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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Summer skin...If you value yours, resist the temptation to soak up the sun.

by Theresa Shadrix
LongLeaf Style
June 2006

The influence of the sun is legendary, mythical and powerful. For thousands of years the sun has been the object of worship, whether by agrarians praying for perfect light or by the faithful seeking favor from their supreme deity. The Greeks built the sixth wonder of the world, the Colossus of Rhodes, in honor of Helios, mythological god of the sun, and held Olympic Games in Rhodes to pay homage to him. In ancient Egypt, Ra, the sun-god, was considered the first king, and his son, pharaoh, was the god’s representative on earth.

Chae Mi Madden knows the signs of the modern-day sun worshipper, but not by cipher of a spiritual message or dedication to doctrine. She believes the face tells no lies, and with one look she can identify a follower who seeks not gold-lined streets but a golden skin.

“I just don’t understand it,” says Madden, a master cosmetologist for six years and owner of Monet Day Spa in Anniston. “I have seen many women come in for facials after too much sun, and it damages it.” Why risk premature wrinkles, leathery skin, age spots and melanoma in pursuit of a tan, she wonders, when “the natural skin is so beautiful.”

Madden has made a career of converting sun worshippers to sunscreen believers while repairing wounded skin. “There is no such thing as a good tan [from the sun],” she says. “The sun dehydrates the skin. I can do healing facials to recover it, but it takes time. You will never fully recover from sun damage.”

Madden uses treatments such as microderm abrasion and hydro- and healing facials. She employs a device called the LaFleur Repairer, which she says stimulates damaged skin and decreases wrinkles with electromagnetic energy. She does not perform medical treatments for damage from ultraviolet rays. Instead, she urges men and women to seek the advice of their doctor or a dermatologist if they have suspicious spots on their faces or bodies.

Of Asian decent, Madden spends much of her day mothering women, mostly Caucasian, about the dangers of neglecting to wear sunscreen and of using tanning beds. Although her spa has one tanning bed, she prefers to see clients come in for a spray-on tan or apply a “tan-in-a-bottle.” She advises them all to use sunscreen daily to protect their skin.

Although Madden sees sun-damaged skin nearly every day, the danger hit close to home when she learned that Monet employee Anel Petroff had a skin lesion removed from her face four years ago. Says Petroff, “I don’t leave the house in the morning without sunscreen now.” Petroff glows from her most recent facial and grins proudly at the mention of the lack of a scar, which she attributes to the skills of her dermatologist and surgeon and to her own kindness to her skin.

Petroff, a hair stylist, extends sun protection to hair as well. “I often see hair damaged from the sun,” she says. “I encourage people to apply conditioner or cover the hair with a hat. I know it doesn’t look glamorous, but it is worth it.”

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Christians debate, weigh intelligent design for validity as scientific theory

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
March 16, 2006

Most Christians have solid opinions on issues like the display of the Ten Commandments and prayer in schools, but many are not finding clarity in their opinion about the theory of intelligent design (ID).

With roots in astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology, the modern-day ID theory began to take form in 1802 with William Paley’s watchmaker analogy in “Natural Theology.”

According to Paley, if a watch is found in a field, then the complexity of the watch offers evidence that it is the product of intelligence, and thus the natural world provides evidence of a worldmaker. This preceded the theory of evolution, introduced in Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” in 1859.

In 1984, Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley and Roger Olson presented a critique of the theory of evolution in the publication “The Mystery of Life’s Origin.” Michael Denton followed with his analysis, “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis,” two years later. These publications laid a foundation and gave way to the present-day ID movement and future books on the subject, including William Dembski’s “The Design Inference” in 1998.

Until recently, ID was mainly a topic among the scientific community, which largely does not support the ID theory.

However, the Kitzmiller vs. Dover (Pa.) Area School District trial, in which U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled that inserting ID into the school science curriculum violates the constitutional separation of church and state, brought the topic into mainstream conversations.

A spokesman for an ID think tank contends media attention given to such trials merges ID and creation science — a form of creationism — into one theory, when in actuality ID is a separate theory based not on religion but biology.

Rob Crowther, director of media and public relations for the Discovery Institute Center for Science & Culture, said he believes an agenda to distort ID is a purposeful act. “It is designed by the Darwinians. They like to confuse the lines between (ID and creation science),” he said. That is why Crowther believes there must be education on the three distinct definitions related to life: creation science, evolution and ID.

