March 2015


The voice of the church


In the 1950s, both pastors and churches had a sort of automatic "voice" in the community. People listened to pastors simply because of who they were. Being a church and a minister gave one a certain level of "prominence" in whatever community they were in. More and more we live in a culture where this is no longer the case.

In many ways, we live in a "post-Christian" culture; gone are the days when one can assume everyone was either a Christian or had a respect for Christians. In Jeremiah 29, the children of Israel find themselves in a similar situation. While in the Promised Land, they settled into a life of comfort; they were...

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Big Bend


A life-long Texan, I did something last week I had never done. I visited Big Bend National Park. If you've been there, you know it's a crying shame I've been in Texas all my life and am only just now experiencing one of its greatest treasures. If you haven't visited the park, you literally do NOT know what you're missing. It is incredible. Every Texan should put Big Bend on their bucket list.

Of course, a mere four days of camping and hiking were not sufficient to cover 800,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert, the Chisos Mountain Basin, and 118 miles of the Rio Grande River cutting its way through towering canyons, but my 20 year-old son...

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Student disaster recovery responds to Tulsa tornadoes


In response to Wednesday night's tornadoes that brought devastation to many homes and families in Tulsa, Oklahoma, BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery has announced a mission opportunity for students to help the city in its road to recovery.

Reports from CNN reveal the storms took one life, left dozens injured across the state and caused massive devastation in the Tulsa area and some damage in other cities including Moore, which is still in recovery from the catastrophic 2013 tornadoes.

As a branch of Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR), BOUNCE provides the opportunity for student ministries to help communities bounce...

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Walked away with hope


A team from Texas Medical Center in Houston served alongside River Ministry Coordinator Vanessa Quintinilla in Mission and Port Isabella, Texas for spring break. They conducted medical clinics and participated in community outreach. The medical team was able to combine meeting both physical and spiritual needs throughout the week.

We were able to meet one lady who'd been in a car wreck three years ago and had been bleeding since then. Her friends and family suggested it might be menopause, but the doctors quickly rejected that. As a result of the bleeding, her husband had left her, which also led to her being depressed. She had no...

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The best filter ever


Google "best selfie filter apps" and you will find over 2 million results in under a minute. You'll also find which filters are best for the perfect selfie. You can find apps to add phrases to your selfies, cartoon yourself, make your selfie look surreal, make cosmetic changes like hide blemishes or change the tone of your skin, make you look taller or have larger eyes, overlay images on your selfie, and my favorite – make you look more SPARKLY!!

Everyone looks to someone for information on who they are, what their purpose in life is, whether they are beautiful, strong enough, funny, worth anything – whether they belong. And in...

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Web Aesthetics Matter


The general purpose of an online presence has not changed much since the days of dial-up and snail-paced browsing. Websites are now able to do much more, but still serve the purpose of housing and delivering information to an audience, although websites no longer look like they used to. A trained eye is not required to recognize webpages appear differently than those of old.

The look of your website matters

The legitimacy and quality of what information you are delivering is now tied to the look of your website, especially when viewed by the younger generation. Oftentimes, if a website appears dated and unappealing, an individual...

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Guns in the Pews? Churches have the right to choose


Beginning January 1, 2016, Texans with a handgun license will be allowed to openly carry their handguns. Churches in Texas may prevent handgun license holders from carrying handguns inside church buildings as long as the church gives proper notice. Each church may decide for itself whether to allow:

  1. Both open and concealed carry of handguns
  2. Concealed carry of handguns but not open carry
  3. Open carry of handguns and not concealed carry
  4. No handguns regardless of whether they are carried openly or concealed

A church does not need to take any action if it wishes to allow handgun license holders to conceal carry or open carry in church...

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Who's your padre?


At a glance
  • 1,060 BSM students served at Beach Reach over the course of three weeks.
  • 110 salvations were recorded on South Padre Island.
  • 53 baptisms of new believers took place in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • 11,765 Gospel conversations took place on the beach, in vans, over pancakes and around the island.

At the end of my week at Beach Reach, I saw a t-shirt for sale in a local shop at South Padre Island asking a simple question: "Who's your Padre?" First, the shirt struck me as a funny play on words. And then, I thought about it from a spiritual perspective and realized the heart of Beach Reach was seeking to ask students on spring...

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To a new harvest


Sometimes I get frustrated reading hunger statistics. So much of the information comes in particular metrics which seem restrictive to the big picture.

It's not a bad thing. And the sorts of policy solutions and development strategy yielded by looking at hunger in terms of demographics and economic resources certainly have a necessary function.

Hunger across the state, rooted to the nation, and spanning the globe will never be as small a problem as access. I don't think anyone believes that it is.

Hunger is a result of the Fall.

There has to be a bigger problem than an economic disconnect. The problem is a society where...

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Violent tendencies


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...

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His love is overflowing


Around 5 p.m. is my absolute favorite time of the day. We have just finished teaching our ESL young adults class and I head outside to play with the kids who are crowding around the porch waiting for class to be over.

I catch my breath as I gaze out upon the beauty of the mountains that surround me. The air is cool, which in Haiti is a big deal. Haitian kiddos are littered across the landscape playing football, singing songs and tossing frisbees.

I pick up a frisbee and start in on the action. My Creole only takes me so far. I know names and faces and can ask how they are doing ("Como ou ye?"), but beyond that my communication...

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Unzipping our hearts


Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What? You too? I thought I was the only one!" -C.S. Lewis

"Momma! Momma! I don't want to be alone in my room. I need you to come in here and be with me. "

I was in the next bedroom and responded to her, "Rachel Beth, I'm right here in the next room. Do you hear my voice? You are not alone. You are fine."

She needed to make sure I was nearby. She thought for a moment she was all alone, which scared her. Once she heard my voice, my 4-year-old daughter was back to dancing and singing songs on her "Frozen" karaoke machine like nothing had happened.

It's a...

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Planting seeds at Beach Reach


I am a recent sister in Christ. I was baptized on February 15, 2015, and God called me to South Padre Island for Spring Break. I struggle with anxiety and the fear of the unknown, but God kept telling me I was needed for Beach Reach. So I faithfully followed God's call with my new BSM family to give free van rides and serve pancakes to those on spring break.

At the beginning of the week, I struggled with my ability to effectively serve God. However, my team members did not let me give up. They encouraged me and loved me when I did not love myself. I got to see God work through not only my team, but the other Beach Reachers on the...

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College seniors: 4 assumptions about the real world to get out of your head right now


Congratulations! You're about to be a college graduate. You survived four(ish) grueling years of late nights and hard work to get that piece of paper you can frame at your new job.

If you haven't done so already, now is a good time to put on your armor and gear up for the road ahead. Maybe it will be an easy initial transition for you, but the journey won't be sunny and 70 degrees all the time. Having been out of college a little over a year now, I've learned a lesson or two about clearing my mind of false assumptions. Here are just a few I encourage you to watch out for:

The assumption that you'll be just as confident as you...

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Champs Camp reaches community and empowers students


HARLINGEN - While spring break is time for teachers and students to take a vacation from classes, many parents working full-time jobs do not have resources available to find childcare for their children while they continue to work. First Baptist Church of Harlingen saw this need in their community 18 years ago and began a Spring Break sports week called Champs Camp.

This year, 215 children from first to fifth grade came to the church from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 16-20 for a week filled with fun, games, crafts, meals and a time to hear the Gospel. The campers were also able to participate in 12 different sports ranging from basketball...

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Texas Baptists contribute over $17,000 to winterize and bring the Gospel to Syrian refugees


Through generous offerings, Texas Baptist churches and individuals have contributed over $17,600 to the Texas Baptists' Winterization Project, which is helping bring warmth and the Gospel to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The vision behind the Winterization Project began developing in August of last year when Matt Snowden, chair of the missions mobilization team for Texas Baptists; Mike Stroope, associate professor of Christian missions at George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco; and Steve Seaberry, director of partnerships for Texas Baptists, visited Lebanon with the intention of strengthening bonds with the Lebanese Society for...

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Spring break with the geese


My daughter, Tabitha, and I sat on the bank of the San Gabriel River the other day to watch the geese. From the start, it was an odd day. Normally, the geese rush visitors in hopes of bread crumbs or other food. No rush on this day.

There actually were pieces of bread scattered on the ground near us that the water fowl were ignoring. They ignored us, as well. They were, rather, enamored with each other.

We gradually realized that "enamored" was indeed the correct word. Spring had come to the river, and the geese couldn't care less about food. They had their minds on mating.

Some of the animals already had paired up and were content to...

