June 2014


Discerning a Call Means Continuous Listening


Ministry can be a very broad calling. It can encompass church ministry, mission work, chaplaincy, institutional ministry, non-profit ministries and much more. Often we struggle in trying to discern more specificity in our callings than simply "ministry." We want to know exactly what it is we are called to so we can have certainty about where our lives are going. We want calling to be clean and simple so that we can discern all of the details and move out of the calling phase into the living-it-out phase.

But calling grows with us. If we are faithful to God's calling, we will continually be in the process of discernment. The calling...

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Humbled by children's feet


From day one we were asked by our team leader to be FAT. Of course I had already had a few Brazilian meals by that time and was definitely on board to be fat on this trip, but she had another meaning in mind. FAT: fluid, available and teachable. It seemed easy enough.

Most mission trips require those basic qualities, but it was certainly harder than expected. We really had to learn to "let go and let God" because we never really knew what was in store for us from one day to the next.

We were so blessed to work with Samaritan's Feet while in Brazil, an organization that distributes shoes to the local children. The best...

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CLC approves Resolution on Immigrant Children Crisis


DALLAS -- The Christian Life Commission has called on Texas Baptists to respond in a compassionate way to the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children and teenagers along the southern United States border.

Commissioners approved a resolution Friday, June 27, outlining the current situation involving immigrant minors who are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America. More than 46,000 immigrant children have crossed the border since October 2013. The CLC is the Texas Baptist body which deals with ethical and public policy issues.

In affirmation of the resolution, Texas Baptist Executive Director Dr. David Hardage said, "Texas...

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Rebuilders of walls, restorers of streets


CORPUS CHRISTI - Impact City Church in Corpus Christi was planted by Felix Trevino, a worker at Valero Refinery, and his wife, Sara, as a response to a need for a missional church in the community of South Texas. They are a part of the Corpus Christi Baptist Association and a member of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

"This was a fairly new concept to the culture of South Texas," said Felix. "There weren't too many churches at the time who were focused on building a body of believers on small groups and disciple making versus mass evangelism and the seeker friendly attractive model."

Along with working countless hours a...

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A goat run and a divine appointment


So I'd like to tell you a story that happened while we were back in the city after our last trek to the countryside. It will describe just how the Lord makes things happen that he wants to. To do this I'm just going to tell you one of my journal entries for that day, I feel like it'll explain it best.

Sometime between 12 and 1 we were told that we were going on a walk. So my partner, the pastor (Harry), me, Reed (our translator and national partner), and Suzanna (Harry's daughter who it feels like she and Reed like each other) all set off on a journey that would end up being hours of walking in the hottest heat I've experienced...

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Eternal victories through soccer tournaments


GUADALAJARA -- As the little boys gathered around preparing for the final game in their soccer tournament, River Ministry coordinator Pedro Munoz reminded them that this was the moment they had been preparing for over the past month.

"Some of you will be winners today, as your team wins the tournament, but all of you can be winners if you give your life to Jesus Christ," he said.

Arenas, the area where these boys were playing, can be very dangerous at times. When Pedro was on the street the day before, he encountered teenagers with cocaine and marijuana in hand, not fazed by the public visibility. Located on the outskirts of...

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Student volunteers help West Bounce to recovery


Ninety-degree weather, manual labor and full workdays all completed with an attitude of bringing restoration in the name of Jesus Christ -- that is what Texas Baptists' Bounce is all about.

"I just really like working hard to help people," student volunteer Kayla Kemp said. "It makes me feel like I'm impacting people."

Kemp, high school senior from First Baptist Church of Copperas Cove, was one of nearly 200 volunteers who joined Bounce, a student-focused disaster recovery mission experience, which launched in West, Texas mid-June where the community is recovering from the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion. Churches from...

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My calling


My first impressions of being called to the ministry were filtered through the church context of which I was a part. The phrase used was "called to preach." Thinking about being called to preach came as I was in the 8th grade. I spent the time until the summer between my junior and senior years in high school trying to gauge the validity of what I was sensing. When I made my conviction known to the congregation, one of the deacons came by and said, "Some of us have seen this coming." That one sentence helped a great deal toward firming up my conviction of being called.

Since that time, I have had that confirmation added to, not...

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The need for No Mas Violencia in Guadalajara


GUADALAJARA -- People are gathering across the globe in masses to cheer on their favorite team in the World Cup. Watch parties have emerged in several areas in Guadalajara as nationals cheer on the Mexican team, or enjoy watching games like Greece vs. Japan. This week, amongst soccer jerseys and team paraphernalia, individuals wearing black shirts with the simple message "No Mas Violencia" can be found around the city. Churches in the Emmanuel Baptist Regional Association in Guadalajara have handed out 35,000 flyers around the city, promoting the message of peace and many have been very receptive and interested in learning more.

...

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HPU group travels to Slovakia for cross-cultural mission trip


BROWNWOOD -- June 13, 2014 -- Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies at Howard Payne University, and five students from her spring International Missions Practicum course recently traveled to Važec, Slovakia, for a week-long mission experience. The course, required for all cross-cultural studies majors, is designed to give students firsthand experience in cross-cultural ministry.

The group led ministry activities among the Roma and Slovak people and learned from the missiology of Shane and Dianne McNary, the field personnel with whom they served.

"We spent the semester at HPU learning about the history and...

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Major problems churches make when drafting Bylaws


Recently, we have had the opportunity to review several churches' Bylaws and Governing Documents for legal sufficiency. This is an important, but often overlooked area in many churches. So let's look at a few of the problem areas that I see for churches when dealing with their Bylaws and Governing Documents:

  • First, in many situations the original Articles of Incorporation/Certificate of Formation may have been filed many decades ago and may not conform to the present realities of the church's situation. One that I just looked at had been filed in the 1950s, and stated that the church would have a term of 50 years. Fortunately,
...

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Why does my church need bylaws?


Few pastors want to spend their time on such seemingly mundane things as bylaws and church governance. Most pastors would, instead, rather being doing the ministry activities to which they feel most called: visiting with families, praying with hurting people, preparing sermons, and mobilizing volunteers.

But when trouble strikes, the first thing many pastors think is: "I wish I had spent time drafting some better bylaws for our church!" Why? Because bylaws help lay the framework for what happens in the church--both during good times and bad.

A good way to think about this is that bylaws are somewhat like the rules...

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Christian Life Commission announces office relocation to Austin


DALLAS -- The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission has announced a relocation of all offices from Dallas to Austin effective Sept. 1.

"This is an exciting decision that will enhance the effectiveness of the Christian Life Commission," said Dr. David Hardage, executive director. "Having the CLC in one location in Austin makes it easier for our churches to engage with the CLC's ministry and mission. It also positions us in close proximity to the state government to better garner support for our legislative priorities."

The CLC, currently under the leadership of Director Dr. Gus Reyes, has served as the ethics agency of the Baptist...

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Follow me


Christ's call is clear:  "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). We do not know the specifics of such an invitation, but we know the Person issuing it.

Every Christian is called by God to serve Him.  Some are called to specific places and specific tasks to which others may not be called.  All Christians are called to share their faith and to be about Christ's mission in the world, but some Christians are called into what is often referred to as "full-time Christian service", "a Christian vocation" or "the ministry."  All of these phrases refer to the calling to a career or vocation that is related to...

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Called to be different


Different. That's how I would best describe the past five months of my life since I left Texas, and headed off to live in the Middle East. It's not a bad different, it's just different. The people are different, the smells are different, their decisions are different, the sounds are different, viewpoints are different, I'm different.

However, this isn't a bad thing because in fact we are called to be a different people in a place that believes and practices things contrary to what we believe. We are called to be in the world but not of it, we are called to be different. Sometimes we have to travel halfway across the world to...

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Union Association fighting human trafficking


Union Baptist Association, our state's largest regional body, is taking a leadership role in the fight against human trafficking in Texas. The association's UBA E-Notes this week highlights two human trafficking items.

The first connects to a YouTube video and a web page titled "Where Do I Start?" The page stresses the three steps of learn, pray and act.

The second item gives information on a Sept. 20 event at South Main Baptist Church in Houston. It will feature presentations by experts, a tour of high-risk local areas, and times of worship.

Thank you, Tom Billings, for your leadership of the UBA in regard to this...

