News from the Baptist Press

Formed in 1946 by the Southern Baptist Convention, and supported with Cooperative Program funds, Baptist Press (BP) is a daily (M-F) international news wire service. Operating from a central bureau in Nashville, Tenn., BP works with four partnering bureaus (Richmond, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Washington, D.C.), as well as with a large network of contributing writers, photographers and editorial providers, to produce BP News.

Click on the title to view the full article at the Baptist Press website.


Friday, April 9, 2021 - 5:17pm

NASHVILLE (BP) – On Tuesday (April 6), Arkansas became the first U.S. state to prohibit doctors from providing gender transition procedures for children.

The legislation, known as the Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, prohibits any physician or other healthcare professional from providing gender transition procedures to any person under the age of 18. Additionally, it prohibits any public funds from being given directly or indirectly to any doctor, hospital, or other entity that provides gender transition services for minors.

In March, the bill passed the state House by a vote of 70-22, and was approved in the state Senate by a vote of 28-7. But earlier this week, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the legislation, saying, “This was one step way too far and I couldn’t abide by it.” On Tuesday, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature voted to override the veto.

What does the law mean by “gender transition procedures”?

For the purposes of the Arkansas law, gender transition refers to the process in which a person goes from identifying with and living as a gender that corresponds to his or her biological sex to identifying with and living as a gender different from his or her biological sex, and may involve social, legal or physical changes.

Gender transition procedures mean any medical or surgical service, related to gender transition, that seeks to alter or remove physical or anatomical characteristics or features that are typical for the individual’s biological sex. It also includes efforts to instill or create physiological or anatomical characteristics that resemble a sex different from the individual’s biological sex, including providing puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, or other mechanisms to promote the development of feminizing or masculinizing features in the opposite biological sex, or genital or non-genital gender reassignment surgery performed for the purpose of assisting an individual with a gender transition.

What procedures are prohibited by this law?

The primary effect of the law is that it prevents healthcare providers from giving puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones to minors.

Puberty-blocking drugs are used to delay the onset or progression of puberty in children who experience distress at identifying with their biological sex. Cross-sex hormones refer to testosterone or other androgens given to biological females in amounts that are larger or more potent than would normally occur naturally in healthy biological females or to estrogen given to biological males in amounts that are larger or more potent than would normally occur naturally in healthy biological sex males.

Genital and non-genital gender reassignment surgeries are also prohibited, even though they are generally not recommended for children. However, the law points out that “evidence indicates referrals for children to have such surgeries are becoming more frequent.” Such procedures can include irreversible changes such as mastectomy, hysterectomy, thyroid cartilage reduction and voice surgery.

How does this affect children who are born intersex?

Intersex is a statistically rare variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female. Intersex is a physical condition, while transgender is a psychological condition. The vast majority of people with intersex conditions identify as male or female rather than transgender or transsexual.

The legislation does not prohibit medical procedures to persons born with a medically verifiable disorder of sex development, including a person with external biological sex characteristics that are ambiguous.

What are the dangers of providing gender transition services to minors?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, “For natal adult males, prevalence [of gender dysphoria] ranges from 0.005 percent to 0.014 percent and for natal females, from 0.002 percent to 0.003 percent.” But a study published in 2018 in the medical journal Pediatrics found that young people are 329 percent more likely than adults to identify as transgender, and that there are almost as many transgender teens as there are adult men and women who identify as gay and lesbian.

Prior to 2012, there were few reported cases and little to no research studies about adolescent females with gender dysphoria first beginning in adolescence. But parents have recently been reporting that their children are experiencing what is described as “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” appearing for the first time during puberty or even after its completion.

According to another study published in 2018, the onset of gender dysphoria seemed to occur in the context of belonging to a peer group where one, multiple or even all of the friends have become gender dysphoric and transgender-identified during the same timeframe. Parents also report that their children exhibited an increase in social media/internet use prior to disclosure of a transgender identity.

