ABN Columns & Viewpoints

Editor's Note: This section includes current and past ABN columns - published in the print edition and online exclusives - as well as viewpoints from a variety of Arkansas Baptist and Southern Baptist authors. Opinions expressed are that of the author and are not necessarily an endorsement.


What riding a Hog reminds me about the mission of God

Recently, I ran across a Twitter post by a motorcyclist reminding fellow bikers to always stop when they see one of their own broken down on the side of the road.

The comment got me to thinking about things that I have learned riding my Harley-Davidson Road King along the highways and byways of our state.

As I consider the believer’s calling and mission to further the cause of Jesus Christ and make Him known, there are some parallels that can be drawn.

(1) Stay alert. It is imperative for Christians, much like bikers, to stay alert and focused – to not do so can result in severe injury or even death.

(2) Refer to the road map. The road map for Christians is clear and found in the Bible. It is important to refer to the road map often, or like the biker, risk getting off course and becoming disoriented.

(3) Read the signs. Signs along the roadway are important to bikers. Signs alert motorcyclists to things like uneven surfaces and dangerous intersections, but it is important to keep watch for obstacles that have no warning, such as road debris and other dangerous hazards.  

(4) Share the road. Hogging the road and having a sense of entitlement to the right of way is something bikers must not do and can even be foolish. As Christians, we know the Truth, but we should share it with love and respect – allowing God to be the judge.

(5) Anticipate the unexpected. The old adage is so true: “If it can happen, it probably will.” Bikers must ride defensively, always on their guard for motorists around them. Christians must do likewise, expecting and anticipating that the storms of life will come and that one’s faith will be challenged.

(6) Enjoy the journey. For bikers, it is “all about the ride” and the “fun of getting there.” For Christians, we are only on this piece of dirt called Earth for a short period of time. Rather than live our lives disengaged and disconnected, avoiding sharing our faith and doing the work of our heavenly Father, we should work hard at embracing our calling and enjoy the journey of being a light amid darkness and aliens in a foreign land!

Tim Yarbrough is editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News.


Great days ahead for Ouachita

It is a special privilege for me to serve as interim president of Ouachita Baptist University. I was both humbled and honored at being asked by our board of trustees to serve in this role at this place I love and have loved since I stepped on the campus as a freshman in 1955. I feel blessed that God has given me this opportunity of service at this special place.

One of my greatest joys as interim president was the opportunity to deliver the convocation address at the beginning of the fall semester. Other meaningful experiences include the times I am able to entertain large groups of students in the president’s home, enjoying the privilege of interacting with them on a personal basis. I love our students and love being around them.

My goal since accepting this position has been to follow the words of Jesus when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

Ouachita always has embraced and demonstrated great love for our students and for each other. One feels the presence of God on this campus and witnesses the demonstration of such love as we work together to make Ouachita the greatest place it can be.

Amid this period of transition, Ouachita’s presidential search committee is meeting regularly to discern who God already has chosen to be our new president.

I am confident He will lead our search committee to that individual who will be presented for the board of trustees to consider in the coming months. In the meantime, I encourage you to pray for our search committee and trustees as they address this crucial decision.

As always, we are grateful for Arkansas Baptists’ faithful support of Ouachita through your prayers and Cooperative Program gifts. Thanks especially for encouraging your young people to explore the benefits of a Ouachita education.

I have great confidence that God has many great goals for us to accomplish in the days and years ahead. God has protected Ouachita for 129 years. Why would I have any doubts that He intends to protect us in the future? Ouachita has been blessed and, I believe, will continue to be blessed by God.

Charles Wright, professor emeritus of music and retired dean of Ouachita’s school of fine arts, was named interim president of Ouachita by the university’s board of trustees effective Aug. 1, 2015.


A commitment to stewardship

As we begin a new year, I feel it worthwhile to renew our commitment to stewardship as defined in the Baptist Faith and Message and to share with you the guiding principles of your Arkansas Baptist Foundation.
“God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause on earth.” – Baptist Faith and Message, Section XIII: Stewardship

The Arkansas Baptist Foundation guiding principles are: “We will seek to serve, advise and encourage ministries and individuals toward a biblical worldview, especially as it relates to best stewarding the resources that they have been given. We recognize that Jesus will return at some point in the future, but that the timing of that return is unknown to us. As a result, we recognize the tension between the urgency of the disciple-making mission right now and the sustainability of that mission in the future.”  

Therefore, “We will encourage individuals, whenever possible, to give freely to ministries during their lifetime. The desired result is that the individuals experience a growing trust and joy in God now and that disciple-making ministries would be given more short-term resources. We will also encourage individuals, whenever possible, to leave legacy assets to disciple-making ministries at the end of their lives. The desired result is that God would be glorified through those gifts and that those ministries would be given long-term resources to sustain their mission until Jesus’ return.”

Our desired outcome for these principles is stated in the following excerpt from the book “The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes”: “Our plea is that we live in such a way as to hear Him say to us, ‘Well done.’ If a return to the Scriptures as our filter for life and leadership moves people to repentance, revival, and another Great Awakening, then God be praised.”

Bobby Thomas is president of the Arkansas Baptist Foundation.


Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction – Ronnie Floyd

SPRINGDALE (BP) – On March 30, 1961, Ronald Reagan spoke to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He spoke these timeless words with great conviction:

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

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Camp Siloam: Feed My Sheep campaign in full swing 

It seems like everyone in the town is trying to find the Baptist pastor and his family a home,” exclaimed my sister, Sarae Martin. In November, my brother-in-law, Acey Martin took a job as pastor of a small Baptist church in Eager, Ariz.

They moved from Walnut Valley Baptist Church in Hot Springs Village, not knowing where they would live in Arizona. “Some things have been very difficult about it,” said Sarae, “but it is as if God is unifying the town around our need for a home.”

Camp Siloam is as desperate for a new dining hall as my sister and her family are for a home. The camp needs Arkansas Baptists to do what Baptists do best – work together to meet a need. The need at Camp Siloam for a new dining hall is great. The current facility is 93 years old. I have been told it needs to be replaced by the fire marshal, a structural engineer and the Health Department.   

Camp Siloam’s campaign to all Arkansas Baptist churches is designed to succeed if we work together. In mid-January, every church will receive a Feed My Sheep campaign packet. I simply ask each pastor to open the packet and prayerfully consider whether his church can participate in the campaign. My preference would be for each church to conduct the envelope campaign option; however, there are three options from which a pastor may choose.

The envelope campaign is not asking much. It is simply 100 envelopes marked $1 to $100. I’m not asking for more than $100 from any congregation member (although, if someone wanted to give more I sure would appreciate it). The beauty of the envelope campaign is that people can give a gift of $5 and feel as if they have given what we’ve asked them to give. Every church must participate for this campaign to work.
Currently, the campaign has raised $635,000. The campaign goal is $3.4 million.

I ask you to consider your church’s participation as a kingdom gift. Camp Siloam is an institution Arkansas Baptists have supported through the Cooperative Program. I believe the kingdom return on your investment has been good.

Last summer alone 352 campers made professions of faith, and 142 made commitments to ministry. If one considers the legacy of a ministry like Camp Siloam over 92 years, then the kingdom impact of Camp Siloam is something Arkansas Baptist cannot lose.

Jason Wilkie is executive director of Camp Siloam (previously Arkansas Baptist Assembly).