Archive for October, 2007


Country Music Hall of Famer Porter Wagoner dies at 80

October 31, 2007


Photo was taken some years ago (as if I had to tell you that), back stage at the Opry.

Read the Tennessean’s Article


Hendersonville Star News Article About The Blakes

October 29, 2007


Missionaries to Nigeria put deeds ahead of words

By Candy Webb
For Sumner County

Published: Sunday, 10/14/07 When most Americans decide to do their part to improve the world, they usually choose something that doesn’t disrupt their lives too much. They may give money to an organization to utilize as needed. They may even take a two-week vacation from work to go on a mission trip.When Brad and Jennifer Blake thought about what they could do to help mankind, they took it all the way.For the past six years, the Blakes have lived and raised their children in remote areas of Nigeria, teaching people there how to grow food, save money and other important life skills.

“We believe that you cannot be as effective traveling back and forth as you can be when you live there,” said Brad, who recently returned to the states to raise funds to support the coming year’s humanitarian efforts.

“When you wear the clothing, eat the food, speak the language and live among the people, you can do so much more.”

The Blakes are founders of Arewa Aid, an organization intent on helping the people of Nigeria learn to help themselves.

Although their spiritual faith is what drives them forward, they believe they can reach more people through compassionate acts of kindness, than through preaching.

“We felt like the Lord called us to do this,” said Brad. “We saw so many children dying from poor nutrition, poor health care, lack of parent education, that we believed it was our calling to provide compassionate assistance in the real-life areas those families deal with.”

One example is what Brad refers to as the “Muslim Beggar Boys.”

“Typically a Muslim man there has four wives, and each of the wives has about seven children,” said Brad. “This means the husband has between 35-40 children that he can’t feed, so he sends the boys to the city to learn the Qur’an. ”

According to Brad, the children do study the Qur’an, but also spend 8-9 hours a day begging on the streets to take the money back to their teacher.

“We approached the teachers and asked if we could teach the children about dry-season farming, and they said ‘don’t just teach the students, teach us too.'”

Alhough Muslims and Christians have a long-standing difference in spiritual belief, Brad believes his approach works because of what it provides.

“We try to reach people through acts of compassionate service,” he said. “And if within that service, they seek information about our beliefs, we are more than happy to share our faith with them.”

The farming system being taught involves drip irrigation and allows food to be grown even in areas where water is sparse.

In addition to growing fruits and vegetables, the residents are being taught the importance of saving money through a market women’s program.

Conflict resolution, poverty elimination and human rights are also key goals in the foundation’s existence.

Each year, the foundation adds programs to its repertoire. Next year, Jennifer will teach the women more about food preservation by teaching them how to can, pickle and dry various foods for later use.

The Blakes are committed to staying in Nigeria at least through 2014 and plan to continue expanding the services the foundation offers.

“We want to move from the family-size kits for farming to the supersize kits,” said Brad.

Also included on next year’s wish list is a small stipend to pay a full-time farmer who can live on the farm and teach increasing numbers of residents how to successfully grow fruits and vegetables for sale and consumption.

Deep wells and solar pumps will be needed so the foundation doesn’t have to rely on purchasing water in tanker trucks, as it has been doing.

The Blakes have been providing assistance to a man who suddenly fell ill and is blind and crippled due to the illness. They would like to continue to help him with his living expenses.

There are many items on the list, but the work, programs and training will be provided by the Blakes and their volunteers.

Arewa Aid is a nonprofit organization, and the Blakes hope businesses will join with area churches to help fund its efforts.

“Children over there are not eating any fruits and vegetables, which can cause serious health problems,” said Brad. “Through drip irrigation, they can grow what they need to eat and also have enough to market and begin digging out of poverty.”

While Brad is here seeking funding, Jennifer remains in Nigeria and is approaching hotels as potential vendors.

“She is taking the zucchini around that was grown and giving them each a zucchini and a recipe,” said Brad. “If they can see what they can do with it, they might start buying it from our participants, and it is another step forward.”

For information about Arewa Aid, or to have Brad come and give a presentation about the foundation’s work, call 444-0999 or 615-299-7433. You can also email Brad at
Published: Sunday, 10/14/07


An Invitation To Learn And To Share

October 27, 2007


The Blakes: Brad, Jen, Ibrahim, Rahamatu and Musa

She was only two weeks old when I baptized her parents, Barry and Darlene Becker, but today she is the wife of Dr. Brad Blake, and mother of three wonderful children all born and being raised in Northern Nigeria, West Africa where she and her family are missionaries. From a very early age Jennifer wanted to be a missionary in Africa. Today that dream is a reality.


