Friday, August 1, 2008

Bible Trivia - 8/1/2008

Question: Which Old Testament book and person’s name was the Hebrew equivalent of Jesus?

Answer: Joshua.

Comments: The name "Jesus" is an Anglicization of the Greek Ίησους (Iēsous), itself a Hellenization of the Hebrew יהושע (Yehoshua) or Hebrew-Aramaic ישוע (Yeshua), meaning "YHWH rescues" or "YHWH saves". There are actually four Old Testament figures names Joshua, the most famous of whom led the conquest of the Promised Land.

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21, NASB)

Word of the Day - 8/1/2008


Peremptory means leaving no opportunity for denial or refusal; imperative.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell prey to a peremptory command when Nebuchadnezzar ordered that whoever did not worship a statue of him would be cast into a fiery furnace.

"But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire." (Daniel 3:6, NASB)

Sharach, Meshach, and Abednego refused and were thrown into the furnace. Through divine intervention, they came out unscathed. (Daniel 3)

Note: This painting ("Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego preserved from the Burning Fiery Furnace") was painted by Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) in 1863.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 8/1/2008

On Thursday night, I traveled to Halls and visited JBT and JTH as they gave the Halls branch of MoFoS a facelift. They are preparing the store for the prospects of new management in the coming weeks. I had not been to the Halls store in sometime, or Halls for that matter. Then again, I cannot think of any other reason that I might travel to Halls.

I do not want to get anyone to excited, but there is a possibility that I might get a free grabbie machine of my own! As the guys were cleaning the back room, they came across an old machine that is presently not functioning. JBT debated even throwing it away. It is The Challenger model, meaning it is the type that scoops and not the grabbing variety with which I have shown great proficiency. (I dare say I have mastered it.) I am hoping this works out as I have always dreamt of owning my own grabbie machine. (I took the childhood pleas to dream big to heart.)

No, I have no idea how I will fix the thing. Evidently grabbie machine repairmen are not listed in the phone book.

We ate at the Bel-Air Grill, a hamburger joint with a 1950's theme. There used to be several around the city but the Halls franchise is the only one that has survived. The hamburgers and cheese toast are as good as ever. It was a good night with friends.

In other Thursday news, my mother, DLNV, had a letter published in the Knoxville-News-Sentinel. The letter showed her support of Finnbarr Saunders, who is running for county commission in District 4A. If interested here is her letter:

Saunders rekindled political enthusiasm

When I was 12 years old, I remember waiting with much anticipation for the candidate, John F. Kennedy, to hold a political rally on Long Island where I lived. His charismatic personality and strong ideals inspired me about what America could be if we citizens would get involved in the political process.

Many years have passed and, like many other citizens, I have become cynical about our local, state and federal governments. This spring, that light of idealism was rekindled when I attended a gathering for Finbarr Saunders. He is a positive campaigner who sees what the 4th District can and should be. His devotion to the preservation of our historic areas as well as his passion for envisioning a better tomorrow is a hopeful message amid such a negative atmosphere.

His willingness not to sit on the sidelines and to sacrifice time, energy and wealth for his fellow citizens is admirable. Thank you, Finbarr, for reigniting my interest in the political process that I once had as a child.

Dotty Vinson

I am not sure what surprised me more: that my mother revealed her real age or that her name was actually spelled correctly.

Though I seldom get politcal on the blog I will give you five reasons why I will vote for Finbarr: 1. He is an acolyte. 2. He attended Trannsylvania University. 3. He allowed himself to be photographed wearing a bowtie. 4. This guy’s name is actually Finbarr. 5. He is an acolyte. (Yes, I know I counted acolyte twice.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 7/31/2008

Associated Baptist Press
July 31, 2008 · (08-75)

Greg Warner, Executive Editor
Robert Marus, News Editor/Washington Bureau Chief

In this issue
BWA Prague meeting ushers in new structure, Muslim response
Mo. church's $2.2 million bequest largest in Central Seminary history
Cecil Sherman diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia
CBF, Global Women agree to three-year partnership
Cowboy churches lassoing America

BWA Prague meeting ushers in new structure, Muslim response
By ABP staff

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (ABP) -- About 400 delegates to the Baptist World Alliance's annual gathering in Prague, Czech Republic, ended their meeting July 25 with approval of a major re-structuring of the organization's governing structure.

Baptists from more than 60 countries attended the meeting. BWA, the worldwide umbrella group for Baptists, links more than 214 national and regional Baptist denominational groups around the globe.

BWA leaders approved the plan, which was one result of a BWA Implementation Task Force that was appointed in 2005, during the BWA Centennial World Congress in Birmingham, England.

The re-structuring plan leaves the group's largest governing body, the BWA General Council, unchanged. But it reduces its smaller governing panel -- the BWA Executive Committee -- from 69 to 25 members while increasing the committee's power to carry on BWA business between annual gatherings. The plan also creates a 17-member nominating committee, charged with ensuring broad representation of BWA's global membership on its boards and commissions.

The plan generated considerable debate during two open forums prior to its adoption, and BWA supporters amended it several times from the task force's original proposal.

A vocal Caribbean contingency raised questions about what impact the changes, if implemented, would have on the office of BWA General Secretary Neville Callam. Callam -- the century-old organization's first non-white chief executive -- took over his post year after many years of ministry in Jamaica.

Following debate, members of the Implementation Task Force withdrew a recommendation that BWA develop formal covenants with its six autonomous regional bodies. The covenants would have spelled out mutual responsibilities between each region and the organization as a whole.

Since the full Baptist World Congress meets only every fifth year, officials hoped that the process could be agreed upon in time for changes to be implemented by the next World Congress meeting, scheduled for Hawaii in 2010.

In other business, several BWA commissions and panels held meetings during the gathering. A joint meeting of the BWA Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation Commission and Freedom and Justice Commission resulted in the appointment of a smaller group to formulate a response to a letter from 138 moderate Muslim scholars titled, "A Common Word Between Us and You." The letter was sent to world Christian leaders, including BWA president David Coffey, last October.

The group will formulate a response and circulate it to the BWA regional bodies for approval.

Bangladesh Baptist leader Dennis Datta received BWA's Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award during the meeting. Government officials forced Datta out of Bangladesh in 1969 because of his advocacy for religious freedom and other human rights. He has since returned to the majority-Muslim nation and continued to work as a spokesman for Bangladeshi Christians as well as an outspoken advocate for the poor, women and environmental protection.


Mo. church's $2.2 million bequest largest in Central Seminary history
By Vicki Brown

SHAWNEE, Kan. (ABP) -- Central Baptist Theological Seminary has received a more than $2.2 million gift -- the largest in the institution's history -- from the former members of a St. Louis-area church.

Trustees of the recently disbanded Des Peres Baptist Church have distributed funds from the sale of the congregation's property in St. Louis's posh western suburbs, seminary officials announced July 31.

The former Des Peres Baptist Church property near St. Louis. The proceeds of its sale have been donated to Central Baptist Theological Seminary.

Founded in 1955 as a mission of Third Baptist Church in St. Louis, the Des Peres congregation reached its peak of almost 250 members in 1981. Declining membership led to the church closing its doors the last Sunday of December, 2006. Des Peres was affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA.

"The congregation determined that the proceeds from their building and property should help sustain our work in theological education and provide for creative, accessible delivery," Central Seminary president Molly Marshall said in an e-mail to students, faculty and supporters. "Although they could not continue as a church, they wisely chose to sow seeds for the future. It is a significant legacy."

"Closing a church leaves the feeling, for some of us anyway, that we have failed in the legacy entrusted to us," said church trustee Mauriece Smith in a seminary press release. "But creating a means to train candidates for the pastorate somehow lessens the feelings of failure and provides a hope and promise for the future."

