Russell Moore: The problem with our holly jolly Christmas songs

 
Sometimes I learn a lot from conversations I was never intended to hear. This happened once as I was stopping by my local community bookstore. It’s a small, quiet store, so it was impossible not to eavesdrop as I heard a young man tell his friend how much he hated Christmas. To be honest, the more he talked, the more I understood his point. This man wasn’t talking about the hustle and bustle of the holidays, ...

Trillia Newbell: 5 ways to pray for our president-elect

 
The presidential election is over, and we now have a president-elect, but the work has really just begun. The years ahead could easily produce anxiety, greater division and frustration. We’ve seen the questions: Will our country survive? Will my candidate be elected? Will one or the other political party destroy America? The results mean good news for some, and bad news for others. It’s good to be involved and even concerned about the political climate of ...

Ronnie Floyd: Americans make a historic statement … now what?

 
We have watched history unfold before our eyes. The faces of many we have watched in these last hours tell the story of surprise and bewilderment. The American people have spoken and resounded a message that is undeniable. The American population has elected Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America. President-elect Trump has captivated much of America and has been entrusted with leading our nation for the next four years. The “Trump Tide” ...

Russell Moore: President Trump—what now for the church?

 
The 2016 presidential election is now over, and, in what very few could ever have imagined, Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. No matter what our differences politically or religiously, surely we can all agree that this campaign has been demoralizing and even traumatizing for most of the country. So what should evangelical Christians do now? The first thing, of course, is to pray for our president-elect. The Bible commands us to pray for “all who ...

Daryl Cornett: Being Christian and American

 
One reason many American evangelicals get in such a twist in regard to politics is because we fail to put into proper relationship our being Christian and being American. We possess both identities simultaneously; however, we need to keep in view some key differences that will help at least keep our hearts calmer, our mouths milder and our hope affixed to the right source. The proper relationship between Christian and American rests in which identity I allow to encompass the ...

Ronnie Floyd: Refusing to vote not an option for a Christian

 
As the 2016 election looms large this week, polls suggest that both candidates are considered two of the most unfavorable in history, even while simultaneously activating enormously enthusiastic constituencies. It’s a real political fight, and the differences between the two are stark. Because of this some voters are threatening to stay home and not cast a vote at all, or even write in another candidate. I’m among those who believe that writing in a candidate is often&...

Steve Gaines: Christians should vote and pray on Nov. 8

 
One of my favorite movies is an old classic starring Gary Cooper called "Sergeant York." The story is about a Tennessee mountain man named Alvin York, a poor farmer who kept running into bad luck. But along the way he became a Christian. When World War I broke out, he designated himself as a conscientious objector because he believed the Bible taught people not to kill. While he was in basic training, he excelled as a marksman. He came to ...

Ronnie Floyd: My letter to all ministers

 
Dear Fellow Ministers, In recent weeks, I have felt the need to write a special letter to you. Speaking at a convention on Monday night and in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, and spending time with other ministers recently has reminded me of how much ministers need encouragement. Also, hanging out with some of our Cross Church School of Ministry residents has reminded me of some basic things it is important for all ministers to practice from the beginning of ...

Ken Whitten: Three reasons baptism rates are falling

 
When our Lord began His ministry, He commenced it with these words, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). When He finished His ministry, He concluded it as He echoed these words, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). That, by the way, was not ...

Analysis: Religious liberty hangs in balance in presidential election

 
A few weeks ago, in an article titled “Preaching ban shows what’s at stake this fall,” I told you about the unelected Iowa Civil Rights Commission, which in July decided that no pastor may preach any sermon, in any service “open to the public,” that might cause any transgendered person to feel “unwelcome.” As I wrote then, this is the equivalent of the Federal Election Commission ruling that no Republican convention may ...

Weighing the cost of the election against the price of our witness

 
“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the ...

Improvements coming to your Witness in 2017

 
The Board of Directors of your Florida Baptist Witness recently approved a series of recommendations that will allow us to make significant improvements to the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention in 2017. Starting in January, we plan to take all of the content we generate that has a specific time element attached to it and make it available to readers on our website as soon as the content is produced. And the content that we push to ...

Erich Bridges: Refugees—retreat or welcome?

 
The United Nations held a conference in September focusing on the more than 65 million migrants worldwide—by far the biggest displacement of people since World War II. They are driven from their homes by war, instability or grinding oppression and poverty. Some 21.3 million of those people are officially designated as refugees. Half of that number have fled three countries: Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan. Most refugee families, even if they have enough food to eat, languish in camps or squatter ...

David Jeremiah: Cut out the middle man—once and for all

 
In Scripture we read of two kinds of men—the spiritual man controlled by the Holy Spirit and the "carnal" man who is ruled by his passions, as noted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3. Paul used the terms old man and new man in Ephesians 4: "Put off … the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and … put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22, 24, ...

