E-Challenge January 2017

The first time I ever spoke to Becky Biser, she was singularly unhelpful. That was the last time I have walked away from a conversation with her without feeling blessed and refreshed.

There are some people who make you feel like life really is worth living. They give you courage and stamina when you are fearful and weak. They brighten rainy days. They believe in you when you do not believe in yourself. They express appreciation in all the right ways at all the right times. They correct you without scolding. They rebuke you with killer kindness. They push you along by pulling you in the right direction. They wait patiently for you to get what they mean and allow you to think it was your idea all along.

They listen without judgment. They converse without domination. They turn the discussion toward what is really on your heart and mind. They have the perfect words to summarize what you feel in your gut. They know the next steps before you decide to move.

This, our dear Becky, is what I like about you.

There is so much more. We cannot in these few words express all of our gratitude and appreciation for your 35 years with Tarrant Baptist Association. We cannot begin to say thanks for all you have done for the many who have served on staff here or who have served one of our affiliated churches. We cannot demonstrate nearly enough gratitude for the thousands upon thousands you have touched and influenced through your ministry.

Thank you for living your life calling with us. Thank you for shining. Thank you for empowering his chosen. Thank you for loving us all with the love of our Father in heaven. We are the most blessed men and women in ministry to enjoy the high privilege of serving alongside you here in this place at this time.

With eternal gratitude,

PS: Listen carefully to what we are saying. We really mean it. Slow down and rest in these words of appreciation and praise.


PPS: That first conversation? I lived in a far away city and was desperate to hear God's voice regarding my future. I was seeking information I was told Becky would know. She told me exactly what I asked and nothing more. It turns out, she told me exactly what I needed to hear. She saved me from what could have been a difficult situation. She is helpful even when she doesn't mean to be.

Joyful, encouraging, loving, insightful. These words, among many more, stand out when I think of Becky Biser. Her presence alone attracts people from all walks of life. From my first conversation with her to today, her light always shines for the Lord, teaching me about letting the Lord use me to further His Kingdom. I am blessed to get to work in an environment that is more family-oriented than work-oriented, as Becky always takes the time to listen and give Godly advice to me. She challenges and encourages me through the way I see her live out her mission day in and day out. I am better and brighter because of Becky. Thank you, Becky, for simply being you!!


First class positivism is the quality that most stands out in my mind when I think about Becky.  She is upbeat and encouraging throughout the day.  Nothing seems to keep her down for long because she has such a drive to shine for Jesus and be a blessing to others.  Becky approaches life with a high level of responsibility in everything she pursues.  She gives her all in whatever endeavor she is involved.  Becky is the team player that any group of people, at work or at play, would want to have in their midst.  She makes sure life is fun and brings out the best in others.

- Gary 


Becky Biser is an amazingly gifted, sensitive lady who makes walking with Christ a new exciting discovery every day!  She aggressively yearns to hear God throughout her day, providing an encouragement and challenge to all God puts in her path.  Thank you, Becky, for seeking God and allowing Him to not only speak to you but through you.  You are a blessing!

- Jay

In This Issue
Pastors' Conference and Executive Board
Hearing God Retreats
Upcoming Trainings and Retreats
Weekly Blogs
Day of Clarity
TBA Bible Drill
App of the Month
Book of the Month
Money in Your Pocket
To Love Your Community is to Know Your Community...
Discipleship Journey for Pastors and Staff
Riverbend - 50th Anniversary Book
RA Camp
Vancouver Vision Tour
21st Century Wilberforce Initiative
BGCT Upcoming Events
Prison, Jail Ministry
Preaching Conference
Ministry Connect Conference
Children's Ministry Leadership Summit
Marriage Conference
TBA Job Board
News from Churches
Pastor's Conference and Executive Board Meetings

Cornerstone Assistance Network
3500 Noble Avenue
Fort Worth, Texas 76111

February 6 - Pastor's Conference
February 13 - Pastor's Conference
February 20 - Executive Board
February 27 - Pastor's Conference
Hearing God Retreat
What is a Hearing God Retreat?
By Becky Biser

You may wonder what all these Hearing God Retreats are about. What is so special? Why do they keep holding them?

