Month: November 2012

SBTC volunteers ‘touching lives’ on Long Island

BAY SHORE, N.Y.—Disaster relief volunteers working on Long Island are “touching people’s lives, I can tell you that,” Glenda Watson, a volunteer from First Baptist Church of Leonard, told the TEXAN on Nov. 7.

The team of 15 SBTC DR workers waited out the cold rain, sleet, and then snow from a nor’easter that blew in that afternoon, delaying their clean-up and recovery work in several cities on Long Island, including Bay Shore, Lindenhurst, Freeport and Long Beach.

The SBTC contingent arrived in metropolitan New York City on Nov. 2 for relief work in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. About 60,000 utility customers who lost power during Sandy lost it again on Nov. 7, the Associated Press reported. Many homes on Long Island were still waiting for power to be restored in their homes before the winter storm blew in.

Disaster relief workers who were helping with clean up and recovery in flooded houses rushed to help homeowners get salvageable furniture and other belongings inside before the sleet turned to snow, Watson said.

The SBTC group, working in tandem with another Southern Baptist team from Tennessee, has developed a rapport with officials in several of the Long Island communities, said George Yarger, pastor of Harbor Baptist Church in Payne Springs.

In the community of Long Beach, Yarger was trying to go through proper channels to get the team in for work. When an off-duty police officer asked him what the disaster relief teams were charging for their services, Yarger replied, “Our services are free; the price has already been paid by Jesus Christ!”

Yarger said the man began to cry, then immediately went to a city official and told her exactly what Yarger told him. Within minutes, they had the clearance with city officials that they needed.

The city has fed the volunteers and given them quick attention to all their needs, Yarger explained. And strangers have paid for their meals in restaurants.

“People are being very open and thankful for the help. There is a wide open door for the gospel here and they need it. They are broken,” he said.

Many homes on Long Island took in four to six feet of saltwater and their cars were submerged. Most of those without power were staying with family or friends and trying to come home during the day to recover what they can.

A week after Sandy hit, Yarger said he drove by a gasoline line that stretched 100 cars or longer. The people in the hardest hit areas are facing weeks of recovery.

“We are going to be here as long as we can,” Yarger said. The teams are deploying in 14-day cycles, SBTC DR Director Jim Richardson said.

In Long Beach, one of the poorer areas on Long Island, dozens of cars were parked in the town square and people there were eating military-style heater meals provided by the federal government. They were using a row of portable toilets and have no laundry service, Watson said.

George Maldonado, a deacon at the First Spanish Baptist Church in Bay Shore, where the SBTC team is housed, said everybody in his community was getting along well but the lack of gasoline was a problem. He has electricity at his home in Bay Shore, he said.

“We need a lot of prayer,” he said when asked how Texans could pray for the people there. “Praying for everything to go back to normal so that we can help people in whatever way we need.”

Calvinism team meets for second time

NASHVILLE — (BP) — An advisory team on the issue of Calvinism met for the second time in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 5-6, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page reported after members of the 19-member group convened.

Page named the advisory team — “not an official committee” — in mid-August to develop, as he told Baptist Press at the time, “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”

When he announced the advisory team, Page said at some point in the coming weeks and months he is hoping for “the crafting of a statement regarding the strategy on how we can work together.”

The full statement issued Nov. 6 by Page after the advisory team’s meeting follows:

“I want to see men and women, boys and girls won to Christ. This is my overriding concern. I think unity helps do that. 

“My hope is that this group will help us identify areas of agreement and disagreement in Southern Baptist life concerning how God’s redemptive purposes are achieved through Christ. Once these are more clearly identified, we hope to develop some positive strategies that will enhance our ability to work together for the proclamation of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. 

“Satan delights when he is able to divide and conquer. On the other hand, our Lord is honored when His prayer for us is fulfilled: ‘May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me’ (John 17:21). I believe our unity — or lack thereof — affects our evangelism. The ultimate goal in my mind is that we work together in such a way that more people are won to faith in Christ.

“As I stated before, I have no interest in changing The Baptist Faith and Message. It has been wisely crafted by previous generations of thoughtful, thinking Baptists to allow for a breadth of interpretations about God’s purpose of grace. It was written so that Calvinists and non-Calvinists can join hands and hearts for the common cause of world evangelization. 

“I truly believe that if we reclaim the principles of respect, honesty, trust and Christlike selflessness in our dealings with one another, our brightest days of Kingdom advance are still before us.” 

