April 2015


​Taking in the Stranger


At a point in his ministry, Jesus identified with the stranger among others -- the hungry, thirsty and prisoner -- the people whose lives indicated some sort of social or economic disconnectedness.

Jesus came to show people how to belong with God and each other. Sometimes that relational notion is inappropriately set apart from the way Christians think of justice, but they are closely collected. Justice means doing the right thing as well as restoring broken relationships.

For the believer, the love of justice arises from life with God; it is a by-product and is, therefore, an indicator of holiness encountering sinfulness and... [continue]

Time to fall out of love


"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 without love

Those lyrics convey a deep sense of lost love. The words... [continue]

Advocacy Alert: Payday Reform Legislation in Committee This Week


Several good payday lending reform bills have been set for a hearing this week. We are requesting Texas Baptists make plans to testify at the hearings or call committee members voicing their support for these bills.

When calling the Committee members here's a sample script of what you can say when you call.

Hello my name is __________. I would like to register my support of bill numbers ________. I support reforming the payday/auto title industry to ensure fair loan products that allow for borrower and lender success.

  • Call or Testify to members of the Senate Business and Commerce CommitteeTuesday, April 288:00am

SB 92 by... [continue]

Inspiring excellence, impacting generations to come


Evangelist Billy Graham once said, "The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith."

The BGCT has stood strong in faith and character for 119 years because of leaders who inspire servant hood and excellence. For those people, we are grateful, and we honor individuals every year who are leaving a lasting impact in Texas Baptist life.

On June 7, at the historic Independence Baptist Church, we will honor Reverend Dr. James "Jim" W. Culp, Sr. of Second Chapel Baptist Church in Garland and Dr.... [continue]

Sticks and Stones


When I was growing up – well, I still am – when I was younger, there was a popular phrase, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I don't ever recall saying it, but do remember hearing it yelled across the elementary playground.

The problem with this phrase is, it's a lie.

Have you ever broken a bone? It hurts for a bit. But you get attention from people when in a cast, sling or on crutches. Then you know what, you heal quickly. Maybe you learn not to jump off the roof, but that's a story for a different time.

Have you ever been insulted? Ever overheard people talking negatively about you? In these... [continue]

The Gospel of grace for Millennials and Gen Z


Researchers are spending hours upon hours studying millennials (born 1981-2000) and Gen Z (born 2001-present) – what they like, dislike, their passions and motivators. These upcoming generations, which comprise our youth groups, are clearly different than our parents' or grandparents' generations. But, similar to all the generations that have gone before, they are in desperate need of a Savior.

The youth which fill our churches across Texas need to be well-equipped with the tools necessary to share the Gospel with their friends. Super Summer and YEC are great events specifically geared to help equip youth in telling others about... [continue]

Summer symbiosis: A guide to ministry internships


Summer is upon us. As I write this in mid-March, I'm interviewing candidates for a handful of internships within the Convention's communications department. While it takes time and energy to establish a perennial program, the payoff both for our department and the interns themselves is well worth the effort. Interns bring boundless life, energy and awareness to our team, they tackle projects in new and creative ways, and while they collect only modest compensation, the experience, school credit and resume bolstering they receive can be life-changing.

Here are some tips if your ministry is considering a formal internship program this... [continue]

Church Spotlight: FBC Weslaco


From operating a hunger care ministry to adopting a local school the amount of opportunities, and the ways our Texas Baptist churches reach and serve their communities are endless. Because each community is different, each church responds to needs differently.

Recently, I had the privilege of visiting with Dr. Steven Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Weslaco, and Joe Aguilar, youth and discipleship pastor, about two unique ways their church is assisting their community. "We really want the things we are doing to be an overgrowth of our fellowship," Dr. Parker said. "We are people following Jesus and we want everything we do... [continue]

The mission of the Church in an ever-changing world


God continues His mission of redeeming, restoring and reconciling the world unto Himself. His ultimate goal is to transform the world to what He originally intended. Can you imagine a community, a place where nothing is missing, nothing is broken and everything is as it should be? God is in the process of bringing His Shalom (His wholeness) to broken communities and into individual lives. God is very aware that His creation is in a fallen and broken state, and He is at work to heal and restore His creation.

God is an unchanging God, although his creation continues to evolve and change. A changing world should then cause God's... [continue]

Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery Update on Nepal Earthquake


In response to the devastation experienced in Nepal following the 7.9 earthquake on April 25, Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery has been in communication with several partnering Baptist entities worldwide. TBDR leaders have been working with Asia Pacific Baptist Federation and Baptist World Aid through the Baptist World Alliance to receive updates and coordinate aid.

Funds are being collected through TBDR, (Click here to give) which will be appropriated to our Baptist partners in Nepal as needs are expressed.

