A Surprise Call
by Guest Author on May 18, 2018 in culture
I was surprised when I got a call out of the blue from movie producers at Pure Flix asking if they could make a feature film based on my book, “The Case for Christ.”After all, my book had been published nearly two decades earlier...
Choosing the right social media platform for your church
by Brandi Jones on April 23, 2018 in blog
Today, churches have access to the largest and most diverse mission field, with people from nearly every continent, age group
and cultural background. In Matthew 10, Jesus sent out his disciples to share the Good News, and we have the same mission today - just with more advanced tools...
Truth to be obeyed, not advice to be heeded
by Guest Author on May 22, 2017 in culture
Some people have a sweet tooth; I have teeth made of sugar. My grande white chocolate mocha with extra whip and an extra pump of white chocolate epitomizes this. When the barista announces my coffee flavored sugar drink before the morning rush crowd, a tinge of shame comes over me. However, this shame subsides when she announces the next order – a no foam, soy milk latte at 91 degrees with two packets of Splenda and a light sprinkling of hazelnut.
Who would have thought warmed bean water could be so customizable?
Such is life in 2017. We know what we like, how we like it, and we expect the barista to serve our drink to us our...
Protecting children in your church from sexual abuse
by Katie Swafford on April 18, 2017 in culture
Sexual abuse is not a topic that most any of us want to discuss, but it is a discussion we must have in our churches because:
1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18.
1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.
Of child abuse cases reported in Texas, 68% were sexual abuse cases.
Think about your church congregation and apply some easy math. If you have 200 people in your church, 100 females and 100 males, those statistics translate to 25 females and 16 males in your church that either have or will experience sexual abuse. Chances are more likely than not that you have someone in your...
Embracing local culture: Country Church thrives in East Texas
by Kalie Lowrie on March 20, 2017 in culture
As Pastor and Church Planter Jordan Wilson stands back and reflects on all God has done in the three-and-a-half years since Tyler County Country Church (TC3) began, he is truly in awe. Standing in a 16,000 square foot, two-story building in Woodville, which opened its doors in October 2016, Wilson can point to so many moments of God’s faithfulness and provision.
TC3 was started by Wilson and his wife, Emily, in 2013 after being approached by First Baptist Church Woodville and six other churches who saw the need for a new church in the area to reach a different segment of the population. Initially, the church was started as a...
What’s not in your wallet?
by Bill Arnold on February 17, 2017 in culture
If your wallet is like mine, it’s easier to put things into it than take them out. I also find that I want to have all the important personal information with me – just in case. My overly-stuffed wallet sends a message that I have a lot of cash or – these days – credit and debit cards in my wallet. Not that the ladies are exempt – in a store not long ago, I watched a lady dig through a plethora of cards to find the one that had enough credit on it (that’s a subject for another article) to buy what she wanted. Had I slipped one of those cards out of her stack, she would have never missed it until she got the bill.
Even a casual...
Fort Worth church supports and connects local students in robotics competition
by Melody Rich on January 10, 2017 in culture
In 2004, Oscar Vazquez was an undocumented immigrant at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Arizona. A young boy looking for a way to move ahead in life he desired to serve his country in the military, but because of his undocumented status he was barred from any military service.
Then a chance, or not so chance, discovery of a Marine Underwater Robotics Competition spun Oscar’s life into an entirely new direction. He and his team went on to win the national competition held in Santa Barbara, California, beating teams including one from MIT.
In 2015, film director Sean McNamara adapted Oscar and his remarkable team’s story to...
The Election is over, now what?
by Kathryn Freeman on November 9, 2016 in culture
Now that the election is over, you might be tempted to put politics out of your mind, but now that our new leaders are in office it's important that we stay engaged. Our political engagement does not end in the voting booth, in fact, the voting booth should be just the starting point.
According to the Annette Strauss Institute, only 9 percent of Texans have ever contacted their elected officials, which means that 9 percent has an outsized influence on our politicians. Political engagement should not be about a specific party agenda, but about the agenda of the Christ.