He said evolution has three definitions. One holds that change occurs over time. A second contends common ancestry and all forms of life evolved from a single original life form. And a third asserts that natural science, acting on random mutation, is the primary mechanism by which life forms have evolved.

“ID scientists do not have a problem with definition No. 1. There is some debate over definition No. 2, but it is not incompatible with ID,” Crowther said. “Definition No. 3, commonly referred to as Darwinian evolution, is a specific part of evolution that ID challenges and is the heart of Darwin’s theory.”

Crowther said the scientific theory of intelligent design holds that instead of evidence for mutation “there are clear indicators of design in nature and that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause.”

Unlike creation science, however, which presupposes that God created the universe, ID does not promote an answer for who that designer might be. “Intelligent design theory does not claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause,” he said. “All it proposes is that science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence.”

Dembski, the Carl F.H. Henry Professor of Science and Theology and director of the Center for Science and Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said he best defines ID as “the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence.”

A mathematician, philosopher, theologian and one of the leading proponents in the ID movement, Dembski agrees its most controversial area of application is biology. “If patterns in biological systems exist that signify intelligence, then this intelligence would have to be an unevolved intelligence, which is utterly counter to conventional evolutionary theory.”

According to him, while creation science is in the first instance a doctrine about the source of being of the world, like questioning where everything comes from, ID does not ask where nature or the world ultimately comes from.

“Creationism goes further than creation and takes a particular view of creation, typically a particular interpretation of the Genesis account of creation, and then seeks to harmonize it with science,” he said. “ID, by contrast, is not part of the Bible-science controversy.”

Dembski said because the ID community includes evangelical Christians, who believe that ultimately the designer is the Christian God, it is easy to see how the lines between creationism and ID are blurred. Nevertheless he said Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists understand the intelligence behind the design in nature in terms compatible with their religious faith.

“ID is not vague about the designer,” Dembski said. “It simply says that from strictly the data of nature, there’s not much we can say about the identity of the designer, and to say more about the designer, we need to look to philosophy and theology.”

Although ID has no stake in trying to harmonize religious texts with scientific data, he said it is much more friendly and compatible with Christian theism.

“Evolutionary theory, by contrast, is hard to square with Christian theism because it views nature unguided by any intelligence as sufficient to bring about biological complexity and diversity,” Dembski said.

“When evolutionists talk about evolution, they are not thinking of an intelligently planned process exhibiting clear goals or purposes. They are thinking of an accidental process that from our vantage happened to do interesting things.”


Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Anniston’s Billy Harris to retire after 50 years in ministry

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
December 8, 2005

As Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Dec. 25, one church in Alabama will say goodbye to the pastor that has served them for almost 20 years.

Billy Harris, pastor of Parker Memorial Baptist Church, Anniston, in Calhoun Baptist Association, will retire after preaching the Christmas Day message. It is a decision he said was difficult, considering the historic church is on the threshold of a multimillion-dollar restoration project and preaching has been the center of his life since 1956.

“There is just no good time to say goodbye,” Harris said.

The church is hosting a reception in his honor Dec. 11, 3:30–5 p.m.
An Oxford native, Harris is the youngest of six children born to A.L. and Cora Cobb Harris. Although his parents were believers, they were not active in church. But Harris attended Lakeview Baptist Church, Oxford, in Calhoun Association with friends and made a profession of faith about age 13.

As a sophomore at Oxford High School, Harris rededicated his life after a friend invited him to a revival meeting at Glen Addie Baptist Church, Anniston. A year later, he committed his life to the ministry and started preaching right away.

Although Harris can’t recall his first sermon, he said the “preacher boys” of Glen Addie Baptist found places to preach. “Three or four of us would get together and clean out a vacant building in south Anniston,” Harris said. “We got some chairs and had a revival by inviting people to come.”

Harris said he didn’t really know what he was doing in his early days of preaching but he loved it. After high school graduation in 1957, Harris pursued pastoral studies at Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. He served as pastor of churches in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida during his college and seminary years.

“During those years, there really was not a lot of attention given to communicating the gospel. The attention was on substance,” Harris said. “When I came along, you could basically go through college and seminary with no emphasis on communication.”

Harris said the more he listened to preachers, the more he realized someone needed to help them. “Gradually my interest moved toward working with young ministerial students.”

