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.

Thursday
Aug272015

Study Revelation, then persevere and be watchful

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

The past few weeks I have found myself reading and studying Revelation during my quite time and personal Bible study.

It has been a few years since I have really dove into this prophetic book containing a very explicit and descriptive road map about the future of mankind and all of history.

In the past, I read and studied Revelation with somewhat of a posture of fear and dread, but this time it has been different.

This time I am struck by the truth that Revelation is all about Jesus and the hope we have in our Savior and anticipation of the culmination of history and our future time with Him in glory.

Perhaps it’s my age or what is going on in our society, culture and world, but I am struck deeply once again by the relevance of Scripture and its guidance for the daily life of the believer.

If you have been afraid to dive into this book because you think it is over your head and not within your grasp of understanding, just read Rev. 1:1-3: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants (Greek: bondservant) the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

John is saying that those who read, study and heed the words of this book will be blessed, and that it is written for “bondservants” – in other words – those who fear and are devoted to Jesus Christ. That’s us! A bondservant is someone fully and completely devoted to their Master.

Much has been written and said about what John is directed by the Lord to write about in Revelation 2-3 to the seven churches in Asia Minor (what is now know as Turkey).

John instructs believers to persevere by not losing their love for Christ and to hold true to their faith – even unto death.

The reward of our faithfulness is eternal and should serve as a reminder that every minute of every hour of every day the Lord gives us on this earth is purposeful and significant.

Bible scholars tell us we are now living in Revelation 2-3, with the rest of its prophecy to be fulfilled.

No one knows the hour or day of Jesus’ return, but we know it is getting closer each and every day.

It is our duty as believers not to be caught off-guard, but rather to honor His return by remaining faithful to the gospel and on watch.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches ...” (Rev. 2:7, ESV).

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

 

Thursday
Aug132015

It’s time to make eye contact

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

For a number of years as mission strategist and leader of the church relations department at the North American Mission Board, I had the privilege of traveling throughout the Southern Baptist Convention helping dozens of local churches, associations and state conventions to more fully implement an Acts 1:8 strategy.

As a result, I was both humbled and amazed by the passion God had created in His people for His mission.

YarbroughOne of the “hot spots” for Acts 1:8 mission involvement was among the churches that make up the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Subsequently, a number of Arkansas churches were included in stories and reports of a high level of mission engagement.

Since returning to Arkansas in 2011, my understanding of the commitment and passion Arkansas Baptists have for the mission of Jesus Christ on earth has only grown as I have served as state Baptist editor.

No matter where one goes in the state, churches can be found reaching out to their communities (Jersusalem), their region (Judea), their nation (Samaria) and their world (the “ends of the earth”).

While not all churches can have a comprehensive mission strategy that includes sending members to the four fields of Acts 1:8, all can contribute to the work of Southern Baptists through the denomination’s unified mission budget, the Cooperative Program.

While the Cooperative Program continues to get maligned by some as being bureaucratic, faceless and not as effective as local churches and their own mission causes, I believe the Cooperative Program still stands, undoubtedly, as perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the Southern Baptist Convention.

A pamphlet, “Southern Baptists in World Service,” written by E.P. Alldredge for the Sunday School Board in 1936, aptly captured the essence of the Cooperative Program started by Southern Baptists in 1925.

It stated simply, “(It’s) the beginning of a new day in Southern Baptist life and work.”

I do not claim to be an expert on the subject, but having served in the denomination for 25-plus years, I can testify to hundreds of ministries that have been made possible by support provided by the Cooperative Program.

For one, the Arkansas Baptist News is dependent on the vital funds coming through the Cooperative Program – which constitutes about 45 percent of our operating budget.

Finally, have you noticed in recent years the habit of people who live in your town of not making eye contact?
There was a time when it was seen as extremely impolite not to acknowledge someone whom you passed along a sidewalk. Today, that sense of civility seems to have been lost.

Mission work can be like that sometimes. It might be easier to glance away, not include it in our budget and just pretend it doesn’t exist.

In 2015, it’s time for all of us to make “eye contact” for the mission cause of Christ.

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

Thursday
Jul302015

The depravity of man in full view

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News


If there was ever any doubt  that America has lost its moral compass, we only have to look to the disgusting and evil revelations coming from undercover videos of Planned Parenthood workers.

For those Americans over there who wanted the United States of America to be a truly secular society, there you have it, and among the outcomes is the selling of human body parts of aborted babies.

YarbroughWhat is more sickening is the same abortionists at Planned Parenthood who classify an unborn baby as a “fetus,” have no problem selling “human” parts to make money.

It is the depravity of man in full view in 21st century America, and all citizens should be ashamed of how we have allowed our country to fall so far, and so quickly.

Think about what has happened here and in our world since the year began.

– The fight in Arkansas and across our nation around the controversial gender equality ordinance granting rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

– The aggressive rise of violent and radical Islam abroad and on our soil.

– Middle Eastern nations and other groups professing to one day eliminate the State of Israel as the U.S. stands by.

