Chad and Marsha Hardbargers have been named recipients of a 2014 Angels in Adoption award. They will receive the award designated for outstanding advocacy of adoption and foster care issues during a special ceremony on Sept. 16 and a gala on Sept. 17 in Washington DC.
Newly-elected IMB President David Platt speaks to trustees about his passion for taking the Gospel to unreached peoples during the Aug. 26-27 board meeting near Richmond, Va.
With his wife Heather and their four children by his side, David Platt addresses IMB trustees for the first time as the youngest president in the organization's history, during the Aug. 26-27 board meeting near Richmond, Va. Platt, 36, said he is "honored, humbled and overwhelmed" by his new role, but also "exhilarated" by the possibilities ahead.
Mike Johnson, president of Freedom Guard legal ministry, told more than 100 pastors gathered at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church that while they are the ground troops in the culture war, his ministry is the legal air cover.
Students at a high school, northwest of Oklahoma City, gather for the annual See You at the Pole global day of student prayer. Students shared photos, including this one, on Facebook and Twitter.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

SHREVEPORT – Spend a few minutes with Chad and Marsha Hardbarger and you’ll notice their passion for adoption and foster care.

After all, they not only talk the talk but walk the walk.

Since 2005, the Louisiana Baptist couple has cared for 14 children in foster care, six of who they eventually adopted. They could add a seventh adoption should an infant not reunite with her birth family.

By Erich Bridges, IMB Global Correspondent

ROCKVILLE, Va. (BP) -- David Platt was elected president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board today (Aug. 27) by board trustees, meeting at the IMB's International Learning Center in Rockville, Va.

By David Roach and Art Toalston, Baptist Press

ROCKVILLE, Va. (BP) -- Newly elected International Mission Board President David Platt wants to convince the "scores" of "totally disengaged" Southern Baptist churches that their best opportunity to reach the nations for Christ involves cooperating with fellow Baptists at the associational, state convention and Southern Baptist Convention levels, he said in a telephone press conference with some 15 members of the media today (Aug. 27).

By Mark H. Hunter, Regional Reporter

GREENWELL SPRINGS – More than 100 Baton Rouge area pastors, church leaders and several elected officials, including U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R- La., met at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church on Aug. 19, to stand against the corruption of the culture – especially during the upcoming election cycle.

By Staff, Baptist Message

NEW ORLEANS – The United States Supreme Court made headlines this summer with a pair of decisions that dealt with religious liberty and free speech.

One upheld the ability of Hobby Lobby as a privately held company to exclude certain healthcare coverage that owners deem contrary to their religious convictions.

The other decision struck down a Massachusetts law that set a 35-foot buffer zone around entrances to abortion clinics.

By Michael Foust, Editor, writer who blogs on parenting, fatherhood at michaelfoust.com

I remember my first big-time football game as if it were yesterday. I was 13, sitting beside my dad and a friend in a huge stadium.

The game, though, didn’t go as I had hoped, and a loss seemed certain — when something amazing happened. With only four seconds left, my team’s kicker booted a 51-yard field goal that tied the game, and we all went wild.

It was a college game and there was no overtime back then, but we rode home feeling as if our team had won the Super Bowl.

By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor

PINEVILLE – An anticipated contentious fall meeting on Sept 16 of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees never materialized.

While the proceedings did begin with some measure of drama with the resignations of three of its members, it quickly transitioned into a deliberate discussion of LC’s probationary status and reports dealing with the current state of the school.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

BOSSIER CITY – On a day when the nation remembered the events of Sept. 11, 2001, more than 40 Louisiana Baptist pastors and laymen gathered for a focused day of prayer for the nation and much more.

By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor

PINEVILLE – Three Louisiana College trustees resigned from the board during the Sept. 16 meeting held on the Pineville campus. Two others tendered their resignations shortly after the meeting.

The five resigned, in part, in response to the trustees re-election of Tommy French, trustee from Baton Rouge, as chaiman of the board.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

BURLESON, Texas – Rick Eubanks could sense God moving mightily in the fall of 1989 among the teenagers at a Texas church where he served as minister of music and youth.

He never imagined that God would use the youth group to start one the largest student-led prayer gatherings around school flagpoles in the country – See You At The Pole.

By Staff, Baptist Message

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — David Hankins and Steve Lemke are among the 34 scholars and professionals who have been appointed as research fellows for the new Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s Research Institute.

This new Research Institute and its fellows will assist the ERLC in its mission by producing a variety of materials to equip Southern Baptists and churches to engage ethical and cultural issues of the day.

By Hannah Boggs, Message Staff Writer

Christianity has had an instrumental role in the founding of this country despite what some would want us to believe.

It was and still is deeply intertwined in the makeup of these United States.

For 10 days in late July, a select group of students and young leaders from Louisiana had the chance to witness firsthand the origins and locations of America’s founding.

By Hannah Fleming, Message Staff Writer

SHREVEPORT – Sixteen-year-old Matthew Davidson is not your average teenager.

This award-winning vocalist and guitarist is rapidly becoming known for his musical talents as well as his uplifting lyrics which seems to touch people’s lives.

The Shreveport native began his music career “eight years ago and simply fell in love with it.”

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS – After more than 20 consecutive losses in the federal courts, traditional marriage finally posted a win on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ruled in New Orleans on Wednesday that Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage can stand. The ruling is the first time a ban in a state on lesbian and gay marriages has been upheld since the Supreme Court ruled against part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

BOSSIER CITY – Duck Commander Phil Robertson, wife Kay and son Alan returned to Bossier City for a homecoming of sorts recently, complete with duck calls and a call to salvation before more than 8,000 people.

By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor

Designated giving for any organization that depends on donations from individuals and/or businesses is a double-edge sword. While designated gifts do have their place in a non-profit organization, they can also be the death knell, especially for a church.

