Headlines from First Thoughts

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Join us for Worship Live @fbcknox @ 11 EST; or if you're home, on our webcast or Fox-43

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

We're open for Breakfast @ 9:30 & Worship @ 11:00. Or Watch the Webcast & Fox-43 TV

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Friday, December 24, 2010

Join us @ 5-6 2nite 4 Christmas Eve service @fbcknox or live on local Fox-43

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Services canceled tonight. Middle school party moved to Friday night

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Services are canceled tonight. Middle school and high school Christmas party combine Friday night.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

Eddie survived a fire & is now #homeless. But he's always kept his word. Watch:

Christmas Brunch Interview 3 from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

Eddie survived a fire and lived to tell about it. After working at Regas and Club LeConte, Eddie is now at Volunteer Ministry Center, hoping to move into Minvilla Manor. He learned from his father to "keep his word with people" so "he could always go back." Eddie joined us this past Saturday as our guest for the 5th annual Christmas Brunch.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In 2010, you could find @fbcknox people everywhere. Watch this year of ministry in review:

Looking back on a great year of ministry.

Love Feast Video - 2009-2010 Year in Review from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

Many thanks to Michael McEntyre and Brandon Moore for producing this video.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An open Sunday night on the calendar during Advent? Perfect time for partnership and mission @fbcknox #missional @downtownknox

Finding an open Sunday night for a program-based church during the Christmas season is like finding an empty parking spot at the mall. It rarely happens. But for churches on mission, Sunday nights no longer need to be filled with another event for the sake of the calendar. Many groups celebrate the season and carry out the church's mission even better than we can on campus. With no reason to reinvent the proverbial worship wheel, churches can partner with these groups and extend the mission of the kingdom of God.

Consider what happened yesterday at First Baptist. The Fellowship Council and Worship Council provided lunch and worship. Neither happened on our campus, but both were "First Baptist events." During the lunch hour, several families participated in "Advent out to Lunch." Nine downtown restaurants offered "discounts" for eating out. I like what Courtney Evans said. She called it the "GOJESUS discount." But these families went a step further. They re-gifted the savings to the restaurant servers. They shared their percentage off their meal as an additional gratuity for the work the food service workers provide year-round.

Following the meal, many others attended the Knoxville Nativity Pageant. For 42 years, the First Baptist family and extended family have provided a living re-enactment of the prophecies and announcements of the birth of Christ as well as the arrival of the shepherds and magi. At 3:00 p.m. we worshiped together along with hundreds of others and joined (officially) what this fine organization as been doing in our community.

Our strategic plan for 2010-2014 calls us not only to work together but think creatively about these kinds of partnerships we can form with groups already on mission. Sunday was just one example of the way this is happening. There is no better season than to share the season with people who know the kingdom of God is "at hand." Now we can join hands.

(Pictured above Jonathan Higdon, Reese Higdon, and Drake Shiell check out the sheep stars of the Nativity Pageant.)

For more information on other churches who are engaged in partnerships, check out these great examples:

Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

First Baptist Church, Wilmington, North Carolina, Harrelson Center

Hopeful Imagination Resources

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brunch gives smiles to a grandmother parenting a mother and grandchildren @fbcknox

Lillie Duncan has been watching First Baptist on television for over five years, but life has not been the same since her 90-year old husband passed away after a long battle with cancer. On Sunday mornings, First Baptist has been her worship home through our television ministry. But she had not attended our church until last year’s Christmas brunch. Her daughter Sue Johnson brought Lillie along with her great-grandchildren to our Christmas brunch again Saturday, and Lillie and I had a chance to meet.

For five years, the Christmas brunch has touched the kind of people who have been hurt the most by the economic downturn. They were receding before there was a recession. Under normal circumstances, when life piles on routine stress, our guests struggle. During times like these, many people face collapse.

Lillie and Sue are good examples. Lillie is homebound but fiercely independent. She cannot drive. She told me that the brunch would be her only meal of the day. She can’t cook for herself anymore. At age 70, Sue not only cares for her mother, but she’s also the primary caregiver for two grandchildren, a boy and girl ages 9 and 10. Their father has been through a divorce, works to make ends meet, and relies on his mother to provide assistance. In between her responsibilities as a mother, grandmother, and daughter, Sue works a part time job at a local mental health facility. Sue heard about the brunch because we contacted the facility to spread the word about the brunch. She shared the information at her work, and she brought her family back to enjoy the meal and festivities.

For one morning in December, there is hope, friendship, love, warmth, and as Sue Johnson said, “Smiles. If there is a frown, and someone gives them a smile, they might turn it around.” There were over 250 smiling volunteers sharing with people like Lillie and Sue and hundreds of others. We could not do this without your generosity and the volunteers who gave more than a Saturday to smile and love the people in the way Jesus loved them.

(Pictured from Left to Right: Sue Johnson, Sydney and Zachary Johnson, Lillie Duncan

Monday, November 29, 2010

"We've never done it that way before" would not make a good jingle for the mall merchants. #Advent blog:

The calendar from late November to mid-December usually answers one question for most East Tennesseans: "What did we do last year?" If you look at your calendar today, it's probably very similar to the one last year. Even if you did nothing last year, and the same this year, you've carried on a tradition.

But Isaiah asks us to think differently even about tradition. He knew even as a Jerusalem priest, tradition, annual feasts, celebrations, and especially the tradition of apathy were not nearly enough to get people ready for change and hope. In most cases, traditions just blind people further. Religious types tend to repeat traditions and keep the status quo for fear of losing what they know and for upsetting those they perceive have always liked it this way. "We've never done it that way before" would not make a good jingle for the mall merchants or a song on the all-Christmas music station.

Isaiah knew, and we know, that in order for Advent work, God must do something that we've never seen before. And we must respond in a way that we've never tried. Yesterday, we learned from Isaiah 2:1-5, in order to climb the mountain of the Lord, we'll need to check our weapons at security never to pick them up again.

When the light shined out of the cave of Bethlehem, down the mountain of the Lord, and drew people unto himself, God was asking for us not only to shed our political weapons of war but also our religious weapons of tradition. From Isaiah's perspective, the only traditions worth doing this month are the ones that cause us to shed our baggage and help us climb the mountain of the Lord with the things God really needs from us.

Like mountain climbers, we need people we can trust, whom we can tie onto as we climb the mountain. When we reach the summit, we'll need to offer the only gift that God wants-- our lives.

Perhaps you've never tried this, but Jesus' mother Mary could teach you a song or two about that. And in order for this to work, we're going to need some group to try.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Climb the mountain for #Advent10 @fbcknox @summitchallenge @robertdickie Blog:

Long before there were carols, Black Friday, nativity sets, and greenery, prophets saw a picture of a new way of living. In Isaiah 2:1-5, the picture included a large mountain that nations could stream to, settle cases before the Divine Judge, and return home to plow their land in peace.

He was not the first to depict a world at peace. Our modern attempts from UN millennium development goals, NATO "peacekeeping" operations, judgments issued from the World Court at the Hague, or peace treaties signed at Camp David came from ideas, real and imagined. They only plunge us further, however, into blindness toward the one Light that could save us. Every human attempt to solve the nations' problems becomes an exercise in the blind leading the blind deeper into the abyss because they leave out the one thing that Isaiah included. It was the sense that the one thing that could save us is not us. We are being called by the Creator to a place not of our own design but of God's. The only thing that could possible save the world is not a thing at all, but rather a Light from God given to the world.

Isaiah reminds us of our condition and our hope. We are people "walking in darkness," and God has shined this light from a mountain. We are so far removed from the source, however, the light appears to be one of just many stars in a galaxy of options in our world. What the world needs, and the nations need, more than anything else is a group so committed to the Light, they are willing to begin the climb up the mountain.

