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Week of June 17, 2018

A Letter to Dad on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a very special day for fathers and their children. Unfortunately, it only comes around once a year. On this day, fathers are recognized and honored by those who love them the most — their children. However, in my opinion, fathers should be honored and celebrated every day of the year. Fathers who choose to stay in the lives of their children and who help to improve the lives of their children should not just be honored on one day, but every day.

One of the best ways to honor your father is to write him a letter or a card throughout the year. You can share with him what you are doing from time to time, how your day is, how school is going, or anything that is on your mind. Your dad, just like our dad, will love to receive a letter from you. It means a lot to him and he will be very appreciative that you took the time to think of him:

Dear Papa,

I am glad that God has allowed us to see another Father’s Day together. I am also glad that we were able to get the wonderful website up so that we can help other people honor their fathers. This has been a truly awesome week.

You are the greatest father. Thank you for everything that you have taught me and done for me down through the years. Thank you for not letting us go astray and for letting us help you in the ministry. It is a blessing to serve God with you. Nobody deserves a greater Father’s Day than you!

Have an extremely blessed Father’s Day!

I love you! – Love,


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Thousands Respond to the Gospel at Harvest America 2018 in Texas

Tens of thousands of people flocked to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday evening for Harvest America 2018, which included gospel music and a message by Southern California Pastor Greg Laurie, who invited the crowd to respond to the Gospel.

Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, shared about his difficult childhood, and how he got into drugs and alcohol. "I was going downhill fast … I was too cynical, too hard … but Christ changed my life one day. I didn't plan on it, but it happened," he said.

In today's culture, he continued, people think they can be happy only if they get rich and famous. But, he added, the "bottom line" is that "fame and wealth, possessions, all the things this world has to offer … will not make you happy."

In one week alone, he said, two celebrities — television personality Anthony Bourdain and fashion icon Kate Spade — took their own lives. Last year, 45,000 Americans took their lives, he added.

"I'm not here tonight to talk to you about religion. I'm here to talk to you about a relationship, a friendship, with God," Pastor Laurie told the crowd.

"There is someone who loves you and someone who values you. And He's called Jesus Christ," he stated, and quoted one of his favorite verses in the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

"Do you have hope tonight?" the California pastor asked the audience. He further asked if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is "living inside of you right now"? If He is, Laurie stressed, then you'd know for certain.

We all are sinners and fall short of God's glory, and we can't do anything personally to make this right, he continued. And because of sin we will face judgment one day, he said. "But the good news is that God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ on a rescue operation to planet earth," he explained.

Jesus was born in a manger, led a perfect life and died a perfect death. "And then He rose again from the dead," he told the crowd, and added that Jesus died in our place more than 2,000 years ago.

When the evangelist asked people to come down to the center of the stadium if they wanted to pray to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, thousands did.

Following the tradition of late evangelist Billy Graham, the preacher featured John 14:6 (Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.) in front of his pulpit. "I was inspired to carry that 'Evangelistic tradition' forward tonight," he said.

While Laurie has been leading evangelistic Harvest Crusades throughout the country since 1990, he began a nationwide simulcast in 2012, allowing churches and homes to host the event so that more people have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.

He said he chose to preach from Texas this year because "Texas is changing rapidly, with many new people streaming in from around the nation and the world." Also, with two mass shootings having occurred in Texas, including in Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs, in the last year, Laurie said, "Even Texas needs Jesus."

The evangelist was joined by artists Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Trip Lee, as well as Phil Wickham and Switchfoot.

For Harvest America 2016, nearly 100,000 people gathered at the same stadium.

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J.D. Greear Elected SBC President

North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear was elected Southern Baptist Convention president June 12 during the 2018 annual meeting in Dallas, two years after conceding a closely contested election to lead the denomination.

The newly elected president succeeds Memphis-area pastor Steven Gaines who served two one-year presidential terms from 2016-2018.

Greear, 45, who was nominated by Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla., received 5,410 votes, for 68.62 percent margin.

Also nominated for president was Ken Hemphill, an administrator at North Greenville University in South Carolina and former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He was nominated by Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bossier City, La., receiving 2,459 votes, for 31.19 percent.

