The link below will take you to my Executive Director’s Message, delivered November 13, 2018 at the Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia, WA.
Several hundred Northwest Baptists will gather in our annual meeting on Nov. 13-14, 2018, at the Great Wolf Lodge near Chehalis, WA. As we prepare to gather, worship, and celebrate what God is doing in and through us, consider the following “meditation:”
The only person present in every epoch and on each Bible page is God Himself. Every scene in Scripture is dominated by His presence. From Eden to the Flood, from Abraham to Moses to Gideon to Peter, Paul and Mary, God alone dominates history’s script.
And yet, from the beginning God created human beings as His “imagers” on the earth. Because every person is created in the image of God, and tasked with representing Him, every person has his or her “day” to serve and glorify God. Many of God’s imagers fail to image Him fully because of sinful self-destruction and gross unbelief, and we all fall short of glorifying God fully because of sin. Some of God’s imagers have their day cut short, chopped off before their lives lift off. The evils of child-killing and the bloodshed of war destroy many souls created by God to image Him in the subduing and governing of all earthly creation.
But those who know the God in whose image they are made have the miraculous possibility of making the day in which they live, a small speck of time in the large swath of human history, a day that will count for all of eternity. Indeed, those who know God in their day will know God from their day forward, for all eternity. That makes the day in which we live, and the opportunity it affords, stupendous beyond the imagination of our feeble minds.
Consider this – the child in your church who comes to faith will mature into an imager of God whose prayers are heard by heaven! That child who is led by you to love Jesus is a child who will never be alone. Never will that child be orphaned or abandoned in the world. That child will one day be launched as a missionary missile to teach school, or image God in business or politics or constructing houses or raising children of their own who will live to His glory. And no matter what next week brings, or the years beyond that, a child who knows Jesus will enjoy all of eternity with God and the hosts of heaven in a “forever family.”
The student in college who is seeking life’s purpose and meaning is led down the path to knowing God by a Jesus-follower, and is surprised by the joy of meeting the God in whose image they are made. Through your ministry and witness their life becomes anchored on the Truth they never knew existed.
Families in your town are desperately trying, or barely trying, to provide spiritual and moral guidance to their children. Most are doing the best they can with what little they know. Then the church steps into their lives, and the truth of Christ enters their thinking, and faithful witness is lived in their presence, and love for neighbor (and love for enemy) is experienced deeply, and in a moment, or in the course of time, they are reborn. Their family is created anew. Peace and joy and the blessing of God enter their home. Marriages are saved. Children are rescued from a misspent life. All because a church, or a believer … you … lived for Christ in your day.
In the Northwest there are many people seizing the opportunity presented by God in this day. Northwest Baptists are gathering for worship and Bible study on Sunday, and serving in schools and on jobsites throughout the week. One church is teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in a Buddhist temple, and they share the Gospel of Jesus Christ as they teach ESL! Others are fully participating in community celebrations so that they can “rub elbows” with their neighbors, build friendships, and share the living hope of Jesus. Prisoners are visited. The hungry are fed. The lost are led home. Almost 2,000 people followed Jesus in believer’s baptism through the ministry of our churches last year. Churches are striving, struggling to live and love and share the good news of Christ in their day.
So as messengers gather from our Northwest Baptist churches, we do so with gratitude to God for what He is doing. We gather in the knowledge that together we strive to make the most of our day. And we gather in the firm belief our day is a good day to serve the Lord in the Northwest.
In another day, on April 13, 1948, messengers from 15 Northwest Baptist churches met in Portland, OR to organize the Northwest Baptist Convention (NWBC). They believed that together they could more effectively reach the Northwest for Christ. By 1952 there were 53 churches in the NWBC. There were 291 churches by 1972 (some of these were in Canada). Strong growth has continued over the past 40 years through sharing the gospel, training leaders, and gathering new believers into churches. Today we have 485 churches in the NWBC. The Canadian Convention separated from the NWBC in 1985 and became its own SBC affiliated convention numbering several hundred churches.
In our day the work of the NWBC is much the same as it has always been. Our churches cooperate together in ways that maximize our effectiveness in key areas of Kingdom work. So how does your NWBC serve our churches in this, our day?
First, we put a priority on training leaders. Monthly pastor clusters is one of the large pieces of this training. The clusters focus on the spiritual life of the leader and the spiritual health of the church. They study and discuss disciple-making, evangelism, worship planning, and much more. We also support the Pacific Northwest Campus of Gateway Seminary as a primary method of training leaders. Currently I am teaching preaching to 17 students at our PNW campus. Added to this is training for Bible teachers, worship leaders, Disaster Relief volunteers, college ministers and others. We train transitional “interim pastors” and help churches in their search for pastors. Training leaders is something that we best do cooperatively, understanding that no single church can do broad-based training on their own.
Second, we prioritize evangelism. The NWBC provides evangelistic training and resources to every NWBC church. The Cooperative Program (CP) mission giving of our churches makes this possible. We continue to provide My316 evangelism materials to our churches. At our annual meeting this November 13-14, 2018 we will launch a new resource available to every church, without cost, because we believe that making disciples should be at the center of ministry for every church.
Third, we help start new churches. Currently we have churches worshipping in about 27 different languages in communities of all sizes. Churches are started in urban and rural areas, from cities to small towns. I am personally involved in a new church in a town of 8,000 people. The church launches on September 30, but already we have had a young man come to Christ and receive water baptism. With only one church for every 23,000 in population in the Northwest we need many more churches in many more places.
Fourth, we do missions beyond the Northwest. Through the CP and other mission offerings we support missionaries in over 100 nations. Also, the NWBC has a special partnership in East Asia in which many of our churches have participated. During July 10-23, 2019, we will bring about 130 people from our NWBC churches to serve hundreds missionaries and their children in a retreat in Asia. We are the only state convention of churches to ever do this, and this will be the third major retreat in which we serve our missionaries in this way.
You are making an enormous difference through your involvement and support of the NWBC, and we have much left to do. This is our day! And it is a good day to serve the Lord in the Northwest!
Summer in the Pacific Northwest is as close to the Edenic garden as you will to find. But in addition to enjoying the outdoors, Northwest Baptists do some of their most impactful ministry in the summer months. Vacation Bible Schools and various sports, children and youth camps, anchor our summer ministry, and to these you can add mission trips and community outreach and service projects.
This spring 383 people were trained to lead Bible schools in NWBC and associational events. We anticipate the making of many disciples among the thousands of children ministered to by our churches in Bible schools and camps this summer. Many churches have more children in their Bible schools than the total church attendance on an average Sunday. Bible schools remain the most effective evangelistic ministry of our churches.
Not only do we conduct Bible schools here at home, 50 Northwest Baptists from 10 churches will serve the children of IMB missionaries in Asia from July 30 to August 5. Next summer we have been invited to a missionary retreat which we will require about 140 people serving hundreds of missionary children in Asia, as well as providing medical, technical, and security support. Only by partnering together can we have such great impact serving our IMB missionaries.
Here at home our churches are loving their neighbors in community holiday events, city clean-up projects, school improvement activities, refugee and immigrant ministries, and person-to-person Gospel sharing. The churches with which I have worshiped already this summer have attenders that come from about 25 different nations (about 50 nations are represented in our almost 500 congregations)!
As we consider the primary task that God has given us, to reach 11.5 million neighbors in the Northwest, there are certain values that help guide our work. First, we value the individual person. Most of what we see Jesus doing in the New Testament is focused on one person – Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, a blind man, lame man, demon-possessed man, Lazarus, Mary, Martha, Peter, the thief on the cross, and many others. Jesus gave His full attention to individual people, often people that others did not value. We must do the same. One person matters.
Second, we value every church, because every church, regardless of size, is the Body of Christ which “He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28d). We need each church and we value each church as a partner in the gospel, understanding that the local church best knows their people and must determine how they can best love their community and share the gospel where they live.
Third, we value the collaboration of true partners. In a partnership, the “weaker” partner is respected by the “stronger” partner, understanding that God works in mysterious ways, choosing the “weak” to shame the “strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). Whether speaking of individuals or churches, partnership enables us to have a bigger and more consistent gospel impact. This is the genius of the Cooperative Program (CP) method of funding missions. By the way, our NWBC churches gave an average of 7.5 percent to missions through CP last year, far above the national average of 4.86.
I hope that you are enjoying your summer, and that you will know that it is a good day to serve the Lord in the Pacific Northwest!
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) needs a recovery program. Followers of Jesus, including those who lead, are not exempt from addiction to power, money, and sex, and we have been reminded of this with jarring frequency over the past few weeks and months. Deep wounds caused by multiple failures are now festering from infection. Added to the more public matters is a sick hubris that has caused some to weaponize money and leadership, intentionally hurting others, certain that they are smarter, wiser, or better than “them.” Much of the focus has been on the resignation of leaders and the firing of a seminary president, and rightly so, but perhaps worse than the headlines is our deficit of trust and partnership that has grown as large as the national debt. Although trust and partnership have been eroded in multiple ways, the serious erosion of cooperation and trust between the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and denominational partners has led to a collapse in the numbers of churches started and the number of new believers baptized.
Many think that we are in the midst of a church planting boom in the SBC. We are not. In the past two years we have tallied the lowest number of new church starts in decades, reaching a new low of 691 throughout North America in 2017. Moreover, new church plant numbers the past seven years are far below the seven years prior, while the church planting budget is 350 percent higher than it was in 2010! The truth is we are experiencing a colossal collapse in the number of new church plants while spending far more money from the NAMB budget. The primary reason that Southern Baptists are planting half as many churches as we were ten years ago is because the North American Mission Board (NAMB) has greatly reduced its cooperation with state and regional conventions in favor of a top-down approach in which NAMB mostly controls church planting outside of the south, and in which NAMB has greatly reduced funding for church planting in the south.
Add to this the fact that NAMB has slashed evangelism funding to about one third of what it was ten years ago. In 2010 NAMB had an evangelism staff of 52 people, organized into six teams, in addition to hundreds of state convention jointly-funded positions. In 2018 there are only two people in evangelism (a leader and his assistant) listed on NAMB’s website, and the one evangelism leader is also the pastor of a church with attendance over 1,000. This is especially striking when you learn that NAMB currently lists 30 staff doing marketing and event planning! At the state convention level, NAMB has also slashed evangelism funding for personnel, so that we have a fraction of the national evangelism leaders and far fewer evangelism implementers at the associational and state level.
Evangelism funding was reduced because, NAMB argued, the best way to do evangelism is to start new churches. While that can be debated, there is no debate that evangelistic funding from NAMB was intended to serve all 47,000 SBC affiliated churches, while church planting funding focuses only on church plants. Most evangelism is done by established churches because that’s where the vast majority of our people worship – common sense! But we are experiencing a disastrous drop in the number of new believers following Jesus in baptism. Baptisms have plummeted to a level not seen in more than 70 years. In 2015 we dropped below 300,000 baptisms for the first time since 1947, and in 2017 a total of 254,122 persons were baptized. This is a drop of 24 percent from 2011 when 333,000 were baptized. There is almost no living memory of a time Southern Baptists baptized so few. As seen in the chart below, we are currently experiencing the steepest decline in baptisms in recorded SBC history (source is the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, Vol. 1 No 2, Fall 2003 and SBC Annuals).
The extreme reduction in cooperation between NAMB and state conventions, including the elimination of funding for hundreds of associational and state convention positions, has greatly reduced the ability of local Southern Baptist denominational entities (state conventions and local associations) to serve the needs of our churches, which is partly why we are experiencing serious decline (including a decline in Annual Church Profile reporting because of fewer associational and convention employees working to get the information). In the Northwest Baptist Convention our convention staff is less than half the number that we were in 2009. Believing the incendiary charge that state conventions were “bloated bureaucracies,” a handful of influential SBC leaders and influencers pushed for state conventions to give more cooperative dollars to the national SBC (a 50/50 split was called for), and NAMB reduced funding to state conventions at the same time. These actions, and the accusations that were hurled toward state conventions, have done great damage to relationships, destroyed trust, and damaged our ability to start churches and engage in a cooperative evangelism effort. Both church plant numbers and baptisms plummeted following the changes that began in 2010, which, ironically, was the year the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) recommendations were adopted at the SBC in Orlando, FL, and in which the GCR called for “the phasing out of Cooperative Agreements” between NAMB and state conventions. Unfortunately, no effective cooperative strategy has replaced the cooperative agreements, thus we have become less effective at planting churches and doing evangelism than we were prior to the GCR. I’ve recently noticed that others, too, have recognized the need for recovery in the SBC, including those behind the Reform NAMB Now movement (www.reformnambnow.org).
Some think that talking openly and honestly about the fact of our decline, and the reasons for it, is “not helpful.” Some fear that if Baptists are told the truth it will demotivate cooperative giving. Apparently they weren’t taught the old Baptist axiom “trust the Lord and tell the people.” Transparency is vital. The truth of the matter is critical if we are to build and maintain trust. Unity without truth enables bad behavior. The people who support the work have a right to know the truth. They deserve an honest reporting of our present condition, and an honest and open debate, even if some leaders find it unhelpful to themselves.
Some might also think that because our entities are governed by trustees elected at the annual meeting of the SBC that it is unnecessary and counterproductive to discuss these matters in a public forum. But I believe that SBC trustees need to hear from rank-and-file, pew-sitting Baptists whose tithes are paying the bills. “Brett and Brianna Baptist” should not be kept in-the-dark about the issues and how their Cooperative Program mission’s dollars are being spent. Trustee boards operate best when the SBC constituency knows the issues and can discuss the issues with the trustees. Trustees represent Southern Baptist people and Southern Baptist Churches. They do not represent the entity on whose board they sit. Therefore, trustees need to hear from an informed constituency.
So, what can we do to build back trust and cooperation at all levels of the SBC? First, we must be open and honest about our present condition and not suppress “negative information” out of fear that Baptists cannot handle the truth. SBC entities need to present the reality of their situation and not merely provide reports that highlight the positives and conceal the challenges and failures. State conventions and associations must do the same. Acknowledging reality, and dealing with things as they really are, is where leadership begins. God’s people can handle the truth. What they cannot handle, and what they deeply resent, is the truth being concealed and covered up.
Second, building trust and cooperation requires selecting leaders who believe in the cooperative system, including the cooperative funding system that made the SBC the greatest missionary denomination we have ever known. Southern Baptists have some pastors who are effective leaders for their church, but they are not effective leaders denominationally because they do not sufficiently believe in, or participate in, the Cooperative Program method of funding our ministry and the cooperative structure that we have established locally, statewide, and nationally. Most Southern Baptists worship in churches of less than 200 on Sunday. These churches give the most money to cooperative missions and they send the most missionaries. They believe in, and practice, cooperative missions. We need leaders who understand this and celebrate the cooperative efforts and sacrifices of these churches. This doesn’t mean large-church pastors can’t lead the SBC – not at all! But it does mean these pastors need to believe in the cooperative method of missions from which we have benefitted for 90 years. If our missionary methods don’t capitalize on the combined strength of the 99 percent of our churches which have fewer than 1,000 on Sunday, we will continue to decline and fail to accomplish all that we could for the glory of God. In 2017 Southern Baptist churches gave $475 million to missions through the Cooperative Program and $215 million through the two national mission offerings. Those churches that strongly support the Cooperative Program need SBC leaders who do the same. SBC leaders must be able to look pastors in the eye and say, “imitate me” regarding Cooperative Program giving. If an SBC leader cannot do that, he’s like a pastor who implores his people to give generously while he gives miserly.
Third, we must return to a cooperative system between NAMB and state conventions that prioritizes a church planting and evangelism strategy that is formed and led mostly by those closest to the field of ministry. How can leaders in Alpharetta, GA know what’s best for Syracuse or Chicago or Seattle or Anchorage, not to mention the thousands of smaller communities that are inevitably overlooked by everyone except those who actually live there? This includes both church planting and evangelism strategies. In the name of planting more churches NAMB has exploded the church planting budget and slashed the evangelism budget. The result is far fewer churches being planted and a collapse in total baptisms. I believe this decline in church plant numbers is largely the result of a top-down national strategy that has reduced missionary boots-on-the-ground, ignored the input and pleas of local leaders, and destroyed the trust we once enjoyed between national and state convention leaders. It’s not working and the numbers tell the story. Actually, the numbers tell part of the story. The rest is told by the wreckage done to relationships and families in the implementation of this terribly flawed strategy.
Is the SBC still worthy of our support? Absolutely. We no longer have 5,600 international missionaries, but we still have 3,500 fully-funded missionaries and no other network of churches comes close to that number. Presently we are not starting 1,200 to 1,500 churches each year, but no other network started the 691 churches that SBC churches did in 2017. Can God rescue us and revive us and bless us once again? Without question He can. He’s done it many times before. But it’s a fact that churches die, movements die, and denominations have died too. It is not inevitable that we recover our former effectiveness, and it’s not even certain that we will survive for another generation. God’s plan is certain. He will prevail. Of that we can be certain. But whether the SBC continues to play a leading role in His plan is yet to be determined.
For now, we need prayer and repentance. We must execute a turnabout, spiritually, relationally, and strategically. Good organization and strategy won’t move the heart of a holy God. Only hearts directed toward Him, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, will bless God and cause His face to shine upon us. If we do that individually, we’ll be all right, come what may. As far as the SBC goes, a recovery program requires building trust, respect, and true partnership founded upon truth and acknowledging reality. If we can do this, we can recover and experience vitality once again.
Who should lead Southern Baptists? Answer: those who fully support the Cooperative Program and have demonstrated their support through the percentage giving of the church they serve and lead. My assertion’s explanation and argumentation is this:
In round numbers, Southern Baptists churches contribute approximately $690 million annually through the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon International Missions Offering and the Annie Armstrong North American Missions Offering. Approximately $475 million is contributed through the Cooperative Program and $215 million is contributed through the two major mission offerings. These numbers vary year-to-year by several million dollars. In addition, many millions more are given through State Convention annual missions offerings, Disaster Relief, World Hunger Offering, and associational mission gifts.
I share these numbers because I fear the average “Brett and Brianna Baptist” SBC church members have little idea of the impact Southern Baptists make because we cooperate financially to send and sustain missionaries, educate pastors, start churches, train leaders, and so much more. Moreover, “Brett and Brianna Baptist” probably do not understand the scope of our cooperative work and the manner in which it is funded.
The largest and primary funding strategy for SBC churches is the Cooperative Program (CP), a unified effort for local, regional, national and international ministry and missions. Most churches allocate CP mission dollars as a percentage of their annual budget, though some budget a set dollar amount. According to a report of the SBC Funding Study Committee, issued on September 23, 2003, SBC churches maintained a percentage giving to missions through the CP in the 11 percent range from 1930 to 1980. By the 1980s this average had dropped to 10.5 percent, and by 2002 it was 7.39 percent. In 2017 that number had fallen to 5.16 percent. As a percentage of the church budget, SBC churches are giving less than half to CP missions than they did just 30 years ago.
Various suggestions have been offered as to why CP missions giving has dropped so dramatically. These suggestions range from rising health insurance costs, to more emphasis on local ministry, political infighting, and the desire of churches to do missions directly. No doubt these have all contributed to our decline in CP supported missions. But I want to suggest something different – I firmly believe that the single biggest factor in our decline is the selection of leaders who do not fully support CP as the major way to fund Southern Baptist missions. Thus, they do not – and, really, cannot – share passionately with others a vision for the impact such a unified effort makes.
If a church chooses to support missions directly, and gives a small percentage or zero through the CP, that is their right as an autonomous church. Some pastors and churches may believe they can better allocate their missions dollars than can state conventions and the SBC. Often these are megachurches with huge budgets. I get that. But remember, there are less than 200 SBC megachurches (average worship attendance of 2,000 or more), and a total of 51,000 SBC churches and mission churches. Half of the churches in the Northwest Baptist Convention, where I serve, average 50 or less in worship. Nationally the median number is probably closer to 70, but the normative SBC church has far fewer than 100 on Sunday. That’s partly why CP missions has worked so brilliantly over the years. It makes possible a cooperative missions strategy that strengthens the abilities of the typical church to play a part in the far-reaching responsibilities of the Great Commission. Sure, if your church has 200 or 500 or 1,000 on Sunday, you might have the staffing and finances to do some larger mission projects. But even a large church finds it difficult to have a fully-orbed Acts 1:8 missions strategy.
Recently I visited with the pastor of an independent church that has 3,000 in weekend worship attendance. He was amazed to learn our church planting efforts in the Northwest include Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Korean, Spanish, Burmese and many other non-English language churches. He quickly understood that even given the resources of a large church they cannot penetrate lostness like our 500 smaller churches do through a cooperative strategy. CP missions is just such a cooperative strategy and we should choose leaders who understand it, believe in it and have supported it over the course of their ministries.
Presently, the International Mission Board (IMB) of the SBC is seeking a new president. In addition to the necessary spiritual qualifications, experience, and gifting, the next president should have a background that demonstrates a strong commitment to support missions through the CP. Remember, international missionaries don’t fall off angel’s wings onto the mission field! They are discipled and educated and called out through the ministries of our churches and through CP supported state camps, college ministries, seminaries, and the like. The SBC is a system of missions, ministry, training and education, and we need each part of the system for the global enterprise to remain healthy. Key leaders like the president of the IMB should understand this and support it. If a particular leader doesn’t support the SBC system of CP support (and you will only know he supports CP by what he led his church to do), he should not lead a CP supported SBC entity.
This June Southern Baptist will also elect a new SBC president. The man elected to this position should likewise be someone who has a track-record of strong CP support. How can a person effectively lead Southern Baptists if his church doesn’t support CP with a minimum of the 5.16 percent that the average church gives? Indeed, shouldn’t our leaders come from churches that give above the average percentage? This seems like common sense, but such sense seems less and less common.
Southern Baptists are at a critical crossroad. One road leads to the continuation of decline in CP missions giving and the continuation of the decline of the SBC (that is a subject for another article, but yes, we are in serious decline by most every measure). The other road will lead us to growth in our cooperative missions strategy. Which road we travel will depend not only on what we do individually, but also on those we choose to lead us. As for me, I will do all I can to encourage Southern Baptists to select leaders who generously support missions through the Cooperative Program and have a long history of doing so.
I am a Christian because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. It’s just about that simple. The opening words of Genesis One revealing the creative utterance of God are breathtaking. The poetry of the 23rd Psalm reflecting a deep intimate relationship between a man and his God is unsurpassed. The Messianic birth narratives revealing God’s commitment to redeem humanity through incarnation are sublime. Added to these are any number of biblical histories, prophetic utterances and ethical teachings. And we must always cling to the Cross, brutal and bloody, proving Christ loves us beyond description.
While the entirety of Scripture is God-breathed, and profitable in every way, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the starting-point of Christian faith. As Paul writes in Ephesians, God’s saving power for believers “is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 1:19b-20). Moreover, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
Yes, the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead is where Christian faith begins. Not only that, but Christ’s resurrection has no parallel in the world’s major religions. The Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path of Buddhism provide a form of ethical instruction, as does the Islamic Koran. Clearly Christians find both utterly deficient for life and godliness, but some form ethics and code of conduct are found in all religions.
What is not found in the world’s religions is the assertion that God became man, was crucified and died for our sin, and after three days in the grave rose from the dead in triumph over sin, death and the grave. Moreover, the New Testament goes beyond asserting Christ’s resurrection by offering evidence for the resurrection. The evidence begins with the empty tomb and the eyewitness accounts of the Apostles to the resurrection. It continues with the preaching of Peter in Acts 2, the healing of the crippled beggar in Acts 3 “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 3:6), the creation of the Church, and the martyrdom of the Apostolic eyewitnesses to the resurrected Lord. Don’t forget, Christianity is rooted in history. It is not merely a collection of wise sayings and rules for life. Jesus lived, died and rose again in a specific place, at a particular time, and interacting with thousands of people.
Recently I returned from Burma, a country that is officially Buddhist. There are more Buddhist pagodas in the cities of Yangon and Mandalay that there are steeples in Dallas, TX! The largest of these is the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Rising 325 feet, it is covered in as much as 60 tons of gold. Why have Burmese Buddhists invested such wealth in this pagoda? Because they believe that it contains eight strands of hair from Buddha himself. They know he’s dead. They don’t believe he’s a god. But in the hope of having good karma they worship him in this way (Remember, when Buddhists and Hindus speak of karma they are not speaking about rewards or punishment in this life, but rather in a future life via reincarnation).
Thank God we have a living Savior! Resurrected, reigning and coming again! In a little over two weeks we will celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter Sunday. But those who trust in Jesus Christ experience the victory of Christ’s resurrection every day.
Yes, I am a Christian because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. If you are not a Christian, what do you believe about Jesus and His resurrection? If the resurrection is a lie, then Christianity has no foundation. It is vital that you understand this. Our entire faith stands or falls on the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, if you look at the evidence, and conclude that the resurrection really happened, you are left to conclude that Jesus is what He and the Scriptures claim Him to be – Lord and King, forever and ever, and you must, dear friend, you must follow Him in faith and obedience.