Monday, March 12, 2018

Deacon spotlight: Ernest Cruz

Guest Blog by Robert Newman
Ernest Cruz is our current Deacon Chair. He was raised in a Christian home with five brothers and a sister; attending Prospect Hill Church of God.

Ernest’s love of music was inspired by his brother, Robert, and his sister, Bertha. He excelled at playing the trumpet at Brackenridge High School, starting his first band in 1973, but had no real success. Not knowing what else to do, he joined the Marines in 1974.

While in the Marines, Ernest was quickly promoted to Lance Corporal. He was stationed first in Washington DC, then at Camp David under President Ford. Ernest tried out for the Marine Corp Band, but was not accepted.

He was discouraged by his lack of music education and, on returning to San Antonio, he enrolled at St Mary’s University, where he majored in music and minored in education. While there, he met many local artists, and joined and soon took over his second band, “Amity Band”. He then began a long, hard road of success and failures in the music industry.

Ernest played in bars, clubs and private parties, and soon found work as a DJ. In a world of dark and dangerous situations, sin filled his disappointing life. His first marriage ended because of the musician’s lifestyle

His parents never gave up on him. They prayed continuously, knowing that Jesus was his only hope. When he met Charlotte, Ernest's father helped both Ernest and Charlotte commit completely to the Christian life. They were married at Hot Wells Baptist Church, and became immersed in church life.

It was while Ernest was at Hot Wells that he started his music ministry and taught himself to play the guitar. God eventually led Ernest and Charlotte to Baptist Temple, where he leads the band. Ernest wrote the words and music to the song, “Welcome to the House of the Lord”, which he often sings to start the service.

Ernest was ordained a deacon at Baptist Temple, and has served as the Deacon Chair for the past three years. He also leads worship and preaches at the Lighthouse Rescue Mission downtown.

Ernest is a living testimony of how the power of prayer can take a life that is out of control and change it to a life of service to God.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Christ-optional, cultural Christianity is becoming a popular option in America.

Missionary Charles Studd once wrote, “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.”

But in America, as the total number of churches and Christians shrink, the remaining churches become larger and more remote from the areas of need.

I recently came across an article that listed five important factors in choosing a church. The list contained two I statements and three my statements. In other words, find a church that caters to your needs.

At the same time there is a growing number of folks that wonder if church membership is a necessary part of the Christian life. Some folks have decided that they are through with church. They have been labeled as “Dones” (done with church) by folks who track such things.

A growing problem in the American church is the idea that God exists for our sake. Perhaps it started with the easy believerism of “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”

This is a far cry from the words of Jesus, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

The first five books of the Bible go to great lengths to describe the holiness of God and what it means to be His people. Peter summarizes it this way, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

To be a follower of Jesus is to a part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) the church, which is expressed in local gatherings, large and small. The best expression of this is seen in Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

When looking for a church the best questions to ask are:
  1. Did you feel the presence of God?
  2. If this church were to disappear today would the community notice?
  3. Can you fulfill your God-given calling here?

The church in America is shrinking in numbers and influence. Is it because many of our churches no longer reflect the ethics of Jesus?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Buildling Relationships One Person at a Time

Kay and Sammy Richardson
Guest blog by Kay Richardson

In December, a young man came into the Food Pantry. He had lost his job. He has a wife and two small children. We prayed for God to open the doors for a job and we gave him food for his family. My heart went out to him.

A couple of weeks ago, that same young man came back to the Food Pantry for his monthly meeting. He still had not gotten a job. When I asked, “Why?” Tears ran down his cheek and he told me he did not know why. He asked if we could help him out with clothes and shoes. He needed a pair of work shoes or boots. We rarely get men’s shoes…especially those that are in good shape! I asked him what size he needed and he said he needed a size 13; the same size my husband wears! I told him I would see what I could find and he should come back the following week.

The next week, my friend came walking into the Thrift Store and I was able to give him 2 pairs of shoes…one hardly worn and another that had been broken in pretty well, but still in good shape! He was very appreciative.

