August 2002

Cullowhee cuts ties with association

August 9 2002 by Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges , BR staff

Cullowhee cuts ties with association | Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Cullowhee cuts ties with association

By Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges BR staff

An N.C. Baptist church that faced criticism for calling a woman co-pastor has withdrawn from its association and at least two other churches are considering leaving.

Cullowhee Baptist Church voted Aug. 4 to withdraw from the Tuckaseigee Baptist Association. First Baptist Church in Sylva and East Sylva Baptist Church have meetings planned to discuss leaving.

The moves come less than a month after the association's Executive Committee voted in a closed meeting to ask the association's credentials committee to counsel Cullowhee and First Baptist Church in Sylva over matters of faith and practice. A motion for the association to break fellowship with the two churches was ruled out of order.

The Sylva church has supported Cullowhee.

Jeffrey and Tanya Vickery became co-pastors of Cullowhee in January. That same month, the Pastors' Conference in the association sent a letter to the credentials committee asking it to take action against the church. The pastors said "there are matters of doctrine and practice within the Cullowhee Baptist Church that do not conform to the clear teachings of the New Testament."

A few weeks later, Cullowhee's pastors and deacons wrote a letter to the credentials committee, saying the Pastors' Conference has wrongly made the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) the doctrinal guideline for fellowship in the association.

In April, the credentials committee voted 3-2 in a closed meeting to recommend that the church's messengers not be seated at the association's annual meeting in October and that the church be removed from the association "unless corrective action is taken." The committee said the church was in violation of the association's bylaws.

The committee did not report its April vote to the association's Executive Committee, which decided behind closed doors on July 8 to affirm the 2000 BF&M and asked the credentials committee to counsel the two churches.

The credentials committee met a short while later and asked representatives of the two churches to meet with it within a few days. Both churches sent letters indicating their willingness to meet at a later date. The committee met anyway and decided by a 4-1 vote that messengers from the two churches should not be seated at the association's annual meeting in October.

Jeffrey Vickery said most church members at Cullowhee decided not to wait. He said the vote to leave the association came during the church's regular church conference.

The discussion was mostly centered on when, not if, the church would leave the association, he said. Three church members out of about 26 present voted against the motion because they wanted to wait and leave the association after the October meeting, he said.

"We would rather the next headline be something positive rather than conflict," he said.

Vickery said one of the most telling statements during the meeting came from a layman who said, "It takes two people to fight. We can stop the fight by choosing to leave."

Vickery said he thinks the Cullowhee church will cooperate with other churches in the area, but not necessarily by "forming another structure we have to spend energy to keep alive."

Two of those churches are expected to be Sylva First and East Sylva Baptist Church, both of which have publicly supported the Cullowhee church.

Wayne Hill, pastor of Sylva First, said the deacons were scheduled to meet Aug. 11. A vote to leave the association would probably be considered when the entire congregation meets that evening, he said.

"We're just trying to be respectful and supportive to the Cullowhee church," he said. "None of us wants to cause distress."

Charles Dean, pastor of East Sylva, said the church deacons plan to meet Aug. 11 as well. That meeting will likely produce a recommendation to discontinue fellowship with the association, he said.

"I don't want to stay," he said. "I'd like to see our church pull out."

If all three churches withdraw, it could be a financial blow to the association.

During the 2000-2001 fiscal year, the three churches accounted for nearly a fourth of the association's total church support and more than 21 percent of the association's total receipts. Most of the contributions came from Sylva First, the association's biggest financial supporter that year.

Dean said as many as five other churches might be considering cutting their ties to the association. He said that if Sylva First and East Sylva follow Cullowhee out of the association, "I think you're going to see a lot of others follow."

He thinks those churches could eventually form a new association.