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Operation Giver: Baptist Autonomy


Operation Giver is a project connecting young Texas Baptists with older professors, pastors and theologians to discuss Baptist Distinctives. Similar to the book, The Giver, our goal is to pass on wisdom from seasoned Baptists to the up-and-coming generation. While times continually change, the beliefs we share as Texas Baptists have held true for more than 130 years. Facilitating these conversations will help educate and encourage younger Baptists as they continue in the biblical tradition set before them.

"Sometimes it is easier to have someone tell you what to do than to do it yourself," said Dr. Mike Williams, a professor...

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Everything you need to know about fonts in 500 words


DEFINITION OF A FONT

A font is a set of printable or displayable text characters in a specific style and size. The type design for a set of fonts is the typeface and variations of this design form a typeface family .

So for example, Helvetica is a typeface family. Helvetica italic is a typeface and Helvetica italic 10-point is a font.

In practice, font and typeface are often used without much precision, sometimes interchangeably.

I, too, continue to use them interchangeably, and I enjoy all the fonts our design team has to choose from. I believe fonts are an important part of the design and layout of many items from...

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​Living as a black man in Ferguson


In the summer of 2012, a 32-year-old African American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a public park. A law enforcement officer pulled up behind the man's car, blocking him in, and demanded the man's Social Security number and identification.

That's how the story begins. It's part of the U.S. Justice Department's report on racial discrimination in Ferguson, Mo. If those of us who are Anglo Americans do not understand why many African Americans distrust law enforcement, this story offers an example of why.

Without any cause, the officer accused the man of being a pedophile, referring to the presence of...

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6 decisions staff children want you to make


Raising kids is messy! I don't mean teaching them to bake with flour all over the kitchen messy. I don't mean having muddy tracks through the house after playing outside messy. I don't mean the handprints on the wall, crayon murals in the bedroom or a water-logged baseboard around the tub messy. What I do mean is that raising kids in this societal context can be very difficult. How can those in ministry raise their kids to meet the challenges with grace and awareness?

I have been a pastor for 19 years and my wife and I have a 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter. We want what everybody else wants and that is to raise our...

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BOUNCE students bring hope of restoration to South Austin


AUSTIN—Chris Rubs was cleaning his garage on the night of October 31, 2013, unaware that outside his door, torrential rains had caused the neighborhood creek to overflow.

He suddenly heard screams coming from outside and opened the door to find an unnerving sight: floodwaters were engulfing his neighborhood and neighbors were chasing after a little girl who had been swept off her feet by the rapids. Together, with other men and the help of a chain-link fence that snagged the girl's clothing, Rubs helped bring her home to safe arms.

Once he waded through water back to his own home, Rubs crawled through a window to get inside, where...

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Beach Reach: God would have to grant me faith


I will try to do the story about our new brother in Christ justice....

On the first night of Beach Reach, I met a guy named Chris while serving with the street team. During our conversation, the topic of faith came up and he began to debate with me about Christianity. Chris claimed to be a Lutheran, but it became very apparent that he had no real relationship with God simply because he really didn't believe in Him.

By the grace of God, I was able to answer all of his questions, but the conversation ended abruptly as the van pulled up to take him home. I honestly felt as if there was no way he would come to know the Lord any...

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Short Term Missions Trips


While it may be the end of March, your church can still plan a missions trip for Summer, 2015. Watch the video below to learn how.

Learn more about short term trips...

A guide to prepare your group for what you can do when you get back to your community after a missions trip.

...

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How to change the world


This month, I turn 25. Out of all other birthdays, I feel this one is pretty significant, and apparently so does science, which has just confirmed adulthood begins at 25. Just 10 years ago, I was a bright-eyed high school freshman. A freshman who only wanted to travel the globe, be a missionary and change the world. It took me almost 10 more years to realize I don't have to travel the globe to be a missionary, and I cannot – no matter how hard I try – change the whole world.

Now this post isn't bashing those who are traveling, living and serving in other countries – I wholeheartedly spiritually and financially support...

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Love in deed: Churches embrace timely opportunity for refugee ministry


HOUSTON—Now is a time, like no other, to be prepared to minister with refugees, Mark Heavener, specialist for Texas Baptists' intercultural ministry, told guests at the Feb 27-28 Love in Deed: Refugee Ministry Summit held at Chinese Baptist Church in Houston.

In 2014, a total of 7,214 refugees arrived in Texas from 65 countries. Statistics reveal that one-third of those settled in Houston, making the city a wide open door for refugee ministry.

