Month: May 2005

SWBTS, Jacksonville College, Criswell sign Hispanic ‘Education Superhighway’ agreement

FORT WORTH?Three educational institutions and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention signed an agreement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary May 3 to provide accredited higher education for Hispanics.

Jacksonville College, represented by President Edwin Crank, Criswell College, represented by President Jerry Johnson, Southwestern Seminary, represented by President Paige Patterson, and the SBTC, represented by Executive Director Jim Richards and Hispanic Initiative Director Mike Gonzales, made official an agreement to assist Hispanics in obtaining college and graduate training.

“We are excited to help provide quality education, built on the inerrancy of God’s word, for leaders of our state’s Hispanic churches. No one else is working in Texas to provide this kind of biblically-based, comprehensive training,” said SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards.

Hispanic Initiative Director Mike Gonzales added, “It is amazing how God brought all this together. Texas Hispanic pastors have a golden opportunity to further their education.”

The agreement is intended to create an “educational superhighway for Hispanic ministers.” Students may obtain certificate-level training in ministry and continue to a doctoral degree through the participating schools.

The basic curriculum consists of 24 hours of biblical studies courses and six hours of English language courses. These courses will be offered at five sites provided by the partner institutions. SBTC will confer a certificate to students completing the courses and they may also be applied to undergraduate studies at the partnering schools. The three institutions plan to offer courses beginning this fall.

President Edwin Crank of Jacksonville College noted: “The potential to help reach 6.7 million Hispanics in Texas is challenging. This is not only an educational endeavor, but an outreach opportunity.”

Expanding this thought, SWBTS President Paige Patterson said: “t1:State w:st=”on”>Texas, and the whole Southwest, is characterized by increasing Hispanic ethnicity. What a noble assignment the SBTC has undertaken and how appropriate for the three great schools to cooperative together to make available to our Hispanic brothers and sisters an approach to Christian leadership for the churches. This is cooperative missions at its best.”

Criswell College President Jerry Johnson stated: “The Hispanic population in Texas is growing and will continue to grow in the future. Christians must see it as an opportunity. God has commanded us to evangelize the nations and in this case an ethnic group is coming to us. We should not only walk through this open door to evangelize, but also to disciple and train a generation of Hispanic church leaders. Criswell is excited to be a part of the Hispanic Studies Agreement with the SBTC, Southwestern Seminary and Jacksonville College.”

Earlier this year and as a part of the Hispanic Initiative, the SBTC announced a scholarship program at Southwestern for Hispanic Ph.D. students?named for Rudy A. and Lucy L. Hernandez. The late Dr. Hernandez was a vocational evangelist and the first director of the SBTC’s Hispanic Initiative.

Criswell College trustees vote to sell radio station KCBI to Calif. corporation

DALLAS?The Criswell College trustees have recommended selling the college’s radio station, KCBI-FM, to a California-based Christian radio corporation.

Criswell College President Jerry Johnson told the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Executive Board during its meeting April 19 that the Criswell trustees approved selling the station and its assets to Covenant Educational Media Inc., contingent on an acceptable contract and approval by First Baptist Church of Dallas, which owns the college and its related ministries, and the Federal Communications Commission.

The proposed deal, worth about $23 million, would help solidify the future of the school, which has struggled financially in recent years. The deal would also include 50 years of programming for First Baptist Church of Dallas and the college.

Criswell College, at 4010 Gaston Ave., near downtown Dallas, is under the ministry umbrella of Criswell Center for Biblical Studies, which includes the college and Criswell Communications, comprised of KCBI-FM and transmitter stations in San Angelo, Texas and Frederick, Okla.

“When we get a contract that looks good, the next step is that we go to the First Baptist Church, to the deacons and then to the congregation,” Johnson told the SBTC board. Criswell College is an SBTC ministry affiliate and receives SBTC budgeted funds.

“And I am a Baptist. I believe that the safest place for anything to be is in the hands of a local church. And I am glad our college is connected to a local church. We’re not going to move ahead, we can’t move ahead on this, without the blessing of the church.”

