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December 2003 Issue

The Profound Impact of International Church Planting Movements

During the 2003 International Missions Emphasis, Nov. 30 - Dec. 7, Southern Baptists will focus on God's intention that every people group hear the good news of His love and salvation in Jesus Christ. This year's theme — That All Peoples May Know Him: Follow God's Purpose — emphasizes God's people aligning their lives with God's redemptive mission in the world.

The national goal for this year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is $133 million, with a challenge goal of $150 million — every penny of which will go to send missionaries and support their ministries. The International Mission Board relies on the Lottie Moon Offering for 50 percent of its annual income.

Abdul* stumbled sadly along the side of a road in south Asia.

Rejected by his family and his community, the young man walked alone in the world, facing the threat of death for questioning Islam.

"Hey brother,...

Once we seek and experience God's passion for the nations, going on mission with Him to the nations through prayer, personal involvement, and missions giving becomes a matter of obedience.

First Chronicles records another glorious song of King David. It was first sung in happier circumstances than the struggle of Psalm 22: the day David followed the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem, his new capital. In an ecstasy of praise, David exulted in God's greatness and shouted with joy:

Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Proclaim His salvation day after day.
Declare His deeds among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
(1 Chronicles 16:23, 24 NIV)

Holy passion, if it be true, is followed by purpose. Once Christians experience God's passion for the nations, going to the nations through prayer, personal involvement, and mission support becomes a matter of obedience. For the love of Christ constraineth us,...

Do you believe that praying for missionaries makes a difference? That they covet your prayers for their protection and strength? That praying for the people missionaries are trying to reach helps prepare hearts to receive the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?

Time and time again, missionaries express their appreciation for the invaluable prayer support from members of WMU as they share the incredible ways God is at work in our world.

Praying for our missionaries and giving our resources to aid in the work of overseas missions is at the heart of who we are in WMU. While it is a daily activity for most of our members, once a year we seek to draw the attention of our entire congregation to focus on international missions. We call this the Week of Prayer for International Missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

WMU's commitment to overseas missions began with their love for Lottie Moon, who served a...

Last year, International Mission Board personnel initiated work among 146 new people groups identified as "unreached." Multitudes gained access to the gospel for the first time.

Church-planting movements are taking off in China, Latin America, and even Northern Africa. So many people came to Christ in one African city that mosques had to close. One strategy coordinator reached his four-year goal of 200 churches among his assigned people group in just six months. It is not unusual to hear testimonies of God's miraculous power manifested in signs and wonders when people are confronted with the claims of Christ.

I am often asked why we don't see such things happening in America. Why do American Christians, with thousands of churches and a history of Christian witness, seem to make so little impact on our society? We expect to be confronted with the tragic consequences of spiritual darkness in cultures where the gospel is not known. How do we explain it in ou...

Empowering Kingdom Growth

Empowering Kingdom Growth has become the defining emphasis on spiritual renewal within and throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, but it has not taken root and begun to grow in a theological or historical vacuum. It logically follows the denomination's theological reformation and missiological reorganization of recent years.

Southern Baptists have clearly stated that we are a people of The Book. Over the last twenty-five years, we have definitively demonstrated our commitment to having seminaries and agencies whose leaders gladly affirm the Bible as the inerrant and infallible guide for faith and practice. This theological anchor has been — and remains — a foundational element in the reanimation of Baptist life.

In 1995, Convention messengers launched t...

Next year when the world turns its attention to Athens, Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, True Love Waits will be a part of the celebration.

Hundreds of thousands of signed promises of sexual purity from Christian youth in at least 100 countries will be displayed and celebrated in Athens Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004, during the XXVIII Olympiad. The pledge reads: "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual abstinence from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship."

"This [international display] will amplify the voices of the Christian students who are standing for purity — either by being physically present in Athens or by being represented there by their pledge card," said Jimmy Hester, senior director of student ministry publishing of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist...

The Third Pillar of a Kingdom Family
Our society has mastered the art of "compartmentalization." Consider, for instance, the term "Sunday Christians." People have used this term for years to describe those whose worship on Sunday was not matched by the exercise of Christian character throughout the other six days of the week. It is an understatement to say that things have changed! Today, some worshippers are quite comfortable being in church on Sunday morning, hands held high in praise, and a rapturous, eyes-closed smile on their face, all the while anticipating bedding down with another lover by Sunday evening. The other lover by the way may not be their husband or wife, but someone with whom they have established an out-of-wedlock relationship. This is a new and heightened form of compartmentalization; an ability to isolate, or segment, one moment from another; an ability to accommodate certain moral standards in one arena and reject them outright in another.