A total of 7,884 ballots were cast for president from the 9,467 messengers registered at the time. Fifteen ballots--or .19 percent--were disallowed.

Other SBC officers elected June 12 are A.B. Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego, Calif., first vice president and Felix Cabrera, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, second vice president. John Yeats, state executive of the Missouri Baptist Convention, was reelected as recording secretary, as was Don Currence, minister of children and administration at First Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo., as registration secretary.

Whitten, in nominating Greear, said the North Carolina pastor is the "one man that has proven he fits the bill in every way" to lead the SBC. He wants to lead us "back to the heart of evangelism and missions," Whitten said. He noted Greear’s integrity, clarity and unity as qualities that will serve him in this role as SBC president. The Summit has baptized 1,300 people over the past two years and leads North Carolina in CP giving, Whitten added.

During the 16 years Greear has led The Summit Church, worship attendance has grown from 610 in 2002 to just under 10,000, according to statistics available through the SBC's Annual Church Profile. Total baptisms increased from 19 in 2002 to 631 in 2017 at the church's nine campuses.

Summit has planted 248 churches to date, including 208 outside the U.S., with a goal of starting 1,000 churches in 50 years, according to North Carolina's Biblical Recorder newsjournal.

Over the past two years, Summit has given a combined $1 million through the Cooperative Program (CP), making it the top CP-contributing church in the state in terms of total dollars given in 2016 and again in 2017.

In 2017, Summit gave 2.4 percent of its undesignated receipts through CP, the same percentage it gave in 2016, according to ACP data confirmed by the church.

Five years ago, Summit voted to increase its giving through CP to 2.4 percent of undesignated receipts over five years, but the congregation acheived that goal two years early, the church reported.

In 2016, Summit began channeling all funds it regarded as CP gifts through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, rather than forwarding some directly to the SBC Executive Committee for distribution according to the CP Budget Allocation formula, as it had done previously.

Summit said its Great Commission Giving totaled $3.8 million (19 percent of undesignated receipts) in 2017. Great Commission Giving is a category of giving established by SBC action in 2011 that encompasses giving through CP, Southern Baptists' unified program of funding state- and SBC-level ministries, as well as direct gifts to SBC entities, associational giving and giving to state convention ministries.

Included in last year's Great Commission Giving was $3,542 through the local Yates Baptist Association, according to ACP data, a 700 percent increase from the church's associational giving in each of the previous four years.

Funding for Summit's 40 Southern Baptist church plants is included in its Great Commission Giving as well, the church reported.

Some 158 Summit members are serving as International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries, the Biblical Recorder reported, with 17 in the "limitless pathways" initiative to mobilize missionaries who continue to work in secular careers while partnering voluntarily with an IMB team.

He and his wife Veronica have four children. Greear holds master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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UMC Minnesota Conference Removes 'Father' From Apostles' Creed for Worship Service

The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church edited the historic Apostles' Creed so that it removed references to God as "Father" for a worship service.

The Apostles' Creed is an affirmation of Christian faith that goes back to the early Church and is still common in many churches that include liturgy as part of worship.

At the multiday Minnesota Conference, which went from May 30–June 1, liturgical folders reportedly included a copy of the creed that removed gender specific language for God, changing "God the Father Almighty" to "God the Creator Almighty" and "Jesus Christ His Only Son" to "Jesus Christ God's Only Son."

The Rev. Keith Mcilwain, pastor at Slippery Rock United Methodist Church in the Western Pennsylvania Conference, posted an image of the edited creed on social media.

Mcilwain explained that he got his hands on a copy of the edited creed from a friend of his who attended the Annual Conference.

Mcilwain took issue with the edits, explaining that it "fails to affirm the classical ecumenically-supported understanding of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which teaches us that God has been revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

"No United Methodist individual or body has the authority to edit those creeds which were formulated by the early Church and have helped define orthodox Christianity for the better part of 2000 years," said Mcilwain.

"To see the creed abused in this way is extraordinarily disheartening, further distances our already troubled denomination from the Church Universal, exacerbates already existing tensions within the Church, and harms those affirming the creed by failing to faithfully teach and uphold one of the core essential doctrines of the Christian faith — the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity."

