June 30, 2011 Print Edition

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Philippians 3:17-21; 2 Peter 2:10b-19: July 3—Personal rights

Our Declaration of Independence contains the striking words that we have been granted by our Creator three “unalienable [sic] rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Jeremiah 18:1-15: July 3—Lessons from a potter

Jeremiah received a revelation from God in the temple, but rather in the marketplace. God commanded Jeremiah to go to an unknown potter. As Jeremiah observed the work of the potter, God illustrated His nature and purpose. This passage along with the Psalms came alive for me as I watched a potter at the Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, “preach” a message through his art.

Point of View: SBC may be smaller – and better

We may have to admit it – the Southern Baptist Convention is getting smaller.

SBC in Phoenix spotlights diversity, unity, unengaged

PHOENIX (BP)—Southern Baptist Convention messengers meeting in Phoenix June 14-15 adopted an historic report encouraging ethnic diversity, witnessed dozens of leaders standing together in support of a landmark unity pledge, and saw hundreds of pastors and laypeople volunteer to lead their churches to embrace one of the world’s 3,800 unengaged people groups. 

It was the lowest-attended annual meeting in 67 years, with just over 4,800 in attendance.

WORLD HUNGER OFFERING: Average Florida Baptist gives a quarter to hunger

JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—Marc Johnston often asks, “What if every Florida Baptist gave 50 cents, or $1 or $2? What an opportunity of generosity!”

During the past year, 189,302 people were fed through 159 Florida Baptist churches and associations through Florida Baptists’ gifts to world hunger. Many spiritual needs were met as food was distributed, resulting in 2,239 salvation decisions. And yet, the recession has strained funds. More than a billion people in the world do not have enough to eat, Johnston reported, and in Florida, an estimated 2 million people who live below the poverty level go hungry every day.

Editorial: Reviving the GCR

The recently concluded Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting “could prove to be the most spiritually significant convention over the last 50 years,” SBC president Bryant Wright told Baptist Press.

Indeed, in spite of its small number—the lowest number of messengers since World War II—the Phoenix annual meeting was characterized by many significant developments for the denomination. Too numerous to summarize here, a few of the most significant were initial steps to implement the SBC Great Commission Resurgence report adopted last year, a gavel-to-gavel focus on missions in North America and across the globe, commitments to greater ethnic diversity, and challenging and controversial resolutions on immigration, hell, and a new Bible translation.

Point of View: Dave says

Dave Says is a column featuring the financial advice of nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey, the Dave Says column is filled with timely, relevant questions and answers taken from actual calls on Ramsey's radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show.

Point of View: No white flags here: Defending traditional marriage

Proponents of so-called same-sex “marriage” often argue that same-sex marriage is inevitable and that legalizing these unions, by whatever means, represents a codification of popular opinion.

I say “by whatever means” because of the inconvenient truth that every time the issue has been put to a vote, so-called same-sex “marriage” has lost. So far 31 states have voted to uphold traditional marriage. The inevitability argument is actually intended to give judges, including the Supreme Court, cover for imposing by fiat what the voters have explicitly rejected.

‘The Gospel is enough,’ Ascol says after 25 years at Cape Coral church

CAPE CORAL (FBW)—After 25 years as pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral Tom Ascol’s theological convictions have “both constricted and deepened”—narrowing the doctrine he’s willing to die for, while being more ready to give his life for the essential truths of the Christian faith.

“I don’t know near as much as I thought I did 25 years ago. I’m less sure about more things than I was 25 years ago. But the things that I am sure of I’m more sure of them than I was 25 years ago,” Ascol said in a June 13 interview with Florida Baptist Witness reflecting on the recent celebration of his quarter-century anniversary as pastor of the Southwest Florida congregation.

New GOBA DOM visits churches, outlines goals for the association

ORLANDO (FBW)—New Greater Orlando Baptist Association Executive Director of Missions Tom Cheyney will draw on his experience as a church planter, pastor and associational director of missions in leading the 108-year-old central Florida association in accomplishing three goals. At the helm since June 1, he is in the process of visiting the 175 churches that make up GOBA at a rate of four per week, he said. “I need to get to know the pastors, and I need to let the churches know I am here to serve them,” he said.

Galatians 3:1-3, 10-14, 19-26: July 10—Personal checklist

The church in Galatia faced a major theological problem. Some members had concluded that without evidence of a changed life, they must not be saved. The problem exists today. Back in the sixties, writers began attacking what they called the doctrine of “easy believism.” They framed the issue this way. Soul-winners were convincing people to confess Christ as Savior, but not as Lord, with the result the new convert could join the church, “live like the devil,” and still be saved. This was a “straw man argument” because no sincere witness believed or taught such actions. However, the debate brought to the surface a weakness in the way new converts were handled. In the language of the day, preachers “dunked ‘em and dropped ‘em.” Christian nurture, the real issue, was rarely attempted. Spiritual growth was stunted. We need a better understanding of the difference between being saved, or born again, and Christian growth which follows.

Southern Baptists vote historic ethnic measure

PHOENIX (BP)—Sensitive to the need for greater diversity in leadership and increased participation of ethnics, the Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly June 14 to ask for greater accountability regarding their involvement in SBC life.

Point of View: Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor may not reflect the views or opinions of the Witness. Letters may be mailed, faxed or submitted using our online form. Only letters marked clearly for publication, signed with address will be considered for use. Letters are subject to editing. Please limit letters to 300 words.

From the business world to a 25-year pastorate, Pete Vande Weghe credits God for his career

BRANDON (FBW)—Southside Baptist Church in Brandon honored Pete Vande Weghe for 25 years as its pastor June 5. It was a role Vande Weghe never thought he wanted, but now after almost 69 years peppers conversations with “incredible stories” of how God shaped his life for ministry.

Rick Wheeler to lead Jacksonville Baptist Association

JACKSONVILLE (FBW)—The Executive Board of the Jacksonville Baptist Association voted unanimously June 21 to call Richard “Rick” Wheeler as its new missional strategist/ director of missions. He succeeds Ron Rowe who retired in June after serving in the post 17 years.

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