In 36.8 percent of the friendship groups described in the study, the majority of the members became transgender-identified. As the study notes, “The description of cluster outbreaks of gender dysphoria occurring in pre-existing groups of friends and increased exposure to social media/internet preceding a child’s announcement of a transgender identity raises the possibility of social and peer contagion.” Peer contagion describes a process of mutual influence between a child or adolescent and their peers that includes behaviors and emotions that potentially undermine one’s own development or cause harm to others. Peer contagion has been known to influence suicide, eating disorders and bisexuality.

Previous studies have shown that anywhere from 65 percent to 94 percent of children who express gender dysphoria eventually cease to identify as transgender by late adolescence or adulthood. But by giving them gender transition procedures, the medical profession is causing such children to be permanently affected by a condition most will grow out of by adulthood.

The health effects of taking cross-sex hormones can also be deadly. In biological women it can lead to severe liver dysfunction, heart disease, strokes and irreversible infertility. In biological men it can cause such conditions as blood clots, strokes and breast cancer.

What does the Bible say about sex and gender?

Seminary professor Katie McCoy has defined gender this way: “We believe that gender is God-given, not socially constructed or self-determined; that gender distinctions are rooted in creation and manifested in biological differences, transcending social customs and cultural stereotypes; that being created as a [man or] woman is an essential aspect of our identity (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6).” Similarly, biological sex, that is, whether a person is male or female, is determined by God long before that person is born. God made each person as either male or female, and this is a physical and genetic reality (Genesis 1:27).

Christians understand that sex is tied to biology and that gender is tied to sex. Our gender is not something we choose; it is tied to the biological reality of sex. And our sex, gender, and bodies are permanent features of our identities as created by God.

Friday, April 9, 2021 - 4:01pm

McALLEN, Texas (BP) – Instead of being slowed down by limitations from the COVID-19 pandemic, BT.Church in Texas instead experienced an increased revival in part due to a revamping of its online ministry.

In the early part of 2020, BT (Baptist Temple) was already experiencing a move of God among its four campus locations. More than 200 people were saved and 80 baptized in the first eight weeks of the year. From March-September of last year, BT.Church moved to a completely online format – and used it as an opportunity to refocus its ministry.

Senior Pastor Chris Dupree said their approach was to make their online audience feel like they were not just watching a program, but literally having church inside their own home.

“One of the things we did is stayed committed to trying to offer the same level of service and hope for the same level of engagement,” Dupree said. “We’re using our online ministry to encourage people to take steps of being a healthy church member such as completing membership classes, pursuing baptism, serving and belonging to a small group. It’s dangerous when we as church leaders start to assume that people who are far from God or new to their faith intrinsically know what the next step is. We’ve got to be intentional to help them take those steps forward in their faith.”

BT.Church hired a pastor to work specifically with the online ministry. It expanded to two streamed Sunday services at 9:30 and 11 a.m., using a new technology studio. Each service included a salvation invitation with clear next steps.

From March-September 2020, while the church’s services were offered exclusively in an online format, the ministry’s reach expanded far beyond its campus locations in the Rio Grande Valley. People watched from places like Brooklyn, N.Y., and Bangalore, India. Dupree said approximately 200 people accepted Christ, including some from those and other far-flung locations. Anyone who made a decision while watching a service was instructed to send a text message to the church; the online pastor followed up with next steps.

One example of remote online connection was a woman named Karen from Spokane, Wash. Karen began watching services at BT.Church because she was looking for a church to connect with, and her son was a member at one of BT’s campuses. She began inviting friends over to her house to watch the online services together. She is now in the process of starting a church community group in her home after completing BT’s membership class.

Dupree said remote watchers are encouraged to either begin steps to forming a house church where they are, or connect with another local church body near them.

“We’re really encouraging them to come back to church now, but if they don’t live near any one of our campuses, then we’re using our online ministry to serve as a somewhat of a hybrid church-planting resource,” Dupree said. “If people can find a healthy local church to attend in person near them we encourage them to do so, but this online model is a way for us to faithfully extend our ministry boundaries through both a multi-site model and a church planting effort. A phrase we use is we encourage people to connect digitally and grow spiritually.”