Brad and Jen are working to reach Muslims in Northern Nigeria with the message of Christ, and like the one of whom they speak they have as their first priority to win the hearts of Nigerian Muslims through serving them and meeting their very real needs. As Brad said of a recent humanitarian workshop that they held, “Our Muslim trainees skeptically arrived on the first day expecting to hear scathing Christian preaching, Yet when they heard and practicalized the principles of composting, their amazement at this simple technology peaked their interest…This has led to many bible studies resulting in six baptisms while working with three congregations in three northeastern Nigerian states.” Meeting perceived needs of these people whom God loves is opening doors for the Gospel message.


Brad is here in Tennessee doing what all missionaries have to do from time to time…raising support. A special benefit dinner is being sponsored by the College Hills Church of Christ in Lebanon, Tennessee on November 15th. at 6:30pm. I want to extent an invitation to each of you to come and be a part of this special night. If you wish to attend you will need only to RSVP to me at and I will pass the information on to the responsible parties. A free meal will be provided and an opportunity to help financially will be given. Here is a link to a map to the College Hills Church. If you are not able to attend you may still have a part in this wonderful work. All financial donations should be sent to:

Maple Hill church of Christ

c/o Arewa Aid
Attn: Jeff Hallums
102 Maple Hill Road
Lebanon, TN  37087


Arewa Aid has a basic website that lists some of their goals for the future. Please take a look.


I will close with thoughts from Jen in their October Newsletter. “I myself am most especially in prayer over the matter of our funds. How distressing the issue of money can be. I regret that we must even spend our time searching for funds while lost souls are wandering hopelessly and aimlessly. But my faith has been so tried in times past and strengthened that I have no doubt that our father will give us all that we need. Even if what we are seeking does not seem to come “in time”, I will still trust. Wherever he sends, whatever he asks, whatever he gives, all in his time. We are determined to be faithful, as he has always been faithful to us.” (Jen is in Nigeria with their two oldest children and Brad and their youngest child are here in Tennessee.)


If you have questions concerning the work that Brad and Jen are doing here is their email address:


Golden Compass

October 26, 2007


Today’s post is a follow up to John Allen Turner’s…and others…thoughts on the New Atheism from yesterday.  “The Golden Compass” is a new movie soon to be released that is the creation of an avowed atheist and is directed toward children. With the popularity of “fantasy” type flicks, this one seems to be designed to go a step further in its Godless bias. It probably won’t have an effect on many “church folks”, but I think it will add another building block in Satan’s agenda to erode the faith of the weak…both parents and children.  Here is World News Daily’s Dr. Ted Baehr’s take on the movie.

An atheist’s ‘Narnia’ knockoff

Posted: October 26, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

On Dec. 7, 2007, the movie “The Golden Compass,” based on the first book in the fantasy trilogy entitled “His Dark Materials” by atheist Philip Pullman will be released in theaters throughout the world. Pullman wrote his fantasy trilogy because he was so upset by the Christian evangelism of C.S. Lewis in his wonderful series of Christian tales entitled “The Chronicles Of Narnia.” Pullman is an avowed atheist who has dedicated his life to undermining Christianity and the Church among young readers. The film’s release is only another example of a culture spiraling away from faith, a culture into which we must step in and declare truth. Pullman represents God as a decrepit and perverse angel in his novels, who captures the dead in a “prison camp” afterlife. As one fallen angel tells one of the novel’s young heroes:

The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty – those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves – the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself.

When the hero finally finds this “god,” he is ultimately described as a “demented and powerless” creature that “could only weep and mumble in fear and pain and misery.” The boy then kills this “god” by breaking him out of his crystal cell, thereby evaporating him. The only “god” in this universe is matter.

Meanwhile, the Church is depicted as an organization bent on power, control and the torture of children by cutting. One-character notes of the Church:

Killing is not difficult for them; Calvin himself ordered the deaths of children; they’d kill her with pomp and ceremony and prayers and lamentations and psalms and hymns, but they would kill her.

Click here for the rest of the article.