– The widespread persecution of Christians throughout the world.

– Protests against the passage of Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Arkansas and other parts of our nation.

– Weakened and collapsing economies throughout the world, including in Greece, Puerto Rico and China.

– Rulings in favor of homosexual marriage, but against religious groups opposed to providing contraception.

I am not one to embrace prophetic predictions, but recently I watched a video of Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish Rabbi who is author of the best selling novel “The Harbinger.”

I won’t go into it here, but basically Cahn believes the United States will soon face God’s judgment for turning away from Him, and he makes a convincing argument for a “great shaking” to take place in 2015. It’s a time line that is based on the biblical principle of the Shemitah, which was given to ancient

Israel, when God told Moses in Deuteronomy 15:1-2 that the Israelites were to observe a Sabbath year once every seven years. If you want to know more about Cahn’s ministry, Google him.

But the point I want to make is that Christians have every reason in the world to “get their spiritual house in order” without delay.

If there ever was a time when you felt you were closer to God than you are now, rectify it immediately. Witness to your family and friends, asking them to get right with God today.

Now is the time for Christians to stand tall. If not us, then who? If not now, when?

Thursday
Jul162015

Is the cross the next target? 

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

Events of recent weeks in our country have left me with a lot of concerns about our future as a nation.
It goes without saying that the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize anti-God marriage will – in itself – lead us down a path of destruction (please read our lead story on Page 1 for evangelical reaction).

YarbroughHowever, just as destructive as the path secular humanists have set us on with same-sex marriage is the banning of historical and so-called offensive symbols.

In the human experience, there will always be something offensive to someone. What is interesting in this debate is that many times it is the liberal “thinkers” who want to ban symbols.

While there are some who find the existence of the Confederate flag in 21st century America offensive, what about those – like many Christians – who find the multicolored rainbow flag of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) movement offense?

Free speech in a free nation doesn’t just refer to speech that is culturally popular and politically correct.
For recent examples of this madness, we can look to 2004 when a French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols banned religious symbols of all religions. While the law does not mention any specific religion, it is widely considered to have been enacted to target the wearing of headscarves by Muslim schoolgirls. The result banned all religious symbols – whether they were Christian, Muslim, Sikh or Jewish.

Already, in your state, a planned monument commemorating the historical impact of the Ten Commandments on Western law approved by our lawmakers and our governor has come under attack by a variety of groups who also want their particular symbol erected on the Arkansas Capitol’s lawn.

The groups include Satanists, Hindus and secularists wanting their own monument to their god. This all is following a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision that prohibited the display of a Ten Commandments monument on the Sooner State’s Capitol grounds.  

So far our legislators and Gov. Asa Hutchinson are standing firm on their conviction in favor of the Ten Commandments monument – but one has to wonder if they are challenged by the courts if their opinion will win out.

I am reminded of Apostle  Paul on his visit to Athens in Acts 17:16: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.”

What’s next for America? We can only speculate, but I wonder how long before the liberal down the street – backed by the wealthy ACLU – finds the cross on top of your church offensive.

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

Thursday
Jul022015

Southern Baptists stand tall in Ohio

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

If you weren’t in Columbus for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, you missed a significant event in the life of  our denomination.

As a young churchman I did not attend the annual gathering, but that changed after I started my ministry at the Southern Baptist Brotherhood Commission.

YarbroughAfter attending more than 20 annual meetings now I must admit the Columbus gathering was one of the best organized and planned annual meetings I have experienced.

I am proud that Southern Baptists stood tall, passionately and compassionately telling the world that we don’t plan to redefine God-ordained marriage.

Ronnie Floyd’s message to messengers and guests Tuesday morning, June 16, as the annual meeting kicked off was dead-on and set the tone for the entire convention.

Floyd has used his platform as president of the largest Protestant denomination in the world boldly and effectively and is one of the hardest working SBC presidents I can recall.

Another significant point was Tuesday evening during a national call to prayer for the next great awakening.

Led by Floyd and other convention leaders, messengers and guests throughout the meeting hall prayed, wept and passionately called on the One True God for revival, spiritual awakening and for the Lord to heal our broken land.

The prayer time was carried live on the Internet and via Daystar television, sending a clear message to the world that Southern Baptists care and want to see the world reconciled to Jesus Christ.

Another significant part of the program came Wednesday afternoon during a panel discussion, “The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage: Preparing our Churches.”

In what might be a first for the convention, a former lesbian, Rosaria Butterfield, joined others on the platform to discuss the Church’s response to cultural shifts towards the legalization of same-sex marriage and how to go about ministering to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Other panelists for the discussion included Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; Ryan Blackwell, pastor of First Baptist Church, San Francisco; Matt Carter, lead pastor of Austin Stone Community Church, Austin, Texas, and Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

The discussion had numerous high points, but for me it was when Butterfield stated, “I wasn’t converted out of homosexuality. I was converted out of unbelief.”

As Christians we, too, need to trust God can bring revival and awakening in our time!

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