Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama Pledges to Ally with Gays for More "Progress"

Addressing hundreds of gays and lesbians and advocates at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the birth of the gay rights movement, Obama vowed again to overturn the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

"I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a president who fights with you and for you," he told an enthusiastic crowd.

The event was a first-of-its-kind Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month reception at the White House. Obama declared June 2009 LGBT Pride Month and was the first president to use the term transgender in his proclamation.

His predecessor, George W. Bush, never issued an LGBT proclamation during his eight years in office.


[By Nathan Black, Christian Post Reporter]

Jack Graham Has Cancer

The pastor of one of America’s largest churches is taking a two-month sabbatical following a surgery he underwent last month and kept secret until last week.

“It is perfect timing to begin that sabbatical now for the continued healing of my body, soul and spirit,” reported Jack Graham this past week to the more than 26,000 members of Preston Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

“During this time, we will travel, relax, and enjoy our family. I also feel it is important to cancel my speaking engagements away and focus on my personal walk with Christ, fortify my faith, and make sure in all this journey that Christ is magnified,” he added.

It was in April that Graham was diagnosed with prostate cancer following a routine checkup and subsequent biopsy.

“This was not what we expected to hear, but received it as a part of God’s plan for my life knowing full well we can trust Him in everything,” recalled Graham, who served as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention for two terms.

After consultation with his doctors, Graham chose to have surgery on May 14 but kept it, as well as his prognosis, private “for a number of reasons.”

Following a successful surgery, Graham’s team of doctors assured the pastor that his prognosis is “outstanding,” he reported.

Still, following the surgery, Graham found it challenging upon his return to the pulpit ten days later despite having a “somewhat scaled-back schedule.”

“That was a push, but God has been faithful to strengthen me,” he reported last Monday.

It was likely even harder as the day after his surgery, a minister at the church who worked with married adults was arrested in a sex sting operation that Graham described as “disgraceful.” The ousted minister, Joe Barron, had only been with the church for about 18 months when he was arrested on May 15 after driving three hours to have sex with what he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Barron had had been chatting with “the girl” online for about two weeks.

“We are appalled by the disgraceful actions and subsequent arrest of one of our ministers,” Graham expressed in a statement dated May 18. “I am so sorry for the injury this grievous situation has caused.”

Though Graham said it “was a push” to get back to work following his surgery, he testified how “God has been faithful to strengthen me.”

Still, Prestonwood decided to give a two-month sabbatical to their senior pastor, who has served the congregation since 1989, when it was only 11,000-large.

Before heading into his sabbatical, Graham urged men to get regular checkups, noting the preventive steps he took helped him to receive the healing from God he needed.

“So, guys, bless your family by making sure you maintain good health through regular checkups and taking good care of yourself,” he urged.

In addition to serving as senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Chuch, Graham is the voice of PowerPoint Ministries, Prestonwood’s broadcast ministry.

Founded in 1977 as a church plant of Northway Baptist Church, Prestonwood Baptist Church is today one of the largest megachurches in North America and one of America's 50 Most Influential Churches according to a 2007 survey of church leaders.

[By Eric Young, Christian Post Reporter]

Monday, June 29, 2009

Zach Barnes Elected Vice President of North Carolina TSA

Rising Scotland High School Junior Zachary Barnes, who has served as North Carolina Technology Student Association president for the Scotland County High School chapter for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years, was elected the NCTSA state vice president at the organization's 30th annual conference held earlier this year at the North Carolina TSA State Conference in Greensboro. Zachary, who has led other organizations in his capacity as student government vice president, Spanish Club vice president, and acting Key Club president, has participated in the Native American Student Association, the Principal's Student Advisory Committee, and on the debate team. Zachary expressed his appreciation at becoming the state level vice president of the NCTSA.

"It was a real honor to be elected to the position of state vice president," he said. "I will do my best to assist the TSA in all its endeavors."

Scotland County Schools TSA advisor Sharon Williams is impressed by Zachary's leadership abilities. "Zach has demonstrated leadership skills since his days in elementary school. He was the perfect candidate for TSA state office and was voted in as middle school representative during his eighth grade year at Carver. During my time working with Zach, he consistently demonstrated leadership skills in the classroom and school and already has a long list of accolades. I have complete confidence in him as a leader and role model." Becky Wilson, an English teacher from the School of Math and Science at Scotland High School, agreed with Williams' assessment. "Zach's innate leadership abilities are evident in his leadership though example," she said. "He is a rare student who is both driven and selfless. He continuously strives to make himself and his school better in whatever way he can, and his peers and teachers both appreciate Zach's determination to make himself and those around him as successful as possible."

A member of the Laurinburg Church of God of Prophecy and an evangelist for the past seven years, Zachary's plans for college are both ambitious and concise. "I plan to pursue a doctorate in theology from Harvard," he said.

To serve in his new position as state vice president, Zachary had to pass a state advisor screening committee based on his candidate application, school transcripts, teacher recommendations and an essay entitled “Why I want to be a North Carolina-TSA State Officer.” He also took part in an on-site interview process that included a 10-minute interview by a committee appointed by the NC-TSA State Advisor.

During his time in office, Zachary will be responsible for planning the NCTSA State Conference and will attend the NCTSA State Officer Planning Session and the Fall Leadership Conference.

Zachary plans to expand his leadership role by running for the National T.S.A. office of Treasurer at the national convention in Denver, Colo. this summer. Earning this honor would mean involvement in planning the 2010 national conference and the duty of promoting the general welfare of the TSA.

