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April 2004 Issue

The following is adapted from a sermon delivered by Dr. David E. Hankins, Vice President for Cooperative Program for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. The entire sermon is available for download at

Let me give you four characteristics that make the Cooperative Program a superior system for reaching the world with the gospel. It doesn't mean that it is the only way to do it, but let me tell you why I believe it is a gift from God. It may be the most effective, efficient, far-reaching, consistent, missionary funding enterprise in the history of Christian denominations. If you think that is an overstatement, I challenge you to compare what's done through this method versus other methods of missions support.

First, Cooperative Program (CP) Missions is coherent rather than chaotic. There is a plan. We are approaching missions purposefully. We ...

Since its launch in 1925, the effectiveness of Cooperative Program (CP) Missions has been dependent upon individuals, churches, state conventions, and SBC entities cooperating, working toward a common goal of sharing the gospel with every person on the planet.

How it Works

Simply put, it begins with you. You give yourself first to God (2 Corinthians 8:5). Next, out of gratitude and obedience to God for what He has done for you, you commit to give back to Him, through your church, a portion of what He provides. This is commonly called a tithe and represents ten percent of your income (Leviticus 27:30, Malachi 3:10).

Your church decides the next step. Every year your church prayerfully decides how much of its undesignated gifts will be committed to reaching people in your state and around the world through Cooperative Program (CP) Missions. This amount is then forwarded to your state Baptist convention.

During the annual me...

Empowering Kingdom Growth
No one doubts the value of good vision. Those who want to be pilots have to pass a strict vision test to qualify. Athletes understand the value of vision. Peripheral vision is critical to most sports. If your view of that which is happening around you is limited, your ability to play well is severely hampered. If your vision is blurred, you have trouble seeing the ball or puck quickly enough. Modern technology has enabled us to cure many of our vision problems. In the past, we had to rely on glasses or contacts, but today we have numerous surgical procedures that can restore vision.
The Sixth Pillar of a Kingdom Family

Members of God's Kingdom Family take a serious and Bible-centered approach to their management of the resources entrusted to them. While some began their "stewardship pilgrimage" in serious financial difficulty, they have discovered that following God's principles provides a way out as well as a way up. By adherence to these principles, they are now touching the lives of many others for the Kingdom's sake and giving faithful, generous support to their local church. They have discovered that good stewardship is, in fact, a practice which makes life an exhilarating adventure in the cause of Christ, an adventure of earthly impact and eternal significance.

Let's look at these principles, and then at the rewards which will come if you follow them.

Principles of Reverence

Stewardship must be approached with a spirit of reverence and respect. It is, at its heart, a matter of r...

Capping a two-hour discussion that focused on corporate law and Baptist polity, Executive Committee members asked New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees February 17 to make the Southern Baptist Convention the "sole member" of the seminary.

The request, made through a resolution that had only two dissenting votes, asks New Orleans trustees to adopt the legal corporation organizational model known as sole membership at their board meeting this spring.

Every Southern Baptist entity with the exception of New Orleans has adopted the model since the late 1990s, when discussions began. Last October, New Orleans trustees unanimously chose not to adopt the model.

Although complicated in many ways, the issue could affect whether seminary trustees in the future could attempt to break away from the Convention. Both sides in the discussion say that the sole membership model would clear up any ambiguity, preventing such an effort.

New Orleans Bapt...

Twenty years in the making, the first printed editions of the complete Holman Christian Standard Bible (Holman CSB) are being released April 1, 2004. The Holman CSB is an all-new translation of God's Word commissioned by Broadman & Holman Publishers, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Holman CSB was developed with four distinct goals in mind:

• To provide English-speaking people across the world with an accurate, readable Bible in contemporary English;

• To equip serious Bible students with an accurate translation for personal study, private devotions, and memorization;

• To give those who love God's Word a text that has numerous reader helps, is visually attractive on the page, and is appealing when heard;

• To affirm the authority of Scripture as God's Word and to champion its absolute truth against social or cultural agendas that would compromise its ...

By a 62-10 vote February 17, the SBC Executive Committee approved a report recommending that the Southern Baptist Convention withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance.

The report was a revision of one released in December by the Executive Committee's nine-member BWA study committee. This latest report was in keeping with the earlier one in that it also recommended withdrawal from the BWA. The report will be presented to messengers from SBC churches at the June 15-16 annual meeting in Indianapolis.

The reported adopted by the Executive Committee included, however, a provision that "the chairman of the [Executive Committee's] BWA Study Committee invite select representatives of the Baptist World Alliance to meet in Nashville with the study committee prior to May 1, 2004."

The study committee chairman, Morris H. Chapman, who also serves as president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee, said the meeting would be held in response to a...

Dear Southern Baptist,

The annual Convention in Indianapolis is an opportunity for Southern Baptists to experience the heart and passion of our ministry across America and around the world. In a world facing terrorism and global unrest, we must rise to the challenge of our times.

This great gathering in June is at a crucial time in our nation's history, and we have been called to the Kingdom for such a time as this. I want to encourage pastors and church leaders to join us in the great city of Indianapolis, which is in the heart of our nation. I especially want to encourage seminarians, students, and young pastors and leaders to participate. It is important that we connect the emerging generations to the cooperative missions of Southern Baptists.

We will hear powerful preaching, experience Christ exalting worship, share life-changing testimonies, transact Kingdom business, and commit t...

I stood in the funeral parlor, staring at the lifeless face of my colleague, and thought to myself, "Yes, it comes to this. All of life, however you choose to live it, ends in death." I was surprised at how morose I was, how overcome by melancholia. Death was so ... well, ... real — so final. No wonder Paul calls death the Last Enemy. But why was I so gripped by this particular death? It seemed to me to be more than ordinary grief. After all, my relationship to this friend, while marked by fraternity, even fondness, was not all that close. Plus, he had lived a long life, healthy right up to the end, had a wonderful family, and had loved and served Jesus. Besides, I had been in situations like this a hundred times and more. I had stood at funerals and faithfully proclaimed the promises of God regarding the death of Christians — and I believe them without reservation. But those promises just didn't seem very comforting right then.

Why? It was existential angs...

This was not only a first for the high school, it was a first for the entire county's history — State Champs!

As the Mainland High Buccaneer football players and coaches took the stand and received their championship metals, their eyes focused above as they thrust their index fingers upward pointing into the heavens. Hardly anyone in the stadium seats had any idea of the extraordinary miracle they were now beholding.

Coach Garner had been coaching for years and recently gave up offers to be head coach so that he could continue as assistant coach. The Lord was at work in him now ... calling him to something extraordinary.

"Many years of coaching had confirmed in me that, overall, students had 'good hearts' and were very open to change in their lives." Coach Garner continued, "Those students with bad lifestyles were the result of bad habits, not closed hearts. God put on my heart the desire to find a meaningful ...

An old preacher was on a ship in which the wind was blowing over 100 miles an hour. He started to pray, "God, send us the spirit of the children of Israel, the children of Moses, the children of the Promised Land." Another brother began to pray, saying, "Lord, don't send nobody. Come Yourself, this ain't no time for children." Easter is not really for children. That is why the Mel Gibson movie is rated R. Easter is about sin and death and the hurt that it causes.

When our daughter Kasey was about four years old, she fell and hurt her chin on a coffee table. When I arrived the bleeding had stopped, and she was playing with a friend, but I knew the cut needed stitches. Our doctor told us to bring her to the emergency room. I told Kasey we needed to go to the hospital to sew up her chin, and she told me I didn't understand. Her chin didn't hurt anymore. Have you ever tried reasoning with a four year old? I finally just got on my knees and asked if sh...

Kirk Cameron — Teen Star Turned Evangelist

Many will see him forever as the teen heartthrob of television's Growing Pains, but today Kirk Cameron would like you to remember him as an evangelist who taught you to help people recognize their desperate need for Jesus Christ.

The church too often has tried to sell non-Christians on the benefits of a relationship with Christ, Cameron noted, without first convincing them that they desperately need salvation. Through a new reality-based TV series, The Way of the Master, he relays evangelism strategies that can make the process natural and effective.

"I can tell you that of all the things I've done in my life, of all the people I've met and the places I've been, absolutely nothing compares to the joy of knowing Christ, of being forgiven of my sin, and of being in a right relationships with my Creator,&quo...