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April 1997 Issue

Land mines are everywhere in Cambodia, and so are their unsuspecting victims. Stepping on a land mine usually means losing more than a limb. It often means losing job, home, and family as well. It sometimes means losing hope.

"Because they are disabled, they think they are useless with a meaningless life," said Iv Vanna Rith. "They are concerned about their living every day."

Rith, executive secretary of the Khmer Baptist Convention, knows what it is to survive as a land mine victim. A small land mine blew off his left leg just beneath the knee. Unable to support his wife, he lost her. But unlike many land mine victims, Rith did not lose hope.

"I have testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ who died on Calvary on the cross for us, for everybody, and on the third day, Jesus rose," Rith said.

Rith has been taking that testimony to other disabled land mine victims in Phnom Penh, so they, too, might have hope.


"... and Lord, be with us during this haying time and cattle shipping season."

Maybe not a typical prayer to open a Sunday School class, but it's at the very heart of a Thursday night Bible study class in the wide-open spaces of the Panhandle surrounding Beaver, Oklahoma.

There are no horses tied to hitching posts, but a myriad of pick-up trucks and horse trailers line the parking lot of First Baptist Church, and just inside the door, cowboy hats are tossed askew around the coat rack.

It's the Boots and Jeans cowboy Bible class where thirty to thirty-five cowboys gather each week to study the Bible and share Christian experiences.

The class resulted from a heart-felt burden of Shawn Campbell, who regularly witnessed to the cowboys in his Beaver saddle shop.

"I was talking to some guys one day and gave them cowboy Bibles (New Testaments with a bucking horse on front) and told them we were having a Bible study in ...

The relentless push for abortion acceptance is found virtually everywhere in the culture, both in serious and in pop venues. When the February issue of Teen magazine, with 1.8 million subscribers, took up the subject, it was not in an objective fashion. Although they say the decision to abort is the "kind every girl hopes to avoid and some girls could never make," they furnish a report that is biased in the extreme. Teenage girls are quoted, making points that could not have been more skillfully scripted by Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading purveyor of abortion. A few examples will suffice:

Editor's note: This essay accusing Hollywood elites of anti-Christian bigotry is made all the more deserving of our readers' attention because it is written, not by a fellow-Christian, but by a leading American rabbi. The same point is made by Michael Medved, a highly respected film critic, who is also Jewish, in the book and video, Hollywood vs. Religion.

Parental concerns over the levels of sex, violence, and profanity on television has led the entertainment industry to introduce a controversial new TV rating system. Unfortunately, the public debate over program content has not extended to another troubling aspect of our popular entertainment: Hollywood's increasing antipathy toward religious faith in general and to Christianity in particular.

Is Hollywood hostile to institutional religion? To faith? To Christianity? If so, why? These questions demand careful analysis, for Hollywood's impact on our popular culture is profound ...

A February 11 column, "Persecuting the Christians," by New York Times syndicated columnist A.M. Rosenthal references a book published by the Baptist Sunday School Board's Broadman & Holman Publishers on the worldwide persecution of Christians.

The syndicated column also was published Feb. 13 in newspapers throughout the country.

In the Lion's Den, released Jan. 15, was written by Nina Shea, director of the Puebla Program of Freedom House. Shea is a human rights attorney who has devoted the last ten years to the issue of persecution of Christians.

In the book, she notes more Christians have died for their faith in the 20th century than in the previous nineteen centuries combined.

"This column is late, not because so much has been written about the subject and everybody knows, but for exactly the opposite reason," Rosenthal wrote. "A few journalists have written about the persecution of Christians in C...

How Do Your Church Members Live the Rest of the Week?

This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent.

Sunday 12:10 p.m.

Pastor Andy James stood at the front door of the church after the morning worship service. As those who attended the service filed by, Andy grasped the hand of Jacob Barnes, long-time church member, Sunday School department director, and prominent deacon. Jacob smiled and said, "Preacher, I believe that was the best sermon you have ever preached." Unexpected warmth filled the pastor as he soaked in the affirmation. After all, as Andy would later recount to himself, that compliment was from Jacob Barnes, an influential church leader. Sunday night Andy rested peacefully.

