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May 2002 Issue

Crossover St. Louis

Southern Baptists will provide a "Gateway to Hope" June 7-9 as part of Crossover St. Louis, the thirteenth annual evangelism emphasis conducted prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

By mid-March, more than eighty-one local churches in seven associations had committed to participating in the effort, and recruitment is currently underway for hundreds of additional volunteers from other areas.

Benny King, executive director of the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, said Crossover St. Louis will kick off a summer-long evangelistic emphasis in the area under the banner of "Gateway to Hope."

Some of the highest-profile events during Crossover will be block parties in which local churches and outside volunteers offer food, fun, and entertainment in local communities, along with an opportunity for participants to hear and respond ...

Southern Baptist Convention President James Merritt called on Southern Baptists to be a Kingdom convention during his Feb. 18 address to the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville, Tenn.

"It's time we come to realize there is more to spirituality than the Southern Baptist Convention," Merritt said. "There is more to God's will for your life than the local church. There is this entity called the Kingdom of God."

Merritt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church, Snellville, is nearing the conclusion of his second, one-year term as president of the nation's largest evangelical denomination.

Preaching from Matthew 6:33, Merritt delivered a passionate plea for Southern Baptists to "seek first the Kingdom of God. Everything else comes in second, and it comes in a far second."

Merritt said the passage in Matthew presents a challenge for Southern Baptists.

First, he said, Southern Baptists need to see ...

Southern Baptists have scheduled their "first-ever convention-wide rally to save the family." Tom Elliff, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention's Council on Family Life, said the rally will be June 19, 2003, in Phoenix, Ariz., the day after the June 17-18 SBC annual meeting there.

It will be a day "that could change your family for a lifetime," Elliff said in a videotaped announcement during the opening night of the SBC Executive Committee's Feb. 18-19 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

The rally will feature "the best of the best" among family speakers, including breakout sessions for mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, students and children, said Elliff, a former SBC president and pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla.

The rally will seek to help families regardless of any tragedies or difficulties they have weathered, Elliff said.

It will seek to nurture "a family marked by moral purit...

International Day of Prayer for the Tuareg People

The name of one unreached people group in West Africa literally means "abandoned by God." On May 19, Southern Baptists will ask God to help that people group, the Tuareg, know just how much He really loves them.

Once Tuareg camel caravans transported everything from salt to slaves across the Sahara. But now the nomadic people group follows their declining herds through barren regions of Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso in search of scarce pasture. Many Tuareg have fled the ravages of drought to pitch their tents on the fringes of cities like Tombouctou, Mali.

The Tuareg face many uncertainties, not the least of which is how to survive in a world less and less hospitable to the nomad's lifestyle. One thing, however, is certain: 99.9 percent of the Tuareg do not know the love and forgiveness of God. The vast majority of them have never even heard the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

That is one reason Southern Baptists will focus ...

Before evangelism was ever a program or a profession it was a passion for those of us called of God — a passion of the heart that drove us first to our knees and then out into the world to proclaim the gospel. That God-wrought urgency compelled us to tell the waiting world of Him. We were on fire, and we could not hide it!

But something has happened — that fire in many has been all but extinguished. This raises two compelling questions: on the one hand, how do we retain it; on the other, how do we recapture it?

Spurgeon once said, "Your sermons — make them red hot; never mind if men say you are too enthusiastic or even fanatical." God bless dear Spurgeon for reminding us that a witness of Christ is a laughing stock to the world — and to the devil — unless there is a Holy Spirit urgency burning within. But today some churchmen suggest heartfelt enthusiasm for Christ is a bit naive!

The well-worn story tells how the old dea...

"We will be landing in Las Vegas in approximately twenty-five minutes," the pilot announced as I made my way to the forward galley area. Four flight attendants were closing things down for the landing when one of them said to me, "Someone on this plane told us that you should talk to us."

I had no idea who had said that and I laughingly replied, "Did they say what I should talk to you about?" Another attendant responded, "They said you would know." Then it dawned on me that someone on the plane was arranging a witnessing opportunity for me.

As soon as I mentioned the Lord, one of the two male attendants made a hasty departure but the other three, Dan, Shirley, and Jean drew closer, expressing genuine interest in what I was saying.

