October 17, 2013 • ISSUE 18
Re • viv • al For 54 years, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has sent students and faculty out on revival preaching assignments to churches across the nation. The name of the ministry – Revive This Nation – speaks to the condition of the country they are hoping to turn upside down through the gospel.
SBTC VP PRAYING ‘BIG’ FOR AMARILLO MEN GUIDESTONE JOINS LITIGATION CHALLENGING CONTRACEPTIVE MANDATE
Does the Song of Solomon point to Jesus?
’ve been reading the Song of Solomon devotionally and can’t help but think it’s meant to picture Jesus and the church. The woman’s delight in her husband (Song of Solomon 1:16-17) makes me think of Peter’s statement that loving Jesus causes believers to “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible” (1 Peter 1:8). The man’s exclusive covenantal love for his wife (Song of Solomon 6:8-9) makes me think of Jesus’ high priestly prayer asking his heavenly Father to pour out special blessings exclusively on his people (John 17:1-26). And the celebration of the bride’s purity (Song of Solomon 8:8-13) reminds me of Christ’s deep desire for his church to be holy (Ephesians 5:26-27). This interpretation wouldn’t surprise most Christians throughout church history because a great many of them have interpreted this book as an allegory picturing Christ and the church. In fact, many King James Bibles include section headings like these for chapter 4: “Christ setteth forth the graces of the church” and “The church prayeth to be made fit for his presence.” Some contemporary interpreters, on the
other hand, would view my interpretation with less enthusiasm. Flipping through two popular (and helpful) books on the Song of Solomon, I see hardly any reference to its being an illustration of the relationship between Jesus and his people. Indeed, the pendulum has swung. Today many regard Song of Solomon as a poem extolling marital intimacy and not principally, or even at all, a picture of Christ and the church. In many ways, I’m thankful for the pendulum swing, for Christians should, indeed, celebrate the affective aspects of love between a husband and wife. And interpreters who obscure or deny these realities because of their discomfort with the book’s intimate language are in error. However, in some cases, I’d suggest that the pendulum has swung too far. It seems to me that interpreting this book isn’t an either/or proposition; it’s a both/and. Here’s why. The New Testament teaches that God designed marriage so that it inherently pictures Christ and the church. After what is perhaps Paul’s most famous description of the husbandwife relationship, he adds, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). When Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus following his resurrection, “beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). We don’t know exactly what passages Jesus referenced in that conversation, but Luke’s basic meaning is that he explained how the entire Old Testament foreshadowed his life and ministry. It’s difficult to imagine Jesus’ explaining how he was the prophet greater than Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), the eternal king in David’s line (2 Samuel 7:12-13), and the inaugurator of Jeremiah’s promised new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) but then steering clear of Song of Solomon, because it was “purely about sex.” Of course, we shouldn’t force every Old Testament passage into an allegory, insisting that Rahab’s scarlet cord symbolizes the blood of Christ and Moses’ staff pictures the cross. But Song of Solomon is different. It’s a poem whose principal subject was designed by God to symbolize Christ and the church. So shouldn’t our interpretation of this book include the idea that it illustrates Jesus’ great love for his people? —David Roach is a writer in Shelbyville, Ky. This column first appeared at the blog of Bible Mesh, a website that teaches the Bible as a unified story pointing to Christ (online at biblemesh.com/blog).
Billy Graham’s ‘My Hope America’: 24k churches now involved
SBTC VP praying ‘big’ for Amarillo men
From Nov. 3-12, more than 24,000 churches are participating in “My Hope America with Billy Graham,” reaching out with the message of Christ in homes and other venues across the country.
When Geoff Kolander found out Amarillo would be the site of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention this year, it wasn’t a coincidence in his mind. It was God’s way of bringing him full circle.
GuideStone joins litigation challenging contraceptive mandate GuideStone Financial Resources, along with Oklahoma-based Reaching Souls International and Truett-McConnell College in Georgia, filed suit Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, objecting to the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate.
Mississippi church seeks racial reconciliation When First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., passed a resolution apologizing for its 1968 decision to exclude African Americans from worship services, it opened the door for racial reconciliation in its city.
Ezell tells NAMB trustees he sees ‘historic juncture’ Amid the North American Mission Board’s progress and momentum, President Kevin Ezell punctuated his remarks at NAMB’s Oct. 9 board meeting by challenging trustees to remember: “We are not where we need to be—there is still much to do.”
8 COVER STORY: Southwestern Seminary preps for spring break revivals, seeks churches nationwide to participate
Over a span of 54 years, the effort—now called Revive this Nation (RTN)—has seen Southwestern partner with about 4,850 churches to lead 14,000 people to profess their faith in Christ. With 2013 quickly winding down, another revival year winds up.
TEXAN Digital is e-published twice monthly by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, 4500 State Highway 360, Grapevine, TX 76099-1988. Jim Richards, Executive Director Gary Ledbetter, Editor Jerry Pierce, Managing Editor Sharayah Colter, Staff Writer Russell Lightner, Design & Layout Stephanie Barksdale, Subscriptions Contributing Writers Mike Ebert, Roy Hayhurst, Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Rob Phillips, Bonnie Pritchett, David Roach To contact the TEXAN office, visit texanonline.net/contact or call toll free 877.953.7282 (SBTC)
Briefly //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// BILLY GRAHAM’S ‘MY HOPE AMERICA’: 24K CHURCHES NOW INVOLVED
ERLC NAMES WRITER TRILLIA NEWBELL TO NEW POSITION FOR WOMEN’S INITIATIVES
Last month, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission named Trillia Newbell to the new position of consultant for women’s initiatives. According to an interview on Christianity Today’s her.meneutics blog, new ERLC President Russell Moore wants to do more to “address the core concerns of women in the church.” Newbell will work with ERLC communications to involve women and offer women’s commentary on various issues. Christian blog readers may recognize her byline from her. meneutics, The Gospel Coalition, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Desiring God and Christianity Today.
