Lawless calls Southern Baptists to committed prayer for GCR

With the report from the Great Commission Task Force in the early stages of implementation, Chuck Lawless urges Southern Baptists to steadfast prayer.

In his "First Person" commentary featured at Baptist Press, Lawless states that now that the Southern Baptist Convention is several months removed from the adoption of the Great Commission Task Force report, prayer should "not decrease; it must only increase." Lawless is the dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

"To stop praying now is to retreat from the power of God when the hard work for our churches and denomination is really just beginning," Lawless writes. "Great Commission praying should not be difficult, however. We know that the Word on which we stand resounds with the Great Commission mandate."

Lawless calls upon Southern Baptists to redeem their time by using their daily activities - such as reading the newspaper, listening to the radio and walking about their neighborhoods - to spur them on to prayer. He writes:

As you go through the day, listen closely. Listen for stories of anguish, and offer prayer for wounded people. If you listen to radio talk shows, pray for callers and hosts who verbalize something less than a Christian worldview. Listen for foreign languages spoken, a clear sign that God is bringing the world to us. Allow the stories and the voices you hear direct you to pray for those who need to know Jesus.

Lawless' entire commentary, "Great Commission praying," can be found at the Baptist Press Web site.


ICYFM will host panel on youth ministry

The International Center for Youth and Family Ministry (ICYFM) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will host a panel discussion Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 10 a.m. The panel, "Leadership in Youth Ministry: Expectations of a Youth Pastor," will provide an inside look at all that goes along with serving as a youth pastor in a local church body.

Panel members include the following: Gary Almon, associate director of the ICYFM and pastor of students and families at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky.; Jason Barrineau, middle school pastor at The People's Church in Franklin, Tenn.; Scott Dishong, pastor of student ministries at Graceland Baptist Church in New Albany, Ind.; Phil Rice, student pastor at Shively Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.; and Greg Schwab, student minister at Ballardsville Baptist Church in Crestwood, Ky.

David Adams, executive director of ICYFM and professor for youth ministry at Southern Seminary, will serve as moderator.

In addition to the discussion, audience members will have the opportunity to ask the panel questions concerning youth and family ministry.

The panel discussion will take place at the Legacy Center in Room 303.

The International Center for Youth and Family Ministry exists to recruit, train, place and network with churches and youth ministers across the globe to see youth and their families changed by the Gospel. More information on ICYFM can be found at


Sept. 20 Towers: Calvin’s influence continues; Refo500 comes to SBTS; and Ezell elected as NAMB president

The Sept. 20 "Towers" takes on the Reformation and why it remains such a vital and influential event nearly 500 years later. In anticipation of the Sept. 27-28 Refo500 conference taking place at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the publication explores the when, where, why and "so what?" of the Reformation and its continued influence upon theology and culture.

  • Contributing writer Jeff Robinson considers the formative role Genevan reformer and theologian John Calvin played in the shaping of Western society and culture since the time of the Reformation, highlighting 10 major areas of influence still evident today (page 4).
  • Robinson, in an additional piece, surveys some of the "must-have" books for a beginner's library on the Reformation (pages 10 and 11).
  • What is Refo500? That is the question "Towers" editor Aaron Cline Hanbury seeks to answer in his piece on the mission and focus of the Refo500 organization. The article includes excerpts from Hanbury's conversation with David Hall, North American director of the Refo500 project (pages 3 and 6).
  • David Puckett, professor of church history and associate vice president for doctoral studies, examines in his essay the somewhat overlooked Latin phrase of the Reformation—lectio continua (page 5).
  • The North American Mission Board elected Kevin Ezell, alumnus and adjunct professor of Southern Seminary, as its new president. Ezell states that his focus as president will be upon planting Gospel-centered churches (page 7).

Other content in the next "Towers" includes:

  • contributing writer Robert Sagers writing of his encounter with the wisdom of Christ in Zimbabwe (page 6);
  • an SBTS student and pastor working with his church and community to fend off a pornography retailer's influence (page 5);
  • a Southern Story featuring T. Vaughn Walker, WMU professor of Christian ministries and professor of black church studies at SBTS (page 9); and
  • Daniel Harman, missional team leader for Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Louisville, answering "Three Questions" (page 16).

Southern Story: Temple pursues calling for youth ministry

As a future engineer, he really "had what it takes" to make it as a light for the Gospel in that professional field. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte seemed the perfect place to train for such a vocation. But he didn't.

"I [couldn't] get away from God calling me to the full-time youth ministry."

