Month: November 2004

SBTC adopts $19.2 million budget, resolutions covering judicial abuse, sanctity of life


PLANO, Texas?During its annual meeting Oct. 25-26, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention adopted a $19.2 million budget, re-elected its president and passed resolutions on such topics as activist judges, the terrorism war, abortion and embryonic stem cell research, education, Christian holiness and evangelism.


Messengers also honored Joe Atchison, a native Texan and longtime pastor and director of missions in Arkansas, with the H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award “for sacrificial and extraordinary service” in Southern Baptists’ conservative theological resurgence.


Formed in 1998 with 120 churches, the SBTC marked its seventh convention at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, registering a record high 2,040 people, including 1,035 messengers. The confessional convention has grown to more than 1,550 affiliate churches.


The evening session Oct. 26 drew an estimated 4,500 people during a “Hope and Heritage Rally” co-hosted by the SBTC and Prestonwood that featured the Prestonwood choir and orchestra and a message from Jerry Falwell, the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and founder of the Moral Majority organization that mobilized millions of evangelical voters in the late 1970s and early 80s.


Calling Christians to be “the conscience of the culture” one week before the Nov. 2 election, Falwell, who this year has had his ministry’s tax-exempt status threatened for his public support of Bush, said evangelicals support Bush because of his values.


The former independent Baptist who joined Southern Baptist ranks in the mid-1990s said he didn’t involve himself in cultural issues until the late Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer confronted him in the 1960s, complimenting Falwell on his gospel proclamation but telling him he was a “total failure in confronting the culture.”


The convention elected as president for a second term Chris Osborne, pastor of Central Baptist Church in the College Station-Bryan area. The church has a large ministry to Texas A&M students.


Also elected were Ed Ethridge, director of missions at North Texas Baptist Association, as first vice president; Bill Sutton, pastor at First Baptist Church, McAllen, second vice president; and Brenda Wills, First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, secretary-treasurer.


Ethridge, the only officer serving a first term and in the only contested election, succeeded Garland pastor David Galvan of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, who completed his second term. Ethridge received 299 votes; Gil Lain of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo garnered 123 votes.


SBTC messengers adopted a 2004-05 budget of $19,245.933, up $2.9 million from the previous year. Of receipts SBTC churches give through Southern Baptists’ CP missions funding channel, the SBTC will forward 53 percent of funds to Southern Baptist Convention causes, up from 52 percent last year and towards a goal of 55 percent by 2009.


The SBTC remains the lone state convention passing more funds to the SBC than it keeps for in-state work. Of the SBTC operating budget, about 40 percent is earmarked for missions and evangelism, much of which funds church planting.


In the only resolution that generated debate, messengers overwhelmingly resolved to “instruct parents to ensure the godly education” of children, “whether in public schools, private schools, home schools, or through the church’s education program. ?”


SWBTS trustees pledge to recruit students for new undergrad college

FORT WORTH?Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees meeting Oct. 19 pledged their support in recruiting students for an undergraduate college during their semiannual meeting. Tentatively named The College at Southwestern, the school will offer a baccalaureate degree in biblical studies and other programs in the history of Western ideas.

Trustees agreed to “take up the challenge of spearheading recruiting efforts” by providing contact information for home school associations, Christian high schools and academies, and the names of prospective students in public high schools who are involved in their church youth groups. Corporately, the board will recruit 50 students to the first class slated to begin in the fall of 2005.

Several trustees voiced concern that public school students should be recruited from the youth groups of Southern Baptist churches. As one of the few areas prompting discussion in the plenary meetings, the motion was amended to add the reference to public school students alongside those being recruited from home school and private schools.

Southwestern Seminary Vice President Rudy Gonzales said the motion encouraging recruitment was not intended to exclude other possibilities.

“But we do believe home school associations and private high schools and academies will probably be the most fertile ground initially. Certainly we’ll expand our recruiting efforts into other areas as well.”

“If they feel they’re left out by not having a contact, we’ve lost a great group of kids that need to be included,” stated Texas trustee Michael Dean of Fort Worth, favoring inclusion of a reference to public school students. “Out of our youth groups and churches we will look for young men and women who would be candidates for the College at Southwestern.”

Trustee Anthony George of Winter Park, Fla., encouraged amended language “so the intent of this college’s founding is not expressed here as just being another extension of isolated circles in the Christian community.” George added, “I don’t want to imply in writing that our recruitment efforts are limited to those in Christian education.”

