Baptist Briefs

Posted: 12/15/06

Baptist Briefs

Arizona Baptists take steps to split gifts 50/50 with SBC. Messengers to the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention’s Nov. 14-15 annual meeting unanimously adopted a missions funding growth plan to increase the percentage of Cooperative Program gifts forwarded to the SBC for national and international missions and ministries. The eventual goal is to divide undesignated Cooperative Program mission gifts 50/50 with SBC causes. Currently, 75 percent of the undesignated receipts are used in Arizona and 25 percent forwarded to the SBC. Arizona messengers adopted a $3.4 million Cooperative Program budget and a $3.8 million state convention operating budget for 2007. Next year’s Cooperative Program budget is a 1.8 percent increase over the present budget, and the operating budget is down from $4 million.

BWA mission advancement director named. Alan Stanford, Baptist World Alliance regional secretary for North America, has been appointed BWA director of mission advancement. He succeeds Ron Harris, who now works as a consultant with BWA. Stanford is pastor of First Baptist Church Clarendon in Arlington, Va., and previously served the BWA as director of promotion and development.


2nd Opinion: Getting lost in Christmas

Posted: 12/15/06

2nd Opinion:
Getting lost in Christmas

By BO Baker

Most of you know Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Of course, I know that scores and scores of you find the season harsh, upsetting, stressed and tear-stained, making it easy to get lost in Christmas.

Consider the truly poor who tuck their pride away long enough to accept a basket of Christmas love so their wide-eyed children can have a taste of what most of us have as normal daily fare. O yes, one can get lost in Christmas!

Face those who carry grownup grief into Christmas morning or watch with eyes of compassion as more and more of our young soldiers darken by their deaths the hearts of their parents, marriage partners and their little children—children too young to understand why those around them are crying, wondering who and what is in that flag-draped case. Indeed, one can get lost in Christmas!


COMMENTARY: What if Jesus had not come?

Posted: 12/15/06

What if Jesus had not come?

By Marcus Norris

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ. However, when you have been doing something for over 2,000 years there is a risk of losing the reason for and vibrancy of the celebration. So, in an effort to remind us “why” we celebrate his birth, consider what life would be like if there had been no babe in a Bethlehem manger.

An empty manger would mean:

• No angelic announcements.


DOWN HOME: Wanted: Yard-art Christmas Chicken

Posted: 12/15/06

Wanted: Yard-art Christmas Chicken

The nightly news stirred a strong sense of deja vu a couple of weeks ago. A correspondent stood in front of a local hospital, droning in somber sincerity about two unfortunate men who lay similarly incapacitated in similar rooms.

They’re both paralyzed after falling off extension ladders as they strung Christmas lights on the roofs of two-story houses.

I sympathized with those men and hoped for their healing.

But I also empathized with their plight.


EDITORIAL: A peace-full gift for a war-weary world

Posted: 12/15/06

A peace-full gift for a war-weary world

Let us celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.

Do we ever need peace now.

If you doubt it, fly on an airplane. You’ll ponder peace—or the possibility of its polar opposite, violence—as you fulfill all the requirements to board a plane in safety: From double- and triple-checked identification, to X-ray machines, to metal-detectors, to drug-scanners, to pat-downs and delays, such is the time-consuming price of peace in the airways.


Since Cain murdered Abel in the first case of religion gone wrong, the world has experienced precious little peace. The prophets railed against heart-wickedness that produced cold malice and perversity, and they predicted military annihilation as divine punishment. I just read a fascinating article about the revolt of the Jews against Antiochus Epiphanes, a vile dictator who sought to impose Greek religion on the whole world and sacrificed a pig in the Temple in Jerusalem. Led by the brilliant general Judas Maccabeus, the Jews rose up and won a measure of victory. It was one of their finest hours. And it was bloody.

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