An additional surprising development has been a small group of people in Corpus Christi, Texas, who began meeting to watch the church’s online services together. Corpus Christi is 45 miles from the closest BT.Church campus location and a more than two-hour drive from McAllen. Because of the in-person group, Dupree hopes to open a fifth campus location there.

While the church has resumed in-person gatherings, Dupree said online services have not decreased in viewership, representing a new level of growth for the church. In total, 665 people have made decisions for Christ at BT.Church since Jan. 2020; nearly 200 have been baptized.

He said the necessity of having to hold online services has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the church.

“I feel safe in saying there are literally probably a few hundred people that have come to saving knowledge in Jesus Christ through our online ministry that don’t live close to our church,” Dupree said, “and that probably never would have happened had COVID-19 not happened because we wouldn’t have put the effort, energy and resources to try to extend our online reach.

“Our God does big things. We should never doubt that God is able to do these types of things whenever individuals, families and churches are willing to be committed to the Gospel.”

Friday, April 9, 2021 - 3:26pm

NASHVILLE (BP) – The Easter 2021 reports from churches and pastors across the country have been very encouraging. Even my own experience this past weekend is worth telling and celebrating.

Jeana and I had the opportunity to attend worship with my son Josh, his wife Kate and their sons Peyton, Parker and Jack at their church in Alabama – First Baptist Church of Trussville. As soon as we arrived, we could see that people were returning to church on Easter weekend. When entering their beautiful building, we heard the amazing sound of people talking with one another. We attended one of their four worship services, which was full of people worshiping God, leading to a great message by their pastor, Buddy Champion. It was exciting to hear that this crowd was one of the largest in their history, even with the challenges of COVID-19.

As meaningful worship and powerful preaching occur, we can be assured that lives are being changed by Jesus Christ our Lord. We, therefore, need to celebrate what God is doing in churches across the nation.

The Open Door

When Paul and Barnabas gathered the church in Antioch in Acts 14, this is what occurred: “After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them and that he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (v. 27).

Did you notice what they did?

  • They reported everything God had done with them.

  • The door of faith was now opened to the Gentiles.

This is the culture we need to have in our Southern Baptist family – telling and celebrating what God is doing.

I love hearing and telling stories of God’s work for, of and about Southern Baptists. When we tell and celebrate what Jesus is doing among us, it builds faith and belief that God is able to do anything, anywhere, at any time, with anyone.

Faith Inspires greater Faith

When God powerfully uses one of us and works through one of our churches in a special way, we need to hear about it, talk about it and celebrate what God is doing. Faith inspires greater faith!

What God has done through our convention of churches over the last 176 years together is an amazing story. The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in May 1845 — seven months before Texas became the 28th state of the Union — when 293 messengers, representing nine Baptist state conventions, gathered in Augusta, Ga., and constituted the SBC for the purpose of spreading the Gospel across the United States and around the world.

Cooperative missions began immediately, built upon the power of partnership and cooperation between churches, state conventions and the national convention. In our 176th year, my prayer is we will once again come together as one, prioritizing like never before all we do as a convention to reach the world for Jesus Christ. We must exhaust our lives and energy to see this occur.

Right now, God is doing amazing things through our Southern Baptist churches, missions and ministries. Therefore, we need to be about telling and celebrating what God is doing.

With more than 3,600 overseas missionaries and an additional 5,000-plus missionaries across North America, we are touching the world. With an estimated 50,000 SBC congregations across the United States, I guarantee there are many stories of what God is doing in and through our churches. Yes, we are touching America and the world together.

Let’s Tell and Celebrate

Friends, when we commit to telling and celebrating what God is doing, the faith across our convention of churches will be strengthened and grow. The brief account of what I experienced on Sunday in one of our churches can multiply by thousands of our congregations. God is at work! Tell somebody! We want to celebrate what God is doing.

Why is this important? Faith inspires greater faith! God is writing a new story through us in this moment in history. Tell and celebrate what God is doing.

Now is the time to lead.

Friday, April 9, 2021 - 3:15pm

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Pastor Larry Robertson of Hilldale Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tenn., saw the young Maci Parker out of the corner of his eye, respectfully waiting to address her pastor.

