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 the crisis at the International Mission Board says about our world

As if we needed to be reminded, the recent decision by the International Mission Board (IMB) reveals once again the complex and complicated world we live in today.

YarbroughPerhaps like you, I am concerned at what is seen by some as a “drawdown” of missionaries around the globe and how the move could impact Southern Baptist efforts to reach the world for Jesus Christ.

In recent days, the Arkansas Baptist News staff has contacted Southern Baptist leadership to request clarification on a number of items related to the IMB’s announcement.

There is not enough space to go into all of the details here, but essentially leaders explain that the move by the IMB is being fueled by a dramatic downturn in giving since the recession of 2008.

That event, coupled with a trend of decreased overall giving to churches and the fact that dollars given don’t buy what they used to, has resulted in a crisis.

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What now for the IMB & the SBC? - Ronnie Floyd

Editor's Note: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwestern Arkansas.

FloydSPRINGDALE (BP) – I feel I should address the financial situation of the International Mission Board, released last week to the Southern Baptist Convention. I know there are many questions and concerns that Southern Baptists have about these matters. When I first became aware, I had several questions myself.

A reminder

I want to remind all of us of two things. First, the Board of Trustees has the responsibility of overseeing the fiscal responsibility of the International Mission Board. Annually, the Southern Baptist Convention approves the board of trustees of each of our entities.

Secondly, Dr. David Platt, our new president of the International Mission Board, has been in this job less than one year. Each of us knows of his commitment to reaching the nations. I am very thankful that he and his team are taking the necessary steps to operate within the financial means given by our churches and people annually. I believe it is the right thing to do.

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What if we cheered for Jesus like we do the Hogs?

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

By the time you read this, the Arkansas Razorbacks – or your favorite college football team – likely will have played its first game of the 2015 season.

If you’re like me, you watched the game on TV or were at the stadium hanging on every play, rooting for your team to dominate the competition.

YarbroughWhile I love to root for my beloved Hogs like the best of them, I found myself pondering the cheering crowd and the team on the field, the dynamics between the two and how it relates to Christian culture.

The aim of Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, since taking over the premier football program in the state, has been to build the Razorbacks into a physical and dominating force that goes against “stylist” spread-out-the-field and finesse football fielded by many teams today. Bielema’s aim is for the Razorbacks to “wear down” opponents with the ultimate goal of winning the game and bringing victory to the team.

So far Razorback fans seem to love the new approach, as it appears the formula will bring consistent victories to the team.

Let’s contrast for a moment the approach of the Razorbacks on the field with the today’s Christian.

There was a time when Christian culture was a “dominating” force in American culture, known for winning over converts by communicating Truth. Jesus was known undisputably as “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” whom all people must know to gain salvation from their wicked lives and assurance of eternal life.

Somewhere along the way Christianity was watered down, disenfranchised and fragmented to the point of obscurity and irrelevance.

The irony, of course, is that unlike a temporal football team unsure of victory from game to game, Christians know the way the “game” ends and that Christ ultimately wins over darkness.

So why don’t we cheer on God like we do the Razorbacks?

It seems today that sharing one’s faith in Christ has become more of a “process,” rather than spontaneous and natural outgrowth of the Christian experience.

Perhaps the reason is that our lives have become so engrossed by the busyness of the present age that we don’t take time to stop and evaluate our surroundings and the lost people God has placed strategically in our lives that we have the responsibility to reach.

It’s goes without saying that many Christians don’t know their neighbors – sometimes living right next to them – and are often hesitant to share what Christ has done in their lives with co-workers.

Is this God’s game plan or the plan of Satan who is seeking to destroy and devour?

My goal this season while rooting for the Razorbacks is to contrast my enthusiastic support of the team with how I can be a better witness for Jesus Christ and cheer on our Savior who has won the victory over the ultimate opponents – death and eternal separation from God.

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


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.



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.