The College at Southwestern would provide “unique preparation for students who wish to engage culture and advance the gospel,” according to spokesman Greg Tomlin. He also indicated that the cost of attending the college would be much less than the average university or private Christian school.

Trustees also responded with enthusiasm to Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson’s call for every student to participate in an international mission trip. “We know not every student is called to be an international missionary, but we believe every student ought to have his arms around the world,” Patterson said in reporting a five-year commitment of the seminary to send students in short-term mission assignments in Cuba, Zambia and Siberia.

“There’s nothing like a short-term mission assignment to cement that deeply in their hearts,” Patterson insisted, adding that professors will also benefit from such experiences. When the entire campus is focused on reaching lost people for Christ, Patterson said the imperfections and squabbles that naturally occur fade in comparison.

In plenary session trustees elected a new vice president, a new faculty member, and approved the inauguration of two new academic chairs. Privately, they were informed that former Euless pastor Claude Thomas had declined to accept an opportunity to serve in a chaplaincy post at the school.

C. Gregory Kingry Sr. was named vice president of business affairs, having directed business services for the North Africa-Middle East region of the International Mission Board since 1997.

Johnny Derouen was elected associate professor of student ministries, having served as minister to youth at Travis Avenue <st1:P

SBTC board elects new evangelism associate

DALLAS?The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board elected a new evangelism associate to the convention staff and re-elected three board officers for 2004-05 during its Oct. 27 meeting.

The officers are: Steve Cochran of Longview, chairman, Joe Stewart, Littlefield, vice chairman, and Sally Tillman, El Paso, secretary.

The board elected to the convention staff Brad Bunting, a Stephenville native and graduate of Howard Payne University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, as associate director of evangelism/youth evangelism.

Bunting succeeds Tom Cottar, who left the staff last July to become student pastor at First Baptist Church of Pflugerville.

Bunting told the board how he prayed to receive Christ at age 6 after several conversations he initiated with his parents, his grandfather?a pastor for 52 years?and finally, Bunting’s pastor. He sensed a calling to the gospel ministry in high school and began preaching as a high school senior. He is a veteran speaker at youth camps and youth revivals and served as a youth minister while a student at Southeastern, where he earned a master of divinity degree last spring. He is working on a doctorate at Southwestern.

Since September, Bunting has served the convention staff as a consultant.

“It has been an absolutely wonderful experience. I love the work.”

Answering a query from a board member, Bunting said he has four requirements for every endeavor of youth evangelism, which will occupy most of his time.

They are:

­?That it be Christ-centered;

?theologically consistent;

?of the highest quality;

?Great Commission focused.

Bunting will coordinate the programs for the Youth Evangelism Conference, pre-teen camp, and other youth evangelism efforts, and will assist Don Cass, SBTC evangelism director, in SBTC evangelism initiatives, including the Empower Evangelism Conference.

In introducing Bunting, Cass said: “He’s a young man who loves Jesus Christ with all his heart. He’s a strong witness for Christ, he’s not ashamed to share the gospel anytime, any place, anywhere, and I’m glad of that.

“I believe that through the years we’re going to be grateful to God that he’s brought this young man our way.”

Cass said evangelism professors Roy Fish and Malcolm McDow of Southwestern and Southeastern’s Alvin Reid all recommended Bunting.

In praying over Bunting, Cass said: “I pray, Holy Spirit of God, that you would guard him, protect him from the evil one. I pray, God, that his witness would be strong and powerful. That your anointing would rest on his head all the days of his life. ? I pray that there would be thousands upon thousands of people who would say ‘Thank you’ to him because he led them to faith in Christ.”

In other business, Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis told the board that CP missions receipts through September were $13,069, 367?about 10 percent ahead of budget for the fiscal year.

The convention’s total net assets are $8.4 million, which includes a property value of $4.5 million and $2.52 million in operating reserve?equal to about 3.7 months of operation expenses, Davis reported.

Giving to international missions and North American missions through the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings rose, respectively, by 83 percent and 22 percent.

Financial auditor Vern Hargrave, who presided over a certified audit of the SBTC, reported to the board that they “should be proud of the business aspect of the operations of your convention.” Hargrave said the SBTC staff has been very responsive to suggestions that ensure quality and accuracy in the accounting procedures amid tremendous growth.

