Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Renovate Church Conference and Church Revitalization

Several months ago I was asked to serve on a newly forming team in the Stanly Baptist Association, the Church Revitalization Team. Dr. Hal Bilbo was putting a team of pastors together who are working in some way in seeing the churches they serve experience revitalization. Along with myself there are four other pastors from SBA who agreed to serve on this team. In agreeing to serve we all committed to go to Orlando, FL November 2-6 and attend the Renovate Church Conference at Aloma Baptist Church, and so we did.

We had a great time getting to know one another during the drive down, eating meals together, worshiping together during the main sessions, and driving home. These are some great and godly men: Tommy Ross, Mark Little, Scott Williams, and Ron Loflin. They have a great heart to see God do a new thing in some "old" places in Stanly county. We want to be used of God to make it happen right here where we work, play, and raise our kids.

Let me share with you some of the titles of the breakout sessions (some listed I attended and some others attended): Becoming an Effective Change Agent in Revitalization-Dr. Will McRaney, How to Utilize Church Renewal Journey Weekends-Bob Foy, The Importance of Prayer in Church Revitalization-Vince Manna, Powerful Conversations that can Revitalize Your Church-Dr. Bob Bumgarner, Zombie Church Revitalization: How to Raise the "Dead Church" without Dying Yourself-Rob Myers, Church Revitalization: Every Believer a Witness-Dennis Nunn. There was a multitude of other choices, and listening to the guys on the SBA team they were all powerful. The five I chose to attend were ones I felt would help and challenge me personally and/or be helpful in leading Highland.

The main session speakers included: Dr. Ed Stetzer, Dr. Micah Fries, Dr. Lenny Luchetti, Dr. Bob Whitesel, Dr. K.P. Yohannan, Dr. Kevin Ezell, Dr. Larry Wynn, and Dr. Dennis Mitchell. Each of these men shared powerful messages of encouragement, vision, caution, and passion about revitalizing the local church in America and how desperately it's needed.

A powerful quote from Dr. Will McRaney was "A church will either choose to die to itself and live or it will just die."

"Ministry is the perfect avenue for the crucifixion of the ego." "God designed ministry for the spiritual formation of the minister." "We are called to lead out of bondage, through barrenness, and into blessing." Dr. Lenny Luchetti

"However beautiful the strategy it is occasionally helpful to look at the results." Winston Churchill quoted by Dr. Ed Stetzer

"When you know who you ARE in Christ you also know who you AREN'T." "Acceptance is a two way street. If I must accept you as you are you must also accept me as I am." "Faith has to override our thinking. You must stop thinking some of things you are thinking." "What you think about can deceive you." "God doesn't do a miracle and then make a mess." "You either have character or you will become one." "Never lose your integrity over someone who doesn't have it." Dr. Paul Smith

The conference and experience happened very quickly. But I have so much to think and pray through. There will be many conversations with our team about this time together, and I can't wait. I can't wait to see what God does in Stanly county as He begins to revitalize us as never before.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10-31-14 Weekly Update

God is so good to me. I’ve had the privilege of preaching the revival services at First Baptist Church Cuthbert, GA this past week, and we saw God do some wonderfully amazing things. The church is doing some great things, strategically, to reach out into their community, and the Lord Jesus is blessing.

Although not the same, I see great similarities between Highland and FBCC. The first thing I see is a common love for the Lord Jesus. Not that loving Jesus is common, but that our churches love Jesus. That common bond of love makes us family, children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. So, I felt at home among family as I preached each of the four services. I see a common desire to reach out and serve the community in the name of Jesus. We do those things through corporate worship, youth and children’s ministries, UPWARD, and other things like that. But we also uniquely serve our communities. It is inspiring to see and hear of the many ways we can be the hands and feet of Jesus. I encourage you to think of the reality that every step you take is a step Jesus should be taking through you. Live the Christ life passionately, graciously, mercifully, and constantly.

Sunday November 2 is being called #IStandSunday. It is time where Christians in Houston, Tx and around the country are uniting to defend our faith, our voice, and our religious liberty. There will be a simulcast starting at 7 PM EST. I encourage you to participate if you are able to do so. We must unite as Christians NOW or suffer the consequences of our continued silence, watching our beloved nation slide further down the slippery slope of sin and destruction. Please stand, and having done all, stand (Eph. 6). You can show your support for the pastors and Christians in Houston by using the hashtag #IStandSunday on your social media outlets.

I also want to remind and encourage you to vote. Election day is Tuesday. Let your voice be heard loudly and clearly in/from the voters booth. Vote your conscience. Vote your faith. Vote as an ambassador of Jesus.

