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April 2001 Issue

Southern Baptists will take action to help families, the Convention's Executive Committee voted Feb. 19.

The need is "great and urgent" for "a cohesive and concerted strategy" because "today's family is under severe attack," a study committee reported to the Executive Committee.

Executive Committee members approved the study committee's recommendation to create a "'blue ribbon' Southern Baptist Convention Council on Family Life" in a unanimous voice vote during the opening session of their Feb. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

The study committee was created at last June's SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., by Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman. The five-member SBC Committee on Family Life was chaired by Tom Elliff, a former SBC president and pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla.

Elliff, addressing the Executive Committee Feb. 19, lamented that Southern B...

The following excerpts from The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America demonstrate the critical status of the institution of marriage in the U.S. today.

Key Findings

Marriage trends in the United States over the past four decades indicate that Americans have become less likely to marry, and that fewer of those who do marry have marriages they consider to be "very happy."

The annual number of marriages per 1,000 unmarried women declined more than one third from 1970 to 1996.

The percentage of adults in the population at any one time who are married has also diminished due not only to the decline of marriages but to the high divorce rate. Since 1960, the decline among all persons age 15 and older has been more than 10 percentage points.

It has been estimated that after ten years only about 25 percent of first marriages are successful...

God continued to astonish Southern Baptist workers with phenomenal growth in overseas baptisms and church starts last year.

"God is at work and He is giving us the privilege of joining Him in astounding ways," said International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin in reporting missions gains during 2000.

Last year 6,520 new churches were established, an increase of 37.4 percent over the 1999 figure of 4,748. In addition, 451,301 people were baptized, an increase of 24.1 percent over 1999's 363,703.

But even with the jumps in statistics, Rankin warned against getting lost in the numbers.

"These are not just numbers or massive global reports," he said. "These are actual individuals who have been brought into the kingdom of God."

The exponential growth in baptisms and church starts is a relatively recent development for the International Mission Board, he added. Historically, the board has recorded incremental gro...

Boston and Las Vegas.

The two cities represent in many ways two of our nation's extremes, from the old-world cultural and academic center of New England to the open-all-night playground of the West. But for Southern Baptists this year, both cities represent opportunities for expressing the love of Jesus Christ and the hope of the gospel on a larger scale than has ever been attempted.

The two cities will be recipients of large-scale ministry efforts in 2001 through Strategic Focus Cities, Southern Baptists' effort to impact major cities in the United States and Canada with the gospel.

Thousands of people will be given the opportunity to respond to Christ through media efforts and evangelistic initiatives. New churches will be planted to help disciple thousands of new Christians in unchurched areas. Existing churches will be strengthened to equip them for increased effectiveness in the ongoing fulfillment of the Great Commission.

And thousands of...

Overcoming Sexual Temptation In Ministry

When temptations confront ministers, the choice is simple but not easy: stand firm or fall flat, said Robert E. Reccord.

"Two leaders, one stood firm, one fell flat; every one of you will make the choice somewhere in the journey," Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, said during a Jan. 30 chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

In a message comparing how the biblical characters Joseph and David dealt with temptation, Reccord referred to James 4 in the New Testament and noted, "Here's the key. Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil.

"Are you watching Temptation Island? Are you drawn to the porn sites on the Internet?" Reccord asked. "Are you reading novels you shouldn't be reading? Are you watching pay-per-view TV you shouldn't be seeing? Are you going to movies
that compromise the values [the Bible] holds? Therefore, submit yourself to...

Tim Watts became a member of Central Baptist Church via a traditional baptismal ceremony. But his road to receiving Christ as Savior began in an unconventional classroom filled with cars, a lift, and the smell of grease.

The twenty-four-year-old utility company lineman is the first convert from a Thursday evening Bible study taught by Frank Johnson. It meets in his 26-by-62-foot garage, a neighborhood hangout for car enthusiasts and racing buffs.

Up to a dozen men gather for an hour-long lecture by the instructor, who uses outlines compiled from Bible commentaries and past LifeWay Sunday school lessons he taught at Central in Winchester, Ky.

"He made it interesting," said Watts, who lives in nearby Richmond. "Before, I didn't understand what was going on (at church). But he's down to earth. I understood what he was trying to get across and what he was telling us.

"The more I knew him," he added, "the more I wanted ...

The Appleton Post-Crescent reports that the town of Kaukauna, Wisconsin has recently seen its first ever hate crime against a Christian. According to the Post-Crescent, three teens, Daniel Lewis, Sam Chartier, and Patrick Corey, recently sprayed a man in the eyes with mace simply because he had a Christian sign in his front yard.

According to the criminal complaint, the three youths drove the streets on the morning of September 16, 2000 looking for a victim to spray with pepper spray. After two failed attempts, the three boys spotted a sign in one front yard reading, "You think you got it all? Got Jesus?" According to the complaint, Lewis told the other two that he would pepper spray the occupant of the house because "he was sick of all the Christian religious talk and how he was raised by his parents." He also commented that the victim would probably be forgiving because of his Christian beliefs.

Corey says that he and Lewis approached the...

In a recent Zogby "American Values" poll, a majority of Americans said that they believe "abortion destroys a human life and is manslaughter." Fifty-one percent of likely voters surveyed agreed that abortion destroys human life and is manslaughter while only 35 percent took the opposite position. Additionally, several abortion clinic closings around the country suggest that this increased opposition to abortion is translating into tangible victories for life.

In Fargo, North Dakota and Tallahassee, Florida, abortion clinics have recently been forced to close their doors due to pro-life pressure and lack of funding. The National Women's Health Organization of Fargo, owned by the National Women's Health Organization of Raleigh, North Carolina closed down in February, citing financial difficulties as the principle reason. The clinic's owner calls the decision to cease operations a purely business decision. Local pro-life advocate Rachelle Sauvageau says t...

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) recently released a comprehensive three-year study entitled, Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets. The report is the first ever to analyze the impact of substance abuse on state budgets. It found that in 1998, states spent a total of 81.3 billion dollars on substance abuse and addiction (13.1 percent of all state spending).

The report reveals that for every dollar spent on substance abuse and addiction, 96 cents went to deal with the wreckage caused by drug and alcohol abuse while only 4 cents went to prevent and treat substance abuse. Using the most conservative assumptions, the report discovered that in 1998 states spent:

• $77.9 billion to shovel up the wreckage of substance abuse, only $3 billion to prevent and treat the problem, and $433 million for alcohol and tobacco regulation and compliance.

• $24.9 billion to cope with the impact o...

A Children's Easter

"Iris," said God, "It's time to wake up!"
And he rapped on her little brown bulb ...

"Oh, hi there! How are you, God?
Is it springtime? It must be!
The ground is so wonderf'ly warm!
I'd hoped to get up by the middle of March —
I'm quite sorry, God, if I've overslept."

Then God called aloud to the newly born flower,
"Never mind, Iris, get up and get going,
I won't have you napping till May."

"I'm quite wide awake, and I'm tingly with spring,"
Said Iris to God, and she shouted, "Ker-boing!
Yoo-hoo, I'm here, God! Heigh-ho! And Sproing! Sproing!
I'm Iris! I'm up! I've shattered the ground,
I'm bursting with life, I've come back to town.
I'm one of the good blooms the ground can't hold down.
Can you see me here, God? I've...

Making A Difference

A recent Christian-led protest in Traverse City, Michigan caused city officials to rethink a decision to display the "gay pride" logo on city vehicles. Last December the city approved a new official logo, which coincided precisely with the official "gay pride" flag (a six-color rainbow). As the city logo, this image would be placed on all city vehicles.

Concerned citizens, however, promptly registered complaints about the decision. One of these concerned citizens was police officer Dave Leach, a thirty-year veteran of the Traverse City Police Department. Risking his job and city pension, Leach appeared on a local Christian radio station to voice his opposition to the logo. He stated that driving a police car with a homosexual symbol violated his religious convictions and that he decided to speak out for all the other city employees who share his view.

In response to citizens' o...

Two things in life are certain — death and taxes, but taxes repeat and get worse every year Congress meets. They have almost simplified the tax form beyond human understanding. In April, millions of Americans have a long form and short memory.

I prepare my own taxes. It is like a do-it-yourself mugging. My son-in-law is a CPA and he says I should let an accountant do my taxes for me to save time. I asked how much time and he said twenty years. I figure if I use the short form the government gets the money and if I use the long form an accountant gets the money. Why can't I have some money? It is so complicated.

I've heard they are going to simplify the instructions again because on 44 percent of the questions people answer, "Duh." It reads like a math word problem. Remember those?

If you are in a boat leaving from New York City for Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday with a head wind of ten knots, traveling thirty miles per hour with th...