Month: October 2015

Unity-themed annual meeting returns to Houston Nov. 9-10

Messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will gather in Houston this year for the convention’s 18th annual meeting. The meeting, to be held Nov. 9-10 at Champion Forest Baptist Church, will follow the theme “Walking in Unity,” based on Ephesians 4:1-3. Biblical exposition, times of worship and ministry testimonies will accompany business items and various committee reports during the two-day gathering slated to begin Monday evening with a message from convention president Jimmy Pritchard.

“I am excited about our convention meetings this November,” Pritchard told the TEXAN.  

“I always look forward to renewing friendships, hearing how God is blessing across our state, and being encouraged by a new recognition that I am not alone in the spiritual warfare raging around us. I pray that our theme of unity will ignite a fresh passion throughout our state for renewal, revival, awakening and evangelism.”

Champion Forest Baptist Church’s worship team will lead in music along with a children’s choir from Houston-area churches during the Monday evening session.

Tuesday morning, the annual meeting will resume with music, a panel discussion and a message from Mark Estep, senior pastor of Spring Baptist Church.

The Tuesday afternoon session will feature music from David Gentiles and the Sagemont Church worship team as well as the general business session.

The Tuesday evening session will feature a historic occasion, as the SBTC will host the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas as its special guests for a combined worship service. The West Conroe Baptist Church worship team and the Jacksonville College Choir will lead music, and a BMAT pastor will deliver a message during the session. 

The annual Bible conference will precede the annual meeting Nov. 8-9, with an emphasis in “making disciple makers,” based on 2 Timothy 2:2. A Spanish session will also be held Nov. 8 featuring special guest Jose Ordoñez and including a time of celebration for the things God has done through Texas ministries during the past year.

Lodging information is available at, including nearby hotels. When making hotel reservations, specify “SBTC” to get the discounted group rate. Messengers who might be unable to attend the annual meeting due to financial limitations may contact Heath Peloquin at the SBTC for “host home” information.

The SBTC will also provide childcare for those who pre-register their children. Parents and guardians will be able to pre-register online this fall prior to the annual meeting. Childcare is available for newborns through 9-year-old children, during meeting sessions Nov. 9-11.

Twitter users can follow the hashtag #SBTCAM15 for updates before and during this year’s annual meeting. For additional updates and information, visit

Wedding Rings: Metal or Silicone?

If you’ve ever attended a traditional wedding, you have likely seen the minister hold up the rings and explain the symbolism behind them. For example, the shape of the rings—a circle—represents the never-ending commitment between the two people. 

Sometimes, the minister will also reference the symbolism inherent in the rings’ material composition. The use of a precious metal—typically gold—signifies the purity, value and permanence of marriage. The metal has been tested by fire and purged of impurities, and marriages likewise must be kept pure as they endure many hardships. Similarly, gold does not tarnish or fade, and neither should the couple’s love toward one another. Additionally, the costliness of the ring denotes that marriage should be treated as a precious treasure and not carelessly discarded. And, finally, the strength and enduring quality of metal should symbolize the resolve and permanence that must characterize the marriage.

But does the substance of your wedding ring symbolize the substance of your marriage?

That’s the question I asked myself when I saw an online ad for silicone wedding rings, which are marketed to those who can’t or don’t want to wear traditional metal wedding rings to work or to work out because of the safety hazard. They’re perfect for the mechanic who’s afraid to get his ring caught on a piece of machinery and for the CrossFitter who wants to display her marital commitment even while hoisting a kettlebell above her head.

I assume that many of those who buy a silicone ring will only wear them temporarily and then go back to their original bands, but there are actually testimonials on the site of men proposing marriage with these rubber rings, which suggests it might be the only ring they wear. But, don’t worry, the rings only cost around $20; you can get them in all different colors to accessorize with your outfit; and instead of an endearing personalized inscription on the inside, you get the company’s logo.

Let me be clear, I’m not bashing the use of silicone rings. I understand the practical reasons for wearing such a ring, and I celebrate those who want to wear a visual symbol of their marriage at all times. After all, there’s no biblical mandate to wear a wedding ring, and the practice itself is relatively new on the timeline of human history. 

I do, however, wonder if these elastic substitutes unintentionally reflect the way our culture views marriage today—cheap, flexible, temporary and disposable. While I’m sure the average couple planning their wedding these days fully expects their marriage to last, many have less hope than they let on.

