Saturday, August 23, 2008

Prayer Blog - 8/23/2008

Today, I officiated the wedding of ALH and DKN. Pray that god bless their marriage and give them the strength to fulfill their vows.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bible Trivia - 8/22/2008

Question: What term was used to refer to the disciples for the first time in Antioch?

Answer: Christians. (Acts 11:26)

Comments: The term "Christian" was not originally a self-designation of the followers of Jesus. It was applied as a term of derision by their opponents in Antioch. James Hastings (1852-1922) expounds: "The Roman authorities, who first designated the disciples of Jesus as Christians, attempted thereby to characterize them as a political group or party, held together by their loyalty to the party head, Christos. While originally the title was given for juridical convenience without implying a derogatory sense, the pagan mob must at a very early time have associated it with heinous crimes and vices ... Not too much emphasis should be placed, therefore upon the etymology of christos. Though literally meaning the ‘Anointed One," i.e. the Messiah, the title soon lost its original denotation and became a personal name in the Greek-speaking church."

and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26, NASB)

Since the term "Christian" did not originate within the community of faith, it is not suprisingly that it appears infrequently in the New Testamment. In fact it occurs in only three verses: Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and I Peter 4:16.

The term Christianianity was first documented in its present usage by Ignatius the Bishop of Antioch (35-110), in his Letter to the Magnesians."

Word of the Day - 8/22/2008


A tittle is a dot or other small mark in writing or printing, used as a diacritic, punctuation, etc.

Jesus assured his followers that despite his revolutionary teaching not one tittle would pass from the Law. (Matthew 5:18, Luke 16:17.)

"But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail." (Luke 16:17, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 8/22/2008

On Thursday, Bible Study met at the church. We were slated to discuss Acts and Romans on our survey through the New Testament. As usual, we digressed. It seems the biggest issue of the day was the theological concept of revelation, though it was seldom addressed as such. (Note: This picture is of the chair that MLM sits in each week. I have no idea why I took this picture.)

Afterwards, while picking up food at Applebees, I learned that the son of the Bearden branch is a national kickboxing competitor. An all you can eat breakfast will be held to raise funds for him on Saturday August 30th from 7 am - 10 am. Most importantly pancakes will be served.

Austin Cowan is 14 years and old and has been kick boxing competitively since age four! Austin is a third degree black belt in Isshinryu Karate and a world champion in weapons and forms. He is also a member of the USA Karate & Kickboxing Team. The trophies depicted in the flier are housed in his mother’s home. Evidently, he has an equal supply at his father’s and in a storage unit.

The cost is only $5. The money raised at the breakfast will help pay for Austin's travel, entry feeds, uniforms and equipment. The address is 6928 Kingston Pike. Pancakes and a good cause sounds like a winning combo. Actually, pancakes just sound good in and of themselves.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Prayer Blog - 8/21/2008, #2

A good friend has a court date tomorrow at 9 am. More details will be revealed when i am legally allowd to do so. Please pray for the lawyers, judges, and participants in this case.

Prayer Blog - 8/21/2008

As many of you know, there was a school shooting in Knoxville this morning. Jamar B. Siler, is charged with killing 15-year-old Ryan McDonald this morning in the cafeteria at Central High School. The confrontation between the two students occurred about 8:11 a.m. before classes began at the school. It was not a random shooting, but a motive has yet to be cited. Both Siler and McDonald had faced charges as juveniles.

Please pray for all involved and our community in general.

Bible Trivia - 8/21/2008

Question: Name the sister-in-law of Ruth.

Answer: Orpah. (Ruth 1:4-14)

Comments: In the book of Ruth, Naomi has two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. Both were from Moab. When all of the men in the family died, Ruth stayed with Naomi while Orpah returned to her family in Moab.

They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. (Ruth 1:4, NASB)

Oprah Winfrey was actually named for Orpah. Her aunt Ida selected the name from the Bible. This is the anme that appeared on her birth certificate but due to a lack of education in the area of Mississippi to which she was born, the letters in the name "Orpah" were often transposed. Thus, she came to be known as "Oprah".

Word of the Day - 8/21/2008


To dissimulate is to disguise or conceal under a false appearance; dissemble.

After the prophet Micaiah predicted that he would die in battle, Israel's king Ahab dissimulated in battle in hopes of concealing his identity.

The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "I will disguise myself and go into the battle, but you put on your robes." So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into the battle. (I Kings 22:30, NASB)

Ahab's deception did not spare his life. A "random" arrow struck him and dealt a fatal blow.

Note: This image, "Ahab Wounded in Battle", was painted by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 8/21/2008

On Wednesday, I had my first class in many moons at the University of Tennessee.

My class, Survey of Adult Education, met in room 106 of the Humanities Building, where I had taken so many classes as an undergraduate. RGB was the instructor and is lobbying for a different room. It seems that space in the Claxton Building (home of the education department) is at a premium.

There were nine students in the class, seven women and two men. RGB used the ice breaker of having each student develop her own vanity license plate. After acknowledging the difficulty of a minister creating a vanity plate, I settled on WCV4POPE.

We then were divided into three groups where we were given the task of defining “Adult Education.” Coincidentally, I was teamed with Dan and Amelia, the only other students who were not parents. Fortunately Amelia has a background in the field and was able to add invaluable assistance. I was hoping RBB would be so impressed with our insight that he would forego the program and simply bestow our degrees upon us then and there. Though he was complimentary, my diploma will wait.

The program will be difficult and I would be fighting an uphill battle to learn the terminology and history of a new field. I believe that it would be beneficial to do so.

Afterwards, I spent the evening with KLTW, KJW, RAW, and their guest MP. MP plans to join our basketball team. (Note: This photo of KJW was taken while I distracted her in the tunnel of her castle so that te others could play a video game.)

We played the Wii, on loan from KL. KLTW was defeated soundly by all challengers. Sorry, KLTW, but this need be documented.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 8/20/2008

Associated Baptist Press
August 20, 2008 · (08-80)

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

In this issue:
Healing the Sick: Chaplains, charity care distinguish faith-based hospitals
Healing the sick: Candidates' health plans reflect differing visions for government
Healing the Sick: Bible class sparks international medical ministry
Healing the sick: Texas church reclaims biblical healing mandate
Healing the sick: Baptist layman provides gift of life to music minister
Saddleback forum points out candidates' differences, similarities
Standish named new head of religious-freedom commission
Garland named interim president at Baylor

Healing the Sick: Chaplains, charity care distinguish faith-based hospitals
By Ken Camp

DALLAS (ABP) -- What distinguishes religiously affiliated hospitals from their secular counterparts? Chaplains and charity care top the list, administrators of faith-based, nonprofit health-care institutions agree.

