"The most important day of my life was the day that I accepted Jesus
Christ as my personal Savior. It was Sunday, March 2, 1980. I remember
that morning like it was yesterday. It was early. My mother,
Ruby Lea Spakes, was sitting in front of her make-up mirror getting
ready for church. On the other side of the room, the television
was playing a sermon by the Reverend Jerry Falwell. I was eight years
old at the time, and I wandered into my mother's bedroom and sat down
on the edge of her bed to wait for her. I had heard the story of Jesus
many times before, but that morning I prayed and accepted him as Lord
of my life. The picture of me below in my bedroom dressed for church
was taken at approximately the same age I was when I first became a
One of my most treasured possessions is a letter that I started to
write to the televangelist that day, probably right after my mother
stopped crying (although I don't remember). I didn't finish the
letter, apparently because I made a mistake and the letter was
written in pen. My mother rescued this fragment of the torn page
out of the wastepaper basket and gave it to me some years later.
Click on the letter to enlarge and read."
"My family attended South Harriman Baptist Church where my
grandmother was baptized as a young woman in the early 1900s.
After I became a Christian, I joined the church. Here is a copy
of a letter that the church office sent to me after I joined the
church. To the right is a picture of me and my mother that was
taken at the church for the member directory."
"From an early age, I remember singing with my mother. I had a talent
and a love for singing, and I joined the children's choir at South
Harriman Baptist Church. My first solo performance in the church
was in December, 1982. The children's choir performed a musical
called 'The Christmas Factory,' and the song I sang was called
'The Evergreen.' Click on the link below to hear a recording of
"One two recordings survive of my singing solo as a child at
South Harriman Baptist Church. The second of these two recordings
was made in December, 1983. The children's choir performed a
Christmas musical, and the song I sang was called
'Thank You Lord for Christmas.' Click on the link below to hear a
recording of that performance."
"The economy of East Tennessee in the early 1980s was very depressed,
and my family moved to Baytown, Texas to try to find employment.
Baptist churches are not as common that part of the country. We began
attending a non-denominational church called Victory Temple. The
core beliefs of this church were similar to what I was taught in the
Baptist church ('Trinity in doctrine'), but there was an added
element that I could never before have imagined
('Pentecostal in experience').
In this church, I was introduced to the concept of the Baptism of the
Holy Spirit and to spiritual gifts
(1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
At this point in my life, I was very much like the men in Ephesus
(described in the Bible) whom Paul asked, 'Did you receive the Holy
Spirit when you believed?' They answered, 'No, we have not even heard
that there is a Holy Spirit.'
These concepts are simply not taught in most Baptist churches, and I
was unaware of them because I grew up attending a Baptist church.
To me, the term full-gospel can be applied to any church that
teaches these concepts as things that accompany salvation
There are three memories I have from the time I attended this church that
stick out in my mind. First, I remember how Pastor Kyle spoke before
the offering was taken. He would always say the same thing. He would
inform the congregation that the money collected would first be used
to pay the church's bills and upkeep of the church buliding. Then,
whatever amount was left over was for the pastor and his family.
This, to me, is the Biblical model for how tithes and offerings are
supposed to be used. What impressed me so much about the pastor's
words was the open honesty and his humble demeanor, both of which are
extremely lacking in the majority of preachers I have heard since this
The second memory from this church that sticks out in my mind is that
of an elderly man who sat across the aisle from us on most Sundays.
At times during the service, he whispered to himself words that I did
not understand. One look on his face told me that he was bubbling over
with joy at these times. I understand now that he was praying in tongues
(1 Corinthians 14:12-15,28)
and doing so specifically as the Bible directs. There were times in this
church when tongues would be spoken aloud, and then an interpreter would
reveal the message God was speaking to the congregation in that instance.
However, when this elderly man spoke, there was no interpreter, so he
spoke quietly to himself.
The third memory I have from this church is the first time I ever lifted
my hands in praise to God. The Bible speaks about lifting hands in
1 Timothy 2:8.
At South Harriman Baptist Church, I never saw anyone lift their hands
during a church service, but at Victory Temple this was a common
occurrence. The first time I tried, my arm seemed SO heavy.
My heart was pounding. Finally, I mustered my courage and lifted one
arm heavenward. Looking back, it is hard for me to imagine why this
was so difficult to do, except that I know that by embracing this new
expression of praise, I was also breaking away from a silent and still
method of worship that I had been taught by example in the Baptist
The pictures below show the Victory Temple Church building and sign
in Baytown, Texas. The last picture is a high school class photo of
me that shows how I looked during the time we attended this Victory
Received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Gift of Speaking in Other Tongues
"In 1988, my family moved back to Tennessee. We did not return to
South Harriman Baptist Church, but instead we looked for a full-gospel
church to attend. Coincidentally, we ended up attending another church
having the name Victory Temple.
I had been praying for a long time about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I wanted to experience what I had seen in the Victory Temple church that
I had previously attended, and on the day of God's choosing, I did
receive Him. I was attending Roane State Community College at the time,
and after classes were over for the day, I drove along Highway 70
to my grandmother's apartment in Kingston. I was praying as I was driving,
and suddenly I felt an overwhelming wave of emotion come over me. Tears
began to well up in my eyes, and the feeling of joy and love in my heart
at that moment was so intense, it was all I could do to take my pickup
truck out of gear and come to a stop on the side of the road. I sat there
perhaps ten minutes barely able speak because I was crying uncontrollably
and my lower jaw was vibrating intensely. I could only say 'Hallelujah!'
There are some full-gospel believers who would say that it is not possible
to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit without the evidence of speaking
in other tongues. There are some full-gospel believers who would say
that my vibrating jaw was a form of speaking in other tongues. In my
heart, I believe that I did receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit there
in my pickup truck on the side of the road, but on that day I did not
speak with other tongues. For several months after this, I prayed that
would be able speak with other tongues just as I had witnessed the elderly
man do in the Victory Temple church that I had previously attended.
