Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women

Carolyn Custis James wrote Half the Church in an easy to read, story-like fashion. The book is fairly engaging and frequently challenging. I did at times feel the plight of today’s global woman and felt compelled to do something if only I really knew what.

James discussed girls (and boys) from around the world who are involved in sex trafficking or  abused regularly in terribly brutal ways and the societies who not only stand by but actively participate. Her central message is that we as women (and men) as half the church have an obligation to do something because of our relationship with Christ, because we are His image bearers.

Half the Church is book full of anecdotes detailing the terrible place the world is for so many girls and women. She uses current and biblical examples. She talks about a woman’s value in modern society. She talks about the mundane things we involve ourselves in when there are so many more important and challenging situations in which we could make a very real difference. She discusses the works of Amy Carmichael, a woman James obviously admires, as well as Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Kristoff and WuDunn wrote Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Glancing at this book, it is clear that Half the Church picks up their theme.

While the book is full of anguishing tales of girls who could find no help or escape, there are also some stories of people who helped and made a difference. Since this is a book full of anecdotes, that makes it much shorter on solutions and I would have liked to have seen more. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter were particularly good and kept taking the message of help back to us being image bearers for Christ. This book probably would have been more meaningful if I’d read it in a discussion group setting where we could have brainstormed interventions and solutions.

Thanks to Mason Slater and Jesse Hillman from Zondervan for this review copy.

Book Giveaway

Zondervan was kind enough to send me two copies of this book. If you’d like one, then let me know in a comment below. If I get more than one request, I’ll draw a name from a hat! Deadline is 4/16/11 at midnight ET.


Spiritual Fathers

Our friends at Near Emmaus, specifically Mark, have asked about our Spiritual fathers in light of Peterson’s upcoming book.

I’ve already written about mine, Mark Corts. That post too was prompted by Mark Stephens. Dan posted about two of his.

What I haven’t blogged about is his funeral. I wrote about it then, but didn’t blog it, so I’ll post it instead here. This does NOT meet the requirements of the giveaway, but I felt inspired to do it none-the-less.

We arrived at church at 9 am for the 10am funeral and the church was already quite full. I shared some of my stories with you and wanted to share some of what I heard today. Some I’d heard before, but some I’d not.

Jack Homesley was in the first Tarheel pastoring group. He said he was honored to be invited. Who was he that Mark Corts had taken notice. At the time, he was pastoring a church of less than 100, and they were all unhappy about something. The building had no hot water and the parking lot was gravel. Jack said that he was terribly under attack at the time. Some months he cried all the way to the day long meeting, but he always felt when he left that he could hang on for one more month due to Mark’s encouragement. Today that same church has over 1400 people and is involved in a church plant.

Gary Chapman, another man that holds a dear place in my heart, spoke of their years in ministry together. He read a letter from Derek Chapman who lives in Austin. Derek talked about the years of sitting under Mark’s tutelege. Derek says he now always trusts a preacher who talks about food. Gary said that it was just a while back that Mark called and asked him to write the forward to this last book.

Food was a centrail theme today, just as it was in so many of Mark’s sermons.

Ken Hemphill told us about the first time he met Mark. Ken was a young man in his father’s church. Mark was suppose to preach and walked in 30 minutes late playing his trumpet. When Ken decided to come to Wake Forest, his dad told him that he had to go to Calvary and Ken ended up being Calvary’s first college intern. When he got to church to perform his duties, Mark would ask him what he’d learned in his classes and then pull out his Bible and say, “Let’s test it against the truth.” Mark called Ken one Saturday night late and asked Ken if he was sure about his call to preach. Seemed Mark had double booked himself for a revival and needed Ken to preach at home.

Jim Henry, when elected SBC President, asked Mark to be the chairman of the committee of committees. Their were people who weren’t sure that Jim was conservative enough, but when they saw Mark, they knew things would be handled well and in a godly manner.

