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December 2002 Issue

During the 2002 International Missions Emphasis, Dec. 1-8, Southern Baptists will focus on God's passion for every people group to know Him. This year's theme, That All Peoples May Know Him: Seek God's Passion, emphasizes God's people understanding His heart for the lost nations.

The goal for this year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is $125 million - every penny of which will go to support missionaries and their ministries. The International Mission Board draws 35 percent of its income from the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists' unified budget. The Lottie Moon offering provides 49 percent.

Getting the good news of God's love to each of China's 1.3 billion people is a mind-boggling challenge, but reports indicate God is working in amazing ways throughout the world's most populous country.

Southern Baptists must not miss the opportunity to get involved, say five leaders who ...

The K'ekchi' Baptist Association (KBA) has supported financially for several years now their own "home missionaries," charged with starting new works and helping new works to grow. Each year the KBA sponsors a Christmas Offering for missions similar to Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

Throughout the year, men, women, boys, and girls look for creative ways to earn money for the offering. Some raise and sell chickens. Others give the harvest proceeds from one row of coffee plants in their fields. However, most give through incredible personal sacrifice.

Let me tell you about an example of true sacrifice in order that God's message of salvation can spread.

It was a cool December evening, several hours north of Cobán, Guatemala, in the north central highlands. The service progressed as most K'ekchi' services do, an hour or so of music and singing followed by greetings, Scripture reading, and a message from...

"How many million more souls are to pass into eternity without having heard the name of Jesus?"

That question, ubiquitous in the letters of Lottie Moon, seared her heart as she planted her life in China a century ago. As a young Southern Baptist missionary, it compelled her to flee the safety of the Baptist missionary compound in order to live among those "heathen" to whom she felt called. In middle age, it gave her the strength to place her four-foot-three-inch body in the path of an anti-Christian mob intent on harming believers and saying, "You will have to kill me first." As an older woman, it compelled her to give away her food so others might live and have one more opportunity to find Jesus.

How many souls? What did she think? One million? Five million? Fifty million?

One hundred years later, we have an answer: 1.7 billion people — indeed, more people than populated the earth when Lottie lived — have never heard th...

Occasionally someone has asked me, "What is the passion of your life?" I could readily articulate my sense of purpose or what I perceived to be God's will for my life. I could talk about my personal desires, dreams and visions, but this question gave me pause.

I am passionate about my family. Occasionally I have been quite passionate in rooting for a favorite team at a sporting event. I have been known to express passion for our missions task, but does this represent the passion of my life?

Is there a compelling force, filled with emotion, driving my decisions, focusing my attention, energizing my actions, motivating my behavior toward a desired accomplishment? Or do I just live life as it comes, accepting whatever may result?

God's passion is that all the peoples of the earth would know Him and praise Him. It is expressed in the book of Revelation when those without number from every tribe, people, tongue and nation would worship Him, for He ...

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. ~ Matthew 6:33

The Coming of the Kingdom of God

He (Jesus) welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God ... (Luke 9:11, NIV). The crowds would not leave Jesus alone. They hungered for His ministry of word and touch. Even when He retreated to private places they sought Him out. He had something they wanted. How did Jesus respond? He welcomed them. What did He have that attracted them? He told them about the Kingdom of God. And, it changed them, and it changed the world. The Kingdom of God was coming!

The Kingdom of God is the reign of God in the universe. It existed before the beginning of time, it is in operation today, and it will have a final consummation and perfection. It has application to both individuals (God's rule in the individual heart) and to the whole of society (God'...

Confronting False Teaching

When the gospel is taught erroneously within the church, the most loving action Christians can take is to confront those in error, said New Testament scholar D.A. Carson.

The evangelical church has imbibed popular culture's redefinition of love and tolerance to such a point it has lost a clear understanding of the gospel, said Carson, a renowned author and New Testament professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School who lectured at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 4.

In many cases, Carson said, the church has swapped the gospel for a contrived unity based on a popular, sentimental definition of love. Whether the church is inclined to carry out discipline to ensure that a pure gospel is both taught and lived out comes down to its understanding of tolerance, he said.

"In the older version of tolerance, the idea was something like this: 'I might disagree profoundly with your argument or point of view or perspective on s...

A once-popular Country/Western duet opened with an admission that the two married "in a fever." They were not alone. Today's crumbling marriages are evidence that, more often than not, couples enter marriage with little time given to the foundation upon which they hope to build a union that will last a lifetime.

Good homes, like good houses, both require and deserve a proper foundation. This truth was vividly illustrated several years ago while I was making an "emergency run" to the home of a family in crisis.

The summer heat, beat back by the straining air conditioner, was no match for the discussion being carried on in the living room. I had been in the home before but never under these circumstances. A seemingly stable, faithful family was falling apart.

The children had been packed off to their grandparents for less than an hour when the argument began. When words like "divorce" and phrases like "no love left in my heart...

While preaching the campus revival at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, I witnessed firsthand the biblical concept of redemption.

On Thursday morning, October 3, 2002, Dr. Paige Patterson invited the seminary family to give a love offering for the praise and worship leader and myself. He told the students that if they could not give anything, "... then simply write Dr. Forshee a note and tell him how much you love him." I received a large stack of envelopes and read every comment from the students. However, there was one particular note that captured my attention. One student wrote, "I love you Dr. Forshee. You have brought good and timely words for me. God bless you. I feel led to give this ring. It is precious to me for several reasons, but may God bless you."

It was an expensive, beautiful golden ring with a sapphire blue stone. I told Dr. Patterson that I could not receive the student's ring, but I did ...

Freddie Gage has embarked upon a new campaign — a campaign to put Hell back in our pulpits.

