Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Alright! Here's a quick update.

It's been a somewhat crazy two weeks - obviously I returned from the camping trip - everything went well, I had a great time of discipleship with some of the guys - even had the privilege of explaining TULIP to one of the students - at his request.

Upon returning, the church was in the middle of our "On Mission Celebration" - what a blessing to meet and share with several missionaries and hear what God is doing around the world. We had the chance of sharing a meal with a couple from Southern Africa who had been in their country since 1978 and another meal with a lady from Canada, we also had a brief conversation with a couple from West Africa. All of these missionaries were excited to hear that young pastors and staff members were following the events of the IMB and seemed somewhat refreshed to know they had people willing to defend them if/when necessary.

Thursday - we observed the Passover with the Youth by preparing a traditional meal and explaining each of the elements to them.

Friday - we observed Good Friday with the church in a special service and communion.

Saturday - we observed the Sabbath and rested.

Sunday - we celebrated Easter with a Sunrise service, church wide breakfast, musical, and preaching. We then ate lunch with our pastor's family and finally had a cookout with some friends for supper.

Monday - Christie went to Florida and will be back today.

It's been a good week. We have lots more to share regarding the missionaries we shared with and will be updating later this week.

Soli Deo Gloria
posted by Rick

Thursday, April 13, 2006

This week between Rick camping and me watching over the homefront, we had the opportunity to spend some time with two IMB missionary couples. As we discussed their ministries, families and yes, the new policies, we were overwhelmed with the graciousness they continually displayed. Although the missionaries do not agree with many of the recent IMB decisions, they said at this point they could only submit to their leaders and pray for change. As we shared information with them about the D's (of which they were unaware) they expressed concern due to the fact that many of our IMB missionaries are involved in work similar to that in which the D's are possibly being removed for. So, that leaves us all with the question of "who's next?"
posted by Christie

Monday, April 10, 2006

I'm signing off for a few days - Ok, a few more days. I'm leaving in just a few hours for spring break, taking our High School guys on a camping trip to Tallulah Gorge State Park in North Georgia. We will enjoy a hike through the gorge, camping outdoors, and a study of Stu Weber's Four Pillars of a Man's Heart.

See you guys on Thursday.
posted by Rick

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thom Rainer has written an insightful article on evangelism published in this weeks edition of the Florida Baptist Witness. He says, "The facts of a 2004 research project I led are sobering. It takes 86 church members in America one year to reach a person for Christ...if the research is even close to accurate, the reality is that the church is not reproducing herself. In just one or two generations, Christianity could be so marginalized that it will be deemed irrelevant by most observers." Rainer says the church has become "evangelistically anemic" due to doctrinal ineffectiveness, less evangelistic church leaders and Christians who are passionate about minor issues instead of the Gospel. You can read the article in its entirety here.
posted by Christie

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

In the 19th century the idea of Landmarkism arose within the Southern Baptist Convention and from its inception was met with controversy. Understanding Landmark views on the local church, successionism, baptism and the Lord's Supper, it's no surprise that missions was an area that Landmarkers sought diligently to reform. Several of the fathers of the movement fought against the then, Foreign Mission Board and actually carried out a failed attempt to have it abolished at the Southern Baptist Convention in 1859. This is due in part to the fact that Landmarkism rejected not only alien immersion and communion, but also alien preaching. Since the Baptist church was considered to be the only legitimate local church, then preaching which did not disseminate from that source was not considered valid. That led Landmarkers to reject, not missions itself, but much of the work of the Foreign Mission Board.

Although Landmark thought did see decline, it has unfortunately never died. Over 100 years separates us from the original controversies, yet it seems that not much has changed. Today we are faced with the possible removal of missionaries due to their partnership with a non-Baptist, although baptistic group. An almost successful church plant among an unreached people group, which followed all of the guidelines given to the missionaries, has now been put on hold due to a resurgence of Landmark ideology. Taken to its fullest logical conclusion, Landmarksim would eradicate not only the work of these missionaries, but also our entire system of mission work.

The dangers of these views are obvious and although it might not have previously seemed like a controlling factor, Landmarkism is profoundly affecting the ecclesiology and polity within our Convention. The recent policy changes of the International Mission Board concerning baptism are a bold statement affirming that fact. With our Convention in such an awkward state, more than ever we need to pray for our leaders, defend our missionaries and get involved ourselves if we are concerned for the future of Southern Baptist life. While Landmarkism may have found a foothold, it doesn't have to gain a stranglehold.

(Source used, The Southern Baptist Convention by Jesse C. Fletcher)
posted by Christie

Monday, April 03, 2006

Marty Duren of SBC Outpost has once again broken Baptist news with this story of a missionary couple on the verge of losing their IMB appointment as a result of partnering with a non-Baptist (though Baptistic) group to plant a church in a hostile Muslim region - where no church currently exists. The D's have been serving through the IMB for the past 8 years with the goal of one day planting a church. Now, as they are within reach of their goal, it seems their dreams and life's work may be stripped away - not by the Muslims in whose region they work - but by their (and our) own International Mission Board.