Designated money, for the uninitiated, is money specified to only be spent for that which the giver has designated. If the money is spent in other ways, it is not only unethical it is also illegal.

By Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Many are aware that Dr. David Platt was not my choice for the presidency of the IMB. But the presidential selection committee has assured us that at the end of the intercessory road, Dr. Platt is God’s choice.

Platt will be confirmed by the Board, so he is the next president of the IMB. Therefore, it is time for a burial. All critics beginning with me, must bury our reservations and get on our knees in behalf of this talented young man who now assumes this role.

By Bart Barber, Pastor First Baptist Church Farmersville, Texas

The International Mission Board recently announced that Dr. David Platt is the new President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I had opposed his election. He now has my support. Here’s why:

1. According to our system, I had my say.

The trustees had the opportunity to give full consideration to the questions that I raised. I trust that they did so.

I do not regret having raised these concerns, but I respect our system of polity.

By Joe McKeever, Retired Pastor, Author New Orleans

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (Galatians 5:9).

Take care of the little things.

In art, the difference between mediocre and masterful is often attention to details.

In wartime, attention to the little things can mean surviving.

I wonder if Goliath thought something like this in that millisecond before he expired: “This cannot be happening; a giant like me; a champion of warriors – massive and mighty, undaunted and undefeated – taken down by a kid with a rock in a sling.”

To the Editor

I thought Mr. McKeever’s article, “Here’s my candidate for hypocrite of the year” [Baptist Message, Aug. 14], was outstanding and should be read by every Baptist.

There is one other one I think is important and I would like to relate a story about it.

In my younger days I was an avid football fan.  More specifically I was an LSU fan. 

By Bob Stith, Founder of Family & Gender Issues Ministry, Southlake, Texas

It has been over 60 years but I still remember Jimmy.

My family was going through a time of turmoil and a long string of moves necessitating yet another new school. I don’t remember the name of any other classmate nor the name of my teacher, so why do I remember Jimmy so vividly?

Jimmy was a bully. I was his target on only a couple of occasions and I was always conscious of his presence.

By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor

Quick, name a player who is on a National Football League practice squad other than Michael Sam. Unless you are a professional football geek, or a player from your college alma mater is on a 10-member scout squad, you don’t know any.

Now ask yourself this question, “Why do you know Michael Sam?” It is because he publically announced his homosexual lifestyle following his senior season at the University of Missouri. It was reported that Sam told his teammates prior to the beginning of the 2013 season.

By Matthew Fowler, Pastor in Kentucky

I was in the first year of my first pastorate when things unraveled. I had experienced a few rough patches in previous ministry roles, but nothing to kill my dreams and make me question my calling.

I was familiar with stories of petty pastoral terminations and “difficult deacons,” but I was convinced that it wouldn’t happen to me, at least not at this church. A phone call changed all of that.

I was out of town performing a friend’s wedding when a man from my church called very troubled about an issue.

By Darrell Girardier, Digital Strategy Director Brentwood Baptist Church

As a kid I grew up listening to preachers on the radio like John MacArthur and Charles Stanley. It wasn’t a weekly thing, but occasionally on the weekend you might find one of their sermons on the house stereo. If I wanted to listen to more of their sermons, I had to either tune in at a certain time or order their sermons on cassette or CD.

By Chuck Lawless, Grad Studies, Ministry at SEBTS

Our Southern Baptist Convention president, Ronnie Floyd, has called us to pray for spiritual awakening. This call is the right one for a convention that exhibits marks of decline even as we seek to determine the best steps into the future.

The fact that our president must call us to pray for awakening says something about us, however. We do not readily recognize the need for an awakening, and our track record says we need to pray fervently for a mighty move of God.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

PINEVILLE – In a little more than a week Louisiana Baptist ministers and laypersons will gather at First Baptist Pineville for the sixth annual E4 Preaching Conference.

This year’s main speaker is South Carolina pastor Don Wilton. The pastor of First Baptist Spartanburg, S.C., will bring messages during the conference’s three sessions.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

John Hebert isn’t a physician but he has diagnosed the condition of Louisiana Baptist church planting as extremely healthy.

So far this year, 22 churches have been planted through the end of August, thanks in part to support from the Cooperative Program and the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering. 

Hebert expects that total to rise to 30 by the end of 2014. Last year, 16 new churches were planted in the state. Those new church starts in 2014 have reported 223 baptisms and 1,084 professions of faith.

By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor

PINEVILLE – In a June 19 news release, Louisiana College announced the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission of Colleges (SACS-COC) had placed the college on probation.

A letter dated July 9 from the accrediting agency to the college detailing the reasons for the school being placed on probation was recently made available to the Baptist Message.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

Judging by the schedules of two Louisiana Baptist singing groups, there’s a whole lot of singing going on through early 2015.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

Each month approximately two Louisiana Baptist churches close their doors.

According to former Fairbanks Baptist member, and current member of First West Fairbanks, Cheryl Spence, they were faced with the question, “How do you close God’s church?”

However, one West Monroe-area church and another Baton Rouge area church didn’t want to be a part of that statistic. Recently, Fairbanks Baptist and Broussard Grove Baptist decided that rather than die, they would allow a nearby church to become their supporting church.

ON THE MOVE

Sonny Steed has retired after 61 years in the ministry. A graduate of Louisiana College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, he has served through Louisiana and Texas including Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge (three different times.)

Madeline Willis new as music director and Brian Nichols new as youth director at St Clair Baptist Church, Boyce.

Monty Rowse new as pastor at First Baptist Church, Hackberry.

David Fusilier new as pastor at Magnolia Baptist Church, Vinton.

REVIVAL/HOMECOMING