Nike Ladapo shares a birthday week with Billy Graham, and the soon-to-be 50-year-old Texas woman is following his lead on the most fulfilling way to celebrate a milestone birthday. For his 95th birthday on Nov. 7, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is kicking off a weeklong endeavor to reach the country with the gospel. From Nov. 3-12, more than 24,000 churches are participating in “My Hope America with Billy Graham,” reaching out with the message of Christ in homes and other venues across the country. Nike, a member of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church, signed up after a Sunday service (Oct. 6) to host a “My Hope Party” at her home. She said she cannot imagine a better way to celebrate her birthday than by inviting family, friends and neighbors to her home and then sharing what Christ has done in her life and how he can transform their lives. “Matthew 28:19 tells us that we are to take the gospel to the ends of the earth and help fulfill the Great Commission that the Lord has given us,” she said. “My Hope America is a great opportunity to do that.” Nike was among the thousands attending services at three Prestonwood campuses who viewed a 29-minute video to be shown in the homes of those across the country hosting a “My Hope Party.” Produced by the Graham evangelistic association, the video weaves footage of classic Billy Graham
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crusades with the testimonies of three people who found God while broken and in the depths of misery. “Billy told several of us months ago that he believed God had given him one last message to preach to the country, and ‘My Hope America’ was born out of that conversation,” said Jack Graham, pastor of the 33,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church. “We are praying that millions will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ across America and that hundreds of thousands are going to be born again into the family of God.” Jack Graham said Prestonwood had nearly 700 homes registered to host a party, with a goal of at least 1,000 homes. “Our people have seen the vision of what God can do if we, like the New Testament church, publicly, and then from house to house, share the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ,” the Plano pastor said. To learn more about participating in My Hope America with Billy Graham and view the evangelistic video programs, visit myhopewithbillygraham.org. My Hope resources also are available in Spanish.
NAMB’S EZELL TELLS TRUSTEES HE SEES ‘HISTORIC JUNCTURE’ By Mike Ebert TORONTO
Amid the North American Mission Board’s progress and momentum, President Kevin Ezell punctuated his remarks at NAMB’s Oct. 9 board meeting by challenging trustees to remember: “We are not where we need to be—there is still much to do.” Ezell also told trustees of NAMB’s transition to a new funding model with southern state conventions that will yield more funding for key church planting initiatives across the country. Ezell’s comments came at the close of a three-day meeting when NAMB’s trustees gathered for the first time in Canada. Trustees visited church plant sites throughout Toronto to meet church planters who shared the challenges of ministering in one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities, where half of all residents are foreignborn. But trustees also heard how God is moving in the hearts of Toronto residents. Matt Hess, who relocated to Toronto 15 months ago to start a church, shared the story of a young woman who began attending the small group gatherings leading up to his church launch and recently gave her life to Christ. Earlier in the week a planter from Montreal reported 40 baptisms on a recent Sunday in the months-old church there. “We could not do what the King of kings has called us to do if it was not for the North American Mission Board,” Hess told trustees. “Thank you for the resources. Thank you for the prayers. And please keep it up.” Also reported during the meeting: 4NAMB-endorsed chaplains have shared Christ 31,000 times so far in 2013, with 7,238 professions of faith and 1,065 baptisms, trustees were told. Doug Carver, NAMB’s executive director for chaplaincy, reported that response has been mostly positive to new guidelines NAMB issued to chaplains regarding same-sex marriage ceremonies in the military. Carver said he anticipates continuing
Micah Millican, NAMB’s director of church planter relations, addresses NAMB trustees at their Oct. 9 meeting in Toronto. Trustees approved a one-time contribution of $1,000 into the retirement funds of each planter who is part of the Send North America network. PHOTO BY JOHN SWAIN/NAMB.
challenges for SBC military chaplains and asked for continued prayer.
‘An historic time’ Ezell, in his address to trustees, announced a new funding model between NAMB and South Region state conventions. The traditional cooperative budget agreement between NAMB and each South Region convention is transitioning to a grant system that is simpler, leaves more spending decisions to the states and will no longer include personnel. With savings from the transition, Ezell said NAMB would be able to double church planting funds in 2015 in states such as Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The funding shift also will provide an additional 15 church planting catalysts throughout North America. “This is an historic time,” Ezell said. “It allows us to do things we would not have had the funds to do. We are very thankful for our relationship in these states. It’s a new day and we are very grateful for that and very blessed to experience it.” Ezell announced plans for three new national church planting catalysts (CPCs):
“We could not do what the King of kings has called us to do if it was not for the North American Mission Board. Thank you for the resources. Thank you for the prayers. And please keep it up.” —TORONTO CHURCH PLANTER MATT HESS
4national CPC for deaf churches to focus on starting 100 new churches for the deaf in the next 10 years. 4national CPC for military churches. Southern Baptists must be intentional about making certain that a church is located by every military base, Ezell said, noting that 80 percent of military members live off base. 4national CPC for missional communities (final title not yet determined) to focus on forming cell groups or missional communities in Send North America cities with the goal of eventually yielding new church plants. Ezell ended his remarks by asking trustee Blake Gideon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla., to close by praying Luke 10:2, that God would send more laborers to the harvest field. OCTOBER 17, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 3
NEW CALIF. LAW WILL ALLOW MIDWIVES TO PERFORM ABORTIONS California Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills expanding abortion services and reducing health standards for abortion facilities. The former Democratic presidential candidate said the new laws “support the health and well-being of women.” California becomes the fifth state to allow or not explicitly ban the practice of nonphysician abortion, joining Montana, New York, Oregon and Vermont, according to LifeSiteNews.com. California A.B. 154 authorizes “midwives, nurse practitioners, and physicians’ assistants to perform first-trimester suction aspiration abortions,” the website reported. The General Assembly in May passed the new law and it cleared the State Senate last month by a near-party line vote of 25-11. Only one Senate Democrat opposed the bill. Meanwhile, A.B. 980 reverses health regulations “intended to hold abortionists’ offices to the same standards as other surgical facilities,” LifeSiteNews reported. The relaxed California laws come as states such as Texas and Virginia tighten regulations on abortion.