The funds will endow the Des Peres Chair in Congregational Health, a new faculty position on the seminary's main campus outside of Kansas City, Kan. It will also create the Des Peres Church Resource Center in Central's new library.

In addition, the terms of the gift stipulate that part of it fund a St. Louis-area initiative in ministerial preparation. Seminary officials have not yet determined exactly what form that initiative would take. Administrators are considering several possibilities, including expanding Central into the St. Louis area with a satellite campus or streaming video, or funding scholarships for St. Louis students to attend classes on the Kansas campus.

Des Peres members chose to focus on congregational health as a means to help other churches deal with problems before they face the possibility of closing their doors, Robin Sandbothe, Central's director of seminary relations, noted by phone.

"Central is committed to finding ways to help churches nurture congregational health in honor of the ministry of Des Peres Baptist Church," Marshall said.


Cecil Sherman diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia
By ABP staff

RICHMOND, Va. (ABP) -- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship pioneer Cecil Sherman has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

Sherman, 80, sought treatment options at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston after receiving the diagnosis July 25 and exploring possibilities in Richmond, Va., said Tim Norman, a family friend and fellow Virginia pastor.

Acute myeloid leukemia progresses rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks or months if left untreated. It is a potentially curable disease, but only a minority of patients are cured with current therapies.

Sherman's daughter, Eugenia Brown of Madison, Wisc., accompanied him to the well-known cancer center in Houston, where he has been accepted into a clinical-trial program, according to sources close to the family. The 21-to-30-day trial, customized for older adults, requires Sherman to remain in a protected environment. He is expected to return to Richmond in mid- to late August.

Sherman, one of the most prominent figures in moderate Baptist life over the last half-century, served as the first national coordinator - or CEO - of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, giving shape to the moderate organization, founded in 1991.

He is renowned for going toe-to-toe with fundamentalist hero Adrian Rogers during theological debates when both served on the Southern Baptist Convention Peace Committee in the mid-1980s.

Sherman's wife, Dot, remains at a nursing facility in Richmond, suffering with Alzheimer's disease. Her condition worsened last week and she is now essentially unresponsive, friends said.

Sherman currently is pastor of Westover Baptist Church in Richmond.


CBF, Global Women agree to three-year partnership
By Vicki Brown

ATLANTA (ABP) -- Leaders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Global Women recently agreed to enter a three-year partnership to meet the needs of women around the world, CBF officials announced July 29.

The partnership will start with two specific projects already in place, Global Women Executive Director Cindy Dawson explained by phone July 31.

Some CBF field personnel will participate in the Global Women's Global Voices 2008 Summit set for Sept. 12-13 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio. In addition, CBF will help promote, in its partner churches, a special prayer focus for International Women's Day, scheduled next year for March 8.

Dawson noted the agreement marks the first long-term partnership for the Birmingham, Ala.-based organization since its inception in 2001. Most Global Women partnerships have been short-term and based around specific projects, she said.

Global Women is a non-denominational group designed to provide opportunities for women to minister with and to women. It currently operates primarily through Global Women chapters based in local churchaes.

The two projects are only the beginning, Dawson added. "This is where we can start," she said, noting that the two organizations will develop new ministries specific to the partnership.

"God seems to be drawing both of us [CBF and Global Women] to Central Asia. The needs of the women there are great," she said. "We are investigating ways to empower women -- to find ways to empower and encourage women to live out their call to ministry."

Dawson, a former CBF field worker in Russia, is excited by the possibilities the partnership could provide. "It is a very complementary relationship. We want to enlarge the understanding of what Christ means for women around the world," she said.

"I'm delighted that CBF is entering into this intentional and strategic agreement with Global Women at a moment when both groups have an opportunity to transform the lives of women around the world," noted CBF Global Missions Coordinator Rob Nash, in a press statement.

Nash, who signed the agreement on CBF's behalf, added, "My hope and prayer is that this connection will help to keep before our congregations the unique challenges that women face around the world and to provide many opportunities for ministry together."

"We have found that Global Women really strikes a chord," Dawson said. "Some churches maybe don't do the women's missions groups like they used to. Some churches are finding a void and have started Global Women groups, some of which include men."

The organization faced internal struggles over generational and leadership-style differences in 2005 and 2006. Dawson was chosen to fill the executive post in 2006.

Global Women and CBF struck a formal partnership shortly after the women's organization formed. That accord was renewed in 2002, but changes in Global Women's leadership shifted the agreement to a more informal relationship, noted Chris Boltin with CBF Global Missions.

Boltin is happy the relationship once again has been formalized. "They keep us focused on women's issues," he said.


Cowboy churches lassoing America
By Rachel Mehlhaff

DALLAS (ABP) -- The "cowboy churches" that are springing up throughout the United States are about more than worshiping God while wearing boots and cowboy hats. They are about finding ways to be relevant in the rodeo-circuit, country/Western culture.

In many ways, congregations that identify with the so-called "Western Heritage" movement are like traditional ones, with minor differences.

For example, boots placed at the back of the worship space as receptacles sometimes replace collection plates and offertories. Baptisms often take place in horse troughs. And, of course, country/Western, Southern gospel and bluegrass music often feature prominently in worship services.

Ron Nolen, founder of the Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches, said that some traditionalists have criticized cowboy churches for building rodeo arenas. But Nolen believes that's no different than a traditional church building a "family life center" or gymnasium. He said that, while the appearance may be different, the message is the same: Christ, and Christ alone.

"We have got to get the gospel to the people in America," Nolen said. "Western Heritage is one way of getting the gospel to the people of this nation."

The cowboy-church movement has its roots in Pentecostal ministries from the middle of the 20th century, but has spread significantly among evangelicals -- and especially Southern Baptists in rural areas -- in the last 10 years.

In 2000, Nolen, whose son competed in rodeos as a roper, began wondering where all the people he always saw at rodeos went to church. He found out that most of them didn't.

To reach the rodeo community, he helped found the Cowboy Church of Ellis County, in Waxahachie, Texas. With an average weekly attendance of more than 1,200, the congregation bills itself as "the largest cowboy church in the world." And it was one of a growing movement.

"Baptist people began to see there was an open door here," Nolen said.

He also started two more churches before becoming the Texas fellowship's coordinator. The group has 129 affiliated congregations, and it cooperates with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Fellowship leaders hope to increase the number of affiliated churches to 250 by 2010.

Although the BGCT has 5,700 member churches, about 10 percent of the baptisms have been coming from its 80-plus affiliated cowboy churches, according to Charles Higgs, BGCT's director of Western Heritage ministry. These churches average about 40 baptisms a year. Seventy percent of those baptisms are adults.

"This is a movement that is reaching the men and the adults," Higgs said, citing the demographic groups that tend to make up a disproportionately small share of baptisms in most Baptist churches.

Cowboy-church leaders from other states have, with Texas leaders' help, recently organized an American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches. So far, about a dozen churches have affiliated with it -- from states such as Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Alabama.

"The AFCC is in the embryonic stages of coming together," Nolen said. "What is happening in Texas is also attempting to happen across America."

Todd Hervey, AFCC's nationwide strategist, believes that the spread of cowboy churches is just getting started. He said many people who identify with country and Western culture feel intimidated in traditional churches.

"We are trying to remove the barriers that have kept lost men from coming to church," he said.

There are also cowboy churches popping up under the Cowboy Church Network of North America, which was started in 2004. It became affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board in 2005. About 40 congregations identify with the network. They are located in places as diverse as the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Idaho, South Dakota, Wyoming and Ohio -- and even Canada.

"God is moving in this and the people are responding," said Jeff Smith, executive director of the network.

Smith said cowboy churches and traditional churches are "different only in flavor." Cowboy churches, he added, have been popular among unpretentious rodeo lovers because of their down-to-earth atmosphere.

But not all people understand the need for cowboy churches. Smith said he has been asked, "Can you worship in a barn?"

