Cover Story, June 2018

Cover Story, Dr. Jim Parker on the Excavation of Ancient Israel

Dr. Jim Parker on Excavation in Ancient Israel

Group picture from last years team
Last years team at the tunnel where the dig was taking place
New Orleans baptist theological seminary professor Jim Parker (left) and chief archeologist for the Israel Parks and Nature Authority Tsvika Tusk (right) analyze plans and findings at Tel Gezer, a city given to King Soloman as a wedding gift.

Digging for buried treasure 150 feet below the surface of modern-day Israel, a team of archaeological experts works to enhance our understanding of Biblical culture – in the artifacts of the western lower Galilee, in a city fortified by King Solomon and the site of a water system dating back to the time of Abraham. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor Dr. Jim Parker’s background in mining and Biblical interpretation has earned him a seat at the table with some of Israel’s foremost archaeologists, and an opportunity to cast Biblical light on an area dominated for decades by secular researchers.

Earlier in his career as an engineer, Parker explored sites along the Mediterranean Sea for granite and marble to use in the high-rise buildings he constructed, including the Galleria in New Orleans and structures that dot the skyline of Houston. His travels took him to Greece, Italy, Spain and Egypt, where he developed an interest in the history and culture of ancient civilizations. Back home in Kenner, he and his wife, Donna, were active in First Baptist Church, where he taught a Sunday School class. Then, he had a life-changing encounter.

“One morning, about 4:00 – literally to me – someone had come into our bedroom, and I heard someone speak to me,” Parker recalled. “I knew someone was there because I’d heard them speak – a man’s voice – and I jumped up and turned the light on and no one was there.” He thought he was dreaming, so he went back to bed. “I heard the voice again speak to me very clearly, ‘I want you to go to school.’ And that was it.”

For a week, he prayed and thought about the incident. At church the next Sunday, the chairman of the deacons called out to him, “Have you ever thought about going to seminary?” And he said, “No.” But within a week he enrolled in seminary, earning Masters’ degrees in Biblical languages and Biblical Archaeology, and a PhD from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He now serves as Executive Director of the Michael and Sara Moskau Institute of Archaeology at NOBTS, with co-directors Dr. Dennis Cole and Dr. Daniel Warner, all of whom are working alongside other institutions on the ten-year-old excavation of Tel Gezer in central Israel.

This summer, they expect to wrap up work at Tel Gezer, a site given to King Solomon as a wedding gift when he married an Egyptian pharaoh’s daughter. Sifting through tons of earth dating back to the Middle Bronze 2A period, Parker devised a hoist system to more efficiently remove sediment from the mouth of the Canaanite water tunnel. “Even now, we’re not quite sure why there’s nothing in the ancient world like it. It’s so large. It’s 12 feet wide, 24 feet tall, and a perfect arch, then it goes down at a 40-degree angle through solid rock to the water table, we think,” Parker said. “Along the walls, we have niches that we believe have religious inscriptions.”

This year, Parker negotiated an agreement with Tel Aviv University to work at Tel Hadid in the historically rich Aijalon Valley, near the site where the moon and sun stood still as Joshua pursued his enemies (Joshua 10:12), and where Saul and Jonathan battled the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:31). Sitting on a mound halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the site served as an entry point for ancient travelers on the way to Jerusalem. “We’ll be digging at three places at one time this summer – very unusual for us: Sepphoris, Tel Gezer and Tel Hadid, a site five or six miles from Gezer that’s never been dug,” Parker said.

The newest site, Tel Hadid, is regarded as so historically important that the government constructed a tunnel for a major highway underneath the site to avoid disturbing any artifacts. The partnership with Tel Aviv University promises to provide 25-30 years of work for archaeologists and Biblical scholars.

As the premier school of archaeology in Israel, Tel Aviv University has produced many liberal, or minimalist, scholars who are not sure of the authenticity of the Biblical narrative. They are not alone in their skepticism. Work by archaeologists such as Kathleen Kenyon, in the 1950s, cast doubt on the account of Joshua and Jericho, for example, prompting many to dismiss the idea of a real Exodus due to the lack of archaeological evidence.

However, excavation ten feet further down uncovered a vast Semitic city and an extensive civilization of Semitic people who lived in Egypt around the time of the Exodus, 1500-1450 BC. “She was absolutely wrong. She was looking at the wrong time period and made assumptions on and about the Bible that were incorrect,” Parker said. But at the time, there were no evangelical archaeologists working in that period, and faulty conclusions controlled the narrative for decades. “I think it’s essentially important that we have a voice in this arena because it sets the narrative for archaeology and Israel and the Middle East,” Parker said.

“We bring Carbon 14 dating and everything that we can possibly do to understand,” Parker said. “But the more of this kind of work that’s done, the clearer and clearer it becomes that the scripture was exactly as it is written. It’s almost over the top describing what this last decade has been like.”

Research at Gezer paints a picture of the culture Abraham encountered when he followed God’s direction to relocate to nearby Hebron. Among the pottery and stones, the team discovered a jar of jewelry hidden in the walls of the city. The cache includes a disk with an eight-pointed star and horns representing the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. They also found standing stones, the high places used in the worship of Ba’al, the storm god. And that’s not all. “When we opened the gate up to bedrock and created a section in the gate, we found four jar burials of infants that were buried in the gate,” Parker said. “We’re now processing, trying to understand whether those were sacrificial in nature or if the children were buried there after their death.”

Parker said their task is not to prove that the Bible is true – that comes by faith. Rather, they are trying to bring understanding to scripture through archaeology. For example, archaeologists can uncover and study historical cities such as Capernaum. “On the theological side, can we prove that Jesus healed a leper there in Capernaum? That’s not something we’re able to discover,” Parker said.

“We might go down to Bethabarra where Jesus was baptized, and probably where Naaman the leper came, and we find 40 graves of people who were lepers there. You can see the leprosy in their bones,” Parker said. “That helps boost the story; it helps us understand both Old and New Testament stories.”

“The early church did a great, great service to us by locating many of the sites and making it easy to go and see, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Inside that one church, you have Calvary, the place of the crucifixion, and just a few yards away you have the tomb. But the actual stone of the tomb of the first century is still intact inside the Aedicule,” Parker said. “Is it where Jesus rose from the dead? We have to take that by faith – that he did.”

Archaeology is one of the great opportunities for someone who feels a call to the Middle East. “There’s going to be 100 years of work in the wake of ISIS and what’s gone on in Syria with all the destruction there,” Parker said. “UNESCO World Heritage Organization has put out a call for people trained in archaeology.”

