Category: the local church

Awakening to the End of the SBC

By Dr. James Willingham

All that has taken place on the nation level, the approval of homosexual unions as marriage, political correctness (which means no more free speech, etc.), the fines and law suits against Christians for their views on marriage, is but the precursor of things to come.  The end of jobs by computerization, automation, and robotics along with their removal to other nations for cheaper labor is also the indicator of a planned effort to bring down religion as a key factor in this land, any religion, except that which approves of the present PC views and practices.  And then there are the efforts of SBC leaders (so-called) who are supposedly trying to save the SBC mission programs by getting rid of the DOMs on the local level, followed by the state conventions, and after that the SBC (an expense, you know).  The result will be and is on the way to becoming the end of the programs for missionaries, the largest in history. Continue reading

Awakening to Second Class Citizenship

By Dr. James Willingham

Awakening to Second Class Citizenship will come as a shock to Christians and members of other faiths which do not buy the current requirements of political correctness.  Having studied Black History for many years, I can say that segregation and slavery were at their best feeble representations of little good and at their worst were horrors likened unto the place of eternal torment.  Years ago Blacks were required to walk out  into the streets, giving Whites the sidewalks.  And then there were executions of Blacks without a trial or, if there was one, it was a farce in many cases.  A White lady in Orangeburg, South Carolina summed it up as follows, “Mr. Willingham, when I knew that integration was going to occur, I chose to go teach in a Black primary school.  When I found out what segregation had done to the personalities of those little Black children, I cried.”

If the Supreme Court of the U.S. makes the decisions that favor the gay community they will come after all of our churches, our jobs, etc.  Consider what happened to the man in Oregon who owned a bakery and had children.  His bakery is closed.  At last account he was working as garbage collector, and the state was still hounding for the rest of the fine, while the people for whom he refused to do their wedding (due to their homosexuality) are also seeking the money which the court ruled he must pay them. Continue reading

Awakening To The Theology

by Dr. James Willingham

The ground work or foundation for awakening prayer as well as for the visitation that we call an awakening is to be found in the theology we find linked to the First and Second Great Awakenings and the Launching of the Great Century of Missions as the late historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette called it or the Modern Missionary Movement as it is called today.  That theology with few exceptions must be described as Sovereign Grace or Calvinism.  The latter term actually diverts attention from the reality that Sovereign Grace is taught in Holy Scripture, and the very term is predicated on the use of the word, “reign,” used in Romans 5:21: “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Reign or rule, of course, suggests the very idea of sovereignty, the authority and power to demand that things be done with a certainty.  Sin abounds.  Grace superabounds.  The enemy comes in like a flood, and God raises up a standard against him, a counter flood, a greater flood.  Like Noah’s flood of old which covered the whole earth, the deluge of grace shall fill the whole earth with His knowledge and glory.  The stone becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth.

Interestingly enough, all of this is to be accomplished not by force but by persuasion  Which brings us to the statement from a work which began my journey toward this understanding of God’s design.  In his Introduction to his translation of William Ames’ Marrow of Divinity (the first textbook in theology used at Harvard, so I understand), Dr. John Eusden stated; “Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage,….”  That statement was like a light turned on in my mind and heart. Continue reading

Awakening to Pray

by Dr. James Willingham

Our one great need today is for an awakening to prayer.  Yes, there are many calls to pray, and there are many who pray.  However, we have yet to see a movement of the Spirit of God commensurate with what we seek.  That is why I would like to recommend Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt, a tract which inspired William Carey and others to begin praying for the spread of the Gospel to other lands.  The Baptists in England began their prayer meetings in 1785.  Seven years later, 1792, Carey went to Egypt, and the rest, as they say, is history.  The interesting factor in the whole effort, however, is the work by Edwards.  His tract lists nearly a 100 prophecies and/or promises which can be pleaded in prayer as reasons for God to hear and answer.  I have been praying and pleading these promises, since the Fall of 1973 after I addressed the Pastors’ Prayer Meeting of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association on the subject of  A Great Awakening.  I would speak to that group on the fifth and tenth anniversaries.  My subject on those occasions was, A Third Great Awakening.  I cannot say I prayed every day, but I made it a policy that became entrenched to ask for such a visitation as often as possible.  Today, I seldom say grace even without asking for another awakening. Continue reading

Religion and Politics by Russell Moore | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org

Russell Mooreby Russell Moore

Tabletalk: How did you come to pursue a career as a systematic theologian and Christian ethicist?

