Monday, May 22, 2017

The New Center of the Christian World by James Emery White

One of the most important trends within the Christian movement is the explosive expansion of Christianity southward in Africa, Asia and Latin America. And with it, the new challenge of the globalization of Christianity. Philip Jenkins argues that by the year 2050 only one Christian in five will be a non-Latino white person, and the center of gravity of the Christian world will have shifted firmly to the Southern Hemisphere.

Consider Ghana in West Africa. More than 70% of Ghana’s 26 million people are Christian. As a Religion News Service article observed, “The statistics understand the fervency of everyday faith. Many attend church on weeknights. All-night prayer vigils are common and billboards advertising Christian meetings line the streets.

“It’s common to see people studying the Bible on the bus, and many office workers keep open Bibles on their desks.”

According to the International Bulletin of Mission Research, some 41% of the world’s 560 million Protestants live in Africa. This could climb to 53% by 2050.

The challenges this will bring are enormous, including the relationship between the Western and the non-Western church, which has not always been an easy one.

But rather than worry about the possible tensions, perhaps we should celebrate the growing strength of Christianity in that part of the world as opposed to the “rise of the nones” in our own.

Why?

We may soon need them to send missionaries our way.

James Emery White


Sources

Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Matthew Mpoke Bigg, “Faith Puts Ghana at Heart of Global Christianity,” Religion News Service, March 1, 2017, read online.


About the Author


James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Friday, May 19, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart....Friday, May 19, 2017

This Lord's Day is our Senior Recognition Service and I am looking forward to celebrating and honoring ten high school seniors from five different high schools. I will be sharing a message with them during a luncheon Roxanne and I host for them after the morning service.

Sunday morning I will begin looking at some of the most powerful verses in the Bible as recorded in Luke 8: 4-15 commonly called "The Parable of the Soils."  This Sunday I will deal with the first three soils in a message entitled "The Heart of a False Disciple."

The biggest question about this parable is to whom was it directed and to what does it describe?  You must answer these two questions before you can correctly apply the parable. Was it directed toward disciples or the crowd?  Does it describe the heart of a "saved" person or a "lost" person?

This Sunday I will only examine the first three soils to see what type of heart we have.

This is a two-part message that I will conclude May 28 with "The Heart of a True Disciple" based on the fourth type of soil.

Then Sunday night we have the high privilege of hearing a friend of mine, Dr. Roger Mardis.  As you can see, Roger is Pastor of Agape Baptist Church in Scottsboro and is celebrating his twentieth year in Scottsboro.  He is a great preacher and we will all enjoy hearing this man of God Sunday night at 6:00.

I love you and thank God for the privilege of being the preacher at Rainsville First.  Pray for me and I will be praying for you as we prepare our hearts for His Word this Sunday.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart....Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tonight at Rainsville First beginning at 6:00,  we will be celebrating two special events:

Students will be at the Upward Field celebrating the "Ending of School."

Arrow Kids' Clubs are meeting in the Auditorium at 6:00 for their program and then moving to the Fellowship Hall and Gym for food and activities.

There are no Wednesday night meals any more this spring or summer.

Our Graduate Honor Service is this Sunday during the morning service.  We are doing “Journaling Bibles” for all our high school graduates.  These Bibles are displayed on tables in the hallway around the church office where the church is invited to note a favorite Bible verse(s) and write a note to each graduate in the Bible provided for them.  These Bibles will be available for the church to write their notes until May 20 and then presented to the graduate May 21.

Vacation Bible School is June 11-15 and you are responding well to signups.  If you did not sign up this past Sunday, there is a sign up sheet in the Foyer or you may contact Whitney Traylor directly.

Our last mission trip to Mobile is July 1-8.  We have the usual opportunities of service and would love for you to pray about going.

All the staff goes and it is a highlight of Rainsville First's year.

For more information or answers to questions, contact Keith Beatty or Greg Wigley.

Continue to pray for the Personnel Team and myself as we seek God's choice for our next Student Pastor.

If you know of anyone that would like to submit a resume for this part-time (bi-vocational) ministerial position, have them send the resume to Rainsville First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 585, Rainsville, AL 35986 (256-638-3141) or email it to me directly or drop it by the church office.  Deadline to receive resumes is May 31.

Love you and thank God for you.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Precious Story of a Mother's Prayer and Her Deep Spiritual Life

We are all familiar with Alex and Stephen Kendrick. These brothers have produced films like "Facing the Giants" and "War Room."  Do you know there's an unsung hero behind the scenes who has played an important role in all their movies?

Their prayer warrior is Rhonwyn Kendrick - a praying mom and grandmother and she's seen the indescribable power of prayer firsthand.  Watch this video as Rhonwyn and her son, Stephen, share stories of God's faithfulness and power to answer when we call out to Him.

Happy Mother's Day - and especially to our mothers and grandmothers who pray!!

Friday, May 12, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart....Friday, May 12, 2017

This Sunday is Mother's Day in the United States and it will be our joy and honor to recognize all the Ladies (not just mothers) who are present in worship this Sunday morning.

Also, it is interesting that I am coming to Luke 8 this Sunday.  I am there because last Sunday night I preached Luke 7:11-17 but in previous sermons I have dealt with the messengers sent from John the Baptist (Luke 7: 18-35) and the woman expressing her worship (Luke 7:36-50) I dealt with in a series of messages on Worship.