As Christians, we are specifically called to be concerned...
So that they may reach their potential
by Gabriel Cortés on November 2, 2016 in culture
Haga clic aquí para leer este artículo en español.
One of the things that distinguishes Texas Baptists from other conventions is that we have made the education of our Hispanic students a priority. This is why about seven years ago, Texas Baptists created the Hispanic Education Initiative; it is necessary that in our days, seeing the great current and projected growth of the Hispanic population, we make the education of our children and young people a priority. If it is projected that there will be 21 million Hispanics in Texas by 2050 and that Hispanics will surpass the Anglo population by 2020, we must increase the percentage of...
¡Para que alcancen su potencial!
by Gabriel Cortés on November 2, 2016 in culture
Click here to read this article in English.
Una de las cosas que distingue a los Texas Baptists de otras convenciones es que hemos hecho una prioridad la educación de nuestros estudiantes hispanos. Por esto se creó hace unos 7 años la Iniciativa para la Educación Hispana; porque es necesario que en nuestros días, viendo el gran crecimiento de la población hispana actual y proyectado, hagamos de la educación de nuestros niños y jóvenes una prioridad. Si se proyecta que seremos 21 millones de hispanos en Texas para el 2050 y que sobrepasaremos a la población anglosajona para el 2020, debemos aumentar el porciento de hispanos que...
Five Ways to Bless Your Child’s Teacher
by Guest Author on August 18, 2016 in culture
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...
As you go … make disciples
by Guest Author on August 18, 2016 in culture
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...
Dealing with complexity in the aftermath of tragedy
by Ferrell Foster on June 13, 2016 in culture
The massacre of 49 persons at a gay nightclub in Orlando has produced in many of us a wave of sadness — a deep sadness. Every person is a child of God, and we have now lost 50 of those children -- the victims and their assailant.
To that sad truth is added another sadness. The killer acted out of some kind of allegiance to a terrorist group that claims a religious faith. Most of us, including most Muslims, do not have such a faith. Christian faith, thankfully, moves us to love all persons, especially those with whom we disagree. Jesus said:
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless...
We are all in this together: Boomers and millennials on mission
by Guest Author on May 10, 2016 in culture
“Without individuals, nothing changes. Without institutions, nothing survives.” So said French philosopher and statesman Maurice Talleyrand. He concluded there is a need for both the maverick individual who seeks to disturb the status quo, as well as the company man who presides over the equilibrium. We, Jim and Nick, both represent voices from generations that epitomize each caricature.
One of us is an Uber-riding, selfie-taking, student debt-accumulating, norm-bucking individual. Don't group him, because 'nobody puts baby in a corner.' He defies your labels but admires your fascination. He is a millennial, someone born between...
Talk with your kids
by Rand Jenkins on March 11, 2016 in culture
A recent trip to my parents' house reminded me of something. My mother is a talker. She'll talk about the TV show we are watching, about people we have never known, about stores we drive by or even simply read signs aloud as we pass them just to talk and maybe start a conversation. Turns out, since she's such a talker, it benefitted me in my early development and education (probably a reason I majored in Communications and minored in English, well, that coupled with the minimal math requirements in those fields of study).
Many of us are aware of the widening educational gap in America. The expanding space between the haves and the...
7 Reasons you don't want to miss the Micah 6:8 Conference
by Kathryn Freeman on March 9, 2016 in culture
1. Your feelings when listening to Jen Hatmaker.
Featured speaker Jen Hatmaker, New York Times best-selling author, mother and justice advocate will have you laughing so hard you might cry and clap just like Oprah! Learn more about Jen and her family at jenhatmaker.com
2. How you will feel after participating in workshops led by outstanding thought-leaders in advocacy, ministry, ethics, and justice.
We have over 25 thought provoking workshops led by experts ready to give you practical tips for building and strengthening your justice, mercy and advocacy ministry.