From 1968–1978, Harris was professor of religion and philosophy at Samford, where he taught preaching, speech and religious education. The guidance Harris provided to future pastors is still felt today, said former student Sid Nichols.

Nichols, director of missions for Calhoun Association, believes Harris’ instruction made an impact on his own preaching style. “He brought basic fundamentals into my preparation and presentation of my messages,” he said. “He was very respected as a speech expert, which is a valuable asset when teaching preaching.”

Harris’ affiliation with Samford has remained strong through the years. In 1992, he was selected as one of Samford’s “ministers of the year,” and professors often shared messages from the pulpit at Parker Memorial Baptist, where Harris began serving in 1986.

From the classroom to the church to the community, he confirmed that being a pastor is not affirmed in numbers according to membership, even though Parker Memorial’s is more than 2,100. It is in individual people, Harris said.

“Ministry is about people, not about programs,” he said. “We are here partnering with people to meet the needs of our community.”

Wayne Hostetter, minister of education and seniors adults at Parker Memorial, said Harris is always conscious of being a pastor to every church member. “He is a very positive individual and exhibits a great degree of wisdom in dealing with all types of situations,” he said.

Don Gober, minister of music at Parker Memorial, has worked beside Harris since 1991. Gober said he learned the wisdom of patience and caution during trying and difficult situations from Harris.

Gober, whose wife died after a long battle with breast cancer, said, “Billy Harris is the most caring and loving pastor in a time of personal crisis that I have ever known. Families constantly tell me what a comfort he has been and how his loving spirit pulled them through the worst circumstances.”

Throughout Harris’ ministry, he served on the board of directors for The Alabama Baptist, board of regents for the University of Mobile, as president of the board of governors for Judson College in Marion, and chaired the committee on boards and commissions for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

But his goal has been to please Christ, not men. Harris hopes Christ will one day say to him, “You’ve been faithful,” as a reflection of his service to church and family, which includes wife, Phoebe, and three children.

“That’s all I hope He says,” Harris said.

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. ContactThe Alabama Baptist

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Passover observance

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
March 31, 2005

It’s the season when many shop for new spring suits, dye eggs and anticipate Easter Sunday lunch.

But in the midst of the seasonal buzz, many Alabama churches seek to provide meaningful ways for their members to slow down and embrace a deeper understanding of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And though the Lord’s Supper is the traditional observance, many are celebrating the time leading up to Christ’s death by taking the meal He took on Maundy Thursday — the traditionally Jewish Passover seder.

Last year more than 250 people attended a Passover seder hosted by North Glencoe Baptist Church and led by John Phelps of HaOr Ministries, a Kentucky-based ministry that teaches churches about the Hebrew foundations of the Christian faith.

The response was so tremendous, according to Pastor David Denson, that North Glencoe scheduled Phelps again this year for their seder March 24.

To observe the seder, the church served a meal of baked chicken, a green vegetable and kugel, followed by the Passover meal of parsley, kharoset and matzoh — all foods symbolizing some facet of the Passover.

The Passover, which occurred thousands of years ago when the Pharaoh of Egypt refused the commands of Moses to free the Hebrew slaves from captivity, demonstrates how God spared His people through the shedding of the innocent blood of a lamb — just as He did in the crucifixion.

The story — as told in Exodus 12 — follows Pharaoh’s stubbornness in the face of plagues until death for Egypt was the final judgment.

The Lord instructed Moses and Aaron that every Hebrew family should choose a perfect lamb for sacrifice and smear its blood on the top and sides of the door frame of the house.

That night, as each Hebrew family ate the roasted lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, the Lord passed through the land and killed the firstborn male in every Egyptian home, sparing the Hebrews covered by the lamb’s blood.

For centuries, the Jewish people have observed the Passover seder meal to remember their freedom.

God instructed the Israelites in Exodus 12:14, “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come after you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord — a lasting ordinance.”

Denson said hearing and participating in the teaching of the seder adds to the greatness of the Easter celebration.

“The seder is another opportunity to bring the Bible to life to review for refreshing and rededication in your Christian walk,” he said.

Since it was the Passover seder — now commonly known as the Last Supper — that Jesus celebrated with the disciples the night before His crucifixion, Denson believes Christians can gain much from understanding the special meal.

“The teaching of the Passover seder covers the ages from the first Passover celebrated by the Israelites in the Book of Exodus, to the Passover in the upper room celebrated by Jesus Christ and His disciples, to its observance by the Jews today,” Denson said.