The next meeting of the advisory group will not take place until after the first of the year.

The meeting was conducted on background rules involving no quoted statements by or attribution of comments to advisory team members. By consensus, the advisory team agreed that Page would issue a statement after the meeting.

In announcing the advisory team in mid-August, Page said additional names could be added to the “group of helpers helping Frank Page come up with some sort of strategy document.”

New team members include David Allen, dean of the school of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; Tom Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla.; and David Landrith, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. 

Other advisory team members in alphabetical order are Daniel Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; Mark Dever, senior pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington D.C.; David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.; Leo Endel, executive director, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention; Ken Fentress, senior pastor, Montrose Baptist Church, Rockville, Md.; Timothy George, dean, Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Ala.; Eric Hankins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Oxford, Miss.; Johnny Hunt, pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.; Tammi Ledbetter, homemaker and layperson, Inglewood Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, Texas; Steve Lemke, provost and director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; Stephen Rummage, senior pastor, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon; Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions, associate dean and director of the Scarborough Institute of Church Planting & Growth, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff.


More than a decade ago, Chris Osborne, longtime pastor of Central Baptist Church in Bryan-College Station, saw a need for mentoring and follow-up for the young men from the large, college-town congregation who had been called to full-time pastoral ministry.  

Osborne has helped guide dozens of young men into the pulpit over his 26 years at Central, most of them Texas A&M Aggies. Osborne’s wife, Peggy, said they have lost count at well over 100 men and women serving as pastors, missionaries and in other ministries who were active collegians at Central.     
“When we were young in the ministry, we had no one to go to. We had to figure things out on our own,” Chris Osborne recalled telling Peggy.

As a pastor’s wife, Peggy Osborne knows the difficulties of young pastors. She told the TEXAN that although pastors can “share a lot” with their deacon bodies or staffs, there are limits to such sharing. “What do you do when [certain] situations happen in your church? How do you handle staff? How do you lead them?”

Young pastors face challenges dealing with their own families, raising kids, keeping their marriages strong. “They will hit hard times,” she said. “We didn’t want to see our young men and their wives getting discouraged.”  

Thus, 11 years ago, Central Baptist began sponsoring its yearly gathering for these pastors and their wives at the Resort at Tapatio Springs, nestled in the Texas Hill Country near Boerne. The location is a draw; the resort hosts golf tournaments, concerts and private events. Participants simply call it “Tapatio” or the CAPS (Central Aggie Pastors) retreat.

“It was the quickest thing that ever passed a deacons’ meeting,” recalled Chris Osborne about Central’s initial commitment to the retreat. “An older deacon got up and said, ‘We should have been doing this years ago.’” The vote was unanimous.

Central Baptist continues to pay for the Hill Country weekend, including lodging and meals for the pastors and their wives. Participants must arrange their own transportation to Boerne, but otherwise they incur no expenses.

The prerequisites for participation: one must have attended Central Baptist and must currently be the pastor of a church. While some attendees come from out of state, all Texas participants are pastors of SBTC churches of varying sizes, from small congregations to megachurches. The group, which started with four couples, has grown to 15 couples, including the Osbornes.

The young men have a lot of connections, Peggy said. In addition to their involvement at Central and choice of vocation, all were students at Texas A&M.    

Kevin Ueckert, pastor of South Side Baptist in Abilene, was a college minister at Central Baptist when the retreat started. “Chris’s vision was to continue to equip and encourage pastors. That Central would continue to foot the bill even though we are long gone from the church is unbelievable,” said Ueckert, who, with Nathan Lino of Northeast Houston Baptist Church, helps Chris Osborne map out the plan for each year’s retreat.

“We are indebted to Central Baptist for providing this ministry to us,” Lino commented. “Central is amazing when it comes to supporting missionaries and pastors who come out of their church. For Central, out of sight is not out of mind.”

Ueckert added, “Guys say this is the most valuable weekend they spend all year for their churches and marriages.”

It is not just a weekend of R&R.

“The vast majority of the time is spent with the men meeting with Chris and the wives meeting with Peggy,” Lino said. Pastors and wives arrive on Thursday afternoon. After dinner, the men and women split into separate groups for sessions. Separate morning meetings follow Friday breakfast. The women head to the Peach Tree Café in Boerne for lunch and then a free afternoon of shopping, fellowship or resting while the men participate in an afternoon session at Tapatio. Saturday features much the same schedule except that the men have a free afternoon for golf or other activities while the women have a book exchange at the home of a local Christian photographer.

