Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma https://www.baptistmessenger.com A Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Sun, 27 Sep 2020 18:14:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Southern Baptist leaders welcome Barrett nomination https://www.baptistmessenger.com/southern-baptist-leaders-welcome-barrett-nomination/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/southern-baptist-leaders-welcome-barrett-nomination/#respond Sun, 27 Sep 2020 18:14:19 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37757 WASHINGTON (BP)—Southern Baptist leaders Russell Moore and Ronnie Floyd commended President Trump’s nomination Saturday, Sept. 26, of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As expected, the president announced at the White House his choice of Barrett to succeed the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 after 27 years on the high court. Trump’s selection of Barrett, a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, means he has selected a conservative or originalist to replace a liberal icon on the court.

If confirmed, Barrett would become the third justice Trump has placed on the nine-member court during his four years in office. He previously nominated, and the Senate confirmed, federal appeals court judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump’s decision to submit a nominee before the November election has met strong objections from Democrats especially, who believe such an action should wait until American voters have chosen a president for the next four years. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to hold a Senate confirmation vote for Trump’s nominee also has received criticism.

Barring an unforeseen development, it appears the Republican majority has enough votes to confirm Barrett. The Judiciary Committee’s hearings, yet unscheduled, and Senate floor debate promise to be contentious regarding her writings and seemingly her religious faith.

“There is no question that Judge Barrett is qualified by intellectual acumen and years of experience to serve on the highest court in the land,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “I am praying for her, her family and our nation in what are sure to be tumultuous days in the weeks ahead for the entire country.”

Floyd, president of the Executive Committee, described Barrett as “one of the most gifted legal minds in America today.”

“In her words, ‘I love America and the Constitution,’” Floyd said, citing her remarks during Saturday’s announcement ceremony. “She is known to be a woman of deep Christian faith, a committed wife and the mother of seven children. She is more than deserving to receive not only the nomination to be the next justice of the Supreme Court but also deserves to be confirmed by the United States Senate.”

In making his announcement in the Rose Garden, Trump called Barrett, whom he nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court in 2017, as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution,” he said. As she stood on the platform with him, Trump said Barrett “will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written.”

Liberals are concerned Barrett’s addition to the high court could provide conservatives with a decisive majority for many years. She clerked in 1998-99 for the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who championed during his 30 years on the court the philosophy of interpreting the Constitution based on its original meaning and laws according to their text. Like Scalia, Barrett espouses originalism.

“His judicial philosophy is mine too,” Barrett said after Trump’s introduction of her. “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policy makers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett, 48, would be considered the sixth conservative among the justices, but that ideological evaluation has not always produced the results that might be expected. In June, the Supreme Court ruled in a watershed decision the category “sex” in employment non-discrimination law applies to homosexual and transgender employees. Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts—considered conservatives when confirmed to the court—joined the four-member liberal wing in the majority.

Abortion rights advocates and other liberals are especially troubled about how Barrett would vote in abortion cases, including the possibility she would support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the high court’s 1973 opinion that legalized an expansive right to abortion nationwide.

Her faithful practice as a Catholic brought challenges from senators who opposed her confirmation to the Seventh Circuit Court three years ago. Most famously, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told Barrett in a hearing “the dogma lives loudly within you.” Feinstein received criticism for applying what some considered an unconstitutional religious test. Since Barrett became a front-runner for nomination to the Supreme Court, some critics have again questioned her ability to serve as a justice because of her religious faith.

The ERLC’s Moore acknowledged the nomination’s circumstances “mean that this could be a highly charged confirmation process in an already polarized nation.”

“No serious person actually believes that Judge Barrett would be a theocrat imposing her religious views on a pluralistic republic,” he said. “In fact, her record shows otherwise, as confirmed even by many who disagree with her rulings.”

Moore called for the debate to be “about her qualifications and her record, not about her personal religious views or affiliations.”

Barrett taught at the University of Notre Dame Law School for 15 years before joining the Seventh Circuit Court. Her husband Jesse and she have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti and a son with Down syndrome.

Moore said he has “long respected” Barrett, “not only as a highly accomplished jurist but also as an adoptive parent active in the advocacy for adoption and for special needs children.”

Since Ginsburg’s death, two Republicans—Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—in the GOP’s 53-seat majority have said they do not support a confirmation vote on a nominee at this time, but no other member of the party has joined them. If a confirmation vote is not held before the Nov. 3 election, McConnell still might call for such action afterward, even if Trump were to lose.

A private ceremony for Ginsburg was held Sept. 23 at the Supreme Court, and her body lay in repose at the court for the remainder of the day and Sept. 24. Her body lay in state at the U.S. Capitol Friday, Sept. 25.

In the Rose Garden ceremony Saturday, Barrett said Ginsburg “not only broke glass ceilings. She smashed them. For that she has won the admiration of women across the country and indeed all over the world.”

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11-year-old’s challenge to give $32 to IMB raises $13,000–and counting https://www.baptistmessenger.com/11-year-olds-challenge-to-give-32-to-imb-raises-13000-and-counting/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/11-year-olds-challenge-to-give-32-to-imb-raises-13000-and-counting/#respond Sat, 26 Sep 2020 20:04:05 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37752 EAST ASIA (BP)—Abby Cavanaugh* had grown up hearing the story of how Jesus multiplied a little boy’s lunch to feed a whole crowd. But on Sept. 15, she got a whole new look at how He can take small gifts and make them grow.

In May, she gave all of her hard-earned vacation money – $32.20 – to the International Mission Board because she felt like that’s what God wanted her to do.

“I was just saving up my money because we were supposed to go on vacation,” said Abby, whose family serves with the International Mission Board (IMB) in East Asia.

But COVID-19 canceled her beach trip – and pushed the IMB to pay for the unexpected relocation of many of its personnel. Suddenly the missions-sending organization had an estimated $4 million shortfall.

And Abby had $32.20.

She knew it wasn’t much, but she also knew she was supposed to give the money she’d earned through babysitting her brother, cooking and doing other chores around the house. It was earmarked for a beach towel or a t-shirt, but she realized it had a higher purpose.

Her parents jumped on board—they each matched her gift, then challenged friends on social media to join in and give $32. They watched the numbers tick up as people responded, saying they were touched by Abby’s “sweet and tender spirit.” People gave, and their children gave too, giving away their birthday money and in some cases even asking for more chores.

On Sept. 15, IMB President Paul Chitwood along with his daughters Cai and Lilly gave Abby some surprising news through a video call – Abby’s Challenge had snowballed until 155 people had given a total of more than $13,000.

Abby said the news makes her feel “really encouraged and happy.”

Chitwood said the best news of all is that the impact of her generosity isn’t over. Gifts are still coming in, and the IMB is extending Abby’s Challenge, setting a goal of $50,000.

Not only that, but many who have responded to the challenge are first-time givers to the IMB.

“They heard your story, and it inspired them, and they decided they wanted to be a part of what God is doing,” Chitwood told Abby.

He asked the 11-year-old what advice she had for someone who might think his or her gift is too small to make a difference. She had a ready answer.

“Even if what you have to give is just really small, all you have to do is give it to Jesus,” Abby said. “It’s not your job to make it into a whole bunch of money… It’s just your job to give.”

Chitwood said the Gospel is being advanced because of the way Abby has lived her own advice.

“We see now how He’s multiplying it,” he said of her willingness to give what she had. “It’s a beautiful thing, and we know that people around the world will hear the Gospel because of the generosity of Abby and those who have given to the Abby Challenge.”

Abby said she was shocked that they even got their original goal of 100 givers. It was a number her mom suggested, and to Abby, it seemed huge.

“That just seemed so impossible, because I don’t even know 100 people,” she said.

Her dad encouraged her just to be faithful and leave the rest to God. The whole situation, he said, has been a “faith-building exercise for our whole family.”

Abby said it continues to remind her of the story of how Jesus fed the 5,000.

“It showed me that even if what we have is really, really small, we can just give it to Jesus and let Him do the rest,” she said.

You can give toward the $50,000 Abby’s Challenge goal at imb.org/abbyschallenge. Choose to give your gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering or another designation, and your generosity will be added to the Abby’s Challenge total.

