Facing a New Beginning

Facing a New Beginning
by Pamela Gauthier

Happy New Year! All of us like something new. Think of how excited we are when a new movie comes out, or starting a brand new relationship, or  a new job.  It’s the thrill of anticipation when we don’t know what to expect. A lot of times we dream or envision what we’d like to see. There is so much energy in a brand new start. It may be easy facing the beginning of something new, but it can also be challenging at the same time.

If we want to begin the new year successfully, it is all in how we prepare for it. The book of Nehemiah starts with  the rebuilding of a new temple wall. According to Nehemiah 2:4, the first thing Nehemiah was faced with was opposition. Nehemiah’s response to the opposition was, “the God of Heaven will help us to succeed”, Nehemiah 2:20(NLT).  When facing the beginning of anything new, we must first make a positive confession. 

As Nehemiah and his servants continued on this new project, they also faced mockery. The word of God said Nehemiah prayed. When we are faced with hindrances, in order to succeed at what we start, we must believe in the power of a God that cannot fail. 

The power of prayer will ensure that what we start will be met with completion. Many times what starts with something new and exciting can turn old quickly.  If we become discouraged with the progress, we sometimes have to change our strategy. It says that Nehemiah and the people were enthusiastic about the project of rebuilding.  Are we coming into the new year with renewed hope and vision, passionate to face a new beginning? The people that worked with Nehemiah were not only enthusiastic  but determined to complete the task at hand. 

When facing a new year many times we face problems from the past year that may cause us not to want to move on. We never want to allow fear, intimidation, or the regrets of past failures to hold us back. 

This is a cause for celebration to face a new year with great expectations.
In Nehemiah 8:6, the more opposition that Nehemiah faced, the more he was determined to carry out the work he started. 

It is important to note that when Nehemiah started  this work, he had nothing to start with but ashes. He had to pray and fast to even know how to begin. It took him only 52 days to complete his part of the work. So many problems had arisen to bring much discouragement to the situation.  
Nehemiah encouraged the people as they were nearing the end of rebuilding, that the “joy of the Lord was their strength”, Nehemiah 8:10b. This would help them overcome the fear of the future.

As we face this new upcoming decade, let us go on to be encouraged with hope and anticipation for a new and prosperous year.  We can be sure what we seek to accomplish will be met with great success. Happy New Year!!!

HeARTune Creations Poetry, LLC., is owned by Pamela Gauthier. Pamela is a writer and poet, who has been writing for over 20 years. She formally started her poetry as a business in October of 2013.

Her poetry has been at several boutiques and stores in the Baton Rouge area. Pamela is a native Baton Rougean, who has lived here all of her life. She is the wife of Ronnie Gauthier, and the mother of four: Mrs. Jamie Baham, Mrs. Jessica Chatman, Joshua and Joseph Gauthier. She is also the proud Grandmother of Five.

Pamela started her writing journey by writing poetry as a way to uplift the spirits of those in nursing homes and the like. This is still the goal today, to touch hearts and lives wherever encouragement is needed.

Feature Story, Online edition!

Three ways to live your life on purpose….

Three ways to live your life on purpose

Purpose; but how do I live a life of purpose? 

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV).

Planning is critical in life.  Financial planners help us get our financial matters in order and plan for retirement.  Doctors help us by establishing a wellness plan when we are sick.  Business leaders make plans to bring a profit to the shareholders.  Our pastors help us to make plans that will bring honor and glory to God.  We plan to accommodate our priorities.  A priority is a value, goal, relationship, or cause of leading importance in your life:  something for which you live, the shaping value, a commitment that has first claim on you and your resources. In practice we all have priorities, whether we are aware of them or not. They may be consciously chosen or set for us by circumstances. We all pattern our lives toward some end, center our lives around some loyalty or purpose, or base our security on some trusted power.

One of Henry David Thoreau’s most frequently quoted sayings is “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I first learned of this by watching the 1989 film, Dead Poets Society.  Life without a purpose can lead to listlessness and even depression or “quiet desperation.” A life lived on purpose gives your life purpose, direction, and meaning. A person with a purpose is growing, moving toward wholeness and fulfillment. A life without purpose is aimless. 

