Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We Are Not Alone

Guest blog by Julia Karmina Lozano,
wife of Pastor Raul Lozano, Mision Bautista Betel

It was the end of July in 1996. I was divorced and was left with my 2 year old, Blake. I worked as a secretary at the Health Science Center earning about $13,000 a year. I was deep in debt and after making those payments and my car payment I was left with $10.00 for the month. I lived with my parents and even though they supported me emotionally they had little to offer financially. I was broke!

I fell to my knees one night after putting Blake to sleep and surrendered to my Lord, confessing my sin & disobedience. I gave him my life again that night and I gave him my burden. I asked him to be real in my life, especially in my finances, so I began to tithe again and one of the biggest miracles in my life occurred that changed the course of my life. Within two weeks I had a job interview where I got hired as a bilingual teacher on the spot, without my certification. The job payed me more than double of what I was making. Within the month I relocated and moved into my own apartment and was once again independent. Within a year I had gotten my certification and was making three times more than a secretary. Within two years I had paid all the credit card debt.

I reconnected with Him and found shelter in a small church family where I found the spiritual support I so desperately needed. I could see God’s hand in all this. I learned that the pay check was not mine. It is all his and what I give to him is in recognition of his faithfulness. Since then I haven’t been hesitant to give what he puts in my heart to do so. I am also blessed to be married to a man driven by God who doesn’t question God about giving.

I believe God still speaks to his people. We need to be alert and listen for his voice. He will guide us. I am excited to see how He will continue to guide this church to minister to people, as I too was ministered long ago. I support this campaign not only because we can unite as one and work towards a goal but also because when we are obedient to God he always gives us the desires of our hearts and then some.

Raul and I are praying to know God’s will for our lives, our family and Betel. We will make a greater effort and personal sacrifice to accomplish God’s vision for our church and we are trusting whole heartedly in God’s provision.

We have not and will not be alone. He is real & He will provide. Trust Him!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fruitless Religion

Appearances can be deceiving. Jesus sees a fig tree in full leaf from a distance but, upon closer inspection, he discovers that it is barren. He then curses the tree. Jesus sees this fig tree as symbolic of the Temple; impressive from a distance but fruitless.

He makes his point with greater vigor when overturned the money changer's tables and declared, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark:11:15-17)

Jesus' message is one of judgment against Israel. Jesus is applying the imagery from Jeremiah to the temple.

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD. I will take away their harvest…There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them (Jeremiah 8:11-13 NIV).

God says he’ll judge Israel, and that like a fig tree with no figs, Israel will wither. Two chapters later Jesus will tell his followers that this temple is going to be destroyed (Mark 13:1-2). The destruction of the temple in 70 AD by the Romans was the fulfillment of Jesus’ symbolic judgment enacted here

Outward displays of religion did not impress Jesus then nor does it impress him now. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance,” he says. (Matthew 3:8)

Jesus said that we would be known by the kind of fruit we produce (Matthew 7:16) and Paul would later explain, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Friday, October 25, 2013

How Strong is Your Heart?

I was once served with three lawsuits for a total of over half a million dollars over a car accident that wasn't my fault. It was my final year of seminary. After years of financial sacrifice it seemed that the light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming train.

I cried out to God in despair. He reminded me that it is He who provides for my needs. I was almost 30 and had been on my own since I was 17. I'd always had food, clothes, a car and a place to live.

I realized that I developed a belief in my own power to take care of myself. I was not only being served a lawsuit but, also, a reminder that all I am and all I have belong to God. The lawsuits went away and I grew stronger in my faith.

As I have encountered financial blessings and financial hardship, I have been able to praise God from whom all blessings flow; in all circumstances. He has given me the courage to walk by faith; walking step by step into the future knowing that God goes before me.

When I was called to Baptist Temple I saw the potential, not the need. I saw the opportunity, not the obstacles. God has always provided and He always will.

As we move into this capital campaign I realize that this is not about how much money is needed. It is an exercise of faith. The theme Heartstrong for CHRIST! resonates in my soul. How strong is my heart? How strong is my faith?

God has given me this opportunity to partner with Him in this effort to maintain the ministry of Baptist Temple and extend it into the future. I am excited about it. I am convinced that God will prevail because He is greater than all our calamities.

