I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WOW! I'm Getting Old Fast!

I decided to go to the local barber shop today. I go there every so often. My old barber retired a while back, so I'm what might be described as an irregular customer. I do the Supercuts type places too, but I do like the old school feel of the traditional barber shop and today that's what I wanted. So I'm sitting there as the barber is doing his thing and I look down and notice some gray hair - well actually I see a lot of gray hair! Uh-Oh! I sit trying to picture myself with my dad's hair! Then the ultimate reality check moment occurs: I feel the clippers on my ears! Yes, the barber was knocking off ear hair!!! Now, I have seen a hair here and there on my ears before, but it has never risen to a level requiring the heavy equipment! WOW! I'm getting old fast!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

So You Want To Be A Baptist?

People who pay attention have noticed that many within the ranks of the Restoration Movement (RM) have apparently acquired a typical baptist theology when it comes to the topic and practice of immersion. I have also heard many discussions among some of my brethren as to the validity of "baptist baptism." Some would require a "Baptist" to be immersed again before he or she could "join" a local RM church. Others just shake their heads at this decline in sound theology, but recognize immersion practiced in simple obedience to Christ's command as acceptable. Regardless, I'm sure more than a few Baptists have been surprised when trying to join up with us, but here is a different facet to add to the discussion: A survey of Southern Baptist churches revealed that "87% of pastors surveyed said they would reject the immersions administered by groups such as the Churches of Christ." WOW!!! Touche? Go here for the details...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 Delmarva Family Camp

The 2009 Delmarva Family Camp (July 11 - 17, 2009) schedule can be found here. I tried to post it here but couldn't overcome format issues so the link was easier. I went to the DFC last year and it was a great time. Lots of strong messgaes were preached and the fellowship was great. It's a uniques gathering and I encourage you to go at least once and check it out. Ray Bennet brings in a line up of strongly conservative preachers and they usually knock it out. You won't find any "Purpose Driven Life" messages or quotes from the latest denominational big boys, but you will get lots of encouragement to to stay strong and the preach God's Word without compromise. To me it's something like a Restoration movement Pep Rally. I always leave fired up.

Thie pic is of me speaking back in 07.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My boy is brilliant

We are riding in our van last night when a most memorable conversation takes place between Delaney (8), Preston (6) & yours truly.

Delaney asks: "Where are we going?"

I reply: "We are going to the store."

She asks: "Why are we going to the store?"

I reply with my own question: "Why do we usually go to the store?"

Preston pipes in: "To buy stuff that we dont even need."

BRILLIANT! That's all I can say. My boy is wise beyond his years!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Victory: Glendale Gators 2008 GPSA Champs

My 3 children swim for the Glendale Gators (1994-2001 2003-2008 GPSA Champs). Needless to day the team is really good. My kids dig swimming, especially just being a part of a team. It will be another busy summer. Will we repeat as champs? It's supposed to be more competitive than ever, but if history means anything, we will be the favorite to win it all again. The vid is from last year's championship. One of my daughters, Bethany, is in the back left. My other girl, Delaney is in the front right. Go gators!


My buddy Mike "Soren" Kjergaard turned me onto this website. Check it out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Bible (of sorts)

I recently discovered "The Books of the Bible" published by the International Bible Society. I don't want to overstate this, but it has brought a substantial jolt to my Scripture reading. Is it a Bible? Yes & No. All of the Bible is in there, but it doesn't look like your Bible. Most noticeably, there are no chapters or verses. It is also arranged differently. If you want more info on specifics, just visit the website. You can also download some samples if you want to check it out firsthand. Now, as a disclaimer, I should mention that it is only available in the TNIV. You might this strange from a "complimentarian" guy like me. The TNIV is a "gender neutral" translation and a revision of the popular NIV. I don't have time to wade into the debate surrounding gender neutrality in translations, but there's plenty online if you want to explore more about the TNIV's approach. I don't endorse the TNIV as a primary translation for study, but I have found it to be a smooth read and, because of my familarity with the NIV, a surprising improvement in some places (and a disappointment in others). Anyway, "The Books of the Biblle" really helps me focus on reading the whole instead of particular chapter or verse. It also helps me see context better, which is most significant. I'm really enjoying it, so I thought I'd let you know. If you do check it out, let us know what you think.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Christian" Concerts

