August 2015


River Ministry in Piedras Negras: Where compassionate ministry transformed a community


Texas Baptists River Ministry connects and assigns churches to specific projects along the Texas/Mexico border as well as in the top 10 most populated cities of Mexico. The ministry is made possible by funds given through the Mary Hill Davis Offering. The Week of Prayer for Texas Missions and the Mary Hill Davis Offering is September 13-20, 2015. Click here for resources for your church to help promote this special offering in your church.

In some parts of Mexico, families often choose to live with physical discomforts in order to avoid pricey medical care. Medical equipment such as examination machinery, wheelchairs and... [continue]

End of Session Wrap-Up


New laws highlight the CLC's advocacy work.

While the 84th Legislative Session ended June 1, we are just beginning to feel the effects of our legislative efforts. This session, the CLC followed 65 bills and helped pass several important pieces of legislation. The CLC's legislative priorities are set by our 18 commissioners who reflect the diverse membership of Texas Baptists. Here are just a few of the highlights.

Grant Funding for Pre-kindergarten

One of Governor Abbott's top priorities was to improve the quality of early education in Texas.

H.B. 4 sets aside $130 million over two years for school districts whose pre-kindergarten... [continue]

​Putting the wiggle back in life


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 little fun. It's obvious I see everything through old eyes. That would be great... [continue]

Texas Baptists passes Baptist Building legacy to Baylor University nursing school


DALLAS- On Wednesday, Texas Baptists held a monumental "passing the mantle" ceremony to commemorate the legacy of Texas Baptists at 333 N. Washington Ave. in Dallas and the future of the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON), which will soon take residency in the 100,000 square-foot building.

The August 26 ceremony featured remarks from leaders of both Baptist-affiliated organizations including Dr. David Hardage, executive director of Texas Baptists, and Dr. Shelley Conroy, dean and professor of LHSON.

"Texas Baptists have been blessed by this building for close to 30 years," Dr. Hardage said. "God has used it... [continue]

How to love your Search Committee


Whatever staff position you and your husband serve in your church (or have served in), chances are you probably worked with a Search Committee. Members of the committee who brought you into a church can be some of your best partners in your ministry.

Embrace them! They are your allies. These people are already invested in you. Within the work of the Holy Spirit, they are responsible for you being called there, and they want you to be successful.

If there are things you need, such as a recommendation for a plumber or babysitter, call one of your Search Committee members. They will be happy to help your family, and it will... [continue]

Lessons from a life lived well


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 churches -- First Baptist in Austin. Her passing has hurt many people, as... [continue]

When was the last time you did a reality check?


One thing social media has done is portray others' lives to be better than they really are. In some cases, people blatantly lie about their lives, but in most cases, people put all the positive things about their lives on social media. They choose to leave out the negative stuff, the real life complaints. This has happened amongst pastors, too, in some ways. When is the last time you saw a pastor post on Facebook, "Attendance was way down yesterday, seems to have been a trend lately?" For many reasons, pastors will probably not post a statement like this. They are only going to post when they had a "great day," or when the "Spirit... [continue]

Special Friends Retreat: Where worship is pure


The Special Friends Retreats are made possible by funds given through the Mary Hill Davis Offering. The Week of Prayer for Texas Missions and the Mary Hill Davis Offering is September 13-20, 2015. Click here for resources for your church to help promote this special offering in your church.

Worship is anything but mundane at the annual Special Friends Retreat, hosted by Texas Baptists' Childhood Discipleship Department. Smiles, laughter and joyful tears are evident all weekend long amongst the campers, who all face mental disabilities.

For 29 years, the Special Friends Retreat has welcomed special needs people over the age... [continue]

A prayer to make God's name known in the red light district


A few days ago we went to the red light district of this area I am living in. We worked with the children of the prostitutes there and helped them with school work.

I was sitting in the middle of a slum, in a small room filled with kids with smiling faces, who are being beaten by their fathers or not cared for by their mothers. Just the fact that they are getting an education is very rare, and some of them will never leave the slum that they have grown up in their whole lives.

We walked up and down the streets of this place, and there was woman after woman sitting outside of their small, one bedroom house, waiting for customers to... [continue]

What a baby boomer taught a millennial about life and work


According to Barna Group Research, the average tenure of an American employee per job is 4.4 years of service. They have found 91% of millennials expect to stay in a single job for less than three years. Only 27% of millennials have a clear goal for where they want to be in five years, and sadly, only 19% are extremely satisfied with their work or career.

