Month: December 2010

Criswell College receives mild caution from accrediting agency

DALLAS?Despite a warning over problems with “institutional effectiveness” cited by its accrediting agency, Criswell College President Jerry Johnson said he expects the deficiencies to be resolved over the next year.

The Dallas school, which reconstituted last August with a new board of trustees and new bylaws after its separation from First Baptist Church of Dallas became legal,received the “warning” by the Southern Association of Colleges and
Schools after its December review. A warning is the least severe of SACS’ cautionary

Johnson said in a statement: “Criswell College is pleased to read in the SACS report that ‘The commission continued the accreditation of the following institutions after conducting a visit to review their substantive changes: Criswell College, Dallas, Texas.’ This is quite an accomplishment given our recent transition of new governance, new bylaws, and a new board. The reception of a ‘warning’ in the area of ‘institutional effectiveness’ means that Criswell needs to be more aggressive in the areas of planning and assessment during the next year. The administration is already planning improvements in these areas and expects the ‘warning’ to be lifted within the next year. We enjoy the status of being accredited by SACS and will continue to do so.”

A special SACS committee will conduct an on-site compliance evaluation next fall, with a report expected in December 2011. Johnson said he expects the school’s warning to be lifted then.

The school, begun in 1970 by the late W.A. Criswell, then pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, as a Bible institute, offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Criswell reported 365 students in the fall semester.

Johnson, who led the college from 2004-08, was rehired as president in November. In the interim, he served Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., as vice president for academic development, dean of the faculty and professor of ethics and theology.

Styrofoam pictures

I went up into the attic a couple of weeks ago to bring down the Christmas decorations. My attic is never very well organized, but this year things were in an unusual state of disarray because of some air-conditioning work done last spring. Before the AC technicians came they asked me to empty my attic. After they left I hurriedly put things back in no particular order and the Christmas decorations wound up behind everything else. As I began the task of moving aside our accumulation of family treasures, I started losing interest in the decorations and I found myself being transported back in time. So many familiar things from the past. Military uniforms, letters I wrote to Linda from Vietnam, bell bottomed jeans, baby clothes, favorite record albums, worn out toys too precious to discard, little league trophies, jerseys, footballs and baseball gloves. Everything I touched changed my age. I was 35 again. Then 20. Then 44. Then 28. Wearing my peace necklace, Marine Corps hat and booster club vest I felt like Chevy Chase in the attic scene from “Christmas Vacation.”

And then I saw those two Styrofoam pictures. Wow! I couldn’t believe we still had them. Linda put them away and kept them all these years. When was it? Must have been Christmas of ’79. God had called Linda and me into the ministry out of a career in the corporate world. We liquidated our assets, paid off all our debts and moved to Ft. Worth. We got a couple of hourly jobs for minimum wage, rented a small house and enrolled in the seminary. When Christmas rolled around, we had almost no money and agreed to spend every spare dime on our two small sons. But the boys wanted to get something for Linda. “Something BIG!” they said. I had an idea. That Saturday I took them to an expensive gift shop. After looking around at several costly gifts, I began to carry on over two small refrigerator magnets on a rack by the cash register. “Wow! Mom’s been looking for some of these, but hasn’t been able to find any. And these are really nice!” One had a drawing of a little boy with his arms outstretched; the caption read, “I love you THIS much.” The other was a drawing of a smaller boy playing; the caption read, “Be patient! God’s not finished with me yet.” Anyway, it worked. And we bought them. They cost less than a dollar each. But when we got home my plan began to crumble. The boys said, “We want to give Mom something BIG, Dad. These are too little!” In desperation, I came up with another idea. I found two pieces of Styrofoam about 18 inches tall, 12 inches wide and half an inch thick. I got a magic marker and sat down at the kitchen table with the boys on either side of me and began to draw the pictures off the refrigerator magnets onto the sheets of styrofoam. My idea was a hit! “Boy! Mom’s going to love this!” they said. “This is really BIG! Is that my leg you’re drawing now? Hurry Dad! Do mine next.” We had a ball that afternoon, laughing and squealing and making the little pictures big. Each printed his name on the back of his gift. We wrapped the BIG gifts along with their matching refrigerator magnets and put them under the tree. On Christmas morning the boys wanted Linda to open their BIG gifts first. As she opened them she carried on about how beautiful they were, and how BIG they were. The boys were so proud. She hung those things on our bedroom wall and they stayed there until we graduated from seminary and moved. I haven’t seen them since. Until now.