The Technology Student Association is a non-profit, nationally competitive student organization for middle and high school technology education. Visit www.nctsa.org and www.tsaweb.org for more information.

[by John Lentz, Laurinburg Exchange]

Dr. Elgarnet Rahming Awarded Distinguished Order by Queen Elizabeth

The spiritual father of the Church of God of Prophecy in the Bahamas, Bishop Elgarnet Rahming, has been awarded the Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 in her birthday honors of 2009. He says the honor announced by Government House is an "encouragement and incentive" to continue with his work for the Lord.

"I would think that those whom I lead, whom I provide fatherly mentorship to and council, and give advice to, I would hope that they would see this honor as something that they too could be proud of, that their spiritual father has been recognized in this way," said Rahming, the presiding bishop and national overseer. He received the honor for his untiring efforts and invaluable contributions to the growth and development of the country in the field of religion.

"But my greatest zeal and goal and objective really is to please the Lord — to serve the Lord, and to be faithful and consistent and steadfast in the work of the Lord while I help to build the lives of people. At the end of the day, this award is wonderful. It's an encouragement. It gives inspiration and it feels good, but at the end of the day, I am laboring for my eternal reward which the righteous judge promises to give to me, if I remain true and faithful." Rahming, 57, was one of 10 people honored for their contributions to either religion or the church.

"This surprise, and unexpected honor bestowed upon me by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II through the graces of the government of The Bahamas means a whole lot to me. It means that the work that I do, and have been doing over the years, has been noticed by the government to the extent that they deem it necessary to honor me in this way. More importantly though, anybody who knows me closely and intimately knows that I am what one would term a 'workaholic.' I am a 'workaholic' for the Lord. I enjoy working for the Lord, going the extra mile. In any 24-hour day I can work for the Lord 18-hours non-stop. And I do it not for selfish reasons, not for pride, not for show, I do it simply because of my love for him, and to uplift people, spiritually and socially — wherever I go, wherever ministry takes me," said Rahming.

He says it is his desire to improve the spiritual and social well being of people, and he believes that the medium of the gospel, and witnessing the gospel gives him the platform and the opportunity to do just that, and that he takes full advantage of it.

The announcement comes as the Church of God of Prophecy celebrates is 100th centennial anniversary of witness in the country.

"For me to have been selected for an honor at a time such as this is really a double celebration, and we certainly give God honor and thanks for that," said the son of Bishop Clifford Wenzel Rahming and the late Vera Chipman-Rahming.

Rahming accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour on Dec. 31, 1977, and became a member of the Church of God of Prophecy on May 28, 1978. He was licensed as an evangelist in July, 1984 and as a permanent evangelist in May, 1995. He was ordained and consecrated bishop in March, 1997. Rahming was appointed and installed as national overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy in the Bahamas on August 22, 1999.

Rahming obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration, and is a graduate of the Church of God of Prophecy's Bible Training Institute. He has also completed a number of advanced courses, and holds numerous other diplomas and certificates from various theological institutions in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. He was awarded a doctorate of divinity degree from the Richmond Virginia Seminary, Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A.

Government House also announced that Lowell Mortimer got an Order of the British Empire (OBE) honor for outstanding service to the public service, church and community.

Most Excellent Order of The British Empire (MBEs ) went to Sandra Moore (church and community); Canon Fitz Goodridge (religion); Basil Christie (community service, education, religion and Special Olympics); The British Empire Medal (BEM) is being awarded to Arthur M. Sherman Jr. (civics and religion); Wendell Carver Grant Sr. (civics and religion); Doddridge MacLagan Hart (public service, church and the community); Oswald Cory Munnings (financial services industry and the church) and Reverend Wilbur St. Clair Outten (community and religion).

[By SHAVAUGHN MOSS, Lifestyles Editor, The Nassau Guardian]

Chris Leggett Funeral Planned For Tomorrow

The funeral for an East Tennessee man killed by gunmen in Africa is set Tuesday in his hometown of Cleveland.

Thirty-nine-year-old Chris Leggett was killed June 23 on the streets of Nouakcott, the capital city of Mauritania.

An Arab satellite TV station aired an audio statement purportedly issued by a North African Al-Qaida group spokesman who said the group killed Leggett because he was allegedly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.

The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Cleveland.

Christopher Ervin (Chris) Leggett, 39, formerly of Cleveland and a current resident of Nouakchott, Mauritania, Africa, passed away Tuesday, June 23, 2009, in Mauritania. He was greatly loved and respected by the Mauritanian people. The Mauritanian Minister of Justice stated that "his death was a great loss to Mauritania."

Chris lived and died for Christ. He and his family were residents of Mauritania for the past seven years where he directed a non-governmental organization with a focus to help the people of Mauritania. One aspect of his work involved working with the prison systems to train and equip women and young boys to re-enter society. He directed a training center providing training in such areas as computer skills, sewing, and literacy. He also oversaw a micro-loan program which fostered growth of small businesses; hundreds of projects were financed which impacted the lives of countless people.

He was a 1987 graduate of Cleveland High School. He attended Cleveland State Community College and graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1990 with a degree in business administration. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Cleveland for many years and most recently was a member of Michigan Avenue Baptist Church of Cleveland.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents: Jay T. and Mildred B. Leggett and Ervin G. and Rachel A. Foreman.