I think my generation of millennials has a lot to learn from people like my friend, Looie (a baby boomer).

Looie Biffar starting working for Texas Baptists in the 1960s when bell-bottoms and miniskirts were in style, but not considered proper work attire (nor would... [continue]

I am not a hot shot


Trust is hard for me. Not because I've been let down or burned by people I had once trusted, but because I like to think I don't have to trust people to begin with. I can keep everything inside, and do everything myself. I wish I could be a self-sufficient individual who doesn't need to rely on anyone or anything, but I am not, and it has been made very apparent to me this year.

I went at this past semester, Spring 2015, like I was a hot shot. It was my sixth semester of college, and I thought I knew what I was doing. I signed up for tough classes I was excited for, and continued to be involved on campus and planned to use the... [continue]

Video helps us hear a heart


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 playing the instrument for the U.S. Marine Corps. Shortly after his service, he... [continue]

5 Things you need to be doing for your college freshmen students right now


Para leer en español, oprime aquí.

In my experience as a Baptist Student Ministry director, I see that once Christian college students start college life, the academic, social and financial demands, not to mention a new environment and new lifestyle, can make a well-intended college student put God on the back burner.

I understand how we could think Christian college students should remain close to God, specially those who were active in youth group and attended summer camp for several years. Unfortunately this is not the case for many students.

So, what can we do about this? How can we help a college student stay... [continue]

5 acciones que usted necesita tomar para ayudar a sus estudiantes universitarios ahora mismo


To read in English, click here.

En mi experiencia como Director del Ministerio Bautista Estudiantil, veo que una vez que los estudiantes universitarios cristianos comienzan su carrera, las exigencias académicas, sociales, y financieras, por no hablar de un nuevo ambiente y nuevo estilo de vida, pueden hacer que un estudiante bien intencionado ponga a Dios en segundo plano.

Entiendo cómo podríamos esperar que los estudiantes deban permanecer cerca de Dios en la universidad, especialmente los que fueron activos en el grupo de jóvenes y asistieron a campamentos de verano durante varios años. Desafortunadamente este no es... [continue]

Is your gift acceptable to God?


"Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed" (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

When I was growing up, my parents gave me a rectangular plastic bank divided into three sections labeled "Give," "Save" and "Spend" in that order, specifically in that order. Obviously, the subliminal message was... [continue]

Country churches are a rising trend in Baptist life


PARKER – After Southfork Baptist Church dwindled to 15 members, Pastor David LeFlore realized something needed to change in order to continue to reach the community.

"Through lots of prayer and wondering how we're going to grow, Connie asked if we ever thought about a country church," LeFlore said, referring to his wife. He realized that the area was a piece of country near the city, and therefore would not be conducive to a city church.

This is part of a growing trend in Baptist church life. A combination of a traditional church and a cowboy church, country churches are for those who enjoy the relaxed, "come as you are... [continue]

This little light of mine


If you grew up in church, you probably remember the song, "This little light of mine." As a refresher of a portion of the lyrics, it says "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine" and repeats this line a lot.

Well, a friend of mine posted Bruce Springsteen's rendition on "the Facebook" and it made me think a little differently about the song. It's such an upbeat version that it makes me smile as I tap my feet. It's contagious.

That's how we should always share our light. Be radiant. Be about life. Be about love. Those attributes attract people to the light we are trying to let shine.

Pedal... [continue]

Facing the oceans in South Texas and finding strength in the Lord


A lot of really great people in my life encouraged me to do Go Now Missions this summer. My BSM directors, my friends, pastors and loved ones encouraged me to take a step of obedience and to go wherever I was called, to leave my 'yes' on the table for God no matter what. It seemed like such a daunting task and I was in denial, although a small part of my heart never allowed me to just say "no" and walk away.

I remember having an epiphany one day over Christmas break, that I could no longer change and grow spiritually if I was going to try and stay within my comfort zone at school and at home. This "aha" moment lead to prayers for... [continue]

Religious Liberty in Nepal


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 needs to happen quickly. To co-sign the letter, send an email with your... [continue]

Boomers are turning 65 at 10,000 per day, are churches ready?


SAN ANTONIO—With the baby boomer generation turning 65-years-old at nearly 10,000 people per day, churches have the opportunity to reach a generation like they have never been reached before.

On September 9-11, Texas Baptists' Adult Discipleship Team will host its 4th annual "Catch the Boomer Wave," a National Boomer Ministry Conference, at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio to address how to effectively minister to boomers.

