Executive Board approves preventative education and training regarding clergy sexual misconduct
by Kalie Lowrie on February 25, 2016 in feature
DALLAS - In a proactive approach to address clergy sexual misconduct through prevention education and training, the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas voted to revise current policy at the recent February 22-23 board meeting.
Vernon Stokes, chairman of the Administration Support Committee, presented the recommended policy change, in response to research provided by an internal review of procedures. Rollie Richmond, director of human resources, oversaw the internal review which included assessing the effectiveness and challenges inherent with the current website resources, counseling support and misconduct...
What homes of restoration and redemption look like
by Rachel Hendricks on February 25, 2016 in faith
Nestled next to both Texas Christian University and Paschal High School lies a small building, which is home to Southside City Church pastored by Darrel and Kim Auvenshine. Before Southside was a church, it began as a group of people meeting at a park to serve the HIV community of Fort Worth.
"We built our church on Matthew 25," Darrel Auvenshine said during an interview. "We wished to serve 'the least of these,' and that our church could feel like their home when they might not have one."
On the southside of Fort Worth poverty has been prevalent for decades. In the past few years, this area has experienced a revitalization.
Texans spending billions for booze
by Ferrell Foster on February 25, 2016 in clc
Texans are going to bars and drinking deep of alcoholic beverages, according to a story in the Austin American-Statesman.
Beer, wine, and mixed drink sales reached almost $6 billion in Texas last year, an increase of 6 percent over 2014.
This figure saddens me. Some of it accounts for just basic refreshment. Some people drink a beer in the same way I drink a Dr. Pepper. Some people drink a glass of wine for health benefits. Some people just like the taste. But, I suspect, most of the alcohol is consumed to alter one's mood -- to help unwind at the end of a day, to become more loose at a party, or to hide from life's pains.
Ministry is done with people, not for people
by Ryan Jespersen on February 24, 2016 in great commission
I have often thought back to a meeting one afternoon with the "consultant" in regard to attendance. The church was at its lowest point in my tenure. I was desperately trying to figure out what our church could do in the midst of decline, and a neighborhood we seemed not to match up with. The "consultant" told me to build a church with the affluent and let the affluent minister to the non-affluent. The key in all of it, though, was that our main worship service was going to primarily only serve the affluent. Part of me still cringes a little bit inside, not because of what he said, for perhaps I misunderstood, but because there was...
Marriage in a Fishbowl
by Guest Author on February 24, 2016 in faith
Have you ever had any of these thoughts?
- I hope no one realizes that I have no idea what I'm doing.
- I want to quit most Mondays.
- I'm really kind of 'over' people. I'm not even sure I like them anymore.
- I'm afraid that my kids will end up resenting me, despising the church and rejecting Jesus, all because of their experience as a pastor's kid.
- My marriage is so strained I'm not sure we will make it.
Cory and I have been in ministry full time for most of our adult lives. We have served together, raised our kids under the watchful eyes (and often vocal opinions) of our congregations, led out in Bible studies and taught classes together, fed...
Brokenness is close at hand, but we are together
by Katie Swafford on February 24, 2016 in clc
We've all heard the phrase "it's a small world" and may have even said it ourselves at some point when we realized we knew someone or knew of someone through another person. In fact, for years the idea has been that there are six degrees of separation between people – so much so that years ago it was made into a game – the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. More recently, Facebook has said there are only 3.5 degrees of separation between users.
Why am I talking about degrees of separation? It's estimated that one in five people will experience a mental health issue this year. I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty sure the number five falls...
Today we have hope, today we are fed: Texas Baptist Hunger Offering at Work
by Guest Author on February 22, 2016 in great commandment
Ruth sat at a table in the two-room shack where she lived with her abusive husband and four hungry children in the Dominican Republic. She stared at a cup of tea in her hand that would cause her to abort a fifth child she was now carrying.
"Ruth! Ruth!" She heard Rosa Elena calling her name from across the street. It became a God-moment, and the calling of Ruth's name saved the precious life of Ruth's unborn child.
Rosa Elena did not just cry out to Ruth; Rosa Elena fed Ruth and her children, and shared God's love for her and spoke of the gift of life Ruth carried within her.
