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MAP Stories: Luke San-Gupta


God heard the simple prayer of His faithful servant and healed this lady...

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It's GO TIME


...

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Young and old need a heavy dose of Proverbs


Boys behaving badly has become all too common. Sometimes it lands a boy in the news immediately, and sometimes it takes decades for the misdeeds to surface.

There is probably no common saying more ridiculous and unhelpful than “boys will be boys.” It reflects a determinism that leaves no room for the shaping of young male lives. Boys will, of course, be boys if left to their own devices, if they have no positive role models, if they are not given any instruction about how a boy ought to behave. And one result is that many men continue to behave as boys throughout their lives.

Why do we not hear the phrase “girls will be girls” to...

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Restoring Hope to Port Arthur and Nederland


BOUNCERS arrived in Nederland, TX today from all across Texas and Georgia. Students and BOUNCE Volunteers arrived excited for the opportunity to restore hope to Port Arthur and Nederland this week through the hard work of rebuilding homes affected by Hurricane Harvey...

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Preparing for BOUNCE Summer 2018 Kick-Off in Nederland, TX


BOUNCE is kicking off this week at Nederland, TX! Our first mission will be in the Port Arthur and Nederland area where students will be helping the community BOUNCE back from Hurricane Harvey. The BOUNCE Collegiate Staff and Volunteers are excited to be welcoming students at the First Baptist Church Nederland where students and volunteers will be housed during the week. Students from across Texas and Georgia will arrive in Nederland this Monday to begin disaster recovery work...

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EL EVANGELIO, LA GENTRIFICACIÓN Y SHALOM


Por Bryant Lee

Así dice el Señor Todopoderoso, el Dios de Israel, a todos los que he deportado de Jerusalén a Babilonia. “Construyan casas, planten huertos y coman de su fruto. Cásense, y tengan hijos e hijas; y casen a sus hijos e hijas, para que a su vez ellos les den nietos. Multiplíquense allá, y no disminuyan. Además, busquen el bienestar de la ciudad adonde los he deportado, y pidan al Señor por ella, porque el bienestar de ustedes depende del bienestar de la ciudad” (Jeremías 29:4-7, NVI).

La palabra “gentrificación” es análoga a “cáncer” en muchas comunidades para aquellos que han dado sus vidas por los desafíos y preocupaciones de estos vecindarios. La realidad es que las comunidades siempre evolucionan hacia formas y configuraciones nuevas en la medida que nuevas personas, negocios, ministerios y tipos de desarrollo cambian el panorama cultural...

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7 Tips for when disaster damages your church building


When storms damage your church building consider these options:

Watch out for live wires.

Be very aware of exposed electrical hazards and submerged live power hazards. Take proper precautions. Keep people out of hazardous conditions.

Watch out for nails. 

Wear strong soled shoes and boots in debris and submerged areas. Soft soled shoes, sneakers and sandals make you vulnerable to stepping on nails.

Consider covering it up. 

Usually you should tarp any openings like roofs, walls, doors and windows to reduce additional rain and water damage to the interior of the building. Be sure to check with your insurer though...

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Hogares de transformación


Mónica era como muchas de las mujeres que vienen a la creciente red de iglesias hogares que Paul González dirige en el área oeste de San Antonio. Ella estaba luchando en su relación con su pareja de 10 años,  y no sabía a dónde recurrir.

Ella encontró apoyo y ánimo en los pocos 20 cristianos que se reunían cada semana. Ellos hablaban del deseo de Dios para la relación entre un hombre y una mujer, incluyendo el matrimonio.

Poco a poco, ella compartió lo que había estado aprendiendo con su pareja. Una o dos veces él aceptó las invitaciones de ir a la iglesia con ella. Después de un año, González casó a la pareja...

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Ears to see


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 “tolerance.” Click here to read the intro post for Good Brunches.

Picture this: A space with a mash up of people where diverse ages, races, socioeconomics merge. I’m envisioning the streetcar I rode last week in New Orleans, which operates as both tourist bus and public transportation....

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Brief thoughts on restoration


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 restoration. Click here to read the intro post for Good Brunches.

  • Brokenness mended.
  • Illness healed.
  • Dirty cleaned.
  • Destruction rebuilt.
  • Lost returned.
  • Depraved redeemed.
  • Weak reinforced.
  • Uselessness given purpose.

The above are some initial thoughts on restoration. They sound...

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Hunger is a health problem for Texas children


Children today are being robbed of time. While academic opinions vary about life expectancy, they all acknowledge that our length and quality of life is shifting due to chronic illnesses associated with diet.

It is unfortunately no surprise that Texas children are suffering from diet-related disease at a higher rate (and younger) than they have in the past. The early onset of diet-related conditions like obesity is bringing about many health problems that children do not typically suffer, such as type-two diabetes and high blood pressure.

These high rates of diet-related disease are clearly related to the 26 percent of Texas...

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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...

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Good Brunch: How healthy relationships can change the world


Good conversation about meaningful things leads to healthy relationships and healthy relationships can change the world. I didn’t want to lead this post with too bold of a statement. How did I do? All sarcasm aside, I genuinely believe in that statement. I believe that healthy, authentic, transformative, life-giving relationships can change families, neighborhoods, communities, cities and ultimately the world. How much different would our election season be if those types of relationships were a pillar of campaigns and debates? How different would American families look if we took relationships more seriously as a nation?