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I don't fit in this country


I have never, in all of my life, consistently been the tallest person in the room, but that happens here a lot... that is unless my 6' 8" supervisor is with us. I really have no idea how he does it, because bus seats, taxi roofs, doorways, and even some covered walkways are too small for me. I find myself bending over much more frequently than I ever did in the states, but I guess we all have to make sacrifices for the gospel.

So first I want to explain a little bit about my job here in South Asia because, as always, it's not exactly what you envision when you sign up. To be honest though, I think that's a very good thing in this...

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Spiritual living connects to ethical living


Ethical living and spiritual living are linked; they both connect the believer to the world beyond himself or herself. The spiritual connects one to God, and the ethical deals with how one lives with others.

Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray continually. Structured prayer is difficult for many of us, but we can still cultivate a spirit of continual prayer -- simply praying as we go about our daily activities.

When a person "practices the presence of God," to quote Brother Lawrence, it is as if God becomes a friend, a companion who goes with you to all places and through all moments. A cynic could say that we are only silently...

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Book Review: Is God Calling Me?


Is God calling you? If you're a follower of Christ, the answer is, "Yes" of course. All of Christ's followers are called to serve. But is God calling you to ministry as a job? That is an altogether different question. A question almost every believer asks at some point in their journey of following the Lord.

Jeff Iorg helps you answer that question in his little book Is God Calling Me? Answering the Question Every Believer Asks. And don't be fooled by the size of this book. It's a simple and practical guide to help every follower of Christ, especially students and young adults, answer these important questions about God's call on...

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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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Why I may decide to say no to God


"I believe I know what is best for me." This may be at the heart of our resistance - expressed in ten words or less. Instead of viewing ourselves as the creation and God as the creator and the one who knows us best, we try to be our own god. We place our knowledge of our well-being above His knowledge of us.

"I think God may not really have my best interests at heart." We think we may miss out on something good by allowing Him this type of control. (The God who gave everything He had in order to restore fellowship with us isn't looking out for us?) When we honestly face our feelings here, the error of our thinking becomes...

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Understanding Intentional Interim Ministry


DALLAS - The interim period between one pastor leaving and the next pastor arriving can be a special time of God moving in a congregation. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the next person to arrive, the interim time creates a wonderful opportunity to address issues, questions, concerns, vision and the church's health.

Throughout Texas Baptists there are a total of 88 trained Intentional Interim Pastors, 25 currently in training and 10 active pastors in the Baptist Convention of New England (BCNE). Whether a church needs a traditional interim pastor or an intentional interim pastor, Texas Baptist's Intentional Interim...

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Starting a Legacy


INDEPENDENCE - On Sunday morning, June 1, at the oldest continuously running Baptist church in Texas, Robert E. Dixon and Dr. Paul W. Powell were honored for the legacies they started and what they became through the Texas Baptist Legacy Award.

Bryan Finley, a member of First Baptist Church of Kerrville, led the group in Bible study and posed the question, "When does a legacy begin?" Through scripture and biblical personalities like Abraham, Moses, Joshua and others, he summed up the answer with, "Legacy begins by starting something God directed. It continues when others who are directed by God to join the initiator who embraces...

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Work worship


As Christians we must avoid any task that takes our minds off of Jesus. Too many become worshippers of their work rather than true worshippers of God. This is a form of idolatry. This is especially tempting for those whose work is Christian ministry. It is far too easy to rationalize our work in ministry as being worthy of our full attention and worship. This is a recipe for burn-out or something far worse. 

Our efforts to serve the Lord must not become a substitute for our pursuit of knowing the Lord. What is the difference? One focuses on accomplishing tasks and the other focuses on knowing and loving a Person. When the latter is...

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Understanding the Bible for Women Who Feel Called to Ministry


Discussions of how women should be involved in ministry and the church in particular have been happening for many years. Many young women who feel called to ministry have grown up in churches that take one position or the other on the concern of women in ministry. These young women, then, may not be aware that different positions from the ones they have been taught exist in Baptist life.

One position on women in ministry in Baptist churches is that women are restricted from certain leadership roles in the church. Some say only the office of pastor is limited to men while others argue that women should not lead or teach men in any...

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