Kevin Ezell: Thank you Southern Baptists for your generosity

 
Southern Baptists are known for their generosity to missions, and 2016 was no exception. I am happy to report that giving to this year's Annie Armstrong Easter Offering totaled $58,860,553—the second-largest Annie offering ever given! This is extraordinary in a year when so many of our churches gave above and beyond in response to the special call from our International Mission Board. We are humbled by how God has moved once again through Southern Baptists and excited about what this ...

Kentucky Baptist exec: Cooperative Program is essential, irreplaceable

 
At our dinner table, our 13-year-old guest turned to me and asked abruptly, "Do you know why I'm glad my sister is here? " Our guest comes to visit once a week. She is working her way through a residential care program, recovering from years of abuse and neglect. The question caught me off guard and, knowing at least some of what she and her little sister have endured, I wasn't sure what she would say next. I simply replied, "No. ...

Ronnie Floyd: How pastors can have grace in the fire

 
Ministry is tough, real tough. Leadership is tough, real tough. When a pastor leads his church with clarity and conviction toward a compelling vision, he will need grace in the fire. Just because ministry and leadership are tough, it does not mean any pastor is given permission to whine and complain. Grace lifts us through even the most challenging days in leadership. Therefore, how do you navigate through the tough times in ministry? The answer is not a ...

Ronnie Floyd: Evangelicals need to start looking beyond the candidates

 
For the past nine presidential elections—intentionally or unintentionally—I have stuck with one clear principle when I go to the voting booth: I do not vote for candidates but for policies. From our 39th to our 44th commander in chief, I have not voted for men or, even, for parties—I have voted for issues. And in my life, I have never seen so many crucial issues, with such vast consequences, hanging in the balance ...

Frank Page: Time is running out!

 
The eighth chapter of Jeremiah contains a long lament of the weeping prophet over Israel's spiritual condition. He had been instructed by the Lord to stand in the gate of the Lord's house and proclaim God's Word. He powerfully warned God's people of judgment to come. In the midst of this lament are these three gripping phrases (Jeremiah 8:20, NKJV): The harvest is past, The summer is ended, And we are not saved! The burden of Jeremiah is the burden of ...

Casual, current and created evangelism opportunities

 
Every church can evangelize, including yours! Sadly, it can be easier to find a reason for not evangelizing than to find a path for evangelizing. "We're just too small," some may say. "We don't have enough money" or "Our members are too old." The first church where I went to pastor years ago had renovated the worship center, painted and laid new carpet down in all the buildings. They were proud of all they had done. But when I presented ...

Albert Mohler: Biblical authority denied … again

 
“Jesus loves me—this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” This is a childish error?   Evangelical Christianity has a big problem, says Andy Stanley, and that problem is a reliance on the Bible that is both unwarranted and unhelpful. In a recent message delivered at North Point Community Church and posted online, Stanley identifies the evangelical impulse to turn to the Bible in our defense and presentation of Christianity as a huge blunder that ...

Tommy Green: You don’t smoke medicine—Vote No On 2

 
Dear Pastor, The November 8, 2016, Florida General Election ballot will once again contain Amendment 2—Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization. The legal language of Amendment 2 was written to explicitly allow medical marijuana to be provided as a treatment for patients with specific diseases. Of note, the Florida Legislature has already enacted the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which allows for access to non-smoked low-THC marijuana for qualified patients. The State Board of Missions has individual and corporate empathy for those Floridians ...

Ronnie Floyd: How to deal with where things are in America

 
The collision of mindsets and ideologies in America is real. Regardless of what our nation experiences or discusses, these varying mindsets and ideologies surface and collide. Some say this ongoing collision of mindsets and ideologies will lead us to eventually implode. When I was a young leader walking through a challenging time, someone gave me advice I have never forgotten: Remember things are never as good or as bad as you think. Truth about the situation lies somewhere in between ...

South Carolina evangelism director: God is still in our schools

 
Watching sand pass through an hourglass always captivated me as a child. It seemed as though the mass of sand would never pass through the bottleneck, but in quick order the final grains fell. There is a bottleneck where nearly every person over the next 20 years will pass. The church could surround this bottleneck and change communities and impact every life in across the nation over a few decades. Some churches have realized the great strategic value and already have ...

Peter Citelli: Dejando la vieja manera de vivir

 
"No mintáis los unos a los otros, habiéndoos despojado del viejo hombre con sus hechos" (Colosenses 3:9 RVR1960). El pertenecer a Cristo implica el abandonar la forma anterior de vivir y abrazar una nueva (Efesios 4:22). La figura aquí, es la de quitarse una vestimenta vieja y deshilachada y ponerse una nueva. Cuando uno por su Gracia ha experimentado un genuino arrepentimiento del pecado y se ha sujetado a Dios en la salvación, el resultado ...