Survivors include his wife, Jackie Beard Leggett; parents: Jay and Linda Leggett of Cleveland; four children: Hannah Marie Leggett, Jordan Christopher Leggett, Haley Rebecca Leggett and Erin Christian Leggett; brother and sister-in-law, Jay L. Leggett Jr. and Erica S. Leggett of Cleveland; father-in-law and mother-in-law: Charles and Shirley Beard of Cleveland; nephews: Jay L. Leggett III, Grant W. Leggett and Jonathan M. Rowland, all of Cleveland; and several other family members.

The funeral will be held Tuesday, June 30, 2009, at the First Baptist Church of Cleveland at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Jim Gibson and Dr. Alan Lockerman officiating.

Interment will follow in Fort Hill Cemetery in Cleveland with Jake Beard, Shannon Brown, Junior Burke, Stan Gibson, Brian Nerren, Jack Roach, David Souther, and Dennis Tweed serving as pallbearers.

The visitation will be held Monday, June 29, 2009, at the First Baptist Church of Cleveland from 5 to 9 p.m. and also 1 hour prior to the Tuesday service.

Memorials may be made to the family as follows: Directly to Jackie B. Leggett at 1112 Glenmore Drive, Cleveland, TN 37312 or through First Baptist Church of Cleveland, 340 Church St., Cleveland, TN 37311 and designated to the J. Mack Hall Fund or by going to www.clevelandfbc.com and selecting the icon for Chris Leggett. You may leave a message of condolence for the family at this Web site.

Messages of condolence may also be given at www.ralphbuckner.com.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Show Me Your Record For The Last 12 Months, then Your Vision For The Future

How easy is it for a leader to develop the God Syndrome? Just question someone who has it. Their decisions, no matter how debatable, are believed (by them) to be God's decision (divine). And, if you question their decision, you are accused of questioning God.

There does exist divine intervention, spiritual gifts, and divine illumination. But, I am reminded of the following Scripture: (Galatians 6:3) "For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." (NASB)

This theme reappears several times in Paul's letters (e.g., Rom. 12:3; Phil. 2:1-5). The problem of unjustified pride is a feature of a few antique church leaders today, but it almost seems viral in Paul's churches. Place this against the backdrop of meekness, which Paul taught was appropriate.

Interestingly, Paul does seem to allow that a person might legitimately think him or herself something in a certain circumstance, as we see in the verse that follows: (Galatians 6:4-5) "But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load." (NASB)

Nothing in these verses gives us any indication that Paul is spinning out some circumstance that could never happen. A person might have room for boasting because he or she carries his own load and has a "work" that proves worthy upon testing. No effort is made to reconcile such statements with other places where Paul prohibits boasting in relation to justification (e.g., Rom. 4:2). It is of course possible, however, that Paul has in mind the final judgment as the time of such boasting.

Most leaders who suffer from the God Syndrome refer back to "the day" when they were successful pastors or minsters. (Pastoring has changed drastically in the past 5 years.) Listening to them almost leaves the impression that no one else can do ministry like they did. But, what about their ministry results in the past 12 months?

Remember Jesus' teaching in Matt. 7:1-5 and Rom. 2:1? We are not to be tempted to think ourselves something as we restore those overtaken in a transgression. We are not to think ourselves superior to others or to boast in relation to others. We will have an opportunity to boast about our works at the judgment seat of Christ.

For now, I am far more impressed with today's ministry results, rather than boosting about the past. God's favor and anointing will be obvious without the minister having to tell people (in so many words), "This is God speaking."

Tennessee Planned Parenthood Loses Government Funding

About $1.1 million, set aside for family planning in Tennessee, will now be distributed mostly to local health organizations and not the taxpayer-supported abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

"In the House, the vote was 69-22 and in the Senate, 25-7," said Susan Allen of Tennessee Right to Life.


Southern Baptist Eject 2,000-member Church Over Homosexuality

The Southern Baptist Convention has broken its 127-year-old ties with the 2,000-member Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, because the SBC views the church's stand on homosexuality as too lenient, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Baptist Press. The action against the church came with no discussion at the annual SBC meeting in Louisville.

Stephen Wilson, a member of the executive committee, said that, while Broadway Baptist does not officially endorse homosexuality, "they were allowing members and also people in leadership that were homosexual. ... "

"The church was in effect saying that it was OK to have members who are open homosexuals," said Wilson.

An investigation showed that two openly gay members were serving on church committees.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today's Quote

"To succeed in life, we must stay within our strength zone but continually move outside our comfort zone." - John Maxwell

Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility for the Murder of Christopher Leggett, a Christian Aid Worker from Cleveland, TN

Al-Qaida’s North Africa branch on Thursday said it killed an American aid worker in Mauritania this week for allegedly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, according to the Associated Press (AP).

In an audio statement released to Al-Jazeera TV, al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the murder of 39-year-old Christopher Ervin Leggett of Cleveland, Tennessee. Witnesses said he was shot several times on Tuesday by at least two gunmen who rushed up to him on a street in Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott.

“Two knights of the Islamic Maghreb succeeded Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. to kill the infidel American Christopher Leggett for his Christianizing activities,” al-Qaida said in its statement, according to the AP. Authorities are trying to verify the statement.

Although Mauritania is considered a moderate Muslim nation, extremist violence has increased there in recent years.

Legget, who grew up in Cleveland, Tenn., had been living in the North African nation with his wife, Jackie, and their four children for six years. He did humanitarian work while teaching at a school specializing in computer science in El Kasr, a lower-class neighborhood in Nouakchott, according to relatives in Tennessee.

The Rev. Jim Gibson, co-pastor of First Baptist Church of Cleveland, said Leggett was a church member but worked in Mauritania independently. He said Leggett’s family is returning from Mauritania, and a funeral may be held at the church on Tuesday.

