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May 1998 Issue

Southern Baptists are mobilizing to share the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ in northern Utah June 5-12 through Crossover Salt Lake City. The Crossover outreach is the annual evangelistic blitz held before and during the SBC annual meeting.

It is an effort that has taken on much broader focus and heightened urgency this year because of the convention's location on the home turf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But national coordinators say the events have the same ultimate objectives as always — reaching all people in need of salvation.

"While Mormons own the culture in Salt Lake City, there are more than 500,000 people living in the Wasatch Front who have no religious affiliation of any kind," said Don Smith, evangelism associate at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) who is coordinating the Crossover effort on a national level. The Wasatch Front, stretching from beyond Ogden in the north to Provo in the South, e...

The grade-school boys packed inside the church van were squirming with excitement. For many, this was their first real campout. The truck that followed was packed with all the food, bedding, tents, and other assorted gear the boys and their sponsors thought necessary for the three-day wilderness adventure. One of the men had even thrown in some dry wood just in case the continuing drizzle made it difficult to find the crucial commodity.

This would be the trip of a lifetime, a memory-maker — except that in the busyness of all the preparations, someone forgot the matches. Years later, all that most of those campers recall is that no one remembered to bring the matches.

Rarely have we been as prepared for the experiences we will face during our annual meeting of the SBC. Each agency has done its part in planning for those days together. My heart is filled with gratitude and excitement as I look forward to days of witnessing, fellowship, and challenge. We anticipate re...

It begins far out in the ocean. Shock waves from an earthquake beneath the ocean floor push a wall of water toward the distant shore. The tsunami builds in size and intensity as it thunders toward land.

This is the vision of Prayer Wave Iran '98 — World Day of Prayer and Fasting. The goal is to involve more than ten million believers in a wave of prayer that will thunder around the world, sweeping thousands — perhaps even millions — of Iranians into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Each year, the International Mission Board sponsors a day of prayer and fasting for world evangelization. This year's emphasis, which focuses on the Muslims of Iran, will be promoted among other evangelical groups under the Prayer Wave Iran '98 theme.

Prayer organizers hope to mobilize the body of Christ in a strategic, synchronous, unified wave of prayer and fasting that will sweep the globe in twenty-four hours, beginning at the International ...

R-rated movies accounted for nearly two-thirds of the releases by Disney-related companies in 1997, according to Austin Pryor, publisher of Sound Mind Investing newsletter.

Disney revenue from R-rated films surpassed $750 million in 1997, up nearly four times over the $199 million five years earlier, in 1993, Pryor reported in the newsletter's February edition, citing figures from the Internet Movie Database.

R-rated films accounted for 65 percent of Disney's fare in 1997, up from 40 percent in 1993, Pryor, of Louisville, Ky., reported.

"The overwhelming proportion of Disney's films are not friendly to families, kids, or our Judeo-Christian values," Pryor wrote in the newsletter, describing the R-rated films as containing "shocking degrees of violence, profanity, and sexuality."

"When we — or our teens — spend our money to watch Disney films, we are subsidizing corporate behavior that is at war with the things we cherish most," Pryor contended.

"Still worse, our kids are absorbing Disney's view of morality, ethics, and what brings satisfaction in ...

The debate about whether a woman is permitted to be a pastor continues to intensify.

NAMB's new flagship periodical will emphasize personal evangelism and spotlight "on mission" lifestyles.

Why is it that many Christians rarely share their faith? Fear, intimidation, lack of training, and lack of commitment might top the list for many. But when it comes right down to it, most Christians have not developed a lifestyle that intentionally creates and looks for opportunities to share Christ with those around them. On Mission, the new flagship magazine from the North American Mission Board, will encourage and help Christians be intentional about evangelism.

"Growing and serving in the church are not all God wants for us as Christians," said Nate Adams, Vice President of Media and Missions Education at NAMB. "He wants us to be involved in leading others to Christ. We want to help readers discover how God has uniquely shaped each of them to share Christ."

