SBC LIFE

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November 1996 Issue

On Saturday evening, December 30, 1995, Dan Donaldson got the news that the church where he grew up and had served as pastor for 14 years was in flames. "It was hard to believe," Donaldson says. "Even at that point I couldn't imagine that the entire church was destroyed."

The following morning when the almost 125-year-old congregation of Salem Baptist Church in Fruitland, Tennessee, would have been gathering to worship, they were instead facing the devastating reality that their church was gone. The authorities determined it was arson.

"Just to lose the church was bad enough," says Donaldson, "then to find out someone deliberately wanted to destroy it. We still don't understand why."

But Donaldson did not give in to speculation, nor did he let his congregation dwell on the situation. As they stood under a large shade tree and looked at the ashes, the Lord reminded Donaldson that the building that had been destroyed ...

Tim Rogers drives an hour and a half to attend worship services at First Baptist Church in Fenton, Missouri. The single father says he really likes the pastor and has many friends in the congregation, but the main reason he makes the drive every Sunday is because his daughter, Jennifer, loves her Sunday School class. Jennifer is 15 years old and profoundly retarded.

Harpeth Heights Baptist in Nashville, Tenn., just started a special education class for mentally and physically handicapped people like Jennifer. Already one family has joined the church specifically because of the program.

Carlton McDaniel, senior pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., says several members of his congregation were caring for handicapped children at home and could not attend services before Highland began its special education Sunday School class 14 years ago. The class has proved mutually beneficial. "For our church, the students are a tremendous blessing," said McDaniel.

These Baptist churches and hundreds more like them across the country have discovered a whole different kind of ministry outreach. Special education classes ministe...

Like Nehemiah, who refused to abandon his assignment from God to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem despite incessant interruptions by critics and naysayers, so must Christians hold fast to God's call to ministry in their lives. "Don't ever compromise your calling," said Morris Chapman, speaking at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

"Never has there been a generation which needs so desperately to see integrity in the church, in the Christian and in the ministry," said Chapman, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. "Throughout your lives you will be among those who try to call you down from the wall, call you down to a lesser purpose. Don't ever go down ... don't ever go down off the wall," Chapman admonished the near-capacity audience.

When the ministry seems impossible, Chapman urged the seminarians to remember Nehemiah's resolve and commitment to his task and how God honored his faithfulness by raising the walls around Jerusalem from rubbish in just 52 days. "The work to which God has called you is the work of the impossible - that which would not...

Almost every busy person, at one time or another, complains of not having enough time. I can show you how you can get thirty extra hours a month to:

spend in prayer and devotion,

study the eternal Word of God,

learn a musical instrument,

read great books,

play with your children,

rekindle the romance with your mate,

take long, healthy walks,

start the exercise program you've said you want to do,

or whatever!

Turn off the ...

1. The conservative renaissance in the Southern Baptist Convention was a raw grab for political power -- the "outs" against the "ins."

2. Widespread busing of messengers occurred in order to win the convention votes.

3, The conservatives had compiled an enormous war chest of funds with which to promote their cause.

4. Wide-scale taping of seminary classes was ordered by the leaders of the conservative resurgence. The students then mailed those tapes, or brought them, to a "war room" at First Baptist Church in Dallas.

5. There have been mass firings as a result of the conservative revival.

6. There may have been some problems in our convention, but they were certainly not theological.

7. The Priesthood of the Believers means that a person is entitled to believe ...

For Tom Fane, getting to Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield means a half-hour drive from his job at Tejon Ranch, which, at 280,000 acres, is the largest deeded ranch in California. Fane has been riding and roping in California, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah since he was 17. "It's the cowboy way of going to college," he said.

For years, being a cowboy was all that mattered. Now, Fane believes God has given him a new set of priorities. The emphasis on evangelism at Valley Baptist has redirected his thinking. "It's put my mind on heavenly things," he said. "You think about people who are lost, and other things fade in importance."