LIFEWAY PARTNERSHIP WITH BACKGROUNDCHECKS.COM PROVIDES DISCOUNTS TO MINISTRIES The man serving snow cones at your Vacation Bible School is a convicted sex offender. That was the news Bill Jones had to deliver to one of the pastors in his association. The pastor came to Jones after learning a volunteer, who had been a “model church member” for two years, may have had a criminal record. “[The pastor] asked if I would do a background search, as I often do for our smaller churches that cannot afford it themselves,” said Jones, executive director of the Neches River Baptist Association in Crockett, Texas. The report did confirm a sex offense conviction. That Texas church was one of nearly 5,000 churches and religious organizations that have used backgroundchecks.com through a relationship with LifeWay Christian Resources over the past five years. During that time, more than 84,500 background checks were run through the program. Of those background investigations, 53 percent (44,946) returned some type of issue, ranging from minor traffic violations to felony convictions, according to Jennie Taylor, a LifeWay coordinator who manages backgroundchecks.com. Not all of the issues required any action, but more than 22.5 percent (19,202) of the screenings returned records with misdemeanor or felony offenses.
The Texas church now understands the importance of running background checks ahead of time, Jones said. “They now have a policy that everyone who works in [children and youth] areas will have a current background check on file,” he said. Under the LifeWay program, churches and religious organizations can use the background check service at discounted rates to screen children’s ministry workers, camp counselors, bus drivers and other volunteers and staff. For more information, visit LifeWay. com/backgroundchecks or call 800-4642799. For additional resources to help churches avoid the devastating effects of sexual abuse and other moral failures by staff members or volunteers, visit sbc.net/ localchurches/ministryhelp.asp and sbclife. net/pdf/ProtectingOurChildren.pdf.
SHERWOOD BAPTIST GIVES $17K TO GLOBAL HUNGER RELIEF AFTER GIVING $300K TO IMB IMB President Tom Elliff rarely is surprised. But one pastor has managed to surprise him not once, but three times. In September, Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, the Georgia church known for producing the films “Courageous,” “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof,” presented a check for $100,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions at IMB’s annual staff retreat. “We were totally surprised three years ago when Sherwood presented a $100,000
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check,” Elliff said. “We invited them back, never thinking they would give us another $100,000 gift.” Then, Elliff learned that the gifts are part of Sherwood’s 10-year commitment to give $1 million to international missions, above and beyond their annual missions offering. As a result, Elliff wasn’t as surprised when Catt presented a third check for $100,000 at this year’s retreat. Instead, the surprise came in the form of a $17,000 check to Global Hunger Relief, formerly the World Hunger Fund.
—Briefly section was compiled from staff reports and Baptist Press
N. RICHLAND HILLS PASTOR JOINS LIST OF NOMINEES IN AMARILLO Scott Maze, pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist Church near Fort Worth, will be nominated for first vice president of the SBTC Bible Conference. Scott Maze Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville and a member of the SBTC Executive Board, will nominate Maze during the Bible Conference Oct. 27-28 at the Amarillo Convention Center. “Dr. Scott Maze brings forward to his generation the same warm and winsome gospel message that his mentor Dr. Roy Fish placed before Southern Baptists,” Barber said. “I believe that he will bring this focus to our Bible Conference in 2014, and that’s why I’m delighted to place his name into nomination for the first vice-presidency of our Bible Conference.” Maze joins announced nominees for the Bible Conference presidency and also SBTC offices of president and recording secretary. Jimmy Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, will be nominated for SBTC president by Byron McWilliams, pastor of First Baptist Odessa. Dante Wright, pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, will be nominated for recording secretary by Steve Washburn, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pflugerville. And Michael Dean, pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, will be nominated for Bible Conference president by Jimmy Draper, president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources and a longtime Texas pastor.
SOUTHWESTERN EXPERIENCES HIGHEST ENROLLMENT IN FIVE YEARS Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is reporting the largest student body enrollment in the past five years, with a total enrollment of 3,259 for the 2012–13 academic year. In addition, the fall 2013 enrollment represents an increase of 5.8 percent over last fall. “Dr. Patterson’s vision to have a robust student life, high academic standards, plus some of the most innovative online offerings for theological education available, is paying off,” said Steven Smith, vice president for student services and communications at the seminary. “We are thrilled by the number of incoming students, and also for the
retention of existing students. The electric atmosphere of evangelism is so encouraging. We are excited to welcome these students who will be deployed to churches and mission fields to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.” One area where Southwestern has experienced significant growth is with its innovative 36-hour, fully online master of theological studies degree, which launched this past summer. In only its first semester, the program already has more than 170 students enrolled. Notable growth also came from the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions as well as the College at Southwestern.