The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering has already approved $15,000 for anti-poverty and hunger needs in Nepal, which will be sent... [continue]

Treasuring the sacred space


A friend of mine left for Heaven Sunday night. Sheron was a wife, mom, grandmother, sister, my friend and one of the gentlest spirits I've known. After a week's worth of days we thought would surely be her last, she finally, quietly, breathed one last time on Earth and took her first breath in Heaven. It was an incredible privilege to be there with her family this last week, invited into that sacred space, which families reserve for "family only" plus, usually, one more - their pastor.

I don't actually pastor my "own" church anymore, to put it the way I'm most commonly asked. I serve alongside Texas Baptist pastors and their... [continue]

Operation Giver: The security of the believer


Operation Giver is a project connecting young Texas Baptists with older professors, pastors and theologians to discuss Baptist Distinctives. Similar to the book, The Giver, our goal is to pass on wisdom from seasoned Baptists to the up-and-coming generation. While times continually change, the beliefs we share as Texas Baptists have held true for more than 130 years. Facilitating these conversations will help educate and encourage younger Baptists as they continue in the biblical tradition set before them.

When a person accepts Jesus Christ into their lives one of the first things they are assured is: "Nothing can take away your... [continue]

Children in volatile community find hope and health through local ministry


Open House Ministries is a ministry actively seeking to alleviate hunger and poverty in Homestead, Florida. They receive funds from the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, which help OHM in a variety of ways:
  • Providing healthy snacks for 70 students after school daily
  • Teaching elementary-aged students about nutrition and healthy eating habits as they help grow vegetables in six community garden beds
  • Interacting with youth and children through homework assistance, Bible stories, music, art, sports and computer training

Open House Ministries is a community ministry, which rose up out of needs following Hurricane Andrew... [continue]

Reyes to testify in support of House Bill 3567


AUSTIN–This morning, Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission, will be testifying in support of a bill by Rep. Scott Sanford (Executive Pastor at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church in Allen). The bill will be heard in Texas House State Affairs.

HB 3567 protects religious organizations, or entities controlled by religious organization (such as schools) or pastors and staff from having to solemnize or participate in anyway with any marriage that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Below is the testimony Reyes will be giving:

I am Gus Reyes, Executive Director Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission and I am... [continue]

A fire set ablaze at the WMU annual meeting


Wasn't it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scripture to us? Luke 24:32, GNT

For her birthday last year, IMB missionary Staci Powers' most treasured gift was having her husband hold her hands without letting go. The fact that he had forgotten it was her birthday did not matter at that moment.

Four days later, on July 10, 2014, Staci held her husband Jeff's hands for the last time as cancer took over his body.

Last weekend, Staci boldly stood on stage at the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) of Texas Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration, fighting back tears as she told her story.... [continue]

Leaning on your helpmate when your faith is tested


In the 35-year marriage I've been blessed to be part of, there have been some very rewarding times and some frustrating times. Unfortunately, some of those frustrating times have been associated with the Church. As much as I love being a pastor's wife (most of the time), there have been days I wish Mike had become a businessman or a doctor--anything other than a minister! From insensitive comments to a very hurtful firing, I have run the gamut of emotions and responses.

But, I can honestly say that the hard times have been the times we've grown closer together. When your faith is tested, there is something wonderful about having the... [continue]

CLC opens doors for advocates to interact at the Capitol


AUSTIN - Advocates work for the best interest of all, the voiceless, or marginalized, Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Christian Life Commission, shared with attendees at CLC Advocacy Day.

The event was hosted on April 9, at the First United Methodist Church in Austin, across the street from the State Capitol building. Listen to a review of the day here:

Executive Director David Hardage was in attendance for the day, giving a welcome to Advocacy Day attendees. Hardage was encouraged by the response for the day, noting, "Anybody who is here who isn't familiar with the CLC will learn more about... [continue]

More and more selfies are becoming about self-worth and value


I take them. You take them. We all take them.

We take them at parties. We take them on the beach. We take them at gatherings. We take them in front of the mirror. We put them on Instagram. We wait for comments. What do selfies tell us about ourselves? Often, I find people who are in need of approval. They are hoping someone will comment and tell them they are beautiful, or wonderful, or courageous, or that they made a great choice on their hair, makeup, attire, car, house or pet purchase.

Why do we need approval? Most of us are not being built up, encouraged and enabled to be strong and courageous. We are being ridiculed, torn... [continue]

Two fingers


I drive a truck. (That'll be important later.)

Here in Texas we have a wave that's actually known as the "Texas Wave." It involves lifting only two fingers from the steering wheel to greet an oncoming driver.

In driving about 2000 miles the past few weeks, I've notice fewer returned Texas waves and far too few oncoming-driver initiated waves. Which led me to think it could have been the area of the state or the vast amount of imported drivers from, say, Oklahoma or some other less-friendly place.

