November 2015

Finding comfort in Wales through Christ’s human nature

Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews‬ ‭12:3‬ ‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I've found myself in a culture made up of people I don't know, and who do no not know me. I've left the familiarity of my home in Texas and I now live in a city that is far from my comfort zone. I no longer live in the Bible Belt. I live in a society that values independence and has little patience for institutionalized religion. Fair enough. It's been a... [continue]

Church Starting Profile: Melody Rich

Today, please welcome Melody Rich to the blog! Melody is the Ministry Assistant for Areas 4 and 6.

Melody has been working for Texas Baptists since July 8, 2015. For over twelve years, Melody has dreamed of moving to Dallas. "After applying for dozens of jobs in the retail and fashion field, God showed me this. I was unfamiliar with Texas Baptists, though I'd grown up in a Baptist church. My mom and sister, who attends Truett Seminary, a Baptist institution, suggested I try there. I applied and a week later came in for computer testing. I had... [continue]

From committing crimes to empowering leaders

Rick Vasquez found himself on his knees on the floor of his prison cell. His life had reached an all–time low.

By middle school, he was a drug dealer. By age 17, he was in jail and was forming gangs within the prison walls.

But that day, on the floor inside his cell, without a single other presence in the room, a book fell in front of him. He felt compelled to open the book. Unbeknownst to him, opening the book, called the Bible, would come to change his life forever.

From that moment on, Vasquez's life took a different direction.... [continue]

Church Starting Profile: Terry Lynch

Please welcome to the blog today, Terry Lynch! Terry has been with Texas Baptists for nine years. Before Terry started here, she worked for a church. A co-worker mentioned an open position with Texas Baptists and the rest is history! She serves as the Assistant to the Director of Church Starting, Paul Atkinson. She also assists the Church Starters in areas 1 and 3; John Silva and Jair Campos respectively.

If you'd like to get in contact with Terry, feel free to email her at terry.lynch [at], or visit our page.

What to give when friends and family have all they need

The season of gratitude and giving is just around the corner, and the stressful question is likely beginning to linger, "What do I give my friends who family who have everything they need?"

This holiday season, Texas Baptists is offering 34 opportunities in its first-ever Missions Gift Catalog to give unique gifts to people in Texas and around the world who do not have everything they need, especially the one thing they need most—hope of eternal life.

"Why would you want to give to someone that already has a lot when you could give... [continue]

How to practice healthy boundaries

In the 1990's, when my dad was a pastor, he and my mom set certain boundaries they fiercely protected both at home and church. There were no cell phones around us at that time. If the land-line phone rang during dinner, they didn't answer it. My dad would not respond to people until the next morning when he was back at the church office, unless an urgent message was left on the answering machine, to which he tended to the need at the moment.

Today, times are very different. Because of cell phones and social media, we stay connected with everyone all the... [continue]

Autonomy—A key principle in Baptist diversity and unity

One of the key distinctives of a Baptist church, suggested Julio Guarneri during the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists, is the concept of local church autonomy, rooted in the free access to God granted through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Guarneri, who serves as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, utilized Thomas Friedman's work, "The World is Flat", as a way to consider the role of hierarchy in the church. Whereas the work of globalization transformed the world from being large and disconnected to being interconnected and... [continue]

Get to know: Dan McGlasson

1. Where do you serve and what is your role?

I serve as Minister to Students at First Baptist Church in the center of the universe, El Paso, Texas. My responsibilities include the planning and coordination of the youth program, grades 6 through 12, along with general ministerial duties for the church

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

I don't know about influential, but for practical it is "The 7 Best Practices for Teaching Teenagers the Bible" by Andy Blanks. Very concise and a good manual for my workers.

3. Who is the... [continue]

Hunger Offering needs are still great

Hungry people in Texas and around the world need your help. Giving through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering has dropped greatly this year, but the need has not.

People in poverty need your support now. November has a fifth Sunday, which many churches use to collect Hunger Offering funds. Also direct individual gifts to the offering are being promoted through a Thanksgiving Share-a-Thon. Give by calling toll-free (800) 791-1544 (English or Spanish) or give online at either or the Spanish-language site, ... [continue]

Pull Up a Chair this November

I am a true fan of November.

Situated at the end of autumn and the dawn of winter, November welcomes scarf weather, soup, apple cider, and of course—Thanksgiving. Even though I am admittedly biased due to my November birthday, I fervently believe that Thanksgiving is the best holiday.

Think about it.

Thanksgiving is a day that solely focuses on gathering friends and family around a table for the sake of gratitude, community, and sweet potato casserole (the perfect food). What an ingenious idea!

My home is no exception. The Hearon family is... [continue]

Church Starting Profile: Paul Atkinson

Paul Atkinson is the Director of Church Starting. He has been with Texas Baptists for over 16 years! Before Paul began his career with Texas Baptists, he was Director of Missions at Golden Triangle Baptist Association in Beaumont, TX. There he worked with Bernie Spooner in the Sunday School department developing a training program called "Jesus Cares 2000". Each year, their team trained 1,500 leaders on Sunday School, deacons, evangelism, prayer and missions. During his work there with Bernie Spooner, Paul learned of an opportunity for a... [continue]

Singing Men of Texas celebrate 40 years of impact on music and worship

More than 1,200 attendees gathered on Tuesday evening to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Singing Men of Texas [SMOT], providing a beautiful ending to the 130th Annual Meeting for Texas Baptists. Hosted by Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church, in Allen, the concert featured 275 singers, with representatives from all six regional chapters.

Musical selections ranged from "Who Can Satisfy My Soul," by Jernigan, to "Your God Will Come" by Fielding/Morgan/Williamson.

Jay Ghormley, conductor from SMOT South, shared about... [continue]

First Things First

At the Texas Baptists' Annual Meeting, I taught a workshop on "Advocacy As Evangelism." During the workshop, I shared how advocacy could be a tool for evangelism and community transformation.

At the end of the workshop, a gentleman asked if I was promoting advocacy for advocacy's sake. I was prepared for the question, because lately I have been giving a lot of thought to the idea as my generation considers justice and community engagement a part of discipleship. Advocating for justice and promoting community engagement represent an expanded view of discipleship, but... [continue]

Missions update showcases wide range of Texas Baptists partnerships

The Tuesday afternoon worship session at the Texas Baptists Annual Meeting featured a broad update on many of the missions efforts the convention has identified as priorities.

Without the generosity of convention churches, none of these projects would be possible. without the generosity of convention churches, the first order of business was expressing gratitude, saying thanks and recognizing the generosity and selfless giving evident across the state.

Chris Liebrum, director of the Office of Cooperative Program... [continue]

Three students awarded scholarships for reflections on Baptist Distinctives

In the Tuesday morning session of the Texas Baptists Annual Meeting, Steve Vernon, associate executive director for Texas Baptists, introduced the winners of Texas Baptists' first sermon and essay scholarship contests.

Baylor University senior Nate Hilgenkamp was the winner of the sermon contest, and was provided the opportunity to share his sermon over Luke 1.

Hilgenkamp began by telling the audience about his apartment at Baylor, which he shares with seven of his friends. He mentioned that six of the eight... [continue]

When words are not enough

"Do this in remembrance of me." These words of Christ reverberate in the ears of His followers.

He commands action. When words are not enough and language reaches its limit, Christians enter into Christ's suffering and death through the symbolism of the Lord's Supper.

On Monday night, Texas Baptists gathered to take, eat and remember Jesus Christ, while Joel Gregory and Ralph West's powerful preaching on the Lord's Supper invited all to reflect on the times "when words are not enough."

"[The Lord's Supper] is not just a mental exercise in intellectual dexterity,"... [continue]

How to deal with conflict

Before my husband was a pastor, I had my ideas about pastors' wives. I figured they were more spiritual than the average person. That they were better at dealing with conflict. That they had some sort of secret, Holy Spirit infused wisdom that gave them the ability to know what to say, and when and how to say it.

Then my husband stepped foot in the pulpit on his very first Sunday.

I sat there in my designated spot on the front row, knowing without a doubt that I was no more wise, or spiritual or in tune with God's people than I had been the week before. Yet,... [continue]

Our Great Salvation: A Unifying Concept for Life and Baptists

During the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists, Todd Still, dean and professor at Baylor University's Truett Seminary, provided a workshop on the concept of salvation and how it has been broadly understood throughout Texas Baptist life in the 20th Century.

Utilizing Hebrews 2:1-4 as a starting passage, Still focused the group on the "great salvation" afforded to mankind through the message of Jesus Christ. He then turned his attention to the Baptist Faith and Message, both the 1963 and 2000 versions, and how this salvation had... [continue]

Texas Baptist Missions Foundation Honors Three at Annual Luncheon

The 2015 Mission Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation took place during the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists in Frisco on Nov. 9.

Greeting those who had gathered for the luncheon held at ParkwayHills Baptist Church, Bill Arnold, president of TBMF, thanked those who had supported the Foundation through the years and recognized past award recipients. He also welcomed to the microphone Sam Dennis, senior pastor of ParkwayHills, who provided a welcome from the church and the opening... [continue]

​Annual Meeting sermon: In an ever-changing world, dissension matters

Life is more than just football games and weather forecasts. God made us spiritual beings and therefore spiritual discussions matter, said Taylor Sandlin, pastor of Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo, during the annual sermon for the 2015 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.

At the Monday morning worship session held at the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco, the Grand Chorus, a choir of college students from Dallas Baptist University, commenced the service with joyous singing, which echoed across the concrete walls of the... [continue]

Building Community Through the Observance of the Lord's Supper

There is not a Gospel message, which cannot be shared around the table, according to presenters at "Beyond Words: Building Community Through the Observance of the Lord's Supper", an Annual Meeting workshop led by Jennifer Garcia Bashaw, assistant professor of religion, and Emily Row Prevost, director of ministry guidance and assistant professor of leadership, both at East Texas Baptist University.

Bashaw began by laying historical groundwork for the institution and practice of the Lord's Supper within the early church.... [continue]

​Advocacy for 'the least of these' as evangelism

You're standing on a riverbank looking up at a roaring waterfall. You watch as person after person washes over the edge and plunges 100 feet into the water. They're drowning. You can pull them out and try to save them one at a time, or you can climb to the top and figure out why people are falling over the waterfall in the first place.

This hike to the top — searching for the cause and striving for change — is a good analogy for advocacy, said Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Christian Life Commission.

"Advocacy is... [continue]

​The essence of Christianity is the Lordship of Christ

Jesus is the most significant person to live on the face of the world, Paul Powell, dean emeritus at George W. Truett Seminary, shared during a Monday afternoon workshop at the Annual Meeting in Frisco. Speaking on the Lordship of Christ, Powell shared how integral Jesus was in the history of the world.

"The name of Jesus," said Powell, "is not merely written in history, but plowed into history."

Powell explained the importance of the confession that Jesus is Lord and supported the claim through evidence rooted in... [continue]

​Baptism in today's church

On Monday morning of the 2015 Annual Meeting, Stephen Stookey, a fellow of B.H. Carroll Theological Institute, and Dr. Alan Lefever, director of the Texas Baptists Historical Collection, led a workshop on "Believer's Baptism and Church Membership."

Baptism has been the center of the faith since before the Christian church was formed. Presenters asserted if baptism started with John baptizing Jesus, how is that to be imitated in the Church today?

Lefever addressed two areas of conflict concerning baptism: the age of accountability and how churches handle like faith... [continue]

​Evangelism efforts produce good fruit in Texas

Though he's new to his role in the convention, Great Commission Team Director Delvin Atchison already has big dreams for what Texas Baptists can accomplish in our state and beyond.

During Monday's evangelism luncheon at Annual Meeting, Atchison preached on "dreaming in league with God" and the story of Joseph in Genesis 37.

"We're committed to changing the world through Texas," he said. "If we're going to dream in league with God, we must seek our dreams from the divine. The text says Joseph dreamed a dream that God gave him. God is... [continue]

Hardage thanks Texas Baptists for commitment to impacting the state

Texas Baptists are engaged in exciting work around the state, according to Executive Director David Hardage's report during Monday's business session at the Annual Meeting.

Hardage introduced several staffers beginning new work around the state of Texas. David Scott serves as director of BOUNCE, a student-led disaster recovery effort for students from 6th grade through college. Scott invited churches to send their students to join in trips during Spring Break and in the summer of 2016 for disaster recovery and community... [continue]

​Texas Baptists elect diverse panel of officers for second consecutive year

FRISCO–For the second consecutive year, Texas Baptists messengers have elected a diverse officer panel with René Maciel, president of the Baptist University of the Americás [BUA], elected as President.

The election was held during the Monday afternoon business session of the 130th Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which took place at the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco Nov. 8-10.

Also elected to the panel were Bedilu Yirga, pastor of Ethiopian Evangelical Baptist Church of Dallas, who was... [continue]

Why Baptists are a people of freedom

The pursuit of freedom has long been a driving force for Baptists, according to a panel discussion on Monday morning led by Dr. Stacey Conner, Bill Tillman and Steve Vernon. "Baptist Freedom – Model for the 21st Century" was one of multiple workshops held at Texas Baptists Annual Meeting. Dr. Conner serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church Muleshoe, and Tillman and Vernon both serve with Texas Baptists, as Director of Theological Education and Associate Executive Director, respectively.

Vernon began the discussion by laying out the history regarding... [continue]

African American Fellowship encourages an attitude of humbleness and wisdom

THE COLONY—We may do things differently, we may think differently, we may worship in different styles, we may speak different languages, but God calls us to one Gospel, Dr. Ponce L. Brown, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church and president of the African American Fellowship, encouraged guests at the African American Fellowship of Texas worship rally on Nov. 8.

Friendship Baptist Church in The Colony hosted the rally preceding the 2015 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting. Visitors engaged in worship facilitated by the... [continue]

Hispanic Baptists rally around Baptist Distinctives

Hispanic Baptists gathered Sunday night at a rally, which marked the end of the Hispanic leadership conference and the beginning of the broader Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.

"This year's focus is the Baptist distinctives; we're emphasizing who we are as Baptists and what makes us unique," said Rolando Rodriguez, director of Hispanic Ministries for Texas Baptists. "And our distinctives are not only what make us unique – they make us strong biblically, spiritually and as a denomination."

Between worship music sets, the evening's... [continue]

McLeod awarded for exceptional leadership in Intentional Interim Ministry

DALLAS—Dr. Jimmy McLeod, Intentional Interim Ministry pastor of Park Central Baptist Church in Dallas, was presented the 2015 Maples, Williamson, Daehnert (MWD) Award by the Texas Baptists' Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM) Network for his faithful work to the ministry.

On Oct. 13, McLeod became the seventh recipient of the MWD Award, which is given annually to pastors who have completed the IIM training and have shown exemplary leadership, vision and mentoring in their churches and with ministers.

"Dr.... [continue]

Rhythms of a Sacramental Imagination

When I was a young girl, I took piano lessons. My least favorite part about class was when my instructor, Ms. Escobedo, took out the metronome. I despised not being able to play the song as fast, or as slow as I wanted. To me, as an eight-year-old, I was a better pianist if I could play a piece of music equally as well at a rapid tempo as I could a slow one. However, Ms. Escobedo and the metronome thought otherwise.

Through years of practice, I began to appreciate the guidance of both. In fact, I became so enthralled with rhythm that I began... [continue]

Finding and restoring the lost

A large sign hangs in the hallway of nineteen:ten church with one simple word on display: Found. Each letter of the sign is made up of individual light bulbs. When a person accepts Christ as their Savior, turning their life from the darkness into the light, they turn on one light bulb, representing their decision. The sign serves as a reminder for church members and staff of the exciting new life found in Christ, and also of those who have yet to receive salvation.

The litmus test Pastor Jason Brown and his staff use to evaluate every component of their... [continue]

Texas Baptists respond to Syrian Refugee Crisis

With little more than clothes on their backs, displaced Syrian families are fleeing their war-torn homeland daily, seeking refuge as far away as the United States.