Fane had committed himself to sharing Christ with at least one person each week. Classes in Continuing Witness Training — with its transitions through topics related to family, interests, religion and eternity — have given him an orderly way to witness. "But it's only a tool...

You Mean Mormons May Not Be Christians?

As Pastor Bob Smith rounded the corner, heading toward his study after Wednesday Bible study, he was met by Clarice Jerdan, one of his church members who had a way of turning a not-quite-current phrase, with a whole series of questions. "Pastor, what was all that noise about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes here in Tennessee barring a Mormon athlete from receiving an award? How could they have kept that from him? After all, Mormons are generally good folks, aren't they? They even have missionaries and baptize by immersion don't they?"

Pastor Smith, who had been asked those questions before, replied, "Well, dear sister, I won't try to interpret FCA practice or policy but I'm happy to talk with you about Mormonism. You may remember that when this news broke, a newspaper ran a column entitled "Baptists Find Mormons A Little Too Close For Comfort." It's a cute ti...

Whatever our chosen terminology — awakening, revival, renewal — there is one fact upon which we must all agree: We are calling for the sovereign disposition of a Holy God on our behalf. We are seeking God's intervention in our lives. We are pleading for God to move among us, calling us to righteousness and releasing our nation from the powerful vortex of sin which will sweep us to certain disaster.

But is there a role for us to play in spiritual awakening? Is there some way we can be "better positioned" for such a move of God? Is there a disposition of heart and a fulfilling of responsibility which is consistent with revival? I believe there is.

When God appointed Ezekiel a watchman to the house of Israel (Ezekiel 3:17), He required a specific examination of Israel's rebellion. It is a hard thing to examine our country's ruin. An Oklahoma City woman was recently charged with using her two daughters, ages six and nine, in over thirty count...

I've always believed that dumb people who believe stupid stuff can be neatly divided into four categories:

First, there are non-Christian dumb people who don't know Christ and therefore should not really be held accountable for believing stupid stuff. Political candidates, actors, and media people often fall into these categories.

Second, there are non-Southern Baptist-but-Christian dumb people who believe stupid stuff. These, I think, should not be judged. While they're probably wrong, we should give them a chance to explain themselves. After all, we will all be together in eternity.

Third, there are dumb Southern Baptists who believe stupid stuff. It seems to me that this group is growing and so I'm prone to be charitable to them just in case I wind up in the minority.

The final and fourth category are dumb Southern Baptists who believe the same stupid stuff that I do. This is my favorite category of people. Still I'm never really c...

Church Learns That Vision Is More Important Than Gold

It seemed like a dream come true. Gold was discovered in 1986 on property owned by Sawney's Creek Baptist Church in Ridgeway, S.C. The church suddenly had money to fulfill several of its dreams.

Proceeds from the sale of the church property helped the congregation relocate and build a new sanctuary, education building, family life center, and parsonage.

But extra money, by itself, cannot guarantee growth, says the church's pastor, Richard Humphries. Even after the discovery of gold, the small church's attendance plummeted from 59 to a low of 40 in 1989.

It was only after the church became desperate and broadened its vision that the climate became right for growth, Humphries indicated.

"One of the deacons got up and said, 'We're dying. There's death all around us, but there's life out there somewhere,'" Humphries noted. "The life just happened to be be...

Volunteers Take Ministry to Area Apartment Dwellers

At Concord House's church, the baptismal font is an aluminum horse trough.

There is no altar.

There is, however, a Formica counter that, during Sunday services earlier this month, held a bucket to catch water dripping from a recently revived air conditioner.

The choir, the organ and the sound system are one red-headed, guitar-playing package named Robert Martin, who, when he isn't leading the singing, is leading prayer.

"Father, we thank You for the air conditioning that's working today," Martin prayed with heartfelt enthusiasm on a sweltering August morning.

Church at Concord House — one of more than a dozen area apartment complexes where First Baptist Church of Euless missionaries sing, preach and lead prayers — is no spit-and-shine, dressed-in-your-Sunday-best kind of affair.