"Every morning at 5 a.m., a chaplain goes into our surgical unit, where he has the opportunity to encourage patients who are facing surgery and offer them the opportunity for prayer. You don't find that in every hospital in America," said Glenn Robinson, president and chief executive officer of Hillcrest Health System in Waco, Texas. Hillcrest is a Baptist institution.

Hospitals that are not religiously affiliated may have a chaplain on staff or on call. But at a faith-based institution, he noted, pastoral-ministry staffers are viewed as an integral part of the healing team, helping to meet spiritual and emotional needs while physicians respond to medical concerns.

Hospitals with denominational ties also offer a different level of clinical pastoral education through their chaplaincy programs, Robinson noted. Hillcrest works closely with Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary and other divinity schools to offer pastoral ministry experience and training.

"For many Baptist hospitals in particular, the chaplains' office and CPE [clinical pastoral education] program are not just there to provide pastoral care, but also to provide education for pastoral-care providers," said Mike Williams, chief executive officer of Community Hospital Corporation.

Churches benefit from that service -- a fact not lost on denominational organizations. But skyrocketing health-care costs have caused some Baptist state conventions, such as the Baptist General Convention of Texas, to direct assistance from medical expenses -- including charity care -- to pastoral care.

While the ability of denominations to provide direct financial support for charity care in affiliated hospitals has lessened, the health-care systems have maintained a commitment to providing medical attention for poor people in their communities.
More than any other single factor, that commitment sets faith-based nonprofit hospitals apart from secular health-care providers, Williams insisted.

"The biggest issue is the mission of faith-based hospitals to provide health care to all people, regardless of their ability to pay for it," he said. "Not-for-profits are the safety-net hospitals in our country -- the institutions that provide the vast amount of uncompensated care for the uninsured or underinsured."

That sense of mission -- to make sure all people had access to medical care -- prompted Baptists in the United States to enter the institutional health-care arena in the mid-1880s. That's when William H. Mayfield, a physician, called on Third Baptist Church of St. Louis, Mo., to help him launch the Missouri Baptist Sanitarium and later the Mayfield Sanitarium. Ultimately, the fledgling entry into health care grew to become Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

In 1903, George W. Truett, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, challenged a group of North Texas community leaders by asking, "Is it not now time to begin the erection of a great humanitarian hospital, one to which men of all creeds and those of none may come with equal confidence?"

Truett joined R.C. Buckner, who had pioneered a small-scale hospital in an annex of the Buckner Orphans Home in Dallas, and wealthy Dallas layman C.C. Slaughter in giving birth to the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium in Dallas -- predecessor of what is now the Baylor Health Care System.

"That sense of justice and equality expressed by George Truett is a guiding principle," said Jim Walton, vice president and chief equity officer for the system.
"It starts at the top and works its way down. It makes a difference when it comes to making decisions about how to allocate resources. As a mission-based organization that enjoys tax-exempt status, it's expressed in our commitment to take care of the medically underserved population."

More than 60 percent of the hospitals in the United States are nonprofits. Many were founded by religious groups or denominations, but a significant number have loosened or severed those religious ties. And in the process, some -- but not all -- have lessened their commitment to providing charitable care.

As ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has led the charge to make sure hospitals that enjoy the tax benefits of nonprofit status provide significant charity care for their communities.

An Internal Revenue Service report released in July 2007 showed nearly one-fourth of the nation's nonprofit hospitals spend less than 1 percent of revenue on charity care, and nearly half spend 3 percent or less. The study showed one nonprofit hospital in five spent 10 percent or more of revenue on care for the uninsured poor.

In contrast, some Baptist hospitals that have maintained strong denominational ties report devoting anywhere from one-fifth to one-fourth of total revenue to uncompensated care for poor patients -- assuming that all parties involved define terms the same way.

"About 25 percent of our total business falls into the category" of unreimbursed care, Robinson said regarding Hillcrest Health System, whose institutions are located in Central Texas. "That amounts to $70 million every year in uncompensated care to our community."

Of that total, $20 million clearly falls into the category of charity care in the strictest sense, said Richard Perkins, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Hillcrest. More than $50 million of the uncompensated care results from bad debt.

"As you know, most of the bad debt is generated by persons who don't qualify for charity -- or don't provide the information to confirm that they do -- but don't have the ability to pay either the entire bill or the portion that is their responsibility, even if they have insurance," Perkins said.

"This problem is growing annually, as many employers are either dropping coverage, raising the employee premiums to unaffordable levels or increasing the co-pays and deductibles to amounts which most people are not able to pay."

Similarly, a community-services report posted on the Baylor Health Care System website notes, "Baylor's community-benefit expenditures in fiscal year 2006 accounted for nearly 21.3 percent of its net patient revenue, reaching a record $407 million in unreimbursed costs. The vast majority, or nearly $395 million of the expenditure, went to provide care for charity patients and patients enrolled in government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Payments from these federal and state agencies are far below the actual cost of the care delivered. The remaining $12 million provided for unreimbursed costs of medical education and research, as well as more than 200 community benefit programs."

Faith-based nonprofit hospitals, almost by definition, serve their communities better than for-profit hospitals, Williams insisted. While the quality of care in for-profits may be high and some for-profit hospitals operate out of a sense of mission, their bottom line remains the bottom line, he said.

"If they are an investor-owned operation, they have to return a dollar benefit to their shareholders," he said.

Still, charity care and chaplaincy programs are not the exclusive domain of denominationally related nonprofits. When Vanguard Health Systems -- a for-profit health-care corporation -- acquired Baptist Health System in San Antonio several years ago, officials pledged to continue the hospital's historic faith-based mission.

Vanguard hired George Gaston, who served 25 years as pastor of Texas Baptist churches, as regional vice president of ministry for Baptist Health Systems. Under his leadership, the health-care system's pastoral-care team maintains 11 full-time chaplains and five part-timers who handle on-call work over the weekends. Two clinical pastoral education supervisors work with six residents and a dozen interns. Baptist Health Systems reported providing $17.8 million in charity care during the 2006-2007 fiscal year and more than $19.6 million in 2007-2008.

Just because a hospital system pays taxes doesn't mean it can't operate by Christian values, Gaston maintains.

"People think that when you sell a nonprofit, that you give up the ability to render Christian care. We have not done that at all," he said. "We have strengthened and built upon what was done before us. We've got a wonderful ministry here."


Healing the sick: Candidates' health plans reflect differing visions for government
By Robert Marus

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Differences in presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama's plans for reforming the American health-care system reflect their differing views on the proper role of government.

Whether one plan more closely resembles biblical principles of justice and charity than the other -- or whether either will work at all -- also may depend on how individual Christians view the proper role of government.

One thing is certain: Like the industry they seek to reform, both of the major-party presidential candidates' plans are massive and complex.

