Saturday, February 27, 2010

Southern Baptists assessing needs in wake of 8.8 Chile quake

By IMB staff

Southern Baptists are moving quickly to assess relief needs in the aftermath of an 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile at 3:34 a.m. Saturday, killing at least 82 people, collapsing buildings and setting off a tsunami.

Disaster relief specialists from South Carolina and California are on standby to respond, said Jim Brown, director of the U.S. office for the International Mission Board’s primary partner in disaster relief, Baptist Global Response. A decision about what initial response is needed will be made within the next 12 hours.

The epicenter was located just 70 miles from Concepcion, a city of more than 200,000 people, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. A tsunami wave struck the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles off the Chilean coast and tsunami warnings have been issued for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Chile’s president, Michele Bachelet, declared a "state of catastrophe" in three central regions of the country. Several hospitals were evacuated and communications with Concepcion were knocked out.

In the capital city of Santiago, which is about 200 miles from the earthquake, IMB field personnel reported in a 5:00 a.m. e-mail that they had experienced “very scary shaking” and that electrical, telephone and water services were cut off.

IMB and BGR leadership began consulting immediately during the early morning hours after the earthquake, said Scott Holste, associate vice president for the IMB’s Office of Global Strategy.

“We are evaluating damage reports as they come in and preparing initial response plans, if it is determined that a significant response is needed,” Holste said. “Southern Baptists have ministry partners in Chile who will be able to help respond immediately with basic necessities.”

“We know that immediate needs usually include things like food, water, shelter and medical needs,” Brown said. “We have emergency response funds available to help with the crisis response. Southern Baptists always respond quickly when a disaster like this strikes. They pray and give from the heart. We’re glad to know so many people who care are ready to spring into action to help people in need.”

Word has been received from IMB leaders in Chile that all field personnel have been accounted for and are safe; information about the impact on the Chilean Baptist community is being sought. IMB will be monitoring developments and will issue further announcements about needs and response as more information becomes available.


- Twitter -- Use #QuakeResponse

How you can help

Pray -- Prayer is urgently needed for thousands of people in Chile whose lives have been upturned by a massive earthquake that struck in the early morning hours of Feb. 27, says an International Mission Board strategist closely tied to the area.

“We want to ask Christians everywhere to lift up people in need after this huge disaster,” said Terry Lassiter, strategist for the American Peoples affinity group. “We thank the Lord that all of our missionaries are well but there has been a very significant loss of life that is going to affect both our church community and the non-Christian community in Chile.” Read more.

For future prayer requests, also visit CompassionNet.

Donate -- Donations may be directed to the Disaster Response Fund at

Get to Work or Get Cut Down

I have read the Great Commission Resurgence report several times and the message is very clear to me. I read Luke 13:6-9 in my time in the Word this morning and the message is very clear to me.

Luke 13:6–9 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”

Either a local church gets to work making disciples or it gets cut down so that another can be raised up.

Jesus promised that He would have His church. Matthew 16:18 "...I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

Jesus will have a people for Himself to declare His glory to the nations. A church can join Him in the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) or get cut out and replaced by a church that will.

I pray that evangelical churches, including the one I serve, we will make the sacrifices and changes needed to make more disciples. Our God is good and gracious. He has offered us a place in His Kingdom work. What a privilege!

Who can you begin to pray and share with in hopes that they will be made a disciple of Jesus? Begin now to work to bring guests with you to Easter. It is only a few weeks away.

A Good Word on God's Provision in the Fire

My sister called me this evening and told me about what is going on with the Breen family. My heart aches for them.

I don't know if you recall, but I told you that I was leading a Bible study this semester at school. We are doing "Daniel" by Beth Moore, and I tell you what, I will never read the book of Daniel in the same way!! But what I wanted to share was from what we did during week 3 from Daniel 3 and the fiery furnace. Our study shared the same focus as the chapter, being the fire and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Beth gives some examples concludes that when we, as Christians, are faced with "a fire" that there are three possible outcomes as well as three different dividends to our faith:
1. We can be delivered from the fire and our faith and our faith is built.
2. We can be delivered through the fire and our faith is refined.
3. We can be delivered by the fire into His arms and our faith is perfected.

Another part of the week's focus was that encourage us that until HE tells us something different, we are to pray that He will deliver us from the fire. Right now, the Breens are being delivered through a fire and I just wanted to let you know that our church group, all the way down here in the Caribbean, is praying right now that they will be delivered from it.

It scares me that my newly trained medical mind tried to immediately analyze the severity of her medical situation, but praise God, the Holy Spirit took hold of that and reminded me of God's power. We are praying for her healing and a miracle!

-Emily Schmitt Latimer

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GCR (Great Commission Resurgence) Report on February 22

This statement in the report alone is humbling.