David Jeremiah: Your Facebook identity as a Christian

 
When Mark Zuckerberg was a teenager at Phillips Exeter Academy, he kept up with students' names and faces by using a "face book"—a booklet published annually containing the names and pictures of students and faculty. Zuckerberg is now 32 and a billionaire as the result of creating his own face book: Facebook.com, the largest social networking site on the internet. Since Facebook has more than 1 billion registered users, there's a chance you are a member or have a ...

Labor Day: Advice that works in all areas of life

 
An investment counselor once gave me these simple rules: 1. Work hard 2. Spend less than you earn 3. Save and/or invest the extra 4. Don't touch what you save or invest until you really have to At the time I was just starting out in my career and had a modest salary. The idea of setting some aside for savings seemed like an impossible task. And when I did, it sure was easy to come up with things I thought I really ...

Opinion: Southern Baptists' wisdom about Disney entertainment

 
In anticipation of watching Disney's "Finding Dory" with my children in the theater this summer, I pulled up the trailer on my phone and noticed what appeared to be a scene featuring a lesbian couple with a baby. The scene passes quickly, and co-director Andrew Stanton told USA Today the two animated women, who caused a significant internet stir, "can be whatever you want them to be." Still, viewing that scene—and other moments in the Disney movies my ...

SBC first vice president sees benefits of state conventions

 
The Southern Baptist Convention is organized through state conventions (though some of the "state" conventions combine multiple states). I suggest to you that these state conventions play a helpful but underappreciated role in the work of our faith and denomination. I've heard people predict or even advocate the demise of state conventions for years now. Are they necessary? Do they add a level of redundancy? That sort of thing. While I always appreciate efforts to make our work more effective ...

Disaster relief volunteer recounts time in Louisiana

 
The magnitude of the property damage in Louisiana's flooding disaster is incredible. The magnitude of the emotional damage is incalculable. And for disaster relief volunteers, it is hard to describe the emotions of walking into a home and, after performing necessary demolition of flood-damaged flooring and walls, leaving it actually looking worse than when we started. I have just returned from four days in south Louisiana helping lead teams of teenagers and adults in initial recovery support to flooded-out homeowners. ...

Tommy Green: Florida DR servant volunteers ready to respond

 
The Florida Disaster Relief Ministry is a vital and significant part of the Florida Baptist Convention. I am grateful for a tremendous team of DR servant volunteers who are proactive in preparedness and readiness to respond in times of crisis. A group of our Florida disaster relief team recently was involved in responding to the flooding crisis in West Virginia. The reports from their ministry testify of the demonstration of the love of Christ in a time of need, which ...

Adultery, divorce & the believer

 
She sat in my office and tearfully told me she was leaving seminary to go fight for her marriage. This promising student, let's call her Shari, had discovered her husband was the epitome of unfaithfulness. The details are not important other than to say it involved adultery, deceit, an unplanned pregnancy and a wounding that cut to the core of her being. And yet, she wanted to fight. As I heard Shari's story, I applauded and encouraged her decision. At ...

Olympics: Cancer, Rio & hope

 
The worst phone call of my life came on Jan. 10, 2014. I was preparing for my upcoming trip to Sochi, Russia, to cover the Winter Olympics for Baptist Press. It would have been my fourth Olympics assignment for BP, following Beijing in 2008, Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012. I had a delightful phone conversation and subsequent email exchange that day with Scott Stoll, pastor of Warroad Baptist Church in tiny and remote Warroad, Minn., about one of his church members who was ...

Erich Bridges: Let's stop bashing Millennials & start building them up

 
Remember the "Greatest Generation" that won World War II and turned America into a global powerhouse? Well, their spoiled grandchildren are the "Lousiest Generation," says Johnny Oleksinski, a 26-year-old New York Post reporter. "Like a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, I must admit that I'm powerless to [change] my biological age," Oleksinski lamented in a recent column. "Nonetheless, I fight back every day against the traits that have come to define Gen Y: entitlement, dependency, nonstop complaining, laziness, Kardashians." They're more ...

David H. McKinley: Political seasons & pastoral leadership

 
"Pastor, where do you stand on ...? Pastor, what should we as a church think or do about ...? Pastor what do you think about this candidate's comments ...?" These are common questions every pastoral leader faces, but these questions take on fresh fervor and renewed vitality during an election season. Standing, speaking, leading, nurturing and guiding the "flock of God among you" (1 Peter 5:2) while addressing the confused and conflicted culture around you (Romans 12:2) requires great discernment, fervent prayer and deep conviction. I'm ...

Chuck Lawless: 12 guidelines for God-honoring dating

 
I work with young adults, many who are singles, who are dating or considering dating. When they ask my advice about dating and purity, here are some of the guidelines I recommend: 1. Don't date a non-believer. You should date only someone you might marry, and the Bible speaks against being unequally yoked with non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14)—so don't take a step in the wrong direction by dating someone who doesn't follow Jesus. 2. If you're committed to being a strong believer, ...