Evening meals at local restaurants—where the rule is that couples must eat with different people each night—are followed by sessions as well. The retreat concludes Sunday with a time of teaching and prayer led by Chris Osborne

The sessions are demanding. “Chris has cultivated an environment with the men that really sharpens us on several levels, as Peggy has with our wives,” Lino said. “We are challenged and held accountable. We evaluate each other’s philosophy of ministry and preaching. We discuss trends going on in the church world. We discuss different scenarios pastors face. We also spend a lot of time discussing our marriages and fatherhood/parenting. Chris is interested in our being effective husbands and fathers [as well as] effective pastors,” Lino said.

The group reads books and other material in advance of the retreat, and each man submits a sermon to be read and critiqued by the others.

“We don’t pull punches,” Chris Osborne remarked.

 “It is very much a ‘lion’s den,’” affirmed Nathan Lino, who added, “If you just want to be patted on the back and told ‘Good job,’ you probably won’t like it. But if you want peers who love you and will be very honest with you so you can grow and be sharpened, it is a fantastic experience.”

“It’s good for me, too,” said Chris Osborne, who insists that the retreat has been a blessing for him. “At 60, you can be kind of old school. These guys help me learn what’s working out there.”

If the men are challenged and encouraged by the weekend, the women benefit equally. According to Lino, “My wife, Nicole, often says if she could pick one resource to equip her as a pastor’s wife, she would select her time with Peggy.” Ueckert’s wife, Lynlee, has said that the retreat “brings life” into her soul. Peggy Osborne sees her role as that of encourager and “mom.” Topics discussed include how the wives can better support their husbands. The women are encouraged to share what God is teaching them individually.

“I learn much more than they do,” Peggy said. “I get so inspired! I don’t worry about the future of the church when I see what God is doing with these young men and women.”

The women’s book exchange has become a retreat favorite, with Beth Coyle, a Boerne-area photographer, opening her  Hill Country home to the group for the Saturday event. Even that connection is remarkable. Peggy, a fan of Coyle’s work, contacted her last year to see if she would be exhibiting her work at a local craft fair. During the ensuing conversation, both women discovered common ties (Peggy had taught school with Beth’s mother), and Coyle volunteered her home for the book exchange.

The 2013 CAPS retreat is already scheduled for next May. Pastors Osborne, Lino, and Ueckert all confirm that the retreat has fostered deep friendship among the men and their families. Some couples vacation together. The men fill one another’s pulpits. They go on mission trips together. Perhaps most important, the men and women are modeling in their own churches what they have learned from the Osbornes.

“Several of us are very intentionally spending time discipling guys called to ministry from our own churches,” Kevin Ueckert said. “I’ve got guys who are pastoring churches asking me, ‘When are you going to start Tapatio for us?’ It’s a question we are asking at my church. How will we be investing in the young pastors with whom we have a relationship?”

Chris and Peggy Osborne said they are happy to share with other churches what they’ve done at Tapatio. They may be contacted through the Central Baptist Church website:

Panel: ‘Fifty Shades’ phenomenon ruinous

FORT WORTH—As “Fifty Shades of Grey” surpasses even Harry Potter as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, curiosity is prompting many women to discover what the fuss is all about—even if it takes them down a path they never intended to go.

“It’s surprising how many Christian women will read this type of literature and say ‘it spices up my marriage.’ That will put you on a road that will not bring fulfillment,” warned Susie Hawkins, a minister’s wife and author from Dallas who shared a panel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with counselors Mindy May of Fort Worth and June Hunt of Dallas.

“We’ve taken something that God said was so very good and made it into a lustful activity, stripped of its beauty,” said May, who said she sees the damage done to young women who have grown up in a sexualized culture.

Just as the Potter series revived children’s literature, the fascination that led to the sale of over 40 million copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey” has increased demand for similar books in the category of erotic writing.

Hunt sees another parallel that leads to unintended consequences.

“We love a good love story,” Hunt said, explaining the attraction to what is perceived as a romantic story. “After the Harry Potter series there was an immense focus on the occult and specifically on witchcraft. People became so exposed to it and very knowledgeable about it.”

Similarly, she said, most people are unacquainted with concepts of bondage, dominance and sadomasochism that are prevalent features of the plot in erotic fiction. “It captures your imagination then moves from hearing it to seeing it to acting out and performing it,” she said, describing a classic effect of viewing pornography.

“This is not a fun fantasy to be sexually used or dominated,” she added. “The attraction is in something I don’t know a lot about and can read on my Kindle or a book in the privacy of my own home where it’s safe,” Hunt explained. “Well, it’s not safe.”

May told of counseling young girls who had been in literal bondage through human trafficking. “We say we’re against human trafficking but we turn a blind eye to pornography. One feeds the other,” she explained. “The Internet has provided an underground world of sexual sin and pornography that makes it easy to get away with.”

Speaking to the flippant acceptance of perversity found in books like “Fifty Shades,” May said, “There are huge implications there if we’re adopting this as OK as entertainment. We’re in for a world of devastation as far as sexuality in our culture today.” She encouraged the women-only crowd of 100 students preparing for ministry to check their own thought lives.  

“There is a lot that is coming into our minds that we need to be guarding and protecting against,” May added.

Even though the panelists had not read the book, they all had studied it enough to be familiar with the plot and to equip the women in attendance to respond to conversations and counseling opportunities with those captivated by the content.

“This is our time to dialogue and figure out what is the truth about sexual purity as it relates to pornography,” explained Women’s Programs Dean Terri Stovall. “If you’re going into ministry either on your own or as a partner with your husband, I guarantee it will cross your path.”

All of the women featured on the panel have been involved in equipping women for ministry. Hawkins teaches student wives at Southwestern Seminary and contributes to a blog for minister’s wives hosted by the North American Mission Board at Hunt founded Hope for the Heart, hosting an interactive teaching radio broadcast and call-in counseling program. May is completing her doctorate in counseling, teaches adjunctively and serves at the Hulen Street Baptist Church counseling ministry.

Regarding “Fifty Shades,” Hunt said, “We’re talking about a story that is not realistic. It’s about a 27-year-old billionaire and a college student,” she explained, lightly summarizing the attraction the young girl discovers while interviewing the handsome Christian Grey, who first shows concern for the young girl’s welfare, but eventually demonstrates his need to control her sexually. “She acts out his fantasy, but it is terribly degrading.”

“We know enough about the book to know we don’t need to be reading it,” Hawkins said, recalling the warnings of 1 Corinthians 6 and 7 against introducing another party into a marriage.

“Women gravitate toward a type of fantasy that makes them feel loved and cherished,” explained Hawkins as she addressed the tendency to justify reading romance novels, even those that cross the line into erotica. “Eventually you ask, ‘Why can’t my husband be like that?’ But it will not bring what you’re looking for long term,” she added. “It always ends in dissatisfaction rather than fulfillment.”

An Amazon synopsis of the plot states: “The Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.”

Taken more seriously than a mere marketing ploy, that’s a concern that Hunt said is rooted in science. “After a period of time lust creates a rut and there is an involuntary desire for more and more,” she said, describing the way graphic images can be recalled for years after viewing or reading such content.

“Internet porn is designed to take you deeper,” May added. “The United States is the hub of the billion-dollar industry and it’s so accessible and easy,” she said, describing it as “an open black pool of opportunity for people to get involved and erase the history like nothing ever happened. There are chat rooms, the buying and selling of people on Craig’s list, and so many things that really hurt.”

Every temptation to sin comes down to a choice to be made, she reminded. “Will I coddle that image and go with it sexually or say I refuse to think on that and do whatever it takes to be conformed to the character of Christ?” In counseling men and women who struggle with sexual addiction, she asks them repeatedly to plan the right course of action in advance of the temptation.

“Just because there’s a temptation doesn’t mean you have sinned,” Hunt added. “That allows for huge victory in your life.”

Hawkins and May agreed with one student’s conclusion that the appeal from feminists to “level the playing field” has led to an attitude that pornography should also be accessible to women.

“Sure it is,” Hawkins answered. “‘Sex in the City’ is all about sexual promiscuity with some really great clothes and great shoes,” she remarked. “With women it’s couched in all these things we love.”

“It’s also an entitlement issue,” May added. “I’m entitled to explore this, to promote myself and my body however I want to.”

She offered as an example the shift toward presenting a promiscuous image in the senior photographs of high school girls. “It’s gone from looking wholesome and pure to ‘I’m going to look as sexy as possible,’” she said.

May encouraged moving beyond teaching “do’s and don’ts” to explaining God’s creation of man and woman as sexual beings. “What does that look like as a female seeking to honor the Lord?”

