August 2016

Labor Day can help us think about work from a Christian perspective

By Bill Tillman

Labor Day — what a novel and paradoxical concept, at least the way many Americans think about it. The day, the first Monday in September, has ambiguous origins. The rationale for the day was that the American worker needed to be honored for the economic and cultural achievements brought in by the national labor movement more than 100 years ago.

A paradox is that no labor is expected on Labor Day! It’s a holiday for many American workers. Christians could offer some perspective on the day off from work. Christians should project the idea that all of us need a day of rest. This Sabbath principle, a time of pausing... [continue]


Por Vicki Spriggs

Texas está en medio de una crisis tal que, si no la atendemos con urgencia, creará un daño a las generaciones venideras. Los niños que son rescatados de sus hogares son trasladados a un sistema quebrantado que se supone debe protegerlos, pero que en realidad muchas veces les causa más trauma, abuso y negligencia.

Artículos de noticias continúan exponiendo las fallas de nuestro sistema de protección de menores, y el sistema no muestra señales de mejoramiento. Desde la escasez de trabajadores y las fallas administrativas hasta la falta de lugares para hospedarlos debido al aumento de niños removidos de sus... [continue]

Preguntas y respuestas con una experta en el sistema de cuidado temporal de niños y adopcin

Samela Macon, directora general del sistema de cuidado temporal y adopción de los Servicios de Adopción y Maternidad de Buckner

Díganos un poco sobre su ministerio y cómo empezó este trabajo.

Mi ministerio empezó cuando de niña me daba cuenta que había niños que se sentían solos o aislados de los demás. Siempre me sentí atraída a ellos. A una edad temprana Dios me puso en el corazón que les comunicara que valían. Cuando no tenía respuestas para ellos, iba con mi mamá para ver si ella podía ayudarme a encontrar soluciones. No me daba cuenta que era el principio de un llamado de Dios en mi vida hasta años después cuando empecé... [continue]

Preguntas y respuestas con un padre de crianza – Nathan Buchanan

Nathan Buchanan, pastor de la Primera Iglesia Bautista de Mineral Wells, es un padre de crianza

¿Dónde está su iglesia? Cuéntenos un poco sobre su ministerio y su familia.

Sirvo como pastor de la Primera Iglesia Bautista de Mineral Wells. He servido aquí como pastor seis años y cinco años como ministro de jóvenes. Dios está haciendo muchas cosas buenas en Mineral Wells y estoy muy contento de servir aquí. Conocí y me casé con mi esposa, Kayla, en Weatherford mientras servía en una iglesia ahí como ministro de jóvenes y asistía al Seminario Teológico Bautista Southwestern. Tenemos tres hijas: Elaina, Kate y Olivia. Mi esposa no... [continue]

Q&A with a foster care and adoption expert -- Samela Macon

Samela Macon, senior director of foster care and adoption for Buckner Adoption and Maternity Services

Tell us a little about your ministry and how you got started in this work.

My ministry began as a child, taking notice of children who felt alone or isolated. My heart was always drawn to them. At an early age God pressed it upon my heart to let them know they were valued. When I didn’t have answers for them, I would go to my mother to see if she could help me find a solution. I didn’t understand that it was the beginning of God’s calling on my life, until years later when I began my career with Child Protective Services. In... [continue]

Q&A with a foster care dad -- Nathan Buchanan

Nathan Buchanan, pastor, First Baptist Mineral Wells, foster dad

Where is your church? Tell us a little about your ministry and your family.

I serve as pastor of FBC Mineral Wells. I have been here for six years as pastor and five years as youth minister. God is doing many great things in Mineral Wells, and I am very happy serving here. I met and married my wife, Kayla, in Weatherford while I was serving at a church in Weatherford as a youth minister and going to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We have three daughters, Elaina, Kate and Olivia. My wife stays at home and home schools our children and leads out in our... [continue]

What does hope mean to you?

Good Brunches are a series of conversations developed by an organization called Matryoshka Haus. Their purpose is to draw a diverse group of people around a common table to talk about meaningful things in healthy ways. The blog post below references the conversation that took place during the San Antonio Good Brunches around the topic of “hope.” Click here to read the intro post for Good Brunches.

“What does hope mean to you?” It can be a daunting question, especially if you have not spent much time thinking about it. I am intimidated by it, in fact. And because of that, it is intimidating to think about joining a table of people... [continue]

Texas’ Child Protection System is Failing our Children

By Vicki Spriggs

Texas is in the midst of a crisis that, if not addressed with the highest urgency, will create lasting damage for generations to come. Children removed from their homes are placed in a structurally unsound system that is meant to protect them, but in reality often subjects them to further trauma, abuse, and neglect.

News articles continue to expose the failings of our state’s child protection system — and the system shows little indication of improvement. From excessive caseworker turnover and management flaws, to a shortage of placements due to increased removals, the system has reached a breaking point that is... [continue]

Extending a hand to those in need in Spain

Ali Hearon, Hunger and Care Ministries specialist, and I recently returned from a trip to Spain to visit our Texas Baptists Hunger Offering partners in Barcelona and Denia. To read more stories about the Hunger Offering at work, check out - Let Love Be Genuine: A Texas Baptist Hunger Offering Story and Reaching out to neighbors and fighting to end poverty.

As Oretta stirred the huge pot of soup, almost as big as she was, she shared with us about her childhood in Italy where she learned to cook for large groups of people. She has lived in Denia, Spain, for many years and finds great joy in making meals at the daily feeding ministry... [continue]

Why I wasn't ready to get off that plane

I was gone for two months as a missionary. There were times I was hungry, times I was cold and times I missed my family. Oh man, I was ready to return to my homeland. I was ready to tie a flag around my neck and run around like all those stereotypical, Fourth-of-July celebrators. Y’all, I even sang “God Bless America” as I landed on the airstrip at the DFW Airport. I cried in the embrace of my family because the sense of relief overtook me. I had set foot on American soil, I felt safe and I was able to breathe. I was ready to step off that plane, or so I thought.

You see, I thought I was ready until the first day that I went out... [continue]

Outside the Box, Inside the World

We’ve all heard the term “Think outside the box” and we have all tried our fair share of doing just that in order to be different, competitive or rebellious. It’s one thing to “think” our way to a different path or solution, but a lot harder to “live outside the box.”

So, what is the box? It can be anything that society says is the only way to accomplish a particular goal, attempt a great feat or solve a difficult problem. The problem, however, is that we spend so much time thinking that we limit our ability of doing, and specifically, living outside the box.

Consider the man who created peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (I... [continue]

Texas Baptists to assist Louisiana flooding victims

Over 40,000 homes in Louisiana have been affected by recent historic floods. In a 36-hour period, areas in the state received as much as 30 inches of rain, leading to the evacuation of thousands of residents. Texas Baptists are responding in a variety of ways through Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery and providing support to many of our Baptist partners.

Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery will be responding to the long-term recovery needs of this disaster. To give to the ongoing work and recovery efforts, click here. Checks can also be sent to Texas Baptists, Memo: Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery, 7557 Rambler Rd, Suite 1100,... [continue]

Summit attendees learn how to care for families with special needs children

When Jason and Maggie Whitt shared about the impact of special needs ministry during the Childhood and Family Ministry Summit on August 12, they spoke from their personal experience parenting their 7-year-old daughter, Camille.

"It is important for the awareness to be heightened for families of children with special needs,” Whitt shared on Friday evening at First Baptist Church of Arlington, where the retreat was held. “This will raise the awareness of the entire church."

The Childhood and Family Ministry Summit, with 375 ministers in attendance this year, has prepared leaders on how to become better teachers, ministers and... [continue]


Mi sobrina, Caroline, tiene dos años. Es preciosa y recientemente regresó a casa después de su primer día de clases con una confesión a mi hermana.

“Teno (tengo) nebos (nervios)”, le dijo a mi hermana en el auto de camino a casa. Caroline es inteligente, y mi hermana también lo es.

Los niños experimentan muchas cosas nuevas al entrar por primera vez en un salón de clases. Nuevos maestros, nuevos compañeros de clase, nuevas reglas; es, sin lugar a dudas, una experiencia abrumadora.

Todos sabemos lo que es tener miedo a lo desconocido.

Pocas cosas son tan universalmente desconcertantes como la posibilidad de hacer algo nuevo... [continue]


Por Kathleen Hardage

¿Qué significan para usted las palabras: “Regreso a clases”? Seguramente le traen recuerdos y emociones, y esos recuerdos y emociones son muy diferentes en los estudiantes, exestudiantes, padres y maestros. Como cristianos, y aun como iglesia, ¿cómo podemos ayudar a que nuestros maestros formen recuerdos y emociones positivas?

(En este artículo, el pronombre “ella” se usará para referirse a los maestros, simplemente porque la mayoría de estos son mujeres, pero sepa que la escritora de este artículo valora también a los maestros varones).

1. Ore por una maestra. Este es un hábito que se puede desarrollar... [continue]

Five Ways to Bless Your Child’s Teacher

By Kathleen Hardage

“Back To School.” What do those words mean to you? Certainly they bring memories and emotions, and those are very different for students, former students, parents, and teachers. As a Christian and even as a church, how can we build positive emotions and fond memories for the teachers in our lives?

(In this article, the pronoun “she” will be used to refer to teachers, simply because the majority are female. But please know that this writer values the male teachers out there as well)

1. Pray for a teacher. This is an easy pattern to develop, especially if you are a parent. As you send your student out the door... [continue]

Back to school nerves

My niece, Caroline, is two years old. She is precious and recently returned from her first day at preschool with a confession to make.

“I feel nerbus (nervous),” she told my sister on the car ride home. Caroline is a bright kid. My sister is, too.

Many unknowns await children as they walk through the threshold of a new classroom. New teacher, new classmates, new rules -- it is a daunting experience to say the least.

Everybody knows what it is like to be afraid of the unknown. Few things are as universally unnerving as the prospect of doing something new among people we’ve never met. Times like these remind us how earnestly we... [continue]

As you go … make disciples

Nothing is certain but death and taxes… or so they say. I would add another certainty: 24 hours.

Each day, we are given 24 hours to do and leave undone. We all have certain responsibilities that have to be done. We all have leisurely activities that vie for a portion of that time. And then there are the other obligations forced upon us (i.e. “other duties as assigned” in our jobs). But all we are given are 24 hours.

The average American sleeps for eight hours and 45 minutes. If you have a smartphone, you will look at it on average 85 times a day, for a total of five hours. On average, you will give 50 minutes to Facebook and... [continue]

Empowering parents to disciple their teenagers

Youth ministers have many roles in the life of a teenager - teacher, friend, mentor, role model, event coordinator, source of wisdom - the list could go on and on. The role of primary discipler in the life of a student, however, should belong to the parents says Brett Levy, minister to youth at First Baptist Church Georgetown.

Having served in ministry for the past 23 years, Levy has seen and tried a myriad of approaches to discipleship, many times with great success. Five years ago, though, Levy realized that the traditional structure of his youth group may be skewed.

While typical youth ministry programming included training... [continue]

Childhood Discipleship: Training up a child

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

At one month old, babies can fix their eyes on faces and respond to what they see. By one year, trust is developed. By age 3, a child’s brain is 80% the size of an adult’s. By age 4, they have a wide range of emotions. By age 9, their spiritual foundations are in place.

Children are impressionable from the moment they open their eyes, not only physically and emotionally, but also spiritually. Discipling them from a young age can shape who they become as adults. Childhood discipleship can take place in the preschool area, in... [continue]

Baking Cakes – a recipe for discipleship

So, here’s the story. I have this friend. I’m only one of many friends he has. He’s a baker and makes the most awesome cakes. And ages ago, he gathered a bunch of his friends and sort of commissioned them to head out and enlist others to be cake bakers like him. It was a big deal, and that original group really got it! I mean, they were immediately baking cakes and enlisting others to bake cakes. The business grew exponentially.

But now, many years later, our group of cake bakers has sort of gotten off track. When we get together to talk about our enlistment and training program to develop more bakers, we tend to get bogged down... [continue]

Wisdom-Martin sees new national role as ‘an act of obedience’

DALLAS—When friends approached Sandy Wisdom-Martin about being considered as the next executive director of national Woman’s Missionary Union, she recalled having “a long list of valid reasons” why she should not.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin found joy in her role as executive director-treasurer of Woman's Missionary Union of Texas and grew to love the staff.

She was happy in her role as executive director-treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas and loves the people with whom she works. Her husband, Frank, is a hospice social worker who finds deep satisfaction in his ministry. Her daughter, Hannah, starts her senior year of high... [continue]

Wisdom-Martin sees new national role as ‘an act of obedience’

DALLAS—When friends approached Sandy Wisdom-Martin about being considered as the next executive director of national Woman’s Missionary Union, she recalled having “a long list of valid reasons” why she should not.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin found joy in her role as executive director-treasurer of Woman's Missionary Union of Texas and grew to love the staff.

