Month: February 2007

UPDATE: Proposed bill would rescind governor’s order of HPV vaccine

AUSTIN?A bill approved Feb. 21 by the Texas House Committee on Public Health would rescind the controversial mandate by Gov. Rick Perry of a vaccine for pre-teen girls against the human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer.

The committee voted 6-3 to forward the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Bonnen and about 90 co-sponsors among the 150 House members, reports in the Austin American-Statesman and the Dallas Morning News said.

Legislators in Austin had been gathering support in an effort to pressure the second-term Republican governor to rescind his executive order of Feb. 2, which caused a firestorm of criticism, especially from conservative groups angered over the mandating of the newly approved vaccine.

House Bill 1098 would prevent Texas public schools from using the vaccine as an enrollment requirement.

“My concern is, we just don’t know enough about this vaccine,” Bonnen, R-Angleton, told the Dallas Morning News. “This is about policy, not politics. But certainly [Gov. Perry] has created a great deal of support for us to not mandate this for 11-year-old girls.”

Also, on Feb. 20 a Texas state court judge refused Perry’s executive order to hasten permits for coal-burning utilities, a move that may call into question the governor’s ability to enforce directives, the Morning News reported.

Texas Baptist churches reaching out to some of 1.3 billion Chinese

GREENVILLE?Kevin Herbert had a stereotypical view of the work church groups do when they travel to China: “You go. You see some sites. You do some prayer walking.”

Beyond that, little could be accomplished in a Communist country, Herbert figured. His opinion changed in 2003, however, after he traveled there on a trip sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Four years later and with a handful of trips under his belt leading Texas church groups to mainland China, Herbert has become an advocate for church-based work among the Chinese, who number 1.3 billion people or four times the United States population.

Between 2-5 percent of Chinese are professing believers, Herbert said, which means nearly 1 billion are not.

Because the state is deemed supreme and man is viewed in evolutionary terms, “when you are speaking to the Chinese, you start with ‘There is a God who created you and loves you ? I’m not a monkey and there is a God,” Herbert said.

Twenty years ago, Southern Baptist church groups rarely traveled to China on short-term mission trips. Today, however, “The IMB is saying, ‘Please, send those five to 10 people and help us make significant progress among the Chinese people,” Herbert said.

To that end, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is planning a “Heart for China” workshop March 5-9 for pastors and church leaders interested in doing short-term, church-based ministry in China. The workshop will be at the church where Herbert is pastor?t1:PlaceName w:st=”on”>Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Greenville.

Through a partnership with the SBTC and the International Mission Board, SBTC church groups may travel there for short-term work in English language instruction, prayer walking, sports outreach, encouragement ministry, and street ministry.

Herbert said since 2003 he has taken around 100 Texans with him to China with fruitful results, mostly from English language instruction and sports outreach.

“Of those, a good percentage have gone back,” Herbert said. “Before we return to the U.S., they are saying, ‘OK, now next year we’ll do this or that.”

The Chinese people are eager to learn English from Americans, “which often leads to more relational dialogue,” Herbert said.

Also, the Chinese are very interested in athletics. “Basketball is huge,” he said. “Outside of soccer, basketball is it. Yao Ming [Houston Rockets] is well known. Michael Jordan is huge.”

With the 2008 Summer Olympic Games planned for Bejing, news coverage of China will escalate.

“That’s good for me because that promotes the work even more,” Herbert said. In a 10-day to two-week period, “you can have an impact.”

This year Herbert is overseeing three trips to China

Obedience key to God’s working, Florida pastor tells conference

EULESS?West Texas native Herb Reavis Jr. told those attending the Empower Evangelism Conference at First Baptist Church of Euless that God’s power, not man’s methods, brings spiritual results.
Reavis, the pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., preached Feb. 6 from Luke 3:21 on “Power Priorities.”

The verse says, “When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened.”

“God just wants you to be full of Jesus,” Reavis said before telling the story evangelist Dwight L. Moody.
Moody never went further than grammar school, “butchered the English language” and was never formally ordained, yet he “took two continents and shook them for God.”

Pondering how that happened, Reavis explained, “It dawned on me; it’s the power of God.”
Just as Jesus was powerful in his obedience to the Father, we have access to the same power, Reavis noted.

