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August 2002 Issue

SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Report to the Southern Baptist Convention, June 11, 2002

Samuel said to King Saul, But [now] your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him a leader of his people because you have not kept the Lord's command (I Samuel 13:14 NIV).

Kingdoms built by men shall not permanently endure. They have no lasting heartbeat. As soon as they are created, they are in decline. It may be years, but these man-made kingdoms will come to an end. The only lasting kingdom is the Kingdom of God. God's Kingdom shall last forever.

Yet the spiritual health of this nation is declining rapidly. The heartbeat is growing faint. The patient is growing weaker. Groans are getting louder and louder. There is an emergency in the land. People are dying by the millions. Many are in spiritual refugee camps, starvin...

Noting how Southern Baptists are yearning for spiritual renewal and Christ-centered living in the world, five Southern Baptist leaders signed a covenant agreement June 11 with the convention's 40,000 churches calling for an "all-out concentration on the kingdom of God."

Called Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG), the initiative-which is not a program in any sense of the word-calls for SBC leaders and churches to "seek first the King and His Kingdom."

"We believe God laid on our hearts to cast a vision—Empowering Kingdom Growth," said Morris Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee and one of the five to sign the covenant agreement.

"Much of the work along the way is to just pray that...

President Bush heralded Southern Baptists as champions of the faith and said that Baptists "believe as America's founders did: that religious faith is the moral anchor of American life." Bush delivered his remarks June 11 via satellite to messengers gathered at the America's Center for the 2002 annual meeting of the SBC in St. Louis.

The president's address contained references to his personal faith in God, his commitment to preserving the traditional family, and social issues important to evangelicals.

Bush, who garnered widespread support from evangelical Christians in the 2000 presidential elections, reminded Southern Baptists that he shares what he called common commitments with the SBC.

"We believe in fostering a culture of life, and that marriage and family are sacred institutions that should be preserved and strengthened," Bush told messengers as they interrupted his speech with applause. "We believe that a life is a cre...

Change. To paraphrase Mark Twain: Everybody talks about change, but nobody does anything about it. Christian futurist Richard Swenson discusses the remarkable velocity of change today. Business gurus write about methods for managing it. And some, like Winston Churchill, suggest "to be perfect is to change often." While that may be debatable, most (grudgingly) agree with A. P. Gouthry: "There is nothing permanent in life but change."

Some change is natural—such as aging or growing—but much of it is induced, like technological advances, fashion tastes, and most prevalently, social phenomena. Homosexuality has become today's leading example of societal change. In this article, we highlight how this change has and is occurring and why, as the German proverb concludes, "To ...

At the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention messengers passed a resolution ON THE SEXUAL INTEGRITY OF MINISTERS. In it they called for building and maintaining "relationships and practices of integrity and fidelity to God and others," and for "our spiritual leaders to hold one another accountable to the highest standards of Christian moral practice." In the following chapter from Beneath the Surface: Steering Clear of the Dangers That Could Leave You Shipwrecked, Bob Reccord examines the differences between how Joseph and David handled sexual temptation.

Two men. One stood tall. The other fell flat.

Why? The answer to that question helps us to understand ourselves and learn from God's examples.

When you take time to study Joseph's life, one thing becomes clear. Joseph understood his own weaknesses. And that's because he knew himself well. He was realistic, and that's the first line of defense agai...

Trapping Men and Destroying Families

The most threatening issue facing families in America today is pornography, Richard Land said June 11. Noting the pro-life issue remains an extremely critical issue with nearly 4,000 babies lost to abortion each day, the head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said an equal number of men and boys are impacted by pornography each day.

"I am more convinced than ever before that men and boys are being destroyed and having their abilities to be the husband and father God intended them to be warped by exposure to this emotional and spiritual toxic waste called pornography," Land said during a taping of his daily For Faith & Family radio program at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis.

Internet pornography, Land said, is particularly insidious.

"A lot of Christians don't want to speak about this issue and they don't want to hear about it," he said, noting that many Christian men...

"Pray the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers unto his harvest." - John 9:38

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson takes the words of Jesus seriously and is concerned that young people today are not being encouraged to think and pray about the possibility that God might call them into the ministry.

"My conclusion based on the [John 9:38] passage would be that it is appropriate to pray that God will, in fact, impress upon people everywhere the necessity of giving their lives to bring in the harvest," Patterson expressed. "I cannot help but conclude that it is also proper, therefore, verbally to extend that call to people throughout our Southern Baptist Zion."

Patterson said for the next few years, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's message to the churches is going to be an invitation to begin following the Scriptural admonition of the Lord and to pray that the Lord w...

Tasha's* heart broke when she heard the news.

An Arab teenager living in the Middle East, Tasha had persuaded many of her classmates to come to a Christian summer camp in her country. She was excited. Last year's camp had changed her own life forever.

Now her friends who are spiritually searching would meet young believers from America and hear the good news of Jesus, just like she did.

But there will be no camp this year. It was canceled.

After sending up to eighty Southern Baptist teens each summer for the last several years, the Southern Baptist International Board received only five applications for this summer's camp. Some young Southern Baptists—and many of their parents—are anxious about threats overseas after Sept. 11, particularly as strife spreads in the Middle East.

Tasha understands their concern. But she wants Southern Baptists to understand hers.

"After waiting so long for the camp ... after ...

When Jerry stood to speak to us he did not have the platform presence of an experienced Minister of Music—he actually looked frail—and for very good reasons!

"After twenty-six years of marriage, my wife said she did not want to be married any longer. This was made even worse by the fact that I was no longer able to be on the church staff. But as bad as it was, it was about to get worse!

"The doctor discovered a cancerous-looking growth on my brain which had to be removed at M.D. Anderson Hospital. Almost immediately afterward there was another serious surgery to my abdomen, which caused other complications affecting my vision.

"No wife, no children, no job, no church, few if any friends, sick, failing health, and scared, I lay face down on the floor of the small rented upstairs garage apartment just sobbing my heart out: 'Lord, what is happening? Where am I headed? What does all this mean? Why is this happening to me? Where are You,...

A Sign of Caregiver Burnout

Being a caregiver himself, Barney Self, a licensed family and marriage therapist and LeaderCare counselor for LifeWay Christian Resources, knows the causes and symptoms of a malady he calls "compassion fatigue."

Generally, it is caused when one has become so involved in providing care to others that they become emotionally and spiritually exhausted, he said.

"A caregiver is always at risk of compassion fatigue," he said. "For everybody who does caregiving, there is a threat of burning out. Our only protection is our willingness to be honest with ourselves about what our level of health is."

Self, who maintains a private counseling practice, said one way he handles potential burn-out is by refusing to counsel people on Fridays or weekends, unless it is a dire emergency.

"If I get a call on the help line and someone says they have a problem, but it can wait until Monday, then I usually don't call them until Monday....

One thing that has surprised me is how many times a psychologist like myself has been asked to encourage people to give. They ask if it bothers me to speak on giving. It doesn't bother me any more than telling people to exercise. Although painful when you begin, when you cultivate that discipline you find that it is one of the best things you have done in your life.

Unfortunately, when we talk about giving we often resort to gimmicks. I heard about one pastor who said, "In this Bible I have a two-minute sermon worth $5,000. I also have a fifteen-minute sermon that's worth $500. I have a two-hour sermon that's worth about $5. You choose which sermon you want when we pass the offering plate."

Giving is a tough subject. Money causes difficulties between people. One man said, "My wife divorced me for religious reasons." I said, "Oh, I didn't know that was possible." He said, "Yeah, she worshiped money and I didn't have any....

Post 9/11 School Paranoia

Reports from America's schools suggest that zero- tolerance policies in the wake of September 11 may be overly harsh in their crackdowns against students. Consider the following instances of punishment:

• An eight-year-old boy in Arkansas was suspended for pointing a chicken finger at a teacher and saying, "pow pow."

• A nine-year-old boy in New Jersey was suspended and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after telling a classmate of his plans to shoot a fellow classmate with spitballs. Police questioned the boy but did not file charges.

• Two second-grade students in New York were suspended and criminally charged with making terrorist threats for pointing paper guns and saying, "I'm going to kill you." The criminal charges were later dropped.

• Four kindergartners in New Jersey were su...