ethical living blog
Driving says something about character
by Ferrell Foster on October 12, 2016 in clc
Driving on Interstate 35 between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth is like navigating an obstacle course of construction, heavy traffic, and frequent crashes. It can be a tense, mind-numbing task.
This week I tried an experiment. I set my cruise control on the speed limit and gave my right foot a rest. The speed limit between Austin and the Metroplex varies from 60 to 75 and changes quite often, so it requires multiple resettings of the cruise.
You will not be surprised by what I experienced by driving the fastest speed allowed by law. The vast/p>/p>... [continue]
George C. Marshall & the importance of self-mastery
by Ferrell Foster on September 28, 2016 in clc
I wonder today how many Americans are familiar with the name and exploits of one of the greatest persons of the 20th century – George C. Marshall.
Marshall orchestrated one of the greatest military victories of history – World War II — and then shaped one of the greatest achievements of peace after the war with what came to be known as the Marshall Plan. In essence, Marshall led in the defeat of America’s enemies and then built them back into friends. Truly astonishing!
The New York Times columnist David Brooks highlights Marshall in/p>/p>... [continue]
Back to school nerves
by Ali Hearon on August 18, 2016 in hunger offering
My niece, Caroline, is two years old. She is precious and recently returned from her first day at preschool with a confession to make.
“I feel nerbus (nervous),” she told my sister on the car ride home. Caroline is a bright kid. My sister is, too.
Many unknowns await children as they walk through the threshold of a new classroom. New teacher, new classmates, new rules — it is a daunting experience to say the least.
Everybody knows what it is like to be afraid of the unknown. Few things are as universally unnerving as the prospect of doing something new among/p>/p>/p>... [continue]
Praying for political leaders makes a difference
by Ferrell Foster on August 3, 2016 in clc
A former Texas legislator told me the other day of sitting in his chair on the House floor, considering a bill, and thinking about what the Bible says. This man is not a regular churchgoer now, but that day in Austin he remembered the Bible talking about loving the children. He voted for the children of Texas in a vote that shocked some people and promised to cause him political difficulties.
I don’t share his name because we were just visiting about different matters, and this was a passing part of the conversation.
He next said/p>/p>... [continue]
Chaos should not surprise us
by Ferrell Foster on July 20, 2016 in war and peace
Our world seems to be drifting toward chaos. There is violence in our American streets and in our broader world. The killers of innocent people are moving us toward terror.
In confusing times it can help to look back in time. One hundred and one years ago, a young man graduated from Yale Divinity School and moved to Detroit to become a pastor. His 13 years at Bethel Evangelical Church began years of change for the young minister, and his ideas would impact his nation.
His name: Reinhold Niebuhr.
In Detroit, Niebuhr began to recognise problems in the/p>/p>/p>... [continue]
7 tips for seeking peace with African Americans
by Kathryn Freeman on July 14, 2016 in race relations
As we think about our role as peacemakers in racial reconciliation, Ephesians 2:11-16 details God’s heart for unity within the body of Christ.
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you
Words of peace for our killing days
by Ferrell Foster on July 13, 2016 in war and peace
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
In the aftermath of our recent killing days, many followers of Christ have arisen to take on the mantle of peacemakers. We need all Christians to be peacemakers.
The late Baptist pastor, Herschel Hobbs, said Christ is a peacemaker between God and humanity (Colossians 1:20-22) and between people (Ephesians 2:12-18).
Our peace with God is what causes us to seek peace in all of our interactions. We want to help bring God’s peace to others. And in being such/p>/p>/blockquote>... [continue]
The importance of "Black Lives Matter"
by Ferrell Foster on July 12, 2016 in race relations
It is hard for some people to understand the importance of “Black Lives Matter.” They want to say, “All Lives Matter.” A post by GeekAesthete on reddit.com helps explain it.
Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the
Use missional responses on social media during political season
by Ryan Jespersen on June 30, 2016 in clc
Just a cursory glance at social media will show you the political division that exists in our nation, communities, and even families. In recent days, every statement by a political candidate or pundit brings on either glorious cheers or vitriol hate by one side or the other. Not only do those emotions get turned on the candidates and their campaigns, often times they are aimed at friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites become verbal battlegrounds in the fight to get our point/p>... [continue]
It’s not always easy to know right and wrong
by Ferrell Foster on June 23, 2016 in christian living
Determining what is wrong (sinful) can sometimes be difficult. Here’s a story to illustrate:
I grew up in a family that went to church every Sunday morning and evening and many Wednesdays. Then, in about 1964, we started going to Dallas Cowboys football games on Sunday. This often required missing some church time. Looking back now, those family memories are some of my favorites.
Meals, church, and football games were the three things we did as a family, but only at the football games did we really talk, celebrate, and suffer with each/p>/p>... [continue]
#YesAllWomen: How the Church Should Reflect Jesus’ Radical Ministry to Women
by Kathryn Freeman on June 9, 2016 in clc
Over the last several days, I have read stories about violence against girls and women with increasing alarm.
