Month: June 2018

Brownsville church plant focuses outward to fill heaven

BROWNSVILLE Normally, Moises Molina—bivocational pastor of Brownsville’s Iglesia Bautista Jericó—would have paused at the chain link gate before entering the yard of the modest home, but the gate was open and Molina and team proceeded to a side door under the carport. 

Molina knocked, swallowing his surprise as the door swung open, revealing a man behind a table stacked with guns, cash and packages. 

“I am Moises, a church planter in the neighborhood,” Molina explained, focusing on the man, not the contraband. “We are letting people know we are here for you guys. We would love to pray for you, if there are needs. We think God can be a blessing in your life. I also have a message of love for you about how Jesus Christ is changing lives all over the world.” 

“I have faith. I have my Jesus here with me,” the man replied, indicating a large sacred heart medallion on his chest. “I appreciate what you are doing and what you do around the community, but don’t come here again.”

“No problem. We’ll see you around the area,” Molina answered as the man shut the door.

No opportunity opened that day for Jericó’s team to share the gospel with the likely drug dealer, but they did share it with a couple who was leaving the house at about the same time.

“We preached to them,” Molina recalled. “Now, I see them at the temple. They congregate with us. We didn’t impact the gentleman who was making the sales, but Jesus did save the couple and their kids.”

Walking the block to tell neighbors about Jesus is commonplace for members of the new church, which was incorporated officially in early 2018. They have contacted 5,000 homes at least three times since 2013 when the outreach began as Molina’s sending church, West Brownsville Baptist, launched plans for a new church on the other side of town.

As people responded to congregants knocking on doors, sharing at parks and sponsoring community events, Iglesia Bautista Jericó grew from a monthly Bible study to a weekly meeting. Sunday services began Christmas 2016.

The church meets at the Genesis Learning Center, made available by the owner after hours in what Molina calls a “win-win” arrangement whereby Jericó assists in the upkeep of the donated space.

“It is such a blessing,” said Molina, who uses his experience as a building designer to suggest improvements to the property.

 “The community knows that is where the church meets,” Molina said. “We are the church in the daycare.”

Today, Jericó features a full schedule of weekly programs, emphasizing in-home discipleship. Sustained community outreach sets the pace.

“Everything happens when we are out there,” Molina said. “Every day a different ministry is out on the streets reaching the lost.” 

Among the outreaches is something called ‘Park Church,’ where members hold short outdoor services for visitors at local parks. An annual Christmas Bash hosted 100 community kids last year for snacks, gifts and a play. Jericó also trains youth and college groups in door-to-door evangelism using SBTC curricula. 

Molina focuses on building the congregation from new converts. In fact, people who are already Christians are encouraged to return to their former churches.

“Our growth may be a bit slower because of that policy,” Molina admitted, noting that the congregation has grown from “zero” to 40, with a core group of around 10 assisting in evangelism. “We are looking to fill heaven, not chairs in the temple.”

The commitment to Jericó has proved challenging but worthwhile to Molina and his wife, Beatris, a paralegal in the Cameron County District Attorney’s office. 

Molina’s story mirrors the traditional American dream. His parents left Mexico a quarter century ago as violence began, walking across the border bridge to a McDonald’s where Molina’s father phoned a friend, who took the family to church at West Brownsville.

Molina’s parents recommitted their lives to Jesus; Moises and his sister trusted Christ at West Brownsville, and there the family stayed.

While the senior Molinas became permanent residents and took low-paying jobs, their children finished college. Molina’s sister, Maricruz, works in economic development for the State of Texas in Austin. Molina earned degrees in building design and business as a DACA student and became a regional director of Texans for Greg Abbott before entering full-time ministry.

A recent outreach saw Jericó members dispensing sno-cones and sharing Jesus at Cabler Park.

Among those who responded that day was Diana, a Christian who had drifted into the practice of Santa Muerte, a Mexican cult that seeks favor from the so-called patron saint of death.

“She didn’t know how she had spiraled from knowing the Lord to worshiping death,” Molina said. “She was still wondering if God was willing to forgive her for turning her back on him to go after idols.”

Not long ago, Diana gave her testimony in Sunday School.

“How blessed we have been,” Molina said.

Jericó is the 13th of 17 West Brownsville church plants to date, Molina said, expressing gratitude for the financial support and encouragement of the SBTC.

As for the future, Molina envisions shelters for orphans, pregnant women at risk for abortion and recovering prostitutes.  

“The Lord has allowed a big dream,” he added.