Johnson said he has met once with the church’s deacons and would likely meet with them again before the church would vote on the sale.

The potential buyer has given $100,000 in earnest money toward the station’s purchase, Johnson told the SBTC board.

“I think it’s a tremendous package we’ve put together, and I believe God wants this college to go to the next level for our sake, for the sake of Southern Baptists of Texas. You need a four-year college; you need a university. ? And I believe God could use this to move us to the next level,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the sale could possibly fund an endowment, new property or expansion of current facilities. He said the trustees’ long-range committee is planning and praying for how best to use the potential sale to further the college’s ministry.

“If this is the Lord’s will, he’ll open the door. And if not, he’ll shut it,” Johnson said.

KCBI offers local programming and a Christian music format during morning and afternoon drive times and radio preaching and teaching from evangelical leaders such as John MacArthur, David Jeremiah and Chuck Swindoll.

Covenant Educational Media owns KVTT-FM (91.7), a Dallas radio station with a Christian talk format.

Houston church plant grows sixfold; 70% are new converts

HOUSTON?Nathan Lino, senior pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church, refers to it as “the miracle on West Lake Houston Parkway.”

The “miracle” Lino speaks of is the rapid and unusual growth of Northeast. The church has grown sixfold since its planting two-and-a-half years ago and most of the growth has been from new converts.

“Right at 70 percent of our church was ‘unchurched’ prior to coming here,” Lino said. “And the transfer growth (people who came from other churches) is at 30 percent. We work very hard to encourage ‘churched’ people who want to transfer from other Baptist churches to stay where they are. This helps keep transfer growth down,” Lino said.

Since the church doors opened in September 2002, membership has gone from 140 to more than 800. The now 31-month-old church family is bursting at the seams and moved to three Sunday morning services in January.

The former Forest Cove Baptist Church contributed 120 people who committed to 12 months, 24 months or long-term service and seed money to start Northeast Houston Baptist Church. They began meeting in an elementary school gym Sunday mornings, but in April 2003 they opened a new, 35,000-square foot building.

In 2005 alone, Northeast has baptized 21 people?15 of which are adults over the age 25. The goal for the rest of the year is 84, which makes for tougher spiritual warfare, Lino said.

Spiritual warfare won’t stop what Lino calls a values-driven church, though. Lino said the church emphasizes soul-winning, Bible teaching and prayer. Following the command for gospel proclamation in Acts 1:8, Lino said, “We opened a Great Commission Center in our church out of which we resource, recruit and train for evangelism. We put the time and resources into this center to demonstrate to our people the urgency and priority of spreading the gospel.”

Through grassroots efforts, Northeast has developed an evangelism strategy for drawing people into the church.

“We get out people to adopt their street or apartment building for the calendar year. They commit to prayer walking on a regular basis and go door-to-door on their street or in their building to invite people to one of our worship services,” Lino said.

So far, 111 families at Northeast have adopted their streets or buildings. Each quarter, members participate in a “community blitz,” visiting every door in two or three subdivisions. Also, an aggressive follow-up plan, including letters, e-mails, visits, and telephone calls, trails this effort to keep prospects and guests informed and aware.

“We also encourage our people to get creative and use their passions to do evangelism,” Lino said.

This past winter, one church member approached the pastor to ask if he could drill holes into the church parking lot and set up blacktop basketball courts. Since the completion of the court construction, more than 70 men gather on Thursday nights for four hours of basketball.

“This isn’t your normal church league and it is hardly a ‘church’ environment,” Lino said. “We only have one rule?no fighting. We draw some pretty rough characters, so things sometimes get pretty rough out there.”

Less than 20 percent of the men that attend the Thursday night basketball league are churched. Randomly each Thursday night, all games are stopped, so a member of the church can present what Lino calls a “strong, clear, no-holds-barred gospel presentation complete with an invitation.”

“On any given Thursday night, you can hear grown men in the parking lot praying out loud to receive Christ,” Lino said. “We then funnel the newly saved and their families into the Northeast Houston family.”