Troy Temple, associate dean for master's studies; assistant professor of youth and family ministry; School of Church Ministries youth ministry coordinator; and associate director of the International Center for Youth and Family Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary could not shake his burden for adolescents as a high school senior looking to attend college. Because of his decision to pursue a life teaching and training youth, Temple chose to enroll at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., to train for youth ministry.

Prior to coming to Southern, Temple spent 18 years in local church ministry. And even now, he balances his time in the academy by serving in interim capacities as a conference and retreat speaker as well as other outlets for serving the local church. But now teaching at SBTS, Temple certainly has not forgotten his original passion, and thus he teaches theology and method of youth ministry to future youth and family pastors.

"Teaching youth ministry has been tied to my calling in youth ministry," Temple said.

"Ultimately, I teach because it's an extreme expression on the discipleship mandate we've been given. That's what has always driven me back to the to the academy and back to the institution for training is the deep impact and the multiplicative result and fruit that you see in discipling leaders and training leaders for the church." 

Temple strongly believes in the "multiplicative" results of teaching. By training students who then faithfully teach and train adolescents, some of whom will also desire to work with youth, the first teacher has the opportunity to impact multiple generations toward learning and embracing the Gospel.

"The end of youth ministry is to equipping leaders who are able to develop culturally appropriate methods and programs whereby every adolescent in their community can hear the Gospel and have the opportunity to spiritually mature and respond," Temple said.

As a ministry coordinator and Center for Youth Ministry director, Temple maintains various administrative roles and responsibilities. And though these tasks may seem tedious to some people, Temple embraces his work as a direct result of his mentors' advice.

"One of the things I have learned from several of the mentors in my life is that if you're going to be involved in something, and you have an opportunity to lead it-you might as well lead it, which is one of the reasons I enjoy being in the administrative side of what I do," Temple said.

Among those influences, is David E. Adams, professor of youth ministry and executive director of the International Center for Youth and Family Ministry at Southern Seminary, who taught Temple as an undergraduate student at Liberty. Adams and Temple now serve the seminary as colleagues. And like many people, Temple strongly benefits from reading and studying some the impactful twentieth century Christian thinkers.

"A lot of who I am is shaped by Francis Schaeffer [and] C. S. Lewis," Temple said. "[There is also a] deep impact on my life by Jerry Falwell."

Unlike thinkers Schaeffer and Lewis, Falwell has affected the Temple family in profound ways that shape who they are as a family.

"It's no secret to anyone around me, how God has blessed our family through the miracle of adoption - our two daughters," Temple said. "It was through the ministry there in Lynchburg."

Through one of the organizations established by Falwell and Liberty University, Temple and his wife had the opportunity and privilege of adopting their two daughters. Temple pointedly attributes the work and ministry of Falwell as the means by which God brought the Temple family together.

When not spending time with his family or obsessing about all things youth, Temple has time for only one thing: University of North Carolina basketball. As a native of North Carolina, and a lifelong Tarheels fan, Temple's office is seasoned with baby blue tributes to his favorite sport. Beyond office decorum, UNC basketball even finds its way into Temple's classes.

"My students know that an extra credit question is going to come that has something to do with Carolina basketball," Temple admitted.

In addition to studying and teaching youth ministry, and of course following UNC basketball, Temple also possesses keen insight into life after death.

"I think Third Day will probably play in heaven," Temple said.


Three Questions with Steve Farish

For the latest edition of "Towers," Managing Editor Aaron Cline Hanbury had the opportunity to speak with Stephen J. Farish, senior pastor of Crossroads Church in Grayslake, Ill.

You've pastored men like Wayne Grudem and Tom Nettles. How do you approach pastoring men who have themselves contributed to your own theological education?

God has granted me the amazing privilege of serving as pastor to great teachers of his Word. I thank the Lord that they have been men of genuine humility, so much so that they were anxious to learn from a preacher somewhat younger and certainly substantially less knowledgeable about the Bible than they. Godly men like Drs. Nettles and Grudem have the teachable spirit that the book of Proverbs commends to us (2:15; 19:20; etc.). In the end, I found that serving as pastor to great teachers of the Bible in many ways is like serving other Christians as shepherd of their souls (1 Pt. 5:1-4). All Christians are different and have particular needs related to their individual circumstances. However, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we also have certain needs in common. Great teachers of the Bible still need to grow in their knowledge and wisdom of the Word of God, just like all other believers. Great teachers of the Bible still need to grow in the sanctification the Holy Spirit works under the authority of the preached word. They still need preachers who rightly divide the Word of God, so that the Lord convicts their hearts of sin and righteousness, and so that the Holy Spirit gives them direction for their lives.