NEW ORLEANS BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY TO LAUNCH FOUR NEW FULLY ONLINE DEGREES New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees approved an initiative to launch four new fully online degrees, new degrees in biblical archaeology and chaplaincy and created seven new extension sites during their fall meeting Oct. 8. The board approved a plan by the NOBTS administration to petition ATS for approval of the four additional degrees. In addition to the three online degrees already offered, NOBTS will seek approval for a fully online master of divinity, master of arts in Christian education, master of arts in apologetics and master of missiology. In 2012, the trustees approved three fully-online degrees—the master of theological studies, master of arts (theology) and master of arts (biblical studies). The master of theological studies degree was already approved by the seminary’s accrediting agency, Association of Theological School in the United States and Canada (ATS). The seminary petitioned ATS for approval for the two other degrees. The petition was granted and NOBTS
began offering the three degrees in a fully online format this spring. NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke said the seminary “has long been a national leader in distance education, so offering these new degrees online is continuing a pattern of innovation and excellence for which we have achieved national recognition.” Each of the degrees will be offered both in fully online and traditional “in-person” classroom formats. Most of the courses in these degree programs will be available online, at extension centers and on the main campus. Lemke said the initiative is designed to provide as many options as possible for students. “The evidence shows that many students find it difficult to complete an entire degree online,” Lemke said. “The great thing that NOBTS offers the distance learning student is a cafeteria of options that students can tailor to their own needs—they can choose from taking courses in our extension centers all over the Southeast, hybrid courses that meet just a few times a semester, weeklong workshop courses and travel courses.” OCTOBER 17, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 5
SBTC VP praying ‘big’ for Amarillo men Austin attorney wants to see movement of God start among ‘marketplace men’ in city where he started career. By Jerry Pierce AMARILLO
When Geoff Kolander found out Amarillo would be the site of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention this year, it wasn’t a coincidence in his mind. It was God’s way of bringing him full circle. Kolander, an Austin attorney elected at last year’s SBTC annual meeting as convention vice president—an unusual choice; it usually goes to a minister—has lived in Austin for seven years but has a special place in his heart for Amarillo. His granddad had a long-tenured law practice there on Polk Street after moving down from Minnesota. Kolander started his law career in Amarillo after graduating from the University of Houston’s law school and soon fell in with a group of Christian men who would meet regularly to sharpen each other’s spiritual iron. It was a sweet and fruitful time, Kolander said, with “marketplace men,” as Kolander calls those of varying occupations in the workplace within one’s sphere of influence, coming to saving faith and others pursuing spiritual maturity. The group was aggressive in their pursuit of men, praying for and sharing the gospel with guys who they knew needed Jesus, Kolander recalled. “My heart has always been with the guys I left behind,” Kolander said in a phone interview. He was in Chicago on a business trip when he was elected last year after nominator Paul Pressler, the retired Houston judge and Southern Baptist elder statesman, praised Ko6 TEXANONLINE.NET OCTOBER 17, 2013
lander as a layman who loves Jesus and shares him regularly. And it’s just that—sharing Jesus—that Kolander aims to do when the SBTC annual meeting and Bible Conference is held in Amarillo Oct. 27-29. In fact, Kolander said three meetings a group of Amarillo businessmen are planning during that time in an effort called “Gripped by God” are motivated by a desire to see Amarillo experience “a mighty move of God that will be a catalyst for revival and awakening” among business people and spreading out across the region. The group will meet in a space near his grandfather’s former law practice, 1015 Polk St., from 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 (Sunday), 6:30–8 a.m. Oct. 28 and 6:30–8:30 p.m. Oct. 30. Kolander said the group tried to schedule its meetings around the events of the convention and Bible Conference, although he said he is not trying to attract the same crowd as the SBTC meetings. Instead, Kolander said he plans to preach the gospel “to as many men as I can to initiate revival.” He also is praying that Christian men would comprehend the depth of Galatians 2:20, where Paul says he has been “crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” “What would it be like if more men got that and lived that?” Kolander asked. “When we walk with Christ it changes us.” Kolander said he saw God move dynamically on the Texas A&M
Geoff Kolander, an Austin attorney elected at last year’s SBTC annual meeting as convention vice president, is praying and working that God will move among Christian men in Amarillo.
campus as a student from 1994-98 as the Breakaway ministry begun by Greg Matte, now pastor at Houston’s First Baptist Church, grew from a few dozen people to more than 4,000 students attending weekly Bible studies. “When you’ve been around a movement of God that’s real, it creates an expectation,” he said. During the three meetings, Kolander said he plans to share the gospel message and then open it up for men to share their personal testimonies. “This is a call for marketplace men to step up and call on other local men they know to come and hear about Jesus. We are praying that as lives are changed, men and families will pour back into the local churches and that cities are changed.” Kolander said he is praying that churches are prepared and that the Sunday following the annual meeting, Amarillo-area churches will be full. “Why not pray big? Why couldn’t the Sunday following look like Easter Sunday. Why not ask for that?”
Head out West! We don’t often bring our annual meeting to West Texas but we always love it when we do. The people and churches are friendly and the landscape is dramatic. Please join us for a great time of worship, fellowship and a little business thrown in alongside. It’s a great time to celebrate cooperative missions and the Lord’s work among us. We look forward to seeing you in Amarillo!
Meals MONDAY, OCTOBER 28 CHURCH REVITALIZATION DINNER // Monday, Oct. 28 at 4:30 p.m. Learn about Church Revitalization at a free dinner in the Heritage Room of the Amarillo Civic Center. CRISWELL COLLEGE DESSERT RECEPTION // Monday, Oct. 28 from 9 to 10 p.m. Join Criswell College alumni and friends for a free dessert reception in the Heritage Room C & D. Hear about future plans for a residential campus at a new location, expanded curriculum and online classes.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29 SOUTHWESTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY ALUMNI & FRIENDS BREAKFAST Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 7 a.m. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is hosting a breakfast at 7 a.m. in the Heritage Room A & B. President Paige Patterson will be in the Lion’s Den to answer questions. Visit swbts.edu/sbtcbreakfast for complimentary tickets or call 817-923-1921, ext. 7200 for more information. PRESIDENT’S LUNCHEON // Tuesday, Oct. 29 at noon Evangelist Tim Lee is the featured speaker. Lee is a double amputee and recipient of the Purple Heart after serving in the Vietnam War who shares a compelling story of how God drew him from rebellion to surrender to his Savior. Tickets are $10 and available online at sbtexas.com/am13. BLESS THE WEST DINNER // TUESDAY, OCT. 29 FROM 4:30 - 6 P.M. IN THE HERITAGE ROOM. The Bless the West dinner will celebrate the work of our West Texas churches. Cowboy singer and storyteller Jeff Gore will provide entertainment. The dinner is free but seating is limited. Make reservations at sbtexas.com/am13 in advance or check at the annual meeting to learn if space remains.
Childcare Childcare is available from newborns through 9 years old from the Sunday evening session on Oct. 27th through the Tuesday evening session on Oct. 29th. For more detailed information and to register your child, visit sbtexas.com/am13. Deadline for pre-registration is Oct. 23.
