Monday, December 24, 2018

Dec. 23, 2018, post:
We need to get past 'devotional' stereotype

By Mike Haynes
            It’s a little late for Christmas, but if you’d like to give someone a gift they can use all 365 days of 2019, I have a couple of suggestions.
            Every night of 2018 so far, after plugging in my phone and before turning off the light, I have read one of 365 devotionals in Mark Lanier’s book, “Psalms for Living: Daily Prayers, Wisdom, and Guidance” (Baylor University Press, 2016).
            I know, “devotional” is a somewhat churchy word conjuring up visions of ladies sitting in a circle, drinking tea and reading inspirational prose to each other. But we need to get past that stereotype.
            I don’t know of a branch of Christianity that doesn’t stress that believers need a daily link to God. One aspect of that connection is prayer, and another is paying attention to God’s direction for us in his Word, the Bible.
            The Old Testament makes it clear: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8, NIV)
            Nothing can beat reading God’s Word directly, but it also helps to hear other believers’ takes on it through sermons, discussions and, yes, devotionals. 
            Mark Lanier said he wrote “Psalms for Living” primarily as one way to pass on the wisdom he’s learned in his 50-plus years to his children, extended family and close friends. The former Lubbock resident, Texas Tech University graduate, nationally known trial lawyer and founder of Houston’s Lanier Library is not a theologian but has training in Hebrew and Greek, teaches a Sunday school class that attracts hundreds and is the author of “Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith” (InterVarsity Press, 2014)
            Each page of “Psalms for Living” starts with a short passage from the book of Psalms followed by Lanier’s interpretation and thoughts on those verses and ending with a short prayer. And even though I’ve read each page with a pillow behind my head, they certainly haven’t put me to sleep.
            For example, the Oct. 20 page, based on Psalm 116:12-14, starts this way:
            “I make no bones about it. If I had only one band I could listen to for the rest of my life, it would be U2.”
            Lanier then discusses the U2 song, “Where the Streets Have No Name,” which he believes refers to heaven. It’s well known that the Irish rock band’s lead singer, Bono, has professed his faith in Christ. Lanier says Bono often introduces this hit song by quoting Psalm 116:12-14, which begins, “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?” (ESV)
            On one live recording, the rock star relates the verse to himself: “What can I give back to God for the blessings he poured out on me?”
            Lanier doesn’t make every page about pop culture. Sometimes he uses his knowledge of the original language to point out nuances of Hebrew poetry in a passage. He recalls lessons he learned from his college minister. He writes about how being grounded in his faith has kept him stable in the often-stressful law profession.
            And if you’re older or younger than most fans of U2, don’t worry that this book is for just one generation of readers. It focuses primarily on how the Psalms point us toward the love of God and salvation in his Son. It also motivates us to put biblical principles into practice every day.

            My second suggestion is brand new this month. It’s Lanier’s “sequel,” “Torah for Living: Daily Prayers, Wisdom and Guidance” (Baylor University Press, 2018). As the title indicates, this book does the same thing with the first five books of the Bible that the author did with the Psalms. Like the Psalms book, it’s available from the usual online booksellers.
            Of course, scores of excellent devotional books are on the market by well-known people such as Max Lucado, Lysa Terkeurst, Tony Dungy and Tim Keller, but these two efforts by someone who grew up in West Texas might strike a chord with people in our area.
            I haven’t seen the Torah book yet, but if I get it into my online cart soon enough, I hope it will keep me thinking more deeply about God starting New Year’s Day.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Nov. 25, 2018, column:
Blessings spread beyond the table

