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November 1995 Issue

As the first of the Baby Boomers turns 50 next year, it's time to ask about their commitment to missions funding.

Most people agree with the premise that America's senior adults support charity more than do their children. Sociologist and author George Barna, for example, reports in "What Americans Believe: An Annual Survey of Values and Religious Views in the United States" that senior adults are the most generous when it comes to aiding people overseas.

Just over half of those 65 or older responded positively when asked by Barna if they would volunteer "time or money to help needy people living in other countries." The survey also shows senior adults are about twice as likely to volunteer their time and money for people overseas (i.e. for foreign missions) than those 26-44 and almost three times as likely as those 18-25 years of age.

Although the survey wa...

Southern Baptists interpret Christ's words about partaking of his blood and body symbolically and treat communion as such, though with equal importance. Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Christ co-exist with the elements of the bread and wine, a doctrine known as consubstantiation. Among other denominations, the interpretations vary. "We believe it's more than symbolic because Jesus says, 'This is my body.' He didn't say, 'This is a symbol of,'" said Rev. Buzz Barrett, pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Birmingham near Oxmoor Valley. But Barrett said the church stops short of saying it actually becomes Christ's body and blood. Baptists and Methodists use grape drink instead of wine, a practice that developed from the 19th-century temperance movement said Bill Leonard, religion professor at Samford University. ... For example, in the 1925 edition of the Baptist Faith and Message, ...

Quadruples Lottie Moon Offering in Two Years

Grove Avenue Baptist Church is a church with missions on its mind. The Richmond, VA, congregation increased their Cooperative Program giving from 2 percent to 10 percent, and in that same time frame, increased their Lottie Moon offering from $15,000 to $90,000.

"I believe the difference was exposure," says Nema Westmoreland, a member of the church's missions committee. "It was God's hour. This is not a wealthy church, but it does have a number of sacrificial givers." The exposure involved inviting current and former missionaries to speak at the church, where they gave testimonies about how missions offerings had provided for them in the past and the types of things those offerings could help with in the future.

Westmoreland says these testimonies created a lot of excitement, so the missions committee began encouraging more testimonies from church members involved in short term missions. "We began recognizing these people by calling them up in front of ...

An Authentic Spirit-led Life

In recent years, Christian counseling has come under the heavy influence of secular psychology. Perhaps in reaction to this influence, there are many ministries emerging with a different take on Christian counseling — a biblically-based one that stresses the strength of the in-dwelling Christ to guide a believer into a Spirit-led walk. The message is simple — because Christ is your Life, you must come to the place where you are totally dependent upon him — and yet the message is complex — total dependence requires a walk so transparent that you must rely on God for all your needs, even the psychological ones that are so slowly surrendered.

This teaching is nothing new: It's found in Paul's Epistles, the writings of St. John of the Cross, the commentaries of F. B. Meyer, and the devotions of Oswald Chambers, but it almost seems a generation of Christians missed the message. Drawing from four diverse ministries, SBC LIFE offers this foru...

It's popular today, even among pastors, to say that theology is unimportant. It's not practical, some say, and many question spending time learning doctrine and theology when there's so much more to do. But theology provides the framework for an intelligent conversation about Christian beliefs, and those who are illiterate about the subject are vulnerable to the hot winds of heresy blown in from hell. Meaning: nothing is more practical than theology. Activity for the sake of activity, without a solid biblical foundation, will soon lose sight of its purpose.

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 ...

Ministry is more than a black-or-white issue for an interracial church in Hopkinsville, KY. After only one year, Means Avenue Baptist Church has created a demographic diversity few Baptist churches could top. With 70 percent African-Americans, 30 percent Caucasians and several Hispanics, the mission church has formed a truly integrated congregation.

In August 1994, Pastor Enoch Nyakoon was called to start the congregation with five people, under the auspices of Second Baptist Church in Hopkinsville. Since then, more than 60 people have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ through the mission's ministry. Attendance in Sunday school has reached nearly 60.

"I baptized 25 persons," says Nyakoon, a native of Liberia, West Africa: "Two Africans, four Caucasians and 19 African-Americans." Seven others joined by letter and statement. "The uniqueness of Means Avenue, the history of this community and African-American churches made it difficult to b...

The new task force named to facilitate the SBC's move into the 21st century will "analyze, study and take actions necessary" for an orderly and timely transition. The implementation task force has six areas of responsibility:

Legal issues "necessary for timely implementation," such as the dissolution or revision of various entities' charters.

Financial issues, such as cost analysis for relocating functions, including various personnel, of the RTVC, in Fort Worth, TX, and Brotherhood Commission, in Memphis, TN, to the North American Mission Board, to be based in Atlanta.

Physical assets, with the task force to "develop and propose for consideration by elected trustees a transition plan for the physic...

A Thanksgiving Reflection

It has been a year since last Thanksgiving. And I will forever hold in my heart that wonderful November day in 1994. I led a devotional service for the Green Bay Packers, just before they went out onto the field to play Dallas. I'm a closet Green Bay supporter (the only safe kind of Green Bay supporter that can live with community acceptance in Dallas), and yet I am impressed by the Christian demeanor of Mike Holmgren. His walk of faith in Christ has led me to the kind of admiration I generally give to my literary heroes alone. Unfortunately, it is difficult to pray even noble teams to victory in Dallas. Lamentably (as far as I was concerned) Dallas lost.

But as I watched the game in that wonderful Irving Stadium with a hole in the dome (some Texans say that God ordered that hole in the dome so He could keep His eye on His favorite team), I thought of some old Kavanaugh lines:

"The gods assemble on the gridiron, to sanctify Sunday for the lonely ..." (Jame...

Have you ever thought what it's like to be a kid at the grocery store? Mother is in a hurry and she takes the kid and stuffs him into the steel seat and says, "Sit there and be quiet. I've got to pick up a couple of things." Now when mother says a "couple of things" that means a couple of things from each section.

"Now, son," she says, "you can't have everything. Just sit there and be quiet. I will roll you up and down the aisles, and you can see all the wonderful things to get but you can't have anything — but I will get everything I want, and not only that, you will have to sit on what I get." Well, to a kid, that's like sitting on Ronald MacDonald's lap and not getting a Happy Meal. Children are not happy campers in the grocery store.

While women make kids sit in the seat, men just let them run loose. Women: here is some advic...

Be Careful What You Pray For; God Answers Prayers

After nearly being hit by a beer bottle thrown by a passing motorist, Nashville Police Officer Tim Sullivan began pursuit of the car not knowing the situation was an answer to prayer. As he pulled the motorist over, Sullivan saw the driver was crying and upset. "He'd been married 18 years, and his wife decided it was time to get a divorce," says Sullivan, a member of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, TN. A field sobriety test revealed the driver was sober, and Sullivan concluded the man hadn't seen the police car when he threw the bottle, so no citation was given. However, Sullivan, who had just prayed that wee...