As...

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​New Testament love stood at foundation of MLK's work


The New Testament concept of agape love informed the civil rights work of Martin Luther King, Jr., as he became the voice of the movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Along the way of life," King wrote, "someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives."

King clarified that he was not speaking of "some sentimental or affectionate emotion," but rather as a connection that "means understanding, redemptive goodwill." He went to the Greek language to make his point, explaining the meaning of agape.

Agape . . . is an overflowing
...

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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 trying to hear it everywhere. I would close my eyes in my backyard and listen for a...

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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 especially in public schools. The curriculum is 13 weeks, and is based on Christian parenting principles that have been proven...

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Lessons from a London learning lab


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

And in a way, that's exactly why I was there. Fourteen of us – men and women, young and not-so-young, pastors and lay leaders – banded together from across the state to embark upon the 7-day voyage with the express purpose of learning. Through a...

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Why new ideas are as important as old ideas


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

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

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

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How to broaden our moral imagination?


My whole life, my dad shared a metaphor that has never meant more to me than it does right now. He would say:

"Picture a vulture flying over a desert. As it flies it sees dead carcasses all over the ground. However, a hummingbird flying over the very same desert sees desert flowers. They see different things because they only see what they are looking for."

This has challenged me to look at my world differently lately. Sometimes it takes letting go of the world you know to imagine one that has yet to exist. And to change society for the better, it takes expanding our moral imagination. The story of the vulture and the hummingbird...

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Trouble with first-timers


Do you tweet? I don't. There. I said it. I've tried a few times but never really stuck with it. I like the challenge of finding something witty to say in 140 characters or less, but it's not something I can have running in the background of my mind while moving through the day. For me, tweeting takes too much time and attention, and like other social media platforms, it is hard to measure the ROI.

After listening in on an earnings call this week, CNN Money reported that Twitter has acknowledged it is facing a significant problem. It appears that people who know how to use the micro-blogging site seem to love it, but nubies are often...

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An introduction to hospitality


My grandmother breathes hospitality in and out all day long. Preparing and serving food for others gives her purpose and happiness. She brings people together, no matter their background, around a common table. I have and continue to learn a lot from her. She inspires me to wonder, dream and imagine what hospitality is and why I, and people in general, struggle with the concept.

In his book "Reaching Out", Henri J.M. Nouwen says, "Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can...

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What happened to the church in the UK and why is it of value?


What is the church? If modernity was boiled out of how I know church, what would be left? What is true biblical community?

These are the question I am left asking after a recent trip to London where I spent a week immersed in fresh expressions of church.

About 20 years ago in the UK, denominational leaders were asking questions similar to these anticipating a generational tidal wave of rebellion from what church had been for the last several decades. And the communities of Christians I experienced three weeks ago are the result of these questions and the movement, which answered them.

What excites me about the movement of a...

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#winning


The challenge of staying culturally 'relevant' as a church and as the Christian faith has become like a bi-athlete trying to hit a moving target. The exhausting task of trying to figure out what "the kids are into these days" can be confusing, deceiving and hopeless for the ill-equipped. Merely locating the target is no longer sufficient, the mark must be struck on the bulls-eye, and the race must be finished ahead of the other competitors, which in the real world translates to: whoever thinks up something like Ice Bucket Challenge first wins. So then, how do we take all of the lessons, tips, hints and best practices of the secular...

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Crack of the bat


Sporting goods giant Wilson has acquired the iconic Louisville Slugger baseball brand for $70 million cash. What does this have to do with the Convention and its churches? Quite possibly everything. Here's how.

The Louisville Slugger brand was established after Bud Hillerich made a bat for Pete Browning, star of the Louisville Eclipse, back in 1884. Bud identified a need, developed a quality product ball players liked, and a successful business was born.

But, after decades of popularity the market changed. Youth and college sports became astonishingly more popular, their players began using metal instead of wooden...

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You are not alone


Last Sunday, I walked into church with two friends looking for a place to sit. I saw one of our elderly ladies sitting by herself, so I walked up and asked if we could join her. She hugged me and said, "Yes, of course! I hate sitting alone. Thank you so much for joining me."

She has been widowed for several years and she went on to tell me sometimes when she cannot find someone to sit with in church it makes her cry. What she said really stuck with me the rest of the day, and it also served as a good reminder. Sometimes, I think being single in church is only hard when you are young. I think I'm probably the only one who still gets...

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CLC shines the light of Christ


"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light." Isaiah 9:2

Just as the wise men were led by a bright star, we too are led by the Light. We are no longer in darkness, but we live in a world surrounded by suffering, famine, sickness, hurt and chaos. During the holiday season, we focus on the gift of Christ to a dying and dark world, but this gift keeps giving and growing because we are Christ's messengers sent to bring hope and light into a broken world.

Before the baby was laid in the manager, the entire world was shrouded in darkness. We are thankful for the the light of the world who came to take away darkness, sin...