Jay Isbell, elder of the Beth El Shaddai Messianic Synagogue in Birmingham, a Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship, said when Christians take part in the meal and tell the Passover story, they find that the symbolism of the whole service points to the coming Messiah.

Beth El Shaddai, like HaOr Ministries, gives Southern Baptist congregations guidance on how to conduct the Passover seder as well as how to celebrate it their congregations.

“As we celebrate communion, or the Lord’s Supper, we can see a shadow of these things, but if we carry out the whole service, we can see how it underscores God’s eternal plan for His people in a very powerful way,” Isbell said.

The seder is comprised of three parts: the haggadah (the telling), the meal and the afikomen (unleavened bread), Isbell explained. As the story of slavery to freedom and of darkness to light is retold, the pastor also leads the congregation in sharing a meal of bitter herbs, a roasted egg, a sweet apple mixture, parsley and a bone.

According to Isbell, the serving of the afikomen, or matzoh, is the portion of the meal when the lamb is remembered.

“Its blood was placed on the doorposts as salvation from that final plague, and the body of the lamb was eaten completely to give them strength during the coming times,” Isbell said.

“When Y’shua (Jesus) said ‘This is My body’ and ‘This is My blood,’ the disciples saw something very different from what many believers see today in a simple communion service,” Isbell explained. “He came to be our Salvation and our Strength.”

Zola Levitt, a Jewish Christian and founder of Zola Levitt Ministries in Dallas, Texas, said, “We should celebrate the feasts (like Passover) because Jesus celebrated them.”

Levitt teaches that through understanding the biblical feasts, one can see the core of Christianity, as Jesus was the perfect lamb sacrificed for us in order to save us from death.

In his booklet “The Miracle of Passover,” Levitt writes, “Understanding Jesus as a sacrificial lamb, in effect, is to understand the very heart of Christianity.”

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Hokes Bluff church hosts Zola Levitt

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
March 31, 2005

"Israel, Israel, Israel."

Those are the three things of importance to the Christian church today, Zola Levitt recently told the crowd gathered at Immanuel Baptist Church, Hokes Bluff.

Heads nodded in agreement as those listening anticipated hearing Levitt’s views on Israel, end-time prophecy and current world events.

They were not disappointed.

Levitt, who has 50 books in print, held the attention of the congregation for over two hours as he talked about evangelism, a future Palestinian state, hatred of the Jews, the return of Jesus and Armageddon. He also answered questions from the audience on the building of the 3rd temple, the location of the Ark of the Covenant and his opinions on world leaders.

Some of those present were already supporters of Zola Levitt Ministries, based in Dallas, Texas, and subscribe to his newsletter or watch his weekly 30-minute television program, Zola Levitt Presents, which airs on television stations across the nation. Some also had traveled with Levitt on one of his 50 trips to Israel.

A member of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and pastor of a messianic congregation, Levitt is a believer in the biblical concept outlined in Romans 1:16, “First to the Jew and also to the gentile.”

Although educating people about Israel, the Jews and end-time prophecy is a core issue in Levitt’s ministry, more important is evangelism, Levitt said.

“This is the perfect time to share the gospel with unbelievers. The Lord said, ‘In the days of Noah,’ and it is already raining,” he said.

Anthony Copeland, pastor of Immanuel, said Christians should be aware of end-time events. “There’s a need for us to be aware of what’s going on in the Middle East,” he said. “And it is good for our church members to be exposed to a Jewish believer.”

Though Levitt had spent his childhood learning the laws in the synagogue, his life dramatically changed in 1971 when he accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah. For almost 35 years, Levitt has urged Christians to witness to Jewish friends and embrace the Jewish people. “If you have a problem with the Jews, know that when you get to heaven you will meet the King of the Jews,” he said.

Levitt warned Christians about the anti-Semitism in the world but credited the strife to spiritual battles. “The hatred of Israel is amazing. Since it goes all the way back to Pharaoh, it is spiritual.”

He said the Jewish people have always been special to God and the devil seeks to get rid of them. “He can’t win this battle, but he uses all the punches he can,” Levitt said.

"I usually cringe when reporters attend my talks, since they so distort what I say. But, the above article is totally accurate." -Zola Levitt about my article in the Levitt Letter.