Monday 8:00 a.m.

Jacob Barnes was ready for work. He was focused. Mumbling a "good-bye" to his wife, Jacob headed to the office. He was responsible for about 1,000 employees, an important ...

The Experience of God's Care and Sufficiency

Twenty-six years ago, Charles Page faced a life or death crisis as a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary when doctors gave him and his wife little hope for the survival of their newborn son, Robbie.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, Page returned to Southeastern, amidst his own struggle against a rare form of bone cancer, to deliver the seminary's commencement address.

"For 57 years I had hair, but four months of chemotherapy and massive steroids pretty well took care of the hair," Page said.

But the pastor of First Baptist Church, Charlotte, N.C., was not somber as he spoke to the near-capacity crowd in Southeastern's Binkley Chapel in Wake Forest. This, in fact, was a time of joy for Page and his wife, Sandra, as they celebrated their son, Robbie's, graduation from Southeastern.

During his address, Page shared the lessons wrought from his fight against cancer which began in May.

"The main thing I've learned...

The age-yellowed deed reads Section nine hundred thirty-two (932) in block forty-three (43), abstract no. 1286, certificate No. 47/6447 in Ochiltree County, State of Texas, containing 651 acres more or less. It was just a piece of land, but in 1944, it became more than farm dirt.

It became a fertile field for world missions because the title was in the farm-calloused hands of a generous and mission-minded Oklahoma Baptist deacon.

After the death of his wife, R.A. Lemen of Enid, Oklahoma, gave this property in trust to The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma as an endowment gift for missionary salaries in the Orient. When it sold for $32,312.10, Lemen added $87.90 to make it an even $32,400.

How could $32,400 be much of a force for missions? What has the gift accomplished over these fifty-three years?

In 1946, the gift was transferred to a newly formed trust agency of the Convention, The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma. It was the very first...

Don't Let the Fads Get You!

Funny how the law of supply and demand works at Christmas time. Take for instance this past Christmas. Michelle and I caught the Christmas movie Jingle All The Way. In case you missed it, the movie concerned something all parents have faced: finding the most popular toy all the kids want, but none of the stores seem to have. The storyline centered on Christmas Eve, where actors Arnold Swartzeneggar and Sinbad trekked from store to store across Minneapolis, stalking the toy superhero "Turboman."

From Cabbage Patch Kids to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the craze which leads parents to bypass thousands of perfectly fine toys, simply to get one because of a current craze, seems to be a part of our societal framework. Conspiracy theorists believe these mad rushes for hard-to-find toys are the sinister work of toy companies, but I'm skeptical. With all due respect to toy producers, I don't think they have a clue as to why or when Barbie will make a comeback, or if ...

Ours is an extraordinarily pluralistic culture. Throughout the strata of American life are innumerable sub-cultures. Not only do the panoply of religions, from Anglicanism to Zoroastrianism, exist side-by-side, but I even spotted a bumper sticker recently proclaiming the credo, "Born-again Pagan." The driver may have been an evangelical who was rejoicing in the grace of God in Christ, but I suspect he had something else in mind. Dotting the American landscape, especially in the looming urban centers, are sub-cultures of every fashion imaginable — body piercers, transgendered persons, psychic friends, cyberspace junkies — you name it and there's a sub-culture for it.

The Moral and Cultural Morass

On the back of our dollar bill is the once familiar Latin phrase, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One). A reminder that America once was viewed as the great melting-pot culture, the phrase seems almost qu...

It was the night before I was to deliver the keynote address at the National Day of Prayer meeting in the capital. Parading through my mind was the litany so often used before this bipartisan political gathering: Recite 2 Chronicles 7:14 and pray for national renewal.

Suddenly, I felt led to give an entirely different message. The theme chosen for that day was honoring God. But does our nation honor God? Clearly not. I realized that no matter how fervently we pray, the Lord will not grant renewal to a nation that does not honor Him. First we must repent, fall on our knees, and confess our nation's failure to acknowledge God.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn summed up the evils of the twentieth century in a pithy Russian proverb: "Men have forgotten God." Surely that is true of Americans. Just before the Day of Prayer, political pundits were scandalized because a Supreme Court Justice — Atonin Scalia — admitted he believed in Christ's resurrection. He wa...