McCain's plan focuses on using market forces to drive down health-care costs, thereby shrinking the number of Americans who do not have health insurance by several million. Obama, by contrast, envisions a stronger government role in expanding access to health insurance for the working poor, as well as placing more responsibility on consumers, the insurance industry and employers alike for reforming the system.

"Without question, there are two distinct approaches on display by McCain and Obama," said Kevin Schmiesing, a research fellow with the Michigan-based Acton Institute, in an e-mail interview. The Michigan-based institute is a Christian "think tank" that generally favors free-market views of economic issues.

"To their credit, both recognize that no single element of reform is going to save the day; instead, the platform of each contains a number of reform proposals operating on a number of different fronts. Both recognize the need to control costs, to address the problem of the uninsured and to improve the quality of delivery. Yet McCain's proposals, on the whole, are striving for a system characterized by more competition, more choice and more freedom, while Obama's tend toward greater government intervention."

McCain's plan would give an annual tax credit of $2,500 to individuals and $5,000 to families. The funds would go to purchase health insurance.

Any funds left over after insurance is purchased could be deposited in health-savings accounts to reimburse taxpayers for any deductibles or other non-covered health expenses. In addition, the plan would include the self-employed, who currently get no tax benefits when they purchase health insurance.

McCain's plan aims to reduce the costs of insurance plans with a number of incentives -- such as allowing insurers to sell their products across state lines -- that would increase competition and consumer choice.

Obama's plan focuses more on a mixture of market reforms and government subsidies, aiming to reduce the number of uninsured Americans far more dramatically. It would expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to increase the number of children from lower-middle-class families who would be eligible. He also would expand Medicaid.

Obama's plan would allow people who are not insured by their employers but who make too much for SCHIP or Medicaid to participate in the same federally subsidized insurance program that government workers use. It also would allow the self-employed and small businesses to participate in the plan.

Finally, Obama's plan would create a National Health Insurance Exchange for private insurers. Insurers participating in the exchange would have to meet certain standards for deductibles and services, could not turn away customers with pre-existing conditions and would be regulated in other ways by the government. Companies would have to disclose costs of procedures to consumers, and consumers would be able to compare the benefits of various plans participating in the exchange.

Schmiesing prefers McCain's plan because he distrusts government's ability to improve the situation through more subsidies and regulation. The core of the problem with the current health-care system, he asserted, is that it is overused.

"People need to be encouraged to consume just the amount of health care they really need -- or can personally afford -- and not any more," he said. "This is what we naturally do in every other area of our lives. This can only be accomplished by returning responsibility for payment directly to the consumer -- not routing it through a third party, be that an employer or a government.

McCain's plan moves us in this direction; therefore, I believe it to be the most economically realistic over the long term."

But, critics of free-market approaches to the health-care crisis have argued, health care is not like other goods and services.

"The commodity-based approach to health care is fundamentally flawed," says a position paper from the Human Right to Health Program, a coalition that advocates for universal health care as a human right.

"It restricts access to health care to those who can afford to buy it and assumes that prices will be reasonable because supply and demand are linked. With most products, consumers limit their demand based on price. But in the case of health care, demand is not price sensitive. When you are sick you don't have a choice."

Schmiesing acknowledged McCain's plan would leave significant gaps in the numbers of people who have access to affordable, high-quality health care. But he said churches and other private organizations should embrace their role as healers to make up for the difference.

"Where people cannot afford the health care they need, that is where other institutions -- families, communities, churches and sometimes government -- will need to intervene," he said. "It's no accident that many hospitals bear names reflecting their current or former religious affiliation," Schmiesing noted. "Some people on the margins of society will simply never be able to afford the level of health care that they need."

Scott Morris agrees. Morris is a physician and United Methodist minister who founded the Church Health Center in Memphis, Tenn., in 1987. The ecumenical organization operates a clinic that serves about 36,000 patients a year in one of the nation's poorest metropolitan areas. It aims its services at the working poor, and couples clinical care with programs that use faith communities as vehicles for encouraging better health practices among vulnerable populations.

"I think, No. 1, that people in the church and churches in general -- and at a local level is what I'm talking about -- have to care about these issues and see them as fundamentally issues of faith. Historically the church has done that," Morris said.

"This is fundamentally a theological idea.... So the first step is to say that the body matters, that God breathed the breath of life and the spirit into a human body. As Christians, we believe in the resurrection of the body. Jesus, in our Eucharistic settings, it's all about a physical body and blood that we are partaking of, so first we've got to cross this line to say we care about that stuff."

Churches, Morris continued, should take care of improving the health of their communities at a local level -- by offering healthier congregational meals, for instance.

"If you've got to have fried chicken to draw a crowd, there's something wrong with your message," he said.

As for the candidates' plans, Morris said neither is realistic -- nor likely to make it, intact, through Congress regardless which party is in charge.

"The politics of it is brutal, and poor people have very little power in this mix. And somebody has to foot the bill. Health care in America is very expensive, and when people start figuring out who pays for all of this, that for me is when the rubber hits the road," he said.


Healing the Sick: Bible class project sparks international medical ministry
By Robert Dilday

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (ABP) -- An eye-opening visit by a Baptist Sunday school class to a Moscow hospital nearly 20 years ago sparked a project that today provides millions of dollars in medical supplies to almost 100 countries around the world.

In 1989, emboldened by the Soviet Union's new perestroika policies, a few members of Columbia Baptist Church in the Washington-area community of Falls Church, Va., traveled to Moscow to explore a mission partnership with the Soviet capital's Central Baptist Church.

While there, a tour of a nearby hospital -- suffering from the country's economic tailspin -- shocked them. Medical personnel removed gauze from a wound, washed it and reused it. Surgeons used common sewing thread instead of sutures. Medical supplies were limited and sometimes non-existent.

Over the next few years, the class worked with its church and community to collect medical supplies, eventually shipping 17 40-foot containers filled with medical supplies to Moscow. The first shipment of supplies was valued at $131,532. Three years later, almost $5 million in supplies had been sent.

In 1996, the Russian relief program ended when it became too difficult to ship containers to Moscow. But by that time, Columbia's volunteers had developed effective systems to acquire and ship donated funds and supplies around the world, and they were determined to continue the project. In November that year, CrossLink International was incorporated as a nonprofit humanitarian aid ministry.

Since then, CrossLink has provided millions of dollars in medical supplies to thousands of missionaries, mission teams and clinics both abroad and in the United States -- most recently in the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast region. The supplies include:

-- Pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications ranging from antibiotics to aspirin.

-- Medical supplies such as tongue depressors, gauze bandages and tape.

-- Diagnostic and surgical supplies and equipment ranging from blood-pressure cuffs and stethoscopes to scalpels and suturing materials.

