"Letters from a Disillusioned Generation" Pt. 2

My over-arching goal is to understand the view of church within the post-modern, post-Christian communities. I also want to better understand how the church is viewed in different circles and how the church can better relate with these people. Let me guarantee you, there will definitely be different opinions between myself, my guest bloggers and you, the reader. But that is ok. The goal is to listen, read and take into consideration what others think and feel...regardless if you differ in opinions. It is my hope that I will have a better understanding of the unique community within my generation, the Millennial/Gen-Ys.

Dear Church...

Just the other day I was talking with a local coffee shop regular when, completely unprovoked by me, he began venting about his experiences with the Christian church. A twenty-seven-year-old with a Jewish background, he offered a quick "I hope you're not a Christian or anything because because I wouldn't want to offend you" disclaimer before listing off a number of offensive encounters he has had with organized Christianity.

"It appears I don't have the truth." He smirked, his voice thick with bitterness. "As soon as church people figure out I'm Jewish, they immediately rule out my credibility. Nothing I can say could possibly be legitimate or worthy of discussing because their tunnel vision is focused on one thing and one thing alone: we need to get this guy to see the errors of his ways.

"To tell you the truth, I'm not even that hung up on Judaism," he admitted, lowering his voice as if he didn't want any Christians to hear him. Laughing, he exhaled smoke into the air. "It's just the best thing I've got thus far. If anyone with a little courtesy could show me differently, I'd be all ears. Until then, I've got no use for Christians."

"Letters from a Disillusioned Generation" Pt. 1

NOTE: If you don't read this whole post, please at least read the italicized paragraphs close to the end.

I am intrigued with the postmodern mindset. Every since I attended a conference about Western Europe earlier this year, I have not been able to shake this desire to know more. Rest assured, I am a God-fearing, Jesus-loving Christian, but I do share some postmodern views (or so I've been told that I do).

We live in a world where more and more people fit the term "post-Christian." Meaning someone who doesn't necessarily feel the need to claim an organized, dominant religion and/or denomination; rather, they create their own values and views of the world. Researchers say that Europe fits within this category and more than half of the population in many areas in Europe "profess belief in a transcendent, personal and monotheistically-conceived deity."

Having said all of this, I have decided to (finally) do some research of my own. Over the past few weeks I have picked up four books (UnChristian; Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation; They Like Jesus but not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations; and Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical) that I hope will enlighten me as to why many feel Christianity is not a way to happiness, salvation, redemption or anything in life worth meaning.

The title of my blog series reflects part of one of the books, Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation. It was written by twenty-something Sarah Cunningham. She grew up as a preacher's kid (I can relate) who spent more time within the walls of a church building then her own home...which I can also relate with.

Sarah sucks you in with her raw, transparent, refreshing-no-bs-honesty.

I had no plans to write a blog on any of my findings, but I came across something at the beginning of this book that I have to share. This is something so sobering, so sad and so true of the what the church as an institution has become in the eyes of some of the public - both "believers" and "non-believers" alike.

And so Sarah writes...

Throughout my childhood, and at important junctures in my adulthood, I began to pick up that not everyone's encounters with the church were as positive as mine. Not everyone, as it turned out, got the full-blown PK package: hugs in the church foyer, cookies at Christmas, or invitations to play at house after house.

Slowly I grew concerned that my experience with church was not necessarily the norm. Several months before taking my first church staff position, I enrolled in an additional learning track at Spring Arbor University. My urban studies minor, conducted under the supervision of sociology professor Paul Nemecek, allowed me to craft and independent study that examined how local churches interacted with diverse people groups in our city.

Block after block, I surveyed citizens in our town. More often than not, these interviews produced throught-provoking stories.

The comments from a woman working in connection with the local justice department summerized the feelings of many. "What do you think churches could do to improve their relationship with the local community?" I asked.

"Churches?" she repeated, almost as if she thought she might have heard me wrong.

I nodded and repeated the question.

"I don't see anything that churches could do." She wasn't being mean, but rather to-the-point. "We've already got tons of churches. Look around. There's a church on every corner. I bet you could count nine or ten within three blocks of here," she reminded me. "And nothing has changed, has it? Did you know that three or four of these churches have been here since the town was on the map? But some of the social issues keep getting worse and worse."