I hope we will see you this Sunday at Highland as we gather together to worship King Jesus.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cooperative Program of the SBC

Basic RGBImagine with me what would happen if each of the 46,125 local churches that comprise the Southern Baptist Convention would give financial support to one cause wrapped around one purpose: presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ globally and making disciples of all the nations. I really want you to think with me for a moment about this. I want you to further imagine what happens when we give financially each month through our world missionary enterprise called the Cooperative Program.
When our 46,000+ churches cooperate to take the gospel to the world, let me tell you a few things we do together. We are:
  • Mobilizing 4,810 missionaries internationally that are fully supported by these churches financially; in fact, through the ministries of these missionaries last year, thousands of churches were planted, 114,471 new believers in Christ were baptized, and we are continuing with the strong commitment to finish the task of engaging the final 3,052 people groups who are both unengaged and unreached.
  • Planting gospel churches in 32 of the major cities in North America as well as in many underserved regions of North America; in fact, our churches together are committed to plant an average of 1,500 churches annually, believing God that over the next ten years we will see 15,000 new gospel churches planted in North America.
  • Mobilizing thousands of volunteers to minister when national disasters come in America; in fact, we comprise the 3rd largest national disaster relief organization in the United States. Additionally, we respond around the world when various crises and disasters occur.
  • Equipping 16,000 seminary students through our six seminaries who will serve as local church pastors and staff members, missionaries around the world, and leaders in some realm of Christianity.
  • Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ and speaking to issues in the public square for the protection of religious liberty and human flourishing; in fact, we even have qualified leadership in Washington D.C. speaking for our churches about these issues.
  • Ministering through our own states and even close to our own churches through the 42 state conventions of churches and 1,100 regional associations of churches.
  • Partnering to make a major difference regionally, across each state, nationally, and internationally; believing that God has called us together to reach the world for Christ.
When our churches give through our Cooperative Program, these are just some of the things we do together.
Churches determine what they give through the Cooperative Program
Each of our churches should pray, seek the Lord, and determine voluntarily on our own how much we should give toward our grand gospel work together. No one forces us or tells us what to give; each church decides on our own. We should reassess what we are doing annually. We should always lead our church to be generous in regards to advancing the gospel globally.
What happens to the money we give through the Cooperative Program?
Each church gives to the Cooperative Program through their respective state conventions. Some of the monies stay in the state for ministries and partnerships they are committed to doing together, and they send the remaining monies to the Southern Baptist Convention’s work nationally and internationally. Each state convention determines the amount of monies they keep inside their state and the monies they give to the Southern Baptist Convention. Then, at the national level, a formula is used that distributes the monies for the work of Southern Baptists both nationally and internationally. Everything that I shared with you that these churches accomplish together is funded through our world missionary enterprise called the Cooperative Program.
You see, what began in 1925, God is still using today. These 46,000+ churches are working together by giving monies through the Cooperative Program, all given for the purpose of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ globally and making disciples of all the nations.
Let me tell you our Cross Church story
Let me share a personal story. Through the course of my ministry life and leadership, I have been very committed to leading my church to reach the world for Christ. However, within the last several years as the Southern Baptist Convention and state conventions really began to increase their commitment toward reaching the world for Christ, my church has increased our financial support through the Cooperative Program. Over the past several years, we have increased our commitment substantially each year. Why?
You see, I determined that it was and is incumbent on me, as a stewardship of the gospel, to lead my church to do all we can to rally together with 46,000+ other churches to finish the task of presenting the gospel globally and making disciples of all the nations. After several years, I became absolutely convinced that we can do more together than we could ever do on our own.So our church’s giving through the Cooperative Program has increased greatly and will continue to do so. In fact, when our church adopts our 2014-2015 Ministry Budget in the next few days, we are making a strong commitment to increasing our gifts significantly again this next year.
Lead your church to give more
Listen friend, from the most rural church to the most influential metropolitan church, from the smallest membership church to the largest membership church, Jesus calls us to do everything we can with all we have to reach the world for Christ. The lostness of our own nation and the entire world continues to increase. People are dying without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Personally and as a local church pastor, we must do all we can with all God has entrusted to us to penetrate the lostness of the world.
This is why we must connect together and partner cooperatively. We can reach more people, send more missionaries, plant more churches, demonstrate more compassion to more people through hunger and relief ministries, and equip more ministers and missionaries when we give more together through the Cooperative Program.
There are churches, conventions, networks and denominations all over the world that stand in amazement at how the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention fund our Great Commission work nationally and globally. They are amazed at what we accomplish together in partnership for the gospel.
Challenge your church
Let me challenge you to lead your church toward a greater commitment to reaching the world for Christ by giving through the Cooperative Program. Additionally, extend another challenge to personally increase their financial support to your church so that your church can do more toward fulfilling the Great Commission by giving more dollars through the Cooperative Program.
Vision for all generations
I have been thinking about the vision God is now creating through the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe this vision is strong and becoming more clear all the time, that it appeals to all generations — from the youngest to the oldest. In other words, it is a cross-generational vision that is emerging through what we are doing. What is it?
We are:
  • Theologically conservative, committed to biblical fidelity.
  • Reaching the unreached peoples internationally.
  • Strategically planting Gospel churches nationally.
  • Extending compassion through hunger and disaster relief ministries dynamically.
  • Engaging the culture, always lifting high the cause of religious liberty globally.
  • Cooperatively working to reach the nations regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Pastor, church leaders, and laypeople: if you present these things to any age leader or church, telling them about what God is doing, I believe they will see this vision as being compelling, concise, and clear.
Never forget, this vision is only possible to continue to live and enlarge as the churches of our Southern Baptist Convention give monies generously through the Cooperative Program, all for one main purpose and vision: Reaching the World for Christ. Thank you for what your church is doing right now to God’s glory.
Stay tuned, because next week I will be writing more about this subject.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd

Friday, September 19, 2014

I like this...

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC and pastor of Cross Church in Arkansas, is calling for Christians, but especially SBC Christians, to intentionally share the gospel with someone on Oct. 14, 2014. You can read his challenge on the link below. I'm going to do it. I double dawg dare you to do it to.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd and others lead us to pray.

No one in the church would argue that prayer is ineffective, and yet we struggle to pray. We know we should pray, but we often struggle to know what to pray for or how to pray for what we want. The #NAMB and Dr. Ronnie Floyd, the president of the SBC, are working to change that. On October 2, 2014 we will be praying very specifically, based on Luke 10:2 which says, "He told them, 'The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.'" I hope you will click on the link to the Baptist Press article below and check out or to find out more about this day of prayer and other ways you can engage our culture and the world through prayer. I also want to encourage you to send your students to your local See You at the Pole event next Friday, September 24, 2014. It's always a powerful time as students gather together and pray for each other and their school.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I’m sure you expected me to say that; after all, I am a “mega-church” pastor – and it’s really easy to take shots at guys like me when we talk about money. 
However, I wanted to introduce a thought today and see if it might resonate with anyone. 
Have you ever met someone who tries to throw in a super spiritual comment in the middle of a conversation in order to appear more “holy”? 
For example, you may say in a crowd, “I was on Facebook last night and connected with an old friend.”  And the other person says to you, “I had my face in THE BOOK last night and connected with God!” (This is also known as a “Jesus Juke!”) 
Or, you say, “I am on level 200 on Candy Crush and finally was able to win and move on to the next level,” and THEY say, “Every time I pick up my phone I open up my Bible app, and I always win and go to the next level in my walk with Jesus!” 
Let’s be honest right here...I mean, being totally honest—no one likes this person. 
I think we are all agreeing at this point…which brings me back to the offering.
One of the easiest ways to NOT deal with this (because it's most likely going on in our own hearts) is to be as condescending as we can as quickly as possible. 
So, for years people in church (and people outside the church) have taken shots at churches taking up an offering because, after all, we REALLY sound spiritual when we criticize something that we feel others might possibly agree with. 
But hold on…before we say the church is BAD for taking an offering, let’s think through a few other things as well. 
If you have ever been to a college or pro football game—they take “an offering!” In fact, you have to pay before THAT “church service” even begins. (Sometimes the “services" are good, sometimes not so good…but people still pay money to be there). 
If you have ever been to a concert, you “gave an offering.” Concert tickets and experiences are at an all time high, and no one is sitting in the concert angry and complaining out loud that “the only reason they are doing this is because they want my money!” 
Anytime we go to see a movie or watch a play at the theater they take “an offering.” 
In fact, if we want to get REALLY serious…
Starbucks just wants your money. 
Apple just wants your money. 
Target just wants your money.
The American Girl Doll store just wants your money. 
And yet very few people complain about those places because, well…we tend to not complain about giving money to things we truly value or worship. 
(Might want to go back and read that last sentence again!) 
So, when it comes to taking an offering at church I am genuinely excited for numerous reasons: 
1 – I realize that everything I have is a gift from God (Deuteronomy 8:18) and the offering is a time where I have the privilege of giving back to Him a portion of what He has already blessed me with. 
2 – I believe what Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 about money being the #1 competitor for my heart, and the offering is a time when I can tangibly say, “Jesus IS Lord!” 
3 – I believe there is not a better investment on the planet than the local church! 
4 – I realize that when I give money to something, my heart will always follow it (sort of like what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21). 
So, consider this – this next time a person complains about the church taking an offering or asking for money, it is most likely an indictment in regards to their own heart that they are trying to deflect on the church by appearing to sound spiritually superior by criticizing something that Scripture clearly instructs us to do. 
I love taking the offering! And…I love GIVING. For me, it’s not an OBLIGATION but rather an OPPORTUNITY!  

Interesting Article concerning the organization who started the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research.

My quest in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
September 8 2014 by Amber Lehman, Guest Column

It was the latter part of the week when I started seeing the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALSIce Bucket Challenge videos pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. Within 36 hours these posts were nearly all that I saw. It was a brilliant campaign that has raised more than $100 million!

As a ministry leader, I anticipated being challenged so I had some homework to know more about the ALS Association (ALSA). Years ago I figured out that nearly all national organizations that do medical research for cures and treatments of diseases supported embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). Later I learned that many organizations give raised funds to Planned Parenthood. Since then, I’ve made it a practice to research every organization I support to see if any of my money supports that which destroys human life.

When I researched ALSA, as I expected, they were in full support of ESCR. It was an easy decision to refrain from participating.

I was shocked as I saw supporters of First Choice and Christian leaders who are prolife taking the Ice Bucket Challenge. It was then that my quest began. I assumed that they could not possibly know they were supporting ESCR.

I immediately became the killjoy of Facebook as I began posting, private messaging, texting, and emailing friends, supporters, and pastors to inform people of the ESCR link as I saw them get challenged. I wrote my church leaders and said “You don’t want to do this, please don’t do this!”

From my vantage point, it was equally plausible for them to dump ice water on their head and then donate to a local abortion clinic. Intentionally ending a life anytime from day one of conception to a 100-year-old’s last breath is all equally wrong – it is all murder whether it happens in a lab, an abortion clinic, a person’s home or a hospital bed.

Human life matters. Period. I wasn’t willing to stand by quietly and watch the Bride of Christ whom I adore contribute to the culture of death.

Christians need to hear the truth of an undeniable reality of a disregard for life; there seems to be a knowledge gap of life issues of today and a plethora of terrible ethical philosophies that serve as slippery slopes to the church. Those whose responses affirmed life were at a loss of how to defend their stance or explain how ESCR worked. While many commended me for diligently defending life, not many of them seemed to take on the fight themselves.

How did the church get here on the critical issue of human life? I believe there are two main reasons:
First, the church rarely talks about life issues or even the basic doctrine of imago Dei. If you just asked yourself “what is imago Dei?” then you are case in point. Your church may be lacking substantial discussion on what it means to be made in the image of God. A person has value because he or she is fashioned in the image of God. The church should be the place where saints are equipped to engage the culture consistently with God’s truth and biblical values.

Engaging the culture well demands that we know what to believe and why, how to take action responsibly for the causes for which we care and how to engage people in productive discussions around sensitive cultural issues while sharing the message and the love of Christ.

Second, we have somehow adopted a philosophy of ministry and giving that believes that all causes are of the same value and urgency. We have fallen prey to being driven to engage a cause simply by how passionate we feel about it and how engaging the cause makes us feel. This is a dangerous way to steward the resources God has given us.

So how can we pick when there are so many causes and so many needs?

First, we pick by seeking God’s Word to see what God cares about and what He commands us to do.
Second, we look at what is going on in our age and determine (a) what is going on that only God’s people care about; and, (b) what is an urgent and present danger.

Once the causal criteria are figured out, then these causes become top priorities. Stewardship demands that we look beyond our emotions and the fun trends of the day.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge made me aware of a terrible disease and for that I am thankful.  My donation to help find a cure for ALS as well as other debilitating disease will go to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute (, where they are committed to ethical medical research for cures and treatments of multiple diseases. While I care about helping end the suffering of ALS, I also care about defending innocent LIFE even in its smallest form.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Amber Lehman holds a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and will gain her master of arts in Christian ethics upon completion of her thesis from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has been leading First Choice Pregnancy Solutions in Wake Forest since January 2006. To make a donation to First Choice please visit Also, be sure to sign up for First Choice’s charity golf tournament Sept. 15 at Amber’s personal abortion story can be found 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Revival messages by Dr. James Peoples at Highland

Sunday morning. Click here to listen online!
Sunday night Click here to listen online!
Monday night Click here to listen online!
Tuesday night Click here to listen online!
Wednesday night Click here to listen online!


Weekly Email Update

Labor Day marked the “end of summer” although summer is officially still going on, but we are back to our fall schedule at Highland. We had a great kickoff to fall with Dr. James Peoples. The Holy Spirit surely moved and blessed. Each of the messages is on our website under the media tab; watch them for yourselves and pass them along to others around. What a blessing!

I also want to say a huge “Thank You” from our family, especially my Mom and Dad. Highland as my church family has ministered to us, you have blessed us, and I say “Thank You.” Please keep praying for Mom, she has five more chemo treatments to go. God has and continues to be faithful and gracious. Hallelujah! What a Savior.