In modern climbing up the highest elevations such as Kilimanjaro, Rainier, and Everest, the last ascent begins around 1:00 a.m. The ascent and return to camp can take 13-18 hours. Storms roll in around 2:00 p.m. A mountain climber at the summit would be a human lightning rod with all of his attached metal. So the climbers carry only what they need, begin the ascent at night, and hope for the light of the moon and stars to guide them. Sometimes they rope together to help one another. The person in the lead will take the first steps, anchor into the mountain, turn around, and shine a headlight back so that the team can see where they are walking and listen for directions from the leader as they climb.

Our journey of Advent is a climbing expedition toward the summit of God's mountain. Unlike the kinds of trips we normally take during this season, we will need to pack differently. We don't need presents, decorations, lights, and ornaments to go "over the river and through the woods." We need to pack only what we need and take people we can tie onto for the last ascent to the summit.

On the climb, the only traditions that can help us are the traditions that train us to move toward the light, not leave us safely blinded in the past. We don't need to repeat what we did last year during this season for the sake of carrying on the past. Even the religious crowd of Isaiah's day (and Jesus') had plenty of things they did the previous year. We can't expect our possessions, traditions, people, occupations, and things to be the same when we're finished with this journey. If we move toward the light, life as we know it will never be the same.

Thankfully we have some examples of the way this really works. Magi saw the star and moved toward it. Joseph changed his plans when an angel spoke to him in a dream. And we have a rising star to guide us. So let's not wait any longer. Let's climb the mountain.

(Many thanks to Robert Dickie and the 7 Summit Challenge team for their beautiful pictures of the last part of their climb on Kilimanjaro.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Come to the light of a rising Star during #Advent 10 @fbcknox Blog:

Advent makes the rather shocking announcement that, this year, things will be different. That somehow, some way, before Christmas arrives, we will be ready for what Immanuel is going to do, to be with us. This of course is not how we schedule it. We would just prefer for Jesus to come to us while we repeat what we did last year. That is why we decorate, to make room in our homes for him to come. That is why we wrap presents, to give gifts to him when he comes. That is why we sing, so that when Jesus shows up again, he will appreciate our music. Hardly.

Unfortunately, the calendar, seasons, and annual celebrations more often than not inoculate our senses. Between the bowl games, Christmas letters, final exams, and travel, we assumed we could go through all this along with everything else and be ready for the divine presents to be left on December 25th. But that's now how Christmas works, and that's why we need Advent.

Advent is a liminal season, a thin place between the time when we say "Jesus has come," and "Jesus will come again." Most of our carols, traditions, and celebrations reinforce the assumption that if we wait and urge "Emmanuel to Come," He will just break through what we normally do this time of year. But prophets, Mary, Joseph, and Magi, saw things differently and responded differently. Instead of sitting back, they moved.

It seems like it was just yesterday, nine months ago really, that there was a rather shocking announcement to a girl barely old enough to date let alone be married. She was having a baby. Her husband had doubts. But all of this sort of fit the way things worked in his family-- surprise announcements to women and men who least expected to be instruments of God's grace. In case that was not surprising enough, their preachers missed the prediction. Magicians followed a rising star to be some of the first to find the King. Mary and Joseph relocated, some babies died. As Matthew remembered it, the whole episode gave "new beginnings" a whole new meaning for families and changed the "powers that be" in another political family.

We don't need Advent to tell us that something is not right with the world. We have the endless cycle of breaking news to do that. We don't need Advent to give us a countdown clock to Christmas. Your local retailer knew that right after Halloween. We do need Advent so we will come differently, as the Magi did, "to bow down and worship him." We need this month so that we will relocate our lives as Mary and Joseph did as willing instruments to the divine summons of grace.

The good news for us is that we get a do-over. We get another chance to come before God arrives, as Albert Delp suggests, to put things back where God placed them. To help us, we have a few voices and some music. Isaiah invites us to check our weapons at security, leave behind the bags we never needed in the first place, and move toward the mountain of Zion. On just an ordinary day of work, John the Baptist challenges the "powers that be" as well as the people whom we empowered to come down to the river. The children dancing in the marketplace invite us to let go of ourselves and spontaneously burst with joy, frivolity, and dancing. The magi tell us that even the stars can lead you home if you know Whom you're looking for.

Before you untangle another light, pose for another Christmas picture, purchase another fruitcake, or send another card, watch the prophets, angels, Magi, and a rising star. This time, Come.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2 Homeless women stay @fbcknox in February & have a home by Spring. @knoxtyp Blog:

First Baptist partners with Family Promise of Knoxville to provide shelter to homeless families for one week each quarter. Connie (top left) and Kim (bottom left) stayed with us on the Mezzanine in February and now live in an apartment. First Baptist gives through the budget to support Family Promise. Our volunteers fed these guests and spent the night with them. The resources you have given through the budget and your volunteer hours have made a huge impact on their lives. Here's a report from Connie on how they are doing now:

“Thank you Family Promise for giving Kimberly and I an environment where we could just breathe, a place that was and still is full of support and patience.
Kimberly and I received so much support and caring from each of our host churches and their volunteers, sometimes it was very overwhelming. I didn’t think it was possible for people who didn’t know us could care so very much.

"During our stay, we met wonderful people we will never forget. It was exciting to see who our host family for the night would be. Who would have thought Kim and I would meet a man who designed the lens for the Hubble Telescope, or someone from Scotland?

"The overall experience was a positive one. The room Kim and I had felt like home. The little gifts meant a lot to Kimberly, especially the monogrammed pillow case from one church and the pj’s with hearts all over from another. We cherish the memories.

"I now have my own apartment full of furnishings that someone gave to Family Promise. When I sit at the kitchen table and have morning coffee I look around and say to myself, 'I am Home. Kim and I are Home!' Thank you everyone!"

Connie and Kimberly

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thank you from Sabrina Ravanell, a face @fbcknox

Sammi (Sabrina) Thank-you-monial from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

Sammi came to First Baptist Church with her family when they were active with the deaf congregation. Sammi got involved with the youth group at First Baptist and connected with others in the church. When it was time for Sammi to move on to college, the church surrounded her to provide support to help her succeed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thriving in Babylon: Essays in Honor of Chip Conyers @williamshiell chapter: "Share in the Joy"

From Wipf and Stock's website:
This delightfully multifaceted volume, comprised of thoughtful essays by an esteemed array of cultural critics, probes the intersection of Christian faith and culture to honor the memory of A. J. "Chip" Conyers, a remarkably ecumenical Christian scholar and cultural "warrior" whose premature death in 2004 cut short a remarkable career in teaching and writing. As those who knew him can attest, Conyers lived his life at the intersection of Christian theology and cultural concern with a singular blend of astuteness, gracefulness, and Christian conviction.

This festschrift, as esteemed theologian and Conyers's mentor J├╝rgen Moltmann indicates in the foreword, is intended to mirror Conyers's own commitment to incisive cultural criticism and theological faithfulness in the mold of the "great tradition." This is no small achievement even for so venerable a cast of scholars as the contributors to this volume, as Conyers crossed interdisciplinary boundaries—in a day of escalating hyper-specialization—with the greatest of ease. He was comfortable discussing contemporary church life or the christological controversy of the patristic era, Heideggerian hermeneutics or human dignity and the imago Dei, faith and the Enlightenment or the fatherhood of God, Catholic "substance" or Protestant reform.

Yet Conyers always did this through the lens of historic Christian orthodoxy. Though he was a most incisive student of culture, in a most refreshing way he steered clear of being co-opted by the currents of culture. Neither retreating into pious devotionalism nor opting for the theologically unreflective activism that has become so chic in our post-consensus climate, he embodied a theological perspective that blends responsible cultural engagement with eschatological hope.