His response? "Jesus was born in a barn."

Smith likes the idea of starting churches that focus on the interests of particular groups. And the cowboy-church model could be replicated among other communities of aficionados.

For example, Smith said, he has had a biker take one of his courses on pastoring cowboy churches to get ideas about starting a church for his own lifestyle community.

"I like the idea of the biker church," Smith said.


Bible Trivia - 7/31/2008

Question: Who found the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Answer: A shepherd boy.

Comments: Specifically, it is generally accepted that a Bedouin goat- or sheepherder named Mohammed Ahmed el-Hamed (nicknamed edh-Dhib -"the wolf") made the first discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. In the most commonly told story of his discovery, the shepherd threw a rock into a cave in an attempt to drive out a missing animal under his care. The shattering sound of pottery drew him into the cave, where he found several ancient jars containing scrolls wrapped in linen. Another theory was that two young boys were looking for a lost goat and came upon some of the artifacts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were of great significance as they represent the oldest manuscripts of Biblical texts.

Word of the Day - 7/31/2008


To levigate is to rub, grind, or reduce to a fine powder, as in a mortar, with or without the addition of a liquid.

Moses was so outraged at the sight of the Israelites worshiping a golden calf that he had it levigated and made the Israelites drink it! (Exodus 32:20)

He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it. (Exodus 32:20, NASB)

Note: This painting is "The Adoration of the Golden Calf" by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665). The oil on canvas hangs in the The National Gallery in London.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 7/31/2008

On Thursday night, SMA and I went to Ott’s Bar-B-Q. Evidently my review was so enticing, he had to try it. Actually, he wanted to check out the vinegar based barbeque as he had been a big fan of Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Birmingham. It too was vinegar based.

It had already been a long day for SMA. He had just completed the first of two days of the bar examination. The test ran from 8 am to 4 pm. He gave his best effort but had no way of gauging his success. There were three other Cumberland students in attendance. Otherwise, he saw no one he knew.

SMA ate. I did not. Like me, he was not overly impressed with Ott’s sauce, finding it had too much vinegar. Unlike me ate in the restaurant which allowed him to substitute “Cindy’s Sweet” sauce which he said was far better than the basic sauce. He was also impressed with the restaurant’s interior and potato salad.

We did feel cheated by the Touch Tunes jukebox. SMA saw an advertisement on the machine for Sigur Rós, prompting him to pay $1 (for three selections). He soon found that they did not have that album after all. So if you go there hoping to hear some Icelandic music, do not be fooled. Instead, he chose a Radiohead song, The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” and left the final selection to me as there was not a suitable third option. I picked The Grateful Dead’s Touch of Grey.” Not surprisingly, he was not overly thrilled with my choice

Afterwards, we went to Michael’s. Two guys entering an arts and crafts retail store is not gay in the least. We were there to pick up six items he had the store frame. I learned that the official colors for the University of Tennessee are “blaze orange” and “white sale.”

As an aside is there any retail store that does not carry Hannah Montana merchandise?

Afterwards, I met JTH and Mr. and Ms. X at the home of Mr. X. Not only was his niece Pyper there, but also his brother-in-law’s niece, Cheyenne. Pyper is intensely jealous of Cheyenne so naturally we paid Cheyenne a tremendous amount of attention. It was quite comical to watch Pyper try to steal Cheyenne’s thunder. This was the result when I asked Cheyenne if I could get a picture of her. Pyper (on the right) had to be in it too!

Naturally we ate supper at Applebees. It is amazing how few servers are familiar with our discount cards. It actually makes us feel especially important as so few people have them.

The big news of the night was that the basketball court at church was sanded down and the lines erased for the first time ever. The court will soon be operational again. Mr. X is anxious to get back on a team in the church league.

In closing, if anyone with connections in the legal system reads this, I think subjecting criminals to Delilah’s radio program would be a great crime deterrent. Then again, it might be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bible Trivia - 7/30/2008

Question: Recite Revelation 22:21.

Answer: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." (Revelation 22:21)

Comments: Revelation 22:21 is the Bible's final verse.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:21, NASB)

Word of the Day - 7/30/2008


Diaphoresis is perspiration, espeically when artificially induced.

One of the ramifications of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit was that Adam would exude diaphoresis in order to get his food from that point forward. (Genesis 3:19)

By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:19, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 7/30/2008

On Tuesday, I finally got to take KGG out for her 16th birthday, 18 days after the fact. As usual, we went out for a smoothie. That sentence took a couple of hours.

I picked KGG up at her house. I got to see her car - a black Nissan Xterra. She likes the interior of my newer model and the body of her older version. I would agree with her assessment. I allowed her the option of driving mine for the day but she declined.

We set out going west. Since we had not talked in awhile, we decided to find a smoothie proprietor in west Knoxville. We faced two road closings and I made one wrong turn and before I knew it we were in Lenoir City. We had fun talking and catching up and KGG got to see a lot of scenery that she does not ordinarily. We also learned that there do not appear to be any smoothie establishments in Farragut or Lenoir City. That just does not seem right. Naturally, we wound up at the Smoothie King nearest her house.

The main KGG news is that she has broken up with her most recent boyfriend, Jack. Her parents and older brother approve of this decision so I do as well. I was actually for the relationship for the same reasons initially so at least I am consistent. As always, KGG was the dumper and not the dumpee. She does not seem any the worse for wear over the event.

She was also able to acquire her license on the day she turned 16. Evidently, the DMV now requires an appointment to take the examination. I am glad they did not do that when I was getting my license. I would have had to buy an appointment book just for all the trips there.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 7/29/2008

Associated Baptist Press
July 29, 2008 · (08-74)

Greg Warner, Executive Editor
Robert Marus, News Editor/Washington Bureau Chief

In this issue
Wounded 'soldier of the Cross' scarred by Christian service
Gap between dreams, reality often cause of pastors' wounds
Rejected ministers find acceptance and help
Separate identity key to softening spouses' hurt
Mentoring program helps ministers chart true course
Appeals-court decision means Christian college gets state aid
Mimicking trends could turn musician into worship 'barista,' leader warns

Wounded 'soldier of the Cross' scarred by Christian service
By Ken Camp

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (ABP) -- After 18 years serving the Lord in hot spots around the globe, Kevin Turner finally was wounded in the line of duty -- not physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

As president of Strategic World Impact and an ordained Baptist minister, Turner wanted to be "a soldier of the Cross." He traveled to war zones, disaster areas and regions where Christians are persecuted, convinced God had called him to provide emergency relief in Christ's name to people "standing on the brink of eternity."

In January, he planned to accompany a 20-member medical mission team to Darfur. The team intended to deliver supplies and Bibles to displaced people in the war-torn region.

The Oklahoma-based crew was slated to fly into southern Darfur on a cargo plane by way of Kenya. But as the mission team finalized plans, the situation in Kenya deteriorated. Riots broke out after a disputed presidential election and allegations of vote fraud. Due to roadblocks and other transportation problems within the country, fuel was unavailable for the plane scheduled to transport the team and their supplies from Kenya to Sudan.

"After Kenya flared up, I kept in the back of my mind that if we were needed there and couldn't go into Sudan, we'd do something in Kenya," Turner recalled.

Working with indigenous church leaders, the mission team planned to deliver emergency kits originally meant for Sudan to internally displaced people in Kenya. But at two sites where team members tried to work -- Nakuru and Molo -- they narrowly escaped violence.

"There were 11 fires burning in the city when we left Nakuru," Turner said. "People were throwing rocks as we stood between two vans and prayed, just before we pulled out. And right after we left, a mob ran into the lobby of the hotel where we had been staying. People were being chased by a crowd with machetes."

The team saw cars set on fire and listened to reports from pastors of revenge killings and random acts of wanton violence. At one point, the team was located in a gated park surrounded by a machete-wielding mob, unsure how they would escape.

"It was the straw that broke the camel's back. For me, I reached the pressure point," Turner said. "I've been in so many flipped-out situations through the years. I've had to make decisions that affect other people's lives -- people I'm responsible for before God and people I love with all my heart.

"Walking by myself in the bush, I prayed: 'God, I'm sick and tired of having to make decisions where people could die if I'm wrong. I've got to hear your voice. I need assurance.' I waited what must have been half an hour, and there was not a word from God. I was angry. I felt abandoned, in a sense."

Although the team managed to get out of Kenya alive, Turner returned to the United States broken and depressed.

"I didn't want to see anybody. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I sat in the dark, not wanting to engage the world," he said.

His trauma reached a crescendo one Wednesday night while his wife and children attended church. Turner "whacked out and blacked out," he said, finding himself disoriented and lost in his own garage for at least 15 minutes.

"I felt like my mind was shutting down -- like I was melting down," he said. When my wife came home, I told her: 'I'm going insane. I'm going nuts. You need to throw me away.'"

His wife persuaded him to seek medical attention at an after-hours clinic. The physician on duty--an Army doctor who had returned recently from service in Iraq--diagnosed Turner as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The doctor wanted to admit him to the hospital immediately, but Turner refused. Instead, the physician prescribed medications and sent Turner home with strict orders to seek specialized help.

In the weeks that followed, Turner's family physician and counselors confirmed the PTSD diagnosis, stemming not just from the trip to Kenya but from the cumulative effects of 18 years of ministry in crisis situations.

Although Turner reports progress over the last few months, he still feels he's far from fully recovered.

"My life has been in turmoil. The nights have been like hell for me," he said. "I've been able to keep my thoughts in some perspective in the daytime. But nighttime is the worst. It all comes flooding in."

Psychologist Dan McGee noted the symptoms Turner described, coupled with his prolonged exposure to trauma, fit the PTSD profile.

"The mind, in order to survive day to day, must assume the position of invincibility. It is a carryover -- somewhat a gift and curse -- from adolescence when none of us really believes any of the bad stuff will really happen to us. Without this defense mechanism, we would be compelled to live in a state of anxiety that would overtax our mind/body system, and make a normal life impossible," McGee explained.

"Therefore, when life-threatening things really do happen around us, the adaptation is made possible through coping skills learned over time. The problem is that they are not meant by the Creator to be used as a permanent solution."

When those coping mechanisms break down under overload, raw emotions and behaviors surface, he said.

McGee, an independent contractor working with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, noted ministers particularly are subject to overload, burnout and compassion fatigue. He cited three reasons:

-- Ministers are expected to be the stabilizing force at times of illness, injury, death, divorce or other kinds of loss.

-- They are "unfortunately believed to be immune from error, misjudgment, temptation or failure."

-- They tend to misinterpret "calling" to override their own needs and the needs of their families.

Even Jesus needed a break, McGee noted.

"There were times when Jesus did not heal, did not raise [people] from the dead, or even drop everything to be a first responder," he said. "One gigantic lesson that helping professionals must somehow grasp is the importance Jesus placed on regularly withdrawing to a quiet place for restoration. Failure to do so results in overexposure, poor choices, damaged relationships and burnout -- and eventually disqualification as a helper."

Turner's assistant the last three years, Linda Beaty, has traveled into global hot spots with Strategic World Impact since 2000. Like Turner, she and other staff members have experienced difficulty in dealing with long-term exposure to trauma.

"Kenya, particularly, rattled many of us in some very deep places," she said.

Beaty sees recent months as a season of healing for the caregivers. "The Lord has allowed things to slow down to provide a time for Kevin and all of us to heal," she said.

Strategic World Impact has been "an intense ministry, constantly moving forward," but Beaty expects that to change to some degree. "We have realized the need to slow down" and spend time drawing strength from "a new level of interdependency," she said.

Turner expressed gratitude to the Strategic World Impact board for granting him time to begin healing and to his family for their constant support.

Along the way, Turner said he has learned important lessons about God's sustaining grace. But he had to jettison some of the "Christianity-lite" and trite clichés he once accepted.

"I've given up on pat theological answers," Turner said. "There are a lot of things I believed that I've had to give up. But a lot of the other things I believe have gone deeper, down into the bedrock. ... I used to have a lot more tools in the toolbox, but the tools I still have left, I definitely know how to use."

Turner acknowledges he still struggles with how to reconcile some biblical teachings with his own experience, such as the ability to "overcome evil with good" when he has seen the power of evil firsthand. He also cringes when he hears a Christian tell a troubled person, "All you have to do is pray."

"A suffering heart wants truth, not flippant Christian answers," he said.

Turner hopes what he has experienced will allow him to minister to hurting people in a new way -- as a fellow sufferer.

"Being there -- to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice -- is important. The hand on the shoulder, the love that is expressed matters more down the road than what is said," he said.

Wounds have no value in themselves, he noted. But if they are sustained in Christian service, they signal credibility. "I'm a bit remiss now to trust anyone who doesn't have a limp," he confessed.

"I've come to believe that God values brokenness.... In the past, I would have said a minister should hide his scars. Now, I believe he should be identified by them," he added. "In God's economy, scars can be beautiful."


Gap between dreams, reality often cause of pastors' wounds
By Jennifer Harris & John Hall

(ABP) -- Wounds can cause ministers to question -- or even abandon -- their call to ministry. But what wounds a minister?

"There is a great deal of idealism wrapped up in a pastor's desire to serve people through the church and to serve people in the church," said Bob Perry, congregational health team leader for the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. "The reality usually doesn't match."

This gap between expectation and reality often leads to a degree of disillusionment when pastors find their churches are less than the ideal they had hoped.

Pastors study this ideal in seminary, but often aren't prepared to deal with situations they actually encounter, Perry said. "Ministers sometimes lack some of the basic leadership skills."

They need to know how to work with people and understand the power structure in the church, he said.

Ron Herring, director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas' congregational-leadership team, agreed. "Probably the thing they [ministers] do most often is assume they have more authority than they do," he said.

They try to make rapid changes without understanding the unspoken "value system" of the particular congregation, he added.

Young ministers don't know which questions to ask to help determine expectations, said Emily Prevost, BGCT's associate coordinator of leader research and product development.

"We have thrown our pastors into this work sort of sink-or-swim, and it's getting harder to swim," Herring said.

Expectations -- for both the minister and the minister's spouse -- need to be made clear, Herring said. A congregation's previous pastor and spouse often create expectations for the new couple.

Disappointment with people also can wound pastors. They often expect criticism from certain church members, but "they don't expect their friends and supporters not to defend them," Perry said.

Church conflict also can lead to broken relationships. Even if the pastor is not the cause of or central to the conflict, he or she is naturally the focal point, Perry said. The division can be painful and hurtful to the minister and his or her family.

Failure to set appropriate boundaries can be a source of pastors' wounds. "It's very easy not to set boundaries to protect your family, health or spiritual development," Prevost said. "You're doing God's work."

Help exists for ministers to move beyond the wounds and forward with service.

Organizations, such as the Ministering to Ministers Foundation, facilitate the healing process and can help pastors take the next step, Perry said.

Local directors of missions try to respond when ministers are facing trouble or are in pain. Baptist conventions also have staff to help pastors across their states.

Ministers who survive wounded situations often point to their calling as the reason they made it. They know this is what God wants them to do, Prevost said.


Rejected ministers find acceptance and help
By Jim White

RICHMOND, Va. (ABP) -- Statistically, a pastor stands a better chance of being fired than does a coach in the National Football League.

Charles Chandler, executive director of the Ministering to Ministers Foundation, reports more than 2 percent of all pastors will be fired or pushed out of their churches at some point in their careers.

He formed Ministering to Ministers in 1995 after a small group of disgruntled church leaders forced his resignation as pastor of a Baptist church in Richmond, Va. His foundation offers a five-day wellness retreat where clergy and their spouses meet others in similar circumstances and talk with support staff. A growing number of churches that terminate ministers include the cost of underwriting the retreat in severance agreements.

From the moment a retreat begins, Chandler fights the clock, because much needs to be done in a brief timespan, he noted. Although the participating couples come from varied denominational backgrounds, they share the emotional bruises, spiritual scars and psychological pain of rejection.

"Our first objective is to get them to tell their stories" Chandler said. "They come in with strong feelings of isolation and failure. Telling their stories helps them to know they are not alone. It is amazing how similar their stories are."

As each person shares, others in the group provide him or her the balm of empathy.

"It is hard to know for sure, but according to the most reliable information we have, it seems that across denominational lines about 1,600 ministers per month are being dismissed or forced to resign," Chandler said.

"Their trust has been shattered -- and their dreams. They're experiencing doubts about whether there is a place for them in the local church. Will they have to find fulfillment in ministry outside the parish setting?"

Chandler believes more small churches are affected by forced termination because professors, often with little church experience, are preparing seminary students for service in larger churches.

And some small churches are dominated by members of a single family, presenting challenges for which many new ministers find themselves unprepared.

"Pastors come to these churches looking to make a difference and they run into the matriarch or patriarch who doesn't want anything to change," he said.

An emerging trend Chandler has observed is music ministers and other associate-level ministerial staff forced out of church staff positions by authoritarian pastors who either are insecure and inexperienced or who have adopted the leadership styles of megachurch pastors whom they have chosen as mentors.

Wellness retreats concentrate on helping ministers and their mates understand some of the reasons for their circumstance. A therapist always is on hand to guide discussions and answer questions in the group setting or privately.

Couples who attend the retreats usually have more anger than they have allowed themselves to realize or express, Chandler said. They have "stuffed it rather than acknowledging it and dealing with it."

Because many participants feel isolated even from God, the retreats seek to renew a sense of spirituality and reliance on God's presence in their lives. Since they often have been crushed by the power structures in their churches, the ministers have come to distrust and avoid power, he noted.

"We use Bob Perry's book, Pass the Power, Please, as the starting point and emphasize that power is simply the ability to get something done," Chandler said.

Ministers need to develop a healthy sense of power in themselves and their ministries, he added.

Ministering to Ministers helps teach ministers how to write a resume and prepare for a job interview. The retreat also includes a component designed to demonstrate that ministerial skills are transferable to non-church ministries and secular posts.

"This gives hope. Sometimes ministers feel there is nothing else they can do," Chandler said. "And when you feel that you have failed at the only thing you are qualified to do, it takes away the joy of service. It is freeing to realize that you have skills that are transferable to secular positions."

Chandler concedes a few ministers who attend the retreats simply are not well-suited to ministry, and the moral lapses of others -- about 7 percent nationwide -- require dismissal.

But he insists most of those with whom he works are gifted ministers. Many, he believes, are even better equipped for ministry following dismissal or forced resignation because they possess greater humility and empathy.

Overall, 54 percent of ministers who experience forced termination go back into church staff ministry. Among those who receive help from Ministering to Ministers, the figure stands at about 70 percent, Chandler reported.

"Still, we are working to redeem an even greater number of those who have been wounded in Christ's service by Christ's own people," he said.

"This has not dampened my enthusiasm for ministry. I would not want to discourage anyone from entering ministry, but the expectation that a minister will not face opposition is just not factual. Even in the church, a minister will experience opposition. Jesus' greatest opposition came from religious people."


Separate identity key to softening spouses' hurt
By Vicki Brown & Kaitlin Chapman

(ABP) --"What are we going to do?" the young pastor's wife asked as she drew her infant closer. The baby was only a week old when some members of the church the couple served suggested the young man resign or they would lead the congregation to fire him.

"I hate being a minister's wife, and I don't want to talk about it," the older pastor's wife said, and slammed down the telephone receiver.

The minister isn't the only one who bears the pain when a congregation or a group within the church turns on him or her. The spouse does also, whether members have simply criticized the way the minister handles aspects of the job or have made a concerted effort to oust him or her.

And in some congregations, expectations placed on a minister's spouse can be overwhelming. Members may have a stereotypical, idealized image of a pastor's wife who can cook, clean and care for her family while managing the church nursery, playing the piano, leading Vacation Bible School, hosting potluck dinners, and attending every wedding and funeral -- all with a positive attitude and energy to spare.

"It all depends on the internal culture of the church and biblical parameters that Jesus gave us," said Kim Wenzel, director of Smoldering Wick Ministries, a non-denominational ministry to help burned-out, wounded and rejected ministry leaders. "A church that puts love and caring and living in the tree of life above everything else won't have these problems."

But some ministers' spouses acknowledge congregations may fall short in the "love-and-caring" department.

"It seems like it comes down to just selfish behavior [rather] than really listening to what God wants you to do," said Jill Stowe, pastor's wife at First Baptist Church of Monahans, Texas, and president of the Texas Baptist Ministers' Wives Fellowship. "In these situations, if people would really follow Christ and do what he wants them to do, it would be much better."

"I think people need to understand that the pastor and his family are people as well, that they are God's children and a part of the church," said Sharon Jeffreys, who served as a minister's wife in Texas several years and now is helping her husband plant a church in Murrieta, Calif.

Obstacles ministers' spouses face include poor communication, judgmental attitudes and a sense that people are talking behind their backs -- not to mention open confrontation.

"It is hard when people very openly oppose your husband, because you love him," Jeffreys said. "You hear things before you hear them from the individual [causing the disagreement], and that can be hurtful. The best conflicts we've had were the people who came to our door and said they had a problem with us, whether big or small. We were able to talk it out and resolve it."

Spouses of ministers who serve isolated rural congregations face additional challenges -- the expectations of people in the community as well as the congregation and lack of financial security.

"In a larger church, there is a little more give-and-take," said Sherry Burrows, director of women's ministry at PastorCare, a national clergy support network. "If it is a smaller church, she is expected to pick up where other people drop off -- whether it is her gift or not."

Young ministers' spouses with children also experience much scrutiny. They have the task of balancing the needs of their family and the demands of ministry.

"My mission, being a mama now, is making sure my kids are taken care of," said Darcie Hill, wife of the music minister at First Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. "The challenge isn't to please people but to please God. As a minister's wife, I first have to be a God-pleaser and first do what he has called me to do. And sometimes that means that I stay home from church on Sunday nights because my kids are exhausted and that's what they need. I don't serve where people want me to. I serve where God wants me."

A minister's wife for 36 years, Anne Bracken believes the best way to deal with the pain a spouse may face at church is identity. Through surveys of ministers' wives across the country, she discovered loneliness as a primary issue. Many women isolate themselves, either because of competition with other ministers' spouses, their personality or a negative church experience.

"Many don't have the social support they need," she said. "The average woman has five to nine people she is close to, and she usually looks for more. But the average minister's wife has from one to three, and she usually doesn't look for more."

Bracken's studies indicate women who work outside the home are less lonely because they develop a social network outside the church. "Find an identity outside the church, or find a time that is identity-related outside the church so that you have someone outside you can turn to for support," she said. "But even then you have to be careful."

Spouses can find identity not only in work, but also in hobbies, education or ministries outside their local-church setting. Take a class, learn a new skill, or volunteer in a community or nonprofit event or program.

The happiest ministers' wives, she discovered, were those who felt their husbands were their best friends. Mutual support helped both husband and wife to weather church criticism and crises.

The idea behind developing a separate identity, she noted, allows empathy and concern without being totally consumed by the church. "You can say, 'If someone insults my husband, it doesn't affect me.' Yes, it hurts, but you can help each other through it. If you only live through him, you can't separate yourself from attacks on him.

"You are not him and he is not you. That has to be established when you go to a church. With separate identities, you can be a help to each other, instead of trying to live his life for him. It's overwhelming to take on both."

Although Baptist churches do not include many female senior pastors, women serve in a number of church staff roles, including as ministers for children, youth, worship, missions and discipleship. Their husbands also can experience pain and frustration.

Tim Pennington-Russell, whose wife Julie is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Decatur, Ga., believes his personality and his wife's place in history has helped him.

"I can pretty much be myself [at church], because people don't know what to expect from a pastor's husband," he said.

Because his father was a pastor, Pennington-Russell "kind of knew the lifestyle a little" before choosing to marry a minister.

He feels he has been fortunate because his wife has faced "very little" criticism within the local churches she has served. "I know a lot of women who have had a hard time. There has not been as much for her," he said. "Most of the criticism she has faced has come more from the larger denomination."

He added he does not need the support of other ministers' spouses. "I'm a fairly private person to begin with, so I'm not inclined to seek support," he said.

Although he feels no pressure to take on certain tasks at church, he said, "In some ways I may have been more assertive if I was just a regular church member."


Mentoring program helps ministers chart true course
By Carrie Joynton

(ABP) -- No one ever promised vocational ministry would be easy, said Michael Godfrey, executive director of True Course Ministries. That's why he began his mentoring program for clergy.

Godfrey's 32 years experience in Christian ministry revealed to him a huge disconnect between seminary education and the practical demands of full-time ministry.

"I've had my own bumps and bruises along the way, in terms of just dysfunctional situations, relational situations...issues with self-awareness, perceptions of others," Godfrey said.

After leaving one particularly difficult situation, Godfrey realized his struggles weren't unique.

"I came to the realization that people and systems can turn, and you can get caught in the middle of it. It just opened my eyes and I saw there was a whole lot of that," he said.

In 2001, Godfrey began pursuing a doctor of ministry degree at Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary. While enrolled at Truett, Godfrey found ministry direction during a visit to the Baptist General Convention of Texas minister/church relations office.

"When I was working on my D.Min. [doctor of ministry degree], I went to Jan Daehnert's office and asked him: 'Where's the hole? Where's the need?' He said we have plenty of after-care [for forced termination], but we don't have any preventive care. That's the hole," Godfrey said.

Godfrey developed Robinson, Texas-based True Course Ministries as he felt God directing him to offer support and continued education to ministers. "About 90 percent of ministers feel inadequately trained," he said.

The program, now completing its fifth year, earned the Malcolm S. Knowles Award for Excellence in Adult Education from the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education in 2007.

"It's a ministry God put on me to equip people," Godfrey said.

Several months of informal surveying showed Godfrey ministers were seeking mentors to help deal with feelings of isolation, loneliness and burnout. Godfrey also wanted his program to address church struggles and prevent forced terminations.

"I really knew God wanted this," Godfrey said. "Within the first six months, I just started talking to people...and the thing we kept hearing again and again, almost without hesitation, was, 'This is a need.'"

True Course Ministries focuses on administration, leadership, social and emotional understanding and communication.

One-on-one, personal mentorship with individually customized goals distinguishes the ministry. Concerned church members sometimes refer ministers to True Course, but church staff members also choose the program themselves -- often simply to develop skills and to further education.

At an initial meeting, a mentor works with the minister to write a mutual covenant of responsibility. The pair continues to meet monthly to discuss issues, growth and future goals. Official collaboration can last up to two years, and many participants retain a close friendship with mentors long after completing the sessions.

True Course Ministries' mentors are seasoned ministers themselves, experienced in the ups and downs of ministry. According to the group's website,, the mentors are "highly trained in adult education and experienced in leadership of volunteer organizations."

Mentors also must remain active in church leadership. Some serve as interim pastors. Others focus on conflict management and on counseling ministers and their families following forced termination.

Taylor Sandlin, pastor of Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas, had a positive experience with True Course. Sandlin wanted to continue his education after seminary, and the True Course program appealed to his desire for accountability and educated feedback.

"Ministry can often be a lonely endeavor," Sandlin wrote in a testimonial.

The program helped connect him with other ministers and to transition from the close-knit seminary community to full-time congregational ministry, he said. His mentor and mentor's wife "have become for my family more than mentors; they have become our friends -- kindred spirits in this life of faith," Sandlin wrote.

In their sessions, Godfrey and Sandlin focused on creating and maintaining long-term vision, a skill that has shaped his decisions ever since, Sandlin explained.

"Developing probably the thing that I've carried with me," he added. "What do I want my ministry to look like? What do I want to look like, in spiritual or family life, in five years, and how do I get there?

"[D]eveloping...and focusing on those goals...allowed me to say no to a lot of good things that nevertheless would have taken away from those long-term goals of family time and nurturing a healthy church."


Appeals-court decision means Christian college gets state aid
By Robert Marus

DENVER (ABP) -- A federal appeals court has said Colorado may not deny scholarships for students who want to attend an evangelical Christian university or a Buddhist school in that state.

The ruling is one of a string of federal and state court decisions in recent years that have reduced states' ability to deny sectarian colleges access to government-funded programs available to more secularized schools.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 23 that Colorado officials overstepped their authority when declaring that two institutions of higher learning in the state did not qualify for a state scholarship program because they were "pervasively sectarian."

A unanimous three-judge panel, in an opinion written by Judge Michael McConnell, declared the state's policy unconstitutional. Officials had denied scholarships to students at Colorado Christian University and Buddhist Naropa University, but offered them to students at secular, Methodist and Catholic-affiliated ones.

"By giving scholarship money to students who attend sectarian -- but not 'pervasively' sectarian -- universities, Colorado necessarily and explicitly discriminates among religious institutions, extending scholarship to students at some religious institutions, but not to those deemed too thoroughly 'sectarian' by government officials," McConnell wrote.

The case pitted the First Amendment's two religion clauses against each other. The establishment clause prevents the state from establishing or supporting a religion. The free-exercise clause, meanwhile, prevents the state from unnecessarily inhibiting an individual's or group's religious practice.

Officials at Colorado Christian sued the state, claiming that denying scholarships to the school because it requires its faculty to affirm a confession of faith and forces its students to attend chapel services unfairly targeted its evangelical nature.

McConnell seemed to agree.

"[T]he Colorado exclusion expressly discriminates among religions ... and it does so on the basis of criteria that entail intrusive governmental judgments regarding matters of religious belief and practice," he wrote.

Colorado officials had relied on the Supreme Court's Locke v. Davey decision. It said the State of Washington could deny a student at a Christian college a government-funded scholarship because he was majoring in theology and planned to be a pastor.

In Locke, the justices said the Washington student's right to the free exercise of religion had to be balanced with the state's interest in not subsidizing the training of clergy members.

But in the Colorado case, McConnell and his colleagues read the Locke decision narrowly. They noted one difference between the cases is that Washington's denial of the funds did not discriminate between religions, but between fields of study.

Several conservative Christian organizations supported Colorado Christian University in friend-of-the-court briefs, while several groups that support strong church-state separation filed briefs in favor of the state's position.

In a July 24 post on the Americans United for Separation of Church and State blog, Sandhya Bathija said McConnell's decision would end up supporting religious discrimination rather than alleviating it.

"The real discrimination here is that practiced by 'pervasively sectarian' universities such as Colorado Christian University," Bathija wrote. "Not everyone in the state can attend the school, since it requires a commitment to a particular religious belief. Why should the state's taxpayers support a school that discriminates against students who do not want to attend chapel weekly (at CCU, students who miss chapel must pay a fine) and who refuse to sign statements promising to live as Jesus lived?"

The decision is one of several by federal and state courts in recent years that have expanded sectarian colleges' ability to participate in aid programs on an equal basis with non-sectarian schools. Since 2004, the 4th Circuit, the 6th Circuit and the California Supreme Court have all ruled unconstitutional states' attempts to exclude sectarian colleges from government-backed bond programs.

The case is Colorado Christian University v. Weaver, No. 07-1247.


Mimicking trends could turn musician into worship 'barista,' leader warns
By Lee Ann Marcel

WACO, Texas (ABP) - Trying to adapt to every trend in worship can become
disruptive and distracting to a church, said Tim Studstill, director of music and
worship for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Serving in a trend-driven congregation, Studstill said, can turn a worship leader
into a "barista" -- someone who prepares coffee drinks -- "blending a heritage of
hymns with a collection of ... choruses, serving a perfectly satisfying selection of
worship to discriminating worshipers."

Churches that focus too much on ever-changing worship trends can get distracted from the real issues of the heart, Studstill said. Likewise, defining congregations by their worship styles is dangerous.

Sometimes churches get caught up in definitions like traditional, contemporary,
postmodern, emerging and Western heritage that define churches.

"Denominations are identified according to [worship], and congregations spilt over it, and ministers resign over it," Studstill told a gathering of worship leaders.

Music ministers from across the nation came together July 21-25 at Baylor
University to examine worship trends and where they may be leading.
Approximately 250 people attended the Alleluia! conference, representing a variety of denominations and states.

"All ideas of worship are here," said Randall Bradley, director of Baylor's Center
for Christian Music Studies. "It's a place were people can come together and
dialogue about ideas."

Studstill described several trends that are influencing worship: relaxing the dress
code, embracing a more contemporary approach to music, and using more
technology. Churches also have begun to throw out printed materials such as the
church bulletin and the order of worship.

Gary Chevalier, pastor of worship arts at The Avenue Church in Waxahachie,
Texas, said his church has done away with the order of worship.

"It just becomes a checklist," he said.

Terry York, associate professor of Christian ministry and church music at Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, helped attendees look to the future of the church and what it might look like.

Attendees predicted denominations will no longer have significant meaning,
worship might become less performance-oriented and more participatory, and
churches may offer music therapy to individual members, in the same way they
offer counseling now.

During the Alleluia! conference, music-reading sessions where held to sing newly published music given by Jubilate!, a music distributor and publisher. Other event sponsors included the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Truett Seminary, YouthCUE and Choristers Guild.

"When I hear 250 well-trained voices singing songs together, it just thrills my
heart," said Joseph Martin, director of sacred publications for Shawnee Press.

Martin said the conference provides a glimpse of what heaven will sound like.

"Something dynamic happens when people with different cultures come together," Martin said.


Prayer Blog - 7/29/2009, #2

Tomorrow, CEH (aka "Homer"), father of CEH and JTH: JTH, sees another neurologist in an attempt to determine what is causing his chronic pain. Please pray for Homer and his doctors during this time.

Prayer Blog - 7/29/2008

Tomorrow (July 30th) SMA takes the bar examination at the UT College of Law. The test will run for six hours on both Wednesday and Thursday. Essays will be written by hand. He will not know the results until October 10th. Please keep him in your prayers throughout this arduous process.

Bible Trivia - 7/29/2008

Question: What is the only New Testament book which contains the word of praise “Alleluia”?

Answer: Revelation. (Revelation 19:4)

Comments: Alleluia, or its variant Hallelujah, is an untranslated superlative expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph. It comes from the roots hallel meaning "to praise" and yah, a shortened form of Yahweh, the proper name of God. It is used in the New Testament only in the Book of Revelation. (Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6)

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, "Amen Hallelujah!" (Revelation 19:4, NASB)

Word of the Day - 7/29/2008


A tercel is the male of a hawk, especially of a gyrfalcon or peregrine.

Among the many divine feats God cites to put Job in his place is his understanding of a tercel's flght patterns (Job 39:26). The Hebrew word used in the Job passage, netz, comes from natzah, meaning to shoot away, fly, because of the rapidity of its flight. It is used four times in the Old Testament. (Genesis 40:10, Leviticus 11:16, Deuteronomy 14:15, Job 39:26).

"Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
Stretching his wings toward the south? (Job 39:26, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 7/29/2008

On Monday night I had the unexpected pleasure of a visit from CAL. She was in town to buy an iPhone for a woman who helped her bankrupt a man. (The man asked her to.) As usual she chose to meet at the Silver Spoon Café. Any time CAL calls for an early supper, it never fails that I not only have eaten a late lunch, but a late lunch at Silver Spoon.

CAL is having no trouble finding work as an attorney. She did suffer what she referred to as her “latest major disappointment” on July 14th. She lost her first major case - a custody hearing in which she represented the father. The defeat was especially painful as she honestly believed that more time with the father was in the child’s best interest and that she had won the case. I rationalized that since she did a fine job and that her client was in the right, the only possible explanation for her defeat was a corrupt judge. This may have not been that far off as the judge resented the case going to trial. Unfortunately, a settlement could not be reached. CAL is still taking the case hard, which in my mind is evidence that she is making a fine lawyer.

She was recently appointed to a big case which has received some local media attention. She is representing a client who allegedly tied an alleged victim to an alleged truck and allegedly proceeded to drag him down an alleged street in 2007. Allegedly that is. That case will be arraigned on August 4th.

In the meantime, she was assigned to a case in juvenile court on Thursday (July 31st). She describes juvenile court as “worse than the armpit of the law”. Most young lawyers get assigned many cases there. CAL has not been used in six months. The reason? Most lawyers try to get in and out of juvenile as quickly as possible. CAL slows up the process, keeping the court out all night if necessary. That’s our CAL.

Later on Monday night I met KL and MPW at MPW’s apartment. KL cooked jambalaya (with some help from Zatarain's), bran muffins and a salad. It was great. The salad featured homegrown tomatoes from KL’s mother.

We then played Wii until the Wii hours of the morning. (Sorry could not resist.) We played the game Boom Blox. It is the first of three games in a collaboration of famed director Steven Spielberg and Electronic Arts. He chose a game he could play with his children. It was released on May 6th.

The game presents a series of physics-based puzzles, the objective being either to keep structures made of blocks from being knocked down or to knock them over. Perhaps not surprisingly I was far more adept at knocking the structure over. This is one of the few video games I think my dad would really like.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Prayer Blog - 7/28/2008

My paternal grandmother, MEHV, has been suffering from a stomach condition and seen several doctors in regards to this issue. It has been diagnosed as a bacterial infection. Though she has been ailing for ten days, she had a good day today and feels she is on the road to recovery. She is still very weak. Keep her in your prayers.

Bible Trivia - 7/28/2008

Question: Complete the following verse of Paul by filling the blank with one word: "If a woman have long hair, it is a _____ to her." ?

Answer: Glory. (I Corinthians 11:15)

Comments: In I Corinthians 11, Paul instructs the Corinthian church about head covering. It appears this was a divisive issue for the Corinthians. Paul asserts that women should keep their heads covered (11:6) in addition to having long hair (11:15). The passage also speaks to men's issues with the thrust of the chapter discussing decorum.

but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. (I Corinthians 11:15, NASB)

I supposed by this rationale, country singer Crystal Gayle (pictured) is especially glorious.

Word of the Day - 7/28/2008


Nacreous means 1. of or pertaining to nacre. 2. resembling nacre; lustrous; pearly.

Among the many luxurious features of King Ahasuerus' (also known as Xerxes) palace listed in the Book of Esther is a mosaic flooring, which included nacreous segments.

There were hangings of fine white and violet linen held by cords of fine purple linen on silver rings and marble columns, and couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones. (Esther 1:6, NASB)

Note: This painting ("Esther Before Ahasuerus") by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1651/53) depicts the mosaic tiles of the king's palace. It resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 7/28/2008

My weekend was spent evenly divided among various factions of my friends.