Davis also reported that a hearing date is pending in Tarrant County over a lawsuit the convention has filed to protest the county’s decision to withhold tax exemption on the SBTC’s property in Grapevine and asked the board to continue praying for a favorable outcome.

The approximately $200,000 in potential tax could be used in ministry causes instead, Davis noted.

The board also voted, with one dissent, to grant $250,000 towards refurbishing the Yucca Lodge

SBC agency leaders report to messengers

PLANO?In his capacity as executive vice president of the SBC Executive Committee, David Hankins said the SBTC’s partnership with all Southern Baptists contributes to a record number of missionaries and seminary students preparing for ministry.

Yet, “Even though giving is up, the aggregate percentage given by Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program has dropped from 10.6 percent to 6.9 percent,” Hankins said, contrasting receipts over a 20-year period. Total mission dollars given to all causes declined from 17 percent to 11 percent. On average, Southern Baptists barely give more than two percent of their income through local churches, Hankins said.

“Perhaps we need to dust off the old 1950s slogan, ‘Every Baptist a Tither,’ and see what God says about what belongs to him.” He encouraged pastors to encourage tithing, asking members to give to the point of sacrifice “so we may continue to reach out and do ministry” to reach the next generation with the gospel.

North American Mission Board Vice President Harry Lewis applied the expression of Paul in Philippians 1:3, thanking God upon every remembrance of the SBTC. He reported that 5,200 missionaries serve in the U.S. and Canada on behalf of Southern Baptists while 2,400 chaplains are endorsed through NAMB. “Lives are being changed across the world through these chaplains,” Lewis said.

Among his reasons for giving thanks for the convention were:

?faithfulness to the Word of God.

?faithfulness to missions through the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong offering for North American Missions, ranking it ninth among 43 conventions;

?leading all state conventions by giving 52 percent beyond the state.

Lewis asked the SBTC to continue to partner with NAMB in new and unique ways. “Together, let’s just do it for Jesus’ sake.”

O.S. Hawkins, president and CEO of Guidestone Financial Resources (Annuity Board), said, “(Guidestone) has no greater partner in ministry than the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.” He said the convention is a big supporter of the matching funds program and he urged pastors and churches to invest in the retirement and financial planning resources Guidestone offers.

He said the agency annually selects a Bible verse to which the organization will hold itself accountable. This year’s verse is Isaiah 54:2: “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep.” (HCS)

Hawkins said Guidestone employees pledged to work with an attitude of service, providing biblically-sound guidance to clients. The company will stick to the basics of promoting accountability between Guidestone, churches, and individuals.

He said one of the most significant programs Guidestone oversees is the Adopt-an-Annuitant project. Some surviving family members of pastors have been left with little to live on because of insufficient funds or no investment in retirement by pastors or their churches. The adoptive program matches participating churches with annuitants in need of financial support.

Hawkins also praised the efforts of the Widows Mite prayer program for their support of Guidestone.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, reminded messengers of the importance of voting.

“This is a time that people of faith need to vote their values and convictions,” he said. Christians need to put aside loyalty to party, family voting heritage and perceived economic interests.

“Our loyalty belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to be looking for candidates who vote our ? beliefs.”

The day Land addressed the SBTC meeting, Oct. 25, it was announced that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist had thyroid cancer. He said the next president would likely appoint one to three judges to sit on the high court. He asked the congregation if they wanted a country “of the people, by the people and for the people or of the judges, by the judges and for the judges?”

Lifeway Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Mike Arrington, introduced a video presentation from Lifeway President Jimmy Draper. In it, Draper cited the need for the SBC to connect with emerging leaders seeking a place of service in the denomination. “They love our heritage and want to continue it, but there needs to be a greater connection between old and new generations,” he said.

Draper reminded messengers that Lifeway had invested $1.6 million in 14 state conventions in an attempt to double baptisms across the country?to 360,000 in the year 2005.

Although an SBC-governed entity, Lifeway Christian Resources is self-funded and receives no Cooperative Program money.<SPAN style="m

Pastors urged to persevere in faith, doctrine

PLANO?The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Pastors’ Conference elected new officers and was challenged to persevere in faith and sound doctrine. The conference, which immediately preceded the annual meeting at Prestonwood Baptist Church, elected as president Rix Tillman, pastor of Exciting Immanuel Baptist Church in El Paso, Carroll Hambrick, pastor of Beverly Hills Baptist Church in Waco as first vice president, and Domingo Ozuna, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Grand Prairie, as secretary-treasurer.

