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February 2006 Issue

By Proclaiming and Demonstrating the Love of Christ

Often discouraged and depressed, the two dozen men sitting in the church service reflect the scars, the struggles, and the pain of hard lives on Atlanta's infamous Memorial Drive. To Reginald Robbins, they are nothing less than wayward children, ready to be reclaimed and reborn.

The men may be drug dealers or addicts, alcoholics, street thugs, or just homeless guys down on their luck. What they all have in common is a strong desire to find a better way of living.

And if the men — black, white, Hispanic, or any race — have families, their wives and children are equally welcomed into the Set Free Memorial Drive Ministries and Sanctuary Shelter, the inner-city church and homeless facility Robbins has pastored and directed for the past six years.

Supported by the Annie Armstron...

Born in Hong Kong, Andrew Chan looks and feels at home as he strolls down the busy streets of Chinatown Los Angeles. And much like his namesake, Andrew — one of Jesus' original twelve disciples — Chan glances around for someone to invite to church and win to Christ.

Chan and his wife, Edith, are Asian church planters and language strategists for the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board (NAMB). Missionaries since 1982, they live in Arcadia, about twenty miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Chan travels up and down California, where NAMB and the California Southern Baptist Convention support sixty-two Chinese churches and missions.

Converted and called to preach as a teenager in a Hong Kong high school, Chan always felt a burden for the lost people of Hong Kong, ...

Showing pretty fair pitching form, Randy Chestnut winds up and fires the baseball. With a clang, Randy's fastball nails the metal target and another victim plops into the dunking pool to gales of laughter in the crowd of several hundred.

And while this block party on a bright, sunny day on the green lawn of Park Heights Baptist Church in the Middleburg Heights section of Cleveland is replete with Gospel music, games for the kids, and food and refreshments for all, it's serious work for Randy and wife Denise. They're doing the King's business.

For two years now, Chestnut has served as director of missions and a North American Mission Board missionary for the Greater Cleveland Baptist Association. Randy wasn't always a Southern Baptist. He was raised in a Roman Catholic home in Dayto...

For ten years now, North American missionaries Kevin and Alicia Madden have lived twenty-two hundred miles away from Kevin's birthplace, Washington, Georgia — a historic little town located about one hundred miles east of Atlanta. Today, their home and hearts are firmly rooted in Canada.

Madden is a church planting missionary and senior pastor of The Potter's House Community Church in Westbank, British Columbia, a community of thirty thousand people, located about four hours from Vancouver. British Columbia is Canada's far-western province, just above Washington State.

"We are so blessed by the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering," says Madden. "As part of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists, we work very closely with the North American Mission Board. The funds fr...

Some of our most profound events are the least expected. During the early days of my first full-time pastorate, I was standing outside the doors of the church under the drive-through portico. I had stationed myself there to open the car doors and welcome our people to church. My attention was soon drawn to a car a few cars back in the queue. It contained a young man about twelve years old and his dad.

As I watched them approach, it became obvious to me that they were having a very animated conversation — one might have even called it an argument. I began to speculate to myself concerning the nature of their conversation. I had a few visual clues that helped. The young boy had on a suit that was too small, a shirt that was too tight in the collar, and a clip-on tie. I could tell the boy believed the shi...

Lead Your Church To Be Number 2,151!

"And the first place winner is ..."

How many times have we heard that phrase? Though I am not a major sports fan, I have always lived in towns and cities where the first place award was given regularly. Our high school football team dominated the area of the county in which I grew up. I also witnessed many great accomplishments by the University of Kentucky basketball team when I lived in Lexington. After spending time in Indianapolis, every year I observed the "best" in the Indy 500. Now living in Louisville, each spring another horse and jockey win the Kentucky Derby. Let's face it; we live in a society that prizes the best, the greatest, the fastest. We like to be number one — but number 2,151? You've got to be kidding?!

In a recent study I conducted of one hundred and ninety North American church planters, I confirmed a fact that many have assumed for years: few churches are currently involved in church...

Reflections from a Young Pastor

I often hear it said that the previous generation of Southern Baptists has won "the battle for the Bible." What this usually means is that the question of inerrancy has been settled. Now, it is said, we can move on to other things — like bringing our evangelism into the 21st century. W. A. Criswell, Paige Patterson, Paul Pressler, Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, and others achieved the first Reformation. Now, some say we need "another Reformation" that brings our mission strategy up to date.