Mark’s brothers and sister spoke. Naomi told about the time that Mark almost fell out of the car and her dad wouldn’t stop. She grabbed on to Mark’s overalls and held on for dear life. Mark used to talk about his dad’s driving from the pulpit. This brought back yet another memory. Mark’s brothers told about Mark’s love for the Lord, his great personality and winning smile. His love for people and our Saviour came up time and time again. Paul told about being Mark’s newspaper apprentice. Nine year old Mark carried 20 papers to Paul’s 7. After a block, Mark asked Paul if he could take a few more. Paul recounted that it was a priveledge even then to lighten Mark’s load.

Mark’s grandon, Christian, said that the grandkids loved Mark’s stories, strong voice, loving hands, and wet kisses.

John, Mark’s son, recalled how they had spent a Saturday morning canoing on the Yadkin River. Mark exclaimed that it was 12:25 and he had a 1:00 wedding. They hurriedly paddled to shore, grabbed the canoe and threw it on top of the car without stapping it down. They each had an arm out the window to hold on to the canoe while Mark raced down I-40. Mark put on his suit without showering and got to the wedding at 12:59!

Mark’s oldest, Steve, preached. Mark had asked him if he would if he could. Steve agreed and said that Mark then gave him 8 back up names. He talked about how irritating it was to have a dad who could remember everyone’s name. He talked about the man who had not seen eye-to-eye with Mark and yet praised Mark for his kindness and grace. I could see so much of Mark in his son. There was a moment when Steve moved to the side of the pulpit, spread his feet a bit apart and put his hands in his pockets and paused. Oh my! How many times had I seen Mark do the very same thing?

I could go on. In three hours, so many stories were told about this godly man. Three hours of laughing and weeping. So much said, but it was not nearly enough time for all the memories to be shared.



VBS started last night. Major theme is hymns. Each night has a different theme.

  • Gospel & Old Time Religion.
  • Choral Music of Our Faith.
  • Band Concert – bands are very big with Moravians. Brandon learned to play the cornet with a Moravian Band when he was in middle school.
  • Contemporary and Praise Music.
  • Campfire songs with a cookout/picnic.

Adults also have four classes Sunday to Wednesday:

  • Hymn writing.
  • Journaling.
  • Music conversation.
  • Ukranian Eggs.

I almost went to the journaling class, but decided on Ukranian Eggs before. Very fascinating and added I’m sure for the non-musical among us 😉

Here are some sites that explain the process:


Chapter 2 – The Moravian Church

Chapter 1

Chapter 2 – John Hus: The Martyr of Bohemia

It’s 1381 and Princess Anne of Bohemia had married King Richard II.  This bond between the two countries allowed for Bohemian priests to come to England to be trained and introduced to the teachings of John Wiclif. They returned home to add Wiclif’s thoughts to their arsenal.

Cyril & MethodiusCzechs were ripe for reform. They’d been a minority in the Germanic area. And there had been conflict in Bohemia/Moravia between the Eastern and Western churches. Each church had vied for dominance. The Eastern church had a strong foothold. Ignored by Rome, the Eastern church moved in with Cyril and Methodius in the mid-800s. They translated scriptures into the vernacular, preached in the same and established popular church order.

And by now, the Western church was German which did not sit well with the Czechs. The church is still terribly corrupt and being German on top of it, didn’t win them any favors. Charles IV was a reformer king in Bohemia. He established a fair justice system, encouraged industry, listened to the people and advanced education. Prague became an archdiocese and home to a university. The people became even more dissatisfied with outside rule of any kind. John Hus was a young man when priests began to return from Oxford. They had a story to tell and Hus, among many of his countrymen, eagerly listened.