“I excused myself from my conversation and kneeled down to say, ‘hey’ to her,” Robertson said. “She held up a little change holder, and I asked what she was giving to me. She simply said, ‘Annie Armstrong.’”

Maci, 6, was the first child in the church’s Mission Friends class to return the change holders each child had put together to raise money for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions. She raised $54 for the Annie offering.

North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Kevin Ezell noticed Maci’s story after Robertson shared it on social media.

Aaron and Haley Parker along with their children, Maci, 6, and Jenna, 1, pose for an Easter Sunday photo April 4 at Hilldale Baptist Church. Photo submitted by Haley Parker

“So many pastors and churches have shared their stories about the Annie Offering this year,” Ezell said. “But stories like Maci’s have an extra impact because you see that even the youngest among us can make a difference on the mission field.”

Maci made her parents, Aaron and Haley, proud with her heart for others.

“She came home a couple of weeks ago after Wednesday night service and class,” Haley said, “and Susie had taught them who Annie Armstrong was. She was excited to tell us about Annie and who Annie told others about, Jesus.”

Susie Yonkers teaches the Mission Friends class, an effort of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), at Hilldale and takes time to teach the church’s preschool students about missionaries who are serving across North America and around the world.

“Each week, we will talk about specific missionaries, where they’re stationed and learn what they do in their communities,” Yonkers said. “During Easter and Christmas, we talk about specific missionaries who did something great for the mission field, Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon.”

During their class, Yonkers and the children made coin holders out of toilet paper rolls and encouraged the kids to perform acts of service to raise funds. Every time they did so, Yonkers also encouraged them to share that the money was for missionaries and to tell them about Jesus.

“It’s important for the smallest members of our churches to know they are a part of God’s big plan,” Yonkers said. “I’m always telling them that you don’t have to be a big person to tell someone about Jesus.”

Maci took that to heart, doing chores around the house and for other family members.

“She worked really hard,” Haley said. “I actually heard from one of the teachers at her school that she was also telling her friends about Annie Armstrong. So, it was very heart-warming for us. She wanted people to know who Annie Armstrong is and what it is that she did.”

Maci also blessed her pastor when she approached him with her offering.

“To see what’s happening with our younger generation is encouraging,” Robertson said. “We’ve got so much negativity in the world, so many naysayers about the state of the church and all of that, but when stuff like this happens, I’m reminded that this is God’s church. He is the one sending out the laborers into the harvest.”

Maci’s story, Robertson said, reminds him that while human perspective is often short-term, God sees the bigger picture as well.

“God is thinking beyond our immediate needs when he talks about workers for the harvest,” Robertson said. “He is thinking about the years and generations to come. That’s what I think about with a young girl like Maci. I think, ‘What will God do with someone like Maci?’”

Everything given to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goes to support and provide resources to missionaries serving in the field. For more information, visit

Friday, April 9, 2021 - 2:55pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. (RNS) — Clara Thethtet Tunwin had had enough.

Tunwin, who emigrated with her family from Myanmar in the early 2000s, had been closely following news of protests against the military coup in her home country and was angered at the violence she saw.

“I just could not take it anymore,” she said.

So Tunwin, a member of the Karen ethnic group who belongs to a Baptist church in Minnesota, started praying. Then she got to work.

One of her first calls was to church leaders in the Karen Baptist community in the United States. Then she began to call leaders from other Burmese ethnic immigrant groups around the country, asking for help in organizing a protest against the military. The 33-year-old Tunwin, who described herself as just an ordinary person, said leaders kept giving her the same answer.

“Let’s do this.”

In February, Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, seized power in the country. The country’s leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other political leaders were arrested. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands detained since the coup, which has been met with massive civilian protest.

On Saturday (April 10), Tunwin and other organizers plan to meet in Washington, D.C., for a mass protest against the coup in Myanmar. Organizers expect about 800 to 1,000 participants at Saturday’s protest, including groups from churches in New York, Minnesota and about nine churches in the Washington, D.C., area.

M Tu Aung, general secretary of the Nationalities Alliance of Burma (USA) and a coalition of immigrants from Myanmar, from the Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Rakhine and Shan ethnic groups, has helped organize the event.