Dallas-area pastor: Weeping with those who weep

 
Although I live only 10 miles from downtown Dallas, I'm rarely there. But last night, of all nights, I was. I was just a couple of miles south of Dallas when the shootings took place and had to make my way back through the city to return home as the situation continued to unfold. The city looked unlike I had ever seen it. The streets were shut down, blue and red lights reflected off the buildings, and the sky was filled ...

Myriah Snyder: A Father to the fatherless

 
The other morning on my commute, the song "Piece by Piece" by Kelly Clarkson played. It's a popular song, which I hear on the radio multiple times a day. The song begins by telling the story of a daughter whose father wouldn't love her, at least not when she had nothing to offer. She remembers her father walking away. She begged him to want her. He wouldn't. When she grew up and "made something" of herself, he then wanted to ...

Frank Page: The stewardship of democracy

 
On the second Tuesday of November, I plan to step up to the electronic ballot table in my voting precinct and cast my vote for president of the United States. I will do so prayerfully. I will do so carefully. I will do so gladly. I may do so sadly. But, Lord willing, I will do so. This has been my pattern during the years of my adult life and I see no reason to change. Unlike billions of people ...

Jessica Pigg: Modesty–beyond the fig leaves

 
Modesty is an out-of-style word that makes lots of people cringe, even in the church. Debates about modesty have divided believers for years. No matter how long you search, the Bible has no list of do's and don'ts pertaining to modesty. There isn't a skirt length or style listed for all Christian women to wear. Modesty isn't a list of rules; it is a reflection of our hearts. Fig leaves were the first clothing ever worn by man and woman. ...

Ronnie Floyd: Spiritual leaders & the election

 
I give my full and complete endorsement to Jesus Christ. My 100 percent trust is in God alone, our Sovereign King. I agree with the late Adrian Rogers, who said, "We dare not identify the Christian faith with the Democrat or Republican party. We need to be free to tell both parties to repent and get right with God."[1] I would add what I shared on June 14 with the Southern Baptist Convention, "The church cannot call America to repent until the ...

Tommy Green: Reflections on the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention

 
The Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis was a historic gathering of churches. The emphasis on evangelism, church planting, church revitalization and church health echoed throughout meetings. The clear message and demonstration of racial unity and reconciliation reveals the heart of our SBC churches. The unprecedented election of our SBC president revealed the servant leadership of Steve Gaines and J.D. Greear. I am grateful the churches of the Florida Baptist Convention are setting the pace in the decisions ...

Ronnie Floyd: 'Not the same man I was two years ago'

 
This past Sunday morning I shared with our Cross Church family, “I return as your pastor, but I am not the same man I was two years ago.” Unquestionably, my life and leadership has changed and grown while serving as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. After traveling 200,000 miles in the air, many miles on the ground, experiencing too many moments to share in this space, and writing at least 116 unique articles about the work of Southern Baptists ...

Father's Day: Dads, 'be there' for your children

 
I'm one of the lucky ones. I was privileged enough to be raised in the home of a father who loves me and who has stayed faithful to my mom all these years. I have never known the pain of growing up in a broken home, and for that I feel very blessed. My dad is my hero. He's 75 now, and as I reflect on his life, there is one word that describes him better than any other: faithfulness. I'm ...

Father's Day: Pray for them, play with them

 
When I was growing up in our small South Carolina town of Manning, my dad would come home many afternoons after work and throw the football or baseball with me in the backyard. To me, he was Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and I was his favorite receiver, running intricate patterns across the backyard for what seemed like hours. When I played JV football, my dad followed our team to Kingstree one Thursday afternoon. It was pouring. It rained so ...

Tommy Green: BCF impacts eternal Kingdom of God

 
The Baptist College of Florida serves Florida Baptists by providing quality Christian education for our young people. With an emphasis on “Changing the World through the Unchanging Word,” the college’s administration and faculty are deeply committed to training and equipping those called in ministry to fulfill the Great Commission. BCF graduates serve across the world in all types of ministries. The influence and impact of the BCF family has eternal Kingdom ramifications! We are blessed by ...

Ed Stetzer: Reflections of the SBC stats guy

 
My upcoming career change means—for the first time in a long time—I won't be employed by an SBC entity (although I'm still a Southern Baptist). In other words, my long history of being the bearer of bad news as the denominational stats guy is coming to a close. But, facts are still our friends. And, the SBC Annual Church Profile has been a bearer of unwelcome facts for a long time. As I look back over ...

Ronnie Floyd: A few thoughts about Southern Baptist statistics

 
In a Baptist Press story on Tuesday (June 7), we were informed of the most recent Annual Church Profile (or ACP), where churches report their own statistics. So how are we really doing as Southern Baptists? I want to give you a few thoughts about our statistics from the compiled ACP from the churches who reported. What did we learn about ourselves? Statistics are our friends, but they do not always tell the entire story about who we are. Yet, what ...

