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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Good Report

Here is an update from a missionary couple that we support here at FBC.

Christmas Changes Everything

What if Jesus had never been born?  What difference would it make in your life?  Plenty.  As D. James Kennedy points out, it would be a very different world indeed if Christ had not come.  But He did come, and this coming Sunday we will celebrate it.  It's called "Christmas Changes Everything".  It begins at 10:45 and all are welcome.


China

Had an enjoyable, quiet Thanksgiving with my wife last week.  This week I've been working on promotional materials for the upcoming missions camp, and preparing for this weekend's Christmas musical.

Today I came across this bit of news about the Perspectives course.  It seems that materials are being translated into Chinese, with leader training sessions already in the works.  It is obvious that China will be a major player on the world scene for many years to come, so any advances made in that country would be most significant.  We've long heard that there are many believers there (largely underground), and this represents a major step forward.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Big News

Today I am happy -- no, make that thrilled -- to announce our 2014 World Missions Camp.  We did one this year and it was just wonderful.  Next year's promises to be even bigger and better.

This would make a great youth group trip, college trip, or family vacation.  Or perhaps you've always wanted to go on a missions trip, but haven't found a "group" to go with.  This would be a great way to get plugged in.

All the whos, whats, wheres, and whys of the camp can be found at www.rgvmissions.com.  If you need to talk to a live person about it, call me at (956) 542-5334.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Free Book

If you'd like a free e-book on how to best pray for missionaries, you can get it here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Looking Ahead

Not having anything urgent to write about, I've been a little slow in updating this blog of late.  Suffice it to say that autumn is the time to make plans for the following summer.  I can report that we've make some progress on our Unreached People Group search, but I can't say much here due to the nature of what we are doing.  I also am putting the finishing touches on next year's missions camp.  I hope to have final details very soon.

Last week our staff was away (from the office, at least) for our annual retreat.  I work with a great group of guys.  The chemistry is good, and we enjoy chewing the fat and generally being obnoxious to each other.  Occasionally we talk about church business.  (OK, I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea).  Unfortunately we also played golf.  I'm terrible at it, but it does wonders for my humility.  

On another note, I was asked to write the narration for this year's Christmas musical. Our worship pastor is cobbling together his own musical from various sources, so he asked me to fill in the blanks.  I tell you, it's harder than it looks.  What do you say that hasn't been said a million times before?  Or should we try?  Anyway, I'd appreciate your prayers.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thank Goodness

Thank goodness for this bit of news from across the pond.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

But Then We Already Knew This

Some interesting, if not surprising, results from a recent survey about poverty in America.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Facing Off

As I've noted more than once, I started this blog so that my friends and family could stay informed about my mission work through FBC Brownsville.  But occasionally I feel the need to hold forth on some other matter or another and, well, now is one of those times.

On September 26, 1960 the first of 4 debates was held between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.  It was the first time a presidential debate was shown on television.  Kennedy, according to reports at the time, was tanned, rested, and fit.  Nixon, on the other hand, had recently been released from the hospital, and looked unwell.  He also refused to wear makeup, his beard stubble showing prominently.  You can probably guess the rest. Nixon was easily "out-glamoured" by the charismatic Kennedy.  And though there would be 3 more debates to follow (in which Nixon performed well), there was no undoing the impression made that night.

It's probably a stretch to say that Richard Nixon lost the election because of that one debate, but it certainly changed forever the way presidential campaigns would be run. With new technologies came new ways to influence behavior, and successful politicians would have to learn to craft their messages (and images) accordingly.

Think of it this way: can you imagine the solid but colorless Calvin Coolidge as President today?  How about a portly John Adams?  Or even the homely Abraham Lincoln?  No, modern-day campaigns are witnessed, not just written about, and this way of doing things comes with a cost.  Consciously or not, voters are constantly awarding "style points" to candidates, and the slightest of perceived errors on the campaign trail can be fatal.

There are many more things that could be said (and have been said) about this.  But let me leave it at this: when I read about this debate anniversary, I found myself thinking of the American church.  We are shameless imitators of our culture, and this triumph of style over substance has most certainly afflicted us.  But there remains a remnant that wants to go deeper with God.  So to those I say press on, stay in the Word, live faithfully, serve as Jesus would, thus honoring Him who infuses all our moments with eternity.

(many have addressed the phenomenon that I have written about here.  A good place to start is Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves To Death".)  


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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Trends

Here is an interesting article about Hispanics in the US and their religious preferences.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Women Want

I just read an interesting article about "what women want", and the implications of this to how we do church.  Thought-provoking stuff.  And even though it's not specifically about missions (like most of the stuff on this blog), it's certainly worth a look.

Check it out here

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Update.....San Antonio

I wrote to Kevin, our contact in San Antonio, about the new Spanish-language service that we helped to promote for his church.  The first service was held Sunday, so I asked for an update.  Here is what he wrote:

"Things went pretty well. We had nineteen people show up to our service. Two families have leadership roles in other Hispanic churches in the area. One of them will come as often as possible! What I saw yesterday with those who will consistently be here is a foundation for doing outreach/door-to-door evangelism, etc. I am very excited to see where the Lord will take this...............We are very grateful for your willingness to come to SA and be a part of God’s work in our city. The Lord bless you all of you and your families, and the church for allowing/enabling you guys to minister with us."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Opportunity

Today I want to pass on a little info about a webinar that is coming up in a couple of months.  It is called  "Blazing A Trail Through The Missions Strategy Maze".  As you can see from the title, it's all about helping churches develop a strategy for going deeper in world missions (which, I will add, is not as easy as it sounds).  I am familiar with the folks who are involved in putting this thing together, and I'd say that it should definitely be worth your time.

The webinar will take place on November 7, and is free.  It will last one hour.  You can find more information about it here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I Have One, Too

Unless you live deep in the bowels of the earth (in which case you probably wouldn't be reading this), you know that we just celebrated (August 28) the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. Dr. King was a flawed man, but there's no denying his moral courage or his gifts as an orator.

To mark this historic occasion, I thought I'd jot down a few dreams of my own.  Though I'm under no illusion that my "speech" will be remembered 50 years hence, I write it anyway, for my own edification if for no one else's.

I HAVE A DREAM.......
  • that one day we will have elected representatives who are serious about the fiscal mess we are in.  If they can't bring themselves to reverse course, could they at least take their foot off the gas? 
  • that one day we'll have one entire presidential campaign without any mention of the words "fascist", "racist", or "Adolf Hitler".
  • that just once a popular Disney channel star would not insist on showing us how "grown up" they have become.
  • that more boys and girls would know the security of growing up with a mom and a dad, and that one could long for this without being labeled a "hater".
  • that  more American church members would develop a taste for solid biblical preaching, and demand the same of those who would lead them.
  • that one day Hollywood will make at least one movie without wall-to-wall profanity and innuendo. And while we're at it......could we get one where the religious person in the story isn't a kook, philanderer or serial killer?
There.....I feel better now.  Will my dreams ever become reality?  It's not likely, in my opinion.  But as King well knew, it's OK to hope for a better world, even if we never get a perfect one.





Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day

This past weekend a group of about 22 of us went to San Antonio to help some friends there with a new church start.  As I've written before, it's an established English-language congregation that is starting a new Spanish-language service next weekend, so we went there to help spread the word about it.  After blanketing the area with flyers Saturday morning, we helped with a block party Saturday evening.  It was a short trip, but a very fruitful one.  I'd even say that it was worth missing most of the Georgia - Clemson football game.  And that's saying something!

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ESL Training

Have you ever found yourself secretly coveting the spiritual gifts of others?  Do you wish you could preach/sing/play/teach like ol' what's-his-name?  If so, then let me assure you that you possess a skill, right now, that is coveted by millions, and by which you can make a significant difference in the lives of others.  And you can begin right away.  In other words, you speak English.

Next month we begin another semester of English (ESL) classes at FBC.  At the moment we could use a couple more folks willing to help.  No teaching experience is required.  If you love people and have a good grasp of English, you're in.
  
On September 13 and 14 a Basic ESL Teacher Training course will be offered at our local baptist association office.  I've been through this training and can tell you that, while it won't make you an expert, it is very good, and will give you the tools you need to get going.  You can get more information about it here.

A word to the wise.....we don't get lots of quality training events here in the valley, so don't let this one pass you by!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

¡Viva México!

For some time now I've longed for the Perspectives materials to be translated into Spanish.  That wait is almost over.  The translation work is virtually complete, and there have now been several Spanish-language Perspectives classes held around the world, including one recently in Mexico.  You can read more about that here.

This is a big deal for several reasons.  Suffice it to say that if the Church in Latin America were to be mobilized on a grand scale, it would mean HUGE progress in reaching the nations with the gospel.  Please join me in prayer that the planned projects would proceed apace, and that many creyentes would catch the vision for what is possible.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Up On The Roof

Here's one of our volunteers from last week helping to replace a leaky, termite-infested roof on a church in Matamoros, Mexico.  

Before And After


If you'll look at the 2 pictures to the right you'll see what one of our visiting mission teams did last week.  That building houses a Spanish-language church, which was in desperate need of more education space.  Thanks to the hard work (and generosity) of our friends from Lane Prairie Baptist Church, this church got the addition they needed, all within 4 days.

If you'll allow me to wax philosophical for a bit, I like to think that these photos are a good metaphor for what we do at the Hendrick Missions Center. The mission teams that we host come to serve somewhere in our community.  And even though pictures can't always capture the good that they do, they always leave things better than when they found them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Perspectives Goes To The Movies

We've seen an enormous amount of change in the past 50 years, and that certainly includes mission work.  Many are discovering how to combine their passion and skill with global outreach to the nations.  One such success story can be found here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Love Story

If you don't think society is changing at lightning speed, check this out: research suggests that about one-third of all recent marriages began as an online relationship.

Whatever did the lonely do before we all had internet?  Well, whatever we did, and wherever we did it, it meant going somewhere.  But those days are long gone; in this new world, love is just a click away.

Be honest: what did you think the first time one of your friends told you that she had "met" someone online?  I'd bet a hefty sum that it went something like this:  "You did WHAT???  Have you lost your mind???  You aren't going to meet up with that sicko/pervert/ax murderer, are you????"

But that is so 1998.  Nowadays online dating is seen simply as a way to fish in a much bigger pond.  After all, it's not my fault if my soul mate wasn't born near me.  What's wrong with using a little technology to help fate along?

And so we come to this: today I learned that soon there will be yet another online dating service.  The twist?  This one will cater to Christian missionaries.  So, all those guys and gals with a heart for world missions can meet many others who share their convictions.  Call me radical, but I think that's pretty sweet.

You can find out more here.

(As of this writing, the website is not live yet)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lending A Hand

For several years a church from San Antonio has been sending teams down to our HMC.  As I was talking to one of their leaders this year I found out that they are beginning a Spanish language worship service at their church in September.  I thought it would be a good idea to go up and help them if we could.  As it turns out, we can!  So, on Friday, August 30 we leave for The River City to help our friends with one final push before the services begin.  We'll be helping with a community block party and some literature distribution.

We'll be coming back Sunday after church.  If you'd like to go, send me an e-mail at fbcbmissions@yahoo.com.  Your only cost is your food and $10 for gas.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Colossal Coaster World

It would be rare indeed to find a christian, in the US at least, that has never heard of vacation bible school.  For Southern Baptists, summer without VBS would be like spring without..........well, I don't know what, but it wouldn't be the same.  I've observed through the years that even those who won't lift a finger any other time of the year will often show up to help during VBS.

This year ours kicks off on Sunday, July 14th at 5:45, and runs through Friday.  There's a roller coaster theme this year, so I know it'll be a scream (pun intended).  If you live nearby, you just have to join us!

Addendum:  I just gotta say.......when it comes to VBS teachers, I've never seen a better one than my wife (she and our daughter Allison are the creative ones in our family.  A.J. and I got the brains and the looks).  Though she normally doesn't like to be up in front of people, she thrives during VBS.  She has a wonderful command of her class, the kids love her, and her decorations are always among the best.  And if you lived with us you'd know why: she spends hours on end at home each summer designing them and making them.  I admire that, because I don't have an ounce of artistic ability.  Good thing that opposites attack attract.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Look Ahead

Read this article carefully, America.  And this one.  This is what's in your future.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cold Case Christianity

If you're in the mood for something a wee bit different, take a look at a website called Cold Case Christianity.  The website, and the book that bears the same name, come from J. Warner Wallace.  A former homicide detective (and atheist), Wallace used his skills as an investigator to examine the truth claims of the Bible.  "I found the evidence for Christianity to be as convincing as any cold case I'd ever investigated"he would later say.  Now a popular speaker with Stand To Reason Ministries, he travels all over the country sharing his personal journey, and the compelling evidence that drove him to faith.

Monday, July 1, 2013

In Full Swing

Whenever summer rolls around I'm reminded of why I took this job.  It is so rewarding to watch ministry unfold, to see things get built, and to see some good folks getting much needed help.  It's almost enough to make me forget about the 101° afternoons.

And, I might add, it's great to see old friends.  Last week we were pleased to welcome River Hills Baptist Church back to the HMC.  They always bring a large group, and are not afraid of a little work.  They were a BIG blessing to 3 local Hispanic churches, while another small crew was working in Mexico.  Good job guys!

This week we are hosting some more of our long-time friends, this time from Louisiana.  For years some of these same folks have been coming down to work in one of the local parks.  The kids always enjoy seeing them come back year after year.  This morning I held an evangelism training session for them.  It's always good to know some basic Spanish phrases when talking to folks down here, so we tried our best to bring them up to speed.  They were good sports about it, and are ready to give it a whirl.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Missions Camp: A Review

"Awesome week!"
"I can't stop thinking about it".
"What a wonderful time I had.....".

These are just some of the comments I received about our missions camp held last week.  None of the campers had been to our center before, so nobody knew what to expect.  But it wasn't long until the proverbial ice was broken, and we were on our way to a most satisfying week.  

Not everything I attempt in ministry goes well, but this missions camp came together beautifully.  The teaching was challenging, the fellowship was sweet, and the ministry projects were a great fit for those doing them.  We were able to introduce folks to local ministries, and more than once I heard someone say that these newly formed relationships would continue.

I also learned that my 50 year old body is not well suited for 14-hour days.  But it was a "good tired", if there is such a thing.  In any case, I can tell you that it's been many moons since I've had a week as gratifying as this one.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Wherever He Leads?

"The number one barrier to college students going to reach the lost overseas is Christian parents". Brian Zunigha; Lesson 5, Perspectives On The World Christian Movement           

Monday, June 10, 2013

At Long Last

Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.  Psalms 96:2, 3

After many months of planning, our world missions camp finally began last night.  Your humble servant taught on the glory of God, and of God's heart for the nations.  Then, after a session on "Worldview" this morning, we began our ministry projects.  I've made my way around to all of them to have a look, and everyone is enthusiastic and working hard.

As it turns out, all of the aforementioned projects involve "helping the helpers".  In other words, our projects are geared toward helping, in some way or another, a local ministry that is on the front lines week in and week out.  They are often understaffed, and always underfunded, so they are glad to see us.  In fact, this morning one of the ladies we are helping cried as she thanked us for coming out.  While I'm not looking for thanks, it's nice to know we are lightening the load of those who spend so much of their time helping others.



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Death

"Death always comes too early or too late".   Old English Saying

Let's begin with something obvious: if you live very long at all, you will one day experience the pain of losing someone you care about.  It stinks, but there it is.  Death is a part of life.  Or, as death row inmate Robert Alton Harris put it so colorfully, "You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everybody dances with the Grim Reaper".

Most of the time (thankfully) we get some advance warning.  Perhaps our loved one is sickly, or is up in years, so we know that what must happen can't be far off.

But we aren't always so "lucky".  Sometimes death intrudes suddenly, without warning or mercy.  Maybe it's a heart attack (my grandfather)....or a car wreck (my friend Jackie)......or a suicide (a sister-in-law).   But whatever it is, it's always raw.  "They just can't be gone!", we protest.  But of course they are, and whatever was left undone or unsaid will remain so.

During my time as pastor of my first church I became friends with a family who lived nearby.  They were decent, down-to-earth people who welcomed and loved my family the whole time we were there.  We drifted apart with time, but through the miracle of the internet we were able to exchange the occasional hello or birthday greeting.

Saturday evening that mother sat down to dinner.  She would never get up.  She was 62 years old.  Joan was healthy, active, and surrounded by extended family.  Not that it mattered: she was dead before the ambulance arrived.

This very morning I stumbled upon this line: "[French philosopher] Pascal....saw the obsession with entertainment as the offspring of the fallen human desire to be distracted from any thought of mortality".  In other words, do you wonder why pro athletes earn more than school teachers?  Why everyone knows Justin Bieber, but not Justin Martyr?  Why there are a gazillion channels on your cable TV?  Because there's no escaping the cold hand of death, and most of us just can't bear to think about that.

But we should.  And in doing so we honor the One who conquered it, and who will one day raise us from it, that we may dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sheltered

According to this article, around 100,000 Christians are killed for their faith each year.  I for one am not going to obsess over how many of them are "real" Christians.  The fact that almost 2,000 people die each week for the crime of professing faith in Christ is something that should shock and sadden any decent person.

I also am reminded of how sheltered I am, and how incredibly blessed to live where I do, and when I do.  I have things to worry about, mind, but being martyred on U.S. soil is not high on that list.  I pray for these my brothers, and thank God for their faithful witness.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Evil

For many, the greatest stumbling block to faith is the alleged incompatibility of belief in the existence of a good and powerful God with the amount of evil we see in this world.  The "problem of evil", as it is often called, is as old as man himself, and much ink has been spilled trying to resolve it.  Here is a brief but helpful article on the subject.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

We finished the spring semester at our Bible institute Thursday evening.  We've been studying the New Testament this go around.  To be honest, the class already knows the Bible pretty well, so it's a challenge to keep things fresh and teach them something they don't already know.  I don't know if I'm always successful, but we do have some good discussion each week, and enjoy each other's fellowship.

This semester I decided to mix it up a little.  Each week I gave everyone 1 ticket for attending the class.  Then last Thursday we had a drawing.  The grand prize was "Willmington's Guide To The Bible" (in Spanish).  I've had this resource for years, and it's a great tool for the serious student.  The lucky winner was Ramon.  ¡Felicitaciones hermano Ramon!

Then Saturday evening some of us men at FBC prepared a Mother's Day dinner for our wives.  We're not professionals, but we decorated as best we could, and served steak and fixings.  If the reaction of the ladies is anything to go by, it was a big success.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Melting Pot

If I were a betting man, I could win a lot of money with this question: what is the most ethically diverse city in the United States?  New York?  Los Angeles?  Chicago?  No, sirree.  The most ethically diverse city in all of the US is Houston, Texas.  Yes, Houston, Texas.

This past weekend I and two friends from FBC were in Houston to have a look.  There are many possibilities for ministry there, and we were wanting to see if we should get involved.  Let me tell you, it was an eye-opening trip.  We visited a Muslim mosque, a Buddhist temple, and a Hindu temple.  We ate Vietnamese sandwiches and Iranian shish kebob.  We prayer walked in Little Chinatown.  And to top it all off, we were joined on the trip by folks from Chile, Paraguay, Honduras, and Mexico.

The world has come to us (we were told that there are high schools in Houston where over 200 languages are spoken!).  It is a golden opportunity for the American church, and we simply cannot squander it.

As it happens, our adult choir performed its spring musical Sunday.  It was called "Grace".  How appropriate, I thought.  I spent all weekend learning more about sincere but misguided people who are striving with all their might to earn God's favor.  We, on the other hand, rest in the work of Christ, who took our place and bore our shame.  It's called grace, and we should never tire of celebrating it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Living SENT

One of the principle things that drew me to Texas was the knowledge that I would be able to connect those who want to help with those who need it.  Last week, through a series of circumstances, I met a local Hispanic pastor who had been praying for people to help him reach his community.  Like many pastors down here, he does the best he can with the meager resources that he has.  Anyway, I went by his place to have a look, and it's a great place to do ministry.  It looks like we'll be able to send a couple of teams his way this summer, and that feels pretty good.

Last weekend I was in Dallas (Euless) for the annual SENT Conference, sponsored by our state convention.  The theme of SENT is world missions, and I enjoy rubbing shoulders with like-minded brethren (and sistern).  There are always several workshops to sit in on and ministry booths to visit.  This year there was a lot of talk about the changing face of our state.  The Texas of popular imagination is cowboys, tumbleweed, and J.R. Ewing.  But this is rapidly changing, as folks from all over the world come here to work, study, and raise a family.  And believe me, they aren't all baptists.  

Speaking of missions, let me recommend a book to you.  It's called "Serving With Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions With Cultural Intelligence".  The subtitle sums it all up pretty well.  Read this, and you'll save yourself, and probably some poor missionary, a lot of grief.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Beta Conference

Last week I spent 3 days in Austin.  Our state convention, along with the good folks at Lifeway, were putting on a series of conferences for ministers of education.  It was one of the better conferences I have been to.  We were given a ton of resources, along with several good ideas.  It was inspiring and refreshing, and you can't ask for more than that.

On the way back home I stopped by the LBJ Presidential Library.  I'm not a huge fan of his Great Society, but I am a fan of history.  Johnson served during some of our nation's most turbulent years, and his presidency was a consequential one.

Maybe it's just how I'm wired, but I don't know why anyone would want to be president.   Nothing about it appeals to me.  Regardless of party or platform, a president can always depend on criticism, cynicism, and lots of second-guessing.  These men deserve our respect, and our prayers.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Louisville Sluggers

For the past 2 weekends we have hosted a team from Louisville, KY at our HMC.  They came down to work with Dr. Camacho in Mexico, and needed a place to stay as they were passing through.  This was a delightful team, and their presence was a big blessing to me.  Not only because it was a bit of a fluke that we met (long story), but because they were willing to go into Mexico to work.  

This issue of team safety is a tricky one.  I have been a senior pastor, and am a parent, so I understand the need for caution.  These leaders (youth guys, for example) often have to answer to pastors, deacons, and several sets of parents.  But for the life of me I can't help but wonder if we are overdoing it.  In other words, will the world ever be reached with the safe, comfortable, and thoroughly predictable brand of Christianity that we practice here in the U.S.?

In any case, the team worked with the approximately 200 kids at the children's home, and did some construction work as well.  It was a great week for them, and they are already planning to come back next year.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This Is Freedom?

But at least we're liberated!  (link)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Getting Away With It

Over the past few years we've seen a huge upswing in the number of true crime shows on TV.  There's "48 Hours" and "Dateline" on the networks, with a slew of others on the various cable channels.

A typical case might go like this: an attractive woman lives with her husband and two kids in Anytown, USA.  All who know her describe her as an excellent mother, loving daughter, and loyal friend.  She and her husband have been married for 12 years, and are enjoying the good life in suburbia.

One day the woman is found brutally murdered in her home.  Who could possibly have wanted her dead?  She had no enemies, and everybody who met her loved her.  It must've been a robbery gone bad.

But it doesn't take investigators long to discover the dark truth about this family.  Seems that the victim had confided in friends that her marriage was in trouble, and suspected that her husband had been having an affair.  She just couldn't take it anymore, and would be leaving him soon.  The grieving husband denies all this, but with a little digging the cops soon find that he had indeed been seeing someone on the side, and they have the e-mails, pictures, and phone records to prove it.  Faced with undeniable evidence, the husband admits that, yes, he has been looking elsewhere for companionship lately, but that doesn't make him a murderer.

Something- a receipt, a bit of security camera footage, a fingerprint - always gives him away.  He has done the unthinkable: he has murdered the mother of his kids.  He is summarily arrested, tried, and (virtually always on these shows) found guilty.  He usually won't admit to actually committing the crime, though, even after he is convicted.  And so the show ends with the husband in prison, having lost his entire family (and lover), defiantly vowing to appeal this miscarriage of justice until his dying breath.

Now some may find these crime-as-entertainment shows a little macabre, but I confess that I find them fascinating.  Why do men do what they do?  How did the cops find the killer?  What techniques did they use?  Did the accused actually do it, and could I have voted "guilty" if I were on the jury?

But by far the most common question I ask myself is this: how in the world did they think they could get away with this??  (Note to would-be killers: the cops will check your cell phone records.  And bank records.  And e-mails.  And if you've taken out a $2,000,000 insurance policy on your wife 2 weeks before she "slips" in the bathtub, someone will find that suspicious.)

Let's consider a biblical parallel: how many times did God warn Israel of what would happen if she strayed from what was right?  How many prophets and miracles did He employ to make His point?  How many years did he give them to repent once they did stray?  The answer doesn't matter; they were going to get away with it.

In my opinion we are witnessing the same thing on a national scale today, and it's happening very quickly.  We add a trillion dollars to our national debt every 9 months, the family is disintegrating before our eyes, and about 20% of our fellow citizens profess no religion whatsoever.  Can we get away with this?  Will we be able to simply bury the old, repressive ways of our forebears, to then find joy and bliss with other enlightened brethren in this new secular paradise?  I wouldn't bet on it.  In fact, I'd say the Judge will have something to say about that.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The No Spin Zone?

Today I am coming out: I am part of the great unwashed that watches Fox News.  And I sometimes enjoy watching The O'Reilly Factor.  OK, so Bill is often rude, and always brash, but he makes good points, and doesn't let his guests get away with much.

While watching the show last night, I was completely bumfuzzled by a comment he made about same-sex marriage.  “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals,” O’Reilly said on Fox on Tuesday. “That’s where the compelling argument is. ‘We’re Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else.’ That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that, you have got to have a very strong argument on the other side. The argument on the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.”

O'Reilly is simply wrong about this.  The compelling argument is squarely on the side of those who don't want to ban traditional marriage (thanks to Dr. James White for this phrase).  And second, a strong case - compelling, even - can be made for marriage without thumping the Bible even once.

Here are a few resources:

For starters, get your hands on a pamphlet from The Ruth Institute called "77 Non-Religious Reasons to Support Man/Woman Marriage", by clicking here.

For a scholarly defense of the proposition that marriage is by it's very nature the union of a man and woman, click here.

And finally, a very good written debate can be found here.

Let the learning begin.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Little By Little One Travels Far

What can you do with $10?  

If your first thought was "not much", then I'd have to agree.  Perhaps 2 trips to Starbucks? One movie ticket?  A weekday lunch?

But for that same paltry $10 you can make a real difference in the life of a child.  Benjamin Loera in Chiapas, Mexico is looking for monthly sponsors for the kids in his children's home. He figures that if a lot of people give a little, then the work will get done.

I'm no communist, but I do think that those of us with more should share with those who have less.  Thank God that I grew up in a loving, stable Christian home, and always had my material needs met.  That's not true of everyone, and it's certainly not true of the kids that Benjamin serves.  I've stayed at his children's home, have met Benjamin's family, and can tell you that they are offering hope and Christian love to a group of kids who have no experience with either.

The First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho, NM is handling the details.  Mail your check payable to FBCRR, and mail to 

First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho
3906 19th Av SE, 
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

Mark on your check “Chiapas-sponsor a child”.  100% of monies given go to the children's home.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Yes, But Where Is It Going?

So Rob Bell has come out in favor of gay marriage:

"I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Rose Among The Thorns

Just after the time of Christ the Roman poet Juvenal observed that his countrymen really only cared about two things: bread and circuses.  This wonderful little phrase, still in use today, was his way of describing man's preference for the trivial over the good.

Alas, there is nothing new under the sun.  America is a rich country, and with wealth comes the wherewithal to pursue diversions of all sorts.  And that we do, with abandon.  

Take TV, for example.  Hollywood is running out of ways to push the envelope, but they are trying their darndest.  The result is either how-low-can-they-go depravity, or lots of fools willing to embarrass themselves for a few moments in the sun.

But occasionally one is pleasantly surprised.  I was when I watched "The Bible", a mini-series airing on The History Channel.  It is well done, and you won't lose any brain cells while watching it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Members Class

One of the most dispiriting things about modern Christianity is the shallowness of our commitment to a local church.  Intentionally or not, we have created a generation of consumers who will forsake their church at the drop of a hat if something isn't to their liking.

To be honest, I really don't know what to do about it.  This attitude is systemic and entrenched, and won't be changed easily.  But we at FBC intend to chip away at it. Starting Sunday we'll be offering a 6-week New Members Class, during which we'll be talking about church membership, church policies, spiritual gifts and the like.

If you'd like to join us, you are welcome.  We will meet in Grace 4 at 9:15 a.m.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The 7 Sons Of Sceva

We had another good FOCUS group meeting Saturday.  As part of the meeting we had a couple of presentations from group members about the relationship between missions and culture.  The plain truth is that we can do a lot of harm, both to the cause of Christ AND to the people we are seeking to reach, if we don't know what we're doing.  Using the image of a powerboat and a sailboat, we learned how ministry is different in various parts of the world, and what is "right" in one may not be best in the other.

To wrap up the weekend I preached Sunday morning in the pastor's absence.  We looked at the rather bizarre story of the sons of Sceva in the book of Acts.  Like many today, they wanted Paul's spiritual power, but not his holy life, so they were no real threat to the kingdom of darkness.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Standing Tall

In a day when some church leaders are openly denying Christian doctrine, and others are "evolving" on certain moral issues, it is so stinking refreshing to find one who is willing to stick to his guns.

The guns in question belong to Robert Jeffress, pastor of FBC Dallas.  Over the past year or so Jeffress has made statements that don't sit well with the PC police, so when it was announced that pro football player Tim Tebow would appear with him in April, all hell broke loose (pun intended).  After days of hysteria from the usual places, Tebow backed out.

This story stirs a variety of emotions in me, not least of which is hope.  Pastor Jeffress is not even a little apologetic about what he teaches, and has no plans of going away.  He addressed the controversy Sunday, and you can check it out here (10 minutes).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Counting My Blessings

Oh, how I wish I had a dollar for every time I have seen this: a young person is brought up in a solid evangelical church.  There are sermons and lessons galore, and not a few youth camps and other special events.  Life's big decisions must be made with care, these young people are told, and there are temptations on every hand.  Duly warned, they then proceed to choose a complete spiritual dud as a life partner.

Of course, it's not exactly a "life" partner.  After a few days/months/years the couple discovers that - you might want to hold onto something - they are not compatible!  The fires of passion that once raged have long since burned out, and only duty now holds them together.  But this can't last, so the end comes, with our young Christian deeply wounded and wondering how God could allow such a thing to happen.

I'm not trying to "pile on".  My point is that, while romance is not exactly a science, neither is it luck. Christians, of all people on earth, should have clear criteria for a potential spouse, and must stick to them no matter what.  This may not guarantee a long and happy marriage, but it sure beats sweaty palms and liver shivers.

Today is Valentines Day, and I'm reminded that I'm one of the lucky ones.  I've made mistakes, but not the one I just described.  Sure, Beverly and I have had our fights, our disappointments and tough patches.  But we're still together, and after all these years, she's still  the one I want to come home to.





An Honest Movie Trailer

If you find yourself needing a little levity this Valentines Day, check out this video that I stole from my friend Stephen Porter.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Multihousing Ministry

Here is a statistic that will blow your mind: about 57% of people in North America live in multi-housing communities, and roughly 96% of them are unchurched.  The obvious conclusion is that, if we are trying to reach people who need the Lord, we need look no further than our local apartment complex.

Next Saturday, February 16, we at FBC are happy to host Chris Rowley from "Multi-housing Champions" for a two hour workshop on the subject.  Chris will be teaching us innovative, effective strategies to reach these people for Christ.  The training is free, and everyone is welcome.

** The term "multihousing" refers to housing where there are multiple living units..........places like apartment complexes, mobile home parks, dorms, etc.

Vanity Of Vanities

Of all the sermon series I preached during my 11 years in South Carolina, one of my personal favorites was on the O.T. book of Ecclesiastes.  This book is a real gem, and it is a pity that we don't talk about it more.  Occasionally confusing, and always provocative, Ecclesiastes is the saga of a man who sought out wine, women, and song, but was left cold by the whole experience.  The only life really worth living, he finally concluded, was a life lived in service to God.

Tomorrow night we begin a 12 week study of this old book in room C-3 here at FBC.  We'll be using Tommy Nelson's book as a guide.  In fact, old Tommy himself will be teaching us through the miracle of technology.

You are welcome to join us.  For a preview, click here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Missions Training

Several times a year the IMB (International Mission Board) offers world missions training at various sites around the country.  For those who can't make it to the live training, they also offer this training online.  A new round of classes begins tomorrow night, and it's all free.  If you'd like to be a part, you can register here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

♪ I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke...... ♪

When I was still living in South Carolina our church did a "Super Bowl outreach" one year.  I don't remember where I got the idea, but here are the highlights: we put a 2-liter Coke, a bag of microwavable popcorn, and a note into a plastic bag.  The note explained that this was a gift from our church, and that we hoped they enjoyed it while they watched the game.  We then passed these out in a local mobile home park.  It was a big surprise for the residents, and lots of fun for us!

We are doing the same thing here this year.  We have unofficially adopted a local apartment complex, and have done some ministry with children there over the past several weeks.  We hope to introduce ourselves to even more of the residents, and to let them know we are here if they ever need us.

p.s. For a trip down memory lane, click here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

San Antonio

This weekend I was in San Antonio for the "National Hispanic Evangelization and Mobilization Conference". It was a mixture of plenary and breakout sessions.  The big idea was that we have to pay more attention to 2nd and 3rd generation hispanics, who are more Americanized than their parents, and who don't feel comfortable in a Spanish only church.  Parents can lament the loss of a national identity if they like, but there's no turning back the tides of change once a family moves to another country.

The conference was very good and I met some really nice people.  The whole thing was in Spanish, so my ears got quite a workout!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This Blog Isn't Going To Update Itself!

This year began as the last one ended: with many things that need to get done.  Here are a few things I'm involved in at the moment:
  • I preached the last 2 Sundays at FBC ("3 Reasons You Should Be Reading The Bible").  OK, maybe it shouldn't take 2 weeks to give 3 reasons, but what can I say??  I'm rusty!!
  • We had another good FOCUS meeting last Saturday.  Next step: vision trip.
  • We started a new season of discipleship classes Sunday night.
  • I'll be attending a conference in San Antonio this week on reaching Hispanics (relevant, I'd say).
  • We begin our next semester in our Bible institute next Thursday.  It's New Testament Survey this time around.
  • We're planning a "Super Bowl Apartment Outreach" for next month.
  • We'll be hosting a one-day conference in early March on doing apartment ministry.  
  • Speaking of apartment ministry, we're doing that now every other week at one of our local complexes.
  • The missions camp preparations continue apace.  We're getting regular inquiries about it, which warms my heart no end.
  • We begin a study of Ecclesiastes on Wednesday nights, beginning in February.
Lots of good stuff......I'd appreciate your prayers.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Read The Bible

Quite a number of people in our church have chosen to read the Bible all the way through this year.  We're using a chronological Bible reading plan devised by George Guthrie.   There's still time if you'd like to get on board.  Get your copy of the plan here.

New Year, New You?

If you have resolved to do better with your Bible reading this year, you might want to check out this article.