Aung is also a leader in the Kachin Baptist Convention, which has a large presence in Myanmar. Among the first missionaries from the United States were Adoniram and Ann Judson, who went to Myanmar in the early 1800s. Originally Congregationalist, the Judsons became Baptists during their long voyage from the United States, according to the International Mission Board. Baptists have become one of the largest Christian groups in Myanmar, especially among the country’s ethnic minorities.

Aung said the coalition represents about 200,000 ethnic immigrants from Myanmar in the United States, most of them Christian. He said the group is concerned about the current political crisis in Myanmar as well as the long-term political and humanitarian crisis in the country.

Aung said protesters want to show their support for opponents of the coups and call for action to end the violence in the country.  

“We call for the release of all who have been unlawfully detained and an end to unlawful night raids, arrests, detentions and break-ins,” Aung said. “We ask for strong action from the international community to stop these atrocities.”

Protesters will begin their demonstration at noon Saturday outside the Chinese Embassy and then will protest outside the Myanmar Naval & Air Attache office on California Street NW, before ending at the Washington Monument late in the afternoon.  

Ethnic minorities in Burma, like the mostly Christian Karen people and the Muslim Rohingya group, have long been targets of Myanmar’s military. Thousands of ethnic minorities have been displaced from their homes due to the ongoing conflict between the government and ethnic minority resistance groups, which began in the 1950s.

Aung said the Nationalities Alliance of Burma, which was started in 2019, has tried to unite Myanmar immigrants from different groups together in support of democracy and human rights.

He said the “multiethnic Burmese diaspora” in the United States denounces the coup and the ongoing violence in the country.

“We are horrified, angry, frustrated and deeply concerned about military attacks on civilians,” he said. “We stand with the people of Myanmar in the struggle for peace and justice, and we are in support of our brothers and sisters in Myanmar in their demonstrations, protests and civil disobedience.”

Tunwin said local churches in the D.C. area will provide food and other logistical support for protesters. And she is glad to see people from a variety of Burmese ethnic groups working together.

She also said many immigrants from Myanmar left the country because their communities have been under attack for decades, so they understand what people in the country are going through in the recent coup.

“People are just so very fed up, and everybody’s just coming together,” she said. “It’s going to be a long fight, but everyone is united and doing what they can right now.”

From Religion News Service. May not be republished.

Friday, April 9, 2021 - 12:32pm

SANFORD, Fla. (BP) – When Arthur Gonçalves first met Adam, he was pushing a cart in downtown Sanford. When offered a meal and prayer, he accepted both. And by the end of the night, he also accepted Christ as his personal Savior.

Now 10 months later, Adam is sober, has a job and goes out regularly to evangelize on the streets where he once pushed his cart.

Adam’s transformation was just one of the lives changed through Gonçalves’ ministry in the Central Florida community.

With a heart for marginalized people and a desire to plant a church in downtown Sanford, Gonçalves believes God has called him to help restore people from all walks of life to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

“It is messy coming alongside people, but that is our ministry – spiritual, mental, emotional and physical restoration of others,” said Gonçalves who started the ministry in downtown Sanford in 2019.

The ministry began as he led a group from the Church at Heathrow in Sanford to serve at a downtown homeless center. Soon afterward, the center’s leaders asked him to return and lead Bible study every Monday evening for a year.

Through that experience, God began working on his heart and his wife’s.

“We saw that there was a great need for mercy ministry but also for preaching and Gospel ministry,” said Gonçalves, who is now a North American Mission Board (NAMB) church planter.

Feeling led to pursue starting a church and downtown ministry, his first step became praying for Sanford.

A local downtown restaurant, The Colonial Room, offered the use of its banquet hall for weekly prayer gatherings which began in January 2020 with six to seven people. In May he joined a local Rotary Club where members began sharing needs of the local police and elderly in the community.

“We helped the police department give away gifts to children in need during Christmas. We also help our elderly with groceries and with home and lawn maintenance on some occasions,” Gonçalves said.

After meeting the needs one at a time, it turned into “full blown outreach ministry.”

