James Dobson, in response to a question about America's future, responded. "If pressed to give my own thoughts as to the future, I defer to the words of William Wilberforce: 'The only solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend not so much on her fleets and armies, not so much on the wisdom of her rulers or the spirit of her people, as on the persuasion that she still contains many who, in a degenerate age, love and obey the Gospel of Christ, on the humble trust that the intercession of these may still be prevalent, that for the sake of these, Heaven may still look upon us with an eye of favor.'"
James C. Dobson is Founder and President of Focus on the Family.
SBC President Joins Campaign Against Cyberporn
Tom Elliff, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, joined 120 Christian leaders in Washington, D.C. to draft a statement condemning pornography. The summit, organized by the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, which convened November 21-22, 1996, produced the organization's first formal statement denouncing computer porn.
"The mere existence of such technologies serves as a license for exposing children to pornography or eliminating the responsibility of the pornography distributors to shield their materials from children," the declaration reads. "Child pornography and obscenity, which are not protected by the United States Constitution, are evils which must be eliminated."
What's Wrong with this Picture?
The American Bible Society commissioned a survey of 1,200 Americans which reports that regular Bible readers conclude they are more satisfied with their lives than people who never read the Bible. The poll also found that although 92% own a Bible (27% of Americans own five Bibles or more), only 24% read it daily.
What's wrong with this picture? If contentment is just one of the rewards of regular reading of the Scripture, why wouldn't everybody in our stressed-out, uptight, high-wire culture spend time with the Word?
Listening to the Bible Has Powerful Impact!
A Princeton University study says that if you do the same thing every day for twenty-one to twenty-eight consecutive days, it becomes a habit. Many pastors, concerned that their people are not faithful readers of the Scripture, have turned to a common technology for the solution. An Albuquerque non-profit organization, Hosanna, (800-545-6552) has a unique program to deal with getting people involved with the Bible personally and regularly. The program, titled Faith Comes By Hearing, encourages listening to the Bible.
Hosanna says that tens of millions of people have access to Bible-on-tape sets, but like those who have an unread copy of the Scriptures, many of the tape sets go unused. Hosanna provides free support material to churches to encourage their membership to listen to the reading of the Bible. Some congregations have used the program in preparation for revival, or during particular periods of seeking the Lord's guidance, and report outstanding results. Thus far, about 3,000 Southern Baptist churches are reported to have used Faith Comes by Hearing.
Skateboard Maker Offers Kids Deal with the Devil
A California skateboard manufacturer is using a package enclosure similar in appearance to a gospel tract which encourages purchasers to sell their souls to the devil. When Dan Moore purchased a skateboard for his 7-year-old grandson at a local surf shop, a brochure entitled Let's Make A Deal was concealed inside the packaging. In the brochure, a smiley-faced devil explains to Flame Boy what happened in heaven after he was banished: "First off, they set up a bunch of dumb rules, and then they imposed a really strict dress code. I'll wager that people must be quite bored up there, but hey, that's what they get for being good." He contrasts this with, "Flame Boy, even a dimwit like you can see that hell is by far the best place to retire. Just look at all the fun to be had."
Children are asked to sign and return a contract, by which they give possession of their souls to the devil for eternity. Moore's friend Pam Dean called the distributor (U.S. Eastern Skateboard Supply) and the manufacturer (World Industries) to protest, but neither company expressed any moral objection to the literature. Shop owners were unaware that the brochure was included in the packaging. They refunded Moore's money and promised to return the entire shipment of skateboards.
From Christian Life Concerns Committee
Eisner and Company Help Fund Liberal Left
The Walt Disney Company and its Chairman, Michael Eisner have both helped fund a group which combats conservative Christians and works to advance the gay political agenda.
Both Disney and Eisner are listed as donors to the group People for the American Way (PFAW). In its literature, PFAW asks potential members if they are "… ready to stand up to the Religious Right's political agenda of division and fearmongering … ." The group has a "Right Wing Watch" list targeting American Family Association and its members, Focus on the Family, and the Family Research Council.