If you ask Ray Register how his work is going, you'll see his face light up and hear excitement edge into his voice. You will hear how he saw more results in evangelism during 1996 than in thirty years of ministry in the Galilee.

For three decades this veteran Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board worker has traveled the highways and back roads, sharing the gospel with thousands of people in the small villages that dot this rugged land.

In the past two years, things have changed.

Now he is working with a small congregation of ten believers in one of the many new communities springing up not in Galilee, but between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Register and his wife, Rose Mary, have moved to this area to be closer to the believers. It is a career and spiritual high for Ray. And he likes it.

In Israel, after 2,000 years, church starts are still among the slowest in the world. A ten-member congregation is a miracle of God, a flower blooming in a desert. &q...

Dangerous Men In November of 1947, missionary martyr Jim Eliot said, "We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are 'harmless,' and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are 'sideliners' — coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!" ~ Shadow of the Almighty by Elizabeth Eliot, p. 79

A new law — passed as part of the 1996 defense authorization bill — which forbid the sale of sexually explicit magazines at U.S. military bases — was struck down Jan. 22 by a federal judge in New York. Proponents of the law had argued that the subsidized pricing system at base exchanges puts the government in the position of footing the bill for materials that undermine core military values of "honor, courage, and commitment."

Other proponents of the ban suggest that the availability of discount porn hinders combat readiness. Family Research Council Military Readiness Project Director Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis observed, "The major constitutional obligation in this area is for the Congress to protect the military's combat fitness. Congress has declared that selling pornography is bad for readiness, and the military should obey."

Maginnis also cites the military's recent increase in sexual misconduct cases and points to pornogr...

I can't remember the exact year that Americans outgrew the idea of sin. I know it all happened in the wake of the three Karls: Karl Marx, Carl Jung, and Carl Sagan. They may not have impacted many Christians, but there is little doubt about the sway these three Karls hold on Western thought.

Karl Marx enlarged sociology, but just when it got big enough to include everybody, he threw God out. Fortunately, the empire he inspired hasn't been doing so well lately. Carl Jung enlarged psychology to the point that it seemed a reasonable kingdom. But once he understood the fascinating size of the human psyche, he, too, gave God the boot.

And the late Carl Sagan pushed back the edges of the universe, until it was bigger than PBS. But just when he had created plenty of room to study God, he bid God adieu and left us knocking about in an empty universe. According to Sagan, human beings were all alone. Yet, with the skillful use of fang and claw, we became the very finest cre...

A couple of years ago my wife, Penny, and I went to Hawaii. It was a great trip except for snorkeling day. My wife loves the water. At her house she grew up with a swimming pool in the backyard. I grew up a little differently; the bathroom was in our backyard. One year it caught on fire and we were excited, because it didn't reach the house. The only water I ever saw was on Saturday night for baths. Consequently, I didn't learn to swim until I met Penny. She's the graceful fish in water; I'm more like a beached whale. But I love her and she loves the water, so we planned a day of snorkeling.

Some friends of ours had loaned us the snorkeling equipment. As we were getting ready, I noticed one little thing was missing from my equipment. I couldn't find the little, rubber, circle thing that Penny was fitting over her snorkeling tube. It wasn't there. It was lost. It had gone wherever my lost socks go. I thought, "What's the big deal? It's sm...

America's Future

James Dobson, in response to a question about America's future, responded. "If pressed to give my own thoughts as to the future, I defer to the words of William Wilberforce: 'The only solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend not so much on her fleets and armies, not so much on the wisdom of her rulers or the spirit of her people, as on the persuasion that she still contains many who, in a degenerate age, love and obey the Gospel of Christ, on the humble trust that the intercession of these may still be prevalent, that for the sake of these, Heaven may still look upon us with an eye of favor.'"

James C. Dobson is Founder and President of Focus on the Family.