The conference featured preaching from an ethnically and stylistically diverse slate of pastors in traditional preaching segments and in smaller breakout sessions.


Preaching from Malachi 1:6-14, Randy Weeaks, pastor of Walnut Ridge Baptist Church in Mansfield, warned that as Christians forget the greatness of God, they also forget to honor the things of God. Thus, their sacrifice lessens and their worship becomes meaningless.

“Aren’t you glad you belong to a convention that still honors the Word of God?” Weeaks asked, drawing affirmation from the crowd. “God’s family needs to be reminded that this is the book of life,” he said, referring to the Bible.

Weeaks said he is weary of Christians who put sports and social engagements ahead of Sunday worship. “My friend, as for me and my house, Sunday morning we’re going to church. Weeaks boys don’t like it a whole lot, but they don’t have a vote in the Weeaks family.”

Further, Christians often give monetarily what they can get by with, Weeaks noted.

“I know people who are tipping and not tithing,” wondering why they should give God the best. “Do you know why? ‘For he is a great king, says the Lord Almighty,'” Weeaks said, quoting Malachi. “He didn’t send us a blind and crippled animal; he sent the spotless Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.”

Worship also becomes meaningless when people make themselves the focus, Weeaks said. “We’re here tonight because he is a great king.”


A relative newcomer to the pulpit, Pastor Bryan Carter of Concord Baptist Church, Dallas, warned his more experienced peers that, just like Elijah, they too can fall prey to despair if they don’t learn a lesson from one episode in the prophet’s life. Carter recalled that Elijah ran in fear for his life and how he abandoned good sense and good friends out of desperation (1 Kings 19:1-9).

Although only a senior pastor for a year, Carter said he wished to relay what he’s learned from his experiences, knowing that even seasoned pastors face doubt and defeat. Carter said in the loneliness of his first months in a new state and new pastorate, he was just as guilty as Elijah when it came to forgetting all God had done for him and through him.

Carter said it’s easy to fall into thinking “victory is what God did yesterday. But this is today.” Feeling defeated, Elijah ran from his problems, and consequently, his friends, Carter reminded.

Without Christian friends in his church and fellow pastor friends, Carter said the pastor is left to his own devices.

“Elijah decided he didn’t need anyone to help him,” Carter said. Loneliness, he added, makes people vulnerable and will lead to sin as people seek connections from ungodly sources.

But in loneliness, God can teach. Elijah wished to die; God refreshed him and gave him what he needed “at that season of his life.” During that self-imposed isolation, Carter said, “God can remind us.”

God can also lighten the emotional load if pastors avoid comparing themselves and their ministries to others. Carter said God deals with each Christian based on what he expects from that Christian, not what he expects from someone else.

Troubles can be reduced, too, if pastors “erase their exaggerations.”

Elijah, like many pastors, Carter said, was burdened under a load that he did not need

IMB chairman: Thanks for missions support

PLANO?Tom Hatley, chairman of the International Mission Board trustees, brought greetings to the messengers on behalf of the IMB trustees, administration and 5,277 missionaries abroad.

Hatley, an Arkansas pastor, thanked the SBTC for its gifts last year given through CP missions and for the large Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.

“Secondly, thank you for calling out the called. People are surrendering to missions at record numbers in your churches and they are our greatest resource when it comes to pushing back the curtain of spiritual darkness in this world.”

Hatley said 25,099 volunteers joined IMB field missionaries across the globe last year. “We are sure that many other trips were taken that we did not record. Keep that up, it does more to personalize missions to our churches than anything else we can do. Last, but not least, you made last year one of the best ever in evangelizing the lost because of your generous giving to the Lottie Moon Christian Offering.

“The record offering helped to arrest a decline in our missionary force that had occurred because of severe budget cuts that were forced upon us in the two years previous. At one time, we had over 5,600 missionaries on the field. The current count is 5,277 and rising. With another generous Lottie Moon Christmas Offering we should be back above the 5,600 level soon. However, that will not be sufficient for the lostness of our world.”

Hatley continued: “Consider the lostness: Over half of the people who have ever lived are alive today. Out of the nearly 6.2 billion people in this world, over 5.5 billion of them are lost. Every two seconds three people are dying lost without Jesus and are thus separated from him forever. Let me describe the lostness another way. If you could see the faces of the lost at a rate of five every second, it would take you 15 years just to see them.”