I must also say, however, that when the Lord providentially plants a great Christian teacher under a pastor's care, that pastor should take advantage of every opportunity the Lord brings to learn from that teacher as well. It consistently amazed me how generous Drs. Nettles and Grudem were with their time, given that they are two incredibly busy men. Because of their generosity, the Lord has blessed me with a deeper and, I think, more biblically faithful practice of pastoral ministry.

Whose preaching, heard or read, has most affected you during your years pastoring?

There are many preachers from whom I have learned the past 15 years, including the two men mentioned above, who in addition to being great teachers of the word, are also great preachers.  However, I would say that the two men from whom I have learned the most about preaching are John Piper and Jonathan Edwards. From Dr. Piper I have drawn the lessons of faithful and deep biblical exposition and preaching with God-given passion, as if life and death depended on the preached word, precisely because life and death dohang on the preached word. Jonathan Edwards has set for the rest of us preachers the example of a heart set on fire by the beauty and glory of the living God. Edwards has taught us the desperate need we preachers have for the grace of the Holy Spirit to stir the affections of our hearers as we preach. Edwards also has left to us preachers the heritage of faithfulness to Scripture above all else, even when it means loss of a position and great suffering. I should also mentioned with thanksgiving that I trained 20 years ago under a man committed to expository preaching-Rev. Jim Wood-and from him I learned how to apply the Word faithfully to the life of congregation and to the glory of God.

What's playing on the radio while you drive into work?

I have to confess I do not generally listen to Christian radio, though I am certainly grateful to the Lord for much of it. Classical music is what the Lord uses as balm for my soul, especially baroque music, and particularly the music of J.S. Bach. I hope the Lord places me in the corner of heaven where Bach is leading the choir, and they are singing his famous church-service cantatas.


Southern professor offers perspective on hell

So what’s the deal with hell? And why is it necessary to the Christian faith? In the latest edition of 9Marks eJournal, “Hell: Remembering the Awful Reality,” contributing authors seek to come to terms with such questions about Christ-less eternity, including The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s own James M. Hamilton Jr.

In his article, Hamilton, associate professor of biblical theology, deals with the question stated in the title “How Does Hell Glorify God?” Hamilton considers how hell fits into the biblical storyline. If, as the Bible teaches, God is just and human beings are unjust, one can begin to see why the reality of hell proves necessary to resolve the issue of God’s justice. Hamilton writes the following:

Hell is about God keeping his word. That God sends the wicked to hell shows God to be faithful and just. If God does not enforce the terms he has set, he does not keep his word and he is unfaithful. If he does not send the wicked to hell, he has not upheld his own righteous standard and he has not been just. If he does not punish rebels in hell, the righteous are not vindicated. In fact, if there is no hell, we might conclude that the righteous were wrong for having trusted God.

The article can be read in its entirety at the 9Marks eJournal Web page. There, readers will also find articles related to the doctrine and reality of hell by such authors as Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, Greg Gilbert and others.


Mohler announces podcast, SBTS launches iPad giveaway

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reenters the public dialogue, launching two new podcasts "The Briefing" and "Thinking in Public" available Tuesday, Sept. 7.

"The Briefing" will enable Christians to think biblically about the world by providing daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations.

"Thinking in Public" will act as an interview forum for intelligent conversation about frontline theological and cultural issues.

Southern Seminary is launching an iPad giveaway on Wednesday, Sept. 1, to promote Dr. Mohler’s new podcasts “Thinking in Public” and “The Briefing.” Subscriptions are available through The contest is open from Wednesday, Sept. 1, to Tuesday, Sept. 7.

There are two ways to enter the iPad giveaway. One, follow SBTS on Twitter, and then look for an SBTS tweet that mentions the iPad giveaway and re-tweet to your followers. Two, from the Albert Mohler Facebook fan page click "like" on the "Thinking in Public" and "The Briefing" video.

The winner will be notified through an SBTS Twitter announcement and an announcement on the Albert Mohler Facebook fan page. 

For more on the new podcasts, visit More information on the iPad giveaway is available here.


“Thinking in Public” iPad giveaway, details and rules

Southern Seminary is launching an iPad giveaway on Wednesday, Sept. 1, to promote Dr. Mohler's new podcasts "Thinking in Public" and "The Briefing." Subscriptions are available through Contest is open from Wednesday, Sept. 1, to Tuesday, Sept. 7.

There are two ways to enter the iPad giveaway. One, follow SBTS on Twitter, Look for an SBTS tweet that mentions the iPad giveaway and re-tweet to your followers. Two, from the Albert Mohler Facebook fan page click "like" on the "Thinking in Public" and "The Briefing video."

The winner will be notified through an SBTS Twitter announcement and/or an announcement on the Albert Mohler Facebook fan page.