So, this Sunday we deal with the statement made by Luke that certain women "provided for Him from their substance."

What a shocking statement!!  We will observe why and give the honor due to the ministry of women to Jesus.

There is no Sunday night service this week due to Mother's Day.  Enjoy your time with family and friends.

I am delighted to announce Dr. Roger Mardis, Pastor, Agape Baptist Church, Scottsboro will be preaching for us on Sunday night, May 21 in the 6:00 service.  You don't want to miss hearing him. Roger has been a friend for many years and is one of the finest preachers in north Alabama.  He has been pastor in Scottsboro for almost 20 years.  He does not have Sunday night services during the summer so I asked him to come and preach for us.  I look forward to hearing him and I'm delighted you will be hearing him, as well.

See you Sunday.  Love you church family.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Life-Transforming, Heart-Healing Power of Praise by Sam Storms

Our worship of God does not make him more powerful. Neither does it compel him to act. But God is pleased by praise. He loves to act on behalf of his people when his people exult in him and exalt him in worship. Praise is where God lives (Ps. 22:3)! It is his home! That is why when we worship, things happen: the spirits of the discouraged are lifted and refreshed, sick bodies are healed, unsaved souls come to faith, the Spirit’s voice is heard, relationships are healed, hope is restored, the Word of God is more readily heard and obeyed, unforgiveness toward others is overcome, bitterness disappears, demons are routed, otherwise stingy people become incredibly generous, and joy inexpressible and full of glory fills the hearts of God’s people!
C. S. Lewis struggled with the constant demand in the psalms that God’s people worship him. He couldn’t figure out why. It seemed like God was a vain and insecure old lady who constantly needed people to tell her that she was still beautiful. That is, until he made a profound discovery:
“I did not see that it is in the process of being worshiped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not indeed the only way. But for many people at many times, the ‘fair beauty of the Lord’ is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together” (“A Word about Praising,” 93).
When we worship God in the midst of our troubles and trials he releases a supernatural power into our hearts that enables us to persevere and live through adversity. Sometimes he will even deliver us from the pain and heartache itself, but if not, he will always supply us with the strength to endure as long as it lasts.
Praise has the potential for hastening and quickening the process of spiritual healing in our hearts. It awakens us to remember all of the marvelous blessings God has bestowed and the countless ways he has shown himself faithful in the past. It empowers us to trust him for the fulfillment of his promises in the future.
It isn’t unusual for God to respond to our worship by supplying us with power for physical healing. But even if he doesn’t, he will always enable us to respond as Job did: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”
Praise accelerates the process of sanctification. When we are absorbed and obsessed with God and his greatness, the power of sin loses its grip on our hearts. This doesn’t mean that we can guarantee for ourselves a utopian, pain-free life if only we would worship more. But it does mean that when our hearts and minds are consumed with God and his promises to us in Christ that earthly problems and pain become increasingly more tolerable.
Gordon MacDonald was at one time president of Inter Varsity Fellowship. But following a moral failure he stepped down from all ministry and spent a couple of years in counseling and prayerful repentance. His marriage was saved and he was eventually restored to ministry. He later served as President of Denver Theological Seminary, where he is now Chancellor. He wrote about his experience in a book titled, Rebuilding Your Broken World. In it he describes one occasion when worship accelerated the healing of his heart:
“In one of the darkest hours of my broken-world condition, I found myself one day in the front row of a Dallas church where I had been asked to give a talk. I had made a long-term commitment to be there, but had it not been for my hosts’ hard work of preparation, I would have tried to cancel my participation. Frankly, I was in no mood to speak to anyone. But I felt constrained not to cancel, and so there I was.
When the service began, a group of young men and women took places at the front of the congregation and began to lead with instruments and voices in a chain of songs and hymns: some contemporary, others centuries old. As we moved freely from melody to melody, I became aware of a transformation in my inner world. I was being strangely lifted by the music and its content of thankfulness and celebration. If my heart had been heavy, the hearts of others about me were apparently light because, together, we seemed to rise in spirit, the music acting much like the thermal air currents that lift an eagle or a hawk high above the earth.
I not only felt myself rising out of the darkness of my spirit, but I felt as if I were being bathed, washed clean. And as the gloom melted away, a quiet joy and a sense of cleansing swept in and took its place. I felt free to express my turbulent emotions with tears. The congregation’s praise was a therapy of the spirit: indescribable in its power. It was a day I shall never forget. No one in that sanctuary knew how high they had lifted one troubled man far above his broken-world anguish. Were there others there that day feeling as I did? Perhaps they would have affirmed as I did: God was there” (178).
Such is the life-transforming, heart-healing power of praise!

Friday, May 5, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Friday, May 5, 2017

First, let me begin today by saying a BIG thank you to all of you who wished me a Happy Birthday yesterday.  It even started Wednesday night at church.  I am humbled by your thoughtfulness.

I am looking forward Sunday to being in Luke 7 for the 10:15 and 6:00  services.  Sunday morning "When Jesus is Impressed" based on Luke 7: 1-10.  What would impress Jesus?  Who would impress Jesus?  Well, we are shocked to learn who and what as we examine this wonderful passage  Sunday morning.

Then Sunday night the story in Luke 7: 11-17 in a message "Life Meets Death."

Bring your Bibles, a ready heart and a friend by your side.

Love you and thank God for the privilege of being your Pastor and preacher.