When he left the building, I stood there thinking of the lessons my Sunday morning Bible study class has been studying on Acts. Each lesson encouraging us to take the gospel to the people. We have had many discussions on how we need to build relationships with those with whom we want to share Jesus .

That very same young man joined us this past Wednesday night for our Free Community Dinner! Who know what God will do next!

I am grateful God has allowed me to volunteer in our Thrift Store and Food Pantry giving me a place to build relationships. It is my prayer that I will be Jesus to everyone who walks through that door and that I will get to share the love of Jesus with as many people as I can.

Here’s how you can be a part of this ministry!

We need new or slightly used men’s shoes. Tennis shoes, dress shoes, work shoes, boots…whatever you have! There are probably some shoes in your closet that you haven’t worn in ages and really aren’t going to wear again! Bring them by the church office or the Thrift Store! You will be a blessing to someone and you will be a part of building a relationship that could change a life for eternity!

Friday, January 05, 2018

Baptist Temple Year in Review: 2017

Vacation Bible School was, once again, the high point of a year filled with God's blessings. All 5 #BTCampus churches (Baptist Temple Church, Community Bible Church Highland Park, Mision Bautista Betel, Family Deaf Church and Sunny Slope Baptist Church.) worked together to give us 96 workers and a total enrollment of 269. A sixth church, Iglesia del Dios Altisimo, brought a van filled with African refugee children that, along with a student mission team from Baptist University of the Americas, brought a total of 14 different nations to our campus that week.


Worship this year included some special events including a Blessing of the Bikes (led by #BTCampus Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry), a Blessing of the Teachers, a multi-church Youth Rally, the Hanging of the Green and a Christmas Cantata. The house was packed on Easter as BT and CBC shared the 11 o'clock hour in a combined service. On Memorial Day Weekend all the campus churches joined in worship. Delvin Atchison, director of the Texas Baptist Great Commission Team, brought the message.

In the Fall, Ferrell Foster, from the Christian Life Commission, brought the message as we celebrated our community ministries. A tour of the Brunnemann Building and snacks followed. The Brunnemann is home for our thrift store, food pantry and community garden and is open 3 days a week. Over 3500 people visited in 2017.

Our food pantry is only part of our hunger ministries. Our free weekly dinners and occasional large food distributions enabled us to feed 1649 households (6181 people) and serve 11,022 meals. We distributed 85,912 lbs of food in 2017.

The latest addition to our hunger fighting efforts is our community garden. It serves as an outdoor lab to teach gardening to people of all ages while providing fresh produce to our pantry clients. This was made possible by grants from the Baptist Health Foundation and Texas Baptists.

Community outreach events included three annual events: Fall Festival, Christmas Party and Back to School Fair. The Fair put 800 people on our campus (including volunteers). We handed out 350 backpacks, 300 lunches, $2500 in vouchers for clothes and 14,000 lbs of groceries.

Our fellowship grew closer and larger this year with 25 new members. Our young people went on a variety of field trips and three different camp experiences. Our adults shared 17 meals together including the monthly Young in Heart luncheon. We ordained 8 deacons and licensed three people to the gospel ministry.

Adding to the #BTCampus fellowship are San Antonio Against Slavery (advocating against human trafficking), who meet monthly on Thursday nights, and Free By the Truth (working with ex-offenders), who worship Sundays at 2PM.

Seven mission teams stayed on the #BTCampus in 2017 performing ministry throughout the city and recording 93 professions of faith. Other local ministries and individuals have joined with us to build up our ministry in physical and spiritual ways.

This tremendous volume of ministry takes a toll on our campus. We are continually repairing and upgrading. This year our parking lot was made safer by re-striping and improved lighting, the chairs in fellowship hall were replaced and the Fritz Building got a new roof. As I write this blog, there are a number of projects in progress.

In 2017, the #BTCampus hosted 6 churches, 2 schools, 3 conferences, 9 ministries and 6 Basketball Clubs. Thirteen different churches and non-profit agencies have contributed finances, materiel and/or labor to help us in our mission to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of our community.