During the week of November 30, 1988, we attended a revival at
the Victory Temple church in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The guest speaker
was Elaine Holmer, and there came a point during the service when she
asked for anyone who desired to speak in other tongues to come forward.
I responded to her summons, and she laid her hands on me to receive this
gift from the Lord. Doctrinally, I don't agree with her method, because
she spoke aloud in other tongues with no interpreter present while she
ministered to me. However, I can not deny that on that day I did receive
A video recording was made of the revival service that night, and I have
below a link to the clip during which I received the gift of speaking
with other tongues. Two frames of that video are shown below. In the
first frame, after the evangelist had walked across the sanctuary
(right circle), I followed her across to the other side (left circle).
The second frame shows the evangelist with her hands on me ministering
(2 Timothy 1:5-7)."
"Sometime near the end of the year 1988, I began to feel God speaking
to me, and I was given an assignment. Without hearing any audible voice,
I knew in my heart what I was supposed to do. God told me to make a tape
seven minutes long containing a message about the Body of Christ
(advocating unity and cooperation among different kinds of churches
1 Corinthians 12:12-31 and
At the same time, God told me that I would hear people from all Christian
denominations give some testimony about how they were lowering
denominational barriers in their hearts.
I had no idea what I was supposed to do with the tape after I had
made the recording, so I took it to my pastor and told him what God had
told me. The church I was attending at that time had a daily half-hour
radio program, and I thought perhaps that after the pastor had listened to
the tape, he might play my little sermonette on on the radio. This did not
happen, but a few weeks later, the pastor announced from the pulpit that
I had been called to preach. I wasn't sure at first if what he said was
true. After much prayer, however, I began to feel that the pastor was
correct and that God was calling me to preach.
Not long after this, the Assistant Pastor,
Jeff Schrimsher, spoke a
prophetic word to me during the course of a sermon he was preaching.
I received the word with gladness, because it confirmed what I already
felt in my heart. Here is a picture of Jeff and a recording of the
prophetic message that he spoke to me."
"My first opportunity to preach came in the Spring of 1989 when the
church I was attending opened its doors on Saturdays and had street
preaching. The church was located in the old downtown area of
Lenior City across the street from the main Post Office, and there
were always plenty of pedestrians within earshot of the church's
PA system. The meetings usually lasted two hours or more, and there
was constant preaching during that time, because when one of us would
finish speaking, another one of us would take over and continue.
Here are two short clips of me preaching on two different
Saturdays. The second clip is my favorite, because you can hear me
addressing some of the passers-by."
"I was very nervous the first time the pastor of our church asked me
to be prepared to preach during the mid-week service. I laugh about
it now, because I know that I must have tortured the congregation with my
extremely long sermon. The title of the sermon was
God Shut the Door, and I delivered it on Thursday, May 25, 1989.
Click on the document icon below to read a copy of my notes.
Prayed for the Sick at the Hunter Healing Explosion, Knoxville, TN
"On June 9, 1989, an event called the Hunter Healing
Explosion was held at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum (shown in the last
two pictures below). The evangelistic team responsible for this event
Charles and Frances Hunter of Kingwood, Texas. The general public
was admitted free of charge. After the Hunters delivered a sermon, the
people in the audience were invited to come forward to receive prayer for
their sicknesses and physical impairments. Local event participants who
administered prayer on the coliseum floor were required to watch fifteen
training videos, to read two books published by the Hunter
ministry, and to attend a live briefing held at
in Knoxville a day or two before the event. I was privileged to be able
to be one of the participants in this event. The first four
pictures below were taken at Redemption Church on the day of the
briefing. We broke for lunch in the middle of the day, and some people
from the church where I attended invited me to eat with them at their
Helped with a Tent Revival, Harriman, TN
"From July 14 to August 4, 1989, Victory Temple
Church conducted a tent revival beside the ACE Hardware Store in
Harriman, Tennessee. I helped to raise the the tent a few days before
the revival started, and I also helped with the advertising (through
this effort, I became acquainted with Uncle Jody at WBBX Radio Station
where I would later have my own weekly program).
The pictures below show step-by-step how we raised the tent.
We had the land bushhogged. I was amazed when we found an
old rusty pickup truck completely overgrown and concealed
by the weeds. We had no idea it was even there until the
tractor was right on top of it!
The old church bus holding all of the tent materials was
towed to the site, and the rusty pickup truck was towed away.
We stood the main poles on end and secured them with ropes.
This took several attempts, because they kept falling over.
My pickup truck had manual transmission and didn't provide
enough control to stand the pole up and then stop in time.
We ended up using the pastor's van for this task since it had
We unloaded the folded tent sections one at a time from the back
of the bus onto the bed of my pickup truck. Each one was
incredibly heavy! Then, one at a time, I hauled each bundle
to its place, and we unloaded it onto the ground. There was a
large square section for the center and a semicircular section
for each end.
We unfolded the tent sections and laced them together.
We hoisted the tent cover to the top of the main poles with ropes.
We lifted the sides with small poles and secured the edges with
ropes tied to stakes that were made from automobile axles!
Finally, we mowed the grass underneath and around the tent before
setting up the chairs."
Taught Adult Sunday School, Lenoir City, TN
"On September 3, 1989, the pastor of our church was scheduled to
preach a revival in Atlanta, Georgia. After that event had been
scheduled, Assistant Pastor Jeff Schrimsher announced that
he was moving in order to take over as pastor of a church in
Fayetteville, North Carolina. The pastor asked Danny Stimmie and me
to conduct the church service as normal during his absence. Danny
would preach the Sunday morning sermon, and I would teach the Sunday
School lesson in Jeff's place. The teaching responsibility lasted for
several months. Here is a list of Sunday School topics that I taught
for the next several months."