Mauritania’s Interior Ministry told the AP on Thursday that it was investigating Leggett’s death and security forces were doing “all they can to catch the criminals.”

[Source: Charisma on-line]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Today's Leadership Quote

"Power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life." - Henri J. M. Nouwen

[From Larry Duncan]

I Am Rejoicing Today!

To rejoice is a choice. The longer I live, the more I’m convinced this is true. We will express joy only as much as we are determined to do it.

It’s commonly believed that rejoicing is simply a response. Certainly, there is some truth to that perspective. If my team wins the game, I rejoice. If I receive some unexpected money, I rejoice. If I experience a happy event (such as a marriage or birth of a new baby) I rejoice.

However, rejoicing goes far beyond the emotional response to life’s happenings.

If it’s only a response to the moment’s event – then it comes and goes – rises and falls – depending on what’s happening now. That kind of thinking makes our attitude a roller coaster – up one minute and down the next.

The Bible says to “Rejoice evermore” (I Thessalonians 5:16.) It also says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and I say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4.) Now, the Bible does not command us to do the impossible. These verses of Scripture tell us to rejoice continuously – so it must be possible to do so.

The Bible assumes that rejoicing goes deeper than our circumstance and situation. Take a look sometime at the verses in the Bible that speak of joy and rejoicing. It permeates the whole Book!

As C. S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven."

I’ve noticed that the folks I know with the deepest joy are people who have gone through a lot of heartache and suffering. They have learned the secret of choosing an attitude of rejoicing rather than one of grumbling and complaint.

If you want to find something to complain about – you’ll find it.

If you want to find something to rejoice over – you’ll find it.

You get what you look for!

To rejoice is a choice.

Look beyond the present difficulty to the future hope. Seek the solution rather than the problem. Focus on what IS rather than what ISN’T. Whatever comes, make the choice to rejoice today!

Helen Steiner Rice captures this concept with these words that I recently shared at a friend’s funeral:

After the clouds, the sunshine,
After the winter, the spring.
After the shower, the rainbow.
For life is a changeable thing.
After the night, the morning,
Bidding all darkness cease.
After life’s cares and sorrows,
The comfort and sweetness of peace.

To rejoice is a choice.

[from Revitalize Your Church by Mark O. Wilson]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Dead at 50

Born seven years after me. I never knew him personally. But as a musician, I admired his work.

Another reminder that life is temporary for all of us.

(Hebrews 9:27) "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

A Statement Released by Jenny Sanford

I would like to start by saying I love my husband and I believe I have put forth every effort possible to be the best wife I can be during our almost twenty years of marriage. As well, for the last fifteen years my husband has been fully engaged in public service to the citizens and taxpayers of this state and I have faithfully supported him in those efforts to the best of my ability. I have been and remain proud of his accomplishments and his service to this state.

I personally believe that the greatest legacy I will leave behind in this world is not the job I held on Wall Street, or the campaigns I managed for Mark, or the work I have done as First Lady or even the philanthropic activities in which I have been routinely engaged. Instead, the greatest legacy I will leave in this world is the character of the children I, or we, leave behind. It is for that reason that I deeply regret the recent actions of my husband Mark, and their potential damage to our children.

I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage. I believe that has been consistently reflected in my actions. When I found out about my husband's infidelity I worked immediately to first seek reconciliation through forgiveness, and then to work diligently to repair our marriage. We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago.

This trial separation was agreed to with the goal of ultimately strengthening our marriage. During this short separation it was agreed that Mark would not contact us. I kept this separation quiet out of respect of his public office and reputation, and in hopes of keeping our children from just this type of public exposure. Because of this separation, I did not know where he was in the past week.

I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal. I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage.

Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance.

This is a very painful time for us and I would humbly request now that members of the media respect the privacy of my boys and me as we struggle together to continue on with our lives and as I seek the wisdom of Solomon, the strength and patience of Job and the grace of God in helping to heal my family.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Vision Problem

Southern Baptist president Johnny Hunt delivered an impassioned and fiery message to fellow Baptist leaders on Tuesday, imploring them to get out of the lukewarm state found in many of America's pulpits.

Referring to the recent national spelling bee word that had puzzled many, Hunt said, "America has not heard of the word 'laodicean' but I'm afraid that the Church has not perceived it."

His address during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., was a challenge to a denomination that has begun to see decline in membership.

"How do you feel you're doing?" Hunt posed. "How do you feel the Southern Baptist Convention is doing?"

According to statistics recently released by LifeWay Research – the research arm of the SBC – Southern Baptist membership will fall nearly 50 percent to around 8.7 million by the year 2050 if the current trend continues.

Membership dipped by 0.2 percent in 2008. While losses only began in 2007 after years of growth, Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay, said the rate of increase had been declining by 0.06 percent every year.

Titling his message "The State of the Southern Baptist Convention from Where I Sit," Hunt cited a passage from Revelation and indicated that many have become apathetic, indifferent and have lost enthusiasm.

"You can walk to the pulpit, you can lead the music, you can teach a Sunday School class and the attitude is 'I've been there and I've done that.' There's no tear in your eye, there's no fire in your soul, and there's no anticipation after delivery," he said.

"You can get to the point [where] you're so strong you can get up, read through your devotion, have this brief prayer and go. We become professionals. We know how to do it," Hunt added, lamenting how many have lost their dependence on the grace and Holy Spirit of God.

