Archive for August, 2011

Praying on 9/11

Posted on August 31, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

In a few days America and the world will be observing the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country which occurred September 11, 2001. Already the media is focusing our attention on the tragic events of that day when planes were hijacked, flown into the world trade center and the Pentagon and almost 3,000 Americans were killed.

Families still grieve the loss of loved ones. We celebrate the heroic deeds of firefighters and policemen responding to the disaster and counted among many of the fatalities. Our country and our lives were changed, never to be the same again. Some reflected that we were suddenly effected by what is common in the rest of the world which experiences violence, …

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Touring the Delta

Posted on August 29, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Looking for opportunities to re-connect with our roots down home in Mississippi, we took a few days last week to tour the Delta, that flat, rich agricultural plain along the Mississippi River. Neither of us had spent much time in the region, though we have spoken at churches in that part of the state over the years. I recalled our high school band traveling to Greenwood each year to march in the Christmas parade there. Towns on our tour brought to mind college classmates who came from each one, though we could not necessarily recall their names!

The occasion was an invitation to preach at the 85th anniversary of Montpelier Baptist Church in Clay County where I served as pastor …

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Feeling Deficient

Posted on August 26, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

I don’t think I am different from a lot of Christians in the tendency to feel deficient in ability and motivation for what I ought to be doing. We know we ought to consistently share our faith with others, should probably take a leadership or teaching responsibility at church or go on that mission trip, but we feel so inadequate. Certainly there are those who seem to exude confidence as they take initiative in various ministries. I have looked with envy on those who seem to have apparent giftedness that was enhanced by a high self-esteem.

This is especially true in the area of witnessing. I try to seek opportunities to engage the unsaved in conversation that would lead to …

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Arab Spring

Posted on August 24, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Mobs, riots, chaos, government repression. What is going on in the Muslim Middle East and North Africa? Other parts of the world have witnessed political upheaval in the last decade. Ethnic violence has become a common occurrence in many parts of the world. Banana republic dictators are still alive and well in Latin America. But the Arab world has been seen as a monolithic cultural fortress in which devotion to religious fanaticism supersedes economic discontent or political malfeasance.

It started in Tunisia where a street merchant had had enough of intimidation and corruption and burned himself in the streets. Others were emboldened and the streets filled with protesters that eventually overthrew the government. Mobilized by a social media network Egypt …

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Our Home Town

Posted on August 22, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

I came into the house after running some errands recently and exclaimed to Bobbye, “I love my church, I love my bank, I love my barber shop, I love my hardware store, I love Clinton!” We have readily assimilated into the community and continue to be overwhelmed by the Southern hospitality and personalized service of small town business. One cannot be hurried in getting tasks done as you are always going to encounter acquaintances and strangers who engage you in conversation, asking about your family and telling you about theirs.

Clinton is not the small town of 1500 people that I grew up in; it has now expanded to a primarily residential city of 35,000 on the west side of …

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Avoiding Legalistic Praying

Posted on August 19, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

No one was more conscientious about praying and religious piety than the Pharisees. But Jesus had nothing but condemnation for their hypocrisy and pretense. It is sad that we, too, have a tendency to allow our Christian life to be reduced to legalistic practices instead of the fulfilling Spirit-led freedom we should have in Christ.

We reduce what should be an abundant and empowered walk with God to a prescribed set of do’s and don’ts. We are blessed to have extensive guidelines and principles given to us in God’s word; however, instead of unleashing us for victorious living, they put us under the burden of expectations and guilt of constant failure.

This is reflected in our praying as much as …

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Observing Ramadan

Posted on August 17, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Today is “Tujuhbelas Agustus”–that’s the 17th of August in Indonesian, the day of independence for this country with the largest Muslim population in the world. This day also comes in the middle of “Ramadan” which is the month of fasting for Muslims. It is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. The faithful are to fast from dawn to dusk when the fast is broken with the evening call to prayer.

Having lived in Indonesia for many years we recall how significant this month was. Restaurants were closed, and even non-Muslims were not to be seen eating in public. In more radical countries everyone is forced to participate in the fast lest they offend Muslims by …

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Return to Richmond

Posted on August 15, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

A delightful marker in our new retirement lifestyle is the privilege of returning to Richmond four times a year to participate in the orientation of new IMB missionaries. It is a significant time of sharing a sense of God’s providence in global missions from our perspective as president emeritus and 40 years of experience.  Communicating the vision that has driven organizational change and overseas strategy in the past helps them to understand a context for what is being done today as they prepare to go to the field.

We have made the 16-hour trip between Richmond and Mississippi many times in recent years while building our retirement home and assisting my sister overseeing the care of my mother during the …

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An Alternative to Discouragement

Posted on August 12, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Jesus tells an interesting story in Luke 18:1-8 that is identified as the parable of the persistent widow. It is about a widow who continued to appeal to a unjust, insensitive judge to handle her case and give her justice against her adversary. The judge was unmoved and disinterested but finally intervened because the widow kept pestering him.

We often read this, making the application that we are to persist in our praying until God finally responds and answers our prayers. However, that is not the point of the parable. In fact, Jesus explains that God is not like the unjust judge, but He will respond and give justice speedily to those who cry to Him.

Diverted by this aspect …

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Family Update

Posted on August 10, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Family time together is precious because it is altogether too infrequent. We realized this once we were married, began to have children and the demands of job responsibilities diminished opportunities to gather for family reunions. Our siblings and their families were dispersed to various states, and eventually overseas. By the time we all got together, kids had grown, interests and experiences diversified, but we readily reconnected as family.

It is hard for me to imagine multi-generational families all living in the same community or general area, gathering for birthdays and other significant events, having Sunday dinner together. I’m sure time together is no less special, but for us it is an extra-ordinary event. There was a time when we lived …

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