January 2015


Advocacy: Why Should Texas Baptists Care?


More Texans and more Christians should be engaged in our government, this is especially true of Christians. Only 9 percent of Texans have contacted their elected officials, according to the Annette Strauss Institute Texas Civic Health Index. Given the small number of Texans contacting their elected officials imagine the outsized influence this 9 percent has on the actions or votes of their government representatives?

The CLC has two opportunities for Texas Baptists to come to the Capitol in the next two months to learn more about Christian advocacy... [continue]

Abide in Him


Over the last five years, one of my favorite BSM events has become our statewide winter prayer retreat, Abide. The retreat occurs toward the end of January, just a week or two after classes have begun for the Spring semester, and provides BSM students and staff from across the state the chance to gather together outside of Austin for two days with the sole intention of seeking after God in prayer.

Students from BSMs all over the state gathered a few weeks ago in Waco to form this year's State Lead Team and plan out this January's Abide encounters. These encounters are... [continue]

The story of Yana: Abandoned, rescued, and now victorious


When Leroy and Willie Gendke signed up to deliver containers of humanitarian aid to Ukraine with Texas Baptist Men, they did not realize God would have a child with a cleft palate waiting for them. Willie shares the remarkable journey that has taken place over the last 18 years as she has learned to care for her daughter, Yana, and watched her defy odds and become a victor at the 2014 National Speakers' Tournament.

Yana was born in Latugeno, Ukraine and abandoned in the hospital. She had a severe cleft palate and lip. When I... [continue]

Endowment


Now that is a big word for some of us. When you and I think of the word endowment we think of people who are long gone, who left at least a million dollars and now that money is being used and is growing. But you think there would be absolutely no way you or I could do something like that.

But, think again….

You have the ability to start an endowment with virtually any amount. Let's take an amount you and I might imagine we would have some day to give away. While $10,000 sounds like a lot, with the right savings plan all of us could save this much. What can... [continue]

No room to boast


It was a Thursday night. I had already cleaned the floors and the bathrooms, set up the chairs for the night, and pulled together a slideshow with all the lyrics for the night on it. It was our first Worship service of the semester.

The stressful part of the day was over and I was ready to just sit back and sing praises to Him like every Thursday before. However, God had a different plan. He had a night planned that was nothing like, yet far better, than any service we had had before.

That night, God worked on me. In fact, I spent most of those two hours in tears. God... [continue]

From the frontlines: Syrian refugees, harsh Lebanon winters and sharing the Gospel


Jihad Haddad is pastor of True Vine Baptist Church in Zahle, Lebanon, where winterization materials and the Gospel are being delivered to Syrian refugees who fled from the Syrian conflict that began in 2011. Haddad answered the following questions about how True Vine is ministering to the refugees.

How is True Vine Baptist Church helping refugees?

True Vine Church in Zahle provides the Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa Valley with mattresses, blankets, stoves and fuel. The refugees are living in tents,... [continue]

Pro Sports


I'm done with mainstream professional sports.

It's a process that started when I was in high school when I turned my back on the NBA. Since then I haven't accumulated more than 30 minutes of NBA action. Yes, as you can tell, my absence has really hurt the organization and the players.

Following dropping the NBA came dropping the NFL. That really happened in college and I'm not exactly sure why. I kind of picked up NFL again with the launch of the Tennessee Titans (I grew up in the Nashville area) but my interest waned and recently I hardly watch it. Now, I'm done... [continue]

High-speed hand dryers


I found another thing that makes me feel older.

When drying my hands in one of those high-velocity air dryers, I watch my hands. Well, more specifically, I watch the skin on my hands.

It flaps.

It flaps in the breeze. I'm quite certain my younger hands didn't experience this phenomenon. I can only imagine what my face would look like in that wind. Well, I guess I could experiment with that but it'd be hard to view and bad to see.

To me, this is also proof that our environment impacts us. Make sure you are in a healthy environment.

Pedal harder, Rand

Apps we can't live without


Have you visited the App Store or the Play Store recently? There's such an overwhelming amount of apps for our devices, how would you begin to choose which ones to download and use? I asked our Communications team to share some of the apps they can't live without, so get your phones, iPads and computers ready to do some downloading.

Joshua Minatrea, Associate Director of Communications

iheartradio:Though I'm technically a millennial, I also happen to be an old-school AM/FM radio listener. When I started working in downtown Dallas, I had a hard time
... [continue]

Teaching men to fish


The adage is well-known: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Texas Baptists are both "giving fish" and "teaching to fish" — physically and spiritually — by providing $103,000 to equip IMB missionaries to teach people how to sustain a fish farm in South America and meet other needs around the globe.

When Gus Reyes, director of Baptist General Convention of Texas' Christian Life Commission, was seeking help to allocate funds from The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, he reached out through the... [continue]

CLC Advocacy Day


CLC Advocacy Day will be held Thursday, March 5, at First United Methodist Church, Family Life Center, 302 W. 13th St., Austin, TX 78701.

The CLC Advocacy Day is an opportunity for you to participate in the work of the CLC. Your voice is vital to our success so please join Kathryn Freeman and Dr. Gus Reyes for their first CLC Advocacy Day in Austin!

Schedule for the Day

  • 9:30-11 a.m. Legislative Briefing The Legislative briefing is an opportunity to hear from experts on some of the top legislative issues facing our state including predatory lending,
... [continue]

CERI aids families affected by flooding in Sri Lanka


BATTICALOA , SRI LANKA — On December 23, 2014, nearing the tenth anniversary of the devastating 2004 tsunami that claimed more than 226,000 souls and left Indonesia's island nations and the lives of their people utterly destroyed, BCFS' overseas division Children's Emergency Relief International (CERI) received notification of torrential rainfall in Sri Lanka. In only a few days, the rains sparked massive flooding and mudslides across the region, driving thousands out of their homes — and CERI into action.

Since responding to... [continue]

Texas Baptists sign lease for new Dallas office space


Texas Baptists executives signed a lease agreement on December 29, 2014, for new office space in Dallas approximately eight miles north of its current building location.

More than two years ago, Baylor University approached Texas Baptists executives in regards to purchasing the Baptist Building on 333 N. Washington Ave. in Dallas for its Louise Herrington School of Nursing.

On May 20, 2014, executives approved the sale of the building and on January 22, 2015, the sale was finalized. Baylor University is paying $8 million in cash and... [continue]

A new wrinkle in the same old purpose


It's nothing new to say that the way we communicate is changing. Just observe a young person for five minutes and you'll see it for yourself. "Text neck" is now an actual medical condition. Really.

Nor is it new to say that Texas Baptists exists to help affiliated churches. We've been on mission since 1884, and we show no signs of slowing.

What is new is the combination of these two concepts: a desire to help churches as they navigate the new communications landscape.

From the top down the Convention is rethinking what it means to help the church of... [continue]

Questions and faith


Do you have questions and anxiety rise up when you think about sharing the Gospel? Will I know all the answers to their questions? What if they ask me something I can't explain? What if I stumble upon my words?

Think about it from an unbeliever's perspective. What questions might stand in the way from receiving the Gospel? Can you show positive proof Jesus was who he said he was? How do you know who really wrote the Bible? How do you know everything in the Bible is true? Do heaven and hell really exist?

There are many questions building obstacles between... [continue]

Freebie Wednesday


"We started on a shoestring and look how God has grown it. We are investing in our kids because they are the future… And a lot of these kids won't have a homemade meal like this until next Wednesday." Virginia Cloud, volunteer

Almost every Wednesday during the school year, a group of volunteers gather in the Fellowship Hall of First Baptist Church, Killeen, in a circle, hold hands and pray: "Watch over the teens that are coming to us today. Begin to open hearts and minds to you God for those who don't know you. For those who this is their first experience... [continue]

Urban BOUNCE


"We must learn to not regard people in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer."- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

His name was Richard. Just being released from the hospital, he retreated home – a familiar place of peace and solitude, but that night he woke to his house under water. Richard, a victim of the October 31, 2013, Austin floods continued to live in his home sans electricity and water with a growing pain and wound to his psyche. That is until one of the first BOUNCE: Student Disaster Recovery teams came to help rebuild his home... [continue]

Texas Baptists celebrate MLK Day by packing 23,000 meals


DALLAS—The phrases, "Vitamins!" "Protein! and "Vegetables!" echoed across the concrete walls of Texas Baptist Men's Dixon Mission Equipping Center as 175 Texas Baptist volunteers packed 23,000 meals on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to send to Liberia.

The event served as part of a Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR) initiative to send food packets to Ebola-stricken nations in West Africa where starvation has become a crisis.

Volunteers came from all part of Texas, including Shertz, Lawn and Huntsville to pack boxes of... [continue]

Connections


Department: Connections Team

Explain your ministry:

The Connections Team builds relationships with pastors and church leaders, connecting them to the resources, programs and ministries available through the Texas Baptists.

What are the different aspects of Connections?

Pastor/Church Connection, directed by Joe Loughlin

    1. Building relationships with pastors in order to connect them with the resources, programs and ministries available to help them do their job.
    2. Facilitating connections between Pastor Search Committees and potential ministry candidates who
... [continue]

Angie Carter


It all starts with a relationship. Most people won't respond to something that doesn't feel genuine – be real, vulnerable, and honest, and God will do the rest

Name: Angie Carter

Spouse: Nathan

Children: None, just a cat

Ministry: Hispanic Evangelism

Position: Events Coordinator

Number of years: 10.5, will be 11 in the summer

Where did you grow up?

Elsa, TX in the Rio Grande Valley

How old were you when you became a Christian and what is the strongest memory about that time?

I was in the 4th grade and I remember it was at a revival at... [continue]

What will people say about you?


A mother stood in the front of the church between two caskets. On her right side lay her 49-year-old husband. On her left side lay her 18-year-old-daughter.

Friends and family embraced the widow one-by-one with hugs and whispers in her ear, expressing condolences and sharing memories. The line backed far outside the sanctuary doors for over three hours as loved ones fought back tears and tried to come up with the "right" words to say to the mother and her three remaining children.

The daughter, Ari, was a freshman college student, passionate about... [continue]

Texas Baptists loving neighbors through Hunger Offering


This month, the Christian Life Commission is set to distribute funds to 117 ministries throughout the state of Texas and more than 67 international ones through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. That is a reflection of the generosity of Texas Baptists, an indication about the contents of their hearts.

Feeding people who don't have enough to eat and helping others to climb out of poverty is part of our obedience to Jesus' command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Doing so in a way that maximizes the support we can offer to... [continue]

Dress up your pet day


National Dress Up Your Pet Day is today. Perhaps you didn't know that. I didn't until this morning's commute and enlightening qualities of drive-time radio. That reminded me of a scenario involving my wife and me about 10 years ago.

At the onset of our marriage, we would grocery shop together (a joint task long ago abandoned for the individual shopping method). One of the things I used to do is sneak random items into the grocery cart while she wasn't looking. They ranged from a type of cereal we don't eat to depend under garments and other "unmentionables." I... [continue]

​Depression Ripples


Depression is something we are becoming more aware of and less fearful of in our Christian circles. I'm thankful the information is available and glad we are becoming more comfortable with these discussions. But I think there is a piece that we sometimes miss. Depression has many ripple effects and spouses or loved ones are often struggling in the wake.

So here are some thoughts to consider if you find yourself bobbing like a buoy in the wake of a loved one's struggle with depression. These aren't how-to fixers, but might be lifesavers to help you in weathering... [continue]

Non-words


"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means." –Inigo Montoya

One of my pet peeves (I have a few) is incorrect usage of words or the flat out use of non-words. Regardless if people are trying to add syllables to sound smarter or if they just don't know, it annoys me. Please see below and make the world a little less annoying for everyone – or just me.

So, here's a list to help my fellow Texans (and whomever may be unlucky enough to stumble across this post) speak more intelligently.

  • Irregardless is not a word. Regardless means without
... [continue]

Ebola and starvation in West Africa: Nearly 998,000 meals arrive with more on the way


It was a joyful holiday season for many Liberians and Sierra Leoneans as they received 997,920 pre-packaged rice and high-nutrition meals sent by Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR) in partnership with multiple ministries.

The first container of 142,560 meals, trucked in from South Africa in partnership with Virginia Baptists, came just in time for Christmas and New Year's. Photos bear witness to grateful Liberian children and families holding the food packets at Zion Praise Baptist Church near... [continue]

New opportunities in a new year


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
... [continue]

Church and military meet surprising need in San Antonio community


SAN ANTONIO—As members of Christian Family Baptist Church in San Antonio began praying for ways to connect to the surrounding middle-to-upper class community, they discovered a need for food, which caught many by surprise.

"In an area like ours (the need for food) is not apparent. It does not stick out like a sore thumb," said Rob Johnson, pastor of CFBC. "But the economy has forced people to move in with their parents. Some are students with degrees and are just between jobs. They just have this temporary need for... [continue]

The Long Haul


I want to tell you a story about my friend Larry Venable. Larry has been pastor of Freeman Heights Baptist Church for 31 years. 31 years in the same church, coming to same office, ministering in the same community. This community, Central and West Garland has changed significantly through the years; it has become much more ethnically and socially diverse.

In fact, when Larry first arrived in 1983 this was already beginning to happen. Most guys in situations like his might just bide their time until they are able to find a new place of ministry – an easier spot to do the... [continue]

You are not alone


Last Sunday, I walked into church with two friends looking for a place to sit. I saw one of our elderly ladies sitting by herself, so I walked up and asked if we could join her. She hugged me and said, "Yes, of course! I hate sitting alone. Thank you so much for joining me."

She has been widowed for several years and she went on to tell me sometimes when she cannot find someone to sit with in church it makes her cry. What she said really stuck with me the rest of the day, and it also served as a good reminder. Sometimes, I think being single in church is only hard when... [continue]

​God moving every step of the way


I just recently got back from Bennington, Vermont for a mission trip. While there, I saw God work in miraculous ways, and it took almost no time at all. The collegiate director at Summit Church, the church we worked alongside, constantly told us to pray before we act. Throughout the week we saw just what the power of prayer could do.

Our first day after arrival, we went to Rutland to help with the first preview service of a new church, Rutland City Church. While we were on our way and even when we got there we prayed for God to move and for people to just... [continue]

New Year. New You.


Well, the first is easy to do, just flip a calendar. Ok, that sounds a bit 1991, just turn on your iPad.

The second, a new you, a new me, is much harder. We are a culture focused on improvements. Improving athletic ability (if I were an ESPN announcer I would have used a non-word: athleticism), improving our status, or improving the number of friends and followers on social media. As a cyclist who uses Strava, I'm constantly trying to improve time up a hill or time on a sprint zone for a coveted King of the Mountain badge on an app. No, there is no real value for... [continue]