"In the Spring of 1989, I made a short trip to Florida with some
of my fellow high school students to compete in a national DECA event
in Orlando. While the trip was being planned, I convinced my teacher
to add nearby Cocoa Beach to our itinerary, because my paternal
grandparents lived in that city, and I wanted to meet them. My
grandparents asked me to come back for longer visits, which I did
several times over the next couple of years.
During one of my early visits, I learned that my grandmother was an
ordained full-gospel minister, and for twenty years she had been active
in prison ministry. Pictured last (below), her ordination certificate
hung on their living room wall. Her life and testimony were an
inspiration for me then and now, and I was pleased to be able to
have her certificate after she passed away.
I spent the Christmas of 1989 with my grandparents at their duplex in
They attended a church called Beach Christian Fellowship that met in
the Freedom 7 School building. I enjoyed very much attending
church there, partly because they sang beautiful praise and worship
songs, and I had never heard 'Praise and Worship' music until that time.
The first picture below is one of me from about this time wearing a
Beach Christian Fellowship hat. Next to it is a picture of the duplex
where my grandparents lived.
After my grandparents would go to sleep about 8:00 or 9:00 o'clock, I
spent several hours each night reading my Bible and praying, usually
past midnight. I wrestled with the decision about whether I should
continue to attend the Victory Temple church after I returned home
to Tennessee, because my mother had already decided that she was
going to look for another church to attend closer to our house in
Harriman. During one of these nights, the Lord gave me a sermon
to preach called 'Redigging the Wells of Abraham'
Preaching at the Free Pentecostal Church, Harriman, TN
"I returned from my trip to Cocoa Beach, Florida with news from
my mother that a new church had opened right across the street from
our house in Harriman. The very next day was Sunday, and she asked
me to go with her to church there. She had told the pastor that I
was called to preach, and that morning the pastor approached me with
a question. His first words to me were, 'Are you going to preach
this morning or tonight?' After I picked my jaw up off the floor,
I told him at first, 'Tonight.' But then God brought to my remembrance
the sermon He had given me during those nights of prayer in Florida.
Quickly, I changed my mind and told the pastor, 'I will preach this
morning!' So, the first time I ever stepped foot into the Free
Pentecostal Church, I preached the Sunday morning service. Not long after
this, I decided to join the Free Pentecostal Church, and during the next
two years I had many more preaching opportunities. Here is a short clip
from a sermon that I preached on Easter Sunday, April 15, 1990
called 'Who Hath Believed Our Report?' (based on
April 15, 1990 (Easter) Who Hath Believed Our Report?
"For one of the two years that I attended the Free Pentecostal Church,
the church sponsored a weekly live radio program for which I was the
organizer and primary speaker. Below, you can see some advertisements for
the radio program that appeared in a church publication and in a local
newspaper called the
You can also listen to a few
recorded sounds clips. I called the program the Spirit and Truth
broadcast based on the scripture in
John, chapter 4, verse 24."
Singing at Piney Grove Baptist Church, Harriman, TN
"I was attending Roane State Community College in 1990, and the
leader of the Baptist Student Union, Jeff Nave, was also the pastor of
Piney Grove Baptist Church in Midtown (an area of Harriman).
He had heard me speaking on the radio and invited me to sing at
his church on Sunday, May 20.
I grew up attending another Southern Baptist Church in Harriman, so
I was welcomed into the Piney Grove congregation. However, on this
day I became a little more aware of how some of my views on Christian
doctrine had changed from my Baptist upbringing. During the Sunday
School lesson, Pastor Nave interpreted
Jude 9 as saying that the
archangel Michael didn't have power to combat the devil, so therefore
Christians don't either. I managed to hold my tongue and maintain my
composure until Sunday School was over and the morning Worship Service
had begun. Pastor Nave introduced me, and finally it was my time to sing.
I felt the Lord told me to say that Christians can stick their tongues
out at the devil and say 'nya, nya, nya nya nya, you can't get me!'
Becuase of Jeff's interpretation of Jude 9, I quoted
1 John 4:4,
'greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.'
My singing and testimony were well received. I sang the
'We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise/Alive, Alive/You are a
Chosen Generation' medley and 'Amazing Graze.' The congregation
joined me in clapping to the music (I quoted
Psalms 47:1). I lifted holy
hands in worship of God during the singing just as I normally would.
After it was over, Pastor Nave commented that they had a spark plug
on their hands."
"I think it is so important to take time once in a while to minister
to people who have no way to give back. This picture was taken at
Johnson Health Care Center in Harriman, Tennessee with Gertie Brown,
a lady that I visited several times.
Over the next five years, my mother Ruby Lea and I did occassional
visitation at this and two other nursing homes in Algood, Tennessee
and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee."
Spirit and Truth Radio Broadcast Gertie Brown on-the-air "Hello"
"Within a few months of my starting to attend Free Pentecostal
Church, I asked the pastor about the process to become an ordained
minister. He said that he would help me, and his only question was
whether I wanted to be ordained by the local church or by the
denomination from which he had received his license. Out of respect
for him, I chose to be ordained by the local church.
During the evening church service on October 21, 1990, I was given
the charge of a minister by my Pastor, Reverend Arthur York, Jr.
(pictured shaking my hand). The elders of the church and some visiting
ministers laid their hands on me and prayed for God's anointing. After
this service, I was on probation for five years. I had to return
to this church at the end of my first year, third year, and fifth year
as a minister for review of my status. When this process was complete,
I received my permanent certificate of ordination (in 1995).
Pictured sitting in one of the pews is the man who got me started playing
the guitar, Brother Billy Gann. Two dear friends from my former church,
Danny and Becky Stimmie, came to be present for my ordination service,
and she played the piano and sang some special songs."