Lino said strong Bible teaching is integral in the church. Taught by his father, who was also a pastor, Lino said, “From the pulpit to Sunday morning small groups t

SBTC continues seeking property tax exemption

The SBTC is continuing to seek property tax exemption and will raise new issues in a legal motion to be filed in Tarrant County for partial summary judgment against the Tarrant County Appraisal District, SBTC lawyer Shelby Sharpe told the convention’s Executive Board during its meeting April 22.

During the meeting the board voted to “pay under protest” the 2004 property tax on the SBTC office building and property from surplus funds. Last year, the Tarrant Appraisal District denied the SBTC property tax exemption and the SBTC filed a subsequent lawsuit in protest.

Sharpe told the board he believes the Tarrant Appraisal District’s denial of property tax exemption violates, among other things, the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Sharpe said he believes the county erred in judging if the type and frequency of worship at the SBTC office qualifies it as a tax-exempt religious organization. In doing so, it is establishing acceptable and non-acceptable forms of religious expression as they pertain to tax exemption, he said.

A partial summary judgment requires there be “no dispute of material fact” based on evidence that would be issued if a trial were held, Sharpe said. A favorable ruling would mean the judge would likely follow with a judgment against the county for the convention’s legal fees and related costs.

Two additional attorneys with expertise in related issues are serving the SBTC pro bono, Sharpe said. If tax exemption were denied, the convention would pay about $200,000 annually in property tax.

“Pray that clarity and the facts will come out in this case,” Sharpe told the board. “Pray for the attorneys as we prepare the case and that it will be ruled upon justly.

“Let the law and the facts speak for themselves.”

The meeting included numerous pauses for prayer on various issues, including the lawsuit.

Other board actions included:

4voting unanimously to change the bylaws to allow the Committee on Order of Business to select a guest speaker for the SBTC annual meeting three years in advance.

4voting unanimously to request a change in the cooperative agreement between the SBTC and North American Mission Board asking that NAMB notify SBTC staff of “planned state-wide events 12 months prior to public promotion of such events as well as the clear communication of any other conference conducted in Texas.”

4voting unanimously, on a recommendation from the Administrative Committee and President Chris Osborne, to give $25,000 to Glorieta Conference Center to furnish a suite in the newly renovated Cottonwood Lodge in the name of Jim Richards, SBTC executive director.

4voting unanimously to authorize the board’s Administrative Committee to study and bring to the Executive Committee a recommendation concerning the establishment of a foundation.


In introductory remarks to the board, SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards lamented the fall of several church leaders and said Micah 6:8 summarizes God’s “universal ethic” for the world order he intended.

The scripture reads:

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you

But to do justly,

To love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God?” (HCSB)

Richards said the verse commands us to love the truth, love people and love the Lord.

“God has a plan for this world order. And this world order is living in rebellion and the ethical system that God would have has been rejected by the world order. Unfortunately, I see the church often mirroring that ? Sometimes it’s sexual sin; sometimes it’s financially questionable activity. Whatever it is, there are constantly those who are falling by the wayside. I think living the truth and loving people and longing for the Lord are the three ethics that will enable us and undergird us to be what we o

League City pastor wants students, children to catch vision for world missions efforts

DICKINSON?Concerned that the church could be one generation away from being unable to send and support field missionaries, Jerry Williams wanted to ensure the work of Southern Baptists’ missionaries was heard and seen by children and teenagers.

“This is about bringing them face to face with the world God is working in,” said Williams as he looked around the crowded gym at a Houston-area missions event. Stationed around the room were missionaries who serve overseas, in the United States, and in the Houston area. They stood by their displays ready to share their stories.

Williams, pastor of Anchor Baptist Church in League City, and a member of the “On Mission Celebration” Committee of the Galveston Baptist Association, coordinated the On Mission Celebration, held April 9-13. It was one of only three scheduled for Texas this year?evidence in part of a trend by larger churches to host their own missions fairs, said Martin King, Convention Relations Team director at Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board (NAMB).