Related Link: (Levitt Letter...Go to the bottom of page 9)
www.levitt.com/newsletters/2005-07.pdf

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Prayerful partnership

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
February 17, 2005

The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions (AAEO) continues to be a testimony of the prayerful partnership between missionaries and local church members, according to AAEO representatives.

Since 1934, Southern Baptists have given funds to support missionary salaries, health benefits, church planting supplies and evangelism materials. Last year’s annual giving was a record high, at nearly $54 million, which supported 5,200 missionaries serving in the United States and Canada.

Candace McIntosh, executive director of Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union, said, “Giving through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is one way Alabama Baptists can support Great Commission work, not only in the state of Alabama, but throughout the United States.” Alabama’s AAEO goal is $5 million.

And combining that support with prayer is critical, according to Wanda Lee, executive director of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU).

“The AAEO and Lottie Moon Christmas Offerings are tangible ways Baptists can express their desire to support missions,” she said. “These gifts, along with faithful prayer support, enable missionaries to do the work God has called them to do.”

Jimmy Jackson, pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church, Huntsville, agreed.
Whitesburg led the 2004 Annie Armstrong offering in Alabama with more than $119,000 and Jackson gives credit to prayer combined with encouragement. “We encourage members to give all year long to both the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings. We have a special six-week focus on each one during which time we pray and keep our goal in front of the people.”

Les Hughes, senior pastor of Westwood Baptist Church, Alabaster, has also found that encouragement and prayer are key ingredients to a successful offering for missions. In 2004, Westwood gave $43,968 primarily through efforts of the missions team and sermons.

Hughes said his church wants to be prayer warriors, cheerleaders and partners in ministering to others and in sharing the gospel. “It’s important for us to give this offering because these missionaries trust us to support them with our prayers and with our resources,” he said.

With an estimated seven out of 10 people living without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Robert E. “Bob” Reccord, believes we must never lose sight of the mission before us.

Not only does he hope the 2005 Annie Armstrong Offering goal of $55 million is reached but that the lost will give their hearts and lives to Jesus.

“The signs are all around us every day that our homeland is sinking deeper and deeper into a lostness and spiritual darkness that only God can turn around,” he said. “From the school classroom to the Wall Street boardroom (and) from Washington, D.C. to Hollywood, we are losing the spiritual foundation we once had as a nation and along with it, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.”

As millions of Christians in Southern Baptist churches donate to the annual offering, 100 percent of the money utilized to support missionaries and evangelism and careful planning is taken to start new churches.

Reccord explained that NAMB takes a close look at the demographics of the communities, what kind of church is needed most and what groups are missed by other churches in the area. The planning pays off when a new church planter is commissioned.

“It’s an approach that says, ‘We’re not going to design church our way and then expect you to conform to it, Instead, we’re going to be rock-solid in our doctrine and singularly focused on Christ, but we’re going to remove the barriers that sometimes keep people from walking into a church,’” he said.

Until her death in 1938, removing barriers is what Annie Armstrong was known for as she devoted her life to helping the poor, needy and underserved.

“I think she would be amazed to see what her vision for North American missions has grown into,” Reccord said. He believes she would be heartened by the fact God is still using the same method — the obedient and generous gifts and offerings of His people — to support the work that was so close to her heart.

“I think she would also feel more of an urgency to reach this continent for Christ and she would feel an even stronger need for us to continue and grow the mission.”

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Leaders: Girls must be taught modesty can be fashionable

Posted on Nov 24, 2004 | by Theresa Shadrix
ANNISTON, Ala. (BP)--On the heels of ABC's decision not to renew its annual television contract with the Miss America pageant, the issue of modesty has emerged as a center-stage issue with Christians.

This year, contestants were featured in revealing swimsuits in the on-stage competition, and were placed in hot tubs during their pre-recorded introductions.

The reduction in modesty did not yield the pageant the extra exposure it had hoped to achieve. Instead, Miss America received its lowest television ratings in its 50-year history.

Only 10 girls opted for the more modest optional swimsuit, while Miss America, Deidre Downs, donned the two-piece string bikini for the judges and the audience. Downs viewed the swimsuit competition as a reflection of physical fitness and told Baptist Press she tried not to think about what she was wearing before the airing of the competition.

"I just thought about what I would wear to the beach," Downs said.

The issue of modesty is not a new controversy in pageant swimsuits, but as fashion trends like short skirts, tank tops and belly shirts make their way from the local mall to worship services, church members are looking for guidance.