He also told of the Early American Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards, who carefully read his sermons from a manuscript because of poor eyesight and had no apparent pulpit charisma, yet his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God ” shook the New England of his day into the Great Awakening.
After Edwards preached, people came repenting.

“They did it lest they fall headlong into hell,” Reavis said, quoting from an account of that day.

How did a preacher with poor eyesight reading manuscripted sermons bring down heaven? Reavis asked rhetorically.

“It hit me again. The Power of God,” he said.

Speaking of other human instruments of God through the ages, “What on earth is the explanation?” Reavis said.? “And then it hit me again; it is the power of God.”

Today, “what we desperately need is the power of God to fall” on churches to bring about a “Holy Ghost camp-meeting revival,” he insisted.

Just like Jesus, who was baptized in the Jordan River by an “old-fashioned, hell-fire preacher named John the Baptist,” believers too must make obedience a priority, Reavis said.
Speaking of the need for holiness, Reavis said legalism must be avoided, but “we’ve gone too far the other way.”

Obedience in the Christian life begins with believer’s baptism, said Reavis, who told of his baptism while he was preaching a revival in Memphis, Tenn. He had made a profession of faith early in life and was baptized, but never really got saved until later.

“I told myself, ‘I’m not leaving Memphis ? until I get baptized.”

“I knew we were going to have at least one convert that night,” he quipped.

Such obedience lifts a burden and allows the Holy Spirit to work powerfully, he said.

“Maybe you are not tithing, maybe you are not having a quiet time, maybe you are not witnessing,” Reavis stated.

He cited Acts 10:38, which tells of Peter going to the house of Cornelius “with the Holy Spirit and with power, for God was with him.”

If Jesus who was God did nothing of his own accord, “do we think as mere mortals saved by grace that we can walk without the anointing of the Holy Spirit?”

Reavis emphasized that upon conversion “you either get [the Holy Spirit] or you don’t.” There are no extra pieces of the Holy Spirit to be had. “When you get saved, you get the whole load.”

The anointing of the Holy Spirit is when a Christian allows the Holy Spirit to rest on him in obedience “to touch this lost world,” Reavis explained.

“It means that every nook and cranny of your heart is in control by the Holy Spirit” to “beautify you and purify you.”

“Every time sin takes hold,” Reavis said, “the Holy Spirit will aggravate you and agitate you until you say, ‘I gotta get right.'”

Roy Fish: Make Jesus Christ at home in the rooms of your heart

EULESS?Roy Fish, longtime evangelism professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and now interim president of the North American Mission Board, took those at the Empower Evangelism Conference on a narrative journey through the rooms of his heart, explaining that Christ desires to be at home in us.

“When Jesus came into my heart he took the loneliness and gave me great companionship with him,” Fish said.

Reading from Ephesians 3:14-19, Fish said verse 17, “and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith,” speaks to Jesus’ desire to be at home in the believer’s heart.

After 50 years of knowing Christ, Fish said he is still the greatest thrill in his life.

Crediting his friend Robert Munger, a Presbyterian preacher, for his sermon topic, Fish said he aimed to give it a fresh twist.

“When Jesus came into my heart,” Fish said, “I decided I wanted him to be in every single room in the home of my heart.”

Traveling into the first room, “the living room of my heart” which was the mind, Jesus found the space small and the walls thick, Fish joked. “I was embarrassed,” Fish said. There, the Lord found pictures on the wall “of the living room of my heart?jealously, envy or arrogant pride, resentment or bitterness” and impurity, Fish explained.

“Lord, I’ve tried at times to pull these pictures down off the wall of my living room, but I’ve just not had the power to do it. Can you help me?'” Fish said. “He said, ‘I believe I can, Roy.’ And I watched while with strong fingers he reached up and pulled every single one of the pictures down off the wall of the living room of my heart.”

Noting that the walls were now bare, Fish said he asked God for a picture and Jesus replied, “‘I have one.
Why don’t you hang it where you can see it always.’ And he gave to me a picture of himself and he put it in a prominent place on the wall of the living room. And I’ve discovered when I keep my eyes on that picture it has a way of keeping other ugly pictures down off the wall of the living room of my heart.”

“The Scripture tells us, ‘Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.’ Keep your eyes on that picture of him.”