The term "baby boomers" derived after 77 million babies were born in the post World War II era from 1946 to 1964. For the next 14 years boomers will be stepping into retirement and turning 65.

As churches... [continue]

The beauty of a sunrise in the midst of darkness


Most of the world is asleep at 4 o'clock in the morning. I am normally asleep at 4 in the morning, but not today. Today, I am sitting on the top of a mountain, shivering from head to toe, and waiting for the sun to rise. If I weren't so much in awe, I think I'd be crying because of the beauty that surrounds me. I look to the left and see the Portland city lights shining in the darkness. I look to the right and I can see mountain peaks against the barely lit sky.

I am humbled by all that surrounds me. I am so small in comparison to these vast sloping mountains. As it gets closer and closer to sunrise time, my surroundings become more... [continue]

How to broaden our moral imagination?


My whole life, my dad shared a metaphor that has never meant more to me than it does right now. He would say:

"Picture a vulture flying over a desert. As it flies it sees dead carcasses all over the ground. However, a hummingbird flying over the very same desert sees desert flowers. They see different things because they only see what they are looking for."

This has challenged me to look at my world differently lately. Sometimes it takes letting go of the world you know to imagine one that has yet to exist. And to change society for the better, it takes expanding our moral imagination. The story of the vulture and the hummingbird... [continue]

The power of a new Bible in the hands of a child


It was one of our rougher apartment complexes. I was warned that the kids were typically loud, disrespectful and disobedient. It was my first week teaching them and I was a little nervous. So far I had only visited the property during other activities, but now I was suddenly responsible for this infamous group of kids.

The kids always trickled in slowly at first, which was fine because it gave my partner and I a chance to get them signed in before they started playing games. We always played games with the kids for an hour before cleaning up for a Bible study during the last 30 minutes.

There was a small handful of other kids there... [continue]

Demonstrating your best gift for the church


Every day at my house there will be any number of boo boos and tears. With four small children, one or more of them will invariably stub a toe, bump a head or get swiped in the face with a foam sword by one of their siblings. All of these boo boos need my love and attention. At the heart of the matter is not the stubbed toe, but a heart that needs to be told, "I love you and I care for you." Each kiss, each hug, seeps out the love my children desperately need.

Although the type of boo boos that hurt our heart change over time, our need to be wrapped in God's love does not. In the Bible, we are told of our Father's great love for... [continue]

How to put the Kingdom of God first in your ministry


If we are to be honest, we have to admit one of the key concerns for us as church leaders is how many people participate in the "main" worship service on Sunday morning. It is a challenge to work hard and not always the see the results of our efforts. The key to understanding this, however, is to realize that the results are for the Kingdom. The men and women who find Christ in one of our church ministries are those we will see in heaven, which is our ultimate goal as ministers of the Gospel.

Many churches have ministries for children and youth on Wednesday nights, and some of those participants do not come on Sunday mornings. Maybe... [continue]

Church reaches out to Russian-speaking Texans


PLANO—Children playing water games, listening intently to Bible stories and doing crafts—the scene looked like a typical American summer camp. That is until the children spoke and revealed their thick Russian accents.

The summer camp, hosted by River of Life Church at Hunters Glen Baptist Church in Plano, comprised of about 50 children who come from Slovak descent. Some had Russian heritage while others had heritage from Ukraine, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, Latvia and other Slovak countries. The common denominator is they all spoke both Russian and English.

The 4-year-old church planted its roots in Plano four years ago, shortly after... [continue]

Inattentive Driving


I've come to realize something. For as long as I know, people have called a car wreck an accident.

An accident is an incidental and unplanned event that could have been prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence.wikipedia (The definitive source on everything).

I believe what is most often referred to as an accident isn't. True, I don't think someone meant to have a wreck. But, I don't consider a car wreck an accident because I put a lot of stock on the phrase above, "could have been prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized."

Since an... [continue]

Stop cowering from the lion, try chasing it instead


Let me tell you a story of a girl (me) who chased a lion.

I was a shy, insecure fifth grader at a small private school and was afraid of trying new things, fearing both failure and inadequacy.

But one day I courageously chose to put my fears aside and join the softball team.

Well, I wasn't very good. The greatest achievement I earned was making it to first base.

I thought my last softball game would be the one where I would literally hit the ball out of the park. Unfortunately, I didn't even get to play.