Harvey donations surpass $2.6 million; DR reports 86,120 volunteer hours

GRAPEVINE  When Hurricane Harvey unleashed 132-mile-per-hour wind gusts and record-setting levels of rain in late August of last year, Southern Baptists and other organizations opened their pocketbooks by giving $2.6 million to help the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention minister to churches and individuals in the flooded region of the Texas Gulf Coast.

A report released by the SBTC on April 24 summarizes donations that include $500,000 from the North American Mission Board, $1,260,518 from state Baptist conventions, $368,723 from Texas churches, $153,598 from individuals and organizations within Texas, $239,288 from out-of-state churches and associations, and $167,881 from individuals and organizations beyond the state.

Nearly all the funds have been disbursed, providing $2,082,300 for grants to churches and pastors, and another $496,307 to meet other needs.

Trinity Baptist Church of Vidor is typical of those receiving grants, having sustained three and one-half feet of water throughout its facilities. “The sanctuary is completely restored and we are now back in our offices,” reported Debbie Ortego, financial secretary. Focus has now turned to the back half of the building to complete repair of kitchen and classroom spaces.

“God has blessed us greatly and immensely,” added Pastor Marvin Fuller. “We’re progressing, but patience is a virtue and we’ve got a long way to go.” Trinity Baptist is in the early stage of the SBTC church revitalization program. 

Houston Northwest Baptist experienced extensive flooding with three to five feet of water throughout all of its buildings except for the worship center. The children’s building was damaged so badly that it was demolished. The student building has been remodeled to house nursery, special needs and elementary students while teenagers utilize a tent. 

“The SBTC grant dollars are greatly appreciated and used for our ministry and rebuilding of our facilities,” stated Alan Bugg, executive pastor. “HNW is currently in the beginning stages of the remodel of the administration building and construction of a new children’s building.”

The SBTC grant also helped the church recoup the cost of the only drive-thru supply center in Houston. “Families literally drove onto our campus where we had various tents with supplies. They would tell us their need and we would load their vehicles,” Bugg said.

The church got involved in mud-out for hundreds of homes, provided short-term living expenses for many families and sent crews to help in the rebuilding process. Over 1,000 bags of clothes were laundered for flood victims.

Churches of all sizes were blessed by the outpouring of support through the SBTC. From First Baptist Church in Katy to the Cambodian congregation of Metrey Phea Baptist in Houston, funds helped churches purchase supplies to rebuild damaged facilities.

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards expressed gratitude for the generosity of Southern Baptists. “Southern Baptist state conventions received funds from their churches to be sent for Harvey Relief,” adding that many state conventions chose to disburse those funds through the SBTC. “We are grateful for our partnership in the gospel with our sister state conventions. They made it possible along with the generous gifts of others to help rebuild churches and get pastors back into their homes.”

Disaster relief volunteers from Texas were deployed 8,612 volunteer days and clocked 86,120 volunteer hours. During that time they served 298,431 meals to first responders and victims of the hurricane. the SBTC operated 762 clean-up and recovery sites, provided care for 22 children, facilitated 9,600 showers and 6,760 loads of laundry, distributed 445 Bibles and 526 tracts, as well as presenting the gospel 494 times, making 1,667 spiritual contacts and recording 135 professions of faith.

Volunteers from 30 state conventions working in the area affected by the hurricane served 2.1 million meals to first responders and evacuees, facilitated 41,000 showers, managed 26,000 loads of laundry and completed 1,942 mud-out work orders. The 529,000 volunteer hours of service by DR teams from across the country is valued at $12.1 million.

The newly developed Texas Relief ministry that provided online training deployed 1,352 volunteers with another 86 to be deployed later.  A total of 91 unique groups or projects were scheduled with 16 churches engaged in Texas Relief assistance.

As a follow-up to long-term needs of the facilities of churches and homes of pastors, Texas Rebuild completed 77 assessments and released 55 grants. 

Statement from Paige Patterson

Dear Southern Baptist Family: 

On May 22 the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary met together in a board meeting called at my request.¯ At that meeting, in which I briefly participated, I was asked to assume the position of President Emeritus of Southwestern, and I accepted this reassignment. One week later, May 30, the executive committee of the board¯met, though this time I was not asked to participate and was unable to address or answer questions for committee members since I was in Germany for a preaching assignment. While in Germany, I received a phone call informing me I had been relieved of all responsibilities with and compensation from the Seminary effective immediately. 