“There’s got to be strong teaching on the theology of sexuality,” Hawkins agreed, encouraging parents and youth leaders to put the discussion in the context of a healthy emotional and spiritual walk with Christ.

With puberty occurring at an even younger age, parents must have conversations earlier to provide the tools for a child to guard his or her purity, May said.

Hunt drew from her book “How to Defeat Harmful Habits” to remind women that everyone is created with the need for love, significance and security. “A sexual addiction or inappropriate sex is an attempt to get one of those three needs illegitimately.”

She encouraged women to get serious about discovering a new purpose in displaying Christ’s character, a new priority in aligning one’s thoughts to those of God’s, and a new plan that relies on Christ’s power to change.

“If you’re going to have a transformed life, you have a new mind and you cannot indulge sexual fantasy.”

When a wife struggles with a temptation in any area, she should ask her husband to pray with her to work through it, Hawkins advised. “It needs to be something that is discussed in the marriage relationship, but I don’t know that you would ever need to do so with someone else.”

Hunt cautioned against sharing details of a transgression when confessing sin to a spouse. “You don’t just empty the whole dump truck and say, ‘Now I’m free,’” she warned. “Be careful to protect the mind of the other person. It can put those mental images in his mind and he doesn’t need to hear the details.”

She encouraged women to seek the help of a trained Christian counselor who deals with sexual issues by consulting the American Association of Christian Counselors. Hope for the Heart offers spiritual guidance, prayer, resources and connections to skilled Christian counselors by calling 1-800-488-HOPE.

Reminding women that there is no Garden of Eden even within the Christian world, Hawkins said the best prevention against sexual sin is unbelievably simplistic.

“Be on your face every day and say, ‘Lord, I am your girl, your woman. I beg you to give me discernment if I’m going down a road or doing something that is not helpful. I pray I’ll see the truth.’”

SBC President Luter among speakers at 2013 Evangelism Conference

IRVING—The 2013 Empower Evangelism Conference, March 4-6 in Irving, will feature a lineup of speakers that ranges from well-known denominational leaders such as Fred Luter to notable names such as Pam Tebow to Texas church planters such as Shane Pruitt.

“Do The Work of an Evangelist,” based on 2 Timothy 4:5, is the theme for the meeting at the new Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

“The 2013 Empower Evangelism Conference is going to be a great time of fellowship, challenge and equipping,” said Nathan Lorick, SBTC director of evangelism. “We have an awesome lineup of speakers and worship leaders. I am really excited about our live, on-stage dialogue about evangelism that will take place on Tuesday afternoon. I know you will be encouraged, inspired, and challenged to help impact Texas with the gospel.”

Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, was elected Southern Baptist Convention president last June as SBC messengers gathered in his home city. Luter led Franklin Avenue from about 65 people when he arrived in 1986 to around 8,000 strong by the time Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. The church was scattered and the campus was 13 feet under water, but a re-gathered congregation rebuilt and now is running around 5,000 people each Sunday.

At his election last summer, Luter became the first African American to be SBC president. Luter helped write the 1995 SBC resolution that sought reconciliation for the convention’s pro-slavery roots and served on the committee that proposed a revision of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000. He served as SBC first vice president in 2011. Luter will also be the featured speaker at the Cooperative Program Luncheon on Tuesday, March 5, during the conference.

Among the other conference speakers will be Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin, First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research, Mobberly Baptist Church of Longview Pastor Glynn Stone. Pam Tebow, mother of New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, and retired Houston judge Paul Pressler, will also address the conference.

The event will also include a women’s session and a Spanish-language session.

Musicians will include recording artists Josh Wilson on Monday and Tuesday, and former Gaither Vocal Band member Mark Lowry on Wednesday morning and during the Wednesday afternoon Senior Adult Luncheon. Also, the choirs and orchestras from First Baptist Dallas and Mobberly Baptist will perform Monday and Tuesday nights, respectively.

For more information on the Empower Evangelism Conference, and for ticket information on the Senior Adult and Cooperative Program luncheons when it becomes available, visit

Will you stand on the promises of God?

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful
(Hebrews 10:23).

Americans have been forced to make a very difficult decision in the 2012 presidential election. Having to choose between a liberal Christian and a devout Mormon has divided our country along many different perspectives: religious, cultural, racial, economic, and gender. As a conservative evangelical Christian who has spent over 30 years promoting the principles of Scripture and teaching others to do the same, there was not a clear choice in this election. However, the election is over and now we are faced with the healing and uniting of our nation.

