Month: January 2009

Keeping our priorities in order

Happy New Year! This is my first opportunity to visit with you through the pages of the TEXAN since 2008. We are already off to a busy start.

Perhaps dominating the news more than anything is the economic downturn our nation has faced in the last quarter of 2008. People are hurting unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime. Families have lost their homes. Automobiles have been repossessed. Jobs have been lost at an unprecedented level in recent history. Yet in today’s (Jan. 12) Fort Worth Star-Telegram, headlines say that Texas is less impacted than almost any other state. This does not mean we are getting a pass.

What are we to do during tough economic times? For believers this is a great time to demonstrate our true beliefs that our treasures are not in this world. Jesus was strong on placing the emphasis on the intangible. He spoke often about keeping our priorities in order.

In Luke 18 the rich man came to Jesus inquiring about eternal life. Jesus told him he had to give everything to the poor. The real test Jesus presented was “come, follow Me.” Jesus did not need his money, but he wanted his heart. The man rejected Jesus because he valued the material more than the spiritual.

In a parable found in Luke 12, Jesus tells the story of a rich man who was prospering but had lost touch with the reality that life has an end. After accumulating much wealth he died an unexpected death, leaving his wealth behind. You may have heard the question asked about the person who passed away, “How much did he leave?” The answer is, “He left it all.” The rich man in Jesus’ story valued time more than eternity. Jesus strongly states, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

Perhaps the most profound statement Jesus gives about possessions is in Luke 16:19 and following. This is the account of the rich man and Lazarus. As most of us know the rich man went to Hell not because he was rich but because he would not repent. Again, Jesus is pointing out a misplaced value system. The rich man prized the temporal more than the eternal.

Recently, a survey by one of our Southern Baptist entities showed that lost people are very unlikely to think about dying, Heaven or eternity. Suggestions have been made that we need to connect with people by approaching them with the fact that Jesus can make their lives better.
Instead of presenting the reality that they will face God one day, we need to appeal to them by showing how Jesus can help a troubled marriage, deal with a wayward child or give us financial freedom.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe Jesus can do those things and we need to tell people about his power. Yet we should never neglect the message that life is short, eternity is real and without Jesus there is no hope of Heaven. Sociologically we may be out of step. Our culture may consider our approach politically incorrect. Nevertheless we are called to bring the gospel, not some self-help or Jesus-help message for a felt need.

One other headline I saw back on Dec. 22 prompted me to make an appeal to you. It said, “Consider your charitable giving an investment.” In this tough economic time, keep tithing. Continue to fund missions and ministry through the Cooperative Program. During times of financial challenge is when we can show our true value system. Put your money where your heart is … in souls.

Besame Mucho

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth?for your love is more delightful than wine. Song of Songs 1:2

I intend to write about marriage a few times this year but let me start with the good stuff a few weeks before Valentine’s Day. Married, romantic, erotic love is a marvelous gift from God and worth celebrating?even as the Scriptures do. It is also one of the most frequently perverted and disrespected things in our society. I think we are reaping the whirlwind for this great sin.

Many of us remember the early days of the Women’s Liberation Movement. In those days, and according to the evidence we had at the time, we dreaded the masculinizing of women as they were urged to leave behind the honored roles of wives and mothers. A lot of other things went into the movement also. There was inequity and, in many ways, a low regard for the abilities and needs of our wives and sisters and mothers. Making our ladies more like gentlemen didn’t seem an attractive alternative.

Who could have seen the results of this well-intended effort? I can’t imagine that the stone-age attitudes of the 60s would have led to our current misogynistic and exploitive attitudes toward women. I resist the temptation to catalog our society’s selection of starlets, singers, strippers, and cultural roadkill that stand in for role models for young women?and exclusively for the enticement of young men. No one on either side of the liberation movement saw this coming.

The disrespect of God-honored roles, the separation of childbearing from marriage, and the thorough devastation of the marriage institution have indeed liberated young men and women (some now grown) from any clear understanding of how men and women should love one another. Ironically, the hypersexualizing of popular culture has led to the farthest thing from erotic love. A biblical view of marital love enables us to chart a course that avoids the perversions.