Modesty is one of the topics -- along with dating, eating disorders, depression and self esteem -- addressed in Beyond the Eye conferences.

The conference founder, Leslie Gary, cautions parents to be aware of contents in their daughters' wardrobe and to not only discuss why some things are not appropriate to wear but explore the roots of immodest clothing.

"I feel there are many issues that young girls face today, but I believe these issues stem from their desire to feel needed, be wanted and accepted and to fit in," she said. "Whether these girls end up becoming sexually active, wearing revealing clothing, or suffering from anorexia -- just to name a few things -- they have a longing in their hearts for true acceptance."

The birth of the Beyond the Eye ministry came from Gary's own struggle with self-worth and identity.

"I personally have struggled with low self-esteem and inferiority my entire life," she said, "but God has allowed me to be taught His Word through various ways and has graciously allowed me to have some amazing role models in my life."

Many girls dress inappropriately because they have never been taught that their beauty is far beyond what people see on the outside, Gary said.

"It is a heart issue," she said. "I truly believe that confusion about modesty and clothing that is appropriate will begin to subside once God's Word is planted daily into the hearts of these girls. We desire to judge no one. Our desire is to give girls the key that opens the truth about who they are through God's Word."

Mary Mohler, director of the Seminary Wives Institute at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, sees an opportunity for Christian parents to teach daughters, and other misguided women, that modesty matters.

"A daughter must be taught from an early age that her body is precious and should never be flaunted," Mohler said. "Fathers need to lovingly convey this message to their daughters, as they can give first-hand testimony of how men think and respond."

Younger girls face obstacles when older girls dress inappropriately in church, Mohler said, adding that holiness is not dependent on a woman's attractiveness.

"It is not something that should have to be drilled into women as if restrictive rules were being placed on their personal choices of dress and appearance as some way to punish them," Mohler said. "Regenerate Christian women should deeply desire to reflect Christ in every aspect of their lives -- including how they dress."

Modest dressing, Mohler said, is a reflection of God's work of grace in a woman's heart. Women must dress appropriately not only in church but also in everyday life, she added.

"What started in our churches as a well-intentioned move toward making seekers feel welcome has spiraled into a situation where Sunday dress is virtually disappearing," Mohler said.

The dangerous side to immodesty is women unknowingly causing their Christian brothers to stumble, she said.

"Many young women are more caught up in fashion and trends," Mohler said. "They have to be taught that many fashionable clothing trends that may seem 'fun' to wear are also revealing in ways that plain and simply cause men to lust."

Mohler and Gary both recognize that modesty is not a stylish term but they insist girls and women can be fashionable, while also reflecting Christ.

"I believe the Proverbs 31 women was a tastefully dressed woman in her 'fine linen and purple.' She was not drab, unkempt and unattractive," Mohler said.

"However, women must make wise choices when it comes to fashion such that we enjoy the variety of appropriate styles, luscious colors and a multitude of fabrics available to us. Men have few options in this area. We have so many choices. Eliminating ones that are immodest is certainly not too much to ask.
--30--

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Vietnam POW continues to speak of freedom & faith

ANNISTON, Ala. (BP)--In 1967, U.S. Army Colonel Benjamin Purcell traded his job as professor of military science at Kemper Military School and College in Boonville, Mo., to go to Vietnam as deputy commander of the Da Nang Sub-Area and executive officer of the 80th General Support Group.

That career decision would end up putting his life in peril and his faith to the test.

In Vietnam, Purcell was quite comfortable in the bachelor officer's barracks, considering the turmoil of war surrounding him, and he communicated with his family through daily letters, weekly audiotapes and monthly telephone calls. But a routine midnight helicopter ride on Jan. 30, 1968, changed everything when the aircraft was shot down by enemy fire and Purcell along with Warrant Officer Joe Rose, Warrant Officer Dick Ziefler, SP/4 Robert Chenoworth, SP/4 Mike Lenker and Private First Class James George were captured by the North Vietnamese army.

Imprisonment was an issue Purcell and wife, Anne, had never really weighed. "Anne and I had talked about the possibility of my being injured or killed but never of becoming MIA (Missing In Action) or POW," Purcell recounted.

Almost immediately his faith in Christ was put to the test as the U.S. captives walked all night barefooted with their hands tied behind their backs along a narrow path into the mountains south and west of Khe Sanh.