AWANA had her big kickoff Wednesday night, and it was a great time. The hotdogs and fellowship were wonderful, the kids were excited and so were the parents. I absolutely love it that our kids are so challenged to “hide God’s word in their hearts, that they might not sin against God.” Pray those verses stick in their minds and hearts. Pray those verses find fertile soil in our kids. Pray God changes the world through them.

I love REACH. Through this structure in our Life Groups we have made hundreds of contacts with individuals and families by way of phone calls, cards, notes, and letters. We have prayed more intentionally and specifically for families in our church and community, and I believe that we are making inroads into the harvest. Thank you for playing your part in the outREACH arm of Highland.

I also want to make sure you are aware that we are hosting another PLACE weekend this month. The dates are September 12-13. Sue Drake and her team are ready to take another group through this amazing experience. Sue and Jeff will also be teaching a six (6) week Life Group elective covering the same material. It will begin on September 14, and will meet in the choir rehearsal room. If you have any questions contact Sue or Janet.

I have several preaching engagements over the next two months and I covet your prayers as I preach these services. I will be preaching two homecomings and two revivals. Thanks in advance for your prayers.

Lastly, I want to make you aware of an opportunity to be part of something the North American Mission Board of the SBC is doing in Nashville, TN. August 3-4, 2015. They are hosting a Send North America conference. This is a conference about strategic church planting in North America. I think it is vital for us to begin strategically preparing to be involved in church planting. The Book of Acts makes it very plane that God expects the church to multiply, and there is no better way for Highland to multiply than to participate in church planting. I am looking at and having conversations with leaders in our church about making a financial commitment to church planting in our budget, and looking for ways for us to get involved through our Mission Team at Highland. Please pray that all the right doors will be open to us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Think it through Mom and Dad

A post by Willy Rice. Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Florida.

Pastor Willy's Blog - Complete Post

Christ and His Church Go Together
Parents who allow their children to opt out of church attendance and involvement have abdicated their role of leadership and set their children up to abandon the faith altogether. The Church is the “Body of Christ”. The American fad to separate Christ, a personal relationship with Him, from The Church, a corporate commitment to Christ through His body, is unbiblical, toxic, and hurtling a generation toward apostasy and eternal destruction. You might as well kick your kid off a cliff at the Grand Canyon.
 But it’s boring. How many parents have heard that? First, let me say that I am not advocating boring ministries, boring messages or boring music. We should work hard as church leaders, volunteers and pastors, to be creative, compelling and relevant. BUT since when is it the greatest crime of the century to be boring? There are plenty of things I do that need to be done because they are vitally important that are also occasionally routine and even boring. School is boring at times. I mean how exciting can algebra be? But I don’t hear parents allowing kids to opt out of attending class because a certain teacher is boring. Preparing your taxes can be boring, but that is not an to excuse to break the law. Most jobs can be boring at times. I’ve eaten plenty of boring meals and even read through a few boring books from time to time. Try sitting for hours on end in an ICU. It can be pretty boring. But all those things can be important and even life saving.
 Life does not exist to entertain you or your kids. Entertainment is not the great aim of life! When you allow your kids to opt out of church, whether it is student ministry or worship with the larger church body, because they find something boring, be it the music, teaching or something else, you reinforce the heretical notion that the Church exists for their amusement. The Church exists for the glory of God, and our commitment to it is about our love and devotion for Christ. In a Christian family there are certain things that should be non-negotiable…ever! Christian parents fail spectacularly and tragically when their actions teach their children that church is merely for their amusement or entertainment. It is not.
 Paul warns us that failing to discern the Lord’s body invites great judgment upon ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:29). While the context of that deals with Communion, those who view the Body of Christ as existing merely for their own entertainment or usage are in fact failing to discern the Lord’s body. To reject the Body of Christ is to reject Christ visible and present in the world and to bring great judgment upon ourselves.
 I am afraid some Christian parents have invited judgment upon themselves and their children by failing to impress upon them the beauty and importance of the Body of Christ. If you teach them to hate the Church, you have taught them to hate Christ. If you allow them to neglect the Church, you have encouraged them to neglect Christ. Jesus did not come to entertain you. He came to save you. Jesus is not some side street performer begging you to come and watch His latest tricks. He is the Holy God of the universe who deserves our praise, worship and reverential fear.
 Teach your children to love the Lord your God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the greatest aim of the Christian parent. You cannot do that if you make a connection to the Body of Christ optional or relegate it to the role of a peripheral activity that we do when we find it convenient or amusing.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let your voice be heard

Please click on the link and send a message to your senators in Washington that you oppose the appointment of liberal judges who will knowingly undue the constitution and legislate from the bench.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Grandfather

A mighty warrior of Christ's kingdom, Rev. Ed Madaris, 97, of Wingate, NC, was promoted to glory Friday, July 11, 2014, at his home.  Born February 28, 1917, in Tuscaloosa, AL, he was a son of the late Barney and Mabel Blake Madaris.  He was also preceded in death by a brother, Henry Madaris of Asheboro, NC, a sister, Lola Shropshire of High Point, NC, a sister, Edith Bryant of Tucson, AZ, and a grandson, Paul Jewell of Pensacola, FL.

