Wise Decisions

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wisdom-luke735Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved right by all her children” (Luke 7:35). One way of extrapolating that proverb could be to say that, over time, a wise decision is proven as such.

At our annual meeting in 2013, Kentucky Baptists made the heart-wrenching decision to formally end all ties with Georgetown College. This decision was precipitated by the choice of Georgetown’s trustees to walk away from their Covenant Agreement with Kentucky Baptist churches in 2005. Moreover, Georgetown’s unwillingness to honor the terms of a partnership agreement in place since 2005 made it clear the college was continuing to drift from the churches that had long supported her.

While those facts may have made the decision seem like a “no-brainer,” other circumstances made it grievously difficult. Among those circumstances is the reality that Georgetown is the alma mater of several generations of Kentucky Baptist pastors and lay leaders. Shake the hands of four or five Kentucky Baptists and you have shaken the hands of at least one Georgetown grad. Moreover, Kentucky Baptists have invested tens of millions of dollars in Georgetown. I dare say the college would have closed its doors long ago had it not lived off the generous support of KBC churches and church members. To walk away from such a significant investment of Kingdom resources was a very difficult decision made only after years of study by KBC leaders and countless failed attempts to woo the college back to her churches.

With the matter decided last year, why reference it now?

An article appearing recently in The Georgetonian, the college’s weekly newspaper, stated that the new president, Dwaine Greene, “implied that his commitment to fairness and the College’s willingness to accept gay faculty, staff and students should be seen as a measure of progress.” Another article by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth noted, “The College adopted a formal policy prohibiting discrimination against gay students in 2008. College officials shy away from public acknowledgment of these policies.” The article went on to disclose the fact that the college began to sponsor a gay student group in 2011 and, “In the Spring of 2012, about 90% of the faculty at the College voted in favor of a proposal to expand non-discrimination in hiring to include sexual orientation.” The next statement was particularly revealing, “The proposal was considered especially timely in view of the fact that the College now does employ a few openly gay faculty and staff members.”

Georgetown’s enthusiastic endorsement of lifestyles condemned by Scripture proves the wisdom of the decision made by our churches last year to end the failed partnership agreement with the college. Thank God for our KBC covenant partners still willing to stand with the Bible!

 

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Living Worthy of our Calling

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superhero-ephesians

The following is a guest post from Kevin Milburn, who serves as first vice president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

My 10 year old daughter and 3 year old son recently found themselves in a bit of a disagreement that sent my son off into the other room crying. As he turned and fled, she said “You’re acting like a little baby!” He stopped in his tracks, quickly dried the tears, stared her down with intense confidence, and said, “I AM NOT A BABY! ‘Cause dad says I’m a super-hero and if dad says I’m a super-hero then that’s what I am!”

My son’s confidence arose from my affirmation of him each time he had achieved a “big boy” accomplishment in life. You see, my encouragement to this admirer of all things super-hero was to say, “Great job! You are a true super-hero!” It was clear, in this moment of confidence before his big sister, that the voice of his father had given him assurance in knowing just who he was.

In Ephesians 1:5, the apostle Paul encourages the church with a reminder of our identity as the blood-bought followers of Christ – we are adopted as “children of God.” In Ephesians 4:1, Paul uses our position in Christ, as he had established in chapters 1-3, to challenge our walk with Christ when he calls us to “live lives worthy” of our calling. The word “worthy” literally speaks of “an equal or balanced weight.” The point is powerful – the weight of our lives is meant to live up to the weight of our calling. What a great reminder of our calling — to live holy and pleasing lives to the Lord that measure up in weight to the high calling we have as children of the one true King!

Such a calling doesn’t make us a super-hero. Our frailty and imperfections certainly remind us of this fact day after day (Romans 3:23). And yet, while our high calling does not grant us super-hero status, it should fill us with a passion and a desire to love and please the Holy God who has called us to salvation and sanctification in Christ Jesus.

My friends, we are living in tough days. As we speak for and live for Christ, we are increasing maligned, mocked, and persecuted, and yet, we must remain firm in our proclamation of the truth of the gospel. Rest assured, the world considers us fools for all we hold dear. In these times, it is necessary to be reminded of who we are and to Whom we belong. No matter what this world calls us, as followers of Christ, may we humbly and confidently walk in the assurance of our heavenly Father’s voice, Who has called us “children of the King” (1 John 3:1)!

 

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Video: KBC President and I discuss gambling battle with ERLC’s Walker

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Protecting biblical marriage

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The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus saying, “At the beginning the Creator made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

In so doing, Jesus confirmed that God’s definition of marriage had not and has not changed from creation. America’s definition of marriage, however, is rapidly changing.

Hardly a week goes by without one or more phone calls to the Kentucky Baptist Convention building requesting information on how churches should respond to gay marriage. A federal court judge recently ruled that Kentucky must recognize gay marriages performed in other states. (As I understand it, this is still in appeal process and the state is not yet recognizing out-of-state gay marriages.) Although gay marriage licenses are not yet issued in the commonwealth, the day of our constitutional definition of marriage being overturned, and gay marriage being forced upon our state, probably isn’t very far away. In light of this probability, many are rightly concerned about how to protect biblical marriage in the local church.

To that end, we have planned a conference entitled, “Protecting Biblical Marriage: Practical and Legal Issues For Your Church.” The two-hour event will take place May 22, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Crestwood Baptist Church in Crestwood. We plan to address not only the breakneck speed of our society’s abandonment of the biblical definition of marriage, but also what that abandonment may mean for churches that refuse to surrender their biblical convictions on this issue. We will also equip churches to address the practical side of this issue by providing sample bylaws and legal counsel.

Presenters for the conference include Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Andrew Walker, director of policy studies for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Augie Boto, executive vice president and general counsel for the SBC Executive Committee. They will be joined on a discussion panel by Bill Langley, pastor of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, (comma added) and Curtis Woods, KBC’s associate executive director for convention relations.

While we are not excited about the need for this conference, we are thrilled that God has given us men like these to provide wise counsel for our churches. In all likelihood, gay marriage is here to stay. How churches respond to that reality will determine whether a true witness of the gospel will also remain.

Who should attend the Protecting Biblical Marriage conference? Pastors, lay leaders, and anyone else who is concerned about how the local church needs to respond to our cultural and legal redefinition of marriage. If unable to attend in person, the event can be viewed live via the web and videos will be posted after the event at kybaptist.org/marriage.

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Developing an Acts 1:8 mission strategy for your church

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An Acts 1:8 mission strategy is essential to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus stipulated that we are to make disciples of panta ta ethne, “all the peoples.” In Acts 1:8, he emphasized the disciples’ witness “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Thus, obedience to our Lord’s mandate is best achieved by an intentional effort to share the gospel in our community, our state, our nation, and among the nations.

Southern Baptists realized long ago that the best way for every church to achieve a meaningful missionary presence at home and abroad is by cooperating with other churches. As they combine their resources, churches can guarantee ample and consistent support for missionary personnel and ongoing mission projects across the globe. Moreover, not having to spend time away from the work to go from church to church soliciting funds means our missionaries can be much more focused and effective. Ah, the beauty of the Cooperative Program!

A meaningful missionary presence at home and abroad is achievable for every church as they send and support missionaries through CP. Sending vocational missionaries does not, however, preclude church members from “hands-on” involvement in the work. As a pastor, I quickly learned that providing opportunities for volunteer missions at home and abroad dramatically increased the Great Commission culture in our church. Those who served as workers in the harvest grew in their personal faith, saw God’s Kingdom grow, and grew in their generosity for God’s mission. Likewise, I grew in my appreciation for our denominational mission strategy and an Acts 1:8 missionary strategy customized and personalized for our local church.

Doug Williams recently joined the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Mission Board staff to assist churches and associations seeking to develop a customized and personalized Acts 1:8 mission strategy. Previously, Williams has served as pastor of two KBC churches, Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville and Camp Ground Baptist Church in Somerset. Before coming to Kentucky, he was associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. A graduate of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Williams is nearing completion of a Doctor of Philosophy from Southern.

Williams brings the formal training, practical experience, and Great Commission passion that will make him a blessing to Kentucky Baptists. If your church or association needs assistance, you can contact him at doug.williams@kybaptist.org.

Remember, the KBC was created by churches, for churches, to help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.

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