May 2001

There's gold in them thar hills

May 30 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

There's gold in them thar hills | Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

There's gold in them thar hills

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor Here's the deal: five days in the beautiful, breezy North Carolina mountains. Three square meals a day, including all the hand-dipped ice cream you can eat. Someone to lead activities for your children and mission projects for youth. Inspiring worship and helpful workshops. Did I mention the ice cream?

There's also fellowship with other folk for whom ministry is important, and time to watch the sun go down from the rocking chairs just outside the ice cream parlor.

The cost? An embarrassingly small amount, just enough to cover the meal ticket.

You won't find a better value - or a more golden opportunity - than that.

The "Week of Christian Study and Fellowship" at Mars Hill College has been a mountain tradition for more than 100 years, offering pastors and their families a nice vacation getaway at a rock-bottom price. It is a remarkable story of ministry and cooperation: Mars Hill College and Mars Hill Baptist Church provide the facilities, while the Baptist State Convention's Strategic Initiatives and Planning group provides the program. It is a laid-back week of opportunities for relaxation, recreation, worship and learning. Nobody takes attendance, so taking a canoe trip or sleeping late is always an option.

And then there's the ice cream.

There was a time when the Mars Hill event was the only one of its kind around. Nowadays, with other conference options and more competing activities for children, fewer folks have been celebrating Independence Day at Mars Hill.

That's a shame.

Beloved mountain missionary Tom Lolley has a special fondness for the event and coordinated the program for years on end. Sadly, Lolley suffered a stroke last fall and has been confined to various medical and rehabilitation facilities since then. Gayle Brown, retired director of missions for the Buncombe Baptist Association, is looking after the program for this year. He tells me there's still lots of room.

The date is July 2-6 and the deadline for registration has been extended to June 13. For more information, contact the conference and events office at Mars Hill College by phone: (828) 689-1167, or by e-mail:

I can't guarantee they will order an extra tub of pistachio or "moose tracks" just for you, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.

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5/30/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

IMB refuses missions gifts from 'Mainstream' group

May 25 2001 by Tim Palmer and Bill Webb , Associated Baptist Press

IMB refuses missions gifts from 'Mainstream' group | Friday, May 25, 2001

Friday, May 25, 2001

IMB refuses missions gifts from 'Mainstream' group

By Tim Palmer and Bill Webb Associated Baptist Press JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) said "no thanks" to missions gifts being routed around a conservative-led state convention.

IMB President Jerry Rankin says the Richmond, Va.,-based mission board doesn't want money from Mainstream Missouri Baptists, an organization opposed to conservatives who recently solidified control of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

After failing in repeated efforts to defend the state against a conservative takeover, Mainstream Missouri Baptists recently turned their attention to promoting alternative giving plans that support selected causes inside and outside the state while excluding others.

In a March 20 letter to Doyle Sager, president of the Mainstream group, Rankin said accepting money from alternate channels undermines the Cooperative Program unified budget that supports the SBC and state convention simultaneously.

Rankin said it is inappropriate for an SBC agency to accept money while another Cooperative Program-related entity - in this case the Missouri Baptist Convention - is excluded.

"We're committed to each other," Rankin said. "As much as we need that support, we're not interested in benefiting to the detriment of others."

Rankin said the decision is consistent with IMB policy of refusing gifts from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a moderate group that supports its own missionaries and church programs but in earlier days also forwarded money to selected SBC ministries. "CBF, however you see it, is an alternative to our cooperation," Rankin said.

"If a church feels led of the Lord to support the IMB, I would presume they would be obedient to the Lord's leadership and find an appropriate channel to do that," Rankin said. He said no state group other than Mainstream Missouri Baptists has offered to channel funds to the IMB.

The Mainstream group includes the IMB in one of three giving plans it promotes in the state. Despite Rankin's letter, Sager said the organization would continue to honor donor wishes.

Sager called Rankin's letter "sort of a thanks, but no thanks." He added, "They preferred to receive Cooperative Program funds and not to bypass the approved channels of CP."

However, because the funds had been designated for IMB by churches, "We're seeing that it gets to the IMB," Sager said. "There are many ways to see that that happens. We're using appropriate channels." The MMB president declined to specify how the funds were being forwarded.

"Every penny that people are designating to IMB is getting there," Sager said. "Good accounting principles are being followed. We would pass any good CPA's audit.

"These are giving plans that Missouri Baptists asked us to create," Sager said. "People wanted this choice. In other words, these combinations of plans didn't show up willy-nilly."

Because of that, Sager said, the organization plans to continue to honor the designations. "The philosophy behind it was that we didn't think Jerry Rankin and his board set the giving policy for Missouri Baptists," he said.

"It is inconceivable to us that the IMB would refuse Baptist money that is trying to go to Baptist missionaries - that we would want to cut off funds to missionaries when faithful Baptists want to get funds to them," Sager said.

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5/25/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tim Palmer and Bill Webb , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NIT could bounce BSC

May 25 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

NIT could bounce BSC | Friday, May 25, 2001

Friday, May 25, 2001

NIT could bounce BSC

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor A positive but otherwise uneventful meeting of the Baptist State Convention's (BSC) General Board took a surprising turn when members learned that the BSC's annual meeting Nov. 12-14 could be blocked out of its venue by a preseason National Invitational Tournament (NIT) basketball game.

BSC officials said nothing in the current contract with Winston-Salem's Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum mentions the possibility of being pre-empted. Coliseum officials, however, said there was no foul because they have an overriding arrangement with Wake Forest University (WFU) that allows the school to bump competing events. Coliseum officials said the BSC would be reimbursed for any additional expenses created by the scheduling conflict.

The BSC General Board and its Executive Committee met on May 22-23. Late on the previous afternoon, Convention officials received a call indicating that WFU had been invited to host a game in the Preseason NIT and planned to exercise its prior claim on the facility. The game was originally scheduled for Nov. 13, which is Tuesday night. After a series of appeals from BSC representatives, NIT officials in New York moved the game to Monday night in hopes the coliseum could accommodate both the game and the convention.

However, convention sessions are scheduled for Monday evening, Tuesday morning and evening, and Wednesday morning. On-site setup of registration tables, computers, and audio-video equipment requires at least eight hours.

BSC officials are huddling to explore a new game plan. Options include moving the date of the convention to the previous week (Nov. 5-7) or shifting it from Nov. 12-14 to Nov. 13-15, but the preference is to stay with the established dates. The Convention could do that by moving the entire meeting to another city, or by remaining in Winston-Salem and shifting some convention events to alternate sites on the coliseum/fairgrounds complex. All options are inherently problematic.

Noting the need for additional study and negotiation, the General Board approved a motion empowering the Executive Committee to study the matter more carefully and to make a final decision on the time and place for the annual meeting.

In other matters, Executive Director Jim Royston reported that Cooperative Missions contributions are hovering near expectations for budget needs but will need to increase if funding is to become available for challenge budget items.

The General Board also heard a Partnership Missions update and received reports from N.C. Baptist Hospital, and the N.C. Missions Offering.

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5/25/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

| Friday, May 25, 2001

May 25 2001 by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press

| Friday, May 25, 2001

Friday, May 25, 2001

Strategic-plan proposal causing friction in CBF

By Bob Allen Associated Baptist Press WINSTON-SALEM - A proposed strategic plan is causing friction between the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and some of its affiliates.

Two state chapters of the moderate organization have formally asked national leaders to reconsider recommendations altering membership qualifications and the method for electing its governing board.

National CBF leaders tout the second phase of a strategic plan, scheduled for vote at the Fellowship's 10th anniversary General Assembly, June 28-30 in Atlanta, as a step toward moving the organization beyond its origins in Southern Baptist controversy into a new kind of Baptist organization for a post-denominational age.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina's (CBFNC) Coordinating Council, however, voted unanimously May 21 to request that the vote on recommendations by a national strategic-planning committee be delayed a year. The motion calls for referring the proposals back to the national CBF Coordinating Council for "further review" with the "input of as many CBF members as possible."