One of the greatest needs of the pulpits of America, he pointed out, is "more emulation of the truth of almighty God to match the exhortation of the proclamation of almighty God's word."
Southern Baptists this week will consider adopting the Great Commission Resurgence declaration, which reaffirms core Christian doctrines and aims to renew a passion for evangelism and church planting in America.

But Hunt is not concerned with simply adopting a document. After all, talk is cheap, he said.
What he's concerned with is seeing true commitment among Southern Baptists to the Great Commission Resurgence.

"I really do believe we need revival in the Southern Baptist Convention," said Hunt. Revival, he indicated, must first happen in the more than 43,000 Southern Baptist pulpits in America.

"If God were to break the hearts of us, the pastors, and we would ... realize out there in those pews there's gold in them there pews! It's amazing how God's people will rise up and take a challenge," he highlighted. "They're not looking for a program to follow. They're looking for a vision to embrace."

He stressed that they don't have a money problem, for God has been good to them. "We have a vision problem," he said.

"God help us to get a vision of the lostness of the world," said Hunt, who is still convinced that the Gospel will be "taken and penetrate the lostness and the darkness of all nations" in his lifetime.

Hunt was re-elected for a second, one-year term as president of the SBC – the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

[from The Christian Post by Lillian Kwon]

Aid worker from Tennessee Murdered in Mauritania

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) - Gunmen in the African nation of Mauritania killed an aid worker from Tennessee during an attempted abduction.

Law enforcement officials said Christopher Leggett of Cleveland was fatally shot early Tuesday while resisting two men trying to kidnap him.

Leggett headed a school for computer science and languages.

Cleveland Rotary Club President Michael Cole told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that news of the slaying is shocking and "not something that you'd expect to happen to somebody you know."

Cole said Leggett spoke to the Rotary Club several months ago about his work in Africa.

[Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com and The Associated Press]

Obituary - Gerdia Mae Shewmaker

Gerdia Mae Shewmaker
Born on May 11, 1929
Departed on Jun. 22, 2009 and resided in Orange, TX.

Wednesday, Jun. 24, 2009
Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
Hillcrest Memorial Gardens
(Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.)

Gerdia Mae Shewmaker, 80, of Orange, died June 22, 2009, at Harbor Hospital in Orange.Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, June 25, 2009, at Harvest Outreach a ministry of the Church of God of Prophecy in Orange under the direction of Claybar Funeral Home with Reverend Joe Raiborn officiating.

Burial will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens near Bridge City.

Visitation will be 5:00-8:00, Wednesday, at the church.

Gerdia was born on May 11, 1929, in Morgan City, Louisiana. She was the daughter of Lawrence W. Trahan and Gertrude (Robicheaux) Trahan. Gerdia received her ministers licensed from the Church of God of Prophecy in 1952. She served as a missionary who traveled all over the world. She also severed as pastor of several churches and retired four years ago from Harvest Outreach a ministry of the Church of God of Prophecy in Orange. Everyone who knew Gerdia loved her.

She was preceded in death by her husband, LeRoy Shewmaker; son, Allen Lee Shewmaker; sisters, Mable Stansbury and Marie Perry; and brothers, J.W. Trahan and L.W. Trahan.

Survivors include her sisters, Belvia Jowell and her husband E.C. of Orange and Shelia Marburger of Orange; and a host of nieces and nephews.

Serving as Pallbearers will be Joseph Delk, Donald Delk, Steve Hatfield, Leon Marburger, John Cordova and Glen Williams. Honorary Pallbearers will be James Stansbury and Leon Marburger.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

Church of God and Church of God of Prophecy Cooperative Efforts

Dr. David Roebuck of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, Hugh Carver with the Church of God Men & Women of Action, and Paul Holt the Church of God of Prophecy Heritage Ministries Director, have announced a cooperative effort to refurbish the First Assembly House near Fields of the Wood in Murphy, NC.

The Church of God (Cleveland, TN) and the Church of God of Prophecy share the same history until 1923.

The "First Assembly House" is the site of the first General Assembly, January 26 & 27, 1906.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today's Quote

"You can't be a smart cookie if you have a crummy attitude." John Maxwell

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Are Some Leaders Poor at Resolving Conflict?

If you are in leadership, conflict is inevitable. Whether you are a pastor or an overseer, conflict can deteriorate to such an unmanageable level, that barring a miracle, a major rupture within the church, or serious injury to Innocent people is inevitable. Calling upon the services of a conflict resolution specialist before the conflict goes beyond the point of no return may be pivotal to the church's health, well-being, and functional survival.

So why don't some church leaders who feel conflict avail themselves of the help sanctioned by Jesus (Mat. 5:9)? Here are three answers.?

1. It Costs Too Much. With all due respect, this can't be the real reason. If just two or three families leave the church because they are weary and wounded from conflict, the church will lose more income than the cost of bringing in a church conflict resolution specialist. "It cost too much" can't be the real reason.
2. It Will Create More Conflict. "Better to ignore a backyard hornet's nest than try to remove it and really stir things up." This is the way some people think about church conflict. But why don't we say the same thing about people in sin? "Leave her alone. She will steal more clothes at the mall tomorrow if you confront her about the clothes she stole today." The first and most effective way to deal with reality is to name it. Hence, to acknowledge the existence of conflict in the church doesn't magically create more of it. To the contrary, it is the essential first step toward containing it.
3. The Leader is Embarrassed to Admit that He Really Doesn't Know What to Do. Deep down, this is a core reason why church leaders won't avail themselves of the help of a peacemaker. They are reluctant to acknowledge that they haven't been able to manage the conflict, and that the conflict itself, like a tornado, is moving in a direction of its own making, not theirs. But there is absolutely no shame in such an admission. The real failure is not naming that reality and acting accordingly.

