Archive for May, 2009

Super Summer Registration

May 28, 2009

Jon Randles sent me an email today about the number of students signed up for Super Summer this year.

There are already 3512 students registered which is 309 more than last summer’s final enrollment…and new registrations are still coming in.

The SS sessions are held at Hardin-Simmons, ETBU and UMHB.

This is great news and great proof that God is at work among young adults.

Never too young to give

May 28, 2009

I guess I’m a grown-up, but I have yet to feel like one in my 21 years of life. I always say, “One day I’ll be a grown-up and do grown-up things, like paying all my bills, owning my own house and tithing more.” But, I’ve come to realize, although I might not pay all my bills or own things, God still wants the same from me as he would want from someone double my age. I find myself shortchanging God so often because “I’m a college student, and I don’t have any money.” But, it’s when I give my all that I get back that and so much more. Maybe it means not eating out one night or driving a little less, because we all know how much gas can cost. I always remember this story I heard as a child:

Take a jar and fill it with sand. Then try and put rocks in it. You can’t because the sand takes up all the space. This is the same concept when you think about tithing and giving time to God. Your life is the jar, and the sand represents the worldly things you spend your time and money on. The rocks represent what glorifies God. If you put the rocks in first, the sand will also fit. You can have time and money for both, but you need to put God in your life first. Everything else will fit into place.

No matter how old or young you are, you need to give your all to God. He will bless you.

“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30

Sam Pearis – working until the end

May 27, 2009

Lauren Heartsill, BGCT News Intern wrote the following.

As a retired Air Force pilot, a retired Mission Service Corps director, husband and friend, Col. Samuel Pepper Pearis IV wore many hats throughout his life, and he wore them well. He died on Sunday from Pulmonary Fibrosis, but his influences can still be seen through the lives of the volunteer missionaries in the Mission Service Corps. He is survived by his wife of 54 years Polly, his daughter Tamara, his son Barry, two brothers, six grandchildren and two great granddaughters.

Pearis’s friends said he was a recruiter, workaholic, one of the nicest guys, and wonderful at influencing the volunteers. His friend and co-worker, Dorothy Wilkinson said, “He would do whatever was necessary to involve people in serving the Lord through MSC.”

Pearis wrote his own obituary, which makes sense to those who knew him best. He wanted everything to be taken care of, and he was working until the very end. Pearis was a vital part of the success of the MSC and to the lives of many.

Viewing will be tonight from 5-9 p.m. at the Schertz Funeral Home, and the funeral service will be Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at FBC in Universal City.

Below is Pearis’s own obituary:
Dear Friend,

My day has come and I’m doing my last action for Polly here. She chose not to learn the computer (optimistically depending on me). Because of this, my final assignment is to announce my passing.

The attached Obituary has most of the details, and more will follow when known. Of course you are invited to the Viewing and Memorial Service. I’ll be at both of them. My demise was caused by Pulmonary Fibrosis, scarring in the lungs. If you are unfamiliar with this deadly disease, you can look it up on the Internet as I had to do. Or you can wait until we meet next time.

Thank you for making my life a more meaningful one. You helped me get my money’s worth in my 78 years.

Come see me. And if you Church of Christ people have trouble getting in, just tell the Gatekeeper that you are Baptist (doesn’t have to be “Southern” Baptist).

Thanks to my Grandson Dalton for help in sending this. If you wish to respond, the computer will be open for a few days. And then it CRASHES.

Note: All addresses and phone numbers will stay the same.

Sam Pearis

What defines us?

May 27, 2009

I’ve started my thinking process of purchasing a new automobile. I seldom use the term automobile, but my dilemma is whether to buy another truck or a more fuel efficient car.

Let’s face it, the type of car/truck/motorcycle we drive does a couple of things: 1. emits our personality and 2. gets us from place to place. I’d even put them in that order.

I like the design of several cars out there right now but I know I’ll miss having a full-size truck and what it enables me to do around the house and what it says about me. This also means that we’ll have to get my wife something that will pull a horse trailer. Her cross-over SUV (which I refer to as a Sports Utility Van) doesn’t get good gas mileage but also doesn’t get a lot of miles either so just trading cars won’t work…and that I’m not interested in driving it.

This internal dialogue has again gotten me thinking about what defines me. What I drive? What I wear? How I act? What I believe?

The fact is, all of these do from the world’s perspective. But that perspective should not concern me. In the big picture, my seemingly simple purchase decision doesn’t impact humanity but takes up a lot of thought as I sit idle in traffic.

My goal is to notice those thoughts and intentionally change them to focus on things that matter – focusing on God and recognizing ways to reach the people I come in contact with.

New Addition

May 26, 2009

Those of you who read this blog have grown to know John Hall and you’re about to know a touch more . Just want all of you to know that his son, James, was born Thursday.

