Archive for July, 2011

Prayer and God’s Providence

Posted on July 29, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Scripture is prolific in revealing God’s sovereignty and power over all things. We often speak of His providence. That term comes from two Latin words; “pro” and “video.” Video means to see; with the prefix “pro” it means God is able to see beforehand all that is going to happen, even tragedy and adversity, and has a plan and purpose to use it for our blessing and His glory.

Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.”  Isaiah reminds us, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, ‘As I have planned so it shall be, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand’” (Is. 14:24).

Excerpts from Psalm 139 …

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What’s in a Name?

Posted on July 27, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

It seems that more and more organizations, and even churches, are changing their names. Recognizing that our society is constantly changing, it is understandable that public institutions would be concerned about rebranding and portraying an image that would be considered relevant.

I am seeking to reflect a commentary and opinion on current topics in this blog column, and this issue surfaced once again when I received a press release last week that Campus Crusade for Christ had changed its name to “Cru.”  I wasn’t surprised with the fact of a new name as I have been aware CCC has been engaged in a study regarding its name and identity for sometime.

I have watched a number of mission agencies change …

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Together & Saying Good-bye

Posted on July 25, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

It has been a joy to have our daughter, Lori, son-in-law, Chip, and grandchildren, Sam, Mia and Gloria with us for their last two weeks stateside before returning to their assignment in Central Asia. It was a bittersweet time of enjoying conversation, sharing fun times and assisting in shopping for final needs, knowing we would probably not be seeing them for three years.

Our son, Russell and his family joined us for several days. If we had had any question about why we built such a large house, it became moot as six adults occupied the bedrooms, three granddaughters slept in my office and the three grandsons the attic den; the two dogs that came along were everywhere. In fact, …

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Prayer: A Relationship

Posted on July 22, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Why is prayer so difficult? Why does it feel like we are just talking into the air and no one is listening? Why does our mind wander and thoughts about other things infringe on our efforts to focus on God? Preparing to lead a prayer conference at my church, Morrison Heights, I have had an opportunity to review my own experiences and insights into this important spiritual discipline.

Discipline? Actually, that is a big part of the problem. Prayer is not a discipline but a relationship. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  How do we appropriate God’s armor and walk in constant victory? It comes by “praying at all times in the Spirit with all

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Learning to be a Church Member

Posted on July 20, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

This may seem to be a strange topic for someone 69 years old who has served the Lord all his life. However, this is one of the surprising challenges of a new retirement lifestyle. It is not that I have not been a member of a church since trusting the Lord and being baptized almost 60 years ago, but ministry roles have precluded what others experience as faithful Christians involved in a local congregation.

Before leaving for the mission field 41 years ago, I served on a church staff and pastored two churches. But pastoral responsibilities don’t really compare with the role of normal church members. On the mission field I started a number of churches, but an indigenous church …

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Coming Back Home

Posted on July 18, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

There were many points along our journey to Southeast Asia where we could easily have been tempted to forfeit our return tickets and just stay and continue ministry in the places that represented 23 years of our life. After becoming president of the IMB, people would ask us if we missed the mission field. That would immediately elicit an emotional response of how we longed for the familiar cross-cultural lifestyle in Asia. However, the Lord convicted us that such an attitude was dishonoring to Him. He had led us to a new responsibility in America; we had learned obedience and had responded to His guidance to a new leadership responsibility even contrary to our own preferences. Therefore, we needed to …

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Delight in the Lord

Posted on July 15, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Years ago our daughter was visiting us during her college Christmas break. We were impressed with her evident maturity and growth in her walk with the Lord since we had last been together. Reflecting on something that grew out of her discipleship group, she asked me one day, “Daddy, do you have a life verse for the new year?”

I was not sure what she meant. I replied that I had several “life verses”–those key passages that serve to guide and provide foundational life values. Proverbs 3:5-6 and Matthew 6:33 were a couple of these. ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct …

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How Big is the SBC?

Posted on July 13, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

A lot has been said and written in the last few years about the beginning of a decline in membership of the Southern Baptist Convention. The number of baptisms being reported has been in a free-fall for several decades. A large portion of annual baptisms reflect biological growth of children raised in the church or those who are already church members coming to a born-again experience and being rebaptized. Not only is diminished evangelistic outreach not providing for growth, it is not even replacing the attrition of declining membership.

Dr. Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of FBC West Palm Beach, wrote an excellent article on this subject which was published by Baptist Press following the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix in which …

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Bangkok and Bali

Posted on July 11, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

When we lived in Indonesia we were only a 2-hour drive from the Bali Straits. At least twice a year we crossed on the ferry and enjoyed a few days on the beaches of this beautiful, exotic island. There were few hotels at that time but comfortable accommodations could be found in seaside, thatched-roof cottages for less than $20. That’s no longer the case, but we just had to take a couple of days on our nostalgic journey back home to enjoy the familiar scenery of Bali and relax under the shade of swaying palms and a cool ocean breeze while nibbling exotic fruit.

Then it was on to Bangkok where we lived from 1984 to 1988. At least this …

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Praising the Lord in All Things

Posted on July 8, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Reminders of the lessons God taught us continued to surface during our recent visit to our first missionary assignment in Indonesia. I’m not sure how the concept came into focus, but we discovered that praising the Lord in all things was a real key to walking in victory.

Perhaps it was the testimony and encouragement from a veteran missionary colleague, something from books we were reading at the time, or maybe it was just a revelation from the Holy Spirit that emerged from our Bible study. Nevertheless, we were desperate to discover something that would allow us to consistently experience God’s presence and power.

We had our share of trials and challenges–isolation, hours from any other missionary, still struggling with …

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