Today, Ruth serves in a kitchen preparing food for more...
Listening and responding to the Lord’s call to go
by Guest Author on February 20, 2016 in great commission
Go Now Missions recently hosted Discovery Weekend at First Baptist Church Midlothian, where 195 students were issued invitations to serve as Go Now Missionaries after the weekend. There were 50 small group leaders, made up of BSM Staff, Church Staff and students who are former Go Now Missionaries; 25 host homes provided by FBC Midlothian; 17 who served on the Prayer Team; and 25 who served on the Servant Team. Below is a story from one student who participated in the weekend.
"Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Last July, I felt the...
Texas Baptists welcomes new team lead for Music and Worship
by Leah Reynolds on February 19, 2016 in feature
From an early age, Tom Tillman learned he had a natural musical ability. Since then, his life has encompassed a vast array of musical experiences.
Texas Baptists welcomes Tillman, former Music and Worship Pastor for First Baptist Church in Conroe, as the new Music and Worship Lead.
"I was literally one of those kids that grew up being at the church every time the doors were open," Tillman said. "I was always eager to do musical things, whether it was children's choir or handbells and then eventually playing piano, organ, singing and leading ensembles in the main services of worship."
In his new role with Texas...
Safety from war does not come without struggle—bringing hope to Syrian refugees
by Leah Reynolds on February 18, 2016 in feature
The terror and violence became unbearable. At 4 a.m. around two years ago, Yusuf and Fatima Assad* gathered their nine children and left their house, possessions and comfort to search for a better life, away from bombings and turmoil.
The Assad family is just one of millions who have fallen victim to the unrelenting civil war in Syria, which first struck the nation four years ago. Since then, close to 1.08 million registered Syrian refugees have settled in Lebanon, located just west of Syria.
There was no turning back. Seconds after they left, Yusuf looked back, only to see a bomb destroy their house and everything in it. They moved...
Praying for those who will go
by Regina Crossley on February 18, 2016 in great commission
Go Now Missions recently hosted Discovery Weekend at First Baptist Church Midlothian, where 195 students were issued invitations to serve as Go Now Missionaries after the weekend. There were 50 small group leaders, made up of BSM Staff, Church Staff and students who are former Go Now Missionaries; 25 host homes provided by FBC Midlothian; 17 who served on the Prayer Team; and 25 who served on the Servant Team. Below is a story from one leader who served on the Prayer Team.
As a former GoNow missionary, I had the opportunity of serving on the Prayer Team for Go Now's Discovery Weekend this year. My perspective has been broadened...
Predatory lending is unjust because it traps borrowers
by Stephen Reeves on February 17, 2016 in clc
(Stephen Reeves will lead a workshop titled "Predatory Lending and the Church: Morality, Missions and Advocacy" during the CLC's Micah 6:8 Conference March 31-April 1 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio.)
Through the prophet Micah, God commands us to do justice. Doing justice is not extra credit; it is not bonus activity or tangential to the Gospel. The work of justice is at the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came proclaiming release to those held captive.
Millions of our neighbors are held captive by modern debt-slavery. Predatory lending, in the form of payday and auto title loans, ensnares many...
Should I smack someone or is there a better choice?
by Guest Author on February 17, 2016 in ministers spouses
It was our first day back at church after being away for a month. I got up early, spent time in prayer for the services and for my own heart's cleansing, praying that nothing in my heart would hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in my life or the lives of my family – personal and church.
During the morning service, I was just overwhelmed while we were singing of the love of Jesus and I was reminded of the story of Calvary. It was a great morning of worship.
However, the service was barely over when things went downhill. Hurtful, critical words said thoughtlessly by a fellow Christian brought me close to tears and really hurt...
Introducing The 2016 National Acteen Panelists From Texas
by Vicky Hernandez, 2015 National Acteen Panelist on February 16, 2016 in womans missionary union
Every year, Woman's Missionary Union® chooses a handful of young women to serve as National Acteen Panelist. The girls that are chosen as Panelist obtain qualities that show leadership, serving hearts, and a strong relationship with Christ.
The 2016 National Acteen Panelist consists of three girls from the state of Texas. Hannah Hutton from Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, Jemima Louis from Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, and Ana Sandoval from Freeman Heights Baptist Church in Garland.