The Coordinating Council of the CBF of Virginia earlier asked the national organization to reconsider a new proposal for electing leaders that it said "leans toward" self-perpetuation. Bylaw changes scheduled for vote at this year's CBF national gathering call for a smaller and renamed Coordinating Council that is less connected to state and regional chapters.

National CBF leaders report criticism from other states as well but say they also have gotten feedback from members praising the plan.

The Atlanta-based Fellowship supports about 120 missionaries and offers programs for churches looking for alternatives to the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention. The CBFNC council vote followed a study prompted by concerns about a part of the proposal defining member churches as those that, in addition to supporting CBF financially, choose to "embrace" the organization's mission statement and core values.

Critics oppose the change both on principle and for practical reasons. Some say requiring churches to affirm any position statement amounts to imposing a creed.

Baptists have traditionally opposed any effort to impose doctrine through ecclesiastical means, leaving it up to local churches to interpret the Bible for themselves.

Other critics of the CBF strategic plan say tinkering with membership requirements will bring division by forcing the issue in local churches where CBF and SBC supporters now peacefully coexist.

"I believe there are many churches that are dually aligned, and perhaps without formal action, because they have a few individuals who affirm CBF fully," said David Crocker, a N.C. Coordinating Council member from Fayetteville. He said requiring member churches to take action to affiliate with CBF could divide some congregations by precipitating an up-or-down vote on the question.

Virginia CBF leaders, meanwhile, questioned a proposed change in how leaders are nominated. Currently, the CBF Coordinating Council is broadly representative. Aside from a few at-large posts, the bulk of the Coordinating Council is nominated by the various state, regional and racial/ethnic networks within the Fellowship and elected by the General Assembly.

The new strategic plan, approved Feb. 24 by the Coordinating Council, calls for cutting the size of the council from its current 78 members to 40, to make it more efficient, and renaming it the Governing Board. While Governing Board nominees would still be subject to approval by the entire assembly in annual session, the responsibility for nominating them would be transferred to an eight-to-13-member nominating committee chosen by the Governing Board.

Virginia CBF's Coordinating Council called that change "a system that heavily leans toward a self-perpetuating Governing Board."

"While we want to express some measure of trust in the Governing Board," the group wrote national CBF leaders April 27, "we have learned through history, and more recently from our experience in the Southern Baptist Convention, that too much trust in a small group is dangerous."

Virginia's council proposed a compromise that eliminates numerical representation by state and region but continues to involve the networks in the selection process. Leaders said the alternative bylaws recognize "legitimate concerns" of the national CBF about efficiency and autonomy while keeping "the grass-roots voice in the nomination process."

Underlying the differences are complaints by state CBF leaders that they weren't involved in early stages of developing the strategic plan and now are in a position where they risk disrupting the process by confronting it publicly at the General Assembly.

"We're not rejecting the proposal, we're just asking that it be clarified," said North Carolina CBF moderator Mark Edwards, an attorney from Nashville.

National leaders, however, say the Fellowship has been in "limbo" for two years due to strategic planning and that a delay in the vote would be disastrous.

David Wilkinson, coordinator of communications and marketing for the Fellowship, told North Carolina CBF leaders that the 11-member strategic-planning committee may "have made some assumptions that caught you off guard."

Last year's General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a first-phase strategic plan that included a reorganization of staff and adoption of a new mission statement, core values and objectives. Wilkinson said the committee thought a logical step for the second phase of planning was to ask "what kind of governance" is needed for the restructured CBF.

"I think perhaps we underestimated the investment people have in the question of governance," Wilkinson said. "Some folks felt like we truncated the process."

Wilkinson said the language regarding membership resulted from requests by churches to clarify "what it means" to be a CBF church. He said the membership article wouldn't exclude any church that currently regards itself a Fellowship church but is intended to communicate that belonging to CBF is "not merely sending a check."

The CBFNC Coordinating Council approved a motion asking the national CBF Coordinating Council to rescind the earlier vote recommending the second-phase restructuring to the General Assembly and to redraw the plan for consideration in 2002. The council meets again just prior to the General Assembly.