Speaking of the mind, Fish said, “What you think is tremendously important. What you think is of great import to God.”

Then, into the next room they went, Fish said, “the library of my heart.” There, Jesus found racy novels, pornographic trash, other ungodly things. After disposing of the ungodly books, Fish asked the Lord if he had any books to replace them.

“‘Yes I do, Roy,'” the Lord said. “‘I have 66 books. I want you to take them and put them on the shelves of your library.'”

“This Bible has tremendous import in impacting my life. And it makes great claims about itself. ‘Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against God. Your word is a light to my feet and a lamp unto my path.'”

Fish told the congregation: “You won’t get to the know the God of this book well unless you get to know the book of this God well.”

Next came the sitting room in the home of his heart, he said.

“We took a seat and I began to talk with him. You can do that, you know. You can talk to him anytime about anything and anywhere.”

“I discovered that Jesus was the most sympathetic, understanding, compassionate listener I had ever
talked to,” Fish said, adding that there was “nothing that he wasn’t interested in.”

Fish then told of entering the den after days of being away and finding the Lord there.

“Lord, what are you doing here in the den?” Fish asked. “I’ve been waiting for you,” the Lord replied.
Fish said he realized he hadn’t been there for a week, and the Lord said, “As much as you need this time with me, Roy, I want this time with you.”

“Friend if you are his tonight, he wants you and he wants time and fellowship with you,” Fish reminded the audience.

After that, the two of them entered the workroom, Fish recalled. After making their way down dusty stairs into a dimly lit room, Fish explained to the Lord his lack of ability at using the tools there.

“As he controlled my arms and my fingers, they touched those machines in the workroom of my heart. I want to tell you, I have never turned out anything like that before. Oh, I realized it wasn’t I doing it; it was Jesus doing it through me. And I realized he was trying to teach me the open secret of effective Christian service. It’s not a matter of my turning it out on the level of my human best. It’s a matter of my yielding myself to him, that he might live his life in me and through me and serve on the level of his divine best.”

“Friend, I want to tell you,” Fish said, “without Jesus ? you can do nothing.”

Finally, as they walked the house, a bad smell was detected, Fish said.

“I think I know where it’s coming from,” the Lord told Fish.

“We went to the closet at the top of the top of the stairs” and “I’d forgotten he had X-ray eyes. I thought I could hide those secret sins from him.”

“He said, ‘Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.'”

Fish said he then realized “what was the most precious thing in life?conscience fellowship with Jesus the Lord.”

Fish said unless God has the keys to every room of the heart, people rob themselves of their joy in him.

Quoting a version of Ephesians 3:17, Fish said: “I pray that Jesus will settle down and be more and more at home in your hearts by faith.”

“I believe he was talking along the line of what I’ve been sharing with you tonight,” Fish said of the Ephesians 3 passage.

“Somewhere along the line I realized he was not just the guest of my heart, he was the landlord. I’d been treating him as a guest. But the truth is, he purchased it all. I signed the deed of my heart over to Jesus Christ early in my Christian life.”

The overriding theme of walking with Jesus is grace, Fish reminded.

“It’s grace. It’s grace. It’s grace.

CP support ‘a moral obligation,’ SBC president tells Texans

EULESS?Addressing the crowd at the annual SBTC Cooperative Program Luncheon on Feb. 6 at First Baptist Church of Euless, Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page said the priority of the SBC’s Cooperative Program missions-funding channel propelled his election last June.

“I know that when June 13 occurred, what happened had nothing to do with me because you didn’t know me,” Page said. “The people of the convention did not know me. There were some issues people thought were important. And one of the issues people thought was important was the Cooperative Program. Lots of people rose up to say, ‘It does matter.’ It still matters.

Page, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., which last year sent more than 12 percent of its undesignated offerings for SBC causes through the CP, said he has spoken with friends who lead large churches with elaborate in-house missions programs, and he said those programs are valued.

“Hear me well,” Page said. “We thank God for what you are doing. I never cast aspersions on anyone doing work for the Lord.”

In fact, he said his church will directly send missions teams this year to nearly every continent and is partnering with Baptists in Maine, where he has traveled recently to work with pastors, and Calgary, Alberta, where they are helping plant churches.