A service to celebrate the life of "Preacher Ed" will be held Sunday at 7 PM at Faulks Baptist Church.  The family will receive friends on Sunday from 5-7 pm in the fellowship building.  Burial will be on Monday at 10 AM in the Faulks Baptist Church cemetery.

Rev. Madaris is survived by his loving wife of 75 years, Fannie Lee M. Madaris of the home; son, Rev. Tim Madaris of Pageland, SC; daughters, Linda M. Franklin of Pageland, SC, and Patsy M. Jewell of Orange Park, FL; sister, Lucille Welborn of High Point, NC; 10 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.

He was married and came to know the Lord when he was 22 years of age, and shortly after was called to preach. He and his bride faithfully served the Lord in ministry for over 70 years. He graduated from Piedmont Bible Institute, now Piedmont International University, in Winston Salem, NC, and eventually became a trustee. He received the Alumni Achievement Award in 1997 for distinguished service to the Lord Jesus. He served churches in North Carolina and Florida as pastor, conducted numerous revival meeting across North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Florida, often using a tent for the revival crusades during the early days of his ministry, and he also had a daily radio program for 10 years. He helped develop and lead Camp Teen Haven in Asheboro, NC for 13 years, seeing numerous young people come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. The eternal impact of Preacher Ed's ministry cannot be expressed in numbers, however, we know of numerous men and women who surrendered to gospel ministry as a result of his influence. Both of his daughters married men called to pastor, his son, two of his grandsons, and one grandson-in-law are pastors of local churches. The family can only imagine the glorious reunion of those who have gone before him and were there to welcome him home.

Please take time to leave a comment, share a story, of how Preacher Ed influenced your life. The family will treasure them.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations for Bibles be given as  memorials to the Gideons International.

He was one of the greatest men I have ever known. I love you Granddaddy. I will miss you. BUT I will see you again!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Week of Winshape Camp for Communities

This week has been a blast. Highland Baptist Church has had the amazing privilege of hosting a kids camp this week. The camp is put on by Connect Ministries and Winshape Foundation. The Winshape Foundation was originated and funded by the Truette Cathy Family of the Chick-Fil-A corporation. It has been the Cathy family's desire to make an impact on local communities across the county by hosting camps for kids and teenagers. I would encourage you to check it out. It's amazing.

Winshape has overnight camps in Georgia and then they fill 8-9 teams of 23 college students each, train them, and send them out to conduct these day camps for 8-9 weeks each summer. It has been our privilege to host a camp for Stanly county the last 2 years (2013-14). And I will say we have already been given a camp for next year, July 6-10, 2015. We are looking for churches and organizations beyond those already partnering with us to join us for next year. We have 223 kids from all over Stanly and Rowan counties here this week. Most of them have received some kind of scholarship to be able to attend. We raised over $20k last year, and were able to raise $28k+ this year to help kids come to camp. It's been hard work getting everything together, and so many have worked so hard to make this "the best week ever!"In addition to the kids and money, I was so amazed that we had 40+ people volunteer this week, many of them taking a week of vacation to be able to be here. Talk about commitment to Christ and kids. I love it! Thank you for serving Jesus by loving on these kids this week. A huge Thank You goes out to our children's director Janet Childress for her hard work, dedication, and love for the kids of this community. Thank You to the rest of the staff at Highland, Robert and Joy Whitley, and Matthew A. Wilkinson for your hard work in making this years camp a great success. It wouldn't have happened like it did without you.

Those are some amazing facts, but there is one fact that outshines and outweighs them all. It's the fact that these kids have heard about and experienced the love of Jesus Christ this week. The Winshape staff and the volunteers have been the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus this week to these kids. As a result of this experience, some of these kids gave their hearts and lives to Jesus yesterday and today. They have come to experience for themselves the forgiveness, salvation, grace, and mercy of the King Jesus. Eternity will never be the same. Join us now and in the future in doing what King Jesus has called us to do to reach the world with the gospel (the good news). Remember this, it's only good news if they hear it in time.

We also had two special guests this week that I want to tell you about. First, Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-Fil-A dropped in yesterday for a surprise visit. It was awesome to meet a man who faithfully serves Jesus through a very public venue. He was so gracious and humble. He took time to talk with the kids and volunteers. He even posed for a few selfies! It was awesome. Second, we were able to let the Winshape staff spend some time with Joe Teti of the Discovery Channels show, Dual Survival. Joe is very neat guys with a special past. He faithfully served our country in two different special forces units during his military career. You can check Joe out through social media and his website. Pray for Joe as he seeks to represent the Lord Jesus to the best of his ability.

In closing, pray for the Winshape staffers as they spend the next 3 weeks in communities sharing the love of Jesus with other kids. Only heaven knows the whole impact made in the lives of thousands of kids across the country. May we, through them, see the Holy Spirit bring about a great revival before Jesus comes.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

ANALYSIS: No 'war on women' - examining Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Hobby Lobby dissent

ANALYSIS: No 'war on women' - examining Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Hobby Lobby dissent
Posted on Jul 3, 2014 | by Gregory Tomlin
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Within hours of the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, politicians and media outlets were accusing conservative justices of fueling the "Republican war on women." The critics predicted a tidal wave of new cases caused by conflicts between workers and employers who hold "religiously grounded objections" to blood transfusions, antidepressants and medicinal products made from pigs.

Presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling "deeply disturbing" and a "slippery slope," likening it to crimes against the rights of women around the world. Clinton said business owners who oppose abortion-inducing drugs in their health plans might be leading the U.S. to create laws like those in countries "prone to extremism."

Clinton also asked if insurance companies could now deny blood transfusions when a business owner objects on religious grounds.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the Hobby Lobby decision "could permit for-profit corporations to pick and choose which laws to obey." The "deeply misguided and destructive decision," Pelosi said in a statement, is a devastating blow to women's ability to make their own medical decisions in consultation with their doctors. Women will now have to "jump through extra hoops" to get the contraceptive care they need, Pelosi claimed.

The White House offered a similar interpretation of the ruling, equally foreboding, through the prism of the president, referred to by Press Secretary Josh Earnest as the "constitutional lawyer in the Oval Office."

"There is a problem being exposed that a group of women of an indeterminate size no longer have access to free contraception because of religious views, not their own religious views, but their boss's religious views," Earnest told reporters.

Predictably, and not surprisingly, media outlets supportive of abortion rights, such as Huffington Post and RH Reality Check, echoed the White House narrative.

A commentator with Huffington Post mused that Christians could now "pick and choose" which laws to obey and a "senior legal analyst" with RH Reality Check, which exists solely to champion reproductive and gay rights, cited the court's "deeply ingrained misogyny" as the origin of its decision. The analyst said storm clouds of discrimination are gathering as emboldened Christians prepare to rain frivolous lawsuits on an already overburdened court system --"even though (wink wink, nudge nudge) the Court is only concerned with the contraceptive mandate."

Key source of discontent

Such objections to the ruling by the court's majority have drawn from the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Clinton, Ginsburg is an experienced ACLU litigator and activist for women's rights.

Ginsburg's 35-page "scathing dissent," as it has been uniformly described by dozens of newspapers and websites, at times reads more like a political policy statement on women's health issues than a legal opinion. Ginsburg extols the benefits of universal health care, particularly with respect to contraception, and claims "the mandated contraception coverage enables women to avoid the health problems unintended pregnancies may visit on them and their children" -- though she surely is not referencing the children terminated by federally mandated abortifacients.

The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby, Ginsburg wrote, would "deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive care" and force their religious viewpoints on employees. Clinton, Pelosi and the White House press secretary echoed the claim, agreeing with Ginsburg that religious people shouldn't be free to choose whether they want to obey the law.

In an analysis of the case, Eric Posner, a University of Chicago law professor, wrote that Ginsburg had set up the case "as a clash between women's rights and religious rights." At best, that reading "is not an entirely fair characterization of the case," Posner said.

At worst, it is patently false.

Stubborn facts

Lawyers for the two key litigants in the case -- the Green family, who own Hobby Lobby and Mardel, and the Hahn family, who own Conestoga Wood Specialties -- never argued, as Ginsburg and some politicians suggest, that a denial of all contraceptive care was the goal of the Christian families who own the businesses, or that Christians should be allowed to obey only the laws they like. Instead, lawyers for companies argued that they only sought relief in their insurance coverage plans from providing four of the 20 federally mandated contraceptives, including Plan B or the "morning after pill."

The drugs cause the spontaneous abortion of a fertilized egg implanted in the uterus and also may prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. Associate Justice Samuel Alito, in his opinion for the majority, wrote that "the owners of three closely held for-profit corporations have sincere Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after that point."

"By requiring the Hahns and Greens and their companies to arrange for such coverage, the HHS mandate demands that they engage in conduct that seriously violates their religious beliefs," Alito wrote, adding, "If the Hahns and Greens and their companies do not yield to this demand, the economic consequences will be severe."

How severe? Perhaps as much as $475 million annually, which no company could possibly sustain.

