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May 2013 Issue

Hundreds of Southern Baptists will arrive June 8 for Crossover Saturday the weekend leading up to the 2013 annual Southern Baptist Convention.

As in previous years, participants will help host block parties and special outreach events designed as opportunities to share the Gospel.

This year Southern Baptists will have additional opportunities to share Christ through ministry evangelism as Crossover Saturday aligns with a local initiative to serve the city.

Houston’s Union Baptist Association is launching an initiative called “Loving Houston,” and a weeklong kickoff of the three-year initiative will culminate in a day of Crossover events involving Southern Baptists working alongside local churches as they serve the city and share Christ.

Al Gilbert, the North American Mission Board’s vice president for evangelism and executive director of LoveLoud, says Crossover Saturday will create a mosaic of ministry efforts throughout the Greater Houston Area.

“From the very beginning Crossover was designed t...

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting can stay up to date with a smartphone app, which will include more than a dozen features, including schedules, maps, alerts, speakers, news feeds, the Book of Reports, the Daily Bulletin, and much more.

The free app is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry users and can be downloaded by visiting from a smartphone or by typing in “SBC Annual Meeting 2013” in the smartphone’s app store.

Developed by Core-Apps, the app will include:

• Push alerts that give users up-to-date news, such as changes in the
meeting schedule should the posted schedule change.

• The programs for the SBC Pastors’ Conference and the annual

• An alphabetized list of Pastors’ Conference and annual meeting
speakers, including their scheduled speaking times.

• A news feed of Baptist Press news stories and photos covering ...

Welcome to Houston, one of the most exciting cities in the world and a great place to learn why residents of our state believe everything is bigger and better in Texas.

Did you know that in January, the New York Times ranked Houston seventh on its list of forty-three places to see in the world, the only American city in the top ten and ahead of more exotic sounding locales like Istanbul, Casablanca, and Paris?

While this may sound farfetched if you only know us as the gas and energy capital of the world, let me point you to some of the appealing offerings of our city so you can visit them in person in June and decide for yourself.

If you like restaurants, museums, theater districts, art districts, and shopping, you are going to love Houston because we are widely regarded as top five in the country in all of these categories. By the way, delicious cuisine from literally anywhere in the world is available here, but be sure you try our TexMex and Texas BBQ.


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A Ferocious Dog; A Roaring Lion

Our nation, our churches, and our homes have a problem. A big problem. Satan has unlocked an area of sin in many of our lives, opening a door only God can shut!

The problem? Pornography. It is ruining lives, tearing apart marriages, and destroying families.

Every day, millions willingly stride into the putrid quagmire that is pornography—and not just non-Christians. Research shows that Christians and non-Christians alike are into pornography. 1

We are not being pushed or pulled. Like the one who lacks sense described in Proverbs 9, we are waltzing into this treacherous place believing the lie that says, Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten secretly is tasty! (Proverbs 9:17).

I imagine most adults at some level know that viewing pornography is unhealthy. And it seems reasonable that most Christian men and women know that pornography is a perversion of God’s design for human sexuality. We have no excuses. How desperately we need to realize, as Solomon wrote so l...

"The bubonic plague of today's church."

That’s how Jay Dennis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Florida, described pornography while visiting the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

“Churches are facing a spiritual battle against a hidden plague that is keeping many believers from fulfilling their part of God’s mission,” Dennis said.

Dennis had already taken the men in his church through a six-week study on the issue of pornography—a study that revolutionized his church.

“The men were hungry to have practical tools to address the temptation to view pornography,” Dennis said. “A sense of revival broke out as men openly confessed their struggles in a safe environment. On the last night of our study, we invited the men, including their sons aged ten and older, to make the porn-free commitment.”

Richard Land, president of the ERLC, affirmed the support of the ERLC in helping pastors and churches across ...

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24 (ESV)

When I tell a story, I like for the sub-plots clearly to connect. Randomness is hard to follow and seldom makes a good point. So much for my norm! Let’s see if we can connect four seemingly random places and events in a way that speaks to the very essence of who we are as Southern Baptists.

Back in the 1960s, a small Southern Baptist mission began in the county seat town of Kentland, Indiana, with its population of 1,800. It was a struggling mission that was served by a tall, lanky Alabama preacher named Hank Smith. He labored there for a number of years, faithful to the task in a town that desperately needed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Eventually, over the years, many would come to know Christ through the ministry of this church—each having their own testimony of experiencing the power of God’s saving grace.


With a clear, simple purpose statement of “Make Disciples,” what does a church do when it outgrows its landlocked facilities in a part of town facing significant demographic changes?

Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has already chosen to assist a neighboring Baptist church that ministers in the heart language of many of the area’s newer residents. The church already hosts another people group that meets in its facilities. The congregation already has adopted an unreached, unengaged people group in West Africa in partnership with IMB’s Embrace initiative. The church already maintains ongoing missions partnerships in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and Romania. Church members already have been on mission trips to seventeen nations (including the United States) since 2002. Circle Drive Baptist already is heavily invested in missions and ministries across Pikes Peak Baptist Association and throughout the state of Colorado.


The New Testament reveals that Jesus’ return directly impacts our lives.

So, what exactly does the president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee do?

For Frank S. Page, who has served in that position since 2010, a big part of the answer is traveling the country to encourage pastors and other leaders to work together in fulfilling the Great Commission. In fact, Page says that the “CEO” in his title stands for “chief encouragement officer.”

“I enjoy direct contact with what I call real Southern Baptist pastors,” Page told SBC LIFE. “That’s small church pastors, medium church pastors. So I love speaking with them. I meet with lay people as well.”

Last year he preached almost every Sunday in churches from Massachusetts to Texas and went on three Convention-related international trips. He spoke thirty-one times at rallies, conferences, state convention meetings, and SBC entities and participated in eight local Baptist associational meetings.

Half of Page’s workin...

Editor’s Note: During May each year, Southern Baptists celebrate Baptist Associational Emphasis on the SBC Calendar. The vast majority of Southern Baptist churches cooperate at the state level with one of forty-two cooperating state conventions and at the local level with one of more than 1,170 cooperating Baptist associations. As culture continues to change in what many have identified as a post-denominational, post-Christian era, associational leaders have spearheaded the discussion about how associations will do ministry in the twenty-first century and beyond. SBC LIFE invited Josh Ellis with Union Baptist Association in Houston and Bob Ryan with Mile High Baptist Association in Denver to weigh in on some of these strategic conversations.

For more than three hundred years, Baptist associations have been remaking and re-imagining themselves in the effort better to meet the needs of their churches. Due to a myriad of contemporary forces acting on churches and the populations they serve, a new era of asso...

An Interview with Mile High Team Leader Bob Ryan

Editor's Note: SBC LIFE recently interviewed Mile High Associational Team Leader Bob Ryan (the former Director of Missions position) to discuss the changing face of associations in newer work areas of Southern Baptist ministry. In addition to serving as associational team leader, Bob is on the leadership team of AIM, a network of Associations In Megacities. He had just returned from AIM’s annual strategy meeting where he read a paper on ways associations can “prepare for and implement the transfer of the Association to emerging leaders (twenty-five to thirty-five years old), creating a safe process for rethinking purpose and process of the Association to retain/restore relevance to the local church and other missional partners.”

SBC LIFE: Bob, what motivated you to present your paper, “Giving a Legacy: Passing the Associational Baton to the Emerging Generation,” to the AIM annual meeting?

Ryan: Because we have dr...

A Picture of a Pastor

Clear skies, a brisk breeze, and quiet—absolute quiet. I had not drawn an elk tag, so I spent the first week in the hunting camp cooking and cleaning, awaiting the opening of deer season the following week.

As director of missions for Lake County Baptist Association, north of downtown Chicago, I was enjoying a period of relaxation and spiritual renewal in the magnificent quiet of the remote camp. I was on a hunting trip to Ten Sleeps, Wyoming, with a pastor who sponsored an annual wild game dinner at his church as an evangelistic outreach.

Our campsite was nestled in the pines of the southern rim of a canyon. Our tents, along with my box, Bible, and binoculars were perched about five hundred feet over a basin below. The slope of the canyon was gentle enough that the view was breathtaking.

It was the season when ranchers took sheep off the plateaus and highland grasses. They would pen and load entire flocks on semi-trailers to be moved to warmer locations for the winter. Thousands of sheep were moving through the area....

Three advisory groups gave input to SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page and his staff during the month of April.
Ken Weathersby, vice president for Convention advancement with the SBC Executive Committee, continues a collaborative partnership begun in 2011 between the North American Mission Board and the Executive Committee to reach all Americans with the Gospel.

During the first decade of my childhood, my family had a big wood-burning stove in our house to keep us warm in the winter. There was one thing that we always had to keep in mind: keep the fire stoked so that it will stay hot. I remember distinctly watching my dad, or doing it myself as I got older, put that poker into the fire and work it around to stoke the flame. Within seconds that dying fire would blaze up brightly.

Much in the same way, we must have our Gospel urgency stoked. Life, laziness, and laxness zap the fire in us that pushes us to go share the Gospel as far and wide as we can and as quickly as we can. From time to time and perhaps more often than we like to admit, we need to have that urgency rekindled. Here are ten practical ways to stoke your urgency for the Gospel:

(1) Pray to God to keep you stoked and to help you see people’s spiritual need. Your first answer in all spiritual deficiencies is to call out to God who has all the resources in the universe and desires to equip you.

Whatever it is you need to complete a task H...

We played Monopoly a lot when I was a kid. Of course, in the earliest years, playing Monopoly usually meant using the little iron to get the pretend wrinkles out of Barbie’s clothes or pretending to sew with that itsy-bitsy thimble. Or sometimes it meant putting all the money in my dad’s tackle box so we could play store.

By the time we were ready to play the actual game, most of the money and at least half the tokens were missing. But then we just combined what was left of the game with a few parts from Clue and Mouse Trap and we were good to go. Okay, so we did have to change a few rules. I’m pretty sure I remember a time when my brother won because he drew a cheese card and Colonel Mustard took a ride on the Reading Railroad. Though now that I think about it, my brother always seemed to win anytime he was the banker. What are the odds?

I think my favorite way to play Monopoly was when we used Cheetos for replacement parts. The game was over whenever we finished eating it. The board was a messy orange, I won’t lie, but it was about the most delici...

May 2013
Senior Adult Sunday (May 5)
Christian Home Week (May 12-18)
Baptist Association Emphasis (May 19-25)

June 2013
Crossover Houston Southern Baptist Convention (June 8)
Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting (June 11-12)
Baptist Men’s Day (June 16)
Mission: Dignity Sunday (June 23)
Citizenship and Religious Liberty Sunday (June 30)

July 2013
LoveLoud Sunday (July 21)