Back from Fort Hood

May 22, 2009

A tip of my hat to our military chaplains. I just returned from Fort Hood, where our chaplaincy director, Bobby Smith, introduced me to some of the 99 Army chaplains endorsed by the BGCT. Wow!

Let me put it this way: The United States is at war against terrorism, and these chaplains are providing pastoral care to the warriors who seek to defend us from harm. It’s a dangerous job, but the call of God has never stopped at difficulty.

I brought back some medal tokens and have them on the table in my office to remind me to pray for these men and their wives. I hope others will join me.

And pray for Bobby. He is seeking to be the kind of endorser whom chaplains really need — someone to stand beside them, walk with them, counsel them and encourage them. He is gifted for this work and he loves it, but he could still use your prayers.

Every military chaplain has to have an endorsing body, and the BGCT is one of 227 such entities. This ministry, that no individual church can do alone, is growing rapidly. Bobby doesn’t recruit chaplains, but word of mouth is spreading the good word — high standards in the chaplains and good endorsement support for them.

The BGCT now has 547 chaplains, and 159 of those are in the military. And, the thing is, the military needs more. Pray that God will raise them up and go with them as they serve.

Prayer guide impacts Austin

May 21, 2009

The Texas Hope 2010 prayer guide recently made an appearance at a gathering of the joint House and Senate Oversight Committee of Criminal Justice in Austin. This note comes from Patricia Presley through Suzii Paynter:

I testified to a Joint House and Senate Oversight Committee of Criminal Justice.  It was the first time I had ever testified before a legislative group.  The Committee was hearing testimony on pilot programs designed to keep juvenile offenders at home and using Texas Youth Commission juvenile detention centers as a last resort.  The meeting started late and was running towards 7 p.m. before I was called to testify.  Why was I there to speak?  The speakers before me had been a judge Chief Probation Officers for several counties, Executive Directors of TYC and TJPD, advocacy groups with statistics goals and objectives, timelines for completing or complying with legislation passed in 2007.  Who was I to before this panel in between all these experts?  Who was I speaking for before this panel? 

I had done Bible mediation while waiting for the hearing to begin and my eyes found BGCT’s HOPE 2010 booklet and Day 7 had a quote from Coretta Scott King.  She was recalling the burden her husband felt during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  After a threatening and abusive phone call he had gone to the kitchen and prayed, returning from prayer, he told her he had heard a voice saying :”Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.” I do not claim an epiphany like Dr. King, but I who I was speaking before this committee and for whom I spoke.  I spoke for Joshua who was committed to TYC in 2005 and had been transferred to West Texas State School (one of the units at the center of the horrible physical and sexual cases) for disciplinary reasons.  Joshua was a Child Protective Services placement by the very judge who had testified earlier in the hearing.  Joshua had many of the issues children in the system, acting out, and lying in hopes of being returned to his mother.

  1. Would the 250 question assessment tool, used by Greater Houston, have helped in identifying Joshua’s health problems? Would his ADHD have been clearly defined to help him succeed in an education setting?  Could a Master’s level counselor availability to the entire family help prevent access to drugs from his biological father?  Some many what if’s and so late!

I wonder about the 5 year old who told his pastor he knew his name was another name for Jesus, the 13 year old trying for his Eagle Scout and graduating from high school and going to college instead of a state jail facility.  A damaged boy caught in a scandal ridden system that failed him, that missed saying goodbye to his great-grandmother and his grandmother’s funeral, he was who I was speaking for before this committee.  I spoke not for a number or static, but a young man who still loves and hopes for better times.  I spoke for Joshua, my great-nephew.

Patricia Presley

Go Now Commissioning

May 20, 2009

Every summer students from universities all over Texas give up a summer of relaxation to become a Go Now! Student Missionary.  They’ve prepared; they’ve been trained. This Saturday these summer missionaries will be commissioned in a very special  service and then sent out all over Texas, the United States, and the globe.  They will listen to the stories of the hurting, give students learning English an opportunity to practice their new skills, and provide safe places for children to play.  Most importantly they will share the love of Christ. 

So, maybe you can’t take off for two months to serve as a summer missionary, but there are definitely ways you can be involved:

Visit to find more information on all of the following:

  • Pray for the unreached people group of the day. 
  • Sign up for the e-mail list to receive missionary updates from students this summer.
  • Volunteer to be a prayer partner for a specific student. 
  • Encourage a college student you know to consider being involved next summer or next semester.
  • Financially support a student who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to serve.

In the meantime, pray for these student missionaries:

  • That they will arrive safely and securely on the field.
  • That teams of students will work well together and with their supervisors.
  • That God will comfort them when they feel alone, scared, and homesick – and strengthen them when they are missing familiar food, family, and the comforts of home.
  • That they will have opportunities to share the love of Christ on the field, and when they return.

Being Strategic

May 20, 2009

It was a rather normal day at the office but one that would cause me to ponder not only what I do but how I do it.  After 25 years in the ministry I’m moving toward a new perspective.  One that doesn’t focus so much on “success” but rather “being strategic.”  Here’s what got me thinking.

For seven months I was the Church2Church Missions Coordinator working with affected churches damaged by Hurricane Ike.  My role was to partner those who wanted to help with the affected churches.  A call came in one morning asking which affected churches could use a strong partner.  The helping church wanted to invest in a ministry that was strategic to its community.  With a prayer asking for God’s leadership, I began my work. 

A director of missions was most helpful by sending the names of the three most damaged churches in his association.  What caught my attention and stopped me dead in my tracks was his description of one church.  His words were something like this, “This church is strategic in our association because if we lose it, no one else ministers to drug addicts, prostitutes, and the desperately poor.”  He was honest in his description of the problems the church faced but it was those words, “This church is strategic” that caused me to ponder my own ministry.

My first thought was, “If my own church ceased to exist, would anyone notice?”  My second thought was, “What’s the difference between being busy and being strategic in our ministries?”  You see “strategic” means doing those things that gives you the advantage in reaching a desired end.  As I spent time in evaluation, I had to admit that much of what I’ve been about in the past is “busy” but not necessarily strategic because we didn’t seem that much closer to the end toward which we were aiming.

Texas Hope 2010 is the challenge before us and we must fill these days with strategic action, not just busy activity.  Praying for our state, caring for hungry people, and sharing the good news of Christ with over 23 million people by Resurrection Sunday 2010 is doable if we are strategic. 

Let’s all take a minute to consider the difference between being “successful” and “being strategic.”  Going forward my goal is one of strategic ministry.

To Christian bloggers

May 20, 2009

Often in Baptist circles we talk about churches that are focused inward when the community around them needs to hear the gospel. Until this morning, I hadn’t thought of Christian blogs — Baptist blogs in particular — in the same light.

Then I read this post from Church Crunch, which is a great church communications blog I check out nearly every day. Apparently Darren Rowse who leads Problogger, one of the most popular blogs in the world, is a Christian, according to a recent interview. During the interview, Rowse says some things that challenged me. I wonder if they’ll challenge you.

My first blog was a ‘Christian Blog’ in many senses (not that it had a conversion experience…). I started it to talk about issues of faith, spirituality and church. It became reasonably well known in Christian blogging circles and I had a lot to do with other Christian bloggers. One of the things that I became a bit frustrated with over the two or so years that that blog was active was that I saw the majority of Christian bloggers gathering together to talk about subjects that related to them – but very little outward focus or interaction with the wider blogosphere.

While I think that there is definitely a place for Christian bloggers to do more inward focussed blogging (fellowship and doing faith together is a big part of what I see us called to do as followers of Christ) I wondered whether we were ignoring another part of what we’re called to be on about – mission.

My critique of Christian blogging is actually similar to my critique of much of what I see happening with the Church today – an overemphasis upon gathering together as believers – at the expense of ‘going into the world to make disciples’.

I came to a point where I saw incredible opportunity in blogging to ‘go’. People are gathering around the web through blogs to learn, build relationships, have dialogue, share their lives, talk about every aspect of their existence – but the majority of Christian bloggers that I knew at the time (including myself) were gathering together in our ‘Holy Huddles’ to do ‘Christian Things’.

I made a decision to spend more time focussing upon going and participating in what I saw happening outside of the ‘Christian Blogosphere’.

What I found is that there are some amazing opportunities in the wider blogosphere to connect with people – to share your life with them and to make a difference. I also found that there are a lot of bloggers with similar faith perspectives doing similar things and not getting into ‘Christian Blogging’.

Later in the interview, Rowse gives his hopes for Christian bloggers in a nutshell:

I’d love to see more Christians to catch a vision for being more outward and missional in their outlook in every area of their lives – including their blogging.

I think there is an incredible opportunity to be a part of the seeing in of God’s Kingdom if we do so.

I’d encourage you to read the entire interview. It was thought-provoking to me. As I read it, I realized all the Christian blogs I read do seem to be focused on other Christians. In fact, it seems to me at the moment that most of the so-called prominent Baptist bloggers — at least in Texas, but I imagine beyond that — have a target audience of Christians. And there’s a definitely a place for that. The target audience of this blog is Texas Baptists. At this moment, I can’t see that changing any time soon.

But this morning I can’t help but wonder if Rowse is right. Have we taken the holy huddle online? Are our online actions reinforcing the stereotypes of Christians excluding others?

What do you think?