SBC LIFE

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February 1998 Issue

How can two churches on opposite sides of the river in a popular recreation area present the gospel to the multitudes that vacation there each year? That question brought members of Parker First Southern and Big River Baptist churches together over fried catfish and pot-luck dishes at a recreation area on the California side of the Colorado River. They met to fellowship and discuss ways they could partner to evangelize the unchurched seasonal "snowbirds" who come their way.

Tommy Thomas, their associational missionary, helped coordinate the meeting last fall. He led in a few songs with his guitar after dinner and laid out some of the possibilities. A "river pastor" might be successful in an area where previous efforts to start a traditional church had been unsuccessful. Special events and concerts could provide opportunities for evangelism, and ministry teams from the churches could work to implement the efforts. Other ideas surfaced as members became excited a...

A Vietnamese church planter in suburban Vancouver, B.C., struggling to reach those of his own nationality in one of the most international cities in the world.

The director of an inner-city missions center and church in Waterbury, Ct., celebrating the diversity of his community through neighborhood programs and worship services.

These are just two of the more than 5,000 missionaries who carry out the work of the Great Commission with the support of the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

In a tradition that dates back to 1895, Southern Baptists will place special emphasis on the contributions of these servants this spring through The Week of Prayer for North American Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

Long a supporter of missions, Annie Armstrong founded Woman's Missionary Union in 1888 and served eighteen years as corresponding secretary for the organization. In 1895, Armstrong and other WMU leaders designated the third week in March as a time of special prayer for the Home Mission Board. Since that year, Southern Baptists have observed an annual Week of Prayer for Home Mission...

The Season of North American Missions

The Season of Home Missions is a special time for a church wide emphasis on North American missions and consists of four elements.

North American Missions Study

This year's theme of Start Something New in Ministry will be vividly illustrated for every age group in the local church by the North American Mission Study focusing on the Mississippi River Ministry. MRM is a cooperative effort of seven state Baptist conventions to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of persons living along the lower Mississippi. The suggested dates for the study are February 15-18, however, churches can schedule the study when it is most convenient and beneficial to their members.

Week of Prayer for North American Missions

This is an eight-day emphasis when local churches focus on North American missions. Southern Baptists will pray for renewed missions commitment, for specific missionaries, for increased financial support and evangelism, and for their own involvement in missions. The Week of Prayer offers a variety of involvement opportun...

Leigh Lowery has been a pastor's wife almost as long as she has been a Christian. She was saved during a revival meeting preached by a young evangelist named Fred Lowery. They were married two years later.

Lowery, who grew up in a small town in Mississippi and lived in a house built by her great-grandfather, spoke to wives attending the Oklahoma Pastors' Conference.

"I joined every activity at school and was voted most popular, but on the inside I was empty, lonely, and searching for love," she admitted.

She said she joined the Presbyterian church, but "didn't meet Jesus."

It was while Lowery was a student at Ole Miss in 1971 that she went to the revival at the Baptist church "because there was going to be a young singer with tapes there."

Lowery recalled the evangelist preached that night on how to be happy and stay married. "He said Jesus can make home like heaven on earth," remembered Low...

When the title "preacher's kid" is mentioned, what do you think of? You may envision the church's coalition of elderly matriarchs wagging their heads in disgust over the pastor's uncontrollable "little hellions" who run amok in the neighborhood, or worse, in the church building. These same saints are often the ones who predict a future of crime and imprisonment for their pastor's youngsters, who are clearly miserable and frustrated with their lot in life.

On the other hand, some may picture pious, self-righteous "goody two shoes," who seem happiest when they are tattling on the misdeeds of other, less fortunate children.

However, according to a report by the Religion News Service, these stereotypes are not usually deserved. Those who've grown up as the preacher's kid often are normal, productive citizens who generally fondly remember their days in the parsonage. But they also say nobody but another PK really kn...

After five years of fighting values-free sex education curriculum, Joneen Krauth believes the tide is turning in favor of abstinence.

"It is awesome," said Krauth, a former intensive care nurse who teaches public school workshops known as "WAIT Training," which stands for "Why Am I Tempted?"

Krauth, of suburban Denver, organized the seminars, ranging from ninety-minute assemblies to day-long presentations, after reviewing her son's seventh-grade science text and finding a unit included instruction in condom use.

