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.