At that moment, the plane hit some turbulence, and the pilot instructed everyone to be seated for the remainder of the flight. "If you are interested in what I am talking about and have the t...

First-class Christians, Second-class Citizens

Today, there are more than 500,000 pastors serving in Christian churches throughout the U.S., according to the Barna Research Group (BRG). But considering what many pastors have to endure, that figure could be a lot less.

"Our studies show that church-goers expect their pastor to juggle an average of sixteen major tasks," BRG President George Barna says. "That's a recipe for failure — nobody can handle the wide range of responsibilities that people expect pastors to master."

Pastors, and other ministry workers, also may work for less pay than they could earn in the secular world, but they remain dedicated to their calling. Unfortunately, some endure conditions that push them to the limits of that dedication.

Pastors in Crisis

The trials of pastors were featured in an article by Loretta Fulton that appeared in the December 14, 2000 issue of the Abilene Reporter-News.

Ms. F...

CWJC Celebrates Its Fifth Anniversary

How far is the journey from utter hopelessness to a life full of joy and hope?

It might be as long as the path from welfare to a salaried job. Perhaps it would be traveling from not being able to provide for yourself and your children to developing skills and abilities in parenting and household management. It could be the distance from feeling your life is of no value to finding confidence in a personal relationship with Christ.

Terri, Sheryl, and Stacey can answer that question. They live in different geographic locations and in some ways their stories differ, but in many ways they are similar. Each begins with a tale of hopeless defeat, but that's not the end of their stories. In fact, they might say that, even after the changes made in their lives during the past few years, their real stories are just beginning.

A single mother and a recovering alcoholic, Terri lives in Grover Beach, Calif., an economically depressed a...

Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer, the two relief workers who were held captive in Afghanistan, have accepted an invitation to address messengers during the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis.

"We are thrilled that Dayna and Heather have accepted our invitation to be the guests of the Executive Committee," said Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee. "We have every confidence that those attending the SBC will be blessed to hear them tell of the great grace of God in protecting them during their confinement in Afghanistan for their Christian testimony."

Mercer and Curry will address the SBC on June 11 during the Executive Committee report. They also will be available at the Executive Committee booth in the SBC exhibit hall following the Tuesday morning session.

Curry, 30, and Mercer, 24, both graduates of Baylor University an...

St. Louis, Missouri


Tuesday Morning, June 11

8:00 Inspirational Music - First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, Adult Choir and Orchestra, Keith Ferguson, minister of music, Eddie Fargason, associate minister of music/instrumental director

8:10 Congregational Praise and Worship - Jeff Cranfill, associate minister of music, First Baptist Church, Snellville, GA

8:15 Call to Order - James Merritt, president, Southern Baptist Convention, pastor, First Baptist Church, Snellville, GA
Registration Report and Constitution of the Convention - Lee Porter, SBC registration secretary, retired pastor, Lawrenceville, GA

8:20 Prayer - Grant Ethridge, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Lavaca, AR

8:25 Committee on Order o...

Pastors' Conference 2002
June 9-10, 2002
America's Center, St. Louis, Missouri

Lest We Forget
"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." - Proverbs 22:28

Session 1, Sunday Evening, June 9
Lest We Forget - Our Calling

6:00 Welcome - Ken Whitten, president, Pastors' Conference 2002,Idlewild Baptist Church, Tampa, FL

6:15 Message - John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, MO

6:50 Message - Jack Graham, pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX


Underage drinkers account for 25 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the U.S., according to Teen Tipplers: America's Underage Drinking Epidemic, a new report released by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). The 145-page report, the result of two years of research and analysis, found that more than five million high schoolers (31 percent) say they binge drink at least once a month.

"Underage drinking has reached epidemic proportions in America," says Joseph A. Califano Jr., CASA president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. "Alcohol damages the young brain, interferes with mental and social development, and interrupts academic progress. Alcohol is the fatal attraction for many teens, a major factor in the three leading causes of teen death - accidents, homicide, and suicide."

The report includes a landmark survey of 900 adults which reveals that Americans overwhelmingly ...

It is washing over evangelicalism like the violent waters from a broken dam and its tepid backwash threatens to leave eternal damage in its wake: the reader-centered approach to interpreting Scripture.

