CLEVELAND – First Baptist Church has fully grasped the Texas Hope 2010 vision to share the gospel with all Texans by Easter 2010. Their proof – 31 new believers baptized during an open call baptism service and Southern-gospel concert held on the lawn of the church Aug. 9. Full Story »

BALLINGER – The Lake Ivie Baptist Association purchased 10,000 multimedia gospel compact discs to help area churches move forward with Texas Hope 2010 in the seven-county area. The churches then can purchase CDs from the association to use in individual city and county outreach efforts. Full Story »

DALLAS – Thanks to Texas Baptists, 1,200 students are ready and hopeful for their first day of school. Full Story »

Human Trafficking Bill Signing

On August 20th, the Christian Life Commission was invited to be present at the bill signing ceremony of landmark Human Trafficking legislation. Such invitations are often based on the work of advocates in pursuing passage of the bill. The CLC strongly supported these bills and worked to make sure both legislators and Texas Baptists understood how important the legislation was in fighting Human Trafficking in this state. We are honored that the Governor recognized our efforts and extended the invitation. We especially want to thank and commend our legislative consultant, Shelton Green, on his efforts.  Shelton has since gone on to further work and advocacy on behalf of human trafficking victims, check out http://whatsyourresponse.com and this article to see what he’s been up to recently.

To read more about the bill, including quotes from Suzii Paynter see this article from The Baptist Standard.

Proposed Texas Lottery Rule

Last week, the CLC sent out a public policy alert regarding some proposed rule changes at the Texas Lottery Commission that would allow electronic instant printed games. The CLC opposes this rule change in part because it would create a computer system very similar to those used by Video Lottery Terminal slot machines. While the public comment period at the Lottery Commission has now closed, you may still contact your elected officials and urge them to oppose this rule.

National Health Care Reform

The attention of the nation is certainly tuned to Washington and the debate surrounding national health care reform. The debate has generated much heat and little light lately.  During this August recess many members of Congress are holding town hall meetings and conference calls. The CLC encourages you to learn about the key elements of proposed reform, to consult various factual sources both those in favor and opposed to current proposals and engage the issue in a civil manner remembering our call to Christian humility. If you feel strongly please find out what your elected officials are doing about the issue and attend town halls and let your voice be heard.

There are two important things to keep in mind. First, almost all participants agree some sort of change is necessary. Current trends in costs and number of uninsured mean the current system will likely be unsustainable in the long term. Most disagreement centers around what reform should look like. Second, the current version of the bill in congress will not be the final version that is passed. Both the Senate and House versions of the reform bills have a long way to go with many changes and amendments to come. While we should pay close attention to content of all bills, we should be careful not to base support or opposition for the legislation on single sections that may not survive the process.

Here are a few resources worth reading.

Opinion: The moral imperative of health-care reform
By David Gushee
Associated Baptist Press

How Heath Insurance Reform Will Benefit Texas
From HealthReform.gov of the US Department of Health & Human Services

5 Myths About Health Care Around the World
By T.R. Reid
The Washington Post

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Your comments and recommended resources are welcome in the comments box below.

In schools across Texas this fall, students and teachers will observe Red Ribbon week during October 19-23. Communities will be planning prevention and education programs to communicate to students regarding the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.

The Christian Life Commission is sponsoring Recovery Sunday on October 18 to encourage churches in Texas to highlight the issues of addiction, recovery, and prevention. In addition, Recovery Sunday gives Texas Baptists an opportunity to affirm and encourage our students and teachers in their ongoing struggle against drugs and alcohol.

Red Ribbon week grew out of an effort to honor the memory of a DEA agent named KiKi Camarena who died in Mexico investigating a major drug cartel. Following his death, friends and family began to wear red ribbons to honor his memory. This tradition has developed into a national campaign to address the issues of prevention and education. Beginning this fall, the CLC will help congregations to promote Recovery Sunday through providing educational, sermonic, and promotional resources.

Please join us as we encourage churches across Texas to confront the issues of addiction in our congregations and communities. We encourage you to wear your red ribbon during the week of October 19-23 to show your support as students and teachers take a stand against substance abuse in their schools.
There is a sample sermon, bulletin insert and the pathways to prevention curriculum available on the website.

View sample sermon

Recovery Sunday Ideas

1. Pastor preaches a sermon on recovery.
2. A testimony is shared about recovery in the worship service.
3. The youth minister utilizes “Pathways to Prevention” and has a Bible Study about a prevention issue.
4. The church could pass out Red Ribbons to the congregation in support of Red Ribbon week.
5. The church could do a focus on Red Ribbon week and be supportive of students and teachers in the public school system.
6. Hand out drug education fact sheets to parents of youth.
7. Invite a counselor or drug prevention speaker to a special forum for youth parents.
8. Include a bulletin insert about Red Ribbon week and/or Recovery Sunday.
9. Have a copy of the 12 steps put in the Sunday bulletin.
10. Provide drug prevention information in the hallway for church members

We value your input and suggestions.

Your comments and recommended resources are welcome in the comments box below.

I recently had the experience of testifying in court. It’s quite an experience to stand before a judge lift your hand and promise to tell the truth in a court of law. The words are powerful and can affect the outcome of a case, a life and a family.

Truth is also an important concept in recovery. Unless a person can truly be honest about the reality of their life and choices then true recovery is not possible. Actually telling the truth can be very painful as one admits to short comings, poor choices and sinful deeds. Yet in the pain honesty, forgiveness and restoration can be found.

Step 5 in AA says, “We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” As a therapist, I’ve worked with hundreds of people on this step and have gotten to be a part of the awesome transition from guilt to grace. For as a person is able to fully see the truth about their life and choices, repent, and experience forgiveness then one is free to walk with Christ in His grace.

Part of the struggle of Step 5 is to admit that wrong is wrong. The step is a time to agree with God about the exact nature of the wrong and the fact that the sinful part of ourself is focused on covering up the problem. Part of the freedom that comes in step 5 is admitting what we know deep down inside to be the truth.

One of the most difficult parts of step 5 is overcoming denial. It’s tough because by definition a person has trouble understanding that they are in fact lying to themselves. It’s a person of courage who can honestly ask God to reveal to them the truth. Yet by God’s nature, He already knows the truth and loves us unconditionally. So a part of the step is to trust that even in the ugly, shameful and sometimes heart breaking truth God is big enough, loving enough and faithful enough to always forgive when we are truly repentant.

The Bible says in John 8:32, “For you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” In the process of the telling of the truth, there is an internal peace that was lost years ago that is now found. The truth does lead each of us one step closer to recovery and to a life of freedom in His Grace.

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BELTON –University of Mary Hardin-Baylor officials announced today they have received a $1 million gift from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation. Full Story »