Moved by an article in the August 22 issue of Newsweek, the indomitable and fiery evangelist is preaching a new sermon that challenges pastors to reverse the trend of ignoring the controversial and unpopular topic.

Gage, one of the best known and most accomplished evangelists among Southern Baptists, observed, "Where America's pulpits have failed, the world in all of its lost condition has captured the ever pressing need of the hour in the August 12, 2002 edition of Newsweek magazine. The front cover is titled Visions of Heaven. This edition expounds on the virtues of Heaven, with a contrasting view of Hell."

Gage referred to the supplemental article on Hell in Newsweek by Kenneth L. Woodward, "Why We Need Hell, Too: Churchgoers Take Comfort: Hell has all but disappeared from modern Christian theology." Remarking on the art...

Activists are ramping up their efforts to remove a legal underpinning of several states' resistance to endorsing homosexuality.

The ACLU and a homosexual-advocacy group have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a Texas case that could weaken sodomy laws across the country. While many think it's unlikely the high court will take the case, it represents the latest in a series of attempts to make the court take a pro-homosexual stance.

Texas is one of about twenty states that still have sodomy laws on the books. Kelly Shackelford, executive director of the pro-family Free Market Foundation, suspects the case — which challenges the Texas statute — was contrived to give the court an opportunity to strike down the laws nationwide.

"Somebody called in and said that there was a gun and a situation, so the police went to (handle) the situation and when they did, they caught people in the act of homosexual sodomy," Shackelford said.

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Miss America Allowed to Speak About Abstinence After Initial "Bullying"

Miss America 2002, Erika Harold, announced that she won her battle with pageant officials over the right to talk about teen sexual chastity. In her capacity as a spokeswoman for Project Reality, Harold has advocated and promoted sexual abstinence for years, including during her reign as Miss Illinois. The non-profit group has pioneered abstinence-centered health education programs in Illinois' public schools since the mid-1980s. Miss Harold won the Miss Illinois contest with her platform of "Teenage Sexual Abstinence: Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself." But state pageant officials instead selected "teen violence prevention" as her Miss America contest platform because they deemed it more "pertinent," her father told an Illinois newspaper.

After winning the Miss America crown, Miss Harold said a young girl from an inner city Chicago school sent her an e-mail asking her to continue the abstinence campaign. "She said, 'You changed my life bec...

Books

When Worlds Collide: Where is God?
by R.C. Sproul

In his latest book, R. C. Sproul discusses the role of God when the ideas of men collide and wreak havoc. God has not abandoned His people, says Dr. Sproul, but while His hands pour out blessing upon blessing, they also bring calamity and darkness. Dr. Sproul's analysis is challenging, but it is one that no Christian can afford to ignore. For it is only when we begin to understand the nature of God that we can ever hope to trust in His sovereignty during times of terror or sorrow. Crossway Books: $14.99

Building Strong Families<...

The Southern Baptist Convention's official website, www.SBC.net, has been updated and makes SBC resources and information more accessible than ever before.

The website also entails "easier navigation to information and quick links to the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention," noted Chris Chapman, director of Internet services with the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville, Tenn.

SBC.net's newest features are:

• SBCJobSearch, intended to become a comprehensive database of Southern Baptist ministry positions needing to be filled. Churches, SBC entities, state conventions, and local Baptist associations can register at no cost and then post specifics about job openings.

• SBCSearch, providing a one-click way for Baptists to quickly search all SBC entity websites, entering any keyword into the SBCSearch engine. Search results will be pulled from such SBC entities as the International Mission Board and North A...

I'll Be Home For Christmas is not only a classic seasonal song but it is a touching thought for most people. There's just something about the idea of home, love, concern, and family during the Christmas season. But what about all those "prodigals" that have gone so far away from home? Larry's story of his father illustrates how God can reach even these.

It was 1953. My father was an alcoholic drifter running from the police because of robbing grocery and liquor stores while between jobs. My mother, already with three children, was pregnant and becoming increasingly fearful for our safety and sanity. She finally decided to stop all the abuse and madness. My dad was wanted by the police in several northern states so when mother told them about his latest escapades they immediately arrested him and that was the last time any of us saw him.

We moved to New York. I was three at the time and lived there for seventeen years, mostly in a government hou...

The holiday season can be stressful. I know I feel stressed. I'm the guy that has to get the Christmas tree straight. Let's be honest guys, let's have a time of bonding here. It is tough to get the tree straight. My favorite carol is "Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, why can't you stand perpendicularly?"

Men stress over gift giving. We don't take hints well. One guy said his wife wanted to travel so he got her a map. Another man's wife said she wanted flowers so he bought her seeds. Here are some specific hints of what not to buy:

1. Anything for the kitchen.

2. Anything related to weight loss or self-improvement.

3. Jewelry — What your wife likes you can't afford, and what you can afford she won't like.

4. Anything that you have to know the size. It's best to get a gift certificate — don't get the wrong size.

Our stress, men, is nothing compared to what that guy we...

Revival of Religion Majors

Religion majors seem to be increasing at many of the liberal arts colleges in America. The revival of a major that was atrophying only a decade ago has many academics rejoicing. Even though no one could offer broad data on the trend, many academicians all said they had noted a marked upsurge.

"Spiritual seeking has suddenly become valued after an era of disenchantment and cynicism," said Donald Braxton, associate professor of religion at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.

Mark Wallace, associate professor of religion at Swarthmore College, said he has watched the change over the last eight years. The current students, he said, "are here to discover themselves and to find a coherent worldview that they can live by."

"They are interested in an education that introduces them to world cultures. A great...