News Articles

BP Ledger Monday, April 6

EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today’s BP Ledger contains items from:
The Pathway
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
WORLD News Service

Field retiring
after 18 years
By Brian Koonce

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (The Pathway) — He has been a fixture at 400 E. High St. and worked in a variety of roles for nearly two decades, but Jerry Field will retire from the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board staff April 15.

Most recently serving as the team leader for support services, Field came to the MBC in 1996 as personal evangelism unit leader. Since then, he as also served as director of evangelism, state director of church planting and associate executive director.

“Jerry has served with five executive directors and touched just about every area of ministry,” said John Yeats, MBC executive director. “He has served with excellence and faithfulness to the Convention and the Missouri Baptists we serve. We will miss his acumen for detail and historical perspective.”

Prior to serving on the state convention staff, Field pastored churches in Missouri, South Carolina, Colorado, Texas and Wyoming and earned a master’s and doctoral degree from Southwestern Seminary.

Field’s tenure at the MBC came at a tumultuous time as battles were waged over the direction of the convention.

“The sense of rancor and combativeness that was already present when I came in 1996 is gone,” Field said. “At my first annual meeting people were standing at microphones shouting back and forth at each other. It was very testy and combative. One of the greatest things that has happened over the years is the level of harmony Missouri Baptist are able to enjoy.”

The MBC executive board staff has evolved a lot since 1996 as well. When Field came, the Baptist Building housed 120 full-time employees and another 30 served out across the state. Now, the staff totals 56 full-time employees.

“Our culture has changed so much in that time,” he said. “Though God’s Word and purposes do not change, our means of relating to this new culture need to change greatly.”

But Field said one thing has not changed: the basic nature of the MBC’s mission.

“We are Missourians and we are an independent people,” he said. “But we are a people who love the Word of God and want to do the work of missions. The sweet fellowship that exists between pastors, directors of mission and laymen is unchanging.”

Field said he and wife, Sherry, will spend more time with family and travel in their first days of retirement, first to New York City and then to El Salvador to further cultivate relationships in the music community he has fostered over the years. Field is an accomplished luthier (one who makes and repairs stringed instruments) and will be able to devote more time to the passion. He said he is also open to the Lord’s leadership, should opportunities for pulpit supply or interim work arise.


‘Crush compulsion toward self-exaltation,’
KBC leader says Southern Seminary
By Mackenzie Miller

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Kentucky Baptist leader Curtis Woods urged Christians to learn “the hard work of heart work” in a message on Psalm 131 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, March 26.

“Psalm 131 is tailored to teach us how to crush our compulsion toward self-exaltation,” said Woods, associate executive director for convention relations and communications for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “The only way to do maintenance on the soul … is to understand that we must have a high view of the absolute sovereignty and the goodness of God above his creation and above our individual lives.”

Woods, who is also a Ph.D. student at Southern Seminary, said believers often do not come to the issue of soul care with a correct understanding but with a heart that has disordered affections. According to Woods, there are times when focus shifts from God to creature-comforts and academic accolades, putting so much confidence on intelligence, strength, or financial standing that those things become gods. If believers are to be the type of people that are constantly reflecting the righteousness of God, they must believe that “heart work” will be the hardest work they will ever do, he said.

Allowing Psalm 131 to mull over in believers’ minds will allow it to transform the affections because it is short on verses but long on virtue, Woods said.

“The only way that we can do heart work in a way that will glorify the triune God is for us to submit our thoughts to the message of Scripture,” he said. “In fact, as an academic community of faith, we must hear Psalm 131, memorize it, and meditate on it if we are going to serve God with a complete heart.”

Woods encouraged believers to embrace the distinction of the Creator and the creature and walk in humility. They are not to only read Scripture but to allow Scripture to read them. Pride is an epidemic vice and humility cannot coexist with it, Woods explained; thus, like David, a Christian’s heart, eyes, and affections must not be raised too high.

“Everybody that you meet is decorated dust. They have dignity because they are made in the image of God, but do not allow yourself to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think,” Woods said, referencing Genesis 2:7. Woods recited a song he wrote for his young sons to illustrate that even powerful leaders and celebrities in the world are merely “decorated dust.”

Woods also explained that believers must know their limitations. It is wise for a man to be aware of his own size, he said. There are things of God that believers know to be true because they can be seen in Scripture, but they are also outside of comprehension. Woods said it is wise for the believer to know when to say, “I do not know.”

He also urged Christians to cultivate their contentment in God by taking personal responsibility for calming and quieting their souls. It is a desire to no longer control the uncontrollable. To do so means that “you are not competing with anyone else anymore,” he said. “You are just looking toward a great Savior who has done all the work on your behalf to create contentment and to cultivate joy and peace.”

“Cling to Christ-centered hope, because Christ’s sufficiency is all the hope you need,” he said in his final exhortation. “We need to cultivate a heart that is content in Christ, knowing that heart work is hard work, but through Christ, mediated by the Holy Spirit, beloved family of God, we can do this work and run this race together.”

Audio and video for Wood’s chapel message are available at sbts.edu/resources.


Coalition of Black Churches rebukes
PCUSA over marriage redefinition
By James Bruce/WORLD News Service

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WNS) — In a stern public rebuke, the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) has condemned the recent decision by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to define marriage as a “commitment between two people.” NBCI’s president, Tony Evans, chastised the denomination, saying that “by voting to redefine marriage [the] PCUSA automatically forfeits Christ’s saving grace.”

Evans’ statement calls for a complete separation of NBCI churches—which, according to the press release, include tens of thousands of congregations across 15 denominations—from the PCUSA. Because the “PCUSA deliberately voted to change the Word of God and the interpretation of holy marriage between one man and one woman,” the NBCI “must break fellowship with them and urge … Christendom to do so as well.”

This separation need not be permanent, but the path to reconciliation can be paved only with the PCUSA’s repentance, according to Evans: “We urge our brother[s] and sisters of the PCUSA to repent and be restored to fellowship.”

The NBCI statement highlights a growing split in the African American community over gay marriage, with some leaders calling it a civil rights issue and others saying it’s a biblical one. The coalition’s decision follows the trajectory of those within the African American community who resist attempts to define marriage as anything other than a commitment between one man and one woman. In 2012, WORLD reported Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., campaigned against a proposed law to redefine marriage in Maryland. “It is possible to be tolerant of gay and lesbian rights without redefining marriage, God’s holy union,” King said in a radio commercial

Though Evans’ statement places the NBCI at odds with President Barack Obama’s embrace of gay marriage, the coalition has supported the president’s work in other areas. Its member pastors encouraged full participation in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under its Get on Board the ACA Train initiative. But over the issue of gay marriage, the NBCI breaks both with Obama and the PCUSA.

Though some will see the NBCI’s decision as an abandonment of civil rights, Evans puts the matter differently: “NBCI and its membership base are simply standing on the Word of God within the mind of Christ.”

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