-- Ready-to-wear eyeglasses.

-- Hospital equipment, including beds, wheelchairs and examination tables.

CrossLink acquires large volumes of excess equipment donated by hospitals, physicians and the public, based on requests from mission teams.

The number of projects fluctuates from year to year, CrossLink Executive Director Dan Henneberg said. This year, CrossLink will be involved in about 350 projects in 90 countries, distributing close to $3.7 million in medical supplies. Donations from medical supply companies continue to play a big role in CrossLink's ministry. But donations from pharmaceutical companies have diminished, Henneberg noted.

"We're always looking for churches or other groups to help us with over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin," he said. "For prescription drugs, we're buying them at wholesale prices. We have developed relationships with vendors who give us good prices."

That's possible in part because CrossLink is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia's Board of Pharmacy as a warehouse/distributor of medicines.

For instance, in a recent test project, CrossLink shipped a copying-paper-sized box of medicines to Romania. The cost to CrossLink of the drugs and shipping was about $700. The retail value was about $10,000.

"We can negotiate some good prices, but we still have to have churches and other groups come up with the money," Henneberg said.

Three years ago, CrossLink, housed in a building two blocks from Columbia Baptist Church, opened its first satellite office in Memphis, Tenn. "Strategically, Memphis is a great location," Henneberg said. "It's on the Mississippi River, it's the headquarters of FedEx, and it has four or five faith-based hospitals."

First Baptist Church in Memphis partners with CrossLink to provide office and warehouse space.

While an independent board of directors oversees CrossLink, the ministry retains close ties to Columbia Baptist Church.

"It's a great ongoing relationship," Henneberg said. "We partner with them in many ways and have lots of volunteers from the church who work on and with our staff."

In the future, Henneberg hopes to see CrossLink provide more sustained support for the on-site clinics around the world that partner with medical mission teams.

"Mission teams go over to those clinics and do fabulous work," he said. "But a month or two later, some of the clinics run low on supplies. We'd like to see how we can give ongoing support to those clinics, maybe providing a box or container every month or so."


Healing the Sick: Texas church reclaims biblical healing mandate
By Kaitlin Chapman

TYLER, Texas (ABP) -- A trip to the doctor can be financially catastrophic for some people -- particularly the more than 45 million Americans who lack adequate health insurance.
Bethesda Health Clinic, a faith-based primary-care clinic started by First Baptist Church and other churches in the Tyler, Texas, area, is addressing the problem in East Texas by offering affordable health care in Christ's name.

"In our community, there [were] already pediatric, OB-GYN and Medicare clinics established. So our real focus was to develop a quality clinic for those who are working and uninsured," said John English, the clinic's executive director. Many people "are working hard, but they just happen to work for a business that doesn't provide insurance."

The need for a primary-care clinic was apparent when First Baptist Pastor Mike Massar encountered a doctor at the University of Texas Health Clinic in Tyler.

"She came to me and asked if she could use one of our Sunday school rooms to hold a clinic, because it was her calling to help people who did not have health insurance. I was very intrigued by that," Massar said.

The doctor took Massar on a tour of local clinics. He recalled his shock at the lack of dignity and care offered to needy patients. Massar presented the idea of opening a clinic to the deacons at First Baptist, and a group toured a medical facility started by a church in Memphis, Tenn. After seeing the clinic, the group knew First Baptist needed to serve the community in this way.

"With the rising health costs, it becomes one of the real issues of this time," Massar said. "And it is just following the commands of Jesus when he talked in Matthew 25. It seems to be a very important issue for Jesus."

Because Massar wanted the health-care ministry to be a community effort, he invited other churches in the city to take part in the clinic. Organizers created a board of trustees and raised funds to renovate a building that the church leases for $1 a year. Local doctors donated supplies for patient rooms and the pharmacy. Business leaders and lawyers from First Baptist's congregation helped with the paperwork and legal aspects.

By 2003, clinic doctors were seeing patients two nights a week. During the next few years, the clinic gained more volunteers and was able to open five days a week, offering additional appointments two nights a week and on Saturday mornings as needed.

Operated by medical and non-medical volunteers, the facility sees patients ages 16 to 64 who work or live in Smith County. Fees are based on a sliding payment scale up to $20. Patients who need care the clinic does not offer are referred to specialists who donate their time and services.

Several churches voluntarily run Saturday clinics and health fairs to provide medical care and information about preventative medicine. The clinic also offers healthy-living classes, a prescription-drug program and diabetes-education classes.

"I've lived in several places, and this is one of the most wonderful things I have seen happen in a community -- where people can go for help and feel dignity and respect," said Elaine Osburn, coordinator of the patient-advocate program.

Workers at Bethesda want "to meet their medical needs, but that is not the only need we hope we could meet in the patients. We want them to know that this is a place that spiritual needs can be met," Osburn said.

To do this, Osburn and other volunteers are available when patients need to talk or pray with someone. The volunteer staff meets daily in the clinic's chapel to pray for patients' needs.

"We want to be able to minister to their physical and spiritual needs," Massar said. "We show people that we love them. We try to model out the love of Christ before we start talking about it. We don't make people jump through hoops in order to get help."

Because of its success and growth, the Bethesda clinic has become an example for ECHO -- Empowering Church Healthcare Outreach -- a nonprofit organization based in Fort Worth that helps churches start health-care ministries. ECHO takes the concepts, problems and successes that Bethesda experienced and helps other churches maneuver through the information to start their own clinics.

First Baptist "has learned so much in their efforts that they are willing to share," said Tim Dammon, ECHO executive director. "But they really don't have time to do that. We learn a lot from them, and then we take that load off of them and share it with others. We help them understand the process to start [a clinic­] -- all the insurance requirements, malpractice coverage and recruiting volunteers and doctors."

Because ECHO is fully funded by the John and Nancy Snyder Foundation, it is able to offer services to churches free of charge. A consultant is assigned to each church interested in the ministry and helps them through the 12- to 18-month process necessary to open a clinic.

ECHO has helped 10 churches start health-care ministries. Dammon's goal is to start 10,000 primary-care clinics by 2030 and provide quality medical care for more than 20 million uninsured people in the United States.

Providing health care is not a choice for Dammon -- it's just following Jesus' commands.

"It is so clearly an extension of the gospel," he said. "Jesus himself clearly called the church to be engaged with the poor and to meet needs. When I sit down and talk to pastors, there has not been one who has said that this is not what the New Testament church ought to be doing. I think that is what makes me so passionate about this."


Healing the Sick: Baptist layman provides gift of life to music minister
By George Henson

LUBBOCK, Texas (ABP) -- Alzheimer's disease may cloud Hal Rowe's memory or derail his train of thought, but it has done nothing to damage his love of life and his desire to help others.
Shortly after his diagnosis in the spring of 2005, he began thinking about how he might make a difference in someone else's life. That led him to an organ-transplant office where he told the workers he wanted to donate a kidney.