Nevertheless, “I believe there is a moral obligation to support the Cooperative Program. If I am a Southern Baptist, I have a moral obligation. Some of them have said, ‘We don’t need the Cooperative Program?we can do it on our own.’ No, but we need to be needed,” Page said.

“And I believe we have a moral obligation to support the 10,000-plus missionaries across our continent, across our world.”

Even so, Page reminded the audience that his generation of Baby Boomers and those younger are not loyal to long-standing institutions.

“It is not genetic to us to support institutions out of hand. And I have tried to share with all the entities and agencies [that] we must do a far better job of showing the worth and opportunity of the Cooperative Program. Because people my age and younger, we want to see where it is going, what it is doing. And then we will support it.”

“I believe that we can show that it is the great test mechanism ever devised to do the greattest work God has ever called us to do,” Page said.

Texas is a great state, and this convention is leading this state to show how to do a great work for God. So thank you, Southern Baptists of Texas. Thank you for the support you are giving, for the leading ? so that others might follow that example.”

Turning to Numbers 13 and the account of Caleb, Joshua and the other spies Israel sent into the Promised Land, Page explained that those who opposed Caleb and Joshua’s notion of possessing the land took up stones to kill them. “The majority report said ‘no way,'”

Like the ancient Hebrews, “Let me tell you, we live in a land worth taking.” Page said, even though “there are some difficult times ahead of us.”

“We know we live in a difficult day. There are many obstacles to us reaching this land for Christ. There are factions that break my heart in this Southern Baptist Convention,” Pag

Witness of teenage girl led Elvis’ stepbrother to faith

EULESS?Growing up in an abusive foster home, Rick Stanley would crawl on his stomach in the night to console his crying younger brother, trying to assure him that things would get better.

Then one day Stanley’s mother showed up to retrieve her boys with her new husband in tow. They were off to their new home in Memphis, Tenn.

“My mother introduced me to a wonderful, wonderful stepfather,” Stanley recalled. “‘This is Vernon Presley, Elvis Presley’s dad,'” Stanley recalled his mother saying. “And I thought, ‘Great, who is Elvis Presley?'”

After arriving at Graceland, “There was this guy just standing there, just singing these gospel songs,” Stanley recalled. “He snapped his head toward me.? He knelt down and he said, ‘You know, I always wanted little brothers and now I have three.'”

“I saw the wonderful side of him,” Stanley said of Elvis. “I saw the good side of him. I can’t tell you what that meant to me as a little boy who had been pushed away.”

Stanley told how he had been raised by the Elvis’ entourage, the so-called “Memphis Mafia,” “some of the meanest, roughest guys you’ve ever been around.”

As for Elvis, Stanley related warm memories of “the most generous person.”

Being Elvis Presley’s stepbrother, Stanley had access to worldly pursuits at a young age.

Eventually, life in the fast lane threw him into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

“My god was people’s opinion of me,” Stanley recalled.

“Fortunately for me, I met a young girl who started talking to me,” Stanley said of the girl who led him to Christ seven years after he met her and whom he eventually married.

Her persistent friendship and prayer for Stanley and her merciful actions?”She goes over to those kids [at school] who have learning disabilities that nobody wants to be around,” Stanley recalled of one event that impressed him.

Speaking of teenagers, whom Stanley speaks to often, “Folks, listen to me ? they can tell when they’re welcome [at church] and they can tell when they’re not.”

In August 1977, not long before Elvis’ death, Stanley’s future wife told him: “Ricky, I had a terrible dream ? I dreamt you died and went to hell.”

Relating the dream to Elvis, he told Stanley, “You know, Ricky, those are the people who care.”

SBTC hosting ‘Share Your Faith’ training workshop

TRONG>CORRECTION – In the Feb. 22 issue of the TEXAN, we incorrectly listed this conference as March 25. We regret the error. The workshop is planned March 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the SBTC office in Grapevine.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will host a TRONG>”Share Your Faith” training workshop March 15 to help pastors and lay leaders train their congregations to share the gospel.Ken Silva of Evangelism Explosion will lead the workshop, said Jack Harris, SBTC senior associate for personal and event evangelism.

“You will learn a simple, five-point gospel presentation,” Harris explained. “They will help you put together your own personal testimony.”

Harris said the “Share Your Faith” workshop is attractive because it is something participants can learn in five hours, either in one session or expanded over five one-hour classes in a Sunday School or small-group setting.