By Mike Haynes
            My sister pretty much has Mom’s chocolate pie down. She makes pecan pie like Mom did, too, but the chocolate was the hardest to replicate.
            Our mother was known for several things, including playing the organ at church, but her cooking prowess may have been her biggest claim to fame. For sure at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
            I’ve had chocolate pie made by others that tasted great, but – and I know I’m biased – Mom’s is up there one a higher plane. I haven’t tasted a piece anywhere else that had quite the same slight creaminess while still being firm and flavorful.
This chocolate pie was made in 2009 by the columnist's mother,
Joyce Haynes. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
            Sister Sheri has taken over a lot of what Mom provided for her family and friends, even to the point of her chocolate pie bringing $200 at a charity auction and delivering pies to shut-in friends. And other family members contribute to filling in for their mother who died five years ago. In this case, maybe it doesn’t take a village, but it takes a family.
            Thanksgiving is one of those times when it’s obvious.  Mom used to be firmly in charge of the turkey, the macaroni and cheese with crushed crackers on top, the green bean casserole and so many more side dishes. Oh, and the dressing. Everybody likes the dressing they grew up with, and Sheri kind of has that down, too.
            But it isn’t just Sheri. It takes two or three sisters-in-law to make up for Mom not being there – plus my brother Sam, who was the only one of us boys who grew up helping in the kitchen. He still does, proving that a former all-district athlete and coach also can make cream cheese dip and wash dishes.
            We manage to keep holidays going almost like when Mom was here.
            It’s the same in the community. My sister doesn’t play the organ at church (although she could), but she follows in her mother’s footsteps by leading young kids in singing and joining half a dozen or more church women in preparing and serving meals for funerals and other events.
            That’s where we see that it isn’t just us. In the Texas Panhandle, we still have some families who have been in their towns for generations. At our hometown, just one of several examples is Rose, who’s about my sister’s age. She might be at the church more than the preacher, just like her mother, Mary, was, helping with those funerals, making announcements on Sunday mornings and getting her kids involved. And before Mary, her mother was doing the same thing, and at least one more generation before that helped keep that congregation going.
            Today, so many children grow up and leave for larger cities and better opportunities, which is understandable. I ended up only 70 miles away from home, but because I’m not a good cowboy and my skills have been better suited elsewhere, I have to drive an hour or so to see family and hometown friends.
            I feel blessed to be that close. When I do make that drive for a football game or a wedding or funeral – or Thanksgiving or Christmas – I love seeing family and community traditions continuing.
            It’s not unlike the Christian faith being passed down for 2,000 years – and the Jewish faith on which it’s built for longer than that. From Jesus to Peter and Paul to the early church fathers to medieval monks to Martin Luther to John Wesley to Fanny Crosby to Mother Teresa, just to mention a few, God’s message continues to be passed on – by those big names but also by mothers and fathers quietly handing the baton to the next generation.
            This Thanksgiving, we had about 25 of our family at the 68-year-old house where Mom cooked and practiced the organ and raised five kids and where Dad still hosts us. We sat on benches at the same big kitchen table with the overflow in the dining room, and it wasn’t much different from when I was a kid.
            Not everyone has that kind of continuity, but wherever a person finds love and acceptance and maybe some turkey, they can experience some of the blessed Thanksgiving tradition.
               Even if they don’t have the best chocolate pie in the world.
                                                                    * * *
            Mike Haynes taught journalism at Amarillo College from 1991 to 2016. He can be reached at Go to for other recent columns.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Oct. 28, 2018, column:
Unexpected delights
Visit to small Maryland church overshadows Museum of the Bible, Library of Congress
By Mike Haynes
            For a believer who loves the history of God’s Word being transmitted through the centuries, a day at the Museum of the Bible and a half-day at the Library of Congress ought to be the highlights of a trip to Washington, D.C.
            And those visits this month were fascinating. On the first day, curator Norm Conrad gave our
Linganore United Methodist Church in Union Bridge, Maryland,
is on the site of one of Francis Asbury’s 16,500 sermons,
preached during his 1792 visit. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
group of 20 a special tour through MOTB, and on the second day, four Library of Congress experts arranged for us a private showing of 19 documents, including a page from the 1455 Gutenberg Bible and the small Bible used first at Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 inauguration and later by Presidents Obama and Trump.
            Strangely, it was the third day’s activity, a drive to a little Methodist Church north of Washington, that stuck with me more.
            The International Society of Bible Collectors is a small, pretty specialized group of people who know much more than I do about Bible history – from 2,000-year-old Greek papyri to 21st century native American translations. So yes, the Dead Sea Scroll fragments, a copy of Martin Luther’s 1530 New Testament and the rest of the glitzy, $500 million MOTB were enough to draw us to D.C.
            The wood-paneled room in the Library of Congress where I restrained myself from touching that Gutenberg leaf, a 1640 Bay Psalm book from Massachusetts and an 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon was in itself worth the trip.
            So in comparison, I didn’t expect much on Day 3, when we drove to Linganore United Methodist Church in Union Bridge, Maryland. The Rev. Stephen Ricketts, one of the ISBC members, is the pastor there, and the schedule called for us to hear two speakers and see his Bible collection.
            If you’re paying attention, though, you might experience unexpected delights.
Local church members served lunch to visiting Bible collectors
Oct. 6 in a traditional fellowship hall setting at Linganore
United Methodist Church. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
            Ricketts said his church’s location in the rolling, wooded hills northwest of Baltimore had hosted worship since the early 1700s and that the current brick building had been on the site since the late 1800s. He didn’t say Washington had slept there, but maybe more interesting to me, he told us that Francis Asbury had preached on this spot.
          Asbury (1745-1816) is one of the most well-known names among Methodists. The Englishman is said to have traveled 300,000 miles in America while preaching 16,500 sermons. Church founder John Wesley had ordained Thomas Coke and sent him to the new United States. In 1784, Coke ordained Asbury, who became a superintendent of the American Methodist Episcopal Church. Asbury later called himself “bishop,” although Wesley didn’t like the title.
            In the sanctuary of this small (attendance the previous Sunday had been 54) but historic Maryland church, our group heard author Laurence Vance discuss the “History of the King James Bible” and retired Wesley Theological Seminary Dean Bruce Birch explain “How Did We Get Our Bible?”
            Between the talks, I felt like I was in a rural church in the Texas Panhandle.
This tombstone in Union Bridge, Maryland,
indicates that Sarah Dorsey took care of famed
preacher Francis Asbury when he fell ill in 1792.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)  
            Three “ladies of the church” and one of their husbands met our every need during lunch in the fellowship hall. The long tables with folding chairs, the kitchen in the corner, the tidy window curtains, the decorated bulletin board – all reminded me of the church basement where I grew up.
            I loved the connection. This Maryland church has families going back more generations than
any in our part of the country, but the hospitality was the same that’s been offered for four generations by my friends and relatives in Texas.
            After marveling in late afternoon at the pastor’s collection of books and Bibles, I couldn’t resist taking pictures in the adjacent cemetery, which had graves almost 300 years old.
            Looking for a couple of the oldest tombstones, I noticed one partially covered in moss that had the upper right corner broken off. I snapped a photo, then read the inscription:
            “SARAH – Wife of – ELI DORSEY – Died 1798. –
            “June 1792 nursed Bishop – Asbury through a serious – illness at her house.”
            Francis Asbury’s visit obviously had made an impression on the congregation.