I've been doing some introspection and I realize that I've changed over the years when it comes to "Christian" music, especially with regard to attending concerts. Those who've known me for several years may know that I used to have an extensive collection of music and I would travel to hear my favorites. It was a passion for sure. I used to be all about going to a "Christian concert." I saw many of the big names of the 80's & 90's. I loved being there. Nowadays I won't drive up to Busch Gardens (30 minutes away) to watch the Christian celebrities do their thing. I'm not sure why. Maybe I don't like the music (true sometimes), but I do have several newer tunes on my Nano. Maybe it's because so much of the music now is "worship & praise." They may sound odd, but "Christian" music definitely took a turn back in the 90's. Maybe I don't like the hype (people will go nuts to "worship" with the big name band, but rountinely avoid Bible teaching and serving others (yeah that bugs me). Maybe it's because I used to have an "encounter God" mindset and I don't anymore. Let me explain. The idea was/is that you "encounter God" through "worship." Let me describe this worship: It is almost exclusively contemporary musically and usually starts up-tempo and moves toward a slower more intimate time of singing. Then, after we "are in the presence of God" or in the "thrown room" we are said to have "encountered God." (At least this is how I used to explain it back in the day.) Usually people will return from one of these gatherings speaking of how they had a great time of worship. What exactly does that mean?

Now, instead of trying to indulge in great experiences, I recognize and embrace the omnipresence of God. I don't need a special place with proper lighting, sound equipment and the requisite hip band to worship God! Yes, I do enjoy hip bands, but Scripture calls me (& you) to be living sacrifices who offer ourselves, our lives to worship God (Rom. 12:1). Don't get wrong - music can be worship, but it shouldn't be a synonym for it as it has become today.

Furthermore, I no longer "go to church" to worship God. (I know you are now thinking I've gone nuts & that's entirely possible!). Actually, I go hoping to practice the "one anothers" of Scripture, to participation in Communion, etc. But that's another post altogether.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Who Am I?

In the early days of my preparation for "professional ministry" I began to wonder where my position ("minister") could be found in the Scriptures. Afterall, I am a pat of a movement that calls Bible things by Bible names and endeavors to speak where the Bible speaks. Early on I found "minister" in a concordance and it made me feel better. I later discovered that the word just meant "servant" in the original language, not some clerical office. So, I began to wonder some more. Then I was told that I was an "evangelist" which could be found in three places in the NT (Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11 & 2 Tim. 4:5). I had never heard this concept before. I then heard good brothers like George L. Faull describe in precise detail of the office of "evangelist" in the New Testament church. Admittedly, this position became less tenable to me as the years progressed. Scott Sheridan argues for this understanding istead of the more popular "pastor" title/position of our day. Honestly, most of the so called "evangelists" I know don't function like the NT word itself implies. I tend to see that role as roughly equivalent to our "missionary" concept. So, again I ask who am I? Some would say I am a "preacher." Now, I do like doing what we call "preaching" but seriously is that supposed to be a church job? It seems like most of the "preaching" (or proclaiming) had to do with lost people = evangelistic work. Another thought came to me in my pursuit of a Biblical answer: the preaching elder of 1 Tim. 5:17. My friend Tim Warner argues for a pastor-teacher position in the church. You can read his thoughts here. Im not sure I'm persuaded to embrace this concept either though Tim makes some good points. Jack Cottrell (my favorite theologian), in his excellent book, "The Faith Once for All: Bible Doctrine for Today" basically concedes that the modern minister is a hybrid position of sorts in today's church. I think he might be right. Now I don't beileve the Bible supports "the pastor" but maybe it doesn't support "the preacher" or "the minister" or "the evangelist" either. We might be guilty of forcing things a little too much in order to fit our theological positions. That's why I give Cottrell credit for admitting the obvious.What say you?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Virginia's Next Governor?

The video clip is of Bob McDonnell. He's a former Attorney General here in the Commonwealth and the current GOP candidate for Governor. Virginia is a "blue state" as of late, so this will be an interesting race this election. McDonnell appears to be the strongest candidate the Republicans have produced for a statewide race in quite some time. I think he just might have my vote.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Clergy or not?

I know many good brothers who would recoil at the suggestion that they are members of the clergy. I started wondering what the difference is between the clergy and those of us who are non-clergy professionals.
  • Paycheck? Yes for both.
  • Office? Yes for both.
  • "Full-time"? Yes for both
  • Special status? Yes for both.
  • Special tax considerations? Yes for both.
  • Degree(s)? Yes for both.
  • Ordination? Yes for both.
  • Perform weddings? Yes for both.
  • Perform funerals? Yes for both.
  • Do counseling? Yes for both.
  • Do hospital visitation? Yes for both.
  • Visit "shut-ins"? Yes for both.
  • Send letters to visitors? Yes for both.
  • Write newsletter articles? Yes for both.
  • Preach in church services? Yes for both.
  • Etc.
Do you notice a pattern developing??? If it walks like a duck...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Coach Bacote

I received a call yesterday informing me that my high school football coach, Ted Bacote, had died. Here is part of the obituary that appeared today.

NEWPORT NEWS - Theodore "Ted" Edward BaCote Jr., died June 1, 2009, at Sentara Careplex Hospital. He was born in Ansonia, Conn., and was one of three children born to Nancy Saunders and Theodore BaCote Sr. He was the husband of Delegate Mamye E. BaCote of Newport News, Va. Mr. BaCote graduated from Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va., where he excelled as a football player and was captain of the 1959 undefeated football team. He taught and coached in the Newport News School System from 1951 to 1991. He was a dedicated passionate teacher and coach.

I've been influenced by many different people throughout my life, but my high school football coach was definitely one of the most significant. Coach Bacote was a profound influence on me during those formative teenage years when I moved from boyhood into manhood. I remember my early encounters with Coach - he was quite intimidating! It may be hard to believe but I still regularly refer to Coach Bacote even now - some 26 years after my graduation! His influence still looms large in the Willis family too. I was very honored many years ago when his wife Mamye asked me to speak at a "Roast" in his honor. A few years later she and Coach were at my wedding. I saw him most recently when I noticed him entering a barber shop. I stopped, went in and we chatted. He was exactly the same. Coach was "old school" and he worked with a rough bunch of guys most of the time. He employed some "techniques" that would not be acceptable today, but he helped many boys become men and stear clear of the temptations and pitfalls that encumbered many of our peers. He was hard on us and we are better because of it. Coach could motivate like no one else. I still remember his daily "sermonettes" before (& sometimes after) footbal practice. I've used many of his stories in my sermons throughout the years. I like to the think he was the earliest preacher I heard and that I acquired some of my style from him. Coach would not tolerate quitters or guys who weren't part of the team. He touched untold numbers of lives and will be greatly missed. I thank God for Coach Bacote's impact on my life.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Where Have I Been?

This past weeknd Tammy & I were over on Virginia's Eastern Shore. We also built a little vacation time around the event that took us across the Chesapeake Bay - the annual Ocean to Bay MS-150 bike ride. It was my second year and it was a good time overall. Our team, "Blazing Saddles", had several participants and raised some decent money for Multiple Sclerosis research. I'm still sore (it might help if I traind beforehand!). The 150 miles took its toll on me. The worst part, however, was lack of sleep! The accomodations are nice, but we had one snorer who was rocking the house! He sounded like a wounded hyena... or a dying kodiak bear...or like a moose being strangled to death! It was horrible! I finally went outside and attempted to sleep on the porch. I must say the stars were magnificent!