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What you can't see pastor


It's Monday morning. Yesterday was a long hard day. In some ways it was a good day, a little boy from the neighborhood came to church for the first time and gave his life to Christ. However, a teenager spent the entire service talking behind Mrs. Smith and of course this bothered and she let you know about it.

In the last few years, your church has made the commitment to get on mission in your community, yet it seems some days this decision is one you would like to reconsider because well, it just gets tough sometimes. You are reaching new people, but the work is hard and sometimes you cannot see the results. Take a minute and...

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Lessons from A Christmas Carol


On my way out the door to the airport last week I realized I needed a book to read on my plane ride to New York. I quickly glanced on my shelf and Charles Dicken's classic A Christmas Carol caught my eye. I must have bought it several years ago when I was on a classics kick at Barnes & Noble – I purchased one almost every time I went in the store. Since it's Christmastime and my mom and I were headed to New York to enjoy all of the holiday festivities, I thought this was the perfect time to read it.

Prior to opening the book, my knowledge of the classic Christmas story was mainly what I learned from a Muppet Christmas Carol growing...

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$6,000 of Hunger funds reallocated to help bring jobs during Ebola epidemic


Commissioners of the Christian Life Commission (CLC) unanimously approved a reallocation of $6,000 of Texas Baptist Hunger Offering funds in Sierra Leone because of the Ebola crisis.

The funds, originally intended to aid school fees and meals for students will instead help rehabilitate the school, which has been closed for nearly half a year due to the Ebola epidemic that has taken and is taking away many lives and jobs in West African countries.

The request to reallocate the funds came from the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone as they foresee a better use of the money is to open up job opportunities for residents.

From the...

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I want the love of the Father


The author of Hebrews writes, "Let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity," from which we have pulled inspiration for H6:1 Nights, held once a semester for the last few years at the UTD BSM. These nights are meant to be a time of digging deeply into the Word of God, going even farther than time allows during a typical Wednesday night small group.

We were privileged to have as our speaker this semester Jordan Stone from Imago Dei Church in McKinney, Texas. Jordan met us on a Friday night to teach on the book of 1 John for about three hours, titling the message "A Fellowship of Light and Love."

This...

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Mustaches for missions


November was a pretty busy month for the Howard Payne University Baptist Student Ministry(BSM); it is the month of the much anticipated NoShave November! This year we started selecting teams the last week in October to get everyone hyped up for the month that is ahead. We work very hard to incorporate students who are not specifically involved in BSM activities.

The idea behind the Mustache Wheel of Doom is that we separate students into teams, then we ask the guys to grow out their facial hair all month. Throughout the month teams do fundraisers and encourage others to sponsor their "face" through giving. We also sell t-shirts with...

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Good Grief: A Way through the Holidays after a Loved One Dies


My favorite cartoon to watch is, and will always be, A Charlie Brown Christmas. There is something so poignant and sad, yet celebratory, about the story. On one hand, Charlie Brown works so hard to make Christmas special, and all he ends up with is a small, insignificant tree. On the other hand, the cartoon probably has the most memorable presentation of the Birth of Jesus, delivered by Linus in the school play.

This is the eighth Christmas after the death of my father. As a retired military chaplain, I understand that the holidays are difficult without a loved one next to you. This is even truer if the loved one will never be there...

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Thanks for letting the CLC share about its work


Thanks to Texas Baptists for giving the Christian Life Commission the opportunity to share about its ministries this week at the BGCT Annual Meeting. The CLC staff is proud to serve you day in, day out; it was especially rewarding to share about that work in this special setting.

A special word of thanks to Dennis Parrish, whom we contracted to produce our main stage and exhibit stage production. His design and production skills helped us greatly in presenting the ministries and impact of the CLC.

A.C. Miller, Foy Valentine, Jimmie Allen, James Dunn, Phil Strickland and Suzii Paynter established a tremendous direction for the...

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​Leaders of state child and family ministries invite Texas Baptists to join the Jesus Agenda


By: Lauren Hollon Sturdy

During his time on Earth Jesus healed the sick, brought hope to the hopeless, touched the untouchables, dined with lowlifes and forgave prostitutes. The marginalized and oppressed members of society were always on His agenda.

Today, "The Jesus Agenda" is an international effort to raise awareness of God's heart for the poor and how He wants His followers to seek justice for the oppressed.

Three leaders from Texas nonprofits serving vulnerable children and families spoke in a panel discussion about their hearts and missions to carry out the Jesus Agenda among the most vulnerable in society during...

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​Hunger Luncheon honors Texas Baptists who see beyond the horizon


WACO—It was a packed house for the Hunger Luncheon at the 2014 BGCT Annual Meeting as special guest Jamaica-native Dr. Neville Callam of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) expressed his appreciation for Texas Baptists' efforts against hunger.

Hunger kills more people every year than aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined, said Callam, general secretary and chief executive officer of the BWA.

He commended the donors in the room and Texas Baptists as a whole for "being committed to the service to humanity. Not because you have to but because you recognize you need to."

"(You) have the capacity to see beyond immediate...

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​Churches Discover Role They Can Play in Mental Health Recovery


During a Tuesday afternoon workshop at the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists, co-founders of the Grace Alliance described the ways in which churches can better prepare themselves to both recognize the signs of mental illness and better minister to individuals and families suffering from mental illness.