She paused for me to write things down. "People don't have enough job training or employment opportunities. Drunks wander the streets. The same homeless people have been circling in and out of the shelters for the last fifteen years. Kids don't have anything to do to keep them out of trouble. Meanwhile, the churches keep right on existing, holding their services every Sunday. And it never changes anything. It seems pretty obvious to me that churches are not the answer."

"...churches are not the answer."

That just blew me away. Honestly, that is were I stopped reading over two hours ago. I had to process. How true is that statement? Think about it. In some cities, thousands of homes stand within a 10 to 15 mile radius of at least one church, yet the church may only has 200-400 regular members. How many of those members are related and inter-married? Subtract that from the total...now how many "individual families" have truly "chosen" (meaning not born into or married into the church, per say, but visited and decided this church was a good fit for them) to be a part of your church?

What can the church - not as a building, but a body of believers - do differently to reach those who feel they don't need church? How can the church reach those who have been burned out by the church? How can the church overcome irrelevance and return to the New Testament church? How can the church erase the stereotypical hypocrite label?

God's reassuring presence

I received an email from a family friend this morning. Every morning he sends an update on his wife's health status. She has been going through a lot over the past 150-plus days. She has gone from bed-ridden and unable to turn herself over to walking some. Praise the Lord!

Today's email, Day 155, especially touched me though, so I wanted to share it with you...it's amazing the little things God bring into out lives to reassure us of his presence...

Day 155: I love God moments. Those are the ones where God does something great to surprise you and make your day. Marilyn has always had problems keeping up with her stuff like car keys and credit cards and we can all identify with that. These have very notably increased since her illness. In fact I spend a large amount of my at home time looking for her misplaced stuff. Three weeks ago she misplaced her wedding ring. I turned the house upside down,vaccuumed the floors and searched the residue but no ring. We had given up on that platinum item and I had put it out of my mind. Saturday I had cut the grass and trimmed and was using the blower to blow off the drive way. I looked down and saw a circular item that I thought had been embedded in the cement. When I bent down to inspect it,it was the wedding ring. How it got there I do not know or how it survived three previous times I had used the blower there I do not know. It was a God moment. A praise Jesus time for me. The ring is back on her finger and my day was made. Yesterday was an excellent day at rehab. They are increasingly making it harder and she is doing all she can to keep up. One friend from Canada called yesterday and said she knows more about my life than her own. I keep you updated so you will not fail to pray for us. Remember Aaron,Denise, Doug Couch and his wife, Orrin Barrett and that we love and appreciate you. Blessings.

R.I.P. Leroi Moore

Leroi Moore, the sax player in the Dave Matthews Band, has died today. He was 46.

Moore was seriously injured in an ATV accident June 30 outside Charlottesville. He had a punctured lung and broken ribs. One month later, he returned to the hospital due to complications.

The following statement was released by the band:

"Leroi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of Dave Matthews Band, died unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon, August 19, 2008, at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles from sudden complications stemming from his June ATV accident on his farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. Moore had recently returned to his Los Angeles home to begin an intensive physical rehabilitation program."
I've been exhausted for over a week now (I'd be willing to bet I'm not the only one)...I'd like to say I have no idea why...but that would be lying...below is the cause of my sleep deprivation...

I have been on Michael Phelps Standard Time.

Also, did anyone see that joke NBC broadcasted about how to hide sleep deprivation at work? I think there were four...they were hilarious...these are the two I remember...help me out if you remember the others...

1. Wear sunglasses to hide red, puffy eyes.
2. ??
3. ??
4. Don't go to work. Stay at home and sleep.

Atlanta weekend

I had a great couple of days in Atlanta this past weekend with my family and David. The drive was long (the way back was MUCH longer, or at least it felt like it was)...we went to a Braves game on Sunday afternoon. It was lots of fun, but really, really hot.

It was pretty smoggy on Sunday...but that's pretty much Atlanta all the time during the summer...especially when it doesn't rain. But I still love it...and miss living there terribly.

David and I.

This would be the real me. Goofy. Haha!

And here is my brother. Just as goofy. I love this photo! Makes me laugh every time I look at it. Hahaha! Looove my brutha!

Turner Field.

Maggie in her jail riding back to Richmond...I know she looks pitiful, but she really does like being in her jail when she's in the car more than sitting in someone's lap...she's a very uptight and anxious traveler.

Between a rock and a hard place

We all have used or heard this idiom at some point our lives, most likely. I began searching the history behind the saying, but came back empty handed. I did however find a good explanation on a Google search.

