success.

Alsup “gets it” that Christian women are, first and foremost, simply Christians. Continue reading →

Gift of ultrasounds reaps life-saving benefits | Baptist Press

Baptist PressNASHVILLE (BP) — An Arizona woman’s unambiguous response to the first view of her baby offers only one of many life-saving reasons for the existence of the Psalm 139 Project.

A mobile unit operated by Arizona Baptist Children’s Services is equipped with an ultrasound machine provided by the Psalm 139 Project of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Photo from Arizona Baptist Children’s Services

The client of New Life Pregnancy Center in Tempe, Ariz., was non-committal at best when she received a positive pregnancy test, Debbie Gillmore, the center’s director, told Baptist Press. The woman declined the center’s gift of a baby hat, saying, “No. I’m not so sure I want to go through with this,” Gillmore recalled.

Though she scheduled an ultrasound appointment, the center’s attempts to contact her with a reminder failed. Yet, the woman, acknowledging her anxiety, arrived on time for her appointment.

The ultrasound technician displayed on the monitor her unborn child, arms and legs moving. When the beating heart appeared on the monitor, the woman blurted out, “There it is,” Gillmore reported in a written account. Continue reading →

Teach Like a Girl | The Gospel Centered Woman

Gospel Centered WomanI recently discovered a book that is a collection of vignettes about the women of the New Testament. I was prepping for our women’s Bible study at church and like any good teacher (who is consistently running just shy of deadline), my first stop was the Amazon search engine. I typed in “Women of the New Testament” and one of the first entries was written by, of all people, Abraham Kuyper. Apparently in the midst of reforming turn-of-the-century Dutch society, establishing an entire branch of theology, and pastoring multiple congregations, Kuyper also had time to write on women of the Bible. (Abraham Kuyper: Statesman, Theologian, and Father of the Modern Women’s Bible Study?)

I snagged a 1933 English edition (complete with “Suggested Questions for Study and Discussion”) for a little over a $1. Presumably Kuyper wrote his Women of the New Testament in the late 1800s (I couldn’t find an exact date), and so it’s not surprising that he affirms a fairly traditional understanding of womanhood. What is surprising, however, is that his traditionalism has been thoroughly informed by the gospel and in some respects, doesn’t look like traditionalism at all. Continue reading →

Race relations panelists: Learn ‘each other’s story’ | Baptist Press

Baptist PressMEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP) — Four decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis, a diverse group of pastors gathered at the historic Lorraine Hotel — now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum — to discuss the state of race relations in America.

Called “A Time to Speak,” the Dec. 15 discussion was inspired by the national debate over race relations, sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York.

Evangelicals have been largely missing from that conversation, said Bryan Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Memphis, a multiethnic congregation.

“Where are the conservative evangelical voices?” Loritts asked in his opening remarks to an audience of about 100 people in person and more than 6,000 viewing a webcast at live.kainos.is. Continue reading →

U.S.-Cuba diplomacy sparks hope & wariness | Baptist Press

Baptist PressNASHVILLE (BP) — President Obama’s opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba may fuel an already-vibrant evangelistic movement there, or it may fuel a repressive regime, Southern Baptist leaders and pastors said in voicing divergent opinions to Baptist Press.

“Our prayer is that the Cuban church planting movement continue to expand. The Cuban people are very receptive to the Gospel,” Kurt Urbanek, IMB strategist for Cuba, said in a statement to BP.

“We praise the Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual awakening in Cuba which has seen over 500,000 Cubans come to saving faith in Baptist churches during the past 13 years,” Urbanek noted. Continue reading →

Participating in Gathered Worship: Worship with Eager Submission | Founders | The Blog

Ken Puls

Ken Puls

In the last several posts we have asked the question: How are we to join in the gathered worship of the church? We must make an effort to come and gather. We must enter fully into worship when we arrive. And we must worship God in spirit and in truth.

Another key element of our participation in worship is a submissive, teachable heart. When we come to worship, we should pray that God will subdue and humble our hearts. We too often show up to corporate worship with our own agendas and assumptions. We get set in our ways and no longer expect God’s Word to challenge and change us. We need God to come and work in us—to bend our will to His. We need to pray and then obey: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10). We need to learn submission so we can joyfully love and serve and follow Him together. Continue reading →

The Ark Is Happening! | Around the World with Ken Ham

Ken HamI wanted to share a very exciting nine-minute video with you that offers an update of what is happening with the construction of our life-size Noah’s Ark (south of Cincinnati).

