Monday, December 22, 2014

We Can Have Peace on Earth

Luke 4:18 

Jesus Christ can bring peace into this un-peaceful world.

Alarmed by the possibility of a nuclear war, a wealthy retired couple decided to move to a remote group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They were large enough to provide a comfortable life but small enough to be unimportant. English rule made the government stable and the culture familiar. It was not long after they moved to the Falkland Islands that, to everyone's surprise, war erupted there.

We search for peace but there is no peace on earth today. Wars, terrorist attacks, rioting... peace is lacking between nations; between races; it’s lacking in homes and in hearts. It’s obvious that our world needs peace.

Many of the prophecies of the birth of Christ use the word peace.

He is the "Prince of Peace"

Zechariah says, "He will proclaim peace to the nations..." (9:10)

Micah adds, "He will be their peace" (5:4-5)

But our world has seen very little peace because it has not embraced Jesus Christ. Since the signing of the Peace of Westphalia (1648) there have been more than last 300 wars in Europe alone. There is not a single generation of Americans who have not known war. Most have known multiple wars.

Into this brawling, war-torn world, God sent His personal envoy of "peace on earth, good will toward men."

Peace is more than the mere absence of war. It has its roots in the Old Testament concept of shalom. It means wholeness, completeness, well-being, and prosperity. The lack of shalom comes from such sources as poverty, greed, the lust for power and spiritual emptiness. Into this turmoil we must bring the light of Christ by waging peace.

We wage peace when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and befriend the lonely. (Matthew 25:44-46)

We wage peace when we stand for justice. (Isaiah 1:17)
We wage peace whenever we share the love of Jesus with others. (John 13:34-35)

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and 
recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

see also:

Friday, December 19, 2014

We Can Have Peace in Our Relationships

Jesus Christ can us move us from division to community.

People find it hard to live in harmony & peace with one another. We fight and we bicker. We criticize and tear each other down. Our courts are filled with people who can't get along. We encounter strife at work, at home and, even, at church. We compete for position, for attention, and for material gain. It was not long before Adam and Eve turned on each other. Jealousy drove Cain to kill his brother and drove Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery. Lust drove David to take the wife of one of his mighty men. And so it goes.

In the New Testament we read repeatedly of enmity between the Jews and non-Jews. Ethnic and racial strife is as old as the Tower of Babel and is as fresh as the morning news.

There is good news. God has sent us the Prince of Peace. “Jesus himself is our peace, who has made the two one [Jews and non-Jews] and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

The Bible teaches, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

In a world filled with strife the church must be an oasis of peace. We should both examples and agents of reconciliation. After all, we are carrying out His ministry of reconciliation as His ambassadors.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
Colossians 3:15


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We Can Have Peace with God

Jesus Christ is the only hope for peace in your heart.

We are all in need of personal peace. “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

The Bible tells us that, without God, we are restless and unhappy (Isaiah 57:21) but Jesus Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

We find peace with God in surrender. Jesus told of a young man who thought that it was unbearable to live under his father’s roof. There were rules to follow, lots of work and too much responsibility. He demanded a cash settlement of inheritance and set off to live the fast life. He found life hard and cruel away from his father and returned home broken and defeated (Luke 15:11-32).

Jesus tells us: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Everyone Has Something to Offer

Joseph's welfare plan helped people in need while preserving individual dignity and the economy. (Genesis 41)

God revealed to Joseph that Egypt would face seven years of bumper crops followed by seven years of famine. Joseph's plan was for the government to buy grain at low prices and store it for the hard years that were sure to follow.

When the famine came, Joseph sold the food that had been stored by Egypt. It was not a give away plan. The people weren't destitute and had something to offer in exchange. Furthermore, Joseph preserved the value of the grain by selling it. He believed that free things have no value to the person receiving it.

Many poverty relief efforts magnify the superiority of folks with abundant resources and create a sense of helplessness among the poor. People will not take charge of their own lives when they know that, if they wait long enough, we will take charge. The poor have been trained to see themselves as consumers not producers. If your church is known as a place to go to for free food, it might have difficulty convincing people that they need to start working to earn their daily bread.

Poverty can be the result of personal sin, unjust systems or a calamity. Looking past the economic realities, our aim is to help people become fully devoted followers of Christ.

