Lead a Summertime Bible Study at SNAP Fitness, Knoxville, TN
"From the beginning of the year through the end of April, I was focused
intently on my studies at Johnson Bible College. About a month before
the semester ended and once again after I had handed in my final exam,
the Holy Spirit directed me to speak with the owner of the local
SNAP Fitness about holding a Bible study there. I gave praise to God
when I learned that the owner, Teena Fesperman, was already in the
process of renovating a back room and that she had been inquiring with
another local minister about using the space for some purpose in
ministry. On behalf of Spirit and Truth Ministries, I asked Teena to
let us use the space on Thursdays. She agreed, and I committed to
lead the Bible study during the summer as part of my ongoing volunteer
work for the nonprofit organization. Weekly meetings were held from
Thursday, May 20 until Thursday, August 26.
The name I gave to the group was 'Casting Off Weights'.
This choice was influenced by the Bible passage in
Hebrews, chapter 12, verses 1 and 2.
This choice was also influenced by my feeling that the group would
provide accountability to the members for sticking to their
individual health and fitness plans. The start of the Bible study
was announced in two local newspapers, on a printed flyer (shown below),
and through facebook.
I created a Bible reading plan so all of the
members would read the same passages through the week and discuss them
during the group meetings. Over the course of the previous two
years, I read the entire New International Version translation of
the Bible except for the book of Psalms. I wanted to finish this
reading, so I chose Psalms as the focus of the study for the summer
The facebook badge below is a link to the Casting Off Weights
group page on the Facebook site (if the group were to become active
again, the badge will show upcoming events). The first picture shows
the front of SNAP Fitness where we held the Bible study. After that
is the flyer made to advertise the Bible study.
Next, you can see a copy of the calednar pages that attendees received
every week showing the Bible scriptures to read for the following week
with space provided for taking notes and keeping a log of diet and
exercise progress. After this, you can see a snapshot of the Facebook
page as it appeared on the first week of the study as well as after the
last meeting. The last five pictures below were taken at the final
"Every year, Sheila's family descends on north central Kentucky for
family reunion, and the tradition usually includes attending service
at Horsley Chapel United Methodist Church. On Sunday, June 13, I had
the opportunity to sing two songs. I sang 'I Will Rise' with Sheila
and 'The Lighthouse' with my mother, Ruby Lea."
Singing at Rocky Branch Independent Holiness Church of God, Walland, TN
"Almost one year to the day since our previous visit, Sheila and
I volunteered for Spirit and Truth Ministries once again to go to the
Rocky Branch Independent Holiness Church of God in Walland, Tennessee and
participate in their second Friday night singing service on July 9, 2010.
We were joined by my mother, Ruby Lea, and her father, Bill, to represent
the Spirit and Truth Singers, and also by friends. Follow this link to see
a complete set of
pictures of the event.
While I stood in front the congregation with Sheila and my mother, I gave
two testimonies that you can watch by clicking on the links below. The
first is a testimony about my salvation. The second testimony turned out
to be significant for the work that God would shortly be assigning to me.
For years, my mother and I sang a song called 'Peace in the Valley'
(not the popular one that most everybody knows, but a different and
almost unknown song), and I would give this same testimony, more or less,
every time we would sing it about how each person has the
unique ability to reach a certain group of people for Christ.
I didn't realize until later that, while I was saying the words, I
never really thought about applying them to myself to understand
my own calling from God.
Preaching, Singing, and Prayer at Wayside Full Gospel Church, Cocoa, FL
"Ruby Lea, Sheila, and I traveled to Florida and spent the first week
of October together. We ministered for two services at Wayside Full
Gospel Church. We sang songs together, and I preached and prayed for
members of the congregation.
These pictures were taken on Sunday, October 3. The service began
with an elder brother taking the floor and addressing the pastor and
his wife, rejecting the prayers they had prayed for him and returning a
bottle of anointing oil they had given to him. The mood was somber
after he left the building,
because the devil had tried from the beginning to undermine the service,
but the Holy Spirit turned it all around during the congregational
singing as people began to come to the altar. I came forward to pray
for the people, taking authority over sicknesses and oppressions of
the devil in the name of Jesus. I used the bottle of oil that had
been returned by the elder brother to anoint those in the congregation
who received it joyfully, and so God poured out what seemed to be an
extra special blessing. I ended the service with a short sermon and
by singing our special songs.
These pictures were taken on Thursday, October 7. There was a small
crowd for this mid-week service, but the Lord was present. After
a few special songs were sung, I preached the evening sermon."