The ministry team grew to 20-30 people as they began providing weekly meals, clothing and hygiene kits to those in need in downtown Sanford.

Local businesses heard about their efforts, and four restaurants offered to cover the cost of preparing 50 meals each week.

Since June, meals have been prepared every Thursday and served in the banquet room to anyone in the neighborhood who comes. As many as 35 people have attended and stayed for worship.

Each week, a sister church, Orlando Baptist, loans the team a 15-passenger van to use to deliver meals to local homeless sites and in the Goldsboro neighborhood. People now anticipate the van’s arrival.

Even before the church has launched, the team has seen God at work. In the past year, six people have come to faith in Christ, and two have been baptized, including Adam, whose first encounter was an invitation to the meal and worship service at the restaurant.

“Adam came, repented and confessed Jesus,” Gonçalves said. “He also stood up and confessed his alcohol addiction, asking for help.”

That night among the men in attendance was the director of The Recovery House of Central Florida, a faith-based ministry providing transitional housing and support services for the homeless and those with addictions.

Adam was admitted to The Recovery House the next day and is now 10 months sober and has a job. He goes out in the community with Gonçalves’ team to help evangelize and is part of the church-planting team.

“We’ve had multiple accounts of similar testimonies, reaching people who are marginalized,” Gonçalves said.

The father of four plans to launch Restoration Church in January 2022 at Hamilton Elementary School in the heart of the impoverished downtown area. The effort is part of NAMB’s Send Network Florida.

“There are 633 students at the school, and 92 percent of them receive a free or reduced cost lunch,” he said. “There are lots of needs to be met at the school itself where the average income for a family of four is $30,000.”

Central Baptist Church in Sanford is the new plant’s sending congregation.

“We are so excited to have Arthur and his family serve in our city to reach our community for Christ,” said Alan Brumback, Central Baptist’s pastor. “Arthur has a contagious passion for sharing the Gospel and making disciples of all people and we are excited to be a part of the journey.”

Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 4:39pm

Article examines ‘lost legacies’ of Truett, Criswell on race, racism

By Alex Sibley/SWBTS

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – The “lost legacies” of George W. Truett and W.A. Criswell regarding matters of race and racism in the Southern Baptist Convention are examined in an article of the spring issue of the Southwestern Journal of Theology, the academic journal of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Written by O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, the article is among eight essays exploring the journal’s theme of “The Doctrine of Humankind.” 

Truett and Criswell each pastored the First Baptist Church of Dallas in the 20th century, and Hawkins is among their successors. Both men are highly regarded figures within the Southern Baptist Convention, each having significant and fruitful ministries, and both are honored by Southwestern Seminary.

While Criswell is honored with a lobby named for him in MacGorman Chapel, Truett’s 36-year affiliation with the seminary as a founding trustee and president of the board for 13 years is recognized in several ways – the Truett Auditorium, the Truett Conference Room in the B.H. Carroll Memorial Building and the George W. Truett Chair of Ministry, an endowed professorship currently held by David L. Allen, distinguished professor of preaching.

Nevertheless, Hawkins’ article reveals that Criswell strongly advocated segregation in his early career, a position of which he later repented, and Truett failed to speak out against the racism present in his congregation. Truett served First Baptist Dallas as pastor from 1897 until his death in 1944, while Criswell served the church from 1944 until his death in 2002, as pastor, senior pastor and pastor emeritus. Both men also served as SBC president – Truett, 1927-1929; Criswell, 1968-1970.

“O.S. Hawkins deserves our gratitude and praise for his research on this important matter concerning Southern Baptist history, which is interwoven with our beloved seminary’s history,” SWBTS President Adam W. Greenway said. 

“Like some of our most cherished heroes of the Bible, who at times committed scandalous acts because of their sinful natures, we must be honest enough to acknowledge that some of our Baptist heroes were guilty of sins of omission and commission that are grievous. Unlike today’s cancel culture that seeks to erase historical figures who failed in some aspect of their lives, we can all be grateful God did not cancel sin-scarred saints like Abraham, Moses, David and others who trusted in God’s grace – and that He also does not cancel present-day believers who fall short of God’s glory even as they sincerely seek to walk with Jesus.”

