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January 2005 Issue

Nobody wanted to have me, except for God," says Becky Harber, the much-loved and respected wife of Frank Harber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Colleyville, Texas.

About thirty-five years ago, Becky was born in the Edna Gladney Home (now called the Gladney Center for Adoption), a medical care facility for unwed mothers in Fort Worth, Texas. When she was only a week old, Vernon and Delores Florence and their sons Sam and Jay adopted her into their family and took her to their east Texas home in the town of Big Sandy.

Vernon and Delores Florence had been unable to conceive more children after having their biological sons but had desired to adopt a baby girl. Only eight months after completing the adoption paperwork, the agency called to offer the Florences the chance to adopt Becky. "We w...

Americans who care deeply about the protection of human life must face one monumental question: How can the American conscience be so apparently untroubled by the reality of abortion? That is the central question raised in an important article published in the November 2004 edition of Harper's Magazine. In "Gambling With Abortion," author Cynthia Gorney looks closely at the controversy over the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and its aftermath, and her article is a wrenching and insightful look at the current status of the abortion issue.

Gorney, a former staff writer for The Washington Post, explains how the partial-birth abortion issue emerged onto the American landscape and why it has functioned as such a volatile and emotion-laden development in the abortion wars.


Last summer a woman wrote a back-page commentary in the New York Times Magazine about her decision to abort two of her triplets, a choice she tells readers wasn't all that difficult and she's glad she made. After all, she doesn't want to have to live in Staten Island and shop at Costco for the really big tubs of mayonnaise. And her Manhattan apartment has several flights of stairs.

This ghoulish commentary was far less revealing, though, than the letters to the editor The Times received in response.

Some readers praised The Times for the "courage" and "bravery" of the piece, but several other "pro-choice" writers expressed shock, discomfort, and even moral revulsion at the calculating indifference of the writer's point of view. Par...

New Warnings About Abortion Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has unveiled stronger warning labels for the abortion drug RU 486, but pro-life advocates and the father of a teenager who died after taking the pill said that action is insufficient.

The FDA announced November 15 it is expanding the "boxed warning" for Mifeprex, the trade name for mifepristone, also known as RU 486. Mifeprex's "boxed" label, which constitutes the highest level of warning on an FDA-approved drug, says "[s]erious and sometimes fatal infections and bleeding occur very rarely" after abortions, including those from the use of RU 486.

The federal agency also noted that a third woman had died after using the abortion drug. The most recent fatality, reported in August, involved a twenty-two-year-old woman, whose name wa...

Empowering Kingdom Growth

The Convention-wide emphasis Empowering Kingdom Growth has been on the front burner for almost three years. The steering committee has consistently articulated its commitment that this emphasis cannot be allowed to become another program. We cannot program the activity of God! Nonetheless, we want to be a part of God's dynamic movement as He advances His Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven." For this reason prayer has been, from the beginning, the foundation upon which all else would be constructed. The North American Mission Board challenged Southern Baptists to begin to pray for one another, an emphasis entitled "Be One in a Million." If we want to see God work mightily through Southern Baptists, we cannot ignore our foundation of prayer.

If EKG is not a p...

A Note from Morris H. Chapman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the SBC Executive Committee

Dear Southern Baptists,

Over the last few years, we have taken a number of steps here at the SBC Executive Committee to give you greater access and input to the ministry and function of the Southern Baptist Convention: we continually update to keep you abreast of current discussions and issues; we've made available online messenger registration for the annual Southern Baptist Convention; we've made the recommendation of qualified trustees and committee members more accessible to all Southern Baptists; and we've made it much easier for you to submit resolutions for consideration by the Resolutions Committee.

We have initiated each of these because we are ever mindful of the reality that the Executive Committee does not exist to serve itself; rather, it exists to serve the Southern Baptist Convention th...

Nearly every time First Baptist adds to its building or acreage, it increases its commitment to reaching people through Cooperative Program (CP) Missions.

This keeps the focus on Kingdom growth, said Fred Winters, pastor for seventeen years at First Baptist in Maryville, Illinois, a church started by one couple in 1941.

