CLC director expresses concern regarding Houston subpoenas
by Ferrell Foster — October 15, 2014
Gus Reyes, director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, has released the following statement regarding the City of Houston’s subpoenas sent to five churches:
“We are glad Mayor Annise Parker now agrees with critics that the initial City of Houston subpoenas were overly broad.
“The U.S. Constitution protects religious freedom, and that includes the right of pastors and church members to speak on social and community issues without fear of intimidation by the government.
“We now wait to see what city officials do next. We hope they display a renewed commitment to religious liberty and recognize that efforts meant to…
Texas Baptist Hunger Offering needs end-of-year boost
by Ferrell Foster — October 9, 2014
Texas Baptists are generous, but our giving to fight hunger and poverty has lagged this year. Through August, Texas Baptists gave $548,395 through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. That’s a lot of money, but it is significantly less than we gave last year — $727,877 or 75.3 percent.
As we give millions of dollars to support church programs, it is important to remember that Jesus said care for the poor is a key indicator that a person is seeking to follow Him. When we seek to follow Christ we will have a Spirit-inspired burden to care for those who suffer. If we don’t, something’s wrong with our spiritual life.
Following Christ involves welcoming children
by Ferrell Foster — July 30, 2014
Parents will do just about anything to help their children. In Central America, parents are trying to help their children in ways that may seem odd and downright unwise to those of us in the United States, but their circumstances are very different. Their children’s lives are at stake.
Drugs, violence, and lawlessness threaten to engulf their children, so they do what must be heartbreakingly difficult — they send them away on a long, perilous journey to a place that seems to offer hope for their children. Many of those children make it, and they cross the border into their place of deliverance — the United…
Union Association fighting human trafficking
by Ferrell Foster — June 10, 2014
Union Baptist Association, our state’s largest regional body, is taking a leadership role in the fight against human trafficking in Texas. The association’s UBA E-Notes this week highlights two human trafficking items.
The second item gives information on a Sept. 20 event at South Main Baptist Church in Houston. It will feature presentations by experts, a tour of high-risk local areas, and times of worship.
Thank you, Tom Billings, for your leadership of the UBA in regard to this…
Spiritual living connects to ethical living
by Ferrell Foster — June 9, 2014
Ethical living and spiritual living are linked; they both connect the believer to the world beyond himself or herself. The spiritual connects one to God, and the ethical deals with how one lives with others.
Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray continually. Structured prayer is difficult for many of us, but we can still cultivate a spirit of continual prayer — simply praying as we go about our daily activities.
When a person “practices the presence of God,” to quote Brother Lawrence, it is as if God becomes a friend, a companion who goes with you to all places and through all moments. A cynic could say that we are only silently…
‘Kumbaya’ should be no joke
by Ferrell Foster — April 9, 2014
In 2010, a story in The New York Times noted that the song, “Kumbaya,” had lately been “transformed into snarky shorthand for ridiculing a certain kind of idealism, a quest for common ground.”
I remember singing the song in the 1960s, and we loved it. It was no joke; it called us toward something better than what we knew. I did not initially know that “kumbaya” meant “come by here” and was meant as a prayer to God.
“Come By Here” is a song “deeply rooted in black Christianity’s vision of a God who intercedes to deliver both solace and justice,” The NY Times piece said.
The oldest known recording of the spiritual occurred in…
Muehlhoff speaks on civil communication in CT
by Ferrell Foster — April 7, 2014
Christian author Tim Muehlhoff says believers need to “yield to God’s power from outside” themselves in order to communicate in a civil, Christlike manner.
Christianity Today has published a Q&A with Muehlhoff regarding his book, I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Truth and Love (InterVarsity Press, 2014).
Muehlhoff says that “in the heat of the moment” of a conversation a Christian should remember the advice of A.W. Tozer. “You shall receive power, a potent force from another world invading your life by your consent, getting to the roots of your life and transforming you into someone like Christ…
Trafficking — the difference between victims and criminals
by Ferrell Foster — March 13, 2014
The Dallas Morning News carried an excellent opinion piece in its Feb. 23 edition about children and prostitution. The article, by Malika Saada Saar, expresses a broad national perspective. In Texas, we are actually doing better than reflected in Saar’s article, but we still have lots of work to do.