What are these about?
First of all, we sensed God directing us to hold these retreats. Yes, God talks to us. It hasn't been an audible voice, but a voice deep in our soul and mind that nudges us and gives us thoughts and directions. If you have experienced this, you know what I mean.

As the Bible says in Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "My sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me." (John 10:27) In Isaiah 48:17-18 we read, This is what the Lord says - your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would be like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea."

These are about creating space to hear God. Just getting away for 23 hours to focus on hearing God. It is simple, but profound.

What is so special?
Since God told us to hold these retreats, He is there. He gets us away from our busyness so we can hear Him. God is the special one - sensing Him, resting in Him and hearing Him.

Why keep holding them?
God hasn't told us to quit. He keeps bringing people. We have had pastors, non-profit staff teams, community leaders, police officers, mothers, fathers and others to get away and hear Him.

If you have wondered about these, perhaps God is nudging you to attend. We want to encourage you to surrender and follow God's lead.

The next retreat is April 17-18. The retreat will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, April 17 and end at noon on Tuesday, April 18. The cost is $50 for a private room at Riverbend Retreat Center. Sign up today!
Upcoming  Training  and Retreats
  Upcoming Training and Retreats

Minister's Tax Seminar
Thursday, February 9 | TBA Office
4520 James Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas 76115
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Cost: $10.00
Please email frontdesk@tarrantbaptist.org to register

Conversion Growth Solutions Seminar
February 13 | TBA Office
4520 James Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas 76115
1:15 PM - 3:30 PM
Please email John Worcester to register

February 14 | TBA Office
4520 James Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas 76115
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Cost: $50.00 (includes lunch and 2 books)
Please email  frontdesk@tarrantbaptist.org  to register

March 27-31 | Catalyst Room, TBA Office
4520 James Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas 76115

reFocus Retreat
April 23-25 | Riverbend Retreat Center
Cost: $125.00
(New peer groups forming for October 8-10)

Hearing God Retreat
April 17-18 | Riverbend Retreat Center
1:00 PM Monday - 12:00 (noon) Tuesday
Cost: $50.00

VBS Training
April 29 | Southcliff Baptist Church
4100 SW Loop 820
9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
No registration required
Our Weekly Blogs!
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes have been made! Be sure to check out our new blogs that go out every Thursday!
Visit: refocuscoach.org/blog and let us know what you think!
Day of Clarity

WHEN? February 14, 2017
WHAT TIME? 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
HOW MUCH? $50.00 (this includes lunch and 2 books)

OVERVIEW? We will discuss Church Unique with a special emphasis on the
God Dreams  visioning process in the morning. We will preview the Younique
personal calling and lifeplanning process in the afternoon.

Email frontdesk@tarrantbaptist.org to register!

TBA Bible Drill
Tate Springs will host the 2017 TBA Association Bible Drill on Sunday, March 26,
from 2:00-4:30 PM.

Children, Youth and High School drills, as well as Speaker's Tournament
Contact Daniel Engstrom - Email DanielJEngstrom@yahoo.com or call 817-713-7638
for more information or to sign up.
App of the Month
I stumbled across an app that has simplified my life daily since adding it to my iPhone.

The app is Stocard. Before I
began using this app, I had a number of plastic tabs from different store loyalty accounts hanging from my keychain.

Albertsons, CVS, Walgreens, Office Depot, Panera Bread, Pet Supplies Plus, Petco, Petsmart, Tom Thumb filled my pocket alongside my keys and car fob. No more.

Scan the plastic tabs with the app and it stores your information so that you can discard that unnecessary plastic. The app keeps up with weekly deals and specials from the different stores.

This is a simple tool that I am so glad someone developed.

Book of the Month

I enjoyed listening to Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck on a recent trip to and from Houston. What a great book! Larry Johnson, longtime Director of Missions for Ellis Baptist Association, told me to read this book several years ago. I finally got around to doing so. I'm sorry I waited.

The two big ideas in the book are what Dweck calls the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The fixed mindset is the belief that everything about us is pretty much set in stone. We are never going to change much from who we are. We are about as smart as we are ever going to be. There are certain things we are good at and others that we are not. That's just the way it is.

The growth mindset sees things differently. People with this worldview believe that they can grow, develop, and achieve in spite of apparent limitations.