Keep in mind that in organizational life of any kind, leaders tend to blame those directly engaged in conflict without realizing that their own actions, or lack thereof, contribute to the workings of the entire system. If, out of frustration, leaders act rashly or with a heavy hand to quell conflict, the division quickly deepens. Conversely, inaction or a "wait and see" attitude is the tinder by which the conflict steadily grows. As Edmund Burke noted, "the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

So what should church leaders do? They should take the one step that offers the best chance of resolving the conflict in a manner that preserves the fellowship of the church. They should utilize the services of one trained in helping people make peace! Jesus sanctioned the work of peacemakers by calling them "blessed." Church leaders, therefore, have no reason to be embarrassed by allowing the people they serve to share in such blessing. Indeed, being open to and following the will of God is what exemplary church leadership is all about!

[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]

Today's Quote

"The size of your dream determines the size of those who will be attracted to it." - John Maxwell

Death Announcement - Gerdia Shewmaker

Gerdia Shewmaker passed away today. She underwent open-heart surgery a couple of weeks ago and just wasn't able to recover from it.

ClayBar Funeral Home will be in charge of the arrangements. Her obituary will be posted here later. The funeral is expected to be at the Orange Church of God of Prophecy (Texas), Thursday at 10:00 AM.

Gerdia Shewmaker was a long-time trans-local minister in the Church of God of Prophecy.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today's Quote

“If we take all the goodness, wisdom, and compassion of the best mothers and fathers who have ever lived, they would only be a faint shadow of the love and mercy in the heart of the redeeming God.” (Brennan Manning in The Signature of Jesus).

[From Larry Duncan on FaceBook]

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why Some Leaders Make Really Bad Decisions

Why do potentially good leaders sometimes make really bad decisions? Why do some leaders get caught up in an unending narcissistic cycle? Why do good leaders eventually go bad, mistreat people, and hinder the Kingdom of God?

A bad decision starts with at least one influential person making an error of judgment. But normally, the decision process will save the day: facts will be brought to the table that challenge the flawed thinking, or other people with different views will influence the outcome. So the second factor that contributes to a bad decision is the way the decision is managed: for whatever reason, as the decision is being discussed, the erroneous views are not exposed and corrected.

Drawing on the findings of brain research, our brains use two processes that enable us to cope with the complexities we face: pattern recognition and emotional tagging. Neither of these is inherently bad, in fact they are quite helpful and necessary much of the time.

The problem is when we are faced with new types of input that do not match up with our previous experiences. This most often leads to flawed thinking.

There are four conditions under which flawed thinking is most likely to happen. The first two are pattern recognition problems and the latter are emotional tagging issues.

- Misleading Experiences: If we are faced with unfamiliar inputs — especially if the unfamiliar inputs appear familiar — we can think we recognize something when we do not.
- Misleading Pre-Judgments: When we connect previous judgments or decisions that are inappropriate or inaccurate with our current situation, they disrupt our pattern recognition processes causing us to misjudge the information we are receiving.
- Inappropriate Self-Interest: The reason why self-interest is such a pervasive influence is that it is particularly difficult for decision makers to be self-aware about how their personal interests are affecting their choices. We are particularly prone to screening the effects of self-interest from our conscious mind.
- Inappropriate Attachments: While attachments add greatly to our lives, they can also trap us without realizing it. This includes inappropriate attachments to colleagues when cuts must be made or to a strategy we have an emotional investment in.

[From Sydney Finkelstein, Jo Whitehead and Andrew Campbell’s book, Think Again.]

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is The Church In America In Trouble?

- In America, 4000 churches close their doors each year.
- The vast majority of churches have an attendance of less then 75.
- The number of people in America that Do Not attend church has doubled in the past 15 years.
- Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth.
- Only 15% of churches in the United States are growing and just 2.2% of those are growing by conversion growth.
- 1 out of 4 church attendees are considered church hoppers.
- No more then 38% of the population attends church at all and that’s in the Bible belt. The next highest is the Midwest at 25%, West 21% and the Northeast 17%.
- Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- Just 1/3 of church attendees believes that they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others.
- One in four serve in the church they attend.
- 23% of church attendees say they attend a group for growth and accountability.
- 9% tithe.
- 20-25% read their Bible consistently, 59% attend church weekly.
- Only 60% of Christians say they are deeply committed to their faith.

Murray Family Suffering From Cancer

Bishop Billy Murray. former General Overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy, died a few years ago with Lymphoma.

Now, his son DeWayne Murray has been diagnosed with the same cancer type.

Also, Bishop Murray's wife is currently suffering from breast cancer and is undergoing radiation treatments.

Daughter Susan Duncan has also had a few scares with cancer issues.

This is a precious family of faith, highly respected in Pentecostal circles. Please be in prayer for all of them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Today's Quote

"If your Gospel isn't touching others, it hasn't touched you!" --Curry R. Blake


Get a free book from Injoy Stewardship Services, Raising More Than Money, by clicking here.

Three Things Every Pastor Needs To Do

Over the years, my heart has been broken many times by the moral failure of pastors who were either friends of mine or influential in my life. Some have even been in my own denomination. I have narrowly avoided traps along the way myself.