Anyone is eligible to enter the giveaway. You may use the Twitter re-tweet entry method once per day during the duration of the promotion. An individual may only use the Facebook fan page entry method once.

For more on the new podcasts, visit


FLAME launches new record label


Hip-hop artist Marcus Gray, known as FLAME, launched his own record label Sunday, Aug. 1. The Grammy-nominated rapper, who is a school of theology student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, started Clear Sight Music to fill a void in Christian hip-hop industry, and to provide an opportunity for new artists to further the momentum of this conservative movement.

“I’m excited about [Clear Sight Music] because the heart-beat of it is holistic,” FLAME said. “We want to see people converted, we want to see people discipled, we want to see people enjoying good art, and then we want to see people join the local church.”

Clear Sight Music will seek to produce quality art that will edify believers and speak the Gospel to unbelievers. FLAME is adamant about the theological and missiological nature of his new label.

“Thinking about the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations … taking that concept and thinking through the way God has shaped me and the circle of influence he placed me in growing up; thinking about that people group, sometimes called ‘hip-hoppers:’ it’s a culture. The Lord has saved me out of that culture, but I’ve submitted my life to Christ, and now my goal is to be missional, to be on duty as it relates to sharing the Gospel,” FLAME said.

“[The label] is unique because it’s not just a business, not just a label. It’s a ministry that can serve alongside the local church.

“Primarily God’s means of [spreading the Gospel and discipling] is the local church. Nevertheless, as a member of the local church, God has equipped me with certain skills and talents to come along side [the church] with a record label that actually perpetuates the Great Commission,” FLAME said.

Because hip-hop has grown in popularity during the past several years, in every cultural demographic, this new record label will help spread the Gospel around the world. FLAME’s desire for Clear Sight Music is that it serve as a conduit for Gospel-centered, missional artists to minister to the world with hip-hop music.

“Ultimately we point [listeners] back to the local church,” FLAME said.

A new, unique record label affords the best opportunity for FLAME to further his ministry in producing Gospel-centric art and equipping new artists to do the same.

“There is a unique spin [on Clear Sight Music] by my having a love for biblical counseling. My goal is to infiltrate the music industry, as well as the arts in general with the Gospel. So I am thinking beyond music to curriculum and conferences. That way, the momentum from an album can funnel everything back to the local church. So in that way Clear Sight Music is unique,” FLAME said.

“I [also] think about expanding. There are maybe three record labels [who are of] like-mindedness, but their rosters are full. They’re doing great work, but the doors are pretty much closed [to new artists],” FLAME said. “So in my mind, Clear Sight is coming along side these [labels] and we’re expanding. We’re furthering the Kingdom at Clear Sight by starting a new entity through which we can sign new artists and perpetuate the Gospel to a new set of people.

“We [will] look for [artists] … who are filled with the Spirit and with wisdom. We want to find the right men or women … who can articulate the Gospel, love Jesus, love people and hate sin, and then give them a platform.”

Clear Sight Music will look to bring the light of the Gospel to the often dark world of hip-hip culture.

“Everyday [rap music] pumps people with a worldview. What we’ll do at Clear Sight Music is seek to word Gospel truth the way the hip-hop culture needs to hear it,” FLAME said. “We want to see the Great Commission fleshed out.”

Clear Sight Music has officially launched its Web page with information, resources and even a music player at Fans and supports can also follow Clear Sight on Twitter at


Attend Refo500, earn SBTS class credit

The effects of the Reformation remain with us to this day; in fact, the world has been shaped and formed in far-reaching ways by the legacy of the Reformation. 

Southern Seminary will host the first North American conference for Refo500, a global project to direct attention toward 2017 and the quincentenary of the beginning of the Reformation. The conference, titled "Celebration Reformation: Challenges and Chances between Now and 2017," will take place Sept. 27-28, on Southern Seminary's campus. Featured speakers include R. Albert Mohler Jr., Timothy George, Joel Beeke, Peter Lillback, Herman Selderhuis, David Hall, and others. For more conference information, call 502-897-4072 or visit

Southern Seminary students can earn course credit by attending Refo500. Students should register for course #27177: "Studies in Theology: Reformation Theology and Piety" with Michael Haykin. This course is an intensive study of the magisterial Reformation in Germany, Switzerland, France and England, its main events and figures, its theology and piety. Each student is expected to attend eight class lectures on Friday, Sept. 24, and Monday, Sept. 27, and the entirety of the Refo500 conference. Students will also be responsible for three post-course assignments. 

If you have questions on course #27177, please contact Academic Records at 502-897-4209 or