People with the fixed mindset believe that smart people succeed. People with the growth mindset believe that people can get smarter and can overcome ever-greater challenges.

There are great examples throughout the book regarding how this applies to students, athletes, and workers in all domains.  

I really do regret not reading this book sooner. Pick it up and read it or listen to it soon. Choose sooner rather than later.

Money in Your Pocket

Money in Your Pocket Tips for
2016 Federal Income Tax Returns

The month of April in Texas reminds many of us of the beginning of the Spring season.  It likely comes with rain showers, newly budding flowers, green grass and lots of fresh outside air.  Another thing the month of April is known for throughout the United States is being when the federal income return deadline becomes a reality.  Of course, you can file for an extension for a number of months, but that just delays the task of completing your federal tax return and/or delays the potential tax refund.  Let me outline some "opportunities" within the federal tax code that may land you some additional money in your pocket this year.
  • If you have Schedule C (independent contractor) income, be sure you include all your revenues, but at the same time, assure that you are deducting all business related expenses incurred in generating the revenue.  Every dollar you are able to reduce your income saves both social security taxes at the rate of 15.3% plus income tax at 10-25% or more.  That is real money.
  • Traditional IRA, 403b, 401K or other types of qualified monies designed primarily for retirement purposes can be the subject of a rollover once each year from one custodian financial institution to another.  You will receive a 1099-R from your fund custodian if you did a rollover in 2016, but these rollover monies are not taxable income at that point.  Do not report them as such.  You may also be receiving an RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) if you are over the age of 70 ½ which is taxable.  Do not confuse the two.  That is real money.
  • If you receive qualified dividends as taxable income, these are treated differently than ordinary dividends and potentially subject to less tax.  Be careful to separate these out from any ordinary dividends to give them special handling.  It will save you tax dollars.  That is real money.
  • Classroom teachers can adjust up to $250 of expenses off their income for expenses paid out of pocket for teaching supplies and equipment that are not reimbursed.  There is not a classroom teacher alive that does not have these kinds of expenses.  Take advantage of this adjustment to income.  That is real money.
  • The health savings account (HSA) deduction is an incredibly easy account to set up in conjunction with a high deductible health plan to pay for qualified medical expenses that are not reimbursed by your health insurance or from some other source.  The good news is this can still be done for 2016 and funded until April 17, 2017 or the date of filing your 2016 tax return, whichever comes first.  For 2016 this is $6,750 for a family plus $1,000 additional if a family member is 55+ years of age.  You can contribute to this account each year up to the age of 65.  These dollars are never taxed as long as they are used for qualified otherwise unreimbursed expenses.  That is real money.
  • An incredible number of young adults are paying student debt from university studies.  At least there is a tax benefit for doing so.  Payments can be adjusted off the gross income in the process of arriving at taxable income.  This saves federal tax of 10-25% or more on these payments.  Don't forget to include these on your return if this applies to you.  That is real money.
  • There are multiple credits available to American taxpayers that are either fully or partially refundable, i.e. they reduce your tax due dollar for dollar.  Some of them can be paid to you even if you do not have a tax obligation.  The American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning credits are options for those enrolled in post-secondary education, subject to the requirements of each of these plans.  Child and dependent care credits are often available to families with minor age children.  The retirement savings credit is available to families up to certain income limits.  The earned income credit (EIC) is one that many low income families will qualify for.  Check any of these out that may apply to your situation.  That is real money.
  • If you itemize your deductions on Schedule B instead of taking the standard deduction ($12,600 in 2016 for joint return), be sure to total up all of your charitable mileage driven during 2016 (this includes work done for your church) and deduct it at 14 cents per mile as part of your charitable giving deduction.  That is real money.
It just takes a bit of dedicated time to research how to maximize your deductions and adjustments and minimize your taxes.  Consider these possibilities listed above.  There are other "opportunities" not shown here.  It can make a significant difference in what you pay in taxes in 2016.  That is real money. 

Gary L. Crowell, CPA, CCA
CFO, Tarrant Baptist Association
To Love Your Community is to Know Your Community...
...And to Know Your Community is to Love Your Community
Your church is unique because you reside in a community that is unique. Not only is your community unique but it is an alive, changing organism. To make an impact in your community you need to be an ongoing student of your community. How do you get, and stay on top of, the reality that is your ministry community? Here are some ideas:

Intentionally observe: Take a drive on every street and take notes. Are there toys in the front yard? What is the ethnicity, age, singleness, family, poverty, and disrepair? Who is there? What are their needs? 

