What is going to happen to Israel and where does Israel fit into God's plans? That question was asked in a recent Bible study as the war between Hamas and Israel continues to rage in Gaza while a rising tide of anti-Israelism has spread throughout much of the United States, Israel’s primary ally. My wife Joanna asks, “Has goodness been compromised to the point that evil values and behaviors are going to finally win?”

Small groups serve as vital threads in church life, weaving together individuals in fellowship, discipleship, and mission. Just as soon as a new group is launched, questions of long-term success arise. How will we measure success? How will we keep our groups on mission? What content will they teach week over week or year over year? For our groups to be sustainable, they need a system to flourish.

On Thursday afternoon, Feb. 22, SB 180, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 6 to 3 vote. It now goes to the Rules Committee to be considered for a vote by Thursday, Feb. 29, on Crossover Day.   

Doc Johnson croaked the other day. I am not being disrespectful. That’s what Doc wanted in his obituary: He croaked. Yes, that’s an unusual request, but Doc Johnson was an unusual guy. He was who he was. He was comfortable in his skin—and in his overalls, worn T-shirt, and long, scraggly hair and beard, all of which might disguise the encyclopedic mind that could reveal surprising information about most any subject.

Vance Havner (1901-1986), a Baptist prophet of an earlier generation, said: “Far too often churches have inoculated people with Christianity. Given them enough of the real thing to make them think they really have it.” Jesus said, “suffer the little children and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 19:14) He also admonished; “It is better for him if a millstone is hung around his neck and he is thrown into the sea, than that he may cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:2) Jesus reserved one of his sternest warnings, to those who would lead children astray.

​George Barnard Shaw said, “There are two sources of unhappiness in life. One is not getting what you want; the other is getting it.” America is obsessed with success. We work hard to get what we want. From the early days of our youth, competing is encouraged to reach number one, whether it’s winning the spelling bee or ranking at the top of our class. Setting our minds on a goal and pressing until we reach that goal makes us a success, we think. Success is a destination.

What do Baptists consider to be an appropriate age for baptism? The answer to the question varies and will surprise those who assume that there is a prescribed tradition, set in stone, carefully and meticulously passed down from generation to generation. Two hundred years ago it was rare for anyone to be baptized who was not considered an “adult.”

We are about to examine what James Montgomery Boice and many other Biblical scholars declare is “the most difficult portion of the entire Bible,” recorded in Romans 9:13 (quoting Malachi 1:2-3) where God emphatically says:  “I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau!”

My very first date with my husband was on Valentine’s Day in 1974. We were both in the 10th grade at the same high school. He was a basketball player and I was a cheerleader. I won’t say I fell in love with him on the first date, which by the way was at the circus, but I did enjoy his company and considered that there might be potential for a relationship there. He, on the other hand, told me he was going to marry me on our first date!

I began teaching a course on organizational leadership this past week at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. One of the goals of the course is to demonstrate how organizational leadership can promote human flourishing. What an encouraging possibility for those in leadership to think that they can contribute not only to the advancement of a mission, but also to the well-being of the people they lead.  

Just a couple of years ago a hearing was held in the Georgia Senate regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana. Though no vote was taken on the legislation, the most striking element of the hearing was the numerous negative comments from the Senate committee members and those who testified against the legislation. When the dangers of legalizing recreational marijuana were uncovered, it was obvious that no one wanted this legislation to be considered on a ballot as a constitutional amendment.

Did God reject Esau in spite of his tearful repentance? This question was asked me this morning, while quoting Hebrews 12:16-17:  “And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal.  For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance.”

Though many debate the origin of Valentine’s Day, here in the U.S. its observance is synonymous with love and romance. This week, tangible expressions of love and celebrations of relationships will be commonplace. These demonstrable acts will warm hearts and brighten days as we verbalize our concern for and commitments to others. Some will emphasize it more than others, but the nature of this holiday exposes our abiding desire for relationships that matter.

When we look at our world, at times it seems hopeless with all the evil and chaos. Yet we know one day God will bring an end to evil and bring this earth back to the plan He had from creation—yet even better. Our people need a shot in the arm to encourage them during these turbulent times.

Truth seems to be in short supply in our world today, even in our beloved nation. That is unfortunate, because while our wonderful Lord is the truth (John 14:6), Satan is a liar and the father of lies. He told Eve a lie in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:4), and the great prevaricator has been bearing false witness and inspiring others to do likewise since the dawn of creation.

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the power to protect the unborn has been given back to the American people (mostly) through your elected state representatives. All state capitols have now become a critical battleground for protecting life. That is why we need you to march at the Georgia State Capitol to bring a voice for the voiceless.

The community orchestra prepared for the annual Fall concert for nearly five months. At the final dress rehearsal, the conductor took time during a break to thank everyone who had helped over the past months. He thanked the sponsors, the press, the ladies who had helped with the costumes, and everyone else he could think of.

Commentary: Count me with Caleb!

What we are experiencing today in America with public policy challenges is nothing new. There are Biblical and historical examples we need to consider and ponder. Let's take religious liberty as an example. Is there a Biblical example where certain leaders and the people were ready to give up their religious liberty to the control of the government?

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — For many churches, dates for Vacation Bible School are among the first placed on the church calendar each year. Churches give VBS high priority because pastors recognize VBS as one of the most important evangelistic events for the entire church year. In some churches, a volunteer serves as the VBS director. Other churches may have a children’s ministry staff person who’s responsible for coordinating VBS.

Just before the recent Republican caucuses, TV journalist Tony Dokoupil was in Iowa asking voters two questions: What do you love about America? And why do you think love of America is fading for some people, mainly those of younger generations? Several people were stumped for answers, but one woman did not hesitate to answer the second question. It’s a change in families. “I don’t think people sit on the porch enough, … and they don’t know the American way,” she said, then added: “The internet took over and built a bunch of idiots.”

Recently, our young adults spent their Winter Retreat focusing on reading the Bible together aloud. No special speaker, no DVD teaching. They simply gathered and read as much of the New Testament as possible over the weekend. They read through I Corinthians, completing 149 chapters. They have 111 to go. Good for them, for Bible engagement makes a difference in our lives.

Georgia Baptists are once again looking forward to recognizing our “Legislators of the Year” at the 10th Annual Georgia Baptist Pastors Day at the State Capitol on February 6. Each year, Georgia Baptists recognize a Senate and House member with an award, thanking them for their extraordinary service to Georgia and God’s Kingdom here on earth.

In the relentless whirlwind of duties and responsibilities that is modern ministry, as pastors, we can sometimes forget that the most important ministry we’ve been entrusted with is the one that happens within the walls of our homes. We understand the importance of our calling to the church. Still, today, I want to talk to you about the importance of us, as pastors, spending quality time with our children, and then I want to suggest some practical ways to make those moments matter.

David Brooks writes that “many young people are graduating (from our most elite colleges and universities) into limbo … plagued by uncertainty about who they are and what is their purpose in life. In response to this problem, Yale University began a course ten years ago designed to help students answer those questions. 

A recent article in The Christian Index explained that if churches have a desire to grow, they need to make reaching the next generation a priority. It would be unwise and impractical to disagree with that astute observation. And yet there are countless churches across America that are agonizing over the fact that there are no children and youth in their fellowship.

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