But, for the sake of discussion, let's say that simply crossing into Texas should be enough to adopt our friendly driver greeting.

In... [continue]

How to overcome root rot


I have never claimed to have a green thumb, but I am an eternal optimist. So recently, when my peace lily was just about on her (yes her, I named her Lily) last leg, I decided I couldn't let her give up without a fight. I researched online until I found out what might be wrong with my quickly fading Lily (pictured left). My conclusion was she had developed root rot.

The only hope for her was to remove the diseased and rotting roots, which had probably developed from over-watering or poor soil, and replant her in a healthier soil and environment.

I took Lily and all the necessary replanting elements outside and began the... [continue]

​Disaster Recovery offers affordable Galveston mission trip and vacation for the whole family


During the week of July 26-31, Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR) will be hosting its first-ever family mission trip to Galveston Island, where volunteers will have an opportunity to spend mornings on the worksite and afternoons on vacation.

"While all ages and types of people are invited, we wanted to focus on 'families on mission,'" said Marla Bearden, disaster response specialist for Texas Baptists. "Spending time as a family, serving others in Jesus' name, is a wonderful way for any family to spend a few days together, and why not in Galveston?"

During the mission trip, families, as well as church groups and... [continue]

Prepare your church for same-sex marriage ruling


The U.S. Supreme Court is ready to consider the issue of same-sex marriage, and the court's eventual ruling could affect how the State of Texas defines marriage. If change occurs, it will affect the relationship of all Texas Baptist churches in their dealings with local, state, and federal laws.

The Christian Life Commission supports the biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman for a lifetime commitment. This has been the marriage standard for Christians dating back two millennia, and reflects an even longer biblical heritage.

On Tuesday, April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider cases from... [continue]

#winning


The challenge of staying culturally 'relevant' as a church and as the Christian faith has become like a bi-athlete trying to hit a moving target. The exhausting task of trying to figure out what "the kids are into these days" can be confusing, deceiving and hopeless for the ill-equipped. Merely locating the target is no longer sufficient, the mark must be struck on the bulls-eye, and the race must be finished ahead of the other competitors, which in the real world translates to: whoever thinks up something like Ice Bucket Challenge first wins. So then, how do we take all of the lessons, tips, hints and best practices of the secular... [continue]

Table for 12


The number of single adults in America is on the rise. There are 124.6 million singles in the U.S., which now outnumbers married adults over the age of 16 (Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics, August 2014).

What that means is, now, more than any other time in the past century, more people are alone than ever before. But that does not have to be the case.

As a 30-year-old single adult, I could easily fall into the trap of woe-is-me, negativity and seclusion. But I believe the Lord created me for relationships, and while I'm not married yet, it does not mean that I have to be alone.

I crave community and what I've found through being... [continue]

Alfalfa concentrate and education help alleviate malnutrition in Mexico


Hands in Service Ministries (HISM) is a ministry that is actively seeking to alleviate hunger in Mexico. They receive funds from Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, which help HISM in a variety of ways:
  • With travel and material costs to allow HISM to offer family garden courses
  • To provide intensive gardening techniques for those in urban and suburban areas
  • To help families to begin small animal production by providing quail, chickens and rabbits
  • To set up one alfalfa-processing unit that is functioning on a weekly basis
  • Will allow HISM to set up another unit in another community shortly

While out walking one day in... [continue]

Spurred on to serve


The second half of the spring semester in college is a whirlwind. Students don't get to ease back into class after spring break; instead, they hit the ground running. The two weeks after spring break have been full of tests, projects, papers, and assignments for the students at UTD. Schoolwork is in the prayer requests from every girl I meet with weekly.

But in the midst of the busy-ness of school, there is room to implement spiritual disciplines, and especially lessons learned during spring break. Many of us went to Beach Reach on South Padre Island this year, and it definitely had an impact on everyone involved. At UTD, we have a... [continue]

Miser(able)


Do you know people who are cheap? I don't mean responsible with money, I mean just won't or hates to give or spend money?

Christians are to live generously. We are to give our money and ourselves to God and to others. But what's the opposite of generous? Miserly. God asks us to be cheerful givers. This helps place the appropriate priority on our money and time.

In my experiences, I've found that the more generous a person is, the happier he/she is. I've also found the opposite to be true. The more miserly one is, the more miserable he/she is. Did you think of someone you know who is cheap? Is he/she a genuinely happy person?... [continue]

'A.D.' shows resurrection was not the end of the story


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 characters didn't know they were in the Bible. They didn't know the outcome from the Bible. They're... [continue]

The hope I have to share


Through working in Hilo, HI, a melting pot of cultures, God has opened my eyes to the world. I've served overseas in several different areas of the world: Central America, South America, East Asia and in various locations across the U.S. However, at least outside of the U.S., I had been ministering to primarily one main people group.