He never heard from them again.

"This disappointed him greatly," recalled his wife, Joyce. "He couldn't believe they didn't want his parts."

Rowe didn't give up the idea. And when friend Randy Parsons mentioned about a year ago he probably would have to begin kidney dialysis, Rowe offered one of his kidneys.

"But Hal teases so much, no one took him seriously," Joyce Rowe said.

Parsons, a former music minister at Trinity Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas, and instructor at Wayland Baptist University's Lubbock campus, faced kidney trouble because anti-rejection drugs used during a liver transplant 15 years ago had damaged them.

At that time, Parsons' doctor was looking toward dialysis, but Parsons was not. "I told him I felt too good, and I didn't want to get into that," he recalled.

But Parsons' overall physical condition began to deteriorate rapidly. As his creatin level approached 10 -- normal is 0.5 to 1.5 -- he no longer was able to walk as he used to, nor could he read because his eyesight had deteriorated. He even lost the ability to sing.

"I just had absolutely no muscle tone in my diaphragm to be able to support any singing," he explained.

"I was getting to the point where I had to have dialysis or stop moving. I didn't realize how much your kidneys affect your muscles. My body was just filling up with toxins because my kidneys were not filtering them out."

On May 2, the Rowes learned through mutual friends that Parsons was to have a shunt put in so that he could begin hemodialysis at home.

The next morning, Joyce Rowe called Parsons, telling him, "Hal's really mad because he offered you a kidney, and you're not taking him up on it."

In his defense, Parsons said, "You don't just call a guy up and say, 'What about that kidney you offered some time back? I'll take it now.'"

After finding out Rowe had the same blood type, Parsons called to cancel the surgery for the shunt.

On May 5, blood tests began, and from the very beginning Rowe and Parsons were a perfect match.

"That's an incredible thing," Parsons said. "When it's a nonrelated donor, only about 6 percent of the time is there a match."

"It's been such a 'God thing' from the very beginning," Joyce Rowe agreed. The realization that God had his hand in things made it much easier for her to go along with the idea, she said.

"From the very beginning, there has been something that has let us know that this was what we were supposed to be doing," she said.

"My prayer all along had been that if this were not the thing for Hal to do that God would shut the door at some time. There was never even a window closed. To see Hal's determination and joy and how strongly he felt about donating the kidney, there was no way I could do anything but support him in his decision."

The Rowes' children were much more concerned about their father's giving up a kidney, but he never gave the matter a second thought.

"When you've got something like that that you can give and you don't, you feel guilty," he explained. "I saw I could help somebody, and I wouldn't have the joy that I have in my life if I didn't help them."

And it didn't hurt that it appealed to Rowe's well-exercised sense of humor. He had been a long-time blood donor, but had been prevented from donating blood because of his Alzheimer's medication.

"I showed them. They wouldn't take my blood, so I gave a kidney," he said with a hearty laugh.

Rowe and Parsons checked into Covenant Hospital July 9. It was Rowe's first time as a hospital patient in his 67 years.

And his demeanor there was just as upbeat. After stopping by his room, the chaplain told Parsons, "I hate to tell you, but your personality is probably going to change because that guy giving you a kidney is a character."

When Parsons, 72, checked into the hospital, his creatin level was at 10. At the end of the day of surgery, it was at 3, and when he left the hospital four days later, it was at 1. He hasn't required any pain medication since the day of the surgery.

Rowe's post-surgery results were a bit more painful. Doctors had to remove a rib and make an eight-inch incision to remove the kidney. But he's still glad he was able to donate.

"If I could, I would do it again. I would just love for everyone to realize how much joy there is in helping someone else," he said.

He also is hopeful that people will realize an Alzheimer's diagnosis does not mean life is over. When he was initially diagnosed, he had his doctor make a video about Alzheimer's and what people in the congregation might expect.

"So many people want to hide that they have Alzheimer's, but I didn't want to do that," Rowe said.

Parsons now can walk from his house to the end of the block 10 times -- something he wouldn't have dreamed of before the surgery. One of the greatest encouragements for Rowe was when Parsons called to tell him he had just finished reading a book.

And Parsons has begun singing at home. Soon his quarantine period will be over, and then his wife is looking forward to hearing him sing again. "That's probably what I've missed the most," she said.

And Rowe will be just as pleased. "The pain goes away when you see that you've helped somebody. The pain went away when I saw his face."


Saddleback forum points out candidates' differences, similarities
By Vicki Brown

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (ABP) -- Individual stand on moral issues -- from personal character to the international arena -- was the foundation of the Aug. 16 Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency.

The two-hour forum, sponsored by Southern Baptist mega-congregation Saddleback Church and held on its main campus in Orange County, Calif., allowed presumptive presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain to express moral views on political topics to a largely evangelical audience. Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren served as host.

Rather than using a debate format, Warren questioned each candidate individually in front of an audience that paid $100 per ticket to attend. Obama was first, with McCain sequestered so that he would not hear the questions. The pastor spent almost an hour with each candidate.

Although McCain appeared to be comfortable in front of an evangelical audience, Obama used biblical language twice, once referring to "the least of my brothers" (Matthew 25) and "acting justly and loving mercy and walking humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).

McCain seemed to generate the most audience response, particularly regarding national security, abortion and tax issues.

The candidates differed, sometimes markedly, in their responses to some questions. Regarding abortion, Obama is pro-choice, while McCain takes a pro-life stance.

Anti-abortion groups have repeatedly criticized Obama for his answer to Warren's question about when he believed a child in the womb gained human rights. The Illinois senator responded, "... answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade."

However, he pointed out he is pro-choice because he believes women don't "make these decisions casually" and that they seek advice within their support systems. Abortion has a "moral and ethical element" that cannot be overlooked, he said.

Obama favors limiting late-term abortions, as long as a provision is included to protect maternal health, and recognized pro-lifers' viewpoint. "[I]f you believe that life begins at conception ... and you are consistent in that belief, then I can't argue with you on that because that is a core issue of faith for you," he said.

McCain declared a baby is entitled to human rights "at the moment of conception" and committed to a pro-life presidency, if elected.

The Arizona senator also played up his commitment to the ongoing war in Iraq and to the war on terror. He pointed to "radical Islam extremism" and al-Qaeda as evil and pledged to "get [Osama] bin Laden and bring him to justice."

Asked about his views on war, Obama called his early stand against the Iraq war the most difficult decision he has made -- in part because of the political consequences of the at-the-time unpopular stance, and partly because of putting "kids ... in harm's way."