I ask that you join me in prayer. Ask God to reveal His will to us as individuals and as a church.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Build a Bridge for that Young Person Who Will Follow Us

Guest Blog by Louise Dudley

When I was growing up, my family and our community taught me…by their example … how to give generously to the Lord. I never actually saw their “Sunday offering” ... I didn’t need to … I saw their example … I saw them give of their time, their talent, their treasure. And when it was time to build a new church building I saw one person buy cinder blocks, another drive to Houston for a truck load of sheetrock and others provide the necessary labor. Everyone gave of themselves. Their example of sacrifice and stewardship is one that remains with me to this very day.

As a child, each week I eagerly gave my offering at church and with that offering, I worshiped God. However, that offering was not mine to give. It came from my parents. It was never mine until I had my first “paying job.”

And that happened in 1960 when I entered an internship with the Baptist Hospital and received a stipend of $25.00 a month! Not exactly big bucks, but … it was my very first … my very own “earned” income. Then I was able to give a portion back to God of what He had given to me. By giving a tithe, I was trusting God, and … God was trusting me to obey. It was a “win-win” situation.

Elton and I have been married for over 50 years. Sure, there have been times when giving our tithes and offerings was difficult. We are no different than any of the rest of you. Things happen…people get sick, they work on commission, they lose their jobs, they take on unforeseen responsibilities … the list goes on and on. Sometimes it just isn’t easy, but God honors our obedience to Him. I know that the tithe belongs to the Lord. I have always known that. But it is the offerings we give above and beyond the tithe that we give joyfully. This is when that we give out of grace.

In our fellowship hall is the “Cloud of Witnesses” painting by Shawn Kingston Bridges. In it I see the faces of many people from Baptist Temple during the 70’s and 80’s. But, I am also reminded of that great “cloud of witnesses” at Baptist Temple who had struggled through the depression of the 30’s, were facing a second world war and yet they built this very sanctuary, not just for themselves but for us and the generations to come. Everywhere we look, in every building we have, we are surrounded by tangible evidence of their sacrifice and stewardship.

I am reminded of a poem … “The Bridge Builder.” It tells of an old man walking a lonely highway who came to a deep chasm filled with rushing water. He crossed it without fear and immediately turned to build a bridge. An observer asked him, “Why? Why would you bother to build a bridge here? You are old. You are never going to pass this way again.” The man replied, “A young person will follow me someday and this chasm may prove to be too difficult. I’m building this bridge for him.”

Our campaign is about continuing ministry for future generations. I think of it as “building a bridge for that young person who will follow us.” We are prepared to make sacrifices to make that happen.

I challenge you to be a “bridge builder”, too. Please pray about your participation in our “Heartstrong for CHRIST” campaign.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Power of Peace

As Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem the crowd grows larger. Jews flocked to Jerusalem from every corner of the world to celebrate Passover. The holiday commemorated the deliverance of God’s people from slavery in Egypt. It was a combination of Thanksgiving and the 4th of July.

It was a time of high expectation; people would get excited about the possibility that – maybe today -- Messiah would come. There was tension in Jerusalem. Everyone was talking about Jesus. Passover was only a few days away. Would Jesus make a move? What would the authorities do?

Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey as the people waved palms and shouted Hosanna (save us). Many spread their garments on the road (Mark 11:8) in the same way they did when Israel's King Jehu entered Jerusalem (2 Kings 9:13). The prophet Zechariah predicted, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

Jesus made an important statement about the character of his kingship by riding a donkey rather than a horse. In the East, when a king rode a donkey into a city it was a declaration that he came in peace; when the king rode a horse into a city it was a declaration of war. Jesus arrived as the Prince of Peace.

There is power in the way of peace. When a city council blocked the establishment of a proposed AIDS hospice, Mother Teresa got on her knees before the council and begged to allow the hospice to open – IT DID. Mother Teresa had no political power but she had influence earned by ministering to the dying on the streets of Calcutta.

Hard ball politics is not the way of Jesus. When the Montgomery Bus Boycott threatened to turn violent, Martin Luther King, Jr. rose to national leadership by advocating non-violence. He held no political office but wielded influence by using the words and attitude of Jesus

Like a tiny mustard seed the influence of God would grow. Like yeast it is unseen but powerful.

Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,”
says the LORD Almighty

Saturday, October 19, 2013

We want to be Heartstrong for CHRIST

Guest Blog by Clinton Shull

Janet and I haven’t been members of Baptist Temple for very long but we saw God working through His people in Baptist Temple. The members' involvement in ministry and outreach to the community are some of the things that God used to draw us to Baptist Temple.

We believe that God uses His people to support the local church, people like Janet and I, and people like you.

We want to be Heartstrong for CHRIST. As God continues to bless Janet and I; we make a commitment to give above our tithe to support what God started here at Baptist Temple. We do this in order that Baptist Temple can continue to minister to its members and to the community into the future or until Christ comes for His church.

Down through the ages God’s people have always had to make the decision for commitment to Him. God will raise up individuals to support His work, Janet and I want to be part of that group of individuals that God raises up to meet the challenges of the future. We have made the decision to get on board; to step out by faith.

We are excited to see God work in our lives and are grateful to be counted worthy to participate in this endeavor. Put God to the test and watch Him accomplish in you far above anything you can imagine.

God bless Baptist Temple, you and those in our community.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Honoring the Legacy of Past Sacrifices

Guest blog Steve Grinnell

Baptist Temple Church has given me so much. Our Baptist Temple ancestors gave wholeheartedly to build this church on this corner so we (who were not even born) could study God’s Word and hear His voice of truth. For the past 100 years, members of this church family have faithfully given to make sure that future generations have a beautiful place to worship and a functional place to do ministry and bring others to a saving knowledge of Christ.

Linda and I joined Baptist Temple in January of 1982; I actually joined the choir before we joined the church. It wasn’t long before we were teaching children’s Sunday school, helping with VBS, and going on mission trips. I’ve learned much from this church family:

When life seemed like giant waves were about to crash down on me, Jerry Beauchamp taught me that God will carry me through. When I was saddled with a responsibility that I knew I didn’t have time or expertise to accomplish, Bill McCoy and Elton Dudley just showed up, quietly guided me through, and taught me to not give up. When I faced opposition that made me feel like I was battling a giant with only a handful of rocks, Woody Woodall said “stand your ground and fight fair.” Boyd White taught me to pray, and when I was finished, to pray some more. Max Brunnemann taught me to stay faithful and pay attention to the preacher because he is the man God has sent to lead us.

The former plant superintendent, Jim Fancher, guided me through this entire campus and gave instructions on maintaining the systems to peak efficiency so that people can study God’s Word and worship Him without the distraction of something that is broken. I learned to show up on work days to honor God. I am putting into practice the things I have learned here at Baptist Temple, and I continually praise God for the people of faith who taught me to listen for God’s voice.

I have been taught to tithe and to give beyond my tithe so that God’s voice can be heard into the next century. So I want to give wholeheartedly of my time, talent and treasure to the Lord. I want to be Heartstrong for CHRIST. That is the theme of our new stewardship campaign. I believe in this stewardship enrichment campaign and am fully committed to it. Linda and I have been praying about how we can honor God with our gifts, and I’ve been praying every day for all of you, by name.

When we hear God’s voice and follow in faith those crashing waves of doubt become ripples in a pond. When we follow his leading, that handful of rocks are perfect for slaying the giants that attack us and keep telling us that we can’t do this. When we follow God faithfully our consistent gifts honor Him and become more than enough to accomplish His will.

For such a time as this God has called us to be strong and do His work. We are instructed to not be discouraged or afraid for God is with us. The Bible also tells us to obey Him and to pass on our inheritance to our descendants forever.

These buildings are a part of our inheritance, built on a solid foundation, and we need to keep them up and not allow them to crumble. It is my heart’s desire to step out in faith and give beyond our tithe so that this church will continue to be a lighthouse in the community – leading people to Christ well into the future.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Calling Shotgun

Mark 10:35-45

When I was a kid we all wanted to sit in the front seat. We would call “shotgun!” and argue about who called it first. “I called it!”

No, I did!”

I called it yesterday!”

Well, I called it for the week!”

We would all fight for the seat of honor. Nobody liked taking the backseat.

James and John ask Jesus to give them positions of prestige and power: “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” (Mark 10:37)

Jesus declared that service would be the measure of Christian leadership: Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." (Mark 10:43-44)

A servant leader follows the example of Jesus: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve...” (Mark 10:45)

Jesus knew that he had all the power of the universe in his hands, but he did not use it to control his disciples. He got up and washed their feet.

In the kingdom of God, greatness is not about moving on up. It’s about transformation. As we become more like Jesus, we will develop a Christ-like sensitivity toward others.

Selfish ambition leads to conflict and has no place in God's Kingdom.

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall
Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lifestyle Changes and Sacrificial Giving

Guest blog by John Richey,
pastor of Family Deaf Church

In the time of Solomon, the Temple was a sign of God living with his people. At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon said: 
May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us. May He turn our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations He gave our fathers. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may uphold the cause of His servant and the cause of His people (Israel) according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by His decrees and obey His commands, as at this time. (1 Kings 8:57-61)

Baptist Temple is also a sign of God being with His people and active in our lives. Led by Him, you share His love and blessings with the surrounding neighborhood, through the thrift store, food pantry and other ministries. A little over a year ago, God opened doors and brought Baptist Temple and Family Deaf Church (FDC) together. Because of what you have done for FDC, we have experienced a revival, growing in number and Spirit. Now He is asking us to do even more, to repair our temple so that we can open new doors and go into the world, so that the world can see His light shining in us, through new exciting ministries.

My wife Mary Ann and I have been praying and continue to pray about what God wants from us. In addition to our service with FDC, we feel in our hearts to be a larger part of what Baptist Temple is doing. We have decided that when we sell our motor home, we will give the money to support the Heartstrong for CHRIST! campaign. Additionally, God is leading me to dedicate more of my life to serving Him. First, many of you are familiar with the Catholic Church tradition of giving up something for Lent. I feel called to give up Diet Cokes and donate the several dollars a day for more than 1000 days to this campaign. This serves as another daily reminder to focus on Jesus and to seek His will. Second, at a recent religious seminar, God opened a door for me to rejoin Wayland Baptist University. I have accepted a temporary, part time teaching position with them and will be donating those funds to Baptist Temple.

While these may seem trivial to some of you, for me they are lifestyle changes leading to increased, sacrificial giving of my time, talents and treasures in obedience to what Christ has put in my heart through the Holy Spirit. I will pray as Jonah prayed: “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Heartstrong for CHRIST!

We are experiencing some of the most exciting, challenging and promising times in Baptist Temple's history. We have been blessed with resources provided to us by the grace of Lord and the sacrifices of His people. We have been good stewards of these resources both in their upkeep and their use to further God's Kingdom.

Our facilities are well-built and among the finest in San Antonio. Furthermore, past and present remodeling have kept our church on the cutting edge of ministry. There are churches around us whose buildings are so far gone that it is too late to reverse the damage but not ours. The faithfulness of the ones who built these structures and the ones who, later, remodeled them left a legacy that made today's ministry possible.

Over the years we have continued to maintain and upgrade our campus through projects large and small but now we must make some major repairs and enhancements so we may continue to expand our ministries. These ministries include weekday education for 400 children from crib to 8th grade, providing groceries to over 300 families per month, four Sunday worship services leading to an average of 20 baptisms a year and more.

It is our turn to honor the sacrifice and prayers of those who came before us. The cost could run over $500,000 but God will provide as He always has. Our predecessors believed that God would be using these buildings to His glory far into the future and so so do I.

The time has come to prepare our campus for ministry into the next century. I am convinced that God will use Baptist Temple to share His love with our community well into the future as he has done in the past and continues to do so today. I urge you begin to pray now for God's blessing on our church.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Jesus Wants Followers not Fans

Mark 10:17-22

A wealthy young man came to Jesus once, seeking advice. He had money, social status and youth but still felt empty. He rushed over to Jesus and asked a good question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Like many religious people he was searching. Was he seeking the truth, or looking for someone to reinforce his own beliefs?

When Jesus suggested that he keep the commandments the young man said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

His spirituality was external spirituality. He followed certain rules and ceremonies but had no inner sense of peace.

Being a Christ-follower is more than keeping rules. “One thing you lack,” Jesus said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

Jesus looked into the soul of that man and saw a great hunger in his heart. He had so much but he was not satisfied. He longed for joy and peace that the world could not give him. The world is full of people, some are rich and some are not, trying to fill the emptiness. They indulge in all that the world has to offer but they are never satisfied.

Peace with God is received not achieved. Jesus wanted this rich, powerful totally self sufficient young man to be completely dependent on Him. Jesus was calling him to completely rework his life and his values. This is the normal price of being a Christ-follower. Jesus does not call us to poverty but to complete faith and trust in Him. Jesus once told a crowd, “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33

It’s much easier to be a fan of Jesus than it is to be a follower. Followers have their lives turned upside down. Are you prepared to follow Jesus, trust him completely and be single minded in your devotion?

95% commitment to Jesus Christ is 5% too short.