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April 2002 Issue

The President's Report to the SBC Executive Committee (February 18, 2002)

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (Habakkuk 2:1-3, KJV)

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14, KJV)

In July 2000, the Southern Baptist state executive directors and presidents of SBC entities met in Nashville for a historic meeting. At no time in history, to anyone's recollection, has there ever been a meeting of the two groups. Before the meeting concluded, the Task Force on Cooperation, composed of four state executives and four SBC entity presidents, was elected.

Over ti...

A vision for what Jesus taught and called for — "an all-out concentration on the Kingdom of God" — was endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee during its Feb. 18-19 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Executive Committee members approved an "Empowering Kingdom Growth" (EKG) initiative as envisioned by an eight-member Cooperation Task Force of state convention and SBC entity leaders.

Task force member Carlisle Driggers, who has pioneered an Empowering Kingdom Growth vision during his nine years as executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, reviewed an eighteen-page report by the task force with Executive Committee members during their Feb. 18 session. The next day, committee members endorsed EKG as an SBC-wide initiative to be introduced during the June 11-12 annual meeting in St. Louis.

The task force, defining what is meant by "the Kingdom of God," noted: "Simply interp...

"Without the broad vision of CP missions, you have tunnel vision that limits you," says Bob Remick, pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Brant Rock, Massachusetts. "With it you can see that the more you're able to give, the more you will be blessed."

Remick echoes the sentiments of pastors who share a Southern Baptist worldview that has produced what has been labeled "the most effective Christian missions support concept in existence."

It is called the Cooperative Program, or CP Missions. In it, Southern Baptists have a multifaceted, comprehensive, far-reaching missionary endeavor that is undergirded by a national network of churches united by a common bond in Christ, a common understanding of the church, and a common passion for preaching the gospel to the entire world.

Any vision that doesn't envision the "uttermost parts of the world" is too small. "I believe God wants to do something extraordinary among us,&...

An Interview With Evangelist Jay Lowder

Jay Lowder is an evangelist from Texas God has used to reach hundreds of teenagers and adults. We spoke with Jay recently to discuss his methods and motivation for ministry. We are pleased to share a portion of that conversation.

SBC LIFE Jay, tell us what you do and what brought you to this place in your life.

Lowder I'm a full-time evangelist. I travel doing full-time evangelism through revivals, crusades, assemblies, and evangelism conferences. If I had to choose just one of these it would be crusades, primarily area-wide crusades, because my gift is reaching lost people. Having that gift, my heartbeat is to do all that I can to reach as many lost people as possible. To be honest with you I'm not very good at a lot of things, but God is good through me in one area — winning people to Christ. It's my passion. It's my life. It's all t...

With this issue, SBC LIFE begins a regular feature on personal evangelism. This feature will focus on real stories of people who have come to Christ because of the personal witness of some Christian who cared enough to reach out to them. We've seen Southern Baptists pass through several cycles in respect to personal evangelism. Sometimes, our meetings have sounded a strong, clear chord of encouragement to win others to Christ — other times, it's been another tune that's been played.

Not only is that the history of our Convention — it's the story of our own private pilgrimage when it comes to personal witnessing. At times, we have been passionate, diligent, and effective — at other times we've let personal evangelism slip from the front burner, only to get lost in the challenge of competing demands.

While there may be many reasons for this, it seems beyond dispute that there is a direct connection between the practice of personal...

Elder Baptist Clarifies Intention Of 1963 BF&M

One of the last living members of the committee that penned changes to the Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement in 1963 says the group's foremost goal was to clarify Southern Baptists' belief in biblical authority amid the controversies of its day.

Garth Pybas, 86, a retired pastor and a native Oklahoman, said during a nearly two-hour, videotaped interview for Southeastern Seminary's historical archives, that language in the 1963 document concerning Christ as the "criterion" for interpreting Scripture was meant to convey biblical infallibility based on Christ's testimony of it in the gospels.

Pybas said Southern Baptist leaders in 2000 likewise aimed to clarify biblical truth for a changing culture and that his peers never intended the 1963 statement to be the final chapter on Baptist beliefs.

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message changed the "criterion" language of 1963, causing critics of the 2000 state...

Southern Baptists from across the nation have responded to the news of W.A. Criswell's death with recollections of his faithfulness to God and his belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. Following are statements released in response to Dr. W.A. Criswell's Jan. 10th passing.

"Dr. Criswell was an important spiritual leader for America. He was a man of deep and abiding faith who brought comfort to the thousands who heard his message of hope, love and compassion." ~ President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush

• • • • • • •

"It is almost impossible to evaluate the life and ministry of W.A. Criswell. He had a multiplicity of gifts. He had one of the most loving hearts I have ever known. His devotion to Scripture inspired thousands of young clergy from many denominations. His preaching was electric in i...

A Promising Alternative To Embryonic Stem Cells

Groundbreaking news the week of Jan. 21 that scientists at the University of Minnesota may have discovered a potential method to treat disease also means there may be a way to put an end to one of the most difficult public policy debates of this new century. Catherine Verfaillie and colleagues at the Stem Cell Institute have found "miracle" stem cells that may well be the most versatile of all stem cells.

Stem cells are the precursor cells that make the nearly 240 different types of cells in our bodies. If stem cells can be directed at will to make needed tissues, then with a little help from their doctors, patients with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, or other diseases might be able to create cells to treat their own illnesses.

Verfaillie has found these remarkable so-called "master cells" in adult bone marrow. Not only do they seem to possess amazing versatility, but they may be "immortal." Verfaillie's research indicates ...

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come ..."

Pentecost is a day on the church calendar evangelicals rarely acknowledge. I've always wondered why. Each year as it rolls around a scene from the second chapter of Acts always swims in my reverie, calling to mind a rustic Oklahoma tent revival, where I first met the Holy Spirit. I was nine years old in the year when World War II ended. Hiroshima and Nagasaki each sounded a little like Native American tribes, and each had the same number of syllables as Oklahoma. I couldn't imagine exactly where they were, but the whole world had come to focus on their desperation. The adults in my world talked of little else. Pictures of these places, under headline letters thick as my young fingers, covered the newspapers black with smudgeable ink. My four older brothers-in-law would soon come home, those headlines said. Indeed, we thanked God that the possibility of their dying had passed.

In that very year of ...

There are always a few in every church. When we see them we think of that little Family of God chorus and sing "I'm surprised you're a part of the family of God." God made them fearfully and wonderfully weird. They have the amazing ability to drain the joy right out of the ministry. They are a few french fries short of a Happy Meal; missing a few buttons on the remote. You know what I mean. The porch light is on but no one is home.

They even look a little funny. They must shop at "Nerds 'R' Us." There is always something unbuttoned, undone, unzipped, or untucked. They are the Dagwoods of Simpletown.

When I see them I want to ask, "Where are Moe, Larry, and Curly?" They act so inappropriately at times. They are usually standing when they are supposed to be sitting or talking when they are supposed to be quiet. They aren't cool, quick, or articulate like us. They aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer.


Gay TV

According to entertainment industry reports, MTV and Showtime are in "serious discussions" about launching a gay television network. The new network will air programs including gay-hosted talk and music video shows, relationship game shows, and gay news broadcasts.

MTV and Showtime — both parts of the Viacom media empire, which also includes CBS, Nickelodeon, VH1, Blockbuster Video, and Paramount Pictures — have been at the forefront of homosexual programming in recent years. MTV's hit show The Real World has frequently featured homosexual participants during its ten-year run. MTV also features a recurring series entitled, Undressed, which often deals with homosexual subjects. Showtime's main venture into homosexual entertainment is the show Queer as Folk, which includes graphic language, nudity, and sexual situations.

The success ...