Russell Moore: I felt a call to ministry early on and preached my first sermon at my home church in Biloxi, Miss., when I was twelve. I then drifted from that calling toward a career in politics. When I was working on Capitol Hill as a very young man, I picked up in the Library of Congress a copy of a Free Will Baptist manual on weddings, funerals, and so forth. After I returned home I wondered, “Why did I want this?” The Lord used that to rekindle my sense of His call to ministry. I never imagined how God would merge these callings together.

via Religion and Politics by Russell Moore | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

Leadership and Spiritual Maturity

Grace to Youby Jeremiah Johnson

New believers, and especially young men, are often very passionate for the truth. The joy of new life in Christ goes hand in hand with the desire to proclaim God’s truth to others and see them come to repentance and faith in Him.

But that passion usually exceeds the new believer’s preparedness to preach. Without a tested and proven faith, and without a strong understanding of Scripture—or any training in how to study and understand it—new believers should not assume leadership positions in the church.

Nor should they launch into ministry simply because “God told me to.” To the undiscerning, that might be a persuasive argument. But God’s people have a responsibility not to blithely believe everyone who claims to speak for Him. Moreover, they need to hold the leaders they follow to biblical standards (which gets back to the original reason for this series).

via Leadership and Spiritual Maturity.

3 Decisions a Pastor Can Make That Will Help His Family | Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie FloydMy wife Jeana grew up in the home of a Pastor, and we have always worked hard together to ensure our family is our #1 priority following our personal commitment to Jesus Christ. To God’s glory, my wife did not ever resent the church as the wife of a pastor, and as our children grew, they did not ever resent the church. In fact, our church was our life!

The four of us loved the church and we still love the church! Our boys’ spouses love the church and they are now raising children who love the church!

How did we escape the testimony I often hear of pastor’s families resenting the church? By God’s grace and prayer. I also believe we made several decisions that moved us along toward a positive experience. I will note three of these decisions.

via 3 Decisions a Pastor Can Make That Will Help His Family | Ronnie Floyd.

I’m a Christian. But I’ve Forgotten How to Belong to the Church. | Christianity Today

Christianity TodayA millennial diagnoses her generation’s complicated relationship to the body of Christ.

Interview by Laura Turner/ January 29, 2015

Sometimes, to borrow a phrase, we long to be in the church but not of it. We love Christ, but the church is full of people—and problems—we’d rather avoid. In Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe, Erin Lane, a divinity school graduate and pastor’s wife, explores her difficulty (and that of her millennial generation) in feeling fully devoted to the body of Christ. Laura Turner, a contributor to Her.meneutics, talked with Lane, a program director at the Center for Courage & Renewal, about the paradox of belonging and the practices that help to sustain commitments to others.

via I’m a Christian. But I’ve Forgotten How to Belong to the Church. | Christianity Today.

CALL TO PRAYER: More than conquerors in 2015 & beyond | Baptist Press | Frank Page

Frank Page

Frank Page

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, is part of his ongoing call to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.

NASHVILLE (BP) — Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this year was the year during which we live as “more than conquerors”? The Lord gives us the key to see how this may be accomplished in our lives — it can only be done “through Him who loved us.”

These words from Romans 8:37–39 shine as one of God’s brightest promises to His children. The passage says: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Continue reading →

Assessing the State of Your Church and How It Got There | TGC | Trevin Wax

Trevin WaxOver the past month or so, I’ve been writing a series of posts on the need for a Christian to know “what time it is” from a biblical (see here, here, and here) and personal standpoint (here).