"Shortly after the turn of the year, a major world event happened. The
First Gulf War began when the United States and its coalition partners
began to repel the nation of Iraq, which had invaded the nation of
Kuwait. Since these events were happening in close proximity to the
nation of Israel, and since the Iraqi leader was threatening to retaliate
against Israel, I felt that it was important to send out a daily message
encouraging radio listeners to
pray for Jerusalem.
I changed the format of the broadcast, reducing the length to fifteen
minutes a week so that a commercial could run in its place."
Preaching at the Church of God of Prophesy, Harriman, TN
"I began to have opportunity to preach at other churches in the area,
and one of the first was the Church of God of Prophesy in South
Harriman, where Dean Yancey was pastor. These pictures were taken
on July 14, 1991
in the early morning before we drove to church. We were preparing to
load into the trunk of the car a prop I had made to go along with
the sermon that I preached during the evening service that day
(I was allowed to keep the prop hidden in the back room of the church
so no one would see it until time for the evening service).
The topic of the sermon was: What God sees when He looks at someone
who is saved."
Started a Nonprofit Organization
"During my first year as an ordained minister, I was presented with a
sum of approximately two-thousand dollars. The giver stated that they
wanted me to use the money for God's work, but at first I greatly resisted
the offer, saying that the money should be given to a church instead of me.
The persistance of the giver was a burden to me, and I prayed a great deal
regarding this matter. One day as I was reading my Bible, these words
from Acts chapter 4 leaped off the page at me and seemed to me to
be the answer to my prayer: 'from time to time those who owned lands or
houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the
apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need'
(Acts 4:32-36). I determined
to start a nonprofit organization and use part of the funds to provide
financial assistance to needy individuals. I was motivated by the desire
to have the financials be in the public record that explained how this gift
(and potentially other gifts in the future) would be used. This money
did not belong to me, but it belonged to God!
To get started with the process of forming a nonprofit organization, I
sought the help of the head librarian at Roane State Community College
where I was a student. Becky Brunton helped me locate the application
procedure in the Tennessee Annotated Code, and within a few days I filed
for incorporation. Spirit and Truth Ministries became a legal entity
on August 6, 1991. Later I would file an application with the
IRS for a Determination Letter recognizing Spirit and Truth Ministries
as a 501(c)(3) organization. These organizing documents can be found
on Spirit and Truth Ministries corporate web site,
"In the Fall of 1991, I transferred from Roane State Community
College to Tennessee Technological University to complete my Bachelor's
Degree. The university required each incoming upperclassmen to be a
dormitory resident for one year. During this time, I commuted home to
my mother's house almost every weekend, and on Friday nights through
the Fall semester, I would literally get out of my car and immediately
begin setting up a PA system in her front yard, which was located on
the main street of town. For a few hours, another preacher and I would
preach and sing, and friends would give their testimony to anyone who
would listen. This location of downtown had few pedestrians in the
evening, but across the street there was a restaurant and a car wash,
and people would frequently park their cars in the parking lots there
and listen to us.
We tried to speak personally with some of the people who parked across
the street and listened to the preaching, but we quickly learned that
this was not very effective, because when approached they would usually
drive away. We wanted to have a tract to offer to our listeners so they
could make a decision for Christ after they left. I designed a tract
called 'Introduce You To the Family', and Spirit and Truth Ministries
paid the cost to make the copies.
Here are some pictures of the location where we held the street
preaching. The first picture is the view of my mother's house from
across the street. The next few pictures show a 'Jesus Loves You'
sign that we made (planning, the stencil, and the finished sign).
Finally, the long picture is a collage of photographs that provide
a panoramic view of Roane Street and the parking lots across the
street where people would park and listen to the preaching. The
left side of the picture is the view towards South Harriman, and
the right side of the picture is the view north towards Walnut Hill.
The businesses in between are Jim's Burgers and the Robo Car Wash."
Lead Music for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Cookeville, TN
"During my fist week as a student at Tennessee Technological
University in Cookeville, TN, I became involved with a campus Christian
organization called Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, or IVCF.
Every week during the 'Large Group' meeting when all of the students in
this organization would gather, I played guitar and sang with the seniors
who were leading the group at that time. When they graduated, I became
the music leader for a period of about eight months. Here are two
photos taken of me during this time period, probably late Spring, 1992.
In the first picture, I am singing with a few other other students leading
in the worship. The second photo captured me walking through the
hallways outside of where we met for Large Group."
Lead a Summertime Bible Study for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Cookeville, TN
"After the Spring Semester at TTU ended, I agreed to teach a
Bible study for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at the request of
the sponsors, Tim and Lisa Dean. The study began near the end of the
Spring semster and continued through July 20, 1992."
Singing at Carr's Chapel Church of God, Cookeville, TN
"On Saturday, July 18, my mother Ruby and I went to a
singing service held at Carr's Chapel Church of God as volunteers
for Spirit and Truth Ministries. A group called the Gospel Messengers
were the featured singers, and among them we met a man who said he wrote
a song we liked called 'Coming Soon'. I sang a song that I had written
called 'These Signs Shall Follow Them That Believe', and
then Ruby and I sang 'The Lighthouse' together."
"Jesus Is Here"
"During the Spring and Summer months of 1992, I did volunteer work
for Spirit and Truth Ministries to create a tract that was distributed
all around the campus of Tennessee Technological University during
the Fall semester. The purpose of this tract was to inform new students
about Christian student organizations on campus (including Inter-Varsity
Christian Fellowship) and to encourage students to attend one of the
local area churches while they attended college. I met individually
with the leaders of each of the Christian student organizations in
existence at that time to speak with them about the project that
Spirit and Truth Ministries was engaged in, and I helped to distribute
the tracts after they were printed.