I would encourage each of you to:
1) Follow this story closely through SBC Outpost where I am sure Marty will keep us up to date.

2) Begin praying for God to unify our Convention, protect this missionary family, and accomplish His purpose and will through these tumultuous times.

3) Contact every trustee in your state (and others, - especially John Floyd and Chairman Hatley - as trustees serve the Convention at large and not a geographic region) to share your passion related to this issue and help them to understand that - if taken to a vote - they must vote against terminating this couple's missionary service. (IMB Trustee contact information can be found here)

4) Finally, alert your peers - both clergy and laity to the current issues related to our mission board. Write your state Baptist papers, blog your own thoughts, just be sure the message of the D's finds its way into the hands of faithful Southern Baptists who love and support their missionaries.
posted by Rick
After a two week hiatus, it's good - no it's great - to be back. The previous weeks have afforded me the opportunity to attend the IMB trustee meeting with Rick and then spend a week with my family while he lived the life of a lonely bachelor back at home. Several things - including missing my husband and the constant broadcast of Walker Texas Ranger (my parents favorite) beckoned me northward. So now, life as normal, or at least normal for us, will hopefully resume.

Now that I'm home, I'm embarking on a new journey. This will be the first time since I turned seventeen that I haven't been employed. From part-time summer positions and work-study in college to being a bank teller and most recently an office manager, it seems I've always had a job. However, I don't miss the work-force at all and have already considered hundreds of ways in which I can enjoy my newfound freedom.

I'm going to attempt to catch up with everyone. It may take a while, so be patient. Hopefully, there will be more to come soon.
posted by Christie

Sunday, April 02, 2006

(continued)

5. I have learned that I need to study more thoroughly the convention’s history. One needs to spend only ten minutes with Ben Cole before they realize they are quite deficient in the topic of Southern Baptist history. It was amazing to meet someone so adept at understanding the workings of the convention, the people of the convention, and the political atmosphere of the convention. This I realized came from his vast understanding of not only where we are, but also where we have been.

It suddenly dawned on me that this is true in any area – to fully understand the present, we must first have a grasp on the past.

And so, I returned to Hazlehurst, dug out the text book from my Southern Baptist History class and began to read (most of it for the first time). Absolutely amazing what I’m uncovering! Dr. Jesse C. Fletcher wrote this book in part to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Convention. It’s stunning to me how pertinent the information remains – in light of all that has been occurring over the past several months.

A brief outline:

Some time, shortly after the colonies began to settle the New World, Baptists began settling their own colonies and formulating their own churches. They were a fairly independent lot – partially due to their skepticism of the state churches they had pulled away from and partly as a result of the persecution these fledgling congregations received at the hands of those same churches. However, “in May of 1814 their missionary conviction led to the formation of a national denominational body which they called the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions.” A lengthy title, yes, but it is interesting that the first national Baptist denomination formed – not as a means of codifying their doctrine, not as a means of affecting the political scene of the relatively new nation, not even as a way to properly train their pastors and missionaries – but rather, the unified body formed for the sole purpose of taking the Gospel to foreign lands.

Interesting. If Baptists are seen here uniting around the need for foreign missionaries. What could possibly cause the divide that would ultimately produce the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention? Yes, it is International Missions again. Let me quote directly from Fletcher – all emphasis mine:

“Organized as abolitionists, people holding these convictions mounted an unrelenting campaign against the South’s “peculiar institution.” After several unsuccessful tries, their leaders in 1845 persuaded the mission boards of the national Baptist body to refuse to appoint a slaveholder as a missionary. This set the stage for the southern churches, defensive and feeling discredited in organizations they had helped create and nurture, to demand their own denominational structure. The Southern Baptist Convention was the result.

Fascinating how familiar this sounds. Despite the fact that we all agree with the evils of slavery and the need for the abolition of the “peculiar institution,” the bottom line remains: at the heart of the formation of our convention was one group refusing to appoint missionaries from another group - a move so offensive, it led our founding fathers to sever ties with the then current mission board and form their own denominational entity.

My fear is that one day we will again read a similar passage in our history books. Do not be confused, the current issues facing our convention are not matters of doctrinal purity, biblical inerrancy, or conservative versus liberal thought patterns. The issues are simply one group of conservatives, narrowing the parameters of cooperation and refusing to work with other conservatives – despite areas of doctrinal agreement and unity – who do not wish to be confined by extra-biblical guidelines, policies and parameters. If we allow this to continue, the convention will once again be fractured – if not fragmented – the Gospel will be hindered, and a small group of church’s led by landmark pastors will be left to shoulder the full weight of the convention. I pray we will see a conclusion to these matters before it comes to this. I believe it is time we all take a step back and revisit the history of our great convention in hopes of finding a perspective that advances the gospel, unifies the brethren, and allows Baptists to dissent without the fear of rejection and retaliation from the controlling majority.
posted by Rick

Monday, March 27, 2006

I have finally returned from the Sunshine state and regained internet access. Our ten day hiatus in posting has had to do with a lack of internet access and not a deficiency of topics to post.

The problem now: where to begin?