Just a snapshot of the headlines:
In Texas, our eyes have been laser focused on Baylor, but the problem is bigger than one college campus. In fact, one of last year’s Oscar nominated documentaries,/p>/a>/p>/a>/p>/a>/p>/p>... [continue]
Many of us share guilt in exalting the false god of football
by Ferrell Foster on June 1, 2016 in christian living
Like the people of ancient times, we still struggle with false gods. Today’s false gods come in the form of money, sexual gratification, fancy homes, political power, romantic love, financial security, our looks, impressive job titles, a collection of some sort, cars, guns, and invitations to exclusive gatherings. I could go on. But one of our biggest — one of my biggest — is sports, particularly football in Texas.
We have gotten so out of hand with football that we are putting the safety and wellbeing of women at risk. We/p>... [continue]
Babs Baugh honored by Global Women
by Ali Hearon on May 11, 2016 in hunger offering
“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” 1 Peter 4:10, NRSV
We are excited to announce that Babs Baugh will receive the Global Heart Award at the upcoming Global Women’s 15th Birthday Gala during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C..
Global Women is a Hunger Offering recipient that seeks to love and serve vulnerable women across the globe. The award highlights Babs’ commitment to stewarding the “manifold grace of God” and caring for people who/a>/p>/a>/p>... [continue]
Education inequity should concern Christians
by Ferrell Foster on May 10, 2016 in education
Some things are simply wrong. They harm people; they dishonor God. And, it is wrong what we are doing to children in Texas. We are failing to educate many of them during a time in which education is essential to their future well-being.
As Christians, we care not only for our own children and the kids in our church; we have a deep concern for all children because they contain the very image of God. Just as our “pro-life” stance causes us to care for the lives of unborn children, we are called to care for them after their birth. ( /p>... [continue]
CLC offers National Day of Prayer Guide
by Kathryn Freeman on May 4, 2016 in ethical living blog
Today is the National Day of Prayer. As I sat down to compile the the CLC’s prayer guide, the song, “Build Your Kingdom Here,” by the Rend Collective started playing on my streaming service. In it, the band sings, “build Your kingdom here, let the darkness fear, show Your mighty hand, heal our streets and land, set your church on fire…change the atmosphere, build your kingdom here.” Talk about providence! I couldn’t have picked a more appropriate song as the soundtrack of this prayer guide.
The National Day of Prayer is a way for Christians/p>... [continue]
Plan ahead for important healthcare decisions
by Ferrell Foster on April 25, 2016 in life health dying
There are too many “special” days with which to keep up, so I missed one this month that I wish I hadn’t — National Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16. Missing the day, however, does not mean we have to miss the point.
The day “exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.”
The 50-state annual initiative/p>/p>/a>... [continue]
Good things happening in Marshall and at ETBU
by Ferrell Foster on April 14, 2016 in clc
Marshall anchors the eastern entrance to Texas near where Interstate 20 crosses from Louisiana. It is a smaller city that is home to East Texas Baptist University, which sits on a hill in the northwest portion of the city.
Once the fourth largest city in Texas (1860), Marshall has been an important community both for the state and its Baptists. Marshall has been a key transportation hub — first as a stagecoach route, then a railroad center and now with highways (I-20 and U.S. Hwy. 59). But it’s the school on the hill that has been the/a>/p>/a>... [continue]
Responding to Same-Sex Issues with Grace and Truth
by Steve Wells on March 15, 2016 in ethical living blog
(Steve Wells will lead a workshop titled “Responding to Same-Sex Issues with Grace & Truth” during the Micah 6:8 Conference March 31-April 1 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio.)
Grace and truth. Holding them together – that’s the difficult thing, isn’t it? Truth without grace is cold. Grace without truth can get very mushy. But grace and truth together – there’s power there – and in it, a real magnetism.
Grace and truth held together is especially needed when Christians listen and dialogue with our LGBT brothers and sisters, both/p>/p>/em>/a>/em>... [continue]
Promise & Peril: Preaching Micah 6:8 In 2016 America
by Les Hollon on March 10, 2016 in christian life commission
How clearly do you see the promise & peril of our country during the 2016 election? Are you able to see that there is an American Dream, and that you share in its promise? Can you see how God’s hope is calling us forward? Do you see your part to play in solving our perilous problems? Do you believe that our national motto, “In God we trust”, provides our pathway forward?The Peril
Our greatest challenge as Americans is to identify and claim that “common good” which holds us together. Without a common good we are fragmented by self/p>... [continue]
Texans spending billions for booze
by Ferrell Foster on February 25, 2016 in money and work
Texans are going to bars and drinking deep of alcoholic beverages, according to a story in the Austin American-Statesman.
Beer, wine, and mixed drink sales reached almost $6 billion in Texas last year, an increase of 6 percent over 2014.
This figure saddens me. Some of it accounts for just basic refreshment. Some people drink a beer in the same way I drink a Dr. Pepper. Some people drink a glass of wine for health benefits. Some people just like the taste. But, I suspect, most of the alcohol is consumed to alter one’s mood — to help unwind at the/p>/p>/em>... [continue]
Brokenness is close at hand, but we are together
by Katie Swafford on February 24, 2016 in clc
We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s a small world” and may have even said it ourselves at some point when we realized we knew someone or knew of someone through another person. In fact, for years the idea has been that there are six degrees of separation between people – so much so that years ago it was made into a game – the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. More recently, Facebook has said there are only 3.5 degrees of separation between users.
Let Justice Roll Down
by Michael A. Evans, Sr. on February 10, 2016 in race relations
(Dr. Michael A. Evans, Sr., will lead a workshop titled “Let Justice Roll Down — It’s a Big Deal in Scripture & Today” during the CLC’s Micah 6:8 Conference March 31-April 1 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio. He is pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield.)