After my wife and I returned from our visit with family in Australia, I interviewed one of the project managers for the Ark and our VP of attractions. Even though I have been intimately involved with this project, I gained some fascinating insights into what has gone into the planning of the engineering and architectural work. I was also amazed to see how much work has been done since I toured the site the last time and as we get ready for the timber construction of the Ark itself (to occur in the first half of next year). Continue reading →

Born to Die | Grace to You

John MacArthur

by John MacArthur

That first Christmas, earth was oblivious to the significance of a simple birth in a quiet town. But heaven wasn’t. The holy angels waited in anticipation to break forth in praise and worship and adoration at the birth of the newborn Christ. This Child’s birth meant deliverance for mankind. The angel told Joseph: “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Unlike Isaac, who ascended the mountain unaware he was to be the sacrifice, Jesus descended from heaven in full awareness of what the Father had in store for Him. Scripture records for us what may have been a farewell message Jesus gave just prior to His incarnation.

When He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.” Then I said, “Behold, I have come . . . to do Your will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:5-7)

That passage of Scripture gives us a remarkable look at the heart of the Savior before His birth. Continue reading →

Midwestern, filmmaker partner for Spurgeon documentary | Baptist Press

Baptist PressKANSAS, Mo. (BP) — A new documentary on the life and legacy of 19th century British preacher Charles Spurgeon, set for release today (Dec. 18), prominently features two Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary leaders and the Kansas City-based school’s Charles H. Spurgeon Library.

The film entitled, “Through the Eyes of Spurgeon,” was directed and produced by Canadian filmmaker, Stephen McCaskell. He said the goal of the documentary is to introduce a new generation to Spurgeon in the hopes that their relationship with God will be challenged and deepened as they learn more about “The Prince of Preachers,” who was radically transformed by the Gospel. Continue reading →

Weeping With the Mothers of Bethlehem | The Gospel Centered Woman

Gospel Centered WomanLast Sunday at thousands of churches across America, little children lisped, sang and maybe occasionally shouted their way through a myriad retellings and reinterpretations of the Christmas story. In our church’s rendition, my youngest nearly stole the whole show as the Shooting Star. Clad in a giant, gold lame star costume, my 8 year old sang, ran around the stage (and entire auditorium – barefoot) and generally threw herself into her role with all the enthusiasm an extroverted, redheaded third grader could muster (which is to say, a lot). My heart was full as we went home and I watched her make one last cookie and adrenaline-fueled run down the hall to her bedroom. Naturally, I sat down at my laptop to share my maternal pride on social media. But as I uploaded the pictures of my daughter’s smiling, gold starred self, headlines and pictures nearby brought a flood of tears to my eyes, tears that continue to flow even today. Continue reading →

Day of Service: NAMB gives back to community | Baptist Press

Baptist PressALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — The phrase “Whatever it takes” is one of the North American Mission Board’s operating values. Staff members are reminded that the mission agency exists to serve Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist churches. Giving back to the community in service was a tangible demonstration of this value as staff participated Dec. 12 in the annual NAMB Day of Service.

Staff from the NAMB’s Alpharetta, Ga., office joined local ministries in a variety of service activities at Peace Baptist Church of Decatur, Clarkston International Bible Church in Clarkston and No Longer Bound of Cumming. Continue reading →

A Model of Charity, Clarity and Courage in Pastoral Care | TGC | Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti AnyabwileWe pastors often find ourselves speaking during troublesome and difficult times. We address biblical texts with thorny truths that offend people. We appear at bedsides to comfort the dying and the grieving. We sometimes get called upon to help the wider community navigate calamity and crisis. Pastors speak. And there are times when not speaking amounts to a dereliction of duty.

But that doesn’t mean we always know what to say or how to say it. Sometimes circumstances defy easy speech. Add to that the fact that we pastors have not finally mastered our tongues, that there’s a world of fire in our mouths too, then we understand that not only must pastors speak but they must do so while warring against the flesh and facing the lions. You cannot be a pastor without courage.