Private George, his face burned after retrieving a rifle in the flaming helicopter, was in urgent need of medical attention. After Purcell was promised George would receive care, the two men fearlessly recited the Lord's Prayer with the tip of a Viet Cong's gun aimed in their direction. "Never had the words meant more to me," Purcell said. George was left behind anticipating a doctor when a shot echoed in the dark Vietnam air. Although he did not witness the gunfire, Purcell believed George was killed that fateful night, as he was never seen or heard from again.

Purcell feared his broken ribs and blistered feet would slow down the caravan of prisoners and he likewise would be killed so he turned to God. "I prayed for a light to guide me and minutes later the man in front of me turned on a flashlight and pointed it to my feet." This would be the first of many incidents when Purcell's Southern Baptist roots would be planted deep in the muddy soil of Vietnam. "There were times when I wanted to give up but I would think of Anne and then of how Christ endured pain on the cross. I knew I had to keep going," Purcell said.

For 62 months, 58 of those in solitary confinement, Purcell suffered interrogations, hunger, depression, illness, loneliness and complete loss of dignity and freedom. Of the many lessons learned during his nightmare, he noted, "I learned that in order to live with fellow man, a person must first live with himself."

Twice Purcell attempted to escape from two different prison camps. And even though he had trained a chicken as a lookout in one attempt and fashioned a dummy named Charlie out of bamboo and spare clothes in the other attempt, it was not until March 27, 1973, that Purcell and 32 other American POWs tasted the sweetness of freedom. Purcell greeted a crowd at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines by saying, "Man's most precious possession, second only to life itself, is freedom."

From that day forward, Purcell would bear the distinction of being the highest-ranking Army officer captured as a POW and released during the Vietnam conflict.

With no communication during his five-year captivity and no idea of his whereabouts, Purcell's wife, Anne, struggled to raise their five children, David, Debbie, Clifford, Sherri and Joy, who was only 18 months when her father volunteered to serve his country. "Faith, hope and love is what helped us all," Purcell said.

Three days after his release, on March 30, 1973, Ben and Anne were reunited at Bush Field in Augusta, Ga. Their oldest son, David, who was a senior in high school when he said goodbye to his father, greeted him in his West Point cadet uniform with what Purcell called the most gratifying salute of his military career.

Whenever he and Anne share their testimony of faith, hope and love to churches and civic organizations across the country, Purcell brings along items from his captivity. Among them on display during a Nov. 3 visit to Parker Memorial Baptist Church in Anniston, Ala., were a communion set he used once a month; a wedding ring fashioned of bamboo; salt and pepper shakers that never held the precious commodity; and drawings of the bare cells and clothes he was forced to wear. He and Anne also recount the ordeal in their book "Love & Duty." Daughter Joy, a television journalist, traveled to Vietnam with her father and a few other POWs in March 1993 to film a documentary titled, "The Final Healing -- Vietnam Revisited."

Purcell retired in 1980 after 30 years in service with such distinguished honors as the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Parachutist and Combat Infantryman Badges and a Purple Heart.

He subsequently served his home state of Georgia as a state representative from 1993-97. Today the Purcells live in Clarksville, Ga., where they operate a Christmas tree farm. They are active members of Bethlehem Baptist Church.
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(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: FREEDOM AND FAITH.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Gadsden’s Camper named Miss Alabama in ‘God’s time’

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
October 21, 2004

Shannon Camper thought her pageant days were over when she was first runner-up to Miss Alabama June 12, her seventh and final attempt at the title.

Camper, who turned 25 Oct. 20, aged out of the scholarship pageant system that awarded her more than $28,000, which she used to obtain a degree in mass communications from the University of Alabama.

After the competition, held at Samford University, she moved on with her life and got a job as a leasing agent, focused attention on her ministry of singing gospel music and enjoyed church activities at Central Avenue Baptist in Gadsden, where her father, Larry, is minister of music and mother, Sarah, is a pianist.

Then Miss Alabama, Deidre Downs, was crowned Miss America 2005 in Atlantic City Sept. 18.

Downs is the third Alabama contestant to win the Miss America tiara, along with Yolande Betbeze in 1951 and Heather Whitestone in 1995. With Downs’ victory, the Miss Alabama first runner-up has the option of assuming the state title. In a phone call from the Miss Alabama organization, Camper sealed her name in the pageant history books when she accepted without hesitation.

