October 2015

Baptist Distinctives

Baptists are a fellowship of Christians who…

Hold certain beliefs

  • God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
  • The Lordship of Jesus Christ
  • The Bible as the sole written authority for faith and practice
  • Soul competency, accountability, and responsibility
  • Salvation only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord as Savior
  • The security of the believer who has responded to God's grace through faith
  • The priesthood of each believer and of all believers in Christ
  • Baptism of believers by immersion
  • Church membership voluntarily entered only by baptized believers
  • Baptism and the Lord's
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Opportunities for patience and obedience in the day-to-day

God's Provision at the Post Office

A few weeks ago, I took an Iranian man, Robert*, to the post office to see if he could find some boxes he had been looking for in the mail for weeks. He shipped seven boxes of books to his new address here in Fort Worth before he left Malaysia about three months ago. The boxes were long overdue and only one had arrived. When we went to the post office we waited in the long, end of the day line that's always there in the afternoon. For a while, I passed the time on my phone. When I started... [continue]

Do you know the point of a steeple?

When people hear the word "church," many, Christian or not, picture a steeple. For those of us who went through years of Vacation Bible School, we just recited, "Here's the church. Here's the steeple. Open the doors, see all the people" in your mind or with your hands.

Steeples have a place in our churches, cities and lives. They serve as a visual statement of a church, a landmark altering the skyline of the city and a focal point for those of us going into church.

Historically, steeples served two main purposes – to help the congregant in his/her... [continue]

Nine churches to be recognized for Cooperative Program giving during Annual Meeting

DALLAS - This year, during the Texas Baptists Annual Meeting in Frisco, nine churches will be recognized for their Cooperative Program giving. Since 1925, the Cooperative Program has provided the fuel to fund missions work in Texas, the United States and around the world.

"There is no way to measure, this side of heaven, the kingdom impact made by the sacrificial giving of thousands of Texas Baptists churches participating in CP over the last 90 years," said Chris Liebrum, director of the Office of... [continue]

New block party trailer to open doors for evangelism in Collin County

FRISCO—From colorful bounce houses and entertaining games to savory-smelling food and captivating music, block parties have a way of drawing a crowd and are a popular outreach tool. But they can also be expensive and burdening to plan.

Last weekend, Collin Baptist Association (CBA) received a brand new Block Party Trailer, complete with all of the essentials a church needs to host a block party for no cost, aside from commodities and food.

The trailer, gifted to CBA by the Texas Baptists Evangelism Team and assembled by... [continue]

Engage 24: Sharing the Gospel with two pennies on a college campus

We first met Joe while doing a Solarium Outreach Table on campus about a month ago. He was more than willing to participate in sharing about his life and beliefs. To be honest, I don't remember if it was me or my fellow campus missionary intern, Patrick, who led him through the survey, but I do remember he heard the Gospel that day. About a week ago, I ran into Joe again while I was playing pool in the University Center. I said "hello" to him and he seemed surprised that I even remembered his name. He played a game or two... [continue]

Get to know: Charles Washington

  1. Where do you serve and what is your role?I serve at the Texas Baptist Children's Home as the minister of youth and recreation.
  2. Most influential book you've read in the past two years?No More Excuses by Tony Evans
  3. What I love most about youth ministry is . . .Building relationships with youth. I love the aspect of community building because it creates deep and lasting bonds. Despite the brokenness in the world, the kids I work with are great to be around, and as they come and go, the memories I make with them are life long, and will never leave.
  4. If I could see
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Lessons from a London learning lab

The London I'd heard of was damp and dreary, but the London I experienced on the first Texas Baptists Learning Lab was anything but. I found the city awash in mid-summer sunlight, broad rays bouncing off weathered stones and gilded storefronts, illuminating bustling faces full of energy and thought. There wasn't the slightest hint of a fog. My expectations proved to be amiss.

And in a way, that's exactly why I was there. Fourteen of us – men and women, young and not-so-young, pastors and lay leaders – banded together from across the state to... [continue]

From brokenness to redeemed: Community transformation and the church

When teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus declared to the Father, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). His prayer was an invitation for redemption – but it was also a bit of a cliffhanger.

How does a community go from brokenness to redeemed as it is in heaven? What does it look like for those words to become flesh? While I do not have a complete answer, I do believe the Lord has charged churches with a divine call to act as catalysts for this transformational process.... [continue]

Eating Together

"Let's eat." Those may be my favorite two words. Whether it's dinner with my family or Wednesday night supper at church, few things speak of the abundant life God longs to give us like sitting together over a delicious meal. Perhaps that's the reason Jesus' primary commandment about Christian worship involved the commandment to eat together. Baptists generally believe Jesus left us with two ordinances for worship: baptism and the Lord's Supper. While we have brought baptism into the building, baptisms originally happened in public. The one thing Jesus told us to do when... [continue]

Understanding persecution in North Africa

We had been meeting with O and his family for a few weeks, they are Sudanese refugees. He has had contact with several followers, but we had not yet determined whether he was one, too, or not. His wife had already committed her life to the Son and had been on fire.