3. How the young people in your church will feel...
I wanna know what love is
by Guest Author on February 15, 2016 in culture
Like the 80s rock band Foreigner, I want to know what love is. And I am not alone in my inquiry. Legendary singer Tina Turner asks, "what's love got to do with it?" John Legend speaks of its all encompassing nature, singing it has affected "all of me." So what is it?
Diana Ross and Lionel Richie found that love is "endless." Beyoncé, Queen Bey, opines love is "crazy." Huey Lewis says there is a "power of love." How much power? Well, it made Stevie Wonder call just to say "I love you." Leona Lewis is quite figuratively "bleeding love." And Taylor Swift owes her entire career to love, or the lack thereof.
Determining whether they are...
by Rand Jenkins on January 19, 2016 in culture
Well, we are a few weeks into Texas' open carry law which states that those certified can openly carry a handgun. I didn't know we were the 42nd state to allow open carry. C'mon Texas, thought we were heavier into the gun love than most states.
Anyway, in these first few weeks, I have seen exactly zero people carrying a handgun openly. Which, personally, I think is a smart option. Why? Because in the off chance that you are in a situation when you would need your firearm for protection, having one showing could very well make you the primary target.
So, why are we excited about openly carrying? Well, it speaks about one's image...
by Rand Jenkins on December 17, 2015 in culture
It starts earlier in some stores. It starts earlier in some people. The sights, sounds, foods of Christmas are in full swing around us.
For most people, it's a time of cheer filled with family and buying gifts for people. Gifts are great. I love giving gifts to family and friends. This year, a giving highlight was to random children selected from an "Angel Tree" on whom we went way over any reasonable budget for a child.
After all, giving is the reason we celebrate Christmas at all. God gave us a gift, His son. It didn't cost money, but it wasn't cheap. That gift of a Savior who became flesh lived among us and experienced life and...
An expression of love at Christmas
by Guest Author on October 19, 2015 in culture
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. Next, they rent a hotel room for the man for two nights. "I haven't slept on a bed in...
How can baby boomers impact millennials and why should we care?
by Kalie Lowrie on October 15, 2015 in culture
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 described the culture as immersive, accelerated, and complex. The effects of such changes include being individuals...
The scourge of Texas
by Rand Jenkins on October 12, 2015 in culture
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 convenience. You're welcome.
- Noise – driving on it establishes a
Mum's the word
by Rand Jenkins on October 5, 2015 in culture
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 free to waste your time doing so.)
The 1970s introduced a...
Who are Millennials, and one simple step to reach them
by Rachel Hendricks on September 24, 2015 in culture
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.
We have a problem with authority
by Ferrell Foster on September 17, 2015 in culture
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...
Two words can say much
by Ferrell Foster on September 10, 2015 in culture
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?"
Sanctity of Marriage
by Rand Jenkins on September 8, 2015 in culture
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...
Hurting for Law Enforcement
by Ferrell Foster on September 3, 2015 in culture
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...
Football season is here
by Ferrell Foster on September 3, 2015 in culture
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...
Putting the wiggle back in life
by Ferrell Foster on August 27, 2015 in culture
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...
What a baby boomer taught a millennial about life and work
by Kalie Lowrie on August 21, 2015 in culture
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...
Video helps us hear a heart
by Ferrell Foster on August 20, 2015 in culture
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...
What the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling means for Texas churches
by John Litzler on June 26, 2015 in culture
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the 14th amendment. The decision, written by Justice Kennedy, reflects a remarkable reversal in public acceptance of same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is now legal in Texas. Texas must also recognize the validity of marriages performed in other states. The decision has had an immediate effect as some county clerk's offices are already reporting they are open and ready to provide same-sex marriage licenses.
While some celebrate the decision as a victory for equality, many churches have expressed concern about how the legalization of same-sex...
Let love win
by Rand Jenkins on June 26, 2015 in culture
Today, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal and must be recognized in all 50 states. Yeah, you probably already knew that ruling. This isn't a news post. It's not an ethical post. It's not even an opinion post. So, have you stopped reading yet …?
It is about my belief of a Christian response, regardless of one's opinion and conviction on gay marriage – or any topic for that matter.
