Perspectives

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.

I was licensed to “the gospel ministry” by my home church in North Carolina 65 years ago – December 14, 1958. Two years later I was called to be the pastor of the Beulah Baptist Church in Sparta, Georgia; and the good people of Beulah requested my ordination, which also took place in my home church in North Carolina on January 29, 1961.

For almost a decade, the Georgia General Assembly has been dealing with the issue of expanding gambling in Georgia. Every year, the proposed legislation has failed to pass out of the House and the Senate. This year, once again, gambling is being discussed at the Capitol. In fact, on the second day of the 2024 legislative session, enabling legislation for sports betting (SB 172) without a constitutional amendment was brought back up in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee and voted out to go to the Senate floor for a vote.

In the push to reach all Georgians with the gospel, the state’s pastors are thinking and working outside the box. Take David Wheeler for example. He’s using people’s fascination with old cars as a way to tell them about Jesus. Nearly 6 million people have tuned in to watch Wheeler and his family restore rusted clunkers on their YouTube program Revstoration. In his discussions about ball joints, brakes, and batteries, he weaves in the Bible.

The life of a pastor has never been easy, but today's pastor undoubtedly faces unique challenges from previous generations. However, despite today's many challenges, many joys come from God's calling on our lives and the blessings of seeing lives changed by Christ.

Reading a book a friend gave me about his father, I began to conjure up memories of my own, memories of adventures with our two daughters, Michele and Marcia, as they danced and tiptoed through their young lives. Here are a few of those gems.

For more than 250 years, Botsford Baptist Church has been shining the light of Christ in Georgia, establishing itself as a wonderful example of a congregation bent on reaching lost souls.

The 2024 legislative session has already kicked off in Atlanta. We are beginning the second year of a two-year legislative cycle. This means bills that did not pass last year are still available for consideration this year. In 2023, the Public Affairs Ministry of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board was monitoring approximately 27 pieces of legislation on a wide range of social and moral issues, such as religious liberty, gambling, child protection, alcohol, pro-life, foster care, and adoption.

 I was recently asked about Lottie Moon’s last name, because it’s not a very common name for people of European ancestry. As a researcher and writer, I typically include genealogical research on the people featured in my columns, paying special attention to a family’s spiritual roots. Religious beliefs were the driving force for many early immigrants’ journey to America. It shaped their family’s views of government and religious freedom for generations. People are often surprised to discover the role of faith in their own family’s story.

Missions and theology are meant to be kept together because the Bible never separates them. The testimony of Scripture is that biblical theology fuels missions and biblical missions fuels theology. That is why it should be no surprise to us that the greatest Christian missionary was the greatest Christian theologian. It is also why we must work especially hard to reintegrate theology and missions in our lives and in our churches.

President Ronald Reagan proclaimed on January 13, 1984, that January 22 would be the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. That date was the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion-on-demand in the U.S. in 1973. This month reminds us of the 51st Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which led to the deaths of over 60 million babies in the United States alone.

I heard about the men who went deer hunting and separated into pairs for the day. That night one of the hunters returned, staggering into camp under a 12-point buck. They asked, “Where’s Harry?”

Rarely have Georgians witnessed such a move of God as they did in 2023. People were being saved in large numbers in evangelistic outreaches across the state, including last Thursday and Friday at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board's MOVE Conference where more than 350 students gave their hearts and lives to Christ. It's so awesome when God shows up and shows out.

This is the time of year when people are making New Year’s resolutions. Typically, the most common is to lose a few pounds.  I suspect you want to lose a couple of pounds. Maybe you need to lose a lot of pounds. Many of us do. From September 1 through December 27, I gained 15 pounds. I know, that’s really bad. I wasn’t bad for four months but I had a few good spells of being bad. On September 1, I weighed 198 pounds. Then on December 27, I weighed 213 pounds.

Georgia Baptist Convention Vice President Stephen Dervan offered the sobering observation to the more than 100 pastors serving on the Executive Committee that they're "just one step away from stupid." Such frankness is both needed and appreciated.

The Christian Index owes you, our readers, a heartfelt word of thanks this Christmas. That's because you’ve given us the greatest gift a newspaper could ever hope for — your time. Nothing thrills us more than to peek at our analytics page and see Georgia Baptists from literally every city, town and community across the state reading the latest news.

After reading two articles during the past two days, "What the Christ Child Says to the 'Nones'?" and "The New Agnosticism," I wanted to ask and answer this question: "What can we say this Christmas to 'nones' and 'agnostics'?"

Christmas was bleak when I was fourteen years old. My father had fallen off the roof our barn while trying to make a repair. He was severely injured. His hospital and home recovery took months. As a coal mining family, we lived financially tight in the best of times, although farming and gardening often got us over the hump.  With no paycheck coming into our household for several months, I have no clue how my mother and father kept the lights burning.

First Baptist Church of Woodstock hosted Bill Gaither and the Gaither Vocal Band’s New Star Shining Christmas Tour 2023 earlier this month. The spacious auditorium was near capacity and the audience was thrilled with an extraordinary concert of Christmas music and segments of hilarity with the banter between Bill Gaither and guitarist Kevin Williams and the comical antics of Mark Lowery.

A song often heard as Christmas approaches is that the holiday “is the most wonderful time of the year.” But for many, it’s a difficult time — especially for those grieving the loss of a loved one who won’t be at the family Christmas gathering this year. Of course, there are other reasons for anxiety. All it takes is a look at the  news stories each day and you quickly understand the perilous times of 2023.

The Georgia Baptist 10th Annual Pastors’ Day at the State Capitol will take place Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. Once again, we will be combining the annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast and Pastors’ Day into one event. We encourage you to join us at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast and to hear from legislators, public policy experts and activists. This also is a great opportunity to invite your state senator and house member to attend with you free of charge.

Natalie Grant, the contemporary Christian artist, was interviewed on this year’s special “Christmas with Will Graham.” She learned early in life that Christmas is about giving. Grant was raised in Seattle, and every other year, her family piled into a motor home and traveled from Washington to San Diego to visit grandparents.

Christmas is always changing. The biblical story never changes, but your story is always changing. How we celebrate and view the story of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus may change throughout life. We view the story one way as children but then the story matures as we age.

Sometimes, God chooses to emphasize his message, through silence. Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist. He and his wife Elizabeth had grown old and the joy they had long prayed for, a child, had seemingly passed them by. The hope of sharing their home with a new life was replaced by the silence of a house without a baby’s cry, a toddler’s footsteps or a child’s voice in play.

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