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January 1999 Issue

A Visit to the Lobby of Hell

The following is the first person account of Alex, a young mother who felt trapped by her pregnancy. She thought an abortion was her only viable option, but found the bondage of the abortion experience far more severe than she had been told or could have imagined.

Abortion advocates often minimize the trauma of abortion. This account is disturbing and illustrates abortion's destruction not only of the baby, but also of the mother.

They say time heals all wounds. I know now that this age-old saying is patently false.

It's been six years since I aborted the second of my four children. Six years - and I am still unable to speak of that day without breaking down.

The emotion is as raw, the pain of the loss and the shame as deep and fully present in my consciousness as it was on that crisp October morning, six years ago.

My heart went cold when the window of a home pregnancy test confirmed my fears. A single instance of unprotected sex du...

More than 50 percent of pregnancies among American women are unintended and half of these are terminated by abortion, according to research from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm for the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Each year, three out of every 100 women age 15-44 have an abortion. At current rates, an estimated 43 percent of women will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old.

The North American Mission Board has been challenged to educate Southern Baptists on the alternatives to abortion. To that end, the Alternatives for Life Ministries exists to assist churches, associations, and state conventions in providing ministries to women who are facing crisis pregnancies or who have experienced abortion.

Lura Sheppard was named director of the ministry, formerly Alternatives to Abortion Ministries, in April 1997. In connection with Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, January 17, SBC LIFE talked with Sheppard about her rol...

Jalen Beth lived only one hour.

But that precious time was worth all the pain of the previous few months, say her parents, Jay and Lisa Kindsvater.

Jay, collegiate ministries director at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, and Lisa discovered Jalen Beth had severe problems when she was a four-month-old fetus.

A first ultrasound in February revealed the problems. Two days later the Kindsvaters learned from an Oklahoma City perinatalogist that their baby had lethal dwarfism, which meant her head was a little large and the rest of her body was a little small.

What made her condition lethal was that her chest was so small there was no room for the lungs to develop.

"We were told Jalen Beth would probably do very well inside Lisa, but when it came time for her to breathe on her own, she would not be able to," Jay said.

Jay said the couple was in shock after the ultrasound as they headed to Lisa's parents' home to pick up their 2...

Jack Kevorkian has taken the next step in his obsession with death, crossing the line from physician assisted suicide, to euthanasia. To add a macabre twist to the event, his action was taped and televised nationally to an audience of millions.

On Sept. 17, Kevorkian videotaped himself as he administered a lethal injection into the arm Thomas Youk, who reportedly suffered from Lou Gehrig's Disease. Youk, 52, of Waterford, Mich., had lost use of his arms and legs, and was reportedly terrified of choking.

Kevorkian then presented the tape to the producers of the CBS program 60 Minutes, who aired it Nov. 22 before an estimated 15.6 million households.

Kevorkian suggested he administered the injection for the sake of the victim. "If a man is terrified," he told 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace, "it's up to me to dispel that terror."

Kevorkian also revealed his attempt to reshape the nation's laws and the culture's view of death. ...

Some doctrines championed by moderates in the Southern Baptist Convention provided President Clinton with license for his scandalous sexual behavior, according to an article in Newsweek.

In a piece titled, "Sex, Sin and Salvation" in the Nov. 2 issue of the weekly newsmagazine, religion writer Kenneth Woodward says the president's sexual behavior, and his refusal to describe his activities with White House intern Monica Lewinsky as either "sexual relations" or adultery, cannot be understood "without grasping the nuances of his Baptist upbringing."

While some conservative SBC leaders have called for Clinton to resign since he admitted in August misleading his family and the public about what he described as an improper relationship with Lewinsky, more moderate Southern Baptists "see Clinton as both a flawed follower of Christ and an exemplary Baptist president," Woodward writes.

The article chronicles Clinton's public p...

Reaping an Unholy Harvest

Americans attempting to reconcile President Clinton's sex scandals with his membership in a Baptist church received a little assistance from the November 2 1998 issue of Newsweek magazine. The newsmagazine presented an analysis of the President as "Bill the Baptist." It goes a long way toward explaining the President - and the transformation of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Reporter Kenneth L. Woodward described Clinton as "a believer whose faith leaves plenty of license." Plenty, indeed. Woodward traced Clinton's Baptist pilgrimage from his early profession of faith to his more recent controversies, and offers a remarkable insight into the President's rather unusual notions of sin and its consequences.

Most tellingly, the article also introduces those Baptists who seem to think that the President's behavior is perfectly within acceptable bounds for the nation's chief executive and commander in chief. Woodward notes the division of ...

In 1908, dynamic changes took place across the American landscape. The growing availability of the automobile proved to be one of the most dynamic. Henry Ford built the first of 15-million Model Ts that year. A popular saying was, "You could have any color you wanted as long as it was black."

The same could be said of seminary training in that day. Southern Baptists had just one choice, but traveling back east was difficult, if not unrealistic, for ministers serving in western states. America's highway system would not be in place for many years, and it was almost the same distance from Fort Worth to El Paso in West Texas, as it was from Fort Worth to Louisville, Ky.

Our Godly Heritage

B.H. Carroll, an outspoken Baptist preacher in Texas, was burdened with the need for a seminary for the growing Baptist presence in the west. In the spring of 1905, while riding a train through Texas, the aging preacher wrestled over what to do wit...

President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

SBC LIFE Please tell us about your pilgrimage into Southern Baptist higher education, and specifically, to Southwestern.

Hemphill I never expected nor sought to be the president of Southwestern. I fully anticipated that I would pastor a local church for the entirety of my ministry, though I occasionally thought it might be fulfilling to teach at one of our seminaries after I retired from the local church.

I have been privileged to have wonderful pastorates in a rural church, a small town church, and in a mega-church setting in a large metropolitan area. My last pastorate at First Baptist Norfolk was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I would love to have completed my ministry there. About seven years ago, I began to have a great burden to help pastors who had become confused and discouraged by the lack of vitality and growth in their church setting. Responding to that conce...

A Medical Technology That Poses Serious Questions

Scientists have discovered medicinal value in human embryonic cells. However, according to two Southern Baptist ethicists the value does not justify the "evil means" in the process.

The landmark achievement of isolating stem cells from human embryos in order to provide replacement tissues for people with a variety of diseases may be an exciting prospect, but it does not eliminate the fact tiny human beings have to be destroyed to do so, said Richard Land and Ben Mitchell.

"A good end does not justify evil means," Land and Mitchell wrote in a commentary. "Human embryos are ends in themselves, not means to other ends. Just as we would not countenance [the] harvesting of human organs from homeless persons without their consent, so we must not destroy human embryos even to obtain potentially life-saving cells.

"If nurtured and not destroyed, these embryos will develop into human infants. They are not potential human lives; they are human beings w...

A story from Dan Crawford, professor and occupant of the Chair of Prayer at Southwestern Seminary, illustrates the crucial nature of prayer in effective evangelism, and how easily it can be overlooked.

A church in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area had attempted for seven years to establish a base of witness and ministry in an enormous apartment complex that housed 2,000 people. Various students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary had tried various approaches, but apartment management had been adamant in refusing to allow any ministry in the complex. Finally a young woman was assigned the complex and she decided that if she were a resident there, God would open a door. She moved in, but nothing changed. The answer remained, "No."

One day, in Dr. Crawford's prayer class, she heard about prayerwalking - intercession in the world on behalf of a lost world. As she drove home that evening God showed her that they had tried everything but the first thing - prayer. Agreeing...

Ministering to the Minister

It has been called "unique" by some, "ministry saving" by others, and "a blessing to my ministry" by almost all who attend. What is being referred to are Real Evangelism Bible Conferences sponsored nationwide each year by Bailey Smith Ministries. Designed to inspire and encourage ministers and laypeople alike, the conferences drew 40,000 attendees in 1998, and organizers anticipate 60,000 to attend the 1999 conferences.

Evangelist Bailey Smith is the host of the conferences, which he originated fifteen years ago. Smith has long been recognized for his evangelistic zeal. As pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Okla., he was noted for baptizing 2,000 in one year. He left the church thirteen years ago to enter full-time evangelism, and has conducted more then 400 evangelistic meetings since. He estimates that more than 100,000 have made professions of faith at those meetings.

Smith has also authored a book entitled Real Evangelism...

Here it is 1999!

We are even now signaling our turn into the next millennium. Who can say what it will be like? Some suggest that there is the slightest trace of sulfur in the air, indicating the advance of Apocalypse. Some say that the golden dawn bleeding through the weakened ozone is glint from God's chariots of fire.

Millennial corners! Is there anything to them? Will New Year's Eve 1999 be more significant or ominous than any other new year? It would seem so, for even as this is being written, people are purchasing tickets at great expense to see the new millennium in at the pyramids, or Notre Dame, or the Great Wall.

What is all this about?

Well, this coming New Year's Eve seems to approach as a celebration of our anthropological egotism. Human beings seem all set to celebrate their long evolutionary climb from cosmic worm to pyramid builder. The threshold of the new millennium is the place to celebrate these human triumphs. Yes, folks, accordin...

When you got up this morning did you sing Oh What A Beautiful Morning, or did you sing, Make the World Go Away? When you took your bath did your Ivory soap bar sink? Then you may have the blues.

Life has its great times, it has its average times, and then it has its rough times. The mountains always have valleys. The old preacher said, "Sometimes I'm up, sometimes I'm down, and sometimes I'm almost to the ground." Sometimes we feel like we're on the fast track, and other times like we're on the slow track. But sometimes we may feel like we're tied to the track. Those are the times when you feel helpless, hopeless, humorless, and hurt.

Everyone has been through it. People have different names for it. Paul called it losing heart, Swindol called it low tide, Spurgeon called it the minister's fainting fits, the psalmist called it the depths, the poet called it the dark night of the soul, psychologists call it depression, and I call it M...

Blood Pressure Benefits

Another study has linked good health with religion. The latest shows lower blood pressure among older people of faith.

A Duke University study of 4,000 North Carolinians ages 65 or over found those who participated in religious activities were 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease.

According to an Aug. 11, 1998 AP article, study co-author Dr. Harold Koenig suggested the study provides additional evidence of the benefit of religious activity.

"We're becoming more aware that religious beliefs or practices are not negative for a person's health," Koenig said. "In fact, they could be very positive."

Research revealed that older residents who attended religious services at least once a week, and those who read the Bible or prayed regularly had consistently lower diastolic readings. The dia...