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
Mar262015

America’s support of Israel must be unwavering  

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

There was a time when the foreign policy of the United States government was something that many Americans could readily champion.

In recent years, however,  that has all changed.

YarbroughWith an activist liberal administration in the White House and many liberal leaders occupying Washington D.C., what Americans once considered as “givens” from its leadership have given way to indecision, inaction and outright left-wing post-modern progressivism.

Such is the case with the state of America’s relationship with the Israel.

In spite of their personal belief concerning the matter, every U.S. president since the rebirth of the state of Israel has publically supported the right of Israel to exist and pledged support for the nation with financial and strategic military support.

Recently, some watchers of Israel have asked, “Should evangelical Christians continue to support a nation that is in many ways secular and has not received Jesus Christ as Messiah?”

When I am asked to answer this question I point directly to Scripture. After all, Israel is God’s original chosen people. What’s more, God says He is not done with Israel just yet, as Paul writes in Romans 11:25-29 (ESV): “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’; ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Yes, while we cannot fully understand the ways of the God of the Universe and the Creator of all things, we should never, ever doubt His plan – even if it sometimes doesn’t make sense to our human minds.
What really concerns me is what has happened to the nations that have turned  away from God and support of His chosen people.

Here are few other Scripture passages to look to when you are asked to defend your support of Israel.

“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3, (ESV).

An example of a Gentile receiving a blessing from God because of love for Israel is the healing of the Roman centurion’s servant in Luke 7:2-6 (NIV): “There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, ‘This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.’ So Jesus went with them.”
Finally, a few other notable items (I could include more if space allowed):

– The roots of Christianity are in Judaism (Rom. 15:27).

– Jesus Christ has a Jewish lineage (Matt. 1:1-16).

– God commands us to pray for peace in Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

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

Friday
Mar202015

Looking forward to this year's SBC – Trevin Wax

Tevin Wax
The Gospel Project

WaxNASHVILLE (BP) – Summer is for vacations and, for many pastors, denominational gatherings. The Southern Baptist Convention is no exception. This year, we're meeting in Columbus, Ohio, the 15th largest city in the U.S., one that is well outside of the Southeast where most of our churches are based.

In the past decade, though the attendance at the annual meeting has risen and fallen in conjunction with the location and the major topic of conversation (or controversy), the overall trend has been a dwindling of messengers. This isn't surprising, considering the loosening of denominational loyalty and the variety of good conferences a pastor can attend.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar162015

ISIS – What should be our response?

Eric Ramsey

Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, now known around the globe as Daesh or ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), is committing an increasing number of horrific acts of terror, violence and murder. Many of these acts are aimed directly at Christians.

RamseyChristians throughout the world are responding with an increasing amount of righteous indignation, distain and hatred toward these evildoers. No doubt, many Christians have concluded that God has “given them over to a reprobate mind” (Rom. 1) and that their hearts are hardened beyond redemption. Sure, we conservative evangelicals believe that God loves them – after all, He loves everyone. And most of us believe that Christ died for all mankind, which includes them.  But do people this evil really ever change?

Just a few days ago, I was in a city on the other side of the globe, making an annual visit to Mr. and Mrs. K (names withheld for security reasons). They are an American couple working for TCWM (the organization of which I am president). Part of their work is training and leading Bible studies with new believers, all of them born into Muslim (Islamic) families. While I was there, Mr. K received a phone call from two of the men he has been discipling.

The men explained that they had invited three Islamic Syrian guests to a house group Bible study. Two of the three men were “amazed and astounded by the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ,” so they came back three nights in a row. On their fourth visit, they “believed the gospel and begged to know how they might become followers of Jesus Christ.” Two of those three Syrians were radically saved.

The men Mr. K had been discipling were calling him to celebrate, but also to make sure that they had done nothing wrong.
“No, absolutely not,” he replied with joy-filled laughter. “Now, what about this third Syrian man?” Mr. K asked.

The men on the phone explained that the third man was very uncomfortable with the Bible teaching and expressed strong disapproval with his Islamic friends’ decisions to become followers of Jesus Christ.

