Help Us Help Others In Need: Devastation and Suffering in the Florida Panhandle

(Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

October 15, 2018

Re: Emergency Aid is needed when natural disasters come at the untimeliest moments. 

Dear followers of Spiritual Minutemen,

Hillsdale Baptist Church was one of the first ministries to send a man into the Florida Panhandle to assess the path of destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Michael. The cost of lives and the loss of homes and businesses is incalculable at this time. What we do know is there are tens of thousands suffering without water, electricity, and shelter.

Sunday evening, October 14, 2018, Hillsdale’s first Disaster Relief Team arrived in Panama City with a large box truck filled with pallets of bottled water, non-perishable canned goods, paper goods, including diapers, and cleaning supplies.

Hillsdale’s team is:

  • Distributing bottled water and food to areas where no aid has reached to date.
  • Assisting families with removing downed trees from rooftops and driveways.
  • Identifying smaller outlying coastal towns that have received no assistance.
  • Giving aid and comfort.

Our current goal is to send two additional teams to the Florida Panhandle. Our first team is staged in Panama City at two sites: Central Baptist Church and Lighthouse Baptist Church.  I have been advised our second and third teams will thrust out from Panama City to small coastal towns devastated by the hurricane.

Our fellow Floridians are desperate for pallets of water, cases of non-perishable foods, paper goods (including diapers), and cleaning supplies. We welcome all donations, both financial assistance and cases of water and non-perishable goods.

For financial donations, go to Hillsdale’s website, www.HillsdaleBaptist.org, find the Donations button in the upper righthand corner, and follow instructions listing your gift under “Other” and typing in Disaster Relief (your financial donations are tax-deductible and anonymous to this pastor unless you communicate with me directly).

You have this pastor’s assurance that all donations will go directly to Hillsdale’s Disaster Relief Effort in the Florida Panhandle.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Dr. Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

Hillsdale Baptist Church

The Cancer of Racism and the 21st Century Church

Our nation has witnessed in the past decade a rise in racism that has left us scarred and divided.  Left wing socialists, bitter anarchists, and political chameleons have pretended to champion the rights of minorities, inflaming impressionable youth, they have enslaved a generation to passions leaving them angry, bitter, scarred and hopeless.

Although we too often fail, the answer to a troubled society and a racially divided nation rests with the church and Bible believers.  While the history of man is proof the natural man is hopelessly prejudiced; such is not to be the case for Christians. We are commanded, Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).

What do you suppose is the basis of the command to “Honor all men”?  It is that fundamental truth found in the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” Every man’s worth is this, God created man and woman after His likeness and “crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5).

Pro Football legend and Hall of Famer, David “Deacon” Jones, knew the prejudice of racism in America in the 1960’s and the bitter scars it could leave on a man’s soul.  In his youth, Deacon witnessed an act of racial violence that took the life of a woman he described as an “elderly black church woman”.  Deacon recounted in an interview, “Unlike many black people then, I was determined not to be what society said I was.”

Rather than be caught up in the racial prejudices and violence of his times, Deacon Jones settled on a life-dominating truth: “All men are created equal. After that, it’s up to you.”

When Hillsdale Baptist Church relocated to our new home in 2005, it was my prayer God would enrich our church family with a diversity that reflected our community and a love for others that would “Honor all men”.  It is that principle that will dominate my challenge to our church family this Sunday as we celebrate our nation’s birth. Deacon Jones

TRAGEDY STRIKES THE HEARTLAND OF AMERICA

After a 9-year assault on “white America” (I hate to use that term…I am an American!) led by the Obama Administration and gleefully embraced by liberals who hate America and Judeo-Christian values (marriage, family, and home), we now read the largest drop of life expectancy in America is among middle-age “White Americans”.

Liberal educators, politicians, and media buffoons, got their “Hope and Change” in 2008 with the election of Barack Hussein Obama and by 2016 America became a nation feeling hopeless, believing nothing would change…on the brink of spiritual, moral, and economic bankruptcy.

Only by the sovereignty and providence of God have we seen Donald Trump elected President (and no, he is not perfect) and a non-politician take the helm of state and begin to push back against a “hate ideology” that left so many Americans despondent.

Why have Americans turned to drugs, including the epidemic of opioids, alcohol, and pursued sexual depravity at the risk of their health and future?  Why is the heartland of middle America morally imploding?

Yesterday’s report in USA Today suggests, “The problem is concentrated in rural, largely white counties that have often struggled for many years with stagnant wages, unemployment, poverty and the loss of major industries that fueled local economies…”

Predictably, Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, suggests a change of policy “directed at strengthening the middle class” will be the answer.

No, Mr. Woolf, a change of policy is not what America needs.  America needs a spiritual revival.  Our nation needs to humble herself, return to God, repent of our sins, and embrace the fundamental spiritual principles that made us the greatest nation in the world.