We need to affirm people's dignity and contributes to the process of overcoming their poverty of being. Although it is easier to provide food, clothes, shelter, and money, this is not sustainable and increases the feeling of helplessness and inferiority.

People and communities are full of God-given possibilities. We need to identify resources within the community and mobilize the people to free themselves from root causes of their poverty. Then, we can truly help people without short-circuiting the economy or creating dependency.

Monday, December 08, 2014

103 Years of Service to our Community

Whenever someone comes to visit the Baptist Temple Campus, they marvel at both its size and quality. The buildings were built to last.

As impressive as our facilities are, it is what happens inside that matters most. Baptist Temple continues to be a shining light in our community and a blessing to our neighbors. Every day we provide quality education for more than 400 children in a safe environment. We provide after-school activities and youth sports. Families in need receive counseling, spiritual support, food and material goods.

Wednesday nights have come alive. Our free Agape meal feeds an average of 80 folks followed by prayer and Bible Study in English, Spanish and American Sign Language. AWANA provides spiritual formation for children and youth starting at age four. Abundant Life University provides practical application classes related to health and finances. Another English Bible Study and choir practice follow, making Wednesdays the busiest day of the week.

On Sundays, four worship services provide a variety of opportunities to praise God.

Last year we began our Heartstrong for Christ Capital Campaign to raise the funds needed to ensure the ministry of Baptist Temple will continue into the future. The pledge amount is $330,000. To date we have received $158,504.36; that's 46% of the total. We are on track!

The roof is finished, lighting and sound have been upgraded and the chapel is almost finished. An extra blessing was the remodeling of the thrift store that houses our food pantry. Volunteer labor along with salvaged and donated material have extended the power of our capital campaign dollars. Crosspoint tackled the painting the chapel, saving us a significant amount of dollars.

As we celebrate 103 years of ministry at Baptist Temple, we reflect upon so many changes over the decades. Baptist Temple has been a pioneer in the areas of evangelism, daycare, youth ministry and community ministry, listening to the Holy Spirit and adjusting to the seasons in faithfulness to both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

A year end n gift from you will help us to continue to show God's love to the people of our community.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Why We Can't All Just Get Along

Martin Luther King, Jr. lamented, “the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning.”

This remains true nearly 50 years later. One reason for the racial divide in America is due to self-segregation. An article in The Atlantic reported that 75% of white Americans have entirely white social networks. On the other hand, 65% of black Americans have entirely black social networks. In our era of desegregation, equal opportunity and a dark-skinned President, we still choose to separate ourselves by race.

The church, to whom God has entrusted the ministry of reconciliation, may be the chief offender in this area. Self-segregation is actually taught in church growth seminars. The father of the church growth movement, Donald McGavran, called it “the homogenous church growth principle.” He taught that people are most comfortable in a church where they don't have to cross racial, linguistic or class barriers. This has led to rapid growth of first generation churches but has failed to address the racial divide that is hurting our nation.

The Multiracial Congregations Project found that 92% of American churches are predominantly mono-cultural (with 80% or more of its members representing one race). The usual explanation for self-segregation in the church has to do with worship style but that is a thin excuse. The Project found that Catholic churches, which are more likely to be multiracial than Protestants, had little socialization and interaction between ethnic groups.

This racial divide causes blacks and whites to view the causes and cures for racial inequality differently. It fosters distrust and denial and stifles meaningful dialog.

The church is God’s answer to racial and ethnic strife. It is to be an agent of healing and a witness to the world. The church was born in the multicultural milieu of Jerusalem where God-fearing Jews of many nations heard Peter’s message, each in his own native language. (Acts 2)

Christian radio preacher, Tony Evans, says, “It is especially critical during these days of tension and uncertainty that we in the body of Christ intentionally seek to bridge that gap.”

He admonishes us to work together so that greater manifestations of God's Kingdom will be experienced in our churches and our nation. “Pray that the differences endowed upon us by our Creator will not divide us, but rather in embracing them, they will highlight Almighty God’s ability to use diversity for His glory and our good,” said Evans.

It is time to for Americans who are followers of Jesus Christ to reach out to one another past personal preferences, past hidden racial bias, past fear, past anger, and past whatever excuse fits the moment. A nation where racial inequality exists (for whatever reason) cannot be one nation under God.

The underlying problem is sin and the ultimate solution is Jesus. Racial bias and all types of inequality demonstrates an absence of love. It is an issue that Christians of all ethnicities from the entire social-economic spectrum must address together.

First, we must fellowship; we must share meals; we must work together on projects of mutual interest. Then, we talk about deeper issues as friends, as true brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Fall the Church Stood Still

Baptist Temple closed its doors for eight Sundays from October 26 – December 21 in 1918. There was no Fall Festival, no revival, no Thanksgiving service, no choir practice... nothing. All churches were closed. As were schools and theaters; all public gatherings were banned.

Fifty one soldiers had succumbed to the Spanish flu on September 30, 1918 at Camp Travis, San Antonio. The flu had been spreading around the planet, sped along by the close quarters and troop movements of World War I. The first outbreak was in Ft. Riley, Kansas in March 2018. Soon there were outbreaks in Camps Hancock (GA), Lewis (WA), Sherman (OH), Fremont (CA), and San Quentin Prison (CA). In August there were major outbreaks in France, Sierra Leone and Boston. It quickly reached Russia, North Africa and India. The flu eventually reached China, Japan and the Philippines.

The Spanish Flu killed more than 25 million people in the first 25 weeks. It killed more people in 25 weeks than AIDS has killed in 25 years. It killed more people in one year than the Bubonic Plague killed in one century. As many as 100 million died in the pandemic that reached every continent; 6% of earth's population. Six hundred thousand died in the US.

Quarantines at Camp Travis and Fort Sam Houston failed to stop the spread of the flu into the city, where there were already several hundred cases. On October 19, city doctors reported 700 cases in a 24 hour period and the San Antonio Board of Health acted to stop public gatherings.

Baptist Temple Church members J.M. Baugh (charter member) and Mrs. M.T. Heck were among the 881 who died that Fall in San Antonio.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

A Church Adapting to a Community in Transition

Baptist Temple circa 1955, before construction of I-10.
In 1964 highway planners made a decision that had a profound impact on the history of Baptist Temple. The proposed route for Interstate 10 changed so that it would pass along Baptist Temple. The original route, planned in 1959, would have connected it further north to I-35 at S. New Braunfels.

More than 800 houses were demolished to clear a way for construction of the highway. The character of the neighborhood started to change as larger homes were converted to apartments and property values declined. The sixties and seventies saw Baptist Temple transition from a traditional suburban church to an inner-city community church witnessing to a neighborhood undergoing economic and social change.

The highway was completed in 1968 in time for HemisFair 68, San Antonio's world's fair. Venue construction on the 92 acre site of the fair also eliminated many houses including the house and street where Baptist Temple was born. Although the fair only lasted six months, it, along with highway construction, permanently changed the landscape and demographics of southeast San Antonio. It accelerated the growth in the north side of the city and white flight in the south.

Baptist Temple's response to neighborhood transition was outreach through a variety of conventional (bus ministry, food pantry, clothes closet) and unconventional (medical clinic, methadone program) ministries. The result was a more economically and ethnically diverse congregation and a sustainable church.

In 1972, Baptist Temple was selected as a model church for the transitional church conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The Baptist Standard wrote, “No church in Texas has done a more beautiful job of reaching people in a transitional community than has Baptist Temple.”

This drew interest from numerous groups throughout the state including Bill Pinson's Christian ethics class at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Texas area missionaries and Women’s Missionary Union leaders.

The highway's impact on Baptist Temple is usually viewed as negative because many of the homes that were destroyed housed church members and it changed the neighborhood. On the other hand, the interstate's construction reflected the America's growing automobile culture. Fewer people walked to church. Many would drive further and further to attend the church of their choice.

The interstate system allowed folks who moved away from the neighborhood to return to Baptist Temple for worship. It also enabled people who were willing to travel a few miles to make Baptist Temple their church home. Baptist Temple's rate of decline was much slower than that of other large Baptist churches in the Southside. This is primarily attributed to its ability to connect with the community but the access provided by the I-10 (as well as nearby Interstates 410, 35, 37) put in position for success.

Megachurches often seek to build along a highway, knowing that folks will drive a bit to attend a church they like. So, as it turns out, I-10 was more of a blessing than a curse for Baptist Temple's gospel mission.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Is Your Church a Community Church or a Commuter Church?

Many churches carry the word community in their name but, for many, it is unintentionally ironic. One of the largest church in the US call itself a community church but it is surrounded by a parking lot so large that it requires a shuttle service. Beyond the parking lot are acres of undeveloped land and beyond that one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the area.

A commuter church is filled with people who travel from outside the community to worship. They are attracted by a certain style of music or a dynamic speaker. Church is more of an event to attend than a people assembled.

One family would drive 40 minutes one way to attend Sunday service. They did not know anyone in the church and had no contact with either the church nor the surrounding community during the week.

That type of anonymous worship suits many folks today. Commuting to church and work has created bedroom neighborhoods that lack cultural opportunities and human interaction. This type of isolation has led to decreased involvement in civic activities and the political polarization we see today.

Not all commuter churches are large. Some churches have transitioned from community to commuter as the neighborhood changed. Most members moved away but a remnant return to the old neighborhood to worship. The pastor is usually part-time and lives away from the community in which he preaches. The disconnect between church members and the community leads to continued decline.

A community church is involved in its community. It becomes a center of life and beacon of God's love for it's neighbors. An urban church involved in its neighborhood is an oasis of living water. Jesus said that we are to be His witnesses beginning in our own community (Acts 1:8). Many of these churches (75%) host community service organizations.

Each church can provide a unique approach to interacting with its neighborhood. Whether it's community service, the arts, activism or something else, relationships can be created that will lead to gospel-sharing opportunities.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Will You Refuse or Respond to God's Call?

Uncle Sam Wants You is among the most iconic of military recruiting posters. It dates back to the First World War. There have been many calls to arms throughout history. One occurred in the 12th Century B.C. during the the period known as Judges in the Bible. Barak called upon his countrymen to come and join the battle against their enemy. Some refused and some responded. The Song of Deborah recorded the battle with its heroes and zeroes.

The tribe Ruben refused the call. There was much second guessing in their ranks. They were victims of paralysis through analysis. Ruben was indecisive and did not share in the victory.

Gilead had chosen to remain on the other side of the Jordan when Joshua went in to take the country but they were required to help in the conquest on the other side of the Jordan (Joshua 1:12–15). The years had passed and because of the natural barrier between them, (the Jordan River) fellowship seemed to have grown cold. They refused the call.

Dan did not have the overcoming faith to take the land that God had promised. The Amorites had driven Dan into the mountain country. Their faith was weak and they missed the blessing.

Asher lived by the coast and worked with commerce, boats, trade. The enemies of Barak and Deborah were their customers. When God had called him to battle he stayed and did “business as usual.” They had no vision for the work of the Lord.

The harshest words were against Meroz: “'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of the LORD. 'Curse its people bitterly, because they did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD against the mighty.'” (Judges 5:23)

Failure to participate is considered an abomination. God expects His people to become involved in his work. Non-involvement is unacceptable.

There is praise for those respond: “Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.” (Judges 5:2)

An important theme in Deborah's song of Victory is the willingness of the leaders and people. They did not hesitate as the others did. Zebulun and Napthali will always be remembered as the tribes that risked their lives for God.

God uses those who respond. God will only use a person to the extent of their surrender but God will get his work accomplished.

Are you a refuser or a responder? Will you be indecisive? Uncaring? Unfaithful? Too busy? Will the kingdom advance in your presence while you miss the blessing?

When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves
praise the LORD!
Judges 5:2

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Birth of Baptist Temple

Lizzy Elkins
Nellie (Johnson) Taylor
On a sultry spring Sunday afternoon in 1906 the some fifty-three thousand souls of San Antonio confined themselves to the ordinary things people did in those days. Some took streetcar rides out to San Pedro Springs, or strolled along the sidewalks downtown to watch the horse and buggy traffic, sprinkled with a few noisy autos bumping over the chug holes in the mesquite block pavements of Commerce and Houston streets. Streetcars clanged in the relative quiet of a city accustomed to Latin leisure.

The everlasting, but half-forgotten Alamo dozed in the warm sun, and farther east of downtown, another ancient little building built of caliche squatted on its corner at North and Water streets and waited for a momentous meeting of a group of devoted young Baptists to arrive.

