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December 1999 Issue

No Country is Closed to God's Love

The Arab Muslims of the Sudan: Could they be the "poster kids" for lostness?

Baptist representative Mike Sanford has good reason to think so. Based on Mike's description, one could easily conclude that the home of this people group in west central Africa is one of the most closed to the gospel of any place on earth.

To begin with, only a handful of Christian believers exist among approximately 25 million people living in the north, east, and west parts of Sudan, Africa's largest country. Some groups have no believers at all - since becoming a Christian is against the law for Muslims there, says Sanford (not his real name).

Additionally, these Sudanese Arabs, which form one of the largest unreached people groups, never question their religious heritage, he says. When asked if they ever wonder if the Koran is true or if they ever think about truths presented in the Bible, they quickly bellow, "No!"

"Muslims love to talk about God and...

When is Our Assignment Complete?

Task: A piece of work assigned to or demanded of a person; an undertaking involving labor or difficulty.

Unfinished: Not completed or perfected; incomplete.

What is our task as God's people? To love Him, obey Him - and proclaim His blessed name among all peoples. That assignment is as old as Abraham, to whom God promised "a great nation. ... And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen.12:1-3). Believing God's promise, Abraham obeyed His command to leave home for a strange land.

Abraham's descendants, however, failed to carry out their missionary purpose - restated over and over in the Scriptures - to be a light to the nations. Like Jonah, who ran from God's command to preach to pagan Ninevah, the Israelites frequently fled from their mission - or took it easy in Zion. This continued generation after generation, until God personally entered history to reconcile all peoples to Hims...

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, named for a devoted missionary to China, is the primary funding vehicle for Southern Baptists to support overseas missionary efforts. It provides nearly 50 percent of the IMB funding, with every dollar given to the offering being used in the overseas budget. This year's Lottie Moon offering goal of $125 million is part of a larger challenge to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Cooperative Program. SBC leaders hope to raise a total of $750 million through CP, the Lottie Moon offering, and the Annie Armstrong offering for North American missions combined. Currently, CP funds account for roughly 35 percent of the IMB's budget.

Today, nearly 5,000 IMB missionaries are serving on international missions fields. Following are examples of some common costs that they incur. Perhaps God can use these examples to challenge groups within your church as they decide on their own contributions to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.

$20 will provid...

A Partners in the Harvest Challenge

The following are edited excerpts from the report by Dr. Jerry Rankin, president of the SBC International Mission Board, to the Executive Committee during their September meeting.

God is continuing to bless as we move forward with the seventh consecutive year of record missionary appointments. Our missionary personnel office, who is now nurturing over 3,000 candidates committed to missionary appointment, have predicted that we will come very close to a thousand new missionaries sent out and commissioned in 1999.

We're seeing unprecedented growth in journeymen as college students finish their education and give two years to reaching our world for Jesus Christ. God is blessing as He continues to call out Southern Baptists in unprecedented numbers.

Of course, this is creating a problem in itself. We have already exceeded the capacity of our Missionary Learning Center. We have had to shorten orientation sessions, go off site, at great expense, to have special orientat...

At the dawning of the new millennium, Southern Baptists are broadcasting the Good News twenty-four hours each day to millions of North American homes. Life-changing testimonies abound, such as:

• "Last night on Swan's Place, Dr. Swanberg explained how I could accept Jesus as my Savior. I want you to know that I did ask Jesus into my heart. Thank you so much for caring for my family and me."

• "Thanks to COPE on FamilyNet, when my sister told me she was thinking about taking her life, I didn't panic. As I learned from the program, I asked her calmly if she had a plan, if she had a timetable, and if she would make a contract with me not to hurt herself or anyone else without talking with me first. She told me up until then she really didn't think anyone cared if she lived or died. And, she agreed to make a contract with me. She is now getting professional help and is beginning to enjoy life again."

• The morning af...

With Christmas as one of the most popular times during the year for weddings, we offer the following marriage ceremony between a Christian and a non-Christian for your prayerful consideration.

Dear Friends, we have gathered here today to witness a disaster in the making. For reasons none of us can understand, Martha here has decided she wants to be married to Chester.

Martha - church-goer, hymn-singer, happy, raised right - is throwing it all away in order to marry Chet here, a smug, ungodly rascal who gets with his buddies and makes jokes about Christians. Why Chester and Martha want to lock themselves into marriage is beyond me.

You two will be unequally yoked. In Deuteronomy 22:10 God tells farmers not to do that. An ox and a donkey or a mule and a cow are different animals. They can't work together. Over in the New Testament, in II Corinthians 6:14, God tells brides and grooms not to make the same mistake; for Christians not to marry non-believers.

<...

Too many youth ministries today are like cotton candy - youth love it, parents enjoy it, and it looks so good, but when you get to its heart - there simply is nothing there, according to Calvin Carr, high school youth educational director at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.

"Cotton candy ministry tastes good, but when you bite into it, there is nothing to it," Carr said during Culture Shock '99, an annual youth ministry conference Sept. 20-22 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.

Carr described cotton candy youth ministry as that which does not change lives. Conversely, biblical youth ministry should be modeled after Christ's example in the New Testament in which He impacted people's wills and lives, he said.

"If Jesus Christ doesn't change us, do we really have Jesus?" Carr asked. "Do we really have the real thing if we are no different? In a cotton candy youth ministry there are no changed lives. ...

The popular adolescent-centered methodology driving youth ministry today needs to be replaced by adult mentoring, said the author of a book released earlier this year describing adolescence as a modern social theory responsible for prolonging the irresponsible years of childhood.

"You can tell if somebody has an adolescent approach to youth ministry," said David Alan Black, professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C. "If everything is segregated - youth choir, youth Sunday school classes, youth missions, retreats, youth prayer meetings, youth everything," it is adolescent-centered, he said.

"I want you to consider the importance of mentoring your youth," Black said. "That is, moving away from peer-centered focus to an adult-centered focus. We need to get our teenagers with responsible adults. It's always been the best [way]."

Speaking during "Culture Shock '99,"...

More Homosexual Advances in Public Education

Homosexuality will become more acceptable to students, especially elementary ones, if a conference sponsored recently by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) fulfills its goals.

More than 700 teachers, administrators, high school and college students, and homosexual activists attended GLSEN's third annual conference, "Teaching Respect for All '99," in Atlanta, according to Conservative News Service. They heard from speakers such as Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and attended strategy sessions on such topics as addressing homosexuality in elementary and middle schools, affirming "transgender youth," and responding to the religious right, according to reports in CNS and CultureFacts, a publication of Family Research Council.

GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings said at the three-day meeting his organization would be "shameless" in promoting pro-homosexual programs to all 15,000 schools in the country, CultureFacts rep...

These six books would make excellent additions to your pastor's library this holiday season - gifts that will encourage, inspire, and equip him for ministry in the next millennium.

Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics
by Norman Geisler

A one-volume dictionary covering every key issue, person, and concept related to Christian apologetics, this encyclopedia offers vital information and advice for all Christians who encounter skeptics. It will serve as a valuable resource for the increasing challenges to the validity of the Christian faith. (Baker Book House)

Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible

For the Bible student who desires word...

Infinite, and an infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman ... Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother's arms. King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph. Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter's despised son. - C.H. Spurgeon, New Park Street Pulpit (Vol. 4, 1858)

"The Word became flesh" (John 1:14); God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared in earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wiggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. And there was no illusion or deception in this: the babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation. - J.I. Packer, Knowing God

Praise God for Christmas.
Praise Him for the Incarnation, for the Word made
F...

'Twuzz the night before ... well, never mind. Anyway ...

Mr. S. took his Prozac, then slouched for the day,
(Psychotic, neurotic, chaotic I'd say).
And the elves at the pole,
Felt frazzled and old,
As they sidled up to the sleigh.

The time for the annual flight was at hand.

The reindeer had brought him an antlered mandate,
"You're a hard man to fly - Take off some weight.
You've gotten so round,
We can't leave the ground,
We're reindeer not Clydesdales, okay?"

Inspired by Amway positivism and Herbalife.

Mr. S was a victim of manic depression.
He couldn't lose weight, he had an obsession.
He ate and he ate,
Till his size 58,
In the snow made an awful impression.

Mr. S. wasn't feeling great about himself.

"Now Dancer, now Dasher, now Prancer, now Vixen,
Now Comet, now Cupid, n...

Millennial Morality Half of all Americans polled think religion will have a greater influence on American daily life in the year 2025, according to the Princeton Religious Research Center. And for everyone who believes that Americans will be less religious in a quarter century than they are today, there is another who believes they will be more religious. Paradoxically, six in ten Americans expect moral values in society to be worse in the year 2025 than they are today. Rocky Mountain Baptist, March 1999

What if the remedy doesn't work? I heard about a farmer who had some chickens that were all dying. He called the agricultural agent and said, "I had 600 chickens and now I'm down to 300. They are dying. What do I do?" The agent said, "You need to give them some penicillin." Then he told the farmer how much penicillin he needed. A few days later he called back and told the agent he was down to 150 chickens. "They are dying quickly. I need some more advice." The agent said, "Give them some castor oil twice a day. That ought to help." The farmer called back and said he was down to fifty chickens. The agent said, "This is what you do: give them aspirin twice a day." Two days later he told the agent all the chickens were dead. There was silence on the line. Then the agent said, "That's a shame. I have a lot more remedies to try."

We want to keep trying remedies, but some things can't be fixed. It was children's day at ch...