Josh Hamilton’s return to Texas, and a selfie taken by my daughter

“Take me out to the ball game” is my blog on major-league ballparks and the wonders of witnessing America’s favorite pastime up close.

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By Bobby Ross Jr.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Any night at the ballpark is a wonderful night.

But last night at Globe Life Park, I had the privilege of witnessing Josh Hamilton’s return to Texas:

I left my iPhone in my minivan, so I couldn’t chronicle my experience live.

On the other hand, I was able to soak in the ballpark atmosphere — the bright green grass, the flags blowing in the breeze, the peanut and cotton candy vendors — without feeling a need to post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram every half-hour.

But my daughter, Kendall, did take a selfie with her brother Brady and me that I tweeted after the game. I’ve trained her well! (My other son, Keaton, was there, too, but he happily avoided the sister paparazzi):

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A church for the broken and hurting

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A church for the broken and hurting (reporting from Fort Worth, Texas): In urban Fort Worth, a 123-year-old congregation enjoys a spiritual revival as it ministers to wounded souls. 

FORT WORTH, Texas — To measure the heartbeat of the Southside Church of Christ, go to the HOPE class.

HOPE — which stands for Heavenly Options for Pain and Emptiness — meets right after the Sunday morning worship assembly.

Part adult Bible study, part 12-step Christian recovery group, the class draws a ragtag collection of addicts, ex-convicts and street people — all focused on the healing power of Jesus Christ.

“When you go to the hospital, you don’t have to confess you have a disease, do you?” group leader Dan Leaf asks the more than 60 struggling souls. “The church is a hospital for sinners.”

His words inspire an enthusiastic round of clapping and “Amens!”

Some in the group have been sober for years. Others measure recovery in days, not weeks.

A few still smell like alcohol.

“Falling down is not as bad as not getting up,” Leaf assures the group. “It doesn’t matter how many times we fall down — God is walking us home.”

This story appears in the May 2015 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Ministers and the student debt monster

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Ministers and the student debt monster: Christian universities tout efforts to make theological training more affordable for preachers.

Second in a series

Abilene Christian University says it’s taking steps to crack down on the tens of thousands of dollars in debt accumulated by many ministry students.

The Texas university implemented a 50 percent tuition discount for Bible majors two years ago.

Now, the ACU Graduate School of Theology is launching an “affordability initiative” that officials say will lock in a fixed tuition rate for individual students and cut the total degree cost by more than 40 percent.

“We know that ministers serve in contexts where they may earn less than other professions, and we are committed to helping ministers graduate with less debt,” ACU Bible Dean Ken Cukrowski said in a statement. “Doing so helps reduce the burden of financial pressures and allows ministers to serve more effectively in churches and other ministry contexts.”

Other universities associated with Churches of Christ say they, too, are confronting the debt monster.

Related interview: Q&A: Steve McLeod on preachers, student loans and our ‘debt-ridden culture’ 

The main story appears in the May 2015 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.