Ronnie Floyd: The SBC and our future

 
The future of Southern Baptist Convention is on my heart this week. Perhaps now, days away from the conclusion of my two-year presidency, my feelings may lean toward being a little nostalgic. What will our future look like? If Jesus tarries His coming, how long will our convention of churches last? Only God knows the answer to these and more questions when we think about our future together. Who do we want to be in the future? This should be ...

Pastor/cartoonist: Never retire from serving the Lord

 
Never stop doing what God put you on earth to do. For the seniors among us, this is no time to slack off. It's just getting good. Congratulations on two of the biggest blessings in your life. One, if you are born again, your name is written in the book of life. You are going to heaven. And two, you're old. You may not think of getting old as a blessing, but it is. We all have had friends who ...

Ronnie Floyd: Unity is needed in SBC

 
Unity demands we accept one another in love. Unity requires work—hard work. Unity is an act of humility. In a convention of more than 51,000 churches and congregations, 11 national entities and our Executive Committee, 42 state conventions, and more than 1,000 associations, unity does not happen without intentionality. A brief look back As a young pastor in seminary, I remember some of the beginning days of the conservative resurgence. These were very difficult and tumultuous times. When the movement was declared ...

Albert Mohler: Crisis in American democracy

 
Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government for nearly two and a half centuries -- a privilege rarely experienced throughout human history. As generations have struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them, Americans have often struggled with a very different reality: How do we rightly respond to the government that we choose? To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the ...

Ronnie Floyd: Racial unity & the 2016 SBC annual meeting

 
When I was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2014 in Baltimore, little did I know God would take me through the open doors of addressing racial challenges in America. While racial unrest already existed in our nation, it was not until Aug. 9, 2014, and the tragic death of a black teenager named Michael Brown, shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., that we began to see this racial unrest erupt like a volcano across ...

Seminary witnesses effectiveness of door-to-door evangelism

 
The efficacy of door-to-door evangelism—or any type of cold-call evangelism—is often called into question. In fact, I myself have expressed doubt whether such evangelistic efforts actually "work." Perhaps these doubts stem from cynicism. "Surely people in this culture won't respond well to strangers showing up at their door unannounced," we say, "interrupting their day for the sake of sharing a message that they most likely will not understand." People (myself included) have used such sentiments to ...

Why this film critic stopped going to the movies

 
Guess what question this film critic of 30 years was asked the day after the Academy Awards: "What'd ya think of the Oscars?" Well, for the first time since John Wayne won a golden statuette for "True Grit," I didn't watch the Oscars. Sadly, after three decades reviewing movies I simply dread entering the local Cineplex, let alone watching Hollywood congratulate itself for something I refuse to view. Sounds like an old fogey statement but let me explain why I, albeit ...

Ronnie Floyd calls on Baptists to participate in night of prayer

 
On June 14, the entire Tuesday evening session of the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis will be committed to praying for spiritual leaders, our churches, nation and world. There, perhaps, has never been a time in our generation when we have needed to pray more than now. Testimonies poured in from across the nation after last year's national call to prayer in Columbus, Ohio, where 7,000 Baptists cried out to the Lord together. A common testimony was, "This was ...

The spiritual renewal of spring

 
In winter, trees lose their leaves, annuals die off completely, perennials die back and lose their color -- nature takes on an appearance of seeming fruitlessness. But then -- spring! Those "dead" seeds are coaxed into life by the warming soil. The seed has enough stored food to live on for a few days until its roots get established, and soon it's preparing for its annual purpose -- to bear fruit for the good of man and the glory of ...

Ronnie Floyd: Bringing prayer back

 
Do our churches and the Southern Baptist Convention talk more about evangelism and prayer than practice evangelism and prayer? Our annual statistics show this is definitely true about evangelism. Yet, prayer itself does not have the same type of visible scoreboard of evaluation as evangelism. The Bible says this about Jesus Christ: "… He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray" (Matthew 14:23). If Jesus Himself sensed the deep need to pray and fellowship with God, how much more ...

Baptists are making the history of the future

 
In an address titled "The History of the Future" in 1994, the late Baptist philosopher and seminary dean L. Russ Bush reminded, "We are living and making the history of the future. What we teach and do today will be what future Christians consider to be their heritage." Bush counseled against novel theological innovation "merely for the sake of newness," since what we establish in the present will become the doctrinal foundation of the future. With this in mind, I am ...

A Cooperative Program for today & future

 
Last fall before speaking at one of our state conventions, I had the privilege to meet a man employed by another major denomination. As we were talking, I asked what he felt was one of the biggest challenges in their denomination. He said their biggest problem is their churches not funding missionaries like they used to. He stated they are searching for a new way to get this done because when the missionaries come to their churches to raise their ...

Glad my parents didn't let me choose my gender

 
There is a growing trend today that we see repeated in news headlines: Parents choosing to raise their child genderless or as the opposite gender due to the child's preference. Simply put, if a little girl says she wishes she were a boy or a little boy prefers to play with dolls, the parents seek to grant their wish. If I had been raised in a different time, by different parents, I fear I could have been one of them. ...