The Christian worker, J, who connected with them, had been mentoring her one-on-one for a few weeks by this point. However, they were (and still are) undergoing a lot of persecution. When her brother in Sudan found out she had switched over from his religion to following the Son, he... [continue]

Why it is important to live life with intentionality

I'm not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. However, I was challenged about ten years ago by a friend to give running a try. "Running?" I asked. How funny is that! I had never been in any kind of sport in school. I did accept her challenge and began running with her. Physically, it was the hardest thing I had ever attempted. It was very slow at first; just down the street a bit, then adding a little more distance each time. Before I knew it I had reached ten miles over time after a great deal of hard work and determination... [continue]

Creating bold youth disciples in the midst of a cultural revolution

In the midst of a cultural revolution where technology has cultivated a "me" generation and immorality is prevalent, youth ministers have a unique and challenging role in teaching students to be bold disciples.

Tim Elmore, founder and president of Growing Leaders in Georgia, shared expert insight to a room full of church youth workers on leading today's youth at Texas Baptists' Youth Ministry Conclave, which was held in Arlington Oct. 12-14.

Today's culture fosters "artificial maturity," said Elmore, who has... [continue]

Handling the Cheapest of Commodities: Criticism

Criticism is everywhere. It's a constant. If you're in any form of ministry leadership (or any kind of public service), you don't have to go looking for it. People offer it for free, especially church people. It is the cheapest of today's commodities in our hyper-opinionated culture.

So, how do we handle it when it comes our way?

In an earlier post, Preaching as Performance, I highlighted the value of coming to grips with our insecurities and tendencies toward an unhealthy performance orientation. That's a good foundation for dealing with... [continue]

An expression of love at Christmas

The viral video begins with a college-age young man approaching a homeless man on the street. The pessimist in me assumes the young man and his videotaping cohort are up to no good. I'm expecting them to taunt the poor man, tape their escapades and replay it for their evil pleasure.

I underestimated the power of love.

The young men proceed to take the homeless man to a clothing store. There, they allow the man to choose a new pair of shoes, two pairs of jeans, several shirts and other clothes. The receipt on the video shows $151 in expenditures.... [continue]

How can baby boomers impact millennials and why should we care?

In an address to baby boomers about their sphere of influence within churches today, David Kinnamon, president of Barna Group, encouraged attendees to take time to pour into the upcoming generations of millennials.

Kinnamon served as a keynote speaker at this year's National Boomer and Senior Adult Ministry Conference hosted by Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio. The event drew 215 attendees, representing 90 churches and organizations from 17 states.

Referring to present-day America as a "Digital Babylon," Kinnamon... [continue]

How to embrace your place

Most of our lives in the ministry, we have lived in places not readily recognized by many people. When asked where we lived, our answers sounded like this: "It's in Hill County, just North of Hillsboro." "On the outskirts of Wichita Falls." "Midway between Dallas and Texarkana." Now we live in a city so famous we don't even have to say "Texas" after it. Ironically, I feel less known here than in the "unknown" places.

Wherever you are serving and ministering, God knows you. He remembers you. He sees you. He uses you. He did not send you there to forget or ignore... [continue]

5 important ways on how to finish strong

At 45, I am beginning to have thoughts of what it will take to finish strong. Sitting in the middle of life, I want to be able to approach retirement and grand-parenting with no regrets. How can I make the most of my choices now so I can finish strong? Someone once said, "One thing about getting old is that you can sing in the bathroom while brushing your teeth." I want to believe God has more for us to do! Let's look at Psalm 71 and see five important ways on how to finish strong.

Some say David penned Psalm 71 when he fled from his son Absalom.... [continue]

The scourge of Texas

It covers miles of Texas in its bumpy, noisy, low efficiency mess.

What is it? Chipseal.

I spend a lot of time on the roads around our fair state and few things offer the full-on assault of my senses like chipseal. If you've driven just about anywhere, you've been fortunate enough to experience the joys of the stuff.

The pro of chipseal: it's cheap. Holding to the truth that you get what you pay for, it shouldn't surprise you that it's the only check in the pro column.

The cons of chipseal are many and I've taken the liberty of biasedly discussing a few of them for your... [continue]

Retreat brings mentally challenged adults together for weekend of fun and worship

The crowd roared with sheer excitement, clapping their hands and screaming with joy, all in response to one simple question: "Are you ready to study the Word of God this weekend?"

Much of the jubilant crowd, consisting of about 350 Special Friends Retreat campers and volunteers, had been looking forward to the Oct. 2-3 weekend all year long.