To say that one is stuck "between a rock and a hard place" stresses that there are two forces which are restricting one's movement. Often it is the opposite direction of these forces that causes the sticking point. One is unable for some particular reason to do something that one would like to do, such as act or not act in a certain way. "I'd like to help you but I am stuck between a rock and a hard place." To have someone between a rock and a hard place is to have them in a position that causes them to make a choice that they don't want to make. "You've got me between a rock and a hard place; I'll sell it to you at the price you quoted."

Have you ever felt like that? If you haven't - if I may be so bold - you are lying.

I think we can feel we are stuck between opposing forces in relationships, work and even our walk with the Lord.

I woke up this morning feeling like I was between that rock and a hard place. My day has drifted along and I am still stuck, feet wedged between the same rocks. I truly believe the enemy uses the same "rocks" to keep us from growing in relationships we have, and more importantly "rocks" and "hard places" keep us from growing spiritually.

On my way home from work I popped in Casting Crowns newest CD "The Alter and the Door." I always forget how much I relate with the lyrics. It always seems that I put it in just when I need to hear those (sometimes hard) words the most. If I could post the lyrics for the song that speaks to me most on this album, I would probably just post every single song. The transparency of the songwriters astounds me, and makes me want to be more like that. I mean, if a widely-known Christian group can lay all their spiritual insecurities and struggles for all who hear their music, surely I can do the same with the small number of people I know.

As Christians we never stop growing and learning. But I sometimes slack on my growth with the Lord...I get on fire, and then some of the flames are extinguished. I always feel I am somewhere in the middle with my walk. I want to trust him completely, but I want to hold onto a couple of strings so I feel that I'm still in control. I want to place all my faith in him, but I also want to fend for myself because he might not do what I want, when I want it.

The seventh track (funny, 7 is the Biblical number of perfection...) is the song that inspired this post:

"Somewhere in the Middle"
By Casting Crowns

Somewhere between the hot and the cold
Somewhere between the new and the old
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Somewhere between the wrong and the right
Somewhere between the darkness and the light
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control?

Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle
With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle
Are we caught in the middle

Somewhere between my heart and my hands
Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves

Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control?

Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side
Loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle

It's always reassuring for me to think that God loves me no matter what. His love is unconditional. True agape love. It never changes. In Matthew 22, Jesus shares what the "greatest commandment" is with the Pharisees. In it the word Jesus uses for "love" is actually translated from the Greek word agape.

Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV)

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love (agape) your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Praise Jesus for his agape love.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Deeper Still

Just wanted to share some photos from Deeper Still in Atlanta. It was an amazing conference! I'll write more about it later. In the mean time, check out Beth Moore's blog, Travis Cottrell's blog or the Deeper Still blog for videos, photos and highlights!

Me and my mama on the first day of the conference.

April and I having a good ol' time.

Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore.

The ladies on the second day.

Beth Moore (front center) and Travis Cottrell (upper left).

"My" memoir

Unfortunately I can't take credit for this six-word memoir, but I do relate with it...

Live to write. Write to live. - Unknown

Unconventional Christian?

I find myself more and more drawn to the less conventional way of Christian thought. I'm not sure if it's a generational thing or if I am just weird...sometimes I have a hard time understanding why I think so differently (some have labeled me liberal - I disagree)...or maybe it's because some feel that I have to believe a certain way in order to find favor among their collegues, church family, friends?

Let me explain.

There have been numerous things that I have gotten me really thinking about the "Christian way of thinking."

First, it was the Deeper Still conference I went to in Atlanta. There were 19,000 women in attendance - we were from all different backgrounds, ages, races, denominations, but you know what? We worshipped together. We fellowshiped together. We ate together. We laughed together. It's how you imagine heaven to be - differences don't matter. The only thing that really matters is Jesus. For that brief 36 hours, we left our differences at the door. We were all there to grow, learn, sing, cry and just praise the one most important thing we all have in common: Jesus Christ.

I read a story written by a co-worker today, and it was all about the generational differences between Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers/Millennials. Basically the lack of respect that exists between the generations; however, we all have one thing in common - we want to change the world and/or feel that what we are doing with our lives is meaningful and significant. I know I totally fall into that category. One of the hardest things for me to bear is to feel that what I am doing is not significant. One of my biggest fears is that I will wake up one morning as a 65 year-old woman and realize that I have nothing to help others during my life. What makes life significant? That is completely up to the person. Granted I haven't hit 30 yet, but I don't feel that I have reached at point of "significance" yet. I want the Lord to use me, stretch me, make me uncomfortable (bold, I know).

