Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: If God is Good...

Randy Alcorn's "If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil" is a thorough, helpful, and inspiring treatise on the problem of evil and suffering in light of the belief in a benevolent and all-powerful God. The book is exceptionally written with both supporting information and enlightening illustrations. Throughout the book, Alcorn makes the case for a belief in the all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good God of the Bible, in-spite of, or perhaps even because of, suffering and evil in the world.

Alcorn acknowledges that evil and suffering are real and are real problems when it comes to believing in the God of the Bible. He presents the arguments offered by atheists and agnostics, that the existence of evil and suffering in our world is evidence against the reality of the God of the Bible. If God is all-good and all-powerful, he certainly would not allow such evil and suffering to exist as rape, child-abuse, cancer and natural disasters. Alcorn then masterfully responds to those arguments from Scripture, philosophy and human experiences and insights. He provides substantial support for his position that God not only exists, but he is actively at work in and through the lives of those who suffer.

This book is a remarkable work. Though Alcorn deals with the very difficult subject of pain and suffering, he does so with a unique compassion in his writing. While offering opposing view points from his own, he does not come across as being arrogant or of being condemning of those who hold different opinions. He also deals with some very technical issues, such as predestination verses freewill, but does so in a very understandable way.

"If God is Good" is an exceptional work that will help provide encouragement, comfort and understanding to those going through times of suffering. It will also be a helpful resource for those who are looking for a better understanding of how and why God allows suffering and evil to exist. I personally have a better understanding of how God has been working in my own life through personal suffering and difficulties. I highly recommend this book.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


One of my favorite holidays. I have so much to be thankful for - first and foremost, my salvation in Christ. Without Him I would be hopeless. I'm also thankful for my wife, with whom I recently celebrated 26 years of marriage. I'm thankful for my beautiful daughters who are the joy of my life. I'm thankful for my mom who has been modeling faith for me from the day I was born. And I'm thankful for my family of faith who mean more to me than they will ever know in this life - thank you Magna View.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Just working Monday and Tuesday this week. Taking Wednesday off to be with Cecelia and the girls. We're going to Dollywood and to look at Christmas lights. We're doing Thanksgiving at home, starting our own family traditions. I'm looking forward to cooking and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with the girls. I have fond memories from my childhood of cracking pecans for Waldorf Salad while watching the parade with my family. And, of course, I'll be watching a lot of football this weekend.

Monday, November 15, 2010

40 Days of Praise

Our church has been doing 40 Days of Praise leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday and it has been wonderful to hear the praises of God's people and see some of the wonderful results of putting a priority on praising the Lord. Each week we have had different people share their testimonies of how God is at work in their lives. The result has been that others are becoming more encouraged to share their testimonies and praises.

For me personally, this has been one of the best Fall seasons I can remember. Typically the time leading up to Thanksgiving is stressful - lots of church activities, lots of sickness in the church, and trying to get all of the family stuff done in preparation of the holiday. This year has been different because I'm more focused on the Lord. I've made praising Him a priority in my life and the result has been a wonderful peace in my heart. There are still a lot of church activities, there is still a lot of people sick, and there is plenty of family stuff to get done, but this year there is no stress, just peace and joy. God is good like that!

This week in our 40 Days of Praise devotionals we are focusing on the names of God in the Old Testament. The Hebrew people often named places or gave God characteristic names after some significant event. These refer to God's acts or His character. Today we praise Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord our Healer. In Exodus 15, after crossing the Red Sea, the Hebrews came to a place called Marah where they found water that was bitter. Unable to drink the water, the people whined to Moses who cried out to God, who showed Moses a tree that he could put in the water and it would take away the bitterness. At Marah, God made a covenant that if they obeyed His voice, they would not suffer the diseases that had plagued the Egyptians, for He Himself would heal them. He is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord who heals. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Blessed Man!

Today was one of those special days when I realize how blessed I really am. This morning started out with our traditional Sunday ritual, breakfast at McDonald's. We started doing this on Sunday mornings as a way to motivate our kids to get up and ready for church. It has been such a blessing because we have an opportunity to talk and enjoy each other and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning up. We also have a good time cutting up with one another and it just puts us in a good mood as we prepare for worship. 

Today was different because I was invited to preach at Bulls Gap Baptist for their Homecoming service. I pastored Bulls Gap from 1994-1998 and we had not been back there for a long time. It was wonderful to see some familiar faces and to remember some wonderful times of ministry. I remembered a lot of things about our time there: ministering to people in crisis, fellowship times, worship times, baptisms, weddings and funerals. The years at BG were years of growth for me, and God brought some wonderful people into my life to help me grow. 