Read the full story here.

Allen releases ‘Succeeding at Seminary’ book

By Michael S. Brooks/MBTS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Midwestern Seminary announced this week the release of President Jason K. Allen’s latest book project: “Succeeding at Seminary: 12 Keys to Getting the Most Out of Your Theological Education.” The volume is published by Moody Publishers.

The 114-page work features a collection of practical wisdom for those considering beginning in seminary or those who are just starting out.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to publish a book I wish I had access to many years ago when I began in seminary,” Allen said. “It has been a privilege to partner with the team at Moody Publishers, and I am doubly grateful for the group of pastors, seminary presidents, and ministry leaders who provided kind words of endorsement for the project.”

The new volume includes chapters on confirming one’s call to ministry, committing to a season of training and preparation, choosing the right seminary, and practical tips for succeeding while in school such as managing one’s time, the balance between work and home and cultivating a strong supporting cast for the road ahead.

Allen said that the primary audience for the book includes those considering seminary training and those just beginning in their seminary journey, but he encourages anyone with a mind and heart for the next generation of church leaders to pick the volume up.

“I wrote the book as a practical help for those who sense a call to ministry and who are exploring their next steps,” Allen said. “20 years ago, my wife and I packed our belongings into a U-Haul and moved onto a seminary campus several states away. Though I enjoyed a fruitful seminary experience, I did not know back then what I know now. I wish I had access to a guide then, helping me know what questions to ask and where to find the answers. I am thrilled for the opportunity to step into this space and offer help to those in a similar position as I was.”

Read the full story here.

Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 3:00pm

FRANKFORT, Ky. (BP) – Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams signed House Bill 91, a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion, during a ceremony attended by pro-life advocates at the Kentucky State Capitol on Wednesday (April 7).

The language of the legislation is simple: “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

Rep. Joseph Fischer, the Republican sponsor of HB 91, called it a historic occasion.

“We’ve worked on this bill for over a decade, actually, and we were finally able to get it through both houses this time,” Fischer said. “We’ve passed a lot of great pro-life legislation over the past four years, but it’s meaningless unless we have people who will enforce it, and courts who will uphold these laws.”

He said that’s what the proposed amendment is all about.

“It will tell the Supreme Court that you have no business in the abortion issue,” he said. “It’s going to be determined by the House of Representatives and the Senate. I am confident that in the future, the House and Senate will uphold the dignity of life from fertilization onward.”

Fischer is optimistic voters will approve the measure.

“I am confident that the people of Kentucky are pro-life, and they will pass this just as Louisiana has recently,” he said. “It’s on the ballot in Kansas; it’s passed in Tennessee as well. We’re all pro-life states here, and that’s what this bill will show the people of the United States.”

Republican Sen. Ralph Alvarado said, “Everybody talks about pressing our legislators on votes. This is an opportunity for the people of Kentucky to cast their vote on their issue, so it’s important for us to get the message out, let people know this is going to be on the ballot.”

He added: “This is probably going to be one of the most important votes the people in the state will vote on in their lifetime. If enough states do this, it’ll push the federal government really the Supreme Court to overturn the wrongful decision they made in 1973. This is our best chance to get this done.”

Prior to signing the bill, Adams said, “One of the perks of my jobs as secretary of state under the constitution, is I get the constitutional amendments. They don’t go to the governor, they come to me. I get to sign them. I’ve already signed a couple, but I take no more pleasure than signing this one, especially.”

Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, of which Kentucky Today is a part, was also present at the signing. He said, “This is a chance for the citizens of the commonwealth to speak on the issue of abortion. We are a pro-life state, so it’s a chance for folks to come out and let their voice be known. I think it’s important for the bill.”

The measure will not appear on the ballot until the general election in November 2022, because there are no elections this year in Kentucky.

Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 2:58pm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – It was a typical evening and our family had just finished dinner. Before the kiddos could run off and play, we stayed around the table to do family worship together. The kids – 5, 3, and 1 – were wiggly and struggling to pay attention. Next came distractions and silly noises. We even had to hit pause to address some disobedience by our 3-year-old.