“We’ve never had a better opportunity to enter into the Muslim world. This is an area we really need to see grow,” Parker said. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary offers several related fields of study including a Master of Arts specializing in Biblical Archaeology.

The Museum of the Bible and Archaeology at NOBTS is open to the public. It features pottery from the time before Abraham to the Babylonian captivity, examples of papyrus and cuneiform writing, an Esther scroll and facsimiles of the oldest, most complete Greek Bible, Codex Sinaiticus, as well as the Gutenberg Bible.

For more information, For more photos, visit our website at 

A man digs as the team searches for artifacts

Dr. Jim Parker brought his experience in mining and engineering to the excavation sites, constructing a hoist system to remove debris from the site of an ancient Canaanite water system. 

There are many amazing artifacts on display at The Museum of the Bible and Archaeology located on the campus in New Orleans.
Dr. Parker and his wife Donna at Bethabara on the Jordan River (the water in the background). This is where it is traditionally held that John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
Various pictures of the digs and team from last year

Israeli authorities were initially reluctant to allow New Orleans Baptist Theologoical Seminary team to use a crane near the Gezer water tunnel. Jim Parker’s expertise and detailed plans were influential in gaining approval for the project. 

Susan Brown began her career in radio news. She was news director for WJBO/WFMF radio and a journalism instructor at LSU. She holds masters degrees from LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminar, and served as Chaplain at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.

June 2018, Publisher's Letter

Publishers Letter, Trinity is Truth! Enjoy…

Publisher’s Letter, Trinity is Truth

The Trinity is Truth.

It was a refreshing revelation. Suddenly, during an otherwise normal day, I looked back over my life and realized an amazing truth. I really am a new Creation in Christ!

In my head I knew I’d been “born again” at the point of salvation. Yet over time as I yielded to the process of change, I began to see evidence of real spiritual growth. A recent devotional helped to put this into words. Writing of the multi-million-dollar market of self-help books sold each year, Dr. Charles Stanley reminded us to understand that our identity in Christ is not about self-help or self-improvement, but about self-replacement.

In my life, self-replacement has been a gradual process. I’m guessing for many it’s more of an instant transformation, but for me it’s been about learning to trust the Lord one day at a time, growing each day.

My early life had some major hurdles. I had no choice but to learn a fierce sense of independence in order to survive. In those environments I learned to take care of myself at a young age. That worked well for a long time, which is part of the problem. With little education and experience, I was able to work my way into a career and be somewhat successful.

I rededicated my life to Jesus when I became a new wife and mom years later. Though I’d been “saved,” I’d never truly committed my life to Christ. My family would need God, and I wasn’t going to attempt life without doing my part to invite Him into our family.

I’d like to say since then life has been easy. Quite the contrary! Yet over the years, week after week, month after month and year after year, I’ve leaned on God and He has been faithful to help me stand when I could not on my own. Because of the experience of God working in my life, my understanding of the importance of the Trinity went from head knowledge to heart knowledge over time.

God the Father. My earthly father was not a man who took care of his family and honored his marital covenant with his wife, my mother. His early decisions wreaked havoc in our family. So, to believe in God the Father as a loving and perfect father meant letting go of who my dad was not, in order to receive God the Father, for He is the perfect father to the fatherless.

Jesus the Son. Receiving Jesus into my heart meant salvation and an eternal home with God. This finally settled that, “If I died tonight would I go to heaven?” question. It also meant forgiveness of sins, which were countless and created so much shame in my life. By reading the Bible consistently, I met a loving Jesus and finally understood the power of the Cross. He is my Savior who cleansed my life from my sins.

The Holy Spirit. We have the spirit of God living within us! Conversely, we also have a spirit of self-living within us. My “spirit of self” was very strong and stubborn. Still is at times. But I now understand the choice that I must make every day. A wise man once told me, “You can’t lead and be led.” Trusting God to lead my life through the Holy Spirit means to let Him be my counselor and guide, giving me the wisdom to take my life in the specific direction of His will and not my own.

The reason I know I’m a new creation in Christ is because I can look back and see where I once was and where I am now. While I’m a work in progress, I thank God for His provision.

In the Trinity is the Truth we can Trust.

Faith Life, June 2018

Faith Life, Jack Lynch on the Trinity in your Life

The Trinity IN Your Life


Jack is a teacher at Radio Bible Courses, LTD.

So, what about your Christian life? How do you reconcile what you read in Scripture with the way you live your life in this world? Is there a disconnect? If you want that intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you cannot deal with the problems of the world in a worldly way.

1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The world is the world system set in opposition to God. To love the world or the things in the world is to love that which is opposed to God, the One the believer claims to love. If you’re doing these things, then you’re not loving the Father.

How do believers live godly lives? Let’s see how the Trinity can, and should, guide your life.

Having been made in God’s image, and knowing the love that the Father has shown us by sending His Son to die for our sins (in our place and on our behalf), we long to love —and be loved by — our Father. John addresses this in 1 John 4:16: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

Yes, abiding in God and His love is easy to say but harder to do, since we have a sinful nature. But the Trinity’s ministry in your life will enable a yieldedness to the Spirit, which involves abandoning one’s self-will and living God’s way. Here’s how it works:

Jesus taught that believers receive everlasting life at the very moment they believe in Him … eternal life becomes the present possession of everyone who believes in Him. And Jesus described His role in the present outworking of our eternal life when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). So, beyond the moment of saving faith, there is a more abundant life in Christ to be lived.

The Father sent the Son away from His side to die for our sins. Then, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, believers are placed “in Christ,” and are forever identified with Him. The Spirit then empowers believers to live this eternal life they have been given in the here and now. It only makes sense. What would be the point of God giving you eternal life now if all you could do is live the same sinful, unproductive lifestyle?

In Romans 6:4, Paul makes the connection between Jesus and living our eternal life now: “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Since the proof that Christ died for all sin lies in the fact that He was raised from the dead by the Father, and since we believers were placed “in Christ,” then His death to sin was ours! Believers are no longer “slaves of sin,” but “should walk in newness of life.”

In this victorious life, Christians are empowered by the Spirit to resist sinning, and to accomplish God’s will for him or her. (Romans 6:6 says of believers: “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him [Christ] … that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

The Father’s love for you sent the Son to die for you so that the Spirit may lead you. Through the Trinity’s work in and for you, you “put to death the deeds of the body.” (Romans 8:13). This is how you live your eternal life now, in Christ and by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16 echoes this: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Never underestimate the effectiveness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to transform the believer into Christlike living. Romans 6:5 says, “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

Describing Jesus as “the glory of the Lord,” Paul writes of the role of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to accomplish this transformation to Christlike living in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

You become like the things to which you give your attention. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!”