All was in readiness inside the little house that faced south on North Street and bore the number of 301. The cool parlor was crowded with all the chairs of the house in anticipation of the fifteen or twenty visitors from First Baptist Church and the mothers and their children who had been invited to attend the special Sunday School that would eventually grow into Pegues Memorial Baptist Church and then to San Antonio’s second largest Baptist Church, Baptist Temple.

The piano stood in a corner and the quick-moving, attractive little woman took a final glance about her parlor to make sure all was ready as the hour approached and noted the palm leaf fans were in place on the chairs. She made several hasty trips to the open door and peered into the glaring sun-washed, unpaved street and onto the porch to see if her visitors were nearing.

Her face lit up when she saw two mothers with their children dressed in their Sunday best walking along the dusty street toward the house. Her blue eyes danced and her laughter rocketed out to them as she greeted her visitors. Soon the joy of Mrs. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Elkins was complete as a few buggies pulled up and hitching blocks were dropped at the curb and happy young people trooped up onto the porch.

Within a short time other young men in their high-buttoned coats, narrow trousers and toothpick shoes, and young ladies with their skirts lifted just enough to prevent them from dragging in the dust, stepped onto the porch. Some of the young men carried stacks of paperback hymnals. Soon Robert O. Huff, president of the Baptist Young People’s Union over at First Baptist Church, accompanied by his young wife, Carrie, and her sister Miss Nellie Johnson with her violin arrived. Carrie was to play the piano while Nellie played the violin to accompany those who would sing the hymns.

The half dozen children took the chairs in the center of the room while the adults occupied those against the walls. Mrs. Huff sat at the piano and Miss Johnson tuned her violin and the Sunday School was ready to begin as Mr. Huff, a tall, handsome young attorney, called for God’s guidance in this undertaking for the Kingdom. In the quiet of worship the clop-clop and rattle of a passing horse and buggy drifted into the parlor from the hot sunshine and from the distance could be heard the clanging of a streetcar mingled with the squeal of steel wheels turning at a curve down at Joske’s corner. But none in Mrs. Elkins’ parlor was aware of the outside sounds, nor that this little gathering of devoted young Baptists was establishing a destiny in answer to prayers.

This impromptu Sunday School was the answer to
Mrs. Elkins’ prayers.  She combined action with her prayers and had presented her challenge to the Baptist Young People’s Union at First Baptist Church because that church was closer to her home at 301 North Street than her own Central Baptist Church.

Irish good humor and enthusiasm and English determination for the thing she believed in characterized Mrs. Elkins, who stood only five feet three inches tall, but made up for petite size with boundless energy that was directed toward concern for young people whether children or young adults. Her home was open to many ambitious business college students who had come to San Antonio to prepare for careers. Besides offering her home, Mrs. Elkins also devoted much time to the welfare of youth in connection with her work in the Bexar County Juvenile Office. 

An account from Nellie (Johnson) Taylor
From HISTORY OF BAPTIST TEMPLE 1911-1976 By Ralph M. Fritz

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Connecting Faith, Heritage and Community

Last night the Baptist Temple staff and a few lay leaders were introduced to a program by the Partners for Sacred Places. This a national network of expert professionals who understand the value of a congregation’s architectural assets, its worth as a faith community, and the significance of its service to the community at large.

We learned, last night, that 93% of urban churches serve as community centers, hosting and/or providing a variety social service programs. Moreover, 81% of the people served by urban congregations are non-members.

The local Presbytery (Baptists would say association) is funding a training program for San Antonio to assist historic houses of worship to remain sustainable through preservation and community development. We were invited to one of eight churches in this cohort.

This intensive training program, called New Dollars/New Partners. gives congregations with older buildings the skills and resources to broaden their base of support. Over a period of one year congregations will learn to speak...

The language of abundance: Asset Based Community Development
The traditional approach to community assistance has been to provide resources from outside the community while ignoring the talent and resources within the community itself. However, real change comes from the inside out. Understanding the relationships, talent base and business and institutional assets that already exist will create a sustainable environment in which a church can thrive.

The language of economy: public value and the economic halo effect
Urban churches provide a quantifiable value to the community. They provide services that would otherwise need to be provided by the government or someone else. Seventy five percent of urban congregations host outside groups, rent free. Urban churches log an average 5300 volunteer hours per year. Remember, 81% of the beneficiaries are people from the community who are not members of the church.

The language of heritage: the case statement
Every congregation has stories to tell of significant ministry during the depression, the civil rights movement, Viet Nam and other important eras. The congregation has a “brand” that has been developed through these ministries. The case statement answers the questions of “Why should I care,” and “Why should I give?”

The language of investment: sources of funding
Most funding for thriving urban churches comes from individual gifts. The congregation will account for 39%, while other individuals account for 24%. These other individuals include former members and people interested in either helping that particular community or preserving that particular building.

Grants, including government, private and corporate, account for 22% of funding. Significant but not as big as individual gifts.

Fund raisers account for a comparatively unimportant 6%, but when viewed as friend raisers, they connect you with potential individual donors.

One source of funding that is not mentioned but can be significant is earned income that goes beyond the fund raiser. Such sources of earned income include space rental (including parking), day care and other services, and sales of books and CDs. For some churches this can produce as much as 40% of their income.

I look forward to the coming year and learning how to better steward the Kingdom resources with which we have been intrusted and using them to help people find spiritual and physical healing in our Lord Jesus.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Church Council at Baptist Temple

A new structure intended to improve communication and planning was approved by Baptist Temple during the September church conference. A church council comprised of committee chairs, staff and other key leaders would meet once per month to plan and coordinate ministry, resolve conflicts and act on needs.

The council will absorb the duties of administrative committees that meet infrequently and make policy. These committees often have members in common. These include personnel, building use, budget, stewardship and finance, nominating, and constitution and rules. Ad hoc teams can be formed as needed to tackle specific administrative issues.

Some committees, with similar duties, will be combined. The missions and community ministry committee already combined a few years ago. Another new committee will be the preschool ministries committee. This committee combines the daycare and nursery committees and will oversee all preschool ministries including pre-K and kindergarten Sunday school.

A worship planning committee will be formed by combining the existing media/worship, music, and ordinance committees.

Some committees will serve as subcommittees. A subcommittee chair will serve on the parent committee but not on the church council. The flowers, greeters and enrollment/altar team will be subcommittees of the worship planning committee. The care and concern committee will be a subcommittee of the deacons. The transportation committee will be a subcommittee of Building and Landscape committee.

The membership of the council shall be as follows:
  • Staff
    • Jorge
    • Jonathan
    • Dan
    • Paulette
  • Treasurer
  • Church Clerk
  • Deacon chair
  • Committee Chairs
    • Missions
    • Building & Landscape
    • Children
    • Youth
    • Seniors
    • Adult SS
    • Preschool Ministries
    • Social Hospitality
    • Worship planning team

Existing committees that will not be part of the church council and will be unchanged are the trustees, SABA executive board, computer & technology, & library.

Representatives of groups that minister alongside us and share our campus will be welcome to participate as non-voting advisers.

This new structure will take effect in January 2015.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Bee* That Stung a King

Deborah was a prophet and judge who inspired Israel to defeat a powerful army.

Deborah was a woman of character.
Character describes the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. When people looked at Deborah, they saw a leader standing firm in the Lord. Deborah did not become a respected leader overnight. Character is built over time through consistent behavior. Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened.”

We can be sure Deborah was wise and fair. Israelites would travel to where Deborah held court so she could settle their disputes (Judges 4:5). She was like Judge Judy.

Deborah was an exceptional person but there was more to her leadership than her special talents. What really made Deborah special was her closeness to the Lord. God spoke to this woman and she listened. God spoke through her and the people listened. It was Deborah’s special relationship with God that was recognized by all the people, and that won her their respect.

One element of good character is trustworthiness. This includes honesty and reliability. Always do what you say you'll do and avoid deception.

Another element is respect. Those who treat others with respect usually are respected. Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements. Perhaps, all that needs to be said is to follow the Golden Rule.

Deborah was a woman of confidence.
Her confidence came from her faith in God. Sisera, the leader of the enemy's army, had 900 iron chariots and many thousands of skilled soldiers. They greatly outnumbered Israel. She understood that it is in impossible situations that God's strength is most visible. The Bible tells us, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

There was never any doubt in Deborah's mind that God would do as HE said.

What impossible situation are you facing: debt, poor health, broken relationships? God is greater than all these things. The Bible says: “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

*Deborah means honey bee.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Deacon Emeritus: Jerry Shelton

Jerry Shelton (R) with his father on the date of Jerry's ordination.
Guest blog by Jerry Shelton

There have been a few times in my life when I have found myself almost speechless, so, I ask you, in advance, to forgive my humble attempt to respond to the honor you have bestowed upon me as Deacon Emeritus.

When I stood before God, in the company of my two dearest friends, Jimmy Walker and Marvin Triesch, and the Body of Baptist Temple, on January 26, 1969, little did I envision such an honor would come my way. That sort of thing was reserved for those who stood head and shoulders above me in their service to the Lord.

Their names I shall never forget. I am looking forward to our reunion in heaven. Manuel Barrera, Hub Ferguson, Marvin Foster, Weldon Frazelle, Ralph Gonzales, Russell Hildebrand, John Kight, Bobby Kingston, Alton Newell, Jim Shelton (my dad), Crockett Thigpen, Doug Woodall and so many others.

I have to admit referring to “Webster's” in order to determine the definition of emeritus. I found that the word is both a noun and an adjective. Plainly spoken, “one retired from professional life but permitted to hold the rank of his last office as an honorary title.”

My parents placed on the cradle roll of Calvary Baptist Church when I was a week old. On September 29, 1946 as a young lad of 11, I gave my heart and my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and I promised to serve Him all the days of my life.

On December 11, 1955, while working at Alamo Iron Works, I joined Baptist Temple alongside Don Barnet (Bill's brother). Don had bid me to come to Baptist Temple for two reasons: 1. There were no more young people at Calvary; 2. He had a dear friend, Mary Lee Graham, he wanted me to meet. Mary Lee and I had our first date at that year's New Year's Eve watch-night party and the rest, as they say is history. We were married in 1958 and had two children and five grandchildren. We have been blessed beyond belief.

In 1970 I accepted the nomination as teacher of the Adult men's Sunday school class. For 42 years those men were my joy and inspiration. Their faithfulness, prayers and love were more than anyone could ask.

I retired from teaching in November 2012 to care for Mary Lee's mounting health problems: stroke, mastectomy and Parkinson's. I felt that her physical condition demanded my full-time presence. I think the Lord understands.

I had the joy of singing in the adult choir for 52 years and the barbershop/gospel quartet for 32 years. The Pipe Creek committee, with its Pipe Creek Posse, was one of the highest points of my life.

In the past 57 years, since joining Baptist Temple, I have, perhaps, been placed on every committee of the church; including two terms as chairman of the Deacons.

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forward. None of us have come to where we are today by ourselves. Many people have people and events have contributed vital sparks to our lives that have blessed us.”

Each of you, in your own way, has touched me. I have grown. I will never forget you. I shallproudly be a deacon all of my days.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Shamgar's Three Steps to Victory

Shamgar's story is brief – one verse – but that's all he needs to teach us that God's champions start where they are, use what they have and do what they can.

Shamgar started where he was.
He was a farmer, not a soldier. He wasn’t even armed properly. These were a difficult days for Israel. They were, once again, under the thumb of another nation. The streets were abandoned and village life ceased. (Judges 5:6)

These desperate circumstances motivated Shamgar to act even though his people had no weapons. (Judges 5:8) He didn’t wait for better circumstances or greater resources to act. He started where he was.

Shamgar used what he had.
An oxgoad is a farm tool. It was a stick with a metal point on one end to keep the oxen moving and a paddle on the other end to clean debris from the plow.

We don’t need a lot of things that we think we need in to be successful. You may be lacking money, education, health, skill or opportunity but you can start where you are and use what you have. Put God first in your life and all the rest will be added.

Instead of focusing on what he lacked, Shamgar used what he had.

Shamgar did what he could.
He was not a ruler. He did lead an army. He was a local hero and an extraordinary warrior. The 600 Philistines he killed with his oxgoad would not have freed Israel but it was a significant contribution.

The Kingdom of God is seen in countless small acts. Jesus taught us that even a cup of cold water given in His name is significant. (Mark 9:41)

Because Shamgar did what he could, "He too saved Israel."