The reader is sure to encounter the same blend in this festschrift, and to come away both challenged and edified toward fulfilling the message and hope of Conyers' life and work: to faithfully thrive in Babylon.

Pre-Order your Copy.

Wipf and Stock Publishers

Wipf and Stock Publishers: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Communicating Church: Communicating Church Conference

Communicating Church: Communicating Church Conference: "On Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010, Carson-Newman College will host the Communicating Church Conference from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  The conferen..."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanks for a 3rd straight quarter of generosity @fbcknox new blog:

Thank you for giving to First Baptist Knoxville during the third quarter of 2010. Because you have given so generously, we have been able to celebrate the work that God is doing in our midst through the Fall Festival of Faith.

Just as summer turns to autumn, so this season of First Baptist has been one of harvesting and planting. We have reaped the benefit of wonderful relationships formed and renewed through Sunday School and small groups. Families have shared dinner conversations around the Bible study, worship, and sermon themes. Individuals have met providentially in ways they never expected. As many people said, “I didn’t know this person before the Festival; but I can see now why we have been brought together.”

Attached to this post, you will find another way we say thanks for giving. It’s the first edition of our “First Baptist Faces” cards. These are the people and families who write to tell us how First Baptist has touched their lives. You might never see the work that is done for them, and I want you to know about the difference you have made. Because you give, staff, volunteers, and ministries through our budget touch lives behind the scenes. You will be reading more of these First Baptist faces. If you have one to share, please drop me a line; and let me know the difference God has made in you through First Baptist.

As of today, our giving is over 11% ahead of last year. Thanks for your faithfulness, and I am looking forward to a great fourth quarter. Please let the office know if we can assist you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where do we go from the Festival of Faith @fbcknox? Through the wardrobe on the adventure blog

C.S. Lewis depicted the conversion of the Christian life like children entering the magical land of Narnia. The icy grip of sin melted away because of the bright light of Christ radiating through the lives of good and faithful sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. The passageway from this world to the next, according to Lewis, was like a wardrobe full of coats to wear in the new world. The children donned the coats, and they "came down to their heels and looked more like royal robes."

Over the past 6 weeks during the Fall Festival of Faith, we have been playing in the wardrobe. The robes are the virtues of the Christ-like character, cultivated and nourished through the worshiping life of the believer and practiced daily in the habits of living as God wants us to behave. God takes our mind, time, relationships, and experiences and restores us to the people he created us to be, good and faithful servants living the character of Christ.

Where do we go from here? That's really up to you. Mark Moeller has already been meeting with people interested in a new Bible study for empty nesters. College students will continue their Tuesday night Bible study led by Scott Erwin. Others have made personal decisions that shape life forever. I look forward to seeing other fruit that is cultivated. Let me offer a few suggestions for the coming days.

1.) Share the experience. As you return to your routines, share testimonies in Sunday School of what the Festival of Faith meant to you. One of the best ways we find meaning from the Festival is through hearing each other's stories in the days ahead.

2.) Pray to want what God wants, not for Encore. The easiest prayer to pray is, "God, do it again." The harder prayer to pray is, "Lord, I want what you want." We love for God to repeat himself, but he asks us to live into the now in our world. The way we do that is by wrestling with the question every day, "Do I want what God wants for me?"

3.) Find some accountability. You will be reading and hearing more about Monvee, an online accountability for individuals. Even if you're not handy with the computer, find someone to help you carry the burdens and live into the restored you.

4.) Cultivate new habits. It takes about 21 days or so consistently to develop new habits, but we cultivate those through regular diet and exercise. Decide ahead of time how you will live the fruits of the spirit, and choose one person, relationship, or office where you will practice those virtues.

5.) Plan for a reunion. You've studied the Bible with another class or met together in a small group with new people. Now plan to get together again in a few weeks for fellowship. Sustain the new relationships in the body of Christ with the one thing that brings Baptists together: food.

6.) Keep worship a priority. My prayer has been that we'll recommit to the worshiping life of the church. This is the garden where the soil of First Baptist is watered and fertilized.

7.) Celebrate forgetfulness. Dallas Willard once said that we know we're getting somewhere in the Christian life when we look back and realize that we have not thought about a bad habit, person, or grudge for a long time. With hindsight we recognize that our minds and lives have moved on. Give thanks when you realize what you no longer think about. The character of Christ is taking shape.

8.) Fill out the Next Step form. Already, 81 people have taken another step in the conversion of the Christian life. This form suggests just a few ways you can make that a reality at First Baptist.

When the children decided to move from the wardrobe into Narnia wearing their robes, Lucy innocently remarked, "We can pretend we are Arctic explorers." Older brother Peter responded, "This is going to be exciting enough without pretending." And so the adventure continues.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's Your Next Step? Take yours @fbcknox Sept. 26

September 26 is "Next Step Sunday.” On the journey of the Christian life, we do not arrive until the very end. But we do change one step at a time. During the Festival of Faith we have been restored and renewed by the living water of Christ. On September 26, I'm inviting you to make one of three decisions as part of your next step on the journey: Believe, Belong, or Become.

Believe in Jesus. This is the first step for those who have never said “yes” to God's invitation through Christ Jesus. This decision says yes to Christ and requests baptism as a member of First Baptist. Many parents wait until their children are ready to take this step so that they can share the waters of baptism with family. Others have been wrestling with the decision of public faith for a long time.

Belong to First Baptist. Many people attend church for a long time without identifying publicly as a member. You can choose to join First Baptist by transferring your membership from another congregation or by stating your faith publicly in Christ and planting your life in the church membership.

Become a faithful disciple. If you already believe and belong, you are becoming a faithful disciple. This decision could be a recommitment to worship and Bible study attendance. The Festival offers many suggestions to grow deeper as a follower of Christ through our church. Each one fits one of the five areas of the church’s Strategic Plan: Fellowship, Outreach, Mission/Ministry, Worship, and Education. Some of these are new initiatives the church’s ministry councils are planning for 2011. No person can do everything, but everyone can choose one thing that will help them take the next step as a growing disciple.

To confirm the decision, we're providing a “Next Step” form . Below, you will find a description of some of the new ministries for 2011. Please read over the form, pray about your commitments, and fill it out. The most important section of the form is “other.” What next step is Christ asking you to take that may not even be on the form? We want to share this joy with you and pray with you through this process. If you can’t decide what the next step is, a minister will be glad to contact you to help discern the next step. After you fill it out, bring the form with you on Sunday, September 26, and place it in one of the boxes after worship. If you will be unable to join us that day, drop this in the mail or fill out the form online.

I hope you will join me in taking the Next Step to become the church God has created us to be.

Next Step Commitments (coming in 2011)

Social media team uses Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs to build relationships for Christ. People who regularly use these programs will enjoy this process.
The “Welcome Wagon” will reach new residents in East Tennessee. Volunteers are needed to design and distribute this information.

Restoration House is a home for one (1) single mother and her children. We are partnering with Fellowship Church, Cedar Springs Presbyterian, and Central Baptist Bearden, and many others in this ministry. Volunteers will be needed to mentor and support this family.

Community garden will be planted in the South Knoxville community in partnership with Operation Inasmuch, Habitat for Humanity, and the Missions Council. Volunteers will be needed to plant and tend the garden in our neighborhood near South Knoxville Elementary School.

New Initiatives

Move Downtown and join the neighborhood. Downtown Knoxville is alive with new residents and opportunities to live among the largest un-churched population in our community. Relocate your life, neighbor the community, and share the gospel.

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered ministry to help people recover from their hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Our Pastoral Counselor, David Lovett is exploring this ministry.

For more information about these and other items on the response form, just check the box, “Ask a minister or deacon to contact me.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Miraclous Recovery and the Love of God from Knoxville to Huntsville @fbcknox

FBC Stories - Link Hudson from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

Link Hudson serves every day as a husband, father, soccer coach, Sunday school teacher, video producer, and mentor to so many college students. But his powerful story of recovery is a testimony of God's love through the FBC family from Knoxville to Huntsville. He share his story with us today as we kicked off the Fall Festival of Faith.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Living on Deadline

Sometimes you need a deadline, the date that says, "by this time," I'm going to buy the house, remodel the bathroom, purchase the car, make the change.

The only timeline for God's movement is on our watch. For God, we're always living in the eternal now. Any time is the right time. But for calendar-bound believers, having a date on a calendar gives us time to set priorities, change our thinking, commit to renewal, and to join others in the decisions.

From August 22-September 26, our church family will be in a season of renewal called the Festival of Faith. September 26 is "Next Step Sunday." On the calendar, it's the deadline to make decisions to take the next step of faith that comes out of your decisions during the Festival. They might be the decisions that you've been procrastinating longer than the repairs to the kitchen sink. Spiritually, it's never too late. But sometimes there is comfort in knowing that other people will be making decisions on the same day. You won't be alone on Sept. 26, and I'm inviting you to make 1 of 3 decisions: Believing, Belonging, or Becoming.

Believing in Jesus. This is the 1st step for those who have never said yes to God's invitation through Christ Jesus. This decision says yes to Christ and requests baptism as a member of First Baptist. Many parents wait until there children are ready to take this step so that they can share the waters of baptism with family. Others have been wrestling with the decision of public faith for a long time. This is your step.

Belonging to First Baptist. Many people attend church for a long time without identifying publicly as a member. You can choose to join First Baptist by transferring your membership from another congregation or by stating your faith publicly in Christ and planting your life in the church membership.

Becoming a better disciple. After you believe, what next. The Festival offers many opportunities to grow deeper as a follower of Christ. We will offer you a chance to serve on mission, participate in future Bible studies, or volunteer in a ministry of the church. We will have a commitment form available on Sunday Sept. 26 for you to respond to the invitation to become.

Each door of faith is so important and appropriate. Set the deadline to take the next step, and be open to Christ's movement this month.

To register for the Festival of Faith click here.

For more information about the Festival of Faith click here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Diving into the Festival of Faith

I am not a diver. I have tried and failed enough times to take the plunge that the cannonball will have to do. I have learned through enough attempts that (1) I never feel as if I'm ready to dive. The closer I get to the water, the less willing I am to go. (2) I should have started learning to dive much earlier in life. (3) It's never too late to try to dive in.

When do we ever feel as if we're ready for renewal, refreshment, or challenge in life? As a young person, the youth minister did the hard work for us. He placed the event on the calendar, and the parents paid for the trip. But even then as a teenager, I was sort of glad all that remained in the woods or on a college campus. We never feel ready for revival; and when we do, we're usually thinking that someone else needs this more than us.

During times of change, life has a way of handing us gifts. Over the last couple of years, the people of God have sensed the need to return again to Christ and his work again to create us and shape us to become the people he intended us to be when he formed us in the garden. Seasons of renewal set aside 40 days to develop new habits, disciplines, and ways of living surrendered to "Jesus Christ as Lord."

I invite you to pray with me for the Festival of Faith Aug. 22-Sept. 26. During this season, we are going to ask people to make three steps of faith: to Believe, to Belong, or to Become.

To Believe in Jesus as Lord following that commitment with Baptism.

To Belong to the body of Christ of First Baptist Church as a member.

To Become the person that Christ created you to be through the work of First Baptist.

Pray for people who need to make public decisions about their relationships with Christ. Pray for families who are waiting for children to be baptized so parents can join them in the water. Pray for guests who will be contemplating decisions to join us on the journey of faith. Pray for the steps that you need to take to become the person Christ created you to be.And together, maybe we can take the dive.

For more information about the Festival of Faith or to register for a small group, click here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Deaf @fbcknox: On Mission in Honduras w/ New Life Deaf Mission

First Baptist Church: SERVING with NLDM: WORKING HARD & LOVING IT!: "SERVING with NLDM: WORKING HARD & LOVING IT!: 'It's the end of the 3rd day and the team is thoroughly enjoying their mission!  Who would've ..."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kids Camp from a Youth Group to Grandparents

Group Shot

June 20-23, I preached at First Baptist’s version of Camp-Ba-Yo-Ca. So many of our folks grew up attending camp on Happy Hollow Road. This year, we connected generations of grandparents, parents, youth, and students to provide training, renewal, and formation of 3-5th graders.

Stephen Carlone and his critter at the "Critter Crawl"

Joel Smith Loaded down

Our 2010 strategic plan challenged us to teach students to grow in their faith by connecting the generations. In a year of economic austerity, we needed creativity and partnership. This story began last summer. Our youth began dreaming about a mission project for this summer and approached Michael about leading a camp for our kids. There is no better way to grow than to take the leap of teaching, with a great safety net of course.

Second, we partnered with Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia, where FBC alumna and Money Scholarship recipient served on the children's staff.

Third, not only did we need parents; but we also received the gift of grandparents. Grandmother Jane Hall sent her grandson Joel Smith. Grandparents Peter and Elaine Smith invited grandson Stephen Carlone.

The camp turned into more than your average get-a-way. Students shined like never before. I think Parker invited the entire neighborhood. Susan Tatum, Michael McEntyre, and Kara and the Smoke Rise staff pulled off an incredible experience. This would not have been possible without your generous gifts and the creativity of our staff and young people. And without camp, I would not have met Joel or Stephen.

Joel Smith lives in Knoxville, but his grandmother Jane Hall wanted to make sure he had a chance to experience Christ the only way camp can do. She worked to arrange schedules with his parents to attend.

Stephen Carlone does not live in Knoxville. His grandparents, Peter and Elaine Smith, do. Peter and Elaine attend the deaf congregation. Stephen often visits with his grandparents on weekends and worships with them on Sunday mornings. Stephen can hear perfectly, but he listens to Greg Johannsen preach when Stephen is in town. When the Smith’s read about the camp, they registered Stephen. And when Stephen came to camp, I met one of the most dynamic kids in the bunch. He prayed one night in worship and demonstrated the power of a family committed to Christ.

These are just two examples of the way this camp touched my life and continues to touch the lives of those we serve in East Tennessee across the generations.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Reunion that Never Happened

"What if they gave a banquet, and no one came?" Matthew 22:1-14
The refund checks have been mailed, and the regrets have been sent. This is a story of a reunion that never happened. This can only be a living parable.
Jesus posed the question from Mathew 22 in a parable about a wedding banquet. I lived this parable recently with the Pensacola Christian Class of 1990 reunion. We did not have a good track record for reunions. We/I missed the 10th reunion; we had a 12th anniversary event instead. As the class president, these responsibilities fall into my lap. We had such a good time for the 12th, people talked about taking a cruise together.
Seven years later, we were assured of success. To avoid the mistake of missing the 20th anniversary, our vice president contacted me a year early in 2009. This is what vice presidents do apparently. They get busy ahead of time. We organized, recruited a committee, held conference calls, and planned. We used all the wonders of modern technology: facebook, website, email. We even accepted credit cards for payments.
To make sure everyone was involved, we held an online vote for the location. We have just 50 or so alumni. A few people I have never heard of on facebook count themselves as alumni. They had a chance to vote too. But the vote was the first sign of trouble. People who were never planning to participate--no matter where it was held--voted to have the event in Pensacola. We realized way to late that the act of voting misled us
We sent invitations, confident that people would come, eager to see everyone. But no response. Not even half the commitee paid for the event by deadline. One family reserved a spot in the hotel. Then the perfect disaster happened. The BP oil spill washed ashore in Pensacola, complete with tar balls. A beach reunion suddenly did not seem so inviting. We canceled the hotel and relocated the dinner to a cheaper place, but we changed too little too late. Once we canceled the hotel, the people booked for the hotel canceled their travel plans and asked for a refund.
A few committee members called around to their buddies. "Why aren't you coming?" they asked. One person boldly said, "I just thought we would show up after everyone had finished eating. I just wanted to see everyone, but I didn't want to pay for the food."
Obviously this person had not factored in the cost of something that, for them, was free-- a website, postage, and the room itself. With discouraged hearts, and realistic outlooks, the two people left on the conference calls decided to refund the money to the 7 people who had paid. I stayed in Knoxville for the weekend.
Reunions have changed so much just like everything else in the last 5 years. Since the advent of facebook, somehow the novelty of seeing one another, catching up, and introducing family members to each other has worn off. New verbs like "friending" replaced "reuniting." Quick scans of photos from the high school yearbook now posted online for the world to see suffice for face to face contact.
But nothing has changed about human nature. People still want to get something for nothing, especially if someone else does the work. Even after 20 years, a reunion only works if there is some common reason to, well, reunite. If people are held together by a common bond of living through the 80's together, then that kinship continues, no matter what the cost, oil spill, or headache. But if all you have is a piece of paper, a facebook friendship is stretching it a bit. No amount of planning, organization, involvement, voting, and initiative can change the one thing that never happened for our class-- enough people who want to see each other.
Ironically, our alma mater is a Christian school, which gives us even more reason to believe the parable. Maybe Jesus was onto something when he raised the question. Not eveyone wants to be invited to the party. And some people wait to see if they get a better invitation. The best banquets are the ones where the guests appreciate the invitation and are pleased to see those who are invited. Only then can there be reunion.

William D. Shiell, Ph.D.
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Knoxville
510 West Main Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
O: 865-546-9661 x 114
C: 865-363-7087
Facebook: www.facebook.com/william.shiell
Blog: www.firsthoughts.blogspot.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Williamshiell
Church: www.fbcknox.org

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Casey Leaves Home for the 1st time & Goes to Egypt. #VBS @fbcknox

This past week, students, parents, senior adults, volunteers, and staff have been lost in the land of Egypt. We have brought to life a boy named Joseph, the favorite son of Israel. In the process, for the first time in three years, Casey left home and found herself in a whole new world.

Scripture nurtures the mind with the wonderful gift of heroes, heroines, and adventures that are better than any Hollywood script could write. Children don't want perfect heroes; but they do need ones who put their hope in God. Our VBS material this year focused on one of those adventures. We traveled back in time to imagine a world where a deceitful boy was betrayed by his blood brothers. A slave was chosen to become the head of a household. A banished prisoner was chosen by a Pharaoh to become prime minister.

This was a time in history when Egpyt was one of God's instruments to bring his redemptive plan to the world. Instead of the arch-enemy of Israel, or skeptical international neighbor, Egpyt's hands were God's hands to save and feed a chosen people. The great mystery and wonder of God's plan comes down to some seemingly small decisions that involved long sleepless nights, terror-filled dreams, a family needing food, a son setting aside grudges, and a ruler using an immigrant to run the highest levels of government.

Of course, it's one thing to read the story; but it's another to bring it to life. That's what over 75 volunteers did this past week. Senior adults painted hieroglyphics, middle schoolers escorted tribes, a music minister led aerobics, and together we were in Egpyt again to welcome everyone into an ancient land that seems to resonate with today's issues.

And this takes me back to a little girl. Casey was one of the first to arrive. She had never been out of her home before because she just turned 3 in February. Both of her parents work from home. Mom works full time with Casey, and her Dad runs his photography business out of a home office. She gets the blessing of 2 stay-at-home parents. Casey's parents are not members of First Baptist. As far as I know, this was their first time to come to church. For a little girl who rarely goes to babysitters and had never seen what a daycare looks like, Egpyt seemed like a pretty safe place to start on the long journey toward Christ.

We welcome 3 year olds, 13, 33, and 83 year olds into VBS because it's a good introduction to the greatest adventure of life, the life of Christ with a community called the church. Just as his story began with characters like Joseph, so ours does too. Now little Casey and her parents have a story they can always tell. Her first step of faith was a very short trip to Egpyt.

This past week, students, parents, senior adults, volunteers, and staff have been lost in the land of Egypt. We have brought to life a boy named Joseph, the favorite son of Israel. In the process, for the first time in three years, Casey left home and found herself in a whole new world.

Scripture nurtures the mind with the wonderful gift of heroes, heroines, and adventures that are better than any Hollywood script could write. Children don't want perfect heroes; but they do need ones who put their hope in God. Our VBS material this year focused on one of those adventures. We traveled back in time to imagine a world where a deceitful boy was betrayed by his blood brothers. A slave was chosen to become the head of a household. A banished prisoner was chosen by a Pharaoh to become prime minister.

This was a time in history when Egpyt was one of God's instruments to bring his redemptive plan to the world. Instead of the arch-enemy of Israel, or skeptical international neighbor, Egpyt's hands were God's hands to save and feed a chosen people. The great mystery and wonder of God's plan comes down to some seemingly small decisions that involved long sleepless nights, terror-filled dreams, a family needing food, a son setting aside grudges, and a ruler using an immigrant to run the highest levels of government.

Of course, it's one thing to read the story; but it's another to bring it to life. That's what over 75 volunteers did this past week. Senior adults painted hieroglyphics, middle schoolers escorted tribes, a music minister led aerobics, and together we were in Egpyt again to welcome everyone into an ancient land that seems to resonate with today's issues.

And this takes me back to a little girl. Casey was one of the first to arrive. She had never been out of her home before because she just turned 3 in February. Both of her parents work from home. Mom works full time with Casey, and her Dad runs his photography business out of a home office. She gets the blessing of 2 stay-at-home parents. Casey's parents are not members of First Baptist. As far as I know, this was their first time to come to church. For a little girl who rarely goes to babysitters and had never seen what a daycare looks like, Egpyt seemed like a pretty safe place to start on the long journey toward Christ.

We welcome 3 year olds, 13, 33, and 83 year olds into VBS because it's a good introduction to the greatest adventure of life, the life of Christ with a community called the church. Just as his story began with characters like Joseph, so ours does too. Now little Casey and her parents have a story they can always tell. Her first step of faith was a very short trip to Egpyt.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Nashville Flood Survivor William Burnie Thanking God that "He Spared Me"

The church shares stories about people who are not on the front of people's minds. In the clutter of the 24 hour news cycle, people like William Burnie are easily missed. Don't forget his story.

Nashville Flood Relief: William Burnie from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Channel 6 reporter Josh Ault's story on the #nashvilleflood relief @wate @joshua_ault

NASHVILLE (WATE) - A group from First Baptist Church Knoxville left Monday morning to help with the flooding cleanup effort in Nashville.

The group of nine volunteers was assigned to help an East Nashville homeowner.

"As a Christian, Christ compels us to serve people in need, but I think also in this instance, we immediately thought to call First Baptist Nashville because they are brothers and sister right down the road," says First Baptist Community Pastor Carol McEntyre.

The home the church members helped gut belonged to Kay Hardison, a single mother with five kids.

"I didn't know I had gotten flooded actually," says Hardison, "There was water up here and in the back."

This is the first time Hardison has received help. She lost everything in the flood.

More here

Single Mom, Cancer victim battles flood damage with help of @fbcknox_mission & @fbcnashville #nashvilleflood @6news

Kay Herdison had a flood of problems before 14 inches of rain fell on her Nashville home. Her 3 bedroom basement rancher was just enough for a single mom and her 3 kids. She had a leaky roof but was more focused on battling a brain tumor and providing a home for 3 children. She has a full time job at Captain D's as a manager but no health insurance. She earns just enough to make ends meet.

But when the deluge began, she was hit with 3 waves. Her easiest problem was the flood. The flood waters came up from her basement, above through her leaky roof, and behind from her back yard. It was the worst kind of problem with a disaster. Kay was dropped through the cracks of disaster response.

The homeowner's insurance will not pay for flood damage, and FEMA will not pay for rainwater from the roof.

But the faith community is here. First Baptist Nashville arrived this weekend for the first time since the flood 2 weeks ago. They sprayed for mold and connected Volunteers from First Baptist Knoxville to Kay. Today Kay has hope and help. We are pulling carpet, hauling her belongings, and providing a little peace in the after effects of a storm.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

Friday, May 14, 2010

Senior Prom becomes a Calm in the midst of a Storm. Sunday worship preview @fbcknox

Ashley Riemer began her senior year of high school at a medical center, not in the classroom. While her friends were experiencing the joys of the last year in high school, Ashley was starting chemo for leukemia. But the staff at Walter Reid Medical Center decided to try something creative. And it became a bit of normal in the midst of a storm. Hear more of Ashley's story Sunday at First Baptist Church Knoxville.

Life rolls along until a surgery challenges faith and obedience. The Generosity Effect @fbcknox

By her own admission, Jennifer Mabe says that her Christian life was pretty easy. But when a surgery challenged her faith and obedience, her church family in Winchester, Kentucky, surrounded her family with love. She uses life lessons to explain her perspective on generosity and love for the Church.

Generosity Testimony by Jennifer Mabe from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Meet Rolando Rosales, Father & Homeowner. Hear his story Sunday @ 8:42 @fbcknox & @ 11:00 on WTNZ Fox 43

Meet Rolando Rosales, Father and New Homeowner. Rolando and his family are the faces of Strategic Missions. Two years ago, the Missions Council recommended that we give directly to projects that transform the lives of people-- both the recipient's and the donors' lives. We would contribute to mission projects that we could be a part of and could see lives changed.

Rolando fit the criteria. When his wife was dying of cancer, she had 1 last wish for her family, that they would have a home. But Rolando was also not a believer. What better way to share the gospel than to serve beside someone who needed Jesus?

This was a project that we could be a part of. We supplied the labor, resources, and willingness to go. We could see the face of some of the deepest poverty in our country as well as participate in the greatest opportunity for sharing the gospel. Our lives could be enriched with hands-on education about border issues, immigration, service, and love in one place. Our lives could be formed by the work of sacrifice. We could bring that information and transformation back home to shape our priorities here.

And that's exactly what happened on the Rio Grande border. Thanks to a partnership with Buckner International, we met the Rosales family. We worked with another congregation, Calvary Baptist in McAllen; and God brought all of this together dramatically for one week in April.

Group from FBC Knoxville Helps Answer a Mom's Dying Wish for Her Family from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

This is not the only strategic mission project that we support, but Rolando is the first fruit of your giving and going. Sharing good news and seeing an impact should be this strategic.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Great Videos & @fbcknox about @buckner_intl work in the Rio Grande Valley. Report tomorrow night @ 6 pm

Watch two videos

Join us tomorrow night to hear about God's work in the Rio Grande Valley. At 6 pm in the Chapel, we'll hear from our mission team as they share how the Penitas family now has a home thanks to a mother's prayers. We are grateful for Buckner's partnership and the work of this good team.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Class of 2010-- Demonstrating Christ's Love @ School New Video Blog Post & May 9 Worship Preview @ 1st Baptist Knoxville

John Hill Interview from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

May is commencement month; and for this group of Seniors, this
ceremony is only the beginning. We have dragged them from Croatia to
Orange Beach; from YAK to SMAC and every acronym in between. But they
have saved some of their best work for the 8-6-5 area code.

Last month, a young 12th grader and her family from Egypt lost their
home in a fire. She attends West High School; she and her family are
not Christian. But fortunately for them, God is alive and well at
West; and we have Christians there. In fact, two of our Seniors attend
there. They are the Hill twins. John mentioned the situation in Sunday
School and asked for his class to pray for "Nora." This group, though,
has been trained by some excellent parents and a fine church to learn
how to answer their own prayers. They discussed ways to minister to
Nora, and John investigated the situation back at the high school. He
didn't know Nora well; but with a little networking at school, and a
few connections through a teacher, Nora told John that the family had
an apartment to live in. The conditions were pretty dirty, and the
carpets needed cleaning.

John reported the information to Michael McEntyre, who naturally said
that the church would "handle it." This is the kind of thing that your
benevolence funds go toward. But John brought the response back to his
Sunday School class. The students decided to donate their money from
birthdays, babysitting, grocery bagging, and lawn mowing to the cause;
and they raised enough money to pay for the carpets to be cleaned.
They contacted David's Carpet Cleaning and contracted for the service.

When John told "Nora," about the gift she was in tears. She and her
family were so grateful and had "no idea that Christians would care
that much." When the cleaning service arrived and realized the
condition of the apartment and the circumstance surrounding the
family, David's Carpets did not charge the students for the service.
Now the students have money to spend on another project that needs
their answers to prayer, and this family has seen just the beginning
of Jesus' love for them.

This is the kind of class we salute on May 9. They're not the "best
ever." They're just the next great group linked together in the chain
of students and parents who make a difference in their corners of the
world. They show us truly that wherever we are, we can see First
Baptist's work and Christ's presence.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Prayers answered in the Rio Grande Valley

"Cancer killed Martha Rosales two years ago, but on Tuesday her final plea was answered when her husband unlocked the side door and the children ran inside to the three-bedroom abode for which their mother had prayed.

"Buckner International, a global Christian ministry, with the help of volunteers from First Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., built the $15,000 home for the widowed father, who has struggled since his wife's death to raise the children and do odd jobs to put food on the table.
Read the full story...


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Flood Relief for Nashville-- You Can Help

We have been contacted by First Baptist Nashville to come and help with flood relief. They are in need of:

1. Teams to remove the interior of damaged homes

2. A team to prepare box lunches for people in the field.
First Nashville has housing available for volunteers at the church. If you are interested in going anytime between May 6-21, we could use you.

To sign up contact: Wanda and Andy Edmonson at aje@utk.edu &ltmailto:aje@utk.edu> or 865-567-6694 or Marion and Dianna Graybeal at magraybeal@comcast.net &ltmailto:magraybeal@comcast.net> or 865-579-4221. (In your response, let us know what dates you are available.)Thank you for your willingness to serve,

Carol McEntyre
Buckner Community Minister
First Baptist Knoxville, TN
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Confidential Care during a time of Crisis: That's Stephen Ministry

What is Stephen Ministry? Watch this video from PBS. First Baptist Knoxville is a Stephen Ministry congregation. If you are interested in receiving care from a trained Stephen Minister, click here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Generosity from the Bakery to the Bus Stop: the Generosity Effect

How do you celebrate generosity? With greater generosity. On Sunday, the First Baptist family committed to giving; and we shared what had been given.

Yesterday, we combined worship with our 3 services in one unified service. We committed to tithing and generosity financially. In preparation for this day, we also baked goods and delivered them to the church. Over 160 households brought breads, cookies, cakes, brownies, muffins, pies and other sweet treats to the church Sunday morning. We brought them not for ourselves, but to share. Like the widow in Zarephath (1 Kings 17), we baked a "cake of faith" to deliver to our neighbors

Following another great Herman Weaver meal, dozens fanned out all over Knox County delivering baked goods to the homebound, the women's jail, South Knoxville elementary, Next Door Ministry, and our neighbors. Some even made it to the bus stop this morning. As one child who helped bake the bread said, "I thought my bus driver needed it the most."

The stories of these deliveries are being shared via phone, email, and face-to-face. Recipients of the treats have called the church office to offer a thank-you for this simple act of sharing.

We give thanks for the many, many people that made April 25 a day to remember. Because you have been given much, you have given!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Giving to Starbucks more than to God... the Generosity Effect

What happens when you realize your Starbucks receipts total more than your offerings? Enjoy this great personal story about the Generosity Effect from Daniel Headrick.

Generosity Testimony by Daniel Headrick from First Baptist Church, Knoxville on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Generosity Effect

Some call it the Ripple Effect, others the Butterfly Effect. We know
it as the Generosity Effect. It's the sense that the smallest of
actions affect others. One small act of kindness leads to another.
Sometimes we have the privilege and reward of seeing how our actions
touch others. In most ways, however, we use the eyes of faith to
recognize that "we'll never know" how one gift can make a difference.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. Small acts of hoarding,
greed, and fear lead to even greater challenges. Selfishness is just
as contagious as love, and we only need to read the newspaper or watch
the news to see its tangled web of suffering across the globe.

The early Christians and the 21st century church have known this to be
true. Whether a little boy with 5 loaves and two fish, or 1 child
sharing $1 from a $10 allowance, little things mean a great deal to a
very generous God. Church has always been the place where we
counteract greed, corruption, and financial hardship with generosity.
We share with the world demonstrate to one another what this obedience
to Christ looks like. In the month of April, we as a First Baptist
family chart a new course through the Generosity Effect. We will not
arrive there overnight, but it will take all of us doing our parts to
effect others.

Here is how our plan works. Over the next 10 years, we are seeking to
become a more generous congregation. By 2020, we want to be 10% more
generous than we are today by living obediently to the command of
Christ that "whomever much is given, much is required." I don't know
what your plan for generosity is for 2020, but I am asking you to
commit to taking one step this year of giving 1% more than you did
last year; in 2011, another 1%, until by 2020 all of us can claim
lifestyles of generous living.

To do this requires leaving behind a couple of other things. As a
church, we leave behind special capital campaigns for now. For the
last 10 years, we have asked you to dig deeper "over and above the
budget," to help us pay off debt, repair organs, renovate buildings,
and do ministry. These campaigns have been a financial lifeline, but a
new commitment requires new discipline. Because of your commitments
over the years, we want to honor your past gifts by not asking for
another special fund drive this year. We want to unite together around
our unified giving to the budgeted resources of the church. By doing
so, we can accomplish together what we've been doing separately for 10
years. We can complete our indebtedness, extend the ministry of the
church, maintain our staff, continue television uninterrupted, and
reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ. We can do as our
strategic plan calls us to do: to improve our church, increase our
ministries, and invite others into Christ's life.

To accomplish the generosity effect requires heart work on your part
as well. Just as the church leaves behind old practices, so each one
of us must reexamine what holds us back from generosity. Each one of
us takes inventory so we can give back to God what is already His.

Join me as we take step one. On April 25, we will have a public
display of our commitment through our combined service and our mission
trip to the border. While we worship gathered and scattered, together
we will show each other that we're in this together, no matter how
large or small our wallets and investments, For 2,000 years, Christ
has been taking our offerings and multiplying. I trust that once
again, he will be faithful to do the same for First Baptist.

William D. Shiell, Ph.D.
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Knoxville
510 West Main Street
Knoxville, TN 37902

Facebook: www.facebook.com/william.shiell
Blog: www.firsthoughts.blogspot.com
Twitter: @Williamshiell
Church: www.fbcknox.org

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Resources for Loving Knoxville through our Vocations

The Bridge returns tomorrow, and I'll be referring to a number of resources. I hope you will check out some of these ways to integrate your faith into your work.

Be sure to pick a copy of the Salt and Light Guidebook from Compassion Coalition. Copies are available at First Baptist Knoxville. I will be using this book as our primary resource in the study, and the guide is full of ideas for businesses, churches, and neighborhoods to love Knoxville.

Check out these websites and other resources.

Mastering Monday
by John Beckett.

Doing God's Business
by Paul Stevens

The High Calling Blog from Howard E. Butt and Laity Lodge

Duke University's Faith and Leadership website on Vocation

Christianity Today's Faith in the Workplace Website.

Christian Reflection's series on Vocation and faith @ work.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First Impressions

Sabbaticals are designed for empty nesters who can travel the world,
study in an exotic place, or relocate their families for months on
end. I am obviously not one. One institution reminded me of that when
I applied for a grant to offset some of the expenses. After they
received my application, they asked me to re-apply because I was
spending "too much time in Knoxville." I asked them why I would
relocate for 4 weeks to another city, and they said, 'So you can
rest.' I told them that sleeping in a hotel room for 4 weeks away from
family was not my idea of rest.

Sabbaticals for dads with families are written differently. I still
wanted to attend as many of Parker's basketball game as possible and
to feel Drake climb into the bed in the middle of the night as often s
possible. You gave me the opportunity to tailor something to fit my
family's needs, my interests and curiosities. Even more importantly,
you surrounded me with great staff and laypeople who have done more
than simply carry on. They have been very busy about the important
work of ministry, covering bases for me as well as keeping up an
incredible pace over 8 weeks. I hope to be able to return the favor to
each one of our ministers.

All of this help means that the phone hardly ever rang; I
disconnected; and the emails have been relatively easy to respond to.
(Email does take awhile, however; I'm still working through them).
Even when you ran into me at the gym or the mall or the grocery store,
you were kind enough not to respond to my question, "So how are things
going at the church?" You nodded and said, "Enjoy your time away."
Thanks for the freedom. Throughout these last weeks, I have enjoyed
time on the UT and Carson-Newman campuses. The Carson-Newman library
staff have assisted me with any needed resources and have functioned
as an "office away from the office" while studying and writing. I have
learned that if you need anything, ask Betty Kelley or Bruce Kocour.

As great as my time was apart from you, it's even better to be home
and to be with you. I missed you, and I really missed worshiping with
my family. Thank you so much for the rest.

William D. Shiell, Ph.D.
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Knoxville
510 West Main Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
O: 865-546-9661 x 114
C: 865-363-7087
Facebook: www.facebook.com/william.shiell
Blog: www.firsthoughts.blogspot.com
Twitter: @Williamshiell
Church: www.fbcknox.org

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Roudy's Rescue

The miraculous story of my brother, University Baptist in Coral Gables, and a family in Haiti.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jerusalem & Bethlehem

Slide show of pictures here

Images below: The Bethlehem Wall (Bethlehem side)
Rabbi talking on a cell phone at the Western (wailing) Wall
Overlooking Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives

Kelly and I were in Jerusalem and Bethlehem Saturday-Tuesday March 13-16 during the most recent tensions between the Israeli government and Palestinian leadership. We arrived as part of a travel group with a tourist's-eye view of incidents. Keep in mind that tour groups are intentionally sheltered from problems. We would have only known what was going on from reading the hotel newspapers or seeing a sound byte on CNN's international station. I did not see a report on the Fox news hotel channel. We knew that we were following in Joe Biden's footsteps. We were in the same gift shop on Saturday, March 13 in Bethlehem that he visited the day before. We did hear two different perspectives from our Jewish tour guide in Jerusalem and the Orthodox Christian tour guide in Bethlehem.