"The needs in Maryville are tremendous," Winters acknowledged. "But who's to say there aren't greater needs elsewhere? We believe the Cooperative Program is the best way to meet mission needs around the world. It doesn't matter if there's a direct benefit to us, because it benefits others."

Maryville is a rapidly growing community about fifteen miles northeast of St. Louis. At the outset of World War II, however, the town had a population of about 800 — and twenty-four taverns — but no churches. Fred and Norine Martin changed that when they mortgaged their home to build a picturesque white clapboard ...

[A servant of the Lord must be able to teach] so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. ~ 2 Timothy 2:24-26

Most scholars recognize the teaching ability of Jesus and His use of parables. Parables communicate because they use familiar real world occurrences, concrete images, to reveal spiritual truths, abstract realities. In turn, homiletic professors understand the power of illustration in sermon construction. With this in mind, it suddenly struck me that everything I need to know about sin God taught me while fishing. Here are the major points (no pun intended) I learned on the doctrine of hamartiology (sin).

There's no such thing as a small sin.

Over the last five years, I have asked hundreds of people, "In your opinion what is necessary for a person to do to go to heaven when they die?...

FamilyNet Experiences Record Growth in Households and Programming

Cooperation is a word with special meaning for Southern Baptists. Churches, associations, state conventions, and agencies working together can achieve greater outreach and ministry than can be realized separately. A current model of Baptist cooperation has helped FamilyNet, the Southern Baptist cable network, achieve a record growth year. From a more than 100 percent increase in the number of cable affiliates to launches in major cities such as Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, and Charlotte, FamilyNet is on the move. In the spirit of Empowering Kingdom Growth and Kingdom Families, Southern Baptists are embracing FamilyNet as a tool for reaching more people for Christ and strengthening families. At the same time, the denomination is presented to the general public as a caring people working together on mission.

Pursuit of a FamilyNet cable channel in Nashville is an excellent example of Baptist cooperation. With the sizeable concentration of Baptist ...

I want you to be blessed, as I am, with three stories that have come across my desk. This new year is a time to show our Lord how much we believe His Word ... enough that we will tell others what He has done for us and how they can have eternal life.

"Last summer our twelfth-grade girls' FAITH team led Hanna to Christ. She was a foreign exchange student from Vietnam. This fall she studied and attended church and Bible study, and then got involved in Student FAITH. She went with us on our youth mission trip and personally led three to Christ. All the time she was witnessing to her family and friends back home in Vietnam — three have come to know Christ. She now believes the Lord is calling her to be a missionary to her own country and has enrolled in Liberty University. Is youth evangelism important? I'm confident the Lord thinks so!"

Todd Carr, youth pastor, First Baptist Church, Callahan, Florida


In a mega metro pastor's meeting where the pastors of great churches were talking about what encouraged them, I was discouraged by one comment. My brother, Fred, told the other pastors that he was really encouraged when he preached at my church and discovered that there were people there that didn't like me. (Thanks a lot!) He went on to explain that I had a very likable personality, and he thought everyone would like me. Everyone did like me ... until I became their pastor. Being a pastor means you will be criticized — so how do we handle criticism?

A salesman was telling his barber that he had an upcoming business trip to Rome. The spirited Italian barber told the salesman he would be a fool to go to Rome. He explained that Rome was overrated because the hotel service was horrible, restaurants were bad, and the airlines had all kinds of problems. The salesman argued that he was going to close a big deal, but the barber continued with his negative litany telling him ...

2005: The Year of the Bible
Through Bible in One Year

Because messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis June 15-16 voted overwhelmingly to declare 2005 as "The Year of the Bible," Broadman & Holman have published a special edition of their new translation of the Bible specifically geared toward reading the complete Scriptures in one calendar year.

Resolution No. 7 on the Holman Christian Standard Bible stated in part, "Southern Baptists have been historically and continually committed to the authority, sufficiency, and inerrancy of the Bible, and have upheld God's Word as 'a lamp for my feet and a light on my path' ...