Well, my sons are both grown men now. One is 27 and the other is 32. They’re both married. The oldest has given me two little grandsons. When it comes to buying Christmas gifts for their mom, they’ve been on their own for some time. Over the years, they’ve certainly given Linda nicer, more expensive, and BIGGER gifts. But to tell you the truth, I don’t know where any of them are. Certainly none have been as treasured as these two signed styrofoam pictures.

I took off my necklace and hat and vest and brought only the two styrofoam pictures down from the attic. Linda’s eyes filled with tears when she saw them. She took them, held them close and walked away. Isn’t Christmas a wonderful time of year?

You know what? God’s gift to us wasn’t very big either. But, oh, what a Treasure! Have you forgotten? After all these years, He’s still there. Maybe this would be a good time for you to hold Him close and appreciate Him all over again.

Have a Merry Christmas.

?Steve Washburn is pastor of FBC Pflugerville

Texas church arsonists plead guilty

TYLER, Texas ? Two men who attended a Southern Baptist church as teenagers pled guilty Dec. 14 in a string of East Texas church arsons.

Jason Robert Bourque, 19, of Lindale, Texas and Daniel George McAllister, 21, of Ben Wheeler, Texas, pled guilty Dec. 14 in connection with the 10 church arsons in January and February.

Five of the burned churches were Baptist and four of them were Southern Baptist: Lake Athens Baptist Church in Athens, Little Hope Baptist Church in Canton, Tyland Baptist Church in Tyler and Dover Baptist Church in rural Smith County.

As teens, both attended First Baptist Church of Ben Wheeler, according to news reports.

The fires occurred in Henderson, Smith and Van Zandt counties. The pair was arrested in mid-February on a tip to agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The Dallas Morning News described Borque’s courtroom demeanor as “grim-faced” as he stood to hear his charges before media members and church ministers.

Bourque’s grandmother was heard to say, “keep us in your prayers,” according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

The two could face multiple life sentences and possible restitution for their crimes. Judge Christi Kennedy will sentence the men on Jan. 10.

Minister equips Christians to defend pro-life view

Twenty years ago Scott Klusendorf was serving as an associate pastor in southern California when he was invited to attend a pro-life breakfast.
What he heard there changed his life forever.

“The speaker gave what I thought was one of the most persuasive and cogent defenses of the pro-life view I’d ever heard,” Klusendorf told the TEXAN. “And that was persuasive enough. But then he showed images of what abortion is. And I’m telling you, when I saw those images, I knew that ? I needed to change fundamentally who and what I was.”

So he resigned from his position on the church staff and launched a ministry of equipping pro-lifers to make a persuasive case for their position.
After serving on the staffs of two other ministries, he founded the Life Training Institute in 2004. As president of the Colorado-based organization, Klusendorf produces resources and travels the country to make rational arguments against abortion.

His book “The Case for Life” along with articles and other resources are available on the Life Training Institute’s website, The site also provides information on the organization’s speaking team, which is available to address churches and youth groups.

To date Klusendorf’s instruction has taught thousands of believers how to defend the pro-life view in two minutes or less.

“First of all, we teach pro-life Christians how to make a scientific case for the humanity of the unborn, using science to demonstrate that from the earliest stages of development, each of us was a distinct, living and whole human being,” Klusendorf said. “We use philosophy to demonstrate that there’s no essential difference between the embryo we once were and the adults we are today that would justify killing us at that earlier stage of development.”

Among the forums where he has made pro-life presentations are Christian camps, crisis pregnancy center events, high schools and university campuses. Klusendorf also participates regularly in debates with abortion defenders, including a former president of the ACLU.