The contrasts were striking. On Saturday afternoon we were in Bethlehem seeing the Church of the Nativity in Christian Bethlehem the traditional site of the place where Jesus was born. On Sunday morning, we were in the Muslim area of Jerusalem to see the Church of the Holy Sepulchure, the traditional sites of Golgotha and the Joseph of Arimathea's family tomb. We saw two different worship services in action as well. We had plenty of incense to go around by the end of the day.

The most recent tensions were caused by the announcement of continued Jewish rebuilding efforts in East Jerusalem, and the dedication of the Hurva synagogue in East Jerusalem. We walked right past the synagogue. From the larger perspective, the issues revolve around the Israeli government's and Palestinian authority's continual struggle to deal with its political, spiritual, and religious disagreements. Not all Israelis are Jews; not all Jews want to throw out the Palestinians. 35% of Bethlehem is Christian (mainly Baptists and Orthodox Christian); many Palestinians are not Muslims; most Muslims are not pro-suicide bombers. If you can figure all this out on a grid, let me know.

From a tourist's viewpoint, all I see are shades of Berlin circa 1989. The Israeli government has erected a wall using Palestinian labor between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. If Mary and Joseph wanted to have a baby there today they would need, "special permission," and clearance through checkpoints. My South African friends would probably say this reminds them of apartheid. Palestinians cannot leave Bethlehem without clearance from Israeli officials.

From the average secular Israeli perspective, the standard argument is, "We've been planning to do this for a long time." And "This" is fill in the blank. Rebuild the synagogue (destroyed in the 1967 6-day war), put more housing in east Jerusalem, you name it.

From the Palestinian Christian perspective, the only thing they asks is, "Pray for us," "Pray for peace," or "Pray for jobs."

Behind the scenes, we know there are ongoing meetings. I talked to one pastor in the airport whose church sponsors a meeting in Bethlehem between Muslims, Jews, and Christians secretly. If South Africa and Germany (throw in Ireland too) are any examples, we need several things like that. We need lots of secret meetings between people who seem to be spiritually the opposite. We need teenagers eating pizza together who do not share the same neighborhoods. And we need churches to become educated about all the dynamics of the problem, not just the ones they can see from the safety of a tour bus. Sounds like a good theme to conclude Passover and Holy Week. We're right on time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bread, Circuses, and Haiti in Big Orange Country

"Bread and circuses," distracted the Romans and their leaders in the 1st century. In Tennessee over the past couple of weeks, the athletic arena has been a circus of distraction. Fans (short for "fanatics") confuse the historical with the hysterical and prefer to spend the public's money firing coaches rather than recruiting them. It's no wonder that when Lane Kiffin takes his dream job, and someone ponies up the $800,000 to make that happen, that this event overshadows the real issue in the world that day.

Thousands die in Haiti. An earthquake destroys lives. Pain and suffering are all around. This is not the first time for suffering to collide with sports. But when they occur on the same day, we have a chance to think about priorities, distractions, and the real cost of human life.

The gift of sports to our community is a means to an end. It's the great ends of beauty, love, friendship, and sacrifice that call to all of us. It's not the best or the only way to follow those pursuits. Sports just happen to be a popular one that I and so many others enjoy with my family.

As people in Knoxville, we view sports as the end rather than the means to that. This is our god, and we love, pay, sacrifice, and give to it so. In this most recent iteration, the means became the NFL, winning at all insults, and competition over a brand or a rival at the expense of decency. If this is how we live our lives, then we need to get a new life. The reason bread and circuses work so easily is because they are not nearly as challenging and complex as what calls out to us from our souls: the deepest longings for relationship and life after death. The immediate gratification of a scoreboard, a contract, a salary, and a career inoculate us to a deeper pain.

The Haitian experience, however, invites us into the real world. This is not a place of where lives are so easily replaced with someone else to entertain us. We cannot point fingers at one another in the rubble. This is the place of suffering and anger, hurt and despair, worry and grief, questions and loss. This is a world that is classified as "natural" disaster, but requires supernatural answers. This kind of thing happens around the world all the time. We rarely get to see something like this so close to home. It's also the place where the kingdom of God breaks in with thousands of relief workers, volunteers, missionaries, and people rushing into demonstrate what people do best. In moments of crisis, people at their core naturally help, serve, and love each other. The real story of disaster from the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 to Hurricane Katrina of 2005 to the Haitian experience to start this decade, is that we solve the greatest sufferings of the world with the greatest service. People go and live like Jesus right there; and if they can't go, they give. They give with public, private, charitable, and religious dollars. And we all work together for the common cause of taking what life has left behind and helping people put the pieces back together. We help people make sense of it all not by answering questions but by living out the questions beside one another, by crying and weeping, and praying when the only words we have are groans.

We will welcome a new coach into our arena. And more importantly, we will weep with those who weep and rebuild lives on the journey toward the greatest of these, which is love.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Book Recommendations

My top books for the year.

Shaye D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, Second edition. 2006

  • Cohen's survey of middle Judaism provides a helpful treatment of Jesus' Jewish world.


Eddie Hammett, Making Shifts without Making Waves. Columbia Partnership, 2009.

  • Hammett understands the dynamics of individual and group coaching better than most. If you meet with people individually for support or are wanting to do some self-examination, Hammett teaches that the best answers are found in asking the right questions. Great for Stephen Ministers, caring friends, and pastors.

David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies. New Haven: Yale University Press

  • Hart is theology Prof at Providence College and reframes the history of early Christianity and theological conflicts in a helpful intriguing way


Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: the Alternative Gospel of the American Church. Baker Books, 2008.

  • -Horton is a Reformed theologian from California. A helpful critique of Osteen and Warren, even if his solutions stretch a bit.


Leander E. Keck, A Future for the Historical Jesus: the place of Jesus in Preaching and Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980.

    -Keck's critique of the 2nd quest for the historical Jesus is still applicable to today's quests.


Salt and Light: a Guide to Loving Knoxville. Edited by Andy Rittenhouse and Heidi Unruh. 2009.

-This is a new improved version of the Salt and Light Guidebook for ministries. Anyone doing ministry in Knox County needs to see the big picture. This book captures it.


Robert Lithicum, Building a People of Power: Equipping Churches to Transform their Community

  • This is Lithicum's manual on the church as the Christian community organizers. Helpful reflections on Nehemiah as well as first-hand suggestions on the real gritty work of taking care of a neighborhood.


Robert D. Lupton, Renewing the City: Reflections on Community Development and Urban Renewal. Intervarsity Press, 2005.

-Lupton operates a faith based community development corporation in Atlanta. This book is a Bible study of Nehemiah with modern application to churches trying to be on mission in the city.


William Gilmore Simms, Sabbath Lyrics: A Christmas Gift of Love. Charleston: Walker and James, 1849.

-Simms and his wife had 14 children. Five of them survived him. This book is a collection of his poetic paraphrases of the prophecy of Christ's birth in Isaiah intermingled with his reflections on the death of children. Complete version available at Google books.


Rebecca Solnit, Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster. Viking Press, 2009.

  • Solnit uses sociological disaster theory and creative writing to prove the thesis that disaster can be good for us.


Janet Soskice, The Sisters of Sinai: How to Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels. Knopf Publishers, 2009.

  • Soskice captures the dynamics of women in late 19th century Victorian Scotland and their quest to retrieve and publish a copy of a Syriac version of the Gospels.


Albert L. Winesman, et al. Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community.

-This book is the Christian edition of Gallup's "Strengths Finder" approach. Winesman uses spiritual gifts language to discuss strengths. Great for team building and individual reflection.

Google Search