At the retreat for adults over 12-years-old with special needs, campers worship, engage in Bible studies and make crafts. But the highlight of the weekend for... [continue]

Living life to the fullest in Wales: Part 2

Read Part 1.

My goal for the year is to present Jesus to the people I meet, exactly as He is. Not as a strident task-master, but has a friend who, by His death on the cross, has freed us up to live and to love others.

Michael Frost, whose writing we've been assigned to read over the last few weeks, says that a missionary's job is to live questionable lives, and to alert people to God's reign as the King and Creator of this earth. This excites me.

Like I said in my earlier post, God has allowed me to have passions, and as my Father, He... [continue]

Living life to the fullest in Wales: Part 1

"I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10

Students have arrived in Bangor, and the town has new life. A university town with no university students is a quiet town. Before, the town would become eerily quiet at around six when all the cafes and shops started to close. There was no night-life, and not much to do in the day either. But then students got here and now the town is abuzz at all hours of the night, which I quite enjoy.

Now that there are students in town, there are friends to be made. Last night, I... [continue]

Donating in times of disaster: what to and what not to donate

Hearts are moved when disaster has strikes a community. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and other types of disasters can suddenly change the lifestyle of a family, community or country. Churches and civic organizations desire to get involved. Below are the top five donations most often needed following any disaster:

  1. Financial donations are the best kind of donation to make, which is explained further below. Funds (cash donations to Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery) can be given online here.
  2. Gift cards to
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When God has a bigger plan

I had a plan at an early age.

I wanted to become a preacher's wife; to be just like our preacher's wife, Ms. Nelda, whose face was kind. Her husband was well-spoken and always jolly. He seemed like an angel to me as he stood in the baptismal waters on special Sundays with light from heaven (it seemed) shining on him and the one he plunged into the waters.

They lived in the holiest spot in town, in a gingerbread-looking rock house right across from the church. They were lucky enough to have a constant stream of friends, including myself, who would cross... [continue]

Vision-casting for missions during budget time

In my work, I hear churches talk about wanting to get back on mission in the community. However, until a church puts actual dollars towards this goal, it is very unlikely it is ever going to happen.

As the groups who put the budget together sit down each year look at what the spending will be for the next year, the budget needs to include funding for any outreach that will take place.

When you budget two things are important, specifics and flexibility.

Spend some time praying, asking the Lord to give you a vision for the next year and gather... [continue]

BSM and local churches in Rio Grande Valley unite to feed the 4,000

For college sophomore Arly Garza, handing out hot dogs and Bibles on her university campus took on a deeper meaning when she was able to serve alongside both her college friends and church leaders.

The idea behind the UT Rio Grande Valley BSM-led initiative, called "Feeding the 4,000," derived from Mark 8:1-9 where Jesus and His disciples distributed a small amount of bread and fish to 4,000 people.

Local churches, such as Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, joined in the effort by providing financial... [continue]

Get to know: Mike Vasquez

Mike Vasquez is the youth pastor at First Baptist Church Hondo.

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

"Crazy Love" by Francis Chan

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

My home pastor, Bob McCarter. Pastor Bob taught/modeled what it meant to love the church, and what it meant to invest in relationships.

3. What I love most about youth ministry is . . .

I love students. They are the present and they are the future. Watching them grow and develop into men and women of God is my favorite... [continue]

Mum's the word

Mum is also the amazingly large concoction that has appeared over the hearts of many a young woman this high school homecoming season.

Born in Texas, but raised in Tennessee, the concept of a mum larger than her date is rather odd to me. So, I've done a little research after doting over some friends' pictures of their daughters' "mumification."

The Internet told me that the chrysanthemum, back in the late 1700s became known as the "Queen of Fall Flowers." Perhaps there is a connection between that title and the idea of homecoming queen. (I didn't search that, but feel... [continue]

Texas Baptists to observe Baptist roots at Annual Meeting

FRISCO—Texas Baptists are examining their roots at the Nov. 8-10 annual meeting with the theme "Deep Roots: Living Legacy."

The meeting at Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco and will center around Colossians 2:6-7, with a special emphasis placed on the Baptist Distinctives.

"This year, we'll examine Baptist Distinctives and share the reasons we choose to be Baptist," explained Kathy Hillman, BGCT president. "Together we'll explore our deep roots and celebrate our living legacy through inspiring worship, enlightening workshops and... [continue]

Executive Board recommends $35.42 million budget for 2016

DALLAS- At the Sept. 29 business session of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board, it was unanimously approved to recommend a 2016 net budget of $35.42 million to messengers at the Nov. 8-10 Annual Meeting.

The budget will rely on $31 million in Cooperative Program receipts from churches, a decrease of $900,000 from the 2015 budget. It also requires $4.42 million in investment income, a $1.82 million increase from 2015 made available in part due to invested proceeds from the sale of the Baptist Building.

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