Since much has been reported and written about these matters in recent weeks, I wanted to address briefly a few points. It is not in my spirit or my heart to debate or revisit the decisions of the trustees to whom I was accountable as president of Southwestern, other than the brief comments that follow. 

Recently, I have been accused, publicly and privately, of a number of things—none of which I acknowledge as having done in the way portrayed, and others that I am confident I absolutely did not do. I’ll just speak to several examples. First, a poor choice of words has occurred, in and out of the pulpit, over decades of ministry.  I regret each case in which my heart and message were not clearly presented.

On the other hand, I take exception to accusations that I ever knowingly ignored or failed to follow appropriate protocols in cases of reported abuse of women, students, or staff at any institution where I have served. Indeed, the Southwestern trustees confirmed as much in their public statement of May 23, 2018: “The board affirmed a motion stating evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse.” 

For my words, demeanor, sentiments, or disposition to have been twisted to suggest the very antithesis to who I am and the biblical message I have presented over half a century not only is crushing to me and my family but also inevitably proves hurtful to others in the process.  I have never sought to inflict hurt upon a woman or man. 

For the last 43 years, through service in three institutions, I have attempted to prepare pastors and missionaries academically, evangelistically, and spiritually for kingdom endeavors.¯ Today, on behalf of my sweetheart Dorothy, who has labored faithfully by my side through both sorrows and triumphs, and on behalf of my children and grandchildren, I want to express my gratitude to God for Southern Baptists.¯ You have often encouraged our hearts.¯ You have prayed for us in a multitude of ways.¯ I would ask of no one of you more than you have given.¯ What I have given back is a pittance compared to your kindness to me. 

I wish further to thank the faculties and administrators who have held high my arms during both calm and raging waters.¯ I love you all.¯ To all of my students, including nearly 10,000 graduates whose diplomas I have personally signed, I thank you for your uncommon love for me, and more important, your unwavering devotion to our Lord. 

To those who have ever opposed me or have embraced a different vision, I would be remiss if I did not thank you also.¯ Your opposition kept me on my face before God, reminded me of just how very human I am, and outlined in tantalizing colors the mercies of God, which I have received in profusion from our Lord.¯ I pray for heaven’s kindness for each of you.   

At age 75, while my occupation has changed, my calling and passion have not been disturbed.¯ Soon Southwestern will have a new president.¯ I am riding off into the setting sun—but with a Bible in my hand and a witness from my heart until He comes for me individually or for us all in the air.¯ I ask Southern Baptists to hold the new president of Southwestern before God in earnest prayer.¯ He will be a great man, but the level of his attainment will be dependent to a large degree on your concert of prayer.¯ I know that you will not fail in this endeavor.  

In a few days, for the first time in 66 years I will not attend the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention – having begun attending when I was nine.¯ As many of you know, I was elected in 2017 to deliver the 2018 annual convention sermon, but I have now respectfully requested to be released from this high privilege because I do not want my role as a preacher to detract in any way from the important business of our convention and because my desire is to work toward biblical harmony at our annual meeting. Many messengers have implored me to carry out this assignment, but this convention is not about me, and I have every confidence that this decision is best and right.   

Now, may I just leave you with a challenge?  I have with stumbling step, limited ability, and stuttering tongue desired to bequeath to the world an orthodox denomination with a heart and message for a world of lost people.¯ My part is small in the amazing history of the people we call Baptists.¯ But as insignificant as it may be, I will be praying every day that you will cling to the whole Bible as the Word of the living God and at the same moment give that Word to every lost person on this globe, knowing that Christ died for all and that every man, woman, boy, and girl who comes to the Lord Jesus in saving faith will be saved. Would you join me in that endeavor?¯ Please link your hearts with Dorothy and me in expressing thanksgiving to our Lord for His abundant mercies to us all. 

REVIEW: “Ocean”s 8” and heist films: Is it OK to cheer for the bad guy?

Debbie Ocean is a criminal who comes from a long line of criminals, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Perhaps that’s because she’s good at it.

She shoplifts expensive items with ease. She steals luxurious hotel suites without anyone noticing. Her latest plan, though, could top them all. She wants to steal a $150 million necklace from New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, in broad daylight, with hundreds of onlookers, and without a single gun or bomb.

Impossible? Perhaps, but she believes her elaborate plan – contrived in prison – is foolproof.

To help her, she recruits the best and brightest in the criminal world: a hacker, a master pickpocket, and a shady jewelry expert. She also gets an old friend – a middle class mom of two children who had retired from big robberies – to assist.