#lovewins has been the trending hashtag all morning and it'll probably continue for a while. I know why – people are excited about their new privilege and it's a win of inclusion for that lifestyle.
We as Christians need to let love...
Truth – Take Two, No Three
by Ferrell Foster on June 18, 2015 in culture
Last week, I wrote about plagiarism. Now, another truth story is big news – Rachel Dolezal portrays herself as a black woman although she is actually white.
Dolezal says she "identifies as black," borrowing the language of the sexual identity movement. Identifying as African American was not her problem; she went afoul of good judgment by lying and misrepresenting herself.
In other words, it would have been fine for her to say something like, "I'm a white woman, but I identify deeply with the experience of African Americans." But that's not what she did. The Washington Post summed it up this way: Dolezal "had dyed her hair, darkened...
Jurassic World: Is bigger and better ever enough?
by Kalie Lowrie on June 15, 2015 in culture
Spoiler alert: If you haven't seen Jurassic World yet and you plan on seeing it, you may want to wait to read this post since a few plot points may be given away.
Just when you thought T-Rex was the scariest possible villain you could image, Jurassic World proves that scarier dinosaurs are possible.
While I'm not a well-respected cinema critic, I do enjoy seeing the latest blockbuster film, especially in the heightened summer time, when releases are even "bigger and better." I went with some friends to see Jurassic World this weekend (along with millions of other Americans) and I jumped and screamed at all the right times....
The world according to Benny
by Ferrell Foster on June 11, 2015 in culture
Plagiarize. Multiple times. Get fired. Get a better job. In what world does that progression of events make sense? Ours.
The story of Internet phenom Benny Johnson exemplifies today's web-based culture. Ben Terris captures the essence of Buzzfeed Benny well in a Washington Post article.
Benny climbed atop the "listicle" web world with some 500 posts in about a year and a half. Listicles are enticing. They offer the possibility of quick and quirky info that might make interesting conversation fodder at a party or online. Terris cites several of Benny's listicles – "19 Times American Politicians Tried to Look Normal and Failed;" "The...
The Bible and family
by Ferrell Foster on June 4, 2015 in culture
Family stands at the core of our social existence. In an ideal world, a family includes a man, a woman, and children. The ideal is lifted up even though we face the reality that some families break apart or never exist as a committed whole.
The Bible talks about some very dysfunctional families. Cain killed his brother, Abel. Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife. Jacob and his mother connived to cheat Esau out of his inheritance. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. David committed adultery and ordered the murder of the offended husband. Solomon had way too many wives. Martha complained to Jesus about...
Cultural implications of Bruce becoming Caitlyn
by Ferrell Foster on June 4, 2015 in culture
The picture of a new person, Caitlyn Jenner, has intruded itself into our world. Bruce Jenner, the amazing male athlete of a few decades ago, has changed his gender, and the results are supposedly revealed in a Vanity Fair cover story.
Some people are talking about the courage it took for Bruce to become Caitlyn. Courage did not come to my mind when I saw the picture and story. Sadness came. I hurt for this person.
Bruce/Caitlyn has become the great exemplar of a movement to push transgender into the mainstream of society. Transgender is, of course, the "T" in LGBT and LGBTQ and LGBTQIA and a growing string of letters.
Stephen Curry lights up basketball world
by Ferrell Foster on May 28, 2015 in culture
Curry Fever overtook me quietly as I sat watching my first game of Golden State Warriors playoff basketball. Before the game ended I had experienced a flashback to my days in Illinois and the Michael Jordan hysteria that gripped so many of us in the 1990s. Stephen Curry is an amazing basketball player.
I'm not a big NBA fan; it's casual fandom for me. After Jordan, the game bored me. Then the Dallas Mavericks captured some magic, if less beautiful and exciting, but then their franchise let the guys who won them a championship go. My interest waned. I pulled for the Spurs to beat the Heat last year, but that meant watching one series...
by Ferrell Foster on May 21, 2015 in culture
Pop singer Taylor Swift is famous for putting her hurts and pain into song. She's done it again. The word on the street (the web) is that another pop icon, Katy Perry, is the newest object of her ire. That really doesn't matter; the words matter.
Now we've got problemsAnd I don't think we can solve 'emYou made a really deep cutAnd baby, now we've got bad blood, hey!
Many of us can identify with those words. People hurt us; they figuratively cut us. Our hurt and pain causes our blood to rise, as the saying goes. We get angry.
Did you have to do this?I was thinking that you could be trustedDid you have to ruin what was shiny?Now it's...
Help for dealing with a changing culture
by Ferrell Foster on May 13, 2015 in culture
The American culture seems to be getting away from us; that, at least, is how many Christians with more traditional values feel.
One of the most seriously threatened values is the sacredness of marriage between one man and one woman for life. First, we saw the "for life" part mostly fall away as divorce grew more common, and now the "one man and one woman" portion hangs in the balance.
Most states already have redefined marriage as including same-sex relationships, and now many experts think the U.S. Supreme Court is about to make that redefinition apply to the remaining 13 states, including Texas.
For many of us, this just seems...
Daniel had a better way
by Ferrell Foster on May 7, 2015 in culture
Three members of my family just completed an altered version of the Daniel Fast. It's a 21-day "partial fast" based on the experience of the prophet Daniel. I learned some things.
First, I'm no Daniel. My version was substantially less strenuous than recommended.
Second, my version was a challenge. I consumed no fried food, soft drinks, beef, pork, eggs, snack food, leavened bread or regular milk. I tried to avoid cheese, but that stuff is on virtually everything. I had only two cups of coffee.
Third, I realized I was addicted to caffeine and sugar. I didn't think I was a big drinker of soda and coffee, but headaches and...
Time to fall out of love
by Ferrell Foster on April 30, 2015 in culture
"Love" is an extremely important word because it speaks of a very powerful reality. Our culture today, however, generally speaks of love in a manner very different from the biblical agape love.
Take Nate Ruess for example. He's the lead singer for the band, Fun, and now has a solo single, "Nothing Without Love." This is a great song about the power of romance.
Three years at sea after the storm And this sinking ship of love you put me on God, I wish a gust of wind would come And carry me home ... She made me feel hope, you know I am, I'm nothing without love
Those lyrics convey a deep sense of lost love. The words...
More and more selfies are becoming about self-worth and value
by Aaron Summers on April 20, 2015 in culture
I take them. You take them. We all take them.
We take them at parties. We take them on the beach. We take them at gatherings. We take them in front of the mirror. We put them on Instagram. We wait for comments. What do selfies tell us about ourselves? Often, I find people who are in need of approval. They are hoping someone will comment and tell them they are beautiful, or wonderful, or courageous, or that they made a great choice on their hair, makeup, attire, car, house or pet purchase.
Why do we need approval? Most of us are not being built up, encouraged and enabled to be strong and courageous. We are being ridiculed, torn...
Prepare your church for same-sex marriage ruling
by John Litzler on April 16, 2015 in culture
The U.S. Supreme Court is ready to consider the issue of same-sex marriage, and the court's eventual ruling could affect how the State of Texas defines marriage. If change occurs, it will affect the relationship of all Texas Baptist churches in their dealings with local, state, and federal laws.
The Christian Life Commission supports the biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman for a lifetime commitment. This has been the marriage standard for Christians dating back two millennia, and reflects an even longer biblical heritage.
On Tuesday, April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider cases from...
'A.D.' shows resurrection was not the end of the story
by Ferrell Foster on April 9, 2015 in culture
Easter ended this year with a very human tale on television. NBC aired the first episode of "A.D.: The Bible Continues," which started with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and will, in coming episodes, tell what happened afterward.
Unlike the recent movie, "Noah," that had little resemblance to the biblical story, "A.D." remained true to the Bible. As a result, it felt more real.
"For us (the producers), it's just about telling these stories in a very human way," said co-producer Roma Downey in The Hollywood Reporter. "These characters didn't know they were in the Bible. They didn't know the outcome from the Bible. They're...