In north Florida, former teacher Pam Mullarkey is seeing similar success in reaching teenagers. The founder of Project Save Our Students (SOS) said her abstinence-based program has made presentations to 10,000 students in five counties. It is also beginning new works at a juvenile institution and the U.S. Naval Station at Jacksonville.

The Navy recently signed a contract with SOS to present monthly training sem...

Three police officers have filed suit against ABC for $3 million claiming the network hired black people to drive around in an expensive car and intentionally break traffic laws, according to an Associated Press report. The Disney-owned network then accused the three of racism when the officers stopped them.

The officers were featured in a Nov. 27, 1996, episode of PrimeTime Live called "Driving While Black," which alleged the officers stopped the men only because of their race, according to the suit.

The officers — Louis Hornberger, Robert Tonkery, and James Mennuti — were filmed on hidden camera stopping a Mercedes-Benz in October 1996 with three black men inside, the lawsuit said.

According to the Dec. 2, 1997 AP report, the suit claims ABC hired the three men to drive around a drug-plagued neighborhood in a predominantly white central New Jersey town for several days in the Mercedes, equipped with hidden camera.

Hornberger said the officers stopped the car on the third night after they observed the car breaking several traffic laws, including disobeying a traffic sign at a danger...

Vice President Al Gore stepped up the national dialogue over civil rights protection for homosexuals in a November news conference, saying God creates homosexuals and that God is grieved at their mistreatment.

Meeting with local reporters in his home state of Tennessee, Gore was asked about comments a month earlier in Beverly Hills, Calif., in which he praised Hollywood producers for forcing Americans to "look at sexual orientation in a more open light" with openly homosexual television characters.

God would have never made homosexuals if He knew they would be mistreated, Gore said, according to The (Nashville) Tennessean Nov. 16.

"I do not believe that God intended them to suffer persecution and discrimination throughout their lives here on earth. I do not believe God would have created them as He has and intend for them to be mistreated," Gore said.

The head of the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission quickly disagreed with Gore. Richard Land said the debate over homosexuality has never been about "persecution" and discrimination, "but rather about w...

For ten years, Eric Garner participated in one homosexual relationship after another, desperately seeking to fill a yearning in his heart for love and acceptance.

During times of great loneliness and despair, he turned to alcohol and marijuana as short-term remedies to his problems. By 1990, the twenty-seven-year-old Greenville, S.C., native had fallen into the depths of a two-and-a-half-year relationship with a man who was HIV-positive.

"I knew that the last young man that I was involved (with) in a relationship was HIV-positive before I ever moved in with him, before I ever even considered having a relationship with him. That's how desperate I became. My need for love had become so desperate that I was willing to even justify that."

More than seven years later, having graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with an associate of divinity degree, Garner's burning desire is to tell others how God delivered him from the grip of a ten-year homosexual lifestyle.

"Praise God!" exclaimed Garner during an interview. "I'm saved. I'm delivered. I'm healed and I'm going ...

Advancing Christian Commitment on College Campuses

A discipleship initiative recently launched by Southern Baptists already is capturing the attention of college students across the country, generating hopeful comparisons to successful Christian movements such as True Love Waits and Promise Keepers.

Students at campuses as diverse as Mississippi State University in Starkville and Washington State University in Pullman are getting involved in CrossSeekers. Introduced in August by the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board's national student ministry (NSM) and later endorsed by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the initiative has three components:

1) a grassroots discipleship emphasis built around a six-point covenant;

2) a series of discipleship events;

3) the publication of discipleship materials to support students in their spiritual growth.

Student interest to date has centered around the "CrossSeekers covenant" which challenges students to commit to a lifestyle of integrit...

A Powerful Tool in Confronting Darwinism

James C. Hefley is to be commended for his excellent article "Darwin on Trial" in the October '97 issue of SBC LIFE. In the article, Jim called our attention to the groundbreaking work, irreducible complexity, of biochemist Michael Behe. He also emphasized the work of Phillip Johnson, law professor turned paradigm-buster. Anyone with a drop of creationist blood in his or her veins would do well to study Dr. Hefley's article thoroughly. For those who missed the article, Hefley provided a brief history of the creation/evolution controversy, as well as an explanation of the Behe/Johnson power tandem and the challenge they're bringing to neo-Darwinism. Yet, what Hefley addressed runs deeper and wider than most of us realize. A number of things have happened behind the scenes. Preparations for a potential anti-Darwinian coup d'état have been slowly building for years.