PFAW also offers a complete guideline for defeating the "Radical Right." The document is an exhaustive collection of strategies for organizing opposition to religion, manipulating media, favorably casting poll numbers to skew public perception of issues. One of its emphases is on protecting the abortion industry.
Disney and its chairman's dollars help fund an agenda which includes keeping prayer out of public schools and keeping objectionable sex education courses in them.
Families Can Make a Difference!
A sense of hopelessness over solutions for inner city problems is growing in our nation. Christians know that most intractable problems of the cities are ultimately spiritual. In virtually every city, there are thousands of Christian families who can make a life-long, indeed, an eternal difference, in the lives of other families. Some of those families may be separated by only a few miles, geographically. Yet, in matters of lifestyle and needs, they may as well be on the other side of the moon.
The salt must get out of the shaker for it to work. Missions Today (December 1996, p. 27) offers three practical suggestions which can help the average Christian family impact needy inner city neighborhoods for the Kingdom of God. They are:
• Lead your family in planning and promoting a children's game day in an inner city housing project. Contact the housing project management and tell them that you would like to provide children's programming at no charge. Play kick ball, four square, and other games in which all children, despite their level of athletic ability, can enjoy. After the games, serve light refreshments. Then share stories from the Bible, have a prayer time, and give your testimony. Believe it or not, some of these children may never have heard about Jesus and His love for them. Don't plan just one event, but a series of events at the same housing complex. This will help you develop relationships and get to know their needs.
• Lead your family in clearing a vacant lot or stretch of highway of unsightly trash and debris.
• Contact your Department of Human Services and ask for a list of families whose homes need some repair. Create your own family fix-it squad for Christ. Go into the family's home and do fix-up or paint-up projects. In many cases, needy families might have the money to cover the materials, but not the labor. Others simply may not know who to call. This ministry is a wonderful way of cultivating individuals for Jesus Christ.
To Err is Human, to Forgive …
Forgiveness seminars are the hottest new thing in the conference business. These workshops feature a variety of therapists who teach the "value and power" of forgiveness. As Psychology Today put it: "To err is human, to forgive … trendy." The movement even has its own center, the International Forgiveness Institute, founded by the University of Wisconsin's Robert Enright.
"I Forgive You," from Across the Board, Nov/Dec 1996, p. 19.(Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc.)
Editor's Note: I wonder if this is anything like what the Lord has been saying for the last four millennia?
Happy, Healthy Teens
Judy McGrath, president of MTV, concerned with slumping sales of youth rock music, commented on the possibility that the drop was caused by a decline in teen rebellion, saying, "A huge percentage of [teens] live at home and are happy to. They don't say, 'My parents aren't cool, and I don't want to live with them, and I hate their music.' The 'us-vs.-them' thing seems to be disappearing."
Turn It Off!
We read that the average American watches more than six hours of television a day. This means that by age 65, a person has spent nine years of his life watching TV!
During the last week of April 1997, thousands of families, schools, libraries, and community organizations will join together in a coordinated effort in which millions will leave their TV off for seven days. The third annual TV Turnoff Week, sponsored by TV-Free America and endorsed by more than forty national organizations, will take place April 24-30, 1997.
SBC LIFE encourages Christians to join in this effort. It will free up more time for prayer, reading, volunteering, exercising, and taking part in family activities. It may help start a habit of more intentional use of the TV, and it will send a much needed message to those who design programming that millions of Americans see TV as optional at best, and threatening to their families at worst.
To learn how to organize a TV Turnoff in your setting, contact TV-Free America, 1611 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 3A, Washington, DC 20009, phone (202) 887-0436; fax (202) 518-5560. They will help you to get started and for a $10 donation, send you an Organizers Kit, which includes a guidebook, posters, bumper stickers, pledge cards, and an information packet.
When barriers to the gospel collapse in countries traditionally closed to missionary work, mission leaders must move quickly to avoid losing the opportunity of the moment. In the aftermath of civil war or political oppression, people search for a new way of life — often making them unusually receptive to the good news of God's love.
One such situation exists in Bosnia, where Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board missionaries Florence and Wayne Frederick reported seven women accepted Christ in Zivinice, and Bob and Jerry Worley reported one profession of faith in Sarajevo.
The Fredericks and Worleys are among six veteran missionary couples who accepted temporary six-month assignments in Bosnia after a peace accord ended four years of civil war. The couples have found many people receptive, but their six-month terms are ending. Foreign Mission Board leaders are asking God to provide long-term workers to build on the foundations these missionaries have laid.
For information about strategic opportunities in missionary service, call the Foreign Mission Board at 1-800-999-2889, ext. 1635.
From the Research Desk
SBC Most Generous Volunteers Among Denominations
Researchers have determined that Southern Baptists, on average, volunteer more time to their churches than members of other major denominations. According to a survey of nearly 11,000 Christians and 625 congregations in five denominations, Southern Baptists were the most active volunteers, averaging 3.4 hours a month teaching, serving on a committee or helping with a program, event, or job.
The researchers admonished church leaders, "The encouragement, care, and feeding of volunteers is important to churches today, and churches need to give volunteers as much attention as they now give to encouraging financial contributions."
Trust and Giving Go Hand in Hand
A recent study of five denominations revealed a link between trust and giving. According to researchers, church members give freely when they trust their church leaders and have feelings of ownership and community in the church.
Researchers studied the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Roman Catholic Church. They determined that trust in leadership, whether clergy or lay, has a greater impact on giving than church size, location, or polity. The authors concluded, "If trust is missing, giving will be low."
Houston Chronicle, 12/28/'96
Jungle Death a Reminder of Gospel Power
On January 8, 1956, Guiquita Waewae led a small band of Auca tribesmen in killing five missionary men on the banks of an Amazonian river. Forty-one years later, on February 11, 1997, Guiquita died at the age of 80 in the Ecuadorian jungle.
After the infamous massacre, Guiquita surrendered his life to the Lord. and led his people to put aside their violent lifestyle. He longed for his people to know the Lord and to be known by their own name, Waodani ("the people") rather than as Aucas (meaning "savage," which the neighboring Quichua groups tagged them with centuries ago.)
We remember Guiquita's family and people in prayer as they mourn their loss. His sons, who need to "get on the right trail," as the Waodani would express it, need special prayer.
Guiquita's story may not be written up in TIME magazine, but we who know the Lord note it, and rejoice over the triumph of the gospel, and his triumphant entrance into glory.
Turning Kids from Crime
"Crime is out of control!" said Michael Bowers, "and we can't go on like this much longer." The longtime Georgia attorney general was keynote speaker at the annual meeting of The Lord's Day Alliance of the United States, Feb. 5-6, in Atlanta.
"Something must be done," said Bowers. "How do we avoid this going on and on?" He said the nation faces a crisis that ultimately can be solved only by what is done in the home.
Bowers cited statistics from Atlanta crime records to show the increase in lawlessness, noting similar statistics could be found for any major metropolitan area. In 1960, the city of Atlanta reported 67 murders, 44 rapes and 308 robberies; 35 years later, in 1995, the crime report listed 184 murders, 441 rapes and 5,260 robberies. During the same time period, the population of the city had actually dropped from 485,000 to 404,000.
In order to reverse that trend, Bowers said the nation must start with children, challenging the Lord's Day Alliance board of managers: "If you want a project, figure out some way to get involved with little children. If we don't intervene, the little children who are 4 and 5 years old today will be criminals in another 10 years. Someone needs to hug them and tell them you love them."
In praising America as "a land beyond belief," Bowers noted his own childhood poverty and said he was proud to be in a country where the son of a poor truck driver could grow up to attend West Point and become a state attorney general.
"We are a product of Western Christian civilization and we should not forget that," Bowers said. While stating Americans must respect other civilizations, he was emphatic in stating this particular civilization had contributed significantly to the world as its leading civilization and that the nation's citizens should be proud of their heritage.
He noted the Lord's Day Alliance, which draws attention to Sunday observance, was supporting one particular component of what is at stake in remembering the nation's heritage and promoting a day for families to be together: "What you do is important and reinforces who we are, and it helps to stop the deterioration of home life and family values."
Abridged from a story by William Neal.