Based in Waco, the Grace Alliance exists to be a bridge between the world of professional mental health care and the church, creating supports systems and educational opportunities for families and communities of faith.

According to Matt Stanford, co-founder and professor of psychology, neuroscience and biomedicine at Baylor University...

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​Texas Baptists approve 2015 budget, elect new officers at Annual Meeting


WACO - During the 129th Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, several important business items were discussed, voted on and approved.

On Tues., Nov. 18, at 9:30 a.m., Earl Ann Bumpus, chair of the Committee on Credentials announced 1,240 messengers and 515 visitors had registered for a total of 1,755 in attendance at the meeting held at the Waco Convention Center.

President Jeff Johnson presided over the business portions of the meeting, held on Monday afternoon from 1:00-3:00 p.m. and Tuesday morning from 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Officers were elected for 2014-2015 including President Kathy Hillman...

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TBMF hosts award luncheon during Annual Meeting


WACO - Friends and supporters of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation (TBMF) gathered together for the 2014 Texas Baptist Missions Foundation Awards Luncheon held in Waco, during the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists. This year, TBMF presented three awards in recognition of work in missions in the state of Texas.

Bill Arnold, president of TBMF, welcomed those gathered at the luncheon and introduced Jay Abernathy, pastor of First Baptist Church of Palestine, to give the opening prayer.

Arnold then presented the 2014 Adventurer Award for Leadership in Missions to the Kyle Lake Foundation. The Adventurer Award is presented annually to...

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Johnson compels Texas Baptists to live altruistically in a self-centered world


WACO— In a world that pursues self-centered goals such as wealth, comfort, and fame—altruism can get people's attention, BGCT president Jeff Johnson told the audience at the 2014 Annual Meeting. But living that kind of difference is not going to be simple.

Johnson presented his final address as president at the Monday night worship rally of the Meeting on Nov. 17. Introduced on stage by his three daughters Sara, Lori, and Julie, and preceded by worship led by the choir of the church he pastors, First Baptist Church in Commerce, Johnson gave a compelling message about truly being set apart in a world where generosity is...

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City Reach Waco shares Gospel and inspires local churches in evangelism


In a celebration luncheon on Monday during Annual Meeting, there was cause for much rejoicing as stories were shared of evangelism outreach throughout Waco and the surrounding Central Texas area. City Reach Waco, an intentional emphasis on evangelism in the Annual Meeting host city, involved a prayer initiative, soccer tournament, prison outreach and neighborhood block parties.

Vince Smith, director of missions for Collin Baptist Association, shared about an initiative in Collin County to pray for every home in the area. An idea started at First Baptist Church, McKinney, mobilized 900 volunteers sinced February to personally...

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Discovering How Literacy Can Bless Your Community


During the annual meeting of Texas Baptists, representatives from Literacy ConneXus provided churches with 50 ways to bless their communities through literacy ministries.

Literacy ConneXus is Christian ministry designed to help churches help people with literacy needs. Beginning in 2004, with an initial focus on advocacy and adult literacy, the organization has expanded to work in ESL training, childhood literacy programs, and a Books for the Border and Beyond program, which provides bookshelves and books for families in poverty.

Lester Meriweather, executive director of Literacy ConneXus, Pam Moore, editor and media...

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Hardage identifies Texas Baptists as Great Commandment and Commission people


WACO - Texas is in a state of change and will be for many years to come, Dr. David Hardage, executive director of Texas Baptists told messengers and visitors at the 2014 Annual Meeting.

"This state is growing, and this growth is ushering a whole new level of diversity like we've never seen before," Hardage said.

Not only is Texas changing in ethnic diversity but also in religious diversity, he said, noting 45% of Texans do not believe in anyone or anything.

He told the audience that on an airplane ride about two months ago, he had a revelation from God that made him ask the question, "What makes Texas Baptists...

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Only you can stop human trafficking


WACO–In a dimly lit room in the corner of the Waco Convention Center, a group of individuals left no seat empty to gather in hopes of learning more about a commonly misunderstood topic: human trafficking. Dr. Tomi Grover, author of Compelled, and Jay Abernathy, pastor of First Baptist Church, Palestine, defined human trafficking, gave ways to effect change, told of a new East Texas non-profit helping young girls and provided resources available to help educate Texas Baptists.

DEFINING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

"This is the very heart of God. Want to know where God is? Look in the darkness. [Human trafficking] is the darkest thing...

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Christian Life Commission teaches Texas Baptists to model Christ through advocacy


Kathryn Freeman taught a packed room about the steps to becoming an advocate this afternoon at her workshop, "It's Our Government: We Can Make a Difference."

Freeman, the director of public policy at the Christian Life Commission (CLC), emphasized advocacy takes many forms and isn't always tied to the government. Advocacy can look like membership in the local PTA or mission work.

She said the Christian Life Commission recommends "starting with missions," when individuals are trying to decide, which issues they want to get involved in.

"Most churches have a missions or outreach or service pastor who's engaged in your...

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​Texas Baptists elect diverse officer panel


WACO - Texas Baptists have elected the most diverse officer panel in the 129-year history of the Annual Meeting. Kathy Hillman, messenger from Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco, has been elected President, marking the second woman to hold the office. The election was held during the Monday afternoon Business Session in Chisholm Hall at the Waco Convention Center.

Additionally, René Maciel, president of Baptist Univeristy of the Américas, was elected as First Vice President and Bedalo Yirga, pastor of Ethiopian Evangelical Baptist Church in Garland, was elected Second Vice President. Maciel previously served as Second Vice...

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​Providing Hope for the Refugee


A packed room of messengers gathered to hear about ministry among refugees at the annual meeting of Texas Baptists. Presented by the Texas Baptists Intercultural Ministry, the workshop offered participants a window into the world of refugees, offered guidelines for pursuing ministry among refugees, and also afforded the opportunity to hear-first hand from refugee pastors ministering in Texas.

Some 10.4 million individuals around the world are classified as refugees, those who are forced to flee their home country because of war, oppression and violence against them due to their religion, ethnicity or political views. Unlike...

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​Texas Baptists gather in Waco for Annual Meeting


WACO – Texas Baptists' will welcome messengers to the annual meeting November 16-18 in Waco. The meeting, held at the Waco Convention Center, is centered on the theme "Live the Difference" with a special emphasis on ministry opportunities through Advocacy/Care and Chaplaincy, including the Christian Life Commission.

Registration begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 16, and rallies for Hispanic and African American Ministries, as well as Texas Baptist Men, will begin at 6 p.m.

Monday morning registration will open at 8 a.m. and workshops beginning at 8:30. Workshops this year will intentionally address the intersection of Christian...

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Free coffee and Bibles


As the seasons change and the leaves begin to fall, the atmosphere of UTA changes. It is different than the beginning of the semester, when students nervously try to find their classes in the summer heat. At the beginning of the semester, students are very willing to try new things, to take a flier, and to perhaps ask what you are doing and what your organization is about. They are eager to join organizations and make friends.

In November, students are settled into a routine and are less willing to stop and chat, or to accept a flier advertising a Bible study. To put it simply, they are comfortable. However, as followers of Jesus...

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UNT BSM Breaks ground for new building


DENTON—With hands on shovels and eyes on the future, attendees of the University of North Texas (UNT) Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) groundbreaking ceremony celebrated an exciting new chapter for the 54-year-old campus ministry as they prepare to construct a new building.

The existing 7,200 square foot facility was built in 1960 as a tool to reach the campus community of 6,500 students for Christ. Now, over 50 years later, the student body has reached over 36,000, and there is need for a new space to reach the campus..

"The Lord is growing UNT, and He's growing this ministry," Stephanie Gates, UNT BSM director, told...

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A community that prays without ceasing


In the past couple of weeks, we have begun conducting local interviews with students interested in applying for Go Now Missions this coming summer. One of the questions we ask is what the three things are that the potential missionary would want to first teach a new disciple of Christ, and though the answers vary, the overwhelming response has been the importance of prayer

Of course we believe prayer is important. It is found throughout the Bible. Jesus is seen praying in the New Testament again and again, modeling for us how we should pray. But prayer can be difficult; it can get swept away by busyness; and it can begin to...

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Rays of hope result from counseling


A senior pastor struggling with his marriage. A worship pastor battling a pornography addiction. A youth pastor wrestling with depression. A children's pastor trying to cope with anxiety. A minister's spouse dealing with depression after a forced termination. A ministry couple struggling with a child embracing an alternative lifestyle. Grief, burnout, substance use, eating disorders, stress, transition, trauma, pre-marital counseling, personal growth and a host of other issues have been the subject of conversation for Texas Baptist Counseling Services this past year. Regardless of the struggle Texas Baptists find themselves walking...

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Countdown to cupcakes


Working at a church in Tahoe City, I wanted my first and second grade students to become more familiar with the Bible so I created a "Countdown to Halloween" paper chain. Each link in the paper chain had a scripture reference on it. We would rip off one link everyday and look up the verse written on that link. I became concerned when the students were having a hard time finding the books in the Bible. I'm serving in California, not in a country where the Bible isn't available. It's scary to think that the Bible is foreign to some of the people in the United States.

It was hard at first not to do it for them. I only have 30 minutes...

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Engage 24 stories from around the state


Engage 24, an intentional one-day emphasis on evangelism, was held this year on October 14. Texas BSMs found unique ways to embrace the emphasis on their campuses, some making it a week-long event and others choosing more than one day to reach their campus.

The goal behind Engage 24 is to empower students to get on their campuses and in their communities and start Gospel-centered conversations. Below are stories from BSMs across the state about the impact of the intentional outreach.

Texas A&M University

At Texas A&M University, the BSM students hosted a Midnight Pancake Breakfast, serving 2,300 pancakes between...

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Boldness to further the Kingdom


"And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'" Mark 16:15

This past week, on Monday I went along with two other volunteers and Rafiki Africa Ministries to a nearby community to evangelize the Gospel and to encourage the people that lived there. Upon our arrival we were met with a recent news update from one of the members of the community. He reported that there had been four deaths the day prior due to fighting that had been occurring between a neighboring district. The people who live in this community had come from the North where many of them were forced to fight in the war and were...