That’s why I appreciate these pastoral comments from Sandy Wilson regarding events in Ferguson. Continue reading →

Should Caesar torture Jesus? | ERLC.com

ERLC-Final-Mark-crop3In a recent article (7 Things Christians Should Know About Torture), I wrote that the recent Senate Report on the C.I.A.’s interrogation techniques should be the beginning, rather than the end, of the discussion on the morality and legality of torture. Since then I’ve been encouraged by the attempts to examine the issue (though I’ve been mostly disheartened by the outcomes supported).

For example, in a recent article in The Federalist, D.C. McAllister argues that “Yes, Christians Can Support Torture.” One of her primary claims is that,

If government officials have a known terrorist in custody, and it is certain that he has information needed to save lives, it is morally justified for them to use interrogative torture to get the information necessary to protect innocent life.

Her formulation of the issue is helpfully clarifying, though the use of the term “known terrorist” is unnecessarily limiting. Are we only justified in using interrogative torture when the person is “known” to be a terrorist? What if we know they have information necessary to protect innocent life but they cannot legitimately be labeled a “terrorist”? Continue reading →

Lexington Herald-Leader Versus God! | Around the World with Ken Ham

Ken HamThe Lexington Herald-Leader is one of the major Kentucky newspapers. For years, it has spread untruths and misleading information about Answers in Genesis and our life-size Noah’s Ark project. (The Ark will be built north of the paper’s offices in Lexington.)

I suggest that the editors of the Herald-Leader have an anti-Christian agenda. It has resulted in inaccuracies in its stories and editorials concerning the Ark project. The paper constantly denigrates the Christian ministry of AiG and regularly attacks the Ark project in order to undermine it to the general public. Their intolerance of anything Christian is so obvious that some Lexington residents have said to me, “we call it the Lexington Herald-Misleader.” Continue reading →

The Sacred-Secular Divide Is Pure Fiction | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

TGCThe following excerpt is taken from An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility by Martin Luther. Although it is directed toward the Church in Rome circa 1520, its truth applies to any church at any time that advocates for a sacred-secular vocational divide.

It is pure invention [fiction] that pope, bishops, priests, and monks are called the “spiritual estate” while princes, lords, artisans, and farmers are called the “temporal estate.” This is indeed a piece of deceit and hypocrisy. Yet no one need be intimated by it, and for this reason: all Christians are truly of the “spiritual estate,” and there is no difference among them except that of office. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 that we are all one body, yet every member has its own work by which it serves the others. This is because we all have one baptism, one gospel, one faith, and are all Christians alike; for baptism, gospel, and faith alone make us spiritual and a Christian people. Continue reading →

Family TV not ‘family-friendly,’ PTC finds | Baptist Press

Baptist PressNASHVILLE (BP) — Contemporary television series showcasing family life will likely include sex, profanity and violence that make the entertainment unsuitable for family viewing, the Parents Television Council has found.

As many as 99 percent of the broadcast television shows about family that PTC studied contained some form of adult content in 2013, they noted in a Dec. 10 report. Profanity was found in 94 percent of shows; sexual content in 84 percent; 33 percent contain violence.

Among all 202 episodes of family-themed shows studied, only two episodes of “The Millers” were found suitable for family viewing, the PTC told Baptist Press. The sitcom has since been cancelled. Continue reading →

Advice for a New Elder | 9Marks

9MarksOur church recently recognized a brother named Mark to serve as an elder. To welcome him, I reached out to a few dozen friends who serve as elders at other churches and asked them to send me advice they would give to a new elder. Here’s the summary of what they would say to a young man who is stepping in as a new overseer.

1. Pray.

1 Samuel 12:23 “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you . ..”

Self-sufficiency will be your most persistent temptation. Continue reading →

Midwestern celebrates graduation, honors professor | Baptist Press

Baptist PressKANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its 56th commencement exercises on Dec. 12. The event was highlighted by seminary president Jason Allen’s keynote address and the honoring of longtime faculty member Jim Anderson.

Speaking to 59 graduates, their families and friends, Allen opened the service with a Gospel presentation, and then added, “It is our prayer and ambition that this service would so bear witness to our Lord Jesus Christ that you would be stirred in your interest to become a follower of Christ. All that we do here, and all that you will see in this hour, is rooted in our unshakable belief in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“For the Seminary itself,” Allen noted, “it is a day of joyful sobriety and hopeful seriousness as we send forth graduates in the name of Christ to serve his cause, advance his kingdom, strengthen his church, and bring glory to his name.” Continue reading →