If they succeed, they will be set for life.   

Ocean’s 8 (PG-13) opens this weekend, giving us an all-female version of the popular heist series that began with Ocean’s Eleven in 1960 and then re-emerged with an Ocean’s Eleven remake in 2001, followed by Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). Debbie is the brother of the saga’s Danny Ocean – and every bit as cunning.

It stars Sandra Bullock (Speed, The Blind Side) as Debbie, Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) as her friend Lou, Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) as the celebrity Daphne Kluger, Mindy Kaling (A Wrinkle In Time) as her accomplice Amita, and singer Rihanna (Home) as another accomplice, Nine Ball.

Ocean’s 8 is entertaining and funny, even if it forces us to ask the obvious question: Is it OK to enjoy a movie when we’re cheering for the thief? Ocean’s 8 also has a few content problems.

Warning: minor spoilers!

(Scale key: Minimal, moderate, extreme)


Minimal. A woman slaps a man.


Moderate. The same couple kisses twice in the film. We see a brief bedroom scene that doesn’t involve nudity but shows a woman handcuffing a man so she can have him arrested. Several women display cleavage in gala dresses. We also see nude paintings and statues in the art gallery.   

Coarse Language

Moderate. About 26 coarse words: S—t (9), OMG (6), misuse of “God” (3), misuse of “Jesus” (2), b—ch (2), a—(2), h—l (1), p—y (1).

Other Positive Elements

Despite her twisted motives, Debbie is pulled toward her family, including the memory of her deceased brother, Danny. 

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

We see drinking in a bar and smoking by one of the main characters. We hear someone vomit off camera.

Life Lessons

The cycle of crime within families can be difficult to break in the real world, and the same is true in Ocean’s 8, which demonstrates the importance of a family teaching children right from wrong. Debbie is a criminal because her family members were criminals. She apparently knows no other way to live.  


From the 1960 Ocean’s Eleven film to 1966’s How To Steal A Million to the modern-day Ocean’s series and even National Treasure, heist movies fill a unique niche. Why, though, do we cheer for the bad guys in heist movies – when in the real world we would never do such a thing? One reason is that heist movies make stealing look fun, entertaining and easy. They’ll never get caught … right? Another reason: They often make the protagonists smart and endearing, and the good guys – the police and city officials — clueless. Yet another reason is the source of the cash. Consider: Ocean’s 8 doesn’t show Debbie Ocean robbing a family’s home. Instead, she’s stealing from the rich people: the Met art gallery – an organization that has insurance to cover its losses. Most moviegoers find that easier to accept.  

For the Christian, heist movies are like doughnuts and Doritos. We know they’re not “good for us,” but they’re too delicious not to try! Ocean’s 8 is truly funny, and we do get caught up in the action, hoping that Debbie and the gang are successful in their robbery.

Viewed through a biblical worldview, heist movies are easier to accept if there’s an element of remorse, or if the protagonists get caught. I won’t tell you what happens at the end of Ocean’s 8, but some heist films do allow the moviegoer to have their cake and eat it, too.        

What Works

The heist scenes. They involve multiple players and precision timing.

What Doesn’t

For me, the ending. I like my heist movies to be more like Logan Lucky.  

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your view of heist films? When are they OK? Not OK?
  2. Do you cheer for the protagonist in heist films?
  3. What was Debbie’s motive? What role did revenge play? What does the Bible say about revenge?
  4. If Debbie and her friends were never caught, do you think they would have lived happy, guilt-free lives?

Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Ocean’s 8 is rated PG-13 for language, drug use, and some suggestive content.

Patterson attorney claims ‘misrepresentation’ of facts

FORT WORTH  An attorney for terminated Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson issued a media release late Monday afternoon (June 4) defending Patterson against alleged “wide-spread misrepresentation and misinformation.”

Among Fort Worth, Texas, attorney Shelby Sharpe’s claims:

  • “No reasonable reading of” correspondence from Patterson’s personal archives suggested former Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary student Megan Lively “reported a rape to Dr. Patterson” in 2003 when he was Southeastern’s president “and certainly not that he ignored” such a report, “as is alleged.”
  • “Dr. Patterson first learned of the charges that he allegedly did not report a rape at SEBTS during the May 22 board meeting” of Southwestern’s trustees. “Dr. Patterson’s response was that he had no recollection of a rape being reported to him.”
  • During the May 22 Southwestern trustee meeting, “Dr. Patterson explained the full context” of a 2015 email concerning a rape allegation by a female student at the Fort Worth seminary, including his alleged statement that he wanted to meet with the accuser alone to “break her down.” Patterson’s explanation was “to the apparent satisfaction of the full board, as evidenced by the fact that the full trustee board voted to name Dr. Patterson ‘president emeritus’ instead of terminating him.”
  • “Dr. Patterson flatly denies that private SEBTS archives were ever stolen,” and his personal attorney has invited Southeastern to “join with him in having Peacemakers Ministries provide an arbitrator agreeable to both parties to decide the ownership of” disputed records “in accordance with 1 Corinthians 6, which prescribes how Christians are to settle disputes rather than using the secular court system.”

