Monday, December 24, 2018

Let God's light shine through you

As Christmas approaches, the nights grow longer. Clouds often dim the little available daylight. This is a time when we celebrate light. We light advent candles in church and hang lights on our Christmas trees and houses and drive around to see our neighbors' decorations.

We love light. Flashlights, nightlights, porch lights, refrigerator lights; they make us feel safe. The first recorded word that God spoke was, “Let there be light!”

God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5)

Sometimes, however, the darkness is within us. Sorrow and despair cloud our minds and our hearts. Christmas isn't merry for some. They look around and see a hurting world.

During a time when half of Israel has taken into captivity and the remnant was oppressed by other nations and their own cruel leaders, the prophet Isaiah wrote of a future hope, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned...” (Isaiah 9:2)

Jesus is that promised light. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The Gospel of John proclaims that the darkness cannot overcome the light. (John 1:5) Darkness is negative. It is the absence of light. It has no power of its own. All the darkness in the world can't put out a single candle. However, the smallest light shines brightest when it is darkest.

Light is greater than darkness and God’s good news is always greater than Satan’s bad news. Jesus' crucifixion could not extinguish the light, the cross would transform evil into good; a curse into a blessing.

The promised Savior had come to earth. He would love the world and bring his light to it. He would teach us his ways, and become the sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus told his followers, “You are the light of the world...” (Matthew 5:14)

The Bible says that Jesus' followers 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)

Darkness stunts growth and leads to death. Light, on the other hand, promotes growth. Bring the light wherever you go.

Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Healing our children

The Gospel of Luke tells us of a father who brought his son to Jesus' followers, seeking healing for his son's seizures. The disciples had failed and a mocking crowd had gathered when Jesus enters the scene. The father called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” (Luke 9:38-40, NIV)

The Apostle Paul wrote that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12,NIV)

This boy and his father were battling forces beyond their control. People, often, find themselves in terrible plight due to the powers that make decisions that impact all of our lives.

These decisions include deed restrictions that insured some neighborhoods would remain “white.” Unrestricted neighborhoods would have smaller lots, poorly built homes, inferior roads, sewage and other municipal services. These deed restrictions were struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1948 (Shelley v. Kraemer) but the damage was done. When you realize that the majority of most American's wealth is invested in their homes, you can see the long-lasting implications of this policy.

Another such decision occurred when the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created in 1934 to encourage home ownership during the Great Depression by guaranteeing bank loans. They green lined (approved) mortgages for new construction in the suburbs and red lined (declined) mortgages in inner-city areas with high crime rates, poor housing stock, and poor infrastructure. Those who could, moved out. Only the poorest remained. A lower tax base impacted the quality of schools trapping families into generational poverty.

In 2012, Pew Research named San Antonio the most economically segregated city in America. The south side has high unemployment, low high school graduation, few job opportunities, lack of nearby fresh food markets and healthcare, large numbers of people receiving government assistance. has declared the south side a low opportunity area for children, increasing vulnerability to human trafficking and drug addiction. A child born and raised in 78210 has a life expectancy 20 years shorter than one born & raised in the north side.

Like Jesus' disciples, non-profits, government agencies and churches want to help but seem to fall short. Donor contributions and tax dollars fund programs that show promise but generational poverty continues.

It is possible to overcome these unseen forces. Two Baptist Temple youth, who grew up on the south side and graduated from south side high schools, each received full scholarships to private universities in San Antonio. The resources to succeed are available on the south side. The key is to encourage more kids to take advantage of them.

Jesus succeeded where the disciples failed. Later, he would tell them that “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:29, NIV)

Spiritual weapons are required to fight spiritual battles. Jesus did three things in this passage:
  1. He REBUKED the spirit. We need to speak out against injustices that bring harm to vulnerable people.
  2. He HEALED the boy. We need to bring healing to the people of our communities through mentoring relationships that minister to physical and spiritual needs.
  3. He RETURNED the boy to his father. We need to restore families, not replace them.