"We're just tired of fighting this thing," Dean said.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
8/9/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges , BR staff | with 0 comments



Mountain SWARM's busy bees

August 9 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Mountain SWARM's busy bees | Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Mountain SWARM's busy bees

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

BRYSON CITY - When tourists swarm into North Carolina's southwestern mountains each summer, there is a good chance they will be met by another SWARM - volunteers with SouthWest Area Resort Ministries.

Many of those volunteers, like a large percentage of the visitors, are retirees who live in Florida but spend all or part of the summer in the cooler climes of the North Carolina mountains.

And SWARM couldn't go far without them. Bob Tucker, who is president of SWARM and pastor of Almond Baptist Church near Bryson City, relies heavily on other volunteers to coordinate the 40 or more mission teams who come to offer ministry in a dozen campgrounds surrounding Bryson City and Cherokee.

The week of July 12-19 was typical. Three churches from North Carolina sent youth teams to the area for a full week of ministry, and other churches sent groups or individuals for single events.

Youth teams led children's activities or Backyard Bible Clubs in campgrounds during the day and visited rest homes one afternoon. Some teams did outreach activities at the "Santa's Land" theme park. Each team also held evening performances and led Sunday morning worship at multiple campgrounds.

On July 14, for example, youth from New Friendship Baptist Church in Winston-Salem led worship at the Yogi Bear and KOA campgrounds. First Baptist Church of Morrisville was responsible for the Cooper Creek and Bearhunter campgrounds. A youth team from Cerro Gordo Baptist Church performed at Adventure Trails and Flaming Arrow. Individuals or representatives from other churches led worship at other campgrounds.

At least one "SWARMer" is present for each activity or performance. Like many other campers, some of the SWARM members remain at one campground throughout the summer. Others park their RVs at the Tennessee River Association office, or near a mission house that was donated to the association.

Nell and Hart Watson have been SWARM volunteers for more than 15 years. Their home is in Bellevue, Fla., but when possible, they arrive at Flaming Arrow campground before Memorial Day and remain until after Labor Day.

Ted and Mary Barber, from Middleburg, Fla., are camping on a ridge above the mission house, while Omar and Helen Huff, of Melrose, Fla., have their RV parked behind the Tennessee River Association building, where mission teams can also find lodging.

These volunteers and several other couples, most of whom are also members of Campers on Mission (COM), are involved with SWARM activities six days of every week.

SWARMers act as liaisons to campground owners and operators, build personal relationships with regular campers, provide hosting and orientation services to visiting teams, and decide which teams will work in which campgrounds. At each service, SWARM members help round up campers, introduce the visiting team and keep records.

A jovial group, they find that a sense of humor is helpful: Ted Barber sometimes gets the program going with an impersonation of Donald Duck singing "Jesus Loves Me."

When visiting teams are not available, SWARMers lead campground services and visit nursing homes on their own.

SWARM's labors at pollinating the area with the gospel produce consistent fruit. Through the July 4 weekend, more than 100 campers had made professions of faith in Christ.

That kind of response can bring jubilation to visiting teams. Mike and Ashley Brooks, youth ministers at New Friendship Baptist Church, reported that a team member who had been baptized the previous Sunday led someone to Christ on Friday night, and another youth had the same experience the following evening.

In some campgrounds, most of the available spaces appear to be occupied by semi-permanent residents, with decks or porches attached to the camper-trailers. Mission team members and SWARM volunteers sometimes outnumber those who come out to the programs, but some campers listen from their campsite. SWARMers learn not to be discouraged, knowing that one person without Christ is all the reason they need for persevering.

SWARM is currently looking for a 2003 coordinator to attend COM rallies in surrounding states and help recruit volunteers to act as local contacts next summer, according to Bob Tucker, the group's president.

Vance Russ, who previously provided leadership, has suffered from heart problems and had to relinquish his responsibilities.

Because volunteers provide so much of the leadership, SWARM gets by on a budget of less than $10,000 per year. Funding is provided by the Cheoah, Haywood, Macon, Tennessee River and Tuckaseigee Baptist associations, the Baptist State Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention, along with contributions from churches and individuals.