Saar points out that about 293,000 U.S. children are “at risk of being exploited and trafficked for sex, according to a 2011 FBI report on trafficking. Most are girls ages 12 to 14. They often are abducted or lured by pimps and traffickers, beaten into submission and sometimes even branded with the pimp’s name.” She tells of one…
Connecting religious liberty and evangelism
by Ferrell Foster — March 12, 2014
Evangelism and missions can be conducted openly and forthrightly only in an environment that fosters and protects religious liberty. The United States, with its constitutional protections, is a shining example of this reality, while nations with limits on religious expression are examples of the opposite.
Brent Walker, in the January Report from the Capital, develops the link between religious liberty and evangelism. Americans are “able to practice our religion as we see fit and free to go tell others about it,” said Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty.
One person’s freedom, however…
Write your senator and representative
by Ferrell Foster — February 25, 2014
Bread for the World has announced its 2014 Offering of Letters to United States senators and representatives. Bread does not send these letters; Bread encourages and empowers individual Christians to conduct this annual letter-writing campaign, and this often occurs through churches.
This year’s effort asks lawmakers to reform United States food aid in times of crisis and to foster long-term solutions to hunger. Specifically, it asks for legislation to pursue three goals:
1) Improve efficiency in international crisis aid by allowing more food to be bought in or near the country where it is needed and by reducing sales of…
‘Simple touches’ in Huntsville
by Ferrell Foster — January 15, 2014
The Hospitality House in Huntsville ministers to the families of those who are incarcerated, and Texas Baptists help support this effort.
Executive Director Debra McCammon said, “The simple touches, conversations, hugs and smiles help us to share the love of Christ with them.”
She also wrote:
“Loving those who are hurting is always about the little things we do: small craft gift on their pillow, a ‘Welcome’ picture postcard sitting on top of their linens, providing a sewing kit when their dress has torn, putting a candle in the brownies, cakes or pies on their birthdays and presenting them with a small gift, or especially a…
War through the eyes of faith
by Ferrell Foster — November 14, 2013
War powerfully shapes a person’s understanding of the world, including one’s faith. World War II created in many people a veneration of the United States that caused love of country to sometimes override love of God or to conflate the two into one love. The Vietnam War then brought about a mindset of distrust, and since love of God and country had often been melded the two could be dismissed together by some.
It is not surprising that war shapes understandings of faith, but it is surprising that faith does not more often shape understandings of war.
The other day I ran across an article written by Charles Colson in July 2001…
CLC 83rd Session Report
by Ferrell Foster — July 26, 2013Christian Life Commission Final Report: 83rd Regular Legislative Session
During each legislative session, the Christian Life Commission (CLC) works to promote sound public policy on a variety of fronts important to Texas residents. The following is a list of bills the CLC actively followed, supported and, in some cases, opposed during the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature.PREDATORY LENDING http://predatorylendingclc.com/
In the 83rd Legislative…
Opposing abortion in a world of vulnerable people
by Ferrell Foster — July 9, 2013
The Christian Life Commission has received a couple of questions about why it honored Texas Sen. Wendy Davis with its Horizon Award in 2012. As virtually everyone knows, Davis was thrust into the national political spotlight in June with her filibuster in opposition to a bill supported by many Texas Baptists, including me.
The CLC honored Sen. Davis last year for her support of various issues that are important to Texas Baptists, including opposition to predatory lending practices. The senator from Fort Worth has been vital to the legislative effort to limit immoral payday and auto title lending practices, which are…
Love for neighbor should compel us toward immigration reform
by Ferrell Foster — June 28, 2013
The U.S. Senate has shown both courage and wisdom in passing the sweeping immigration bill. In order to get bipartisan support, the bill had to reflect the concerns of people across the political spectrum, and this has resulted in a bill that addresses the needs of security, business and immigrants.
Scripture teaches us to care about the “stranger” in our midst, and it also teaches us the importance of honoring laws. As a result, those of us who are Christians can rejoice in the fact that these two principles are being honored.
We know, of course, that there are many good people, including Christians, who are concerned about…