First, the Bible disrespects neither marriage nor sex. Very much the contrary?the great analogy between a human marriage and God’s relationship with his people is inseparable from the message of both testaments. Sexual relationships within marriage are never discouraged and are in fact celebrated in an entire book of our biblical canon. Some generations have missed that. In one example, the church of the 4th and 5th centuries began to discourage marriage among pastors, even to the point of denying ordination to married men who would not swear to live with their current wives as brothers and sisters rather than husbands and wives.

The thinking of this era was that a full marital relationship was not possible without sinful lust. The living out of God-given sexuality was seen as a hindrance to piety. Contrast this to Proverbs 5:18-19 where a husband is told to be “intoxicated” in the love of “the wife of [his] youth.” See also the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:5 when he describes marriage (after the fall) in exactly the same words as Genesis 2:24 (before the fall). A brother-sister relationship between an otherwise able husband and wife is not what God determined we should have, and it implies an incomplete gospel.

Think of the metaphors God uses in explaining his love for us. When he calls himself “father,” we understand that all positive aspects of a father-child relationship can teach us something about his love for us. When Jesus compares himself with a hen that would gather her chicks, it’s picturesque because we can imagine the giving, protection, care, and even anxiety he feels for the people because we can imagine a mother bird interposing her body between danger and her young. The same thing happens when the Lord is called a warrior, counselor, comforter, shepherd, or vine?our imaginations go wild with the ways this metaphor teaches us about our God.

And yet God also calls himself a faithful husband, and the son of God the bridegroom. We are a little leery of using the one flesh aspect of marriage to describe the unity of our relationship with God. We leave the bride and bridegroom at the altar in their formal clothes, standing six inches from one another. No other metaphorical explanation of our relationship with God shuts us down in quite this way. We have more in common with the church of 1,500 years ago than we would immediately think.

The Bible also protects us from another extreme understanding of marriage and human sexuality?insignificance. This is the sin of our day and one that creeps into our churches. We express the view that human relationships of all kinds are fairly insignificant when we step in and out of them without consequences or commitment. Thus shallow friendships, thus serial marriage, thus widespread cohabitation, thus ubiquitous unwed motherhood, thus casual sex, and thus young men and women become commodities. Can we honestly say that these symptoms are not easily observable in our churches?

The best and holiest of human relationships take place in a family. The foundational relationship in a family is between a husband and a wife. The fact that these relationships are holy indicates that they should be fully and joyfully expressed. No less for a husband and wife than with a wife and daughter. The fact that they are holy also means that they should not be used as common things.

Commandments against extramarital sexual behavior of all types and at all stages of life are not dated, unrealistic, or optional. When we use this holy gift as a toy, we embrace a thing that has become diseased and corrupt. It is holy because God makes it holy for his purpose. To use it in a lesser way makes it a much different thing than we first saw in the store window.
That’s what we see today?joy turned to sorrow, bonding turned to dissipation, trust turned to betrayal, and hope turned to crushing disappointment.

Women’s session aiming to equip, inspire

From precepts for Christian living to defending the faith against false teachings, the women’s session of the SBTC Empower Evangelism Conference will aim to equip and inspire those attending.

The session will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 16 at First Baptist Church of Euless, 1000 Airport Freeway, with speakers Jan Silvious, Rhonda Kelley, and Mary Jo Sharp, and singer Dawn Smith-Jordan.


Silvious has been speaking to women for more than 20 years, helping them to think and live biblically. She has been a featured speaker at Women of Faith arena events, the Precept Ministries’ National Women’s Convention, Moody’s Women’s Conferences, Moody’s Founder’s Week, and Balancing the Demands of Life Women’s Conferences.

In addition to her work with churches and women’s organizations in the United States, she has taught in Canada, Europe, and Central America.

Silvious is a frequent radio guest on Moody Broadcasting’s “Midday Connection,” as well as other national call-in and interview shows. For five years she and Kay Arthur co-hosted the nationally broadcast call-in program “Precepts Live.”

Jan is the author of 10 books, including “Big Girls Don’t Whine” and “Fool-Proofing Your Life.”

In 2009, Silvious and musician Babbie Mason are teaming up with their new “Big Girl?Big God” conferences designed to minister to the whole woman?body, soul, and spirit.


Kelley, wife of Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, is a professor of women’s ministry at the seminary’s Leavell College and the seminary’s director of women’s ministry study programs.