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Live the Difference: in your daily worship


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 Jeff Johnson, BGCT president and pastor of First Baptist Church of Commerce, had to say:

My ability to Live the Difference is often tested as a pastor in light of 1 Timothy 3 and the qualifications I am to embody. For instance: "Preacher, are you trying to make this church into a disco"?

My reply? "Yes, I have been trying to get a church to buy into it since the 1970's and this church is the first one that has taken me up on it." (Probably not a 1 Timothy 3 type...

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Election Day provides opportunity to express citizenship


The Bible exhorts Christians to be good citizens while on earth (Romans 13:1-8). Voting is one of the foundational requirements to good citizenship. With Election Day quickly approaching it is important to head to the polls. We, as believers, should actively engage in understanding the policy issues affecting our communities and neighbors. We should vote in accordance to God's agenda for this world and not just on blind allegiance to a political party or person.

To that end, we should evaluate for ourselves, in accordance with Scripture, which candidates''stated priorities best align with the Word of God. These are some good...

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Reaching Waco through the world’s most popular sport


WACO—Nearly every fair weather day of the week, grassy soccer fields see an abundance of size three, cleat wearing little leaguers running back and forth while parents and siblings cheer from the sidelines.

Texas Baptists, in partnership with the Waco Regional Baptist Association and the Central Texas Hispanic Ministers Alliance, hosted a City Reach event called the Fiesta Familiar soccer tournament and festival on Sept. 27 as an effort to reach a community that admires soccer.

City Reach is conducted annually as an evangelism event in the host city for Texas Baptists' Annual Meeting. This year's meeting, themed "Live the...

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Searching for Answers


As someone who spends most of their day on a college campus without going to classes, my heart breaks for the students around me who have no realization that the very God who created the enormities of the universe cares deeply for them and wants to have a relationship with them.

Here at Tarleton State Universtiy, some of our students have felt God call them to equip their fellow peers in how to talk about their faith with students on campus so people can know of this incredible God. Every Monday night, students gather at the BSM, spend time in prayer, and then are sent out on campus.

As we are sent out, we are sent two by...

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A special weekend for Special Friends


CEDAR HILL—The 2014 Special Friends Retreat, hosted by Texas Baptists' Preschool and Children's Ministries, brought lots of smiles and laughter along with the opportunity for participants to share their talents on-stage.

The retreat for the mentally challenged of ages 12 and older took place at two locations - one in Floydada on Sept. 12-13, with about 90 campers, and another in Cedar Hill on Oct. 3-4, with 350 campers.

Participants made crafts, learned about parts of the world in Bible studies, performed their talents in a talent show and engaged in worship and music.

In Cedar Hill, at Mount Lebanon Baptist...

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India in Arlington


The room reaches a sweltering temperature as hundreds of bodies move and collide in circles, jumping and swaying to traditional Indian dance steps. The sounds of drums, violins and melodic pitches fill the room. The DJ plays a current Indian pop song and the crowd roars; the room looks like a musical number from a Bollywood movie come to life. Sweat mixed with condensation from the overtaxed air conditioning system accumulates on the ceiling beams and drips onto the heads of the dancers below, unbeknownst to them. The room feels like a sauna, fogging eyeglass lenses upon entering the room.

Where are you? India, right? Nope. UT...

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Praying for opportunities on Engage 24


October 14, 2014 was the date for this year's Engage 24, a nationwide campaign for every Christian college student to share the Gospel with at least one person during that one day. Engage 24 falls in the middle of the semester, right about the same time as midterms, and it is a great reminder of the real reason we are where we are. God has placed us right where He wants us, and He wants us to share Him with others (Tweet this). He wants us to spread the Gospel. He wants us to love people.

This year Engage 24 fell on a Tuesday, which was convenient for us because we already have an established weekly outreach booth in the...

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WBU professor citizenship


PLAINVIEW -- For Wayland Baptist University professor Dr. Charles Huang, this July 4 holiday will be like none he has ever experienced before. Of course, having only been in the United States since 2007, Huang and his family haven't seen too many July 4 celebrations.

For the family, however, this will be their first Independence Day as United States Citizens.

Dr. Huang, assistant professor of exercise and sport science, took the oath of citizenship last Thursday, June 26, completing the process to become an official citizen of the United States. His wife, Yan Wang, took the oath a little more than a month before. Huang said the...

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14 Habits of Highly Effective Disciples brings renewed focus to disciple-making essentials


As churches seek to fulfill the Great Commission, individual believers must understand and practice what it means to be a disciple.

14 Habits of Highly Effective Disciples, released by BaptistWay Press in May, is a Bible study that provides in-depth discussion and practical application for those seeking to embrace the lifestyle of a follower of Jesus Christ.

"We need spiritually mature people to lead the body of Christ," Dr. Dennis R. Wiles, co-author and senior pastor of First Baptist Church Arlington said. "The only way for that to happen is for us to partner with God in the process of growth."

In his 31 years of leading...

