September 2015

Get to know: Stephanie Canaday

Stephanie Canaday is the Minister to Students at Faith Fellowship Baptist Church in Denison, Texas. I work with the students in 7th-12th grades and their families.

1. Most influential book you've read in the past two years?

"Speaking to Teenagers", by Doug Fields.

2. Who is the one person who has had the most impact on your ministry?

Kathy Wilburn. She has taught me so much from how to teach a class, how to plan a large event, and how to always put people first. The greatest part was half the time I didn't even realize I was being taught anything. I thought I was just helping out. Probably the best... [continue]

Larsen named finalist for CFO of the Year award

Texas Baptists' Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Jill Larsen has been named a finalist for Dallas Business Journal's CFO of the Year award.

Larsen was selected and named a finalist by a panel of independent judges after being nominated by a close business friend. She will join 28 other financial executives Oct. 26 at the CFO of Year Awards program in Dallas, where category winners will be announced.

The past year has brought an abundance of new challenges and opportunities for Larsen as she managed two substantial projects for the Texas Baptists—restructuring the 2015 budget and steering the office relocation.

The budget... [continue]

Why new ideas are as important as old ideas

I love new, creative ideas. Apparently so does society. But I'm beginning to believe society's love of new ideas comes at the cost of established ideals.

A new idea or a person's new identity is praised for being a bold voice. It does take courage to pioneer a movement. However, in a rapidly changing society it also takes courage to be a bold voice on one's traditional values of God, His Love, His Son and His desire that we come to Him and follow Him.

A respect for people's opinion is not the same as accepting one's opinion as truth. As the percentage of Christians gives way to the rising number of "nones" sharing ideas and opinions... [continue]

Get to know: Courtney Williams

Courtney Williams serves as the Minister of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Discipleship at David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Austin, TX.

1. Most influential book you've read in the past two years?

Having gone through two Masters Theological programs in the past 3 ½ years, I've read numerous interesting texts alongside the Bible, but the most influential book I've read in the past two years is probably "Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God's Glory" by Jerry Rankin.

2. Who is the one person who has had the most impact on your ministry?

While my lifelong Pastor and biological father played a huge role in the... [continue]

Who are Millennials, and one simple step to reach them

Here's a photo of me. If I asked you to label me, what words would you assign to me? Let me help. Would it be hippie, hipster, rebel, health nut, sporty, trendy, troublemaker? If these are some of the labels you gave, you're probably right; I've identified with all of these, and more, but these labels don't define me. Really, I am a wife, I'm caring and passionate, I love deeply, I love living in relationship with my peers, but above all, I am a Christ-follower. I am a Christian. And I'm a Millennial.

So, as a Millennial, I am going to explain who Millennials are, and tell you how to reach other Millennials.

THINGS... [continue]

Texas and Mexico Baptists partner to rebuild border town of Acuña, Mexico

Four months ago, a devastating tornado ripped through the city of Acuña, Mexico and hit with a ferocity that has not been witnessed in more than 100 years.

Baptists in both Texas and Mexico are gearing up to assist in recovery efforts for the city through "Acuña Rebuild." Partners include Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR), First Baptist Church in Del Rio, First Baptist Church in Acuña, Texas Baptists River Ministry and Eagle Pass-based Mission Border Hope.

The six-second twister was a part of the same weather cell that impacted Houston, San Marcos and other Central Texas towns over Memorial Day weekend this year. The tornado... [continue]

Why you should never say never

Growing up, we would pass through Houston on the way to my aunt's house in Texas City. We would always say, "We'll never live here!" But then, the last half of my junior year in high school, we moved from my beautiful, quiet, peaceful, quaint East Texas small town to the concrete, noisy, busy, modern life of the city! Never say never! I thought I was going to die! But you know, I actually learned a thing or two, and made one or two good friends. I still hated the city, but I didn't die!

After Keith and I married and he finished seminary, our first church was in Lubbock. I have always been a "kid person" so naturally I volunteered... [continue]

College campus challenged by the Great Commission

Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) has been challenged by the "Great Commission." Our lead team came up with a great outreach to reach students that would not normally come to a BSM services. Who does not have a love for pancakes? Plus we hand them out for free.

