Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
Florida Baptist Witness
World News Service
Florida Baptist Witness launches 130th anniversary celebration
By Joni B. Hannigan, Managing Editor
JACKSONVILLE (Florida Baptist Witness) - Aug. 18 marks the start of a yearlong celebration of the 130-year anniversary of Florida Baptist Witness.
The Witness is the official newspaper of the Florida Baptist State Convention of which there are 3,000 affiliated Southern Baptist churches that cooperate together for missions and ministry.
The statewide paper is headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., and is published online and in print 26 times a year. It is supported with revenue from advertising and subscription sales and through the state convention's Cooperative Program.
It has been said that reading an old newspaper is like holding history in one's hands.
Florida Baptists have been in good hands since 1884 when leaders determined a newspaper was vital for teaching theology and polity to an undertrained clergy and laity across the frontier.
Since that time, the Florida Baptist Witness has been recognized as a tool that communicates the missionary commitment and involvement Florida Baptists have struggled to defend and implement.
Most importantly, with visual impact, through words and pictures, in print and online -- via newsprint, smart phones, digital pages and video -- the Witness has at its core the commitment to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Featuring stories of missions and ministry, according to its leaders, the Witness inspires, educates and empowers. Profiling pastors and church members in times of disaster and triumph, the Witness delivers an ongoing message that Jesus is alive and embodies hope.
Telling timely stories of events with truth and accuracy, it gives readers confidence to share facts and opinions steeped in grace.
This summer as the Witness begins a yearlong celebration of the commitment Florida Baptists have to telling the Good News, consider what others have said in support of the Witness.
Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz and chairman of the Witness board of directors, said people make decisions daily about products they use.
"There are three values that I consider important in choosing to read the Witness," Whitten said. "They are: Staying Connected -- We are always better together, and the Witness helps us see we're in this together and there is something bigger than ourselves; Staying Convinced -- As morals continue to decay in our society, reading theologically sound coverage, celebrating the Gospel, and discovering missions help us stay convinced God's eternal truth is still winning the day; and Staying Concerned -- Reading the Witness not only gives us a blessing but also prompts us to pray for our leaders, our churches, and revival in our land.
"Make a decision to subscribe to the Florida Baptist Witness today," Whitten said in comments to Florida Baptists.
Shelly Chandler, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bonifay and a member of the Witness board of directors, said: "The Florida Baptist Witness is a light of truth in a dark world. The Witness brings Florida Baptists together in a time that demands unity. The Witness exposes the darkness, encourages the brokenhearted and celebrates our victories. The Florida Baptist Witness is a historical record of Florida Baptists fulfilling the Great Commission."
Debbie Brunson, a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville and a former member of the Witness board of directors, said: "In a day of rapid change, one of the best ways for concerned Florida Baptists to stay informed is by reading the Florida Baptist Witness. From missions and evangelism to events that affect us all, this newspaper provides excellent coverage of current happenings, as well as news and commentary to educate and encourage us in our faith. I highly recommend subscribing to the FBW."
The Florida Baptist Witness is on the Web at www.goFBW.com.
Monitoring the madness in Massachusetts
BOSTON (WORLD News Service) -- For nearly 20 years, Brian Camenker, executive director of MassResistance, has been aggressively chronicling the pro-homosexual movement in Massachusetts. His website features provocative reports on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activism, including a recent exposé on how tax-supported youth programs encourage transgenderism while ignoring the dangers of such a lifestyle.
It is coverage like this that has earned MassResistance a "hate group" designation from the Southern Poverty Law Center and scorn from other gay-friendly groups.
While Camenker is tough on LGBT activism, he also can be hard on his co-belligerents in the pro-family movement, saying pro-family lawyers "botched" the recent Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He added that some pro-family leaders are "deathly afraid that telling the truth about homosexuality might offend someone."
Camenker, in a Q&A with WORLD News Service, voiced his observations on LGBT activism in Massachusetts.
Q: On your website you write, "The slippery slope is real." What's been happening in Massachusetts since homosexual marriage was legalized in 2004?
A: So much that people never imagined would happen, happened. In the legal profession, family law lawyers have to take courses to understand this whole business of gay law. In public schools, they started off with assemblies recognizing gay marriage and, now, if you say anything against gay marriage it's considered bullying. You not only have to recognize it, you have to affirm it.
This year the Department of Education put out a directive that schools need to allow, not only boys to use the girls' locker and restrooms, but play on girls' sports teams if they identify as a female.
There seems to be no end to it. It's madness that comes over people who should know better, imposing just insane things on society.
A state Joint Judiciary Committee hearing on July 9 heard testimony about several anti-morality bills. One would further the provisions of the 2011 "Transgender Rights and Hate Crimes Bill," which added gender identity to a wide swath of anti-discrimination laws. What's up? The transgender movement wants to extend the current transgender law into public accommodations, so would apply not just to restrooms but also churches and hospitals and clinics, and to punish even those who make a negative comment about transgenders. What they said in their own testimony before the legislature, how they want to force people throughout society to embrace this, is ghastly.
The head of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Julian Tynes, testified at the hearing that transgenderism is an "immutable characteristic" that is protected by the constitution's declaration of human rights. And he said businesses that do this gender stereotyping must be prosecuted.