Completed My Program of Study at Johnson Bible College
"In early December, I handed in my final paper for the last course
I needed to complete the graduate certificate program at Johnson Bible
College. Since 2007, I had spent many long nights after work to read,
study, and write out my responses for the examinations. For this final
course, I spent a lot of time doing research online and at the library.
My original certificate (left) arrived by mail after the New Year in
January. Not long after, the college changed its name to
Johnson University, and they reissued my certificate with the new
Worked in the Nursery at Pathways, Sevierville, TN
"With my college studies behind me, I had a little extra time on my
hands and decided to give some of it to Pathways Church where we had been
attending since 2008.
One of the office workers had been after me to volunteer one weekend
a month like Sheila had already been doing for a while, and I said
Yes and asked to be Sheila's helper in the 2-year-old classroom.
Sheila and I did this work together for about a year.
Cooperative Planning with Chepas Mexican Restaurant, Seymour, TN
"In the early winter season, I was eating at Chepas Mexican
Restaurant in Seymour with a friend. We were discussing church planting
as we ate our lunch together. The restaurant manager, Juan Severiano,
overheard part of our conversation and introduced himself. He said that
his restaurant did not open until lunch time on Sundays, and he offered
to us the use of the building at no cost if we decided to start holding
church meetings (Wow!, I thought). I met with Juan a couple of times
over the next week and I learned that the restaurant was struggling
financially. I talked about this situation with a few others including
my mother, Ruby Lea. She and my father-in-law, Bill Adcox, would
occasionally dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and they offered
to play the part. We devised a plan that would both generate interest
in a new church and possibly generate some new customers for the
restaurant. The plan was to have the Clauses make appearances over
several days, and anyone could bring their child for a photo, but
patrons of the restaurant would be able to move the front of the
line when they arrived. We started to execute this plan, and the
restaurant was passing out the VIP cards in the early part of December
to people who came into the restaurant and ate a meal there.
Unfortunately, the year-end review of the restaurant's financial
situation was more dire than Juan had previously estimated, and the
restaurant had to close before the dates when the Clauses were supposed
to make an appearance."
called to preach
in 1988 and
called to pastor
in 2007. For the next couple of years, I prayerfully considered
opportunities pursue this calling as they presented themselves.
In the Bible in
Revelation 3:8, Jesus said,
'I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door
that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you
have kept my word and have not denied my name.'
Since the middle of 2010, I had been considering that the open door that
stood before me was that of presenting the message of Christ to people
like me who enjoy science, technology, science fiction, and the like.
On January 29 while Sheila and I were in service at Pathways Church,
the Holy Spirit told me something that absolutely astounded me.
Again without hearing any audible voice, I knew the
exact words God was speaking to me. His exact words to me were,
'This is why you came into the world.' It took me several
weeks to come to terms with this message. When has anyone been told
the reason why they were born? I came to believe that the door through
which I was to walk would be so challenging to my faith that I would
need this assurance by the Holy Spirit to stay the course.
Several months after this all happened, I asked the person in charge
of the audio-video library at Pathways Church if I could get a copy
of this Saturday night service. I learned that the only part of the
recording that survived was posted on
and it included only the baptism portion of the service at the beginning
of the hour. Here are some still shots from that video in which my
bald head can clearly been seen in the front row. This is where the
Holy Spirit spoke to me at the end of service while people were
gathered at the altar across the edge of the stage."
Launched Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville, Knoxville, TN
"I heard it said once that you can know that God has called you to
a purpose when your first waking thought in the morning and your last
conscious thought on the pillow at night is about that purpose. For
me, the idea of planting a new church had been on my mind for a couple
of years. Then God sent into my life an old friend
to give me the nudge that I needed for me to take the first steps on
the road to accomplish my purpose.
I filed the charter for Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville on
August 31, 2010, but we didn't start meeting as a church until February,
2011. The first half of the pictures in this set were taking during
some of our planning meetings.
The second half of the pictures in this
set show various ways we advertised the organization.
I recorded a one-hour presentation about the church vision and posted
it on YouTube and Facebook.
I also set up a web site for the church,
http://www.spirit-and-truth.net (also reachable at the address
Sheila and I bought T-shirts and wore them around town so that we were
like walking billboards.
We took a day off work and set up in a booth outside of the cafeteria
and bookstore at the University of Tennessee during the first week of
The church also advertised that week in the Metropulse newspaper
and purchased USB wristbands (containing a 1 Gb flash drive)
with the church logo and web site address to give away."
"From February until October, we held church services for
Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville in the Community Room at
Crestridge Apartments. I preached a sermon series titled
The Power of Promise
Hebrews chapter 11."