Jack Lynch teaches at Radio Bible Courses, Ltd., which was founded by Dr. Nick Kalivoda. The class meets weekly from  9:15-10:00  at Burden Conference Center, 4560 Essen Lane. The class is open to everyone, and offers a Q&A each week. In June Louis Hillard will be teaching from the book of Revelation. Details are available at

Faith Life, June 2018

Faith Life, Isaac Hammond on why he loves being a “CASA” Advocate for children

Called to Serve as a CASA Volunteer

CASA volunteer Isaac Hammond began his journey with Capital Area CASA Association in March of 2017. During the Sunday worship service at Neely United Methodist Church, there was a message about the mission of CASA and the need for volunteers to be advocates for abused children in the community. Hammond, the pastor of the church, said it was then that the Lord placed on his heart a desire to reach out. He is now in his eighth month as a CASA volunteer.

“I feel that I was called to be a CASA volunteer because in my ministry, I deal with a lot of children with issues in their community and homes,” he said. “I have always had a love for working with children whether it is in Sunday school, Vacation Bible School or coaching the youth basketball team. I love to see children succeed in life and go on to be productive citizens in society.”

Hammond says he wanted to help a child who might not have had all the benefits in life that he did. “There might be something they must overcome to reach the goal that God has called for them,” he said. “So I believe if I can do anything to help someone along the way in life, then my living will not be in vain.”

Volunteers often develop a close relationship with their CASA child. “The biggest payoff of all is seeing a smile on a child’s face … displaying the feeling that they are experiencing someone who is sincere with them.”

Hammond encourages others to get involved with CASA. “God calls us to reach out to help those that may be in need of help,” he said. “It’s our job to fulfill the Great Commission to go out into the world and lead people to a successful life and to happiness.”

His religion has played a role in his participation, Hammond added. “It’s our job as Christians to participate in services (such as CASA) that God has created to help society. It’s our job as Christians to be there, to speak up, and to look out for those who cannot do this for themselves.”

Capital Area CASA is always looking for volunteers to step up and be the voices for abused children in East Baton Rouge Parish. Men and African American volunteers are especially needed. To learn more about CASA. visit call (225) 379-8598. You can also visit the office at 848 Louisiana Avenue in Baton Rouge.

June 2018, Pastor's Perspective

Pastor’s Perspective, Abundant Life Church rebuilds after the flood

Back Home in the Dome

Abundant Life Church Rebuilds After the Flood

Pastor Greg and Christian Beatty with their children Kate and Tyler

Church members were heartbroken when they found the flood’s devastation

A man looks at a timeline of Abundant Life Church during the church’s rededication service on Sunday, March 11.

The members of Abundant Life Church in Denham Springs had plenty to celebrate on March 11. Not only was it the church’s 38th anniversary, but it was also a day of rebirth for a congregation whose campus had been devastated by the Great Flood of August 2016. As 700 churchgoers greeted each other at the re-dedication service, it was hard to imagine the 18-month journey that had led them here.

In the days after the flood, church members were shocked by the damage to their campus, which covers more than 12 acres and housed 10 buildings. “Everything was destroyed. Most of our buildings took on about four feet of water,” said Pastor Greg Beatty. “But our sanctuary, which we call the Dome, took on seven. We were heartbroken, and I’ll be honest – I had no idea what we were going to do.”

He knew what they would not do, however.

“We never once thought of giving up,” he said. “It was never an option. We moved our services to the Outreach Center and that’s where we worshipped for a year and a half. We knew we would rebuild and sure enough, from the very beginning, our church family started volunteering to help in any way they could.”

It was an overwhelming task – gutting, cleaning, pulling up carpets, tearing down sheetrock. And it went on for nearly a year. Then the rebuilding began. Luckily, many church members and volunteers donated their skills, from carpentry to painting to construction.

Kevin Kron, a 20-year ALC member and owner of Kron Enterprises, served as project manager for the reconstruction. “There were a lot of people with different skill sets who were used for God’s glory during that time,” Kron said. “It was stressful and it was a chore to stay coordinated, but God continued to meet our needs and bless us with volunteers.”

Family Pastor Miranda McGraw was also instrumental in the rebuilding of the church. She remembers incredible offerings of time and talent. “People we didn’t even know came to help,” she said. “All in all, we had more than 300 volunteers from nine states. And our church family really stepped up in a big way through fundraising and financial donations. We were really blessed. They believed in this church and they really came together.”

When all was said and done, the flood had caused $3.2 million in damage, and five of the 10 buildings had to be torn down. But the reconstruction allowed church leaders to make improvements and add new features.

The 65,000-square-foot sanctuary has a brand new look that includes theater-style seating, new carpet and furniture, a larger stage, a 40-foot TV screen, sound panels, and brand-new lights, instruments and sound equipment. In addition, 30 offices, meeting rooms and bathrooms were remodeled, and the children’s church area was expanded.

Beatty credits Kron and McGraw with making an impossible dream become a reality. They, in turn, credit their pastor for showing strong leadership and keeping the church family focused during a difficult time.

“We were able to accomplish something amazing,” Beatty said, “and I believe it was due to a unity of vision on the part of our members. I was just amazed at the generosity of people. By God’s grace we were able to overcome … and by his grace, we will continue to move forward … stronger than ever.”

Abundant Life Church is located at 206 Edgewood Drive in Denham Springs. For more information, visit or call           (225) 933-0065.

Kids enjoy being back in their church home.
Back home in the Dome!
Congregation happy to praise and worship!
Family Life, June 2018

Family Life: The Divine Trinity, A Model for Marital Unity

Dennis and Jill Eenigenburg

The Divine Trinity: A Model for Marital Unity
By Dennis Eenigenburg*

The most profound and wonderful relationship in existence is found not in a grocery store tabloid, but in the Bible. Here, we find the dynamic and in many ways, mysterious relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible presents them as the creators of the universe and intimate companions. The nature of the relationship of this divine society leaves many unanswered questions to our finite minds. On the other hand, the Bible reveals much we can apply to our own relationships. In the following, I would like to focus the application to marriage. The oneness and unity experienced in the Trinity of the Godhead can instruct us in our pursuit of marital unity.

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives, while distinct as persons, have equal value.

In the Trinity: Each member has equal value.
One of the many passages illustrating the equal essence of the persons of the Trinity is Matthew 28:19 known as the “Great Commission.”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
In the Marriage:  Each member has equal value.
“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
In many cultures, including our own, women have been treated as less important than men. This attitude often leads to neglect, abuse and disrespect. As men and women we are image bearers of our Creator, and thus, of equal value before God. As a husband, I want to treat my wife as God’s special creation. She is not only my wife, but she is the princess daughter of the King of Kings through her faith in Jesus Christ. In I Peter 3:7, husbands are reminded to “show honor” to their wives as fellow heirs of God’s grace.”

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives have unique, complementary roles.

In the Trinity: The members have complementary roles.
One example of the unique roles within the Trinity is illustrated by their roles in the redemption of mankind, from slavery to sin to the freedom of Salvation. Paul, in Ephesians 1, tells us we have been:
Predestined by the Father. “He predestined us to adoption as sons.”  V. 5
Purchased by the Son. “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” V. 7
Preserved by the Spirit. “You are sealed in Him the Holy Spirit of promise.” V. 13
In terms of the hierarchy of the Trinity, there are also distinct roles. Jesus, in His prayer to the Father, recorded in John 17:18, said this: “As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them (the disciples) into the world.” The one sending is exercising authority over the one sent. The sent one is submissive to the one sending. In the Godhead, there is a voluntary order of authority. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit,“for if I do not go away the Helper (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go I’ll send Him to you.”(John 16:7)
In the Marriage:  The members have complementary roles.
Most of the attitudes and actions that produce a healthy marriage are the same for both husbands and wives. We are to love each other with divine love found in I Corinthians 13. We are to prefer one another as Christ preferred us over His own well-being. We are to pray for each other and speak the truth in love. We are to raise our children in a way that points them to Christ. But there is also a unique role given to each husband and wife. The wife, for example, is given the honor of conceiving and bearing children. Children are eternal beings with great potential to bring honor and glory to God. The husband, illustrating the role of Christ and the Church, has been given the responsibility to lead, love, provide and protect his wife.
“Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her.”  (Ephesians 5:25)
The wife is called to support that imperfect leadership as a way of honoring God. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) While in many other relationships, women may be in authority over men, marriage is a place where the headship/submission picture of the relationship of Trinity is to be painted.

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives are unified by common purpose of mutual honor and affirmation.

In the Trinity:  The members seek to bring glory and honor to each other.
One of the consistent themes that dominates the purpose of the Trinity is to honor one another by revealing the worship-worthy attributes of each other. One of the words used to describe the way the members of the Godhead honor each other is the word “glorify.  To “glorify” means to “make known or to reveal the greatness of another’s works or character.” Jesus said this about His crucifixion.
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”(John 13:31)
In the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, the Son and the Father would be glorified.  In other words, the titanic love, sacrifice and grace behind salvation would be revealed and give creation a cause for eternal praise and worship. Speaking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “He shall glorify me, for He shall take of mine and reveal it to you.” (John 16:14)
Over and over again, we see the individuals in the Godhead displaying the value and the virtues of the other members of the Godhead.
In the Marriage: The members seek to bring honor to
each other and their Lord.
When we survey the “one another” passages in the Bible, we find that we too should affirm and honor each other. In marriage, this includes being thankful, giving compliments, using words of affirmation and acts of service. Just as the members of the Trinity seek to exalt one another, so should we in our marriages and all relationships.  The real unifier, however, is when husbands and wives make it their common priority to glorify God … to live in a way that reveals the character of Jesus Christ living through them. A couple joined together in a bond of worship and obedience to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit will experience two kinds of oneness, oneness with God and oneness with each other. This oneness brings joy and mutual enrichment to marriage and an impact on the world as they reflect the likeness of their Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus put it this way: “The glory which you have given me, I have given them: that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them, and you in me, they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that you did send me and did love them, even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23)
In a world looking for role models, there is no greater relationship to study and emulate than one revealed in the Divine Trinity.
*Co-author with Jill Eenigenburg of The Heart of Marriage.

“Dennis Eenigenburg and his wife Jill lead a ministry called Equipping Network.  Their goal is to serve underserved “shepherds” primarily in third world countries.  One of the tools they use is a marriage seminar they authored called “The Heart of Marriage.”  Since 2012 they have taught pastors and church leaders in 13 countries. In May they taught Heart of Marriage at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Liberia.   Last year they celebrated 50 years of marriage with their three married sons and 11 grandchildren.”

BRCLM Lagniappe, June 2018

A Little Laginappe, Melinda Stallings on the Infinite Power of Positive

The infinite power of positive

a god powered life

By Melinda Stallings

“Behold the fowls of the air: they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

“I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

It’s a pleasant morning, temperatures in the high 60’s; my back door is open to catch the slight breeze, and I can hear the beautiful sounds of the bounty of birds who come daily to my feeders. As I sit down to breakfast, I look out into the backyard. There are sparrows and blue-jays, cardinals and mourning doves, bluebirds and brown thrushes, chickadees and hummingbirds, and a lone red-headed woodpecker who commands the feeder each time he descends. And as I set my breakfast down and settle in to say my blessing, I am completely overcome with the fullness of the love of Jesus Christ. In that moment, I look all around me – at my beautiful little home, at the bounty of nature in my backyard, at my full plate of healthy and delicious food, at my two pups (who were already stationed at either side of my chair), at the pictures of my daughters and friends, at the fullness of my life; and I keep saying thank you, thank you, thank you God.

Two years ago, it was a different utterance. It was why God, why God, why God?

I moved to Baton Rouge from the Houston area four years ago to be close to my brother. Two years after my arrival, my brother suffered a massive heart attack. The day I discovered him was the eve of Epiphany, literally and figuratively. He was coming to get my Christmas lights down from my house before twelfth night. When he didn’t show up his customary 30 minutes before an appointed time, and when he didn’t answer his phone, I knew something was wrong. The evening before, I told him I would have the coffee ready, and I thank God the last words we said to each other that evening before we hung up was our customary “I Love You.”

God has a way of using all events for our good though, and to bring us closer to Him – if we are willing. Although I was always a Christian and had stayed close to my church and God, this grief settled into my soul like a soaked woolen blanket. During that time, I felt so alone. There was so much to contend with, and I had always relied on my brother’s guidance. It is the steadfast love of God, who loved me even when I railed at Him, that got me through that trying time – where time stood still yet progressed at breakneck speed. And it was in that time, that I realized that God would never leave me.

For months on end, I tried to control everything. I was seeking my own counsel since I felt like that was all I had. And my counsel was not that great in that state of mind. Nothing seemed to be working – issues became more convoluted. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t act; my world was closing in on me. About a year in, I became so despondent that, in a cry of desperation, I hit my knees and sobbed into the side of my bed. My railing and my beseeching were as of a young child – and indeed that’s what I felt like. A lonely, scared, tired, confused, beat up child. I cried until I had no more strength. As I lay on the floor, exhausted, I asked God to take it all. Remove the fear, instill the faith that had wavered, draw me close and provide people in my life to help me. I promised to seek the counsel of God first moving forward – such a simple concept, yet I had lost it in my bewildered, grieving state. That night, I feel sure that God held me ever more closely in His loving embrace.

And as time and I progressed, I saw that God indeed had a plan for me; plans to prosper me and not to harm me and that with Him, I had hope for the future that HE had planned for me – even though it wasn’t the future I had planned.

Through small actions and release, I realized that God wanted me to have an abundant life. Even in the midst of losing my best friend, I learned how to live more fully though the Grace of God. The journey was trying but the more I opened to allowing God to lead me through, the less treacherous the path became. I began to make better decisions, I felt more powerful knowing that I had God with me in all my decisions, and indeed, God provided the right people at the right time in my life. I would pray for a blessing on every decision I made, conversation I had, business endeavor I undertook. Ask and ye shall receive.

Jesus came that we might have life – that we may walk in peace, that we may have the ability to overcome evil, to love, to be able to enrich the lives of others, yes; even in our own times of trouble. Love lifted me. But I had to remember to put love first, the love of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. When I sought His will and followed the guidance of my soul through asking in prayer, He provided everything that I needed. And He still does.

Life is fleeting. We know neither the time nor the hour. I’ve decided to make every day count – positively, powerfully, for God. And to remind me, I keep this little LIFE acronym handy. I hope it will bless you when you feel the world closing in around you – just remember GOD is always there, just invite Him in – oh, and let Him have control. He’s got the whole world in His hands!

L – Love: “…and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13) – God’s love is unfailing.

I – Integrity: What would Jesus do? Act in integrity and all else will fall into place.

F – Faith: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” (Hebrews 11:1); “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:17)

E – Eternal: God’s love for us is eternal. He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5).

Melinda Stallings is a keynote speaker, author, consultant, coach, and mother of two daughters. She guides people in discovering the power of positive within themselves to uncover their God-given purpose and passion in life and share it with others. She moves organizations from conflict and essential business skills “breakdown to breakthrough” through the POSITIVE Approach. She can be reached at, and (713) 817 8199. For inspirational quotes, follow her on Facebook at Melinda Stallings International.

June 2018, Millennial Life

Millennial Life with Jessica LeBlanc, What does the Trinity mean to you?

The Trinity, What does it mean to you?

by: jessica leblanc

The Trinity is at the very foundation of the Christian religion. Personally, I don’t like to classify my beliefs as a religion because I believe that it’s a relationship with the Creator more than anything. However, for the sake of clarity, I will use the term “religion.”

For centuries, scholars have debated the meaning and the very existence of a Triune God. In my opinion, there is no debate. The scriptures in the Bible are very clear about what the Trinity is and who is a part of it. The Trinity is God in three persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In the book of John, passage 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Here we see that “the Word” is referring to Jesus (God in the flesh/the Son person of the Trinity). Also, John 10:30 says, “I and My Father are one.” In other scriptures, we find that the Holy Spirit is a part of the Trinity. In John 14:6, Jesus declares that He is the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father except through Him. Skipping ahead several verses, we see in John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” The Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of truth which is what Jesus referred to Himself as earlier in the chapter. So, we can clearly see that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are connected.

Belief in the Trinity is imperative to a full life in God. It’s the very foundation of my belief system in God. Without the Trinity, there would be no Christianity because you cannot have one of the persons of the Godhead without the other. Each person of the Trinity serves a purpose in our lives. God (the Father) loved the world so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). The Son makes daily intercessions for us on earth as He sits next to the Father (Romans 8:34b). The Bible says the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) was sent as a teacher and a comforter to us on Earth. Three persons, but One God.

Although scripture backs up my thoughts on the Trinity, it’s not something that can be fully understood or fully explained. This is one of the many things that is so beautiful about God. He cannot be understood or explained. His very essence and existence transcends our mere, mortal minds. We can acknowledge His wonders and talk about His mighty acts, but no one can ever capture who He is.

Imagine the prettiest flower or thing you can think of. God is even more beautiful and wondrous than that. He is th

“I don’t praise them, serve them or worship them like they’re separate. I treat them all as one. So, if I’m praying to God, I’m praying to the Spirit, I’m praying to Jesus. I don’t treat them any differently.”

Sarah Farlough, 24, Gonzales

“There are three unique parts of the Trinity, but they all function as one … because they all are sort of living by the precepts set out in the Bible.”

Stephanie Katz, 27, Mandeville

“The Trinity means to me, unity. The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. When I think of the Trinity, I think of how blessed I am. A Father who loves me enough to send His Son and the Holy Spirit to guide me, to protect me, to be there for me.”

— Terrence Thomas, 27, Hammond

Jessica LeBlanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television news reporters in the country by College Broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled abroad to Europe and wrote political and human interests stories for (an extension of United Press International). Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later an as anchor. Originally from New Orleans, she spends her free time working on her blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family.

Creative LIFE, June 2018

Creative Life, Erin Landry, M.S. Live Healthy from the Inside Out

living healthy- inside and out

Erin Landry, M.S.

Q: What drew you to the art of making beautiful soaps?

A: Truth be told, I never thought I would be making soaps that were appealing to the eye. I wanted each soap to serve a purpose. The artist rose out of me to my surprise. When creating, my scientific background took the forefront and my goal was to help those dealing with skin issues.


Q: What is your artist statement and why do you enjoy creating soaps with healing properties?

A: My artist statement is simply this: “There’s a science behind it.” I say this because though my soaps may appear to be decorative, they actually do contain ingredients with healing properties. I have products for eczema and psoriasis, and products to help strengthen the vasculature that breaks down in rosacea. I have facial bars for oily skin, dry skin, and even combination skin. My latest formulations are for a skin care line for those suffering from Malassezia yeast. My line makes it hard for the yeast to survive and it’s therefore unable to grow in unbalanced proportions.


Q: Do you feel that you are using a spiritual gift?

A: I know this ability is an anointing from above. Prior to making these soaps, I had worked in education for a little over five years. One day, I just knew it was time to make a change. God is the creator, healer, comforter, and holds all things together. My desire is to help heal those who have skin issues. I know this gift came from the Lord because my heart’s desire was to always educate, but now I am also healing the populace. To me, healing comes from divine intervention and I feel God’s guidance while educating myself and by using my hands and tongue in a positive manner.

Q: Tell us about your faith journey. How has the Holy Spirit touched your life?

A: My husband led me to Jesus. I remember kneeling together beside our bed and saying The Sinner’s Prayer. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on my side of the bed. I had fainted as far as I could tell and awoke the next morning. Over the next year, I began to pray and get into The Word. I started following Kellie E. Lane on Facebook. She does Bible study and prayer on a daily basis. I also have a very good girlfriend who has been a prayer warrior for me since the beginning of our friendship in 2012.

With all of this encouragement, I began pressing in, praying, and fasting. But there was suddenly a road block. Nothing was moving. Everything had come to a standstill, a wilderness in a sense. I was invited to a three-day women’s conference at a local church as a vendor. At this point in my life, I was searching for someone to baptize me. I belonged to a church, but there seemed to be so much ceremony involved around their baptisms. They were only done on certain Sundays. Well, as I was sitting in the conference, I heard a church member say in passing, “Our pool stays full.” And a light bulb went off in my head. I pulled the member aside and asked what I had to do to be baptized right then and there. And her answer was simple: “Let’s go call the pastor.”

So, I was baptized on Saturday, February 16, 2018 and with that act of obedience, doors began to open, both in the natural world and the supernatural. The morning of Sunday, February 17, I awoke under a supernatural attack on my physical being. I’d had a sore throat the day before, but this morning I was stricken with fever, no voice, and body aches. Within the next two weeks my temperature remained between 101 and 103 degrees. No doctor was able to pinpoint the cause of my ailments. I was tested for strep, pneumonia and influenza. All tests returned with negative results. It was not until I called on help from my sisters-in-Christ and my own voice returned that I was able to pray and convalesce. This experience made the concept of faith very concrete, almost tangible … it strengthened my relationship with the Lord.

Q: What is your favorite hymn or scripture?

A: It may not be considered a hymn, but my favorite Christian song is Reckless Love. My favorite scripture is found in 2 Chronicles, chapter 20 when King Jehoshaphat was surrounded in battle and the Lord says to him, “Do not be afraid or dismayed by this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” These words bring me great comfort. For any God who will “leave the ninety-nine” to chase after the one, is truly a God to be worshipped and praised. Any God that will take on the enemies of his loyal servants is one who is truly not just good, but great.


Q: What is the name of your business and how can one order your products?

A: My business is Thomas Therapeutics, LLC. No, my last name is not Thomas nor was it my maiden name. I named the company for my maternal grandparents who have passed. My maternal grandmother had a huge hand in raising me and my siblings. Being the first black full-time teacher at Baker High School, she was able to instill in me that we are “made from sterner stock.” I have been sharing my soaps at events like Live After 5 and will continue to research places I should be set up in the fall. My favorite quarterly market is Sugar Plum Market held in the Mall of Louisiana. I also enjoy the markets held in Denham Springs, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.


Q: What else would you like to share with our readers?

A: I enjoyed educating my classes at the college level but wondered if it were possible to get to students before they had the preconceived notions of being “good in math,” “a bad reader,” or “bad at science.” Ever the scientist, I decided to test my hypothesis and became certified in middle and high school education. I figured if I enjoyed seeing the light bulbs go off in college kids, I would love to see it in 6th to 8th graders! And I was correct. Students would inevitably come to me and say they were bad at math or science, and I would answer, “You’re twelve. You’re not old enough to be ‘bad’ at anything.” Though I am now creating soaps with medicinal properties, I miss the classroom in many ways, but feel this new direction has given me an opportunity to educate.

This journey really took off in 2014-2015 when a friend said to me, “Let’s make soap for Mother’s Day.” My reply was simply, “Who makes soap?” Well, later I discovered … I make soap.

For more information, visit Https:// or on Facebook, go to Thomas Therapeutics/Erin’s Eromatics. On Instagram, see @thomastherapeutics_llc.

Erin Landry, right, with Makeva Armat, Miss Black Louisiana 2018

Landry’s Soaps are artistic and made with natural ingredients 

Landry’s booth can be found at many events around southeast Louisiana

BRCL Sharon Furrate Bailey
Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

Creative LIFE, June 2018

A Little Lagniappe, Sharon Holeman visits with Hillsong on a recent visit to Baton Rouge

There is More, Hillsong visits baton rouge

by: sharon holman

The room goes dark, and the crowd starts to cheer. Anticipation builds, and then in a unified moment of energy, song and light erupt as the room comes to life. Smiles and singing, clapping and jumping – the response would most likely be similar in just about any culture, although the note structure and outward expression might vary – the joy that music brings is a seemingly collective reaction from God’s created ones. The powerful combination of spoken word and melody amazingly appear to intensify when it is purposed for His glory.

I was privileged to get the personal thoughts on the power of song from one of today’s most well-respected musicians, Ben Fielding. Fielding serves in the immensely popular group Hillsong Worship as Worship Leader and Songwriter. In fact, he and fellow Hillsong member Brooke Fraser just earned a 2018 Grammy Award for Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song with “What a Beautiful Name,” which the band performed as part of their There is More Tour at Bethany Church (Baton Rouge) in April.

The night started with what Fielding said is a song that has meant a lot to him personally, “Who You Say I Am.” The song, which he co-wrote with Reuben Morgan, also of Hillsong Worship, serves as a reminder of whom God says we are. “Competition for our identity is insidious” Fielding stated. He explained that once we are saved, “You are no longer a slave to sin, (the power of sin was destroyed through the death and resurrection of Jesus) … but you are a child of God, a son or a daughter” … with a “permanent place in a family, a son or daughter will belong forever.” (John 8:35-36) The words in verse 36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” are closely paraphrased in the song’s chorus.

Fielding said he is “an ardent believer in the necessity for the songs we sing in our churches to be firmly founded in the scriptures.” He relies on divine help to accomplish this mission. “As a songwriter, I need the Holy Spirit to illuminate (the) truth of who God is and what He is wanting to say to and through His Church.”

The message the team is bringing in this season with their 26th live praise and worship album There is More comes from a place of cohesiveness as the album, tour, conference, and book by Senior Pastor Brian Houston all carry the same name.

Houston, who also attended the event at Bethany, spoke to the full house on living larger and digging deeper. He referred to the story in 2 Kings, Chapter 3, during the time of war between Israel and Moab when Elisha prophesized about the dry valley being supernaturally filled with pools of water. It happened just as the prophet said. The next morning, after the sacrifice was offered. Houston explained, “The water was already there” – the people just had to dig deeper in their faith and believe God for it.

As the stage was given back to the musicians, and the team led the room in worship, the presence of God fell on Fraser. She openly shared with the crowd, on two separate occasions, what she believed to be a word from the Lord for three individuals in the building that night. Fraser’s emotional performance of the team’s new song, entitled New Wine was powerful, and Hillsong member David Ware offered a salvation prayer.

The night ended with dancing, as Aodhan King of Hillsong Young & Free led the party with the popular songs Alive and Real Love.

The days of our walk can often be challenging, so it is imperative for us to remember that sometimes the room goes dark before song and light erupt to bring forth renewed life. We can take comfort, however, that it is always there. We often just need to dig deeper. Joy does come in the morning. Ultimately our lives, just like music, can be a blessing to those we encounter if we are purposed for His glory.

Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator, and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles-12 American Women , 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at San
Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.

June 2018, Man Up for LIFE

Man Up, Todd Shupe on the Importance of Christian Study

The Importance of christian study

by Todd Shupe

For many of us, the thought of studying brings back memories of cramming for exams in high school or college. Many men would rather engage in Christian action rather than Christian study. Through action, we can see the fruits of our labor and be the Body of Christ in our neighborhood and beyond.  

Our goal as Christian men should be to develop an intimate relationship with God. There are many paths in which God can reveal Himself to us: prayer, worship, sacred moments, and fellowship with other Christians. For us to have a relationship with God, we must actively seek him. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13) The Bible is perhaps God’s most direct means of revealing Himself to us.

Have you ever heard the expression “Stay in the Word”? I always thought this was encouragement to read the Bible. However, after reading the Bible we begin to learn that the Word is more than just a book. It is God himself! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) The Word can also refer to Jesus. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

As we read scripture the Holy Spirit will help us to understand the message that God has for us. Therefore, we should not be surprised when different people read the same scripture and come away with different interpretations. They all have the right interpretation – for them. The Word is also alive. So you can read the same scripture for years and then one day something clicks and you have an epiphany and now you see a different meaning, application, or interpretation of the same scripture. This is truly the work of the Spirit delivering the right message to you at the right time.

Knowledge and application of scripture opens your heart to Christ. As we mature as Christian men, we try to grow closer to Christ. We want to seek His face and become more Christ-like in our thoughts, words, and actions. Paul addresses this notion in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Some may debate if the Bible is the word of God or a book about God that was written by men? For me, the answer to this question can be found in 2 Timothy 3:16. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

Looking at the Greek word for “God breathed” or as some translations say, “breathed out” is “theopneustos” and means “inspired by God” or literally the very “breath of God.” I believe the Word of God is God’s breathing out His literal Word. The breath of God is all powerful and can even raise dry bones to life. “Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet — a vast army.” (Ezekiel 37:9-10).

Scripture is inspired by God. We know that “prophecy was never produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21). It’s important to note that the word “prophecy” does not mean, in this context, predicting the future. The Greek word “prophēteia” means “a discourse emanating from divine inspiration.” Therefore, we can say that all Scripture is God’s breathed words and emanates from a divine (God’s) inspiration. In other words, the Word of God is not of human origin but originates from God Himself … and to study scripture is to study God himself.

Men should study scripture because it is totally reliable and without error. We should read and study the Bible because God’s Word does not change. It is as relevant for us now as it was when it was written. “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

While technology and culture change, mankind’s nature and sinful desires do not. As we read scripture, we find that “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Mankind continues to seek answers and comfort in the wrong places. The Bible is so important that Jesus said of it, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) In other words, if we want to live life to the fullest, as God intended, we must listen to and heed God’s written Word. The Word is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

The Bible gives us a pathway to salvation and to Heaven. God’s Word shows us just how much God loves us (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16). We are drawn to love Him in return (1 John 4:19). God extends grace upon grace to us.

You cannot lead if you are not equipped. The Bible equips men to serve God (2 Timothy 3:17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). Scripture helps men understand how to be saved from their sin and its road to death (2 Timothy 3:15). Meditating on God’s Word and obedience will bring success in life (Joshua 1:8; James 1:25). God’s Word helps us to identify sin in our lives and remove it (Psalm 119:9, 11). It gives us guidance in life and makes our paths straight (Psalm 32:8, 119:99; Proverbs 3:5-6). Life is full of dangerous snares but the Word will show you the way. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

It cannot be emphasized strongly enough just how important the Bible is to the lives of husbands and fathers. Studying the Bible can be compared to most anything else in life. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. I have heard it said before that it is important to know the Bible because you may be the only Bible that somebody else may ever see.  

Dr. Todd Shupe is a Christian blogger and president of, a wood science consulting company. He currently serves as president of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is in training to become a Men’s Ministry Specialist under the General 02Commission of United Methodist Men. Todd is a native of Carrollton, IL and retired from LSU as a wood science professor after more than 20 years.

Dr. Todd Shupe,
June 2018, Learning For Life

Learning For Life, Libraries Rock! Fun for Kids and Adults

Reading rocks! Fun for kids and adults


Children, teens and adults can sign up for the Summer Reading Program at any Library location. Read to WIN prizes!
Kids enjoy free programs at the Library each month, like this visit from Harvey Rabbit and friends.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library (EBRPL) helps children, teens and adults establish, strengthen and enjoy their love for literature. Many of us recall summers full of swimming, bike riding, picnics and summer reading programs at the public library. We loved to read and we spent warm evenings and rainy days curled up with a wonder-filled book. Building a habit of reading laid the foundation for academic and lifelong success. But that’s not the case for every home.

When students don’t practice their reading skills over the summer, they lose ground, or as reading specialists say, they experience the “summer slide.” This regression is totally preventable, since any resident of the parish can borrow books from the public library at no cost. Even kids whose parents can’t go with them to get a library card still can come into our library branches to find a good book and a comfy place to relax and read on a hot summer’s day or even check out an e-book from home.

The Library’s annual Summer Reading Program helps encourage readers of all ages to stay motivated in getting their pages turning. This year’s theme is Libraries ROCK! The program is designed for children from birth to age 11, with special incentives every week. For reading a minimum of five books, each participating child can receive a reading certificate, coupons from area merchants and their choice of a book to take home. They also will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 Wal-Mart or Target gift card, or $50 of school supplies.

And that’s not all. Nearly every day of the summer is jammed-packed with FREE fun with special performers and programs like visits from Harvey Rabbit & Friends, Farmer Minor & Daisy the Reading Pig, the Louisiana Sinfonietta and many others. Stop by any EBRPL location to sign up!

Did you know that participating in the Summer Reading Program can help teens develop high levels of literacy that are needed for higher education and future employment? It also helps prepare students for the reading comprehension portions included in most standardized tests. Teens going into grades 6-12 are invited to join the Teen Summer Reading Program by signing up in the Teen Section at any EBRPL location and picking up their reading log.

To complete the program, teens should read any six regular books, or 18 graphic novels, to receive six Library Bucks, a drawstring backpack and a pair of earbuds. Plus, if they keep reading, teen readers will be entered into the weekly prize drawing. Every three regular books or nine graphic novels results in an entry into the drawing for cool prizes like autographed books, virtual reality headsets and more. The top teen reader across East Baton Rouge Parish will receive a Kindle Fire Tablet bundle!

Why should kids and teens have all the fun this summer? We’ve got a Summer Reading Program designed just for adults ages 18 and older. Enjoy programming on a variety of topics that aim to enrich your Library experience. After reading a minimum of three books, adults can submit their list of completed titles to receive a summer prize pack. For more information about the 2018 Summer Reading Program for all ages, contact your Library branch directly, or visit us online at

Kayla Perkins is the Public Relations Director at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. A native of Baton Rouge, Perkins holds both a Bachelor of Art and a Master of Art in Mass Communication from Southern University. Perkins has worked for the Library for more than six years and is directly responsible for composing, editing and producing the monthly newsletter The Source, which has a distribution of more than 8,000 each month. Perkins also serves as the in-house reporter for “Beyond the Stacks” in the Library’s monthly television show, The Library Road Show

· Children, teens and adults can sign up for the Summer Reading Program at any Library location. Read to WIN prizes!
June 2018, Learning For Life

Learning for Life, Wade Smith on the Four Pillars of Christianity

The four pillars of christianity

by: wade smith

Many people, Christians included, think Christianity is a religion of the heart, not the head. As a result, beliefs are more about what you think is true than what you know is true. Furthermore, this type of thinking gives skeptics understandable pause when they are asked to consider Christianity as true. If indeed Christianity is a set of unverifiable beliefs, then the skeptic is right to declare: Christianity may work for you, but it is not for me.

Skepticism about Christianity is on the rise and the results are directly impacting church attendance and church growth. Recent research indicates that as many as 10,000 churches have closed their doors in recent years and that perhaps as many as 50% of the surviving churches did not add a single member between 2010 and 2012. Finally, 80% of the formerly churched indicate a “weak” to “no” belief in God. Wonderful music, appealing coffee shops, and entertaining sermons have done little to alleviate these disturbing trends. Indeed, it seems that these perks are perhaps most successful in convincing those who attend church to leave the one they currently attend in favor of one that might have better music, fresher coffee, or more lively sermons.

It is fair to question if the 80% we just mentioned have weak to no belief in God because their biggest questions were unanswered while they were attending church. That could be the case since two of the biggest reasons for leaving church are: a) I could not get my questions answered in a safe environment; and b) When my questions were answered, the answers were so bad that I concluded there must not be an adequate answer.

If the observations of those leaving the church are accurate, and we have no reason to assume they are not, then it is clear music, coffee, and wit will not be sufficient if the church hopes to regain the ground it has lost. Good questions deserve good answers, and that is why we* wrote our book The Four Pillars of Christianity.

We wanted to focus exclusively on the essentials of Christianity, the things that any Christian should declare as true regardless of their denomination or inclinations. Too often, the church argues about the age of the earth, predestination vs. free will, infant baptism, and a host of other topics that are irrelevant if the essentials of Christianity are not true. What then, are the essentials, the pillars of Christianity? If true, the following four theses create a compelling reason to examine Christianity as much more than a curiosity.What then, are the essentials, the pillars of Christianity? If true, the following four theses create a compelling reason to examine Christianity as much more than a curiosity.

  1. God exists. If there is no God, then Christianity is obviously false. But what exactly is the evidence for God’s existence and is it sufficient to continue to investigate the other three pillars?
  2. Jesus is divine. If he is not, then Christianity is obviously false since Jesus clearly declared himself to be wholly God and wholly man. Perhaps the biggest testimony to Christ’s divinity is the next pillar.
  3. Jesus physically resurrected from the dead. If he did not, Christianity is obviously false

because the movement held from the earliest days that Christ defeated death.

  1. Christianity provides a proper view of pain and suffering. Skeptics correctly wonder why there is so much evil in the world if God is all-good and all-powerful. If God is not all-good and all-powerful, then Christianity holds no particular claim to truth.
  2. Christianity rises and falls on the particular and collective truths of these pillars. In our book, The Four Pillars of Christianity: Essential Knowledge for Every Christian, we investigate these pillars one at a time, looking at the evidence that supports each one. For the believer who is struggling with doubts, the book is a resource to help restore their faith. For the person who has never been able to articulate why they believe what they believe, the book should also be of benefit. Finally, for the skeptic, the book takes a sympathetic view of their concerns. After all, the only thing we are asking people to believe is that God exists, Jesus is divine, he physically became alive after most certainly dying, and all of these pillars provide a framework for understanding how pain and evil can co-exist with an all-loving and all-knowing God. Oh, and belief in this God/man named Jesus is a path to eternal life. Nothing in those claims to be skeptical about, is there?

*Wade Smith and Kevin McKee

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Dr. Wade Smith received his bachelor of education degree in Chemistry and Biology from Louisiana State University in 1978. He taught for 11 years in Livingston Parish and after finishing his M. Ed. from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1985 became the principal of Denham Springs Junior High School from 1988-2001. Wade received his Ph.D. from LSU in 2001 and was appointed assistant professor of educational administration at Auburn University. Dr. Smith served in that position until 2003 when he was appointed director, now superintendent, of the Louisiana State University Laboratory School. Dr. Smith maintains an active research agenda focusing on self-efficacy, organizational structures and organizational leadership. He has numerous refereed publications and presentations. Wade has been married to Linda Smith for more than 30 years, and they are the parents of two daughters, Christie and LeAnn.