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February 2000 Issue

Assisting Montana Churches and Pastors

The meeting with the prospective pastor of Glendive Baptist Church last fall brought back memories for Mike McKinney, director of missions for the Big Sky and Hi-Line Baptist Associations. Just as McKinney had done eight years earlier, Rick Perkins was answering a call of God to leave a comfortable pastorate in small-town Texas to serve as a pastor in Montana.

They talked about the realities of the decision: the inability of most Montana churches to support full-time pastors; the months of subzero temperatures; and even the reduced status in the community relative to their counterparts in the South. But then there was the call - confirmed by family and God - that outweighed all the obstacles. Perkins began his term as Glendive's pastor Jan. 1.

"I could identify with that," said McKinney, who came to Montana in 1991. "When I was a pastor in Texas, God laid that same call on my heart. Every time I would hear about the Northwest, I would say, 'Oh, I n...

These are just a few of the 5,000 missionaries of the North American Mission Board currently serving throughout the United States and Canada. They are featured during the March 5-12 Week of Prayer for North American Missions, but their stories are representative of needs and challenges everywhere. Khalil "Charlie" and Amal Hanna, San Jose, California Khalil "Charlie" Hanna, a native of Egypt, helps start churches among Arabic people throughout California. The vast majority of individuals from Middle-Eastern countries are Muslim, so when sharing the gospel Hanna is careful to call himself "born again" or a "believer." Pray that God would provide him wisdom in sharing the gospel to Muslims and in finding the right individuals to lead new churches.

More than 1,200 North Carolina churches have joined the Cooperative Program's Partners in the Harvest campaign, and state Baptist leaders said they are astounded by the unprecedented participation.

"We should have more churches participating, but this is quite remarkable," said Dan Euliss, team leader for stewardship education and offering promotion. "To be honest, we only thought we would have 500 churches participate."

For the record, Euliss said 1,250 North Carolina churches signed commitment cards and that posed a problem. "Since we were only expecting 500 churches to sign up, we only ordered 500 planning kits. Now, we're trying to find 750 more kits."

Euliss attributed the success of the commitments to a presentation made at North Carolina's state convention by Steve Scoggins, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.

"He gave a challenge to the pastors and told them to make gi...

At a national meeting of evangelical theologians and biblical scholars with the theme of eschatology, one might expect familiar intramural debates on the timing of the rapture or the nature of the millennium.

Instead, the fifty-first annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society also included controversy over such questions as whether God knows the future and whether faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. Two Baptist theologians, Bruce Ware and Clark Pinnock, stood on opposing sides of the ever-widening chasm among evangelicals on what many believe were once considered unassailable Christian doctrines of God and the gospel.

ETS, founded in 1949, is the national organization for theologians and biblical scholars who hold to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. More than 1,100 of the organization's 2,850 members attended the annual meeting in the suburbs of Boston, Nov. 17-19.

Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theolog...

A seminary professor's new volume on the composition and the origins of New Testament documents challenges liberal theologians' theories of who wrote the books and when.

Arguing for a "corporate authorship," the use of common traditions and the presence of a common "opposition mission," E. Earle Ellis, author of The Making of the New Testament Documents, concludes that the New Testament was composed by four apostolic missions and, for the most part, between A.D. 50 and 70.

Ellis, research professor of theology emeritus and "scholar in residence" at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, reaches historical conclusions in sharp contrast to those of the Jesus Seminar, which supposes that the gospels were written long after A.D. 70 by unknown authors.

Ellis' work is an important resource in answering the theories of the Jesus Seminar and a similar group focusing on Paul, said So...

The Life-Changing Story of Michael Johnston

It was August in Alaska and the leaves had already turned. The sky was dark and lifeless as the white clouds of summer had given way to the flat cover of winter. The leaves hung limp under the cold rain. As I walked from the car to the doors of the health clinic, I felt a damp chill in the air.

This was not an unfamiliar place for me. Over the years I had been checked a number of times for one "social" disease or another. One thing we understood very well in the homosexual sub-culture, sexually transmitted diseases were rampant. However, this particular visit was different. Two weeks earlier they had drawn blood to test for antibodies to HIV, the virus we now believe causes AIDS. As I waited in a small room for the results, I started to wonder if all the foolish choices I had made over the years would suddenly catch up with me. But as quickly as that thought came, I pushed it aside. After all, I thought, I'm in control here and I wanted to get on with my life. At tha...

Part 1 of an Interview with Michael Johnston

Michael Johnston lived the homosexual lifestyle for several years before repenting and yielding control of his life to the Lord. However, during that time he contracted the AIDS virus. He is the founder and president of Kerusso Ministries, which is dedicated to declaring the biblical truth about homosexuality and opposing the cultural agenda of the homosexual movement.

SBC LIFE What should Christians know about witnessing to homosexuals?

Johnston Christians have to remember that there are two kinds of homosexuals out there. There are those who have never come to know the Lord, who are lost as they can be, and desperately need to hear the gospel. They can be saved. God's hand of grace will reach down into the farthest depths of the gutter.

There are also individuals who have a real faith but have gotten off the track. They've been deceived and need someone to share the Word of God with them so they might be convicted of their sin, repent of it, and come back to the Lord.

But we've got to reach out to bot...

The federal government is supporting the religious discrimination claim of a former Southern Baptist pastor who said his beliefs cost him his job at a North Carolina newspaper.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued the Raleigh News & Observer for alleged discrimination and unfair employment practices. The lawsuit asks that Tim Wilkins be awarded back pay, reinstatement to his job, and punitive damages.

Ironically, Wilkins had contacted the Rutherford Institute in August for help with his case. Three months earlier, he sued the newspaper for alleged defamation of character for a story it ran about his dismissal. However, that case is being handled separately from the discrimination claim.

Ron Rissler, legal coordinator for Rutherford, a Charlottesville, Va.-based Christian rights organization, said he was surprised to learn recently that the EEOC had filed a lawsuit on Aug. 31.

"It was quite a surprise to us becaus...

New Challenges to a Biblical World View

As we stand at the dawn of a new millennium, we face yet another Pandora's Box. This one threatens to unleash an assortment of bio-technical devils stemming from recent research in the area of human genes and genetic codes.

As a result of the Human Genome Project, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, issues such as genetic mapping and sequencing, genetic engineering, cloning, organ farming, and other health-related issues will raise questions that could challenge our biblical world view.

Medical advancements in the area of genetics may have outpaced our spiritual and ethical preparedness to deal with the results of our research. For example, currently there is a moratorium on human cloning. But what if this changes? How are we to respond?

The area of greatest challenge will likely be an increased conflict between perspectives on genetic propensity (the tendency toward a certain behavior) and human responsibility. That is, if researchers claim to d...

Lessons from Habakkuk

When my father pastored a small Southern Baptist church in rural Northeast Mississippi, we lived in the pastorium, an old stone house that was full of character. The floor plan was consistent with the older homes of the area - it had one long hardwood hallway running from the front door through the center to the back of the house, with bedrooms, living room, one bathroom, kitchen, and dining room branching off to either side. The rear of the hallway served as the utility room, where the washer and dryer were installed facing the front entrance.

While living in that home, we collected an assortment of pets, including a slightly aloof, highly opinionated, and intensely curious Siamese cat named "Cat-two." (We had another Siamese cat before this one. Her name was "Cat" - we were pragmatic when it came to naming pets.) One day, Cat-two's curiosity led to an extraordinary encounter with our new dryer at the end of the hall.

My mother had just taken a lo...

"They will not tell me what I can or can't preach."

It is an almost unbelievable circumstanc e to consider that "they" in this forceful statement is in regard to the United States Navy.

Yet Lt. Commander Philip Veitch, a chaplain in service to his God and country, faced a court-martial after leading the troops in his care in a Scripture-based sermon on the sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

"Christ is alone sufficient as our mediator," said Veitch. "We don't turn to ministers, we don't turn to priests, ministers ordained or unordained. No one compares to Christ in His sovereign competence of what He did for us at Calvary."

Veitch, in the Dec. 3 broadcast of his interview with CBN News, shared a remarkable story.

While stationed in Naples, Italy, the sermon based on Matthew 16 led him to be labeled "anti-priest," "di...

Congress should investigate gambling industry attempts to market its business to children, including the use of slot machines with juvenile themes, a diverse coalition has written in a letter to both Senate and House of Representatives leaders.

Among the twenty-one signers of the letter were Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and four members of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, including Focus on the Family President James Dobson.

In its letter, the coalition of conservatives, academics, and consumer advocates cites recent news reports of slot machines with "child-enticing themes," such as Candyland, a board game for young children; the board game Monopoly, and the cartoon and television shows The Pink Panther, The Three Stooges, South Park, The Addams Family, and I Dream of Jeannie.

In light of these reports, the coalition urged Senate and House committees to "i...

Chief financial officers of Southern Baptist Convention entities learned Sept. 21 that savings of more than $2 million have been generated in the last year through cooperative purchasing agreements.

The move to leverage the collective buying power of SBC entities and free up operational funds for ministry began about four years ago at the national level. Eight agreements have now been completed for copiers, vehicles, software, hardware, long distance and cellular telephone service, office supplies, and relocation. Thirteen national organizations and nine state conventions currently are participating.

"We felt it was a matter of Christian stewardship to explore ways to save money on these items so that more could be used for missions and ministry," Jim Carter, vice president of the Finance and Business Services Division of LifeWay Christian Resources, said. "It has been rewarding to work with sister entities on this project. The more participation we can ge...

Two bouts of rheumatic fever, Sjogren's syndrome, and the ravages of cancer and its treatment provide but a glimpse into the painful life of Clara Cox.

Cox, a member of Chatmoss Baptist Church in Martinsville, Va., also suffered from an abusive mother and an abusive spouse.

Her godly grandmother, a loving pastor, and a confident and consistent prayer life, as well as faith in God, buoyed Cox's hope in her sea of despair.

Diagnosed in 1983 with Sjogren's syndrome - a connective tissue disorder - Cox found herself kneeling in the hospital chapel. "I asked the Lord to give me the strength to show others what a wonderful Savior He is," she said.

In 1987, Cox began a battle with cancer - a battle she still wages today, much to the surprise of her doctors. Again, she credits prayers and her faith.

It was a "faith" of a different sort that led Cox to tell her doctor of Jewish descent about biblical Christianity earli...

When several members of a Georgia Baptist church were invited to attend a weekend of spiritual renewal, their pastor, Paul Mason, didn't give it a second thought. After all, "Tres Dias" (Spanish for three days) sounded like it was a normal weekend getaway sponsored by a mainline religious denomination.

But a few months after they returned from the retreat, Mason realized he had a problem on his hands. "When I asked them how the retreat went, they told me it was a secret. They couldn't talk about what happened during the weekend," he said.

Mason noticed that couples who had attended the Tres Dias retreat were secretly inviting other couples to attend the program. After the church's Sunday school superintendent went to the retreat, he abruptly resigned his church position without reason. And within six months, Mason said the couples who had initially attended Tres Dias completely ostracized themselves from the congregation. The result, Mason...

I am enchanted by the redwoods of California. I often walk in the Henry Crowell Grove North of Santa Cruz and understand why some cry, "Save the Redwoods!"

The oldest living thing in the world is a California Sequoia Redwood. Saplings at the time of Moses, these mature plants were 300 feet tall at the time Bethlehem was current news. They were bored with life by the time of William the Conqueror and totally indifferent to the mere temporal historical scandal of William Jefferson Clinton and Monica whoever.

One cannot behold these trees without getting the feeling that they are disinterested in national deficits, having presided over all the civilizations that we might imagine. Kilmer, by his poor poetic testimony, admitted that he had never seen a poem as lovely as a tree (and none of his poems were). But here we are turning the millennial corner. It's been 2000 years (give or take a calendar redaction or two) since Mary laid her little One in the manger; ther...

"It has made a pro-lifer out of me!"

Michael Clancy, responsible for this photograph of a twenty-one-week old pre-born baby clutching the surgeon's finger after undergoing inutero surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Clancy said it was "absolutely the biggest thing" to happen in his eleven-year career as a news and free-lance photographer, according to a January 9 article in Nashville's The Tennessean. In a phone interview he said he couldn't see how anyone could be "pro-choice" after viewing such a sight. The baby responded well to the surgery and was born fifteen weeks later.

Standing Firm for Life

Florida resumed ...

How do you sprint through life, not with the phone company but with your personality? Here's how to spell sprint:

Get Specific. Life is not lived in general. Life is lived very specifically. You have to decide exactly what you are going to do. You can say that in the next year you're going to have a better marriage. Guess what? You won't have a better marriage. You have to be specific. You have to decide what will give you a better marriage - like spending twenty minutes talking to your mate every night and having a date every other Thursday. If you want your dreams to come true, then wake up and do something specific.

Be Positive. You cannot not do anything. It seems the more you try to stop something, the worse it gets. The things that you resist persist. The more you try to stop a habit, the more you want to do it because you think more about the habit. In order to stop something, it helps to start something in its place. You must erase and re...