Southeastern Seminary issued a June 4 statement in response to Sharpe’s release, noting “SEBTS does not believe” official communications by Patterson while he was president “were maliciously removed from the property. However, we believe there is a misunderstanding on the part of the Pattersons and their attorney as to what is owned by SEBTS under the work for hire doctrine.” Southeastern said it had not yet received a request to settle disputed documents through Peacemakers Ministries.

Baptist Press will publish an expanded report later today on the release by Patterson’s attorney and Southeastern’s response.

The full statement released by Shelby Sharpe follows.


Following is the statement released June 4 by attorney Shelby Sharpe of Fort Worth, Texas, titled, “The release of facts in response to further accusations against terminated SWBTS president Paige Patterson.”


Given the wide-spread misrepresentation and misinformation regarding Dr. Patterson, it is important to set the facts straight. Insofar as they continue to be misrepresented publicly, accurate and appropriate responses will be issued.  

This media release is in response to a release late Friday afternoon, June 1, 2018, from Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the board of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), concerning an executive committee decision of May 30, 2018, to terminate Dr. Patterson immediately.  

The sole purpose of this release is to set forth facts and to put into perspective the committee’s decision and the way in which that decision was made. 

Following is an itemization of the facts regarding the middle of the night termination made by the executive committee without all the relevant documents on which to base a decision: 

  • Chairman Ueckert states in the release that the executive committee received student records from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) that contradicted an answer Dr. Patterson gave to a trustee’s question during the full board meeting of May 22.
  • Dr. Patterson was terminated without an opportunity to see the material or to respond to it.
  • Neither Dr. Patterson nor his legal counsel was notified of the existence of this material allegedly incriminating Dr. Patterson prior to his termination.
  • To date, requests by Dr. Patterson’s legal counsel to see the material have been denied.
  • At Dr. Patterson’s request and after being made aware of the name of the Southeastern student making the accusation against Dr. Patterson, Dr. Patterson’s staff checked the terminated president’s personal archives for any related correspondence. Letters found from the accuser to Dr. Patterson appear to validate that Dr. Allan Moseley, the SEBTS Dean of Students, and not Dr. Patterson, handled the matter. The accuser also apologizes for what she called her sin and makes no mention of or reference to rape.
  • Copies of these letters were provided to Southwestern’s legal counsel on May 31, 2018.
  • Because the executive committee did not give Dr. Patterson an opportunity to respond before his termination while in Germany for a long-standing commitment, the committee did not have in hand all relevant documents on which to base its decision prior to making that decision.

Following is an itemization of the facts pertaining to the charge in the chairman’s release that Dr. Patterson lied in answer to a trustee’s question at the May 22 board meeting: 

  • The incident in question concerns a time period in which Dr. Patterson was in the process of moving to Fort Worth, Texas, from Wake Forest, North Carolina, approximately 15 years ago.
  • A personal ‘thank you’ letter to Dr. Patterson provided to Southwestern Seminary’s legal counsel plainly states that a student at SEBTS first interacted with a faculty member and then with Dr. Moseley. She thanked Dr. Patterson for being able to stay in school and for the way in which the school handled the matter.
  • No reasonable reading of the letter suggests that the student had reported a rape to Dr. Patterson and certainly not that he ignored it, as is alleged.
  • Dr. Patterson first learned of the charges that he allegedly did not report a rape at SEBTS during the May 22 board meeting. Dr. Patterson’s response was that he had no recollection of a rape being reported to him. 
  • To date, as far as we are aware, all parties with direct involvement and knowledge of the situation have stated rape was not mentioned. These individuals include the Dean of Students at SEBTS at the time, a woman assigned to meet with Mrs. Lively, and several staff members.
  • Thus, when Dr. Patterson was asked about this charge during the May 22 meeting, he did not have a recollection of any such accusation.
  • Significantly, one of the trustees sent a communication during the May 22 meeting to the SEBTS woman assigned to counsel the young woman, and this former SEBTS staff member further confirmed what Dr. Patterson shared. 