Which is precisely why it works.

Which is precisely why Helen Jacksis and her 3-year-old daughter, Kayla, atten...

Disney's Drift from "G" Rated Image Revealed in New Book

As evidenced by the Southern Baptist Convention's resolution this past June, many concerned parents are deeply troubled by what they see as the radical reimaging of the Disney Company. A new book just released by Horizon Books details the drift of the Disney Company from its earlier status as the family-friendly entertainment provider. Disney and the Bible by Perucci Ferraiuolo, the fourth book in Horizon's "And the Bible" series, is subtitled "A Scriptural Critique of the Magic Kingdom." The book shows why Disney's trusted image as America's largest purveyor of family-oriented entertainment is being questioned.

Disney and the Bible is the first book to chronicle the Disney Company's trends and tendencies -- even policies and agenda -- in the light of what the Bible...

One hundred years ago Percival Lowell, the astronomer who predicted the existence of Pluto, championed the theory that "canals" crossing Mars were evidence that intelligent life once existed there. Even though the idea was thoroughly discredited in the 1960s by photographs transmitted back to Earth from three separate Mariner spacecraft, many people went crazy with excitement again back in August over the possible existence of Martian life. The National Aeronautic and Space Administration's now famous potato-sized meteorite (dubbed ALH84001 because of the site in Antarctica where it was discovered) was said to contain likely evidences of elementary Martian life. Almost immediately many folks, scientists and lay persons alike, were caught up in the excitement of metaphysical speculation about alien life, the universe and God, perhaps feeling anew the sense of mystery surrounding all things seemingly beyond our ken.

For the group known as SETI (the Search for Extraterres...

The controversy swirling around the president of a Georgia Baptist university is moving outward in ever-enlarging circles. It is no wonder — the most serious and consequential of theological issues are at stake. In the interest of clarifying the issues of the controversy, SBC LIFE is reprinting the following edited review by Pastor Timothy A. McCoy of the Ingleside Baptist Church of Macon, Georgia, which appeared in The Christian Index of Georgia.

In When We Talk about God ... Let's Be Honest, R. Kirby Godsey, President of Mercer University, offers a "devotional theology" that it is not so much "a rigorous, systematic treatise," but a "confessional interpretation" of his own faith (p. 7).

True to his confessional intention Godsey states clearly his own personal experience of God's grace in Jesus Christ. "For me as a Christian," Godsey writes, "Jesus is the defining revelation" (p. 133). He also introduces some of the people who have influenced his journey of faith and transparently narrates several faith-informing experiences.

The personal and confessi...

It's amazing how much our thinking influences how we feel. If it rains on Saturday the farmers are happy and the golfers are sad. It's the same silly rain, but they're thinking different thoughts about the rain.

I first learned the importance of how we think when I was at the mental health clinic (remember, I was on staff, not actually in the mental health clinic). We had diagnostic meetings every afternoon — boring meetings. I thought, "How could I liven up these meetings?" One day I found a gorilla suit. Now you may ask why a gorilla suit was at the mental health clinic. I don't know. It looked like some monkey business was going on, but I decided I could use this to liven things up. So ... when everyone was in the meeting, I charged into the room wearing the gorilla suit. Everyone took off. (You see, you never totally relax when you work at the mental health clinic.) I chased a nurse down the hall. Finally, she reached the end of the hall with n...

"Folly, Fully Grown!"

If the threefold mantra of the '60s was "tune in, turn on, and drop out," that of the '90s is comprised of that earlier mantra's four silly children, four sentences that no thinking man ever permits himself to utter in the face of a moral challenge, sentences like:

"Everything is relative,"

"There is no right or wrong,"

"There are no absolutes," and,

"Who's to say?"

Those who loved the '60s own the '90s. The Left still hates America, and it still hates what made America possible: faith in God, individual responsibility, local and l...