Secondly, Ginsburg claimed in her dissent that religious exemptions under that Affordable Care Act should be confined "to organizations formed 'for a religious purpose,' 'engage[d] primarily in carrying out that religious purpose,' and not 'engaged … substantially in the exchange of goods or services for money beyond nominal amounts.'"

In other words, according to Ginsburg, religious liberty ends where a third party enters the equation, or where people are gathered for a purpose other than public worship.

Alito, however, wrote that the majority of the court believed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, grants citizens the rights of conscience (religious liberty) even if they are voluntarily associated in a "closely-held" company, or one owned by an individual or a family.

"Congress provided protection for people like the Hahns and Greens by employing a familiar legal fiction: It included corporations within RFRA's definition of 'persons.' But it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of this fiction is to provide protection for human beings," Alito noted. "A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends. An established body of law specifies the rights and obligations of the people (including shareholders, officers, and employees) who are associated with a corporation in one way or another."

Alito continued, "When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people … protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies."

Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, aptly summarized the issue: The government cannot confine religious liberty to the hours Christians are inside the church or make Christians surrender the right because they own a corporation, especially one made up of employees who have voluntarily agreed to work for the pay and benefits offered.

"The government cannot set itself up as lord over the conscience," Moore said after the June 30 Hobby Lobby ruling. "What the Supreme Court has done today is reaffirm a basic American principle that our Baptist ancestors fought for in the revolutionary era."

Moore claimed two different views of religious liberty were in conflict in the United States. In the first, shared among the administration and judges like Ginsburg, religious liberty is believed to guarantee Americans the right to worship in an organized, religious setting.

But, Moore argued, this isn't the view of classical Baptists or "originalist" justices like Alito.

Ginsburg's prediction

Ginsburg contends in her dissent -- and her argument is being repeated by abortion advocates with regularity -- that the Supreme Court had "ventured into a minefield" of questions about judging the merits of religious opinions in cases where companies request exemptions from federal mandates based on religious grounds.

Ginsburg asked if Alito's use of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, to protect religiously grounded objections to the use of certain contraceptives extends "to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations (Christian Scientists, among others)?"

Alito, however, never claimed the majority's ruling carried weight for any case beyond the abortion-inducing contraceptives in the Hobby Lobby case and cases like it.

"Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer's religious beliefs," Alito wrote. The decision could not be used, for example, to justify discrimination in hiring based on religious belief, he wrote.

In the end, Ginsburg offers fears and speculation about what "might" occur in American jurisprudence with respect to religious freedom because of the Hobby Lobby case and the decision resulting from the constitutional protections confirmed in the RFRA.

Ironically, Ginsburg said during her confirmation hearing in 1993 that such speculation is generally something a judge should avoid.

"Were I to rehearse here what I would say and how I would reason on such questions, I would act injudiciously," Ginsburg told members of Congress. "A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case; it would display disdain for the entire judicial process."

Beyond the rhetoric

While there has been a significant amount of alarmist rhetoric about the Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court did not -- contrary to the reporting of CBS News' Craig Boswell -- exempt Hobby Lobby from the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). The judges exempted Hobby Lobby only from paying for the items to which the company's owners conscientiously objected -- abortifacients.

Alito, in his ruling, stated that the government had at its disposal a much less restrictive means of providing abortion-inducing drugs to Hobby Lobby's employees, such as the government paying for it.

Hobby Lobby did not cease providing and has never stopped providing insurance to employees covering 16 other forms of birth control. And the Hobby Lobby case was also only the Oklahoma City-based company and others exactly like it. Certainly, there are other groups that immediately benefitted from the ruling, such as the Eternal Word Television Network, five Catholic charities in Wyoming and Wheaton College.

But other businesses with other claims of conscience will -- as Justice wrote -- have to seek relief from the court by demonstrating that the government's compelling interest in providing components of health care would substantially burden the free exercise of their religion. The court's ruling is not a blanket decision for all cases everywhere.

Finally, the Hobby Lobby ruling is anything but a broader attack on women's reproductive health, as suggested by the Obama administration. As Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor for National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA, noted, "That the Hobby Lobby case and other objections to the Obamacare mandate are about basic American freedom becomes clear once removed from slogans and accusations about supposed partisan or religious wars being waged on women."

As faith-and-gender blogger Ashley McGuire pointed out at The Federalist, the case wasn't nefarious; it was simply about whether the Constitution accords religious liberty to a family seeking to be faithful to their core beliefs about the origin of life.

"So don't be duped when you hear activists from Planned Parenthood and friends trying to make David Green and Hobby Lobby public enemy number one," McGuire wrote. "He's just a guy who started a business from his garage, one that he runs according to moral principles like any other corporate CEO, a guy who is abiding by the law and treating the people for whom he is responsible with care and concern."
Gregory Tomlin is a writer based in Fort Worth, Texas, and assistant professor of church history and a faculty instructional mentor with Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (