Monthly Archives: June 2010

From the Mouth of Babes

During the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, Ed Sena of the Lubbock Baptist Association shared a wonderful story about his granddaughter. In a conversation with his granddaughter about what she can and can’t do. His granddaughter pointed out with great wisdom:

We are “mexi-CANS” not “mexi-can’ts.”

Praise the LORD for a young child that believes all things are possible to those who believe and active–because they believe they CAN!

Her attitude reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)

“All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out otheir dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”

Thank you Ed for sharing us the wisdom of child.

Jesus said it like this:

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3-4 (NIV)

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CBHT: Convencion Bautista Hispana De Texas

One hundred years ago in San Antonio thirty-six Mexican Baptists gathered to establish the Mexican Baptist Convention which today is known as Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas. This week over 3000 people gathered to celebrate the centennial of Hispanic Baptist work in Texas. A movement that began with just a handful of visionary believers has become one of the most powerful movements for Christ in the world.

I had the honor to participate in this historic gathering and I found myself caught up in the excitement and history of the moment. President Victor Rodriguez and his able team of leaders put together an amazing week with the help of the staff of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baptist University of the Americas, Buckner’s International, Dallas Baptist University, and countless others. Special thanks must go to the Trinity Baptist Church of San Antonio for its amazing job as host church for this historic gathering.

In a day when there is much concern about the future of denominations and conventions, it is clear our Hispanic brothers and sisters have not gotten the memo.  As others Baptists groups are cutting back, and planning for diminished involvement and participation the Hispanic Baptist Convention is dreaming of bigger and better days.  I pray their tribe will increase.

The advances and vision of our Hispanic leaders is critical in light of the “browning of Texas.” Soon the majority of the citizens of Texas will be from Hispanic families. The future of the Kingdom of God in Texas will depend greatly on the success of this great movement.

The convention revealed the good news, but there are also serious challenges facing this great movement. In a day when hundreds of Hispanic and multicultural churches need to start, there is a significant shortage of trained and equipped leaders. If our Baptist family is serious about meeting the challenge of today, we need to redouble our efforts to provide affordable, high quality education for the next generation of young Hispanic leaders.

The Baptist University of the Americas is on the front lines of this mammoth effort and needs our Baptist family to rally to their cause. Much like the vast majority of our Hispanic churches finances stand as a major hurdle for BUA. Pray the LORD will raise up financial partners to stand in the gap for this vitally important school.

However, BUA cannot be our only response. President Ken Starr announced that there will be over 500 incoming Hispanic freshmen to the campus of Baylor University.  In addition to Baylor and BUA all of our Texas Baptist schools including Dallas Baptist, Houston Baptist, Howard Payne, Hardin Simmons, Wayland, Mary Hardin Baylor, and East Texas Baptist must strategically reach out to young Hispanic men and women who will be the next generations of leaders for tomorrow.

One sad reality is our ability to respond this challenge comes down to dollars and cents. Over the last decade due to the financial struggles of the BGCT the funding for our schools has had to demise each year. This is a trend that must change. In a time when churches are cutting back on Cooperative Program gifts, we must begin to sacrifice for the future of Texas.

This week we celebrated 1oo years of Hispanic work in Texas. We stood on the shoulders of those who had gone before us. It’s my prayer we will step up and lay the foundation for tomorrow.

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BGCT Politics: A Whole New Day

Recently Ken Coffee wrote on his blog Strong Coffee his observations about the behind the scenes work of some to get ready for the upcoming BGCT annual meeting in McAllen. Ken wrote:

I have been told that a coalition of former Texas Baptist Committed Board members and others are once again selecting candidates for B.G.C.T. officers, with an eye toward controlling the convention. Oh, how I hope it isn’t true. My sources tell me that this latest effort is being led by Michael Bell, former president of the convention and former Executive Board Chairman. He appears to have recruited at least two people to run for the top two offices in McAllen this fall, according to sources who have spoken to me.

Without doubt, we are entering uncharted waters for the BGCT. The days of my presidential term are racing by, and I too have worked hard behind the scenes to encourage gifted passionate leaders to step forward for our shared future.

It is true Michael Bell has worked hard to encourage good leaders to step forward, but in fairness to Bell, I believe he is working hard for the good our convention. It is not as easy as you might think to get a good quality leader to step forward to allow his or her name to be presented to serve as an officer.

In fact, I too had spoken to both of the men that Bell approached. I encouraged Victor Rodriguez and Jeff Johnson to consider serving our convention. Both of these men are men of integrity and passion. They are effective leaders on the front lines, and they have no political agenda other than trying to lead us together into the future.

If either one of them were elected to serve our convention it would be a good day for the BGCT. They represent well a new day in BGCT life. I affirm Dr. Bell for his discernment and his efforts to position us for the future.