After coming back home from Beach Reach our leaders asked themselves, "how can we bring the Beach Reach mission back to our campus?" Since the spring of 2015 we have started a new outreach that we have been starting to do at least once every month. This outreach entails at least 25 boxes of pancakes and several student volunteers. After 24/7,our Thursday night service... [continue]

For the city

The following prayer guide is a monthly outline of ways to pray for Texas Cities. It is specifically for churches and church leaders in these cities. Our prayer is that the Kingdom of God will be advanced and these churches will be encouraged. Also that they will be healthy as the work to be the church in our urban areas.

Please use the following prayer as guides, though they can be prayed verbatim it is better for you to put these prayers in your own words.

  • Father you are the ruler of the universe (Psalm 115:3). Thus you are the ruler and the God of the cities of Texas. Father because you own all things, you are the one who has the
... [continue]

Welcoming Winston

In a post a few months ago, I lamented about the experiences of having to put our dog, Cooper, down. In case you missed reading that literary masterpiece, you can read it here.

With a couple weeks of a quiet and still back yard, we decided to start the puppy-looking process. Since we are an active family, I requested we get a dog that can go run with us. My wife came to me after some research and suggested a breed.

The conversation went something like this:

Denise: "What do you think about getting a German Short-haired Pointer?"

Rand: "Really?"

Denise: "Yes, why?"

Rand: "I've been wanting a pointer for like 20 years."

Denise: "Oh, so,... [continue]

Why we don't like change and how to handle it better

Question: "How many baptists does it take to change a light bulb?"Answer: "Change?!!!!"

If you've recently been frustrated by something in your life changing, you're not alone. Most of us don't like change (unless we're in charge of it). But, change happens constantly. As the saying goes, change is. Period.

A restaurant takes a favorite dish off the menu. Or, the restaurant moves to a less convenient location. Or, the restaurant closes.

A favorite neighbor moves to a new neighborhood. A friend gets married and someone else, appropriately, becomes their best friend.

Job assignments ebb and flow. Sometimes, even, whole companies move... [continue]

Atchison named director of Great Commission Team

DALLAS–On Sept. 16, Texas Baptists welcomed Delvin Atchison, former pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Waco, as director of the Great Commission Team.

Dr. David Hardage, executive director for Texas Baptists, announced the formation of the Great Commission Team as part of the convention restructure at the February Executive Board meeting. The team is a combination of the Evangelism and Discipleship Teams, which will collaboratively better address the discipleship process and evangelism training for churches.

In Atchison's new role, he will help the two teams merge. He desires to see the team work together to inspire enthusiasm... [continue]

My First 90 Days

It is hard to believe today marks exactly three months since I started working for Texas Baptists.

As I reflect on this first quarter at the Christian Life Commission, I cannot help but be grateful for this season of learning and connecting.

This summer has been a whirlwind of conferences across the state, meetings with ministries and associations, and planning for upcoming events and materials. My new role proves itself to be dynamic, exhilarating, and forever stretching -- for which I am exceedingly grateful!

Stepping back from the many moving parts, I am keenly aware of God at work in Texas. With each visit, meeting, or even... [continue]

We have a problem with authority

Two Texas high school football players gained infamy recently when they intentionally and brutally hit an official who had ejected two of their teammates. A week later, another Texas player shoved an official.

Let's simplify this. Everyone comes to a football game to see two teams play; those teams have all of the attention. But the truth is that the officials are in charge. Officials represent the University Interscholastic League, which seeks to promote fair contests of skill and will.

These contests generate a volatile brew of passion, and that passion can lead to anger. Usually it comes out in verbal attacks by fans, parents and... [continue]

Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery to respond to Myanmar summer flooding

Dr. Mang Tiak of Houston could not eat or sleep for days when she heard news that flooding in late July wrecked her Myanmar hometown.

"Many people were suffering," she explained. "It really hit me, and I felt like I needed to do something."

The floods, which were caused by monsoons and a typhoon, brought destruction to all but two of the 14 states in Myanmar, (also known as Burma). The disaster reportedly affected one million people across the country, displacing many of them.