Interested readers can learn more about SWARM by calling (828) 488-8842 or by writing to SWARM at P.O. Box 2073, Bryson City, N.C. 28713.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
8/9/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 25: Relationships - Who Needs Whom?

August 9 2002 by Crate Jones , Genesis 4:1-16

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 25: Relationships - Who Needs Whom? | Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 25: Relationships - Who Needs Whom?

By Crate Jones Genesis 4:1-16

In "The Waltons" TV program, a man was looking at an empty, rundown house. He said, "An empty house dies of loneliness; it needs someone to live in it."

When God finished creating the world, He needed someone to live in it; so He created Adam and Eve. Evidently, He needs us; and assuredly we need Him.

Life is made up of many relationships. However, our relationship with God is of utmost importance.

The first family

Adam and Eve, Cain and Able sound like an ideal family, but sin tore them apart. Envy, strife, anger and even murder destroyed the kind of relationship they should have had.

Cain killed Able and tried to cover his guilt. When God asked him where his brother was, he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" He wasn't but should have been.

I have seen families demolished by alcohol, drugs, immorality, hatred, cruelty, abuse and a host of other sins rooted in the selfish soil of me, my and mine. Sin breaks; Jesus mends.

Only by a right relationship with God can families be anywhere near what He wants them to be.

Harriett's nephew visited our home and said. "I like to come here because it's peaceful." That's because the Prince of Peace lives here.

Getting to know the Lord lifts life to a higher level. Jesus came into the world so that through Him we can have a right relationship with the heavenly Father!

Breaking points

Sadly, relationships can break down. It happens in families, among friends and even in churches.

Through misunderstandings, friends can come to a fork in the road.

A preacher and a friend had some words that created a strained relationship. The closeness was gone.

Finally, the preacher realized what the man had said was harsh but what he needed to hear. He went to him and said, "I just want to thank you for what you have meant to me."

The friend replied, "I didn't know I had meant anything to anybody."

"Oh yes you have." said the preacher. "God used you to show me some things I needed to see. I want you to know that I love you."

With tears in his eyes, the friend thanked the preacher and took him by the hand. A lasting relationship was born.

Even churches plow through choppy waters. It must grieve Jesus to see His church splintered, pitting Christian against Christian and church against church. It was said of the early Christians, "See how they love one another." Now, the divisions among churches are taking their toll. Jesus wants us to believe in Him and then to love each other.

I heard a story about two churches in a small town. Both were slowly dying for lack of members. They decided to merge into one church.

During their discussion, it was discovered that one church repeated the Lord's prayer by saying "forgive us our trespasses" and the other church repeated, "forgive us our debts."

They could not agree, so each went back to his own church - one to its debts and the other to its trespasses.

Balm in Gilead

When our daughter was two-and-a-half years old, she made a mistake. I raised my voice to her. It broke her heart.

Seeing her sitting in her little red rocking chair, thumb in mouth, tears streaming down her face, it broke my heart. On my knees, I said, "Cathy, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to act that way. Will you forgive me?"

Still rocking, thumb in her mouth, she said, "Dat's awwight."

Our relationship was restored. That's God's kind of grace and forgiveness.

Our grandson, Taylor, was riding his pony; his mother was riding her horse as they looked down the lane expecting grandmother to come driving up. She was late and Taylor was worried.

All of a sudden, he said, "Woah, pony! Prayer time." And so he prayed that she would arrive safely.

Sure enough, in a little while, there she was. Taylor galloped his pony to her car and shouted, "Booma! I prayed and you came."

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
8/9/2002 12:00:00 AM by Crate Jones , Genesis 4:1-16 | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 1: God is Holy

August 9 2002 by Crate Jones , 1 Chronicles 16:7-12, 15-17, 25-29, 34-35

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 1: God is Holy | Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 1: God is Holy

By Crate Jones 1 Chronicles 16:7-12, 15-17, 25-29, 34-35

David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. The Ark represented the presence of God.