Kelley was host of “A Word for Women,” broadcast twice weekly on WBSN-FM and local network television in New Orleans from 1983-2005. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including the “Women’s Guide” series and “Raising Moms: Daughters Loving Their Mothers in the Later Years,” both from New Hope Publishers. Also, she is the managing editor of the Women’s Evangelical Commentary from Broadman & Holman.

Kelley has a Ph.D. in special education and speech pathology from the University of New Orleans and the Advanced Women’s Ministry degree from New Orleans Seminary. She is also a member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.


Sharp is the first female certified apologetics instructor (CAI) with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. She earned the master of arts in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

She is a former atheist who thought religion was for the weak-minded, but became a Christian after reading through “The One Year Bible” (Tyndale House Publishers).

Sharp and her husband have been in youth and music ministry for 12 years. Several years into the ministry, Sharp began to question the basis for her belief in God. She decided that if God was real, there should be solid answers to support his existence; and solid answers are what she found.

In November 2006, Sharp formed Two Chix Apologetics and the website Confident Christianity ( The website is dedicated to the discussion of theology, philosophy, and apologetics (defending the faith). In 2007, she began the Two Chix Apologetics Facebook group, which is one of the largest Internet-community website apologetics groups.


Jordan, the 1986 Miss South Carolina and a 2nd runner-up to Miss America, has seen her share of heartache and the subsequent grace of God amid tragedy. Jordan’s younger sister was kidnapped and murdered two days before Jordan’s high school graduation.

During a successful music and speaking ministry, Jordan in 1997 became a single mother through no choice of her own.

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Spanish-language portion of conference features Colleyville rally and Euless workshops


Sunday Evening – February 15, 2009

FBC Colleyville


Hispanic Evangelistic Rally

Presiding: Mike Gonzales

?Preludio?Grupo de PIB Keller

?Alabanzas?Grupo de PIB Keller

?Bienvenida?Mike Gonzales

?Saludos?Héctor Méndez, TBA Hispanic Consultant

?Lectura bíblica?Roland Johnson

?Oración?Ben López

?Música especial?Frank López

?Anuncios?Mike Gonzales

?Alabanzas?Grupo de PIB Keller

?Mensaje en Arte?Gordon Molengraf

?Alabanzas?Grupo de PIB Keller

?Música especial?Frank López

?Mensaje?Alberto Mottesi

?Invitación y Consagración?Alberto Mottesi


Monday Morning – February 16, 2009

FBC Euless, West Campus

Hispanic Workshops


9:00-11:45 am?Talleres

?Rm 101 – Mickey Muñoz

El Espíritu Santo en la vida del discípulo

?Rm 101-S – Emilio Meza

El Espíritu Santo para vivir en victoria

?Rm 104 – Sergio Arce

El Espíritu Santo iluminándonos para

entender las escrituras

?Rm 104-C – Josué del Risco

El Espíritu Santo obrando

en la conversión

?Rm 104-D – Eliseo Aldape


Alabama pastor, Calif. comedian headline luncheons

SBC Pastors’ Conference president to speak at CP Luncheon

Ed Litton, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference and pastor of First Baptist Church, North Mobile, Ala., will be the keynote speaker at the annual Cooperative Program Luncheon during the Empower Evangelism Conference.

The luncheon is at noon Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the Campus West Building at First Baptist Church of Euless.

A popular Bible conference speaker, Litton earned a B.A. in religion and theater from Grand Canyon University, a master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to serving as SBC Pastors’ Conference president, he is a trustee for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Cooperative Program Luncheon also recognizes churches that faithfully support Southern Baptists’ shared funding mechanism for worldwide missions and ministries.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance at or at the Empower Evangelism Conference.

Comedian headlines Senior Adult Luncheon

As one of the world’s premiere interactive entertainers, Adam Christing has amused, mystified, and delighted more than 3,000 audiences across North America.

Christing will bring his entertainment to the SBTC’s Senior Adult Luncheon at noon, Wednesday, Feb. 18, in the Campus West Building at First Baptist Church of Euless.

Hailed as a “meeting planner’s dream,” Christing has become a favorite guest performer, emcee, and after-dinner entertainer for hundreds of the top companies and organizations in the world, including Toyota, Microsoft, Stanford University, and scores of others.