Take the drive-by prayer challenge

 
Think about how much time you and your family spend in the car. Then think about how you use that time. Whatever you typically do, I challenge you to use your time to pray as you drive -- even to pray aloud as a family as you go. Think about how many places and people you pass every day for which you might do "drive-by praying": • Other churches. How many churches do you drive by daily, but don't ...

'God's Not Dead 2' explores religious freedom

 
"God's Not Dead 2," the sequel to the 2014 film about religious freedom of expression, reminds us that in an age when just about everything of a secular or sexual nature is freely discussed in the classroom, Jesus is not allowed to enter. The dramatic sequel from Pure Flix Entertainment concerns a high school teacher who finds herself in legal hot water merely for answering a student's question about Jesus. Containing a significant insight, God's Not Dead 2 (rated PG) has its main ...

The cross—far more than jewelry

 
What would you think if people everywhere wore jewelry shaped or imprinted with an electric chair? Think of it—beautiful and ornate jewelry made of gold or silver and adorned with diamonds or other precious stones. No, fine jewelry, beloved jewelry in the shape of an electric chair—the symbol of death to murderers—does not sound appealing at all. Yet over these 2,000 years, the cross—the place of Roman execution for murderers and hardened criminals&...

Analysis: Brussels, terror and Easter

 
Once again, innocent blood stains the ground and fear fills the air in Europe. The March 22 airport and subway bombings in Brussels, claimed by the ISIS Islamic terror group, killed more than 30 people, wounded at least 170—and traumatized a region still reeling from the November massacre in Paris, multiple bombings in NATO member Turkey and warnings of more attacks to come. (Regular ISIS—or Al Qaeda—inspired attacks continue to kill hundreds in the Middle East, Central ...

Get out of your comfort zone, and let your political voice be heard

 
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Romans 13:1 Many followers of Christ would rather avoid any involvement in politics, and that’s understandable given the increasingly ugly headlines that seem to dominate so many campaigns during each new election season. In other words, I see where you’re coming from. I have been a journalist all my adult life, and involvement in politics beyond ...

Ronnie Floyd offers ways state conventions, associations can remain viable

 
The present generation of Southern Baptists will have to answer many difficult, unavoidable questions in regard to the future. Being proactive in dealing with difficult questions such as these is wise. One of these difficult questions is: Do state conventions and associations have a future in Southern Baptist life? Boots on the ground Does this structural model still serve us effectively? I believe that if we were starting from scratch in 2016 with a mission to reach America with the Gospel, ...

The scandal of biblical illiteracy: It’s a Christian problem

 
While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview’s rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home—biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it. Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: “Americans revere the Bible—but, by and large, they don’t read ...

Fresh ideas on how to be a better church leader in 2016

 
You may have made them for your family or for yourself. Be on time. Lose weight. Read the Bible daily. Keep your desk organized. But if you're a leader in your church's women's ministry or another church ministry, what resolutions might you make to serve God even better in the year ahead? Here are a few fresh ideas: • I will resolve to learn from criticism. A great leader must be able to receive input with sensitivity and grace. ...

'Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction'

 
On March 30, 1961, Ronald Reagan spoke to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He spoke these timeless words with great conviction: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States ...

SBC President Ronnie Floyd gives the spiritual state of our union

 
Tonight (Jan. 12), millions of Americans will tune in to hear our president give his State of the Union address. He will give his assessment of our national security, our priorities and our vision for the future. This is a tricky word—"our." These days it seems as if America can hardly find "our vision" for anything, much less the future. Our nation is deeply polarized around our political parties and is totally unrelenting in fighting against one another. Despite ...

Staying spiritually hungry in 2016

 
January can be the most intimidating time of the year. It's a time of starting, which can be scary: New habits, new resolutions and new goals stir in us a passion for more and better—as well as a fear that we may fail and not measure up. Resolutions are a beautiful thing when made for the right reasons. Most of the resolutions I make aren't kept for more than a few weeks. However, resolutions that are made for ...

4 ways Southern Baptists can turn the tide in 2016

 
Turning the tide means to reverse the course of events and move in another direction. It is time to turn the tide in the Southern Baptist Convention during 2016 in four specific ways: 1. Turning the tide in evangelism. I have written recently about the deep need we have to turn the tide relating to our evangelism through our churches. Somehow, some way, our pastors and church leaders must lead the way in being convinced again that evangelism matters. If we truly ...

Christmas changes everything

 
It's that time of year again, when we put trees inside our houses, make strange egg-flavored drinks we'd never consume any other time of the year, and spend hours we don't have buying gifts we can't afford for people who will exchange them for something they really wanted. Welcome to Christmas! A Pew Research survey in 2013 found that 96 percent of Americans still celebrate Christmas. What may be more surprising is that only about half of all Americans still considered Christmas ...