As You Are
by Rand Jenkins on April 6, 2015 in culture
Every few years a song comes along that brings me to the throne of God for worship. Several years ago, it was " I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me where they pose the question of what will I do when I meet God. The first time I heard this song I was driving home. By the time it was over, I could hardly see through the tears.
More recently, I've connected with Crowder's " Come As You Are." This song brings me to a point of recognizing that God wants us as we are to come to Him and let Him change us. We're not too far away to come back to Him. We shouldn't allow our shame to keep us from returning to Him. For, "Earth has no...
The Cavalry Has Arrived: How the Federal Government Plays an Important Role in Protecting the Poor
by Kathryn Freeman on April 2, 2015 in culture
Have you ever heard the phrase "send in the cavalry?" It's a colloquialism, but historically its a military term for the regiment of an army that fights on horseback. The cavalry historically was the most easily mobilized unit of an army and men fighting on horseback were at a greater advantage than those fighting on foot. For one they had greater height and speed than their opponents on the ground and the improved mobility helped them outflank and overpower their opponents more easily. In the movies, the moment the cavalry arrives is usually the moment the enemy is overpowered and the battle ends for the good guys.
Well, this week...
'Uptown Funk' has taken us by storm
by Ferrell Foster on April 2, 2015 in culture
Millions upon millions of Americans know the music and lyrics of the mega hit, "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars). Billboard says "Uptown Funk" is still the No. 1 song. It is the quintessential pop song – a beat you can dance to, repetitive lyrics that get stuck in your head, and themes that connect with the young and young-at-heart. Listen to "Uptown Funk" here...
"Uptown Funk," however, is not just your ordinary pop song; it has expanded its reach. It is becoming iconic. Two Texas schoolteachers are part of the craze.
In January, Dallas high school drama teacher Scot Pankey organized students into a...
by Ferrell Foster on March 26, 2015 in culture
A violent man is coming to Dallas. He didn't simply pick North Texas as a good place to live; a wealthy family in the city offered him $11 million to come to town.
Greg Hardy is indeed coming to Big D. Hardy will be the newest pass rushing "savior" of the highest profile American football team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Hardy; however, has a past. Last year, a judge found him guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill his girlfriend. Hardy then requested a jury trial, which never happened because the girlfriend would not cooperate with the prosecution. She, instead, accepted an out-of-court settlement. In my neighborhood, we would say...
WOW: Christian Kid Jams from the 90s
by Kalie Lowrie on March 12, 2015 in culture
When someone tells you to "Go West," do you automatically follow it up with "Young Man?" If so, you might be a Christian kid of the 90s like me. I grew up as a PK (pastor's kid) in East Texas where we jammed out with the best of them - Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, Michael W.Smith - you know the ones.
I was talking with a couple of my co-workers at lunch yesterday and we were reminiscing over our favorite contemporary Christian songs from our childhood and I thought I would put together a little compilation of some of the best. While I am admittedly not an expert on music, I definitely listened to my fair share of...
Trying to get this church-state thing right
by Ferrell Foster on March 5, 2015 in culture
Some Bible verses are so clear and direct they are like taking a finger in the eye; you can't ignore them. Paul seemed to specialize in the finger-in-the-eye genre, while generally, Jesus was more subtle, as if whispering a word one had to take some time to think about.
In one of Paul's finger-in-the-eye passages, he told the Christians in Rome the following:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur...
Of skinny jeans and cool socks
by Ferrell Foster on February 26, 2015 in culture
A few years ago, a TV beer commercial introduced me to skinny jeans. I thought skinny jeans had to be the most stupid jeans idea yet, at least for guys. But, no, they are proliferating.
And just the other day, a skinny-jean-wearing friend told me about the newest trend: the slim, shortened legging, which enabled people to see his socks. Why on earth would anyone want to see my socks? He showed me his socks, and they were kind of cool and colorful. I realized then that no one would want to see my socks because they are not interesting; they are always one basic dark color.
If I had my druthers, I would wear jeans every day of the...
Grieving with the family of the cross
by Ferrell Foster on February 18, 2015 in culture
They have names - Milad Makeen Zaky, Abanub Ayad Atiya, Maged Solaiman Shehata, and on and on - 21 of them. Their names seem odd to most of us in America, but they are our brothers. Our human brothers. Our Christian brothers.
The Islamic State beheaded these Coptic Christians in Libya. There is no way to ignore the religious nature of this massacre. Muslim extremists killed Christians because of their faith.
The video of the killings is titled "A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross." Of course, we are no nation; we are a family.
Coptic Christianity counts John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark, as...
I got a Fever
by Rand Jenkins on February 18, 2015 in culture
Hopefully you mentally chimed in with, "And the only prescription is more cowbell."
Writing as a Christian and for a Christian site, it's a bit tricky writing a blog post which centers around Saturday Night Live (SNL) and their recent 40-year celebration. A lot of it is funny. Some of it is a little off-color.
One aspect a fellow coworker made note of is that through the 40 years of SNL, only about 2-3 years per decade actually produced good, funny shows. The rest were just odd or poorly done. It's also interesting that most shows aren't given this much grace when ratings fall. Perhaps NBC always saw its potential or its...
Beyond Fifty Shades of Grey
by Ferrell Foster on February 12, 2015 in culture
The National Football League is getting serious about the scourge of violence against women. The Grammy Awards show featured the importance of battling domestic violence. But the violence-ridden book, Fifty Shades of Grey, has been extremely popular among adult women, and it now has become a movie.
Here is Time magazine's description of Fifty Shades:
"Nobody gets raped … and all the physical acts are consensual, but a romance about the possession of a virginal college student by a more powerful, older guy that involves her having to bend to his every whim, call him 'sir' and get beaten in the process could be accused of...
The problem with love
by Rand Jenkins on February 11, 2015 in culture
I love food. I love my friends. I love my bike. I love my parents. I love coffee. I love my wife. I love a good-writing pen. I love my son. I love my pets. I love the triune God.
The problem with "love" is that English has only one word for one of the most complex feelings we can have. While at times we are frustrated with the people we love, it's because we love them that we become frustrated with them.
Obviously, my use of the word "love" above varies greatly based on the object of my affection. But, with only one word for love, how can we tell them apart? How can we express the difference between the uses?
Ten things we should really be talking about
by Leah Reynolds on February 10, 2015 in culture
A blog post recently hit the Internet about how there are far more important things to talk about than whether Christian women should wear leggings or not. The blog, Ten Things We Should Get Angry About Before Yoga Pants, presented a list of 10 things that are truly worth talking about.
I was convicted. I have spent a short amount of time in a couple of third-world countries and have experienced what living without simple luxuries such as toilet paper and a mattress feels like. Yet, in the comfort of my home country, I admittedly find myself in conversations on a daily basis, which only prove how spoiled I am. For instance,...
Live the Difference: on a college campus
by Guest Author on October 20, 2014 in culture
This year's Annual Meeting theme is "Live the Difference." We asked several individuals what it looks like to live the difference in their day-to-day lives. Here's what Jay Leibold, campus missionary at the University of North Texas, had to say:
What is culture? Culture is defined as the beliefs, customs, and values of a particular society, group or place. I came to the UNT BSM my freshman year and have been here just long enough (starting year 5) to see a shift in our culture. We have begun to see a shift in what we value as a campus ministry and what our attitude should be as christians at a large public university. Our culture...
Racism undermines justice and unity
by Ferrell Foster & Kathryn Freeman on September 9, 2014 in culture
"But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." (Amos 5:24)
A young man has been killed in Missouri. Michael Brown, an unarmed African American man, died from six gunshots fired by a white police officer. Race should not be an issue, but far too many African American men have died under similar circumstances. Black men simply face a different social calculus when it comes to interactions with the justice system in America.
The frequency of such incidents has led some African Americans to have an inherent mistrust of the justice system because it has not consistently protected the rights of...