I believe part of the problem for this is the romantic notions people believe about love and marriage—the kind of fairytale, star-crossed love stories found on the big screen. If you ask an engaged couple if they want their marriage to last, they will certainly say yes. If you ask them why they think it will last, you’ll probably either get blank stares or the idealistic “because we are in love.”

Those who live by this latter notion should remember that no matter how many times Captain and Tennille sang “Love Will Keep Us Together,” it proved insufficient in the end

I prefer to follow different advice given to me in college: “You don’t fall in love; you fall in ditches. You choose to love. Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.”

If we want marriages that will last, we must take the vows “for better or worse … ‘til death do we part” seriously. This sometimes means standing by your commitment even when you don’t feel like it. Those who enter marriage with the mindset that divorce is not an option have a much better chance of seeing it through to the end.

Enduring love requires commitment, sacrifice and the grace of God. God demonstrated the ultimate expression of this love through sending his Son (Romans 5:8), and Paul points to this as the model for marital love (Eph. 5:22-33). It’s only by God’s grace and through his help that we can give and receive this enduring love.

Marriages that depend on warm feelings to carry them through have the shelf life of a silicone ring. Marriages that depend on God and practice Christlike commitment and love experience the golden joy of endurance.

Imagine the Message

Nero blamed Christians for the burning of Rome. He retaliated by burning Christians. He justified his persecution and hatred for the early Christian church by campaigning a message that they brought fire and destruction to the great city. Such a medium to carry the message yielded centuries worth of cruelty and malice to the followers of Jesus. 

In today’s world, messages are carried by many mediums, many yielding results of chaos, violence, and hatred. We have been bombarded with a litany of hashtags, blogs and even picket signs. Yet, the one message that could yield peace, unity and hope is largely not heard or even seen. Have you ever considered what it would take for the church to be the polarizing voice that is needed within the spiritual wilderness we are now in? I believe that our upcoming annual meeting is poised to be such a meeting that can ready the churches in Texas to be both vocal and visual in their presentation of the gospel. Here are a few reasons why my church and I are attending this year’s annual meeting and why you and your church need to make the Nov. 9-10 meeting in Houston a priority. 

Walk in Unity. This year’s theme is one that every Texas Baptist must endorse, not because it is a great theme but because it is a biblical mandate. We are called to walk together in unity. This unity reveals to the rest of the world the worth of our calling and the power and efficacy of the gospel (Eph 4:1–6). If the church could come together unified, no longer divided or segregated as our nation has become, we could provide the public witness and the bold proclamation that every life matters because every person is made in the image of God and Christ died for all. A nation divided does not mean that the church too must be divided. Imagine the message this annual meeting could present—not “White” churches, “African American” churches, “Asian” churches or “Hispanic” churches, but redeemed races knitted together by the Spirit of God through the peace of God, who are now his church.

The Power of Prayer. Texas has been prayed over. This upcoming annual meeting has been saturated in prayer. SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards, prayer strategist Ted Elmore and SBTC President Jimmy Pritchard have traveled all around the state, conducting prayer meetings for the sake of revival in our churches, an awakening in our state, and the power of God to be present at our annual meeting. They have paved the way and set the example for us in prayer, and now it is our opportunity to come alongside them and pray for the same. We have tried to make our voices heard on so many platforms, but the One who has the power to bring righteousness and justice, his ear we must reach. Imagine the message this annual meeting could present—all races present, crying out to the Father for healing, for salvation, for hope, for peace, for Jesus.

Encouragement to Stay Faithful. It was not long ago that some pastors in Houston received subpoenas for their sermons, notes and any other document that might have spoken against the HERO gender ordinance. The rally around these pastors by churches across the country was phenomenal. Our gathering in Houston is poised to be such a rally. The time is coming where being a Christian in America is going to come at a price. We need each other to stand fast, to provide accountability and to encourage one another to press forward. Imagine the message this annual meeting could present—all races interlocking arm-in-arm for the purpose of holding each other up, encouraging one another to stay faithful to the gospel message and to stand firmly rooted in Christ.

It is time that we stop waiting for the politicians, news anchors or weathermen to give us some news that is good. You and I have heard the “Good News,” experienced this news and have been changed by it for the good. Now is the time for us to come together to boldly display the supernatural work of the gospel message and the unmatchable love of Jesus Christ. Imagine the message that we could proclaim—diverse local churches coming together as the unified body of Christ, proclaiming “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all ” (Eph 4:5–6). Imagine the message if you were there.  

—Joshua Crutchfield is pastor of First Baptist Church of Trenton.