As a former Panelist, I know that this opportunity will open many doors for these girls. Getting the chance to go to the national annual...
Texas Baptists to host Hispanic evangelism events for students and adults
by Leah Reynolds on February 16, 2016 in news
The Texas Baptists Hispanic Evangelism team is gearing up for a busy but invigorating year, complete with evangelism training opportunities for Latino churches around the state.
Both students and adults will have opportunities to gain valuable evangelism training through regional Renovación Hispanic Evangelism Conferences and through Congreso, a youth evangelism conference. Joshua del Risco, evangelism lead for the Texas Baptists Great Commission Team, said he is excited for what is in store for each upcoming event.
"This year's conferences will serve as a call to our hispanic congregations to prayer for revival and greater...
Choices and consequences: The newest study from Connect 360
by Scott Stevens on February 15, 2016 in news
Choices and their inevitable consequences. We just can't seem to get around them. Whether it's the food we choose to eat, the speed we choose to drive, the relationships we choose to enter, the people we choose to follow, or the habits we choose to form; we all live with the positive and negative consequences of our choices. Fortunately, God has provided us an "owner's manual" that can serve to guide our choices. The Bible contains stories of real people, their choices, and the resulting consequences.
The Books of Joshua and Judges are full of such stories – stories of courageous faith and miraculous victories as well as stories...
These gleaming, little eyes
by Leah Reynolds on February 15, 2016 in news
Look at these gleaming little eyes. Gripping, aren't they?
Though a sparkle glistens, these eyes have seen what no eyes should ever see.
These eyes saw a bomb detonate yards away as they fled their Syrian home at 4 a.m. over a year ago.
They saw airplanes fly above which triggered tears and the verbal response, "They're coming! They're coming to bomb us!"
They saw crowded buses and tired feet during the two days of transit to cross the Syria/Lebanon border.
They saw their new home—a wooden frame, covered with a flimsy nylon tarp—and two "rooms" to house nine pairs of sibling and parent eyes.
These eyes saw a frigid winter, with 60...
When disaster strikes
by Leah Reynolds on February 15, 2016 in news
What looked to be a typical, rainy spring weekend quickly turned tragic. The rains, heavier than usual, created a 40-foot wall of water that came barreling down the river, wiping houses off their foundations and thrusting cars into trees. The flood in San Marcos Memorial Day weekend 2015 would go down in history as the highest flood recorded in Texas.
But when news of the damage shook the community, First Baptist Church in San Marcos was armed and ready to respond.
Two and a half years ago, volunteers from the church assisted with disaster recovery following the West fertilizer plant explosion. When they returned home, they felt...
I wanna know what love is
by Guest Author on February 15, 2016 in culture
Like the 80s rock band Foreigner, I want to know what love is. And I am not alone in my inquiry. Legendary singer Tina Turner asks, "what's love got to do with it?" John Legend speaks of its all encompassing nature, singing it has affected "all of me." So what is it?
Diana Ross and Lionel Richie found that love is "endless." Beyoncé, Queen Bey, opines love is "crazy." Huey Lewis says there is a "power of love." How much power? Well, it made Stevie Wonder call just to say "I love you." Leona Lewis is quite figuratively "bleeding love." And Taylor Swift owes her entire career to love, or the lack thereof.
Determining whether they...
How a small town church can make a big impact
by Kalie Lowrie on February 15, 2016 in great commission
Churches are often looking for ways to engage the community around them with the Gospel, to reach out to the unchurched and find an event which will pique their interest enough to begin a conversation. Small membership churches may find it difficult at times to host a large event due to limited budgets, resources, volunteers, facilities and the list goes on and on.
Here's the good news! By using creativity, ingenuity and networking, it is possible to make a big splash in your neighborhood.
I visited with Joe Ward, pastor of First Baptist Church Hallettsville, and he shared with me about a recent event the church...
Revival through the radio waves in Honduras
by Guest Author on February 11, 2016 in great commandment
This past month, Radio Rio de Dios had an incredible time of ministry. During the last week of January, during our monthly marathon, special guest Pedro Paz came to the radio station to pray, share the Gospel and minister to the listening audience.