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy will be complete December 17, 2003, with the long-awaited and highly-heralded theatrical release of The Return of the King. No doubt it will experience, and perhaps exceed, the tremendous success of its two predecessors. This final segment promises to present J.R.R. Tolkien's tale of the realities and struggles of absolute good and evil in the same stark and engaging form as the first two installments.

The Lord of the Rings is simply one of the great works of Christian literature. Tolkien used the literary form of myth to communicate the truth about God's providence and our need for a savior. Most people think of myth as referring to a story of something untrue. Tolkien thought exactly the opposite. He saw myth as a way of entering into a story world that would use unreal or imaginary things to describe very real elements such as beauty, honor, and sacrifice.

In his epic trilogy Tolkien gives us Middle-earth,...

For the Pastor's Study
The Word of God in English Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation by Leland Ryken Since the Bible is God's holy Word, translators have a heavy responsibility to provide accurate and reliable translations. Leland Ryken asserts that Bible translation should be essentially literal - any translation violating how language is dealt with in everyday life as well as in scholarly pursuits cannot be based on the right theory. Ryken describes the translation principles that make for reliable English Bible translation, looks at common translation fallacies, and offers principles for good translation. He probes the theological, ethical, and hermeneutical issues involved and surveys difficulties with modern translations. Published by Crossway Books: $15.99

Editor's Note: As you hit the malls this Christmas season, you would do well to bypass Abercrombie & Fitch. Dr. Mohler explains why.

William F. Buckley, Jr. has accurately described pornography's pervasive presence in our culture as "the creepy wallpaper of our daily lives." That creepy wallpaper is now being used to sell clothing — and promiscuity — to our children. Parents had better wake up and open their eyes. The company is aiming for your kids' full attention.

Abercrombie & Fitch, an old-line traditional clothing company and outfitter, has reinvented itself for the new generation. Founded in 1892, the company served as outfitter for Theodore Roosevelt's expeditions to Africa and the Amazon jungles, and later sold guns and fishing equipment to Ernest Hemmingway and President Eisenhower. But, as any trip to the local mall will tell you, times have changed.

Once billed as "The Greatest Spo...

This Christmas I'm looking around our home at all the manger scenes Maudellen and I have collected. I am, of course, thinking of the baby Jesus and the meaning of Christmas — a Savior is born!

When Jesus was born don't you know that his mother counted every little chubby finger and toe that kicked and punched the air above His manger. Mothers do those things, especially with newborns. They also dream, pray, and hope about their child's future. How could Jesus' mother have ever imagined that those same little fingers would be nailed to a cross as part of God's plan to save lost souls?

After a Wednesday night youth rally a young mother, with tears of joy in her eyes, told this story of her son and "those same little fingers."

"This is my son's second year participating in Student FAITH and this week I saw just how serious he was about being obedient to God's Great Commission. He invited a friend from school to...

What are you getting for Christmas? Huge profits are generated from kids sitting on Santa's lap telling him what they want for Christmas.

I heard about a grandmother and granddaughter who were shopping and all day long the little girl watched her grandmother buy gift after gift. Her grandmother told her that after she had finished shopping she could see Santa. Sure enough she sat on Santa's lap and told him what she wanted for Christmas. As she was leaving, Santa gave her a candy cane. Grandma asked, "What are you supposed to say?" She thought for a minute and said, "Oh yeah, charge it." It's that time of year, isn't it?

A little boy wrote a twelve-page letter to Santa full of requests for toys and gadgets. His parents read the letter, and his dad was just mad as fire. He sat the little boy down in front of the nativity scene and said, "Now you just look at this until you figure out the true meaning of Christmas and then you write Je...


Southern Baptist Seminaries in Transition

In the last three years, four Southern Baptist seminaries have addressed the reality of replacing presidents who have stepped down. In the last two years, two of them have officially installed new presidents, and at press time two are prayerfully looking for God's man to fill their vacancies.

Midwestern

On Jan. 8, 2001, the trustees of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced R. Phil Roberts as the fourth president of the SBC's youngest seminary. Roberts was formerly the vice president for the Strategic Cities Strategies Group at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, where he had been on staff for seven years.

During Roberts' inaugural service Oct. 22, 2001, he quoted from Colossians 2:6-7, saying those were his life verses. "Not only does that verse speak of the initial ...