Beth Bootz, an associate in NAMB’s Partnership Events Unit, said she was surprised that a state the size of Texas would only have three OMC events this year when there are 77 scheduled throughout the nation. The event?coordinated on the associational level with the support of NAMB and the International Mission Board?requires extensive planning and can be costly, a factor that may keep some smaller, less financially equipped associations from participating, she said. King said larger churches can afford to transport, house and compensate guest speakers.

Kenny Rains, NAMB Partnership Events Unit manager, said another reason for the static growth of the OMC is that there are so many other “delivery systems” for missionaries to tell their stories. The OMC has become one of several missions events scheduled throughout the SBC each year. Rains added that because of the many available venues in which to share their stories, missionaries must pick and choose which events to attend while on furlough.

In Texas, missions events are coordinated through local churches and with the help of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention personnel. Gibbie McMillan, SBTC Missions Services associate and NAMB missionary, said the OMCs and similar events are “putting a face to missions ? they’re giving people the opportunity to become personally involved in missions. They can say they know a missionary.”

In February McMillan attended a Global Impact Celebration at Great Hills Church in Austin. He said such non-OMC events serve the same purpose in that they allow congregations to “meet, greet and treat” missionaries. Those in attendance, McMillan said, “just loved on” the missionaries. It became an “iron sharpening iron” occasion?encouraging each other to fulfill the Great Commission.

Every Christian is to be on mission, he added. “What we are when we accept Christ is missionaries.” And for those who cannot go to the field, even for a two-week church-sponsored trip, getting to know a missionary and hear the stories of how God is working among people that missionary touches is the next best thing.

That’s exactly what Williams hoped to accomplish. Children and teens from area churches roamed the aisles at the missions fair seeking treats from foreign lands, playing games and asking questions about the displays. Williams wanted the missionaries to engage the children by giving them age-appropriate activities to complete while at the fair. Williams said most missionaries testify to being called into missions at a young age. Accordingly, he created a questionnaire for the teenagers to use when speaking with the missionaries. His hope was that if God was working in the hearts of young people, asking those in the field pointed questions on the subject could help them recognize and respond to a call to missions work.

“That’s what this is really about. We don’t want a whole generation lost to missions,” Williams said. It is expected for older people to support missionaries, he said, but the younger church members need to be introduced to who the missionaries are and what they do.

McMillan agreed with Williams’ assessment that the church could be one generation away from being able to follow Christ’s command to “go into all the world.” “If we don’t recapture or renew our vision in the SBC, we are one generation from being extinct.”

“We’re not connecting the dots,” Williams said. If asked, most Southern Baptists would say missions are an important aspect of church ministry. But, he said, when you ask them how they personally are accomplishing that task, “all of a sudden you’re going to get a big blank stare.”

Williams said it is vital for pastors to keep missions and evangelism fresh in the mi

Five considerations when end-of-life issues arise

This is my first Mother’s Day without my mother. She passed away May 25, 2004. Those were traumatic times during her brief but agonizing illness. She suffered from pancreatic cancer. She had a stroke as a result of the cancer on March 30. From that point it only took 51 days for Mother to leave the confines of the flesh for heaven.

The SBTC Executive Board was kind enough to grant me a leave of absence to care for her. With the exception of about 10 days, I was by her side. Mother’s sister sacrificially joined me in caretaking. We were together when mother breathed her last.

Mother had signed a “Do Not Resuscitate” order as well as a Power of Attorney for Health. She was a registered nurse. She said, “I don’t want to be artificially kept alive.” We discussed the probability of a stroke that would prohibit her from swallowing. She told me that she did not want a feeding tube or IV. She did not want to be at the hospital. She wanted to die at home.

Her last 14 days were without food or water. She was unable to swallow. She had several strokes. Some would say that she was not fully conscious or feeling pain. I do not know whether the cancer or dehydration took her. I prayed for God to relieve her from the struggle.