I agree that our evangelistic methods should be brought up to date. But the statement that "the battle for the Bible is over" is dangerously wrong on two accounts. First, anyone who thinks the question of inerrancy is "settled" is simply not keeping up with trends developing among evangelicalism. Voices calling for "balance" in this issue, by which they mean we must learn to balance the truth in our Bibles with the errors, are as loud as e...

Making Disciples in the Home

Most pastors recognize the God-ordained role and responsibilities associated with fatherhood. Indeed, we have stood in the face of a liberal society and unashamedly proclaimed God's Word on the matter. We have admonished the fathers in our congregations not to buy into our culture's distortion and belittling of the honored station and so shirk those duties, but rather to accept the duty proudly.

We do so because God Himself assigned these responsibilities to the father — responsibilities that make the role noble, valid, and valued beyond a secular culture's comprehension. He has directed the father to raise his children in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). The seasoned Christian father readily recognizes and embraces this assignment.

However, there is one fatherly responsibility that some of us may overlook, a responsibility that magnifies the crucial role of a father. While we recognize God's charge to verbalize His tr...

A New Corruption of Masculinity

In the film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's violent novel, Fight Club, character Tyler Durden points to his generation of young men as the "middle children of history." Played by actor Brad Pitt, Durden represents the absolute collapse of masculinity into raw violence. This character joins his friends in seeking personal release and ecstasy through violent fights that send the participants regularly to the emergency room. In a haunting comment, Durden remarks: "We are a generation of men raised by women." Is this our future?

Reporting in the December 11, 2005 edition of The New York Times, Warren St. John describes the emergence of a new phenomenon — "Neanderthal TV." As St. John explains, this new approach to television venality and violence is being marketed to young males, mostly between the ages of eighteen and thirty. A male-oriented network, Spike TV, interviewed thousands of young men and determined that many of them wan...

Touching Lives Through CP

Grove Level Baptist Church, where about fifteen hundred people worship on Sunday mornings in Dalton, Georgia, reaches out to its community and beyond in a variety of biblical ways.

The congregation's outreach starts each week with giving 18 percent of undesignated offerings through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists' unparalleled way of reaching people and supporting missions across America and around the world.

"The Cooperative Program provides a structure for missions that I find maturing believers are attracted to," pastor Charlie Bridges said. "What the Cooperative Program tells these people is that we have a safe way — a tried and tested, most effective way — of partnering in missions in North America and around the world that they can be a part of."

"We're committed to it," Jim Bledsoe, associate pastor for missions, evangelism and administration, said of the Cooperative Program. "It works...

At Southern Baptist Seminary-based Bible Colleges

Since the Southern Baptist Convention's conservative resurgence began in 1979, many Baptist colleges and universities owned by state conventions have drifted from their conservative roots and looked to non-Baptist sources for their funding.

So where can students from those states, who have been called to ministry, go for undergraduate training under faculty committed to the Great Commission and the SBC?

To the five colleges housed on the campuses of SBC seminaries, according to James Scroggins, dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate college of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Southern Baptists have always believed that a call to preach is a call to prepare," Scroggins said. "So it's right for our Southern Baptist seminaries to respo...

SBC Volunteers Reflecting and Proclaiming the Love of Christ in NYC

Some people may have thought Southern Baptists were biting off more of the Big Apple than they could chew with their Paint the Town project.

But nearly two thousand volunteers proved any skeptics wrong.

"Paint the Town is proving to be what I call the doorway to the soul of the city," said Gary Frost, director of missions for the Metro New York Baptist Association. "Southern Baptists are perceived by many in the Northeast to be fundamentalist Bible-thumpers. This project really allows us to be seen as who we are: compassionate people who love Christ and each other."

By the time school started the first week of September last year, Southern Baptists, in two months, had painted the interiors of nine schools in the Bronx, one in Harlem, and two on Long Island. Less visible are the hundreds of New Yorkers' lives changed as a result of connecting on the subways and streets of the nation's largest city with SBC volunteers.

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A Book Review

Is there a single, unifying, theme of all human history? If so, what is it? Robert Bowie Johnson Jr. attempts to answer this question with his book, The Parthenon Code.

The ancient Preacher, as he was concluding his appraisal of man's quest for meaning, said, "... of making many books there is no end ..." Ecclesiastes 12:12. (I think that the ancient writer may be surprised how many more books there are now, than when he first wrote that). Not only are they numerous; most books are pretty predictable. They go where we expect them to. When a book comes along that breaks new ground, we are inclined to sit up and take notice. I believe that this is just such a book.

