CAUGHT IN BRO. RAY’S CROSSHAIRS

Editor’s Note: Ray Newcomb was a leader in the Tennessee Baptist Convention for decades. Over the years we developed a mutual respect for and friendship with each other. The highest compliment I could give Bro. Ray is this. If I lived anywhere near a church where he was serving, I would join in a minute and be honored and proud to call him “my pastor.” — Lonnie Wilkey

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBMB

Chris Turner, director of communications for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, visited with his former pastor Ray Newcomb at the Summit. Newcomb baptized Turner more than 30 years ago while serving as pastor of First Baptist Church, Millington.
— Photo by Corinne Williams

You did not want to get caught in Ray Newcomb’s crosshairs if you were goofing around while he was preaching.

I did. One time.

“You two boys down there. You need to quit talking and pay attention.”

I’m not sure if I was more mortified by Bro. Ray calling me out in church or by contemplating the impending consequences that would crash upon my teenaged shore when we got home. The irony is that I was actually helping my friend find the correct Scripture passage, that time. But I’ve always sort of just considered this one justice for the times I was goofing around and didn’t get hammered. [Read more…]

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NOT ALL ROCKS ARE EBENEZERS

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBMB

rock
There is an 80-pound rock in my flower bed that looks like a meteorite. I pried it loose from a mountaintop in North Carolina about 13 years ago. I then grunted, pushed, rolled, chucked, yelled at, and tripped over it trying to get it — and me — to the bottom of a challenging descent. It was supposed to be my “Ebenezer,” but it felt a lot more like a millstone.

You know, “Ebenezer,” like the one found in 1 Samuel 7:13-14. It’s mentioned at the end of a passage where God intercedes on Israel’s behalf to defeat the Philistines in a decisive battle. To commemorate the divine victory, “Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us’ ” (verse 12). That rock served as a visual reminder of the Lord’s power and protection. [Read more…]

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IS FACEBOOK FROM THE PIT OF HELL?

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBMB

FacebookThumbsI was recently talking with a pastor and the conversation migrated to social media. It didn’t take long to understand his perspective. 

“Facebook is straight from the pit of hell,” he said. “All it does is cause problems.”

He’s not the only person who feels that way, and it isn’t a new conversation. I remember years ago being told the same thing about television. My argument then is the same as it is with social media. The medium itself is neither good nor evil. It is the created content that determines if either has any redeeming value.  [Read more…]

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CONFESSIONS OF A WHITE BOY ON MLK JR. DAY

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBMB

martin-luther-kingConfession One: I struggle with racial prejudice against blacks.

There, I said it. God has consistently convicted me of that and increasingly helped me let a lot of that go over the past 20 years. It occasionally rises up, but He reminds me that racial prejudice is rooted in pride, one race believing it is superior to other races, and that in His eyes, all men are truly created equal since He created all men. [Read more…]

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DO YOU NEED TO HEAR A GOOD STORY?

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC

Chris Turner

Chris Turner

At one time, I was a correspondent for the International Mission Board traveling throughout Latin America writing stories for The Commission magazine. I was in Honduras working with a missionary who was at the end of a very long year of helping the people rebuild their country following the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch. He was spiritually, physically and emotionally exhausted, and with a sound of desperation asked, “Is God at work anywhere in the world?”

By His grace, God had given me a front row seat to reporting His activity in Central and South America. He was moving with incredible speed to redeem people all across the southern hemisphere. I’d seen churches planted in some of the most unlikely places, formed with people who had been saved from the most unbelievable of circumstances. Like Luke writing to Theophilus in Luke 1:1-4, I gladly shared with my beleaguered colleague one story after another of how God was alive and active, and bringing people into His Kingdom by the scores. It was obvious by his response that the stories energized him to keep pressing his hand faithfully to the plow. The harvest belongs to the Lord. [Read more…]

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B&R DEFIES IDEA THAT PAPERS ARE DYING

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC

ipad-b&r-on-desk

The Baptist & Reflector web site, launched in 2015.

I hear the naysayers. They say newspaper is dead. Or, if not dead, is dying, or on life support, or limping to an inglorious death, or breathing its last, or turning blue. Or as one friend would say of newspaper’s current state, “It wouldn’t fog a mirror.”

As someone who loves newspapers and has been associated with newspaper production for the better part of 30 years, I agree, sort of. But not completely. [Read more…]

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A SHOCKED RESPONSE TO HISTORICAL MOMENTS

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC

Chris Turner

Chris Turner

Steve Gaines, pastor of iconic Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, sat at the table in the pressroom at the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting and waited for questions. Gaines had just been elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention by a historic vote of acclamation.

“Any questions,” the moderator asked the media.

Silence. Stunned silence. Finally someone spoke up and said, “I think we’re all in shock.”

The shock was the result of North Carolina Pastor J.D. Greear stepping to the microphone prior to a scheduled third vote for the presidency and telling the thousands of messengers gathered in Saint Louis that he was withdrawing from the election process. He then encouraged messengers to join him in electing Gaines president by acclamation. [Read more…]

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MAYBE OL’ EL LOCO WASN’T SO LOCO AFTER ALL

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC

160616el-locoI sized up the donkey standing about 15 feet in front of me; then I casually walked over. I kept my distance because I’m not an equine kind of guy, but I had something to say. I looked the beast of burden square in the eye and decided to keep my comments brief and to the point.

“I’m glad I’m not you the next five days,” I said with equal parts sarcasm, sympathy, and relief.

Soon enough, after about three hours on the trail, I began to call him, “El Loco,” translated, “The Crazy.” He meandered along at his own pace — drifting off from the other two donkeys and the group I was a part of. He wasn’t obstinate, mostly. Let’s just say he was his own donkey.

But that was all to come. For the moment, he stood there with at least 100 pounds of backpacks strapped to his back just staring at me. There was no reaction to what I said. I wondered, was he oblivious to the difficult descent along the rocky trail into the canyon below then up the other side where he’d have to grunt that weight up more than 2,000 feet of elevation change and over a nearly 11,000 foot summit? Or, was he silently sizing me up, plotting payback for what could rightly be perceived as an insensitive comment. [Read more…]

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WHO IS AT THE CENTER OF YOUR UNIVERSE?

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC

Chris Turner

Chris Turner

Cogito, ergo sum.

Meaning: “I think, therefore I am.” The statement is the self-evident revelation of Renaissance philosopher, René Descartes. The Frenchman reduced all of life to nothing by doubting the existence of everything; however, he reconciled that, since he had the mental ability to doubt his own existence, then he must actually exist. He then reconstructed the existence of the world around him based on his conclusion to grant it reality.

In essence, Descartes made man the arbiter of reality, of truth. He was not the first philosopher in history to pursue the egocentrism of man. Plato, Aristotle, and others also shoved man to the center of their universe. All such brilliant minds, begging the question: How can so many really smart people be so … wrong? [Read more…]

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HOW WELL IS YOUR CHURCH EXECUTING THE 3 Vs?

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC

Chris Turner

Chris Turner

The Great Commission is in the DNA of every church (or at least it should be), and hopefully every church has as its vision the idea of “reaching people for Jesus Christ.” But unfortunately, too often the community around the church doesn’t know that’s the vision because church members don’t know that’s the vision or don’t understand how to transfer it beyond the church.

Vision statements are great, but every “vision” begs the question: Are the actions of the church and the responses of the church’s members harmoniously working together to reach the vision for everyone’s benefit? [Read more…]

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