            I greatly appreciated all the remarkable activities provided for our group. It might be the subtle surprises, though, that I remember the longest.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sept. 30, 2018, column:
Home from war: McLean native 'eloquent in prayer' lost his life in France during WWI

By Mike Haynes
            On Thursday, Oct. 6, 1921, a young man’s body arrived in McLean, east of Amarillo, from New York. The casket was taken out to the home of Lucius and Mattie Floyd west of town, where the body of their son lay in state until Sunday afternoon.
            At 2 p.m., Baptist Pastor A.F. Agee conducted a funeral at the McLean Tabernacle, assisted by Chaplain C.H. Barnes of Hennessy, Oklahoma, and J.A. Hill, president of West Texas State Normal College in Canyon and attended by 150 people in the small, two-decade-old town.
            Members of the American Legion from McLean, Shamrock, Pampa, Canyon and Amarillo carried the flag-covered casket to Hillcrest Cemetery.
            Andrew H. Floyd had been killed in action three years earlier, on Oct. 8, 1918, a month and
Andrew Floyd of McLean died 100 years ago
in France during World War I.
(Provided photo from McLean-Alanreed Area Musuem)

That the young Floyd was held in high esteem is shown by the participation in his funeral of the WT president and the fact that the Sunday after the Floyds were notified of his death in November 1918, residents organized a memorial service at the Baptist Church. The program featured community leaders speaking about “His High School Life,” “His Christian Life,” “His Patriotic Life” and “His Social Life.”
            Pastor J.F. Reagan wrote about Andrew Floyd in the local newspaper on Nov. 22, 1918:
            “He was a member of the McLean Baptist church and lived a devoted life. He was eloquent in prayer and always had an encouraging word for those who were struggling in the Christian life.
            “Andrew Floyd was a patriotic man. … He didn’t want to go to war, he didn’t believe in it, but he loved his country and his home. He felt it his duty to die if need be for the sake of Democracy.”
            The handsome Floyd had been valedictorian of his 1911 high school class and won awards for debate and public speaking at West Texas State Normal College before graduating in 1914. Reagan wrote that while at WT, “he gained the love of the faculties and student body.”
            Floyd taught school in his hometown before enlisting in the U.S. Army just after the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917. He was stationed in Amarillo for six weeks before being sent to Camp Bowie at Fort Worth, where he was part of the 36th Division that was trained for trench warfare in Europe.
The 1918 headstone of Andrew Floyd in McLean reads
“He Sleeps in France.” A stone was added on top that
says, “Returned to the U.S. and Reinterred on
Oct. 9, 1921.” (Photo by Mike Haynes)
He was shipped out to France in July 1918. In August, Andrew wrote his mother:
            “It’s been quite awhile since I started “Over There;” but after a long ride, I am “Over Here.” Seems very strange to be writing you from France. … After all, you don’t seem any farther away than you ever did. I am home on a visit tonight, notwithstanding an intervening stretch of 3,000 miles of salt water. …
            “We had barely planted foot on soil and assured ourselves that it was firm when we were called on to distinguish ourselves a bit. Company G and Company H (H is from Clarendon) were selected as Honor Guards for General Pershing…
            “The battle cry over here is ‘Heaven or Hell or Home for Christmas.’ You can just go to throwing the feed to those young turkeys now.”
            In October, however, U.S. and French troops were closing in on a church at St. Etienne in southeastern France, attempting to take the city from the Germans. Many Americans charged across an open area in the attack. A historical marker on the Camp Bowie site in Fort Worth says the Americans captured St. Etienne on Oct. 8, contributing to the war’s armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. Floyd was one of several hundred Allied troops who didn’t make it.
Andrew Floyd was the first person
from McLean to die in any war as
he was killed in action in France
during World War I on Oct. 8, 1918.
(Provided photo from
McLean-Alanreed Area Museum)
            Fellow soldier John Sullivan wrote Floyd’s sister, Fay, from France that he had talked to Andrew shortly before his death. “I am proud of that fact that he did not flinch from his duty in the face of peril, but died as he had lived, a true American, worthy of a noble mother who gave him birth and the noble father who guided his steps to stalwart manhood.”

            Writer Jack Woodville London says Germans and Americans killed at St. Etienne were buried in the cemetery of the church the Allies were trying to capture. In 1920, the American remains were moved to the Meuse Argonne American Cemetery, and Andrew Floyd arrived back home in 1921.
            Also in 1921, the American Legion established the Andrew H. Floyd Post 315 in McLean. Thirty years later, it was renamed the Floyd-Corbin-Florey Post to include recognition of Andy Corbin, the first McLean resident to die in World War II, and Wibb Florey, the first and only McLean death in the Korean conflict.
             Floyd’s 1918 headstone reads “He Sleeps in France.” A stone was added on top that says, “Returned to the U.S. and Reinterred on Oct. 9, 1921.”
            Yes, it’s a coincidence, but St. Etienne is the French equivalent of St. Stephen, known as the first Christian martyr; Andrew Floyd was one Texas town’s first casualty of war.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Sept. 2, 2018, column:
Blessed are the peacemakers, Reagan and Gorbachev