I long to get my hands dirty. I just want to help people. I want my life not to be judged by what I've done for myself, but what I've done for other people. I want to passionately share the love I have for Jesus with others. I want to find the fine line between tolerance of and intolerance so that I can sit on the line. However, I do know that if Scripture says something is wrong, it’s wrong. Plain and simple. No beating around the bush. But! I do not have the right to judge or condemn those who are wrong. I am to love them. Share Christ with them. Not push them away because they are different.I want to share Jesus with post-moderns, drug addicts, the homeless, gay people, believers, non-believers, transgender, atheists, single moms, women who've had abortions, Muslims, Jews and anyone who will listen. The denominational line is not something that will stop me from sharing my Savior just because I feel someone's lifestyle or way of worship is deemed taboo because it is different. My Jesus hung out with thieves, beggars, tax collectors, lepers, believers, non-believers - why can't I do the same?

Some may still say my way of thinking is liberal. I don't believe that it is. Some may think I'm being too tolerant. I don't think that I am. If I become so consumed with the "holier than thou" mentality, I become irrelevant to those who think differently than I. I am not allowed to judge. But I do know one thing, my Lord, Jesus Christ, commanded that I "go ye therefore" and tell everyone (this limits NO ONE, no matter their sexual preference, way of worship, beliefs, lifestyle, family history, substance use, etc.) about him and the everlasting love he offers to those who follow him. Praise the Lord for grace and mercy! It is only by his grace that I'm saved! I know what I was like before his grace rescued me, and it is much better with it than without it. Why wouldn't I want those who are "taboo" to the Christian world to experience this same grace?

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (soap box: no where does it say the person being baptized needs to be in a SB church or baptized by a SB minister in order for it to "count")

More 'six words'

Turns out, writing six-word memoirs is kind of fun! Definitely not as challenging as I was expecting it to be. If your wondering what in the world I'm taking about click here.

I have received numerous 'six words' from friends and family...and I would love to have more (comment, hint hint). Here is an updated list of memoirs...the new ones are in pink:

My memoirs:

Loved deeply. Hurt painfully. Loved again. - me

By grace I have been saved. - me

Destined to be a nomad forever. - me

My biggest temptation is a sale. - me

Degree? Check. Job? Check. Restlessness? Check. - me

The following memoirs are from friends and/or family:

Seeking God's kingdom, everything else follows. - April Franklin, author of Discourses of a Vagabond with a Mission

Six feet deep; no glass ceiling. - Jianfranco Alvarez

Full of myself, running on empty. - Jianfranco Alvarez

Death no longer a bumble bee. - Jianfranco Alvarez

Live for Him, forever with Him. - April Franklin

Learn to serve, learn to lead. - April Franklin

Without pain love is not learned. - April Franklin

Life's not free; get a job. - Amie Nixdorf

More of Him, less of me. - Amie Nixdorf

Two schools of life: responsibility, accountability. - Amie Nixdorf

My six words

As mentioned in my previous post, Sum your life up in SIX words, I am going to try my hand at a few six-word memoirs of my own, as well as, include some others have sent me. If you read my previous post, these six-word "stories" are not near as difficult to write as I thought...or I may be in the writer's "zone" right now...who knows! Anyway, please send me you six-word memoir(s) and I'll post them! :)

My memoirs:

Loved deeply. Hurt painfully. Loved again. - me

By grace I have been saved. - me

Destined to be a nomad forever. - me

My biggest temptation is a sale. - me

Degree? Check. Job? Check. Restlessness? Check. - me

The following memoirs are from friends and/or family:

Seeking God's kingdom, everything else follows. - April Franklin, author of Discourses of a Vagabond with a Mission

Six feet deep; no glass ceiling. - Jianfranco Alvarez

Full of myself, running on empty. - Jianfranco Alvarez

Death no longer a bumble bee. - Jianfranco Alvarez

Live for Him, forever with Him. -
April Franklin

Sum your life up in SIX words

A few weeks ago, I bought a book of memoirs called "Not Quite What I was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Famous & Obscure Writers." Long title, I know. It is actually a fascinating book! Here are a few of the memoirs:

Taking a lifetime to grow up. -Mirona Iliescu

Recent doctorate means overeducated and underemployed. -Philip Sternberg

Even the quietest sounds make noise. -Paul Boggan

Seeking route, not sure of destination. -Gary Belsky

Drew on walls, creative for life. -DeAnna Sandoval

I auditioned. I got the part. -Faith Hoffman

This got me thinking. If I were to write a six-word memoir about myself, what in the world would I write? As a writer who likes to use a lot of words, the thought of only writing a six-word story is almost unrealistic and hard to even wrap my mind around.

What about you? How would you write your life in ONLY six words? If you're up for the challenge send me a comment with your six words (no cheating, only six!)

My next posts will (hopefully) be my memoir(s) in only six words...we'll see if this is possible! ;)

Make wearing a flag pin the 28th Amendment

By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor

Join Roland Martin for his weekly sound-off segment on CNN.com Live at 11:10 a.m. Wednesday. If you're passionate about politics, he wants to hear from you.

(CNN) -- When is the last time you watched a mindless movie that had no redeeming value for you intellectually, but all it did was make you laugh?

That perfectly describes the raging debate among voters and the rabid television and radio talk show hosts who love to yell and scream from the top of their lungs, "I'm an American, and by golly, you better show as much appreciation for this country as I do!"

But once you finish listening to these high-minded bloviators -- and yes, that includes the voters who have bought into this nonsensical issue -- ask yourself: Does it really have anything to do with anything?

I've watched this debate reach the levels of absurdity this year because journalists and commentators have raised the question to Sen. Barack Obama, "Why don't you wear a flag lapel pin?"

I really got a kick out of that one during the ABC debate last month because not one person on stage -- Sens. Hillary Clinton and Obama, along with moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos -- bothered to accessorize their attire with a flag lapel pin.

Sen. John McCain has been traveling the globe as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and this former Navy pilot often doesn't wear a flag lapel pin.

It has become sort of like bird watching as I've surveyed elected officials on the local and national levels and looked them over like a hen-pecked mother or a foaming-at-the-mouth military drill sergeant, studying their attire and deeming them insufficiently American because of their lack of decency and respect by refusing to adorn themselves appropriately with a lapel pin.

So, after listening to radio callers and the folks that e-mail various TV shows, maybe we ought to expand this need to express our Americanism even further. Shouldn't we insist that our politicians all begin to sport red, white and blue socks in order to feel good knowing that they are walking as Americans? How about asking officeholders to sport the American colors as undergarments to show that their undying love for the country is so important, they want the flag pressed against their skin?

There have been times when the candidates -- especially McCain, who has beaten back skin cancer -- have worn hats on the campaign trail. I want to know, datgummit, why the people running for the highest office in the land didn't cover their head with an American flag baseball cap to express to the nation their love and affection for the U.S. of A.

Since it is clear that our nation is paralyzed and so not able to close our borders, feed the homeless, develop businesses in the inner cities and save people from having their homes taken by foreclosure due to ruthless mortgage companies, all because some folks don't wear a flag lapel pin, we need to lead a national movement to demand that Congress and the states make requiring officeholders to wear a flag lapel pin the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

See, if it is so important, then take it all the way. Don't make it optional. Don't leave it up to someone to choose to wear a flag lapel pin. Let's really show those politicians that nothing is more important to us than seeing them with the U.S. flag on our chest.

That's what zealots do. They take something so simple, so personal, so voluntary, and absolutely lose their mind, trying to force someone else to do as them, and everyone else be damned.

Folks, the first year I ever cast a ballot for political office was in 1988. And in the last 20 years, whether it was mayoral, school board, city council, or a statewide, congressional or presidential campaign, the thought of what was on a politician's lapel never entered into the equation as to whether they are worthy of office.

Those who will criticize me will say, "Well, Roland, if it's no big deal, then why not wear one?" And the reply is the same: "If it's no big deal, then why do you make it a big deal?"

Let me tell you something: When I'm on the golf course and I slip my wedding ring into my golf bag, the Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin is still my wife. When we shoot hoops and I remove my Texas A&M University ring from my right hand, I still love my school. The fact that I can no longer wear my 1987 class ring from Houston's Jack Yates High School doesn't mean I don't cherish the crimson and gold. And I may not be able to fit into the shirt I pledged in, but I will be a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. until the day I die.

I am an unapologetic Christian, but you won't see a cross dangling from my neck or a James Avery charm bracelet on my wrist. Why? Because my love of Jesus Christ is in my heart.

This debate is useless, tiresome and distracting. Why? Because if there are members of Congress who wear a flag lapel pin but refuse to shore up our borders, don't do enough to stop the flow of drugs into our neighborhoods, or don't help to eradicate the gaps between the haves and have nots, then are they truly fighting for the concerns of Americans, or playing on the emotions of people by what's on their lapel?

We're better than that. We're smarter than that. It's time that we make decisions based on substance, which is what we say we actually care about. But maybe we're just lying to ourselves about that, too.

Roland S. Martin is a nationally award-winning journalist and CNN contributor. Martin is studying to receive his master's degree in Christian communications at Louisiana Baptist University.You can read more of his columns at http://www.rolandsmartin.com/

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

"controversial and superfluous guidelines"

This is an article posted on SBCOutpost.com:

Pastors, former missionaries join former IMB trustees in calling for removal of controversial, superfluous ‘guidelines’

‘Time to Change’ group opposes policies on baptism, private prayer practices

NORTH CAROLINA –– A group of 37 former Southern Baptist missionaries, former International Mission Board trustees and Southern Baptist pastors has issued a call for rank and file Southern Baptists to reverse “guidelines” enacted by IMB trustees in 2005 that prohibited appointment of missionaries whose baptisms and private prayer lives do not meet those guidelines.

“We express our concern over the restrictions that have been put in place in the form of additional ‘guidelines’ concerning a missionary candidate’s private prayer life and baptism,” says the statement, which was released June 2, 2008. “Our conviction is that these guidelines stray far beyond the parameters set forth by our denominational confession of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message.”

One position adopted by IMB trustees prohibited appointment of missionary candidates who were not baptized in conformity with a narrow, extra-biblical definition of baptism. The second position prohibited appointment of missionary candidates who practice a “private prayer language.”

The group objects that those restrictions amount to “intrusive scrutiny into the sanctity of the personal prayer closet” and “dictating to local churches what constitutes a legitimate Christian baptism.”

The result of adopting those “guidelines” – with no evidence they were needed – was that “otherwise worthy candidates” for missionary service are unnecessarily rejected and “valuable, faithful IMB personnel” are leaving the field at a time when the overseas missions harvest is greater than ever, the group says.

“Each day, we are all made painfully aware of the scope of the lostness of our world. We agree with the words of our Lord that, indeed, the harvest is abundant. We also, with great sadness, agree with His assessment that the workers are few,” the statement says. “There are good, loyal Southern Baptists who see the multitudes also, and just as Christ did, feel compassion for them. Let us as Southern Baptists not purposefully turn away any qualified worker who has heard and obeyed the call to ‘Go.’”

The group plainly asserts that their opposition to the “guidelines” should not be read as a lack of support for IMB missionaries, staff or administration. They “commend the obedience and commitment to God’s call of the more than 5,000 dedicated brothers and sisters who have been appointed, sent, and supported by Southern Baptists to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth” and declare that they “enthusiastically support our IMB missionaries through their praying, giving, and going.”

They also affirm that the IMB’s candidate approval process “has been fair, thorough, and complete, producing a dedicated, well-trained missionary force” that meet the criteria set out by the SBC Constitution that “all missionaries appointed by the Convention’s boards must, previous to their appointment, furnish evidence of piety, zeal for the Master’s kingdom, conviction of truth as held by Baptists, and talents for missionary service.”

The group “call(s) on Southern Baptists to hold the entities of the SBC accountable to the direction of the convention’s churches, not the churches to the sentiments of their entities” and “strongly urge(s) Southern Baptists to seek the removal of these controversial and superfluous guidelines from use in the candidate approval process.”

The group has created a Web site at imbchange.info to “encourage appropriate principles and guidelines for missionary service through the International Mission Board of the SBC.”


For more information, contact:

Allan & Pam Blume 828-265-0220 or 828-266-9700
Steve Hardy 336-714-5468

I'll walk through the valley

If You Want Me To
By Ginny Owens

The pathway is broken
And the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to

Cause I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the darkness If You want me to

When I cross over Jordan, I'm gonna sing, gonna shout
Gonna look into your eyes and see you never let me down
So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you
And I will walk through the valley if you want me to

Yes, I will walk through the valley if you want me to

Whatever's in front of me...

By Bethany Dillon

Who can hold the stars
And my weary heart?
Who can see everything?

I've fallen so hard
Sometimes I feel so far
But not beyond your reach

I could climb a mountain
Swim the ocean
Or do anything
But it's when you hold me
That I start unfolding
And all I can say is

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Whatever's in front of me
Help me to sing hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Whatever's in front of me
I'll choose to sing hallelujah

The same sun that
Rises over castles
And welcomes the day

Spills over buildings
Into the streets
Where orphans play

And only you can see the good
In broken things
You took my heart of stone
And you made it home
And set this prisoner free

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Whatever's in front of me
Help me to sing hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Whatever's in front of me
I'll choose to sing hallelujah

My Lebanese family

I have a picture I want to share with you. It is of a family I met while I was visiting Lebanon (I want to go back so bad!). I think I may have blogged about them before...

A friend and I were walking down to the Mediterranean Sea when we saw this family having a picnic lunch by a rock. My friend asked if he could take their picture. They said yes, and then invited us to have tea with them. We refused a couple of times (as is true Arab culture I am told) and then agreed to sit with them for awhile. We had three cups of tea with them. We talked religion, politics and just life in general. After our third (or was it fourth?) cup of tea, the man (who is a taxi driver, but came to Beirut for a doctor appointment) invited us to his family's home in southern Lebanon. We had to catch a plane the following day, so we were forced to refuse. He told us that we were family, and welcome to their home anytime we were in Lebanon.

This family was the highlight of my trip. I still think about them often.

Happy birthday April!

April 4 was my wonderful roommate, April's birthday. Eight of her close friends and I surprised her by taking her to The Melting Pot for dinner. It was amazing food! Expensive, but amazing. It is one of those places that you must go to at least once and do the 4-course meal. From now on, I'd just like to go there for cheese fondue and chocolate fondue! YUM!

My beautiful roommate April and I!

Lovely ladies: Mary Frances, Erin and Jules

Most of the ladies who joined April to celebrate this special day!

This was one of the chocolate fondues we ordered: half dark chocolate and half white chocolate. They they bring you strawberries, bananas, brownie bites, cheesecake, rice krispie treat bites, marshmellows, etc. for dipping!

Love you roomie! :)

Random thoughts

I've turned into a blog slacker. I think about it all the time, but then just never do anything about it. Slacker? Yes. I am. :)

Well I am sitting here on my couch watching the last 20 seconds of the UNC-Clemson game (Carolina is winning, of course). :) It is a beautiful day, I have all the windows opened. Today is what - I imagine - all Sundays should be like. Spring is coming, and I love it! I decided today, like I probably do every year, that spring and fall are my favorite seasons. Other than the fact that I all of the sudden developed allergies and sinuses since moving to Richmond, I love the springs here.

I'm doing what I usually do on Sunday - washing clothes and cleaning whatever else needs cleanin'. :) I always say I am going to clean on my Friday off or on Saturday, but it never seems to happen that way. Sunday is the day. My dog Maggie is doing what she normally does too: being a pest and INSISTING on sitting in my lap. Who cares if my laptop is in my lap - she'll lay on my hands. Sometimes I think she is more cat than dog.

Praise the Lord for his faithfulness! Just thought I would fit that in there. :)

I was thinking today, how I love this Holy Week that just started. I am looking forward to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. :) Even though we know the outcome (King Jesus dying for my/your sins on the cross and then raising from the dead three days later, guaranteeing me/you eternal life with him), it is still hard to rejoice when I think of his brutal death on the cross. Having seen "The Passion of the Christ" I don't think I can ever imagine the crucifixion the same again. I knew it was brutal: I was told it was, I read it was. But it wasn't until I SAW the bloody reenactment that I actually understood. Maybe that's because I'm a visual learner? Or maybe because it just makes it real. Having said that, I don't own the movie, nor do I ever want to see it again. It was hard enough to watch my Savior (yes, I know it wasn't really him) tortured and killed. It took all I had to not scream "STOP! STOP!" while sitting in the theater. BUT! like I said, the outcome...oh praise Jesus for the outcome! JESUS ROSE FROM THE GRAVE three days later, washed away my/your sins. PTL!

Have you ever seen this website: www.commissionstories.com? You really should check it out! Especially the video "Braving Bullets." It will definitely touch you, move you and just want to say WOW and shout AMEN. It is absolutely amazing. Seriously. Check it out.

What would Jesus do? For real.

I was just reading one of my friend's blogs (musings from a french fried texan) and what she posted today ('to be more like him...') is something - I believe - we all need to be reminded of...I know I did...check it out!

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