After the service we had a wonderful lunch and fellowship time. Then we came home and cleaned-up and got ready for our small group, we call it Family2Family. Normally our girls do childcare, but we didn't have any little ones tonight so the girls got to participate in the Bible study, and it was real blessing to have them in on the discussion.  I'm amazed at how they are growing in the Lord. I remember when I was their age and I had virtually no relationship with the Lord. I was saved, but I was not growing in the Lord. My girls are much farther along spiritually than I was at their age. It blesses me to see how God is at work through them. 

I'm thankful for our small group. We're usually not a very small group but tonight was different and it gave us a chance to really share our hearts. We discussed the story of David and Goliath, which Bill preached on this morning. There are so many lessons in that story; it was great to hear different perspectives from different people. Each time we meet I learn something new about the people I worship and serve with. God is doing some great things in my life through the small group. 

I am a blessed man. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Security in God

In Sunday School the last several weeks we have been studying a wonderful section of Scripture called the "Psalms of Ascent", Psalms 120-134. This week we are studying Psalms 125 and 126. A big part of the lesson that I've studied so far has been on 125:1-2, "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore." The psalmist describes the security that God is to His people. Just as Jerusalem was secured by the surrounding mountains, so God's people are secure in Him. Our security, spiritually and in all other ways, lies in our close relationship with God. But a problem can occur when we begin to trust more in the blessings of God or in the manifestations of God's presence, than in God Himself.

The writer of the lesson puts it this way:

"We often know enough not to ascribe our security to carnal, worldly things. Our greater, slyer temptation is to place our security in the blessings we readily credit to the Lord.
"Even if our security is in something God has given us -- our gifts, talents, loved ones, church family, consitent victory, passion for His Word -- our seemingly secure mountain ultimately will fall into the sea. We can grow secure in the favor God has shown us, but God's favor and His person are not synonymous. If our trust is in the manifestations of God's favor rather than God Himself, we will crumble like dry clay when He calls us to walk a distance of our journey entirely by faith and not by sight.
"To build on our previous psalm of ascent [124], God is with us and for us even when His face and His favor seem hidden. Mountain-like security only comes from trusting God, not what He's done for us or given us, however glorious and eternal those things may be." (Masterwork, p.45)


Monday, September 20, 2010

A Believing Pharisee???

Last week I attended a leadership conference at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC with a couple of guys from church. It was a pretty intense one-day event. We heard some of the best preachers in the country: Perry Noble (host pastor), Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, Jud Wilhite, Judah Smith, Steven Furtick, and Andy Stanley. All of these guys and their messages had a different impact on me. Some of them encouraged me, some challenged me, and all of them taught me. And God used them to help me see some things that I hadn't seen before.

For example, Andy Stanley preached on Acts 15, on "Four Gravitational Pulls Every Church Experiences." It was a great message; very practical, inspiring and helpful. But God also opened my eyes to a verse I had not paid much attention too before. The context of Acts 15 is the controversy over whether Gentiles could be saved by faith alone, or if they had to be circumcised and keep the Jewish laws. The first Christians were Jews and they were having a difficult time accepting that God could save people outside of the Jewish faith.

The verse that really jumped out was Acts 15:5. I've read this verse numerous times, but suddenly it captivated my attention: But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." (NKJV) What? Pharisees who "believed"? I just kept reading those words: "the Pharisees who believed; the Pharisees who believed; the Pharisees who believed." Then the Holy Spirit spoke - "A Pharisee who believes, is still a Pharisee." He believes in Jesus, but he is still holding on to his religious traditions and trying to impose them on others.

To the Pharisees' credit, the things they were holding on to were pretty important. In fact, they had been given to them by God - circumcision as a sign of the covenant, and the Law of Moses as the means of keeping the covenant. It was their "old-time religion" and if it was good enough for Abraham and Moses, it was good enough for them, and it would be good enough for the Gentiles as well!

The problem was, the "Old-Time Religion" wasn't good enough (see Acts 15:10), and so God was doing something new. He had established a new covenant through His Son Jesus. A covenant of faith, not religious ritual. The Pharisees knew of Jesus, and according to the Scriptures, even "believed." But they couldn't let go of the past. And they couldn't let go of their old ways of doing things, like imposing their beliefs on others (i.e., "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.") Consequently, they were causing division in the church.

Here's the point God gave me - "A believing Pharisee, is still a Pharisee, and will always try to make people do/see things his way. But the church can't be held hostage to the ways of the Pharisee. Grace must (and will) always prevail." Believe me, there are still Pharisees in the church today, and they will always try to control the work of God and make it fit into their theological framework, and by imposing their personal beliefs on others. But, as Jesus said, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” Matt 9:17 (NLT) The "New Wine" of Christ will not be contained by the old religious traditions held on to by men, and eventually He will break free from them.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on America. I remember being at the office that morning, when our secretary came in and mentioned that she had heard something about a plane hitting one of the buildings in New York. I thought it was probably a small plane and it would turn out to be an accident, but I turned on the radio and discovered it was a major event. I listened to the news on the radio for a while, but decided I needed to see what the TV news people were saying, so I headed home to be with Cecelia and our youngest daughter.