A Biola University graduate, Christing has entertained since age 17 and has been featured on more than 100 radio and TV shows, including Fox News, CNN, Entertainment Tonight, ABC World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News. He’s also been in national magazines and newspapers, including USA Today, Fortune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times.

He has been ranked among the top 5 after-dinner speakers in America.

Christing is the author of “Comedy Comes Clean: A Hilarious Collection of Jokes, Quotes, and One-Liners” published by Random House, Three Rivers Press.

Look for Adam’s first feature film, “Change Your Life!” which is a spoof documentary about the world of multi-level marketing, starring Tony Plana of Ugly Betty fame.

Tickets are $7 and may be purchased in advance at or at the door until sold out.

Houston pastors protest construction of massive Planned Parenthood clinic

HOUSTON ? A diverse group of Houston-area pastors gathered Thursday ? the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade ? to condemn construction of what they said will be “the largest abortion clinic in the world.”

Sonny Foraker, spokesman for the Greater Houston Area Pastor Council, told the group of supporters and journalists, “We are standing here because [abortion] is a moral evil that destroys human life.” Referring to the skeletal frame of the building behind him, Foraker added, “We stand together as pastors to say this is not something we want in our community.”

Stripped of its walls, the former Sterling Bank building at 4600 Gulf Freeway loomed behind the pastors as they took turns speaking out against the construction of the new Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas clinic. Representatives of Planned Parenthood could not be reached Thursday to respond to the pastors’ comments.

“This building is an invitation that gives everyone the message that it is OK to take life away,” said Pastor Hernan Castano of Iglesia Rios de Aceite in Houston. He said abortion destroys the life of the baby and its mother.

“This cannot be the answer to the world. We must respect life.”

Melvin Johnson, pastor of Heart of Christ Community Church in Brazoria, pulled no punches as he called the planned facility an “abomination” and referenced the racist leanings of Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger.

Johnson, who is black, held up pictures of the famed women’s reproductive rights leader at a Ku Klux Klan rally in the early 20th century. He said Planned Parenthood has not removed itself from the “genocidal actions” of its founding. African-American women have a disproportionately higher number of abortions compared to the general population of women.

“As Jesus died on the cross he proclaimed life,” declared Carlos Martins, a Roman Catholic. “Any Christian should see the evil of this.”

Martins quoted Mother Teresa’s famous chastisement of America when she spoke at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. She called abortion the greatest destroyer of peace in the world.

Martins made clear the ire of the community of faith is not toward the women who seek and follow through with abortions but with the organizations which promote and conduct them, namely Planned Parenthood.

He concluded, “There is a caring community that is willing to stand with and next to pregnant women. You do not go through this alone.”

Pastor James Clark of Park Place Baptist Church accused Planned Parenthood of targeting the college students.

Foraker concurred, adding, “This building is not by chance located here.”

Just a few blocks from the facility is the University of Houston and just beyond that campus is the historically African-American Texas Southern University. Surrounding those campuses are predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods.

“I assure you they are targeting our young people, African-Americans, and Hispanics,” Foraker said.


Texas’ debate over science standards continues

AUSTIN, Texas — Those on both sides of a debate over science instruction in Texas public schools are calling the latest in a series of meetings by the Texas State Board of Education a mix of success and failure.

The state board, in meetings Jan. 21-23 to revise state science standards, voted to omit a 20-year-old “strengths and weaknesses” clause in examining scientific theories, including evolution–a disappointment to social conservatives and a victory for advocates of Darwinism.

But the board also tentatively approved new amendments calling for students to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations” using logic, empirical evidence and observational testing–a recommendation from science educators–and to “analyze and evaluate” the key Darwinian tenets of common ancestry and natural selection in light of the fossil record–additions submitted by social conservatives on the board.

The latter amendments from conservatives drew criticism from evolution advocates, who have vowed to work to remove the new language calling for evaluation of the theories of common ancestry and natural selection.

Darwinists had assailed Texas’ “strengths and weaknesses” clause as a “back-door” to teach biblical creationism. During a public hearing on the new standards Jan. 21 at the state capitol in Austin, that claim was repeatedly disputed by those on the board who say they want to keep scientific inquiry alive on all theories, including evolution.