In 1950, the population of our nation was 150,600,000 people, while our population today is 306 million people. Even though the population of our nation has more than doubled, and our convention has at least 17,060 more churches than we did in 1950, we still baptized 33,887 less people in 2008 than we did in 1950. This should break our hearts and put us on our knees. If we are honest with ourselves, it is hard to defend that we are holding our own or doing as well as we can. How can we even think this when we are not reaching the present generation of teenagers? In 1972, we baptized 140,000 teenagers and in 2008, we baptized only 75,000 teenagers. May God help us.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Patience and the Providence of God

Exodus 5:22–23 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

Moses had done what God called him to do. He went back to Egypt. He had his meeting with Pharaoh and told him what God had commanded.

I assume it was more than a little baffling to him that things went from bad to worse for God’s people. Pharaoh said that the people could not leave and then he doubled the work load of the Israelites. Now they had to retrieve the straw needed to make the bricks they were required to produce and on top of that they were required to produce the same amount of bricks.

Understandably, the people got mad at Moses. He promised deliverance, but instead got their leaders a beating and their people under a greater load of labor.

Don’t you know that was not how Moses pictured it? I imagine Moses would have been expecting the people to be singing his praise. When they were having their meeting with him to tell Moses what a loser they thought he was, I imagine he was saying to himself, “I thought we’d be marching toward Palestine by now.”

Things do not always happen the way we think they should. That doesn’t discount the sovereignty and will of God. It only reminds us that we must have patience and trust God’s timing.

Keep sharing Christ with that uninterested friend or family member. Keep praying. Keep doing the work of telling the truth of the Gospel. If it His will, God will bring deliverance in due time to the praise of His glory.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Love Story & God's Sovereignty

This past Sunday was Valentine’s Day. I was privileged to hear a number of stories of how people met and married.

My favorite was one of tragedy, but one that also revealed the greatness and glory of God.

It is the story of Pastor James McDonald of Harvest Bible Fellowship. The adventure began for him in the first grade when he met his first love. They both went to the same church. She had brothers involved in the same outdoor club and he regularly shared a ride with them.

Every time he got in the car, he hoped that she would be in there. She had no reason to be, but he wanted to sit next to her and talk to her.

Later that school year, this little girl became sick. It was a horrible illness that took her life. When he got older, he found out it was cancer.

The girl’s mother was a woman of great faith with a gifted voice. Within a matter of weeks of the death of her daughter, she was back at church leading in worship with her church family. She had a brother who lived in the city who was not walking with the Lord. She asked him to come and listen to her sing a particular song that spoke of her journey and how Jesus had seen her through her pain.

The man came and brought his daughter. He did not continue to come, but he did allow his daughter, this grieving mother’s niece, to continue to attend.

In the days and months ahead, this little girl accepted Christ and was faithful in her walk with Jesus. James met her and they fell in love and today they are husband and wife blessed with a family and a wonderful teaching ministry.

God did not cause that little girl to get cancer. We live in a world of sin and sickness where there is pain and devastation. For those who love God, there is a promise that we have from His Word that enables us to have hope and joy in all things. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God did not cause the death of that little girl, but He used that tragedy and reached another little girl who He redeemed for His glory.

She became a pastor’s wife and a part of God’s eternal love story.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The North America Reality

I am back from my meetings in Atlanta with the board of trustees of the North America Mission Board.

These meetings always make me feel lousy and excited.

I feel lousy because it disturbs me to my core to understand how many lost people there are in North America. The statistic we received today was 1 in 4. Our speaker made the point so vivid by going through the crowd and pointing to people. First person: you are going to hell. Second person: you are going to hell. Third person: you are going to hell. Fourth person: you are saved by grace. He forced us to focus our hearts and mind on the three lost people and what this meant for their life and eternity. I am deeply disturbed. My church is going to hear about it on Sunday.

I am also extremely excited. This great need is also a great opportunity. We have what we need to see God bring revival and transform North America with the love of Jesus. We do have the Gospel and the promise of God that He has the power and is seeking to save people. We do have the resources. I realize that when you think about evangelicals in North America you have to be honest and say that never have so many with so much done so little. At the same time we must also admit that we are a sleeping giant that if awakened could be used of God to change the world. My church is going to hear about it on Sunday too.

Please pray for your lost friends and family. Ask God to send His Holy Spirit to move on them and awaken them with conviction. Share Jesus with them. Be Jesus to them and tell them who you are living to be and why and invite them to personally receive the grace of God and His eternal redemptive love.

Keep on sharing. Do not check it off of your list once you try once. Keep praying. Keep sharing. Keep inviting them to be a part of your spiritual community.

If hope vs fear and heaven vs hell were not at stake, I'd say, "Whatever. Do it if it feels good." The fact of the matter is that the stakes are too high not to pray, live for and share Jesus.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Toss It

My wife was inspired today to begin to toss stuff. I like it when she gets tired of keeping stuff around that we no longer use or even know we have. She bags it up and sends it to the curb.

As I looked through the pile of stuff (the reason I looked through it was because the trash bags holding it tore), I was reminded of how much junk we keep that we don't use. Many of the items had funny stories behind them. Some of the things were a complete mystery to me and I wondered what they were doing in our home.

It is good to take stock from time to time and consider what is needed and what is not. Anything that could have been useful like clothes, good books, or training materials I would have passed on to others. This was simply stuff that was taking up space that we do not have, which makes room for whatever else is next. I have a sense that Asher's toys will begin to find their way into those places and be the next to go.