But both agreed that going to war is acceptable to protect American interests and national security.

Regarding tax issues, Obama advocates a tax cut for workers that earn under $150,000 and a "modest" tax increase for those who make more than $250,000.

McCain will push for a $7,000-per-child tax credit and a $5,000 tax credit for health care. He focused on government spending, rather than taxation, as the issue.

McCain and Obama responded similarly on some issues. Although they didn't use the same wording, they both characterized America's greatest moral failure as self-centeredness.

"[W]e still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me," Obama said. "There's a pervasive sense, I think, that this country, as wealthy and powerful as we are, still [doesn't] spend enough time thinking about the least of us."

McCain, in response to that question, noted, "Throughout our existence, perhaps we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self-interest, although we've been the best at it of everybody in the world."

Rather than being encouraged to "go shopping or to take a trip" after the Sept. 11 bombings in the United States, people should have been told to "expand" participation in helping others, to "expand the current missions that you are doing, that you are carrying out here in America and throughout the world," McCain added.

Both also pointed to their faith in Christ. For Obama, faith means "that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that I am redeemed through him.... And I know that if I can get myself out of the way, that I can maybe carry out in some small way what he intends. And it means that those sins that I have on a fairly regular basis, hopefully will be washed away."

McCain said his faith means, "I'm saved and forgiven."

The candidates shared a similar approach to stem-cell research. Both emphasized the promise of adult stem-cell research, preferring to avoid the moral dilemma that research on embryonic stem cells poses.

Both agreed that marriage should be the union of a man and a woman and that the same-sex marriage issue should be determined at the state level. Obama believes in civil unions, he said, adding that his faith and his marriage are "strong enough that I can afford those civil rights to others." He would not support an amendment to the federal constitution banning same-sex marriage nationwide.

Also a states-rights advocate on the issue, McCain said he would support an amendment only if the federal courts tried to enforce one state's decision on other states as well.

McCain and Obama also agreed with Warren that stepping into regional conflict, such as in the Darfur region of Sudan, to stop genocide is acceptable. Obama emphasized seeking international support whenever possible.

Both said the United States should speak out against human-rights abuses and religious persecution. McCain said he would use the president's "greatest asset" -- the bully pulpit -- as an advocate, following Ronald Reagan's example.

While Obama favors speaking out, he said he also advocates joining international forums to work with others to point out abuse and lack of religious freedom and to "lead by example."

Some religion-and-politics observers, such as Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, applauded Saddleback's effort. Land believes the forum shows that evangelical influence has not declined in politics, according to a news release in Baptist Press, the SBC's news outlet.

Others, such as the Interfaith Alliance, questioned whether the forum simply further blurred the lines between religion and politics.


Standish named new head of religious-freedom commission
By ABP staff

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Adventist leader James Standish has been named the new executive director of a federal panel that advocates for global religious liberty.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom announced Aug. 20 that James Standish would lead the independent, non-partisan federal agency.

"The commission warmly welcomes James Standish," Felice Gaer, chair of the panel and director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, said in a prepared statement. "Mr. Standish's academic and professional background in human rights and religious freedom advocacy has made him a respected leader, both on Capitol Hill and among the widely varying constituencies whose causes he has represented."
For his part, Standish said that it was "an honor to join the commission, particularly as we approach the 10th anniversary of the creation of the International Religious Freedom Act." The 1998 law created the panel, which monitors religious-freedom conditions worldwide and advises Congress, the White House and the State Department on freedom-of-conscience issues.

"The magnitude and severity of violations of the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion worldwide cannot be understated," Standish continued. "I am honored to join the commission as it addresses some of world's most pressing human rights crises."

He was director of legislative affairs for the Seventh-day Adventist Church for seven years prior to accepting the commission's top staff post. He succeeds Joseph Crapa, who died last year.

Standish earned an undergraduate degree from Newbold College in the United Kingdom, a master of business administration degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Georgetown University.


David Garland named interim president at Baylor
By ABP staff

WACO, Texas (ABP) -- The Baylor University board of regents has named David Garland as interim president. Garland has been dean of the Texas Baptist school's George W. Truett Theological Seminary since June 2007.

He will continue as dean of the seminary, and serve as president until the board names a permanent president.

Garland joined the seminary faculty in 1997 as professor of Christian scriptures. He was appointed Truett's associate dean for academic affairs in 2001, and was named Truett's Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures in 2005.

Garland succeeds Harold Cunningham, who has been acting president since July, when John Lilley was terminated by the regents.

Howard Batson, chairman of Baylor's board of regents, told the Waco Tribune-Herald that Garland will be able to bring unity to the "Baylor family."

"It's very important to [the regents] that he can be accepted by a broad consensus of the various Baylor constituents. And it's very clear that, whatever part of the Baylor family one might talk with, they're pretty unanimous about one thing -- and that's that David Garland's a fine fellow that can lead Baylor during a time of transition," Batson said.

Garland's wife, Diana, is dean of Baylor's School of Social Work.

Bible Trivia - 8/20/2008

Question: As recorded in the book of Acts, how many disciples did the apostles choose to look after the food distribution to widows?

Answer: 7. (Acts 6:1-7)

Comments: As the early church grew, a problem arose when food was not being distributed properly to widows. The twelve disciples decided to appoint seven men to perform this task so that they would not neglect their preaching duties.

"Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task." (Acts 6:3, NASB)

It is generally believed that the office of deacon originated in the selection of these seven men. The original seven deacons were Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas. (Acts 6:5)

Note: This oil painting is "Ordination of St. Stephen by St. Peter" by Fra Angelico (1395-1455).

Word of the Day - 8/20/2008


Sternutation is the act of sneezing.

Elisha raised a Shunammite's Son from the dead and just before opening his eyes the boy engaged in seven acts of sternutation (II Kings 4:35).

Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes. (II Kings 4:35, NASB)

This would be the only time Elisha raised someone from the dead while living.

Note: This illustration of "The healing of the Shunnamite woman's son" was done by O.A. Stemler.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 8/20/2008

I spent Tuesday night at MoFoS with JTH. This is a photo of the massive RedLine display they have. They really are the “Nation’s Top RedLine Distributor”! Also pictured is (very blurry) movie ticket taker extraordinaire Mark “De La Rosa”. He visits daily and JTH gave him the last name “De La Rosa” as it “flows.”

MoFoS got a new display cabinet. Another local business (Vaughn's Restaurant) donated it as it was not being used. It is actually a meat cabinet! And yes, it spent the night in the middle of an aisle.

Several other friends dropped by. JCT and AMTT came to get a copy of Guitar Hero. PCR also visited. He asked me to do his wedding. It will be on October 27th on a beach in South Carolina. Though it will not be the first South Carolina wedding I have officiated, it will be the first wedding I have done on a beach. PAT will be filming and naturally JTH will be in attendance as well. It should be fun.

In more important PCR news, the church basketball league is slated for a September 18th tipoff. My team will be comprised of JTH, JAH, PCR, Mr. X and the brothers Walker. If you would like to play or know anyone else who would, we could use a player or two more to round out the squad.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prayer Blog - 8/19/2008

My paternal grandfather WCV (Jr.) has learned that his Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) count is twice what is should be. This is often an early indicator of prostate cancer. A biopsy has been scheduled for next Wednesday, August 27th, at Baptist Hospital in Knoxville. Please pray that the test returns negative and that if it does not, God give us the strength to deal with this new ailment.

Bible Trivia - 8/19/2008

Question: Who said to Jesus, "Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem and hast not known the things which are come to pass in these days?"

Answer: Cleopas. (Luke 24:18)

Comments: Cleopas was one of the two disciples who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus at the conclusion of Luke's gospel. The other is not named. Initially, the two disciples do not recognize Jesus.

One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, "Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?" (Luke 24:28, NASB)

It is the only time Cleopas appears in the New Testament. According to church fathers Eusebius (263-339) and Epiphanius (310-403), Cleopas was the brother of Joseph, and therefore the uncle of Jesus.

Word of the Day - 8/19/2008


To inure is to accustom to hardship, difficulty, pain, etc.; toughen or harden; habituate (usually followed by to): inured to cold.

The book of Judges asserts that some nations were left after the conquest to inure the Israelites to war.

Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). (Judges 3:1-2, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 8/19/2008

I had a busy Monday with my UT orientation sandwiched between visits with friends.

SMA and I met for lunch at Soccer Taco. Afterwards, we went to Oak Ridge where we shopped for books before I dropped him off to play frisbee golf with RLN. The big find of the day was the autobiography of “Sister Bernadette: Cowboy Nun From Texas”.

On Monday night, I attended orientation for the Educational Psychology & Counseling Department. The informal event was held in the Hermitage Room of the University Center. Pizza from Sbarro was served. Since my time at the university, a Sbarro has been installed in the UC. This was great news.

Students from all branches of the program (Master’s and PhD candidates) attended, current and incoming, as well as the professors. The program consisted of several professors welcoming us. I learned that the program is presently ranked 34th in the country.

After the brief introductions, we were then asked a series of multiple choice questions and divided up based upon our answers. We were supplied with a sheet of conversation starters to break the ice. In between each relocation, a raffle was held for a “moderately expensive” door prize. I did not win.

I sat by two incoming counseling students from Memphis who had completed their undergraduate degrees at UT. Yet again my background in professional wrestling was invaluable as one of the girls not only knew who Jerry The King Lawler was but had recently seen him in a Memphis grocery store. What other king does his own grocery shopping?

I also met the two professors I will be working most closely with, RGB and MHZ. They were both very kind. I will be taking EP 520, (“Survey of Adult Education”) with RGB on Wednesday nights from 5:45-8:35 PM. My other class will be taught by MHZ (EP 522, “Adult Development”). That class time has not yet been established. Yes, two days before the start of classes and no time and place had been decided. It was good to know UT had not changed completely since my last class there.

I was pleased to learn that RGB has already worked with four ministers. One of those was MHZ’s husband! They were very encouraging though it is still worth noting that I have yet to be officially welcomed to the department and until I have it in writing I will not assume my admission.

After orientation, I spent the evening with KLTW, KJW, and eventually RAW (when he got off work). KLTW cooked chicken, black eyed peas, mashed potatoes and rolls. KLTW repeatedly apologized for the simplicity of the meal. It was good and free. What’s to complain about?

As usual, KJW was a treat. She initially refused to eat her black eyes peas and was informed that she would not be partaking of the cookies her mother made until she did. KLTW and I were in conversation minutes later when KJW, still sitting by her uneaten vegetables, shrugged, and said “Alright.” She then begin devouring the peas. She got her cookie. It would not be the only one she would get.

Later in the night, as her mother and I were conversing in the adjacent living room, I noticed KJW had returned to the kitchen where she had contorted herself into a pushed in chair. It was hysterical and remarkable that she could fit into the space. I wondered why she did this. I kept watching and finally she stood in the chair and reached across the table where the container of cookies rested just within her reach. After going to such lengths we could not help but give her the cookie she so wanted.

She is very into creating fantasy worlds. This picture is of her sandwiched between the poles of a light. She called this “jail.” She also pranced around on an imaginary “silver” skateboard as she had seen children in her aunt’s subdivision on them. She will also occasionally pretend to be blinded and scream “my eyes!” I have no idea where this came from.

At one point she began saying, “Sorry, I’m bad.” I asked what this was about. I realized she was singing along to Buckcherry on the radio. I must note that RAW was not home at this point. He would never have approved of the child listening to pop. (Note: This photo came after KJW stole my hat and tried it on.)

KJW has also taken to preceding many of her comments by saying, “Check this out.”

In news from the family, KLTW’s sister delivered her baby on Friday (August 15th). It will most definitely be her third anf final child. The child’s name is Kaya Hope (KHK). All of the girl’s in the family have names which begin with K. Her parents chose her first name and her middle name was given by her big sister KGK.

Finally, Monday was my cousin HANJ’s 25th birthday. Happy birthday, “Bug”!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Prayer Blog - 8/18/2008

17-year old Karns High School student Eric Richard Law died this morning after a freak accident suffered around 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday, August 13th. Law was thrown from the back of a 1995 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck that slowed suddenly to allow another student to board. He fell out, striking his head on the pavement. The accident occurred in the parking lot of Byington-Solway Career and Technology Center next to Karns High School.

Law was one of four students in the bed of a pickup truck driven by another student. The group was helping students move furniture from one part of the campus to another under the supervision of their shop teacher when the accident happened.

Mr. X's younger half brother was the driver of the truck.

Pray for all involved in this tragedy.

Here is Eric Law's obituary that appeared in the Knoxville News-Sentinel:

LAW, ERIC RICHARD - age 17 of Knoxville, a beloved follower of Jesus Christ, passed away Monday morning, August 18, 2008 at Baptist Hospital West. Eric was a member of First Baptist Church Concord. He was a Senior at Karns High School. Eric loved music and sang with the Fusion Choir at FBC Concord. His father, Aaron John Law, preceded him in death. Eric is survived by his mother, Sabara Sharon Moore Law of Knoxville; brother, Stephen Christopher of Knoxville; sister, Melissa Renee Law of Hiram, GA; grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William D. Moore of Crossville; grandmother, Eula Law Blalock of Maryville; uncle, James Richard Moore of Spring City, uncles and aunts, Arthur Glenn and Bonnie Law of Lenoir City, Donna and Jimmy Pilkington of Maryville, Debbie and Dee Baker of Maryville; cousin, Mark Shanks and wife Tammy of Knoxville. The family will receive friends from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday followed by funeral services at 7:30 p.m. at the Click Funeral Home Farragut Chapel with Rev. Russell Irwin officiating. Family and friends will gather at 11 a.m. Friday at Hillcrest Baptist Church Cemetery in Blount County for graveside services. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the National Kidney Foundation of East Tennessee, 4450 Walker Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37917. Click Funeral Home Farragut Chapel, 11915 Kingston Pike is serving the family of Eric Law.