"On that day David delivered this psalm ... to thank the Lord" (v.7). It declares that God is holy, the giver of great blessings and worthy of praise, "Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people" (v.8).

"Sing unto Him, sing Psalms unto Him, talk ye of all His wondrous works. Glory ye in His Holy Name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

"Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually. Remember the marvelous works that He hath done, ..." (vs.9-12).

In the spirit of these words, I "talk of His wondrous work" in experiences He has allowed me to have.

In the 50s, there was a great longing in my heart for a better understanding of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus saves us, the Spirit is in us fully; but we may not be fully aware of His presence.

Our first churches out of seminary were Cartledge Creek Baptist Church and Saron Baptist Church, two half-time rural churches near Rockingham.

I knew there must be a deeper level in the Spirit than I had found.

On a Saturday night, I finished reading R.A. Torrey's book, The Holy Spirit: Who He Is and What He Does. Finding a quiet place, on my knees, I asked God for the blessing of the Spirit.

Though I felt no change, I thanked Him for hearing my prayer. On Sunday morning at Saron Church, His answer came. The sermon was finished; the invitation was about to be given. Suddenly, I was aware of the presence of Jesus. No visions, no ringing bells; just Jesus. I stood there and cried.

I went into a Sunday School room, knelt and told the Lord everything He already knew about me. He cleansed and filled my heart with an overflowing love for Jesus and His people.

Any problems since that day? You bet. But faithful is He who abides within us.

Response to His presence

When we find ourselves in the holy presence of God, our heart's response is: "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; bring an offering, and come before Him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" (v.29).

In essence, that was my response to a mountain-top meeting with the Lord. Every Christian goes through times of self examining. This one was for me.

I went to Ridgecrest in search of water for my dry soul. (God used Isa. 30:15-21 as His word to me.) I read from the Bible, did a lot of praying and looked for answers. I thought climbing Kitazuma Mountain might help as a place to meditate.

The sign read: "Kitazuma Road," I started, only to find a garbage dump which reminded me of some garbage in my own life. Retracing my steps, I found a low rock wall and rested. It turned out to be an altar.

As I sat there, looking within and looking up, the Spirit began to stir. While praying, I sensed the presence of the Lord, and the tears came. His patience, understanding, love and forgiveness filled my heart with gratitude. A pilgrim soul met a gracious God, and life took on a different meaning.

God as Savior

David said, "Save us, O God of our salvation" (v.35).

Because Jesus came, we know that God in Christ is the only Savior. Therefore, we can say in truth: "Save us, O God of our salvation."

Nine Pennsylvania coal miners were trapped 240-feet underground for 77-hours. They stood in cold water, lived in gross darkness and were helpless to save themselves.

Rescuers worked three days and nights drilling a shaft to reach them. A cage on a cable was lowered; they were brought up one by one. Each time, the people cheered.

Man is trapped in the darkness of sin and cannot save himself. Jesus, the rescuer, labored three days and three nights preparing the way out - the cross, the tomb, the resurrection. Each time a soul is set free heaven rejoices. Amen and Amen!

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
8/9/2002 12:00:00 AM by Crate Jones , 1 Chronicles 16:7-12, 15-17, 25-29, 34-35 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for Aug. 25: Wise Character

August 9 2002 by Haven Parrott , Proverbs 25:27-28; 11:1-4

Formations lesson for Aug. 25: Wise Character | Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Formations lesson for Aug. 25: Wise Character

By Haven Parrott Proverbs 25:27-28; 11:1-4

A young boy stood outside a shoe store. His tattered clothes, matted hair and grimy face proclaimed his poverty. He gazed longingly at the shoes on display in the window and prayed, "Please Lord, I really need some shoes. Could you send someone to buy me some?"

