February 2015


Igniting a fire in Hispanic Evangelism


SAN ANTONIO—With no seating room to spare, congregants of the Hispanic Evangelism Conference packed tightly inside a corner room in the Life Church of San Antonio Feb. 21-22, lifting prayers for revival in their churches and cities.

"Sheep without a shepherd are defenseless and directionless," Joshua Del Risco, Texas Baptists' director of Hispanic Evangelism, told the Spanish-speaking crowd in the large group celebration service following the prayer time.

Even more congregants nearly packed the sanctuary as Life Church's band led the group in worship and Del Risco shared a message of evangelism from Mark 6:34, where Jesus perceived... [continue]

February 2015 Executive Board Review


DALLAS - Amidst ice and freezing temperatures, the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas convened February 22-24 for their spring meeting.

During Tuesday's combined business session, President Kathy Hillman encouraged the board members to be equipped to move forward as Texas Baptists. Using a compass, map and GPS, Hillman noted Biblical examples of preparation. "The right people must have the right tools, at the right time, for the right situations," she said.

Dennis Russell, from the First Baptist Church of Amarillo, was elected as the new Vice Chairperson for the board, filling the vacancy left by Ernest... [continue]

​Did You Know It Pays to Prey on the Poor In Texas?


An unexpected medical bill, car trouble, buying school supplies, a funeral or a summer utility bill—one or many of these expenses have pushed countless Texans to the financial brink. Needing a way to meet the unexpected expense, many families turn to payday and auto title lenders who are all too happy to profit off of people's misfortune.

Usually payday and auto-title borrowers are already financially fragile and rather than being a lifesaver these loans become an anchor. Payday loans are unsecured short-term loans that simply require a job and access to a bank account. Payday lenders are not required to determine the... [continue]

BGCT Executive Board approves resolution on transgender issues


DALLAS—At its Feb 23-24 meeting in Dallas, the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas unanimously approved a resolution on transgender issues, declaring gender is determined biologically, not psychologically.

The request to consider the resolution came from several Texas Baptist university presidents stating the need to apply for a Title IX exemption from the United States Department of Education in dealing with accommodations for transgender students. Their application would be strengthened with a statement from the BGCT addressing the issue.

Pronouncing the Bible as the authority for faith and practice for the... [continue]

Church Target Marketing


Have you ever heard of the "inch deep and mile wide" theory? This theory states that while our network may be vast, sometimes our connections aren't very rich. We often think our success hinges on how many people show up at our Sunday service, event or conference, but have we ever questioned if turnout equals effectiveness?

The first thing professors teach in marketing classes is that in order to be effective, you must know your target market, or the group of people most likely to benefit from your service. Paul wrote separate letters to the Corinthians, Ephesians and Galatians. Rather than trying to appeal to all three churches in... [continue]

Of skinny jeans and cool socks


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 basic dark color.

If I had my druthers, I would wear jeans every day of the... [continue]

Called by Name


Do you know what your name means? My parents disagreed with what to name me when I was still in the womb. My dad wanted me to be "Joanna" and my mom preferred "Jennifer," the most popular girl name in 1976. Well, my dad "won the battle" and I was named "Joanna," which I found out later means, "God's gracious gift." I have to admit I liked my name a little more once I found out what it meant!

Names are very important to God, as we can see all throughout the Bible. In the beginning, God named the light "day" and the darkness "night." God named Israel His "chosen people." We read in the Gospels that Jesus called individuals by... [continue]

Better make a dish


Beginning the day we brought our newborn son home from the hospital eight years ago, we didn't have to cook for a month. Our small group really came through and provided a wonderful convenience. I'm glad they did and I'm glad we continue to do the same to others in similar life-altering situations. I bet if I were to go through our freezer I'd still find a few partially consumed chicken casseroles they blessed us with.

Please note, I didn't say that our small group came through and wonderfully met a need, but a convenience. I stated it accordingly because it is true. I didn't need the food they brought. My wife and son didn't... [continue]

Hardage announces convention restructure to BGCT Executive Board


DALLAS - Texas Baptists is preparing for a convention reset, Executive Director Dr. David Hardage announced at the Feb. 23 Executive Board meeting in Dallas, as they seek to best serve the state and churches in an ever-changing world.

This past year has produced big changes for the convention as the Executive Board made an agreement to sell the Baptist Building in Dallas in May 2014, signed a lease on a new office space in December 2014, finalized the sale of the building January 2015, and will begin operating under a new structure, effective by May 1, 2015.

Hardage explained the restructuring of Texas Baptists is based on the new... [continue]

Good Legal Stewards


Once my wife and I were engaged we decided to attend premarital counseling. Years later, my misconceptions about counseling are still prevalent in society. I viewed counseling as unnecessary for healthy relationships. Inaccurate images from television and movies caused me to believe I should only attend counseling if there was a problem. I could not have been more mistaken. My then fiancé and I had a wonderful relationship, but I was unaware of how little I knew about how to protect our relationship and keep it flourishing. Through premarital counseling, I was encouraged to think about aspects of our relationship I had never... [continue]

7 vital signs to check with your child


Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. Luke 2:52

This school year has been marked by sickness. With two strains of the flu hitting in the fall, many schools were finding it difficult to have class. As we move through the winter months it appears that strep is now taking its toll. I called Urgent Care the other day to see what the wait time was; they told me four hours! We know the health of our children is important, but I am not just talking about physical health. I am finding that for most parents the social, mental and emotional health of their children is vital!

The mosaic... [continue]

Small town church cheers on senior as he achieves football dream


GOLIAD—Setting goals and working hard to achieve them is a strategy high school senior Ty Ross has clung to for years. Since sixth grade, his biggest goal has been to play college football, and the church family has been by his side to cheer him on.

A few weeks ago, dreams came true for the defensive end as he committed to play for the University of Mary Hardin Baylor (UMHB) Crusaders in the fall.

Ross' small hometown, Goliad, is home to less than 2,000 residents. His graduating class will walk around 100 seniors. Along with the support of his parents, he acknowledged the valuable encouragement that he has received... [continue]

State of the State


On February 17, Governor Greg Abbott gave his first State of the State address. The State of the State was first given by Governor J. Pickney Henderson in 1845, after Texas joined the Union. The State of the State is required by the Texas Constitution and is given at the beginning of each regular legislative session.

The State of the State is used by the Governor to lay out a vision for the state over the next two years and designate emergency items. Usually lawmakers cannot pass bills in the first 60 days unless it is an emergency appropriation or on the Governor's list of emergency items. The designation of something as an... [continue]

Air Time


It's fair to say I spend an inordinate amount of time on airplanes - in 2014, I "enjoyed" a mere 89 flights. So, I plan my time in the air as strategically as I do my time on the ground. Some of my best use of "air" time is spent reading, journaling, writing (I'm actually on a flight while I write this) and (my favorite) writing personal handwritten notes. Thank yous. Scripture and prayer notes. Notes of encouragement.

I realize there are more "efficient" ways to communicate thoughts of blessings to those whom I write, but for me a handwritten note is an old habit too hard to break, not to mention, hopefully, a refreshing... [continue]

Anti Human Trafficking Rally


In case you missed it. Here's a look at the anti human trafficking rally last week.

When Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) took to the steps Thursday morning, February 12, at the south end of the state Capitol, she addressed individuals who share a common concern; seeing the end of slavery once and for all in the United States.

She talked about human trafficking, which the State Department of Public Safety defines as the: "Recruitment, harboring, transporting or procurement of a person for labor or services for the purpose of involuntary servitude, slavery or forced commercial sex acts."

Nationally, Texas ranks second... [continue]

Grieving with the family of the cross


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 family.

Coptic Christianity counts John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark, as... [continue]

I got a Fever


Hopefully you mentally chimed in with, "And the only prescription is more cowbell."

Writing as a Christian and for a Christian site, it's a bit tricky writing a blog post which centers around Saturday Night Live (SNL) and their recent 40-year celebration. A lot of it is funny. Some of it is a little off-color.

One aspect a fellow coworker made note of is that through the 40 years of SNL, only about 2-3 years per decade actually produced good, funny shows. The rest were just odd or poorly done. It's also interesting that most shows aren't given this much grace when ratings fall. Perhaps NBC always saw its potential or its... [continue]

Insta-moments


Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most popular apps for Millennials and I am right there along with my peers. I love Instagram and check it multiple times each day (I would be embarrassed to actually count and admit how many times a day I check it).

The other day I was reading an article about how our constant desire to capture photos and share them with the people in our lives is changing the way we experience the world around us. Daniel Kahneman, a professor at Princeton University and Nobel laureate, said, "The 'Instagram Generation' now experiences the present as an anticipated memory."

It's an intriguing idea... [continue]

Why I started using the Wacom


As a new designer I wanted to be informed of all the latest tips, trends and tools. I asked questions like: What would make working in Indesign, Illustrator and Photoshop easier? How are the cool, eye-catching designs thought up? What inspires a designer? I had so many questions about the technique of designing and the software, but using a mouse to design was never a question.

I thought, "This works for me, I can manage." When I created designs using the mouse, at times it was frustrating trying to make the perfect point from a to b and I thought maybe it was just me being the newbie. I hadn't learned every technique yet.

Months... [continue]

Why I decided to continue education


This past Thursday evening, I received word that my thesis project was given final approval and I will be receiving a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary on May 9th, 2015. I started thinking about the reasons I decided to move forward with a doctorate degree. I would like to share some of those here in an attempt to give pastors and other ministry leaders some insight into what the Doctor of Ministry is and the reasons I chose to pursue it.

  1. Further learning: "Leaders are readers." I am not sure who first said this, but it is a truism, which I have seen many times. A leader must continue to pursue
... [continue]

Free Lunch and Gospel conversations


Two rooms, 27 tables, 162 chairs, one hour and one Gospel message: all the ingredients to a Free Lunch on campus at UTD.

It seems like the one thing we keep talking about here is how much lunches have grown. From a maximum of around 80 students a year ago, to over 200 weekly this spring, it is certainly something to talk about.

The growth has made some of the logistics of lunch more difficult. Churches have risen to the challenge terrifically, and God has provided food for all these students, far more than we expected or imagined. We are still struggling to find a student or volunteer leader to facilitate discussions at each table... [continue]

Connecting the dots


When I was small, I would sometimes sit right up next to the TV screen and look at all the red, green, and blue dots. It was weird, and cool at the same time, how all those tiny little dots came together to make a recognizable picture once you stepped back to see the connections. I can easily get caught up in looking at the dots - focused in on my little world. But God's been reminding me that He as a big picture – one that I don't necessarily see in its entirety. If I get focused on my own dots, I can neglect to make connections with others and in doing so, miss out on great relationships and other awesome things God is... [continue]

Beyond Fifty Shades of Grey


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 every whim, call him 'sir' and get beaten in the process could be accused of
... [continue]

Using a GoPro camera in your ministry


Sports and action cameras are all the rage. One of the most widely used is the GoPro however there are almost as many varieties of these cameras as there are ways that they can be used.

Starting at under $50 (up to around $600), it is easy to see how their use has caught on with outdoors enthusiasts, filmmakers, and even prime time television production.

Couple the relative inexpensiveness with high quality video (and stills on some models), ease of use, and a plethora of mounting/wearing choices, and a phenomenon has been born.

My experience is primarily with the GoPro, therefore I will use that brand name for our... [continue]

The problem with love


I love food. I love my friends. I love my bike. I love my parents. I love coffee. I love my wife. I love a good-writing pen. I love my son. I love my pets. I love the triune God.

The problem with "love" is that English has only one word for one of the most complex feelings we can have. While at times we are frustrated with the people we love, it's because we love them that we become frustrated with them.

Obviously, my use of the word "love" above varies greatly based on the object of my affection. But, with only one word for love, how can we tell them apart? How can we express the difference between the uses?

A... [continue]

I am impatient, stubborn and unteachable


Now I wouldn't normally categorize myself as impatient, stubborn and unteachable, but pride has a funny way of manifesting itself. There's a reason pride is known as the seventh deadly sin; the worst, and the cause for them all; a literary theme used from mythology to Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus;" and a trait associated most strongly with Hitler's narcissism. And, if the Greeks or British poets had an epic about me, pride would be my folly.

On my journey to sanctification, pride has a particular hold on me. It usually rears its head when it comes to sports. While my sport of choice and my talents are... [continue]

So it begins


In a fellowship hall in a rural Hill County town, a young seminary student and his wife waited nervously. They were meeting with the Pastor Search Committee of a church about the possibility of becoming the pastor, which would be this young man's first ministerial position. He had been seeking to follow the Lord's call since he was just a boy of nine, and this could be the beginning. After a lunch of homemade fried chicken, the committee got down to business. The very first question from the committee was not directed to the seminary student, but to his wife. "Do you play the piano?," they asked. Sadly, she answered "No," certain... [continue]

Ten things we should really be talking about


A blog post recently hit the Internet about how there are far more important things to talk about than whether Christian women should wear leggings or not. The blog, Ten Things We Should Get Angry About Before Yoga Pants, presented a list of 10 things that are truly worth talking about.

I was convicted. I have spent a short amount of time in a couple of third-world countries and have experienced what living without simple luxuries such as toilet paper and a mattress feels like. Yet, in the comfort of my home country, I admittedly find myself in conversations on a daily basis, which only prove how spoiled I am. For instance,... [continue]

Our God is not limited


I had been on African soil for three days. To conclude a week of training in Botswana, my teammate and I were dropped off at a traditional village home for the weekend.

We learned to adapt to what I would consider a slow, laborious lifestyle. The nationals we resided with laughed at our efforts to pluck a chicken, take a bath in a bucket and speak the native language.

On Sunday morning, we put on our long skirts and began the trek toward the village church. We followed the lead of our hostess, who faithfully walked half a mile on the dirt road to church every week in her well-worn, red high heels.

The small church building... [continue]

Local Chinese restaurant opens doors for ministry in Big Spring


BIG SPRING—Community evangelism comes in all shapes and forms, but oftentimes begins with a simple conversation. For First Baptist Church in Big Spring, one small seed planted in a local Chinese restaurant has grown to form a much-needed ministry in the community.

When Sherry Lindsey moved to Big Spring six years ago, she felt compelled to visit the local Chinese restaurant and meet the waiters. After that initial conversation, the restaurant quickly became a hub for church members to connect with local Chinese and show Christ's love to them on a regular basis.

One waiter was able to study for the United States... [continue]

Resisting Rest


When I think of the word "rest," most of the time it's my mom's version of rest when I was a little girl. Every Sunday afternoon was mandatory nap time in the Lowrie house, being a pastor's home bustling with four little girls where silence was hard to come by. Mom would tell us to go to our rooms for an hour to take a nap and when we whined and tried to convince her we weren't tired, oftentimes we were told, "Well at least rest in your room for an hour." I would count down the minutes until the hour was up and once again I was given my freedom. Rest equaled lack of fun in my book.

Clearly I was a little dramatic, but I... [continue]

Shots a Video Editor hates to work with…


I remember the first video project I shot over 20 years ago...I still cannot watch it to this day. It was horrible for several different reasons, but mostly I didn't know what I was doing, so I faked it when shooting. Luckily, the people who hired me were really good friends and paid me anyway. It was from this experience that I learned to shine in the edit room.

Over the years, as a video editor, I have learned that you will not always get footage from a professional camera operator, (sigh) that's when it get really interesting in editing. There is crying, yelling, staring in disbelief and getting up and walking away, well that may... [continue]

​Freedom for captives: The CLC is working to end trafficking


As the 84th Legislative Session has begun, the CLC staff wants to provide an overview of our public policy priorities. Last week, we talked about advocacy in general, and this week we explore human trafficking.

Many people assume the 13th amendment ended slavery in America, but there are still slaves among us. Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transporting or procurement of a person for labor or services for the purpose of involuntary servitude or commercial sex acts. Everyday men, women and children are forced into manual labor or commercial sexual acts against their will. This modern day slavery exists in... [continue]

Removing obstacles to evangelism


When Leslie Strobel became a Christian, she was so excited about the new life she had in Christ. But, she was also heavily burdened for her husband, Lee. A self-proclaimed atheist who actively pursued hedonism and pleasure over spiritual matters, Lee was far from Christ and Leslie worried that he would never be able to come to faith.

Within two years--after an intense investigation seeking to disprove the Bible, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and Christianity, along with the results of numerous prayers from his wife--Lee found himself kneeling in his bedroom accepting Jesus as his Savior. Years later, standing before a... [continue]

​7 Essentials Before You Pack for a Mission Trip


God has called us to change the world. There have been many forays into changing our world through humanitarian efforts. While each have their positives, they only change the present without an eternal perspective. Feeding the hungry, cleansing the water of the thirsty and repairing the huts of the homeless are wonderful and heart-warming. But, if we don't take the Gospel, what change has really occurred?

A few years ago, while organizing an overseas trip I became aware of all the fine details of travel. Nehemiah went through the same ordeal as he prepared to travel out of country to go to Jerusalem. As we boarded each flight, we... [continue]

Almoner


I want to be an Almoner.

It was a new term to me and is an official role in the Catholic faith. There is a Papal Almoner whose job is to personally distribute Vatican money to individuals in need and meet their daily needs.

This article enlightened me.

After reading the post and coming up with yet another future job idea, I began to think about it a little longer. Isn't that exactly what Christ calls us to be, an almsgiver? Yes, we understand the tithes and offerings, not saying we do it, but we do understand it.

Our giving should start there. We are to also be around people in need, people who are less fortunate than... [continue]

Ira Antoine


I am most passionate about influencing those who are influencers. Everyday I seek to find a way to influence those who influence the lives of others. I try to share the things that I learn and experience in my daily walk of life with others who are called to lead people. Because I am a bivocational pastor I understand where other bivocational pastors live. This excites me the most. I am not talking about something I have learned. I am sharing something I am experiencing.

Name: Ira Antoine

Spouse: Cynthia

Children: Two God-daughters (28 & 20) who are children of our hearts

Ministry: Bivocational Pastors... [continue]

Pastors are Human


Dr. Mark Weston is the Counselor in Residence at the Counseling Center at Northwood Church and an Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Counseling at Criswell College.

Pastors are human. As such, many have concerns, which interfere with their marriage, parenting or life. Often these concerns are only the surface manifestation of much deeper but unidentified hurts. If total healing is to occur, the pastor must recognize that giving attention to only surface manifestations and not the greater spiritual and emotional needs they have is to neglect what is truly in need of a healing touch.

Jesus' Teachings Convey Total... [continue]