Check out your area on Link2Lead.com. It is easy to use, free, and full of tools and custom demographic information.

Map where your church members live. Geocode your church membership easily and at no cost using MemberView on the Link2Lead website (under the "My Congregation" tab).

Request a 2017 Ministry Area Profile from TBA. This in-depth, detailed demographic/psychographic study is available to you at no cost.

Request a custom address listing of those you would like to reach by family, ethnicity, age, location, and many more areas. This also is provided free to you via TBA.

It's a new year! Let's reach the lost. Let's make disciples and impact our ministry areas! Let's become dedicated students of our communities!

re:FOCUS Journey for Pastors and Staff


Is is time to refocus your life?

Want to experience a life change journey designed just for pastors, staff and leaders? This is not like any other discipleship conference you have experienced. This is a time you can refresh yourself in a hands-on experiential-type of journey. Here are some of the things you will experience:                                                               
  • A safe environment
  • Time for reflection
  • Time to spend reading the Bible and reflecting on your relationship with Christ
  • Authentic facilitators who let you discover your own way
  • Prayers offered over you
  • Laughter and fun
  • A few stretching and challenging activities
  • Time to hear God speaking just to you
  • A renewed excitement and expectation about what God is doing in your life

The next re:FOCUS journey will start Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. on April 23rd and end at noon on Tuesday, April 25th at the Riverbend Retreat Center. The cost is $125. Each retreat time is unique and will focus on different aspects to help empower leaders.


Retreat #1
- Leaders will spend time re:Connecting with God and with peers in an experiential learning environment. This time will include alone time with God enhancing their dependence on the Father and time to make friends with peers that are both authentic and safe.

Retreat # 2
- Six months later leaders will come back together to re:Discover who God has made them to be. They will spend time exploring things about themselves and formulating their own personal mission statements.

Retreat #3
- In another six months leaders will re:Think what it means to be a disciple. They will explore passages of scripture and write their own definition of a disciple. They will gain a clear picture of what this disciple looks like and how they personally will help others grow to be a fully devoted follower of Christ.

Retreat #4
- The final retreat six months later will focus on re:Engaging with God in His Kingdom. How has God created me to be most effective personally on engaging others? What is He nudging me to do? How do I most effectively lead myself and others?

Between these retreat weeks leaders will meet together monthly to encourage and pray for each other.

Interested? If so, contact Becky Biser at becky@tarrantbaptist.org.


Sign up today!


Date: April 23-25, 2017 (Begin Sunday evening at 6:00 and ending at Tuesday at noon)

Cost: $125 each retreat (includes lodging, meals, snacks, books and other materials)

Duration: 4 retreats over 2 years


Register Here!

Riverbend - 50th Anniversary Book
R iverbend celebrates their 50th Anniversary in this year, and they are writing a 50th Anniversary history book. 

They are looking for those who would like to purchase ads for the book to celebrate the occasion! If you are interested in submitting an ad, please click here to complete the form.
RA Camp
RA Camp is scheduled for July 18-22, 2017 at Riverbend Retreat Center. Currently, there are beds available for additional churches. Contact Glenn Hedgpeth at 817-249-9968 for additional information. 
Vancouver Vision Tour
2017  Vancouver Vision Tour

March 6-9, 2017
May 8-11, 2017

If your church is affiliated with the BGCT, or even dually aligned, arrangements will be made to pay your 
hotel and local travel expenses.   All you need to pay is the cost of travel and a few meals. 

If you or any of your leadership team are interested, please contact David Bowman.
21st Century Wilberforce Initiative - Speak Freedom

Invest in Religious Freedom
Take Action

The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative advocates for religious freedom as a universal right. Over five billion people, 77% of the world's population, live in a context characterized by religious persecution, discrimination, or restrictions. Twenty Christians are killed because of their faith every day. Genocide is occurring against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative is creating an alliance of churches that will make religious freedom a priority. Wilberforce provides current, reliable information and training for these churches and suggests practical ways they can mobilize as advocates for defenseless people.

