• Christian-based recovery group offers hope to those in distress

    It’s all too common.

    Children of alcoholics become alcoholics. Women who saw their moms being abused by men grow up to be abused themselves and raise daughters who will be abused and sons who will be abusers.

    LaVerne Patricoff’s goal is to stop the cycle of dysfunction in families. On Monday nights, Patricoff leads a Christian-based 12-step recovery program at the New Church Without Walls in Hernando, using material from Alcoholics For Christ.

  • GRACE NOTES 07/03/2010: Learn to listen for God's whisper

    It’s a foolproof tool of kindergarten teachers, mothers of preschoolers, preachers — and God.

    To get someone’s attention, don’t shout. Whisper.

    Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Church in South Barrington, Ill., has a new book, “The Power of A Whisper,” about how God speaks to people, how he spoke to them in the past and how he still speaks to us today. (Download the first chapter for free at www.thewhisperwall.com.)

  • God Bless America!

    Calling it “the most memorable epoch in the history of America,” John Adams said of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence: “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

  • ON RELIGION 06/26/2010: Baptists confront the oil spill in the Gulf

    Like most people born and raised in Biloxi, Miss., theologian Russell Moore grew up about 10 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.

    It cost too much to live near the water, but that didn’t really matter since the sights, smells and rhythms of the coast defined the whole community. Driving away from his hometown has always been emotional, but the last time he pulled onto U.S. Highway 90 was different.

    Hurricane Katrina was terrible. Now, the locals are facing what some writers have called “Katrina meets Chernobyl.”

  • Going for the Gold!

    Let’s test your Bible knowledge.

    How old was Saul when he became king of Israel? What happened at Gilgal that displeased God?

    Why did Israel rebel against King Rehoboam?

    Who won the battle between King Abijah and King Jeroboam?

    How did you do? (See answers at end of this story.)

    Chances are you had to look the answers up in your Bible.

    That’s part of the training for the Bible Olympics, a Florida-based program for youth that tests their knowledge and memory at an annual two-day event in Lake Wales.

  • GRACE NOTES 06/27/2010: The joy of being a sinner.

    When I was a kid, every Saturday morning I attended catechism classes at our local church.

    Catechism is a summary of principles of doctrine or fundamentals of a faith, often in question and answer form.

    Every Saturday morning I sat in a classroom and the teacher quizzed us on what we needed to know about our beliefs: Who is God? God is the Creator of heaven and earth.

    Who is Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is the Son of God made man.

    I can still recite some of my catechism lessons from 40-plus years ago.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 06/19/2010: A prayer for the gulf oil spill

    The news is frightening and the daily reports only seem to get worse. Each day we hear how close the oil spill disaster is to our Floridian shores, and if this were not really happening, it would sound like one of those apocalyptic horror films predicting the end of the world. We almost are waiting for some charismatic leader to step forward and solve this whole problem in an instant so that the movie can end and we can all go home, happy and relieved that we have been saved again. Only it is not happening.

  • ON RELIGION 06/12/2010: A coach who put faith first

    As the decades passed, the coach got used to hearing people call him a hero, an icon and even a saint — even though he reminded them that only God knows the truth about any man.

    It was common to see the former English teacher reading the classics.

    But he also read his Bible daily and rarely missed church, so some friends called him “Reverend.” That was probably for the best, since he disliked his other nickname — “the Wizard of Westwood.”

  • GRACE NOTES 06/19/2010: What is the "good life?"

    Confession time: I watch “The Real Housewives” of both New Jersey and New York.

    For the most part, the women on the shows are obscenely wealthy, living in opulent luxury. As one of them says at the beginning of every show, “To a certain group of people in New York, status is everything.”

    One of my favorite characters is Teresa, a New Jersey “Housewife.” When she and husband Joe built their new house last season, the cameras followed as Teresa went furniture shopping. Without blinking, she dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • Mennonites to market

    JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — With their to-die-for doughnuts and distinctively dressed women and girls, they’ve become a familiar sight at the Johnson City Downtown Farmers Market, but families from the local Mennonite community are putting down deep roots that include a network of thriving small businesses.