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BaptistWay Press to release 14 Habits of Highly Effective Disciples


What can be done to address the discipleship deficit in the evangelical church in America? Perhaps a renewed focus on what it means to be a disciple is in need. BaptistWay Press is speaking into this challenge by releasing a new Bible study this spring, 14 Habits of Highly Effective Disciples.

This study will address habits that should be a regular part of the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Habits to be studied include: Bible study, confession, faith, fasting, fellowship, love, obedience, prayer, purity, service, stewardship, thankfulness, witnessing, and worship. The emphasis of each study is to move from the Scriptural...

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Letter from Haiti student missionary


Bonjou zanmi m! Hello my friend!

Since my last update much has happened. I have spent more time in Fond des Negres and have been able to get to know some of the kids in our area. It seems nearly impossible for me to walk anywhere outside of my house without at least one child by my side. The children are so eager to give and receive love; they have so much joy. One thing they lack is discipline. The people in our area are so poor. Many of the children that come around our compound show signs of malnutrition and most don't have shoes or proper clothing.

I spent two and a half weeks in Grand Goâve at a different ministry...

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Help Texas Baptists rebuild pastor homes in Philippines


Michael Rama, his wife, and their 11-month-old son are homeless. Michael is the pastor of the Estancia Evangelical Church in the coastal town of Estancia, the Philippines. Michael and his family watched helplessly as the roof of the church parsonage and most of their belongings were shattered by Typhoon Haiyan. He is one of the 15 pastors that we have identified whose homes were lost in the 200 mile-an-hour winds and water that raked the island of Panay on November 8, 2013. They need our help. When something this big hits it is sometimes hard for disaster responders to know where to start. There is so much damage and so much...

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Texas team brings supplies, assesses disaster in Philippines


ESTANCIA, the Philippines - Pastor Michael Rama huddled with his wife and their 11-month-old son in the Estancia Baptist Church parsonage as the winds and waters from Typhoon Haiyan pounded their home in the coastal town of Estancia. The winds soon took off their roof and they rushed into the adjoining church sanctuary, where they found 100 church members and friends seeking refuge. God protected their lives that day and Pastor Rama continues to praise the Lord for His blessings since the storm ravaged their town.

Rama was one of many pastors that the Texas Baptist disaster assessment team met with during their weeklong trip to the...

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Philippines Typhoon: Be still and know


AJUY, the Philippines - During Typhoon Haiyan, many people were forced to evacuate their homes to seek higher ground or safer refuge. Villagers from Bobog needed to escape the remote area they were living in because of the great danger from the many trees around them and falling structures. As they were walking, Pastor Enlyn Rubrico shared with us that the fish ponds on either side of the road were rising up and they were not sure how they would cross. Suddenly, as they reached the crossing point, the waters receded and there was dry land for the villagers to cross. As soon as the last one made it past the pond, the water again...

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Philippines Typhoon: Refuge and Strength


ESTANCIA, the Philippines - Touring the coastal city of Estancia today was heartbreaking and overwhelming at times. The reality and the gravity of the situation hit each of us at different points and it was a very emotional day. The damage seemed to be even more severe than what we saw in Concepcion yesterday.

Houses have been reduced to rubble. Uprooted trees are everywhere you turn, some completely stripped of their bark, showing the powerful force of the winds and the water. Power lines are down on many streets and some homes have turned them into makeshift chords to hold their laundry. Not only are many of the houses and...

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Philippines Typhoon: Smile through the storm


CONCEPCION, the Philippines - Pastor Noel and his family sat together in their home, praying that the Lord would protect and deliver them from Typhoon Haiyan. While they were huddled together, the storm blew around them and they heard a large crash and fall just yards away from their home.

When the rain stopped and the wind died down, they walked outside to see Hillside Gospel Church completely demolished. The pile of wood, metal and concrete that remains is a visible representation of the destruction of the storm, but it is also a testimony of God's provision as their lives were spared that day. Pastor Noel was so grateful for the...

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Philippines Typhoon: Arrival


ILOILO CITY, the Philippines - We arrived safely in the Philippines on Monday after many hours of travel. We were greeted at the airport in Manila by several friends of the Dagohoys who treated us to a delicious Filipino lunch and then transported us to our final airport for the flight to Iloilo City. One of their friends, Mae, is a local doctor and director of the Ruth Foundation for Palliative Medicine and Hospice Care in Manilla. Less than two weeks after the typhoon struck, she traveled to Concepcion with her foundation to provide medical relief to people on one of the islands. Their relief work was described as the biggest...

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Churches partner to feed children in Haiti


GONZALES - Baptist churches across South Central Texas joined together this holiday season to prepare 128,000 meals to feed needy children in Haiti. The area-wide packing event began as an idea more than a year ago through the Gonzales and Gambrell Baptist Associations' annual meeting.

Several churches had prior involvement in clean up efforts and disaster recovery trips to the impoverished nation, still rebuilding from the earthquake that devastated the country three years ago. Associational leaders agreed to have special offerings in their churches throughout 2013 with the intention of coming together in November to prepare meals...

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Philippines Typhoon: Preparing to go


Our disaster assessment team of six leaves for the Philippines in four days to respond to the disaster that has affected so many following Typhoon Haiyan. Comprised of BGCT staff, disaster assessment "yellow caps" from Texas Baptist Men, and a Filipino pastor and his wife, we are all going with the hope of helping those in need.