Sesión en Español 27 DE OCTUBRE DE 2013 A LAS 6:00 PM Grand Plaza of the Amarillo Civic Center Acompañenos al servicio y al compañerismo provisto inmediatamente después. Invitación Queridas Iglesias Hispanas de la Convención Bautista del Sur, reciban un fuerte saludo en el precioso nombre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Ya se aproxima la fecha de nuestra Convención de los Bautistas del Sur de Texas (SBTC), que se llevará a cabo los días 27, 28, y 29 de octubre. El domingo, día 27 de octubre, tendremos nuestra Sesión en Español a las 6:00 PM en el Grand Plaza del Amarillo Civic Center Complex. El lema de nuestra sesión será: “Para Que Otros Vican.” La Escritura clave está basada en Salmo 102:18 que dice: “Se escribirá esto para la generación venidera; Y el pueblo que está por nacer alabará a Jehová...” Será un honor contar con su participación! Esperamos verlo y poder compartir con cada uno de ustedes.
OCTOBER 17, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 7
Southwestern Seminary preps for spring break revivals, seeks churches nationwide to participate
By Sharayah Colter
nce a year, Fort Worth becomes the proverbial epicenter for revival as it sends more than 100 students and faculty to churches nationwide to share the gospel, minister to churches and encourage pastors. Over a span of 54 years, the effort—now called Revive this Nation (RTN)—has seen Southwestern partner with about 4,850 churches to lead 14,000 people to profess their faith in Christ.
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With 2013 quickly winding down, another revival year winds up. Next spring, students and faculty will preach revivals March 9-12. Southwestern will pay for the roundtrip transportation to get a preacher anywhere in America, including Hawaii and Alaska. The host church provides meals, lodging and local transportation for the student during his stay. Trinity Pines Baptist Church in Trinity, about 80 miles north of Houston, has served
as a host church for Revive this Nation for two years now. Pastor Mark Gray said both times were a blessing. “Both men impacted our church with their preaching, commitment, sensitivity and professionalism,” Gray said. “Our church grew in its spirituality, because both preachers brought God’s Word in love, truth and passion. It was very clear they had listened to God and let him lead them in their preaching; we heard what God wanted us to hear.
Southwestern Seminary student Lee Trigueros (center) shares the gospel with two men outside a taqueria.
Their genuineness was evident from the beginning and God used the preachers to lead us to a closer place with him.” In addition to the revival’s impact on local congregations across the country, the effort also extends seminary education beyond the classroom and into the church. Jeff Hampton, the Southwestern Ph.D. student who preached at Trinity Pines last spring, said as much regarding his preaching experience through RTN. “I think RTN helped my seminary preparation by putting me in touch with the practical side of minis-
try,” Hampton said. “Oftentimes in seminary, we dwell in the realm of theory, but RTN thrusts you into the realm of the practical, allowing you to live out what you are learning in the classroom with real people in the real world. You get to see and experience some of the joys and the heartaches of pastoral ministry. Participating in RTN obviously isn’t a one-to-one match with being a pastor, but it gives you a taste of that world and a chance to learn from those who are on the front lines of ministry and to minister to them as well.” With revivals only six months
away, Southwestern already looks forward to the way the Lord will work through its faculty and students during spring break. “We are eagerly anticipating God’s continued faithfulness in reaching the lost as our students and faculty prepare to preach revivals across the country,” said Steven Smith, Southwestern’s vice president for student services and communications. Those interested in participating may find more information at swbts.edu/rtn.
“Our church grew in its spirituality,
because both preachers brought God’s Word in love, truth and passion. It was very clear they had listened to God and let him lead them in their preaching; we heard what God wanted us to hear.” —TRINITY PINES BAPTIST CHURCH PASTOR MARK GRAY OCTOBER 17, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 9
Revival services maintain timeless relevancy and effectiveness, says strategist
By Sharayah Colter
hough the word “revival” is old enough to be found in the Psalms, it is often labeled as too 20thcentury for today’s Christians. For some reason, the timeless benefits of revivals—the challenges to faith and the spurring on to devotion and discipleship—have been overlooked because of the trendy or dated methods associated with some revival events. Today, while the stuff of revivals may have had some revising as most everything else, the substance is never changing, offering churches a concentrated time of worship and fellowship that can lead to lives changed for time and eternity. Garrett Wagoner leads a ministry called Engage for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, where he serves as student and collegiate evangelism associate. Engage sends summer teams of preachers, musicians and children’s worker to churches to lead revivals, evangelism training and backyard Bible clubs as a ministry of the SBTC. Wagoner said that while revivals have often been mislabeled and rejected, their relevance and potential impact is staggering. A lack of belief in what God can do through revivals and misperceptions about what revivals are have caused scheduled revival services to fall on hard times, he said. “A lot of people see revival as just a week of worship services with a guest speaker that manipulates people into salvation, but revival is actually a movement of God where he awakens his people spiritually and spurs them to evangelism and missions,” Wagoner said. “A week of special services is held as an expectation, vehicle 10 TEXANONLINE.NET OCTOBER 17, 2013
and desire to see God do the impossible, while a special emphasis is put on awakening and renewal. Revival services can be a powerful tool if they are used correctly and the motive is right.” In fact not only can they be helpful, but Wagoner said they are critical to the spiritual health and growth of any congregation. “I believe revival services are vital to today’s church,” Wagoner said. “It is very effective to set aside three days, one week or two weeks—if you’re brave enough—to get people out of their ordinary routine and into a time where they are expecting and asking God to move in their lives and communities.” Revivals can stir souls that have settled into stagnancy. Wagoner said that when revival has ensued, people find a fresh awe of God and a passion for evangelism. “If they experience true revival, they will begin to lead their peers to Christ and you will see genuine community and discipleship take place,” Wagoner said. Genuine community and discipleship—the true meat of revival— are at the core of a gospel-driven life, he added.
GuideStone joins litigation challenging contraceptive mandate Class action suit against federal government also represents Oklahoma ministry, Georgia College. By Roy Hayhurst DALLAS
GUIDESTONE FINANCIAL RESOURCES, along with Oklahoma-based
Reaching Souls International and Truett-McConnell College in Georgia, filed suit Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, objecting to the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate. The suit addresses the administration’s regulations requiring certain religious employers to provide health benefit plans for their employees that include coverage for abortifacients and related education and counseling. GuideStone Financial Resources, Reaching Souls International and Truett-McConnell are challenging the mandate on grounds it violates constitutional protections on religious liberty and freedom of conscience. No trial date has been set. While churches and a narrow category of closely-related organizations are exempt from the mandate, many other ministry organizations, including Christian universities, mission organizations and child and family ministries, face severe penalties if they don’t provide government-mandated contraceptive coverage through the health plan they make available to their employees or through a thirdparty that provides services to the health plan.
