Monthly Archives: July 2009

HPU Board Sets Example for the Baptist Way

On Tuesday, the board of trustees of Howard Payne University named Dr. Bill Ellis, the provost of Hardin Simmons University, the 19th president in the storied history of this great Baptist school in the heart of Texas. Howard Payne like most small private Christian colleges and universities faces the future with its hope deeply rooted in the Lord. Dr. Ellis will assume the post of leadership in a day when change is the norm, and the challenges are great.

As the board of HPU wrestled with this monumental decision, there were a number of quality candidates that were considered. The board struggled to come to grips with who God had uniquely chosen for this hour. As a member of the board, the simple truth I will take away from the deliberations, discussions, and the process of making a decision is that when people put the health and vitality of the institution above their own personal agendas and aspirations good hard decisions can be made with unity of purpose in the midst of diversity of thought.

In many ways this process was a microcosm of what is good and best about the Baptist way. Strong perspectives can be presented passionately. Differences can be held with grace. At the end of the day a band of priests under God can make a decision and trust it to be the will of the LORD through the free, willful actions of men and women.

Today I was reminded of the words of Paul:

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Eph 4:15-16 (NIV)

In a day when so many are gifted at finding ways of walking independently and going it alone, the Kingdom of God flourishes among us when we “speak the truth in love” and know deep inside Jesus holds us together as “one body” bound together in love.

Pray for Dr. Ellis and his wife Diana as they begin this adventure of faith thrust before them. Pray the Lord will give them the courage of David, the wisdom and discernment of Solomon, the passion of Paul, the boldness of Peter, and the Spirit of our LORD.

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Spiritual Warfare:The Battle for His Glory (1)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:10-12 (NIV)

Over the past few days, my heart and mind have been drawn toward the dark realities of the spiritual war raging all around us. Since being elected president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas I must admit I have experience on a personal and professional level struggles unlike any I had ever encountered. There were times that I felt like a huge target was on my back, or a sign that read “kick me!” I have received more unsigned “hate mail” from church members and death threats from critics than all twenty-seven years of my ministry combined.

What was supposed to be one of the best years of my life and career became one of my greatest years of struggle and uncertainty. Don’t get me wrong I have seen God do amazing things. I have seen walls of separation being dismantled and the stones turned into bridges of reconciliation and mobilization. I have seen many come to faith and Christ, and huge victories won, but not without cost.

During the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, I had the opportunity to participate in a breakfast meeting with leaders from the IMB and Dr. Jerry Rankin. As a parting gift from the meeting, Dr. Rankin gave each of us one of his new books entitled: Spiritual Warfare, The Battle for God’s Glory. This week I began to read the book and felt compelled to share my thoughts and observations. In addition, this coming week Dr. D.L. Lowrie, my father, will be leading our church in a Spiritual Warfare conference. I am looking forward to learning more about this war ranging all around us, and how I can be much more effective on the front lines.

One statement early in Dr. Rankin’s book that challenged me was:

“Satan’s primary objective is to rob God of His glory in our lives.”

Glorifying God needs to be our passion and objective with every breath. I fear instead of advancing the renown of our LORD, we have causes His name and reputation to be hurt and hindered. It’s my prayer that my life and influence will proclaim His glory. I hope you will join me in this quest for His glory.

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BGCT Presidential Journal 22

BGCT Budget

The past ten days in the BGCT have been quite a roller coaster for me. Last Friday I met with the Randel Everett, CFO Jill Larson, and BGCT Executive Committee to begin planning for the 2010 BGCT budget. Money is tight as you might imagine, and hard choices are going to have to be made. Like most churches and organizations across the land serious evaluation must go into financial planning for the future.

The BGCT leadership has decided to face the future with a prudent and yet faithful approach. The budget will reflect our recent history and trends, and will boldly challenge us to continue to streamline yet to stay on task. One thing is clear, we need more financial support for the Cooperative Program if we intend to continue to hold the ropes of our institutions and if we are serious about implementing Texas Hope 2010. The BGCT receipts reflect the status of our churches, but this can change if our churches begin to turn the corner, or if our churches increase their financial support, or if we add a large number of new churches to our team.

I believe we need to work hard on all three fronts: 1) healthy churches make for a strong cooperative effort, 2) many of our churches may need to re-evaluate their percentage given to the CP and seriously consider giving at least 1% more, and 3) we need to start new churches by the dozens, and invite establish churches to join the fun. I am beginning a personal effort to reach out to strong churches across the state to ask for them to join us in our effort to make Texas Hope 2010 more than a slogan. If you know of a church that may consider being part of our effort and you want me to make contact with them, please pass the information on.

Hispanic Baptist Convention/Shared Leadership

One of the great joys of the week was the opportunity to participate in the Hispanic Baptist Convention held at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas. This was my first opportunity to participate with this exciting gathering of Baptist people. It was an amazing family reunion. The energy was high. The music was moving, and the preaching passionate.

One lesson I took away from the Hispanic convention was the simplicity and power of an open election. After Baldemar Borrego served a three year term as president, the convention had five qualified nominees to serve as president. After a couple of run offs, Victor Rodriguez was elected president. I had a brief opportunity to congratulate him for his election to leadership during the 100th year of this great convention. I am confident he will serve well as president, and it was exciting to see the people select their leader.

I believe the BGCT can learn from this example. I hope and pray for the day when we too will have a number of qualified candidates nominated. I remember when my father was elected president in Waco in early 1980’s there were at least five nominees for president that year.

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