“There were a lot of decisions to make right off the bat. I had to quit my job and move to Birmingham in the apartment provided for Miss Alabama,” Camper said. “I didn’t have time to think about anything. I was just so excited for Deidre and me!”

Camper said the title offers her the chance to speak about her platform, breast cancer awareness, and share what God has done in her life. “There is a history of breast cancer in my family and now I can help educate women,” she said.

“It is just so amazing to see how God has moved because after seven years this was something I put aside. I think of the song, ‘Wait on the Lord and Be of Good Service,’ and I am reminded that He is in control.”

Family friend and pastor of Arbor Baptist Church in Pell City Whitt Hibbs baptized Camper at age 7 when he served as pastor of Central Avenue.

Hibbs said all Southern Baptists in Alabama should be very proud. “She is one of our own, literally born and raised in the Southern Baptist church, and Shannon has a gleam is her eye and the Lord in her heart,” said Hibbs. “Her faith is real and she also has such an unbelievable talent in singing.”

Born into a musical family, Camper said she has been singing all of her life. “My mother sang when she was pregnant with me when my parents traveled in a southern gospel group. I also remember that she would prop me on the piano stool at the age of 2 and I would sing. It has been a big part of my life.”

Camper’s singing talent does not go unrecognized. She received the only standing ovation when she sang “God Bless America” during the talent competition at the Miss Alabama pageant and she has been working in a studio to record her own music.

“All I want to do is share my testimony and sing. I hope I can do it in churches around Alabama.”

For information on how to schedule Miss Alabama 2004, Shannon Camper, visit www.missalabama.com.

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Faith motivates Miss Alabama as she prepares to compete in Miss America

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
July 22, 2004

Deidre Downs planned on attending medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham this fall but she traded in books for a crown when she was named Miss Alabama.

Held on the campus of Samford University June 12, the Miss Alabama pageant awarded Downs, 23, more than $18,000.

“I was elated,” said Downs, a member of Baptist Church of the Covenant, Birmingham. “It was my fifth time and I really wanted to be Miss Alabama.”

Now she is busy preparing for the Miss America Pageant and making public appearances across Alabama promoting her platform, Curing Childhood Cancer.

“Between now and Sept. 1, when I leave for Atlantic City, I’m preparing by working out, continuing my voice lessons and doing mock interviews.

For talent, I will sing the same selection I performed at Miss Alabama, a Linda Eder song called ‘I’m Afraid This Must Be Love.’”

As an activist for children, Downs is raising funds for Children’s Hospital in Birmingham through a specialty license plate approved by the Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles. Children’s Hospital treats more than 95 percent of children with cancer in Alabama, she explained. “Research is the only way we will approach a cure for pediatric cancer,” she said.

The statuesque beauty takes her new job as Miss Alabama seriously, as well as her life, career ambitions and faith.

The almost $50,000 in scholarship money she received in her five years of competition allowed her to complete a bachelor of arts in history from Samford University.

The funds will help her resume studies at UAB after her reign as Miss Alabama to fulfill her goal to work in the medical profession.

“I want to become a pediatrician because I love kids.”

Her desire to medically care for children started through her experiences at Camp Smile-a-Mile, a camp for children with cancer, and as a volunteer at Children’s Hospital.

She started a nonprofit organization, Making Miracles, four years ago to allow opportunities for high school students to volunteer with pediatric cancer patients in a hospital setting.

Making Miracles has also provided volunteers for the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge and the Leukemia Society’s Light the Night Walk, as well as held a Rock-a-Thon fund raiser for pediatric cancer research.

Downs said her faith in Christ not only motivated her decision to pursue medicine as a career but also her involvement in community service.

She became a Christian when she was 8 years old but feels she has grown in her faith over the years.

“I’ve come to realize what it means to devote (my) life to Christ,” Downs explained. “I hope to always live my life in a way that reflects my faith and to be someone who really walks the walk by putting my faith into practice every day.”

The 2002 Rhodes Scholar finalist puts her faith into action not only through raising awareness of pediatric cancer but also as a role model for young women.

Teresa Cheatham Stricklin, Miss Alabama 1978 and first runner-up to Miss America 1979, judged Downs last year.

She believes the same charm and professionalism the Miss Alabama judges saw in Downs will be seen in Miss America and by people in Alabama who meet her during appearances.

“I am excited for Deidre and she will be a fabulous Miss Alabama,” Stricklin said.

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist