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April 2006 Issue

Drawing from the example of Samson's loss of strength in Judges 16, Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch warned against squandering the opportunities God has given the Convention.

"There is great consequence in the traumatic tragedy of unfulfilled potential," Welch told Executive Committee members in Nashville, Tennessee, February 20.

He pointed to verse 20, which says when Samson awoke from his sleep, he said, "I will escape as I did before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him. Samson had lost his hair and his strength, and the Philistines were upon him.

"That must be one of the saddest circumstances imaginable to be out flailing away and the wind of God [is] off your life," Welch said, adding that a wonderful comeback happened in verse 22 when Samson's hair began to grow again.

Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, set forth three ways ...

A New Day for Cooperative Program

A committee charged with studying a range of financial solutions within the Southern Baptist Convention is recommending that entities promote the Cooperative Program by continually referencing and promoting it in publications and printed materials.

The SBC Funding Study Committee issued its fourth interim report to the Southern Baptist Executive Committee February 20, saying that more needs to be done to educate younger generations about the benefits of the Cooperative Program — Southern Baptists' method of funding missions, seminary education, and other ministries.

The committee released three recommendations, one of which is to request that the Executive Committee and entities include "motivating references" about the Cooperative Program "noticeably and continually on all regularly issued printed materials, characterizing it as a most efficient way of fu...

Last September, the Executive Committee, acting ad interim on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, voted unanimously to use beyond-the-budget Cooperative Program contributions received for the fiscal year ending September 30 in three areas of great need among Southern Baptists:

One-half of the total was earmarked for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to help faculty and students recover from losses and to help rebuild the campus; one-fourth was distributed to the three state conventions most affected by the hurricane to keep ministers in the field and to assist churches in recovery; and one-fourth was sent to the North American Mission Board to support the extensive hurricane disaster relief operations.

Addressing the Executive Committee February 20, Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, recounted that one outlet for distribution was the provision of $200 gift cards.

Printed on the cards with the name of the Southern Baptist Convention were the words, "ministering through the Cooperative Program," the SBC's channel for missions and ministry outreach throughout the world.

The g...

The upheaval of Hurricane Katrina has turned Fred Luter into a circuit-driving preacher, journeying more than nine thousand miles in a Jeep Cherokee he started driving last fall.

When Katrina struck last fall, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans had more than seven thousand members, having grown from sixty-five members in 1986 when Luter was called as pastor.

The hurricane and subsequent flooding claimed the church campus, Luter's home, and virtually everything else in the Lower Ninth Ward community where he grew up.

But, being a pastor, the hardest part about Katrina "has been not being able to see our members," Luter said. "... So many people are still displaced."

In the aftermath of the storm, Luter and his wife Elizabeth began constant travels from Birmingham, Alabama, where they resettled to live with their daughter, to New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and other cities in an effort to reconnect w...

It is not insignificant that the Empowering Kingdom Growth task force led Southern Baptists to look first at the Kingdom Family. Tom Elliff provided us with wonderful biblical material to look at the seven pillars of a Kingdom family. That material continues to be of great value to our local churches. We cannot lose sight of the truth that we will not be able to develop Kingdom churches until we first establish Kingdom priorities in the home.

Last year I partnered with Richard Ross to co-author a book entitled Parenting With Kingdom Purpose. It is not the traditional parenting book but serves rather as a primer for developing Kingdom purpose in the home. This study was mandated by studies indicating that youth ages 13-19 now form the largest unreached people group in America. Further, we a...

How Should Southern Baptists Respond to the Issue of Calvinism?
Few issues are more likely to ignite a lively debate than a discussion of the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
In Light of History and the Baptist Faith and Message
The following is a summary of the "TULIP" of classic Calvinism, set against the backdrop of its origins and compared to the Baptist Faith and Message, with the full recognition that Scripture is the final authority on all beliefs and doctrinal systems.

Family, friends, Southern Baptist leaders, and employees of LifeWay Christian Resources celebrated the installation of Thom S. Rainer on February 6 during his inauguration ceremony as the SBC entity's ninth president.

Unanimously approved in September 2005 by the LifeWay trustees, Rainer succeeds James T. Draper Jr., who led the organization for nearly fifteen years.

"God has uniquely provided you for the task of leading LifeWay," Draper said to Rainer as he passed the presidential medallion. "I am proud of you and look with great expectation at what God will do in the days ahead."

Prior to coming to LifeWay, Rainer was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Rainer worked thirteen years with seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr.

"One thing more than anything else that qualifies Thom Rainer as president of LifeWay for ...

An Interview with Tony Nolan

Tony Nolan is an evangelist from Florida and the co-founder, along with his wife Tammy, of TNT Ministries. God has used him to reach thousands of teenagers and adults for Christ. We spoke with Tony recently to discuss his life along with his methods and motivation for ministry. We are pleased to share a portion of that conversation.

SBC LIFE Tony, you're in evangelism. How did the Lord bring you to Himself in the first place?

Nolan It's the story of a soul looking for fulfillment in his life then ultimately finding it in Jesus.

My mother was a mentally insane street person who lived in Jacksonville, Florida. I've never met my biological father. I was put in foster care for the first three years of my life because my mother was institutionalized. Unfortunately it was a very unhealthy foster care situation where they abused me sexually and burned me...

What a glorious season we celebrate and call Easter. All of Christendom hangs on what happened in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. If we truly believe that He died, was buried, and rose again to pay the price for our sins, save our souls, and give us eternal life, then we will get up out of our comfortable pews and go more for Jesus, witness more, tell more our testimony, pray more for souls to be saved, and never let up or give up!

We cannot separate those two words — Cross and Evangelism. He died and commanded us to go, to be about the Father's business of bringing others to Him.

Below is a testimony from Brent Ferren, pastor of First Baptist Church, Glen Rose, Texas, of "keeping on keeping on" and keeping "first things first." Always remember that pastors and staff will change and disappointment may come to your church, but the church must go on doing the church's call of winning...

One of our neighbor's kids learned how to ride the bike at an early age and that was great, but the only problem was he didn't know how to stop. He was always in a panic looking for a bush to crash into so he could stop. Life is difficult when you can't stop. The end result is usually a wreck, and you and many others could be injured severely. To be successful in life it is just as crucial to be able to stop as well as start. When is the last time you stopped doing something?

I can't even get out of my neighborhood without stopping twice. Why is it so much more difficult to stop in life, or even in my church, than it is in a car? Think about it: When is the last time you or your church just stopped? Sometimes it is hard to stop because we have had the inertia of success. Our strengths can become our weaknesses. Remember Borden Milk and its beloved Elsie the Cow? The founder of the company who invented condensed milk even had his tomb built in the shape of a condensed m...

One of Our Own
Proclaiming the Name of Jesus on American Idol

Mandisa Hundley, one of the top-twelve finalists to make the cut on television's No. 1 show American Idol, is not ashamed of her faith in Christ and even publicly expressed forgiveness for one of the show's judges after he sent a biting insult her way.

Mandisa, who prefers to be known by her first name, is a regular worship leader at Beth Moore's Living Proof Live conferences throughout the country and has made it known that a brief bout with fame is nothing compared to her relationship with Jesus Christ.

In fact, she put ...