Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


Marijuana dangers can't be ignored, critics say

Editor's Note: Sunday, March 22, is Substance Abuse Prevention Sunday.

WASHINGTON (BP) – The growing support for legalizing marijuana among Americans and their lawmakers remains unwise but not unexpected, Southern Baptist ethicists say.

Marijuana's inroads have been demonstrated already in March by a new public opinion poll that shows for the first time a majority in the United States favors legalization of the drug. In addition, Democratic and Republican senators introduced this month for the first time a bill to lift the federal ban on medicinal use of marijuana.

These developments follow the accelerating legalization of marijuana during the last two decades. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, beginning with California in 1996. D.C. and four of those states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – also have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Fifteen states – 10 with legalized medical marijuana and five without – have eliminated jail time for possessing small amounts of the drug, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

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Q&A: Ronnie Floyd's journey to SBC president

FloydNASHVILLE (BP) – When Ronnie Floyd was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention last summer, it was a natural extension of his life's ministry, having spent years leading by example at the local church level and in numerous denominational roles.

As SBC president, Floyd has exhorted Southern Baptists to plead with the Lord for spiritual awakening and for His empowering to fulfill the Great Commission. He also encourages churches to support the convention's Cooperative Program for missions and ministry, leading his church to give more each year.

SBCLIFE, the journal of the SBC Executive Committee, interviewed Floyd about the passions that mark his life:

SBCLIFE: Can you recount how and why you have made prayer such a priority in your life?

RONNIE FLOYD: Ever since I came to Christ, having a time with God has been very important to me. In the early 1980s, as I approached seminary graduation, W.A. Criswell preached a sermon at a Texas Baptist Evangelism Conference encouraging us to give our mornings to God. So I began to do that.

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SBC church plants gain 5% in 2014

Kevin Ezell
North American Mission Board

ALPHARETTA, Ga., (BP) – Southern Baptists planted 985 new churches in 2014 – a 5 percent increase over 2013 church starts.

This is very good news as we work toward diminishing the church-to-population deficit that steadily grew larger over the last century in the United States and Canada. It is also good because new churches, on average, reach people for Christ at a higher rate than existing churches.

These are churches like Mosaic in Alberta, Canada. They launched on Easter 2014 and have already seen 200 people give their lives to Christ, with 40 of them being baptized. They started giving to the Cooperative Program shortly after they launched.

Southern Baptists also saw 208 new churches affiliate with our convention in 2014. In all, that means 1,193 new congregations were added to the SBC.

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GuideStone Financial Resources trustees receive updates March 2-3 in Dallas

DALLAS – Drawing from Joshua 6:1-20, which tells of the Israelites’ conquest of Jericho, GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins told trustees meeting in Dallas March 2-3, “We are challenging our employees to see 2015 as a ‘Year of Efficiency’ as we look for ways to do what we do efficiently and with excellence.”

Trustees also heard reports from Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones and from the executive officers of GuideStone.

In remarks to trustees, Hawkins emphasized that the people of Israel were given three primary tasks by God during their march around Jericho: Watch, Be Perceptive; Walk, Be Persistent; Wait, Be Patient.
“Sometimes, people want to use effectiveness and efficiency interchangeably,” Hawkins said. “In fact, they are different. Effectiveness is important; it speaks to the ability to achieve our objectives. But efficiency is different; it speaks to the ability to achieve our objectives with minimal time and resources. We want to be effective in our work amid all the new opportunities we have at our doorstep, but we must be efficient with the resources we have.”

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SBC presidents send open letter to Obama

NASHVILLE (BP) -- In an open letter, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd, along with the support and signatures of 16 former SBC presidents, called on President Obama to "take the necessary actions now" against ISIS terrorists.

"Since ISIS is a continuing threat to world peace in a way unknown to us since the Nazis of World War II, we humbly call upon you to use the influence and power of your distinguished office to take the necessary actions now in this urgent hour to bring an end to these human atrocities," the March 1 letter said.

"The abuse, brutalization, and murder of children, women, and men that is occurring before the world calls our country to lead forward to bring this to an end."

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