Today, I want to begin to apply some of these insights to an organization. I’m going to consult a few business books and see how some of the advice might apply to a local church.

What Time Is It In Your Church?

Understanding the life and times of an organization is essential for wise decisions. Too often, pastors and church leaders step into a church or ministry situation without understanding the particular moment the organization is in. When that happens, bad decisions are likely to follow. Continue reading →

Teach the Uncompromised Truth of Genesis in Church | Answers in Genesis

answers-in-genesis-logoThis month, the pastor of one of the largest churches in Northern Kentucky (and close to our Creation Museum) is conducting a teaching series going through Genesis 1–11 for the congregation. This is the same church that will be hosting our annual Mega Conference, June 24–27. I was present at the service when Pastor Corey Abney1 (the lead pastor) introduced the Genesis series to the congregation. I thought his introduction was excellent (watch it at the video link below), and it could be used to challenge pastors, Bible teachers, and others to consider teaching through Genesis 1–11. We live in an age when the authority of God’s Word has come under attack, particularly the first book of the Bible. We also need to equip this current generation of young people to defend the Christian faith against the secular attacks of our day.

I encourage you to watch Pastor Abney’s short but powerful introduction to his teaching series on Genesis 1–11. I pray many more Christian leaders will be challenged and inspired to stand on God’s Word beginning in Genesis. Continue reading →

America awaits justices’ action on same-sex marriage | Baptist Press

Baptist PressWASHINGTON (BP) — The wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to announce it is ready to provide a verdict on same-sex marriage may be near an end.

Then again, it may not.

The justices are scheduled to meet in a private conference Jan. 9, when they will consider appeals of lower-court decisions in favor of states’ rights to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. The high court could decide to grant review in one or both cases in this term.

If the Supreme Court rules on the issue this term, gay marriage could be legal throughout the country by the time it adjourns this summer. Or states could maintain their authority historically to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. Continue reading →

Standards for Shepherds: Sexual Fidelity | GRACE to You

John MacArthur

John MacArthur

by John MacArthur

“The NFL’s doing a better job at it. CBS is doing a better job at it. Kmart is doing a better job at it. Virtually every institution on earth is demonstrating that they are doing a better job at restoring people than the Church.” These are the words of a disgraced pastor whose sexual sins made national headlines. It’s hard to find a clearer example of how worldly views on leadership exist among Christians.

God does not demand perfection from those who shepherd His flock, but He insists on men who are above reproach. The highest office ordained by God requires the highest standards in personal character.

And those standards are not obscure or mysterious. God’s Word is abundantly clear about the character qualifications for church leaders.

An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. (1 Timothy 3:2–3; cf. Titus 1:5–9)

Continue reading →

Racial Reconciliation: Why Most Whites Just Don’t Get it

by Ken Hamrick

There’s something insincere about any repentant admission that says, “Yes, I’m guilty—and so are you.” I do not admit to being a racist, and neither do I think most Americans—white or otherwise—are. Many are racists, but most—or even, all? Contrary to the popular Evangelical party line these days, that cannot be established. It is not enough to point out that racism is sin, and as such, it comes from the fall of man, which affects us all. All are sinners, but not all are racists.

Some good Christian black leader, whose article I’ve since lost track of, has explained that black people view things from a racial/ethnic solidarity—that when one is unjustly treated, all feel the pain. This, I think, illuminates the differences in thinking and explains why most white people just don’t get it when it comes to racial reconciliation. Continue reading

What would Jesus say to someone like Leelah Alcorn? | ERLC.COM

ERLC-Final-Mark-crop3On December 28, 2014, a 17-year-old high school student apparently committed suicide after a difficult journey with confusion over gender identity. In his suicide note, Josh Alcorn said that since he was four years old he felt like “a girl trapped inside a boy’s body.” Because of this Josh desired to be called Leelah and wished for people to relate to him as a woman.

I will refer to Josh as Leelah in this post, but will also refer to him as a male, please bear with me, even if you passionately disagree with either of those choices.