The 15-member board, with one member absent, fell short in a 7-7 vote to retain the strengths and weaknesses language. The board’s final vote on the new science curricula and standards is scheduled for March 26-27, with much lobbying expected between now and then.

The Texas science standards are revised every 10 years, which makes the Texas decision important for textbook publishers, who are reluctant to publish multiple editions for different states, and for smaller states that must buy available textbooks.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) hailed the removal of the strengths and weaknesses language a “tremendous victory for science education.”

But NCSE Executive Director Eugenie Scott, who testified that “There are no weaknesses in the theory of evolution,” said in a news release: “[The board] didn’t, however, have time to talk to scientists about the creationist-inspired amendments made at the last minute. Once they do, I believe these inaccurate amendments will be removed.”

Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, which describes itself as “a mainstream voice to counter the religious right,” said about a new amendment calling for evaluation of common ancestry: “That measure could provide a small foothold for teaching creationist ideas and dumbing down biology instruction in Texas.” She also vowed to help see the common ancestry and natural selection language reversed when the board meets again in March.

Meanwhile, the website, which is friendly to intelligent design proponents, shot back that evolution-only scientists are looking like stereotypical dogmatists. The web page posted the following question on Jan. 23 regarding the amendments: “How does it promote creationism to insist that students ‘analyze and evaluate’ all the major parts of evolutionary theory? ? They claim to support critical inquiry in science, but whenever it gets applied to evolution, they suddenly expose themselves for the dogmatists they are.”

Board Chairman Don McLeroy, a College Station, Texas dentist, submitted the amendment calling for students to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.”

Other new amendments pertaining to evolution call for students:

> to “analyze and evaluate how the elements of natural selection including inherited variation, the potential of a population to produce more offspring than can survive, and a finite supply of environmental resources results in differential reproductive success”;

> to “analyze and evaluate how evidence of common ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil record, biogeography, and homologies including anatomical, molecular, and developmental”;

> and to “evaluate a variety of fossil types, proposed transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits and assess the arguments for and against universal common descent in light of this fossil evidence.”

Among those testifying at the committee hearings in Austin was Michael N. Keas, professor of the history and philosophy of science at the College at Southwestern, the undergraduate school at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

In a written testimony to the board on Jan. 21, Keas said even Darwin wrote in his “Origin of Species” that “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”

Keas referenced the Tennessee law restricting the teaching of evolution that prompted the 1925 Scopes trial, and urged the board to pursue a policy that enables students to learn more about evolution, not less, noting that access to the range of criticisms of the various evolutionary theories as they are currently being debated in scientific journals would benefit students.

“What should science teachers do when experts disagree about whether evidence supports a theory, as they do in the case of evolution? As a science educator and historian of science my answer is: teach the arguments on both sides, as Darwin himself challenged us to do,” Keas wrote.

Others who encouraged the board to retain the strength and weaknesses clause were Stephen Meyer, a Cambridge-trained philosopher of science who directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank; Baylor University chemistry professor Charles Garner and University of Wisconsin-Superior biology professor Ralph W. Seelke.

Board member Bob Craig, who voted to omit the strengths and weaknesses language, said the board shouldn’t backtrack over the new wording of what the work groups and teachers submitted … which included dropping the strengths and weaknesses language ?since they are the ones who are in the classrooms and know more about teaching than board members.

He and fellow board member Mavis Knight agreed that the phrase “strengths and weaknesses” has taken on a new connotation in recent years.

Board member Patricia Hardy concurred and added that the confusion of the current standards extends beyond just the strengths and weaknesses phrase. “It never really says what theories you are supposed to be referencing … There’s no way any textbook can reflect the strengths and weaknesses of ‘the theories.’ What theories are you talking about?”

John West, associate director of the Center for Science and Culture, commented on the organization’s website: “The Texas Board of Education took one step back and two steps forward today. While we wish they would have retained the strengths and weaknesses language in the overall standards, they did something truly remarkable today. They voted to require students to analyze and evaluate some of the most important and controversial aspects of modern evolutionary theory such as the fossil record, universal common descent and even natural selection.

“Analyzing, evaluating, any additional scrutiny of evolution can only help students to learn more about the theory.”

The struggle between advocates and critics of evolutionary theory has been waged in multiple states, including Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Alabama, with evolution-only advocates winning most of the battles.