Iorg illustrates restoration is possible through repentance
By Tyler Sanders/Gateway
ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) – Gateway President Jeff Iorg opened the seminary’s chapel series Feb. 3 by describing the significance of the semester’s theme: the Minor Prophets.
“The message of the Minor Prophets is needed right now, in our world,” he said.
“Their message is simply this: Rebellion and brokenness abounds but repentance and restoration is always possible.”
Iorg’s guest was Kelvin Aikens, who earned a Doctor of Ministry at Gateway in 2016 and is pastor of the South Campus of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Iorg and his wife Ann are members of Mt. Zion and are part of Aikens’ congregation.
As a young man, Aikens produced and distributed illegal drugs, specifically PCP. “I made a lot of money; so much money that I was burying it in my mother’s backyard because I didn’t know what to do with it,” Aikens said. His operation became so large the Los Angeles Herald Examiner featured it as part of a two-week exposé into the drug industry.
He eventually was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. After his release, he attempted to lower his profile and only produce PCP when in need of money. He and his wife planned to use the proceeds from selling drugs to start a legitimate business renovating and selling properties. However, Aikens and his brother were arrested transporting PCP. This time he was sentenced for eight years. One day in his cell, he watched his brother crying and praying on the floor. His brother was a Christian who had backslidden Aikens said. “Before I knew it, I was on the floor next to him giving my life to Christ. That was May 31, 1986,” he said.
Aikens and his brother spent their days studying the Bible. “I remember telling people in prison that I was happier than I ever had been in my life,” Aikens said. When he was released, Aikens struggled to find a job. A fellow church member helped him get hired as a contract worker at a hospital in Los Angeles. He pursued civil service tests, earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and eventually was hired for a position in the LA county auditor controller office.
Over the next 12 years, Aikens received nine promotions. Eventually Aikens managed a team of 22 accountants and additional support staff that was responsible for calculating the $18 to $20 billion tax revenue of the 2.3 million properties in LA county. And still, at the height of his career, God called Aikens even further in restoration.
NOBTS Abide speaker Jen Wilkin calls women to God’s Word
By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS
NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Women from 19 states and hundreds of churches came together for Abide 2022, “Women of the Word,” at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College Feb. 4-5 to hear Jen Wilkin, popular Bible study author and speaker.
Tara Dew, wife of NOBTS and Leavell College President Jamie Dew and director of the NOBTS ministry wives certificate program, welcomed the audience of 1,200 women.
“Our heart is that we would be women who abide in Christ,” Dew said. “Women who know Him, love Him.”
Leading the Saturday breakout sessions were Kelly King, manager of Lifeway’s magazines and devotional publishing and Women’s Ministry Training; Kathy Litton, wife of SBC President Ed Litton; Elizabeth Luter, wife of former SBC President Fred Luter, and others.
In Friday’s evening plenary, Jen Wilkin said spending time with Scripture should transform believers’ lives, but that the biblical illiteracy she encounters within the church shows something is amiss.
“Are we interacting with Scripture in a way that is compounding our understanding and fueling our sanctification?” Wilkin asked the audience. “Are we being transformed?”
Wilkin recounted examples of believers’ unfamiliarity with Scripture and told of a pastor’s wife who once confided in her but misquoted and misunderstood a well-known passage to express dismay over suffering.
“We have a problem,” Wilkin explained. For Scripture to transform lives, believers must engage Scripture effectively, she said.
Wilkin outlined the first seven ineffective Bible study methods, including the “Magic Eight-Ball Approach” that looks for quick answers regarding the future, the “Picky Eater Approach” that studies only short biblical books, and the “Pinball Approach,” which ricochets from one verse to another.
“The heart cannot love what the head does not know,” Wilkin said. “If we want to feel deeply about God, we must think deeply about God.”
In her follow-up plenary Saturday morning, Wilkin offered a better approach for Bible study that begins by understanding that the Bible is “not about me” or about making believers “feel better.”
“The Bible is a book about God,” Wilkin said. “Read it first for what it says about Him.”
Thoughtful Bible study should involve a “cohesive understanding” of Scripture that considers context, style, genre, history and overview of the book as a whole, Wilkin explained. A proper approach looks for the original meaning to the original audience by an author “inspired by the Holy Spirit,” Wilkin said.
Most important, Wilkin added, the Bible must be approached with focus and prayer.
“There are a thousand voices vying for your attention. What if you fix your eyes on that which transcends?” Wilkin said. “This will transform you into the image-bearer you are meant to be.”