Following is an itemization of the facts in response to the accusation that an email from Dr. Patterson to the SWBTS chief of the campus security department contains a statement that is “antithetical to the core values of our faith and to SWBTS”: 

  • The fact that an isolated statement from an email is being widely distributed by SWBTS trustees without providing adequate context is unfortunate.
  • Dr. Patterson explained the full context of the statement to the apparent satisfaction of the full board, as evidenced by the fact that the full trustee board voted to name Dr. Patterson “president emeritus” instead of terminating him without salary, benefits, or residence as the executive committee later did on its own.
  • The student in question had given several different accounts of her story to authorities, school administration, and her family. Dr. Patterson was seeking to understand what actually occurred among the many contradictory statements.
  • Anyone who knows Dr. Patterson knows that he never meets alone with women without clear accountability practices in place. He preferred that there be no police presence so the young women would not feel intimidated. 

One must wonder what transformed the explanation of this statement from satisfactory at the May 22 meeting of the full board to “antithetical to core values” when considered by the executive committee May 30. 

Following is an itemization of the facts related to the accusation that Dr. Patterson failed to deliver documents belonging to SEBTS in his possession: 

  • Dr. Patterson flatly denies that private SEBTS archives were ever stolen.
  • Curiously, these accusations are now surfacing after more than 15 years, which raises the question of motive. Why raise the issue of supposed missing archives after all this time when correspondence shows that the question was raised and settled in 2004.
  • This request was actually made to Dr. Patterson’s legal counsel.
  • Dr. Patterson’s legal counsel immediately began an investigation which included contacting Dr. Chris Thompson, who supervised the transfer of Dr. Patterson’s library and personal archives from SEBTS to SWBTS.
  • Dr. Thompson provided a letter (included below) referencing what transpired. In the letter he writes emphatically that the materials transferred included no SEBTS materials.
  • Dr. Thompson had an obligation to SEBTS that no SEBTS papers leave its campus, and he attests to that in his letter. 

Following is an itemization of the facts responding to the chairman’s charge that the papers given to the SWBTS’s legal counsel are SEBTS papers: 

  • Any reasonable reading of the letters reveals that they are personal, not institutional.
  • Many officials of organizations receive ‘thank you’ letters.
  • The fact that an official responds on institutional letterhead does not change the personal nature of the letter received nor any response to it.

To resolve the dispute about the true ownership of the documents in question, Dr. Patterson’s legal counsel has requested Southeastern Seminary join with him in having Peacemakers Ministries provide an arbitrator agreeable to both parties to decide the ownership of the records in accordance with 1 Corinthians 6, which prescribes how Christians are to settle disputes rather than using the secular court system. So far, SEBTS has not accepted this request.  

While confident that no SEBTS documents were taken, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson are glad for SEBTS to have copies of any appropriate correspondence that they are unable to locate.

It is regrettable that these matters have been handled in the manner that they were. Had Dr. and Mrs. Patterson been included in the process and given an opportunity to respond, a much more amicable and less public outcome could have been achieved.  

Letter by Chris Thompson, referenced above.

South River Baptist Church

May 31, 2018

To Whom it May Concern:

In 2003, while serving as Special Assistant to the President, I assisted Dr. and Mrs. Patterson in the move from Southeastern Seminary to Southwestern Seminary. This relocation involved the packing of the Patterson’s personal belongings, their expansive library, their personal files, archived material related to the Conservative Resurgence and the Southern Baptist Convention, and the T.A. Patterson historical collection. I was employed by SEBTS and had access to all locations where these items were located. All materials were loaded into a tractor trailer and two 20 foot Ryder trucks.

Office staff at Magnolia Hill and in the President’s Office identified and boxed files that were to be moved to Southwestern in the weeks leading up to the move. Material consider relevant to SEBTS was not taken. Archival material not related to SEBTS was collected from Appleby Hall. The T.A. Patterson historical collection and other archival material related to the Conservative Resurgence were collected from the archival room in the SEBTS library. All items were collected on a Friday and Saturday during office hours and loaded for shipment.

I continued employment at SEBTS until the end of August 2003 and began work at Southwestern Seminary in September of 2003.

Contrary to allegations, nothing was stolen. No building or rooms were broken into to acquire the material. Everything taken was considered as material belonging to Dr. and Mrs. Patterson.