Ronnie Floyd shares 5 reflections about Southern Baptist Convention

 
Serving as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention has been one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities in my life. I have now served for 18 months in this role. In my final article in 2015 to our Southern Baptist family, I want to share five reflections. 1. We are a cross-generational convention. One of our unique strengths is that we are a cross-generational convention of churches. I was so encouraged to see more younger pastors and leaders at our annual meeting ...

The wonder awakens: The religious world of the Star Wars saga

 
When the next Star Wars movie comes out later this month, go to a showing and talk to 20 people standing in line. You’ll hear 20 different stories about the first time they saw the movies—one a 12-year-old with his brother, another a 7-year-old at the cinema for the first time, another a ’90s kid watching "The Empire Strikes Back" with her dad.   Timothy Paul Jones, C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Family Ministry at ...

Remember this during Christmas: To receive is to give

 
This poignant beatitude from the lips of Jesus is so typical of the Savior: “... and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ” (Acts 20:35). Though not found in the four Gospels, its spirit is seen in Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For ...

Commentary: As Christians, giving goes beyond any Tuesday!

 
For Christmas shoppers, Black Friday has become almost a ritual. The doors open early—not just on Black Friday but on Thanksgiving night—which is ridiculous. People who work at these stores deserve some time off. Thanksgiving is one such day of respite. Cyber Monday is a relatively new sales promotion. The term was coined by Ellen Davis in 2005 to bolster e-commerce, and it did just that. Last year, sales reached nearly $3 billion. Giving Tuesday is an even ...

International Mission Board writer shares 8 things he's thankful for

 
It's Thanksgiving season. Around this time of year, I try to make a list of things I'm thankful for. Here's my list for 2015: 1. I'm thankful that my wife has come through breast cancer surgery and treatment after being diagnosed last year. We have learned anew that God is faithful. We will trust Him one day at a time. 2. I'm thankful that a number of churches in my town welcome immigrants and refugees in the love of Christ. These churches understand ...

Panama City Convention can be start of new journey for Florida Baptists

 
Years from now, I hope that those of us who were fortunate enough to attend the Florida Baptist State Convention in Panama City will be able to look back and remember how that meeting was the start of a new journey for Florida Baptists. For those who could not attend, I hope the message was adequately communicated so you felt in the loop. So many good things—so many godly things—happened. If we do view the meetings ...

How you can share the love of Christ on Halloween

 
Trick-or-treat night can be a delicate subject for a Christian parent. There are layers of issues to think about: Will they be safe? Do I want my kids consuming candy? Are costumes OK? To be forthright, the biggest issue for most of us is truth. There is little in the modern celebration of Halloween that reflects biblical Christian beliefs. Obviously, my husband and I do not want to be part of any celebration that honors behavior and things that are ...

Pastor's wife, be real about your struggles

 
It is the loudest silence, a moment so brief it is imperceptible to the untrained ear—that moment between reality and response when faced with the traditional Sunday greeting of "How are you?" Inside, there is a heart crying out to be known. Yet, as we turn up our smiles, we turn down the volume on the voice of truth. "I am fine." "I am great." "My life is in order." Pastor's wife, we are facing an epidemic in ...

Ronnie Floyd: 'Woodlawn' movie a great tool for evangelism

 
This Friday, the movie "Woodlawn" will be released nationwide. The Erwin Brothers—Jon and Andy—present this dynamic film. They are the filmmaking team behind movies like "October Baby" and "Moms' Night Out." Film speaks the language of our generation, and Woodlawn does so profoundly. Woodlawn is based on a true story about a school in Birmingham, Ala., named Woodlawn. This moving and inspirational film is based on the true story of how love and unity overcame hate ...

Oregon college shooting: How should Christians respond?

 
According to early reports, Chris Harper Mercer, the alleged Oregon community college gunman, asked students to stand and state their religion before shooting them. Stacy Boylen, identified by CNN as the parent of a wounded student, said the killer asked, “Are you a Christian?” He then asked Christians to stand and said, “Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second” before opening fire. Others have reported ...

Fred Luter: Katrina 'was a test of our faith'

 
Ten years ago our lives were drastically changed by Hurricane Katrina. Not only did it impact our city physically, but it impacted us spiritually and emotionally. It was a time we will never forget. It was a test of our faith. It was a test of our belief. It also was a test of our willingness to come back and rebuild. It took us two and a half years to get back in the church here (Franklin Avenue Baptist Church ...

Remote control an illustration of cultural issues we face

 
What would our lives be like today without a remote control for our televisions, stereos, DVD players, ceiling fans, cable or satellite devices, and more? Remote devices have been around for a long time. The first patent was issued for a remote device in 1898 to Nikola Tesla for a radio-controlled boat, but the use of remote controls became more widespread after World War II, during which the technology was used extensively in military applications. When televisions became widely available in ...

