The Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s series of regional SPARK conferences have gotten off to a strong start, and, if your church hasn't yet gotten on board, it’s not too late. At the first of the regional conferences, Scott Sullivan, the Mission Board’s discipleship catalyst, challenged church leaders to develop strategies to grow strong disciples who can unleash the power of the gospel in their communities and around the world.
Recognizing that school districts are struggling to fill bus driver positions, Holly Creek Baptist Church in north Georgia stepped up to help, and, in so doing, opened the door to an outside-the-box ministry that’s paying huge spiritual dividends. Several Holly Creek folks have become bus drivers, fitting bus routes into their daily ministry routines.
A few things I wonder about: Why are doctors’ offices—especially the dermatologist’s—so cold? You’re asked to strip down to your skivvies, and it feels like 50 degrees in there. If it’s intended to prevent lingering, well, I’m ready to go as soon as I get my pants on.
Retired educator Margie Bowen has climbed Stone Mountain over 1,000 times. The Atlanta resident started climbing Stone Mountain east of Atlanta for exercise, but as she climbed several times each week, she kept count. Eventually, she reached the hundreds, and on New Year’s Eve ten years ago, former students and several family members joined her as she reached the 500 mark.
“What do you find attractive about Jesus?” When Von Rogers, the associate campus missionary at the University of North Georgia, originally asked me this question, I told her that I did not know. I was a junior in college who had grown up in the church but who was tired of nuance-less rules and older Christians constantly seeming to have pat answers. I knew Jesus would always be my Savior, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be part of church anymore.
You may have heard this before. I went out to find a friend and none were to be found. I went out to be a friend and found them all around. Where do you find friends?
Throughout a rather long ministry, I have encountered beloved church members, friends and family members who have lost loved ones. It is bittersweet to experience the death of sainted, elderly parents who have lived long, made a positive impact on their community, left a godly legacy, and had welling up within them the assurance of a mansion on Hallelujah Avenue in God’s celestial city.
As a new school year approaches, many church leaders seek church members who can serve in the church. In a Lifeway Research study of Protestant churchgoers, 66% said they did not volunteer for a charity (ministry, church, or non-ministry) in the last year. Could the gap between desire and action stem from our failure to trust younger generations to serve and lead?
Ten years ago, I was visiting Shelter Yetu, an orphanage in Naivasha, Kenya. A young boy stood alone at the chalkboard, wiping away the day’s lessons with an old rag. The child—an orphan, I was told—sang quietly as he worked. I watched him from the doorway for a few minutes before greeting him in Swahili. After some small talk about the day’s activities, I asked Boniface how long he had been at the orphanage. “One year,” he told me.
A driver discovered that falling asleep at the wheel was not the best idea. He wasn’t driving, thankfully. He chose to take an afternoon nap in his car on the side of a Fayette County, Georgia, road. When Fayette County deputies checked out a suspicious car possibly stuck in a roadside ditch, they found the driver asleep. The deputy woke him, smelled alcohol, and attempted to give him a field sobriety test. Then Benyamin decided to run, but was caught, restrained, and eventually arrested.
What is next for you? Are you making plans for furthering your education? Are you interviewing for employment? Are you debating about your career path? What type of occupation will be fulfilling and pay the salary you want to earn? Possibly you are making plans to get married? You may be wondering about the best strategies for buying a house or saving for retirement. Consider talking to people who are doing what you want to do.
Lights. Camera. Action. Scene: it’s a warm summer’s day in Los Angeles. A shiny, fire-engine-red convertible is cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway—a joyful, slightly sun-burnt family of four inside.
We live in a fallen world, and it’s never more evident than when we view disasters — both physical and personal. We stand by helplessly and see cataclysmic forces of nature wreaking havoc. As a Mississippian, I’m way too familiar with tornados and hurricanes alike. I’d also put the implosion of the Titan submersible as a natural disaster, even though the wisdom of even getting on that thing is debatable.
Life is filled with risks. Perhaps you enjoy skydiving, climbing Mount Everest, or swimming with sharks? Each endeavor involves serious risks. Nothing would be accomplished on this planet without people willing to venture out into the unknown. Space exploration, and medical and educational advances would be stymied without an innate spirit to try new things and to boldly go where no man has gone before. That’s right ,Star Trek would never have existed without the imagination of Gene Roddenberry.
Some of my favorite memories were birthed on the shores of the Chattahoochee River in north Georgia. Now they’re old, like me, but still active, at least on occasions. I learned how to swim in the Chattahoochee. We were walking along the river, my Uncle Jamie and I, when he asked, “Philip, do you know how to swim?”
An unfortunate mix-up put an embarrassing blemish on the 54th annual Fourth of July Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, the world’s largest 10K. In the women’s elite division, defending champion Senbere Teferi led much of the race, but on the final approach to the finish line, sprinting behind three police motorcycle escorts, Teferi followed a policeman who, unexplainably, turned onto a side street.
In today’s demanding church landscape, one of the greatest challenges is pastoral burnout. Many pastors are discouraged and exhausted, and some are questioning their calling. As of 2019, burnout is a legitimate medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization. Lifeway Research revealed in 2014 that one in four pastors admitted to struggling with mental illness, with half of them being formally diagnosed.
More than 230 years ago, on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution was ratified. From that day forward, the words of the First Amendment have remained unchanged. As the First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Of course, those First Amendment protections have been extended to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
Snoopy, the Peanuts cartoon’s favorite beagle, was agonizing over losing his doghouse to the new freeway coming through. In one panel, Lucy unloads, “All right, so they run a freeway through here and you lose your doghouse. You think you’re the first one who’s ever lost his home? You think you’re the only one? Huh? Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”
On June 12, the Tucker, Georgia City Council voted in favor of a Non-discrimination Ordinance (NDO). This ordinance, while professing to be non-discriminatory, will actually set up opportunities to discriminate against people of faith. Plain and simple: Non-discrimination Ordinances that use the force of law to protect sexual orientation or gender identity can end up being a form of religious censorship, discrimination, and persecution.
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19, ESV The calling given by Jesus to brothers Peter and Andrew as they were fishing in the Galilean waters was life-changing. Jesus then walking further up the shore called two other brothers, James and John, to follow Him as well. Both sets of brothers immediately dropped their nets and followed Him, leaving their old lives behind.
The story of persecuted Baptists in the colonial South is a reminder that religious liberty came at a cost and should be prized and defended today. While the persecution of Baptists in Virginia before the American Revolution is well documented, other persecution across the South has often been overlooked. Including the fact that persecution helped lay the foundation of what would become the largest denomination in Georgia and its defining role in addressing laws concerning the separation of church and state.
One of the perils of life is putting too much value on “stuff.” Stuff can be about anything. It can consist of what we have or what we don’t have. Much of life is about our stuff. Our house, cars, things in the house. Things around the house and things in the garage, storage building, barns and more barns. If we work hard, it’s possible to accumulate lots of stuff. Often, we have more than we need.
As many of you may remember, last June 24 was a very important day in the history of the United States. On that day, Roe versus Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Dobbs case. The bottom line is that the original Roe v. Wade decision was unconstitutional because there has NEVER been a national constitutional right to abortion!
Send Relief’s Atlanta Ministry Center, where I work as Outreach Coordinator, was created to work with and through local churches to serve former refugees in the United States. For me, refugee ministry is personal because I was born in a refugee camp, grew up in a refugee camp and came to America as a refugee. Yes—I am also a former refugee, like many others in the numerous cities across the United States, like Clarkston, Georgia.