Tiak and her husband, Rev. Dr. Thong Kho Lun, are pastors at Greater Houston Burmese Christian Fellowship where a majority of the members also migrated from... [continue]

What a beautiful refugee taught me about the American Dream

An estimated 30,000 refugees live within a three-mile portion of North Dallas called Vickery Meadow. In July, I had the priviledge to meet, visit and photograph (photos below) some of these beautiful Zomi refugees for a new Texas Baptists initiative called Project: Start. While much is being done in Vickery Meadow to aid refugees, many simply do not know what resources are available; Project: Start will be a physical location in Vickery Meadow specifically designed to connect refugees to resources.

Nu Niang Hoih, a young mother of three girls under the age of six, is pregnant with her fourth child. She speaks very little... [continue]

How to choose the perfect ministry outfit

One spring afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas, I roamed aimlessly around Dillard's, focused intently on finding the perfect "ministry outfit." I was one of five women who won a contest at seminary to go on a shopping spree to get a new outfit for our ministry positions and roles. The five of us were all admittedly excited about winning this fun contest, and as a poor seminary student myself, to be told I didn't have to worry about the price tag was a strange and unknown feeling! The four other women were soon-to-be pastor's wives, whose husbands were in their seminary training. I would later become a pastor's wife, but at the time, I... [continue]

​Country churches: Where skeet-shooters and fishermen find community

With funds given through the Mary Hill Davis Offering, pastors seeking to plant a country church or transition their church to a country church have the opportunity to learn more about the process through Texas Baptists' Leadership Summit for Country Churches. 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.

According to David LeFlore, pastor of Southfork Country Church in Parker, "If you like watching Duck Dynasty, you'll like our church!"

As its name states, Southfork is a country church,... [continue]

They don't have the gospel

Last week, as we were walking outside to get our scooters and leave our supervisor's apartment, our supervisor came outside and showed us something. We had been hearing firecrackers go off all night and he pointed out why.

Ghost Holiday.

Just a few feet away, lining both sides of the sidewalk were little areas, encircled with white powder, burning incense. Our supervisor told us they popped the firecrackers to ward off evil spirits. They burned these things for their ancestors – to appease them and make them happy so they wouldn't curse them. They worshipped their ancestors.

I stood there in the middle of the sidewalk just staring... [continue]


In our world of commodities, where we can actually use something up, we tend to pass that trait on to other aspects in our lives and faith where it simply doesn't apply.

One of my favorite commodities is hummus. Yes, I know it's not the best food option, but I do like it. A lot. I do wish they'd re-label those "family size" containers to read "personal size" – I'd feel better about myself … I can and do reach the end of my serving of hummus.

Since we have finite minds, we find it difficult to think of things in unlimited quantities. That limitation doesn't change the fact that there are aspects and actions that are unlimited in... [continue]

Give me a break!

"I really prefer not ever having any time away from my students," said no youth minister ever!

As youth ministers and lay youth workers, we love students. But, we have a tremendous need for worship experiences, fellowship, resources and training alongside other adults who do in their own churches what we do in ours. We need time with adults who have devoted their lives to serving students. Youth Ministry Conclave provides these things and more.

Conclave will take place at the Arlington Convention Center, October 12-14, 2015.

All the details, as well as scholarship information and registration pricing, may be found... [continue]

Be unApologetic about your faith

Always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 3:15

Just as the biblical figures of Paul and Peter were ever-ready to give a defense to various groups for the hope that they had in Jesus, Christians today should arm themselves with scripture to defend their faith and the authenticity of the Bible.

According to Barna Research, 59-69 percent of people ages 18-29 are leaving the church or rethinking their faith. Mike Licona, a frequent speaker at [un]Apologetic conferences and noted apologetics expert, found that of the... [continue]

Two words can say much

Driving to work in the darkness of the early morning hours, two words captured my attention – "You OK?"

A business owner spoke to National Public Radio about his family-owned business declaring bankruptcy in 2012. The Charlotte Observer published a short story online, and Rodney Player's phone started ringing.

Player's son, who was away at college, saw the news. "He knew things were difficult for us," Player said, and then his sentence kind of fell apart. He seemed to be saying the news surprised his son. Then, "I think the actual filing hit the public airwaves and, you know, he sent me a text, a simple note – you OK?"

This question... [continue]

Prisoners starting churches: Philippi churches bring unique spin to prison ministry

MCKINNEY, TX – Prisoners have souls in desperate need of God's grace, just like the rest of us. One former missionary's observation of this truth led him to begin a simple Bible study in an East Texas detention center, which has now grown to a ministry across more than 20 prisons in the state.

Ted Lindwall served in Guatemala as a missionary for 45 years, but in 2005, he moved to Texas and began teaching a class on Christianity in the Collin County Detention Center.

"[The students] took the same [Bible] studies we used in our class and took them all over the jail and shared them with fellow prisoners," Lindwall said. The... [continue]

Go Now missionaries see God at work in the midst of opposition

We have Go Now missionaries faithfully serving everyday around the world. The peak time of service is over the summer, when many college students have a break from school. However, it is important to know we also have students who take a semester of time to serve the Lord wherever He has called them. I love being able to hear the phenomenal stories of these faithful students and pass them on to our Texas Baptists.

This week, two Go Now students serving in South Asia have endured spiritual warfare unlike what many of us have ever seen and have remained faithful to the Lord's call to proclaim the Gospel.

Rachel and Michelle* go out... [continue]

Sanctity of Marriage

Over the past few months there has been an outcry over the "Sanctity of Marriage."

I hold my marriage and that covenant between us and God in the highest regard. Apparently that's not all that common of a belief. There were 32 million names released through the Ashley Madison hack. For the three of you who don't know, Ashley Madison is a website dedicated to helping married couples cheat on their spouse.

As Christians, this information should outrage us as much as any other affront to our beliefs. Thing is, a lot of fellow Christ followers were among the 32 million names. This shows that we are all imperfect. It also shows that we... [continue]

Go Now Missions: Where college students are sharing the Gospel 365 days a year

Go Now Missions sends college students to the mission field 365 days a year through semester, summer and Christmas break trips. Since 1946, Texas Baptists have sent 9,820 student missionaries across the state, country and world. 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.

Cloe Veldhuis, a student at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, served as a Go Now missionary in the Philippines this past... [continue]

Hurting for Law Enforcement

The lead headline in Wednesday's USA Today may elicit sadness, anger, concern, or any number of reactions -- "Chilling: 4th Cop Slain in 9 Days."

Gliniewicz, Goforth, Nelson, and Vincent are the names of the four slain officers. We grieve with their families.

The cop world is dangerous. Cops have guns, and it seems everyone else has guns. And guns are good at killing people when in the wrong hands.

I hope we find this situation unacceptable -- that we not just shrug and say that's the way it is, that's the way it has always been, and that's the way it always will be. Jesus is about redemption, both eternally and temporally, brought... [continue]

It’s All About the Maintenance

With just a glance my way you can immediately see that I didn't spend much of my young adulthood taking care of my body. It was different when I was younger. Through high school and college I was very active and physically fit. But as I married, pursued a career, had a child and encountered health issues which limited my activity, taking care of myself kind of got put to the side.

As a Christian woman, wife of a minister and a mother, what is my responsibility to care for myself physically? Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have... [continue]

Texas Baptists dedicate new Rambler Park office space

After three days of unpacking crates and settling into new workstations, the Texas Baptists staff gathered together for a dedication of the eleventh and twelfth floors of the Rambler Park building located at 7557 Rambler Rd. in Dallas, which now houses the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

At the dedication ceremony, executive leaders recognized the dedicated work of internal employees and external partners who helped make the transition possible. The staff then joined one another in prayer for the building, the staff and for partners in ministry, including the 5400 BGCT-affiliated churches.

Jill Larsen, treasurer/CFO for Texas... [continue]

Football season is here

It must be football season because I dreamed about Bob Stoops last night. For those who don't know, Stoops is coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.

I hate the Oklahoma Sooners. They're like the evil Pied Pipers of Texas, luring our high school football players across the Red River, and who knows what happens north of the border.

The bad thing about my dream was that Stoops was a nice guy. He, one of my sons, and I were actually planning an IT startup together. It was all cutting edge; we were building a new thing called a personal television that was big and boxy. OK, dreams can be really strange. The main thing was this: What was Bob... [continue]