John HusJohn was born in Husinec in 1369. Since he was a peasant, he had no last name and became known as John Hus. Few peasants had the opportunity to go on to higher learning, so he must have been exceptional. He went to the local school run by the monastery, then to a school in a neighboring town and finally to the University of Prague where he earned his way in part as a singer. He studied logic, philosophy and theology. Bachelors in 1394, Masters in 1396. By 1401 he was dean of the philosophy department. In 1402, he was rector of the university – a rotating office, and he was appointed preacher at Bethlehem Chapel. As a preacher and professor, he was better known for his preaching. Weinlick mentions that if Hus had stayed in the classroom and out of the pulpit, he might have lived a long life.

Bethlehem ChapelStill, Hus enjoyed the backing of the royal family and university friends for a long time.  In Bethlehem Chapel he preached to people from all walks of life including royalty. He not only preached in Czech but also translated hymns from Latin and wrote new ones. He was also an active writer. He wrote sermons, commentaries and tracts. He read Wiclif heavily and helped exposed a “miracle” in Wilsnack involving wafers.

In due time, Wiclif’s teachings were less accepted at the university. Hus was a rebel after my own heart because the more Wiclif was condemned, the more Hus defended him. There was the Papal Schism. A Council of Pisa was held in 1409 to heal the Papal Schism, but it was such a disaster that they ended up with yet a third Pope.

This is really a messy time in history. Difficult to chisel down to a few distinct sentences, but Prague was selling indulgences for a Crusade desired by Pope 3. Hus naturally stood against this. He was excommunicated, and King Wenzel talked him into a voluntary exile. During his two years of exile, Hus moved about freely and preached frequently. After a while, he was able to even visit Prague. In addition to preaching, he wrote sermons, letters and books.

Emperor SigismundIn 1414, another council is held – The Council of Constance. And in its four years of meetings, it did unify the papacy but did little to help the corruption of the church. John Hus’s head was on the proverbial chopping block. Emperor Sigismund of Bohemia convinced Hus to travel to Constance for a hearing. Sigismund guaranteed Hus safe travel to and from Constance. Friends accompanied Hus on the four week journey beginning October 11, 1415. He spent three weeks in town before the hearing. He was arrested on November 28. During his imprisonment, he was housed in a Dominican monastery, in Gottlieben Castle and then in a Franciscan monastery. He was kept in cramped, cold or hot quarters and given insufficient amounts of food.

The trial was three hearings held on June 5, 7, 8. His book, On the Church, was used against him. The Council and Sigismund hoped Hus would recant, but these were the same men who had ordered Wiclif’s bones burned, so there was little chance of a lenient sentence without that recant.

July 6 (his birthday), Hus was sentenced. He was taken to a raised platform and defrocked. He was given another opportunity to recant. He told them he couldn’t. They burned his books and took him to a meadow where they had a place ready. Hus was given one last opportunity to recant. He died in flames singing and praying. His ashes were thrown into the Rhine.

Chapter 3 The Aftermath

Chapter 1 from The Moravian Church

Table of Contents

This book is very much like a small text book. Lots of little snippets of information that kind of jump around under a larger umbrella. As I mentioned in my previous post, it is out of print. I’ve linked some subjects to google books which offers an amazing amount of material and some of it is in full text form.

Chapter 1 – The Late Medieval World

Weinlick begins by discussing the very real and worthy work going on in church life prior to the Reformation. He mentions that sometimes we go back to Luther and stop, but men of faith were challenging the system before that. While there were many attempts at breaking away from the church, only two pre-reformation churches were still around to see the Reformation. Group 1 was the Waldenses from the late 1100s and the other was the Unitas Fratrum (1457).


In the 1300s we see a powerful papacy as well as a rising university system. The language was Latin in both cases and that made for easy movement from county to country for both priests and lecturers. The church had a stronghold on the people and the threat of excommunication was constantly present. The church was terribly corrupt.

The CrusadesThe Crusades had been stage central from 11-1300 expanding mental horizons if not necessarily territorial ones. Trade opened up, and a monetary economy began to develop. Feudalism was declining. Nationalism was rising. Inquiry and exploration are intriguing to an ever growing number of people.

Nationalism meant that languages were developing in new and exciting ways. Literature was being written in those different languages. People wanted their languages used for more than day to day communications – church, school.

The church was troubled. The new language interests alone could weaken their control. And the new nationalism meant countries didn’t want to send money to Italy for any reason. There was a French Pope and he lived in France. When he returned to Rome, the French actually elected another pope. Now we had two, at least until the Council of Constance. This time was known as the papal schism.

And still we see evidence of the faithful. This is the period that will give rise to the Reformation. This environment produced Francis of Assisi, Peter Waldo, Thomas a Kempis, John Wiclif and John Hus. It cannot be said that this period was completely void of spirituality.

John WycliffEnter John Wiclif. (This is the spelling used by Weinlick.) Wiclif was born in Yorkshire, trained in Oxford. He was a priest and a professor. Weinlick used the words radical and upsetting to describe Wiclif’s work. What he did:

  • rejected doctrine of transubstantionation
  • emphasized predestination. He did believe the church represented the elect.
  • stressed that Christ is the head of the church – not the pope. The church may have an earthly leader but not one that is scraping to get his hands on any piece of wealth on the globe
  • believed that priests were servants
  • thought of the Bible as the only law

Wiclif translated the Bible into English during the 1380s. There is some dispute as to how much he actually translated. He may have done the NT and a colleague the Old. It had a wide circulation even without a printing press. Wiclif was spared persecution. He was apparently a tad too early for that. He obviously stayed in trouble with the church, but had some powerful political friends like John of Gaunt. He was popular with the people who liked his message for what must have been a variety of reasons.

Wycliffe sends out LollardsDuring this time, priests (nicknames Lollards) went out two by two as itinerant preachers. They taught in the local languages to anyone who would listen anywhere they would listen. this movement continued until 1401 when Lollards were burned at the stake. While this put a stop to the movement at large, it did continue in smaller and less obvious ways.

Wiclif wasn’t left to rest in his grave. The Council of Constance condemned his teachings and Pope Martin V had his bones burned and throne into a stream.

Chapter 2 – John Hus, The Martyr of Bohemia

Changing denominations

A little over a year ago, when I left my job at the church and walked away to find a new one, I also left my church. The church, that church, the old church? For 17 years, it had been my church and then it was not. Ron and I had taught more classes than I can remember – together and apart. We worked with discipleship, new members and of course, the library. The boys spent their teenage years there and were in countless programs, went to numerous camps as campers and then as counselors. They went on mission trips and made their first international trips with this church.

But the time had come to go. We had different jobs and Ron continued teaching Sunday School until the year ended. I didn’t go anywhere in that time period. It was in many ways a time of healing. A few people knew why I wasn’t there. I’d see other people out and about and they’d mention that they hadn’t seen me at church in a while. One of the problems in going to a really big church with multiple services across campuses. It’s not hard to lose track of someone. You change a service time, they change a campus. Contact is gone. I’m sure there are many people who don’t even know we are no longer there. I think it was Brian LePort who mentioned that he wanted to go to a church that wasn’t so big or that wasn’t so small. Well, that’s it.

When you work and worship at the same place, the sense of loss is great when that place and those people are no longer a part of your life.

Time passed and we began to visit – searching for where God would have us worship, a place to fellowship and serve. We had always gone to an SBC Baptist church, so that’s where we started and it just wasn’t clicking. It wasn’t that things didn’t seem perfectly wonderful at those churches, but there was just that mmmmmm can’t put your finger on it kind of feeling. It’s awkward not belonging, not having a regular place to go on Sunday – being at odds on a location. It’s like going out to dinner when no one is hungry for anything specific. Where do you want to go this week? We went to another church and another and then at Easter, we visited a Moravian Church. We saw an ad in the paper for a Great Saturday Sabbath service. We’ve been going there since without a second thought of going anywhere else. To say this has surprised me would be an understatement. To say that I have been surprised that Ron has felt the same way would be a greater understatement. The church we were in had a blended service and lots of opportunities for Amens and clapping with the sound of Bible pages flipping filling the air. This church is traditional, liturgical, smaller, quieter.

We met with the pastor today to talk about joining and getting more involved. We’ll meet again with another one of the pastors. I thought it would be hard to make a denominational change, but I didn’t know anything else.


I went back and tried to find the specific post by Brian over at Near Emmaus where he talked about the churches in which he’d been a member and found this one. I don’t know how I missed it, but there’s an interesting conversation going on, and it fits well with this post. I couldn’t find the one I was thinking about and mentioned earlier. Maybe I imagined it 😉

So, how much should a pastor make?

Mark started the conversation about Hillsong’s pastor, Brian Houston, making a whopping $300,000. I didn’t mean whopping sarcastically –  It’s eye boggling. Of course, I’m a teacher and my whopping will never even see $75,000 (or be close enough to touch it).

TC picked it up, and Mark had more to say.

The thing with pastor’s salaries is that you don’t really know what all the monies are allotted for or what exact little perks they get that is counted as salary. And the size of the church has to matter to some extent. It’s such a fine line. I don’t want pastors  living in squalor simply because they are servants of God. I’ve heard that before from people. Not exactly that way, but they do feel that the pastor should have less than the rest of us. Makes me wonder about control issues.

But, what is the upper end of a reasonable salary? What really is excessive?

Spiritual Fathers

Tagged by Mark on a Who’s Ya Daddy? meme. I’m going to name another Mark. Charles Mark Corts. Certainly not as well known as Barth and Peterson, but tops still.

This is what I wrote about Mark when he died.

I got an email late afternoon that Mark Corts had gone to the hospital again. yet again. Another email came about 7:45 letting me know that he was no longer bound to his frail body.


C. Mark Corts has been my pastor for a very long time. I have such fond memories of him in the pulpit. He always talked about food. Ron and I would decide where to go eat during his sermon. More often than not, it was fried chicken just like good Baptists should be eating after church on Sundays. More than food, he always spoke the truth. He taught the Bible clearly, simply, and pointedly. He referred to us as his class and indeed we were exactly that — sitting at the feet of a teacher who prodded and stretched us to learn more and serve intensely.


My oldest son used to sit front and center. Occassionally Mark would ask Brandon a question during the sermon. I always cringed as Brandon has always walked to his own drum beat, but regardless of what Brandon said, Mark always took it in stride. One Sunday, he threw a frozen cheese and pepper sandwich to Brandon during the sermon. I don’t remember the point, but I do remember Mark telling Brandon he had to give it back and Brandon telling Mark that he might not get it.


Mark knew absolutely everybody’s name. Ron and I went to his house after church one Sunday night right after we joined Calvary and he called us by name every time he saw us. We did have one embarrassing moment over names once though. Joe, my youngest, was working the desk at the media center. Mark came up and said, “Bitsy, tell me who this fine young volunteer is.” I thought he was kidding and laughed. He wasn’t. We were all embarrassed at that moment.


We used to have open house for the visitors in the Media Center after church and I got to watch Mark’s love for people. I was also so pleased to watch his work with young pastors, work that Calvary still continues.

Mark had been writing a book about his last 15 years of declining health. It has been published and he brought an autographed copy up to the church for all the pastors on Tuesday to hand deliver them. When he got home, he had to go to the hospital. I know that this last visit has to have meant so much to these men.


I had a rocky history with my dad. This sweet pastor stood in that dad’s place in my heart in many ways. I’ll miss him terribly, but praise God!  He’s home tonight.

These are all personal. I could list the many accomplishments of Mark for the community, the SBC, the International and Home Mission Boards, but what I’ll remember is the above.

Now, since this is a meme, I’m ready to tag: Nick, Jeff, Nathan, Bill, Rodney. To quote the meme originator, “So I wondered, who’s your daddy, or, church father?”