Our purpose as disciples is to make disciples. Matthew 28 contains The Great Commission.  

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” (Matthew 28:19-20).  

Each of us has been gifted with unique talents which we can use in our evangelism and ministry.  Our discipleship plan must discern the intersection of our gifts and interests.  This is the sweet spot for each individual ministry.  I encourage you to talk to your close friends to discern and/or confirm your gifts.  

Discernment of your ministry of discipleship is an enormous task.  Below are some ideas to consider in this regard.

  1. Be wise and listen to advice

Remember the lesson of Proverbs 12:15. Surround yourself with Godly people and the Holy Spirit will speak truth through them to you. Pray for discernment and recall the words of Matthew 11:15 when with your friends, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” According to my good friend Rev. Ted Fine, “The church’s role is to build communities of disciples where social justice and the general welfare of the people are protected by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Body.”  We are the church universal.  

  1. Give it to God

You are not God, and I am not God.  The Great Commission is a Godly task.  He does not expect for us to do this alone but with Him.  The Psalmist wrote in 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  A clean heart, a right spirit, and a dependence upon God’s providence and grace for assistance will help us to speak words and do works that bring honor to God.

  1. Patience

Luke 2 tells the story of the birth of Christ. The angels announced His birth to the shepherds who then went to see Jesus in the manger. Later, in the same chapter, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple to give an offering to God for the birth of their child.  The Holy Spirit had revealed to a man named Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen the birth of the Messiah. The Bible does not indicate how long Simeon waited for the birth of Christ, but the fact that it says he would not die until he saw the Savior indicates that he waited some time.  Whatever the task is that God has called us to, we need to continue doing the work even if we don’t see the progress we would like to see.  

Your purpose as a Christian is the same as mine, to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  We are all called into ministry through our baptism and profession of faith in Jesus Christ.   Our ministry is a product of our gifts and talents and all ministry helps to equip the body of Christ.  Your purpose may or may not call you to pastoral ministry but be assured that your purpose is vital to the body of Christ.  

Prayer:  Dear God:  “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 KJV).

Todd Shupe is a Vice President with Arnold Forest Products Corp.  He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and Board Member of the Kingdom Group. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Feature Story, Online edition!

Words to Live By, Words are important!

Words To Live By
By Pamela Gauthier

From the time we are born until our very last day on earth, we will hear and speak words. We first hear words from our parents at birth. These words shape us and for most of us we are taught by them. As we grow older we also hear words from teachers, coaches, peers, strangers and others. We read words and are changed by them. No doubt we live and breathe by words. Words can hurt us, abuse us, anger us and mislead us also.

I remember when I was on a job as a Test Monitor. I chose to read the Bible while waiting for the testers to finish.

I was dealing with an abusive marriage at this time. I was desperate to hear some words of hope, when I came upon a particular scripture, John 3:16 (KJV), “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him would not perish but would have eternal life.” I learn this scripture as a little girl at a Christian school, but it did not have the impact on me that it did on this particular day. The part that said whosoever believes in Him came to life for me, (Him being Jesus).

I was never the same from this moment on, reading this scripture changed my life forever. I knew my sins were forgiven and that I had been given another chance to start over. I was given power to live my life the way God intended for me to live it. Romans 1:12 (KJV),says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.”

As I continued living in the Word and being directed by the Lord, I discovered that not only were my sins forgiven, but I had also been given power to forgive others. This brought such a freedom to my new life. I discovered that the abusive words, the emotional and physical abuse that once held me captive, no longer kept me in bondage to fear. Instead, faith arose in my heart to receive words of significance, purpose and healing which came from receiving this eternal life. “By His wounds we are healed,” 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT).

The word of God says, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” Matthew 4:4 (KJV).

Many years have passed in my Christian faith, and I have learned through the years that God’s word sustains us, trains us, leads us and guides us. It is water to our very soul. “Study this book of instruction continually, meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:8 (NLT).
These are, “words to live by”!