But some neighboring countries have been welcoming refugees since the Syrian conflict first began in 2011. The United Nations records that close to 1.08 million registered Syrian refugees have settled in Lebanon, a small country just west of Syria, totaling to nearly one-fourth of the Lebanese population.

In response to the crisis, Texas Baptists have come alongside their close... [continue]

Transforming parents, families and communities through Raising Highly Capable Kids

When was the last time your church actively ministered for 13 consecutive weeks to families of the community in a public school? In the 2014-2015 school year, two of our Hispanic churches were able to do this. So far, in the current school year (2015-2016) there are 13 churches ready to start doing this in their communities. They do this through our "Raising Highly Capable Kids" program.

"Raising Highly Capable Kids" is a course for parents designed to be offered in churches and communities, but... [continue]

Freedom through surrender

Serving as a co-pastor at Community Life Church (C-Life) in Forney, Randy Wade wears multiple hats day-in and day-out. From pastor, counselor, mentor and friend to husband, father and son, Randy serves many people in a variety of ways.

One day last fall, as he began listing out his roles in life and how he thought he ranked in each one, it became very apparent something was not right. While many ministers and leaders in the church complimented Randy on his giftings, it was hard for him to honestly rank himself above a two on a 10-point scale in any... [continue]

Sufficient unto the day

In college, my Greek professor had a standard answer when worried students started asking about the next exam. With a wry smile, he repeated, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." In other words, don't worry about that yet. (Or as some of us learned to interpret it, today was to be enjoyed because exam day would be a terrible day of judgment … ). Yes, it's biblical. See Matthew 6:34 in your KJV.

Just as students may worry over an upcoming exam, our uncertain world may cause infectious fear and worry within our churches. Severe weather, violence on... [continue]

We Hold These Truths - Haggling over small things

"There is too much to be done to haggle over small things."

We live in a broken world that aches for Christ. Until His return, we are to work as Jesus worked. And there is plenty to do.

People are hurting. People are lost.

Atrocities previously unimaginable seem almost commonplace.

A human life isn't seen as important or equal to another's.

The earth is changing climates. Disasters are harsh.

The divide between those who have and those who have not is widening at an astounding pace.

Yet, too often, individuals haggle over how to go about... [continue]

Christ’s light shines among refugees

An American Christian asked the gathered children if any had experienced difficulty in forgiving someone. One small boy raised his hand and said it was difficult forgiving the armed men who blew up a car, killing his uncle.

This very public and understandable confession occurred at a Baptist camp in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Texas Baptists are supporting ministries to Syrian refugees there through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering and through the refugee efforts in Lebanon.

Despite the boy's struggle with forgiveness, he also spoke of "his trust in... [continue]

1500 steaks and free ice cream

Last fall, bright-eyed freshman Lindsay Teweleit stepped foot onto the Texas Tech University campus seeking new adventures and friendships. But since she was placed in a dorm without a roommate, building relationships proved to be a challenge. She had no prior connections and craved community.

Lindsay was sitting alone in her room one day about a week before classes started when she suddenly heard a knock on her door.

"I literally jumped from my bed to the door, flying across the room," she said, expressing her enthusiasm about simply having a... [continue]

Encouragement to operate on faith

As long as I can remember, my mother validated her life by operating on faith. I was told that if you truly believed with all your heart that God is able, He will keep His promises. I've included some scriptures which remind me of His goodness, His grace and His mercy repeat in my mindset:

... [continue]

Texas Baptists Great Commission Team to undergo staff changes

Effective Nov. 1, the Texas Baptists Great Commission Team will undergo staff changes under the direction of Dr. Delvin Atchison, who assumed the role of director in mid-September.

Dr. David Hardage, executive director for Texas Baptists, announced the formation of the Great Commission Team at the February Executive Board Meeting along with the presentation of the convention restructure. Hardage envisioned the team to combine the Evangelism, Discipleship, and Music and Worship Teams so they may collaboratively better address... [continue]