The crowd that had gathered to mock the disciples for their failure, now were amazed at God's greatness. The church is at its best when it brings healing to our fallen world.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Deacon Spotlight: Boyd White

Guest blog: Robert Newman 

Deacons Boyd and JoAnn White
Boyd was saved in 1946 at the age of 13, but drifted from the faith for a time. He joined the Air Force at 19 and met Jo Ann at the age of 20. She was already a Christian and better grounded in the faith. She helped him to mature.

Boyd had an opportunity to travel around the world with the Air Force. “Everywhere I went people had heard of Southern Baptists,” he said.

He attributes that to the missionaries that were sent out out by the Foreign Mission Board and supported by churches like Baptist Temple. When Boyd was stationed in Torrejon, Spain, he worked with a chaplain and his wife to help start a church.

Boyd White first came to Baptist Temple in March, 1969.
When one of our deacons, Jimmy Walker, and our pastor, Loren White, visited the Whites, Boyd liked both of them immediately. He and Jo Ann visited Baptist Temple the next Sunday and were impressed with the church, the people, and Baptist Temple's worship style.

From the time Boyd came to Baptist Temple, he has been involved in community ministry. When Forrest Smith asked him if he could drive a bus, Boyd said that he could drive almost anything with wheels. The next Sunday he was driving the bus and picking up people for church.

Now, after all of these years, what Boyd likes best about Baptist Temple is the many loving and caring people who are concerned about the other members and for the welfare of the church. 

Boyd, enjoys being a deacon as it ties service to the Lord together with giving direction, and support to him personally and to the church as a whole.

Boyd, JoAnn, and their son Robbie have been an integral part of the Ceramics Ministry which reaches both church members and non-members in the community.

Boyd has been a deacon for 44 years, and was made a Deacon Emeritus in 2016.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A New Era in Youth Ministry at Baptist Temple

Baptist Temple has a long and storied history of ministry to young people. We have church members in their 70's who were part of Baptist Church's youth ministry.

In its heyday, our youth outreach efforts would pack the church on both Breckenridge and Highland High School days. Enrollment reached its high point when D. Ray Taylor was youth minister (1971-77). Peak enrollment reached 344 in 1974; Kay Richardson (who chairs the youth committee) and Melissa Baxter were youth during this era.

I remember every Sunday evening we had training union and youth group which, I think, included choir. The parents would take turns fixing dinner for the youth on Sunday nights and we would meet in the youth lounge for dinner and Bible study. I remember the Bible studies that we did, especially the book of Ecclesiastes,” said Melissa.

Times have changed. Although we have fewer people of all ages at our worship service, our ministry to youth remains strong. We have 400 kids on the Baptist Temple Campus every day attending our charter school and early learning center. Nine youth basketball teams use our gym for practice and occasional games. These are vital with the limited resources of our community.

The Southside of San Antonio ranks as a very low opportunity area for children (according to This takes into account proximity to employment, public assistance rate, poverty rate, foreclosures, proximity to healthcare, proximity to fresh food markets and high school graduation rate. To counter this reality, government, business, church and non-profit groups are working to provide resources that will break the generational poverty that has trapped our youth. Baptist Temple's role is to help the children in our community access these resources to stay in school, stay at home and stay in church.

Our early learning center provides quality, Christ-centered care for the children of working families in our community; providing a strong foundation for success in school. Jubilee Highland Park provides a high quality education within a culture of excellence. The youth basketball leagues promote health, teamwork and other soft skills that lead to success in school and beyond.

It is possible for children from the Southside to succeed against the odds. Coby and John grew up attending Baptist Temple. Both graduated high school (Highlands and McCollum, respectively) and both received full scholarships to local colleges (Incarnate Word and Our Lady of the Lake, respectively). We want more success stories like these.

In times like these, Baptist Temple is providing essential ministries showing God's love to the next generation. Leading the to the abundant life Jesus promised.

The thief does not come 
except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
I have come that they may have life,
and that they may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Deacon Spotlight: Steve Grinnell

Steve Grinnell serving in VBS
Steve Grinnell came to Baptist Temple in 1981 after leaving Texas A&M to work for a local business. He got involved right away by joining the choir. Max and Inez Brunnemann, Steve's Sunday School teacher, took his young family under their wing and helped them acclimate to Baptist Temple.

Over the years, Steve has taught children and adult Sunday school, led Royal Ambassadors and Boy Scouts, served on the bus ministry, building and grounds and more. Steve is always ready to pitch in and help wherever needed but his favorite thing to do is help with baptisms.

Steve's faith was awakened while attending a Passion Play when he was in the third grade. He made a public profession of faith as an adult and was baptized at FBC College station. It was there his faith began to grow and mature.

Recently, Steve started working in the office of the Baptist Temple Early Learning Center. His cheerful attitude and can do spirit has been a boost to morale and is helping to build bridges among the various groups that share our campus during the week.

A deacon for nearly 30 years, Steve's faith grew from the lessons of the deacons who mentored him. He said, “When life seemed like giant waves were about to crash down on me, Jerry Beauchamp taught me that God will carry me through. When I was saddled with a responsibility that I knew I didn’t have time or expertise to accomplish, Bill McCoy and Elton Dudley just showed up, quietly guided me through, and taught me to not give up. When I faced opposition that made me feel like I was battling a giant with only a handful of rocks, Woody Woodall said “stand your ground and fight fair.” Boyd White taught me to pray, and when I was finished, to pray some more. Max Brunnemann taught me to stay faithful and pay attention to the preacher because he is the man God has sent to lead us.”

Steve's love for Baptist Temple is demonstrated in the enthusiastic way he tells everyone he meets about our ministries. His excitement stems from the variety of ways in which God has blessed BT, both in the past and in the present.

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

Don't call them seniors

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) don't like being called seniors and they're are used to getting things their way. This identity was given to them by marketing firms after noticing that the high birthrates and exploding economy following WWII created a generation whose presence had an impact on everything. They were responsible for daycare centers, professional youth ministry, singles ministry, megachurches and, now, older adult ministry.

They are healthier, more active, better educated and more financially secure than any previous generation. As a result they want to do something of value with the second half of their lives. You will find them volunteering with disaster response teams, nursing homes, food pantries and more. A church that wants to attract Boomers must be active during the week.

They have needs as well. Some have aging parents. Some are raising grandchildren. Many are trying to maintain contact with families that live in different parts of the country. Too many are coping with the broken marriages, addictions and financial struggles of their adult children.

Baby Boomers are creative and innovative and want God-sized tasks. They are willing and capable of running their own ministries; many have run businesses. They like options and trying new things.

Their busy lifestyles demand that events start and end on time. Boomers find it difficult to make long-term commitments because they like to travel to family events and for fun. They prefer to serve on a rotation basis that allows flexibility.

Another way Boomers are changing churches is the emergence of inter-generational ministry. They grew up in age-segregated society (school, work, retirement community, nursing home.) Now they enjoy doing things with their grandchildren and people of any age.

Many Boomers are unchurched and, although they are not looking for church, they may be looking for new friends. Weekday and evening activities may create new entry for Boomers and an opportunity to explore faith in Jesus Christ in this season of life.

Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Psalm 71:17-18 (NIV)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Five reasons why outreach to seniors is a good idea

One of the strengths of Baptist Temple is our Seniors. We have a group of people over 60 who are mature in Christ and ready to serve. Over the last ten years they have been the force behind our community ministries and building and grounds maintenance. On Sundays they lead in worship, hospitality, Sunday school and more.

Church outreach programs tend to ignore this particular demographic in favor of married couples with young children. That can be a big mistake. Seniors still have much to give and are looking for greater challenges. When Caleb was 85 years old he made this declaration to Joshua:

“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (Joshua 14:10-12)

Here are five reasons why outreach to Seniors is a good idea:
  1. There's a lot of them. In 2006, Baby Boomers started turning 60. This is the largest age demographic in America, numbering 76 million. San Antonio (the location of Baptist Temple) will experience a “silver tsunami” as seniors from around the nation will be moving in ever increasing numbers to this desired retirement location.
  2. Longer Lives. Seniors are living longer and are more active than past generations.
  3. Experience. Many are experienced church members who are generous with their time, treasure and talents. They bring the knowledge, skills and finances needed to support church programs.
  4. Availability. Retired folks have time on their hands and most are eager to make a difference.
  5. Ministry field. Some seniors live in poverty. Social Security and other benefits are not enough to provide for their needs. Some are lonely and isolated. Many are unchurched. This is a ripe field for ministries of caring and evangelism.

It is important to bear in mind that the term Senior includes a wide range of ages. People who are a decade or more apart in age have different needs. Another important factor is that many who are past 70 do not want to drive at night but have plenty of daylight hours available.

Ministry to and with Seniors has great potential. This generation of American Christians has been given more affluence, education, time, and opportunity to serve God on earth than any other. How can the church maximize this gift from God.

Monday, July 16, 2018

God, Change, and Baptist Temple

Guest blog by Kay Richardson

In 1993 I went on a youth mission trip as an adult sponsor to Washington DC. The church we stayed at and ministered to was very different than the Baptist Temple Church at that time. They had different groups worshiping at different times, they fed the community, they had a clothes closet, the homeless slept around the building. Little did I know that experience would prepare me for what Baptist Temple’s mission is today.

In the past few years, members of BTC have experienced a lot of change. Five different churches rent space and worship on our campus. Some of our activities and times of worship include those churches on our campus. VBS is now a campus-wide/community event. Our gym is rented nightly by different sports organizations. In recent days, a funeral planning service has set up an office area and added their signs to our building. We now have solar panels all across our roof.

Through these different churches and organizations, God has blessed us financially along with the tithes and gifts from our own members. And because of that, we can continue to minister to our members and to the community!
The BTC of 2018 is very different from the BTC of years gone by. We can either lament what was, or we can rejoice in what is and is to come! I believe God wants us to embrace the times of change. Look around—God is at work in many different ways!
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Servant Spotlight: Cathy Peeler

Guest blog by Melissa Baxter

Born, raised and educated in Louisiana, Cathy Peeler moved to San Antonio and joined Baptist Temple 43 years ago. Her three children, Greg, Robert and Linzi, grew up coming to church here and her grandchildren, Robert (Jr.), Meosha, Jacob, Nora, Julian and Serenity, fill the ranks of our children and youth.

Cathy has taught Sunday School in the pre-school, 2nd and 5th grades for over 42 years at Baptist Temple and always helps with children's ministry outings, events and fundraisers. Today we are honoring Cathy for her many years of service in children's ministry.

Some of her service includes

  • Nursery Coordinator
  • VBS Director
  • Children’s Committee Chair
  • Youth Committee Chair
  • Coached high school boys’ basketball
  • WMU Director
  • Coordinated the men’s basketball league
  • Coordinated the volleyball league often coaching a team
  • Served on many committees over the years
Generations of families at Baptist Temple have been blessed by Cathy's love of Jesus and willingness to serve. She has been a consistent presence through decades of change, helping to smooth transitions as Baptist Temple continually found new ways to reach our community.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Servant Spotlight: Miguel Garcia

Miguel Garcia is Baptist Temple's Student.Church summer missionary for 2018. This program of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, provides college students to serve CBF related churches around America.

Born in Wichita, Kansas and raised in Houston, Miguel began to study world religions at an early age. He went from ancient mythology to the major religions with a some side trips into folk religions and atheism. His conclusion was that there is no God and the church was a lie. The idea of God was only useful, perhaps, to comfort the dying.

During a theological debate with a Christian about the virtues of Polytheism vs. Monotheism, he began to wonder about the possible credibility of Christianity. The Holy Spirit had previously used a Christian novel to warm his heart and expand his mind so, Miguel sought out a religious professional (a pastor) to answer his questions.

He went to church dressed in his Sunday best and was pleasantly surprised at the relaxed dress of the other worshipers. It seemed inviting, The pastor answered his questions and invited Miguel to return that evening.

At the youth gathering that evening, he saw students he recognized from school. The lesson that evening was about a God-shaped hole inside us that only God could fill. It touched Miguel deeply and his heart was changed by Jesus that night.

After his high school graduation, Miguel started attending the Baptist University of the Americas. He had received an ad in the mail and was impressed by it's affordability, national recognition and the ability to pursue his life passion, music.

Miguel began his music journey at age 10, learning to play brass instruments, later adding piano, percussion and guitar. He has written 24 pieces of music and finished a symphony by age 17. He has applied his talents to church worship, including playing in worship bands and audio-visual support.

This is Miguel's third Student.Church experience. He will begin his senior year at BUA in the fall and desires to become a music educator. Miguel credits BUA with helping him to understand his strengths and limitations and mature as a follower of Jesus.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Deacon Spotlight: Melissa Baxter

Guest Blog by Robert Newman

Melissa Baxter was born in New Jersey and moved to San Antonio in 1965, which now calls home. She is the second oldest of six children, raised by a single mother only a block from Baptist Temple Church. She is the third of five generations in her family to be members of Baptist Temple. 

As a child and in her youth, Melissa was involved in many ministries at Baptist Temple. She accepted Christ as her Savior as a teenager at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment youth camp, and began serving at Baptist Temple as a youth in the bus ministry. Along with adults, she went out on Saturdays to visit the families who were picked up in Baptist Temple’s bus. She was also active in GA’s where she learned to love God’s word and to share God’s love with others. Her passion for music came from being a part of the very active youth choir at Baptist Temple. 

After high school, Melissa was told by her mother that she had three choices: get a job, get a college scholarship, or go into the military. With no job skills and no response to her applications for scholarships, her only choice was to join the army. It was there that she met the love of her life, Billy. They married and celebrated 38 years together until his death in 2013. 

From her childhood, Melissa dreamed of traveling, but that had to wait. It wasn't until her youngest was in high school that she was started on the path to international travel. She and her family hosted 13 exchange students over the years, some for just a few weeks, but most for 10 or 11 months. She made many lifelong friends who have opened their hearts and homes to her on several trips to Europe. The students she hosted and gotten to know over the years have made a lasting impression on, and have forever changed, the way that the Baxter family looks at the world. 

Melissa has three grown sons, Billy, Brandon and Brad, all of whom grew up in Baptist Temple. She has five grandchildren. Two of them, Landen and Sydney, often accompany her on Sundays. 

Melissa and Billy were coaches of the youth volleyball teams and played on adult softball and volleyball teams. Melissa has taught Sunday school, from the nursery level through adult, and loves to serve wherever there is a need. Her ministry extends to her work environment as well. She leads a Bible study each week for her coworkers.  

Having served a year-long internship, Melissa was ordained as a Deacon on May 27. She is an exemplary servant of Jesus Christ, encouraging the sorrowful, visiting the sick, recruiting and developing leaders, serving wherever needed and supporting all the ministries of Baptist Temple. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

It's Time Grant Helps a Church Find a Place in a Transitioning Community

Our gym stood vacant; a sad reminder of a day when the church was thriving. The 80,000 square campus that once had 1500 enrolled in Sunday School was now mostly silent during the week and not very active during the three hours it was open on Sunday.

A $21,000 grant would change the course of this inner-city church in a transitional neighborhood.

When I arrived at Baptist Temple almost ten years ago, we were on the verge of celebrating our 100th anniversary and in search of a vision for the future. The It's Time, with an accompanying grant, was how the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was helping churches like ours find ways to be on mission for God.

In 2009, San Antonio led the nation in diabetes and obesity. At the same time, we had a gym no one was using. The answer was simple. We decided that we were going to help our church and our community become healthier by developing programs for all ages. We used the grant dollars to purchase fitness and recreation equipment and turn a forgotten recreation room into a weight room.

We offered karate, tumbling, chair aerobics, balance training, and open gym nights. During the summer, kids were introduce to golf, tennis, badminton and other non-traditional sports. Classes on healthy cooking, nutrition, diabetes management/prevention, and cancer awareness were offered in partnership with the YMCA, University of Texas San Antonio, Methodist Health Systems, Baptist Health Systems, and the San Antonio Metrohealth district.

Further grants from the Baptist Health Foundation and Texas Baptists have allowed us to hold annual health fairs and establish a community garden. For the last three years Baptist Temple has been a site for the city-wide Fit Family Challenge. We were the first church site. A second church was added based on our successful model.

This level of health awareness led to a campus-wide recycling program that keeps a dumpster full of items out of the landfill. Recently we have installed a solar array and are currently developing a plan to replace our current landscaping with water-saving hardscape and succulent plants.

We hope to provide a model for other churches to follow so they can help their congregation and community live the abundant life that Jesus brings. 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full. 
John 10:10

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Lessons I Learned from My Mom

Kay's mom, Inez, with son-in-law, Sammy Richardson
Guest blog by Kay Richardson

My mom was the glue that kept our family together. She loved the Lord and raised her kids by example. When my dad went to be with Jesus, we were not sure how mama would react. They had been married for 66 years. God, church, and family is what their lives revolved around.

The first thing my mom did in her time of mourning was a study on heaven. She wanted to know all she could about Max’s new home and the home she would eventually share with him. The study was intense. Every day she learned more and more. We began to worry that she was a little obsessed with it, so I decided I needed to have a talk with her. The day I went to suggest she take a break from her study of heaven, I walked into her room, she looked up at me and said, “I think I know all I need to know about heaven! I’m ready to get on with life.”

And so she did. She enjoyed visiting with family & friends, going to church, and going to the Young in Heart luncheons. When she lived in the assisted living facility, she would go around and visit other residents… she called it “spreading a little cheer.”

Mama kept a journal of who she visited with and who she was praying for. One of the entries in her journal was, “I find the more I focus on Jesus, the less I focus on myself.” She also kept a journal of the scripture verses she was memorizing or were comforting to her. It was that journal of scripture verses that went with her every time she went to the hospital. She would read them or quote them over and over. She drew strength and courage from God’s Word.

Her last words were, “I love you. I want to go home.” Someone questioned what she meant by that, but I knew exactly what she meant. She was ready to go to the place that had been prepared for her in her new heavenly home!

A lot can be learned from my mom. Even in a difficult time of her life, she chose to live. She chose joy! She was able to do that because she knew God was walking with her every step of the way!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jesus heals body and soul

A sudden burst of sunlight interrupted the master's teaching. Everyone looked up to see a man being lowered through a hole in the roof. We learn in Luke's Gospel (5:17-26) that the man is paralyzed. His friends wanted to bring him to Jesus; his only hope.

They'd heard Jesus was in town and teaching in a nearby house. These men knew that if they could get their friend to Jesus, his life would be changed. Upon arrival, they were disappointed to find the house full. It was standing room only. People were peeking in and those who couldn't see were listening outside the walls.

The friends of the paralyzed man would not be deterred from their mission. They climbed up on the roof, carrying their friend, and dug a hole in it so they can place their friend in front of Jesus.

Imagine the shock of the crowd at the audacity of these invaders. All eyes turn back to Jesus when he says, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20)

Wait! What?”

It was so quiet you could almost hear the thoughts of the people. The Bible says that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:21)

What about the healing? It seems odd that Jesus forgave the paralyzed man before healing him but Jesus used this moment to show that he had the authority to forgive sins by healing the man.

Jesus' healing reaches beyond our bodily ailments to the salvation of our eternal souls; even, beyond death. It is holistic healing. A woman, who had a blood flow for 12 years, touched the hem of Jesus' clothes and her bleeding stopped immediately. What Jesus then told her reaches beyond cure to the deeper need of the whole person: “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

God is not just interested in saving our souls. Salvation is healing for the whole person: body, mind and spirit. God has promised the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body to life everlasting. The Gospels record 40 healings that were signs pointing ahead to our ultimate healing.

If God is interested in both our physical and spiritual health, then so should the church. As a global body the church has done well in this area. We have established public schools, universities, hospitals, orphanages, rescue missions and all manner of relief and development ministries; all in an effort to minister to body and soul. William Carey, the father of modern missions, established schools and clinics in an effort to reach the people of India with the gospel.

Local churches are the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of our neighbors. This is especially true in an under-resourced, inner-city area. Working with agencies that provide human services can bring new life into a congregation facing declining numbers and finances while saddled with a large building. Sharing the building will help cover utilities and deferred maintenance and bring new people into the building. This type of cooperation provides the type of relationship building that wins souls and heals bodies and emotions.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tending creation was the first job God gave us

Baptist Temple's solar array
The Lord God took the man
and put him in the Garden of Eden
to work it and take care of it.
Genesis 2:15

God made the world and it was good. He gave it to humanity to tend. A task for which we get mixed reviews.

On this 48th Earth Day I reflect on the environmental impact of Baptist Temple on our community and our planet. Our campus has 80,000 square feet on almost 3 acres of inner city property. That is a lot of concrete, brick and asphalt.

Certainly we have high energy bills. First we attempted to reduce energy use by turning off lights that weren't in use and shutting off the AC during the week. That turned out to be very difficult. CPS Energy performed an audit and determined that replacing the lights with more energy efficient models would be cost prohibitive. Instead we decided to make better use of our building by sharing our facilities. While this did not reduce our actual energy usage, we became more efficient by hosting multiple entities on our campus. Six churches that might otherwise be using up energy in a building used only a few hours a week, share space instead, on a campus that is busy all week. We all contribute towards expenses.

All this activity created a lot of garbage, so we received a second dumpster for recyclables that is picked up once a week. This is a cost savings for us and keeps a dumpster load of cardboard, plastic and metal out of the landfill.

Our thrift store also helps to keep items out of the landfill. We offer gently used clothes at nominal prices (.10 – 2.00) to everyone. Proceeds help support our food pantry and other community ministries.

While we can't replace all of our lights at once, we upgrade whenever our lights need to be replaced. Our new exterior lighting uses less energy while producing more light. This saves money and makes our parking areas safer

The move that has made the biggest environmental impact on our community is the solar panels on our rooftops. We leased roof space to a company that sells the collected energy to CPS. We are compensated with a modest credit to our energy bill. While not financially lucrative for us, it carried no risk for us and helps make San Antonio less dependent on fossil fuels.

Another recent earth friendly project is our community garden. Sixteen 4x8' raised beds produce vegetables for our food pantry. Additionally we have an orchard with four grapefruit trees, three tangerine trees, three pecan trees and a peach tree. Our primary goal is to teach people of all ages gardening techniques that are sustainable in an urban environment. Growing some of our own vegetables improves our health and reduces the need for industrial farming.

Future plans include changing our suburban style landscaping to a low-water-need xeriscape, a water catchment system and increasing our composting. It our hope that we can model practices that are both earth-friendly and money-saving to neighborhood churches, businesses and families.

To the Lord your God belong the heavens,
even the highest heavens,
the earth and everything in it.
Deuteronomy 10:14

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Baptist Temple Campus welcomes a new ministry

Baptist Temple is pleased to welcome FuneralCaring® USA to it's family of churches and agencies serving our community. FuneralCaring® USA is the leader in affordable funeral services in San Antonio, helping folks celebrate the life and the memory of loved ones with a dignified funeral at a reasonable cost. They provide support to grieving families with high-quality, value-driven merchandise, superior service, and uplifting facilities.

There will be no cremations nor embalming on the Baptist Temple Campus. Traditional funerals will be conducted as they have been for over 100 years.

Once upon a time funerals were handled by the church and folks were buried in the church graveyard. Things have changed. The church's role in society has diminished some. However, at Baptist Temple, we want to care for the spiritual and physical needs of folks from cradle to grave. The Baptist Temple Campus houses six independent churches: Mision Bautista Betel, Family Deaf Church, Sunny Slope Baptist Church, CBC Highland Park, Free By the Truth and Baptist Temple Church. Other agencies on our campus include Baptist Temple Early Learning Center, Jubilee Highland Park Academy (PK4-8th grade, tuition free charter school), Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry, Highland Park CAN (thrift store, food pantry, community garden), and a Community Health Care Worker.

FuneralCaring® USA is veteran owned and operated, fully licensed and insured, and offer pre-planning services.

Along with funeral services, Baptist Temple offers Christian counseling and a grief support group.

To contact FuneralCaring® USA call: (210) 822 4445

For grief support information call: 210-533-7114