Adams began leading media and missions education ef...

Can a local church in an urban setting effectively evangelize and disciple people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds?

Apparently so, according to organizers of the Kingdom Mosaic Multi-Cultural Urban Ministry Conference, sponsored in February by the Gulf Stream Baptist Association of South Florida.

The conference brought pastors and denominational leaders together to consider how God is working in urban churches to reach various ethnic and cultural neighbors with the gospel. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor of the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and President of the Urban Alternative, was this year's keynote speaker.

On Sunday night and in Monday sessions, Evans challenged participants to function as the church, regardless of cultural settings. He pointed out that the church is at the center of God's plan to make the gospel transcultural.

"The United Nations will never succeed in its goal for racial reconciliation, universal p...

Editor's note: Messengers to next month's annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention will consider a recommendation to change the name of the Sunday School Board to LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. SSB President James T. Draper, Jr. recently responded to questions related to the proposed change.

Why is a new name needed?

Our current name no longer reflects the diversity of our ministries. When the Sunday School Board was established in 1891, it was appropriately named to describe its single assignment, producing Sunday school literature. Through the years, the scope of our ministries has expanded dramatically.

Today, in addition to Sunday school, we provide resources and services for discipleship, music, family life, multicultural ministries, pastors and church staff, and many others. We operate a nationwide chain of book stores and two national conference centers. We publish books and Bibles and provide church supplies and gifts.

And this year, new ministries related to church history, Christian schools and home schooling, stewardship educatio...

Do Infants Who Die Go to Heaven?
The death of an infant or young child is profoundly heartbreaking — perhaps the greatest grief a parent is called to bear.

It's May and time to reflect once again on that blessed genre of humanity called Motherhood. Mother is a word that many would like to forget. Single women often feel the word is too exclusive. Some career women often feel the word has a sense of limited success to it. And radical feminists feel it has a stone-age ring. I rather like the word myself, but then I'm a man, and if there's any word that ranks lower than the word mother with the above categories, it could be the word man. But pardon my gender a moment as I reflect on the idea of motherhood.

My mother has been gone for twenty years now, but I miss her much. She was a practical woman, who lived much of her life as a widow with nine children (I won't argue how practical it is for a woman to have nine kids, but in the 1930's it did not seem as impractical as it has since become). At any rate when you have nine little ones you learn to survive by trying to make up with creativity what y...

Nativity Stays

In March the Supreme Court ruled to allow Syracuse, N.Y., to continue sponsoring the annual display of a Christmas Nativity scene in a public park.

According to AP reports, the court, without comment, turned away a woman's argument that the display amounts to government endorsement of religion even though the city also allows a privately owned menorah to be displayed in another public park.

Carol A. Elewski, a self-described atheist, asked a federal judge in 1995 to bar Syracuse from sponsoring the Nativity scene, which depicts the biblical version of the birth of Jesus. It includes a banner proclaiming, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo."

The judge ruled against her, saying there was no evidence the scene in front of a fifty-foot Christmas tree was intended to convey a religious message, according to AP.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. noted that a display in a nearby par...

After an elementary teacher gave a science lesson on magnets, she gave her students a quiz to see how much they had learned. One of the questions read, "My name starts with 'M.' I have six letters and I pick up things. What am I?" Half the class answered with the six-letter word "Mother."

Thank goodness God made mothers because mothers not only pick up things, they pick us up. Who is the first person you think about when you fall down and go boom? Chances are it is your mother.

God had a great idea when He invented mothers. I have the old fashion kind of mom. She still thinks that the kitchen is for something other than resale value. The breakfast I had was a little like heaven — biscuits, cream gravy, bacon, and sausage — a cholesterol feast. It was wonderful.

Mom cooked from scratch and made clothes from scratch. Now, there were some unpleasant times in my childhood. I guess everyone has his or her dysfunction. Mine is ...