Sermons Preached at Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville (2011)
Science Café at Crestridge Apartments, Knoxville, TN
"From April until August, we held Science Café events
for Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville the Community Room at
Crestridge Apartments. This is a science discussion sponsored by
the church for two purposes. For church members with an interest in
science (like me), it is a recreational opportunity where Christians
can learn and talk about science with real scientists in a setting
that is something other than a debate between science and religion.
For attendees that are not Christians, it is an opportunity to be
around Christians and perhaps be persuaded that not all evangelicals
are against science.
During the first couple of months, a few people expressed an interest
to come but voiced a concern that they wouldn't know what to do with
their children during the meeting. Sheila said she would watch any
kids who came, and that sentiment blossomed into an idea for a
Kid's Café as a way for the church to promote science
education for children. In the month when the adult discussion
was about the rovers Mars Odyssey and Mars Exploration, Sheila
located age-appropriate videos for the children to watch and
designed an activity to build a wind-up toy rover. We set our
minds to develop the Kid's Café to a greater level in the
Star Trek Convention, Nashville, TN
"I made an overnight trip to Nashville July 29-30 with my friend
Chuck Baugher to attend the Star Trek Convention. This was a fun trip
for me and Chuck because both of us are old 'trekkies', but I
was attending primarily to find other people from the Knoxville area
and tell them about the church and Science Café activities
of Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville. On both days we attended,
I wore my church T-shirt and was a walking billboard. During that time,
I spoke with at least a dozen people who lived close enough to Knoxville
that they could possibly attend some of our meetings, and I passed out
a lot of business cards.
We drove to Nashville on Friday morning, talking with each other about
the Lord in the car on the way, and then we attended all of the Friday
sessions at the convention after we arrived. My old college buddy
Joe Roach, who moved to Nashville after graduation and still lives
there, met us for dinner, and we talked about the Lord until late in
the evening. The next day, Chuck and I attended the morning sessions
at the convention, and then we drove back home.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was meeting the actresses
Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh and having my picture made with them.
In multiple Star Trek television series and movies, they played the
part of the 'Duras sisters'. At the convention, they made
their appearances in costume and in character. I certainly can't
deny it now...I am a true geek and nerd, guilty as charged!"
Science Café at Town of Farragut Community Center, Farragut, TN
"We began looking for other places to hold meetings, and the
Town of Farragut Community Center was available to us for three
meetings every six months at a very reasonable price. Sheila and
I met the director and walked through the facility before we made
the first reservation. The room could hold 75, and there was a
divider we could use to separate an area for Kid's Café.
We held our next two Science Café meetings here in
September and October. Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville
paid for catering for both of these meetings from Salsarita's
This Science Café, which had become known as
Science Café Knoxville, began operating independently
of church sponsorship after the October meeting and moved onto
the University of Tennessee main campus by the end of the year.
We wished them well, glad in the knowledge that we had helped to
get this group started. We began to look ahead to next year and
started making plans to launch another Science Café."
Cowboy Church, Las Vegas, NV
"Sheila and I vacationed in Las Vegas during the first week of
November. We chose this destination primarily because we are
fans of the sport of professional bull riding and had an opportunity
to attend the last day of the PBR Built Ford Tough Series World Finals.
Some of the bull riders are Christians, and they attend a church
service early on Sunday mornings before the sports event begins
later on Sunday mornings. This is called Cowboy Church, and we
make it a point to be in this service when we attend bull riding
events. Sometimes, church is held in the arena, but at this event
church was held in the parking lot. Here are some pictures from
our first morning in Las Vegas (click to enlarge). The last image is
a scan of the bulletin that was handed out (click to view as a PDF).
The two ladies who sang during the praise and worship at this
particular service were Leighann Hart and Candice Lostroh."
Helped with Operation Christmas Child, Sevierville, TN
"Karen Hall is also a member of Pathways Church.
She works with the organization called
and for the past several years she has headed up the collection of shoe
boxes containing gifts in Sevier County for Operation Christmas Child.
We heard that she did not have enough volunteers to operate the
collection center, so we offered to help. On Sunday, November 20,
we met her at the River Plantation RV Park in Sevierville after attending
the morning church service at Pathways. Inside the RV park's meeting
hall, we accepted the shoe boxes that were brought in, organized them,
packed them into shipping cases and stacked them against the wall.
She received nearly 1,500 shoe boxes over the course of several days,
and we helped with the last 20 or 30 cases."
"Ricky Castro is also a member of Pathways Church.
In late September, he told us that his mother owns a
historic church building
and organizes an event every year for the weekend after
Thanksgiving for which she needs the participation of preachers
and singers. We agreed to help. Sheila had to work on the Friday
after Thanksgiving, so my mother Ruby Lea and I went on that day.
On Saturday, all three of us went together.
The first six pictures below are from Friday night. The lady in
purple is Ricky's mother, Gwen Ford. Gwen's calling is to introduce
ministries to one another and to encourage cooperation between
churches of different denominations. That night, I sang with
Donnie Pullem, the Pastor of Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in
Dandridge, TN, and as a result of this meeting he invited me to
come to his church to sing and preach.
The remaining pictures are from Saturday. I played guitar and sang
with Pastor Donnie, several others in attendance, and with Ruby Lea.
Then I preached a sermon that concluded the
The Power of Promise
series. Donnie's wife Lisa also preaches and has a ministry of
interpretive dance, and she worshipped during several songs at the
end of the evening. The last photograph is a picture of
Preaching at Lighthouse Christian Church, Dandridge, TN
"I received the invitation to preach at this church after I
met Pastor Donnie Pullem and sang with him in November.
This church is located at a Christian Camp. I helped to play music
during the congregational singing and while the youth worshipped
with interpretive dance led by Lisa Pullem. I preached the Sunday
morning sermon titled The Most Important Verse in the Bible.
On New Year's Eve, we returned to be in fellowship with the Pullems
during their watch night service."
"A few months after I met Gwen Ford, she invited me to be a guest on
weekly television program called I Believe. She highlights
unusual ministries on her program, and Spirit and Truth Fellowship of
Knoxville seemed made-to-order. The episode that included my interview
aired for the first time on Wednesday, Febrary 22 at 7:00 PM
This station is channel 48 over-the-air and reaches a fairly wide
cable audience in all of the counties surrounding Knox County.
I helped Gwen on this a few other occasions by doing some voice-overs
for her show, including several Spiritual Moment segments."
Parenting Expo, Knoxville, TN
"On Saturday, Febrary 25, Sheila and I spent the day at the
Knoxville Expo Center telling people about Spirit and Truth Fellowship
of Knoxville. The event was a Parenting Expo sponsored by local radio
Our primary message at this event was the
children's church program, called
and also the
Kid's Café. We were also announcing a church event
called a 'Forgiveness Service' that we were planning around
a new Christian movie that was soon to be released in theaters
titled October Baby.
Sheila and I started preparing for the Parenting Expo several weeks
before the day of the event. We designing print brochures to hand out,
ordered pens to give away with the church name on them, and purchased a
small quantity of Thirty-One diaper bags for the church to
give away in a drawing. We had the bags embroidered with the church
name and logo. I also put together two movies, one to show pictures
from our past Science Café events, and one to advertise the
Both of us took the day off work on Friday so we could set up the
church's booth at the Expo Center. We arrived early on Friday morning
with breakfast in hand. I was excited to learn that I could drive my
truck indoors almost right up to our booth to unload. I had never
driven around inside a large building before. It was fun! We used
a different layout for our booth than anyone else by moving our table
to the back of our 10-by-10-foot area and eliminating the separation
between us and the passers-by. We laid down rugs that the church
bought for the children's programs to help create a warm, inviting
area. We put up our signs and got everything ready except my laptop
and DVD player that we used to show videos in the booth.
On the day of the event, we had pretty good booth traffic. I enjoy
talking with people, so it was an fun day for me that went by quickly.
We took pictures with many of the costumed characters roaming the show
floor. Richard and Carrie Fischer (some new friends of ours) joined
us in the booth for a while, but they also walked the floor to talk
with other attendees about their pro-life ministry. At the end of
day, the four of us packed up the booth and loaded everything into
the truck. When all the work was done, Richard and I spent a few
minutes being silly for the camera."
"Sheila and I met Richard and Carrie Fischer through Gwen Ford's
ministry. On the same day I was in the studio to record the interview
for Gwen's television show, Carrie had been there earlier to also
record an interview. I was unaware of the Fischer's pro-life ministry
when I shared with the production assistant what I knew about the
October Baby movie, but she made the connection and introduced
us. Shortly after this, we invited the Fischers to participate in the
Forgiveness Services we were planning, and they invited us to go with
them to an upcoming speaking engagement they had in Seymour.
On the morning of Sunday, March 18, we met the Fischers at the
Seymour First Baptist Church. We helped them set up a booth in the foyer
area and also worked with the sound booth staff to get Carrie mic'd
and Richard's video camera positioned. We also helped them to man the
booth and pass out literature before and after the church service.
I learned during our time together that Richard had spent many years
as a member of a Messianic Christian congregation, and a few weeks
after this we got a chance to experience our first Passover Seder with
them. In the last picture below, Richard is posing proudly with his
Before we left the church, Pastor Bruce Yates stopped by the booth
and spoke with me. He may have remembered me from the
National Day of Prayer
service to which we were both invited a few years earlier.
He did ask if I was the pastor of a church, and I told him about
Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville and its mission."
Science Café at Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
"Towards the end of 2011, I read in the newspaper that
Ijams Nature Center had lost some government funding, and I felt
led to inquire about renting space from them for Science Café
events to resume in 2012. Unknown to me, they had previously
operated a monthly Science Café event, and they were
interested in reducing their commitment but wanted to keep the
program going. It seemed to both groups that our goals were a good
match for each other, and we began to have our Science Café
meetings there in March."
Easter Church Service at Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
"The first time I met with the staff at Ijams Nature Center
to talk about our interest in holding our Science Café meetings
there, they raised the possibility that Spirit and Truth Fellowship
of Knoxville might also be able to rent space for church services on
Sunday mornings. We selected a few dates and rented their meeting
room on a trial basis. On Easter Sunday morning, April 8, we held
our first church service at the facility. However, even before that
date, we felt good enough about this decision that we tentatively
agreed to enter into a rental agreement for a weekly church service
to begin at the end of May. The church sent out a few thousand
mailers to announce the Easter service and other services to
"Sheila and I had the opportunity to attend an early screening of
the October Baby movie, and since the beginning of the year we
had been planning to hold at least one Forgiveness Service to minister
to women who were afflicted with guilt from a previous decision to have
an abortion. We advertised this event at the Parenting Expo in
February even before we had selected a time and location. We ended up
offering this special service on two dates, April 29 and May 6,
and I preached a two-part sermon series on forgiveness:
'Bound by Anger' and 'Bound by Guilt'.
Our singers for these services were Marinda Magoon and Patrice Kalinowski.
Richard and Carrie Fischer joined us for both of these services, and Carrie
was available to stand in proxy for the discarded baby so a grieving
woman could ask her child for forgiveness and be set free from her
guilt. At the end of the second service, Carrie prayed a blessing
for anyone watching the service on video."
Weekly Church Services at Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
"On May 27, we began to hold a weekly church service for
Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville at Ijams Nature Center.
The service time on Sunday is from 9:30 AM until 11:00 AM.
Each week, we have to set up the meeting room for church and tear
it down, but this process is relatively easy because the tables,
chairs, and sound system are very close to the room, and an Ijams
staff member is there to set up the room divider for our
Kid's Place area. The ease of this arrangement helps me to
know that our meeting here is part of God's plan, a tangible
sign of God's opening the door."
Sermons Preached at Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville (2012)
"I was invited to appear as a guest on a morning talk radio show
on Joy620 AM WRJZ hosted by Bob Bell. I arrived at the studio about
6:30 AM on Wednesday, August 1 and was joined by three ladies from
Deeeper Still Ministries, which provides post-abortion counseling and support.
I felt privileged to be introduced to their ministry this way, and I
shared with Karen Ellison (the organization's founder) about the
October Baby Forgiveness Services we held at the church a few months
earlier. We were live on the air from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM.
These pictures were taken after our portion of the program."
"There is One Thing You Lack"
"On many occasions, I have been in service at a Spirit-filled
church where the gifts of the Spirit were in operation, and I both
witnessed and participated in prophesy and in tongues and interpretation
for the edification of others, but never like this.
During the morning worship on Sunday, September 30,
I was playing guitar and singing at Spirit and Truth Fellowship of
Knoxville when the presence of the Holy Spirit came over me strongly.
I began to speak in tongues, and behind it was an interpretation
directed at me. The Holy Spirit commended my obedience to God's
command to continue to hold these church services even though very
few people had been coming. I was in tears, speaking and not knowing
what words would come out next, listening intently since these words
were now for my edification. Then, to my utter astonishment, the words
took an unexpected turn: THERE IS ONE THING YOU LACK, he said.
My mind raced quickly. What could it be? What I had done wrong?
How had I failed God's instruction to me? My heart sank and my head
fell in shame as I waited for the Holy Spirit to tell me the fault
that was all mine. The next few seconds seems like an eternity.
Then, the words began to come forth. WHEN YOU SPEAK NOW, NO ONE
LISTENS. BUT THE LORD SHALL FILL YOUR TONGUE. My downcast spirit
was suddenly and completely uplifted! God does the most incredible
work with such inferior materials, and I am an eager clay ready to
be molded by the master potter. His will be done!"