Here, I have been blessed with the opportunity to minister to students from all over the globe. Some from countries I had never even heard of until I came here.

As I talk with these students and listen to their stories, my eyes are opened to the world around me. The wars, freedom, the struggles, the... [continue]

Texas RFRA Is Both Necessary and Working


Given the current media firestorm around proposed RFRA laws in Indiana and Arkansas, the Christian Life Commission would like to give a brief history of RFRA laws and reiterate our support for state RFRA laws that mirror the federal law.

The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in 1993 in response to the Supreme Court decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which held that generally applicable laws that conflict with religious beliefs do not violate the First Amendment. The Smith ruling meant that any law, as long as it was not intended to prohibit the free exercise of religion, is valid even if it restricted... [continue]

Your Piece Matters


Several years ago, we took a family vacation to the mountains. In the lobby of our hotel, the manager had set up a table with a large jigsaw puzzle. He worked on it during spare moments and guests were welcome to connect a piece or two as they walked by. As I watched his progress, I asked if I could look at the lid of the box so I could see what the finished puzzle would be. He said, "No, I don't use the box lid. That's cheating." Seriously? I was not aware that I had been a puzzle cheater all along!

In much the same way, our days, moments and events come together to create a puzzle of a life, a life whose final result we... [continue]

My anti-shame campaign


For the next few minutes, I ask, no I beg you to put aside all political, religious and cultural opinions, but instead think back to a time when you felt humiliated, completely and utterly embarrassed. What other emotions does this moment in your past illicit? Is it sadness, tears, anger, depression? Now imagine if this moment of shame was broadcasted on a global scale.

In 1998, Monica Lewinsky says, "I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously." I applaud Lewinsky for speaking out about her experience in the new TED Talk entitled The Price of Shame. This talk serves as a catalyst... [continue]

Missions Foundation welcomes Dr. Jerry Carlisle as Vice President


Texas Baptists will welcome Dr. Jerry Carlisle to the position of Vice President for the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation (TBMF) starting April 16.

Carlisle comes to Texas Baptists after serving 13 years as senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Plano, as well as adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University (DBU) for 11 years. Prior to that, he held a variety of pastoral and ministerial positions in Texas and Missouri.

In his new role, Carlisle will work with donors to help raise funds for the ministries Texas Baptists and TBMF support. He plans to maintain a similar mindset in this job as he has had all along as... [continue]

As You Are


Every few years a song comes along that brings me to the throne of God for worship. Several years ago, it was " I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me where they pose the question of what will I do when I meet God. The first time I heard this song I was driving home. By the time it was over, I could hardly see through the tears.

More recently, I've connected with Crowder's " Come As You Are." This song brings me to a point of recognizing that God wants us as we are to come to Him and let Him change us. We're not too far away to come back to Him. We shouldn't allow our shame to keep us from returning to Him. For, "Earth has no... [continue]

Crack of the bat


Sporting goods giant Wilson has acquired the iconic Louisville Slugger baseball brand for $70 million cash. What does this have to do with the Convention and its churches? Quite possibly everything. Here's how.

The Louisville Slugger brand was established after Bud Hillerich made a bat for Pete Browning, star of the Louisville Eclipse, back in 1884. Bud identified a need, developed a quality product ball players liked, and a successful business was born.

But, after decades of popularity the market changed. Youth and college sports became astonishingly more popular, their players began using metal instead of wooden bats,... [continue]

States need RFRA matching federal model, like Texas


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 Baptist distinctive.

Religious freedom is not a partisan issue. We believe it is possible to... [continue]

The Cavalry Has Arrived: How the Federal Government Plays an Important Role in Protecting the Poor


Have you ever heard the phrase "send in the cavalry?" It's a colloquialism, but historically its a military term for the regiment of an army that fights on horseback. The cavalry historically was the most easily mobilized unit of an army and men fighting on horseback were at a greater advantage than those fighting on foot. For one they had greater height and speed than their opponents on the ground and the improved mobility helped them outflank and overpower their opponents more easily. In the movies, the moment the cavalry arrives is usually the moment the enemy is overpowered and the battle ends for the good guys.

Well, this week... [continue]

Crazy Hope


Hope.

We all need hope.

We have earthquakes shaking, winter storms freezing, sickness ravaging, bad news surrounding, ISIS killing and kidnapping, families breaking, jobs dropping and gas prices rising! We don't need regular hope. We need CRAZY HOPE.

Hope for New Leadership

It often seems that national leadership seems unaware of what is going on with the common man. Those in power keep giving themselves more power. Those in power interpret the laws to suit their own need, fill their own pocketbooks and do as they wish. They travel and dress to the nines on the public's dime and then don't understand why everyone is... [continue]

'Uptown Funk' has taken us by storm


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.

In January, Dallas high school drama teacher Scot Pankey organized students into a... [continue]