Over a period of six days, more than 500 people came to the radio station seeking help, prayer, and to bring offerings for the radio ministry. People waited for hours outside in the hot sun to receive prayer and in some cases healing from various illnesses.
During the week over 175 decisions were made, many accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior for the first time, while others renewed...
Let Justice Roll Down
by Michael A. Evans, Sr. on February 10, 2016 in clc
(Dr. Michael A. Evans, Sr., will lead a workshop titled "Let Justice Roll Down -- It's a Big Deal in Scripture & Today" during the CLC's Micah 6:8 Conference March 31-April 1 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio. He is pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield.)
One of the most prolific martyrs of the civil rights era, namely Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded readers in his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" of the prophetic words of the Old Testament prophet, Amos.
King wrote these words in the midst of a civil rights movement that had come to a stalemate, caught between pessimism among some of his early supporters, the...
Lesson learned: The power of words for church leaders
by Ryan Jespersen on February 10, 2016 in great commandment
I remember his faithfulness in leading out in the ministry of the church. I remember he was one of the most familiar faces from my childhood. What I will never forget about him is the Sunday evening he stood in a business meeting at our church to discuss some changes and he proclaimed "the church is gone."
He was actually quoting from a business meeting in that same church that had happened 12 years earlier when the church had split. For me, it was the first time I had ever imagined that a church could or would die. It shook me because this was the church I had grown up in, and the thought of it being gone really got to me.
Raising Highly Capable Kids program sees continued growth around the state
by Leah Reynolds on February 10, 2016 in news
FORT WORTH—With flowers in hand, students at W.J. Turner Elementary School in Fort Worth assembled in the school's auditorium last week to witness an extraordinary sight—their parents' graduation.
Seventeen parents took the stage to receive their diplomas for completing 13 weeks of classes based around the curriculum Raising Highly Capable Kids (RHCK), which teaches parents skills for raising their children.
In 2013, Pastor Rafael Berlanga, from Primera Baptist Church in Fort Worth, introduced the program for the first time to Manuel Jara Elementary School, located just two miles away from Turner Elementary.
The oversaturated, overextended and overstimulated mind
by Elizabeth Biedrzycki on February 9, 2016 in faith
In a world where contentment and happiness tend to be driven by the entertainment industry, and at a time when the entertainment industry is growing in innovative, all-encompassing ways of keeping our attention in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to become addicted to an oversaturated, overextended and overstimulated state of mind.
How then do we battle the repercussions of this cultural norm? As the demands on our lives become ever increasing and time is consumed, our minds and thoughts are following the patterns of our daily decisions (as menial as those decisions may seem at times). And as Christ...
We joined Christian Women's and Christian Men's Job Corps
by Pam Moore, Literacy ConneXus on February 9, 2016 in womans missionary union
Imagine enrolling in a job corps program and having your entire life transformed. That's exactly what happens to many who pass through CWJC and CMJC. Program participants receive training in life skills and job readiness, and, along the way, gain self-confidence, purpose, direction, and hope for the future. What a deal!
Naturally, we wanted in on the action. Henry Blackaby said, "Watch to see where God is working and join Him in His work." A generous grant from the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation gave us the resources to collaborate with CWJC/CMJC in its education emphasis. Our goal is to connect leaders and...
Two former pastors to serve as Area 8 representatives
by Leah Reynolds on February 8, 2016 in news
DALLAS--Over 900 Texas Baptists churches are located in the North Texas region surrounding Dallas, also known as Area 8, where diversity is vast and culture is ever-changing.
Texas Baptists has recently welcomed former pastors John Nguyen and Dowell Loftis to partner together as part-time area representatives for Area 8, which encompasses counties as far north as Grayson and Fannin Counties and as far south as Leon County.
The duo will work together to build relationships with pastors, key church leaders and directors of missions for Dallas area associations. They will also be available to fill pulpits and preach on behalf...
Baptist University of the Américas to relocate entire campus
by Guest Author on February 8, 2016 in news
SAN ANTONIO – Baptist University of the Américas (BUA) students will enjoy a modern campus when they move into one building that provides more square footage and up-to-date facilities for Fall 2016.
