Important legislation passed as Kentucky General Assembly session wraps up

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The end of the 2016 legislative session in Kentucky came with drama about the state spending budget but little else in terms of last-minute legislation. Regarding the session as a whole, we are grateful for small victories like the expansion of the Kentucky Safe Infants Act to include churches as locations where unwanted babies can be dropped off during the first days of life without consequence for mothers.

Ultrasound bill signingWe also celebrate the creation of a marriage license that omits the county clerk’s name, thus not requiring an endorsement of same-sex marriages by the clerks. This matter was rightly perceived as a religious liberty issue for county clerks who hold to a biblical definition of marriage.

Another important piece of legislation signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin is a change to Kentucky’s informed consent law that now will require a woman to meet in person or by video with a physician before having her baby dismembered and killed through abortion. It was the first piece of pro-life legislation to be passed in Kentucky in several years. We pray and trust that at least some of the mothers who take time to reflect upon what actually takes place during an abortion procedure will feel compassion for the baby and seek one of a host of options available during a crisis or unwanted pregnancy rather than taking the life of a child.

As these issues illustrate, politics is a lot more than budgets and elections. In some cases, the cherished right of religious liberty is at stake when another bill makes its way to Capitol Hill. In other cases, votes literally are about life and death.

The gravity of these and many other issues is why Kentucky Baptists are committed to being involved in the political process. Some run for office. Some express their views to their elected officials with calls and letters. And, hopefully, all make their way to the voting booth, taking their faith along with them.

Kentucky Baptists are represented in Frankfort, not only by fellow Kentucky Baptists who have been elected to office, but also by a state minister who shares the gospel and equips believers in the Capitol. In that role, Rev. Steve Weaver, Ph.D., is doing a great job connecting with elected officials and employees in Frankfort, helping to create a better spiritual climate in our government. Rev. Tom Troth is also proving to be a tremendous help for the causes of justice and righteousness as he lobbies on behalf of Kentucky Baptists. These brothers, along with the reporting of the Western Recorder and Kentucky Today, are not only helping us stay better informed on the issues, they are helping us use our voice to make a huge impact on issues that matter to people of faith.

You can access the Western Recorder (www.westernrecorder.org) and Kentucky Today (www.kentuckytoday.com) online. Be sure to take advantage of these immensely helpful resources.

Posted in Family, Government, Kentucky Legislature, Public Affairs | Leave a comment

Great days for Kentucky Baptists

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KBC logoIt’s still a good day to be a Kentucky Baptist! We welcomed a new group of ministers to our state this week during our Get Acquainted Day event at your Baptist Building. As I was giving them updates on all that they are now a part of through the Cooperative Program giving of their churches, I realized anew how God is working powerfully in our midst. I know you will be excited to celebrate all that He is doing through His people.

As you have recently seen in the Western Recorder, we are celebrating the second straight year of an increase in baptisms in our churches. And, for the first time in recent memory, we are halfway through the fiscal year and running AHEAD of the Cooperative Program budget! As a reminder, any dollars given above the budget will be distributed to Kentucky Baptist and Southern Baptist Convention ministries and entities on the same percentage as the budget funds, so every penny continues to be used to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.

Jeff Dalrymple, right, was named the new president of Crossings Ministries last week. He and his wife, Kristil, tour the Kentucky Baptist Building with KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood. (KBC photo)

Jeff Dalrymple, right, was named the new president of Crossings Ministries last week. He and his wife, Kristil, tour the Kentucky Baptist Building with KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood. (KBC photo)

Good news continues to come from Crossings Ministries as they have hired a new president, Jeff Dalrymple. They are also on pace for another record-breaking number of students at camp this summer.

Sunrise Children’s Services, under the leadership of its new president, Dale Suttles, also continues to break records and will soon top the 1,000 mark in the number of kids being ministered to by Kentucky Baptists’ orphan care ministry. Many of these children’s biological parents are still living, but these kids could be called “orphans of the living.” Considering the abuse and neglect they have endured at the hands of their parents, being an orphan of the living may be a worse plight than to have parents pass away. Helping them shoulder their pain and providing safe and loving care are a people called Kentucky Baptists.

With an enrollment that has now surpassed 6,000 graduate and undergraduate students, the University of the Cumberlands, under the leadership of its new president, Larry Cockrum, isn’t just breaking records, they are destroying them! My son is in his first semester at UC, shooting for the Patriot Archery Team and loving it. Enrollment is also climbing at Oneida Baptist Institute and Clear Creek Baptist Bible College.

The Kentucky Baptist Foundation, under the leadership of its new president, Richard Carnes, has entered a new phase of partnering with Mission Board staff members to help undergird the financial future of local churches and Baptist work. Thankfully, the Western Recorder and Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union also continue their vital ministry roles in Kentucky.

As I said at the beginning, it’s a good day to be a Kentucky Baptist! Thank you for being a part of all God is doing through cooperative ministries and the Cooperative Program of the Kentucky Baptist Convention!

Posted in Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Cooperative Program, Crossings Ministries, Denominational Life, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Kentucky Baptist Foundation, Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union, Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention, Sunrise Children's Services, University of the Cumberlands, Western Recorder | Leave a comment

Baptists in Southern Africa are shining a ‘bright light’ on a dark place

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A common tendency among foster parents is that we love to talk about it. We love to talk about it in the hopes that others will see the need and opportunity to care for the countless number of kids needing a home, and we love to talk about it because each foster family’s story is filled with unique joys and challenges. As much as I like to talk about foster parenting, I was a little surprised to find myself talking about it in South Africa.

On a recent trip to explore a new aspect of our 3-year-old partnership between Baptist Global Response and Kentucky Baptists to meet emergency needs in Sub-Saharan Africa, I was pleased to learn that the Baptist Union of Southern Africa has an orphan and foster care ministry much like our Sunrise Children’s Services. The leader of that ministry currently has six foster children. In a nation with 4 million orphans, the need is overwhelming.

South Africa is one of several nations in Sub-Saharan Africa suffering the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV/AIDS than any other part of the world. Nearly 23 million people are living with HIV in the region. In 2012, 1.2 million people died from AIDS there, and 1.9 million people became infected with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 14.8 million children have lost one or both parents to the disease. The HIV prevalence rate now exceeds 20 percent in a number of African countries, pushing the average life expectancy in some countries below 49 years. Households are severely affected by the loss of income earners, necessity to provide home-based care for sick relatives, and an ongoing orphan crisis.

In the midst of such hopelessness, a bright light that has been shining for nearly 140 years is the Baptist Union of Southern Africa. BUSA was founded in 1877 by five partnering churches in the Eastern Cape. Today it comprises more than 800 churches spread throughout Southern Africa.

Having worked with several overseas Baptist conventions in the past, we’ve been greatly encouraged by the diversity, organization, and commitment observable in BUSA’s leadership. As KBC Disaster Relief Director Coy Webb shared steps for BUSA to establish its own disaster relief ministry, we found leaders anxious to grow their ministry to the hurting. Plans are in the works for us to support their training efforts.

The proverb is true, “It’s better to teach a man to fish than give him fish for a day.” While we will continue to serve alongside BGR to help the hurting in Sub-Saharan Africa, we are excited by the prospect of coming alongside African churches as they help the hurting in their own land.

Posted in Baptist Global Response, Disaster Relief, Foster care, Missions, Networking, Partnership, Sunrise Children's Services | Leave a comment

GUEST POST: We have what it takes

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This is a guest column from Andrew Dyer, pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in London and Kentucky Baptist Convention first vice president.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” begins Dickens’ classic “A Tale of Two Cities.” Regarding the present and future of the work of God’s people known as Baptists, many are taking a rather pessimistic view. Many pundits and pastors are lamenting the demise of our churches, convention, and gospel Christianity overall.

Andrew Dyer

Andrew Dyer

While there are significant challenges facing our churches, local associations, and state and national conventions, Christ followers must remember His clear teaching that we should not lose heart. Jesus Himself promised to build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

Following His ascension, Christ did not leave his infant church vulnerable. He empowered it with the Holy Spirit. This was the same Spirit of God involved in creation and the resurrection. Through this Spirit, Christ left His disciples with the assurance that He would be with them always, and that certainly includes today. The Holy Spirit is more than enough to comfort the brokenhearted, convict the sinner, conform the saint into the image of Christ, and cultivate fruit that demonstrates a life of victory.

Jesus also equipped His church by giving them His word – the law, the prophets, the wisdom literature of what we now call the Old Testament, as well as the soon-to-be-finished Word through the writings of the apostles themselves. This God-breathed book is given that His people might grow in faith and be equipped for every good work.

Baptists are a people who believe the Bible. The reclamation of the biblical doctrines of Scripture’s inerrancy and authority has been a point of emphasis throughout my lifetime as a Baptist. However, I believe there is another biblical doctrine that is much neglected in today’s church. I believe this doctrine is not only the theoretical, but also the practical key to stemming the tide of despair and decline as we move forward to fulfill the calling of Christ. If we, as God’s church, are going to see God work in our midst, we must recover the doctrine of Scripture’s sufficiency.

Undoubtedly, most Baptists would verbally affirm the doctrine of sufficiency. However, one look at the methodology of many churches would practically show there is a denial that Scripture alone is enough. One has to look no further than our pulpits to see there is doubt about whether God’s word really contains all we need for life and godliness.

In many places, sermons are built around a felt need, a contemporary happening in the world, or even an illustration or quote the pastor finds “inspirational.” Blogs, conferences, books, and programs offer little biblical substance, but instead heavily focus on style and fads. Our children’s and youth ministries – even our worship ministries – seem to downplay the priority of Scripture for things deemed more “relevant.”

God has equipped His church for these days. His word still works. His Spirit is still powerful. By God’s grace, we have what it takes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Join me for a tour of the Holy Land

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Holy-Land-web-logoMichelle and I were blessed to tour the Holy Land in 2001. I agree with Dr. Steve Rice who says, “The best way I can sum up the trip is that it changes you. I am not the same guy I was when I left. I will never read the Bible the same, I will never preach the same, and hopefully, I will never live the same.”

Michelle and I had this same life-changing opportunity due to the generosity of a church member who loved his pastor and wanted to richly bless my life and ministry. At the time, we could not have afforded the trip, but how thankful I am that I was able to have the experience so early in my ministry. My favorite memory was standing on the hillsides overlooking the Sea of Galilee in the area where it is believed Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount. The beauty and tranquility of that setting and the thought of my Lord standing on a grassy knoll speaking the “words of life” captured my mind and my heart. Never had I felt as close to Him.

Dr. Rice and I will lead a Kentucky Baptist Convention trip to the Holy Land on March 14-23, 2017. We are partnering with Jerusalem Tours out of Columbus, Ohio. Owners David and Sara Chay are a wonderful couple who know how to put together tours to their homeland. Our guide, Kobi Kimhy, has been voted the No. 1 tour guide in Israel a number of times. His knowledge, personality, and genuine love for Israel cannot be matched.

We want to invite pastors, church staff, church members, directors of missions, along with any believers who want to join us as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We have negotiated a great price of $3,869 per person, which includes flights from Louisville, hotels, touring, meals, tips, fuel charges, etc. We invite churches to consider sending their pastor(s) and his wife on this trip of a lifetime.

If you are interested or have any questions, please email Dr. Rice at steve.rice@kybaptist.org or contact him at (502) 489-3434. Reserve your spot early, because I believe this is going to be a very popular trip.

Click here for more about the Holy Land Tour.

Posted in Holy Land, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Pastor, Personal Reflections | Comments closed
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