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Image 5 of The Advocate Messenger April 20, 2012

Part of The Advocate Messenger

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2012 A5 THE ADVOCATE-MESSENGER WWW.AMNEWS.COM RELIGION The danger of a ‘God’s will’ crutch By EDWARD CLARK The very narrowly defined Christian fundamentalist sees life as an unending venture that God controls and nothing happens by accident. Each breath is drawn and in breathing each breath is subtracted from the total allotted and when fully used death will eventuate. When life is lived according to this concept Christian faith is, in the minds of likeminded believers, affirmed as that which is solely in God’s hands and there need be no anxious moments. This concept of life suits their personal interpretation of Scripture, to which every Christian is entitled, and affords them the placidity of a churning life that is often filled with waves of disappointment. Whatever happens was planned before life began and is, therefore, the simple evolution of God’s expectation of that life. The most obvious presentation of concern in this saga of faith lies in the just as obvious awareness that nothing is ever and can never be the result of individual choice. There is no circumstance of life left to happenstance. In creating the universe God set in motion the directives of control that disallows any anti-Divine origination. Everything that happens was planned to eventuate and mankind is included in that deduction. The most literal statement in the book of Genesis is: “God created the heavens and the earth.” The origination of the planet earth was in the beginning. To that end, God does, in fact, control everything that was made and that includes mankind. From that beginning some see the various verses of Biblical insight, dealing with human expectation, as verification of absolute Divine control of every happenstance. “It is appointed to man once to live and once to die,” or “the very hairs of our head are numbered,” or “His eye is on the sparrow,” become the ammunition of choice in insisting that God is ever disengaged. It is a reasonable assertion to state that God, as Creator, is aware of every moment in time, but not in everything that happens. This is the arena in which fundamental thought becomes the foe of insistent dogma that allows for the freedom of choice given to each individual. It is here that the responsibility of human- ity to evaluate, assimilate and elect meets the circumstance of reality. It is folly, of course, to think God is not in every moment of time since He made every moment. The difference in personal faith is exposed just at this point and the latter point of view provides for the fact that there is happenstance in life that is not planned by God and He is not responsible for it. In setting the earth’s rotation, God provided the orbits and the seasons, but to say that He planned for the earthquakes, flooding and human evidences of ungodly behavior is to paint God in the colors of ugly shades. The earth has a Godly origin and it is clear that God intends to control it and to bring it to an end and that will not be controlled by any action of humanity. While mankind is capable of ruining facets of society, the air we breathe in certain communities, the temporary destruction of forests, etc., the insistence by some that we can cause the earth to overheat, under heat, or change, in any meaningful way what God has created is an arrogance of immense proportions. Christian faith is not designed to be seen as accepting what God plans to do to each individual, but should, perhaps, be seen as how each individual responds to life’s calamities. While God is present in each life, He should not be seen as One who has promised to be a comfort in time of need when He caused the damage. Most Christians believe that God is a loving Spirit and desires that each individual will align himself or herself with His intention to save each one of us for an eternal habitation. This is a God who obviously had other plans for Eden, but when, as the result of individual choice, that perfection of creation was destroyed, a new day dawned. To say that God created it knowing it would fail is to make nonsense of a God to whom we entrust our very souls. The freedom to make choices is the essence of God’s willingness to allow us to decide if we shall follow Him or not. To assign to God the responsibility of life’s ugly circumstance and our encounters with disappointments, failures, etc., is to fail to understand what freedom of choice means along with the circumstances of a planet that orbits in planetary eventualities. Mike James Ken Hemphill KBC strategist co-authors church growth book LOUISVILLE — Mike James, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Danville, and currently a church development strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, has co-authored a book with Southern Baptist leader Ken Hemphill on how congregations can better serve new members. “V.E.L.C.R.O. Church,” published by Auxano Press, is a Bible study that guides church leaders and members as they welcome guests, build relationships with them and help them become, and remain, active members of the congregation. Using the name of the popular product as an acrostic, “V.E.L.C.R.O. Church” explores how congregations can value every