It is preventable. But, pastors need a constant warning. Geoff Surratt recently posted the following warning on his Blog:
  1. If you think you aren't vulnerable, you are already toast. I had a counseling professor in college who said that the pastors who are in the most danger of a moral shipwreck are the ones who think it will never happen to them. If you think you are too honest, too faithful, or too transparent to ever be involved in an affair you are skating on very thin ice. David never thought he'd sleep with Bathsheba until he saw her naked; then he couldn't think of anything else. You can steal money, you can get involved in pornography, you can cheat on your spouse, and you can lie to your family. Every day of our lives we have to remind ourselves we are vulnerable to complete moral failure.
  2. If you think you can burn the candle at both ends, you are already toast. There are no super humans in ministry. When I read twitters of pastors who get up at 4:00 a.m. every day, who work seven days a week, who counsel people at night and on their "day off," I know that they are headed for a fall. God took a day off when he was creating the world, Jesus took a beach trip to Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24) during his ministry. Unless you know something God doesn't know you are headed for a major fall without regular downtime.
  3. If you think you can do ministry without accountability, you are already toast. The only "conversation" I ever had with Gary Lamb was a Twitter exchange over the importance of an accountability group. Gary felt that the Overseers of his church provided all the accountability he needed. My contention is that we need people who are face-to-face with us on a regular basis, who know our wives and our assistants, who can ask us the really tough questions. I don't know if the Overseers provided that for Gary or if a local group would have prevented his fall, but I do know that I need that kind of scrutiny in my life.
  4. If you think you don't need safeguards, you are already toast. Filters on Internet access, never handling cash for the church, never meeting with someone of the opposite sex alone, letting others have access to your email; these are such a pain and to be honest I don't always have all of them active in my life. The reality is that safeguards will not keep you from doing what you have already decided to do, but they can give you enough margin to change your mind before you act.
  5. If you think it's about you, you are already toast. Failure begins with ego. When you begin to think that success is because you are smart, funny, talented, cool or a 100 other adjectives and not simply because God is God and has chosen to bless you; you are headed down a very dangerous path. When you being to think the ministry will crumble without you and that you have to work 24/7 to make it happen you are headed toward destruction. When you think the rules stop applying to you and you can cut corners and you are above it you are on a crash course for disaster.

As ministers we are in a marathon. If you do not pay attention to the danger signs along the way you will crash before the finish line. Your crash may be a spectacular moral failure, it may be the slow destruction of your marriage, or it may be the rotting of your soul; but Satan will use ministry to destroy you. And God will not say to you in Heaven, "Too bad about your family, but awesome job building a great big church. Fist bump, dude."

Three things every pastor needs to do:

  1. Slow down. You will not change the world today and tomorrow isn't looking good either. There is plenty of time to hang with your wife, play with your kids, play golf, relax. God was at work long before you showed up and He will be at work long after you are gone. You cannot live on adrenaline all of the time. You cannot be pumped up about every weekend. If you live that way for an extended time you will crash.
  2. Open up. You need someone in your life who knows you inside and out; someone who will ask the hard questions and know when you are ducking the answers. It is difficult as a pastor to find someone you can be truly honest with, but it is essential that you find that person. Another pastor who does not attend your church might be ideal.
  3. Count the cost. Every time you are tempted to break a rule, to cut a corner, to go somewhere you shouldn't go consider what it will cost you when it all comes to light. What is going to happen when your wife finds out? How will she feel? What will it do to your children? What will this do to your church?

You don't wake up one day and decide to shipwreck your life. You do it one stupid decision at a time. As someone who has seen this happen again and again and again I am begging you to take action today because it will happen to you.

[from Inner Revolution by Surratt]

Monday, June 8, 2009

What I Have Learned Along The Way

  1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
  8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
  12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
  13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
  15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
  16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
  19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
  21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  22. Over prepare, and then go with the flow.
  23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
  24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words "In five years, will this matter?"
  27. Always choose life.
  28. Forgive everyone everything.
  29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
  31. However good or bad a situation is; it will change.
  32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  33. Believe in miracles.
  34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
  35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
  37. Your children get only one childhood.
  38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
  41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  42. The best is yet to come.
  43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  44. Yield.
  45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

[Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio. “To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."]

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Visitation Argument

I recently heard the argument again that all senior pastors must personally visit all church members and do outreach as well. It brought back memories of the expectations of some of the people I have served in the past.

While the pastor is never exempt from the requirement to make personal visits, this expectation does have its roots in smaller churches.

The pastor is a representative of God. When people need God, it is comforting to receive a visit from the one who represents God to them. The personal touch, and personal relationship, are very effective in ministry. Most pastors love to do visitation because it is so rewarding. It is the way true ministry takes place, one on one.

There is a segment of society that will always prefer the personal attention and relationship with the one who carries the title "Pastor." For that reason, there will always be a need for small churches. Some believe that mega-churches in America have just about run their course. The future may see an explosion in the number of small churches, church planting, or even house churches. These small groups consider themselves a "church" and use that title along with the title of "Pastor" for their leader. Every person/member has more influence on the whole group and receives the personal attention of the pastor.

But in more populated areas or larger churches, it is impossible for the pastor to give personal attention to every member. It is debatable how many people a pastor can give personal attention to. But, I have always contended that it is unlikely that a church will break the 200 barrier if the pastor and/or the congregation expect the personal attention of the pastor on a regular basis. It is obvious that Pastor Joel Osteen, Pastor Jetezen Franklin, or Pastor John Hagee could never visit every member even once each year -- it is an impossibility. There are not enough hours in the day nor days in the year.