Character reveals connection

Just then, a well-dressed woman came up beside him. She'd spotted the boy as she was pulling into a parking space and noticed that he was staring wistfully at the shoes through the window. She observed that the shoes he was wearing were way past worn out, and decided to take action.

"Let's go inside," she invited. The boy followed as the woman led him all the way to the back of the shoe store, where she removed his grubby, smelly shoes, and then proceeded to wash his feet and ankles. That done, she led him back into the showroom where she directed a salesman to measure the boy's feet and bring out every style available in his size.

"Pick three," she said to the boy, whose eyes were wide with wonder at the woman's generosity.

She smiled as he donned one pair of shoes after another, reveling in each new style he tried on. Finally, the boy made his selections, and two new pairs of shoes were boxed and bagged. The third new pair was proudly displayed on his feet.

Grinning uncontrollably, the delighted child skipped out of the shoe store. As he turned to thank his benefactor, the boy recalled the prayer he'd prayed just before the woman had appeared, and a look of sudden recognition crossed his face. Though she hadn't introduced herself, the boy was sure he knew who she was.

"Lady," he asked, "are you God's wife?"

Okay, so the boy was a little confused about the woman's identity, but he knew for sure that she was somehow related to God: her character revealed the connection.

Being mistaken for God's wife is quite a compliment. We are Christ's bride. Does our character betray our connection to Him?

A woman's influence

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the fruit of a life rooted in reverence for God: character that is wise regardless of context. Whether in the community, in commerce, or in the confines of home; whether witnessed by many or by none; whether in the light of day or the dead of night, the woman of wise character advertises her doctrine by her deeds, her discipleship, her diligence, her belief and her behavior.

It would be impossible to overestimate the significance of a wife's witness, a mother's ministry, a woman's influence. Generations are impacted for good or for ill by one woman's faith in God, or lack thereof. (Consider Eve, Sarah, Jochebed, Rahab, Ruth, Mary, etc.)

Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) of a life rooted in reverence for God: the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit borne on Calvary's tree, the very life of Christ lived out through ours.

The woman who fears the Lord permits the Spirit to conform her character to the likeness of Christ's. Husbands, children and communities are strengthened by the attitudes and actions of women who understand that their work is worship, -women who do all "as for the Lord" (Col. 3:23).

Though all women have the ability to influence, women of wise character - Christ-like character - have the amazing ability to Himfluence.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
8/9/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , Proverbs 25:27-28; 11:1-4 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for Sept. 1: Gaining True Wisdom

August 9 2002 by T. Wayne Proctor , James 1:1-27

Formations lesson for Sept. 1: Gaining True Wisdom | Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Friday, Aug. 9, 2002

Formations lesson for Sept. 1: Gaining True Wisdom

By T. Wayne Proctor James 1:1-27

Early tradition states that James the author was James, the half-brother of Jesus, also called James the Just. Early on he was a doubter (John. 7:6f.), but he became a believer (1 Cor. 15:7) and a prominent leader in the Jerusalem church. Tradition also states he was a man of great prayer. He earned the name "Old Camel Knees" because his knees were knotty and calloused because of years of prayer on his knees.

The key verses for this lesson are 5-6, which can be simplified to say: If you lack wisdom, ask God for it, but make sure you ask in faith, doubting nothing.

The book of James has always been identified as a practical book. My favorite title for the book is "Faith Works."

In this lesson, James exhorts the believer not to get into the habit of blaming God, but to be thankful and joyful in all circumstances.

A bevy of trials

James 1:2-8

The word picture is the same used by Jesus when he described the traveler who fell into the hands of the robbers. The Samaritan came to the rescue. Trials come in all shapes, colors and sizes. They can be perceived as good or bad, and we can either respond to a trial as lemon or lemonade, something sour or something satisfying.

A.T. Robertson wrote, "Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to evil."

James takes the positive approach, with warnings. In verses 2-4 he states that when trials are met correctly, endurance and spiritual maturity are its results.

