Tuesday, July 18, 2017

We have reached a new low in public discourse

We have gone from attacking a politician's ideas, to attacking the politicians. Now we attack the people who voted for the politician.

We are becoming increasingly polarized. People on opposing sides of issues have taken irrevocable stands. We have moved from arguing a position to attacking people who disagree with us. Now we launch preemptive accusations based on what we assume others might say. Are we losing our minds?

Social media has magnified the hate. We post things we probably would not say to someone's face. Can you imagine explaining to a time traveler from the sixties that we have a device that we can hold in the palm of our hand and access all the knowledge in the world but we use it to insult strangers. We have lost our minds!

A person who identifies as a follower of Christ should not be a participant in such hate-inspired, soul- destroying acts. The Bible teaches, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” (James 3:9-12)

A favorite song of mine is “They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love
Peter Scholtes (1968)

Are you known as Christian by your love? Or do the words you type betray your true nature? Jesus said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

Jesus said that being a peacemaker is a mark of His followers. (Matthew 5:9) Does that describe you? Or do you forward emails and share Facebook posts that make others angry?

Before we speak or post Christians ought to be mindful of our call to glorify God and bear witness to His love.

Before we speak or post Christians ought to be mindful that our words can spark a fire strong enough to burn a forest. (James 3:5)

Before we speak or post Christians ought to be mindful that a gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

Before we speak or post Christians ought to be mindful that on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. (Matthew 12:36)

Before we speak or post Christians ought to be mindful that Jesus said, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).”

Saturday, July 08, 2017

God expects us to do ministry to the level of one percent.

Jesus told a story about a shepherd who had 100 sheep (Luke 15:4-7.) When he noticed that one was missing, he left the 99 as he went to search for the one lost sheep. We can pick up two quick applications for ministry in the church.
  1. Usually, only a small part of the flock is suffering at one time. The 99 were fine and did not need close attention.
  2. Although only one out of 100 was lost, the shepherd focused his attention on that one sheep. God expects us to do ministry to the level of one percent.
That level of ministry is impossible for one person to carry out alone. Moses tried to do that. Exodus 18 describes a long line of people waiting all day to see Moses. The people's needs were not being met and Moses was wearing himself out. Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, had a better way. He suggested that trustworthy leaders be selected for every 10 families, along with higher level leaders for groups of 50, 100, and 1000.

Centuries later the early church would face a dispute over the distribution of food. The Apostles were called in to rule on the matter. They decided on a shared ministry plan. They would focus on the ministry of prayer and the Word and seven spiritually mature leaders would take care of the ministry to widows (Acts 6.)

These three stories teach us about the community of God's people. Churches usually use Sunday school and other small group meetings to maintain community. Other methods include service and social groups. These groups help folks minister to one another in good times and bad.

Another level of care comes through deacon ministry. Each deacon has a number of families for which to provide pastoral care. Some of these folks are no longer able to attend church but are still part of our spiritual family. Some are not yet strongly connected to the church but they, too, are part of our flock. This ministry of community is an important part of church life. It is the thread that ties the worship, teaching, serving and giving together. We cannot neglect it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Are you ready to fight hunger?

According to a recent CNN report, there are 13.1 million children in America who are food insecure. They are not sure when their next meal will be; they don't get enough to eat; and the food they do get is often of poor nutritional quality. On the other hand, the US is not only the world's leading exporter of food but, also, we throw away 40% of our food (enough to feed 25 million people.)

There is plenty of food in the US and, locally, The San Antonio Food Bank has demonstrated a phenomenal ability to collect and redistribute surplus food to over 500 agencies. The problem seems to be distribution. We need to get food into the mouths of the hungry.

There are many theories regarding the causes of poverty but I like what the Bible has to say, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11 NIV)

I know that I don't have the ability to end poverty but I know I can feed some hungry people right now.

Baptist Temple operates a client choice pantry 3 days a week for 3 hours each day. People in need of assistance come in and visit with a volunteer who helps them through the process and determines if there are other needs for which we can provide guidance and resources. In addition to food, we also have used clothes and other items available. We, also, frequently offer classes in health, finances, nutrition and gardening. Can you give a few hours a week or a month so that we can help more people?

Being open an afternoon or evening each week and on Saturday each month will help us serve the working poor. If you want to organize a crew, we will need five people to run a shift for three hours. Once a week, once a month, once in a while... whatever time you have to give will be appreciated.

Contact me at rev.jorge@yahoo.com if you'd like to help us fight hunger.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ready to serve where needed

David Sexson joined the Baptist Temple Family last month and went to work right away. He started in the thrift store sorting clothes, helping folks with groceries and was soon doing client interviews. He might have set a record by serving 16 clients in one day.

David was an unchurched teenager who came to know the Lord at age 14 when a church planting missionary invited him to a new church start. David's life was headed in the wrong direction but he found a new life in Jesus that set him on the right path.

Serving 26 years as a Dental Technician, David retired from the US Air Force and, then, worked for another 21 and a half years at the UT Health Science Center Dental School. He greatest joy, however, comes from serving God. “I consider it a privilege that He works through me,” David said.

David has served churches in a variety of administrative and teaching capacities, always ready to pitch in when needed. He has been on mission trips to the border and Illinois but the most memorable one was to a leper colony in Thailand. There he witnessed a level of human suffering that he had never seen before or since.

Baptist Temple made a strong first impression on David. He said, after his worship service with us, that he truly felt God's presence and that the people were very welcoming. He was also impressed by the level of activity and the many opportunities for him to serve. “I'm not going to a church where I can't do things,” he said.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Six Churches, One VBS

For the second year, the churches that meet on the Baptist Temple campus joined forces to put together a high quality VBS. The level of energy and the spirit of unity displayed were beyond measure. The Sunday morning attendance of the BT campus churches ranges from 20 to 150 and includes Baptist Temple Church, Community Bible Church Highland Park, Mision Bautista Betel, Family Deaf Church and Sunny Slope Baptist Church.

These churches have a diverse membership that crosses ethnic, racial, language and economic barriers. We were joined this year by a church that ministers to African refugees, Iglesia del Dios Altisimo. Their African children plus a student mission team from Baptist University of the Americas brought a total of 14 different nations to our campus that week.

Our efforts resulted in over 90 workers, 173 students enrolled, 667 dinners served, $730 raised for missions and six decisions for salvation. Although the six decisions seems a low number, we had a lot of children return who had made decisions last year.

The most significant impact of that week was the Kingdom impact of six churches, different from each other in many ways, working together for the sake of the gospel!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

VBS Answered Prayers

Guest blog by Kay Richardson

VBS on the #BTCampus is June 11-15... just days away! Things are coming together. The only area I'm a little weak in is guides and God has really answered some prayer this week!

Last Monday, I was in the church office when a man called and asked if he could enroll his 4th grade autistic son in our VBS. I spoke with him and asked if he could meet me Thursday so I could talk to him about his son. I have 2 adult guides for each grade level, but I knew I was going to need another adult in that 4th grade class because this little boy probably will need some 1 on 1. Later that afternoon, I was working in my SS room on some VBS stuff and a young woman came in. She said, "Do you have to be a member of the church to work in VBS?"

I told her NO, I could use the help! Then she said, "I'm a 4th grade teacher at the charter school."

I told her I had just the place for her! She then told me her parents have a small church on the west side of SA and she just wanted to be a part of our VBS to learn. She said they have some Swahili children who come to their church and asked if she could bring them to our VBS! Oh, my! What a blessing to have these sweet children come and be a part! She has to learn to drive her church's van so she can bring them! So pray she is able to drive their church van!

Now, know that we REALLY need guides for PK4 & Kinder!

I sat in front of the church at a VBS table to catch parents from the charter school to enroll children in VBS. We had sent home a flier the day before. I enrolled 2 different families. BOTH parents were interested in our Adult VBS AND one parent said she has 3 teenagers who would love to help!!! Hello PreK/K!!!

A couple of other people took registration forms with them and said they would return them later. I really was afraid they would forget – it was the last day of school – BUT they did not forget! One family registered a child and an 8th grader who might be a guide. Another family registered 5 kids.

We so want to reach out into our community for this VBS. Last year we did a prayer walk and passed out flyers but didn't get much response. This year we have sent fliers and set up tables at our school and day care. We will be doing two prayer walks and passing out fliers. This year we added "call the church office if you need van transportation" so we'll see what happens.

A young mother has been coming to my Sunday morning Bible study class. She and her kids are living in a women's shelter. She wants to bring her kids to VBS and help so we will be picking her up on a van! Perhaps there are others who live there who will want to come.

My van drivers are gonna be busy!

Please continue to pray for our VBS! If you can be a part of one of the Prayer Walks through the neighborhood that would be great! We have 2 opportunities to pray and pass out fliers on Saturday, June 3 from 9-11 and Friday, June 9 at 6pm.

I'm praying that God will use all of you to teach kids about Jesus and encourage them to follow him!

We will have time for set up on Saturday, June 10 from 9-12 and then after morning worship on Sunday, June 11. I plan to meet with the Guides at 3:30 and ALL volunteers at 4:30. We can then go eat dinner at 5 and we start at 6.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

What if worship is about God and not about us?

Everyone has a preference for what worship ought to be. There are preferences in music, preaching, programs, time, and length. There is probably a church out there that will satisfy your individual taste. But what satisfies God? What if worship is about God and not about us?

The Temple represented the presence of God. Its leaders fiercely defended the traditions that governed the rituals and sacrifices connected with Temple worship. Jesus told them that their rigid adherence to tradition was keeping people from God. In fact, he called these “holy” men “whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)

At this holiest time of the year, Passover, Jesus cleared the crowded Temple in a spectacular way. There were animals running amok, coins rolling on the ground, merchants scrambling in every direction, people screaming, people laughing, a crowd gathering... Jesus definitely got everyone's attention. (John 2:13-25)

Jesus brought needed change to worship. He was the one that the prophets foretold, the Word made flesh. The Temple once contained God's presence but, now, Jesus was the presence of God. Fully God and fully man, his death paid for our sin, his resurrection brought us eternal life. This made it possible for God to be present in his people through the Holy Spirit. The church is who we are not where we go.

Many people today look for churches where their needs will be met. They want a certain style of music, programs for their kids, and to be around people who look like them. But Jesus said that we should be like him. He came to serve not to have his needs met. (Mark 10:45)

True worship moves us beyond our comfort zones. Jesus turns over the tables of our complacency, scatters the coins of self-interest, and chases away the animals of our preconceived notions. It takes us beyond what we believe to be the minimum requirements. Let's open our hearts to what God wants from us that we may be transformed.

We have 52 Sundays to gather together for worship. How many will you skip because of something more important? What things in your life take precedent over worshiping God?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

From Prison to Praise

Armando took some wrong turns in life and wound up doing 17 years in prison. Gangs, drugs and violence were destroying his body and soul. It was at what he remembers as the lowest point in his life that his brother led him to Jesus through the ministry of Outcry in the Barrio. Today he lives out the words found in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “The old has gone, the new has come...”

He has been a servant of the Lord for 12 years and started Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry (IMM) to bring the gospel to others who are on the path to destruction. Twice a month he preaches at prisons in Hondo and Cuero. Armando feels a call to minister to people behind bars and the families they have left behind.


His wife, Rosalinda, serves alongside him as a leader in IMM. She began her ministry caring for women coming out of a life on the streets. Her assignments ranged from cooking and cleaning to street evangelism and leading Bible studies. Rosalinda is a member of Kairos Prison Ministry, serving at the women’s prison in Lockhart.


I met them last both last year when they attended a lecture I was giving on church marketing at Baptist University of the Americas (BUA). They had some questions about organizing and leading their motorcycle ministry. They also were interested in the ministries of Baptist Temple. Armando lived near Baptist Temple as a child and remembers the generosity we showed his family in those days. He felt that the ministry of BT meshes well with that of IMM and started working with us right away. In the last few months he has led a memorial service, a blessing of the bikes and brought a large number of volunteers for our hunger fighting efforts.


I recently received a letter from a man who will soon be released from incarceration in Hondo. He grew up in our neighborhood and remembers driving past Baptist Temple many times. He became a Christian last year and is part of a discipleship program inside the prison walls. He will be released in a few months and wants to find a church to help him in his walk with Christ. He came across some information about our church through a series of circumstances that were sparked by IMM. The Acostas will help us to disciple this man and others like him who have been born again.


Armando and Rosalinda will serve in the outreach ministries of Baptist Temple as we follow our Lord's command to “Go to the highways, and the hedges and compel them to come in, so that my house may be full...” (Luke 14:23). Their primary ministry will through Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry which will become another of the BT Campus' numerous outreach arms.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Set Aside to Serve

On Sunday we will ordain nine women to the ministry of deacon. Each one has been serving faithfully in that capacity as the wife of a deacon and has earned the honor of having the title for themselves.

The word that is translated “deacon” in the Bible is the Greek word diakonos and is better translated servant. In Acts 6, where the deacon ministry is introduced to the church, variations of diakinos are translated “food distribution,” “waiter,” and “ministry.” The role of the deacon is clearly one of service; in keeping with the example of our Lord who “came not to be served (diakoneo) but to serve (diakoneo).” (Mark 10:45)

Women have served as deacons since the start of the of the church. In Romans 6:1, Paul commends sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchrea. The Roman governor, Pliny, sent a letter to the Emperor Trajan in the First Century about the arrest and torture of two maidens who were deacons in order to gain information about the church. Early church document outlined the role of women deacons in the baptism and discipleship of female converts. One of the founders of the Baptist movement, John Smyth, wrote about the authority of the local church to ordain female deacons.

Women deacons are usually found in churches where the role of deacon is that of service and support rather than acting as church management. In our male dominated society it is difficult to see a woman as capable of leadership. It was less than 100 years ago that women in the US were first allowed to vote in national elections.

The society Jesus was born into was even more patriarchal than ours. Therefore, it's important to note that he first revealed himself as Messiah to a Samaritan woman and that women were the first to see his resurrected body. From the widow's offering to the jar of expensive perfume, women were frequently the heroes in Jesus' stories.