HeARTune Creations Poetry, LLC., is owned by Pamela Gauthier. Pamela is a writer and poet, who has been writing for over 20 years. She formally started her poetry as a business in October of 2013.

Her poetry has been at several boutiques and stores in the Baton Rouge area. Pamela is a native Baton Rougean, who has lived here all of her life. She is the wife of Ronnie Gauthier, and the mother of four: Mrs. Jamie Baham, Mrs. Jessica Chatman, Joshua and Joseph Gauthier. She is also the proud Grandmother of Five.

Pamela started her writing journey by writing poetry as a way to uplift the spirits of those in nursing homes and the like. This is still the goal today, to touch hearts and lives wherever encouragement is needed.

Feature Story, Online edition!, Uncategorized

Are you “Leading with Integrity?” 4 good questions for growth.

A Leader of Integrity

Some believe that personal character has little to do with leadership. Do you agree? If so, then ask yourself these questions:

Do people of low character influence you and inspire you to action?

Do you have good relationships with people of low character?

Do you admire people of low character?

Would you welcome them leading you?

Like it or not, agree or disagree, character counts in leadership. Warren Bennis, who has studied and written extensively on leadership, says, “Leadership is character in action.” “Ninety-nine percent of leadership failures are failures of character.” (General Norman Schwarzkopf)

The greatest character quality is integrity. Integrity is what people will remember about you more than your brilliance, ingenuity, competency, and energy. Integrity (or lack of it) is your legacy, what people remember about you.

Daniel, an Older Testament leader, incarnated integrity. As a Jewish teenager, he was exiled to Babylon. In Daniel 6, at the age of 80, he’s a leading official in the godless Persian system. Darius the Persian king appointed 120 managers (satraps) to run his kingdom and over the managers were 3 administrators (or, Vice Presidents). Daniel was a VP, a top-level position, just under the king. Power was at his disposal. He had respect and elite status. The king could trust Daniel. Over the years, he never lost his integrity in this God-hating Persian system.

Several things stand out. First, Daniel had a fabulous work ethic. “Daniel distinguished himself among the administrators and managers BY HIS EXCEPTIONAL QUALITIES and the king planned to promote him over the whole kingdom.” (Daniel 6:3) “Exceptional qualities” is literally “an extraordinary spirit.” Daniel stood out. He wasn’t like everyone else. He did his work well because he saw it well. His perspective shaped his work performance. Daniel excelled. When review time came, he was promoted.

How’s your work? Do you do it well? Are you the best leader you can be?

How’s your attitude? Granted we all have bad days, but is every day a bad day? Is the problem a bad day or a bad life?

Are you easy to work for or with? How would others rate your leadership performance? Are you a tough guy, the boss, control freak, or a servant leader who is considerate and respectful of others and their ideas?

How’s your spiritual perspective toward your leadership? Does God fit into your leadership role every day?


(To be continued)

Fred Campbell lives in Ovilla, Texas, just south of Dallas. He pastored two independent Bible churches for 40 years. Currently, he is the president of Living Grace Ministries, a ministry committed to helping churches develop servant leaders, following the model of the Lord Jesus. Fred has traveled to 29 countries and 15 states to lead the workshop. He received his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and his D Min from Phoenix Seminary. Fred is married to Carolyn and has a married son and two grandchildren. His web site is www.livinggraceministries,com and his email is fred@livingraceministries.com.

August 2018, Cover Story

Cover Story | Zoo Director Phil , Conservation and Christianity

Conservation and Christianity

For Phil Frost, the two go hand in hand

Phil Frost

Baton Rouge Zoo Director Phil Frost knows where a poison dart frog is hiding. He lifts a tiny rock-shaped tent in his office terrarium, and it hops away. “I often find God in small and simple things,” Frost says. The Central and South American frogs – famous for their striking yellow and black coats – are also deadly. “Seeing my frogs reminds me each day to be careful what choices I make and what paths I take.” They are also a reminder to consider the value of each creature. The toxins secreted from the frogs’ skin, once used on the tips of warriors’ arrows, is now the subject of medical research into its use as a muscle relaxant, heart stimulant and anesthetic.
Frost delights in the creatures he oversees. To him, conservation and Christianity go together. “I think that in my interpretation of Genesis and creation, this was made, and we were supposed to take care of it and take care of each other,” he says. “I truly feel that I was called to do what I’m doing.”