Hatley said he would meet this month with trustees, staff and IMB regional leaders to strategize in reaching the unreached across the world.

“The knowledge that comes from that discussion will give us some long term goals to present to you. ? It is time we dare to look at completing this task. For 2,000 years we have been approaching this day and with advances in travel and technology we can bring the gospel to every nation, language, city, village, and tribe within this generation. We have the resources, we have the commission, and we have the calling. We must simply dare to stretch for the finish line.” Hatley noted that in spreading the gospel, “we are also guarding the integrity of the gospel.”

Citing a meeting last summer between trustees, staff and missions professors about the danger of expediency at the expense of doctrine, he said, “We must be sure we are planting Baptist churches which have a commitment to the Word of God as infallible and inerrant.”

Hatley said the 510,357 IMB baptisms last year crossed the half-million mark for the first time ever, with 16,721 new churches started last year. Hatley called on pastors willing to commit two weeks per year to training foreign church leaders in doctrine and leadership.

Osborne: Therapy messages ‘killing us’

PLANO?While Southern Baptists successfully addressed doctrinal concerns by closing the front door to those not committed to the authority of God’s Word, SBTC President Chris Osborne warned against a back door focused instead on fixing people. “It’s killing us and we don’t realize it.” Basing his message on John 6, Osborne said, “We’re offering messages that appeal to people to be fixed,” rather than following Jesus’ example of drawing “people who want to be saved.”

The pastor of Central Baptist Church in College Station identified Jesus as having the first megachurch, noting his apologies to contemporary pastors such as Ed Young and Paul Yonggi Cho, who lead two of the world’s largest congregations. “He had 12 staff members and as always, one of them was a knucklehead,” Osborne said to the amusement of the crowd.

Turning to verse 53, Osborne said, “At this juncture he has 12,000 to 15,000 people following him. So Christ, in the most offensive way he could, laid out the conditions of the gospel,” he said, noting the repeated call for disciples who would “eat my flesh and drink my blood.” And yet, the response of the thousands described in verse 66 indicated that they said, “‘We’re gone.’ He intentionally ran off 12,000 people.”

When Jesus asked the disciples if they would leave too, Osborne paraphrased Simon Peter’s response in saying, “‘Lord, we’re not going anywhere. We don’t care how hard you make it, how difficult the staying is, we’re with you because we know you’re the one that can save us.'”

Osborne drew a contrast between the description in John 6:2 of a huge crowd following Jesus because they saw miraculous signs and the characterization of the disciples in John 6:26 as eating food that lasts for eternity. “Twelve thousand people were following Jesus Christ because they wanted to be fixed, not because they wanted to be saved.” In contrast, Osborne said the 12 men wanted to be saved.

“Our Lord ran off 12,000 people because he refused to build his church around people who wanted to be fixed. He built it around people who wanted to be saved. We have become so enamored with numbers that we are going after people who are trying to be fixed, not people who want to be saved,” Osborne insisted. “If our Lord chose not to build a ministry around fixed people, how dare we do different?”

Osborne recalled a young man who responded with tears at the close of a church service and indicated that he wanted Christ in his life.

“Those are code words for every Baptist preacher so I grabbed him, knelt and prayed with him and he got up crying. It was a great moment in that small church,” Osborne said, recalling how many people had been praying for the man. “When that happens people pat you on the back and tell you you’re great and you accept it.”

However, when the man repeatedly avoided opportunities to be baptized, Osborne asked for an explanation. “Here was his answer?’Brother Chris, I came forward because my marriage was in trouble and I needed it fixed.'”

Osborne told the convention audience, “Let me be real clear. Jesus doesn’t fix marriages. He fixes people in the marriage. And the way he fixes them is that they come through his blood and put their faith in that and he cleans them up. He implants his Holy Spirit who drives them into the Word, giving them two things?the wisdom to understand the biblical principles for marriage and the power to bring those things into a marriage.” A changed marriage is a byproduct, he explained, stating, “He doesn’t change homes. He changes people.”

While churches offer a myriad of self-help messages that are biblically based, Osborne said that approach can be dangerous if the focus is on appealing to people to be fixed.

“These people are coming down the aisle, not because they ever for one minute thought they were sinners, but because they needed things fixed.” Instead of being fanatical about the number of people who respond, Osborne said Southern Baptists need to be fanatical about discipleship. Instead of starting with the sinner by addressing felt needs, he insisted, “You s

Great Commission demands evangelism focus

PLANO?Leading off with a videotape depicting the loneliness of man, Houston pastor Sal Sberna of Metropolitan Baptist Church delivered a convention address stressing the priority of evangelism.