A Brief History

The writ...

The church stands as a visible example of God's ability to work beyond human methods. And when it comes to building programs, churches have a special opportunity to show the world that God is more than adequate to meet their needs.

"It seems contradictory to profess the belief that God can heal the sick, feed the poor, and even transform the very heart of a corrupt man, but He can't supply the funds in advance for church buildings," says Larry Burkett.

However, leaders of the First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma are believing God will supply the money they need to finance a multi-building project on 142 acres near their present location.

Recently, the church's commitment to build debt-free led to a unique effort based on Jesus' parable of the talents, and the results were nothing short of miraculous.

During the evening service on Mother's Day in 1996, pastor Nick Garland offered members a chance to tell how thei...

SBC CP percentages are listed first with state percentages following.

ALABAMA

• President: Leon Ballard, pastor; York Baptist Church; York, Ala.

• CP percentages: 42.3% / 57.7%

• Resolutions: Opposition to religious persecution; NEA; affirmation on display of Ten Commandments; religious expression in public schools

ALASKA

• President: Wally Smith, pastor; Faith Baptist Church; Fairbanks, Alaska

• CP percentages: 33% / 67%

• Resolutions: Re-affirming 1996 resolution to boycott Disney Corporation; commended senators for bills banning "partial birth abortion" and requiring parental consent for abortion on a minor in Alaska; recognizing home-schooling as a legitimate form of education and allowing home-schooled children the use of publicly funded facilities; setting aside first Thursday of May each year as Day of Prayer in Alaska, in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer

• Noteworthy: Voted to establish partners...

Former President Jimmy Carter, who significantly raised the profile of evangelical Christianity in general and Southern Baptists in particular during the 1970s, has said Southern Baptists are off the mark in their belief that Mormon doctrine is essentially non-Christian and Mormons are therefore in need of evangelization.

A Southern Baptist interfaith witness leader and Carter's own pastor, however, say Carter is wrong in his views on Mormon teachings.

"Mr. Carter must be a better politician and diplomat than theologian," said Phil Roberts, director of the North American Mission Board interfaith witness team responsible for assisting Southern Baptists in understanding and witnessing to persons of other faiths. "His comments show he is totally uninformed and naive about the nature and beliefs of the Mormon Church, which claims to be the one true church. Mormonism is not essential biblical Christianity. It is a new religious movement created by Joseph Smi...

What seemed to me at the first to be the strangest of religions now seems to me to be the almost perfect religion in fleshly terms.

Two months before Disney Company chairman Michael Eisner said on national television the entertainment giant has no pro-homosexual agenda, his company helped underwrite a benefit reception for a homosexual rights organization at the premiere of a competing studio's movie.

The same day Disney helped sponsor the benefit, a published report said Hollywood Supports, a group for which Eisner is a trustee, had been so successful in its six years of advancing homosexual rights in the entertainment industry that it was shutting down and transferring its work to other organizations.

After the premiere of the homosexual-themed In & Out Sept. 17 in Los Angeles, the film's studio, Paramount Pictures, held a fund-raising reception for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Disney and other companies helped sponsor the benefit, a NGLTF spokesperson confirmed to Baptist Press.

The incident is one of the latest in a series of corporate policies and enterta...

Building on its leading character's barrier-breaking confession as a homosexual late last season, Ellen, the situation comedy on Disney-owned ABC, took only a couple of months in the new television year to place her in a sexual encounter with her lesbian girlfriend.

In its Nov. 26 show, Ellen portrayed its lead, Ellen Morgan, played by Ellen DeGeneres, going into the bedroom with her girlfriend, Laurie, as the episode closed. The segment had focused on Ellen's anxiety about "sleeping with" a woman for the first time.

The "coming out" of Ellen is another incident cited by religious and pro-family organizations as evidence of Disney's promotion of homosexuality. The Southern Baptist Convention voted in June to encourage its members to boycott the entertainment giant for "immoral ideologies" in its policies and products. The American Family Association initiated the boycott in 1995. Organizations such as Focus on the F...

First Baptist Church, Kissimmee, Fla., is seven miles from the front gates of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. More than 100 Disney employees are members of the growing church near the epicenter of the world's most popular tourist destination.

Yet the church's pastor, Tim Wilder, didn't hesitate to vote in favor of the resolution on moral stewardship addressing The Disney Company during the Southern Baptist Convention this past June.

Wilder said it's a matter of "tough love."

"Out of my love for them, I just can't ignore them and turn my back on them," said Wilder, who has served on First Baptist's staff more than sixteen years, the last year and a half as senior pastor.

"The Bible teaches when you truly love somebody, you don't ignore them when you see them going down the wrong road; out of love you try to bring them back."

Wilder, who grew up in the central Florida area, was ...

"We must confront the ghosts of the past," said James O. Freedman, president of Dartmouth College. While dedicating the new Roth Center for Jewish Life at the college, Freedman used the occasion to look back to Dartmouth's past and a legacy of "bigotry" the college had long since repudiated.

As evidence, Freedman read from selected letters written by Dartmouth admissions officers before World War II indicating Jewish admissions to the college should be limited. The letters reveal shocking language and anti-Semitic arguments from both alumni and college officials. No institution would allow such ethnic arguments today, and the language is rightfully offensive.

The real issue, however, was not the correspondence between these alumni and officials but the origins of Dartmouth College as a Christian institution. The very thought of such origins was almost too much for Dr. Freedman to bear. He read from a 1945 newspaper interview in which Ernest M. Hopkins, then president of Dartmouth, said, "Dartmouth is a Christian college founded for the Christianization of its students."

This statement demonstrates just...

While many Americans long for spiritual support as they face death, few would look to clergy to provide it, according to a Gallup survey cited by Religion News Service.

"A lot of people have deep spiritual needs that are not being met," said pollster George H. Gallup Jr., chairman of the George H. Gallup International Institute in Princeton, N.J. "That is being said over and over again in the results."

According to the RNS article, the survey found 50 percent of Americans consider prayer important at life's end and 44 percent said they would like to receive counseling to reach spiritual peace in their dying days.

But only 36 percent said a member of the clergy would be the most comforting person to them at that time. Family and friends were far more likely to be cited as the most trusted comforters. Eighty-one percent of respondents chose family and 61 percent chose close friends.

Gallup, in an interview with Rel...

Recently I happened to be in a Moslem dictatorship where the president of the country had just purchased 300 new Ford trucks for his army. For the moment I will assume he actually needed the trucks, and they will have nothing to do with enforcing his military rule over his country. I will assume he is a beneficent dictator who wants to lift his people above their current poverty and improve his country's G.N.P.

While I was in his country I talked to a young man who had managed to escape from prison where he had suffered torture — nearly to the point of death — simply for leaving the Islamic faith and becoming a Christian. This young man's body was covered with scars where the president's soldiers had repeatedly cut him, filling his wounds with salt in the attempt to get him to recant his Christianity and return to the Moslem fold. This vibrant young martyr literally bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

By some miracle he had survived....

Spanking Gets a Bum Rap

Last summer, parents who practiced spanking as a form of discipline were rebuked by a University of New Hampshire study which vilified the technique. According to the study led by sociologist Murray Strause, spanking spurs children on to anti-social conduct such as bullying, lying, and cheating. It went on to suggest that violence in America would decline if parents would stop spanking their children.

However, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson has pointed out serious flaws in the study. The mothers surveyed were disproportionately young and single. Also, the children were ages 6-9, generally past the age for corporal punishment. According to Dobson, age 6 usually should be the cutoff point.

Most research appears to back Dobson's view that corporal punishment, applied judiciously and rooted in love, can be helpful. Researcher Robert E. Larzelere analyzed eleven studies on the subject. In...

Sometimes I get down, not real low, just down. Not so low that I could play racquetball on the curb, just down. It helps to understand why you're down. It might even help change DOWN to UP. Let me explain.

These things can bring you D.O.W.N:

DUMB ACTS — Wearing your baseball hat backward to a job interview (unless you want to be an umpire) is a dumb act. A man driving down a country road came to a sign that read: "Road Closed — Do Not Enter." The road ahead looked good, and being an experienced traveler, he ignored the sign and pressed on. Five miles later he came to a washed-out bridge and had to retrace his route. Reaching the reversed side of the warning sign, he read: "Welcome Back, Stupid!"

OTHER PEOPLE — A grocery store cashier was annoyed by people who always asked her the time. In disgust she bought a clock and set it by the cash register. Then people asked her if the clock was right.

S...