Everything has its time and when its time is up, it needs to go.

I find plenty of parallels to my wife's activity today in life. There are some relationships that need to go. There are some ideas that need to go. There are some philosophies and attitudes that need to go. There are some habits and hangups that need to go. There are some ministries that need to go. There are things that are just taking up space that need to go.

So what needs to go in your life?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Our world has a sign up: Help wanted

Today's Column:

There is a desperate need in our world today. It is a need that has always been and forever will be. It is the need for the common hero.

Every movie, newscast and personal story speaks of humanity’s attraction to the rescue, the defender and for that which brings hope to the desperate.

G.K. Chesterson wrote almost 100 years ago “that courage is splendid, that fidelity is noble, that distressed ladies should be rescued, and vanquished enemies spared.” These ideals exist in the best of cultures and societies. Those who live amongst the kind and generous live well.

I believe that is why I love Jesus so much and see Him so clearly in the heroic lives of others around me.

When a dad takes a demotion at work after deciding that his children and the men of his church mean more to him than a little extra money, I see Jesus.

It was not from some dump that Jesus came to us. He left heaven and the holy dwelling of God where he was worshiped by angels and all the saints that have gone before us. His home was celestial and wonderful in every way. He took a demotion out of love for us.

An early Christian hymn speaks of the descent of Jesus. Philippians 2:6-7: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

When a man takes his hard earned money and pays the rent of a friend who has recently lost his job, I see Jesus.

Christ did not die a martyr’s death. Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice for those who would receive by faith His love and redemption. He gave His life in exchange for ours. He died so we could live. He paid what we could not afford.

That early hymn speaks of the penal substitution of Jesus. Philippians 2:8: “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!”

When a mother holds her newborn child in her arms and relishes the joy and honor that is hers, I see Jesus.

It is the glory of Jesus to have provided us new birth. When a person accepts the grace of God given through Christ, their eternal spiritual life begins. Having brought about eternal life through the power of His death and resurrection, Jesus has been given the highest honor and praise.

That early hymn ends proclaiming the praise that belongs to Jesus. Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

What we need most in our world today are modern-day, common-place heroes who remind us of the ultimate champion of humanity - Jesus. We need more amazing dads. We need more sacrificial friends. We need more loving moms.

We need heroes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Songs in the Night

Please pray for a precious young woman named Kelley. She is in incredible pain after a very serious surgery. I received an email from her this morning and in response provided her a devotional thought I had just received. God is always good to give us a Word from Him that we can use and pass on to others (2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.)

The thought was part of a poem in the devotion Streams in the Desert. I read it every morning.

Here is the last part of what I shared with Kelley.

"So we'll follow wherever He leadeth,
Let the path be dreary or bright;
For we've proved that our God can give comfort;
Our God can give songs in the night."

This last line is a favorite of mine and reminded me of one of Spurgeon's sermons that has brought clarity and comfort to my life on many occasions. You can read Spurgeon's sermon by clicking here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Did I Miss It?

All week long I'd been hearing about this terrible pro-life commercial starring the outstanding Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from the University of Florida, Tim Tobow and his mom. I think I may have missed it. The only commercial I saw with those two was Tim's mom talking about her love and concern for him. He tackled her and then there was a website for people to go to.

That sounds pretty dangerous to me...

What this should remind people whose minds have been transformed by the Gospel and commanded to live on mission taking the light and love to the world is that the darkness that hates God is organized, vocal, and determined to keep what we believe and think marginalized.

We need to pray like never before and seek ways to speak well of Jesus and the Biblical values that bless a life and sustain a society. This is a kind and gracious act.

Do not expect to be appreciated for it. They crucified Jesus for love. We should not expect much better treatment.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Discerning the Best

The real challenge for a redeemed saint is to determine what is best. When we pursue what is best, we are forced to go beyond what is simply good. That is hard because what is good is many times a little bit easier on us and many times provides an immediate return.

What is best usually requires us to depend on God. What is best usually requires us to wait on God. What is best usually requires us to sacrifice for God. What is best may seem confusing to others because what is good is easy to spot. It is difficult to see to what is best and to push to get there.

Paul prayed that the church at Philippi would be blessed of God to be able to discern what is best.

Philippians 1:9–10 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best…

God is calling us to what is best.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Great Debate Begins...

School is out today and we have no snow on our roads, but certainly someone in our county does. The irony produces a debate among parents and children in our area. There are those that think we should go back, while others insist that the roads are bad for someone else.

Perspective is everything and ability is not given in equal portion to all people. I think it is important to remember that. If we don't, we might become judgmental and lack empathy for those that see life differently than us or do not have the ability to overcome things we do.

I am certainly grateful for the many people I serve that understand that I am limited in what I can do and in what I can understand. We all have our limits and we need to respect the limits others have and simply love them.

So some can drive today and some can't. We can't assume everyone has the same clear way.

I say enjoy the day and trust the leadership that they are doing their best. It will all work out in the end.