In light of the diminished role of the Texas Baptist Committed, it is important for Texas Baptist leaders to step forward and to be willing to lead. If we don’t want a small handful of leaders to be “king makers” then it is incumbent on us to take responsibility for our shared future. There is absolutely wrong with contested elections in the spirit of cooperation and not political factions and agendas.

As a closing antidote: Charles Wade came to Amarillo a few years ago on a listening tour. I attended the meeting and when it came time for a question and answering session, I asked Dr. Wade “Who selects the officers of the BGCT?” I knew the Texas Baptist Committed board played a role, but I was unclear about how the process worked. Wade was frank and open in his response and acknowledged that he was part of the small inner circle. I suggested to him that I believed it was time for the TBC to give up this role and to open up the convention. In response, he suggested that I could run for president or I could nominate someone for officer. Bill Wright and I took Wade at his word and did just what he suggested, and the rest is history. I was not selected by a small inner circle of kingmakers.Bill Wright, one crazy West Texas pastor asked me to allow him to nominate me to serve as president. You see we don’t need political action groups to get things done we just need people who love the work and the mission of the BGCT to nominate quality leaders and trust the decisions to the people.

I am thankful Michael Bell cares about our future and I pray others will join him in this great task of calling out leaders for tomorrow. It is time to get to work. Who do you know that will help us claim tomorrow?

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Great Quotes from SBC Annual Meeting Orlando 2010

During the convention this year there were several great quotes from the presentations.

We must be willing to sacrifice the America Dream for the Great Commission–President Johnny Hunt

This quote was quite convicting to me on a professional and personal level. As a pastor, I fear the churches I have served have been too self-centered rather commission-centered. In light of the great needs of the world, we tend to spend too much on locally rather than globally.

On a personal level, I struggle with how much God wants me to give for the nations. I am convinced a tithe (10%) is not nearly enough. It is so easy to get caught up in the rat race chasing after the American Dream even as a pastor. This stands as one of the great spiritual struggles of our day among followers of Jesus. It is very hard to justify my lifestyle in light of Jesus’ own poverty and humility.

“if we don’t return–will you do our funeral?”– a young missionary couple request of President Johnny Hunt

Some worry about the next generation, and it is true that the vast majority of the coming generations have rejected the traditional expressions of Christianity, but there is a remnant of young zealous leaders who are determined to change the world. These young leaders are willing to die for their faith. My generation knows little of even sacrifice, yet these young men and women are willing to give up all for the cause of Christ. It is tragic in a day when so many are willing to go that our funds are diminishing. I wonder what would happen if we had the resources to send every young leader willing to lay down his or her life? The sad reality is that we have the funds we just seem to keep spending them on ourselves. God help us when we stand before our Lord.

“We need to judge our churches not by our seating capacity but our sending capacity”–Ed Stetzer, LifeWay

Stetzer in his report challenge us to start using a new scorecard. My heart resonated with his calling to deployment. We must remember that we must have permission to stay, Jesus has already ordered us to “go make disciples of all nations.”


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Southern Baptist Convention Orlando: Better than Disney World!

This week I had the opportunity to attend the SBC annual meeting in Orlando. This year’s convention featured two significant events–the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Taskforce led by Ronnie Floyd and the election of a new SBC president.

I must admit the convention proceedings were quite interesting. There was more intrigue and mystery in this meeting than I have witnessed in years. The division among the ranks of the report of the Great Commission Taskforce was much more significant than I anticipated. It appeared the redefining of the Cooperative Program as Great Commission Giving coupled with the apparent encouragement of designated giving as a great point of contention. Many also struggled with the redefining of the relationship between North American Mission Board (NAMB) with state conventions also stirred much concern especially among those state conventions that struggle financially and depend greatly on these cooperative agreements. There was also much interest in the new assignment of the International Mission Board (IMB) to work stateside with different people groups.

Once again Morris Chapman, president of the Executive Committee stood his ground against this movement led by Johnny Hunt, president of the SBC, and Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary. You have to admire his courage, but the train had already left the station by time he stood on the tracks to stop it. Clearly a new day is dawning in the SBC, but what the future holds is a mystery to me.

Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church near Atlanta was elected president. Apparently the people were looking for new leadership because the establishment candidates were soundly defeated. I voted of Leo Engel, Executive Director of the Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention. Leo is a great leader. He would have been a good president. I knew he would not win, but voting for principle feels good even when I lose.

On the last day of the convention, I bumped into Jerry Rankin, the outgoing president of the IMB. After a friendly greeting he asked, “So what do you think about the future of the SBC?” I shared with him, “I am a bit confused, but overall I am optimistic that God is at work among us.”

One way or another, it seems the Great Commission is back on the front burner for the SBC. It is now time for us to get to work and move beyond simply talking a good game.

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