person, engage them in genuine friendship, lead them to Christ by sharing the gospel message, connect them to the church family, recognize the importance of deep, caring relationships among believers, and organize a small-group network in the church to continue to minister to each person’s individual needs. “We want people to be ‘velcroed,’ glued in, to the church in a meaningful way,” James said, noting that too many new church members fail to “plug in” to the congregational family and eventually drift away. e church “is more like (non-stick) Teflon than Velcro,” said James, who currently serves as interim pastor of First Baptist Church of Junction City. Hemphill is former national strategist for the Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. He is founding director of the Center for Church Planting and Revitalization at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C. is is the second book on which James and Hemphill have collaborated. e first was an apologetics study, “Life Answers,” which is expected to have a second printing sometime this year. James served on the staff of First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Va., for eight years when Hemphill was pastor. “Ken is one of my mentors,” James said. A native of Stanford, James is a KBC church development strategist, helping congregations specifically in the South Central region of the commonwealth find new ways to share Christ in their communities and disciple new believers. James also coordinates KBC’s discipleship ministries with an emphasis on equipping churches to better inspire new members, and new Christians, to become involved in the life of the local church. He also is a regular contributor to the KBC discipleship blog, Several state/regional Baptist conventions have purchased “V.E.L.C.R.O. Church” and James has been invited to help train Baptist leaders in California and Montana on the study. “I hope God will use (the book) as a tool so churches can help new believers develop a meaningful, lifelong, growing relationship with Christ and His people,” he said. “V.E.L.C.R.O. Church” is available for purchase at and LifeWay Christian Resources. Free teaching resources for the study are available for download from the Auxano Press site. e Kentucky Baptist Convention is a cooperative missions and ministry organization made up of nearly 2,400 autonomous Baptist churches in Kentucky. A variety of state and worldwide ministries are coordinated through its administrative offices in Louisville, including: missions work, disaster relief, ministry training and support, church development, evangelism and more. For more information, visit the KBC website at become a fan of “Kentucky Baptist Convention” on Facebook or follow “kentuckybaptist” on Twitter. A significant discovery While casually reading, the words I saw on the page in front of me were startling, and they caught my attention: “You welcomed me as if I were an angel of God.” As I looked at those words, I discovered that they were the words of a man who, while traveling in a strange land far from home, became ill and needed help. Although his situation could have been “a trial” to a group of folk, they received him graciously and gave him the help he needed so badly. e summer job I had accepted and from which I expected so much proHoward Coop duced so little. It was a SatContributing writer urday afternoon, and I did not have enough money to As I mulled over those secure food and lodging for words, the thought came to the weekend. In a strange me: I have been there, and I place and surrounded by have experienced that. At strangers, I did not know the time, I wasn’t ill, but I what to do. was at my wits end. I had a en, I remembered the serious problem, and I did- name of a man in a nearby n’t know how to solve it. community that had been Just a few weeks out of given to me, and I decided high school, I was many to seek his help. I hitchmiles from home and in a hiked to his door and introstrange community with no duced myself to him. one to whom I could turn. I was not disappointed. JOIN US THIS SUNDAY experience GOD’S GLORY at stranger, a man I had not seen before, asked no questions. Instead, he received me warmly, gave me a room in his home, and a place at his table. Indeed, that stranger “welcomed me as if I were an angel of God.” Many time when facing the dark days and difficult situations of life, a significant discovery is made: Goodness in the hearts of fellow human beings becomes a steadying and transforming influence that changes the direction of life. TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH 320 W. Main • Danville The Rev. Amy Dafler Meaux, Rector SUNDAY EUCHARIST 8:30 am Rite I 9:45 am Sunday School for all ages 10:30 am Rite II, Choir and Nursery WEDNESDAY EUCHARIST Noon: w/Prayers for Healing 859-239-3374 WWW.TRINITYDANVILLE.ORG Women of Wisdom Conference Hedgeville Baptist Church Saturday, May 5th • 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Keynote Speaker: Joyce Rogers Featured Speaker: Patty Howell Music: Amy Liddle Please sign up with your church to reserve a seat or call (606) 669-7777 or (859) 329-1440 Hedgeville Baptist Church • 4700 Lancaster Road Danville, KY 40422 For more information about advertising your church in this directory, please call 859-236-2551.

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