Pastor Ernest Dagohoy has done a wonderful job working with friends and family in the Iloilo province and the Convention of the Philippine Baptist Churches to plan our itinerary. While we are in the province, we will be visiting three cities that were drastically impacted by Typhoon Haiyan: Concepcion...

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Survivors Struggle on in Japan


For most of the world, the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 is old news. Explosions, tornadoes, hurricanes, wars, and rumors of wars have shuffled Japan's troubles further and further behind the proverbial front page. But, for many victims, the disaster that stole their homes and neighborhoods is anything but a harmless memory. This fall, a retired International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to Japan named Sherwood Moffett led a team of Texas Baptist volunteers to Japan. Working in close conjunction with local IMB missionaries, they visited several Temporary Housing Communities established and run...

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A place for civic duty


Again a summons has come. This time it is from the U.S. District Court with a demand that I report for jury demand. It is probably my fourth summons during the past few years. They never come at a convenient time, but I always feel slightly honored to be summoned. It means my country, my state or my county need me.

It is a matter of civic duty, and it is important because I possess a great civic debt. To live in the United States is one of the great privileges of my life, and with that privilege comes responsibilities.

Quite honestly, it surprises me how much some people complain about a summons to jury duty or go to extreme means to...

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The 'mark of God on your heart' is what matters


Legalism is so tempting. Even if we understand the biblical concept of being saved by God's grace through our faith, there is a pull toward legalism, to judge based on rules. Just as 2+2=4, we want to know what you have to add up to equal "good" or "godly."

A New Testament view of life, however, is less like basic math and more like calculus, which involves the study of change by using symbols in making calculations. Following Christ is about change in our lives, and we talk about that change using various expressions.

The "legalistic critics" referred to by the Apostle Paul generally do not get it when it comes to understanding...

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Six year old Evan knows how to have a holiday


Six-year-old Evan Jenkins is full of energy. That energy shows up in various athletic pursuits, but it showed up in another way over the holidays.

Evan's dad, Rand, reports that in the midst of family holiday house cleaning, Evan "disappeared for a bit and came back wearing his orange 'No Kid Hungry' sunglasses and carrying all the money he could find in the house."

It turns out that Evan broke his piggy bank, found some change here and there around the house and even a $5 bill. He then made Rand and Denise stop cleaning in order to count his money. It came to $25.57. "Wow!" was his first exclamation. Second came, "I want to...

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Christmas is when we remember and worship


It is amazing that more than 2,000 years after the event, more than two billion people around the world will again remember a birth in an obscure village. Why?

The late Texas Baptist ethicist T.B. Maston said Jesus represented the supreme revelation of God's nature. "The revelation of God recorded in the Bible, a divine-human book, is climaxed in Christ, a divine-human Person," Maston wrote in Why Live the Christian Life? (p. 51).

"We find in him the climax of the self-disclosure of God. God's final and perfect word concerning his own nature and character is found in Christ: in his life, his death, his resurrection." (p. 51)

And it...

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Ethicist Gushee offers an action plan on gun violence


Baptist ethicist David Gushee, writing at the Huffington Post, has laid out 12 proposals for action in the wake of the latest "American massacre." Why has he done this?

"I have become convinced that we need to treat this steady downpour of gun massacres as a form of domestic terrorism that must be deterred, prevented and punished through every possible effort of government, civil society, families and individuals. Everyone has a responsibility to do what they can to end these monthly massacres of children in school, mall shoppers, churchgoers, movie watchers."Only a comprehensive solution will do. Every aspect of this problem needs
...

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Internet lawsuits remind us of the importance of truth


A Washington contractor is suing a Virginia woman for posting scathing reviews online about the contractor's work, according to the Washington Post.

This is one of a growing number of cases alleging Internet defamation. "Lawyers across the country are more aggressively using a combination of legal maneuvers and computer forensics to help uncover the identities of anonymous commentators and sue them," the newspaper reports.

Such lawsuits have the potential of dampening consumer reviews, which can be of great help in today's over-crowded marketplace. Most Internet users want access to unbiased reviews, and we want people to have the...

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Time to face up to climate change


Climate change should be obvious by now. The vast majority of scientists in the field have been certain of it for some time now, while some of us regular folks haven't known what to think.

The super storm that struck the New York City area is like an exclamation mark on the scientific statements regarding climate change. "Things are different now," the storm seemed to be saying. This has been what scientists have been warning us will happen.

It is important to use the term "climate change" and not "global warming" because the latter term can lull one into thinking if "my temperatures" are not getting hotter, then this must...

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Of people and solitude


People energize. Solitude energizes. But they do so in different ways.

I suspect those are gifts from God. Let me illustrate.

When I walk through the doors where my Bible study group meets, I suddenly have more energy than I had moments before. I rotate teaching the class with Richard Griffin, but I feel this energy even when I'm not teaching. A similar thing happens at Baptist meetings I attend around the state.

This also happened recently when my daughter, Tabitha, and I spoke on "Ethics in Leadership" at a secular college campus. In other words, the energy boost is not just related to being with fellow followers of Christ; it is...

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