The men went on to tell Mr. K the rest of the story. During one of the Bible studies, they said these three Syrian men revealed that they were members of Daesh (ISIS). That’s right, two ISIS members have professed faith in Jesus Christ! While I was there, we spent time praying for these new believers. We asked God to give them boldness, courage, safety and a strong Christian influence. We also prayed for the third ISIS member, who was very opposed to the other two placing their faith in Jesus Christ. We prayed for the Holy Spirit to touch his heart; and we prayed that he would not do anything to bring harm to the two men who trusted Jesus or to the people in the secret home Bible study group.

I am still basking in the wonder of it all. God is truly a miracle-working, life-changing God.  And He loves all people – even Christian-killing Muslim extremists. So, what should our response be to ISIS? Prayer. Sure, we need to pray for the Christians who are threatened, the families the Christian martyrs and for this evil to be stopped. But, perhaps most importantly, we should pray for the Holy Spirit to convict these ISIS members of their sin, for God to reveal Himself to them in a very real and tangible way and to draw them to faith in Jesus Christ.

Eric Ramsey is president of TCWM in Mountainburg. He writes the column, Answer His Call, for the Arkansas Baptist News. This column appeared in the March 12, 2015 edition.

Thursday
Mar122015

Why the ABN sells advertising 

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

Publishing is experiencing dramatic change. While newspapers were once king when it came to news and information, the impact of television and the introduction of the Internet has changed the way people relate to the printed word forever.

YarbroughWhile digital publishing is many times more convenient for the consumer, generations who grew up with  printed books and newspapers have a hard time discarding print.

I am one of those people, but I also have an appreciation for the timeliness of digital publishing, and especially its convenience. Nowadays, if you have a smartphone, the news is literally with you at the touch of a button.

The Arkansas Baptist News (ABN), while still primarily dependent on a print publishing model, is increasingly embracing digital publishing with products and services that utilize this growing and important new technology.

The ABN’s current ministry model is based on support from the Cooperative Program and the sale of print subscriptions. To help the newspaper to continue to grow and thrive, it is important to add to our revenue through the sale of advertising.

What’s more, since the ABN hasn’t raised its print subscription prices for 10 years, this revenue helps keep the cost of subscriptions down for churches interested in providing important news and information about the Baptist work and mission to their members.

Keeping the cost down for your church will continue to be our focus, but we need your help by continuing your subscription plans, and even expanding them by adding more church members.

Together, we make a difference for Jesus Christ in the Natural State, and it is important for Baptists to continue to have a strong voice and presence – both in print and online – to make Him known and tell of His great works!

Thank you for being bold in your own sphere of influence and for your continued support of your state Baptist newspaper.

Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.

Thursday
Feb262015

The danger of radical Islam 

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

The United States has been here before.

Our country’s isolationism as a world war raged in Europe could have resulted in us all speaking German one day had not Japan attacked and drawn us into World War II.

YarbroughWhile the threat was real then, the threat of radical Islam is just as great because of two things: (1) The general apathy and disconnect of the American people regarding world affairs and (2) the fact that radical Islam can raise its ugly head in practically any U.S. town or city through “homegrown” followers and sympathizers.

The explosive growth of radical Islam across the world should have us all worried, especially when they are beginning to murder not only their own, but also “followers of the cross.”

False religious are rampant throughout the world, but few are so determined to force their beliefs on the “infidels” than radical Islam.

The world has experienced this onslaught of terror in practically every corner of the globe, against Jews, Christians, Shiite Muslims – you name it.

It seems we have an administration in the White House that continues to dub these terrorist attacks as random acts of violence, while at the same time it is reporting a terrorist as saying, as in the case of a terrorist in the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, “I have 16 hostages and I have killed four. I targeted them because they were Jewish.”

Or in the recent beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Syria by the Islamic State because they were men “of the cross.”

What can we do? The immediate answer is to pray, but in addition, we must urge our leaders to protect all people – including Christians – from Islamic extremists.

A call to prayer around this charge was made by Rev. Samuel Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. While the Feb. 21 “moment of silence” has now past, I suggest we all devote time in our daily prayers to petition the God of the universe to heal our troubled world.

Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.