According to the suit, the mandate substantially burdens the plaintiffs’ exercise of religious beliefs because it forces them to be involved in a program to provide employees with access to drugs and devices that risk human life. “GuideStone plans do not cover drugs or devices that can or do cause abortions,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said in a statement. “From the outset of this unacceptable mandate, GuideStone has diligently pursued a number of avenues with Congress and the Administration to protect those we serve. While we have secured some partial relief, it does not go far enough. Many ministry organizations are still in harm’s way despite the fact that they also share core convictions regarding the sanctity of life. “We reluctantly take this step because we are committed to protecting the unborn and preserving the religious freedom that is guaranteed under the laws of this nation. This mandate runs rough-shod over these foundational principles.” Truett-McConnell College of Cleveland, Ga., is a 66-year-old institution of higher learning controlled by the Georgia Baptist Convention. Like other Christian colleges, it would be required to follow the contraceptive mandate. “Our mission at Truett-McConnell College is to equip our students to fulfill the Great Commission
GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins addresses the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. After taking the legislative route, GuideStone joined a class action suit against the HHS’ abortifacient mandate. BP PHOTO
by fostering a Christian worldview through a biblically centered education,” said Truett-McConnell President Emir Caner. “Part of that Christian worldview is the understanding that human life—from conception to death—is valuable because all human life is created in the image of God. It is an unconscionable violation of the Christian worldview we were founded upon to be required to participate in the government’s scheme to provide objectionable coverages in our employer health plan.” Reaching Souls International is a mission organization with the goal of training Africans to reach the world’s largest continent for Christ. As a mission organization with employees based in Oklahoma City, Reaching Souls International is also subject to the mandate to provide access to objectionable contraceptives. The suit seeks relief from the court not only for the named parties but for many ministry-related employers providing health coverage to their employees through the program made available by GuideStone, the SBC entity said. OCTOBER 17, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 11
Air Force, Liberty Institute at odds over details of airman’s removal Liberty Institute claims Air Force investigation that concludes senior master sergeant made false statements is based on falsehoods that provide cover for military brass. By Bonnie Pritchett
ttorneys for a senior enlisted airman at Lackland Air Force Base say a military investigation that was closed on Oct. 9 made false assertions, leaving questions about the veracity of the investigation. Statements from the Air Force about the details of Senior Master Sgt. Philip Monk’s reassignment within the base directly conflict with Monk’s account that he was removed from his duties earlier than planned because of a disagreement with his lesbian commander over same-sex marriage. In August Monk accused Maj. Elisa Valenzuela of relieving him of duty as first sergeant of the 326th Training Squadron because his Christian convictions prevented him from agreeing with her about same-sex marriage. The Air Force report said Monk was due to be reassigned at the time of the conflict and his transfer was nothing more than the fulfillment of that new assignment. But two documents released by Planobased Liberty Institute, which is representing Monk, reveal why Monk’s attorneys question that assertion. “The Air Force has not and cannot explain why SMSgt Monk was reassigned six weeks prior to his scheduled rotation date,” said Monk’s attorney, Mike Berry. Both documents, indicating a planned intra-base re-assignment, are identical with one significant exception. Both transfer documents were signed by Valenzuela June 27, 2013. But the start dates differ. One indicates the declared action effective Sept. 30, the other Aug. 14—just two days after the 12 TEXANONLINE.NET OCTOBER 17, 2013
Official documents show an original planned re-assignment of Sept. 30 for Phillip Monk, yet the Air Force contends his August reassignment was not expedited by a disagreement over same-sex marriage.
Air Force says Monk returned from the two weeks of leave they say he requested following his disagreement with Valenzuela. The initial investigation prompted by Monk’s complaint and led by Air Force Col. Mark Camerer found Monk’s claim “unsubstantiated,” according to an Air Force statement. The statement continued: “A parallel investigation looked into whether Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk made false official statements. It concluded statements he made were false.” The Liberty Institute quickly shot back. “The Air Force’s version of this story is not true,” Liberty said in its own news release. “The documents don’t lie. The truth is that SMSgt Monk was removed and reassigned because he would not agree with his commander’s views on same-sex marriage,” Berry charged. The Liberty news release stated flatly: “Al-
though the Air Force now says that SMSgt Monk was simply at the end of his tour, official documents show that this is not true. SMSgt Monk was reassigned prior to that date.” In late July Monk and his commander were in the midst of an investigation of an Air Force instructor’s alleged anti-homosexual comments when Valenzuela, according to Monk, pressed him about his own views on the issue, Monk said. According to Monk the major, a lesbian and proponent of same-sex marriage, dismissed him after she discovered the two were “not on the same page.” Monk repeatedly asserted Valenzuela became increasing angry with him during the course of their discussion as she real-
“The documents don’t lie. The truth is that SMSgt Monk was removed and reassigned because he would not agree with his commander’s views on same-sex marriage.” —LIBERTY INSTITUTE ATTORNEY MIKE BERRY
ized he would not affirm same-sex marriage. “I believed I was being coerced to answer in the way she wanted,” Monk said in August. “As a Christian I could not answer the way she wanted me to.” Monk is a member of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio. Monk filed a formal complaint against Valenzuela accusing her of dismissing him because of his religiously held beliefs. The Air Force report stated Monk never voiced a religious or moral objection about same-sex marriage to his commander. And his public testimony, the Air Force said, brought about the accusations of making a false statement. Berry said, “[Valenzuela] had created such a hostile work environment that SMSgt had no choice but to assent to his own removal.”
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Mississippi church seeks racial reconciliation By David Roach OXFORD, Miss.