"Clearly God has chosen the state of Texas and the city of Houston to be the center of His work of redeeming refugees," Heavener said. "I believe we are in the center of God's...

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WOW: Christian Kid Jams from the 90s


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...

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Before you build a new website: Part 2


Last week, I talked about two things to think about before building a new website: who your organization is and who will take care of your new website. This week, I'd like to talk more about the technical aspect of building a website: design and development.

DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT

Now we can start talking about some of the more technical things, like who will design and develop your website. There are probably as many different options for website creation as there are churches in our state. I'm going to mention these next steps at a conceptual level and use a few specific examples where helpful, but please note the Texas...

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Benevolence and the local church


I remember sitting in the pastor's study at Grace Temple. A former member left the church a very large sum of money and I was looking over the documents when the bell rang. Sitting across from me, was a man who claimed to need $20 for a prescription.

I remember thinking, "How in the world could this church, who had just been given money, turn away this man who has this need?"

We gave him the funds he requested for the prescription. Sometime later, he came back to my office, and openly admitted to me that he had not used the funds appropriately, but at that moment he needed something to eat.

I walked with him over...

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Relocating and regulating your life


Relocating to a new church and city can be very exciting for a pastor's wife, but with relocating many hurdles occur, which the wife must learn to deal. The hustle and bustle of moving boxes, new restaurants, shopping places and friends are exciting, but can quickly have a dark shadow cast over them after the moving van pulls away leaving her in a strange environment void of former friends, sights, smells and even favorite grocery stores. All of this hustle and bustle can appear to be glamorous to the average church member, but there is one little factor most people overlook…the challenges and emotions that the pastor's wife...

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Encouraged by Compassion: Pastor Lee and The Dropbox


On March 5, I went to see The Dropbox with some friends from the Baptist Student Fellowship. The movie documents the ministry of Pastor Lee Jong-rak in Seoul, South Korea. Pastor Lee created a type of delivery box built into the wall of his house church in which abandoned children may be placed anonymously by their mothers. The baby box was built so that unwanted children would not have to be abandoned in random places or in unsafe environments, exposed to the elements and without proper food or care.

The movie began with a quote from James 1:27 which reads, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to...

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Life in the small lane: Small Group life


I'm a Sunday School guy. I mean, a REAL Sunday School guy. For years, I went to bat for Sunday School over small groups. I used to believe small groups were going to be the death of Sunday School one day. I fought tooth and nail for churches to hang on to Sunday School. I preached the evils of small groups.

And then I led one. Oops.

Our church, Fielder Church in Arlington, has grown so much that there was just no way to continue to support everyone in an on-campus class. There was not enough space, not enough hours in the day on Sundays, not enough acres in our site…it just couldn't be done. So now, we're at a place where...

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Executive Director serves as Pastor of the Day for Texas Senate


On Tuesday, March 10, Texas Baptists' Executive Director Dr. David Hardage is serving as the Pastor of the Day for the Texas Senate, and prayed during the legislative session, beginning at 11 a.m. Thank you for being in prayer for him as he represents Texas Baptists in the Capitol building.

To hear his prayer, watch the video below. Sen. Royce West, representing the 23rd Senatorial District for Dallas County, introduced Dr. Hardage before he...

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​Moving mountains for Maggie


Blind, deaf, paralyzed, orphaned. All these words could have defined Maggie Mei Henderson, but by the power of God, this energetic two-year-old is now living with her forever family, walking, talking and seeing the world with curiosity and wonder.

Pastor Trent Henderson and his wife, Ginny, have seen the hand of the Lord move mountains for their daughter, Maggie. Trent serves at Heritage Park Baptist Church in the Friendswood and League City area, and his wife, Ginny, is a physical therapist. Born with a severe heart defect and orphaned as a newborn, Maggie spent the first year of her life in an orphanage in Baoji, China.

...

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​From pocket change to sacrificial giving


Raising money for Go Now Missions is a part of BSM culture. Each year we set a goal, which helps to send students on trips across the world on various mission projects. Then, we do all sorts of fundraisers (sometimes involving some crazy activities) to reach those goals. We hold fundraisers at local restaurants. We do boys vs. girls or small group competitions (often with prizes; often involving food). We've done bake sales. And each Wednesday night we pass around a jar in which people can drop donations.

Once each semester, we have a Wednesday night worship gathering set aside to focus on missions. This Spring, we invited...