Beth Fogg, a national Coordinating Council member from Richmond, Va., hinted that there might be room for compromise. She said some council members believe that problems identified in the strategic plan can be fixed with minor adjustments without requiring a year's delay in implementation.

Wilkinson said the council would need to weigh concerns raised by critics of the proposal with the interests of thousands of Fellowship members, some traveling long distances, expecting an opportunity to discuss and vote on the strategic plan at the General Assembly.

Should the Coordinating Council decline to withdraw the proposal, North Carolina leaders said they are prepared to bring their motion to delay before the full General Assembly.

Wilkinson said the Fellowship's Atlanta staff "does not fear vigorous discussion at the General Assembly." Any proposal presented, however, will need broad support. Since the recommendations involve amendments to the CBF constitution and bylaws, they must pass by a two-thirds majority.

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5/25/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Alabama's gain

May 18 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Alabama's gain | Friday, May 18, 2001

Friday, May 18, 2001

Alabama's gain

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor Imagine that Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski announced that he was leaving to coach at Auburn - or that Dean Smith, at the height of his career, had left the University of North Carolina for Alabama. That's how I felt when Steve Scoggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville and one of North Carolina's finest leaders, first told me God had called him to another First Baptist, but in Opelika, Alabama.


Steve is a pastor par excellence. His heart is in seeing people come to Christ, promoting missions and serving his church. He has not been distracted by the lure of impressive titles or political power, steadfastly refusing to run for Baptist State Convention offices that he could have won.

Beyond family devotion, about the only thing that distracts Steve from being a pastor is the chance to teach prospective pastors, as he has done part-time at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute since 1993.

That, and a quick dance step now and then. In 1995, Steve and his talented wife, Karen, sang and danced their way through the lead roles in a local production of The Sound of Music.

When Steve came to FBC Hendersonville in 1992, the church had 2,194 members and an average attendance just more than 1,000. When he left on May 6, the church had 3,244 members and was averaging 2,363 folks in attendance at four (count 'em - four) morning worship services every Sunday. The church has sent out more than a dozen career missionaries.

An excellent preacher, Steve has been a pioneer in offering worship options that include not only traditional and contemporary services on Sunday morning but a monthly liturgical service on Sunday evening. He successfully led a highly diverse church to surpass its budget six years in a row, build a new $4.2 million Children's Education Center, and lead the Baptist State Convention in Cooperative Missions giving from 1996-1999. In 2000, FBC Hendersonville and Calvary Baptist in Winston-Salem were the first churches ever to contribute more than $300,000 through the BSC's budget plans.

In an age of contention, Steve (who is unabashedly conservative) has worked faithfully and cheerfully to promote cooperation and understanding between Baptists of differing theological persuasions. We have needed that.

I don't know much about Opelika, except that it's close to the Auburn University - and that it's one lucky town. North Carolina's loss is clearly Alabama's gain.

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5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Beating the system

May 18 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Beating the system | Friday, May 18, 2001

Friday, May 18, 2001

Beating the system

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I first noticed her in Fort Lauderdale, when a bent little lady talked the Midway gate agent into letting her on the plane first because she was old and frail. She then straightened up and strode onto the plane while carrying two bags and pulling another. On the plane, I watched her climb onto the seat and hoist her luggage (one piece more than normally allowed) into the overhead compartment. When the plane landed at the Raleigh-Durham airport, she retrieved her bags and lugged them up the aisle. As she reached the aircraft door and stepped into the jetway, however, she quickly stooped over, as if terribly burdened. A young porter was waiting with a wheelchair, which airports offer when needed as a courtesy to passengers with special needs. She had apparently called ahead to request a chair, claiming decrepitude. "Is this my wheelchair?" she asked.

The porter said yes and tried to assist the woman into the chair, but she waved him off, threw her bags onto the seat, and pushed the wheelchair up the hallway, leaving the befuddled young man with empty hands, wondering what he should do next.

This woman was a master at playing games to beat the system for her own advantage. Not wanting to check her baggage - or to carry it - she feigned feebleness to have a wheelchair delivered so she could use it as a convenient luggage cart!

Something about that just rubs me the wrong way. There may have been someone around who really needed the wheelchair, and the airport certainly had other things for their employee to do.

The scene reminded me of other ways in which we play the game of working the system to our own advantage. We look for every tax loophole we can find, of course, and not all of them entirely kosher. We send our children to public schools, drive on public roadways and utilize municipal services but do our best to avoid paying our fair share for them.

The same mindset finds a home in our churches. Many folks bring their kids to our Sunday Schools, enjoy our worship, and take advantage of every church program without contributing either a day or a dollar to the cause. When I was a pastor, I never wanted to know who the "zero contributors" were, lest I be tempted to think less of them, but my treasurers assured me they were there. It was harder to avoid noticing those who refused to share leadership, teaching or child-care responsibilities.

The ultimate step of "beating the system," I suppose, is the common idea that God is just plumb tickled for us to walk the aisle as a child and pick up an eternal life insurance policy with no further expectation of worship and service.

God is a loving Lord, and the message of scripture is that God clearly wants all people to be saved and to experience life both abundant and eternal.

But the Bible also teaches that God is just. If we think God is not wise enough to know whose heart is true and whose devious mind is just trying to beat the salvation system, we haven't thought long enough.

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5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

A 'strong' church of just 'fat'?

May 18 2001 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

A 'strong' church or just 'fat'? | Friday, May 18, 2001

Friday, May 18, 2001

A 'strong' church or just 'fat'?

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer We were treated during our regular May staff meeting at the Baptist Building to a presentation on church giving by nationally-known stewardship experts, John and Sylvia Ronsvalle. The Ronsvalles, who have for several decades studied trends in church giving and mission support, shared some exciting, challenging and even depressing information about where we (your church and denomination) may be headed stewardship-wise in the decade to come. Besides reminding us of our misplaced priorities in America - we spend annually $58 billion on soft drinks and $30 billion on cosmetics, while all U.S. churches together give around $2.9 billion to overseas missions - the Ronsvalles shared some interesting descriptions of churches and denominational agencies in America. One description talked about the "strong" vs. the "fat" church.

Strong churches may be large or small, rich or poor, in cities or rural areas, and come with all (or no) denominational labels attached to them. Strong churches, in the Ronsvalle's description, are churches committed to sharing most of their resources beyond themselves. They described it this way: What is your church's "finish line"? Each year determine the minimum amount of money you need to operate your church - costs like salaries, mortgage payments, utilities, purchase of resources and materials, etc. Inflation will cause that amount to rise slightly each year. Every church should pledge that amount with little or no effort.

Everything beyond that should go for ministries and missions. Who are the fat churches? Fat churches, according to the Ronsvalles, are simply churches with more money in the operating budget than they need to operate the church. Fat churches strive to have large "rainy day" funds. Fat churches spend most of what they collect on themselves.

The same analogy would apply to fat associations, fat state conventions and fat national conventions.

One of our staff members in the meeting told a story about a group of billionaires who met to talk about the best ways to give their money to worthy causes. Church was never mentioned as an organization to be considered for their support. In fact, one participant in the billionaires' group stated that they would not give money to their church because the church would just spend it on themselves.

Stewardship is an integrity issue. Stewardship is about priorities. It's not how much you collected last year but where and how did you spend the money you did collect.

We take very seriously the money churches have entrusted with us to support missions and ministries. We have set a goal of $50 million for the Cooperative Program by 2006, up from the current $35.75 million this year or about a seven percent increase for each of the next five years. Our priorities of missions and evangelism will be reflected in these budgets.

We want to be an even stronger (not a fatter) state convention.

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5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments

No wonder they call it the 'Web'

May 18 2001 by Tim Wilkins , Cross Ministries

No wonder they call it the 'Web' | Friday, May 18, 2001
  • Disconnect from the Internet. Also known as a 'modemectomy,' this option is often met with incredulity. "I can't do that! I need the Internet for my work!" Jesus prescribed radical advice saying that if your hand, foot or eye causes you to sin, get rid of it! Obviously Jesus was not speaking literally, but using hyperbole to make a point. Can't disconnect? Try fasting from the Internet 30-90 days.

    The parents of an 18-year-old son were concerned about him viewing gay pornography on-line and chatting with an adult male predator. I learned later the father didn't want to disconnect from the internet because he was secretly viewing Web pornography.

  • Ask a friend to provide accountability. Check out which e-mails questionable Web sites you've visited to your accountability partner.
  • Use a filtering system or a clean internet provider. There are many such systems:,,, and

    The system, Watchdog, takes random screen shots of what's on your monitor and keeps text log of all computer program usage. It also searches and displays a list of all graphics, even if someone has tried to hide them. Watchdog can be found at

  • Move the computer to a high traffic area in your home. It is difficult to search for porn when the computer sits in the family room or kitchen.
  • Allow teens to surf only under adult supervision. Even if the computer is in a high traffic area, limit its use to those times when mom or dad is nearby.
  • Get what you need and get off the Web.
  • Stay off the Web late at night when fatigue makes you vulnerable to temptation. A tired body is a tempted body.
  • Fortify your computer and workspace. Be creative by placing scripture on your screen saver. It may pertain specifically to sexual temptation (Prov 6:25 and Rom 13:13, for example). Use a family photo. A picture of your wife is a reminder of your commitment to her.
  • Randomly or regularly check e-mail transmissions and Web history. One family randomly checks their children's e-mail transmissions for both sent and received mail. A church has a different staff person check the history of each computer each month. Keeping the history is a requirement.
  • Visit these sites for help with Web porn:,, and

    Don't ask "how much can I get away with and not be caught?" The prudent man knows that "the true mark of a Christian man is measured in what he would do if he knew he would never be found out!"

    (EDITOR'S NOTE-Wilkins lives in Raleigh and is director of CROSS Ministry.)

  • Friday, May 18, 2001

    No wonder they call it the 'Web'

    By Tim Wilkins Cross Ministries Of the more than 40,000 species of spiders, most of them spin webs in which to trap their prey. The Internet can just as easily immobilize the user, entangling him or her in a web. Is it possible to use the Web's advantages without becoming entangled in its snare? Yes, but with all its conveniences, it has its downside. Like a malfunctioning toilet, the Internet can deliver sewage directly into your home and office. An estimated 20,000 pornographic Web sites exist that are visited by as many as 20 million adults each month.

    Someone who would never enter an adult bookstore for fear of being seen will let the adult bookstore enter their home, office, or study through the Web. Did you note I said 'study' as in 'pastor's study'?

    Statistics show that more and more pastors are struggling with Internet pornography. Focus on the Family's Pastoral Care line reported that 11 percent of its calls in August 1999 were about pastors and on-line porn.

    Clay Crosse, a Christian musician, has spoken publicly about his struggle with and freedom from pornography. His courageous candor has been a wake-up call to many Christians around the country.

    As director of an outreach ministry to the homosexual, I am frequently contacted by gay men who quickly confess their struggle with Internet porn.

    But Web porn is not peculiar to gay men. Straight men are as easily enticed to spend hours perusing the unlimited stream of pictures on their monitor.

    C. S. Lewis wrote "... we grow up surrounded by propaganda in favor of unchastity. There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales resistance."

    In 1994 pornography generated $10 billion.

    I can hardly begin to recount the calls I get from parents whose teenagers are viewing porn online - some as young as 13. And in most cases the teen has a computer in his room with full Internet access. That is comparable to buying your son a lifelong subscription to every hard-core porn magazine in the world!

    For many women the lure of the Internet is chatrooms. 'Innocent' conversation can eventually lead to carnality. Web porn leads viewers to prefer the fantasy world with themselves or others instead of relational sex with their spouse. A loving wife who has been neglected by her porn-crazed husband begins to feel unloved. Paul wrote that to deprive a spouse from sexual intimacy could allow Satan to gain a stronghold and lead to immorality.

    Steps to take to avoid porn Note that I used the word 'avoid' instead of 'resist.' Paul wrote, "It is God's will that you should ... avoid sexual immorality." If we 'avoid' sexual temptation, we are less likely to have to 'resist' it. 'Resist' means we are already confronted with the temptation.

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    5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tim Wilkins , Cross Ministries | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 3: Devoted to the King

    May 18 2001 by Catherine Painter , Matthew 21:1-17

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 3: Devoted to the King | Friday, May 18, 2001

    Friday, May 18, 2001

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 3: Devoted to the King

    By Catherine Painter Matthew 21:1-17 The first day on the job," Jeremy recounted, "the men invited me to lunch. They stopped at a topless bar. I declined and waited in the car. Afterward, I became 'goody-goody' and the butt of their jokes." Later, the boss called him in. "I've started your demotion process," the boss sneered. "Stick around and you'll soon be sweeping floors!"

    Jeremy contacted a job agency. He was dejected.

    Who has not been scorned for not blending with the crowd when following Christ? How many ministers have "turned their faces toward Jerusalem" rather than forsake their calling for some troublefree "Galilee" (Matt. 20:18; Luke 9:51)?

    During childhood I often read the last chapter of a book when my hero encountered trouble. Knowing the happy ending provided strength for conflict. Jesus' early followers couldn't flip to the end to know His road to Jerusalem would become their road to redemption.

    We miss the grandeur of Jesus' choice if we think. He was forced to make it. He could have stayed in Galilee, avoiding Jewish authorities. Instead, Jesus entered on a donkey, signifying peace. It was a decision made in the beginning with God to fulfill Zechariah's prophecy in every detail (Zech. 9:9).

    Jesus sends two disciples to secure a colt and its mother with a simple password: "the Lord has need of them" (21:3 NAS). We wonder whether Jesus' password is still in effect as we consider our gifts, talents and tithes - "the Lord has need of them."

    Praising the King (Matt. 21:6-11) Courageous Jesus, the most wanted man in Israel (John 11:57) enters to shouts of "Hosanna!," meaning "save now!" Spiritually insensitive, they miss seeing the cross upon His heart and fail to recognize the Redeemer-Creator in their midst. From lowest to highest "the whole city was stirred" (v.10), as is every city where people rise to His level of thought and action.

    Understanding the King (Matt. 21:12-13) Noisy dickering greets His entrance to the temple. Not removing idol worshipers, only idols themselves, He overturns tables, watching as traders scramble for coins bouncing around on the stone floor. What would He overturn in today's church? Does he find His followers seeking the lost (Matt. 29:1920), or keeping the wheels turning? A house of prayer (v.l3) or a house of bingo and bake sales?

    Responding to the King (Matt. 21:14-16) Crowds receive Jesus' words and healing and children openly praise, but Pharisees shake their heads.

    What little child does not love Jesus when told about Him? Our Lord condemns the sordid work of those who silence the freshness of a child's praise (Matt. 18:5-6). Equally sad are Christians who allow their earlier enthusiasm to be dulled by age or materialism.

    I study faces in that Passover crowd and think I spy my own. Am I following or applauding? Cheering or jeering? I long to cry, "Jesus, I'm riding with you!" but the warning comes, "... let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12 KJV).

    Applause comes easy. At my wedding it was easy to smile, look pretty and smell good to the "happily ever afters." It was waking the next day to my husband's stubby beard and learning to make money stretch when the following through began.

    No doubt the crowd pounded each other on the back, assuming Jesus would bring quick fixes to national problems. No so! In the beginning God took man into partnership, giving him dominion, and He won't go back on that (Gen. 1:26). "What? You're God, and You won't fix things for us? Then away with hosannas - CRUCIFY!"

    Jesus is not surprised. We call it fickleness of the crowd. Jesus calls it what it is - consistency of the flesh. The week passes. We hear hammering on Calvary. But we've read the last chapter. "Ride on, King Jesus!" we shout. "Ride on to die, and win the crown!"

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    5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , Matthew 21:1-17 | with 0 comments

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 10: Signs of the End

    May 18 2001 by Catherine Painter , Mark 13:1-37

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 10: Signs of the End | Friday, May 18, 2001

    Friday, May 18, 2001

    Family Bible Study lesson for June 10: Signs of the End

    By Catherine Painter Mark 13:1-37 Inviting Jack's parents to accompany us on a monthlong tour of the United States accentuated the difference a generation makes. In San Francisco we loved the cable cars, steep hills, flowers, street musicians - a truly romantic city! Later walking to Fisherman's Wharf we saw gay couples, openly affectionate, a few wearing make-up, even high-heeled shoes. This was 1973, during the hippie movement. "We didn't sleep last night, thinking Jesus might come and find us here," Jack's mother said. "We want to leave." Sight seeing tossed, and without even time to leave our hearts, we departed San Francisco.

    Tension reoccurred in Nevada where all travelers know there are few places that offer hotels and food; the rest, endless highways without points of reference. Growing hungry and with children asking "Are we there yet?" we spotted a billboard: "All you can eat for $3.50."

    "Surely our hunger will override it being in a casino," we thought. Wrong! Entering, we passed gambling tables and buffets groaning with food to visit the rest rooms. Inside, mother said, "If you eat here, I'm waiting outside. Jesus will not return and find me in this Godforsaken place!"

    We located a KFC (with slot machines) and a dirty picnic table where we shared chicken with a beggar who angled up looking through garbage cans.

    I was perturbed with mother's attitude, but her strong stand influences me to this day.

    Request for signs (Mark 13:3-4) Jesus predicted Jerusalem's destruction, then His disciples asked, "When will these things happen? What will be the signs that the time is near?" Matthew adds, "... and what will be the sign ... of the end of the age" (Matt. 24:3b)? What will the world be like when You return?

    Signs of this age (Mark 13:58) Jesus first explains precursors to His return, then the event. We're not to confuse the two. Neither are we to follow every eccentric person trawling five gallons of water up a mountain anticipating His return. False leaders will spread their own ideas, not His truth. Studies prove there were more than one hundred "wars and rumors of wars" since 1990, twice the number in former decades. Earthquakes have increased dramatically as well as violence from road rage to heinous crimes.

    Signs of Christ's return (Mark 13:10, 14, 21-22, 26-27) Jesus insists the gospel must be preached to all nations first. This doesn't mean every person will hear the gospel, only that every nation will have a witness. Concerning abominations, Matthew quotes Daniel's description of distress that man has never before witnessed. He predicts increase in travel and knowledge. How could the prophet foresee 2,500 years ago advances in travel and science and computers (Dan. 12:1-4)?

    False prophets will appear to deceive and men will not hear sound doctrine but will gather teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear ... and turn aside to myths (1 Tim. 4:3-4).

    Recently, I watched a film about a science teacher explaining-away creation and "proving" the big bang theory. He said, "You have heard history is moving in a line and one day will end, but you are educated; you know better. Events move in cycles; history repeats itself."

    The word from God is that history is linear, beginning with creation and ending at Christ's return when time will surrender.

    Jesus' coming will be as He departed, physical and visible (Acts l:11). He will come in great power and glory, in contrast to His first meek and mild appearance in Bethlehem.

    Response to the Signs What can we not know? The day and hour of His appearing. Jesus says simply, "Be alert" (v.33)! Whether the science teacher likes, agrees or understands, like the rest of us, he will participate in Jesus' return.

    A student once asked, "Mrs. Painter, if you knew Jesus would come back in an hour, what would you do?"

    "I'd keep grading these papers."

    "You would? Why?"

    "Because He called me to teach and I want Him to find me busy doing what He called me to do."

    Look! Jesus said He'd be crucified - He was. He said He'd rise again - He did. He said He'll come back some day - He will. So, if you'll excuse me, I'll pack my suitcase and polish my shoes.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , Mark 13:1-37 | with 0 comments

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