Bible Trivia - 8/18/2008

Question: What was Jesus’ answer when his disciples asked why a man had been born blind?

Answer: So that God’s work could be shown in His life. (John 9:3)

Comments: In their travels, Jesus and his disciples encountered a man born blind. His disciples asked their teacher whose sin accounted for the man's condition, reflecting the theology of the day. In congenital cases such as this, some rabbis argued that the cause was pre-natal sin by the fetus while others posed that the condition was a result of was the mother's sin while pregnant. (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991), p. 362.) Jesus refuted this interpretation with his response.

Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 19:3, NASB)

Jesus not only absolved the man from blame but later healed him as well. (John 19:7)

Word of the Day - 8/18/2008


Hortatory means urging to some course of conduct or action; exhorting; encouraging: a hortatory speech.

Despite causing quite an uproar in Ephesus, Paul gave an horatory speech before leaving.

After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. (Acts 20:1, NASB)

Note: This engraving of "Paul at Ephesus" was created by Gustave Doré (1832-1883).

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 8/18/2008

I had a great weekend. I got to see both sides of my extended family, preach a sermon, and spend a day on CAL’s farm, one of my favorite places on earth.

On Friday night, my family celebrated my cousin HANJ’s 25th birthday three days early. She came in from Pensacola for the event. I suppose it would not have been as good a party had the guest of honor not attended.

My mother hosted the event and the barbeque was provided by M & M Catering, which has recently opened a new location. It lived up to its exceptional reputation. My mother went with a watermelon theme. There were watermelon bowls, place settings, napkins, etc. I never knew so many watermelon based items existed.

It was refreshing to see DLNV in “Party Nazi” mode (a term coined by JEV). It was a subdued performance. This was obvious as we did not even have place settings on this night! Say it ain’t so, Party Nazi!

The cake was of the ice cream variety from Baskin Robbins. This photo is of DLNV being unable to light the cake. My father eventually saved the day.

As for the usual cousin updates:

  • HANW is well and handled the photography duties as usual. Her husband, the beloved MLW, could not attend due to work, but thankfully his parents did.
  • HANJ moves from Pensacola to Converse, TX (a suburb of San Antonio) on September 20th where her husband is renting a home from a college friend from UT. Her stay in the San Antonio area will be brief as she will soon be moving to Abilene. Such is the life of a military wife. No word on any connection between her next destination and Chuck Taylor.
  • ACN is in Massachusetts and though she could not attend, called from Massachusetts. She will soon train to be an RA at UMass where classes begin the day after Labor Day (September 2nd).
  • HLN arrived late as she completed yet another dance class. She was her usual brooding self. One of the highlights of the evening came when, after getting lost en route to the house (to which she has visited dozens of times), her father walked from the house to the street corner to indicate a turn. She sped right by him and he had to walk back to the house!
  • She is dating a guy named Jake who attends the Webb School of Knoxville. When I asked what he liked she instantly replied, “Math”. He is also a chess player. I already like the guy. The family likes him too and hopes it works out as his last name of Persian descent rhymes with HLN’s first name. The family has liked people for lesser reasons.

It was a good night with family and we even closed in time to catch most of the Olympics. All sarcasm aside, DLNV did a great job hosting the event.

Sunday was a typical work hard, play hard Sunday. JTH, WAM, MPW and I hit the road to Newport, Tennessee, where I preached at the English Mountain Christian Church for the vacationing Rick Carr. The church, built in 1967, was once pastored by Fred Craddock. It is also the home church of my “aunt” PRM and it was good to see her and her family. Her father introduced me.

I preached a sermon called “Outsider’s In” based upon Matthew 15:1-28. The title came from the “reality” show filmed in Newport which had premiered on Friday. The congregation seemed to have the same negative opinion of the show as I did.

I must also note that the pianist, Dr. Bennie Caton, was amazing!

JTH graciously chauffeured, driving the Chanana. Amazingly, we had no transportation problems all day. We did arrive excessively early. To pass the time, we played Phase 10 on the church steps. We did let KJW drive part of the day. Just kidding. I just could not resist posting this photo.

JTH displayed his new mohawk. For WAM’s invaluable commentary on the new do, check out the WAM Quote of the Day.

Afterwards, we were joined my much of my extended family at the Holiday Inn for the lunch buffet. My parents were in Newport already for my father’s high school reunion and had stayed at the hotel the night before. RAW and KJW also drove from Knoxville and joined us. KJW was a hit. Plus, they had pie, so I was happy.

Afterwards, my friends and I caravanned to CAL’s farm. We interrupted a visit between CAL and her Rush trainer Amy. We spent the day swimming, playing basketball, and working the punching bag. We decided to save experimenting with potato guns, shooting pool, and touring the farm for a later visit. KJW especially enjoyed making friends with CAL’s dogs Rip and Raven. She especially liked Rip, the wiener dog, as he is her size. Strikingly, Amy's 70-pound dog was terrified of KJW!

Most of the day was spent in the pool. KJW, usually enamored of the pool, spent some time in but was timid. She recently ingested too much water at her aunt PCW’s house and has been a little gun shy ever since.

KJW’s timiditywas trumped by WAM’s off the springboard. He contemplated using it for minutes fearing the board might not support his weight. CAL tried to encourage him by noting that the board is “twenty years old. It’s had a good life.” RAW eventually coaxed him off of the board by noting that prudence had never stopped him in the past. RAW made a video of WAM diving. I will post a copy if and when I receive it.

JTH and I were not so apprehensive. JTH entertained with a series of acrobatic dives. I simply decimated a pool toy with every wrestling move that I know. This was a surprisingly large number.

I preached, saw KJW, and simulated wrestling holds. It was quite the day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

WAM Quote of the Day - 8/17/2008

WAM traveled to Newport with the gang on Sunday for church and a day at the farm. Although there were numerous quoutes to choose from, my favorite was the day's first. JTH recently got a mohawk and challenged us to guess who cut it. WAM replied first:

"Andrew Mitchell."

We soon realized that none of us, including, WAM had any idea who Andrew Mitchell was. (We suspect he might have been thinking of Paul Mitchell.)

For the record, JTH's coworker JRJ styled his hair.