I have shared with you my personal experience to set it in a larger context. With the very different deaths of Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II, we are confronted with end-of-life issues. While pro-life advocates are better known for opposing abortion, euthanasia is just as critical. I do not think we can solve this excruciating dilemma by some hard, fast rules. We do have biblical principles like the sanctity of life and the sovereignty of God over all our days to guide us, though. With those principles in mind, here are some thoughts I had to take into consideration:

1. When a person has a terminal illness approaching imminent death, “heroic measures” or even food and water may be voluntarily refused. Those who are not terminally ill and in danger of imminent death should be sustained by food and water.

2. A “Do Not Resuscitate” or Living Will does not mean that we have the right to withhold food and water under all circumstances. Removing a feeding tube may be active euthanasia, while never placing one in a person who has explicitly stated they did not want one is another matter.

3. Making “quality of life” the determining factor of extending or ending a person’s life places a variable that is indeterminate. The subjective standard of “quality of life” allows family, government or individuals to actively perform euthanasia.

4. Sanctify of life must be the measure, not “quality of life.” Once falling down the slippery slope of euthanasia, “economic productivity” or “societal burden” could become reason for ending life.

5. In the case of respirator or ventilator assistance, a person may be disconnected when physical life is sustained by this means alone and there is no other evidence of life.

My heart was broken to watch my mother waste away. I know that it was God’s place to say when she was to depart, not mine, Job 14:5. I am not a bio-ethicist. Nor do I have all of the answers. These are some of the issues that I debated in my mind.

As President Bush said, “We are to err on the side of life.” It is not the wish of the person that is the criterion. If we let it be, some would commit suicide. It is not the desires of the family. Motive and emotions may dim the judgment. It is the objective truth of life. We are to sustain life as naturally as possible until God calls us home.

The scoffer’s seat and the Berean’s bench

In 1978, over 900 members of the People’s Temple died at the command of the cult’s leader, Jim Jones. Many died voluntarily after poisoning their children. Some were shot down by guards enforcing Jones’ suicide order. They believed the capitalist, racist,

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United States government was about to attack them after Temple gunmen murdered a U.S. congressman.

In 1993, 86 members of the Branch Davidian cult were killed in a fire during an FBI siege of their compound near Waco. David Koresh, their leader, was considered a second messiah. His followers earlier opened fire on ATF agents approaching the compound.

In 1997, 39 members of a decades-old cult, led by Marshall Applewhite, ate poisoned applesauce and died. They believed death would allow them to ride a space ship they thought was traveling behind the Comet Hale-Bopp.

There’s a diverse selection of tragedy for you. What caused it? Some say lunacy, others see government conspiracies. But many explanations of these much-analyzed events miss the larger point. We tend to explain horrible events in a way that separates us from them. We speak as if “those people” were essentially different than anyone we know. Thus we are exempt from the lessons the tragedies might teach us.

Remember that most of the dead listed above (except the children) joined the groups voluntarily. Most were also willing to die for their leader and his beliefs. Few of them were insane. All, except the children, allowed themselves to be deceived. They willfully believed irrational claims.

Those people needed a philosopher.

Philosophers question what other people assume. It is a critic’s work. If I say, “David Koresh is the second messiah,” a good philosopher might ask me why I believe that. If I tell him “Koresh’s Bible studies say so,” he might ask me where the Bible says that and if the text is being handled properly. A good philosopher would dog me until I abandoned my unexamined belief, justified it, or shut up my ears. I suspect most of the cult members above had already shut their ears and died of a lack of discernment.

Usually we think philosophers are frowned on in Scripture. Paul’s teaching in Colossians 2 warns against worldly philosophy, after all. He says that it can rob you of your faith. In fact we’ve all seen that happen. What begins with a sincere love of wisdom digresses into, “Has God really said ??”

That’s what Psalm 1 means by sitting in the seat of the scoffer. He’s a habitual and self-indulgent critic. He sits to judge, to condemn actually, all but the most novel ideas of others. As you would expect, what’s novel changes frequently. He finds himself always contemptuous of those around him, recreationally chipping away at their beliefs.

A philosopher can be that scoffer. Proverbs describes the scoffer as a man who delights in his scoffing, hates or dishonors those who seek to correct him, causes strife, and will not find wisdom. His understanding comes from within rather than from God. It is limited and temporal. He is earnestly wrong and clearly dangerous because he starts with an assumption apart from God. Any assumption that makes my viewpoint an absolute will be, 10 times out of 10, the foundation of a false philosophy. It will be either hobbled by untrue things or wrong motives. This is the self-aggrandizing but often appealing philosophy of Colossians 2:8.

It seems that most philosophers are scoffers. The habit of being critical easily becomes proud and self-indulgent. Because philosophy is often an academic career it can be sterile, theoretical, and vain. Anything can, though. As philosophy deals with ways of thinking and knowing, it is foundational to other realms of knowledge. Thus, cynical philosophy produces humanist dentists and football coaches.

SBTC Bible drill, speaker’s winners listed

DALLAS?Twenty-eight secondary students earned finalist status in the SBTC State Bible Drill and Speaker’s Tournament April 23 at Criswell College in Dallas.

Meanwhile, at regional Bible drills statewide, 51 elementary-age students earned State Winner Perfect recognition.

Lauren Frazier of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano earned a $1,000 SBTC scholarship for first place in the Youth Bible Drill Finals. Frazier also earned one tuition-paid semester at Criswell College. Sharnese Thompson of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington won the Youth Speaker’s Tournament, also earning a $1,000 SBTC scholarship.

The children’s winners are as follows: Ruth Acock, First Baptist, Winnsboro; A.J. Bailey, Cornerstone Baptist, Arlington; Minuet Balkan, First Baptist Church, Euless; Cody Bills, Cana Baptist Church, Burleson; Evan Black, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Brent Borenstein, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Clara Boyett, Tanglewood Baptist Church, Jasper; Jason Brannon, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston; Mary Bransom, Shady Crest Baptist Church, Pearland; Candace Brooks, First Baptist Church, Euless; Megan Burge, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Brandon Burks, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Arlington; Megan Burns, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano.

Brady Carroll, Forest Home Baptist Church, Kilgore; Mika Carson, First Baptist Church, Lavon; Trent Cayce, Forest Home Baptist Church, Kilgore; Thania Criston, First Baptist Church, Omaha; DeShundra Fields, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Arlington; Sarah Fields, Eastside Baptist Church, Killeen; Taylor Fitzgerald, First Baptist Church, Wake Village; Emily Fried, Forest Home Baptist Church, Kilgore; Chad Gaddis, South Jefferson Baptist Chruch, Mt. Pleasant; Caleb Gentry, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano.

Justin Heard, Shady Crest Baptist Church, Pearland; Abby Hull, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Brett Hutson, First Baptist Church, DeKalb; Oscar Israel, First Baptist Church, Sinton; Dillon Jones,Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Kaitlyn Kelly, Saginaw Park, Saginaw; Randi LeFevere, Prestonwood, Plano; Frederick Meyer, First Baptist, Hooks; Patrick Norwood, First Baptist, DeKalb.

Jordan Reynolds Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Deborah Roucloux, First Baptist Church, Pflugerville; Jessica Russell, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth; Natalie Russell, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth; Ashley Sanders, Forest Home Baptist Church, Kilgore; Brent Schulz, Lakeview Baptist Church, Belton; Michael Shell, Prestonwood, Plano; Stephanie Spencer, Westwood Baptist Church, Palestine; Danielle Stephens, Spring Baptist Church, Spring; Meredith Stowe, First Baptist Church, Euless; Hannah Strebeck, First Baptist Church, Lavon.

Haley Talkington, North Oaks Baptist Church, Spring; Sarah Tipping, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth; Nicole Tyer, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth; Allyse Ullery, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Faith Walters, Lighthouse Baptist, Hutto; Jordan Watson, New Hope Baptist Church, Gorman; Austin Wilke, Cana Baptist Church, Burleson; Morgan Young, First Baptist Church, DeKalb.