We are blessed with a significant number of men and women who have tender hearts and a love for Jesus and his church. The people of Baptist Temple are well served by our deacons.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Day at the Food Pantry

Clients who come to us looking for food are struggling with a variety of issues. Some are visible and some are hidden from the casual observer. Mental and emotional disabilities, problems at home, chronic illness or just plain hard times, whatever the struggle, it drove them to seek help.

One young, very petite, woman told me she was being treated for chronic depression. She was a victim of domestic violence who had recently moved out of a shelter and into a subsidized apartment. Last week four teen girls attacked and robbed her, leaving fearful and alienated.

An older woman had been recently widowed. She used her husband's modest life insurance to purchase a mobile home. It turned out to be a bad deal. When she fell through the rotting floor, she had to move out. The San Antonio Housing Authority was able to place her in an apartment but she was left with nothing.

One of our regulars came in and loaded up on cookies and soda. He struggles with addiction and says the sugar helps him with his cravings.

A new client found herself needing help with food after her mother recently suffered a stroke. She heads a household of seven that includes a disabled brother and two disabled children. She is familiar with the help that is available to her and has filled out all the applications but, in the meantime, she lacks food and other needed items. We were able to supply her with groceries and medical equipment.

Along with help for physical needs, we pray with our clients and offer community through free meals, small group Bible studies, recreation and worship. God sent these people to us so we can show His love to them. In a world of hardship and sorrow we can be an oasis of hope and comfort.

It takes a lot of folks doing a lot of things to make it work. We are always looking for new workers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Baptist Temple Year in Review: 2016


It was another year of blessings for the ministries that share the Baptist Temple Campus. We are blessed to now have six congregations meeting on the BT campus. Community Bible Church of Highland Park joined our family of churches in May. In the Fall, Weapons of Deliverance and Sunny Slope Baptist Church started worshiping at our location. Together we baptized 36 people last year.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL involved the four churches on campus at the time and a mission team from Houston; a total of 96 workers. Our enrollment was 153 and 32 decisions were recorded, leading to many of our baptisms.

WORSHIP events this year included an Easter Sunrise service and the musical presentation “Champion of Love.” In May we concluded “BELIEVE,” a 30 week sermon series and Bible study in conjunction with 14 San Antonio Area churches. During Advent we celebrated the Hanging of the Green (with CBC Highland Park and Family Deaf Church), Christmas Eve (with CBC Highland Park) and a memorial service for people in our community who lost a loved one this past year (with Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry).

FELLOWSHIP opportunities abounded for all ages. The children and youth went on a variety of field trips; and our senior adults enjoyed monthly luncheons. There were church-wide fellowships as well, including a Valentine's lunch, and banquets in the Spring and Fall. In June we enjoyed a campus-wide picnic at Roosevelt Park.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH included our annual Fall Fest and National Night Out events. Our first Back to School Health Fair attracted 488 people. A total of 19 churches, businesses and community groups participated to provide food, games, health screenings, vaccines, school supplies and fresh produce.

Another first this year was our community Christmas party. Snacks, make and take crafts, games and Christmas carols made this an event that we look forward to repeating.

FIGHTING HUNGER remains our most visible ministry. We collected and distributed nearly 80,000 lbs of food. (That's 30,000 more than last year.) This includes groceries for 6300 people; 1800 received individual ministry through our client choice food pantry.

We provided 75,469 meals to our community through our Wednesday night dinners, summer feeding and other venues. This included 151 breakfasts, 1628 lunches, 3550 dinners and 9140 snacks.

FACILITY IMPROVEMENTS are a continuing effort on the BT Campus. Some major improvements came as result of a contract between Parent-Child Incorporated and our Early Learning Center. This includes a new freezer, new ovens, playground equipment, classroom furniture and security cameras. Additional security cameras were added by Highland Park Gifted and Talented Academy.

Another big improvement involved boosting our wireless internet capacity to reach more areas of our campus. This was made possible in partnership with CBC Highland Park.

THREE NEW PARTNERS came to the BT campus this year in addition to the three new churches. The Christian Women's Job Corps Job helps us to provide job readiness training. San Antonio Sports brought the Fit Family Challenge to our campus, with an average participation of 58 per week. Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry came alongside to enhance and expand our evangelistic efforts.

We hosted 9 MISSION TEAMS from as far away as Connecticut and South Dakota. They ministered all around San Antonio including the Rosemont Apartments and Habitat for Humanity houses.

Each year God provides the workers, leaders and physical resources to meet the changing needs of the community that surrounds us. Our impact has drawn the notice of local government leaders in 2016 leading to campus visits from state representatives Diego M. Bernal (District 123) and John Lujan III (District 118) and Mayor Ivy Taylor. I believe that there are greater things to come in 2017.

Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”
Pioneer Missionary William Carey