These events have made a tangible difference in the lives of Christian youth, according to Klusendorf.

“It’s staggering to listen to the response from Christian kids,” he said. “They say, ‘No one has ever talked to us about this. We have heard people say abortion’s wrong, but they don’t give us the tools of thought we need to defend a pro-life view.'”

For some teens, the effect of Klusendorf’s presentations has been very personal. After he spoke at a Christian summer camp, three girls in one youth group confessed having abortions and resolved to warn their friends against making the same mistake.

But the impact went much further than one youth group. Klusendorf made weekly presentations at the same camp throughout the summer, training thousands of teens how to combat relativism and answer pro-choice rhetoric.

“At the end of that summer, we had trained 10,000 kids, and the e-mails we got back from parents and from students were unbelievable,” he said. “Some of them read things like this: We’ve been going to Christian camps for years and have never gotten the content we needed to make a difference in the real world where we live, and this is doing that.”

Following a presentation at a Catholic high school in Baltimore, Klusendorf received an e-mail from a 15-year-old girl. Though she determined in advance to sleep through the event, she told him that it captivated her and completely changed her views on abortion.

According to Klusendorf, similar pro-life success stories can happen in any local church that is willing to address the issue in a bold, intelligent and compassionate manner. He emphasizes, though, that merely identifying abortion as an evil often is not enough to stimulate life transformation.

“Many churches do a fair job at least identifying the issue, saying, ‘You know, human beings are made in God’s image, and because we bear God’s image, we shouldn’t shed innocent blood.’ That message needs to get out, but we’ve got to go a step further. We’ve got to equip our people to engage those around them,” he said.

Such equipping must include presenting the gospel as a source of healing and forgiveness for men and women who have experienced the trauma of abortion, he said. Klusendorf added that to be truly pro-life, a congregation must hear preaching on the value of human beings and receive practical training on how to confront abortion in the culture.

“We don’t have a lot of pro-life churches,” he said. “We have a lot of churches who claim to be pro-life.”

Though the task may seem daunting, Klusendorf said pastors can fight successfully against abortion and save lives. Gospel-saturated preaching and simple training to defend the truth are the keys, he said.

“Pastors need to realize they can win on the abortion issue if they deal with it the right way,” he said. “It does not have to be a losing issue for them. If they will preach with conviction on it and at the same time present the gospel as the antidote that people need if they’ve sinned on this issue, it can be a win-win.”

Page: Baptist Press won’t be micromanaged

This story first appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness & The Illinois Baptist

NASHVILLE, Tenn.?The news operation of the Southern Baptist Convention will be left in the “capable” hands of veteran journalist Art Toalston, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page said in an interview about changes at the convention’s administrative agency.

Now in his 18th year as Baptist Press editor, Toalston served three newspapers in Ohio before becoming religion editor of the Jackson (Miss.) Daily News, now the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. He was a staff writer for the International Mission Board for seven years before being hired by former Convention News Vice President Herb Hollinger in 1992. Will Hall served as vice president for convention news for the past decade until his position was eliminated last month.

On Nov. 30, Page announced structural changes that combine the functions of news and public relations under an office of convention communications and relations, merging two vice presidential-level positions. While Roger S. (Sing) Oldham’s duties expanded to include oversight of communications, Page said the new arrangement is in no way an attempt to change the nature of Baptist Press into a public relations vehicle.

“We will continue to do what our bylaws call for?to both interpret and publicize the overall Southern Baptist ministry and program,” Page said in a Dec. 3 interview.

While declining to comment specifically on a motion at the 2010 SBC annual meeting to grant BP greater independence by moving it out from under EC supervision, Page made it clear that neither he nor Oldham will have a hands-on role in the newsgathering process.

“I want to be very clear to say that no one, either the vice president or president, will be micromanaging the work of the editor or Baptist Press,” Page stated. “It’s important to say that the day-to-day operation will be run by Art and I have great confidence in his ability,” he added, calling the BP editor a well-respected, Christ-like journalist.

“For many years the two functions were operated out of one office, then separated in 1992, but still under the Executive Committee,” Oldham said. He anticipates no substantive changes in the news operation. “I think BP has maintained and proven to be a news service of integrity.”

Martin King, editor of The Illinois Baptist who offered the motion about BP, expressed disappointment with the new structure, while affirming Toalston.

“I’m disappointed the structural changes at the SBC Executive Committee move Baptist Press further away from more direct accountability to the convention, and place it under what is essentially the public relations function of the EC. This is a structure the new conservative leadership abandoned nearly 20 years ago,” King said in a statement.

King said he understands the “economic pressures that precipitated the change” and is “encouraged at Dr. Page’s assurances the day-to-day operations of BP will be left to Art Toalston and his staff of talented, committed Christian journalists, and that the new structure is ‘for the immediate future,’ leaving open the possibility of re-considering the change.”

Toalston, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has well-established relationships with the network of state Baptist papers and communications offices of SBC entities. “I’m relying on good journalism as my first measure of things being published,” he said. “It’s a great network and I feel mutual respect toward them and what we’re trying to do at Baptist Press.”

With the likelihood of continued budgetary shortfalls, Page said serious decisions had to be made. “This was an immediate, perhaps an intermediate, stage due to serious economic issues and perhaps we will review this in the future. All options will be on the table at that time,” he said.

The Executive Committee is operating with half million dollars less than it had in the previous year’s budget and stands to take a more severe hit with a recommendation that nearly one-third of the 3.4 percent of Cooperative Program funds that SBC operations currently receive be transferred to the International Mission Board.

SBC messengers endorsing the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force proposals expected part of that cost savings to come by shifting primary responsibility for CP promotion to state conventions. The Cooperative Program vice presidential-level position begun in 2006 was also eliminated in the structural changes announced by Page.

Page said he will take far more responsibility for CP promotion and expects the three remaining vice presidents to do likewise, including Oldham, D. August (Augie) Boto in the renamed office of convention policy and operations, and the newly appointed William (Bill) Townes in the office of convention finance.

“Our goal is to really follow the advice and recommendation of our messengers to work more with our state partners in promotion and development of CP materials,” Page said. He is meeting regularly with state partners to enhance that relationship and take personal responsibility for the assignment.

Any further cuts will be announced by the next Executive Committee meeting in February, said Page, explaining his determination to do everything he can to remake the EC staff into a “historically appropriate level” while also honoring the convention’s recommendation to maximize CP funding for international ministry.

Asked about two EC-funded strategist positions occupied by Kenneth Hemphill (Empowering Kingdom Growth) and Bobby Welch (Global Evangelical Relations), Page expressed confidence in both men, stating, “I’m working with both of them and we are being deliberate in how we deal with those important ministries. I expect we’ll hear some news in Dr. Hemphill’s area soon.”

Page said the subsidy for the Southern Baptist Foundation would be phased out over the course of three to five years, a plan begun under his predecessor’s administration. The foundation is a subsidiary of the Executive Committee.

Sojourn took unlikely turns for Criswell prof

DALLAS?The first person to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with Alan Streett was a psychology professor at the University of Baltimore, where Streett earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1969.It was the last class of Streett’s first semester, and the professor had announced that he was leaving for another job and had taught the class all he could about abnormal psychology.“He said that he wanted to tell us about the most important thing he knew. He shared the gospel,” Streett said. “It was an awkward moment, but my heart was cut to the quick.”That was the beginning of Streett’s spiritual sojourn, and what ultimately brought him to Criswell College, where he was hired by Paige Patterson in 1983 to become the school’s professor of evangelism.The Road to JesusAfter hearing the gospel, Streett began attending evening classes at the Baltimore School of the Bible. “I knew intuitively that the Bible was God’s Word, and I wanted to know what it said. I took classes on Romans, John, apologetics and prophecy,” he said.“I spoke with the dean of students at Baltimore School of the Bible, who was a former Methodist minister, about my spiritual journey. He suggested I apply to his alma mater, Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. , for a master of divinity degree.“I told the dean that I would likely not be accepted into a graduate program; but he replied, ‘The Methodist Church needs pastors so badly that they will accept anyone.’ I applied and was accepted,” Streett said.Streett thought seminary life would be “like a monastery, with monks in long robes, heads bowed in prayer, and Gregorian chants playing in the background. I was hoping to find strong Christians who could influence me,” he said. “Instead, I discovered that I was the more conservative person on campus, which was disconcerting.”Although he was a seminary student, Streett was not yet a born-again Christian. But while attending Wesley Seminary, “I came under the conviction of sin and cried out for Christ to save me,” he recalled. “It was the beginning of my third year. I came to the end of myself and I was radically converted.”“Through personal Bible study, I later became convinced that I needed to submit to believer’s baptism,” Streett added.The Road to DallasThe road to Dallas had numerous ministry points along the way. After graduating from Wesley Seminary, Streett served as executive director of a local Youth for Christ chapter. He and Lynn, his wife, founded Streett Meetings Inc., a faith-based ministry which enabled Streett to conduct evangelistic crusades, organize a community Bible class, host a radio program, and write several books on evangelistic and apologetical subjects.He was also the associate director of the Baltimore Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, an evangelistic outreach to business and political leaders.Streett was instrumental in bringing a Billy Graham crusade to Baltimore, and he served on two local committees in that effort.After earning his doctor of philosophy from the California Graduate School of Theology in 1982, it was Streett’s dissertation that caught Patterson’s attention.The dissertation was published in 1984 under the title “The Effective Invitation,” and has become a standard textbook in Bible colleges and seminaries.“I chose the invitation as my dissertation topic because I had been reading books on Reformed theology that spoke against the invitation,” Streett told the TEXAN. “I began to doubt its validity. And as a full-time evangelist I needed to settle this issue. So I went into my research with no preconceived ideas and a willingness to simply write on my findings. I concluded that the invitation is biblically, theologically, and psychologically sound. Effective invitations address the mind, the will and the heart; or the rationale, volition and emotions.”Patterson was one of many who completed a questionnaire as research for Streett’s dissertation, and that’s how the two met.“Dr. Patterson invited me to speak in chapel, and during lunch he offered me the professor of evangelism position?one he held at that time,” Streett said. “I saw this as an open door. I knew very little about the college, except that it was at the forefront of the inerrancy struggle within the SBC.”Streett remains a favorite professor among the student body, having previously twice won “Professor of the Year” accolades upon their votes. “I was delighted with the honor. But win or lose, I have always sought to be the best classroom teacher possible. I love teaching and interacting with students. Criswell College is an exciting place. We believe we’re on a divine mission,” he said.In 2007, Streett also was awarded an endowed chair and appointed to be the W.A. Criswell Professor of Expository Preaching.“I was highly honored by this,” he said. “When I accepted the title, I was determined to train our stu

The conclusion of another busy news year

This issue marks the end of this volume of the Southern Baptist TEXAN. What a year! I’ve often remarked that I don’t remember a slow news cycle since Hurricane Katrina. Whether we’re talking about world news, SBC news, or stories of ministry in Texas, 2010 has been full of more than we can tell.

One of our most popular issues this year dealt with Bible translations and versions. Understandably, this is a complex issue for many people. Different kinds of Bibles abound. Our effort to explain a bit about how we got our Bible and the different intents and philosophies behind the versions was popular with many of our readers. Of course our issue focusing on health-related topics was not as popular. None of us enjoys having someone else poke a finger in our pudgy bellies. I found it convicting, and inconvenient, as we move into the season of the year when we are bound by honor and appetite to eat five times a day.

In a category some would call “boring but maybe important” resides many stories surrounding the idea of a Great Commission Resurgence. Since a task force appointed to investigate how Southern Baptists can do Great Commission ministry more effectively made their report last spring, their suggestions have launched a career or two and impacted more than a couple of state conventions. No doubt we’ll continue to hear of how churches are responding to this initiative as 2011 calendars and budgets kick in.

A related subject involves the financial struggles of churches and parachurch ministries. Some of the energy directed at reforming the mission we share comes from the fact that families, churches, and those ministries further down the funding stream, are receiving less money. Nothing focuses a ministry’s attention like not being able to meet payroll. Perhaps in ministries large and small, God will use challenging financial times to put our attention back on first things. In working through the budget process at my own church, I was surprised to find how (almost) inextricably the nice things and necessary ones are woven together in a ministry that has plenty of money. Unwinding those distinct budget priorities is difficult and painful. We won’t do it until we’re forced. Maybe it takes a shortfall to put our attention on good stewardship.

The nation largely rejected President Obama’s political agenda this November. The turnover of the most unpopular of all public institutions is big news because of the magnitude of the change. It will be a test of the president’s character as he sorts out how he will respond to a Congress newly committed to checks and balances. Moral conservatives will face no less a test as our new legislators begin to reveal their own commitments to matters more timeless than the economy. A Republican party willing to reject biblical morality in favor of winning is of no use to us. Many of our new reps seem genuinely conservative but we must be diligent as they start putting action to their words. Issues like the proposed repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” continue to roil. On this day, we stand on the verge of wrecking the U.S. military for the sake of trendy sentimentality. Few people intend to wreck our nation’s armed forces. At the same time, it is apparent that few of us, including few of our national leaders, understand the armed forces. It’s a disastrous idea in a year of more than one foolish notion.

The independence of Criswell College was a big story this year. We’ve said a lot about that so I’ll let it suffice to bless First Baptist Dallas for their generosity to my alma mater, and to thank God for a positive outcome to the complex discussions that took place over the course of two years.
Our SBTC Disaster Relief ministry got off to a hectic start in January when an earthquake wrecked the already poor country of Haiti. Southern Baptists in Texas prayed, sent, went, and gave. Our collection of “buckets of hope” provided food to thousands of those who had nothing. Our volunteers helped with chaplaincy, medical services, and rebuilding alongside Southern Baptist volunteers from all around the country. Flooding in the Rio Grande Valley and in Mexico also mobilized hundreds of us to provide clean water, clean up, food, and comfort to our neighbors. As often happens, many of us also took DR training this year so that we might be deployable the next time something comes up.

It’s just a sampling but you can see that important things are going on all around us. I pray that your family and your church will find ways to make good news during 2011.

Babbie Mason scheduled for Evangelism Conference

FRISCO?Renowned vocalist Babbie Mason will be among the musicians and speakers at the annual SBTC Empower Evangelism Conference, Feb. 28-March 2 at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco.

“Jesus Christ is Lord!” taken from Philippians 2:9-11, is the theme of the 2011 Empower Evangelism Conference.

The daughter of a Baptist pastor, she often accompanied her father, the late George W. Wade, as he preached at home and at churches across the Great Lakes states. She has sung at Billy Graham Crusades worldwide, Carnegie Hall, for Presidents Carter, Ford and Bush, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, comedian Bill Cosby, and NBA great Michael Jordan.

Her songs have been featured in major motion pictures and television shows such as “Showtime at The Apollo” and Denzel Washington’s movie “Déją vu.” Besides being a household name in the music industry, she is also the author of two books, “Treasures of Heaven in the Stuff of Earth” and “Faithlift.” She is a sought after speaker and hosts the television show “Babbie’s House,” seen all over North America, Africa, the British Isles and the Caribbean Islands.
Mason’s most recent endeavor is a worship event for women called Embrace.

The parents of two adult sons, Babbie and Charles Mason live on a farm in West Georgia.

The annual conference of preaching, teaching and music will feature a wide array of speakers, including pastors such as Jack Graham, Kie Bowman and Bryant Jones, best-selling author and apologist Lee Strobel, “Total Church Life” author Darrell Robinson, and women such as Pam Tebow (mother of the Denver Broncos’ Tim Tebow) and Dorothy Patterson. In addition to Mason, other musical guests include Charles Billingsley of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.

The Cooperative Program Luncheon, held in conjunction with the conference, will feature guest speaker Richard Land of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and musical guest will be Mary Jane Schwartz. Tickets for the CP lunch are $10 and will be available online in January.

For additional information on the conference, visit

Defending your pro-life views in 5 minutes or less

In just five minutes, a Christian can argue against elective abortion in a way that is both convincing and gracious.

That is the contention of Scott Klusendorf, president of the Life Training Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., as he summarizes how to do it in an article entitled “How to Defend Your Pro-Life Views in 5 Minutes or Less.”

The first step to arguing against abortion is to clarify the issue, according to Klusendorf.

“Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion takes the life of a defenseless human being,” he writes. “This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing public attention on just one question: Is the unborn a member of the human family? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. ? Conversely, if the unborn are not human, killing them for any reason requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled.”

Arguments based on “choice” or “privacy” are irrelevant when the issue is framed correctly, he argues, because such excuses would never count as justifications for killing people that are universally agreed to be humans.

After clarifying the issue, a Christian should defend the pro-life position with science and philosophy, Klusendorf writes.

Scientifically, leading embryology textbooks confirm that from the earliest stages of development, “the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings,” he writes, adding that even former Planned Parenthood President Alan Guttmacher, prior to his abortion advocacy, was perplexed that anyone would consider an unborn child less than fully human.

Philosophically, there is no morally significant difference between an embryo and a person outside the womb, Klusendorf argues. He uses the acronym SLED to note the differences between an embryo and an adult: Size, Level of development, Environment and Degree of dependency.

None of those differences, Klusendorf says, justify killing an unborn child.

He concludes that pro-lifers must challenge their opponents to be intellectually honest.

“Remind your critics that if we care about truth, we will courageously follow the facts wherever they lead, no matter what the cost to our own self-interests.”

The text of the article is available at

They give to missions, ‘no matter what’

DENISON?Aggressive missions giving doesn’t just happen, said Chet Haney, pastor of Parkside Baptist Church.

It takes a congregation with a heart for missions and a pastor with a focus and willingness “to really challenge people to stretch their vision and their concept of what they can do,” said Haney, who has been Parkside’s pastor for 15 years.

Located in the bustling city of Denison, 75 miles north of Dallas and one of 65 congregations in the Grayson Baptist Association, Parkside has grown exponentially in its missions fervor.

In 2009, members gave $14,563 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, or $22.61 per capita. Across the Southern Baptist Convention, the average member’s overall per capita gift to the offering is $14.78.

“It’s been a blessing over the years to see families, perhaps formerly satisfied with giving $50 or $100, now looking to do much more,” Haney said. “If you’re going to go from giving, for example, $30 to $3,000, it really affects your family budget for the year. You have to think, ‘How are we going to make this happen?’

“It is important to get people thinking in terms of giving larger amounts, in the upper hundreds or low thousands per family,” Haney said. “That has been a key part of the promotion strategy. It hasn’t caught on with everybody, but it has with most, and that’s been the difference. It’s widespread sacrifice, not the super large gifts of just a few. On the spiritual side, you have to really trust God to provide. That’s the beautiful part of this.”

Parkside’s support of missions through the North American Mission Board is because NAMB’s focus is the area of the world’s greatest need?the raising up of a missionary people who will multiply ministry as they spread out throughout the world, Haney said.

“You boil missions down to its core essence, and you’ve got a sovereign God who chooses to do what he does through people who humble themselves and obey him so they can join him?as [Henry] Blackaby taught us?in what he is doing,” the pastor said. “A truly successful mission trip will almost always leave the participants in awe. They won’t brag. They won’t show off. They won’t say, ‘Look what we did!’ They’ll say, ‘What a mighty God we served.’ They’ll say, ‘Look how God blessed me by letting me be part of his work.’

“That’s what missions really accomplishes,” Haney said. “That leads to revival. If we humble ourselves before God, then he will lift us up, and he will allow us to hear that Macedonian call that echoes from the Scriptures: ‘Come over here and help us. We need a construction team. We need an evangelism team.’ That call can only be heard by a humble heart.”

Parkside’s one-day ingathering of money for three seasonal missions offerings?international, North American and the SBTC Reach Texas Offering?takes place the first Sunday in December.

“We can raise a lot more money that way,” Haney said. “But to have a successful world missions offering you have to prepare for it well in advance, to encourage people to give sacrificially.”

Two things are essential for a successful world missions offering, the pastor said. First, members have to ask God what he wants them to give. Second, they have to commit to give that amount no matter what.

Members do not make pledges, and the church’s goal is an independent amount.

“We have found, in my experience, that after you do this a year or two, it’s hard to keep up with the enthusiasm,” Haney said. “Our goals have a tendency to swell almost to the point of ridiculous for our size congregation. This year it’s a hugely challenging $130,000.”

But when people listen to what God wants them to give and then commit to give it, “God grants miraculous provision in order to honor our commitment,” Haney said. “It takes initiative and desire and faith, and it’s a huge challenge, but when you put it out there, God blesses.”

As one example, the pastor said Parkside member Betty Cabaniss told him how God two years in a row provided a bonus check for the precise amount she and her husband Wayne had set as their family goal for Parkside’s annual world missions offering.

Parkside responds generously to missions needs for two reasons, Haney said. He takes responsibility for making missions personal, and the congregation takes mission trips.

“I’ve always liked making missions personal,” Haney said. “[Missionaries] are real people who used to sit in pews like us and God called them and they said ‘yes.'”

He tells of the first missionary he met, a former band leader who was teaching trumpet in Liberia to build relationships to help start churches. He tells of a pastor in Brazil who requested new tires for his four-wheel-drive vehicle so he could drive into the Amazon and reach people for Christ.

The same week in August that 45 Parkside teenagers and their leaders were evangelistically knocking on doors in New Orleans and helping in Southern Baptists’ continuing recovery of that city from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, 85 members of the church’s construction team were in Kansas City, Mo., helping in the construction of a new chapel for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary?this out of a congregation where about 650 people participate in Sunday morning worship.

And for the third year in a row, in December a multifaceted missions team will journey to rural Nicaragua.

“When our people go on a missions trip, they see things God can use them to do in our own local mission field, which is right here where we live,” Haney said. “Our students were so excited about what they did in New Orleans that they said, ‘Hey, we want to do this here,’ and went out knocking on doors before prayer meeting their first Wednesday back, and led seven people to the Lord that night.

“It really affected our whole church,” the pastor said. “Thanks to our teenagers … we have a more serious and sober sense of the urgency of our own personal mission. We’re all on mission for Christ.”

That mission has to start in Denison and across the United States, Haney said.

“Our nation, which has historically been the great sending body for missions throughout the world, has gradually but steadily become a mission field. There’s no denying it,” the pastor said. “The lostness in our country, the depreciation of cultural morality?it’s heartbreaking to see what our country has become spiritually.

“We’re in great need of revival, and we don’t even know how desperate we are,” Haney added. “We are asleep, and I don’t know what it will take to awaken this nation to its spiritual despondency. For that reason, missions at home has become equally if not more urgent than missions around the world?because if we don’t have revival, then there won’t be anything left to give to the world, perhaps in a short time.

“I don’t think it’s too late,” the pastor said. “I think there’s an opportunity for us to see revival, but we’re going to have to really pray. It’s going to have to start in a church somewhere.”

A group of men at Parkside has been praying seven days a week for the past 18 months for God to send revival to America.

Even more personally, 18 months ago the church distributed pieces of chalk to members during a Sunday service?hundreds of pieces. They were asked to draw symbolic circles around themselves and “pray for God to revive what’s inside that circle to show revival has to be personal,” Haney said. “It’s not likely for revival to start in Hollywood or among politicians. God’s blueprint for revival starts in the church.”