The New Atheism

October 25, 2007

John Allen Turner recently appeared in a taping for Coral Ridge Ministries concerning The New Atheism. Worth you time to take a look.


Happy She’s Not

October 19, 2007


This may be old news to some who read this blog, but it was new News to me. Laughing I am.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Oh, what a feeling. Toy Yoda!

A former Hooters waitress has sued the restaurant where she worked, saying she was promised a new Toyota for winning a beer sales contest.

Instead she won a new toy Yoda — the little green Jedi master from Star Wars.

Jodee Berry, 26, then a waitress at the Hooters in Panama City Beach, won a contest to see who could sell the most beer in April.

Manager Jared Blair told waitresses that the contest was a regional promotion, according to the lawsuit, and that the top 10 waitresses from each restaurant would be entered in a drawing. The person whose name was drawn would win a “new Toyota automobile,” the lawsuit says Blair told them.

In early May, Berry said, Blair told her she had won.

“I couldn’t believe that out of all the girls who were entered, I was the winner,” Berry said.

She was blindfolded and led to the restaurant parking lot. When the blindfold was removed, Berry wasn’t looking at a new car, but a Yoda doll.

Berry said she looked beyond the $40 toy, hoping to see the car driving around the corner. Blair, she said, was inside the restaurant laughing. But she wasn’t.

“A corporation can’t lead their employees on like that,” Berry said. “It’s not good business ethics. They can’t do that to people.”

Berry quit the restaurant a week later.

She sued Gulf Coast Wings, owners of the restaurant, alleging breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. She is seeking as compensation, the cost of a new Toyota — the car.

Her lawyer, Stephen West of Pensacola, said he was also looking at false advertising statutes.

West said one other Hooters waitress verified Berry’s story.

Berry said Blair knowingly misled them through the course of the contest by telling the employees he didn’t know what kind of Toyota it would be — whether a car, truck or van. The suit contends that he also told them the winner would be responsible for the tax on the new automobile.

West said those statements would go a long way toward defeating any defense argument that Berry misunderstood Blair.

The restaurant regularly had contests where management would come through with the promised prize, said Berry, who worked at Hooters for about a year before quitting.

Stuart Houston, a spokesman for the company, said it had not been served with the lawsuit yet and he would not comment.

– Information from the News Herald in Panama City was used in this report.


The Dogs Bark…

October 17, 2007


Most folks who read this blog are aware of the struggles that the Madison Church went through some years back. What you may not be aware of is that since that time we have had, for lack of a better term, a religious stalker who hangs out in the balcony and reports on what he perceives to be our “religious departures from the pattern”. He even has a web site where he spews out his venom, along with a couple others self appointed keepers of the truth, who are determined to straighten out the change agents that they see on ever corner. His reports had dropped off almost to zero since Keith Lancaster resigned as our worship minister. Keith seemed to have been the main target of his poison pen. But of late he, along with his associates, have begun there attacks on others at Madison.


What is truly sad about this whole scenario is that the mission and purpose for the church’s existence has been set aside in the interest of “contending for the faith”, which is really not contending for the faith, but what “I” want. The real problem in most church fusses is not about doctrine, it is really about power. It is about who is going to be in control.  So someone doesn’t get his/her way, and they go off and set up a web site, or publication, etc. to straighten out everybody who doesn’t agree with them.

What is more sad is that those who set themselves up as “the” authority in what is or is not truth have a pompous arrogance about them that tries to intimidate others into submission. As they preach to correct all comers they sound like a little self appointed pope who in some way has been anointed with divine understanding. There is no, “come let US reason TOGETHER”, it come and submit to MY understanding.

Back in the old west when wagons traveled in caravans and they would pass through a town, inevitably the home town dogs would come out and bark at the wagons and nip at the heels of the horses. A word of wisdom comes from that picture from the past that can be applied to the Nay Sayers of our day. “The dogs bark, but the caravan keeps on moving.”


Pilgrims or Tourist?

October 11, 2007


In a recent book, “A Western Jesus: the Wayward Americanization of Christ and the Church” (B&H Publishing, 2007), Mike Minter writes:“Conversation in the foyer after the service has more to do with the 12:30 p.m. kickoff than the sermon. People are leaving [church] just as they came in. What about the lost who should have fallen on their faces and said, ‘God is really among you’ (1 Cor. 14:25)? Where was the powerful testifying that you read about in 1 Thess. 1:8-9 regarding the great faith of the believers? Why was the meeting over so quickly? Where was the participation of the body and their gifts? Where was the prayer meeting like what you read about in Acts 12? The seriousness of the gospel you had become familiar with in the New Testament is somehow lacking. There is more of a cavalier attitude and a general sense of a temporal focus. Life went on as usual. ‘These aren’t pilgrims,’ you say to yourself, ‘they’re tourists.'”

This quote reminded me of the first battle of Bull Run. One historian said, “On the day of the battle, carriages filled with spectators eager to see the Confederate defeat flocked from Washington to the battle site.” Many of these spectators’ lives were in peril, and they did not have a clue. Church buildings are filled across this nation each Sunday and the vast majority of those who attend do not realize that we are involved in a war for the souls of men, women and children. They have come to watch, to observe, but not be involved. They don’t realize that the original purpose of the gathering was to worship their KING and be prepared to SERVE in BATTLE. We are at WAR!

Dr. Joe Noe says, “Christians have been seduced…hoodwinked…sold a bill of goods…are operating under a misguided and simplistic interpretation of scripture…. Christianity – the deepest, most meaningful and awe-inspiring religion ever – has been dumbed down…”

Maybe we need to follow the challenge of the prophet Joel to Israel:

 15   “Blow the trumpet in Zion,
       declare a holy fast,
       call a sacred assembly.

 16 Gather the people,
       consecrate the assembly;
       bring together the elders,
       gather the children,
       those nursing at the breast.
       Let the bridegroom leave his room
       and the bride her chamber.

 17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD,
       weep between the temple porch and the altar.
       Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD.
       Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
       a byword among the nations.
       Why should they say among the peoples,
       ‘Where is their God?’ “

Joel 2:15-17


Informed Doesn’t Equal Transformed

October 8, 2007


There are some really positive things happening today in segments of my tribe and the religious world in general. When ever you throw off the chains of legalism, and allow yourself to think outside the box that tradition created for you, that can be a good thing. I am hearing more and more about “kingdom living”, and realizing that we are indwelt by the Spirit, and that our motive for service is that “God presence” with us, along with the gratitude we feel in our hearts for what has been done for us that we could not do for ourselves.

While there have been some good changes, without question more change needs to come. But there are some things I hope we don’t change. I hope we don’t change our emphasis on knowing the scripture. One of the great strengths of the restoration movement was that it was led by men who knew the scripture. That was a proud tradition of my tribe when I was growing up as well. But today I am seeing less of an emphasis on the individual responsibility and more of a dependence upon a corporate kind of knowledge. I am seeing more of an event oriented approach to teaching as opposed to individual discipleship. What I am referring to is more than teaching people the Bible…imparting information…I am talking about teaching that results in transformation of character.

I have always been impressed with Paul’s approach to sharing the Gospel in and from Ephesus. Note these few verses from Acts. 19: 8-10 “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. ” Paul followed his custom of beginning in the Synagogue, but ends up in a lecture hall. The result of his two year stay was that all of Asia heard the Gospel. I am convinced that more was happening here than just transferring information from one person to another. Informed doesn’t mean transformed. Paul was taking pagans and turning them into disciples willing to put it all on the line for the Master. Read the verses that follow the ones above and see how Luke describes the results of Paul’s labors.

In Matthews account of what we call “The Great Commission” Jesus said, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20. Note he did not say make converts, or just baptize any and all who came. He said “make disciples” and when that mindset is present, “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

The group that has come to be known as the International Churches of Christ (ICOC), has it roots in our tribe. They did not start out as a cult. Many of the principles they used in the early days were not only valid, they were and are Biblical! That whole scenario is a classic example of throwing the baby our with the bath water. For fear of being associated with a cult, we just quit thinking about practicing discipleship at all! Discipleship is not a dirty word. To convey the concept today I prefer the term apprentice. Apprentices learn by being taught, watching the work being done, and they learn by doing.

When Paul meets with the elders from the church in Ephesus here is what he said about his time with them, “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:21-21. Did you catch that? He taught them that they must “turn to God in repentance” I don’t think anyone in his right mind would not want to go to Heaven, but repentance…well that may be a different matter. Repentance brings transformation of character.


New Podcast Site

October 4, 2007


This is a new venture for me. Here is the Link