“This is an opportunity for pastors and lay leaders to get training that is not overwhelming in its content, and they can take it back and teach others to use it in personal evangelism,” Harris said. “We have invited the pastors to come and to bring any of their staff or key laymen.”

Harris said personal evangelism training “can renew the person’s desire to do personal evangelism,” he said.

“Sometimes these seminars help you to put together what you already know in a conversational form to engage someone in a conversation about the gospel,” Harris said.

TRONG>The workshop is planned from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 15 at the SBTC office in Grapevine.

Registration must be completed by March 9. The cost is $25 per person. Scholarships are available.

To register, call the SBTC evangelism office toll free at 877-953-7282 or e-mail Jennifer Dean.

Harris said pre-registration is needed so materials for each participant may be ordered, though the registration fee will not be paid until the day of the workshop.

The fellowship of Eshcol

I love the story of the Hebrew spies in Numbers 13-14. There is adventure, mystery, danger, suspense, and courage in the face of tough opposition. The scene where the spies report the splendor and the danger of the new land is a miniature version of Elijah’s great day on Mount Carmel. Joshua and Caleb tear their clothes and plead with the people to trust the Lord and not be afraid; the people consider stoning them to death. There’s a back story, though.

Verse 3 of chapter 13 says the 12 spies were leaders of their respective tribes. We know that Caleb is about 40 so he was a “young leader” by their reckoning. These 12 were an all-star team and as such, they likely knew each other from previous work they’d done together. We might venture to say that they were friends because of the roles they each shared in their tribes.

Additionally, they planned and executed a deep reconnaissance behind enemy lines that lasted for over a month. The planning, the camping, the skulking?these are things that have bonded men for as long as there have been men. Diverse as a group of 12 was likely to be, it’s reasonable to assume that this group of guys grew to be as tight as a squad of soldiers or a team of firemen.

Then there was the great discovery in the valley of Eshcol. They found giant clusters of grapes there. This was a pretty obvious indication of fertility and blessing. In addition to their other gear, they tasked two men to carry one of the clusters back. I think they were chattering with excitement as they turned toward Israel’s camp at Kadesh with a good report of the land’s potential as a new homeland. But something happened along the way.

Between the valley of that triumph and the report at Kadesh, many of the men began to take counsel of their fears. “Sure, those grapes that we’re lugging back are pretty amazing but what about the giants and their walled cities? I’ll bet those ol’ boys will defend produce like that to the death, our death.” Was there a night when they sat by the fire eating jerky and planning their presentation? Did the fellowship start to fragment one night as those two nut jobs Caleb and Joshua suggested that God was strong enough to defeat the Nephilim? I think something like that did happen. Joshua and Caleb had a choice to make. Would they maintain fellowship with dear friends or would they stick to their convictions? A decision like that is only a no-brainer when someone else has to make it.

Friendship is one of the sweetest gifts God gives. My relationship with my wife is stronger because we were friends for quite some time before we were “something more.” Friendships with fellow church members, relatives, co-workers, and my children add a powerful dynamic to the other roles we play in each others’ lives. We were not made to live in solitude and are not equipped to flourish without the help of other people.

Even so, the desire to be accepted, to hold onto certain relationships at the expense of ultimate things often leads us astray. It is one of the hardest temptations to resist.

We read too quickly over biblical accounts of estranged friends. Like the confrontation Caleb and Joshua had with their comrades, we see the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, and between Paul and Peter. I think Nathan the prophet and David the king were friends. Up until David’s great sin, the two men were consistently on the same side of things. And yet in each case, friendship was hazarded in service of God’s truth.

Often things don’t turn out that way. Most of us know of situations where churches or families have been riven by sin while the friends of the principals stood by silent. I’ve been guilty of dithering in the face of these desperate situations when I should have been more prophetic. Nothing, not friendship, not love, not compassion, not peace, and not righteousness is served when we, the people on the scene withhold the truth from our fellows. It always feels as though the risks outweigh the possible good that may come from speaking but that’s just not been my experience of the thing.

For one thing, we’re not friends if we remain silent when we should speak to our comrades. This could be a primary reason God has brought you together. Our love for our fellows is not adequately expressed if we only speak of lightweight or impersonal matters. For another, it is