As you know we have been to the trustee meeting and appointment service of the International Mission Board in Tampa. The events of these meetings have been well documented on several blogs (SBC Outpost, 12 Witnesses, & many others). Rather than rehash these issues, I will leave you with my own observations and lessons learned from an exciting and beneficial week. In future posts, I hope to make comments and observations related to the latest policies passed by the Board of Trustees.

Lessons Learned:

1. I have learned that WE must be active in the convention if we are going to remain Southern Baptists. For many years I have believed (as I know many of you have) that I could continue my ministry in the church and let others worry about the denomination and the politics entailed. After watching the proceedings of the past few months, I can no longer fool myself with such a mindset - it is pertinent that we involve ourselves in the convention. Someone is going to lead the convention, someone is going to control the direction of the convention, someone is going to decide who will be appointed as missionaries, seminary presidents, & denominational spokesmen and leaders. Someone must steer the helm. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves riding a ship to a destination we never intended.

My greatest fear: we’re halfway there!

2. I have learned that there are some amazing men serving as leaders and trustees in our convention and other young leaders passionate about missions and our convention. The highlight of our trip to Tampa was the chance to meet and spend time with some of these people. We had the privilege of eating several meals with Wade Burleson, Rick Thompson, Marty Duren, Ben Cole and others. I had the chance to meet Jason Helmbacher, a pastor from Oklahoma who made the trip to Florida to speak on behalf of some of his church members serving as IMB missionaries and Patrick Barrett, a middle school teacher waiting on his wife, Melanie, to finish her schooling as a dental hygienist before attending seminary in preparation for the international mission field. I had the opportunity to briefly speak personally to Dr. Rankin and watch the grace and humility with which he conducted himself during the plenary session (even amidst a barrage of attacks and obvious undermining carried out by some trustees).

3. I have been reminded of our great missionaries serving around the world. To say the least, it was inspiring to see 40+ people standing on the stage of Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church, telling their story of how God brought them to the place in which they stood - a place of devotion that compelled them to leave all comforts and securities behind simply to further the cause of Christ. There were engineers and homemakers, married couples, single individuals, and families; even one couple, I understand, who had a child disappear on the mission field in a former appointment who were now returning to take the Gospel to a new land. These individuals were heading all over the globe – to Muslim countries & communist countries, friendly countries and hostile lands. Some were able to share their full names, others, for security, were forced to be recognized only by initials.

These men and women stood as an inspiration and a reminder of what life and ministry is really all about. We have every convenience, afford ourselves so many luxuries and consider a sideways glance or muttered criticism persecution. These men and women had counted the cost and found that the Gospel and Jesus Christ are truly worth everything.

4. I have learned that if there is ever going to be an emphasis placed on world missions it must begin in the hearts of the pastor and staff of local churches. Meeting church leaders so passionate about missions stood as an indictment to my ministry. I have in recent months and will now continue with greater passion to make known the plight of missionaries, the history of missions and the need for future missionaries. Without this effort on my part, without my praying to such end, without the Holy Spirit using me to reach the hearts of the people God has placed in my ministry they may never be awakened to the great task before us. It was stated at the meetings that an additional 3,000 missionaries are needed to place a missionary in every unreached people group – what a joy it would be to see someone from my ministry called to fill one of these positions.

(to be continued)
posted by Rick

Friday, March 17, 2006

We have a busy week ahead. We'll be leaving this afternoon with some of our youth for Student Life Tour in Atlanta. Erwin McManus, Charlie Hall and All Things to All People will be leading us in worship. We'll head back to Hazlehurst Saturday evening.

As soon as church is dismissed on Sunday, we plan on traveling to Florida to spend a few days with our family. In between, we'll be attending the IMB Trustee Meeting in Tampa at Idlewild Baptist Church. Several have asked me what I hope to accomplish by attending these meetings. While I know my presence will have little to no affect on any of the proceedings and that the events would go along as planned without me, I do hope for a few things.

1) I hope to leave with a better understanding of the IMB and a greater passion for missions.
2) I have never witnessed an appointment ceremony and look forward to being present for this event.
3) I hope to meet up with a few people and get to know them better - beyond the blogosphere.
4) I pray we will see the board issue an apology to trustee Wade Burleson, for their actions against him at the last meeting and that some level of healing among the SBC can begin.
5) I always enjoy a trip away with my wife, this alone could convince me to go.

We hope to be able to do a little blogging from Tampa, but it will depend on the internet situation at our hotel. My parents do have access, but it's dial-up and I don't know if I can take the pain of waiting for items to download. Stay tuned.
posted by Rick

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In May, Rick and I plan to compete together in our very first 5K race. I possess no aspirations of winning or placing, only of finishing and most importantly, getting my t-shirt. You know, first things first. The race consists of 3.1 miles of mainly flat terrain with a few rolling hills, so it shouldn't be too difficult. However, I currently do all of my running inside a gym, and that means I'm going to have to get a little practice outdoors before the run takes place. South Georgia in May is usually steamy, so I'll definitely need to get adjusted to the heat. Not to mention the gnats. Thankfully, I've already got the running while pouring small cups of water over my head thing down to a science.
posted by Christie
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