Before I graduated from the university in 1993, I had the
great fortune of meeting a student who had come to know Jesus as his
Savior as a result of reading one of these tracts and then joining one
of the campus Christian organizations (he was unaware of my involvement
in this project when he told me how he became a Christian)."
"During one of the weekends while I was in college, I made a trip
back to Harriman to present myself before the pastor and elders of the
Free Pentecostal Church. I reported to them about my ministry activites
since my ordination service. With their acceptance of my testimony and
renewed commitment for continued Christian ministry, my ordination was
renewed for two more years. I received this certificate some time later.
Attended the Florida Evangelism Project, Daytona Beach, FL
"The blizzard of the century occurred in March, 1993. A few
hours before the snow started falling in Cookeville, Tennessee, my
friend Barry Winn and I started driving to Daytona Beach, Florida
to attend FLEP (the Florida Evangelism Project), a mission of
Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship to college students on Spring
Break. God was with us, because we narrowly made it through the State
of Georgia as Interstate 75 closed at several points behind us
just minutes after we passed through. We made it, though, and joined
about a hundred other IVCF students from other college campuses around
the country. The beach was quiet that week, because even though no
snow fell in Daytona Beach, the skies were overcast and the temperature
was about forty degrees all week.
Several memorable things happened during FLEP that week, but I will
share only one story that goes along with the picture below. That is
me in the picture with the long hair, but you must understand that
the hair is fake and attached to the Ron Jon's souvenier hat that I
bought in Florida and am wearing in the photograph. Don't you agree
that it matches the color of my beard very closely? Well, one very
intoxicated young man thought so. We passed him on the sidewalk as
we were headed to a Large Group meeting with the other FLEP students.
He stopped us, looked at me with the long hair and carrying my guitar,
and asked what music I played. When I told him we were Christians and
that I played gospel music, he said (slowly and slurred) something
like, 'Hey man, would you play Amazing Grace for me?' I played it,
the other students with me sang to the young man, and together we all
witnessed to him. This picture was taken after Barry and I returned
to Cookeville and I was telling the students in our chapter of IVCF
this story and about the other things that happened during our week
Singing at the Church of God of Prophesy, Dyersburg, TN
"For part of the time I was enrolled at Tennessee Technological
University, I attended church services at the Church of God of Prophesy
in Cookeville, Tennessee. The pastor moved to Dyersburg, Tennessee, and
on one weekend in 1993, Ruby Lea and I visited him at his new
church. We sang during the Sunday morning service. On the same trip,
we also found time to drive to Reelfoot Lake to spend part of the
afternoon with the Pastor's family. Pictured below is the church building,
Pastor James Lawson and his wife, Brenda Lawson, and a scene
from Reelfoot Lake."
Preaching at the Algood Church of God, Algood, TN
"I was introduced to the Algood Church of God by
one of my college friends, Tara. As part of my voluteer work with
Spirit and Truth Ministries, I sang at this church and visited a
nearby nursing home. For part of the time I was enrolled at
Tennessee Technological University, I attended church services at
the Algood Church of God. On a few occasions during that time, I
preached the Sunday services at the church. The second picture
below was taken of the church members in attendance during one of
the services in which I preached."
Officiating My First Wedding in Maryville, TN
"Two of my college friends, Michael and Sonja, decided to get married
after they graduated, and they asked me to perform the ceremony.
The wedding took place at the historic Seventh Day Adventist Church
building on Highway 411 in Maryville, Tennessee. At the time these
pictures were taken, I had no idea that after my own graduation I would
be moving to this part of the State, less than fifteen miles from where
this church is located."
"After I graduated from college, I moved to Seymour, Tennessee.
I volunteered a considerable amount of time with Spirit and Truth
Ministries to participate in an organized singing group called the
Spirit and Truth Singers. Over the next two years, we ministered
in dozens of churches all across the East Tennessee Valley
(follow this link for
group events in 1994).
Below are some of the promotional pictures we made of the Spirit and
Truth Singers. The last photograph shows the small room in my house
where we practiced, which we called the Ministry Room."
"The Most Important Things"
"As part of my volunteer work for Spirit and Truth Ministries,
I designed a tract to hand out to people in the audience where
the Spirit and Truth Singers were scheduled to perform."
Singing at a Wedding in Cades Cove near Townsend, TN
"These pictures are from a wedding where I sang with Linda Elmore,
my friend who also participated with the Spirit and Truth Singers.
The wedding was held at one of the old historic churches in Cades Cove
in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I played the Bridal March
in addition to the special songs we sang."
Singing in the Smoky Mountain Jubilee Talent Show, Sevierville, TN
"As a surprise to me, Linda Elmore entered the Spirit and Truth
Singers in a talent contest held at the Smoky Mountain Jubilee theater
in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee on November 5, 1994. We sang the gospel
song 'I Remember the Day'. I don't have any pictures from the event,
but I do still have my ticket stub (pictured last, below).
Here are some images that appeared in a theater brochure from that
"In 1995, I volunteered a considerable amount of time to
Spirit and Truth Ministries as a member of the
Spirit and Truth Singers. Follow this link for
group events in 1995."
Singing at a Wedding at Sevier County Church of God, Sevierville, TN
"This was the second wedding in which Linda Elmore and I sang together.
The bride in this April 9th wedding was the daughter of Benny and Patty
Gann, pastors of the Sevier County Church of God where I attended for a
"Over one of the weekends during the summer months, I made a trip back
to Harriman to present myself once again to the pastor and elders of the
Free Pentecostal Church. I reported to them about my ministry activites
over the previous two years. With their acceptance of my testimony and
renewed commitment for continued Christian ministry, my probation period
was completed, and I was awarded my permanent certificate of ordination.
Here is a picture of the framing certificate as well as the wallet-sized
certificate that I carry."
"In 1996, I continued my volunteer activities as a member of the
Spirit and Truth Singers even though Linda, one of the three original
singers, was unable to continue to be in the group. Follow this link for
group events in 1996."
"Your First Bible"
"My volunteer activities during this year included designing another
tract for Spirit and Truth Ministries to distribute in Pigeon Forge, TN
(a popular tourist attraction). On March 15, two thousand copies of
this tract were printed, and over the next several weekends we
delivered them to hotels in the city to be placed with the bibles in
Helped to Launch Sevierville Christian Assembly, Sevierville, TN
"At one of the churches where the Spirit and Truth Singers
ministered, I was introduced to a preacher named
Keith Hunt. He founded a new church called Sevierville Christian
Assembly, and I worked with him for about a year to get the church
started. I assisted with the renovations of the building we rented in
Sevierville (first two pictures below). I lead praise and worship,
playing guitar and singing (no photos available). I also co-lead the
church youth group with a sister named Whitney Sluss
(third picture, center). The last five pictures below were taken during
a youth trip we made to
Fields of the Wood."
"The year 1997 was a busy one for the Spirit and Truth Singers.
I continued performing volunteer work with my mother, Ruby, traveling
farther and more frequently to singing engagements than we ever did
before or since...at least twenty-four (24) separate events.
Follow this link to see pictures of a few of the
group events in 1997."
Preaching at Emory Gap Independent Church of God, Harriman, TN
"A preacher named Jimmy Pressley with whom I had
been friends since 1990 became the pastor of the Emory Gap Church of God,
and almost immediately he began to call on me to preach in his church.
Over the next three years, I did this quite regularly.
Here is a list of dates when I traveled to Harriman to deliver the
sermon and the sermon title (where I have kept the record).
Sermons Preached at Emory Gap Independent Church of God (1997)
What Does the Lord Require of Thee?
These picutres were taken on August 17, 1997. In the first picture,
Pastor Jimmy Pressley is opening the service. In the second picture,
my mother and I are singing, representing Spirit and Truth Ministries
as the Spirit and Truth Singers. Next, I am preaching following the
song service. In the last picture, we are standing with members of the
church to pray for one of the people attending the church service."
Preaching at Emory Gap Independent Church of God, Harriman, TN
"Here is a list of dates when I traveled to Harriman to preach
at the Emory Gap Church of God, along with the service times and sermon
titles. During the first half of the year, my mother would take these
trips with me. In the second half of the year, she moved from Seymour
to nearby Kingston, Tennessee, and she would meet me at the church so we
could continue to sing together as the Spirit and Truth Singers."
Sermons Preached at Emory Gap Independent Church of God (1998)
God is Fair
God is Fair (continuted)
Life Is More Than Meat
Endure to the End
Him that Overcometh
Another Man's Faith
The Will of the Lord
The Holy Ghost at Jesus' Birth
Spakes-Adcox Wedding, Harriman, TN
"The year 1998 brought me one of my greatest joys as I met, courted,
and married Sheila Ann Adcox. We were engaged on July 14 and
married on December 27 at
South Harriman Baptist Church.
The first two pictures below are
engagement pictures. The next two pictures were taken in the church
sanctuary. The next picture shows Sheila and her father dancing at our
In the next picture, my mother, Ruby Lea, is dancing with Sheila's father,
Bill. Our parents met each other a few months earlier while Sheila
and I were busy planning the wedding. Bill and Ruby, who were both single,
became lifelong friends and a 'couple'.
Sheila and I spent our honeymoon at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville,
Tennessee, finishing with a New Year's Eve cruise on the General Jackson
steamboat. The remaining pictures were taken during the honeymoon and
show our car all decorated, the balcony of our hotel room, scenes inside
the hotel, and a romantic private dining space we found one night at a
"On October 1, Sheila, our parents, and I met at the Jehovah-Nissi
Church in Oak Ridge to sing together as the Spirit and Truth Singers."
Music and Singing for Revival at the Center of Hope, Knoxville, TN
"Sheila and I visited a new church that opened up in South Knoxville
near where we lived in Seymour. We met the pastor, Lisa Latham, and
talked with her for a while after the service. She asked for assistance
with music for an upcoming revival she had planned, and we agreed to help,
counting it as volunteer work for Spirit and Truth Ministries.
The revival lasted four days, starting with two services on Sunday,
November 21, and continuing nightly through Wednesday, November 24.
The evangelist was Brenda Williams of West Palm Beach, Florida.
On one of the nights of the revival, the evangelist prophesied
to me and Sheila. The audio file below contains the recording of a
testimony I gave the following week at Emory Gap Church of God (below)
in which I talked about the prophesy."
Singing at Emory Gap Independent Church of God, Harriman, TN
"The weekend after Thanksgiving, Sheila and I drove to Harriman to
sing at Emory Gap Independent Church of God during the evening
service, Sunday, Nomvember 28.
During the first half of the song service, the pastor laid on hands on
and prayed for the members of the congregation, and he requested that
Sheila and I sing (several times) the song called He'll Do It Again.
It was a favorite song of this church."
"Sheila and I ran into some old friends who told us about a church start-up
in Seymour called Bible Fellowship. We visited the church for the first
time on Sunday, March 12, and I was invited to come back the following
week and preach. Sheila and I sang several songs together, and she also
sang solo. The sermon I delivered was titled Forgiveness
and came out of Luke chapter 11.
The audio file below contains the recording of a testimony I gave
before the start of the sermon. I described briefly some of the
work that I had done over the previous ten years as part of
Spirit and Truth Ministries. As I listen again to the words I spoke
that night, I am glad for my confession (that continues to be true
to this day) that every time I speak before a congregation, I do not
think highly of myself, and I depend on Lord."
"Starting in 2001, Sheila and I became active members of Bible
Fellowship. Sheila took charge of the children's program and took a
special interest in Vacation Bible School. Sheila persuaded the church
to purchase the 'Easy VBS' curriculum from Group Publishing,
and for our first year the theme was Polar Expedition. Sheila
recruited me and the pastor's wife to lead the 'Sing and Play'
station that started and ended the program each day with songs and
skits. These picture show me leading in the fun."
"The Group Publishing theme for 2002 was 'Bug Safari'. The first
picture below shows me participating in a skit during 'Sing and Play'.
The second picture shows me among all the participants from the church.
(Sheila was the leader again. She is taking the picture.)"
"SCUBA stands for 'Super Cool Undersea Bible Adventure'. This was
the theme of the third Group Publishing Vacation Bible School that
Sheila led at Bible Fellowship. Again, I lead the 'Sing and Play'
"On April 11, 2004, my mother traveled from her home in Kingston,
Tennessee to Seymour for Bible Fellowship's Easter Sunday service
so that we could sing special music together as the Spirit and Truth
Singers. In these pictures, Ruby Lea and I are singing a song called
'The Love of Christ'."
"During the week of June 21-25, Sheila led the Vacation
Bible School for a fourth year at Bible Fellowship. Once again, she
chose to use Group Publishing's program and asked me to lead the
'Sing and Play' station. The first two pictures below were taken
during the volunteer briefing. The last three pictures were taken
with the children in the room."
"Here is a list of dates when I delivered the sermon and the
Sermons Preached at Bible Fellowship (2004)
Old Wine, New Bottles
These pictures were taken during the evening service of Sunday,
November 14, 2004. The outfit I am wearingwhich included a
black shirt and white collar reminiscent of a Catholic priestwas
a 'prop' designed to go along with the lesson. About halfway through
the sermon, the collar came off and doubled as a 'tambourine'."
Singing for the National Day of Prayer, Seymour, TN
"These pictures were taken at the Kroger grocery store in Seymour,
Tennessee on May 5, 2005. A sister named Jan Scherer, who was
attending Bible Fellowship at the time, organized this gathering
of different churches as part of the National Day of Prayer. She asked
for assistance with music for the event, and I agreed to help, counting
it as volunteer work for Spirit and Truth Ministries."
"These pictures were taken at the New Vision Pentecostal Church in
Sevierville, Tennessee where Nelson Moffett is the Pastor. Sheila
and I met Reverend Moffett and his wife, Jennifer, in 1999 while
attending another church shortly after we were married.
I preached during the morning service on Sunday, June 5, 2005.
Sheila and our dear friend Marinda Magoon sang special music before
"For a fifth year, Sheila led the VBS at Bible Fellowship. Again,
she chose Group Publishing's program, and once again I led the
'Sing and Play' station. In the first picture below, Sheila is in her
VBS Director shirt. That's me in the second picture leading the
singing. The VBS took place during the week of June 6-10.
I led the commencement service on Sunday evening, June 12,
because Sheila was out of town."
Preaching at Bible Fellowship, Seymour, TN
"Here is a list of dates when I delivered the sermon, the
sermon title, and scripture references (where I have kept the record).
On September 4, 2005, the pastor of Bible Fellowship was away on vacation,
and I had the full responsibility for conducting morning and evening
services on that day. I played guitar and led the praise and worship
during both services. During the morning service, I prayed (with the
laying on of hands) for those who felt led to come to the altar.
During the evening service, one of the ladies of the church offered an
extended testimony, and then I preached. These pictures were all taken
during the morning service."
"In 2006, Sheila led the Vacation Bible School at Bible Fellowship
one last time. Again, I served in my usual capacity as music leader in
the 'Sing and Play' station. Here is an eight-second clip of a video
we put together to show to the parents at the commencement ceremony.
It shows me and the pastor's wife leading the kids in singing and
worship. Click on the thumbnail to view the video full size and with
Preaching at Bible Fellowship, Seymour, TN
"Here is a list of dates when I delivered the sermon, the
sermon title, and scripture references.
"In the Spring of 2007, I learned the whereabouts of an old friend
of mine, Jeff Schrimsher, with whom I had attended church together
for about a year-and-a-half
in the late 1980s.
A short time after
I had last seen him, he planted a new church in Loudon, Tennessee
that is located just off of Interstate 75. Sheila and I had
the opportunity one Sunday to visit his church.
Before the morning service began, there was time to do some catching
up with Jeff and his wife Lisa. Through an act of obedience to
God's voice, I ended up playing the bass guitar during the
Praise & Worship part of the service. This picture
is of Pastor Jeff Schrimsher preaching during the service in which
we were in attendance. Behind him is the church's bass guitar
that I played on that day."
Preaching and Teaching at Wayside Full Gospel Church, Cocoa, FL
"I was invited to be the guest speaker at two regular services of
Wayside Full Gospel Church that took place on Sunday morning, May 20,
and on Thursday evening, May 24. Sheila and I drove to Florida and
spent the week there. Below are some pictures from both of these
Singing at Christ Covenant Full Gospel Church, Seymour, TN
"After Sheila and I visited this church one Sunday, Pastor Gary Crisp
called and invited us to return and sing at a special service on July 29
during which his son would be ordained as a deacon. We considered this
invitation to be an opportunity to perform volunteer work for
Spirit and Truth Ministries, so Sheila and I attended as representing
the Spirit and Truth Singers. Our friends
Doug and Marinda Magoon went and sang with us, and Marinda also sang
solo. All four of us were happy to see an acquaintance there we knew
from Bible Fellowship, Jim Tucker. He was one of three guest speakers,
and he is shown below standing behind the podium. In the last picture,
Sheila and I are posing with the pastor."
Speaking at Free Pentecostal Church in Harriman, TN
"On August 5, 2007, almost seventeen years since my
Ruby Lea and I visited our church family at Free Pentecostal.
During the congregational singing, I got to play guitar again with
the man who taught me, Billy Gann, and with his grandson who is now
also learning to play.
Pastor York asked me to participate in
the prayer service, and I asked the elders to pray for me as well.
I preached a short sermon from
II Corinthians 3:1-2.
It was a very joyful reunion.
Before the service began, I asked Brother Gann if I could play
guitar with him. With a bit of a smirk on his face, he looked at
me and said 'You know, the sign outside still says Free on it.'
It was a happy, silly moment that I'll not soon forget."
During the months of August and September, Sheila and I attended a
very newly-established church not far from our home called
The pastor and his wife were in the process of moving to Seymour from
Rome, Georgia, so they were unable to attend the mid-week services when
we began visiting. Also, the church did not have an established
Praise & Worship band in the beginning. During the time we
attended, I had the privilege of being able to help with singing and by
adding acoustic guitar as an instrument. Before long, however, the Lord
sent other musicians to fill the void, and God called us to be elsewhere.
In the first picture below, I am standing with all of the members of the
full worship team as it was on the last Sunday morning in September
(our final service). The second picture is of
Pastor Tony and Donna Howard.
Enrolled at Johnson Bible College
"Beginning in the Autumn of 2006 and continuing through the
Spring of 2007, the Lord began to deal strongly with my heart.
He did not speak any discernable message to me at the time,
but I knew without any shadow of doubt that something was
about to change in my life, and it was imperative that I
make some step forward. However, I was uncertain about the
direction that the Lord wanted me to go.
One day, Sheila and I met with another couple who has played a significant
role in our lives for many years. I felt that I needed to share with them
some of the things that God had shown me. Also, I hoped that through them
God would reveal something more to me about the direction we should go.
They encouraged me to consider enrolling as a student at
Johnson Bible College.
After some prayer and consideration, I signed up for my first class,
Basic Expository Preaching, which I completed in the Fall 2007 semester.
This picture of me on campus was taken in 2009."
Preaching at Bible Fellowship, Seymour, TN
"For the Basic Expository Preaching course at Johnson Bible
College, I was required to preach a sermon and submit a
for a grade. I prepared a sermon titled 'Jesus Our High Priest'
(based primarily on the passage
Hebrews 4:14-5:10) and
delivered it at Bible Fellowship on Sunday, November 25, 2007. After
an opening story, I stepped out of the room to put on sandals and a prayer
shawl. For the rest of the sermon, I played the role of 'Abner ben David',
a fictional character based on the young man who received his sight at
the hands of Jesus and was who excommunicated (cast out) by the Jewish
priests for being a disciple of Jesus
The congregation took a journey back in time to a secret meeting of
first-century Christians, and the sermon was told from the perspective
of his first-hand accounts. I received an 'A' for the course, but the
instructor was puzzled by my use of theatrics in the presentation.
Apparently, there is some other preaching course offered at Johnson
Bible College where the theatrics come into play. I just did it this
way because theatrics are a part of my preaching style,
showing up in my sermons
once in a while.
Here is a picture of the label for the DVD that I submitted for
"Near the end of year 2007, just as I was finishing up my first
class at Johnson Bible College, God spoke to me in a way so clear and
unmistakable like He had not done since I received my
call to preach
in 1988. Without hearing any audible voice, I knew the
exact words God was speaking to me. His exact words to me were,
'Very soon, you will be pastoring.' I did not know with
certainty exactly what God planned to do or the time frame in which He
would accomplish what He had spoken, but His speaking to me reaffirmed
every day afterwards that He was in control of my situation (deep inside,
the desire developed within me to plant a new church). I did
not speak openly outside my family about my new call to be a pastor
until 2009 when I was ministering again at Wayside Full Gospel Church
"In 2008, Sheila and I said our final farewells to Bible Fellowship
and began searching together for a new home church to attend while I
completed my studies at Johnson Bible College. We visited many churches
of different types in Knox, Blount, and Sevier Counties. Our search led to
in Sevierville, Tennessee. By the end of the year, we reached a decision
that we would attend this church until God brought it about that I would
These pictures are taken from a video that was recorded on May 17,
2009. We arrived at church very early on a Sunday morning so that I
could practice a song that I would sing the following week during the
Saturday night service and two Sunday morning services."
Preaching at Wayside Full Gospel Church, Cocoa, FL
"These pictures were taken on Sunday, January 18 during a trip that
my friend Doug Magoon and I made to Central Florida. The choir sang a song
called 'In His Time' that I had not heard before prior to this service.
The song touched me deeply, and I could feel the Lord's presence very
strongly during the opening part of the service. I chose this opportunity
to make the first public announcement about how God
changed my calling
from preacher to pastor.
I preached a sermon called the
Stairway of Ahaz
2 Kings 20:1-11.
This is the place where the Bible records a miracle God performed by
making the shadow of a sundial travel backwards. For an illustration,
I shined a flashlight on the ceiling to demonstrate how the sun must
have reversed its course in the sky for this to happen.
Ahaz was an evil king who died fourteen years before the events
described in 2 Kings chapter 20.
The sundial was a relic of his time and a reminder of his sinful ways.
The sermon concluded in
with a call to put away things from our past that could tempt us to go
back to former sins."
Singing at Rocky Branch Independent Holiness Church of God, Walland, TN
"As a volunteer with Spirit and Truth Ministries, my mother and
I were invited many times to the Rocky Branch Independent Holiness
Church of God
during the 1990s
to sing gospel music. Out of the blue,
the pastor, Robert Jennings, called me and asked us to return to their
church. As a sort of reunion for the Spirit and Truth Singers, we
went and performed on July 11, 2009, when these pictures were taken.
My mother made the trip from Kingston, Tennesse to join me for this
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!"