Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dr. R. Lamar Vest to Become President of the American Bible Society

Rev. Dr. R. Lamar Vest, the executive vice-president of the American Bible Society, will serve as the organization's next president beginning January 1, 2009, according to an announcement this past week.

The announcement of Vest's acceptance of his new position comes five months after the Board of Trustees determined not to bring back former president, Dr. Paul Irwin, whose contract was set to expire on June 30, 2008. Irwin had been suspended amid an investigation of possible financial irregularities at the organization.


How Safe Is Your Church?

What's your responsibility to your peoplefor their safety? Do you have ex-offenders who attend your church? Don't they matter to God? Many of them have experienced life transformation by the work and wonder of the Holy Spirit and their cooperative steps in community, study, and surrender. But, transformed or not - when an offender has harmed a child, sexually transgressed another person ... what then?

Does your church have a security team? Are they trained and competent? Is that enough? What's the awkward but appropriate mix of grace and boundaries? How do you decide who should have background checks and who doesn't? How do you treat people who matter to God? What's your responsibility to the individual seeking new life ... or seeking new prey? What's your responsibility to the people who could be harmed?

Bob D'Ambrosio at Church Solutions says:

Imagine your worst-case scenario. You discover one of your youth ministry volunteers hid a history of sexual abuse and you never knew about it until it was too late. You didn't think it could ever happen, at least not at your church. According to GuideOne Insurance, in a typical year one in 100 churches will experience an allegation of sexual misconduct.

The days of thinking that nothing like this could happen at your church are long gone. Churches weren't asking these questions just a few years ago. But recent attention to clergy sexual misconduct has forced the church to not only ask the questions but also to act with diligence to protect the people it serves. Paul warned the Ephesians to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5: 11). Background checks have become the new screening tool of the church to expose the darkness.

A survey conducted by Church Law and Tax Report found that church volunteers commit 50 percent of all incidents of sexual abuse in churches; paid staff commit 30 percent; and other children commit 20 percent. Many risk-consultant professionals agree that the church is now the pedophiles last refuge because screening doesn't exist in many churches. In a recent Barna study, only 57 percent of the pastors who were polled said their church conducts background and reference checks on those who work with children and youth. Failing to screen out a potential predator may not only bring harm to those in your care but also cause damage to your reputation in the community, in addition to the financial strain of a potential lawsuit. (The average jury award for negligent hiring is more than $8 million.)

The courts describe an organization's screening responsibility as "due diligence," meaning you did everything expected in the screening process to demonstrate you weren't negligent in placing someone in a position where he or she could harm another person. This would apply to those who work with vulnerable groups, such as children, youth, and the elderly and disabled.
So, how do you implement the process of background checking? Here are steps to get started:

- Create a written policy.
- Determine whom to check.
- Include screening requirement in ministry descriptions.
- Start at the top.
- Consider your budget.
- Work your plan.
- Keep Records.

You'll never have a 100 percent guarantee that conducting background checks will prevent all bad things from happening at your church, but it will help to reduce the risk. Make safety a priority in your church as Paul warned the Ephesians and reap the benefit of a secure and caring community.

[from Mark Waltz ...because People Matter by Mark Waltz]

What you doing to a safe environment at your church?

Meal Ideas for Thanksgiving

January 1-21 Prayer and Fasting

According to the Bible, there are three duties of every Christian: give, pray and fast. Fasting takes a lot of discipline and strength – strength which you can only receive from God. Your private discipline will bring you rewards in Heaven, says Matthew 6.

Several years ago, I had a meeting with Pastor Jentezen Franklin which happened to be during his 21 day Fast. I will never forget the powerful Spirit that I sensed which I later attributed to an on-going 21 day Fast. As we embraced, I also could not help but notice the frail skeleton of a Godly man disciplined to fasting.

January 1-21 is the best time of year to conduct a 21 day Fast. It will certainly set the tone for the year and I encourage everyone reading this Blog to join in the spiritual discipline.

The kind of fast you choose should be based on the leading of the Holy Spirit and your particuluar circumstances. Generally, I would encouarge you to embark on a food fast of some form. When the Bible speaks of fasting (as it does consistently) it is almost always referring to a fast regarding food. There is a powerful spiritual release when we deny ourselves in this fundamental way.

You are heavily encouraged to participate in what is commonly known as a "Daniel" or partial fast. The focus here is not on a complete abstaining from all food, but on the restriction of one's diet. Generally, this highlights a fast from meat and seeks instead to focus on fruits and vegetables. Another form of the partial fast might include omitting a particular meal each day, thus limiting the quantity of food consumed.

Jentezen Franklin Calls for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

For many years now, friends like you have joined me in a 21-day corporate fast to seek and honor God in January for the New Year. "I beseech you therefore; brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). By starting each year with a corporate fast, we have found that God meets with us in very unique and special ways. His presence grows greater and greater with each day of the fast. Without fail, He always shows up!

Corporately fasting in January is much the same precept as praying in the morning to establish the will of God for the entire day. I believe that, if we will pray and seek God and give Him our best at the first of the year, He will bless our ENTIRE year! "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).

Fasting is a principle that God intended for everyone to be able to enjoy. It's not a punishment; it's a privilege! By making fasting a way of life, you can get closer to God and grow in your spiritual walk like never before. Fasting is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us for our daily lives. Through fasting, you can experience a release from the bondage of sin ... restoration in your relationships ... financial blessings ... spiritual renewal ... supernatural healing and so much more! Another reward of fasting has to do with your future. God has given you a vision, a divine dream for your life. When you fast, you open up the blessings and opportunities He has provided for you to pursue that dream. As you fast, pray for God's direction and guidance. Focus your faith on your dream and God will show you how you can turn your vision into a reality. Begin pursuing your divine dream today and make the rewards of fasting part of your lifestyle.

Jentezen Franklin

For more information, click

The International Center for Spiritual Renewal Announces 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Imagine what would happen in America if millions of believers united together in denying their flesh, pushing back their plates, and crying out to God for mercy?

21 Days for a New Awakening is a simple, sincere call for leaders, churches, and believers across America to begin 2008 in a season of radical fasting, intercession and repentance. From January 1-21, join with thousands of other believers and numerous denominations and ministries across our nation as we seek God for a Christ awakening in our day.

To learn more or to commit to participate in this fast, click here:

General Overseer Randall Howard Calls the Church of God of Prophecy to 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

It has been a great strength infusion over the past two years to begin the New Year with 21 days of fasting and seeking God for His blessings over our efforts to answer His call and carry His gospel forward in the world. This year I cannot imagine beginning the year without such a season of seeking and hunger for God. The most pronounced lesson that we have learned over the last two years has been that Christ is the head of the church and that we can do nothing without Him. Amazingly the most simple lessons seem to be the ones that keep returning as new revelations along the journey. Just as our flesh bodies are the frail temples for our soul and spirit to use, the church here on earth is the frail vessel for Christ to fill and then work through to accomplish His will in the world. I know of no better way to welcome and to empower Christ's filling and working in the church than through fasting and prayer.

So this January we are looking forward to another wonderful season of setting aside our desire for food and lifting high our desire for His will to be done and His presence to lead our ministries fresh and new. Fasting has always been a means of pressing our flesh cravings down, a form of crucifixion, and seeking Christ's presence and power. In a real way we are joining Christ in Gethsemene saying, "Not my will but thine be done." With this understanding that we are the vessels and Christ is the treasure that fills us and empowers us, we can all declare that we need God in our areas of outreach and ministry.

[By Bishop Randall E. Howard]