Illinois Baptist 05 30 2016 E Edition Page 2

odays headlines are driving me frequently to deeper and more desperate prayer. Many of us probably whisper some- thing like God help them when we see a tragedy reported on the news. But Im not primarily referring to headlines about a natural disaster, or a rare, heinous crime by an isolated, evil person. The headlines driving me to deeper prayer are those that reveal a declining morality in our cul- ture that seems more and more widely accepted. My main dose of these daily headlines usually comes in the early morning while Im exercis- ing in front of the TV. As I flip from one news channel to another, I more and more regularly see behaviors and lifestyles and decisions that would have been considered shameful or scan- dalous a generation ago. Now they are reported as progressive, or even normal. And the proud spokespeople for many of these decadent trends are interviewed by often adoring news anchors, as if they were the civil rights voices of today. Unrestricted freedom of individual choice, preference, and expression seem to have become idols in American culture today. Just this past week, a story and its follow up interview so shocked and deflated me that I moaned out loud, Oh God, help them! Help them to see the deception they have bought into, and the damage they are doing, and the long-term consequences of the sinful lifestyle they are advocating, both to themselves and to others. Convict them of sin, God, and show them the same mercy and grace that you show me when you con- vict me of my sin. But as the disturbing interview went on, I also found my prayer deepen- ing. Yes, God, help them, but also help us! Your gospel had no voice in that headline, and your church had no spokesperson in that panel discus- sion. Interviewer and interviewee alike just presented that issue totally void of biblical perspective or truth. God, dont let that happen! Dont let millions of viewers gradually learn to accept that position as true and normative. Give your truth a voice through your people! The story passed, and I dont know what was on the screen next, because my prayer was driven even deeper. Yes God, help them, and help us. But oh God, help me too! My voice is so silent. My life is so impotent. My efforts to carry the truth of your word and the power of your gospel are so weak. I'm going to go to the office in a few minutes to answer some e-mails, sit in some meetings, and move some projects along. But what will I have personally done to make any difference in the cultural decline I have just witnessed? My feeling of powerlessness was frustrating. And that frustration made me angry. I found myself wanting to pray for Gods righteous judgment to simply fall upon these people, and upon our land if necessary, and make it all right again. But Ive learned to be careful, even fearful, about calling for Gods judg- ment. I am too often deserving of it myself. And when I was most deserv- ing of it, when I was still a sinner by lifestyle and choice, when I was just as far from God as the frustrating people in the headlines, thats when God in Christ reached out to me in mercy, and with conviction and grace and forgiveness. And he still does that today. So I am meeting the morning headlines these days with these three prayers: God, help them. Help us. Help me. I invite you to join me in these prayers. Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org. Headline prayers NATE ADAMS 2 IBSA.org Illinois Baptist Snapshots from the world of Illinois Baptists the cooperative program Giving by IBSA churches as of 05/20/16 $2,311,442 Budget Goal: $2,423,077 Received to date in 2015: $2,351,348 2016 Goal: $6.3 Million I often find myself asking Help them, help us, help me. For questions about subscriptions, articles, or upcoming events, contact the Illinois Baptist at (217) 391-3119 or IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org . The Illinois Baptist is seeking news from IBSA churches. E-mail us at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org to tell us about special events and new ministry staff. POSTMASTER: The Illinois Baptist is owned and published every three weeks by the Illinois Baptist State Association, 3085 Stevenson Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-4440. Subscriptions are free to Illinois Baptists. Subscribe online at IBSA.org . CONVENTIONAL WISDOM Pastors believe church leaders should be held to high standards. They also want to protect themselves against allegations that could be false." - Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research Pastors: Practice disciplined discipline Disagreement on stepping down Should a pastor remain in the pulpit while church leaders investigate allegations? Percent of pastors who said yes: LifeWay asked Protestant pastors: If allegations of pastoral misconduct are brought to church leaders, should they The Illinois Baptist staff Editor - Eric Reed Graphic Designer - Kris Kell Contributing Editor - Lisa Sergent Editorial Contributor - Meredith Flynn Keep allegations in confidence and investigate - LifeWay Research 3+3+4 73% T 13% 14% Tell all church members Not sure 50% African-American Pentecostal Those 65 and older Baptist Protestant White Those age 18-44 Methodist Presbyterian/Reformed 43% 36% 35% 31% 30% 27% 24%

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