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January 2009 Issue

Southern Baptists Offering Viable Alternatives to Abortion

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday will be observed throughout the Southern Baptist Convention on January 18, marking the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe V. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand in America.

While Southern Baptists certainly won't be celebrating the Roe v. Wade decision, they will be celebrating that because of 249 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States affiliated with the SBC's North American Mission Board, more than 4,300 babies were spared from abortion during 2008. Additionally, some 3,100 women accepted Christ last year because pregnancy center staff members shared the Gospel with them.

As of November 30, 2008, more than 129,000 clients throughout the United States received counseling and free services from the pregnancy centers; center staff shared the Gospel with almost 36,000 girls and women; and over one thousand Southern Baptist volunteers were trained to present the Gospel to center ...

Dear President-elect Obama,

First, congratulations on your successful campaign to become the 44th president of our beloved United States of America. This was a historic election in terms of the massive increase in voter participation as a percentage of the electorate.

I hope you know that there are tens of millions of Americans who did not vote for you who are still very, very pleased that an African-American has been elected president of the United States.

The fact that this could happen in a country with as tragic a racial past as America's says something noble and fine about the American experiment and the glorious "opportunity democracy" it has spawned. After much struggle, we as a nation have chosen together to live up to the promises of our founding document, the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

For those of us who came of age during the Civil Rights Era and were inspired by Dr. King, it is v...

For many years, I have been unable to shake a growing conviction that too often we as citizen-Christians have put too much hope for lasting spiritual change in our American political system. I fear we have grown accustomed to putting more confidence in government than in God Himself. There seems to be an underlying assumption that we can effect spiritual transformation through the elective process. Simply stated, we often feel that if we can elect enough "righteous" people, our nation will experience an awakening of godliness.

Following this last round of elections, a number of editorials were written about the demise of the Religious Right. Some were quite insightful (see, for example, Cal Thomas, "Religious Right: RIP"). Few, however, offered solutions that Bible-believing Christians can affirm. No doubt, we have been assigned by our Lord to have a redemptive influence on fallen culture. Part of that assignment is to voice our convictions and vote our conscience...

During the early days of the so-called "culture war" between proponents of life and promoters of death, those who argue for elective abortions accused those who defended the right to life of only caring for the infant in the womb. For centuries Baptists around the world have been caring for children of every age. Southern Baptists are part of this caring tradition. What follows is a "Top Ten" list of ways individual Southern Baptists invest themselves in Life.

1 Since 1973, Southern Baptists have used the power of relentless influence to encourage elected officials to defend and promote life. Richard Land and The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) have taken the initiative in keeping this topic ever before us. Though some have grown weary in defense of life, the ERLC has not wavered from its support and promotion of life from conception to natural death. It has not stood alone. Across the nation, mil...

"At this defining moment, change has come to America." Upon hearing those words from President-elect Barak Obama the evening he was elected to serve as this nation's 44th president, it struck me that he was absolutely correct. November 4, 2008, was indeed a defining moment in our nation's history, and indeed change has come. I celebrate the joyful reality that our nation has finally reached the point where the color of a man's skin does not automatically disqualify him from the highest elected position in our great nation. Regardless of one's political persuasion, that is good. All of us who have longed for such a day have truly seen a dream come true.

However, not every defining moment — not every point of change — in our history has been good. Roe v. Wade and the legalization of same-sex "marriages" in some states were defining moments — they ushered in definitive change — but they have also contributed to our nation...

Recently, a church member approached me hesitantly. He looked half afraid that I would accuse him of heresy once I heard what he was about to utter. Then he said, "I love God the Father. Don't get me wrong. But I really feel close to Jesus. What do you think of that?"

After a moment of consideration, I told him he was exactly right to feel that way because Jesus Christ is the bridge between sinful humanity and God the Father. God the Son came to earth as a human to make God the Father known to us. Believers are right to feel a unique kinship with Him.

I didn't give much thought to the brief exchange at the time. But later I came to a sobering realization — I was the one who should have felt like I was in error, not him. It's not that I said something unbiblical in response to his question. I affirmed his correct application of the doctrine of Christ's humanity. However, it is an indictment of me and many pastors like me that after years of p...

A scene in the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove showed two cowboys huddled under a tree, wrapped in wet blankets during an early evening rainstorm. Soaked, cold, and tired, they had been herding cattle all day. But they knew a number of strays needed to be rounded up. Shivering, with water dripping from the brim of his hat, one cowboy turned to the other and said, "Well, I guess this is where we find out if we were meant to be cowboys." Both cowboys got up and went and did the right thing — they found the strays.

With the financial markets' historic downturn, many Christians find themselves in a similar "cowboy" situation. Psalm 24:1 teaches us that the earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord. In other words, God owns it all; everything is His. Paul teaches us in Acts 17: 25, He [God] gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. So not only does God own it all, He gives to us our &quo...

The Southern Baptist Convention's renewed stewardship emphasis is well-timed for the culture because It's a New Day is gaining momentum just as the nation's economy is slowing. Ashley Clayton, associate vice president for stewardship at the SBC Executive Committee (EC), noted, "When you look at the economy around us, the sagging real estate market and the mortgage companies that are failing and having to be bailed out by the government and by large banks, the cutting of interest rates, all of this is an attempt to bolster a sagging economy that frankly is laboring under debt. Debt is what's driving it."
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Editor's Note: For years, Southern Baptists have supported SBC missions and ministries by faithfully contributing through the Cooperative Program. The following articles illustrate how God uses your faithful giving to accomplish His Kingdom work.

Taking the Heart-Healing Gospel to the Nation's Capitol

According to Michael L. Trammell, MBTS doctoral graduate of 1989 and 2007 alumnus of the year, his journey of learning to relate to people in different life situations that began at Midwestern has proven to be invaluable in his ministry to those living in the high-stress environment "in the shadow of the nation's capitol." Since 1991, Trammell has served as pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church...

Vietnamese Hope Church

Victoria Baptist Church entered a period of steep decline as the 1980s melded into the '90s. But the congregation's commitment to reaching people remained steadfast.

Especially the Vietnamese who were arriving in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"Victoria was in an area of population change," Joe Hilbun recounted, "and had been declining for fifty years — nearly its entire existence, really, since it was started in 1947 — but even as it declined, the members continued to reach out where they saw needs."

Hilbun was Victoria's pastor for fifteen years during which the Vietnamese work was begun. He later returned to the church for the nine months before its closure. Hilbun now is serving Victoria's successor — Viet...

At eighteen months, Sammy weighed only nine pounds. Her arms and legs were shriveled; her paper-thin skin sagged limply into her ribs. She was too weak to move, too sick to eat. "Sammy was born to an HIV-positive mother who died from AIDS about a year after her birth," says Robin Taylor, a Southern Baptist nurse who serves in South Africa through the International Mission Board. "Sammy is HIV-positive and began having thrush [a fungal infection] in her mouth and was unable to eat. She got sicker and sicker. Her aunt and grandmother were unable to provide any medical care for her."

Wow — can you believe we have started a new year? So here I am, another year older, but feeling more strongly than ever that I want to live until everyone hears about Jesus! How about you?

Below is a great testimony about witnessing as a way of life from Rev. Larry J. Martin, the worship minister at North Florida Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida. It illustrates how we must always have our spiritual antenna up and waving in the air. We need to hear God whenever He speaks, and sometimes He speaks right in the middle of our daily lives, doesn't He? And since we are all trying to cut back and have fun at the same time, what better way to meet people than going to yard sales! How many wives would die to have their husbands actually be excited about going to garage sales? My wife would probably faint on the spot. Read Larry's account and notice the lesson he learned.

Five A.M., "like clockwork," I thought as I rolled out of bed and ...

Two young brothers were fighting over cupcakes. In exasperation, their mom flipped a coin to see who would pick first. Johnny won, and she told him to pick his cupcake. Johnny said that he wanted his brother to go first so he could have the one his brother picked. That's jealousy, and the Bible says it will rot your bones. How is that for a great word picture? Jealousy has existed for a long time. Remember Cain and Abel, and Cain's jealousy? Joseph's brothers sold him because of jealousy (and we think that the families in our churches are dysfunctional!). King Saul was jealous of David. Some say jealousy even led to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.

The first step to solving jealousy is to acknowledge it. If you say you have never been jealous, then you have never read my articles on denial. In other words, "liar, liar, pants on fire." At times we all experience jealousy. You may be jealous of me because I don't have deacons, and I am jealous of you be...

The Most Pro-Family Advertisers

Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, and Hewlett-Packard were ranked among the ten best television advertisers based on the content in prime time broadcast programs they chose to support, according to the Parents Television Council, a pro-family watchdog group.

"The role that television advertisers play in determining what type of content comes into every home in America cannot be overstated," Tim Winter, the group's president, said in a news release November 24. "We commend the advertisers on our best list that have chosen to associate their hard-earned corporate brands with positive programming that the entire family can watch together."

The ten best: Coca-Cola, The Clorox Co...