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November 2003 Issue

Morris H. Chapman was at the beginning of his ministry, preaching at various locations, when one Sunday at a rural Arkansas church he learned a lesson he has not forgotten.

While preaching that morning he noticed in the congregation a woman who had her head bowed. She did not look up, and her inattentiveness served as a distraction. After the service he approached her and asked, "Are you troubled about something?"

She answered: "You're preaching God's great truths with man's application."

Chapman said he was "stunned" and went back to the motel room that afternoon to prepare for that night's sermon. But he couldn't get his mind off the woman's words.

"I couldn't rest," he says now. "... My spirit was trembling...

And what one nation on the earth is like Thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself .... ~ 2 Samuel 7:23

God redeemed the nation of Israel so that through Israel He might make a name for Himself. In other words, God redeemed and blessed the people of Israel with a singular purpose — to reveal Himself, His character. By revealing His character through an insignificant tribe of people, He would draw all the nations to Himself. God's eternal purpose involves the redemption of people from every nation on earth.

Empowering Kingdom Growth has been birthed in Southern Baptist life with the prayer that we will be one of God's Kingdom instruments through which He will make Himself known to all the peoples of the earth. ...

In and Through the Next Generation

If Southern Baptists will continue to prevail in the days ahead, it will be because today's pastors, deacons, and church leaders are able to encourage and elevate an emerging generation and give them the freedom to spread the gospel in ways never imagined, Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham told members of the Executive Committee Sept. 22 in Nashville, Tenn.

Graham recounted the opportunity he had to attend the funeral service for Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, in July. While he was there, it occurred to him that the imprint of Southern Baptists was evident across the household of evangelical faith that had gathered for the service. Graham mentioned such Southern Baptist leaders as Robert E. Reccord, Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, and Jim Henry and said it reminded him o...

The Second Pillar of a Kingdom Family

I met the couple in the hallway of the hospital where I had been visiting with the husband's ailing mother. As we visited briefly, he expressed a concern I have heard on many similar occasions. "Pastor, what do you think we should do with my mother?"

This is such an often-asked question that I normally would have responded with the assurance of prayer as they sorted through the decisions facing them. But on this occasion, I was startled not so much by its substance as by the manner and tone in which it was asked. He could well have been asking, "What do you think we should do with our old refrigerator? It doesn't work well, and it's in the way. You know, more of a nuisance than anything else. Got any good ideas? Can't just throw it away. At least, I'd rather not, anyway."

Admittedly, his was a dilemma with which many in our society are struggling. Longer, more healthy living, coupled with the astounding capabilities of modern medicine...

For Promoting World Missions

From An Interview with Stephen Swofford, pastor of First Baptist Church of Rockwall, Texas

SBC LIFE Steve you've pastored several churches that have been outstanding examples of missions giving. What would you say is the common dynamic in each of those places?

Steve The key factor is pastoral leadership. If the pastor doesn't have a burden for missions then it won't work. So many pastors are afraid to emphasize it because they're afraid it will interfere with other offerings. It's been my experience in the three churches I've pastored that a strong emphasis on missions giving never interferes with other emphases. In fact, in all the years that I've led this emphasis, the regular offering has never been under budget on the day we've received the World Mission Offering. When your people understand this and get into t...

An increase in biblical giving and an understanding of the value of the Cooperative Program are necessary if the Southern Baptist Convention is to avoid a financial crisis in the near future, according to a report adopted in September by the Convention's Executive Committee.

The report finds that churches have been sending less and less to the Cooperative Program since the 1980s, during which they set aside an average of 10.5 percent. That figure fell to 7.39 percent last year. Additionally, giving by church members as a percentage of income has declined steadily in the last thirty years and stands at 2.03 percent — far below the biblical standard of the tithe.

A decline in giving already has led to the delay in the deployment of missionaries, a layoff of employees, and an increase in seminary tuition.

Two obstacles, the report says, must be overcome if the trend is to be reversed. The first obstacle is the "lack of commitment to biblical giving by ...

Why the Supreme Court's Sodomy Ruling Could Be a "Gift" From God

I hate wake-up calls. The ear-piercing ring of the phone only occurs when I'm away from home in some strange hotel room. They never awaken me to a day of relaxation (how often do you arrange a wake-up call while on vacation?) but to mostly unpleasant responsibilities. Wake-up calls aren't fun ... but they are necessary. Neglecting them can lead to severe consequences.

The Supreme Court decision striking down Texas' anti-sodomy law has received a lot of ink and airtime in the last few months. Many in favor of the Court's landmark ruling believe that it represents the beginning of a new era of tolerance for homosexuals. Others who are opposed to the Court's action believe it represents the end of modern civilization. I tended to fall into the second category — until recently.

The passing of a few months has changed my attitude toward the Court's decision. Although I am still opposed to the Court's ruling, I believe Christians should view th...

Deep in Mormon country, Dennis Stoneman is pastor of FBC Burley, Idaho, where Jesus is doing an exciting work. Here's the FAITH story of a lady in his church named Darla, and I'm sure you'll be as blessed as I was by her new-found joy.

We came to Burley, Idaho to build a dairy, but God had more than a dairy in His plans.

The first few months we lived here were filled with adjustments to a new school, new town, and a new business. I didn't understand why God would move us away from our friends and our church, which had been our life for over eight years.

I knew I needed to find a church, so I began to call around. First Baptist took my name which I thought was strange since I hadn't decided if I was going to visit there or not.

One Sunday we were "vegging" on the couch and a young man and some teenagers came to our door. They said they were from the First Baptist's youth group. I was just glad they weren't Mor...

After being away on business, a man thought it would be nice to take his wife a little gift. "How about some perfume?" he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $75. "That's a bit much," he said, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $50. "That's still quite a bit," the man complained. Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $20 bottle. "What I mean is I'd like to see something really cheap." The clerk handed him a mirror.

I've known people like that — many serve on church finance committees.

I'm thankful God is not cheap. An elderly, wealthy lady was idling in her Mercedes, waiting for a parking place at the grocery store. She had been waiting patiently as a car backed out. Just as the car pulled out, a young man whizzed right in and took the place. He got out of the car, started walking to the store, and said to the lady, "That's what you can do when you're young an...

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Women and children around the world continue to suffer for their faith in Jesus. Prayer is our strongest weapon. We have the opportunity and responsibility to intercede for those who are:


In Ethiopia, Tsige, the widow of an Ethiopian church leader, often feels very alone in her small rented room. She is the only evangelical Christian in her town, the nearest evangelical church being an hour and a half away by bus. Her husband Dantew was martyred in July 2002, hacked to death by militant Orthodox priests and their followers, while Tsige and Dantew's two teenage sons, Zelalem and Dawit watched in horror. In order to complete their schooling, the boys live apart from their mother, a teacher.


In remote parts of China and some countries i...