“We believe people are going to spend somewhere in eternity in one of two places?heaven or hell. We want to do everything we can to be sure we have a plan that’s strategic and a heart that beats for people who are so lonely that they don’t have God,” he told the SBTC audience Oct. 26.

“We could not be in more of a time of ripe harvest than at any other time in the history of the world than today,” Sberna stressed. “People are desperately lonely, searching for something they’re never going to find in materialism or spirituality without Jesus Christ.”

Sberna challenged the audience by urging, “Boldly go where no man has ever gone before?next door to your neighbor. They are interested in spiritual things.” Reaching neighbors necessitates being part of their lives, he added, calling on Christians to become more than “garbage waving neighbors” who do little more than wave as they retrieve garbage cans. “It’s a lot easier to visit people who are visiting you. It is really difficult to go next door and ask people if you can be a part of their lives.”

While he often hears people say door-to-door evangelism is no longer effective, Sberna said, “Don’t tell my people that or you’ll ruin a good thing we’ve got going on down there,” referring to the Houston church.

“You can go door to door if you’ll link heart to heart. If all you have is a program of doing evangelism and not building relationships that let them look at your life and examine what you really believe, then we’ll just exchange fish in the aquarium.”

Noting that most churches begin with an evangelistic passion, Sberna said the focus often shifts over time.

“We get involved in all kinds of stuff, but still call ourselves a church,” doing little more than “just tagging people for the gospel.” Instead, he said, “The church was established to make disciples. We exist for people who are not members of what we’re doing, for the outsider, the lonely person who is looking for God and does not know where to look.”

In looking upon the fields that are ready for harvest, Sberna said churches must follow Jesus’ instruction to compel them to come in. “What’s the compelling reason for the people in our communities who are disconnected from God, drink too much, run around on spouses, their lives are falling apart, they’re in chat room to get into some kind of relationship. ? what’s the compelling reason for them to come to our churches to want to give their lives to Jesus Christ?”

Sberna said it is also easy to tell whether the Great Commission is a priority in a local church by looking at the calendar and budget it adopts.

“Show me the money and show me the time and I can tell you what your plan is, how much money is going to evangelism and missions and if you are trying to build relationships. Jesus Christ said he will show up when you go where he told you to go and do what he told you to do,” Sberna stated, citing the Matthew 28:20 promise to be with believers as they go out.

To stay true to the imperative to make disciples, Sberna encouraged pastors to ask their congregations, “Whatever you’re doing at the end of the year, always ask, ‘Are there more people following Jesus Christ this time, this year, than there were last year at this time?'”

Sberna also expressed thanks to the SBTC and member churches that give generously to the task of the Great Commission.

“That’s what I love about our convention, why I am in it and why we give so much to the Cooperative Program. I can’t get out there in Indonesia, but I know a lot of people who want to go out there and the least I can do is give.”

SBTC re-elects three, fills one vacancy

PLANO?Messengers to the SBTC annual meeting re-elected three officers and elected a fourth for first term.

Re-elected without opposition were Chris Osborne, pastor of Central Baptist, College Station, president, Bill Sutton, pastor of First Baptist Church, McAllen, second vice president, and Brenda Wills of First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, recording secretary.

Ed Ethridge, director of missions for North Texas Baptist Association, succeeded Garland pastor David Galvan of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, who completed his second term as first vice president. Ethridge received 299 votes over Gil Lane of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo who received 123 votes.

In nominating Osborne, Steve Swofford, pastor of First Baptist of Rockwall, told of his own son coming under Osborne’s teaching while a student at Texas A&M.

“Do you know what it does to you when your son goes away to a college church and talks more about his preacher’s sermons than yours and (he) preaches out of the Greek New Testament?” Swofford quipped.

Noting that the College Station church has grown from about 300 to nearly 3,500 during Osborne’s tenure, baptizing more than 100 people each year and strongly supporting the Cooperative Program, Swofford said, “A man who does that and preaches from his Greek New Testament hasn’t got time to be a good president. But, that’s what we need?a man who puts God, his Word and the church in its rightful position. He doesn’t just talk about it, but leads out in doing it.”

