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September 2004 Issue

Planting churches and giving to the Cooperative Program are two sides of the same coin, pastor Ron Mitchell said.

"We've become focused on planting churches, but we've done this with a firm commitment that we not reduce our CP giving," Mitchell said of First Baptist Church of Huber Heights' support for Southern Baptists' worldwide missions and ministry. "Now we're in a building program that's costly for us, but we're not going to reduce our missions giving because of it."

The Cooperative Program does what the local church cannot, Mitchell noted.

"It's all about the Great Commission," said Mitchell, pastor of the suburban Dayton, Ohio, congregation since 1991.

"We go on mission trips," he said. "We've go...

My ministry partner stood and moved toward the speaker's stand in the Jacksonville, Florida church, echoing the heartfelt sentiments of thousands of called students studying at Southern Baptist seminaries. "My name is Philip Barber. I am a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. As such, the first thing that I need to do is to thank each of you for your gifts over the years to the Cooperative Program. It is because of your faithfulness in giving that I am able to attend Southwestern Seminary. So, on behalf of myself, as well as the rest of the students at each of our six Southern Baptist seminaries, thank you. We are beholden. And I want you to know that you are impacting the Kingdom in this way."

This seems like an appropriate time to pause for a moment for reflection. I have just completed my first year as the national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth. I came to this position from Southwestern Seminary because I believed that this is the most important initiative Southern Baptists have undertaken in my lifetime. I believe that this focus has the potential to bring spiritual renewal and revitalization to our denomination and beyond. This has been an exciting year of discovery, enrichment, writing, and transformation. Nothing that I have seen or experienced has changed my original opinion about the significance of this undertaking. Therefore, I am looking forward to this next year with anticipation and expectation.

A Year of Discovery<...

The spectacular success of the homosexual movement stands as one of the most fascinating phenomena of our time. In less than two decades, homosexuality has moved from "the love that dares not speak its name," to the center of America's public life. The homosexual agenda has advanced even more quickly than its most ardent proponents had expected, and social change of this magnitude demands some explanation.

A partial explanation of the homosexual movement's success can be traced to the 1989 publication of After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear & Hatred of Gays in the 90s. Published with little fanfare, this book became the authoritative public relations manual for the homosexual agenda, and its authors presented the book as a distillation of public relations advice for the homosexual community. A look back at its pages is an occasion for understanding just how successful their plan was.

Authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen combine...

Bobby Welch, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will launch a nationwide bus tour August 29 from First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he is pastor. He will visit churches in all fifty states to encourage Southern Baptists to evangelize more passionately and reach a goal of 1 million baptisms.

"My invitation, prayer, and expectation is to visit all sizes and types of churches in order to string together a mosaic of what the SBC really looks like at its grassroots and heart," Welch said in a statement to Baptist Press.

Welch will travel in a forty-five-foot-long bus built by Hemphill Bros. Coach Company in Nashville, Tennessee, the company that built President Bush's campaign bus.

Painted on the side of the bus are faces of Southern Baptists interposed on an American flag with the words "The Southern Baptist Convention Kingdom Challenge" and "Everyone Can Witness, Win, and Baptize...One Million!" The desi...

What's All the Fuss About?

Let's face it. Not all of us enjoyed our biology class in high school or college. We may remember what a cell looks like, but we don't all remember the difference between a nucleus and a nucleolus. Maybe the first time we heard of clones was from the title of a Star Wars movie. Nevertheless, the Christian media and talk show hosts continue to bring up the topics of stem cells and human cloning, and we think that we should be opposed to them but we're really not sure of all the details. After all, it is really too complex and can't we ever be in favor of something for a change? For those of you who would agree with the above sentiments, take heart, dear reader, finally here's an article on biotechnology "for the rest of us."

Cloning — What Is It?

What is cloning anyway? Cloning is simply the duplication of a living organism. It is done in an asexual fashion (without mixing an egg and sperm). It'...

Noting that America's freedom did not come without loss of life, a former Army chaplain who was with the first troops to enter Baghdad last year said people critical of the war in Iraq should take a few cues from history.

"Go back and look at how many Americans lost their lives for freedom in 1776," Huey Bratton said at a July 2 Independence Day service. "It takes loss of life — and sometimes a lot of it — to maintain freedom."

Bratton, who was a chaplain for the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, spoke about his experiences in Iraq at The Church at Ponte Vedra in the coastal town just outside of Jacksonville, Florida.

On behalf of the military still serving in the Middle East, Bratton said their biggest need is to know the American people support them and that the country "stays united to fulfill the cause."

"I think from a soldier's standpoint, they need to know that their count...

Do you believe in divine appointments? Consider this account from a sister church in Florida.

Our FAITH team from First Baptist Church of Crystal River, Florida, set out to make three visits for our church. The card from the FAITH office was labeled: "Please visit this one first." We were ecstatic, because the card said he was interested in finding out how to be a Christian. (Now, I ask you, is this a dream visit or what?) It was the first visit of the semester, and I had new people on my team. I was anxious about how I would model an actual FAITH visit before them.

Our excitement waned when we went to the home and his neighbor said he was not at home. The neighbor said he might be home around 8:00 p.m. We have our celebration time at church at 8:00 so we decided to come back, after other visits, if we had time.

Our next two visits were in opposite directions. It was now close to 8:00, and we had to decide to go on to the church or go back by Tom...

The older population is growing at a rate of three times the rest of the U.S. population. If you think Grumpy Old Men was a movie about deacons, keep reading. I want to tell you about old age.

With a positive attitude there is no reason why you can't live to be 100, and once you've done that, you have it made because very few people die after the age of 100. Now since age is in your mind, the key is to keep it from seeping down into your body.

I call it the Caleb Factor. We know Caleb as one of the twelve spies. Character, confidence, and courage determine the Caleb Factor. Character may be defined by what it takes to stop or detour a man. Caleb would not be stopped. He lived a life of overcoming the obstacles and taking advantage of the opportunities. He decided it was better to die for something than to stand for nothing. Caleb also had confidence. Caleb understood the principles of God and believed the promises of God which gave him the confidence to be ...


Acts 1:8 — To the Ends of the Earth

The International Mission Board is launching a new product to keep Southern Baptists up to date with the latest information on board strategies and mission advance — the Acts 1:8 to the Ends of the Earth mini magazine.

Each eight-page issue includes graphics, photography, and brief articles for a quick read. A poster-quality center spread can be used on bulletin boards or in Sunday School rooms.

"theCOMMISSION magazine has been the foundation of communication with Southern Baptists, but financial restrictions prevent us from continuing its publication, although we do anticipate publishing an occasional issue," said IMB president Jerry Rankin.

"Meanwhile, we hope this mini magazine will keep you well informed and aware of how God is at work through your missionaries."

Acts 1:8 challen...