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January 2008 Issue

For some parents, having a special-needs child could be an opportunity for bitterness and questioning God. But for Evelyn Blythe, it was an opportunity to celebrate life and establish a program that encourages some of Tennessee's most under-appreciated residents.

In 1962 Blythe gave birth to Roger, who is mentally retarded and autistic. Through her fight to get Roger an education, Blythe established a program for mentally challenged children that eventually expanded to serve adults. Thirty years later, her program has spawned a network of programs across Tennessee that provide love and education to adults with disabilities.

"I couldn't understand why God had sent this child who was going to change my life," Blythe said. "But I know now that it was His plan. Every step of the...

Lessons from Isaiah 59:1-21

This month marks the 35th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. In effect, in 1973 the United States Supreme Court declared war against unborn children in our nation. Since then, more than 48 million pre-born children have been violently attacked, brutally dismembered, and horrifyingly mangled in what was designed by the Lord as a place of refuge — their mothers' wombs. Their remains have been casually pitched into Dumpsters or placed in plastic bags; they have not been allowed the common decency of a proper burial. We have given a pleasant sounding name to this Planned Genocide of America. We euphemistically call it abortion.

The Natural Injustice of Human Sin

Left to its own devic...

She cowered in the darkness of the closet just as she had done on numerous occasions in the past. Her dark brown eyes reflected distrust and uncertainty. As I reached to stroke the curly, auburn hair that clung to her tear-streaked face, she recoiled as if expecting a blow. Softly, I began singing, "Jesus loves you, this I know...."

God had prepared my heart for that moment since childhood. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all [my] days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began (Psalm 139:16). When I was twelve years old, an article in Home Life magazine awakened a desire to minister to hurting children. Observations of my parents as they offered refuge to wayward teens and struggling families continued to shape my dreams. Each of these experiences became th...

Take a good look at Jacob Barker Hall. Whether in person or by photo it's hard not to see his bright eyes and engaging smile and not know the joy and the zest that define this nine-year-old's life. His speech and his physical awkwardness give glimpses of his Down Syndrome, but any signs of motor or mental difficulty are overshadowed by the special person he is as a child of God.

Jacob is a great name for my youngest son. Roughly translated into "supplanter," a more practical definition for his personality would be "steals the show," but not in a bad way. He showers others with love and encouragement, likely to say "good job" loudly to the choir or the pastor (along with a visible "thumbs up") — without concern for when he says it during the service (I final...

"Just keep them. They're not worth much anyway." It's a common exchange I see when I stop at the gas station for a soda, or when I stand in line at a restaurant to pay the bill. People just don't value the penny anymore. Some give them away, a few even throw them in the trash rather than carry the coins in a pocket or purse.

There's even been a move in recent years to get rid of pennies altogether. In 2002 and again in 2006, a bill was introduced in Congress to stop production of the one-cent piece, which is viewed at least by the bill's sponsor as having no practical value and costing the government billions to mint. The initiative would have forced rounding prices up to the next five cent value, and I can imagine if such legislation ever passes, it will start a creep toward ro...

Editor's Note: Ronnie Hill has a powerful testimony and SBC LIFE recently asked him to share it with you. After reading it, you will understand why.

Sandra was a seventeen-year-old girl who was with her mom and dad on a fall vacation visiting family friends. The friends that they were visiting had an eighteen-year-old son. One evening both families decided to go down and look at the beautiful pond, but the son asked Sandra to stay back at the house. When all the family members were gone, he lured her into the utility room of their home where he raped her. Sandra did not tell anyone about this because she thought it was her fault. As a result of the rape, she became pregnant. Many people in our society would say, "You need to have an abortion! You do not need to go through th...

Last year, NBC Nightly News ran a series of reports entitled "Trading Places: Caring for your Parents." The series began with the personal stories of NBC reporters like Bryan Williams, Tim Russert, and Ann Curry, each of whom has dealt with an increasingly common question: what should I do with my aging parents? Baby boomers are beginning to experience sleepless nights as they worry about their mothers and fathers, and legislators should start to worry, too. The fact is that eldercare is already a national problem and soon will become a national crisis.

The plight of elderly Americans should be a top concern for Christians because this population is at significant risk of abuse and neglect. In my law practice, I have spent decades representing elderly men and women who have endured unspeakab...

A Glorious Future Ahead

Fiftieth birthdays are sometimes tough ordeals. Someone has described turning 50 as a bit like canoeing down a river and suddenly hearing the waterfalls ahead. Time is obviously getting short, and for the vast majority of us who have turned 50, life is well over one-half finished. We sometimes want to put a humorous twist on this. I heard one story of a man who turned 50. He asked his wife, "Do I look 50?" Her response was, "Not any more!"

