Archive for October, 2009

A simple question

October 30, 2009

From Francis Chan during Youth Ministry Conclave, sponsored by Texas Baptists:

At the end of the day, are you even sure you watched God move?

I hope you see God move today and throughout your weekend.

Time alone with God

October 29, 2009

I don’t think I’d say this I’m like a youth minister in many ways, but I think I have one thing in common with them: I rarely do one thing at a time. Even when I’m writing, I’ll have music in the background, Facebook up, Twitter up and will answer phone calls. Even I don’t understand how I focus on any one thing.

During Texas Baptists’ Youth Ministry Conclave, Francis Chan wondered the same thing about himself. He confessed that even when he’s playing a video game with his young daughter, he’s trying to sneak in an e-mail between games. He never concentrates on one thing at a time. Multitasking is a good skill to have.

Except when it comes to time with God.

When do you ever do anything with all your heart anymore?

Don’t you remember times in your life when you were less hurried and you were alone with God and never wanted it to end?

On following Christ

October 29, 2009

Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif. and author of Crazy Love, was one of the featured speakers during Youth Ministry Conclave, sponsored by Texas Baptists. He said a number of things that challenged me. Today, I’ll post some of them here. I’m curious what you think about what he said.

On following Christ:

It’s weird in following Jesus we’ve changed the rules somehow.

Remember Simon Says? Simon says pat your head, you do it. It’s different in the church . If Jesus says it, all you have to do is memorize it.

Generally speaking, are Christ followers abiding in Christ’s teachings? Have we “changed the rules?” Where are we doing well? Where are we not doing so well?

And what about you, how are you doing in following Christ?

Job openings

October 27, 2009

It’s been a while since we’ve done this, so now seemed like as good a time as any. According to our HR site, we have some job openings. If you’d like to check them out, click here.

I’ll put in a plug here for the communications department, which is looking for a web designer. We’d love for you to join us. If you’re interested in the position or any of the other positions — or know someone who might be interested — I know I’d appreciate it if you took the appropriate action of applying or passing it on to someone else.

Feel free to ask anyone on staff at Texas Baptists, I think they’ll say the same thing. It’s a priviledge to serve here and help expand God’s kingdom. Come be a part of the team. 


Churches and schools

October 27, 2009

During the first day of the Youth Ministry Conclave, sponsored by Texas Baptists, I went to a seminar led by Thomas Wallis, superintendent of the Palestine Independent School District. He talked about the relationship between churches and public schools, which is something I’ve been fascinated by off and on for some time now.

At some point in our lives, we’ve all heard that “they” are pulling God out of public schools. The most commonly noted item is the removal of prayer from schools. Critics say civic groups and some school leaders are against Christianity.

But at the same time, there are a number of churches across the state that are finding ways to impact public schools around them. They’re impacting students and faculty members alike.

The key, Wallis said, is church leaders must be proactive in building relationships with administrators. Schedule an appointment with a principal or superintendent. Start by understanding how you can help. Also understand what they do not want you to do. They don’t want people interfering with how they run the school. Respect that.

There’s a story out there — that may be apocryphal so I’m not mentioning the church name — that this is exactly how a church started a significant ministry to a nearby school.

A deacon met with the principal and asked how he could help the school. Wanting to get rid of him, the principal told the deacon that the toilets need to be cleaned. To the administrator’s surprise, the deacon accepted the task, cleaning every toilet in the building.

The next day, he did the next thing the principal asked.

And then the next.

And the next.

Eventually the relationship grew because the principal saw how much the man wanted to help. That led to mentorship opportunities for church members and students. It led to tutoring programs. It led to the church renovating the teachers’ lounge.

It led to the transformation of the school and opportunities for church members to witness in word and deed on that campus.

Wallis said this kind of thing can happen in many places across the state if church leaders will step up their efforts to partner with schools.

Is your church working with a nearby school? Why or why not? If you are, how did it start?

ETBU plunges into Texas Hope 2010

October 26, 2009

Texas Baptist institutions are plunging into Texas Hope 2010, praying for others, caring for those in need and sharing the gospel. ETBU is the latest to dive in. Check it out by clicking here.

Fire destroys most of Kerens church buildings

October 26, 2009

Fire burned down most of the facilities of First Baptist Church in Kerens Oct. 18.

The blaze incinerated the sanctuary, children’s area, nursery, office and library. Only the youth and education building remains standing.

“Everything was completely destroyed,” Pastor Wes Johnson said of the burned buildings.

The congregation gathered for worship the next day at the Kerens Ex-Students Association building, ending the service by driving to the church campus and circling in prayer.

“The spirit is great,” Johnson said about the congregation. “We had a wonderful service Sunday. We had three more additions to our fellowship Sunday.”

The church is a group of Christians who come together, not the building they meet in, Johnson stressed.

“The church here is doing great,” he said. “It’s the building that’s not in such great shape.”

The buildings are insured, which should cover most of the recovery and rebuilding costs, and other groups already are pitching in to help the congregation. A Methodist church donated 150 Baptist hymnals and people in the community have brought by microphones they can use.

Texas Baptists has given the congregation $5,000 in the form of a disaster relief church building recovery grant from the Texas Baptists Church Architecture office, with $1,000 designated to replace the pastor’s reference library that was destroyed in the fire.

Texas Baptists Congregational Strategist Bill Claiborne, who is connecting the congregation with convention resources, praised First Baptist Church for the way it is handling the situation.

“These are people who are already moving ahead,” he said. “They are not dwelling on the loss. They are looking to the future. They are very appreciative of the outpouring of concern and assistance that has come their way.”

The church will continue holding services at the Kerens Ex-Students Association building and all Sunday school classes have been moved into various locations across the city, including homes and a restaurant.

Johnson hopes the classes outside the church facilities will create opportunities for church members to share their faith with people who are not part of a church. “It’ll give us a chance to be witnesses outside the traditional walls of the church,” he said.

Lord of the Dance

October 23, 2009

(My final post on the TBM disaster relief efforts in the Philippines. It represents some thoughts as I contemplated the 10 days spent there.)

I don’t know why destruction occurs.
I don’t know why we experience pain and suffering.
I don’t know why those that have so little get it taken away more often than those that have so much.

I do know that we brought the Hope of Christ to people.
I do know we encouraged other Christians.
I do know that there are 13 new souls that will be welcomed into Heaven one day.

I do know that He is the Lord of the Dance.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the hymn:

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,
But they would not dance and they would not follow me;
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John;
They came to me and the dance went on.


I danced on the sabbath when I cured the lame,
The holy people said it was a shame;
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high;
And they left me there on a cross to die.


I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black;
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back;
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone,
But I am the dance and I still go on.


They cut me down and I leapt up high,
I am the life that’ll never, never die;
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.

Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

Reflections on an outbound journey

October 23, 2009

A daytime aerial view answered some questions I had.

When we flew into the Philippines it as night and we didn’t get to see that landscape, population density and dispersion. While Metro Manila is compact and crowded like 9 Houstons continuously joined together, there is a whole other part of the Philippines with farm land and mountains.

The vast majority of land in the Philippines was virtually unaffected by the recent typhoons. However, much of the population was impacted. There are over 700 islands that comprise the country.

The view from a rising 3500 feet gave some perspective as to why so many people, especially poor people, were affected by flooding. The Philippine government allows the poorest to claim land. They are true squatters.

Squatters’ houses, we Americans wouldn’t consider them so, are mostly second-hand lumber fragments, cardboard, tin scraps and other debris that will help provide some shelter from sun, wind and rain. The land available for squatting is along some of the major rivers.DSC_1287

By “along the river,” I don’t mean spacious waterfront poperty safely distanced from flowing water but shacks that share walls and even in some cases share one 4’x8′ piece of tin for the roof.

We did not work in those areas as there was nothing to clean up. We did visit with some of the people there and listened to pain-filled stories as they rebuilt with debris from fellow squatters’ homes who live upstream. We offered Hope to them and it was well received as they are a people naturally filled with hope.

I am unsure how they will rebuild or how they will replace their existence. Luckily, they don’t rely on my uncertainty. In spite of losing all, they are extremely happy, joyful and hardworking at reclaiming their lives.


HOA under the bridge

October 22, 2009

If you live in a subdivision you are most likely a member of your Home Owner’s Association. It may dictate parking, building additions or even the color of your shutters. At least that’s been my experience with HOAs.

While riding with an IMB missionary in the Philippines, Jill Harvell, to distribute food to those hit by the typhoons she said, “By the way, this group of shanties is part of a Home Owner’s Association.” With that intro, we had to stop and talk.

The member families, which totaled about 60 people, all lived under the bridge until the recent flood. Having to rebuild somewhere nearby, they rebuilt on the median of the road they were living under a couple of days prior. Note that I said median, not boulevard. From curb to curb, the median measured 48 inches. The families, all with small children, were inside their homes rebuilt from whatever floated downstream, cooking and lying on cardboard beds.

4020926479_b9544df0a6And yes, they have government documentation as a Home Owner’s Association. The address: Under Carlos P. Garcia Avenue Bridge.