If we trust and depend on the divine providence of God, we understand that the president may lead our country in governmental affairs, but he is merely a man who is subject to the authority of God. We must keep in mind that every four years there are winners and losers in the presidential elections, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Regardless of who leads this country, as Christians we are responsible and accountable to God for establishing Christian values in a corrupt world. God has provided for the Christian a wealth of godly directions through the Bible that will direct our paths and heal our land. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). Despite this world’s ungodly ways, the Christian is led by the illumination of God’s Word.

Please allow me to encourage you to teach, preach, and live unwaveringly for Jesus Christ, who will fulfill all of God’s promises. Standing on his promises provides peace, provision, salvation, deliverance, and forgiveness for every believer who will trust him. Because Christians surrender their lives to Christ as Lord and confess a hope in him as their savior they develop a personal relationship with him. Through this relationship believers are given a divine confirmation of their ability to access God’s promises.  Accepting Christ as Lord creates a changed life and gives Christians the confidence to know that his promises are true, thereby giving us strength, encouragement, and a concrete foundation for living the Christian life. If we accept that God has the power to do what he has promised and believe that he never breaks his promises we gain the assurance to trust him with the issues of life—trusting that his will is accomplished regardless of the results, whether favorable or unfavorable.

When we examine God’s promises, the Bible reminds us of God’s faithfulness to all who put their trust in him. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

God keeps every promise he makes. When we live as one in fellowship with Christ, we have the guarantee that every promise God has made in the Word is accessible to us. This truth should stimulate us to take our focus off society and search the Scriptures for its divine promises with the expectation of organizing our lives to achieve God’s potential for life. Jesus promised that when you ask for something in his will, he will give you what you ask (John 16:23). This promise is available to every Christian. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does (Psalm 145:13). God has given us the promise that the next four years and all other times are in his hands. He has promised he would be with us always even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). It has been over 2,000 years since Jesus made that promise and it stands true because he is still with those who trust in him.

Standing on the promises of God requires Christians to live just as Paul encouraged: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 13:8). The Christian community must make a stand in our present age against the moral ills that confront us today and in the years to come. Without the Christian community establishing a standard of morality, sin and anti-biblical corruption will continue to overrun society, and ungodly norms will become the order of the day.

Not only is it essential to stand on God’s promises, but to stand against the movements of abortion, same-sex marriages, racism, etc. If Christians fail to take a stand, we will find ourselves faced with whether we submit or disobey laws that affect our biblical belief system. Standing on the promises of God requires us to stand like Joshua when confronted with living by the ungodly laws established by the inhabitants of Canaan: “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (JOSHUA 24:15).

In times like these, Christians must remind each other of songs that will encourage and enhance our faith. “Standing on the Promises,” by Russell K. Carter and published in 1886, is a hymn of trusting in a God who is able to accomplish his promises in the life of his followers. Carter wrote this hymn at the age of 30 after his doctors told him that he suffered an incurable and life-threatening heart condition. According to his life story: “He knelt and made a promise that healing or no, his life was finally and forever, fully consecrated to the service of the Lord. It was from that moment that the written Word of God became alive to Carter. He began to stand upon the promises of healing, determining to believe no matter what his physical condition, no matter how he felt. Over the course of the next several months his strength returned, and his heart was completely healed! Carter lived another healthy 49 years.”

Lyrics to “Standing on the Promises”
Russell K. Carter

Standing on the promises of Christ my King, thru eternal ages let His praises ring; glory in the highest I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord, overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword, standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises I now can see perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me; standing in the liberty where Christ makes free, standing on the promises of God,
Standing on the promises I cannot fall, list’ning ev’ry moment to the Spirit’s call, resting in my Savior as my all in all, standing on the promises of God.
Chorus: Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior. Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God.

New ways of delivering the news

When I first edited a Baptist paper back in the late 1980s, several state papers had circulation over 100,000 and the largest was at 400,000. Now that top tier of papers (size wise) is between 30,000 and 40,000 in circulation and those papers struggle to keep that number. The largest state paper in 1990 dropped to around 30,000 this year and announced that it will cease publishing a print edition beginning in January.  

The question of why print publications have struggled and failed to keep readership has launched a thousand business seminars over the past 20 years. Print is not dead but mailing a newspaper has become a financially challenging endeavor. Mailing costs alone have become the huge factor in changing the delivery habits of some print media. The cost of just delivering the print TEXAN has risen by more than 40 percent in the past five years. I wish I could say our service is 40 percent better.

But this isn’t as bad as it sounds. In the 1980s, churches sent thousands of state Baptist papers to church members who had no interest in reading them. Our higher circulation numbers did not necessarily reflect high readership, and sometimes even represented poor stewardship. Although actual readership has indeed dropped, the numbers were more artificial in those days than today. Like other publications around the country, Baptist papers have to earn their spurs with every issue. A not-quite-so-institutional mindset among our people today means that Baptist papers, all papers really, no longer have the assumed influence and value once granted to us. Contemporary readers have an amazing number of options. And the higher costs associated with production and mailing are forcing us to examine ever more carefully what we do. When I look at an online news service and see that a story was posted three minutes ago, I know that our expectations for immediacy are much higher than they were. Print can’t compete with that. We are forced to expand into more immediate news media.

Here’s what the TEXAN is planning to do beginning in January. Our print edition will continue but will be delivered to you one time per month. Those newspapers will have some of the same content you now enjoy but will be even more focused on the meaning of the news, on pertinent issues in ministry and on ministry features. We recognize that most of our readers are not hearing big news for the first time by means of a newspaper that comes less often than every day. That’s why we’ll take advantage of our longer time between issues to get deeper into what’s happened. We’ll strive to continue to tell you some things you didn’t know in our print edition.

Our new product will be a digital TEXAN. This newsmagazine will come out twice a month and delivered to your email box. You can open it there and read it or go to our website and read it, depending on your preference. It can even be printed out for those who want to hold what they read in their hands. This newsmagazine will be laid out like a magazine and you can turn the pages using your computer or mobile device. The really nice thing about the digital TEXAN is that when we finish with it we no longer have a few days of printing, folding, stapling, sorting and mailing. Neither do we have even more days of sitting in boxes at various post offices waiting to be delivered. A story we put in the digital edition on Tuesday morning could be in your mailbox that same day. This is your source for news that is more immediate and timely. Of course we’ll need your email address.

Most immediate of all will be our new website. We will launch a new late in December and I think you’ll like it. The money we’ve been using to produce and mail some of our print editions will be turned into content here and in our two newsmagazines. We will produce more stories than ever before and those stories will go to our website as soon as they are ready. This will be the place for the freshest news of all. Some of those stories will end up in either our print or digital TEXANS, but many will be online only. Our website will be a news delivery medium of its own, in addition to supporting our publications.

Our mission remains the same. We want to support the ministries of our convention, unify the churches around the ministry we share in common, encourage you in ministry as you see what others are experiencing, and provide the understanding you need to support all that Southern Baptists are doing. The opportunity to deliver our work in a greater variety of ways is exciting, especially as we are enabled to put more of our resources into content.

But we need you to do something for us. We need to accumulate an email list of those who would like to receive our digital TEXAN. Of course you can also add people to our print list but the email list is much smaller in number currently. We promise that we will only use that email list for this purpose—only for news delivery. You can go to and click on “subscribe.” This will give you a message box for our circulation manager, Stephanie. If you’ll give Stephanie your email address we will add you to the list. If you’d like to add someone to the print mailing list also, just give us the USPS address and we’ll do that also. We look forward to you seeing these new news delivery tools and hearing back from you as you see even more of what God is doing among our people and churches.

I’m convinced that these changes will reflect good stewardship here at the TEXAN. We’ll still offer the more traditional newspaper with all its advantages and challenges, but we’ll also open the door on delivery systems that offer their own opportunities. For now, that looks like the best of both worlds as we seek to serve the churches that make up our convention.

Zero Shades of Grey

The best-selling book “Fifty Shades of Grey” has become one of the most controversial books in recent years, especially appealing to women. It has been eagerly welcomed into the mainstream of popular literature, even though it is classified as “erotica.” Coined “mommy porn,” it is a sexually explicit story involving sadism, masochism, bondage and other deviant sexual practices between a young woman and a businessman. (Porn differs from erotica in that erotica has a story arc as well as character and plot development.) There are a multitude of reviews, blogs, and articles written from a Christian perspective regarding this book, all extremely helpful in understanding its insidious danger. We at Flourish want to specifically urge ministry wives to respond to this phenomenon and to guide women to a clear biblical understanding of this book.