Dr. Chris Thompson
2659 S. Chipley Ford Rd
Statesville, NC 28625

Reprinted from Baptist Press (, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

It”s preaching time: Why the gospel should be in every sermon

If you’ve been in ministry any length of time, then you know there are some times we just get it wrong. We exegete a text wrongly, use a joke that is not helpful or even distracts, or we jump on a “soapbox” and go in a direction that has nothing to do with the Scriptures we’re preaching. However, there is one faithful act that preachers should be doing that I believe they’ll never have to apologize for. That is preaching the gospel in every sermon. On the day you stand before your king to give an account for how you shepherded his sheep, you most likely won’t have to say, “Jesus, I am truly sorry. I know that I preached the gospel too many times. I shouldn’t have done that.” As ministers of the gospel, if there is something that we should strive to overdo, let it be preaching the gospel.

The longer I follow Jesus, the more I realize I’ll never mature past the gospel. You see, you never grow past the gospel, but hopefully you’re constantly maturing in the gospel. Our preaching should reflect this as well. As we grow and mature in faithfully delivering God’s Word to God’s people, week in and week out, we should mature in how we weave the gospel into every message.

In context, every Scripture expects to be preached in light of the gospel. Every preacher should have expectations upon themselves to deliver the gospel every week to church members that should expect to receive it, understand it and live it out in their daily lives.

Here are at least four reasons why church members should expect the gospel in every sermon:

Hopefully, there are non-Christians in the crowd. Sadly, through my years of ministry I’ve heard church members from all different kinds of churches say, “Our pastor is always asking us to invite lost people to come to church with us. However, when we do, he never shares the gospel.” As preachers, if we’re expecting church members to bring lost people, they should expect us to clearly communicate how their lost guests can be found. If we take sharing the gospel seriously every weekend, then our congregants will take seriously the task of inviting the lost to hear it.

You’re training church members how to share the gospel. As a pastor, I often did what any other pastor would do: I encouraged church members to regularly share their faith with their lost friends, neighbors and co-workers. That is the mission of the church — to be making disciples that make disciples. The doorway into discipleship is believing the gospel message and surrendering to Jesus. We expect our people to share their faith, but we never teach them how to do it. Obviously, this isn’t the only evangelism training we should be doing, but one of the ways people can learn how to clearly explain the gospel is by hearing their pastor do it every week at some point in the sermon. Each one of us can tend to be parrots at times; we repeat what we hear over and over. If you want your members to repeat the gospel, then let them hear it from you over and over and over again.

What we celebrate is what we’re communicating as most important. This is one of the simplest principles in any church, ministry, or even business. Whatever you celebrate is what you’re telling people is most important to you. If your church mainly celebrates the budget and offering, then people will evaluate your success and failures based on the bottom dollar. As a leader, if you’re mainly celebrating the worship attendance, then the congregation will be discipled into believing that is the measure of success – numbers up means God is blessing, numbers down must mean that God is not pleased and it may be time for a new pastor. However, communicating the gospel and celebrating the lives that are being transformed by it every week is telling your congregation that this is the most important thing we could be doing. Celebrate faithfulness and obedience in proclaiming the gospel. As the church, this is why we exist.

Every command is now in response to the gospel. As New Testament Christians, everything we’re commanded to do in Scripture is in response to what Christ first did for us. For example, we forgive because he first forgave us, we love because he first loved us, and we lay down our anger because he absorbed the Father’s wrath for us. It’s the same with any sermon. Whatever the subject matter of the text is, it must be preached in the light of the gospel. The text may call for a sermon on stewardship. Yet we cannot truly understand biblical generosity unless we personally know the generous Savior. Proper exegesis may call for missions, however, biblical missions calls for us to know and point the world to the Son of God who first took a mission trip from heaven to earth to be a suffering Savior. Every sermon should point to the Savior! Simply put, preach every text with integrity and preach every text in the light of the gospel.

In the town where I live, there are many different churches and most are known for something. There’s the inward-focused church, the “deep” church, the political church, the entertaining church, the hipster church, and so on. If by God’s grace your church was known as the gospel-proclaiming church, that wouldn’t be so bad would it?

Many pastors criticize me for taking the gospel so seriously. But do they really think that on judgment day, Christ will chastise me, saying, ‘Leonard, you took me too seriously’?”

Leonard Ravenhill

Shane Pruitt is the evangelism director for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

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REVIEW: “Adrift” is a survival flick with plenty of lessons about life

Tami Oldham is a cheerful 20-something woman who doesn’t have a profession, but that’s OK. She’s going to travel the world anyway.