Fiftieth anniversaries and birthdays are a little different for seminaries. We, here at Midwestern, are at our half-century mark, and we feel like we have just begun. What is being laid here is a strong, mature foundation — theologically/doctrinally, endowment, and facility-wise, as well as in terms of faculty and other human resources — for a...

As president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I regularly am given books to read. I am also often asked for endorsements and recommendations.

While it will take many years for me to finish reading all the books I've been given, on occasion I find one that is in desperate need of being read by me as well as by others. One such book is Building Bridges by David Dockery of Union University and Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School. I commend this little book to you — it is filled with wonderful encouragement to us as Southern Baptists.

One of the things that it points out is that our diversity is profound. We have a bad tendency to label people in two or three groups. Dr. Dockery does a phenomenal job of accurately describing a large number of subgroups that are currently active within our Convention. While you may or may not fit into one of these categories, it helps us to see that we are far more diverse than maybe we previously had thought.

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For most of us in the free church tradition the idea of serving as a priest is a bit foreign to our thinking. Yet the idea of the priesthood of believers is one of the most precious and powerful images of Scripture. What then does it mean to be a priestly people? Does it mean that I have the right to interpret Scripture without any concern for the historic belief of my church or denomination? Does it mean that I can obstinately vote "however I please" with little regard for the needs of others or the interest of the church? Does it represent nothing more than my right to pray without a human intercessor? I often hear "priesthood of believers" discussed in these terms as if it is only an issue of privilege without any regard for the responsibility of priestly duty.

Let's take a closer l...

Lakota Hills Baptist Church


 

Members of Lakota Hills Baptist Church realize the opportunity God is placing before them.

"God has brought the world to us," Pastor Travis Smalley said of a growing influx of Hispanic and Asian business professionals into West Chester, Ohio, near Cincinnati.

"We've just got to have our eyes open and look for opportunities to join God where He's working," Smalley said.

"Sometimes we try to create opportunities and miss what He's already doing," the pastor reflected. "For one thing, He's been using the Cooperative Program all these years. It's our goal to be a partner, to cooperate with other likeminde...

A New Beginning ... A New Year

This could be you and your church in this New Year. Read on and catch the excitement. Then determine to try something new this year (if you are not already doing it). Teach your people to be evangelistic — to love people — not just the ones they sit beside each week but those out there struggling to make life work. The young, the old, the poor, and the rich, they all need Jesus. Pastor Jason Dunlap from Sharon Heights Baptist Church in Brookside, Alabama, knows this, and he has taught his people to know it as well.

I am Jason Dunlap, and I was called to be pastor of the church where I was introduced to Jesus Christ as a young man. The moment I was called to be the pastor, I realized that the heartbeat of Jesus Christ is evangelism and missions. We had the typical Baptist church at that time — the pastor's job (as most thought) was to do all the witnessing and soul-winning. I knew this was wrong, so I prayed, asking the Lord to show us some process we cou...

It is that time of the year again! It is the "tomorrow" that we talked about all year. Remember the days you said you would stop this tomorrow or start this tomorrow, or even "I'll stop or start this next year." Well, guess what, next year is here. Tomorrow has collided with the New Year, and it's time for us to commit to those resolutions.

I have decided this year I will eat a balanced diet, which means a Snickers in each hand. Or maybe I will eat more vegetables. Ketchup is a veggie, isn't it?

Actually, I think I will give up something that will not only help me but will be a tremendous relief to those around me. Most New Year's resolutions involve symptoms. This year I have decided to go to the root of the problem instead of the fruit of the problem. You have to get to the root to get to the cure for psychological or spiritual problems. We inherited most of our difficulties from the Adams family. I, like you, have an earth suit handed ...

A Life-Saving Movie

Movies often are judged on their entertainment value, but one particular low-budget film gaining steam in theaters is being judged on something else — the number of lives it has saved.

It's a bold claim, but one that Bella — a pro-life movie that surprised film observers by winning the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival's People's Choice Award — apparently can support.

"It's been amazing," lead actor Eduardo Verastegui told an audience in Nashville, Tennessee, on November 17. "We've received so many e-mails and letters from young ladies who just days before were scheduled to have an appointment to have an abortion and after they saw Bella they kept their baby."

But Bella is making headlines for other reasons as well. On its opening weekend October 26-28, it finished second n...