After a difficult, devisive debate over the relocation of the zoo, Frost is wholeheartedly stepping into the next phase: renovation of the zoo at its existing location. He expects responses this month to his call for renovation proposals. The BREC Commission voted against the push to move the zoo to a new location at its March 22 meeting following opposition from residents of the area who cite the historical and economic importance of the current location in north Baton Rouge.

“We’ve got a lot of improvements down the road that we’ll be planning, and that’s all starting now, so it’s exciting,” Frost says. “How can we make this the best it can be, sitting right here in Greenwood Park in north Baton Rouge? That’s our charge.” That process will include efforts to restore accreditation by the prestigious American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, lost this spring due to the aging infrastructure at the 48-year-old zoo.

“To me it’s more than just about a zoo. It’s about people, it’s about education, it’s about teaching people the importance of saving wildlife and wild places,” Frost says. “We wish every kid could go to Africa. We wish every kid could go to South America and see those frogs in the wild. But we know that’s not going to happen.” Seeing animals like the Golden Lion Tamarins – some of the rarest monkeys in the world – helps people realize that animals have problems that humans can help solve.

“All of a sudden, zoos have been able to get involved in conservation efforts around the world. We’re involved in programs that deal with frogs in Panama, elephants in Kenya and tigers in Malaysia and Sumatra,” Frost said. He now serves as chair of Species360, a software company that connects more than 1,100 zoos in 90 different countries to collect and share animal records and genealogy. That allows zoos to look at bloodlines and bring potential mates together to conserve struggling species. “If it had not been for the captive breeding at the New York Bronx Zoo, we would not have bison today, because they had been brought down to such a low number,” Frost says.
The big challenge today is adapting to new knowledge about animal habitats and educating the public about realistic methods of conserving endangered species. Zoos around the world – including the Baton Rouge Zoo – are choosing to house a smaller variety of animals in favor of preserving sparse species. For example, eight different cat species were previously housed at the local zoo in what is now the Realm of the Tiger.
For the same reasons, zoo officials are considering whether to replace the 46-year-old elephant, Judy, who died in 2013, and her companion, Bozie, who was transferred to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Recent studies revealed that elephants are social animals and need to belong to a herd, preferably in the wild where they reproduce best. For rescued elephants, the cost is enormous. While Buckskin Bill raised $6,000 for an elephant exhibit, that amount would not even cover food for a year at today’s costs, and it would take $10-15 million dollars for the exhibit and animals, Frost says. A bird building, at a quarter of the cost, attracts visitors for 25-30 minutes versus a typical five second viewing at an elephant exhibit. “I think that’s what this master planning process is about, bringing the community together and saying what’s really important to them,” Frost says.

Frost sees a zoo as unique gathering place for the community because it appeals to all generations. He wants every child to experience the animals and develop a sense of concern for them, just as he did. His father, a Free Methodist minister, made a point of stopping at the Evansville, Indiana zoo each time they traveled from their home in Illinois to visit grandparents in Kentucky. Frost became fascinated with the tiny prairie dogs but also acquired lessons in responsibility from the time with animals. Missionaries also visited their home and brought information and toy replicas of exotic animals from places like Africa and China. He learned that the best way to solve problems is by equipping the people who live among them.
“And so, in many cases, the conservation programs we’re involved in help fund projects that are already on the ground by the people who live there, who know the culture, who are very well established,” Frost says. “We’re supporting those programs with dollars that people donate to us through our Friends of the Zoo.”
That sense of responsibility also finds its roots in the beliefs of the Free Methodist church, a denomination that split from mainstream Methodists in the mid-1800s over issues including slavery and free seating at church during a time when wealthy families paid for pews near the front of the sanctuary. “All my life I’ve been raised in a family that truly saw the value in all people,” Frost says. The Frosts are now members of First United Methodist Church in downtown Baton Rouge.
His upbringing also informs his understanding of creation and the natural world. “I am a biologist, I am a scientist, but I’m also a Christian. And sometimes those don’t go together,” he says, in reference to the debate over the origin of the universe. “God created it,” he says. “I just believe it, and that’s the way it is. And I’m comfortable with that.” He points to an experience with a minister friend in Tennessee during a tour of the “Rise of Life” exhibit at Grassmere Wildlife Park that Frost helped develop in Nashville.
“The fact that there were Smilodon, or Saber-tooth cats, there 2,000 years ago, the fact that it was under water several million years ago because you can find Mosasaurus skeletons which is a fish, big whale-like fish in all the sand – it was obvious that a lot of things had changed in the last many, many years.” The exhibit referred to the [Big] Bang. “It’s not a fact; it’s a theory,” Frost said. His minister friend remarked, “Yeah, my God could have done it that way.”
“And I thought, we don’t have to sit here and argue that’s not how it is. My God did it. And that’s kind of the simplicity that I’ve had,” Frost said. “The science mentality is we’ve got to prove it. I think that’s where faith comes in. You just can’t prove faith.” One of his favorite scripture verses is, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

“We can make a difference in the world. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I think that’s the beauty of what zoos do today,” Frost said. “One of the challenges that zoos have is just being a megaphone, if you will, to people about things that we can do.

August 2018, Family Life

Family Life

Is Your Marriage Built on the Right Foundation?

Alton and TaShawnda Jamison are the founders of The Empowerment Zone, a ministry designed to “empower people for everyday life” through products, events and messages. In addition, they are the pastors of The Empowerment Zone in Baton Rouge, a church plant that will launch this fall. The Jamisons, who have two children, have been sharing the gospel together for over 17 years. They recently completed their first book, Purpose, Passion & Prosperity: 3 Keys to A Godly Marriage. For more information, visit empowerlives.net.

The Bible reminds us in Hosea 4:6 that people perish for a lack of knowledge. Marriages are also destroyed for a lack of knowledge. In our current society, people separate and divorce quicker than you can imagine. Marriage has become like cell phone service carriers … if you don’t like the service, you switch to someone else.

I submit to you that knowledge is the main ingredient missing in most marriages. Knowledge of what? Knowledge of the Word and its power. The Bible tells us in Genesis 2:24 that “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Most couples fail because they never become one flesh. One flesh is more than just sharing a house or a joint bank account. One flesh means that we both die to self and join in a way that no one can separate. One flesh means that even on our worst days, we find a way to push through because we our joined together both spiritually and naturally. In a social media society, marriage advice shouldn’t solely come from a Facebook post or an Instagram picture of your favorite celebrity couple. It must come from God’s Word, especially if you are going to build your marriage on a solid foundation. The Word is direct in its command in Joshua 24:15. “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

When the Word of God is paramount in a marriage, then your household will be in order. Why is the foundation of the Word so critical? Well, Jesus illustrates to us in a parable in Matthew 7:24-25. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

When your marriage and family are built on the Word of God … when the rain, floods and the winds of life come, your marriage can endure. Your marriage may look good on paper, you may have the prettiest kids, a large home and the finest of cars. But if your foundation is not built on God’s Word, then nothing else matters. We are challenged in Mark 8:36 with the profound question, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” If you want your marriage and family to be strong, long-lasting and legacy-making, then exchange the world’s way and embrace God’s way. Storms will come in your marriage and family, but as a friend once said, “The good news about storms is that they all end at some point.”
Be encouraged and start building!

August 2018, BRCLM Lagniappe

Faith Life

In the Name of Jesus, Turn It into A Church

By Leslie Paul Wilbert

Leslie Paul Wilbert

Thirty-eight years ago, in Addis, Louisiana, I was talking to Ted Berthelot, Chief of Police, about the increasing crime in that once peaceful town. Chief Berthelot was sharing with me that he knew it was because of two bar rooms. Looking and pointing at one of the bar rooms, he told me, “In the name of Jesus, I’m going to turn this bar room into my police station.” I thought to myself, if he could pray and ask Jesus to change that bar room into a police station then I could pray and ask Jesus to change the other bar room into a church.

While driving to church in Baker one Sunday morning with a friend and fellow believer, Yancy Guerin, I shared with him my conversation with Chief Berthelot. Being new believers and having been taught that prayer changes things, Yancy and I started praying that God, in the name of Jesus, would turn that building into a church. On one occasion, we drove into the parking lot of that building, got out of our vehicle, laid hands on the building and prayed for God to turn it into a church. For the next 18 years, several times a week, as we would pass the building, we would point to it and pray aloud, “In the name of Jesus, turn it into a church!” As we grew in the Lord and started understanding more about the authority we had in Christ, we would boldly pray, “Jesus, don’t let anything succeed in that building except a church.”

During these years, a friend of ours was being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. This man of God felt a call on his life and spent several years in Bible School and serving other ministries preparing himself to fulfill his call to pastor a church. One Sunday afternoon in 1997 as he and his wife were traveling through Addis, they were asking the question, “When we pastor a church, where do you think it will be located?” Immediately, their attention was drawn to the Addis water tower by a large, brilliant flash of light that went off directly above the tower. On the tower they saw the giant, bold words “ADDIS.” Knowing it was a sign from God, they looked at each other, laughed, and said “No way, not Addis!?”

Two years later, in 1999, under the direction and timing of the Holy Spirit, the church was started in that very building in Addis where the two believers had prayed for it to become a church! It just so happened to be directly across Louisiana Highway 1 from the Addis Water Tower where the brilliant light had flashed two years earlier!
The name of the church is River Ministries International and it is pastored by Butch LaBauve and his wife Susan. For the past 19 years, River Ministries International has been a thriving, life-giving, Holy Spirit-filled church spreading the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to West Baton Rouge, its surrounding communities and the nations of the world. It was really no surprise to the praying believers what God did, because for years God had shown Himself faithful through many other answered prayers.

Leslie Paul Wilbert was born in Plaquemine, LA into a family in the funeral service business, which was established in 1850. He has worked in the funeral home, cemetery, burial vault manufacturing, monuments and life insurance companies. Most of Leslie’s working life has been in the financial services business selling property and casualty, life insurance and investments. Currently, the Senior Wealth Strategist with Ozark Insurance in Baker, LA.


BRCLM Lagniappe, July 2018

Lagniappe, Called to Serve

called to serve

Rev. Jessee Bernard bilberry, jr

Rev. Bilberry and his wife pose with the Youth Girls Division at a recent gathering to celebrate his accomplishments

Friends, family, and fellow pastors gathered recently to honor a very special man, the Rev. Jesse Bernard Bilberry, Jr. With his wife Verta beside him, Rev. Bilberry was honored for his many years of service and ministry in a career brimming with achievements, including a term as president of the 4th District Missionary Baptist Association.

One of 10 children, Rev. Bilberry was born in Marion, La. In 1929. He earned degrees in social studies and English from Southern University, a master’s of education from LSU, and a doctorate of theology from Christian Bible College. He spent 13 years as principal of Tensas Rosenwald High School in St. Joseph, La., and 15 years in various roles at Southern University.

In 1981, he accepted the call to ministry, and since 1984, has served as pastor at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Over the years, he has collected numerous honors and awards related to his role as an educator and spiritual leader.

From left: Mayor Elvadus Fields. his wife Mamie, anniversary committee and chairpersons Donald and Nona Haynes, and Rev. Bilberry
Anniversary speaker Rev. Geoffrey Sykes and wife Tracy
From left: Cedrick Robinson, Anston Broadway, Caleb Butler, Kamden Jackson, Marquell Coates. Seated (from left): Rev. Jesse Bilberry and his wife Verta
Rev. Bilberry presented roses to his wife, Verta.
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

Get your copy at equipping4pillars@gmail.com

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.