You've met people like that. They've experienced great tragedy, yet they live each day with a smile and a bounce to their step. They are an inspiration to others.

I suspect these Christians wake up each day with a prayer that includes "asking for wisdom," trusting and thanking God for each trial and blessing in life.

Temptation - bane or blessing

James 1:12-16

The word used in verse 12 is the same root word used in verse 2. James is making the point that when temptation comes, it is wrong to blame God. God allows many things, pleasant and unpleasant, to happen in the course of life, but it is up to us as to how we deal with them. Christians need to accept that Satan will attack us where we are most vulnerable. We must guard our hearts, and stay away from where evil lurks.

James explains that sin begins with our desires, and unchecked, can lead to our destruction.

I liken this to what happens in my lawn this time of year. Our soil is sandy and we battle the weed known as the "sandspur." When it germinates or "heads out" it produces pain producing stickers. The only real solution is to be proactive; kill them before they germinate. Fertilizer, weed killer, water and a thick, grassy lawn are the only things I've discovered that really work. In other words, don't let them start!

The same is true of temptations - don't let them gain a foot-hold in your life. You know yourself better than anyone else. Don't live a lie.

The perfect law

James 1:22-27

Jesus made the law simple and understandable to his hearers. He also lived it.

James is stating the same principle. Be a doer - not just a hearer.

In today's Christian lingo we say, "If you want to talk the talk, you've got to walk the walk." It's the same principle. It's all about speech and actions. And, it's not about how we act in church, but how we act at home, at work, at the ball field, and whenever and wherever we might be tempted to let our guard down. Sometimes we're disappointed and shocked when we see the "real" person. Let's be sure it's not us who are the ones changing colors like a chameleon.

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8/9/2002 12:00:00 AM by T. Wayne Proctor , James 1:1-27 | with 0 comments



'Faith-based' program wins court battle

August 2 2002 by Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press

'Faith-based' program wins court battle | Friday, Aug. 2, 2002

Friday, Aug. 2, 2002

'Faith-based' program wins court battle

By Robert Marus Associated Baptist Press

MADISON, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled that a faith-based drug-treatment program can continue to receive tax dollars in the form of "vouchers" to prisoners.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb had earlier ruled that direct funding by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections of a faith-based treatment program called Faith Works violated the First Amendment's ban on establishment of religion. Crabb left open in her January ruling, however, a second question of whether indirect funding - in the form of vouchers to inmates who in turn choose between religious and non-religious programs - also violates the Constitution.

Crabb's ruling relied on a recent landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. That decision upheld an Ohio program providing government-funded scholarships that parents may use to send their children to private - including parochial - schools.

The Supreme Court ruling said such voucher programs are allowed by the Constitution, as long as parents have a genuine choice between religious and secular schools in deciding where to cash in the scholarships.

In a second ruling on the Wisconsin case July 29, Crabb said state funding of the Faith Works program operates on a similar principle because it is tied to individual inmates who choose between the faith-based and secular programs.

In her opinion, Crabb said the Establishment Clause is designed in part to "prevent the government from placing its imprimatur on religion." Recent court rulings, however, have recognized that individuals can "nullify any appearance of government endorsement" in benefiting from programs that allow "genuine and independent choices."

Plaintiffs challenging the Wisconsin program had argued that the prisoners did not have a true private choice among programs. Lawyers said Faith Works operated the only long-term residential drug program available to prisoners, and that prisoners would feel compelled to choose a treatment program recommended by prison officials.

In her ruling, however, Crabb said the Department of Corrections issued regulations to prison staff requiring that they inform prisoners that they were not required to use the Faith Works program and that they could choose a secular alternative.

Crabb's ruling fulfills a prediction by many legal observers following the school-voucher ruling that federal courts would eventually apply the same legal reasoning to religious social-service programs.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
8/2/2002 12:00:00 AM by Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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