Do not be so naïve to think that the women in your church aren’t reading Fifty Shades. They most likely are, but probably won’t mention it at Bible Study! If they aren’t reading it themselves, I can promise you they know women who have. Don’t be afraid to bring it up when you have the opportunity—I imagine you will find it is quite a conversation starter. As a pastor’s wife, the women in your church need to hear your take on the cultural influences they deal with, especially ones that are so blatantly evil and destructive. Your informed perspective can clear the muddy waters for women who are deceived into believing this book is innocent fun.

There are several “talking points” that need to be explored in determining a biblical and spiritually mature response to this book. Why are women vulnerable to this type of literature anyway? What are women looking for in a relationship with a man? Why is Fifty Shades so dangerous? What does Scripture say about what we put in our mind and how it affects our behavior and thought life?

In my view, one of the strongest cases against Christian women reading this book is the argument for the purity of the marriage relationship. Women claim that reading this book has “spiced up” their sexual relationship with their husbands. But this kind of literature does not lead to intensifying romantic love, but rather leads ultimately to dissatisfaction and disrespect. Marriage is honorable among all and the marriage bed is to be undefiled—by body or by mind.

Paul warns us about this in 2 Timothy 3:6-7: “They (godless people) are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” May the Lord deliver us from being “weak-willed” and gullible women. We pray he will give us wisdom, grace and spiritual understanding as we speak truth to other women, and to ourselves.

Susie Hawkins lives in Dallas and has been actively involved in women’s ministry as a pastor’s wife, author, teacher and volunteer. This article first appeared at the blog, an online community for ministry wives.

Jacksonville College hosts Harvard-trained biologist

JACKSONVILLE—Nathaniel Jeanson, a Harvard-trained Ph.D. from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in Dallas, gave a series of creation science talks at Jacksonville College in Jacksonville, Oct. 9-10. Students, faculty, and others from the community attended the presentations on dinosaurs, modern science, and the Bible as part of the Manley Distinguished Lectures Series.
On Oct. 9, Jeanson spoke on the unmistakable evidence for creation and design at the cellular level in his talk titled “An Easy ‘Cell.’”

Jeanson, who is deputy director for life sciences research at ICR, highlighted the mass volumes of information that are compressed at the cellular level. Using Darwin’s own test for evolution, Jeanson attempted to show the failure of evolution to account for the origin of the first cell and how the process of human development from a single cell proclaims God’s omnipotence and super-intelligence.

During his Oct. 10 chapel lecture, Jeanson spoke on “The Mystery of the Dinosaurs: What Does the Evidence Say?” He explored questions surrounding the dinosaurs, from their diet to the cause of their extinction. Jeanson demonstrated that the scientific evidence from multiple research fields is consistent with the biblical framework outlined in Genesis chapters 1-11. He also highlighted data pointing towards a global flood and recent creation within the last 10,000 years. Jeanson concluded by addressing common objections to the young-earth model, including the results of radiometric dating and the feasibility of fitting animals on Noah’s Ark.

Jeanson also addressed the central question of Darwinian evolution in his lecture titled “Revisiting the Origin of Species: What Does the Evidence Really Say?” Illustrating a simple three-step method for thinking biblically, Jeanson showed the audience that species appear “designed, deadly, diverse, and discontinuous” and that these four observations exactly fit the Scriptural teaching on the origin of species. He also refuted the scientific claims commonly cited in support of Darwin’s hypothesis—the 99 percent genetic similarity between humans and chimpanzees, the existence of “vestigial” organs and “junk” DNA, and the anatomical similarity among diverse species.

Jeanson joined the research staff at ICR in 2009 after completing his Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology at Harvard University. He was appointed deputy director for life science research in spring of 2012. ICR’s growing research department is currently investigating questions related to astronomy, the fossil record, the global flood of Noah’s day, the Ice Age, and the origin of species.

Jacksonville College ( is a two-year college owned by the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas and affiliated with the SBTC. ICR, begun by Henry Morris in 1970, is on the web at

SBTC DR team heading to New York

SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers were arriving in New York City on Nov. 2 for relief work in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

A team of 30 people, including chaplains and units specializing in feeding, cleanup/recovery and shower/laundry services, were activated at the request of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board.

Disaster Relief Director Jim Richardson said they are expecting a two-week deployment. 
“Our volunteers will be assisting people in their practical needs while sharing the hope of Jesus and encouraging and strengthening the local Baptist churches in their work,” Richardson said.

“It gives us an opportunity to bear witness to Christ’s love in a region where most of the people are unchurched and with positive words of encouragement in the name of Jesus. We pray in the midst of that work we are able to lead many to saving faith.”