When First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., passed a resolution apologizing for its 1968 decision to exclude African Americans from worship services, it opened the door for racial reconciliation in its city. “I had never seen a church or any organization move that seriously toward repentance and then apologize without any excuse,” said Andrew Robinson, pastor of Oxford’s historically black Second Baptist Church, a National Baptist congregation that accepted the apology and granted forgiveness. Since the apology—which was reported by Memphis and Tupelo news outlets—First Baptist has participated in a community-wide interracial worship service, talked with local black congregations about how to partner in evangelism and ministry and experienced moments of personal reconciliation between white and black believers. There have been “amazing moments of reconciliation and forgiveness,” Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist, told Baptist Press. “We have the opportunity to now bring the redemption of Christ to bear in this situation,” Hankins said. “The bottom line is that something has been done that is wrong. We’ve recognized it, and we’re going to leave our gift at the altar until we go get this right so we can be correct in our worship. That’s the appropriate response to a sin of the past.” 14 TEXANONLINE.NET OCTOBER 17, 2013
Two Mississippi pastors, Eric Hankins (left) and Andrew Robinson, have fostered healing between their churches in Oxford, a city that faced racial tumult during the civil rights era. Hankins is pastor of First Baptist Church; Robinson is pastor of Second Baptist Church. PHOTO BY KEVIN BAIN
The resolution says that First Baptist “declare as utterly sinful the vote in April 1968 to exclude African-Americans from worship.” The apology “unequivocally denounce racism in all its manifestations as a sin against Almighty God.” Although the 1960s in Oxford were an “extremely difficult” time, according to the resolution, “such difficulties in no way excuse what was done.”
The resolution continues, we “repent ... with our whole heart. We seek the forgiveness of the Lord and of African-Americans who were and are still hurt by these things, and we hope they will extend such forgiveness to us.” Hankins, 42, arrived at First Baptist in 2005 and occasionally heard older members say the church had been on the wrong side of civil rights issues. But it wasn’t until late last
“We have the opportunity to now bring the redemption of Christ to bear in this situation. The bottom line is that something has been done that is wrong. We’ve recognized it, and we’re going to leave our gift at the altar until we go get this right so we can be correct in our worship. That’s the appropriate response to a sin of the past.” —PASTOR ERIC HANKINS
year, when deacon emeritus Sylvester Moorhead gave him a copy of deacon minutes from 1968, that Hankins got the full story. Realizing that African Americans were testing whether they could be admitted to various churches across the South, the deacons suggested that First Baptist develop a policy related to black worshipers. Moorhead moved that the deacons recommend an open-door policy for worshippers of all races, and despite some opposition the recommendation was approved by the deacon body. When it came before the church though, it was voted down on a secret ballot in a special business session after a Sunday morning worship service. “The church understood the voting down of the open-door policy to be an approval of a closed-door policy,” Hankins said. In the succeeding years, First Baptist used the vote as a basis for denying blacks access to its resources and facilities. Once it refused to host a communitywide prayer event because blacks would be in attendance. On another occasion, the church would not let its bus be used to transport black children to a backyard Bible club. But by the mid-1970s, blacks began to attend worship, with the first African American joining in 1980 and the church enjoying increasingly warm relationships with blacks in Oxford. Still, the vote not to welcome African Americans had never been overturned. So Hankins worked with the deacons to craft a resolution nullifying and apologizing for the 1968 decision. He also preached on corporate repentance and gave the church
body opportunities to ask questions and offer amendments to the resolution. On July 21 the church adopted the resolution with more than 600 members voting for it and only four voting against it. “It was high time,” Moorhead, 93, said of the church’s apology. “On the other hand, racism doesn’t die that easily, and I’m sure we’ve got some people that still internally are a bit racist. But now they sort of feel like they’re in the minority and they won’t speak out.” Hankins is quick to point out that not everyone in the church was on the wrong side of civil rights issues in 1968. Moorhead, for one, came to Mississippi from Colorado in 1949 to serve as a professor of education at the University of Mississippi. He and his wife were shocked by the racism they saw and considered leaving the state before deciding to stay in an effort to influence others. Moorhead became dean of the university’s school of education in 1960 and was instrumental in bringing black professors onto the faculty. Several members of First Baptist helped make public school integration in Oxford one of the smoothest such efforts in the South, refusing to start private schools for white students to maintain segregation, according to Hankins. “It would have been exceedingly rare that a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi in the 1960s would even have considered the issue of whether or not to have an open-door policy,” Hankins said. “Our church was unique in that it was struggling to try to do what was right.” Nevertheless, corporate repentance was required, he said. Hankins taught the church from 2 Samuel 21 that sin can have ongo-
ing consequences in a community and must be repented of, even after those most responsible for it have died. In 2 Samuel, Israel was experiencing a famine because Saul had broken a covenant with the Gibeonites. Even though Saul was dead, David had to lead the nation in making atonement in order to end the famine. “David doesn’t say, ‘I didn’t do that. It was Saul. That was not my generation. That’s the previous generation,’” Hankins said. First Baptist stands “in continuity as one body” and must repent of the church’s past sins. Since the apology, “lots of doors have been opening” for racial reconciliation, Hankins said. For example, a black man from a local Methodist church told Hankins that when he was a teenager, youth groups from around the city began meeting together for encouragement and fellowship. But First Baptist stopped the gatherings because they were interracial. Hankins apologized for his church’s actions, and the man in turn apologized for his own racist attitudes in the past toward white people. Robinson, the pastor at Second Baptist, said that if more churches with racist pasts followed First Baptist’s lead, hearts of lost African Americans might open to the gospel. For some blacks, First Baptist’s repentance “will enable them to let go of some of that pressure that keeps their hands closed or their hearts set against the possibility of being witnessed to by white or black pastors. I do believe that when people see acts of repentance, acts of kindness extended such as this, it speaks volumes,” Robinson said. OCTOBER 17, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 15
Criswell College trustees pursue relocation, name Richards to chair presidential search By Tammi Reed Ledbetter
finding the next president,” he stated, asking for prayer “from all who would join us in seeking God’s face that we might know his man.”