Friday night was spent with GAB, JTH, and JBT at Applebees. As usual, Amy was our waitress. Unlike usual, we were not supposed to be there on this Friday night. The crew was to be in Falls Church, Virginia, for JBT’s wedding the following day. It had been postponed two weeks earlier. JBT was still good company but admitted he was shaken by the turn of events. He stands to lose in excess of $9,000-$12,000 over the postponement. He especially lamented that the limo service he hired has failed to return his phone calls for weeks. This bill is $700 alone. He is assuming a rescheduling and requests that the next wedding be in Knoxville.

His fiancee SCB was absent as she will be in Virginia for two weeks. She had three weeks scheduled off from work for the wedding. Her brother is with her. He is now living at JBT’s house.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, it was a pleasant evening.

On Saturday, I ate lunch at Cracker Barrel with my parents. I was given a special surprise. The chicken n’ dumplings, which is my standard order, now comes with three side dishes instead of two. So I ordered three sides of dumplings. I would have hated to see my cholesterol count at the end of this meal.

After lunch, I decided to go to see SMA. I had been working at the rate my obsessive compulsive disorder dictates and needed a day off. SMA is always the cure for this ailment.

On the way, I stopped at the Knox Area Rescue Ministries Thrift Store, near SMA’s house. I made a find. Evidently, in 1999 a history of my church was written. I had no idea despite my good friend TAM being one of the compilers. The book was signed by every pastor of my church since 1951, albeit only three. I was saddened to see all were signed to Dr. Tom Miles, a beloved former teacher. I learned that he is now in assisted living. I was grateful to have something that belonged to him. I later read the book at SMA’s.

I arrived at SMA’s to find him embattled in an online game of NCAA Football 2008 on the Xbox 360. He played as #2 Oklahoma against #5 Florida. Its seems many online pick Florida as their team. Sadly, Verne Lundquist is not called in for guest commentary on Tim Tebow games. SMA played well against a competitor from Memphis, whom he talked to via headset. The game became a battle of SMA’s curl routes against the opponent’s screen passes. The game went down to the wire with SMA losing 34-31 when a crucial last minute interception led to the decisive field goal. This may have been the most productive thing we did all day!

As an aside, the game ranks Georgia as the number one team in the country.

Afterwards, SMA showed me highlights of TNA wrestling as he wanted me to see a newer wrestler known as Consequences Creed. His gimmick is based on Carl Weather’s Apollo Creed character from the Rocky movie series, complete with afro and patriotic attire. It is one of those gimmicks that is so brilliant it makes you wonder why no one thought of it before now.

We then watched several episodes of the 1983-1985 animated series “He-Man and The Masters of The Universe”. We learned from production notes that the Masters of the Universe are actually the villains. On our own, we hypothesize that the character Stratos was Amish (see picture). We are going to send a note to Seth Green for his show “Robot Chicken”. We feel an Amish Stratos episode would be a real crowd pleaser.

Afterwards, SMA got some studying done for the bar and I read the history of my church. My favorite excerpt: “The church celebrated the Brusters’ ten years of service with a banquet and a ‘roast.’ Edith Johnson’s comments were the hit of the evening.” (Page 71) Edith Johnson was one of the writers of the book! (Yes, I know she probably did not pen that particular line...)

We were interrupted by a guy from Honeywell Security who was “not trying to sell” us anything...

Much time had past and SMA was craving a restaurant with pizza and television sets. After seeing that Mellow Mushroom and Smoky Mountain Brewery were crowded, we ended up eating at the Irish Times Pub & Restaurant - a restaurant with neither pizza nor television. It had been a long time since our last visit and it was not crowded, perhaps do to Irish Festival Weekend going on downtown.

I opted not to get the standard of Bangers and Mash and instead ate the Irish Stew at the server’s suggestion. The mix of roast, potatoes, and carrots was excellent in addition to being extremely manly. This recommendation may have been the one thing the waitress did correctly all night as she struggled throughout the evening.

We were eventually joined by WRK, DBN, and CST with a cameo by JS who was with another party. JS (pictured in this horrible photo) is assistant basketball coach at Roane State. He is excited by the prosepcts for this season after a horrible first year with the school. The team redshirted ten players and have a great deal of talent, including Rocky Top League veteran Keith Bauer. He is especially impressed with a 6'5" shooting guard. We vowed to go see his team in action. So there is your inside scoop on junior college basketball. Aren’t you glad you read this post?

DBN arrived within an hour, which was a blessing as the last time he met us at the restaurant he called eighty minutes later wondering why we were not still there. He had just come from a potluck supper where he was served “sixteen varieties of hummus.” Evidently one should not accept apotluck invitation from a group vegetarians.

His wife RBN’s birthday is Monday (July 28th). Her mother gave her the option of eating at any restaurant in town and she chose the Red Lobster. DBN was not pleased with this decision but I was just glad that she is still alive. I still have yet to see her since DNB moved back to Knoxville.

On Sunday morning, Sunday School met at a novel location - the church. KLTW had a rare day off and wanted to take KJW to the nursery. Rare is actually an understatement. Fortunately, she will now have every other weekend off as Morristown-Hamblen hospital, where she is doing the equivalent of her residency has hired her allowing her to relinquish her job at Best Buy.

I finished a three-week series on Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, covering John 17:20-26 on this day. As this portion of the prayer deals with Jesus’ desire for unity among his future followers, I interspersed the Scripture with church splits throughout history and my newfound knowledge of our own church’s history. For WAM’s usual brilliance check out the WAM Quote of the Day.

Afterwards, I joined the extended Walker family at Captain D’s, one of KJW’s favorite places. She likes everything on the menu. After eating, she tried her usual ploy of, “I need to hold you.” I asked her if she really needed to hold her mommy or she just wanted out of her seat. She immediately replied, “Out my seat.” The child is honest.

As always, she had many great expressions throughout the meal. Here are four examples of KJW. I call her present hairstyle the “mullet bowl” as it is a combination bowl cut and mullet.

I must also add that one of the many advantages of a baby is that your ability to audibly spell drastically improves as this is used to conceal information.

On Sunday night, we held another edition of the “Summer Breeze Bible Study” at church. It was good to see MLM, who after having been at the beach all week, was to leave for Gulfport, Mississippi, again the following morning. Our regularly scheduled Bible Study will resume the following week with a discussion of The Dark Knight.

After Bible Study, I went to RAW’s where he cooked Rainbow Rigatoni with vodka sauce. It was great as usal. KJW ate three helpings!

I provided dessert in the form of Lofthouse Snickerdoodle cookies. I purchased them as I had never before eaten Snickerdoodle. Though it clearly would have been worth the purchase just to say the word, I actually enjoyed the cookies thoroughly.

In the latest of KJW’s likes: Coloring (as depicted), episodes of Spider-Man and Batman, but not Superman (further signs of her brilliance), and ice. We do not know why she likes ice so much but she loves to chew it.

The highlight of the evening came when she reandonly informed: “Chan needs to change my diaper." This was funny because (a) she never wants her diaper changed; (b) she is trained not to want me to change it, (c) she did not even need to have her diaper changed.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Prayer Blog - 7/27/2008, #3

Tomorrow, KJW returns to Rochester Pediatrics for urine analysis. At her last checkup, she did not have this performed. Her mother was just diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and she fears this condition may account for KJW getting diaper rash in recent days. Please pray for this report and that the child is not too shaken by the unpleasant procedure.

Prayer Blog - 7/27/2008, #2

MLM embarks tomorrow (July 28th) at 9 am with a group of eleven on another mission trip to Gulfport, Mississippi. The trip was originally planned to be a college endeavor but two others have now joined as they were unavailable to go at other times.

Originally, our church group was the only one scheduled to brave the late July heat but two others churches have now signed up for work during the week.

Keep this mission in your prayers and especially pray form MLM, who just returned from another mission trip.