*Name changed

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DHD: God is love, Christianity in Cambodia, ‘I am third,’ Electoral College, Most important voting issue, How to view voting https://www.baptistmessenger.com/dhd-god-is-love-christianity-in-cambodia-i-am-third-electoral-college-most-important-voting-issue-how-to-view-voting/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/dhd-god-is-love-christianity-in-cambodia-i-am-third-electoral-college-most-important-voting-issue-how-to-view-voting/#respond Fri, 25 Sep 2020 22:01:50 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37749 Greetings!

Once again I have six timely topics I want to share with you. Thank you for reading this week!

  1. God is love

I’m reading through “Experiencing God Day By Day” for my daily devotionals this year. Written by Henry and Richard Blackaby, I’ve enjoyed the Blackabys’ messages from Scripture.

Today’s passage (Sept. 25) is titled “Believing God’s Love,” based on 1 John 4:16.

“The greatest truth in all of Scripture is this: God is love. Understanding this in its full dimensions will set you free to enjoy all that is yours as a Christian. But you must accept that God loves you.”

Blackaby expounds on how it could be difficult for someone who did not experience unconditional love growing up.

“If you cannot accept the truth that God loves you, you will be limited in how you can relate to Him,” he said. “If you will accept God’s love, however, you will be able to return love to God as well as to others (1 John 4:19).”

A person’s level of understanding of God can factor on how that person views life. The most important thing anybody can gain, when it comes to understanding and experiencing God, is how God loves.

“God loves you, not because you deserve His love,” Blackaby wrote, “but because His nature is love. The only way He will ever relate to you is in love. His love for you gives you an inherent worth that nothing can diminish.”

I remember having a conversation with someone long ago who told me they did not believe unconditional love is possible. This person was scarred from an abusive upbringing, so it can be understandable why they doubted.

The challenge I give myself and to you who read this is make it possible to demonstrate the love God has given you to someone who needs to know about God’s love.

  1. God working in Cambodia

It’s guaranteed that if Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes on article, I will comment on it.

I love the great reporting she does of Kingdom work throughout the country and the world. This week, Zylstra shared a great story about Jenny Mallow growing up in Cambodia, marrying a missionary and returning to Cambodia from Chicago.

Here’s a scenario I would suggest for you: find about an hour of quiet time this weekend (maybe Friday night, Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon). Then click on this link, and read Zylstra’s article. You will find it enjoyable, and maybe this could turn into an unexpected time of worship of God, praising Him for how He is working all over the world.

  1. I am third

Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers died this week. He had a short but effective career running the ball for the Chicago Bears.

Brian Hobbs blogged this week, paying tribute to Sayers and the title of his autobiography “I Am Third.” It a great thought-provoker on how one should live the Christian life. Check out He was third.

  1. Electoral College tutorial

Earlier this year, I DHD’d about the Electoral College, and someone responded on the Facebook link with multiple lengthy retorts. I counted it a waste of time to read in its entirety, but they were definitely not a fan of the country’s application of the Electoral College in the presidential election.

In spite of the risk of this person giving lengthy rebuttals again, I think it is important to reaffirm why the Electoral College is important for our country to observe. The best explanation I found is given by Tara Ross. Here is a segment from her appearance on The Rubin Report. It’s worth the 11 minutes to watch, and there are other videos available from her discussion with Dave Rubin (I think it’s 40 minutes total) that are very interesting viewing:

 

  1. Most important voting issue

Albert Mohler has great editions this week of his podcast The Briefing. If you are a regular DHD reader you know I hold Mohler in high regard when it comes to cultural issues.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, I was listening to The Briefing while on my way to work, and Dr. Mohler was getting me hyped when it comes to how I view voting in any election.

“I would argue that no one should vote for a candidate who would support abortion,” he said, “a vote that would lead to increased or sustained abortion rights in the United States, that would lead either directly or indirectly to a greater number of abortions performed in the United States. I believe it would be wrong to vote for a candidate whose position on abortion would mean that taxpayers would be coerced into paying for abortion, which means, as every research study I’m familiar with has demonstrated, there would be more abortions. There would be even more unborn babies who would be aborted in the womb… I believe the issue is so important that if we were to find a candidate who was right on every other issue and wrong on the issue of abortion, I would not support that candidate.”

Mohler was singing my tune! This is exactly how I view every election, my friends. I made a commitment to never ever vote for someone who did not support the Sanctity of Human Life. This means I cannot vote for someone who intends to allow the abortion industry to prevail instead of fighting to cause abortion to reach the point of becoming unthinkable.

Why is the abortion issue so important? Mohler gave an excellent explanation: “Abortion is not just on a list of issues of evangelical concern, it’s a fundamental issue precisely because if you get this question wrong, a matter as basic as human dignity and the sanctity of human life, it is unlikely you will get the other questions right.”

Yes, people come to different conclusions on why abortion is wrong, and there are multiple reasons. But most of the time, how you view abortion affects how you view other issues. Most importantly, knowing God is the author of human life (Gen. 1:26), it is the duty of Christian citizens to take seriously the issue of abortion when voting for any political candidate.

  1. How to view election voting

There are a lot of perspectives on how to vote in American elections. I know it is difficult for Christians of whom they should vote, especially in this year’s presidential election.

I have said in a previous DHD, I can respect someone not wanting to vote for President Trump. I did not vote for him in the 2016 election specifically because I was not certain how he viewed Sanctity of Life. I left the presidential section of my ballot blank, having it counted as an undervote.

I believe it is a Christian’s duty to vote, and I believe God should be honored in how you vote. That should be more important to the individual Christian than the election result.

Why? I actually found a great verse that helped solidify my view in Christian voting:

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33). I’m not a big fan of The Message, but here’s its version of this verse: “Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say.”

God has allowed many different rulers to oversee countries throughout history. He has worked through both God-fearing and ungodly leaders. It can be challenging for many Christians how to vote in this year’s presidential election. But know this, God will still prevail, and ultimately He works through all the election votes to decide whom He wants to lead our country.

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Messenger Insight 395 – Church Plant Thrives in Oklahoma https://www.baptistmessenger.com/messenger-insight-395-church-plant-thrives-in-oklahoma/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/messenger-insight-395-church-plant-thrives-in-oklahoma/#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2020 16:30:47 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37741 Oklahoma church planters Tyler and Chotsie Barnes tell the story of how a new church called Thrive Community Church was launched in the middle of a pandemic.

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Strengthen: Observations of churches in a pandemic https://www.baptistmessenger.com/strengthen-observations-of-churches-in-a-pandemic/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/strengthen-observations-of-churches-in-a-pandemic/#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2020 16:17:57 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37742 In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic (late in March, which seems likes years ago), author Andy Crouch wrote an article raising the question if the pandemic was a going to be a blizzard, winter or short ice age. We now know six months into this “long winter” that it was definitely not a blizzard, and we pray not the beginning of an ice age.

We are all too familiar with the challenges COVID has brought to our world, but I do not think COVID caused these challenges as much as it magnified them. Most of the problems being faced were already there, and the pandemic has simply exposed and escalated them.

These challenges have been particularly evident in the church and appear to be causing a great deal of pressure on pastors and church leadership. Here are few observations and suggestions regarding how we walk together in the body of Christ.

First, my observation is that people are not as much frightened of COVID as they are frustrated by it.  The time spent with much of life shutdown, the disruption to normal patterns of life and the uncertainty of the future has people on edge. They can’t yell at their boss, better not yell at their spouse, but don’t seem to mind speaking harsh words to their pastor or another member of their church family.

I’m heartbroken at some of things that I have heard said to pastors and fellow church members in the past months in person and on social media. Here’s a suggestion, try praying for your pastor or fellow church member before pointing out the problem or passing judgment on them.

There may be something that legitimately needs to be addressed, but I want to make sure I do it with the right motive and in the right spirit. Prayer prepares my heart for that conversation, and the Lord often convinces me just to wait before I say anything.

Second, being the pastor of a church is a difficult job in the best and easiest of times, but it is especially hard in this season. I don’t know of a pastor who took a “leading during a pandemic” class in seminary.  The reality is, there is no playbook for this situation, and pastors, rightfully, feel very ill equipped to lead in this season.

Pastors can never please everyone, but today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to please anyone. In more than 30 years of ministry, I have never seen anything as polarizing as the opinions regarding our response as a church to this season.

Most pastors are treading very lightly as they seek to lead the church in uncharted waters. Here are a couple of suggestions to consider. Remember that there are no quick and easy answers to the issues of our day. Make every effort to extend grace and mercy to your pastor and support him. Make an intentional effort to encourage your pastor. A kind note, pat on the back and encouraging words will go a long way to lift him up. I promise you, he needs it now.

Third, when we emerge from the thaw of the COVID winter or ice age, will the church recognize or realize what God was trying to show us in this season? Some people have talked about God wanting to use this time to call the church to revival and prepare us for His return. I don’t disagree with either of those ideas, but I’m afraid we have been more focused on the storm than its significance.

Personally, I fear that I have spent more time and energy on responding to the crisis than being responsive to Christ. I am concerned that I have been more focused on regathering people in buildings than praying for revival in the body of Christ. In recent days I have been reminded of this great Biblical principle: without repentance there will be no revival.

We are eager for God to restore, but I’m not sure that we have practiced repentance. I’m praying that the Lord would continue to break my heart and the hearts of people—that we turn from trusting in what we can do and rely on Him. I’m convinced God is using this to gain our attention, and I pray we will respond with humble obedience.

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Jerry Davidson disciples Alaska natives https://www.baptistmessenger.com/jerry-davidson-disciples-alaska-natives/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/jerry-davidson-disciples-alaska-natives/#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2020 15:43:54 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37738 EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an expanded article based on the 2020 Cooperative Program Prayer Guide for Oklahoma Baptists. For more information, please visit www.oklahomabaptists.org/cp.

Jerry and Gwen Davidson started Frontier Native Church in 2017 with plans to disciple young Native men to be church leaders.

It’s a church plant 15 years in the making. The youth of Hobart, First started going to Alaska in 2006 to lead in Vacation Bible School for Native children in Anchorage and were invited the next year to also to lead a week-long Native Youth Camp in Wasilla. When the Davidsons—who helped with the Hobart, First youth—went with them in 2011, they saw the need for a year-round rather than just a one-week presence each year.

“We’d have 25 to 35 youth at those weeklong camps and began to realize, if we had a longtime presence here, we’d have good success in raising up a pastor from that,” Davidson said.

The retired physician’s assistant and his wife drove 3,500 miles from Oklahoma to Alaska in January 2017.

“We wanted to be on the ground and have something established before youth camp in June,” Davidson said. “We have started the church, but we do not want this to continue to be led by non-Natives. My emphasis has been in spending time with them and training them to continue this work.”

Frontier Native Church has a congregation of about 50, though weekly attendance averages about 10. Picnics, though, draw about 35. Recently a mid-20s man Davidson disciples has started preaching every other week. Another man is newer in the discipling process.

“We believe Native Alaskans are under-reached by the Gospel,” Davidson said. His goals also include “reaching out to indigenous Native Alaskans in villages or locally with connections to villages who would be willing to receive training and then take the Gospel to their people.”

Because of the generous giving of Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative Program, an amazing array of ministries are supported. This unified giving encourages fellowship with other believers all over the world. Collectively, Oklahoma Baptists are advancing the Gospel together. Learn more at www.oklahomabaptists.org/CP

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Blog: He was third https://www.baptistmessenger.com/blog-he-was-third/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/blog-he-was-third/#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2020 14:53:55 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37734 Gale Sayers, the former outstanding running back for the Chicago Bears, died this week. Sayers, who was known for his outstanding football play, was also known as a man of character.

In his powerful autobiography, I Am Third, Sayers describes his friendship with former Bears teammate Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer in the 1970s.

That phrase—“I am third”—is a powerful sentiment for our increasingly self-absorbed generation to consider.

In a similar sentiment, other athletes who walk with God stepped forward to make popular video testimonies featured on a website called “I am second” (www. IAmSecond.com). In the videos, which are powerful and important, the individual talks about their faith in God and background.

Each video ends with the person saying, “My name is (so-and-so), and I am second.” The implication is that God is first, and they come second in life. It is a wonderful website and an excellent witnessing tool in a lost and dying world that I encourage you to look into.

Yet something about Sayers, an NFL Hall of Famer who had much to be proud about, is much more powerful and fitting. Sayers statement (“I am third”), shows that God comes first, others come second, and he comes last.

The subtle shift away from Sayers’ message to the “I am second” website may underscore a blind spot within Christianity today. The change in the ranking of self from third to second suggests that the Christian life has been reduced to something between God and me.

In other words, there is no longer the community aspect to the faith. The Bible, on the contrary, knows nothing of Christians on their own. While our faith is personal, it is not individual. The change in the ranking may also suggest something worse: that we have forgotten about others.

In his epistle to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul encourages us to do the opposite. “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

The Christian perspective of self-forgetfulness and selfless love is summed up in that statement.

These instructions do not mean, of course, that a pretty lady must think she is ugly or an intelligent man must think he is dumb. It also does not mean a great football player like Sayers should think he is not.

Instead, “Humility,” as C.S. Lewis said, “is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Today, in our social-media driven age, we must guard against our tendency to be self-focused and self-absorbed.

There is a famous story about the founder of The Salvation Army, William Booth. When the telegraph was invented near the turn of the 20th Century, the great leader is said to have sent a one word telegram of encouragement to all of his field staff that said simply, “Others!”

In keeping with the late, great Sayers phrase, let’s all do our best to put God first and learn to put others ahead of ourselves, by His grace. May we all be able to join Sayers to say, “I am third.”

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Rite of passage: Jeopardy! https://www.baptistmessenger.com/rite-of-passage-jeopardy/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/rite-of-passage-jeopardy/#respond Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:39:54 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37729 As they were growing up, my children thought I should be a contestant on the television show “Jeopardy!” It is easy to sit on your couch and answer the questions, but being in front of a live audience is only for the smart and brave of heart. I only qualify in one area.

During one season of my life, I was doing some extended mission work in Illinois. After speaking at the church, I would fly home on Monday morning. To get back to Tulsa, I had to change planes at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. While I waited for my flight, the television in the departure lounge would be tuned to “Jeopardy!”

I like “Jeopardy!,” and I don’t like “Jeopardy!” I like it when people give the wrong answer, because I don’t know it either, and somehow, I am comforted that I’m not the only one who doesn’t know. I also take some comfort that it wasn’t me who flubbed an answer on national television. I don’t like it when a contestant answers an impossible question, like the day a contestant said, “Alex, I would like ‘Bible’ for $1,000.”

Since I have been through more than 50 years of Sunday school and about 13 years of Vacation Bible School, in addition to being a faithful Royal Ambassador, I knew I should have a good shot at getting this one right. Then Alex Trebek said, “The mother of Abraham’s children Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.”

Before Mr. Trebek could finish the question, one contestant was pushing his handheld button as hard and as fast as patient in control of a morphine drip. His answer, “Who is Keturah? Alex, you might not know this, but Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan according to Genesis 25:3.” And Alex commended him for his correct response.

I sat there stunned, thinking, “When did Abraham take on another wife? How does this guy know that Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan?” The only thing I could think of to help me feel better was that I must have missed that day in Sunday school.

I began to notice something. The “Jeopardy!” episode I watched in the morning in Chicago was broadcast that same night in Tulsa. So I began to pay attention to the answers, and each time I flew home, I had my sons watch “Jeopardy!” with me that evening.

When the question came up about Abraham’s children, I leaned over to my boys and said, “That’s an easy question: Who is Keturah?” And my boys would look up at me as though they had a wise and holy man living in their home. In fact, they were impressed with my mastery of such a vast range of information—everything from the writings of Thoreau to early Russian history.

However, all good things must come to an end. First, my sons noticed that we only watched “Jeopardy!” when I flew back from Chicago. And once when I was joking around, I gave the answer before the question was asked. Being the brilliant children they were, they figured out what I was doing, and the scam was up. I have to admit it was fun while it lasted.

This brings me to what I really want to ask you. Where do your children go to find answers? The very essence of being a child is learning about the world around them. They ask questions like, “Where do babies come from?”, “How big is God?”, “Where do animals go when they die?” or “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Life is full of questions, and where your child goes to find the answers will, in many ways, determine their worldview.

You see, the enemy wants your child to find answers in the wrong place. He wants your child to learn about sex from an adult movie or magazine. He wants your child to learn about life from television shows and unrighteous people. The enemy is ready to give your children an answer to any question they have, and that answer will always be contrary to the Word of God. It will also be destructive to your child’s life.

Don’t ever forget that the enemy is out to “kill, steal and destroy,” (John 10:10b), and that includes your children’s thought processes and value systems. It is your God-given duty to guide your children to the proper places when they have questions. Help them discover the answers to life in the Word of God. Help them find godly influences that can help mold their lives, and then they will win the game of life.

“Now Alex, I will take Bible for everything my children are worth.”

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IMB workers in Northern Africa and Middle East say prayer initiative ‘begins with us’ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/imb-workers-in-northern-africa-and-middle-east-say-prayer-initiative-begins-with-us/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/imb-workers-in-northern-africa-and-middle-east-say-prayer-initiative-begins-with-us/#respond Tue, 22 Sep 2020 20:47:45 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37725 RICHMOND, Va.—In 2012, a church in Texas committed to pray for an unengaged people group in Northern Africa. They knew they would not have access to much, if any, information or updates but they remained committed to pray.

Several Christian workers in the Northern Africa region were also burdened to pray for this same people group. In 2015, through a series of events and connections that only God can orchestrate, the Gospel was taken to this group by believers from other people groups, and workers reported the first believers among this previously unengaged people group.

James Keath*, leader of International Mission Board’s (IMB) Northern Africa and Middle East (NAME) affinity, said that another leader reminded him recently that prayer is the most important work Christians do.

“He’s right. It is. We’re reminded of this when we hear stories, over and over again, of how prayer precedes breakthroughs and fuels gospel advance,” Keath said. “I don’t really understand why or how God works through prayer. I’ll probably just need to be content with this remaining a mystery until my faith becomes sight. But I do know this: God works through prayer.”

During some powerful prayer experiences in which Keath was directed to pray for the unreached and workers among them, he sensed that there were not enough people praying for the unreached in Northern Africa and the Middle East. He decided that a new effort to encourage prayer for specific people groups was needed. He also decided that the prayer strategy should start with his team—the very ones working among the lost.

“Ultimately this will extend to churches and partners around the world,” Keath wrote to the NAME workers, “and will be featured in any mobilization efforts in the coming months and years. But we want it to begin with us.”

Affinity leadership set the goal: to enlist praying people for every people group in NAME by 2023.

Before this initiative was made public, they asked current workers to make a one-year commitment to pray for one unengaged, unreached people group in NAME.

“We may not yet have a way to directly engage these peoples with the Gospel, but we can still play a role through prayer. When we pray for these peoples, we penetrate long-held enemy territory and engage in a direct assault on enemy strongholds,” Keath told his team.

Keath said that he is looking forward to seeing how the Lord will move among his team, the lost and partnering churches. He is hopeful that churches will join in the efforts to commit to prayer and engagement in the work to reach these people groups.

“As churches pray,” he said, “I believe we will see more partners, more resources and more laborers—all of which will accelerate the advance of the Gospel among all peoples of NAME. But we want it to begin with us.”

*Name changed for security

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IMB’s MedAdvance meets virtually for 13th annual event https://www.baptistmessenger.com/imbs-medadvance-meets-virtually-for-13th-annual-event/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/imbs-medadvance-meets-virtually-for-13th-annual-event/#respond Tue, 22 Sep 2020 16:46:56 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37719 RICHMOND, Va.—On Aug. 7-8, healthcare professionals, students, church leaders and state and associational leaders attended the International Mission Board’s (IMB) MedAdvance conference. Participants learned about the IMB’s work in healthcare missions and how they can use their professions to partner with IMB healthcare workers.

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Rebekah Naylor, global healthcare strategies consultant for the IMB, prays during a MedAdvance session. IMB.org

This is the 13th year the IMB has hosted MedAdvance, and because of COVID-19, it was the first year the forum was hosted virtually. Last year’s MedAdvance met at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs.

Due to the pandemic, healthcare is a critical topic for many people. MedAdvance provided an avenue for discussions about how healthcare can be used to meet global needs, while sharing the Gospel.

Participants joined the conference from across the U.S., signing in from California to New England. Hosting the event virtually allowed more people to participate who would not have traveled to an in-person event. The virtual event also broadened the audience—151 of the 358 registrants were new contacts to the IMB. The number of participants is thought to be higher because of groups who gathered to watch the event. The sessions were also posted online and were viewed by others.

IMB President Paul Chitwood shared a message during the first of MedAdvance’s three sessions.

IMB’s MedAdvance meets virtually for 13th annual event - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma

IMB President Paul Chitwood shares an encouraging word from Acts 8:4. He asked conference participants, ‘Who will God use to advance his Kingdom?’ IMB.org

“Every single day, from a long list of causes, 154,937 people die who have given no indication of their belief in the Gospel. Many of them have never even heard the Gospel,” Chitwood said. “But like the news-breaking reporters, whom we hope to hear someday soon announcing a cure to COVID-19 and a vaccine that is ready for distribution, as Christ-followers, we have even better news to share.”

Chitwood remarked that, at the time of the event, 400 communities were receiving COVID-19 aid from IMB workers.

MedAdvance participants had the opportunity to hear examples from overseas IMB healthcare workers, including a healthcare strategies consultant who shared about the need to rethink church planting to find creative ways to access hard-to-reach people.

With the advent of COVID-19, telemedicine has become more accepted, both in practice and in the vernacular, as a viable means of meeting health needs. Doctor’s visits, prescription refills and basic tests can be conducted through telemedicine. This trend was discussed as a means to open doors to mission work.

Thousands of people live far away from medical care, due to geography or proximity to conflict zones, and telemedicine is a means of serving communities in need of medical care. Telemedicine has the potential to provide—and is already providing—avenues for both national and Southern Baptist church planters. The avenues include meeting the physical needs of the people they are serving among and providing an entry point for ongoing conversations.

MedAdvance participants learned about how telemedicine kits are being used overseas. One IMB healthcare worker shared a story about an 11-year old girl who lives more than 46 miles from the closest clinic.

The girl had frequent seizures, and her family went to a local church to ask for prayer. Her father was a witchdoctor, but none of his incantations could halt the seizures. Local church planters had been trained in how to use an EEG telemedicine kit, and they were able to diagnose her condition and supply medicine. The girl is now seizure-free, and she committed her life to Christ.

Several MedAdvance participants expressed interest in hearing more about how they could be involved with telemedicine and virtual mobile medical clinics.

Rebekah Naylor, IMB’s global healthcare strategies consultant, said she sees telemedicine as a potential expansion of the IMB’s healthcare strategies that can lead to the advancement of the missionary task.

“It can give access; it helps with entry; it gives opportunity for evangelism,” Naylor said. “Some of the telemedicine we’re already doing has led to new believers, so that’s going to get you to disciple-making, and obviously when a group disciples, you’re going to form a church.”

Naylor, who served as a medical missionary in India, was recently appointed distinguished professor of missions in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at Southwestern Seminary.

MedAdvance participants were not viewed as merely conference attendees; they were seen as a potential pool of volunteers and future short-term, mid-term and long-term professionals who will join IMB’s 300 healthcare workers currently on the field.

“Healthcare professionals are unique in that we can cross every possible barrier: geographical barriers, cultural barriers, economic barriers, and we get to a spiritual conversation, even within minutes,” Naylor shared with MedAdvance participants. “We need to remember that Jesus commissioned us both to preach the Good News of the Kingdom and to heal sicknesses.”

MedAdvance participants took a global virtual tour as they heard about health and wellness projects in Central Asia, clean water projects in Brazil and medical clinics in Sub-Saharan Africa. Healthcare strategists from the IMB’s nine regions of service gave an introduction to their region and shared needs and ways personnel are meeting healthcare needs.

Volunteers play a pivotal role in IMB healthcare strategies, and throughout the MedAdvance conference, participants were invited to join IMB workers in completing the Great Commission.

MedAdvance participants learned how volunteer medical teams in Eastern Europe were able to see 4,000 patients and 75 people made professions of faith and are attending church.

“We have more than medicine, and we have a message that saves, and Jesus is our Lord,” the IMB worker shared.

All participants in MedAdvance walked away with clear steps of how to be involved in or support healthcare missions. Fifty-eight participants expressed an interest in future short-term volunteer projects, 31 expressed interest in mid-term or long-term positions with the IMB.

One participant wrote in an evaluation survey, “This evening session set my heart ablaze with interest in becoming a medical missionary.”

Next year’s MedAdvance conference will be in Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 5-7. The conference will be live, but discussions are underway to stream sessions.

To learn more about IMB healthcare strategies, visit imb.org/healthcare.

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