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September 2003 Issue

Texas pastor Jack Graham, in his president's address at the 146th annual meeting of the 158-year-old Southern Baptist Convention, June 17, told messengers he knew he was stating the obvious.

"If we are going to make a difference, we, of course, must be different," he said, challenging Southern Baptists to represent Christ to a decaying culture.

Citing a familiar passage from Matthew 5:13-16 about Christians being "salt and light," Graham recounted Jesus' description of how a citizen of the Kingdom of God is to live.

While it may be difficult to define the Kingdom, it is essential to demonstrate the Kingdom, he stated, referring to this year's convention's theme — Kingdom First. And although the concept is commonly understood by Southern Baptists, Gra...

Empowering Kingdom Growth Through Prayer
Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) is an initiative that inspires Southern Baptists to renew their passion for the Lord Jesus. It invites individuals to recognize the authority of His Kingdom in their hearts, families, and churches, and to join God's work through holy living, sacrificial service, and global witness. EKG is not a denominational program. Rather, it is an appeal to individuals and churches to engage in spiritual renewal and Kingdom consciousness. Just as a medical EKG measures the health of the human heart, we hope EKG will help Southern Baptists measure the health of their spiritual hearts.

Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) is not another Southern Baptist program. It doesn't organize a particular area of work, explain how to pursue that piece of work, or teach you how to count it, cultivate it, or promote it. Programs are great for doing that sort of thing and are vital ingredients in all healthy churches. For example, every healthy church needs an organized program of Bible studies. Most churches use the Sunday School program. Some use another structure for their small-group life. By whatever name you may call it, it is still a program. Programs are necessary, but EKG is not a program.

EKG is best understood as a national initiative that seeks to call individuals, churches, associations, state conventions, the Southern Baptist Convention, and all our r...

You can build a Kingdom Family. Whoever you are, and in whatever circumstances you may presently find yourself, it is possible for you to both become a member of God's Kingdom Family and to begin building a Kingdom Family according to God's blueprint. Each week, when the congregation I am privileged to pastor gathers for worship, I am assured of the truth of that promise. You see, ours is a church filled with individuals and families whose lives are testimonies to the grace of God. It is that grace which enables us to live out Kingdom Family principles.

Meet Pete and Debbie Livingston who are building a Kingdom Family. They seem to always find their place in worship on the second row of the second section to my left as I preach. That wasn't always the case, however, as both would share with you...

The Devastating Potential of Frankensteinian Research

Human embryo experiments like those recently revealed at a European fertility conference demonstrate a need for regulations on research, a Southern Baptist bioethicist says.

Criticism greeted two reports in particular at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Madrid, Spain. Researchers suggested eggs could be created from the ovaries of aborted female babies to help infertile women, possibly leading to the birth of a child whose biological mother was never born. Another group of researchers reported on the creation of "she-males," embryos with both male and female cells.

Israeli and Dutch researchers reported they had been able to keep ovarian tissue taken from aborted babies alive four weeks, according to The Independent, a London newspaper. The researchers theorize the ovaries can be stimulated in a test tube to develop eventually into mature eggs, the newspaper reported.

Researchers from Chicago rep...

Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Richard Gephardt expressed support for homosexual "civil unions" but dodged specific questions about homosexual "marriage" during a forum July 15 hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest homosexual organization in the country.

Kerry, who said he's opposed to "homosexual marriage," implied that if the cultural attitude on the issue changes, he would, too.

Seven of the nine Democratic candidates appeared at the forum, which showcased the candidates' stances on a host of homosexual issues, with three long-shot candidates voicing support for homosexual "marriage" during the event.

According to the HRC, it marked the first time a group of presidential contenders spoke specifically to a group of homosexuals.

While candidates John Edwards and Bob Graham did not appear, their answers on a Human Rights Campaign questionnaire generally were supp...

Larry Burkett, founder of one of the first Christian financial teaching ministries, was remembered at a memorial service July 11 as a man of unquestionable faith and integrity who was sold out to the authority of Scripture on his life.

Burkett, cofounder of Crown Financial Ministries, died of heart failure July 4 following an extended battle with cancer and heart disease. The sixty-four-year-old Burkett was a member of Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Flowery Branch, Ga.

About 500 people attended the nearly two-hour memorial service July 11 at The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta to pay tribute to Burkett's life and ministry.

Burkett was remembered most by family, colleagues, and friends as a caring and compassionate follower of Christ who fully embraced the message of the cross....

I just received the following testimony from a church completing their semester of FAITH strategy. The FAITH training begins each week with testimonies of how God has worked in the participant's life between each FAITH training week. On this particular training day, late into the spring semester, the participants were asked if they had any testimonies from the week. Mary spoke up and said she would like to share something that happened on Friday evening.

She was having a quiet night at home when the phone rang and she heard her daughter's voice say, "Mom! Can we talk for a moment?" What was unusual about this call was that the mom had not heard from her daughter since Christmas Eve following her daughter's selfish outrage at the family Christmas gathering. Her outburst put such a damper on the gathering that the family very quietly began to leave the home, going their separate ways.

Let's go back to the phone call! The mom said to her daughter, &q...

I was eating lunch with a man who started to take a pill. When I asked him why he was taking it, he said it was for his colitis. I asked him who he was colliding with now.

Our words can collide with people and condemn them, or our words can confirm them. The Bible says that pleasant words are like a honeycomb. In that day, honey was a remedy for sicknesses such as a sore throat. It was also an energy booster, a total "pick-me-up."

Jesus said that our words are an overflow from our heart. What is on the inside will come out in our words.

Two brothers were getting on in years, and one was envious of the other. The older of the two asked God, "Why has my brother been blessed with wealth and happiness and I have nothing? All my life I've never missed a single day without saying my morning and evening prayers. My church attendance has been perfect. I've not made a single decision without first calling Your name. And now as I'm nearing my fin...

Promoting Diversity — Except When It Comes to Religion

General Motors' corporate policy of allowing employees to create "affinity groups" is the target of a discrimination complaint after one employee says his request to organize fellow workers for Christian-related activities was rejected.

John Moranski, who has worked at the G.M. factory in Indianapolis, Ind., for three years, filed the discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in June.

General Motors began sanctioning employee-initiated affinity groups in 1999 in order to promote workplace diversity and improve employer-employee communications. The company's recognition of an affinity group allows that group access to corporate facilities and communications, as well as other benefits for sponsoring activities.

Moranski complained that he was first denied the ...