A Welcomed Breakthrough with Campbellsville

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Friday evening I received a much welcomed call from Charles Barnes, one of our past Kentucky Baptist Convention presidents and a well-known lay leader in the KBC. Barnes called to inform me that Campbellsville University had agreed to our requests for a meeting. Saturday, at 3pm, that meeting took place.

KBC leaders present were Garnetta Smith, chairperson of the KBC Mission Board’s Agency & Institution Committee, Adam Greenway, chairman of the KBC Mission Board’s Administrative Committee, Roger Alford, who is both a KBC pastor and the Mission Board’s Director of Communications, KBC attorney James Taylor, Charles Barnes, and myself. Campbellsville was represented by President Mike Carter, Vice President John Chowning, KBC pastor and CU Board Chairman Joseph Owens, board members and KBC pastors Mike Oneil and James Jones, and CU’s attorneys.

From the outset the meeting was conciliatory and redemptive. CU leaders offered their apologies for any disparaging or divisive remarks about the KBC over the past few weeks and requested we recommit ourselves to walking together in a way that is worthy of our Lord. In Matthew 18:22, Jesus tells Peter that we should forgive “seventy times seven.” That is to say, our willingness to forgive should be limitless. Since that is the kind of forgiveness we all need and have all received, it is the kind we must extend. And we all did.

Moreover, each of us personally committed to doing what we can to help Campbellsville move forward. While the university’s future relationship with Kentucky Baptists will probably look different than the past, I truly believe we can walk forward supportive of one another and engaging in a ministry partnership that will advance the Kingdom in Kentucky and to the ends of the earth.

Pray for Campbellsville’s trustees. They have important decisions to make regarding the future of the institution. Ask God to give them wisdom and the knowledge of His will. And ask God to help each of us walk humbly before Him and seek to honor one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10). In so doing, we honor Him.

Posted in Campbellsville University, Christian Education, Cooperative Program, Denominational Life, Education, Mission Board, Partnership | 1 Response

Kingdom Partnerships

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Kentucky Baptists have been blessed by longstanding partnerships with a host of agencies and institutions providing various ministries all across our state. These entities have been supported through individual donations, the Cooperative Program and special offerings totaling literally hundreds of millions of dollars from Kentucky Baptists. Over the course of time, the relationships have proven mutually beneficial for the entities and for the kingdom agenda of our churches.

As is true of a healthy marriage, longstanding relationships between Kentucky Baptist Convention churches and their entities have always required a commitment of mutual love, respect and submission on both parties. When relational challenges or disagreements have occurred, these challenges have been addressed through careful inquiry, honest dialogue, respectful debate and much time spent in prayer. Over the years some of the relationships have experienced dramatic changes, but, even then, open and charitable communication marked the transition before a watching world.

Recently, however, Kentucky Baptists’ legacy of open communication and respect has been severely compromised. We started well enough. In April 2013, when questions arose over Campbellsville’s commitment to a biblical worldview and Baptist beliefs, we did what we have typically done: We assembled a group of reasonable, trustworthy leaders and talked through the issues. The result was a commitment to our relationship.

When, only a month later, the school raised several objections to its longstanding covenant agreement with Kentucky Baptists, more meetings were held—each at the university’s invitation—to address those objections. Each time the result was a commitment to our relationship.

On July 11, 2014, however, the university’s invitation was not to dialogue but to listen as their attorneys reviewed changes to the university’s governing documents that, in the opinion of KBC attorney James Taylor, are “clearly inconsistent with the covenant agreement.” The changes allow CU to transition to a self-perpetuating trustee board, which, as their attorneys stated several times, is the plan of the university beginning this year.

No one from the university administration, faculty or trustee board was present. They simply sent their attorneys. Since then, we have sent five requests to meet. As I submit this article Aug. 8th, we have received not a single reply. We are left to look for updates in the school’s latest press releases and mass mailings.

As we await additional updates, I want to assure Kentucky Baptists that their elected, appointed and employed leaders are doing everything that can be done to salvage this relationship and, at the same time, striving to act in a manner consistent with the legacy of those who have gone before us. We refuse to give up hope that Campbellsville and the churches of the KBC can walk together in covenant.

