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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Florence fashion designer closes doors

By Theresa Shadrix
The Anniston Star
10-01-2006

Natalie Chanin has been on a six-year journey that has inspired her beyond measure. So on Friday, when she and partner Enrico Marone-Cinzano closed the doors of Project Alabama, it was not easy.
“It was a financial decision,” says Chanin, who was born in Florence. “I am extremely proud of the work that we have accomplished over the last six years.”

Chanin and Marone-Cinzano started Project Alabama, a fashion design company, in 2000 and based it in Florence. But Project Alabama was more than a fashion design company. As its name signifies, the founders wanted to involve the local community while also making clothes.

At one time, it employed 150 local seamstresses who sewed one-of-a-kind garments made by hand. A week before the closing, it was down to 15.

Chanin did more than provide a job to locals in the rural town of 36,000 and create buzz in the trendy fashion metropolis. She taught the seamstresses how to take a piece of material and create beauty. Project Alabama fashions were on runways in New York and displayed in fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Town & Country, Glamour and Harper's Bazaar. Her designs hung in more than 50 stores in 10 countries.

While most fashion designers dream of New York, Milan and Paris, Chanin drew positive attention from the fashion world by staying true to her Southern roots, offering Southern flair with big-city motif. They were creations the couture world could marvel about and the everyday woman could appreciate.

She also had what most women only dream about — a career where she worked from home, was a part of the couture fashion world and was surrounded by family and friends.

Today, with the closing of Project Alabama, it is friends and family that she remembers.

“(Project Alabama) has been a beautiful path filled with friends, family, stories, laughter, love, frustration, tears, joy, incredibly talented artisans, great food, a supportive audience, and, in essence, just amazingly good people,” she says.

For now, Chanin says she will take some time to let the closing of Project Alabama sink in before planning her next move.

And Alabama will wait with anticipation.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Churches should offer members training in foundational doctrines, George says

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
September 14, 2006

With the passing of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Christians are reminded of the importance of understanding Islam.

Despite the contemporary significance, history is where it all begins, according to Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, an executive editor of Christianity Today and author of more than 20 books, including “Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?”.

George said Christianity, Islam and Judaism are historical religions, with each relying on a book — versions of the Bible for Christians and Jews and the Quran for Muslims — and they are missionary religions.

He stressed the importance of churches training members to stand firm in doctrinal beliefs in order to be effective witnesses to Muslims.

“We need to come back to the fundamental basics of the faith,” George said. “We know a little about confessions and almost nothing about catechisms, but yet the very first things ever published by the (Baptist) Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) were about catechisms. We need to go back to these historical documents and reconnect.”

George said he is a strong believer in Discipleship Training but it needs to be more organized. “We do doctrine studies but these are declining and we need to reconnect with heritage,” he said. “I would encourage pastors to teach doctrinal sermons.”

One reason George sees Discipleship Training as a needed program in churches is the growth of Muslim Student Association groups on college campuses. These groups’ primary focus is to evangelize Christian students, and he thinks doctrinal teachings from pastors and churches need to start at a young age to prepare Christians for this type of interaction.

George said Christians need to know that only 15 percent of Muslims live in the Middle East. Islam is the fastest-growing religion not just in the world but also in the United States, where an estimated 6 million, or one out of every six people, are Muslim, he said.

Christians can respond to Islam with knowledge of their faith, as well as living as Jesus Christ lived, and George said open dialogue is the best approach.

“Become a friend with a Muslim,” he said. “Stress and recognize the common humanity as Jesus did. Their children get sick and they are interested in the same things.”

George also believes Christians should work on community projects with Muslims to build relationships and be positive, constructive Christian witnesses. Most of all, he said, Christians need to pray.

“Pray God will open hearts of Muslims for missionaries serving in places where their lives are in jeopardy. Pray God will use us in this country and be uncompromised.”

George said the biggest misconception for Christians to understand about Muslims is their teachings on Jesus Christ.

He said they cannot believe that the Word was made flesh and this main difference is recognized in the phrase written in Arabic on Muslims’ third most holy site, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It states, “God has no son.” The Quran also teaches that Jesus Christ wasn’t crucified and instead someone else, possibly Judas, took His place on the cross.

“They admit there was a crucifixion on Good Friday and meant for Jesus Christ, but God lifted Him into heaven, and He didn’t have to face humiliation and shame,” George said.

He said the Dome of the Rock faces the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which stands on the site where Jesus’ crucifixion is believed to have occurred.

“One building says, ‘God has no son;’ one says, ‘He died,’” George said. “Everything that needs to be said is here.”

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

Friday, September 08, 2006

Botox or Restylane? Don’t get worry lines choosing between them

by Theresa Shadrix
LongLeaf Style
September 2006

If crow’s feet and laugh lines are mocking you in the mirror, it might be time to consider the secret weapons of the cosmetic elite — Botox and Restylane.

Not new to controversy, Botox has been a hot topic among spa gossipers since its debut 15 years ago because its active ingredient is the toxic food bacterium that causes botulism. But the chatter erupted in July when The Islamist National Fatwa Council advised the Malaysian government to ban Botox for cosmetic use because it contains prohibited substances from pigs, which Islam considers unclean.

Cathy DiRamio, public relations manager for Botox manufacturer Allergan Inc., dismissed the concern, saying the final Botox product does not contain any porcine elements. The manufacturing process uses an enzyme derived from pig’s milk to grow the Clostridium botulinum bacteria which give Botox its activity, but the enzyme is removed during the purification process.

Botox has been approved in more than 40 other countries worldwide “for aesthetic use for temporary improvement in the appearance of moderate to severe glabellar lines (the vertical ‘frown lines’ between the brows),” DiRamio said.

Dr. Shelley Ray, an Anniston dermatologist, said she has injected men and women, ages 18 to 65, purely for cosmetic purposes, and her patients are willing to spend at least $150 per treatment every three months. Repeated treatments are necessary, she said, “because Botox weakens muscles by preventing transmission to the nerve, and since it is a protein, the body tears it down.”

Ray insists Botox injection is a safe and painless procedure. “It is a very small needle, more like a pressure discomfort. It is very low on the pain scale,” she said.

While Botox is a muscle relaxer, Restylane is an entirely different cosmetic approach to wrinkles, serving as a filler in the furrows of the skin. Botox is best suited for the upper face, whereas Restylane is injected into the lower facial extremities.

“It plumps up the folds and corrects facial wrinkles, such as laugh lines around the mouth. The cost of Restylane is $450 per syringe. A syringe usually contains more than one treatment and a single injection typically lasts six months, Ray said. When you buy a syringe the doctor will keep it for you, and subsequent treatments will come from that same syringe until it is empty, Ray said. The number of treatments in a syringe depends on the individual patient.

Before injecting Restylane, Ray cautions patients that they may feel some pain. “It is a thick product, so [injection can be] painful,” she said. However, she administers a topical anesthetic about 30 minutes before the procedure to numb the area. “You don’t feel anything,” she said.

Since Restylane is the new kid on the cosmetic block, with FDA approval in 2003 and its first shipment to physicians in January 2004, procedure numbers were not available.

Ray warns that while the injections are non-surgical, both Botox and Restyland are to be administered by qualified professionals, which include ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists and dermatologists.

Those seeking a youthful appearance may be confused about which product is best suited for them, but Ray said she injects Botox and Restylane at the same time, and it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation.

“We do consultations all the time where a patient simply comes in and asks what I can do to help them.” If in doubt about your laugh lines, crow’s feet and facial wrinkles, she said, all you have to do is ask.

Longleaf Style managing editor Theresa Shadrix is not yet a candidate for Botox or Restylane — which means she can spend more on shoes.

Monday, September 04, 2006

That’s right — wear white now


Various shades of white — combined with splashes of gold and camel — combine for a fashionable ensemble fit for wearing into fall and winter. Photo Illustration By Trent Penny and Theresa Shadrix

By Theresa Shadrix
The Anniston Star
09-03-2006

Ask any good Southern girl why she packs away her white wardrobe, including shoes, purses and pants, on Labor Day and it usually has something to do with her mother.
Labor Day celebrates the American worker and marks the beginning of the unofficial ‘no white’ period for Southern women.

Boxes are packed, closets are cleaned and everything white is stored away during the winter months.

Ending on Memorial Day or Easter, the No White Period is a seven-month hiatus of all things white — or is it?

“For me Labor Day is the end of summer, and when summer ends, the sandal-wearing ends also,” says Delana Gilmore, publications secretary for The Calhoun Baptist Association.

One of the many Southern women who learned the No-White rule from her mother, Gilmore contends that she is not sure if keeping to the Labor Day fashion rule is owed to the voice of Mom in her head or to lessons learned at Judson College, an all female Baptist University.

She does know that wearing white in winter is sure to get a Southern girl a few discourteous stares.