By Mike Haynes
            I couldn’t resist climbing the eight steps in front of the boxy white house in Iceland. While my wife and the rest of the tour group stayed in the bus on a dreary December 2015 day in Reykjavik, I wanted to plant my insulated boots where pictures show Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev stood in 1986.
            Out front of the city-owned Hofdi House, which sits a snowball’s throw from the North Atlantic Ocean, are some stone plaques written in Russian, English and Icelandic. One reads:
“In this historic house 11-12 October 1986 the Reykjavik summit meeting of the superpowers took place between Ronald Reagan, president of the United States of America, and Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, secretary general of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Hofdi House in Iceland was the site of the 1986 summit meeting
between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev at  which the
United States and Soviet Union made progress on denuclearization.
In the foreground is a section of the Berlin Wall, covered in
graffiti, installed after it fell in 1989. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
“This summit meeting is regarded as heralding the beginning of the end of the Cold War.”
Not every historian agrees that President Reagan ended the decades-long Cold War between the United States and the USSR, but many do, especially if you also give Mikhail Gorbachev part of the credit.
Reading about that short Iceland encounter and the other three meetings between the two leaders described as summits – in Vienna, Austria; Washington, D.C.; and Moscow – reminds me what can be accomplished when people meet face to face.
As eyewitness Ken Adelman recounts in his 2014 book, “Reagan at Reykjavik,” and journalist Bret Baier describes in this year’s “Three Days in Moscow,” those two world leaders not only became friends over three years but reduced their nations’ nuclear arsenals substantially. And the firm stance that Reagan consistently projected plus his encouraging words of freedom to the people of the Soviet Union and its satellite countries were major factors in the 1989 fall of the Berlin wall and the breakup of the USSR in 1991.
Reagan started his presidency with tough talk, calling the USSR an “evil empire” in a 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals. The same month, he announced plans to develop the Strategic Defense Initiative, envisioned as a way to shoot down nuclear missiles before they could hit the United States. SDI, which many ridiculed as “Star Wars,” turned out to be unrealistic, but it was taken seriously by the Soviets and contributed to their willingness to negotiate.
It is clear from those present at the four summits that both Reagan and Gorbachev sincerely wanted to rid the globe of the danger of nuclear destruction. This chief Communist operated in a more human way than the stiff Soviet leaders of the past, and his motivation apparently was an honest desire to make the world a better place.
Reagan’s inspiration was a strong patriotism and belief system born in his small-town Illinois upbringing. Ron and Nancy Reagan didn’t attend church much during their White House years, which author Baier attributes to the disruption it would have caused. But the president often quoted Abraham Lincoln about praying on his knees, and in a letter thanking a reporter for a story, Reagan wrote:
“…there are a lot of people in the media who are very ‘broad-minded’ except when it comes
This display in Reykjavik, Iceland, describes the 1986 summit meeting there
between Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union and Ronald Reagan
of the United States. The words are in the Icelandic language. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
to tolerating people with religious convictions. … (Teddy Roosevelt) called the Presidency a ‘bully pulpit,’ but nowadays if one uses words like God and Prayer from the ‘pulpit’ the alarm bells go off.”
Reagan’s “evil empire” speech included a quote from C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters”: “The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered … in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”
But as he warned about evil creeping in, Reagan was adaptable, as was Gorbachev. By the time of their third summit in Washington, they knew each other well, and I think they realized they both genuinely wanted peace. When in 1988 during a walk in Moscow’s Red Square, reporter Sam Donaldson asked Reagan, “Do you still think you’re in an evil empire?” the president replied, “No, that was another time, another era.”
The climax of Baier’s book is a speech Reagan gave during that Moscow summit to students at Moscow State University. By then, the purpose of the man who had been so hard on Communism and the USSR was to encourage and inspire the students and, by extension, the Soviet people.
He talked about the shared yearning for freedom of all humans, including Americans and Russians. He quoted Russian writer Boris Pasternak about “the irresistible power of unarmed truth.” Standing under a huge bust of Vladimir Lenin, Reagan finished with the hope for “a new world of reconciliation, friendship and peace.”
Since Gorbachev and Reagan passed the reins to others, the U.S.-Russian relationship has regressed. We don’t see the same desire for peace or the same goodwill. The current leaders don’t, like those two did, bring to mind Jesus’ words:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”     
            (This column was in the Amarillo Globe-News Oct. 2, 2018 - with the last line, the Bible quote, left out!.
           (It’s plenty long already, but I had intended to include something about the Czech woman who led a tour in the Czech Republic on another trip Kathy and I took. She remembered when the Communists left her country around 1990 and said she and everybody she knows love Ronald Reagan for that. –Mike H.)

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Aug. 5, 2018, column:

Jackson unashamedly gave credit to God

By Mike Haynes
            Professor Thomas Jackson was an odd man. If, in a social setting, a person used the figure of speech, “you know,” he would interrupt the speaker to point out that he didn’t know.
            If someone said they wished the rain would stop, he would reply, “Yes, if the Maker of the weather thinks it best.”
            While teaching what we would call physics today, he rarely explained concepts to his Virginia Military Institute students in the 1850s but simply repeated the words of the textbook, which he had memorized.
            Jackson’s students would walk behind him, mimicking his gait, and draw pictures of his large boots on the blackboard. He was more effective outdoors teaching artillery, but cadets still imitated his high-pitched voice and removed linchpins from a cannon so its wheels would fall off.
            Through it all, the peculiar professor stayed stiff and dignified.
            His students probably didn’t realize that their teacher had shown bravery and decisiveness as an artillery captain in the Mexican War in the 1840s. But Confederate leaders remembered when the Civil War began in 1861.
            Author S.C. “Sam” Gwynne examined this soldier-turned-professor-turned-general in his 2014 biography, “Rebel Yell,” the story of the man who became known as Stonewall Jackson and was admired not only by everyone in the South, but by many in the North.

            Gwynne has spoken in the Texas Panhandle about his award-winning book, “Empire of the Summer Moon,” a chronicle of Quanah Parker and the Comanche tribe. In Pampa in 2015, my wife had Gwynne sign a copy of “Rebel Yell” for me. I finally got around to reading it.
             As Jackson’s weather comment hints, he was a devout Christian who Gwynne says might have become a Presbyterian minister if his speaking ability hadn’t been so dismal. But while on the VMI faculty and during his two years as a military commander, his faith was obvious.
            Jackson’s skill in maneuvering troops quickly brought promotions as he helped defend his native Virginia from what most Southerners perceived as the Northern invaders. He pushed his infantry to move so fast that they often outflanked the enemy and showed up to surprise opposing generals.
            And always, Jackson shunned credit, which he unashamedly gave to God. In an era when President Lincoln claimed divine favor for the Union, Jackson did the same for the Confederacy. This report to Robert E. Lee before an 1862 battle is typical:
“Through God’s blessing, the advance, which commenced this evening, has been successful thus far, and I look to Him for complete success to-morrow.” The next day, Jackson’s forces took Harper’s Ferry.
With several battlefield victories, the “Stonewall” nickname became common in northern and southern newspapers. Jackson avoided reading his accolades. In a letter to his wife, Anna, he wrote:
“Don’t trouble yourself about representations that are made of your husband. These things are earthly and transitory. There are real and glorious blessings, I trust, in reserve for us beyond this life.
“It is best for us to keep our eyes fixed upon the throne of God and the realities of a more glorious existence beyond the verge of time.”
He told his brother-in-law, “The manner in which the press, the army and the people seem to lean upon certain persons is positively frightful. They are forgetting God in the instruments He has chosen. It fills me with alarm.” To his pastor, he wrote, “if we fail to trust in God & give him all the glory, our cause is ruined.”
Several times, Jackson was seen on the battlefield praying astride his horse, Little Sorrel, or standing near his troops. His head would bow, and his right hand would rise into the air.
During long periods in camp, he arranged for chaplains or visiting ministers to preach to the soldiers, often at his own expense. He and Lee visited church services when possible, but the shy Jackson found that his fame made that troubling. At the end of a service in Richmond, the congregation realized Stonewall was in attendance. Amid excitement, many rushed Jackson’s pew, and his officers had to help him escape the attention.
This stained-glass window honoring Thomas J. “Stonewall”
Jackson was installed in Fifth Avenue Presbyterian
Church in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1905 by the Rev. L.L.
Downing, whose parents had attended a Sunday school
for enslaved black residents of Lexington, Virginia,
established by Jackson. 
  Before one military decision, another general commented, “Don’t you know why Old Jack would not decide at once? He is going to pray over it first!”
Of course, today it isn’t socially or politically OK to say good things about anyone associated with the Confederacy. Jackson did own six slaves, and he fought for the side that defended slavery. Some may not forgive that.
He also, in 1855, had financed a Sunday school for African Americans, which was against the law. Local leaders confronted him about it, but Jackson was adamant that the school continue. His wife said, “His interest in that race was simply because they had souls to save.”
Up to 100 slaves attended the Lexington Colored Sabbath School. In 1905, the Rev. L.L. Downing had a stained-glass window honoring Jackson installed in a black church in Roanoke, Virginia, because Jackson had taught Downing’s enslaved parents to read, write and love the Bible.
Stonewall Jackson’s brilliant war career was short. In 1863, he was shot by friendly fire, had his arm amputated and died of pneumonia at age 39. His personal servant, Jim Lewis, was devastated, as was much of the South. Author Gwynne said his funeral was the largest public display of grief in U.S. history to that point.
Thomas Jackson’s last words were reported as “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

Sunday, July 08, 2018

July 8, 2018, column:

Finding a stand in secular-spiritual divide in education

By Mike Haynes
            When I taught mass media at Amarillo College, I stayed away from discussing religion or politics in class.
I didn’t want to hide the fact that I was a believer in Christ, so when talking about advertising, I might say something like, “On our way to church Sunday, Kathy and I saw a new digital billboard at Hillside and I-27.” And once a semester, I would hand out one of my Faith columns as part of a collection of writing examples.
            I have no regrets about keeping quiet on politics, but looking back, I may have been more cautious than necessary as I tried not to push my spiritual beliefs on the students.
It’s OK (and legal, even at a public institution) to reveal where your moral compass comes from as long as it’s part of an open discussion and you’re not pressuring students in any way. I knew a faculty member who started each semester introducing himself – including the fact that he was a Christian. Another friend who taught in high school would, at some point in the year, ask his students what guided their moral decisions. Without judgment, he would tell them his own guiding light was the Bible. Neither of those guys overdid it by preaching their own worldviews.
That isn’t so in many public college and university classrooms. Most professors at secular schools teach from what they may consider to be neutral perspectives, but according to a native of Wichita Falls who teaches at Claremont Graduate University in California, they are more biased than they think.
Mary Poplin’s latest book is “Is Reality Secular? Testing the Assumptions of Four Global
Mary Poplin
Worldviews.” She also has edited “Christianity and the Secular Border Patrol: The Loss of Judeo-Christian Knowledge,” an essay collection. She told Christianity Today magazine that the purpose of the latter book is “to make explicit that secularism is a sort of umbrella of ideologies defined by its exclusion of religion, primarily of Christian voices. …
“Secularism defines itself by what it is not; it has no agreed-upon moral compass, so it’s an umbrella for anything from the far right to the far left and everything in between – as long as it’s not religious.
“As Stanley Fish says, secularism has survived by pretending to be neutral, but it’s anything but neutral.”
It’s well-documented that many professors in public higher education openly promote their personal political and religious views, brazenly attempting to convert their students to the “correct” ideas. Rarely do those ideas include Judeo-Christian belief.
Poplin told CT magazine that university leaders often think their schools are the free, open marketplace of ideas, “But it’s the free marketplace of certain ideas and the closed marketplace of other ideas.”
So while believers in God censor themselves to avoid accusations of proselytizing, others fill their impressionable students with their version of “truth.” Contrast that approach with Poplin’s:
“When I’m teaching pedagogies, I teach critical theory – Marxism, feminism, etc. – and I also teach a Christian perspective,” she said. “I present the alternatives because I’m at a secular university. But even if we were at a Christian university, I would want the students to know the range of explanations … What are the options here?”
The University of California-Berkeley is notorious as a hotbed of radical ideas and protests. Few would see it as welcoming to Judeo-Christian ideas, but author and Presbyterian minister Ryan Pemberton believes Christians can lovingly start to erase that ideological barrier. He wrote in CT magazine that God doesn’t separate secular and sacred spaces.
Ryan Pemberton