This is an excerpt from Leelah’s final words posted shortly before taking his own life: Continue reading →

Standards for Shepherds: Be Above Reproach | GRACE to You

John MacArthurby John MacArthur

America’s church culture suffers from an abundance of unqualified church leaders. What’s worse, many of these mavericks preside over a form of church government incapable of restraining or disciplining them.

Tragically, in many cases it’s the media that holds these leaders accountable—tragic because the media ends up doing a job that God has delegated to the church. Furthermore, the unbelieving world enjoys a front row seat to shameful scandals that bring reproach on Christ.

Many of these churches publically profess their allegiance to the Bible. However, the problem of unqualified leaders stems from a failure to heed Scripture’s clear teaching on the qualifications for church leadership. And it’s not as if those qualifications are a mystery; Paul was very clear about the qualities every church overseer (pastors and elders) must possess. Continue reading →

Racial justice and the gospel | ERLC.COM

Russell Moore

Russell Moore

On the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act this year, I was reminded of one of my favorite pictures, which sits on a shelf in my office. It’s a photograph of a line of civil rights workers—in the heat of the Jim Crow era. They’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder, each of them bearing a sign. The sign reads, simply: “I Am a Man.”

I love that picture because it sums up precisely the issue at that time, and at every time. The struggle for civil rights for African-Americans in this country wasn’t simply a “political” question. It wasn’t merely the question of, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it from before the Lincoln Memorial, the unfulfilled promises of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution (although it was nothing less than that). At its root, Jim Crow (and the spirit of Jim Crow, still alive and sinister) is about theology. It’s about the question of the “Godness” of God and the humanness of humanity. Continue reading →

Building Effective Global Partnerships | themelios

Joel Rainey

Joel Rainey

Next week, I’ll be headed to Charleston, SC, where this year’s annual Partnership Mission Coordinator’s meeting will take place. Mission leaders from across the nation will converge on this historic city for several days to learn from one another, and collaborate in ways that will help us better equip churches to be more effective on mission.

Over the years, much debate has ensued over the usefulness of what we call “short-term missions.” Since much ink has been spilled over this particular issue already, I won’t belabor that particular point, but will refer you to a great resource on the subject put together a few years back by Robert Priest, my academic colleague at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. If you are interested in the history of short-term missions (the current expression of which dates back to around 1949), and a thorough and honest evaluation of its global impact, there is no better resource. Continue reading →

Are Deeds a Better Sign of Love Than Words? | Desiring God

John Piper

John Piper

The same apostle who said, “Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18), also recorded Jesus saying, “These things I speak . . . that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13), and, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).

If the “speaking” of Jesus imparts joy, and the “words” of Jesus give spiritual life, then surely such speaking is love.

It has always troubled me that 1 John 3:18 could be taken to imply that what we do with our mouths is a less real or less frequent form of love than what we do with our hands. “Little children, let us not love in word or tongue but in deed and in truth.” It seems to me that we have practical and biblical reasons for saying that the muscle of the tongue is more frequently the instrument of true love than any other muscle of the body. Continue reading →

God’s Grace for You in the Baptism of Jesus | TGC | Trevin Wax

Trevin WaxToday is Epiphany. In many Western churches, this day commemorates the wise men’s visit to the baby Jesus. In the Eastern churches, the focus of Epiphany is on the manifestation of the Trinity in Jesus’ baptism.

The Romanian Baptist churches refer to this day as “the Lord’s baptism” day. When I lived in Romania, I heard many sermons on Jesus’ baptism, and over time, I became smitten by the beauty of Jesus’ baptism:

The beauty of Christ’s humanity as He identifies Himself with His sinful people.

The beauty of Christ being cleansed by a man whose sins He will later atone for on the cross.

The beauty of the Trinity: The Father speaks, the Son rises, the Spirit descends.

And then there’s the Father’s declaration of love for His Son. That’s what stirs up my heart’s affections with praise and gratitude because, understanding myself in Christ, God’s words are true of me too. I love this scene so much that I made it a pivotal part of the conversion of Gilbert Walker (the grandfather in Clear Winter Nights). Continue reading →