The 68-year-old university on the Southside that educates Hispanic ministers from 23 countries is relocating its entire campus operations and personnel this summer.
The university is moving from the eight outdated buildings to a medical office building built in 2006 that has been unused due to foreclosure.
BUA has been on its campus at I-35 South and Palo Alto Road since 1965 and has launched a fundraising campaign to raise...
Preparing for service on a unique mission field
by Kalie Lowrie on February 4, 2016 in faith
Passionate about preaching the word of God and sharing the Gospel, Mark Kim enrolled in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall of 2014. In his younger years, Kim would not have pictured himself in seminary but rather in medical school pursuing a career in pediatrics.
Following his graduation from Baylor University with a degree in education, Kim was working at a hospital in his hometown of Lewisville. He constantly found himself drawn to patients, checking on how they were doing in the midst of sickness and emergencies. He was concurrently enrolled in an Old Testament course at Southwestern and found the Lord...
Las vidas de los inmigrantes a través de los ojos de los migrantes en las Escrituras
by Dr. Jesús Romero on February 4, 2016 in clc espanol
Para ayudar a nuestra comunidad y al cuerpo de Cristo a entender la inmigración, es necesario hablar de este tema dentro del contexto más amplio de la migración en las Escrituras.
La Biblia habla ampliamente de la migración y nos cuenta historias de personas de la vida real que sufrieron experiencias dolorosas al trasladarse de un país a otro, enfrentando situaciones que aún hoy en día son relevantes.
La historia de nuestra fe comienza con Abraham el inmigrante, a quien Dios le mandó dejar su lugar de origen para llegar a ser bendición de las naciones. Su bisnieto, José, fue victima de tráfico humano, y 400 años...
The lives of immigrants can be seen in the migrants of Scripture
by Jesús Romero on February 3, 2016 in clc
To help our culture and the body of Christ understand immigration, it is helpful to talk about it within the broader scope of migration in Scripture.
The Bible deals extensively with migration and tells stories about real people who went through painful movements from one country to another, facing issues that are still relevant today.
The story of our faith begins with the migrant Abraham, who is commanded by God to leave his homeland and become a blessing to the nations. His great-grandson, Joseph, becomes a victim of human trafficking, then 400 years later and under the leadership of Moses, the people of Israel, in fleeing poverty...
5 Ways to spiritually fight for your kids
by Joanna Jespersen on February 3, 2016 in ministers spouses
"Where is my wedding ring?" My heart started racing in panic.
I noticed my ring was missing and immediately started to look around, thinking quickly about where it could be and why it wasn't on the ring holder like usual. My thoughts went to my then 4-year-old daughter, Rachel Beth.
Immediately I questioned her. "Have you seen my wedding ring, Rachel?"
She replied, "No. I don't know where it is."
I asked again, my anger and frustration welling up inside me because I knew she might be up to something by the way she was squirming. After another minute, she said, "I know where it is." She then proceeded to go into the playroom and...
Bono rocked the world 10 years ago with words about poverty, justice
by Ferrell Foster on February 2, 2016 in ethical living blog
Ten years ago today, rock star Bono delivered an amazing address at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, with President George W. Bush sitting nearby.
Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, said an encounter with a wise man had changed his life "in countless way, big and small." The singer said he was "always" asking God to bless his family, a tour, a song. "Could I have a blessing on it."
And this wise man asked me to stop. He said, Stop asking God to bless what you're doing. Get involved in what God is doing -- because it's already blessed. Well, let's get involved in what God is doing. God, as I say, is...
What happens to college students when they actually "rest"
by Leah Reynolds on February 1, 2016 in faith
Jumbo shrimp, good grief, bitter sweet--these are just a few of my favorite oxymorons. Another favorite I hear a lot is this: restful college student.
For many college students, the idea of "resting" is unheard of, aside from catching maybe five hours of shut-eye at night. Whether it's school, work, homework or having a social life, for some reason the hours in college just seem to get filled up so quickly.
Every year, Texas Baptists Collegiate Ministry organizes a prayer retreat called "Abide" that invites college students to do the unheard of: to rest.
It's unscheduled. Once students arrive Friday at Highland Lakes Camp in...