It often begins with innocent intentions, in, say, a Sunday school class or mid-week Bible study. The "teacher" — or perhaps more accurately, facilitator — reads a passage of Scripture. He or she follows it with the question: "Now what does this text say to you?"

And around the room it goes with disjointed responses coming like a merry-go-round off its axis: "This part where Jesus feeds the 5,000 says to me that we should not be stingy and more like the little boy with the loaves and fishes."

Or the textus classicus me-centeredus, "Philippians 4:13 means I have the power to be anything I want to be and do anything I want to do because God gives me that power."

It is against this stream of fanciful subjec...

After three days of heated debate, the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) voted last November overwhelmingly to affirm what almost every Christian in the history of the church has always believed - that God knows everything, including the future decisions of His creatures.

The organization, a professional society of biblical scholars and theologians who affirm the inerrancy of Scripture, brought the issue to the floor after a group of ETS charter members charged that the "openness of God" view being articulated by some society members is outside the boundaries of evangelical conviction.

The non-binding resolution stated that the society believes "the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate, and infallible knowledge of all events past, present, and future including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents." The resolution passed on a vote of 253 in favor to sixty-six opposed with forty-one abstentions after a debate that la...

"It appears the sin of choice among Christians today is Internet pornography," writes James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

To be sure, avoiding temptation is far superior to overcoming temptation. The apostle Paul wrote, It is God's will that you should ... avoid sexual immorality. Avoiding web porn lessens the likelihood of having to resist it.

Here are ten guidelines for safely surfing the Net.

1 Disconnect from the Internet! Also known as a "modemectomy," this option is often met with incredulity — "That's preposterous!"

Is it? Jesus said if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, get rid of it! Hyperbole made His point.

A mother called me expressing her and her husband's distress on learning their eighteen-year-old son was viewing gay porn online. I invited all three to my office. After some conversation, I ex...

A Book Review

Two Southern Baptist scholars have teamed up to offer a comprehensive analysis of the world's second-largest religion. Their presentation of the practices, ethics, and beliefs of Islam is more than an academic recitation of the differences between Christianity and Islam. It's the story of two brothers' conversion from the religion of their childhood to a living relationship with Jesus Christ.

Unveiling Islam is a new release from Kregel Publications intended to educate readers about Islam and provide a practical strategy Christians can use to open a productive dialogue with Muslims. Ergun M. Caner, assistant professor of theology and church history at Criswell College in Dallas, and Emir F. Caner, assistant professor of church history and Anabaptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., admit that the work was far from "a labor of love."

Raised in a strict Muslim home, the Caner boys admired their Turkish f...

The women gather at the Old Country Buffet in a Boston shopping mall. They laugh and chat as they dig into roast beef and ice cream sundaes. They could be any group of young moms and college students enjoying a night out. But they're not. These women are recent converts to Islam, celebrating the end of Ramadan. They symbolize a curious new phenomenon in the wake of September 11: A surge of Islamic conversions.

I recently saw the movie Finding Forrester. It's a great movie. Sean Connery plays the part of a legendary writer who mentors a young man with great potential as a writer. Connery tells his student to sit at the typewriter and begin typing — just type what comes to mind. Just start.

Think of five frogs sitting on a log. One decides to jump off. How many frogs are left? Five. Thinking of jumping and jumping are two different things. Lots of people come to church on Sunday and decide to change but they never make the change. It is difficult to go from awareness to action. The problem is trust.

There was a construction crew putting a drain line in a building. A power cable was directly in the path of their work. Construction stopped while an electrician was called who declared that the power was dead to the cable. The foreman asked, "Are you sure the power is dead to the cable and there is no danger?" "Absolutely," replied the electrician. ...

Tampering With Divine Order

Japanese researchers have issued a new warning about cloning after research revealed that several mouse clones died prematurely. Previously, many animal clones have experienced obesity, problems with the immune system, and genetic defects. This is the first link, however, between cloning and early death.

In a study at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, the Japanese scientists found that ten of twelve cloned mice died at a young age. The rodents were additionally found to be suffering from severe pneumonia, liver failure, and tumors. The scientists cite the cloning process itself as a probable cause of these medical problems. Still, they recognize that other factors, such as the underlying genetics of the mice and the type of cell from which they were cloned, could also be to blame.

The team, however, concluded that, &qu...