Although addressed to Israel, I close with a verse that should be the passion of every believer.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith

The Tragic Consequences Of Silence

* The following article is generated out of concern for the absence of pastors and Christian laypeople in the democratic process.  At a time our Constitutional liberties are under assault by the progressive, militant left, professing Christians are MIA.  Last Wednesday evening, May 15, 2017, my wife and I spoke before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, a committee that is formed every 20 years and tasked with hearing the voice of Florida citizens concerning revisions to the Florida Constitution.  The progressive left dominated the meeting in their attendance and agenda, while the presence of conservative voices was pathetically minuscule.

Deafening silence, detachment, distance, disengagement, disorganization and moral desensitization are but a few words that come to mind when I ponder how far the average American stands from the political arena.   There is an even greater lack of participation in our democracy among those who profess to be Christians .

I have attended school board meetings, city and county commissioner meetings, and political party meetings for more than a decade, and can attest that few pastors or professing Christians in Tampa Bay engage in public forums to express opinions, concerns or outrage over laws, ordinances and public policies that not only assail biblical morality and freedoms, but left unchallenged are tools to advance the erosion of our families, communities, state and nation.

Those of us who attend and participate in the democratic process have had our eyes opened to the organized forces of liberal socialists whose ideas and politics are antithetical to America’s heritage.  Many who practice liberal politics are strongly adversarial toward traditional marriage, family, morality and decency.  Their efforts are often demonstrated in forms of mob violence, attacks on free speech on college campuses, and shutting down conservative ideas in the public forum.  School boards, city and county commissioner meetings, along with political rallies have become the staging ground for militant liberals.

The enemies of Biblical morality and conservatism have taken control of our schools and institutions of higher learning, eroding the foundations of our homes and culture.  While the moral fabric of our society hangs tattered and torn, the majority of pastors and professing Christians are dismissive of those sounding the alarm warning our families, churches, schools, and society are under attack.

Christian friend, the time for political ambivalence is passed.  If we do not awaken to the imminent threat of being silenced altogether, we will be relegated to the dismal heap of irrelevance.

It is time for all who love American freedom to awaken out of sleep!  We must become active citizens for the sake of our homes, churches, schools and our beloved nation.  It is time for pastors to assail the ideology of liberal indoctrination.   It is time for Bible believers to support pastors and churches that dare to be faithful to God’s Word and stand with them in private and public forums.

Be forewarned; history will judge us harshly for failing to be stewards of liberty and defenders of biblical morality.

  • To stay informed on issues that impact your life in Tampa Bay, subscribe to Mr. Terry Kemple’s “Community Issues Council” for Christian Citizenship in Action Tampa Bay.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Standing Up for Freedom of Religion in Hillsborough County

One would think the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution is simple enough for anyone in the United States to grasp.  It reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It appears there are some employees in Hillsborough County Parks who fail to understand the fundamental right of religion because a county employee recently informed a church group they could not hold Vacation Bible School classes in a county public park unless they were willing to not use the Bible!  Fortunately, that egregious assertion that would have denied religious liberty has been addressed; however, it does not “fix” the perceived adversarial posture some employees of government have taken towards Christianity.  Because this is not the first time County Employees have taken a less than friendly position regarding religious liberties, Dr. Stacy White,  chairman of the Hillsborough County Commissioners, is proposing that Hillsborough County Park Employees undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty.

Today I spoke briefly before the County Commissioners in support of Chairman White’s proposal; however, I also asserted that the County Commissioners’ 2014 decision essentially mandating Christian  businesses (ex. – caterers, photographers, bakers, florists, musicians, printers, to name a few) will either serve the demands of the LGTBQ community (example, Gay Marriage) and capitulate their Christian convictions or be punished with crippling lawsuits, set in motion an adversarial tone against churches and Christians in the County.   The following is my brief exhortation to our County Commissioners:

May 17, 2017

I understand the issue before you this morning is to consider a vote on requiring Hillsborough County Park Employees to undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty. I am here to not only support those classes, but suggest the same be taught to all County Employees.

I find it appalling that anyone employed in Hillsborough County would undermine basic 1st Amendment Rights of Freedom of Religion; however, this is not the first time and the slights against Christianity in this county is growing…from County Park officials daring to tell a church they cannot hold a Vacation Bible School if they use the Bible, to a teacher in Riverview demanding students remove crosses in her classroom.

To assist you in finding the source of this adversarial attitude toward Christians and the free practice of their faith and convictions in this county, I suggest this board of County Commissioners look into your own misguided legislative decisions.

In October 2014, five of the sitting commissioners on this board took an adversarial posture against Christians in this County when you voted to appease the LGTBQ community and attack the free exercise of religion of Christian business owners and businesses. You demanded that every private, family owned business that embraces traditional moral values either cave to your ordinance or face the threat of crippling lawsuits for daring to not capitulate to the invasive demands of the LGTBQ community.

If you are going to take up the requirement that County Park Employees undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty, I suggest you do the same and fix your own misguided decision to demand by government fiat, that Christian businesses set aside their own religious and moral convictions.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Tampa

Dear Tampa Residents,

Today your City Council, consisting of an Insurance agent, a Racehorse breeder, a retired jeweler, two lawyers, and an English major decided they know more about parenting your children then you.   In fact, they know so much about parenting your children they made it illegal for you to seek the guidance of a licensed mental health professional to counsel your minor children struggling with their sexual identity.

Perhaps you are comfortable with the heavy hand of Tampa government, but I am not!  Is there anyone who honestly believes an Insurance agent, Racehorse breeder, retired jeweler, two lawyers, and an English major know more than City of Tampa parents when it comes to deciding what is best for their minor children?

I am appalled, outraged, and incensed that your elected officials have no respect for parental authority or the sanctity of your home.  Regardless of their good intentions, the Tampa City Council’s decision to make it illegal for parents to seek the counsel of licensed mental health providers for sexually confused minors is egregious and one parents should not accept as tolerable.

The following was my appeal to the Tampa City Council before today’s vote:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My name is Travis Smith and I am the Senior Pastor of Hillsdale Baptist Church at 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL.

I have heard several reference the Bible today and I will share a verse with you myself: “a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15b).  The topic before us seems to be one area government is bent on rejecting the rights of parents to seek guidance and counsel for their children.

I am outraged the Tampa City Council is considering a law, an ordinance making it illegal for parents to seek the counsel of licensed mental health professionals for their minor children struggling with same-sex attractions.

I am appalled by your arrogance that elected officials… an Insurance agent, a Racehorse breeder, a retired jeweler, two lawyers, and an English major presume to have the right or wisdom to demand by fiat that your will be imposed on the families and licensed mental health providers and counselors of Tampa.

How dare you attack the sanctity of the home and family under some misguided notion you either know better or perceive you have the authority to usurp the role, wisdom, and authority of parents.

How dare you interfere with the God-given role and responsibility parents bear in knowing, training and guiding their own children!

On behalf of the membership of Hillsdale Baptist Church of Tampa, FL, I ask that you not abuse the public trust by thrusting yourself into a role that you have no place and no business.

Regardless of your “good intentions”, a vote for a law that limits or prohibits loving parents from seeking counsel and guidance from licensed mental health professionals is an incorrigible action and an overreach of your office and responsibility to this community.

Respectfully…get out of our homes; stop meddling with our children; and don’t you dare use the heavy-heeled boot of government to crush the freedoms and liberties of the citizens of this community to have the right to seek counsel, help and guidance for their children.

* Today’s Update: The Tampa City Council approved by a 7-0 vote to make it illegal for parents to seek the counsel of Licensed Mental Health Professionals for minor children struggling with their sexual identity.

Your Patriot Parson,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2017

The 45th President Needs Your Help!

trumpWe have a new president, but the heart of the matter is still a problem of the heart.

Like many I know, I have optimism for these United States I have not known since the Reagan years. Rather than the “mandy pandy”, metropolitan male leaders who have led our nation for two decades, it appears America finally has a president who refuses to speak in Orwellian tones of political correctness and is not afraid to charge into the fray of Washington politics.

president-trumpDonald Trump’s election and his inauguration speech appears to solidify he actually has the gall and fortitude to institute as policy the promises he made to the American people during his run for President.  Already the media, liberals, and progressive Republicans are in an uproar that we have a President who appears determined to put the interests of America—FIRST!

The fact so many, perhaps even a majority, in places of leadership and influence in our country are shaken by a “Make America Great Again” ideology should be a cause of alarm to the American citizenry.   The diatribe launched against President Trump by the media following his inaugural speech should raise alarm in the heartland of the USA.  Using their public platform into American homes, the liberal media is desperate to paint the new President as “Hitlerian”, anti-Semitic, comparing the new administration to Nazi German of the 1930’s before Trump has been in office 24 hours.chris-matthews

Why such a desperate, imbecilic attempt to delegitimize President Trump before he has crossed the threshold into the Oval office?  Who are these antagonists of the American spirit?  From whence has this anti-America sentiment come?

It is my opinion the moral and political cancer that has diminished our nation over the last 50 years had its infancy in our secular schools and has slowly metastasized into every institution of our country, including our homes, churches, schools, civic groups, and the public media.  While average Americans were tolerant and silent, the liberal left was taking seats of leadership as school board members, city and county commissioners, school administrators and teachers, law enforcement, judgeships, state and federal offices, and government bureaucracy from the bottom to the top.  As we observed during the Obama years, government bureaucrats and the institutions they represent have become adversaries of the very constituency they are to serve.

We have a new president and I am praying for his safety as he battles an entrenched, adversarial, amoral political class in Washington, DC; however, the election of Donald Trump will be nothing more than a reprieve if we, the American people fail to confront those same enemies in our homes (via media), churches, schools, and local and state governments.

More than a new president, America needs a spiritual awakening, a fresh stirring of conviction and repentance that begins in the hearts of God’s people.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”make-america-great

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith