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August 1999 Issue

The following letter was sent by Morris H. Chapman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the SBC Executive Committee to the members of the Executive Committee, along with the Marriage Covenant commitment card.

June 2, 1999

Dear Members:

I write you today with a sense of genuine excitement. God has been faithful once again to lead Southern Baptists into a new dimension of ministry that could be so far-reaching as to encompass the world. On Tuesday, May 11, 1999, in New York, New York, an announcement was made to officially initiate the Covenant Marriage Movement. Though the announcement was made on May 11, the movement began on Tuesday, February 23, 1999. On that day a group of representatives from cooperating ministries gathered in Dallas, Texas, to discern what God is doing in our nation as it relates to marriage and family.

As was expected, God brought unity of spirit to that meeting and began an organized expression of His will. The Co...

The Covenant Marriage Movement

LifeWay Christian Resources has joined with approximately twenty church and par-church groups to encourage married couples to stay committed for life.

A representative group of the national religious organizations, with a combined constituency of more than 30 million, publicly kicked off the Covenant Marriage Movement May 11 in New York City at the Regency Hotel. The group signed an agreement committing to help couples make their marriages stronger.

In addition to Southern Baptists, participants in the Covenant Marriage Movement include the Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers, Moody Bible Institute, and Marriage Savers.

"The focus of the Covenant Marriage Movement is to uplift the positive in marriages and challenge couples to stand in support of a lifelong commitment," said Phil Waugh, LifeWay family enrichment specialist who is co-chair of the Covenant Marriage steering team. "As a collective body of cooperating m...

Ed Gamble believes training children is a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year, "forever" responsibility.

Gamble, headmaster at The First Academy, a ministry of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla., said the generic term Christian education might mean anything from Sunday school to Wednesday night missions education to Monday-through-Friday schooling. In contrast, he speaks of Kingdom education, a term that represents God's expectation of parents for educating children.

A resource used by faculty and staff at The First Academy, Kingdom Education published by LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., defines the term as "God's plan to educate future generations to develop a God-centered world view, and, therefore, to think and act according to God's ways."

Gamble reasons, "If we don't educate our own kids, who will? Who is going to teach your world view? Who is in charge?"

Kingdom education, ...

Crowd Responds with Lord's Prayer to Graduation Prayer Controversy

As some 4,000 voices joined together in an impromptu Lord's Prayer at a recent high school graduation ceremony in Maryland, one protesting graduating senior left in a huff, but thousands of residents in Calvert County proclaimed a victory for majority rule.

"This is a democratic society in which the majority rules," said pastor Phil Logan of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Calvert County, some forty miles south of Washington. "While it is important to recognize and uphold the rights of the individual, those rights never should triumph over the rights of the majority. That is, after all, what democracies are all about."

The incident occurred during graduation exercises May 26 at Northern High School in Calvert County after student Julie Schenk, 17, had to change her plans to deliver an invocation at the ceremony. The change was ordered just a few days before the event when classmate Nick Becker, 18, objected and found backing from the American Civil Liberties Unio...

Reaping Life from Death

"Truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24 NASB)

Since the tragic shooting in Littleton, Colo., God appears to be using the death of Cassie Bernall to bear fruit in high schools across the land.

On April 20, Cassie sat in the library of Columbine High School when a fellow student pointed a gun to her head and asked, "Do you believe in God?" When she responded, "Yes, I believe in God," the gunman pulled the trigger, killing her instantly.

Since that day in Littleton, teens everywhere have been spurred on in their faith by Cassie's act of martyrdom. Friend, Erika Dendorfer, said in a National Public Radio interview, "I'm sad that she had to go in the way that she did with two killers, but I'm happy that she went dying for Christ." Another frien...

The following is the inauguration banquet address by James T. Draper, Jr., for Mark Brister, president of Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

The greatest challenge facing you, Mark, will be to keep OBU a Baptist institution. The move today is toward "serving" Baptists, but not "being" Baptist. I believe that this institution needs to not only serve Baptists, but to also be Baptist in every respect.

The Word of God declares: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.... (Ps. 111:10).

Some academic skeptic once said "Christian education is an oxymoron." The academy abounds with those who think the same thing of education by Baptists and for Baptists. Some are embarrassed that the academy must be encumbered by anything so archaic as a confessional stance. That is not the case at OBU. This has been and continues to be a Baptist institution with a strong confessional stance.

James T. Burtchaell d...

My curiosity was piqued as I stood before the beautiful painting of Lottie Moon at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A detail that may have seemed insignificant to some caught my attention. Lottie Moon is honored by Southern Baptists as a pioneer missionary whose life of commitment has earned her a prominent place in the Baptist "Hall of Fame." But this was not what had captured my interest.

Since I am not trained as an art critic, I was not drawn to technical aspects of the painting's execution. Had I been more acquainted with the history and culture of China, perhaps the details of the painting would have been of greater interest. Instead, as a missionary, I could see her resolve, her love, her cultural adaptation, and her burden for the lost. Yet, as a missionary to Israel, I saw something else.

On the desk beside Miss Moon is a scroll, bearing the words of Mark 16:15 in three languages. It was not surprising to me that one of them was English - her native to...

SBC President and Pastors Commit

One by one, they stood before messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta committing themselves and their churches to be Partners in the Harvest. Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist in Dallas, Jim Henry of FBC Orlando, Adrian Rogers of Bellevue in Memphis, and James Merritt of FBC Snellville, Ga., shared with the messengers why they eagerly support the Cooperative Program and the Partners in the Harvest emphasis.

The Cooperative Program Development staff solicited responses from these men as well as Paige Patterson, SBC President, concerning evangelism, missions, and the Cooperative Program. The following are excerpts from their comments.

CP Staff What has been the most effective evangelistic strategy for your church?

Merritt The most effective evangelistic strategy for our church has been simple week-in and week-out training, en...

Preparations are being made across the nation for the millennial calendar roll over. Major businesses, the entire banking industry, and governments at every level have spent billions attempting to prevent a millennial meltdown and prepare contingencies for potential Y2K-related crises. Government and private emergency management agencies have warned citizens to prepare for one to two weeks of disruptions in utilities and food distribution.1

If one is inclined to make decisions based on objective data and reason rather than mere emotion, such information should justify preparation, and thus prevent victimization at the hands of Y2K.

There are, however, at least three categories of potential Y2K victims within our church families that may need special attention: the misinformed, those inclined to panic, and after January 1, 2000, those facing shortages in food, water, and other basic necessities. These need not become victims of the hype, hysteria, or realities of ...

Hats off - or should I say helmets off - to Lincoln Gaskin of Melbourne, Australia, who was the first (worldwide) ticket buyer for The Phantom Menace. To win this title he had to camp out on the sidewalk in front of Mann's Chinese Theater for thirty-six days! So now he has joined that great crowd of witnesses who were there when the first celluloid frames began to roll through the projector. Here's to you, Lincoln Gaskin, for some are mentioning your name alongside Lindberg (the first to cross the Atlantic by air) and Columbus (the first to do it by ship). It's always good to be first at something really important.

And this must be important, based on those Phantom Menace dollars rolling in to the Lucas organization. Princess Amidala is more popular than the Taco Bell Chihuahua. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is staring out at us from Pizza Huts (no relation to Jobba The . . .) and Jar-Jar is a big name at Toys R Still Us. And so are live-action dolls (remember that two-th...

Many people have the philosophy "Ready, aim, aim, aim." They never get around to doing anything. They aim to do this, or aim to do that, and someday they aim to do something great. They aim but they never pull the trigger. Many times procrastination leads to discouragement and depression. We put off doing something and then it gets bigger and more difficult so we put it off again. Our philosophy becomes, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow." Now the molehill has become a mountain, and you're really depressed. My advice is - just do it! If you have to eat a bunch of frogs, go ahead and eat the big one first. Get it over with.

When I was a practicing psychologist people called to tell me that they were too depressed to get out of bed. I would say, "You have to get out of bed." They would say, "I'm too depressed. How do I get out of bed?" I would say, "Take one foot and put it on the floor and r...

TV and Technology Trends

The Communications Industry Report recently released projections on media usage for the year 2001. The report projects that total media usage per week per person will increase from the 1990 figure of 35.4 hours to 40.1 hours. In 1990, however, 60.7 percent of those hours were spent viewing broadcast TV while only 18.9 percent were spent viewing cable TV. This will change in 2001, according to the report, with only 39.8 percent of those hours spent watching broadcast TV and 34.6 percent watching cable TV. Internet use will be up 1.2 percent from 1990, comprising a total of only 1.9 percent of all media usage. The only category of media usage other than broadcast TV predicted to decline is book reading.

Reason, April 1999


The Four Commandments?

Only four of...