She was happy in her role as executive director-treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas and loves the people with whom she works. Her husband, Frank, is a hospice social worker who finds deep satisfaction in his ministry. Her daughter, Hannah, starts her senior year of high... [continue]

7 Reasons Ministry Wives Need to Retreat Together

The first staff wives retreat I attended came very early on in my 26 years of marriage and ministry with Clay. I’ll be honest: at the time, I did not think it was all that great. My biggest takeaway from the weekend came when my then pastor’s wife told me, “I will never get close to another church member again. I did that once, and I got burned.” I was young. She was seasoned. I respected and valued the wisdom and experience she had. And her outlook was troubling to me. I recognized the line I would walk in relationships as the wife of a minister. I also knew friendship was something I would need.

Then, there was the time we were... [continue]

Can you see Him working?

Throughout our daily plans and schedules, God is present, anointing conversations and authoring divine appointments with perfect precision. It's easy to become distracted from God's presence by our own thoughts and to-do lists; however, when we ask God to provide opportunities to trust Him, He does. And He did for me.

The day after our ministry in Orlando was over, a few team members and I decided to go out to eat for dinner. Our original plan was Steak 'N Shake, but after seeing how crowded it was, we decided on Wendy's.

While enjoying our fast food, a man approached our table, looking like he had seen better days. The man... [continue]

Así como los deportistas se preparan para las olimpiadas, los cristianos tambien nos

Apenas comenzaron las Olimpiadas el viernes pasado, y yo ya estoy obsesionada. Me encanta ver a los amigos y familiares de los deportistas que participan, animarlos. Me fascina aprender nombres y deportes nuevos y países de los que no había oído antes, pero creo que lo que más me emociona es saber que este es el momento que anhelaron por cuatro años. Este es el momento en que toda su práctica, sus sesiones de entrenamiento y su arduo trabajo de los últimos cuatro años se ve reflejado en el escenario más grande de sus vidas.

Reconocemos los nombres de algunos de ellos: Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas, Serena Williams, Kerri Walsh... [continue]

Praying for conversations in the Middle East: Part Two

Click here to read Part One. 

The next day, we went to a mall with the hope of finding some women shopping. It was about lunch time and we met a girl in the restroom. One of my teammates asked her where would be a good place to have lunch. This girl seemed extremely friendly, so we started talking about the places we’ve visited and asked her where else would be good to go. Suddenly, she invited us to her house on Friday to have a meal with her family. For Muslims, Friday is an important day, like our Sunday. So we felt very honored to be invited and also very excited to visit a local family.

This girl has five siblings. Her... [continue]

Episode 3: Disciple Making - Michael Kelley

What does it look like to follow Jesus day-by-day? Join us on this episode of the Podcast, as Joshua and Kalie talk with Michael Kelley, director of Groups Ministry for LifeWay Resources, about the trends and methods churches can use for making disciples. While tools are helpful, in the end, people make disciples.

Resources ... [continue]

Like Olympians, Christians are in Training, Too

The Olympics started last Friday, and I am already obsessed. I love watching their friends and family cheer them on. I love learning new names, new sports, and obscure countries, but I think for me the most exciting thing is knowing that this moment is the one they’ve waited four years for. This is the moment they bring all of the training, all of the coaching sessions, all of the hard work over the last four years together on the biggest stage of their lives.

We know some of their names going in -- Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas, Serena Williams, Kerri Walsh Jennings -- but most Olympians spend four years in obscurity toiling away... [continue]

Lessons to learn when your garden gets trampled

Just looking at this picture, even though it was taken a while back, still stirs up feelings of disappointment. It was just a garden, but I worked hard on this little patch of dirt. It was my first attempt at gardening. The area where I planted was next to the fence in our backyard. I had tilled the ground, planted seeds, watered and pulled the weeds from around it. I checked on my little garden every day. My plants were thriving nicely. There were squash, green onions and carrots.

One day, I heard dogs barking in my backyard. Surprised (because we don’t have a dog), I looked out the back door and saw my backyard neighbors’ dog... [continue]

Praying for conversations in the Middle East: Part One

This country is definitely blessed and incredibly beautiful. By embracing all the extremes of nature - from sea to desert and the mountains to cliffs - it composes the most breathtaking symphony. I am totally in awe of God’s amazing creation and masterpiece here. His love and grace can be found everywhere.

On one side is the immense ocean - a nurturing, magnificent abundance of life, full of grace. On the other side is the boundless dry land, yellow sands, brown stones and rocks - where God’s grace is even more demonstrated on the traces of life through the yellowish grass and bushes, goats, camels, etc.

Such extremes of living... [continue]

El Orar por Nuestros Líderes Políticos Marca la Diferencia

Un exlegislador de Texas me dijo un día que al estar en su asiento en la Casa de Representantes para ponderar un proyecto de ley, comenzó a meditar en lo que la Biblia dice. Este hombre no es alguien que asiste a la iglesia regularmente, pero aquel día en Austin recordó que la Biblia dice que amemos a los niños. Votó a favor de los niños de Texas, lo cual asombró a algunas personas y probablemente le causó dificultades políticas.

No les diré su nombre porque solo hablábamos de temas diversos y este fue uno de tantos en nuestra conversación.

Después dijo algo relevante para el día de hoy. Alguien se quejó con él sobre los... [continue]

Alerta de Activismo: Alto a la Trampa de la Deuda

Muchos de ustedes nos han seguido en nuestra lucha por la reforma contra la industria de los préstamos del día de pago y de título de auto. Algunos han llamado a sus legisladores y han hablado en las juntas de ayuntamiento en favor de reglamentaciones locales a los préstamos del día de pago, y todavía hay mucho trabajo por hacer. Hoy estamos pidiéndole a nuestro grupo de apoyo una nueva norma de parte de la Oficina de Protección al Consumidor (CFPB, por sus siglas en inglés) con el propósito de aplicar mano dura a algunas de las más abusivas prácticas de la industria.

Las reglas de la CFPB están diseñadas para "establecer una... [continue]

Advocacy Alert: #StoptheDebtTrap with CFPB

Many of you have followed our work to reform the payday and auto-title lending industry, some have called their legislators and spoken at city council meetings in support of local payday ordinances, and there is still important work to do. Today, we are asking our network to support a new rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aimed at cracking down on some of the most abusive practices in this industry.

The CFPB is designed to a “provide a single point of accountability for enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace.” The CFPB is structured to insulate it, and its... [continue]

A first-hand Go Now Missions story

For those of us from a church context, the woman at the well is a familiar story. I encourage all of you to talk a minute to read John 4:7-42.

This passage tells a story of a woman, who after encountering Jesus, immediately goes and tells everyone she knows about him. This is the account of what she did:

“So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ’ They went out of the town and were coming to him ... The people of that town came to Jesus, and they encountered him too. What happened after that? And many more believed
... [continue]

Praying for political leaders makes a difference

A former Texas legislator told me the other day of sitting in his chair on the House floor, considering a bill, and thinking about what the Bible says. This man is not a regular churchgoer now, but that day in Austin he remembered the Bible talking about loving the children. He voted for the children of Texas in a vote that shocked some people and promised to cause him political difficulties.

I don’t share his name because we were just visiting about different matters, and this was a passing part of the conversation.

He next said something important for today. Someone complained to him recently about one of this year’s... [continue]

Praying for Fish in Alaska

I wanted to share a neat story about something that happened on our beach last Sunday. After setting up our equipment early Sunday morning, we served hot dogs for a few hours before shutting down for an informal church service in front our our tent. We put up a cross and gathered in front of it.

Throughout the weekend, we had been inviting people to come and a fair number of people showed up. Up until this point, fishing had not been good for the whole beach. Standing out with their huge dip-nets in the close to freezing water and bone chilling wind, most people did not have a whole lot to show for all their time and... [continue]

Minister’s family advocates for suicide prevention awareness after loss of son

So many people are quiet about it, but so many people are suffering. This statement could be true about a myriad of struggles people face every day, but for Gene and Pam Talbot the struggle is the impact of suicide after their son, Michael, took his own life in 2010.

Gene serves as associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Crosby, a position he has held for the past 17 years. During his experience in ministry, he has walked with families through many difficult times but following the loss of his own son, his empathy and understanding has grown exponentially.

Michael was the oldest of the Talbots two children, raised in the... [continue]