Posted in Campbellsville University | 6 Responses

The Wrongful Death of Marriage

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News that District Judge John G. Heyburn once again usurped the will of Kentucky voters is tragic and disappointing. By declaring gay marriage legal in the Commonwealth, Heyburn defied the essential, foundational governing document that ensures order and justice, the Constitution of Kentucky. While the sin of homosexuality may be no more offensive to God than other sexual sins, for a society to be forced to endorse it through the sacred institution of marriage is both objectionable and dangerous, moving us further down the slippery slope toward moral chaos. Why is gay marriage wrong for Kentucky?

First, as Governor Beshear’s legal counsel argued, gay marriage precludes one of the state’s primary interests in marriage, i.e., procreation. While I agree with the state’s argument, it was presented weakly and, left to stand alone, was hardly persuasive. Judge Heyburn remarked, “These arguments are not those of serious people.” I must agree and am left to conclude that Beshear, like Attorney General Jack Conway, has no desire to mount a serious defense of our constitution.

Second, gay marriage is wrong because it denies the natural order. Whether one is a Bible believing creationist or a secular evolutionist, any rational observer of our world must admit that the survival of any and every species on the planet depends upon a natural order that includes reproduction. Homosexuality perverts the natural order and homosexual marriage cheapens the institution of marriage by removing from it the essence of its purpose.

Third, state-endorsed homosexual marriage further legitimizes homosexual couples as parents. Thus, the state tragically endorses depriving children of their innate need of both a father and a mother. With regard to mommy and daddy, children raised by homosexual couples have either/or not both/and. Heyburn’s decision not only thwarts nature, it robs children of an intrinsic need.

Fourth, in states all across the country homosexual marriage is being forced upon the citizens by liberal judges even though most states, like Kentucky, have overwhelmingly voted to refuse it. These judges are subverting the democratic process in tyrannical fashion. Simply put, that is wrong.

Fifth, homosexual marriage is a headlong leap down the slippery slope toward moral chaos. One of the sound bites from gay activists regarding Heyburn’s ruling was, “Love wins!” If the mere profession of an individual’s love for someone or something else were to become the new standard for marriage, gay marriage clearly opens the doorway to bigamy and polygamy and at least cracks the doorway of state-sanctioned childhood brides and even bestiality. This type of government-sanctioned perversion has teenage girls in locker rooms at Louisville’s Atherton High School being required to undress in front of teenage boys pretending to be girls. That kind of moral outrage denies the rights of children to be protected.

Sixth, and not inconsequential for those who adhere to the teachings of Scripture or who at least concede that the success of any democratic government depends upon a society’s willingness to embrace certain values and moral norms, is the matter of morality. Biblical morality is not fuzzy when it comes to homosexuality. Both Testaments unequivocally condemn it and in Matthew 19, Jesus clearly defines marriage in heterosexual terms, being perfectly consistent with Genesis 2.

John Heyburn and judges who share his views represent a departure from the entire scope of civilized human history. They turn a blind eye to the historic teachings of every major religion in the world. Determined to alter our society, they have thrown nature, the needs of children, and the rights of voters to the wind and cast marriage to the moral gutter.

Posted in Culture, Family, Gay Marriage, Public Affairs | 19 Responses

The Tangled Web ‘We’ Weave …

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Guest Article by Curtis Woods, KBC Associate Executive Director

In 2012, our mission board staff adopted five core values—trustworthy, encouraging, accountable, mature, and sensitive—the first letters of which spell the word “Teams.”

Every team member evaluates ministerial effectiveness according to these core values. Our core values guide our conduct as we help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. While each value is indispensable, one value lays the foundation for the rest—trustworthy.

We define trustworthy as: “Can be relied upon as a resource to ease ministry pain, not create more.” The axiom is simple: trustworthy people are truthful people. They embrace truth in order to reject duplicity’s demonic lure.

Scripture illustrates how the master of duplicity convinced the first family to question, and subsequently reject, God’s authoritative decree. In the garden, Eve, accompanied by Adam, acquiesced to the serpent’s proposition to embrace intellectual freedom apart from the wisdom of God.

The serpent gleefully invited the first family to sip from his duplicitous chalice. Eve accepted the offer when the serpent piqued her interest, saying, “Has God indeed said…” (Gen 3:1)? Eve thus questioned God’s sovereignty and his truthfulness. She was “deceived and fell into transgression,” taking matters into her own hands (1Tim 2:14). Adam, not immune from culpability, failed on his watch. He allowed the serpent to wreak havoc within the family and then willing participated in sin himself.

Michael James Williams, in his work Deception in Genesis,describes a duplicitous personality thusly: “Deception [duplicity] takes place when an agent intentionally distorts, withholds, or otherwise manipulates information reaching some person(s) in order to stimulate in the person(s) a belief that the agent does not believe in order to serve the agent’s purpose.”

That is to say, a duplicitous person expresses ideas contrary to personal belief in order to win followers. These leaders are extremely dangerous because their only commitment is to themselves, not the kingdom of God. They have tattooed above their brow, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

Ironically, these leaders will eventually choke on the poison of their own venomous bite when the Sovereign One says, “Enough!”

The very nature of duplicity destroys one’s ability to discern good and evil.

Conversely, in the book of Hebrews, believers learn to discern good and evil by breathing in God’s Word (Heb 5:14). Without submitting to the authority of God’s Word in all of its parts, trustworthiness is an elusive dream. Time will be spent spinning tangled webs and victimizing those who follow.

As a mission board staff, we refuse to weave tangled webs because our churches deserve truth. We strive to be trustworthy as opposed to duplicitous.

The Lord is watching.

Posted in Denominational Life, Leader Training, Mission Board | Leave a comment

Cornbread anyone?

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Guest article by Rev. Ed Amundson, currently serving as 2nd Vice President of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Ed also serves as pastor of High Street Baptist Church in Somerset, Kentucky.

The mere mention of the word “cornbread” gets my attention! I love the smell, taste, texture and touch! I don’t care if it’s white or yellow, sweet or straight-up, baked in a pone or fried into a fritter. I like cornbread! In fact, the only kind of cornbread I don’t like is cornbread that is perfectly round and doesn’t crumble. My wife Shannon’s late Poppa used to say, “If it doesn’t crumble all to pieces, it’s no good.” 

My life-verse this year is Luke 15:2–“The Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, ‘This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.’” In John 14:12, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” If I say I am a disciple of Jesus Christ but I’m not doing what Jesus did, who is lying? Me or Jesus?

To be clear, I don’t think Jesus meant that just because He walked upon the water that you and I have to walk an inch above it! But when it comes to Jesus modeling what He obviously wanted His disciples to emulate during New Testament times, I believe His disciples should still be emulating it in our time. Above all else, Jesus came to make disciples, modeled disciple-making, and call on all of His disciples to make disciples.

The disciple-making process begins with sinners. That’s where the cornbread comes in. I don’t know what part of the state of Kentucky you minister in, but down in Somerset cornbread makes friends of sinners! I call it “eating evangelism.” You see where I am going. Again, Luke 15:2 says, “This man (Jesus) receiveth sinners (He doesn’t accept sin, but He makes Himself presently available to sinners) and eateth with them.”

Everyone needs physical food and everyone needs spiritual food. For physical food, cornbread is just about as good as it gets, at least in my opinion. For spiritual food, Jesus called Himself “the bread of life.” Everyone needs Jesus! To introduce Himself to sinners as the bread of life, Jesus often shared a meal with them. Note, He didn’t take food and drop it off with them; He ate the same food, in the same place with the same people He was trying to reach!

Conclusion? Do eating evangelism! Go and break bread with sinners! Bring fresh bread from both the bakery and Jesus Christ. And remember, a pone of cornbread is made up of thousands of granules of ground-up corn kernels, but good cornbread granules don’t stay together long. They break away from the group and get all over people! Catch the drift?

Posted in Evangelism | 4 Responses