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Giving to Fight Hunger in the Midst of Lent


For many in the developed world, hunger is the sort of thing one may experience after skipping lunch. At least we call it hunger; sometimes there's a headache to go along with it. Real hunger makes a person unable to think clearly. Chronic hunger, according to the United Nations, is that point when the human body begins to break down its own muscle and fat to survive.

For some of us at this very moment, we are duking it out with carnality and all its snacky vices by fasting for the Lenten season, and that might leave us feeling peckish and contemplative by the day's end.

Fasting is good. It is an important spiritual discipline, no...

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Trying to get this church-state thing right


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
...

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Before you build a new website: Part 1


I was in an office consisting of wall-to-ceiling windows, which was a little warm because of the sunny summer day outside. It smelled like pepperoni pizza, and my heart was racing because of the coffee I consumed an hour earlier. I wore my new red Van's, Levi's and a gray tshirt. As I closed my eyes to relish in the moment, I was consumed by The Fifth Dimension's Aquarius playing in the background and hearing my coworkers clapping. We had done it...after eight months of hard work (three of which, were spent in this same small office with four people working from the same six-foot table and seven computer monitors staring back at...

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​Forever loved, forever Young: An adoption story


It was December 8, 2008–the day to finally meet Sam. After years of waiting, Ashli and Kyle Young found themselves in Russia face-to-face with the 3-year-old child they would soon adopt and call their own.

"It was weird," Ashli said of that first interaction. "People talk about instantly connecting with their child. I didn't experience that. He was just a kid with a personality I didn't know."

Five years earlier, the couple began the adoption process after doctors said they had less than a one percent chance of getting pregnant. They wanted children and, through prayer, came to realize that God's way of building their...

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Educating parents impacts communities


Two years ago Principal Marta Plata of Manuel Jara Elementary School realized her staff of excellent teachers and leaders could work tirelessly every year to seek to educate their students and empower them to be the best they could be. However, without positive reinforcement at home, many of the lessons taught in the classroom would not change the behaviors of their students.

Through collaboration with Primera Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Plata was able to begin a program called Parent University, which is a 13-week curriculum educating parents on the 40 developmental assets that will help their children succeed.

...

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​Promising God my 'Yes'


In early February, 182 Texas BSM students gathered at First Baptist Church in Midlothian for Go Now Missions' Discovery Weekend, where they prayed and sought out God's calling for how they would spend summer 2015. Chelsea Bradley, a BSM student from Tarleton State University, writes about her experience from the weekend and shares how God opened her heart to a task she did not think He would have in store for her:

I came to Discovery Weekend with a very specific trip on my heart. I remember telling my friends beforehand, "If I'm appointed to this trip, I'm definitely going. But if not, then I know God wants me to stay home this...

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A Great (Weird) Title


I recently led a discipleship conference for which my title was assigned. It was: "Connecting Naturally and Spiritually with Those You Care about Without Being Weird." Yes, it's probably the weirdest - and longest - conference title I'd ever been given, but it's also a great topic for 21st century discipleship.

Most of us have friends or family members with whom we'd love to have meaningful conversation about spiritual things. Our heart aches for the coworker who seems burdened by life's load, yet remains dispassionately detached from the very One who makes life worth living. Or we would give anything to convince our stubborn...

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HSU, Logsdon Seminary and Texas Baptists encourage and equip women in ministry


The 2015 Women in Ministry Conference, hosted by Hardin-Simmons University, Logsdon Seminary and Texas Baptists, was held on Friday, February 20, 2015. The Ninth Annual conference drew women and men alike, from across the state to help encourage, equip for ministry and support exploration of women leadership roles in a variety of contexts.

Meredith Stone, instructor of Christian ministry and director of ministry guidance, along with Dr. Bob Ellis, associate dean and professor of Old Testament of Logsdon Seminary, organized this year's event for more than 180 people from as far as Houston, San Antonio and Corpus...

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Predicting the positive impact of ones faith


Dear Pastors,

I hope you're well. I've spent the better part of two decades learning about God's nature and intelligent design of His creation through scientific research. Researchers, such as Kenneth Pargament, have shown that religiosity and spirituality can inhibit resilience as much as help it; consequently, it depends on how you experience your faith in determining its aid when you are facing life's difficulties. In my research, I've found two variables predict the positive impact of one's faith on resilience: sense of coherence and psychological acceptance.

Sense of coherence (SOC) is one's cognitive appraisal of a...

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