Rocky Weatherford of Dallas commended Ethridge, the first vice president, for his leadership in the conservative resurgence on the national and state levels. “This is a man who believes in the inerrant, infallible Word of God and preaches with great passion and conviction,” Weatherford said.

Sutton’s son, Brian Sutton of Calvary Baptist Church in Tyler, renominated his father, expressing gratitude for his dad’s sharing his faith with others. “He believes God’s Word is inerrant without any fault or error and lives it every day in his life.”

Messengers approved Fielder Road Baptist Church, Arlington, for the Nov. 12-13, 2007 annual meeting. Swofford was elected to give next year’s convention sermon with Randy Davis, pastor at Lifeway Fellowship Baptist Church, Amarillo, as the alternate.

Falwell: Evangelicals back Bush on his values, not because of GOP

PLANO?Evangelical Christians support President Bush because of his values, not because he’s a Republican, Jerry Falwell told the 4,500 people gathered at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano Oct. 26 during the closing session of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s annual meeting.

“We couldn’t care less that Bush is a Republican. If (Bush) were a Democrat, we’d still be behind him because of who he is and what he believes,” said Falwell, the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and founder of the Moral Majority organization that mobilized millions of evangelical voters in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Falwell’s sermon drew the two-day convention’s highest attendance, estimated at 4,500. The SBTC registered a record 2,040 people, including 1,035 messengers.

Contending that “t1:country-region>America is on the rebound” and that Christian influence is unprecedented, Falwell left no doubt whom he would vote for one week before the Nov. 2 presidential election.

“The next president is going to appoint between two and four Supreme Court justices, and that’s going to be 20 or 30 years of stability in whichever direction. The federal marriage amendment ? we’re bringing that back up in January, and with Mr. Daschle (Senate majority leader) unemployed by that time and some others having the fear of God in their hearts, I believe we have a real good chance of defining the family as one man married to one woman on a permanent basis beyond the reach of any court ever in the future. I believe that.”

Noting his “yellow-dog Democrat” upbringing under a father “who would vote for the devil” if he were on the Democratic ticket, Falwell said, “And I’m not a Republican today; I vote Christian. I vote for the man or the woman who follows most closely what the Bible teaches.”

Christians must play the hand dealt them, and that leaves Bush as the only viable candidate, Falwell said, though he repeated several times he prays for a day when both parties offer Christian-friendly candidates for office.

Falwell said he told a group of wealthy Republicans the week before the Republican National Convention last summer that if the GOP ever decides to “get cute” and “run a pro-choice candidate who doesn’t know what a family is, just put it down: You are going to lose. I’m not making any threats. I’m just telling you the way it is.”

He told the same group that ultimately, Jesus Christ is the only hope for America. “And then things got real quiet,” he said.

Of the 2004 presidential election, he said: “We need to win this election with all the saints.”

He said if 80 million evangelicals would vote, “then everything will be OK.”

Falwell noted David’s question in 1 Samuel 17:29? “Is there not a cause?” speaking of King Saul’s army and its doubt at David’s courage to confront Goliath?in assessing today’s culture wars.

“I submit to you that America is in crisis. When our nation is about to expel God from the public square and the Ten Commandments from the schoolhouses and the courthouses and legalize same-sex marriage and take over the culture for a secular cause to create America into something she was not founded to be, that is crucial.”

A preacher for 52 years and a former independent Baptist before joining the Southern Baptist Convention in the mid-1990s, Falwell said he avoided politics early in his ministry.

At Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo., his professors taught him politics and religion don’t mix. Not until he met the noted philosopher and Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer in the 1960s did his views on Christian political involvement change, he said.

“Back in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, of my generation he was the guru of all the evangelicals. I’d never been to L’Abri (Schaeffer’s learning center in Switzerland) but I’d read everything Dr. Schaeffer had written and his sermons and lessons. And when he called me it just so humbled me that this guy, listening to my television program, would say ‘I want to meet with you.’

“We weren’t together very long until the meeting got a little negative, because he said, ‘You know, Jerry, you’re doing a great job preaching the gospel but you’re a total failure confronting the culture. I’ve never heard you mention abortion.”

Schaeffer predicted that abortion would lead to infanticide and euthanasia and that the country had entered a “death mode” and “would self-destruct barring prophets of God standing.”

“He convinced me he was right, though I thought he was a little bit overstating as an alarmist the case in America. Turns out he was right.”

After the 1973 Roe</