This book focuses on an idea unfamiliar to some of us, certainly to me, the history of the line of Cain. It then takes that knowledge and builds upon a familiar base, the history of the "line of Seth;" and it does it in a way that is most interesting! Apparently, learning take...

Last summer, my son Neil told his three children that he planned to take them to the park the next day. "Pray it won't rain," he said.

The next morning, they piled into the truck and were driving across town when he said, "It's such a beautiful day. Who asked God for this? Grant, did you?"

"No," the eleven-year-old said. "I forgot."

"Abby, did you?"

"No, I forgot, too."

"Oh, good," said Erin, her eight-year-old twin, "then it was my miracle."

At church, I see Graham Waller, so bravely dealing with the blindness which resulted from surgery for a brain tumor over four years ago. We still pray for his healing. I've told his parents, Ed and Sherri, that one reason I pray is that when the healing comes, "I want it to be my miracle."

My college roommate and best man in our wedding, Joel Davis, and his wife, Wilma, have a daught...

Helping Postmoderns Find Faith

When Michael Travers first read C.S. Lewis' writings as a teenager, he "didn't think much" of Lewis' legendary Mere Christianity and felt his Screwtape Letters were "not as impressive to me" as they were to others.

Admittedly, his disinterest had more to do with his spiritual condition at that time than the quality of Lewis' work, said Travers, an English professor and C.S. Lewis scholar at Southeastern College at Wake Forest, the undergraduate school of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Travers' interest in Lewis has led him to speak at four C.S. Lewis conferences, and he has been asked to contribute two chapters on Lewis in an upcoming major four-volume scholarly work by Bruce Edwards.

After his conversion in his mid-20s, Travers, then a doctoral student studying John Milton, decided to give Lewis another try while he was in the process of "rethinking my whole dis...

When You're Involved in Evangelism Training

The following are "popcorn" testimonies from Don, Stacy, Jeff, Mitzi, Alyson, Joey, Debbie, Darin, Kyle, Anne, Jay, Kesha, Terri, Donna, and Jim. In them, you will detect the "before and after" of evangelism training.

"I was confident I was saved, but I was never confident in how to share the Gospel with someone else. Evangelism training is very important to me."

"I have been a Christian for a very long time, but I was never comfortable in sharing my faith."

"I wasn't going to go to evangelism training and go up to someone and ask if they were a Christian or tell them about Jesus — that was something others needed to do."

"It was scary, but I felt God wanting to test me in this area. He has proven Himself."

"I felt God wanting me to be trained, but I had to commit it to prayer because I was so nervous. It was out of my comfort zone."

"I wonder...

Children born out of wedlock today are more likely to have mothers in their early 20s than teens, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics that prompted leaders of the True Love Waits abstinence movement to point to virginity pledges as a leading factor in the reduction of teen pregnancies.

A record high number of 1.5 million babies were born to unwed mothers last year, but the surprising trend is that most of those moms were not teens, according to an October, 2005, report on the data by USA Today.

While teens accounted for half of all unwed births in 1970, they accounted for but only 24 percent of the total in 2004.

For women ages 20-24, 55 percent of births last year were to unwed mothers, and the figure was almost 28 percent for ages 25-29, the study said.

From 2002 to 2004, births to unwed mothers ages 25-29 jumped more than 14 percent, and for mothers ages 20-24, the number rose 7 percent.

...

A red-faced, vein-popping man once approached me after our Classic Worship Service to let me know how he felt. I remember thinking that if he doesn't have a stroke then he's missing a marvelous opportunity. He told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to remove the drums and guitars from the platform during the Classic Service, because he could not worship with them in his view. Instead of explaining the logistics of not moving the drums, I told him that I might be able to move the instruments as long as he was willing to move the organ during the Casual Service since that might hinder their worship. The look I received from him was not "special." He huffed and said that he knew I would never do anything for the older people. Then my veins enlarged and my face turned red, and I said ... oh, never mind, you probably know what I said. It was not one of my greater spiritual moments.

When I was a pastor, we had an early Classic Service and the later service was Casu...

Liberal Media Bias — Confirmed

A first-of-its-kind look at media bias, which included comparing news stories to congressional speeches, revealed that coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media but that almost all major media outlets are liberal.

"While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times," the study found, according to a December 14 news release by the University of California-Los Angeles, which conducted the research. "The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left."

The study, which appears in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of me...