One of the most prolific martyrs of the civil rights era, namely Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded readers in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” of the prophetic words of the Old Testament prophet, Amos.
King wrote these words in the midst of a civil rights movement that had come to a/p>/p>/em>/a>/em>... [continue]
The lives of immigrants can be seen in the migrants of Scripture
by Jesús Romero on February 3, 2016 in immigration and refugees
To help our culture and the body of Christ understand immigration, it is helpful to talk about it within the broader scope of migration in Scripture.
The Bible deals extensively with migration and tells stories about real people who went through painful movements from one country to another, facing issues that are still relevant today.
The story of our faith begins with the migrant Abraham, who is commanded by God to leave his homeland and become a blessing to the nations. His great-grandson, Joseph, becomes a victim of human/p>/p>/em>... [continue]
Bono rocked the world 10 years ago with words about poverty, justice
by Ferrell Foster on February 2, 2016 in ethical living blog
Ten years ago today, rock star Bono delivered an amazing address at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, with President George W. Bush sitting nearby.
Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, said an encounter with a wise man had changed his life “in countless way, big and small.” The singer said he was “always” asking God to bless his family, a tour, a song. “Could I have a blessing on it.”
And this wise man asked me to stop. He said, Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what/p>/p>/a>... [continue]
It is good to stand with God in valuing life
by Ferrell Foster on January 20, 2016 in life health dying
Walking into the airport. Approaching the first security checkpoint.
Officer: Final Destination. Me: Washington. Officer: Purpose of your trip. Me: Evangelicals for Life meeting. Officer: Keep up the good work. (fist bump)
All of us who care about the sacredness of life from conception to natural death need to keep up the good work. We have shown over the past 43 years that the Supreme Court does not determine right and wrong even though it may determine what is constitutional and unconstitutional.
Quite simply,/p>/p>/p>... [continue]
MLK: God and God’s people confront evil together
by Ferrell Foster on January 18, 2016 in ethical living blog
We Christians still have a problem faced by the first disciples of Christ. We have a hard time, a very hard time, casting out evil.
In the New Testament, this is recorded in Matthew 17:19-20. The disciples could not heal a boy, and they did not understand why.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it [an evil spirit] out?“He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of amustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,’ and it will/p>/p>... [continue]
Nonviolence became MLK’s defining method of seeking justice
by Ferrell Foster on January 14, 2016 in ethical living blog
Many people know of Martin Luther King, Jr., as a champion of nonviolence. This was not new to African American churches.
William D. Watley said King’s theological and ethical perspective, including the belief in nonviolence, “was founded on the bedrock of black religion and then shaped by his formal theological education.“
King’s first speech of the Montgomery bus boycott illustrates that the principle he espoused was not rooted in a secular or non-Christian philosophy. He did not use the word “nonviolence” in the speech, but he/p>/p>... [continue]
MLK saw community as essential
by Ferrell Foster on January 14, 2016 in ethical living blog
Love was critical in the thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr., and it relates directly to the importance of community.
In King’s treatment of love in Stride Toward Freedom, he connects love to community. He repeats “community” 13 times in one paragraph, thus pointing to the importance of community in his thinking. To cite most of the uses of the word and reveal how King viewed community, here is a portion of the paragraph:
Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community. It is insistence on community even when one seeks to break it. . . . Agape is a/i>/i>/p>/i>/i>/p>... [continue]
MLK offers insights that can still help Christians confront injustice
by Ferrell Foster on January 14, 2016 in ethical living blog
Every adult American can hear in their minds the voice, rhetorical skills, and moving words of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. He had the ability to move people with his spoken words in a manner possible of few people in history. He made the phrase, “I have a dream,” forever a part of the American experience.
Behind King’s powerful spoken words lay a theological and philosophical grounding that shaped him while growing up in the segregated South. The 1955-1956 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, pushed King into the/p>... [continue]
It’s January, but March 1 is coming
by Ferrell Foster on January 5, 2016 in church state
Things are about to get crazy in Texas – or crazier. It is less than two months before the Republican and Democratic primary elections here (March 1), and early voting begins Feb. 16.
No party speaks for God. There will be committed Christians, as well as others, running in both parties. Some of them will actually use language that connects deeply with those of us who seek to follow Christ.
Language is a powerful tool for good or evil, right or wrong. As a result, we Christians need to listen with all the intelligence and wisdom we can muster through the/p>/p>... [continue]
New CLC resources posted online — biblical perspectives
by Ferrell Foster on December 9, 2015 in human trafficking
The Christian Life Commission has produced five resources in its new Biblical Perspectives series. The first topics are civility in public discourse, human trafficking, immigration, justice, and pornography. These can be found on the CLC web site.
Religious liberty and openness at the core of U.S.
by Ferrell Foster on December 8, 2015 in church state
Presidential candidate Donald Trump said Monday we need a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.“
It is sad that a candidate for president would say something so contrary to the founding and sustaining principles of this great nation. Religious liberty stands at our nation’s core, and openness to immigrants has filled our population with a diverse people unparalleled anywhere on earth. America is at its best when it allows people to pursue their/p>... [continue]
Merry Christmas from Texas to Europe
by Ferrell Foster on December 2, 2015 in christian life commission
Serbian Baptists have risen up to meet the vast needs of Middle East refugees arriving in their country. Now, a Texas Baptist family is sending $15,000 to help meet the need.
The ongoing work and the new gift are, in a way, a Christmas gift of love to a mostly Muslim people in need. The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering has facilitated the connection between Texas and Europe.
I contacted the European Baptist Federation a few months ago as the migration became prominent news around the world. EBF personnel worked to clearly identify specific ways/p>/p>... [continue]
Hunger Offering needs are still great
by Ferrell Foster on November 17, 2015 in christian life commission
Hungry people in Texas and around the world need your help. Giving through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering has dropped greatly this year, but the need has not.
People in poverty need your support now. November has a fifth Sunday, which many churches use to collect Hunger Offering funds. Also direct individual gifts to the offering are being promoted through a Thanksgiving Share-a-Thon. Give by calling toll-free (800) 791-1544 (English or Spanish) or give online at either hungeroffering.org or the Spanish-language site, /p>/a>/a>/p>... [continue]
Christ’s light shines among refugees
by Ferrell Foster on November 4, 2015 in faith
An American Christian asked the gathered children if any had experienced difficulty in forgiving someone. One small boy raised his hand and said it was difficult forgiving the armed men who blew up a car, killing his uncle.
This very public and understandable confession occurred at a Baptist camp in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Texas Baptists are supporting ministries to Syrian refugees there through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering and through the refugee efforts in Lebanon.
Despite the boy’s struggle with forgiveness, he also spoke of “his trust in/p>/a>/p>... [continue]
We have a problem with authority
by Ferrell Foster on September 17, 2015 in culture
Two Texas high school football players gained infamy recently when they intentionally and brutally hit an official who had ejected two of their teammates. A week later, another Texas player shoved an official.
Let’s simplify this. Everyone comes to a football game to see two teams play; those teams have all of the attention. But the truth is that the officials are in charge. Officials represent the University Interscholastic League, which seeks to promote fair contests of skill and will.
These contests generate a volatile brew of passion, and that passion/p>/p>/a>/a>... [continue]
Two words can say much
by Ferrell Foster on September 10, 2015 in culture
Driving to work in the darkness of the early morning hours, two words captured my attention – “You OK?“
A business owner spoke to National Public Radio about his family-owned business declaring bankruptcy in 2012. The Charlotte Observer published a short story online, and Rodney Player’s phone started ringing.
Player’s son, who was away at college, saw the news. “He knew things were difficult for us,” Player said, and then his sentence kind of fell apart. He seemed to be saying the news surprised his son. Then, “I think the actual filing hit the public airwaves/p>/em>/em>/a>/p>... [continue]
Hurting for Law Enforcement
by Ferrell Foster on September 3, 2015 in culture
The lead headline in Wednesday’s USA Today may elicit sadness, anger, concern, or any number of reactions — “Chilling: 4th Cop Slain in 9 Days.“
Gliniewicz, Goforth, Nelson, and Vincent are the names of the four slain officers. We grieve with their families.
The cop world is dangerous. Cops have guns, and it seems everyone else has guns. And guns are good at killing people when in the wrong hands.
I hope we find this situation unacceptable — that we not just shrug and say that’s the way it is, that’s the way it has always been, and that’s the way it always/p>/p>/p>/em>... [continue]
Football season is here
by Ferrell Foster on September 3, 2015 in culture
It must be football season because I dreamed about Bob Stoops last night. For those who don’t know, Stoops is coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.
I hate the Oklahoma Sooners. They’re like the evil Pied Pipers of Texas, luring our high school football players across the Red River, and who knows what happens north of the border.
The bad thing about my dream was that Stoops was a nice guy. He, one of my sons, and I were actually planning an IT startup together. It was all cutting edge; we were building a new thing called a personal television that was big and boxy. OK,/p>/p>... [continue]
Putting the wiggle back in life
by Ferrell Foster on August 27, 2015 in culture
Chubby Checker came to mind as I sat at my home office desk the other day. Checker made “The Twist” a dancing sensation in the 1960s. He came to mind because a pre-teen girl rode by our house wiggling back and forth on what is basically a two-piece skateboard.
I did a Google search for “wiggling skateboard” and learned about the Ripstik. YouTube has various videos on how to ride a Ripstik, and virtually all of them are produced by and starred in by pre-teen kids.
When I first saw the girl ride by my window I thought, That looks like a lot of work for a/p>/p>... [continue]
Lessons from a life lived well
by Ferrell Foster on August 25, 2015 in faith
A beautiful blonde woman is pictured looking upward beyond the eye of the camera that is photographing her. Her mouth forms a slight, very sweet smile.
It is a picture that should not be in a newspaper, at least not on the page where it is printed. It’s on the page titled “Funerals and Memorials.“
Twenty-six-year-old Natalie Dailey died Aug. 16 in downtown Austin when an SUV struck the motorcycle on which she rode. “Police said the car failed to yield,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.
I did not know Natalie, but she attended one of our Texas Baptist/p>/em>/p>/p>... [continue]
Video helps us hear a heart
by Ferrell Foster on August 20, 2015 in culture
Our eyes can deceive us. We look at someone and think we know what we see. But there is more to knowing that seeing.
A video that has gone viral shows a homeless man with beard and long, scraggly hair and hunger-thin arms. But there is more to the man than his homelessness. Donald “Boone” Gould plays piano beautifully, as captured in the video shot at an outdoor piano in Sarasota, Fla.
Now, we can know a bit more about the man in this video. WWSB, the ABC affiliate in Sarasota interviewed Gould.
The 51-year-old started with a clarinet as a kid, eventually/p>/a>/p>/a>/p>... [continue]
Religious Liberty in Nepal
by Ferrell Foster on August 14, 2015 in church state
People of Nepal have been dealing for months with the aftermath of an earthquake disaster. Now, the Asian nation faces a possible religious liberty disaster that could impact people’s lives for years.
The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission is part of an international Baptist effort to encourage the Nepal government to not include restrictions on religious liberty in its new constitution, as currently proposed.
Working with the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, the CLC staff is encouraging religious leaders to sign a letter to the Nepal government. This/p>/p>... [continue]
It’s Time to Learn About West Papua
by Ferrell Foster on July 30, 2015 in christian life commission
I hugged three men today. Each was physically smaller than me, but they seemed larger than life. None looked me in the eye before we hugged, but each returned the embrace.
The men did not say anything. All I could say was something like, “God bless you. We will not forget you.” It seemed so weak and inadequate, but I didn’t know what else to say.
These men live in West Papua, a part of Indonesia. Life is not good in West Papua.
At the Baptist World Alliance Congress in Durban, South Africa, Socratez Yoman presented videos, photos, and information/p>/p>/p>... [continue]
Truth – Take Two, No Three
by Ferrell Foster on June 18, 2015 in culture
Last week, I wrote about plagiarism. Now, another truth story is big news – Rachel Dolezal portrays herself as a black woman although she is actually white.
Dolezal says she “identifies as black,” borrowing the language of the sexual identity movement. Identifying as African American was not her problem; she went afoul of good judgment by lying and misrepresenting herself.
In other words, it would have been fine for her to say something like, “I’m a white woman, but I identify deeply with the experience of African Americans.” But that’s not what she did. The /p>/p>/a>... [continue]
The world according to Benny
by Ferrell Foster on June 11, 2015 in culture
Plagiarize. Multiple times. Get fired. Get a better job. In what world does that progression of events make sense? Ours.
The story of Internet phenom Benny Johnson exemplifies today’s web-based culture. Ben Terris captures the essence of Buzzfeed Benny well in a Washington Post article.
Benny climbed atop the “listicle” web world with some 500 posts in about a year and a half. Listicles are enticing. They offer the possibility of quick and quirky info that might make interesting conversation fodder at a party or online. Terris cites several of Benny’s/p>/a>/em>/p>... [continue]
The Bible and family
by Ferrell Foster on June 4, 2015 in culture
Family stands at the core of our social existence. In an ideal world, a family includes a man, a woman, and children. The ideal is lifted up even though we face the reality that some families break apart or never exist as a committed whole.
The Bible talks about some very dysfunctional families. Cain killed his brother, Abel. Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife. Jacob and his mother connived to cheat Esau out of his inheritance. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. David committed adultery and ordered the murder of the offended husband./p>... [continue]
Cultural implications of Bruce becoming Caitlyn
by Ferrell Foster on June 4, 2015 in culture
The picture of a new person, Caitlyn Jenner, has intruded itself into our world. Bruce Jenner, the amazing male athlete of a few decades ago, has changed his gender, and the results are supposedly revealed in a Vanity Fair cover story.
Some people are talking about the courage it took for Bruce to become Caitlyn. Courage did not come to my mind when I saw the picture and story. Sadness came. I hurt for this person.
Bruce/Caitlyn has become the great exemplar of a movement to push transgender into the mainstream of society./p>/p>/em>... [continue]
A primer on biblical marriage
by Ferrell Foster on May 28, 2015 in family
A pastor friend told me recently something like this: “Ferrell, in my ministry I deal with a whole lot more heterosexual sin than homosexual sin.“
The truth can hurt. Sexual sin is widespread. In confronting sexual sin, it is important to consider marriage. Here’s a little primer on biblical marriage.
What we call marriage today began as an act of creation. The Bible tells of God creating male and female persons. But God did not simply create them and put them in the garden; God told them to do something.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful/p>/p>/p>... [continue]
Stephen Curry lights up basketball world
by Ferrell Foster on May 28, 2015 in culture
Curry Fever overtook me quietly as I sat watching my first game of Golden State Warriors playoff basketball. Before the game ended I had experienced a flashback to my days in Illinois and the Michael Jordan hysteria that gripped so many of us in the 1990s. Stephen Curry is an amazing basketball player.
I’m not a big NBA fan; it’s casual fandom for me. After Jordan, the game bored me. Then the Dallas Mavericks captured some magic, if less beautiful and exciting, but then their franchise let the guys who won them a championship go. My interest/p>/a>... [continue]
Between a rock and a hard place
by Ferrell Foster on May 21, 2015 in christian living
A friend shared with me a few days ago of feeling “between a rock and hard place.” That’s how it can feel when one seeks to stand for Christ in the midst of a wide array of competing interests in the broader public square, including the Christian portion of that square.
Trying to stand for Christ and the things Christ valued is not easy, even among Christians, because good people have come to different conclusions regarding what is right or best in dealing with the details of day-to-day living and societal interaction.
Take politics for instance. If you/p>/p>... [continue]
by Ferrell Foster on May 21, 2015 in culture
Pop singer Taylor Swift is famous for putting her hurts and pain into song. She’s done it again. The word on the street (the web) is that another pop icon, Katy Perry, is the newest object of her ire. That really doesn’t matter; the words matter.
Now we’ve got problemsAnd I don’t think we can solve 'emYou made a really deep cutAnd baby, now we’ve got bad blood, hey!
Many of us can identify with those words. People hurt us; they figuratively cut us. Our hurt and pain causes our blood to rise, as the saying goes. We get angry.
Did you have to do this?I was thinking that you could/p>/p>/p>... [continue]
Help for dealing with a changing culture
by Ferrell Foster on May 13, 2015 in culture
The American culture seems to be getting away from us; that, at least, is how many Christians with more traditional values feel.
One of the most seriously threatened values is the sacredness of marriage between one man and one woman for life. First, we saw the “for life” part mostly fall away as divorce grew more common, and now the “one man and one woman” portion hangs in the balance.
Most states already have redefined marriage as including same-sex relationships, and now many experts think the U.S. Supreme Court is about to make that redefinition/p>/p>... [continue]
Daniel had a better way
by Ferrell Foster on May 7, 2015 in culture
Three members of my family just completed an altered version of the Daniel Fast. It’s a 21-day “partial fast” based on the experience of the prophet Daniel. I learned some things.
First, I’m no Daniel. My version was substantially less strenuous than recommended.
Second, my version was a challenge. I consumed no fried food, soft drinks, beef, pork, eggs, snack food, leavened bread or regular milk. I tried to avoid cheese, but that stuff is on virtually everything. I had only two cups of coffee.
Third, I realized I was addicted to caffeine and sugar. I/p>/p>/p>... [continue]
Time to fall out of love
by Ferrell Foster on April 30, 2015 in culture
“Love” is an extremely important word because it speaks of a very powerful reality. Our culture today, however, generally speaks of love in a manner very different from the biblical agape love.
Take Nate Ruess for example. He’s the lead singer for the band, Fun, and now has a solo single, “Nothing Without Love.” This is a great song about the power of romance.
Three years at sea after the storm And this sinking ship of love you put me on God, I wish a gust of wind would come And carry me home … She made me feel hope, you know I am, I’m nothing/em>/em>/em>/em>/em>/p>/p>/em>... [continue]
'A.D.’ shows resurrection was not the end of the story
by Ferrell Foster on April 9, 2015 in culture
Easter ended this year with a very human tale on television. NBC aired the first episode of “A.D.: The Bible Continues,” which started with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and will, in coming episodes, tell what happened afterward.
Unlike the recent movie, “Noah,” that had little resemblance to the biblical story, “A.D.” remained true to the Bible. As a result, it felt more real.
“For us (the producers), it’s just about telling these stories in a very human way,” said co-producer Roma Downey in The Hollywood Reporter. “These/em>/p>/p>... [continue]
States need RFRA matching federal model, like Texas
by Gus Reyes, Kathryn Freeman and Ferrell Foster on April 2, 2015 in clc
The Christian Life Commission staff believes it is wise for each state to pass RFRA laws or constitutional amendments that mirror the federal RFRA language. The Texas RFRA mirrors the federal RFRA, both passed with bipartisan support and reflecting an appropriate balance between religious freedom and government interests.
The CLC is proud to have worked on passage of the Texas RFRA 16 years ago. We believe respect for religious freedom is an important part of our democracy, and separation of church and state is a foundational/p>... [continue]
'Uptown Funk’ has taken us by storm
by Ferrell Foster on April 2, 2015 in culture
Millions upon millions of Americans know the music and lyrics of the mega hit, “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars). Billboard says “Uptown Funk” is still the No. 1 song. It is the quintessential pop song – a beat you can dance to, repetitive lyrics that get stuck in your head, and themes that connect with the young and young-at-heart. Listen to “Uptown Funk” here…
“Uptown Funk,” however, is not just your ordinary pop song; it has expanded its reach. It is becoming iconic. Two Texas schoolteachers are part of the craze.
by Ferrell Foster on March 26, 2015 in culture
A violent man is coming to Dallas. He didn’t simply pick North Texas as a good place to live; a wealthy family in the city offered him $11 million to come to town.
Greg Hardy is indeed coming to Big D. Hardy will be the newest pass rushing “savior” of the highest profile American football team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Hardy; however, has a past. Last year, a judge found him guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill his girlfriend. Hardy then requested a jury trial, which never happened because the girlfriend would not cooperate with the prosecution. She, instead,/p>/p>... [continue]
Spring break with the geese
by Ferrell Foster on March 19, 2015 in faith
My daughter, Tabitha, and I sat on the bank of the San Gabriel River the other day to watch the geese. From the start, it was an odd day. Normally, the geese rush visitors in hopes of bread crumbs or other food. No rush on this day.
There actually were pieces of bread scattered on the ground near us that the water fowl were ignoring. They ignored us, as well. They were, rather, enamored with each other.
We gradually realized that “enamored” was indeed the correct word. Spring had come to the river, and the geese couldn’t care less about food. They had their/p>/p>... [continue]
Living as a black man in Ferguson
by Ferrell Foster on March 18, 2015 in race relations
In the summer of 2012, a 32-year-old African American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a public park. A law enforcement officer pulled up behind the man’s car, blocking him in, and demanded the man’s Social Security number and identification.
That’s how the story begins. It’s part of the U.S. Justice Department’s report on racial discrimination in Ferguson, Mo. If those of us who are Anglo Americans do not understand why many African Americans distrust law enforcement, this story offers an example of why.
Without any cause, the/p>/p>... [continue]
Trying to get this church-state thing right
by Ferrell Foster on March 5, 2015 in culture
Some Bible verses are so clear and direct they are like taking a finger in the eye; you can’t ignore them. Paul seemed to specialize in the finger-in-the-eye genre, while generally, Jesus was more subtle, as if whispering a word one had to take some time to think about.
In one of Paul’s finger-in-the-eye passages, he told the Christians in Rome the following:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore/p>/p>... [continue]
Of skinny jeans and cool socks
by Ferrell Foster on February 26, 2015 in culture
A few years ago, a TV beer commercial introduced me to skinny jeans. I thought skinny jeans had to be the most stupid jeans idea yet, at least for guys. But, no, they are proliferating.
And just the other day, a skinny-jean-wearing friend told me about the newest trend: the slim, shortened legging, which enabled people to see his socks. Why on earth would anyone want to see my socks? He showed me his socks, and they were kind of cool and colorful. I realized then that no one would want to see my socks because they are not interesting; they are always one/p>... [continue]
Grieving with the family of the cross
by Ferrell Foster on February 18, 2015 in culture
They have names – Milad Makeen Zaky, Abanub Ayad Atiya, Maged Solaiman Shehata, and on and on – 21 of them. Their names seem odd to most of us in America, but they are our brothers. Our human brothers. Our Christian brothers.
The Islamic State beheaded these Coptic Christians in Libya. There is no way to ignore the religious nature of this massacre. Muslim extremists killed Christians because of their faith.
The video of the killings is titled “A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross.” Of course, we are no nation; we are a/p>/p>... [continue]
Beyond Fifty Shades of Grey
by Ferrell Foster on February 12, 2015 in culture
The National Football League is getting serious about the scourge of violence against women. The Grammy Awards show featured the importance of battling domestic violence. But the violence-ridden book, Fifty Shades of Grey, has been extremely popular among adult women, and it now has become a movie.
Here is Time magazine’s description of Fifty Shades:
“Nobody gets raped … and all the physical acts are consensual, but a romance about the possession of a virginal college student by a more powerful, older guy that involves her having to bend to his/p>/em>/em>/p>/em>... [continue]
New opportunities in a new year
by Kathryn Freeman on January 8, 2015 in christian life commission
In Isaiah, the Lord tells the Israelites that His servants will faithfully bring forth justice to the nations and describes them as a light to the nations capable of opening blind eyes, breaking the chains of the oppressed, and setting captives free (Isaiah 42:1-9, Isaiah 58). As the 84th Legislative Session is set to begin next Tuesday, we have a new opportunity to engage in this kingdom work at the Capitol. Here are just a few of the policy priorities the Christian Life Commission will be focused on in the upcoming session:
- Ending the financial
Political leaders still need to address immigration issues
by Gus Reyes on December 11, 2014 in christian life commission
Recently, President Obama announced steps he is taking to help undocumented immigrants living in our country. The executive action increases border security in addition to providing temporary relief for some families and individuals.
Despite the President’s actions, the immigration system remains broken and in need of significant attention. We still need a permanent, holistic immigration bill that secures the borders, affirms families, treats people with dignity, and gives clarity with regards to status in this country.
My hope/p>/p>... [continue]
'The Blind Side’ couple to end BGCT Annual Meeting
by Ferrell Foster on November 5, 2014 in christian life commission
The BGCT Annual Meeting this year will end with a special event on the Baylor University campus. Baylor President Ken Starr will host a “conversation” with Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy, the couple featured in the book and movie, “The Blind Side.“
It is part of the university’s “On Topic” series of events at Waco Hall. Tickets are required but are free and will be available Sunday and Monday, Nov. 16-17, at Waco Convention Center during the BGCT Annual Meeting. Tickets also will be available Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Waco Hall before the event.
Houston subpoenas raise religious liberty concerns
by Kathryn Freeman on October 23, 2014 in christian life commission
The City of Houston gained national attention last week as a result of subpoenas sent to five local pastors seeking “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by or approved by you or in your possession.“
CLC Director Gus Reyes spoke out against these subpoenas because they appeared to be designed to intimidate pastors and make them think twice about speaking on this critical social issue. Texas Baptists President Jeff/a>/p>... [continue]
Texas Baptist Hunger Offering needs end-of-year boost
by Ferrell Foster on October 9, 2014 in christian life commission
Texas Baptists are generous, but our giving to fight hunger and poverty has lagged this year. Through August, Texas Baptists gave $548,395 through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. That’s a lot of money, but it is significantly less than we gave last year — $727,877 or 75.3 percent.
As we give millions of dollars to support church programs, it is important to remember that Jesus said care for the poor is a key indicator that a person is seeking to follow Him. When we seek to follow Christ we will have a Spirit-inspired burden to/p>/a>... [continue]
Following Christ involves welcoming children
by Ferrell Foster on July 30, 2014 in immigration and refugees
Parents will do just about anything to help their children. In Central America, parents are trying to help their children in ways that may seem odd and downright unwise to those of us in the United States, but their circumstances are very different. Their children’s lives are at stake.
Drugs, violence, and lawlessness threaten to engulf their children, so they do what must be heartbreakingly difficult — they send them away on a long, perilous journey to a place that seems to offer hope for their children. Many of those children make it, and/p>... [continue]
Union Association fighting human trafficking
by Ferrell Foster on June 10, 2014 in human trafficking
Union Baptist Association, our state’s largest regional body, is taking a leadership role in the fight against human trafficking in Texas. The association’s UBA E-Notes this week highlights two human trafficking items.
The second item gives information on a Sept. 20 event at South Main Baptist Church in Houston. It will feature presentations by experts, a tour of high-risk local areas, and times of/a>/p>/a>/a>/p>/a>... [continue]
Spiritual living connects to ethical living
by Ferrell Foster on June 9, 2014 in christian living
Ethical living and spiritual living are linked; they both connect the believer to the world beyond himself or herself. The spiritual connects one to God, and the ethical deals with how one lives with others.
Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray continually. Structured prayer is difficult for many of us, but we can still cultivate a spirit of continual prayer — simply praying as we go about our daily activities.
When a person “practices the presence of God,” to quote Brother Lawrence, it is as if God becomes a friend, a companion who goes with you to/p>/p>... [continue]
'Kumbaya’ should be no joke
by Ferrell Foster on April 9, 2014 in ethical living blog
In 2010, a story in The New York Times noted that the song, “Kumbaya,” had lately been “transformed into snarky shorthand for ridiculing a certain kind of idealism, a quest for common ground.“
I remember singing the song in the 1960s, and we loved it. It was no joke; it called us toward something better than what we knew. I did not initially know that “kumbaya” meant “come by here” and was meant as a prayer to God.
“Come By Here” is a song “deeply rooted in black Christianity’s vision of a God who intercedes to deliver both solace and justice,” The NY Times piece said.
Muehlhoff speaks on civil communication in CT
by Ferrell Foster on April 7, 2014 in ethical living blog
Christian author Tim Muehlhoff says believers need to “yield to God’s power from outside” themselves in order to communicate in a civil, Christlike manner.
Christianity Today has published a Q&A with Muehlhoff regarding his book, I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Truth and Love (InterVarsity Press, 2014).
Muehlhoff says that “in the heat of the moment” of a conversation a Christian should remember the advice of A.W. Tozer. “You shall receive power, a potent force from another world invading your life by your consent, getting/p>/a>/em>/a>/p>/p>... [continue]
Trafficking — the difference between victims and criminals
by Ferrell Foster on March 13, 2014 in human trafficking
The Dallas Morning News carried an excellent opinion piece in its Feb. 23 edition about children and prostitution. The article, by Malika Saada Saar, expresses a broad national perspective. In Texas, we are actually doing better than reflected in Saar’s article, but we still have lots of work to do.
Saar points out that about 293,000 U.S. children are “at risk of being exploited and trafficked for sex, according to a 2011 FBI report on trafficking. Most are girls ages 12 to 14. They often are abducted or lured by pimps and traffickers, beaten into/p>/a>/em>/p>... [continue]
Connecting religious liberty and evangelism
by Ferrell Foster on March 12, 2014 in church state
Evangelism and missions can be conducted openly and forthrightly only in an environment that fosters and protects religious liberty. The United States, with its constitutional protections, is a shining example of this reality, while nations with limits on religious expression are examples of the opposite.
Brent Walker, in the January Report from the Capital, develops the link between religious liberty and evangelism. Americans are “able to practice our religion as we see fit and free to go tell others about it,” said Walker, executive director of/a>/em>/p>/p>... [continue]
Write your senator and representative
by Ferrell Foster on February 25, 2014 in ethical living blog
Bread for the World has announced its 2014 Offering of Letters to United States senators and representatives. Bread does not send these letters; Bread encourages and empowers individual Christians to conduct this annual letter-writing campaign, and this often occurs through churches.
This year’s effort asks lawmakers to reform United States food aid in times of crisis and to foster long-term solutions to hunger. Specifically, it asks for legislation to pursue three goals:
1) Improve efficiency in international crisis aid by allowing more food to be bought in/p>/p>/a>/p>... [continue]
War through the eyes of faith
by Ferrell Foster on November 14, 2013 in war and peace
War powerfully shapes a person’s understanding of the world, including one’s faith. World War II created in many people a veneration of the United States that caused love of country to sometimes override love of God or to conflate the two into one love. The Vietnam War then brought about a mindset of distrust, and since love of God and country had often been melded the two could be dismissed together by some.
It is not surprising that war shapes understandings of faith, but it is surprising that faith does not more often shape understandings of war.
The other/p>/p>/p>... [continue]
Opposing abortion in a world of vulnerable people
by Ferrell Foster on July 9, 2013 in faith
The Christian Life Commission has received a couple of questions about why it honored Texas Sen. Wendy Davis with its Horizon Award in 2012. As virtually everyone knows, Davis was thrust into the national political spotlight in June with her filibuster in opposition to a bill supported by many Texas Baptists, including me.
The CLC honored Sen. Davis last year for her support of various issues that are important to Texas Baptists, including opposition to predatory lending practices. The senator from Fort Worth has been vital to the/p>/p>... [continue]