“If I do wear bright white shoes in November or December, I will be so uncomfortable and self-conscious about it that I probably try to hide my feet,” she jokes. “I know that it’s not a don’t any more. However, the ideas that I grew up on are what I govern my life by.

“They might not be for everybody, but those ideas are what make me ME.”

Like many other women in the South, Gilmore is not alone in following the advice of her foremothers.

Eula Tatman, grants manager for the Calhoun County Community Foundation, grew up in Kansas and says her mother planted the White Rule in regard to shoes in her psyche every Easter.

“Mom rarely bought white shoes for Easter (I have five sisters). She bought black patent leather shoes,” she says. “She wanted us to be able to wear our Easter shoes year round.

Therefore, I guess as a child, it was instilled in us that white shoes were not to be worn all year round.”

Tatman says she adheres to the No White Shoes rule due to fashion peer pressure.

“As an adult or college-age (girl), you would get a stare from your girlfriends who’d threaten to call the Fashion Police, unless of course it’s winter white.”

White Plains Elementary School Title I aide Patsy Cronan also recalls learning the white shoe rule on Easter.

“I can remember getting white sandals and I couldn’t wear them until Easter and I could wear them until Labor Day,” she says with a grin.

Another good Southern girl, Cronan would never go against the Shoe Rule but wonders about her white pants.

“I wore these (white) pants today and knew that I had to put them away next week,” she adds. “If you find out that we can wear them, you let me know.”

A native of England now residing in Atlanta, Ga., Lynne Marks is president of the London Image Institute and is one of only six Certified Image Masters worldwide.

She believes the rules are American, observed mainly in the South and white can be worn year-round. And yes, that includes pants.

“White is a summer and a winter color, but for winter it would be in wool and called winter white, which is ivory.”

She says that black and white were described as the new look this year, but they are always in style for midsummer.

Debra Lindquist, a certified image professional and president of Color Profiles/ The Total Look in Denver, Colo., says the root of the No White rule really pertains to shoes.

“Years ago, we did not have as many shoe color options as currently exist in 2006. There were black shoes, brown shoes and white shoes. The idea was that people needed white shoes for summer,” she says.

Today, Lindquist explains that certain rules still apply when wearing white, regardless of the season.

“Wearing white shoes is only appropriate when white is worn as a color in the rest of the outfit,” she says. “Putting on a print dress that contained no white in the print or in the print background would give the wearer an Edith Bunker type of look.”

Robbie Boggs, instructor of merchandising at Jacksonville State University, agrees the old rule was to wear a lighter colored shoe than the pants, dress or skirt but now it’s the overall look that matters in fashion.

“Bottom line, does it look good?” she asks. “Fashion rules are now obsolete and rules are broken. We are becoming a lax society and even manners are going out. Get some style and dress out of the box is what the message for fall is all about.”

But in the South, tradition in fashion is like the roots of the longleaf pine – embedded deep in the red clay and resistant to outside disturbances.

“According to folklore, most likely the rules of wearing white originated in the South — south of the Mason-Dixon line,” says Boggs.

She is not sure if wearing white had to do with the hot temperatures in the South, with white reflecting the heat of summer, or a social class issue.

“As the emerging, new middle class began growing with the industrialization of America in the 1800’s, rules of dress were applied,” she explains. “Again there was a technological boom in the 1950’s with more of society moving to the middle class.”

With the newly established middle class, Boggs says strict fashion etiquette guidelines were made and passed down through the generations.

Regardless of the fashion rules and Southern heritage, in 2006 it is all about individuality.

“If you want to put a white boot with a black skirt, just go for it,” says Boggs.

Just pray the Fashion Police are not giving out citations.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rules for wearing white
• To avoid the Fashion Police, the No-White period for shoes is after Labor Day and before Memorial Day or Easter.

• It is not against the rule to wear a white shirt or pants in winter but winter white is best.

• White adds pounds. When wearing white pants, try a pair with pinstripes for a slimming look.

• Debra Lindquist offers a solution for those who are not sure of the when to wear white shoes. “White shoes are available but are not a must have in every wardrobe. Metallic shoes are an option that go with many colors of clothing and have replaced white.”

• Lynne Marks says whites should be washable and bleached otherwise they will go yellow with age. So, washable cottons are best, not polyester.

• It is also important to avoid lines from undergarments when wearing white. Marks suggests flesh-colored foundation garments with white. “NO panty line!” she says. Bras in gossamer flesh-colored nylon and panties without a strong leg elastic, or even thongs are essential. Marks says you can dye white underwear in a solution of warm water and tea bags to get it to the right color to match your skin.

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