State lawmakers set to debate critical issues

Facebook Twitter Email

In the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly session, several critical issues will be considered, but a few rise to the top of my list of concerns for families in our state.

Ky CapitolFirst, and once again, we continue to hope the House of Representatives will work to get pro-life legislation passed. After years of committee leadership deliberately killing ALL pro-life bills, most legislators still believe most such bills would pass the full House with a huge margin of victory. We know from experience that pro-life bills would easily pass the Senate. This matter is literally one of life and death for unborn children in Kentucky. Please consider calling the legislative message line at (800) 372-7181 and leaving a message with your legislators encouraging the support of any pro-life bills.

Second, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg who claims Baptist as his religious affiliation, has filed a bill in this year’s legislative session that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients. While we would like to believe the prescription requirement in the bill would limit its use, we have seen in the past how willing wayward doctors have been able to hand out prescription narcotics. Lawmakers need to see this for what it is: another step in the push by pro-marijuana advocates to legalize marijuana altogether.

As for the medical benefits of marijuana, if such benefits can be proven, any of us would be in favor of the Food and Drug Administration permitting and regulating marijuana as a medicine. We are hopeful that ongoing research will reveal this possibility. For now, the FDA states its position as follows:

The FDA has not approved any product containing or derived from botanical marijuana for any indication. This means that the FDA has not found any such product to be safe or effective for the treatment of any disease or condition. Study of marijuana in clinical trial settings is needed to assess the safety and effectiveness of marijuana for medical use. (http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm421168.htm#Q2)

The FDA has approved one drug containing a synthetic version of a substance that is present in the marijuana plant and another drug containing a synthetic substance that acts similarly to compounds from marijuana but is not present in marijuana. Extensive testing has proven these drugs are effective and that any risks to patients are outweighed by the potential benefits. That is the way the process is supposed to work. For Stumbo to suggest that Kentucky legislators should usurp the FDA’s ongoing process of studying the effectiveness and safety of marijuana as a medicine is irresponsible at best. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and American Cancer Society have all reviewed the science as it relates to their respective discipline and do not advocate the smoking or ingesting of marijuana as medicine.

Please consider calling the legislative message line at (800) 372-7181 and leaving a message with your legislators encouraging them to let the FDA, not politicians, regulate medical drugs.

A third pressing issue is that of payday lending. In short, payday lending is an easy-to-get, “short-term” loan available at ridiculous interest rates, sometimes nearing 400 percent. Loan sharks use these loans to further entrap the poor. Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr and Democrat Sens. Dennis Parrett and Reginald Thomas, would eliminate the $15 service fee per $100 loan and set a maximum annual percentage rate of 36 percent. It is good legislation, and I encourage you to encourage our elected representatives to support it.

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

College ministry strategy shift producing results

Facebook Twitter Email

bcm-home-adIn his book, Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, Thom Rainer claims today’s generation of college students are, for the most part, unreached with the gospel. Rainer indicates that only 4 percent of those who are college age profess to be born-again followers of Jesus Christ. That being true, of the approximately 250,000 college students in Kentucky, more than 200,000 will spend eternity in hell if they should die before they hear the gospel and believe.

The churches of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, working together, are addressing this need more effectively today than ever before. For decades now, churches have given through the Cooperative Program to provide Baptist Campus Ministry directors on our major college and university campuses. In the past, about 10 full-time directors, accompanied by part-time workers and a host of volunteers from committed churches, sought to disciple believers and evangelize unbelievers on their campuses. This ministry served to bless and equip many who now serve Christ as ministers and laypersons all across Kentucky and around the world. In 2011, our BCM directors reported 96 people had come to faith through BCM work on and off the campuses.

We praised God for each soul saved but grieved over the hundreds of thousands who remained lost. In 2013, Brian Combs, who serves as the KBC’s Collegiate Evangelism Strategist, enlisted the help of several KBC staff members and church leaders from across the state in an effort to recast our vision for reaching university campuses. Realizing there are now more than 100 campuses across Kentucky, the group began to explore ways to grow our witness.

One of the most noticeable changes resulting from the effort was the elimination of the role of the BCM director. The new position is that of the Campus Missionary. While some of the names and faces of those leading the work on our campuses have not changed, the change in job title reflects the prioritization of evangelism.

Another change is the addition of the Campus Ministry Intern (CMI) program that allows people to serve in part-time ministry roles under our Campus Missionaries. These interns are connected directly to local churches and associations. They meet specified qualifications, commit to a period of service, raise their own support, and help multiply the ministry of the Campus Missionaries. While we could never employ enough Campus Missionaries to reach 250,000 students, we believe the CMI strategy will greatly increase our gospel witness.

We are already seeing results from these and other changes. In 2014, our Campus Missionaries reported 876 professions of faith on the campuses and an additional 110 professions of faith from ministry work done off campus. We still have a long way to go in order to be able to say that every college student in Kentucky has heard the gospel, but a tenfold increase in the number of persons who have professed faith through the work of Baptist Campus Ministry is a cause for celebration. Might God be glorified!

Posted in Affinity Evangelism, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Collegiate Ministries, Missions | Leave a comment

Tell Your Story

Facebook Twitter Email

Tell-Your-Story.logoOn the heels of our annual meeting celebration in Bowling Green, I continue to hear many positive comments and compliments about the “Tell Your Story” theme and the testimonies shared by those who lead Kentucky Baptists and our agencies and institutions. The testimonies set the tone of the annual meeting and kept us focused on celebrating and sharing God’s work in our lives.

We continue to see people get on the TYS bandwagon as a way of sharing the gospel story that those who are lost might be saved. As an update on this effort, let me share with you that, as of Dec. 10, we had 280 stories posted on the tellyourstory.today website. From Nov. 10 through Dec. 10, we counted more than 30,000 visitors to the site. Just in the past 10 days, visitors from nine different countries listened to approximately 2,500 stories.

The international witnessing opportunity provided by the TYS website should not be overlooked, especially as a gospel presence is being systematically removed in places like Syria and Iraq.

A recent report on the ongoing brutal slaughter of Christians in Iraq revealed an unimaginable brutality. In one reported incident, four Christian children under the age of 15 were called upon by ISIS to declare their allegiance to Mohammed. Instead, they declared their love for Jesus. The Jihadists responded by cutting off the heads of those children. In another reported incident, a Christian father was assured that his children would be decapitated if he refused to swear allegiance to Mohammed. He had every reason to believe the jihadists would do as they promised, so, to save the lives of his children, he declared his allegiance to the false prophet. He then called his pastor to ask if Jesus would forgive him. His pastor assured him of the love and grace of the Savior.

Kentucky Baptists continue to make sacrifices to get more resources to our overseas missionaries. TYS allows us to share not only our resources but our stories with the nations, as well as with our neighbors here at home.

Let me encourage you to go to www.tellyourstory.today and record your story. In 2-3 minutes, share how you came to Christ. A brief but clear presentation of the gospel will be tagged onto the end of your story so that anyone who listens will not only know how you were saved but also understand how they can be saved. Within a day or so of recording your story, you will receive a text message letting you know it has been posted. You will also receive the web address so you can share it as you invite people to listen to your story.

If you want to hear my story, go to bit.ly/paulcky1.

Posted in Evangelism, Tell Your Story | Leave a comment

International missions challenge starts at home

Facebook Twitter Email

LMCO graphicThe Week of Prayer for International Missions was an opportunity for us to reflect upon the need for Christ to be preached among the nations. With billions of people remaining in the grasp of idol worship and unbelief, the call to make known the life-giving message of the gospel must be heard. “Go ye therefore!” declares the one who suffered for the sins of the world. He who wills that none be lost has charged those who have been found to pursue any who yet stand in need of His mercies.

While some of us may hear the call to permanently move to foreign fields, those of us who have not can still take advantage of opportunities to serve alongside our career missionaries through volunteer mission trips. And ALL of us can do our part to support God’s missionaries with our prayers and offerings.

Among the Southern Baptist family, Kentucky Baptists have led the way in our giving to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. Only the new Southern Baptists of Texas Convention sends a higher percentage of Cooperative Program gifts to the International Mission Board than the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The CP funds many ministries in Kentucky and North America, but 5 million CP dollars now make it to the IMB from Kentucky. In addition to CP support, Kentucky Baptists give approximately $5 million more to the IMB through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Over the years, Kentucky Baptists have given generously to support our IMB missionaries. Yet, in spite of our generosity, the growing cost of missionary support and the lack of sufficient growth in giving finds the IMB missionary count down nearly 1,000 from where it was five years ago.

How can this problem be fixed? Here is a simple plan for Kentucky Baptists to get another 100 missionaries to the foreign fields.

First, if every KBC church giving less than 10 percent through the CP increased its giving to 10 percent, we would provide for another 40 IMB missionaries, not to mention the additional funds that would be available to help reach Kentucky and North America for Christ.

Then, if every KBC church increased its giving to Lottie Moon by $1,000, another 60 missionaries could be serving through IMB. Last year, the average KBC church gave approximately $2,000 to Lottie. Keep in mind that some of our churches are giving tens of thousands while others give nothing. Yet, if all 2,400 churches send $1,000 more, regardless of the amount of last year’s contribution, 60 more workers can be sent out to the harvest fields.

Paul said of the Macedonian believers, “They gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means” (2 Corinthians 8:3). My prayer is that Kentucky Baptists will exhibit that same kind of generosity.

Posted in Cooperative Program, International Mission Board, Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, Missions, Southern Baptist Convention | Leave a comment

THE PURGE

Facebook Twitter Email

Guest post by Curtis Woods, Associate Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention

IMG_2023

The movie entitled “The Purge” is not that farfetched in light of human depravity. For those who don’t know, the film’s theme centers on a citywide decree that all crime, no matter how grotesque, would be forgiven for a 24-hour period.

In the film, common citizens wielded “lawful swords” on behalf of the government. They had permission to destroy life without consequences. Unfortunately, in this fiction, the premise for taking life stands against reason. In the film, governmental authorities argued from a distorted philosophical presupposition. Namely, the film depicts authorities who desire to balance good with evil—a Hollywood “Yin and Yang” of sorts. As such, people all over the city became hunter or hunted, victimizers or victims.

When chaos becomes commonplace, you destroy the idea of a commonwealth. No one is safe.

Some might think that victimizers experience safety when they destroy the imago Dei or create havoc in society and face no immediate, visible consequences. They are wrong. Since the first sin in the garden (Genesis 3) and the subsequent sin of murder (Genesis 4), God declares judgment on the shedding of blood because mayhem disrupts the fabric of society.

In the biblical scenario, we are certain that the blood of Abel, which cried out for vengeance from the ground, was “innocent.” But, in the case of Michael Brown, I am not sure of the extent of his innocence or guilt. All I know is an Anglo man in authority used his power to take African-American life. And, in my opinion, that is the rub.

We are witnessing anger towards what some envision as an unlawful use of authority.

Tragically, most who are crying out for justice are not as vehement when they hear the ubiquitous cries for justice from black sons and daughters who were slain at the hands of other blacks. They neglect the timeless admonishment of Arnold Adoff, in his Black on Black, to exercise cultural agency in such a way that life is honored from the cradle to the grave. All life is precious. In fact, some erroneously think another panel discussion, conference, or series of blog posts will curtail this malady. It will not.

History reveals that those who truly change society do it life-on-life.

After watching the aftermath of the Michael Brown verdict in Ferguson, I thought, “We are not as far removed from ‘The Purge’ as some might think.”

It seems clear that the police officers were given a standing order to quarter the violence to a specific geographic location. Only when the violence escalated to the point where the centripetal force of mob rule began to sweep businesses like a herd of Zombies did the police begin to reestablish order. I watched city leaders or law-givers allow law-breakers to engage in criminal activity without consequences. Was this sanctioned anarchy? I think so.

Which raises the question, why did authorities sheath the sword in this case but wield the sword so hastily against Michael Brown?

I do not know. Neither do you. We are clueless. We cannot act as judge and jury.

What we can do is admit that we do not live in a post-racial society. The ubiquitous pain of racism is evident in the pedagogy of the oppressed even though the oppressed readily become oppressors once the tide turns in their favor. We saw that last night in Ferguson.

Under the cloak of darkness, the mob had permission to “Purge” a small area. Neither the mob nor the police modeled virtue. On both sides, there was “no justice and no peace.”
Read More »

Posted in Culture, Multiethnic ministry, Race Relations | 10 Responses
show
 
close