Since the 1980s, the UMC has pursued efforts to make their liturgy, hymns, and sermons more "gender inclusive," by removing or discouraging use of terms like "men" or referring to God with male pronouns.

Despite the trend, plenty of clergy and hymns in the official hymnal still refer to God in the masculine tense, and most UMC congregations use the Lord's Prayer, with its opening line "Our Father."

Furthermore, the UMC retains a traditional and an ecumenical version of the Apostles' Creed for official use, both of which identify God as "Father" and Jesus as "His Only Son."

"All ordained United Methodist clergy promise to faithfully uphold and teach the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which is shared and defined in Article 1 of our Articles of Religion; I fear that this edited creed represents a failure to be faithful to what The United Methodist Church believes," added Mcilwain.

Mcilwain also noted that, to his knowledge, his annual conference had never used an edited ancient creed for its worship or other events.

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Creationist Scientist Feels 'Ambivalent' About New Study Saying Most Life Forms Not Millions of Years Old

A biochemist and creation science advocate believes that a recent study indicating that most species on earth are far younger than millions of years does not truly challenge the Theory of Evolution.

Recently, the journal Human Evolution published a study titled "Why should mitochondria define species?" which garnered headlines for arguing, among other things, that 90 percent of species on earth are no older than 200,000 years.

Dr. Fazale Rana of the apologetics group Reasons to Believe said that he feels "ambivalent" about the study when it comes to the debate over origins.

"I am ambivalent about this study's usefulness for those of us engaged in scientific apologetics. This study has yielded unexpected results, but I personally wouldn't rely too heavily on this study to challenge the evolutionary paradigm," said Rana.

"There are much more powerful evidences for intelligent design available to Christians and many more significant problems faced by the evolutionary paradigm than the minor inconveniences caused by this study."

Rana has heard fellow Christian apologists discuss the significance of the study, but pointed out that the research still assumed an evolutionary model and that other species existed millions of years before current lifeforms.

"The researchers believe that this result is telling them something important about the evolutionary process and the recent history of life," Rana explained to CP.

"Though this finding was unexpected, it doesn't undermine the evolutionary paradigm, because the researchers think they can account for it through known mechanisms."

Published in the January-June edition of Human Evolution, the study was authored by Mark Young Stoeckle of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University and David S. Thaler of the University of Basel.

Stoeckle and Thaler analyzed mitochondrial DNA from thousands of different animal species, including humans, to note the levels of genetic diversity present.

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Archaeology: 3,000-Year-Old Sculpture Depicts a Biblical King, but Which One?

A team of archaeologists digging through a site in Israel has uncovered a two-inch carving of a head that likely depicts a biblical king, although experts aren’t sure which one it is.

The tiny sculpture is around 3,000 years old and dates to the 9th century BC – around the time when Israel was split into two kingdoms. It was found at the biblical site of Abel Beth Maacah -- which is mentioned in the Bible at least three times (1 Kings 15:20, 2 Kings 15:29 and 2 Samuel 20:15) – by teams from Azusa Pacific University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The head is now on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Abel Beth Maacah was at the crossroads of three kingdoms: Israel, Tyre and Aram-Damascus.

"Despite the head’s small and innocuous appearance, it provides us with a unique opportunity to gaze into the eyes of a famous person from the past; a past enshrined in the Book of Ages," said Robert Mullins, lead archaeologist at the site and a professor at Azusa Pacific. "Given that the head was found in a city that sat on the border of three different ancient kingdoms, we do not know whether it depicts the likes of King Ahab of Israel, King Hazael of Aram-Damascus, or King Ethbaal of Tyre, rulers known from the Bible and other sources. The head represents a royal enigma."

The head measures 2.2 by 2 inches and features "glossy black tresses combed back from a headband painted in yellow and black and a manicured beard," according to an Azusa Pacific press release.

"His almond-shaped eyes and pupils are lined in black and the pursed lips give him a look that is part pensive, part stern," it reads. "The glazed surface is tinted light green due to the addition of copper to the quartz paste. Its elegant style indicates that the man was a distinguished personage, probably a king. By all appearances, the head appears to have broken off from the body of a figurine that stood 8-10 inches high."

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