Another activist lawyer said that the discomfort that people have with sharing a restroom with someone of the opposite sex is the same as white people not wanting to share drinking foundations with blacks in the Jim Crow era.
And there is no church or religious exemption built into any of this.
Q: Why do you believe the pro-family movement is losing the marriage battle?
A: You need to fight on the basis that the whole concept is insane. If you accept that civil unions are legitimate, for example, or that homosexuality is not unhealthy and it is not destructive, eventually we're going to lose.
A current Massachusetts statute, which has never been repealed, describes homosexuality as the "abominable and detestable crime against Nature." That's how society has generally viewed homosexuality. We have not gone to the wall with that.
Q: But doesn't this very aggressive stance alienate moderates?
A: I disagree that being moderate and not showing these things helps our cause. We are not reckless nor do we use inflammatory rhetoric. We do it in a very matter-of-fact way.
But if nobody talks about it, then it's like it's not happening and the other side gets a free pass. But you don't even have to say it's abominable. You can talk about the mental health issues, the diseases, and the enormous number of problems homosexuals suffer.
The question is, why isn't everybody else talking about this?
Q: You've said that, despite the slippery slope, you're optimistic about the future.
A: Nobody thought the Soviet Union would ever fall or that Jim Crow would ever go away. What we now have is an aberration. The question is, how long is it going to be like this? The progressive gay movement is a house of cards. It's built on intimidation and force and lies.
I grew up in the South, and in my own high school, integration happened without a lot of problems. Within a few years students voted in a black homecoming king and a white homecoming queen, and there was no diversity training. But in my own kids' high school, for kids to accept homosexuality and transgenderism, they had to have constant diversity training, constant propaganda.
Every generation has to be forced to believe homosexuality is normal. When they stop doing the propaganda, people will stop believing it. That's why the gay movement is so focused on the public schools. And that's why we're focused on getting it out.
Chinese Underground Church Hero of Faith Samuel Lamb Dead at 88
SANTA ANA, Calif. (Christian Newswire) -- Every Sunday after the service Chinese pastor Samuel Lamb (also known as Samuel Lam) invited foreign guests into his office and immediately began to tell the story of his life, which he summarized in the one "holy principle" of "more persecution, more growth."
Photo: Samuel Lamb, hi-resolution version available
He experienced Communist oppression and spent more than 20 years in prison. He also experienced God's response: an amazing growth of the Church in China, now estimated at 80 million. Lamb became a hero of the Christian faith for millions of believers inside and outside of China. He passed away on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the age of 88.
Samuel Lamb (Lin Xingiao in Chinese) was born in a mountainous area overlooking Macau. His father pastored a small Baptist church and he was raised as a Christian. Lam was arrested during one of the first big waves of persecution in Mao's China and was held in prison from 1955 to 1957. The Chinese authorities sentenced him a second time in 1958. He spent 20 gruesome years in labor camps, where he mostly worked in coal mines. Despite the harsh punishments, Lam continued to teach.
The main reason why Lam was targeted by the government was his refusal to merge his illegal house church into the Three Self Patriotic Movement, the state-led Protestant Church. The government used to forbid Christian leaders to preach about the second coming of Christ and to teach minors under 18 years old. China basically made the state church evolve around the state and not around God.
In 1979 Lamb restarted his house church in 35 Da Ma Zhan in Guangzhou. Attendance grew quickly and he moved his congregation to a bigger building in the same city. Now his urban house church is still unregistered, but tolerated by the authorities. The church has over 4,000 attendees each week with four services.
Lamb's theology challenged the government, the attendees of his church as well as other believers inside and outside China. He taught that Christians should obey the government unless those leaders directly opposed God with their law enforcement. "The laws of God are more important than the laws of man," he said.
Suffering played an import part in many of Lamb's sermons. He repeated "more persecution, more growth." That phrase had not only to do with numbers of believers, but also with spiritual growth.
"I can understand Job's victories and Job's defeats," he often said. "It taught me that grumbling does not help. Not against God and not against those who persecuted me. My dear wife died while I was in prison. I was not allowed to attend her funeral. It was like an arrow of the Almighty, until I understood that God allows the pain, the loss, the torture; but we must grow through it."
Lamb always remained cautious about the government. Even though his congregation was still illegal, it hasn't been raided in years. He always warned: "We must be prepared to suffer. We must be prepared for the fact that we may be arrested. Before I was sent to prison, I already prepared a bag with some clothes, shoes and a toothbrush. When I had to go to the police station, I could just pick it up. I was ready.
"People are still being arrested. You don't know what will happen tomorrow. Today the authorities are not bothering us. But tomorrow things may be different. I pray that we will receive the strength to stand firm."
In the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, Lamb proved to be a reliable partner for Open Doors' ministry. Through his network over 200,000 pieces of Christian literature were delivered to Chinese believers.
"The death of Samuel Lamb leaves a hole in the Chinese Church," said an Open Doors spokesperson. "Together with other heroes of faith like Wang Mindao and Allen Yuan, he symbolized the brave faith of a Church that grew at an unprecedented speed in world history. Long after his passing it will be said in many churches that more persecution only has one outcome: more growth."
For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians by supplying Bibles and Christian literature, training Christian leaders, facilitating social/economic projects and uniting believers in the West in prayer for Christians, who are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
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