Her current stop is the Pacific island of Tahiti, where she makes money from odd jobs so that she can get to the “next place” and discover her next adventure.

Don’t expect her to go back to her home city of San Diego, either. She’s going there only after she’s circled the globe.   

It seems like a tall task until she meets a young British man named Richard, who has a sailboat and who also has a passion for travel on the high seas. They fall in love and decide to embark on an adventure across the Pacific – an adventure that could be the beginning of a lifetime together.

Of course, life rarely goes as planned. They sail into a hurricane. Then their boat is capsized. Then Richard goes missing and the inexperienced Tami is forced to fight for survival while she searches the water for her companion.

Adrift (PG-13) opens this weekend, giving us a drama made more exciting because it is based on the true story of a 1983 tragedy that occurred during Hurricane Raymond.

It stars Shailene Woodley (the Divergent trilogy) as Tami and Sam Claflin (Me Before You, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) as Richard, and was directed by Baltasar Kormákur, who also helmed the nature-related films Everest and The Deep.

Adrift is but the latest ocean-survival movie out of Hollywood, following 47 Meters Down (2017), The Shallows (2016), and The Finest Hours (2016). But in this film, there are no sharks and no huge explosions as found in those earlier films. Instead, we have a woman determined not to die alone at sea. That type of story always attracts me, and this time it carries with it plenty of discussion questions. More on that in a moment.  

Warning: minor spoilers!

(Scale key: Minimal, moderate, extreme)


Moderate. We see the sailboat capsize, and then we see Tami and Richard’s injuries. Tami has head wounds including a gash to the head, while Richard has an open wound on his shin. We see Tami stitch up her own wound and we watch her treat Richard’s gash.


Moderate. Tami wears bikinis and a one-piece swimsuit during the film, although the camera doesn’t ogle her figure. She and Richard share a few kisses, but there are no bedroom scenes. They get engaged in the middle of their voyage. We also briefly see Tami partially nude during a heavy rain, post-hurricane.   

Coarse Language

Moderate. About 16 coarse words:  OMG (8), misuse of “God” (2), s—t (2), d—n (1), f-word (1),  misuse of “Christ” (1) and h-ll (1).

Other Positive Elements

Despite her inexperience, Tami shows the moxie needed to pilot the boat and survive. There’s little talk about spiritual matters, although in referencing a specific flower she tells Richard that “God put these on earth to mask the smell” of trash.  

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

Tami smokes. We also see she and Richard drink wine. We hear her throw up (We see only a glimpse of it). We learn that Richard’s mom committed suicide when he was seven.

Life Lessons

Adrift delivers lessons on the will to survive, determination and human ingenuity.

“We can do this!” she says at the beginning, not knowing what to expect next.

Also, Tami sees purpose in the wreck – even going so far as to say she doesn’t regret it happening. Adrift isn’t a Christian movie, but finding the good in the bad (Romans 8:28) has its foundation in Scripture.


Tami Oldham isn’t the first person to float through her 20s, searching for what’s important in life. She simply learned the lesson in a unique way.

At the beginning of the film she lives life with abandon and risk, seemingly requiring a constant adrenaline rush to live. Sure, Tahiti is fine, but she wants to get to the next stop and the next island. After she jumps off a dangerous cliff, Richard tells her, “I’ve never met anyone like you.”

She wanted to sail the world, but it took her being stranded at sea for 40-plus days to appreciate the simple things in life: water, food and family. Oh yeah, and peanut butter.

The movie also includes a not-so-subtle message about the need for a good home life. Neither Tami nor Richard had a normal childhood. Tami’s mom took her to a bar at age 16. Richard’s mother killed herself. Were Tami and Richard sailing the world to escape their sad and abnormal upbringing? The movie certainly implies that.

What Works

The movie’s use of flashbacks to tell the story of Tami and Richard. Instead of telling the story chronologically, the movie tells us about them little by little, through flashbacks.

Also, the makeup department deserves an award. Actress Shailene Woodley really did look like she’d been at sea for 41 days.

What Doesn’t

The ending. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t crazy about it, either. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think Tami wanted to sail the world instead of settling down at home?
  2. What did Tami discover about life during her time at sea?
  3. Why do you think Tami said she didn’t regret meeting Richard?  
  4. What did you think about the ending?

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Rated PG-13 for injury images, peril, language, brief drug use, partial nudity and thematic elements.