During the pre-game warm-up, I found myself on the ground with a beating headache and opening my eyes... [continue]

Six months in Southeast Asia: the highs, the lows and God’s unfailing love


I have learned so much about God's character in the time I have been in Southeast Asia and this last month really helped me put all my thoughts together.

First off, throughout my time there God continued to remind me of His perfect love. It always seems funny to me that He could show me such love in the middle of a red-light district, in a place so deprived of it. However, it turned out to be the perfect place for Him to show me. Every time I stepped onto the streets of one of the districts, I was reminded of these words, "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." For me it was all the encouragement needed... [continue]

Back to School


This month, many parents will find themselves frantically roaming the aisles at Target for school supplies, children will select their first day of school outfits, and with far less fanfare, teachers have begun setting up their classrooms.

Recently, there has been a lot of handwringing about the state of public schools related to broader cultural changes in society. We must be careful not to vilify people created in the image of Christ, based on isolated incidents or cultural changes beyond their control. The Bible commands us to give honor to those whom honor is due and there is something honorable about the work of men and women... [continue]

Trouble with first-timers


Do you tweet? I don't. There. I said it. I've tried a few times but never really stuck with it. I like the challenge of finding something witty to say in 140 characters or less, but it's not something I can have running in the background of my mind while moving through the day. For me, tweeting takes too much time and attention, and like other social media platforms, it is hard to measure the ROI.

After listening in on an earnings call this week, CNN Money reported that Twitter has acknowledged it is facing a significant problem. It appears that people who know how to use the micro-blogging site seem to love it, but nubies are often... [continue]

South Texas Children’s Home helping women find redemption


CORPUS CHRISTI – Nicolle Polanco struggled with alcoholism, which then affected every facet of her life. After being unable to take care of her children, she admitted herself into Grace House in Corpus Christi for rehabilitation.

South Texas Children's Home, a Texas Baptists partner ministry, serves in many more capacities than providing a home for children through the Jobs for Life program. It seeks to give women the chance to break out of destructive addictions or patterns, and prepare them for a life in the workforce.

Jobs for Life director Jimmy Rodriguez is confident in the power of Christ and the effect the Gospel can have... [continue]

Reflections on my marriage: an amazing six months later


The last couple of weeks, news of Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's divorce has swarmed the media. FOX News and CNN are running stories on it, as well as the usual pieces in People Magazine and Us Magazine. In 2010, Shelton told Us Weekly this would be his last marriage, and in his "God Gave Me You" music video we can see Lambert saying, "We made it through the unthinkable, we have made it through everything we can possibly make it through. I know we have a lot more trials and tribulations to go, but I'm ready to join in with you on that journey … this is in fact a fairy tale and I'm so glad to share it with you. I love... [continue]

Disaster Recovery trip combines missions with summer fun


GALVESTON–Last week, volunteers teamed up with Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR) to take part in a unique missions experience—one that allowed opportunities for mornings of servant-hearted labor and afternoons of summer entertainment.

Forty volunteers from five Texas Baptists churches spent the weekday mornings painting homes, building fences, cleaning yards and making repairs for homeowners who are still reaping the effects of Hurricane Ike, which devastated much of the Island in 2008.

In the afternoons, the volunteers spent their free time playing miniature golf, going to the beach, visiting Pleasure Pier,... [continue]

80/20


The 80/20 rule, as you may know, is a representation stating that things in the world are not evenly distributed. For instance, 80% of the wealth is distributed among 20% of the population. Or, 80% of the sales come from 20% of the customers.

One of the most popularly used examples of this is that 80% of the a company's work is done by 20% of its employees. This is actually why I'm writing on it. I'm fortunate enough to work at a place where 90% of the work is done by 90% of the staffers. In other words, people here work hard and well together.

Another thing you may not have known about the 80/20 rule is that it doesn't have to equal... [continue]

Are we being honest about the perfection we demand?


One of my favorite styles of music is Christian rap. Think: Lecrae. And as a twenty-something girl from the suburbs, rap may not be the music you peg me as liking.

But what I love about Christian rap–more than any other style of music–is the raw authenticity. Maybe because rappers spit the lyrics so quickly that it's hard to keep up, but knuckling down and listening to the words reveals a deep honesty.

And being so publicly real is a rarity.

Andy Mineo is a rapper under the same record label as Lecrae. A track on his second album is called "Superhuman," and the point of the song is to talk about how when he's on stage, people... [continue]