What it is like to be present when God shows up

 
I want to share with everyone who couldn’t be in Columbus for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting what it was like to be there for President Ronnie Floyd’s “A National Call for Prayer.” The words “life changing” get overused, so I describe the scene and ask you to draw your own conclusion. I think the topic is so important, I am sharing it with everyone—not just FBW ...

Bell Shoals Baptist Church pastor responds to Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage

 
On Friday, June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States redefined marriage in the United States of America. The 5-4 ruling of these judges now makes same-sex marriage a legal right in all 50 states. For many years, concerned Christians have prayed and worked fervently to uphold biblical marriage in our laws. No doubt, Friday’s Supreme Court decision represents a major loss for scriptural values in America and takes our country another giant step in the wrong direction morally ...

Explaining the same-sex marriage decision to your children

 
Some Christian parents wonder how to explain to their small children the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. How does one teach about the law and the controversy without exposing one's children to more than they can handle? First of all, make no mistake: You should talk to your children about this. No matter how you shelter your family, keeping your children from knowing about the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage would take a level of choreography of their lives ...

NOBTS president: Looming senior adult revolution to impact nation

 
Something is happening that you may not have noticed. If you have noticed it, you may not fully appreciate its significance. It will affect you. It will affect your church. It will affect the whole nation. What's happening is a senior adult revolution. Some call it the graying of America, but that is too gentle a term for what lies ahead. It is more like a '60s remix. The 1960s were the most turbulent, revolutionary years in modern American ...

Christians must allow God to 'work the problem'

 
"Houston, we have a problem." When NASA flight directors heard those words from Apollo 13, it was like an invitation: "You are hereby invited to solve a life-or-death problem"—and they did. Flight director Gene Kranz sprang into action: "OK … stay cool. Work the problem, people.... Failure is not an option!" (Excerpt from the movie, "Apollo 13.") Work the problem! With no heat, no light and little communication with the ground, the astronauts drifted back toward earth in darkness—...

Russell Moore offers call to prayer for marriage & the Supreme Court

 
The Supreme Court soon will decide whether states can legally choose to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It is a watershed moment in our nation's history. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has filed briefs with the court; argued in public and in private about why marriage, defined as the union of one man and one woman, matters as a social good; and more than there is space to list here. But beyond all ...

Excuses aside, Cooperative Program still matters to Florida Baptists

 
Editor's note: We have pulled this commentary from behind the paywall so everyone has a chance to see it. If you want more, you can support our ministry by subscribing: sonovasystems.com/css/1012/epay.page “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” 2 Corinthians 8:8 In my 15 months with the Florida Baptist Witness, I have heard lots of explanations about why our state&...

Pastor reflects on lessons learned on baseball diamond

 
Wayne Mitchell was not simply the head baseball coach at Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, Ala. He was a local baseball institution. Mitchell had attended Lee and excelled on the baseball team. In 1964, he graduated from Lee and enrolled at Huntington College, where he was a star left-handed pitcher, setting the school record for career victories. After college, he became an assistant baseball coach at Lee from 1971-74. He left to become head coach at Huntington from 1975-78, ...

Share the Greatest Story Ever Told this Easter

 
Many baseball fans at this time of the year look forward to opening day. Should we look forward any less to the Greatest Story Ever Told? Is Easter an annual event that we look forward to with joy? What is it about Easter that stirs your soul? Sunrise services? The Easter Story? And does that excitement lead to transforming lives around you with the Gospel? Driving through a Kansas City suburb during the winter, I noticed a banner in front ...

Editorial: There are a host of reasons to oppose Florida House gaming bill

 
“Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?” Proverbs 1:20-22 House Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, made headlines the first day of this legislative session when she unveiled a bill that would ...

Editorial: We all need maturity before we lead in Baptist life

 
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 A seismic shift is happening just below the surface of Florida Baptist life: Millennials are deciding their spiritual futures and, in the process, the future of Florida Baptists. Some are leaving the church, with mixed reviews on whether they will ever return. ...

ANALYSIS: Does Scripture address abortion?

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (Jan. 18) commemorates 42 years of legal abortion in the United States. The claim of some pro-choice groups that Scripture does not address abortion would have surprised both Jews and Christians living in the first century. That’s because they were virtually unanimous that the Bible implicitly—though clearly—prohibited the killing of unborn children. Abortion advocates today tend either to deny this fact or remain gladly ignorant of it. For example, ...

NEW Florida Baptist Witness

 
Welcome to your new Florida Baptist Witness! We have been praying about and preparing for this day for 10 months, and are eager for you to see what has been done in an effort to improve your experience with the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention and, most importantly, bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. “I have been blessed by God as he has shown me the right people for the right time to ...

Study: pastors support immigration reform

 
NASHVILLE—Many of the nation's Protestant senior pastors want the U.S. government to mix justice with mercy when it comes to immigration reform, a LifeWay Research survey shows. Most say it's the government's job to stop people from entering the country illegally. They also support reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. And they believe Christians should help immigrants, no matter what their legal status. Those are among the findings of ...