I don’t think it’s too big a leap to say your moments of family worship are probably similar to ours, especially if you have young kids. If you are like me, you often feel frustrated and wonder if you’re accomplishing anything during those 10 minutes.

I was greatly encouraged when one of my seminary professors, Don Whitney, shared how there was not one single time he finished family worship and thought, “Wow! I really felt the Holy Spirit move during our time together!” Yet, he faithfully taught his children the things of God year after year.

Years later, during his daughter’s graduation speech, he was surprised to hear a tear-filled, heartfelt “thank you,” as she reflected on the impact those moments of family worship had on her life.

God has sovereignly placed precious little ones in their parents’ homes and has called parents to teach their children about him (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Psalm 78:1-8). Here are three things to remember as we stay the course, despite the chaos that so often accompanies family worship:

  1. We lead our families in worship first and foremost out of love and obedience to our Father. Our children need to see that God deserves to be worshiped.

  2. Let’s guard ourselves from letting the chaotic moments distract us from the bigger picture. We have the enormous blessing and responsibility of faithfully sowing the things of God into the hearts of our children through the Word, prayer and song.

  3. Parents can’t change the hearts of their children. But God can. His word accomplishes more than we ever could (Hebrews 4:12). Faithfully proclaim the things of God and faithfully pray that the Spirit would transform their hearts.

Brady Rueter is a biblical counselor and elder at Delta Church in Springfield, Ill. This column originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Resource magazine, available online at

Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 2:54pm

NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies For Life curriculum.

Bible Passage: John 15:26-27, 16:7-15

Discussion Question: What’s a memorable parade you’ve watched or attended?

Food for Thought by Robby Gallaty*:

New Orleans is known as a city of never-ending parties, but it’s also a city of parades. Lots of parades! For almost no money at all, you can rent a parade. Getting married? Have a parade. Celebrating a birthday? Have a parade. Celebrating because it’s a Thursday? Have a parade.

When a parade comes down the street, it grabs everyone’s attention – whether or not they want their attention grabbed! Everyone sees the parade and certainly hears it (and often are inconvenienced by it). Parades aren’t meant to be subtle and quiet.

The people in the parade do what they can to draw attention to something they consider worth celebrating.

The Holy Spirit’s role is a lot like that parade, but for a far greater reason. He works tirelessly to magnify the work of Jesus. He works in and through our lives to draw attention to Someone worth celebrating. Since that’s the role of the Holy Spirit, why do we spend so little time talking about Him? Jesus gave us great insight into this too-little-discussed member of the Trinity.

It wasn’t easy for Jesus’ disciples to know Jesus was leaving. During Jesus’ last night with the disciples before His arrest, He explained why it was a good thing that He was going away (John 14). He explained it in terms of a gift; but this wasn’t just any gift! The gift was the Holy Spirit! God’s Spirit would do two things for them. The Holy Spirit would testify about Jesus and He would empower the disciples to testify about Jesus. Just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus reminded His disciples of this gift as He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The disciples might not have understood then how powerful these two statements were, but they would soon find out. Acts 2 records the first time they saw the power of the Holy Spirit in their own lives. In Jerusalem, the Festival of Pentecost was in full swing, and Jews from all over the world came to celebrate. On the day of Pentecost, the celebration turned to amazement. Without warning, the Holy Spirit came in a rush and made something unprecedented happen.

“They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:3-4).

Just as Jesus had said in John 15, the Holy Spirit empowered the disciples to preach about Him so others could understand. Over and over in the Book of Acts, we see people doing amazing things through the Holy Spirit – and every time the purpose was to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives to help us magnify the work of Jesus. The more time we spend listening to Him, the easier obeying His direction will become.

Bible Studies for Life

Bible Studies for Life connects the Bible to life for adults, students and kids. Bible Studies for Life helps individuals and groups know God’s Word through trustworthy content, creates biblical community through engaging and conversational group studies, and helps people engage the culture missionally by unpacking what the Bible says about real-life issues. More information can be found on the internet at

* Robby Gallaty is senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.