God is no more present in the small towns, suburbs and cities in which our students grew up than in Berkeley,” Pemberton wrote. Even in a setting where opposing views have bred hatred and violence, civility and love can prosper.
Pemberton oversees a Christian student gathering place near UC-Berkeley where he says strangers are welcome no matter their views or beliefs. He recalled a night when two students with opposite political opinions had a respectful conversation about how to lovingly respond to a controversial campus speaker.
When we gather as the church, we are reminded that our political commitments are not what unites us. God is,” he wrote. “…Gathering as the church reshapes how we relate to one another.”
Pemberton quoted a member of the Presbyterian church next door to the student center:
“I couldn’t believe it when I pulled into the parking lot and saw a Trump sticker beside their First Pres bumper sticker. When I realized whose car it was, I realized not only am I in a small group with that person, but I love them.”
Poplin proposes several responses to the secular-spiritual divide in education, one of which is building Christian communities on the edge of campuses.
“We need to understand that this is the way we’re probably going to have to live for a while,” she said. “…I don’t think we can be na├»ve and expect to be invited in to secular universities.”
As for the educators, she said they should be aware of how secularism excludes other ideas and consider “Where do secular theories and Judeo-Christian thought overlap, and where do they part ways? And what does the Judeo-Christian tradition add to the conversation?”
                                                                    * * *
            Mike Haynes taught journalism at Amarillo College from 1991 to 2016. He can be reached at Go to for other recent columns.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 10, 2018, column:

She was a testament to friendship and faith

By Mike Haynes
            Mark, Kathy and I stood quietly on one of the white beaches of St. Petersburg, Florida, looking west at the Gulf of Mexico. Mark had driven us there hoping to show us a glorious sunset, but clouds on the edge of subtropical storm Alberto were preventing that.
            Still, the muted glow of the sun could be seen behind the bluish cloud bank and above the
Sallyann and Kathy hold the poodle Pierre in Amarillo in
1970 near the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
(Photo by Peggy Tredway)
larger-than-normal waves flowing in. Light was reflected on the wet sand. Even without orange in the sky, it was a beautiful sight.
            The only flaw in the scene was that there were three instead of four of us. What had drawn Kathy and I to Florida near the end of May was the memorial service for Mark’s wife of 36 years, Sallyann.
            Although Sallyann, 59, had spent most of her childhood in Kansas and some of it in Amarillo, where she met Kathy in the third grade, she loved the beach. She had decided early on that she’d like to live in Florida, and she and Mark had achieved that goal, raising four children in various Sunshine State locations.
            What made Mark’s new heartache bearable was the fact that the two of them and their children all have been followers of Jesus Christ for most of their lives. We know the promise about eternity that Christ gave his disciples not long before his death: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2, KJV)
            That assurance is familiar to many in the Texas Panhandle, where belief still is strong. It also is where Sallyann received some of her foundational faith as her family was active in Paramount Terrace Christian Church in their short time in Amarillo.
            They were here long enough for her and Kathy to become fast friends, listening to Monkees records after school and learning about God in the church youth group. After Sallyann’s family moved to Kansas, their families took frequent vacations together. The two girls spent a year as roommates at a Bible college. They were in each other’s weddings.
            After marriage, their connection loosened to phone calls a couple of times a year, but around 2000, they stepped it up. Sallyann visited Amarillo, and the four of us took some trips together.
On a St. Petersburg, Florida, beach, Kathy and Mark
contemplate a loss. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
            So the first half of Proverbs 17:17 was going well: “A friend loves at all times…” Then came a cancer diagnosis five years ago, and the second part of that verse became obvious: “…and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
            I take “brother” to also mean “sister,” and I feel blessed to have witnessed a close sisterhood that intensified in difficult times. When Kathy flew to see her friend in Florida, she figured out a way to take Wienerschnitzel chili dogs – Sallyann’s favorite – with her on the plane. She gave encouraging words while listening to updates on cancer treatment. Sallyann reciprocated in many ways, including stitching “Sally-n-Kathy BF 1967-4ever” on an afghan she made for her friend last year.
            To be honest, I intended to write this column more generally about friendship and faith with a brief mention of my wife and her friend. But I think they are too good a model to keep to myself and our families. I know many other such friendships flourish, but this is the one I know most about. And it’s one that also includes a father above.
            The obituary said, “God was first in every area of Sallyann’s life from how she read through the Bible in a year 15-plus times to her commitment to her marriage, children and church.” I saw firsthand that those words aren’t just platitudes. On our trips together, Mark and Sallyann spent time each morning on a condo porch or a cruise ship deck praying and reading scripture.
Clouds and waves decorate a view of the Gulf of Mexico from a
St. Petersburg, Florida, beach. (Photo by Kathy Haynes)

At the memorial service, a cousin’s words were read recalling Sallyann’s dream decades ago in which God told her she was to work with the deaf. She did teach deaf students for 17 years, and on the day she left us, her deaf, autistic and adopted son, Chris, graduated from high school.
            I’m sure there are lessons in this story that I have yet to grasp. I’ve learned a few from watching the servant’s heart of Sallyann’s husband and the love from her children. I suspect I could glean even more from opening my own Bible more often. And maybe enhancing it with a West Texas sunset.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 13, 2018, column:
In rural areas, pastors find ways to emphasize unity

By Mike Haynes
            When two pastors – one Methodist and one nondenominational – get together on one platform, both are going to have to do a little adjusting.
            That’s what happened last Sunday when the young Casey Carter of One Way Church in McLean and the little-bit-older Thacker Haynes of the United Methodist churches in McLean and Heald preached one sermon like a ping-pong match, tossing words back and forth to each other but with all aimed at their combined congregations.
            The joint service in the One Way sanctuary – it’s the biggest in town – drew 316 people in the community of less than 800, followed by a free barbecue dinner.
It usually takes a six-man football game to bring that many people together in eastern Gray County. This time, the focus was Jesus Christ.
Thacker Haynes, left, and Casey Carter, right, preached one sermon
together May 6 at One Way Church in McLean. Haynes is pastor of
the United Methodist churches in McLean and Heald, and Carter
is pastor of the One Way nondenominational church.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
The combined worship event was a logical affirmation of cooperative ministry that’s been going on for at least a couple of years. Carter and Haynes (full disclosure: my cousin) have worked together in a 12-step ministry, Bible studies, a Christmas kids’ gifts outreach, a rodeo ministry in Clarendon and a youth program that has brought 75 kindergarten through high school students from all three churches together weekly.
The pastors’ flocks have worked side by side in a small town where each church wouldn’t have as much impact separately.
It’s about the only way for the Christian population to get anything done for the Kingdom in small rural towns,” Haynes said.
One accomplishment was 15 children who had professed Christ, several of whom were baptized after the joint sermon Sunday. In a little Panhandle town, that’s a lot. Carter, Haynes and layman Jeremiah Soto split the duties in the baptistry, built when the facility was First Baptist Church. Methodists usually sprinkle, but Haynes has handled plenty of immersions, too, in a pond near his house.
Such differences often keep Christians apart. Gene Shelburne, Amarillo’s longtime minister, Bible teacher and author who also writes for this and other newspapers, published a book in 2004 called, “The Quest for Unity: An Appeal for Oneness Among All Believers in Christ.”
Shelburne lists questions that drive wedges between Christians – some that seem to be
preferences, such as what to call the preacher, whether to raise hands in worship and whether to sing new songs or old songs.
He calls other questions “weightier” – such as whether to speak in tongues, what happens in the end times and whether salvation is by works or grace.
“Whole denominations have been created because Christians can’t agree on questions like these,” Shelburne writes.
The sermon by Carter and Haynes used the story in II Kings 4 about a woman whose husband has died, and she is at the mercy of creditors. The only item of value she has is a small jar of olive oil. The prophet Elisha tells her to ask all her neighbors for empty jars, then pour her olive oil into each of them.
The woman has faith in the prophet, and her few drops of oil fill all the vessels, giving her wealth enough to pay her bills.
The preachers last Sunday had asked members of all three churches to bring ceramic jars, which were displayed in front of the platform. They compared the neighbors in Kings 4 to the Christians who’ve been working in their youth and other ministries, regardless of church affiliation.
After the sermon, excerpts of Billy Graham messages were shown on two video screens, which was fitting because in addition to leading so many individuals to God, Graham also brought Christians of all kinds of churches together in worship and in ministry, especially in parachurch organizations.
In his book, Shelburne grants that “significant doctrinal issues divide Christ’s followers.” But he says that more often, “we allow ourselves to be estranged from each other in the Lord because we just don’t like the way the other person chooses to worship or evangelize. We don’t ‘do church’ the same.”
About 20 young boys and girls last Sunday clapped and sang, “When those gates are open wide, I’m gonna sit at Jesus’ side, I’m gonna sing, I’m gonna shout, ‘Praise the Lord!’”
Those smiling kids didn’t care which of the three churches they were from.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

April 15, 2018, column:

Learn from Billy Graham how to slow down with grace

By Mike Haynes
            My mother was not comfortable getting old. By the time she was 83, deteriorating health had forced her to slow down from the constant multitasking she had been used to for more than six decades.
Raising five kids, nonstop cooking, playing the church organ and hosting bridge club were just a few of the activities that kept this ranch woman busy, so Joyce Haynes was reluctant to spend increasing hours in a living room recliner during 2013, the last year of her life.
Talking to her Methodist pastor nephew, Thacker, helped her adjust to the new normal. And a book on a table next to her chair was another encouragement. It was “Nearing Home,” by Billy Graham.
Subtitled, “Life, Faith, and Finishing Well,” the evangelist’s 2011 book was one of his last and was timely for Mom. I believe she took to heart Graham’s advice that “Growing older with grace is possible for all who will set their hearts and minds on the Giver of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mom said she hoped her children would read “Nearing Home.” I haven’t yet, but I sure did benefit from the renewed attention to Graham after his death this Feb. 21 at age 99. Like many, I read about his life online, in newspapers and magazines, watched a TV special on his career and listened to his sermons on satellite radio. I was reminded of something I, along with my family, have seen since the 1950s: that this man was an admirable Christian example.
One of those replayed sermons was from September 1975 at Texas Tech’s Jones Stadium in Lubbock. It was the second time I’d heard it, because I attended several of the eight nights of the West Texas Billy Graham Crusade that year. It was just one of many ways this man of God touched me.
Still burned into my memory are the brilliant stadium lights that seemed to turn the green-turfed home of the Red Raiders into two acres of heaven. As Graham preached on topics such as “Angels,” “Jaws” (the movie came out that summer) and “The Cost of Not Following Jesus,” he was backed up by sports figures (Tech and Baylor football coaches Steve Sloan and Grant Teaff and Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis), singers (Ethel Waters, Beverly Terrell and Norma Zimmer) and others.
And of course, Graham’s longtime team members Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea were ever-present.
I lived in Lubbock then, working at the Avalanche-Journal newspaper, where one of my jobs was placing Graham’s regular “My Answer” column on a page. I didn’t know that a girl named Kathy rode down from Amarillo in a bus with her Paramount Terrace Christian Church youth group to see Billy Graham. She was impressed with the size of the audience, which ranged from 20,000 to 30,000 each night in the then-47,000-seat stadium. Fifteen years later, I met Kathy at that same church and married her in 1991.
Billy Graham West Texas Crusade, 1975, Lubbock, Texas
            Graham has inspired me since the black-and-white TV days. My brother, David, remembers watching the crusades with our grandmother after color came along. In high school, my friend Alan signed me up for a free subscription to “Decision,” the magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. That eventually led to my attending the Decision School of Christian Writing in Minnesota in 1979, where I toured the BGEA headquarters and heard now-famous author Philip Yancey speak about the need for more quality in Christian writing.
            In 2000, I nervously did a phone interview with Franklin Graham in advance of Amarillo’s Franklin Graham Festival as the Graham son was beginning to fill his father’s role. I wrote about spiritual issues for this newspaper and for the Canyon publication, “Upbeat Reporter,” but what sticks in my mind is Franklin pointing out the difference between Texas and North Carolina barbecue.
            One of the few magazines I still subscribe to is the intelligent and insightful “Christianity Today,” founded by Billy Graham.
            If “America’s preacher” has had such influence on me and my family, how many others around the world have been attracted to Jesus by this man who stuck to one message, the gospel of Christ?
            Upon Graham’s death, Lubbock pastor Mitch Wilson told Ray Westbrook of the Avalanche-Journal he also had attended the 1975 crusade.
            “I was just overwhelmed with those simple, clear, concise words of truth that drew me in,” Wilson recalled.
              Like my mother, Billy Graham finally had to slow down. And like her, he finished well.
                                                                    * * *
            Mike Haynes taught journalism at Amarillo College from 1991 to 2016. He can be reached at Go to for other recent columns.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

March 18, 2018, column:

Lewis argued for Christian faith in multiple writing genres

By Mike Haynes
            When people find out I’m a Beatles fan, they often ask which is my favorite song by the greatest band in history. Although on any given day I could pick a different one, I always reply, “I Saw Her Standing There,” because it’s fun, energetic rock ’n’ roll and because for me, the “Her” is my wife, Kathy.
            Nobody has asked who my most admired Christians are, but I do have a short list. There could be many more, but my Fab Three are Billy Graham, John Wesley and C.S. Lewis, now all in heaven forever with the only one really worthy of praise.
            In his almost 65 years on Earth, Lewis preached only a few sermons. His interaction with people in person was limited pretty much to those he encountered in his career as an Oxford and Cambridge professor. The British intellectual didn’t reach millions in stadiums and on television like Graham, and he didn’t start a new Christian movement like Wesley.
            But man, you could argue that his impact for God was right up there with anyone. Before and after his 1963 death, more than 120 million copies of his “Chronicles of Narnia” children’s books, which have a definite Christian theme, have been sold, according to the Steve Laube publishing agency. That number doesn’t include millions more of his overtly Christian books such as “Mere Christianity” and “The Screwtape Letters,” his science fiction novels or his scholarly writing on literature.
            Lewis is exceptional in that his arguments for the Christian faith and his subtle promotion of it in multiple writing genres appeal to all kinds of Christians, including evangelicals, Catholics and mainstream Protestants.
             So it isn’t surprising that even Amarillo, Texas, has at least one group that meets monthly to discuss his books, his life and his ideas.

            The Lewis Underground meets at 5:30 p.m. the fourth Monday of each month, usually in the clubhouse of the River Falls Apartments. It’s associated informally with the C.S. Lewis Foundation, based in Redlands, California, established in 1986. The foundation owns the Kilns, Lewis’ home in Oxford, England, which hosts visiting scholars and seminars, and stages regular Christian events.
            The Underground and the foundation don’t worship Lewis. Here’s a statement that both groups follow: “Inspired by the life and legacy of C.S. Lewis, the vision of the C.S. Lewis Foundation is to restore a vital Christian presence throughout higher education, the arts and the culture at large.”
            Many would agree that education, the arts and our culture all need a new infusion of Christian principles, and the local group is expanding its own presence by planning free public events.
            The first will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 26, at the Bible Chair of the Southwest at 512 SW 22nd Ave., across the street from Amarillo College. Although the organizers expect lots of college students to attend, the program will be of interest to anyone attracted to the ideas I’ve mentioned above.
            Dr. Mike Bellah, retired from the AC English department, will talk briefly about the concepts of friendship in Lewis’ writings. Randy Ray, who teaches mass media at West Texas A&M University, will bring some WT students to talk about their 2017 study trip to Oxford and Lewis’ stomping grounds. And Kirk Manton, a Trinity Fellowship staffer and a CSL Foundation regional representative, will talk about the foundation and its activities.
            On the arts front, Amarillo’s Randy Palmer will play and sing, and graphic artist Cody Watson will show his recent work. Local writer Nan Rinella will offer “low tea” in the form of English tea and scones.
            In “Mere Christianity,” Lewis called the world “enemy-occupied territory.” “Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise,” he wrote, “and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
            The Lewis Underground, with its March 26 event and its monthly meetings, seeks to participate in that spiritual mission.