I have worked with Dr. Randel Everett on religious freedom issues over the last couple of years. This is a consuming passion for him and his team. I strongly encourage you to lend your voice and church support to this ministry.

With gratitude,
David Bowman  

For more information about the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and 
to join the church alliance, visit www.21wilberforce.org .
BGCT Upcoming Events
Prison, Jail Ministry

March 11, 2017

Volunteer Training Seminar: 8:30 AM-12 (noon)
TDCJ Volunteer Orientation: 1-5 PM

$15.00 Registration for morning seminar

RSVP to Randy Newberry - randy.newberry@TexasBaptistMen.org

Sponsored by: Texas Baptist Men
Prison-To-Praise International 

Texas Baptist Men
Dixon Building
5351 Catron
Dallas, Texas 75227
Preparations a re underway for reviveTX , scheduled for April 16-Jun 4, 2017. This is a concerted effort among evangelical churches of multiple denominations to obey the Great Commission and make disciples. Time to Revive is gathering churches around the Metroplex to hit the streets, pray for neighbors, and share the good news of Jesus Christ.  
Take a moment to learn more about reviveTX and to engage in the initiative as a tool to equip church members to be salt and light in effective witness in the Metroplex. You can find out more about reviveTX and upcoming vision lunches at their website, www.reviveTX.org. You can also contact Wade Aaron, reviveTX Church Relations at waaron@timetorevive.com, or 903-570-4757.

Text-Driven Preaching Conference
March 6-8, 2017

Click here (or here) to register.
See the full conference schedule here.
Click here to read frequently asked questions.

If you have further questions, please contact Mr. Daniel Dickard at 817-923-1921 ext. 6331 or
Mrs. Heather Janson at 817-923-1921 ext. 4002.
Ministry Connect Conference

March 25, 2017

Dallas Baptist University
8:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Leading with Emotional Intelligence:
Making Strong Connections with People and Motivating Them to Serve Others

Featuring Dr. Henry Deneen

Free admission. Lunch will be provided. Registration details to come.
Children's Ministry Leadership Summit

If you are like many children's ministers, you have a deep desire to take your children's ministry to a new level, but you are not sure how to get there. You have tried every curriculum out there to find that perfect fit. You may have discovered that just because it has a nice cover, the content may be slim to none. What if it isn't in the curriculum but in how you do ministry with children that makes difference? In the typical church in the United States, we are practicing a model that is ineffective in changing the lives of kids in the church today.

We invite you to an exciting training event that will equip you to train and release children for ministry in your church. You will learn proven steps to disciple and empower children for ministry within your local church. The ETNG events are planned for open discussion, and the goal is to assist you in developing a ministry plan and effective steps to implement that plan in your church. For more information about the conference and dates click here (Here is the link:  http://leadersintraining.com/index.php/etng)
Marriage Conference
New TBA Job Board

Our TBA website has updated our Job Board, and we would like for everyone to check it out. We have recently made changes that should make the process easier to navigate for the employer as well as the job seeker. Please visit our website, check out the Job Board, and get busy posting your new jobs here!

News from Churches
News from churches church
Azle Avenue Baptist Church is looking for a 15-passenger vehicle to use during youth/mission trips. They are looking for a well maintained, low mileage (100K miles or less) either donated or at a low cost. Before trading in your older vehicle to get a new one, please remember their ministry. Please call Pastor Rafael Solis at 817-808-4832 with any information.

First Baptist Bridgeport has a nice organ that they would like to donate to a church. Please call 940-683-4037 for more information.

First Baptist Grapevine has some "gently" used children LIfeWay Bible Study for Life curriculum they would like to donate to a church in need.It is a full years worth for babies through preteen. Please contact Linda Boney if interested at 817-203-2372.

First Baptist Church in Flower Mound is hosting Dallas Holm in concert on Friday, December 2 at 7:00 PM. Admission is free. For more information, please call 972-539-0641.

Greg Ross has a small organ that he would like to donate to a church. Those interested can contact Greg through either email ross.gregory.l@gmail.com at or by phone at 817-467-1412. Below you will see a picture of the organ.

Wedgwood Baptist Church has an older communion table (still in good condition) and would like to donate it to a church that could use it. Please contact Jeff Laster at 817-292-1400 if interested.