The churches and pastors who struggle most with this issue are those who attempt to transition from small church to large church. People's expectations are hard to change. "It's always been this way." That is why most churches in America never break the 200 barrier. They don't want to. Change is hard and people don't like it. If a pastor attempts to be a change agent and lead the church in growth, the congregational culture will have to change first, or the church will find a new pastor who will continue in the old ways which they desire. The problem with this attachment to the ways of the past is that in order to keep the church small, it does not make room for the Harvest (the Great Commission work of winning the Lost - new people). If a congregation is truly involved in the Great Commission, baptisms will be happening every week, pews fill up, and attendance grows.

When Christ came to this earth to show us how to do leadership/ministry, here is what He modeled:
  • The disciples watched Him minister
  • The disciples ministered with Him
  • He watched the disciples minister
  • The disciples ministered by themselves
  • The disciples modeled ministry for someone else
  • (The cycle repeats - making disciples who make disciples)

The command which we all serve under is not just to win the Lost, but to make disciples. Church members who refuse to become active in the Great Commission are resisting the concept of the priesthood of all believers. Their mindset is; "We work and we pay our pastor to do all ministry and that's what we expect." The pastor should be the one most involved in ministry. But, that does not exempt every believer from the Great Commission.

May God reinforce every pastor and church leader of all churches of every size to open their doors to new people and become disciple-makers. That means everyone visits and everyone ministers.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Today's Quote

"Unmanaged time surrenders to every emergency.” - Dave Anderson

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Top Ten Ways to Ruin Young Pstors

One of the greatest gifts to the church of Jesus Christ is the emergence of so many gifted, passionate and Gospel-loving young adults in ministry leadership.

One of the responsibilities – and joys – of older guys – like me – is to encourage, cheerlead, run interference for and guide young leaders.

Truthfully, I’ve learned so much more from young leaders than I have taught!

Sometimes, the established church demotivates, disenfranchises and disillusions young leaders.

Jason Stockdale, the Worship Pastor at Hope Church (a young pastor!) shared the following link with me.

Sadly, I believe the comments are on-target in so many churches. Gratefully, these tendencies can be guarded against and reversed.

Here are the Top Ten Ways to Ruin Young Pastors:

10. Promise big things in their interviews, and then pull back on those promises once the family is on site.

9. Do not bother mentoring them or investing in their personal or professional development.

8. Ask them to reach new people, but force them to think the same way as the existing staff.

7. Ask them to bring change, but do not allow them to do anything different.

6. Young Pastor’s Concerns = Never Valid. Member’s Concerns about Young Pastor = Always Valid.

5. Give them responsibility, but do not give them the authority to accomplish those things.

4. Give them greater workloads than other pastors, but also less respect.

3. Say one thing in private meetings, another thing in staff or elder meetings, and another thing in Sunday Worship.

2. Reject their ideas, tell them how to do it, and when it does not work … blame them.

1. Allow your personal insecurities to interpret the young pastor’s words and deeds as attempts to mock you or steal your job.

This post was inspired by some of my past experiences and the tragic stories of a number of friends who have entered vocational ministry with passion and commitment, only to be beaten down by leadership of their churches. Some of them have left vocational ministry, all of us have considered that exit. While these friends were not perfect in every situation, none of them were slackers, whiners, heretics, immoral or insubordinate.

[by Sam Shaw]

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pastor, Are You Planning A Move?

Here is a checklist of things you’ll need to tackle as you prepare your team for your departure:
  1. Inform your staff and team - let your staff and team know your desire to leave, your transition plan, and how long you have to conduct the transition. Start with staff, then with their guidance determine when to inform your team. Be sure to let your team know why and that it isn’t anything they did, as some may take it personally.
  2. Ensure your leaders and managers can operate without you around - you may want to test this by taking a week off occasionally and see what happens. Give them some notice that you’re taking a week off and see if things go smooth without your involvement. If not, you have work to do.
  3. Document all procedures - you should already have your procedures documented, but if not now is the time. Make sure everything is up-to-date, simple, and easy to understand
    Plan for plenty of time to transition - be sure to allocate plenty of time. Bill gates took years to prepare his leadership team before leaving the day-to-day operations to others. You may not be leading Microsoft, but you still need to give everyone some time to deal with the process.
  4. Help your staff find a new leader - your staff will often need your input on who should take over the team. Don’t just find the first person and shove them into it. Spend some time in prayer and consideration of a few candidates. Then, work with your staff to select the right one.

[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham]

Clergy Leaving The Episcopal Church

According to the Washington Times, national leaders of the Episcopal Church have ousted 61 clergy who aligned with a former bishop in California when he broke with the national church in a dispute over the Bible and homosexuality.

Former Bishop John-David Schofield led the Diocese of San Joaquin to become the first full diocese to secede from the U.S. denomination in 2007. Four years earlier, Episcopalians consecrated their first openly gay bishop, setting off a wide-ranging debate within the church and upsetting conservative congregations. Schofield ultimately was removed as head of the diocese and barred from performing any religious rites. He maintains he is an Anglican bishop under the worldwide church. Episcopal leaders said Wednesday they were deposing all clergy who severed their ties and joined Schofield in affiliating with an Anglican archdiocese in Argentina.

Jerry Lamb, the new Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, called the decision to oust the clergy “heartbreaking.”

“But, the fact is, they chose to abandon their relationship with the Episcopal Church,” he said.

So, anyone who opposes the denomination is automatically wrong? Denominational leaders can make any decisions they wish, and clergy must follow or be ousted? Are all Bishops/Pastors/Rectors capable of exegesis of scripture or hearing from God?

How many denominations have this mind-set? What could your denomination do that would force you to take a different stand? Would you be willing to stand for Biblical principles even of it cost you your denominational Bishop credentials?

[Click "comments" below.]