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Articles by Jon Walker

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Last year my wife's grandmother died at Christmas time. It would be a difficult loss anytime of year, but it was particularly magnified in the midst of the merry holidays.

Ironically, a death or a Christmas crisis is part of the yuletide tradition for my family. We've spent so many holidays in the hospital that we even have a miniature Christmas tree that's easily transported. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every major crisis of my adult life has occurred between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

So, yes, I admit it — Sometimes I think like Scrooge: Christmas? Bah, humbug!

There is a darker side of Christmas that we rarely acknowledge in the church. We create this fantasy of the perfect homecoming that rarely matches reality — even in the best of homes. There are many of us whose Christmas memories are full of tension, not tinsel.

Some of us know that the holidays are just another excuse for Mommy to get drunk, or Dadd...

Focus on the Family's James Dobson said the family is disintegrating, and Christians may soon lose the ability to win younger generations for Christ.

Citing Barna research showing that individuals only have a 6 percent chance of accepting Christ once they pass their eighteenth birthday, Dobson said if the family collapses, then the "soil in which the seed of the gospel is planted will turn acidic."

Dobson made his comments June 13 at the closing session of this year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, where he was scheduled to appear live but instead spoke via satellite uplink when mechanical problems forced his plane to make an emergency landing back in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Saying the latest U.S. Census reveals "the dam has broken" in regards to the family, Dobson said households with unmarried partners have increased 72 percent, single mothers have increased 25 percent, single fathers have increased 62 percent, and for ...

The Church On Brady Isn't The Only Mission-Minded Church in the Neighborhood; Small Hispanic Congregation Assists 62 Churches Internationally

Nobody told Aquiles Acosta that you can't reach the world from a remote church in an economically depressed area of Los Angeles. Nobody told him that you can't do it without a big budget, a swollen staff, or fat facilities. He just looked at the Word and believed that it really meant "go into all the world," and so he set about training lay people to become church leaders and encouraging them to support mission churches across the globe.

With a congregation of less than 200, this modern day Shubal Stearns has led the people of El Camino Truth and Life Baptist Church to plant or enhance 62 churches. Although they have a modest budget and an unpretentious building shoehorned into a lower income neighborhood, El Camino financially supports church planters and congregations as near as other parts of LA and as far away as Greece.

"I would quit tomorrow if I could," said Acosta. "But it's a deep calling of God to do this. I have done like ...

Dan Stone would not want to be remembered for his circumstances. Forget that he has cancer. Forget that just a few years ago his wife died of cancer. Stone would have you remember, instead, the God who lifts him above this temporal life to his true life in Christ.

"God has shown me that nothing has really changed," said Stone, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for a year. "The only difference is now I know what God knew all along."

Stone noted we often focus on our circumstances rather than God. Instead, we need to realize that the Christian life originates with God: Christ is our Life.

"When we try to construct a life, even one that is Christ-like, we are meant to fail because it can't be done in our own power," said Stone. "But we actually succeed by failing, by realizing we're inadequate. That's when God can move in and live life through us."

This sense of connectedness allowed Stone to see God at work in his life, even as his wife was dying of cancer. Stone was an itinerant Bible teacher, traveling the country in faith. One day he sensed God telling him to radically a...

New Genesis Commentary Mines the Depths of Genesis Interpretation

Ken Mathews recognizes that Genesis has been interpreted in different ways by scholars over the centuries, so when he sat down to write his commentary on the first book of the Bible, he wanted to move beyond modern critical observations.

"There is a sense that proper interpretation began after the Reformation, which feeds a great prejudice against anything that antedates modern critical studies," said Mathews, author of Genesis, 1-11, the latest release from Broadman & Holman's New American Commentary (NAC) series. "I wanted to show how the critical methodology, in terms of the whole span of the history of interpreting Genesis, takes a different tack altogether. Not everyone has assumed critical presuppositions or put the critical method into practice."

This larger context had Mathews researching the interpretation of Genesis from its first mention in Deuteronomy 4, where Moses uses the book to preach concerning idolatry, through the ap...

Nearly every week we get calls in the office of convention relations from people disgruntled by something that is happening in their church. It may be they're mad at their pastor, upset with the deacons, frustrated with a group they perceive as dominating the membership, or just alarmed at a particular decision approved at last week's business meeting.

No matter what the problem, eventually the callers get around to wanting the Southern Baptist Convention to do something about it. They want someone with authority to step in and intervene on their behalf. My response is always the same: That authority lies only in the local church. Baptist churches are autonomous, and our denominational polity precludes any outside intervention into the matters of the local body.

"You have every right," I tell them, "as a member of the church, to discuss these matters and bring your concerns before the body in a Christian spirit." Ironically, many of the callers find this disappointing. They want someone else to take care of the matter for them; they want someone else to lead the way, particularly if it means an open conflict.

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Over the past few years, editorials in state papers across the SBC have lamented the arrival of conservative leadership on our seminary campuses. The latest round of commentaries have included a call by one editor for churches to actually boycott graduates from Southeastern, another called for the creation of a seminary to compete with Southern and suggested the Kentucky seminary remove Baptist from its name, and several others suggested that only extremely conservative students would want to attend the six seminaries funded by the Southern Baptist Convention.

The implication, along with some downright explicit comments, is that the six Southern Baptist seminaries are somehow less academic than they once were, no longer embracing the ever fuzzy concept called "academic freedom."And the suggestion is that moderate or liberal seminaries somehow maintain an even-handed perspective on education while conservative seminaries are only capable of indoctrination.

But...

It's been said that everything God uses, he must first reduce to nothing. Prayer is God's wrecking ball. Through diligent and consistent communion, God strips away the pride we have in our abilities and talents, the pride we have even in our own spirituality. He takes our complicated facades of faith and reduces them to rubble, rebuilding them into something seemingly too simple for human achievement — bringing us to, well, the faith of a child.

As we pray and meditate upon the mirror of God's Word, we're forced to face ourselves. We're forced to seek God's solutions and to examine situations by God's standards and not our own. We're forced to decide, when we unbow our heads, whether we will also unbow our wills, or whether, to borrow from Oswald Chambers, we will leave our "i am" submitted to the great "I Am."

That is why we often say that prayer changes the prayer. It's in prayer that the Holy Spirit helps ...