In the midst of receiving the resignation of the school’s president, Criswell College trustees remained focused on expanding the curriculum to a university model that trains biblical leaders in strategic disciplines such as business, law, communication and education. Furthermore, they empowered the board’s executive committee to purchase land to build a residential campus to accommodate such growth. “It would serve us well as we continue to communicate to reaffirm the vision of the college becoming a full university along with its relocation,” trustee John Mann of Springtown told the board. “The Lord brought Dr. Jerry Johnson here to lead us at the stage where we are, but it’s a vision that belongs to Criswell College and ought to belong to this trustee board.” Board members voiced gratitude to Johnson for more than seven years of service and made clear their determination to run with the vision he introduced by a vote of reaffirmation. The chairman of a newly named presidential search committee agreed that the stage is set for the next leader to carry out that priority. Jim Richards, an ex officio board member as executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, will chair the search committee. Other search committee members from the trustee board include David Galvan, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida 16 TEXANONLINE.NET OCTOBER 17, 2013
in Dallas; Mann, who pastors La Junta Baptist Church in Springtown; Jack Pogue, a layman at First Baptist Church of Dallas; and Keet Lewis, a layman at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. Also named to the committee are two Criswell College alumni, Andrew Hebert, pastor of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in Hobbs, N.M., and Joshua Crutchfield, pastor of First Baptist Church of Trenton. “We’re going to find the man God would have to lead us into the new direction of the Criswell College,” Richards told the TEXAN. Meeting with faculty and staff after the board adjourned, Richards said he told them it would be an open process. “There is no person who has been pre-selected.” Nominations will be received immediately and should be sent to Evie Cozart at Criswell College. Additional information will be posted online at criswell.edu. “We are going to involve the student body, faculty and administration for input as a potential profile is developed for the next president,” he added, “as well as receiving any other information that they would like to give.” Richards said he would give periodic updates to all of those groups, as well as trustees, to keep them apprised of the process. “The search committee will move expeditiously and judiciously toward
RELOCATION A site acquisition study by the campus planning firm of Dober Lidsky Mathey gave trustees a snapshot of a campus that would initially serve 600 students with the potential of growing to 1,800. Space and project costs were outlined for the board before consideration was given to five sites near Dallas. “I move that we empower the executive committee to act if they can cut a deal they are comfortable with,” proposed trustee Richard Land of Charlotte, N.C. Trustees unanimously affirmed his appeal, eager to take advantage of available property without a delay until the next board meeting in the spring. OTHER BUSINESS The board also authorized the sale of 200 acres owned by the school in Royce City and a rehabilitation center near the campus on Gaston Avenue in Dallas. That action is subject to the executive committee’s approval. Trustees elected Mann to serve as chairman; Calvin Wittman, pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in Wheat Ridge, Colo., as vicechairman; and re-elected Pogue to another term as secretary of the board. The board’s executive committee will name an interim president. Trustees stood to applaud Johnson after Wittman praised him for leaving the school “in great hands and with a great future.”
Is God guilty of genocide?
n 1 Samuel 15:3 God commands King Saul: “Now go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Bible stories like this are fodder for atheists like Richard Dawkins, who writes in “The God Delusion,” “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Though less strident than Dawkins, other cynics struggle to see God as loving and merciful in light of such Scriptures. So we must ask, “Is God a genocidal maniac?” Hardly. God’s love and wrath are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are complementary qualities of his divine nature and his plan to rescue humanity. God orders the destruction of the Amalekites and certain other groups for two primary reasons: to punish their accumulated sins, and to prevent their wicked influence from spreading. The measure of sin Scripture indicates that people and groups have a limit to the sins they commit unrepentantly before the Lord brings judgment upon them. For example, in Matthew 23 Jesus tells Israel’s religious leaders they are filling up the measure of their fathers’ sins; 40 years later, the temple is destroyed, Jerusalem is sacked and the Jews are scattered. The Apostle Paul has a similar message for his fellow countrymen who prevent Christians from spreading the gospel to the Gentiles. “As a
result, they are always completing the number of their sins, and wrath has overtaken them at last,” he writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:16. In the Old Testament, God tells Abraham that his descendants will be exiled and abused for 400 years before God leads them into the Promised Land. The reason for the long delay is that the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure (Genesis 15:13-16). In other words, God plans to wait centuries while the Canaanite groups (including the Amalekites) slowly fill up their own cups of destruction. God never acts hastily or capriciously against them; his grace and mercy are longsuffering. Walter Kaiser Jr. comments: “These nations are cut off to prevent the corruption of Israel and the rest of the world (Deuteronomy 20:16-18). When a nation starts burning children as a gift to the gods (Leviticus 18:21) and practices sodomy, bestiality and all sorts of loathsome vices (Leviticus 18:25, 27-80), the day of God’s grace and mercy has begun to run out.” Unintended consequences But why, specifically, the Amalekites? When the weary Israelites pass through the desert toward Canaan, the Amalekites pick off their weak, sickly and elderly and brutally murder them. Moses reminds the Hebrews, “Remember what the Amalekites did to you on the journey after you left Egypt. They met you along the way and attacked all your stragglers from behind when you were tired and weary. They did not fear God,” (Deuteronomy 25:17-18). Saul disobeys God by sparing some of the Amalekites, as well as their choice animals. As a result, there are consequences. Some commentators believe that Haman, who in the Book of Esther seeks the extermination of the Jews throughout the Persian Empire, is an Amalekite. OK, but why punish “innocent” women and children? Individuals share in the life of their families and nations, participating in their rewards and punishments. But there is another consideration. If women and children bathed in idolatry and wickedness are spared, how long before a new generation of adults emerges like their pagan predecessors? Finally, why kill the livestock? God does not want the Israelites to go to war in order to enrich themselves. Their solemn task is to carry out a death penalty, not to line their pockets. It is God’s sovereign duty to determine when people or groups have filled up their “measure of sin.” When he decides that severe judgment must fall, we may rest assured that he is not forfeiting his grace and mercy; rather, the sinning party has rejected God and passed beyond the point of no return. —Rob Phillips is director of communications for the Missouri Baptist Convention with responsibility for leading MBC apologetics ministry in the state. Phillips is on the Web at oncedelivered.net.
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