I got home in time to see the second plane hit the tower. By then we knew it was a terrorist attack. I remember the feelings as I watched the towers begin to crumble and fall to the ground. I couldn't believe my eyes. Our friend Kim was here and I remember us praying together for the people involved. I sat in front of the TV for the rest of the day as reports of the crashes at the Pentagon and Pennsylvania came in. I remember feeling numb for a while, and then getting angry. There was nothing I could do, but I was angry.

That evening I was teaching a class for Carson-Newman. I didn't have time to cancel it, so we abbreviated it and we had called a special prayer service at our church. Most of the people who gathered felt the same way; we were in shock and we were angry. But we turned our anger over to God as we spent time talking and praying together. I still cannot understand those who are not only willing to take their own life for a cause, but also willing to murder innocent lives as well.

In the news recently a pastor in Florida has been planning to burn 200 copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book. There has been a huge outcry from government officials, celebrities, religious figures and others. Muslims across the world are outraged and many are demonstrating against the U.S. by burning flags and shouting "Death to America."

I'm not in favor of burning the Koran; though I do not accept it as a holy book, I think it should be respected as well as the religion it represents. But I do believe that this episode has revealed the huge difference between Christianity and Islam. Burn a stack of Bibles and Christians will be angry, we'll be hurt, we'll condemn the act as sacrilege; but we won't threaten to kill you or demonstrate by burning flags and effigies. We won't threaten worldwide repercussions. We will be angry and voice our anger, but we will also pray for those who commit such an act. We'll pray that the Lord would help them see the error of their ways and come to Him to receive forgiveness and eternal life.

Islam has been touted as a religion of peace, yet every time Muslims feel their holy book or prophet has been defamed, they strike out in violence, threatening riots and attacks and calling for the execution of the perpetrators. They will resort to violence to protect their books, their prophet and their god.

I pray for Pastor Terry Jones, that he would do the right thing. I pray for Muslims worldwide that they would come to know the Prince of Peace, Jesus, and begin to follow Him, and come to know real peace.
Trying something new. Blogging from my phone. I wonder if this will help me keep my blog updated?

Friday, July 23, 2010

San Miguel

Well, haven't posted in a couple of days. The power was out for a whole day and that knocked the internet out as well. Yesterday, Thursday, was a long day. We've had a great time of ministry this week in the Village of San Miguel. It's located about an hours drive out of Guatemala City.

The people are beautiful. We're working in the middle school in the village. Our main work has been doing vacation Bible School with the kids. The school has class till about 10:30 am and then they let us take over the class rooms and do Bible School. Some of the teachers have even participated. I don't have the final numbers but we've had around 100 decisions for Christ through the VBS.

Along with VBS we've been doing some construction projects at the school. We've been completing a kitchen that the school can use for meals. Right now they use a large propane stove that they keep in a storage room and then pull it out into the courtyard to use it. When we arrived the walls for the kitchen were up and we've added the roof, concrete floor, sidewalk and an outdoor sink for the kids. There is still some work to do, but another team is coming in next week to hopefully finish it up.

We've worked alongside of a Guatemalan construction crew. We've been mixing concrete by hand and hauling it by wheelbarrow and bucket. It's been hard work but very rewarding. We've also painted the school, cleaned the rooms a (including the bathroom which probably should have been condemned), and we built a block wall that will help secure the school in the off hours.

We've met so many wonderful people. The people of Guatemala are kind and generous people. I'll right more later, but we're soon to head out for our last day of ministry. We're doing VBS and a huge block party.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day One continued

Just a brief update on today's activities. We went to San Miguel for our first day of missions work. Our teams meshed wonderfully well. There are two guys from Union Baptist in Knoxville, 20 from Mt. Pisgah Baptist in Niota, and our group of 13. We also have interns who are working with the ministry (college students) and interpreters. There is about 40-45 involved, total.

We have morning devotions on our own. Pastor Gerald Perry gave each person a devotional guide to use for our morning quiet time. Some ladies from Mt. Pisgah do the cooking and we had a wonderful breakfast. We left the mission house around 8:30 am on a school bus. I can't describe the traffic and the roads we traveled on to get to the village of San Miguel, but my prayer life improves each time we go somewhere.

When we got to the village of San Miguel, school was still in session. They dismissed not long after we arrived. There are about 250 kids in this school; grades are 4th - 7th grade, but students ages vary. There are some children 11-12 years old that are in second grade. Many of the kids have to work to help the family survive so they only go to school when they can.

For VBS we divided them up by grades and sent them to different stations - some went to Bible Study, some to Crafts, some to music and some to recreation. After about 20 minutes they would rotate. During the Bible study today, the Gospel was presented and 34 kids made decisions for Christ. (PTL!) Tomorrow we will be presenting the Gospel during crafts as well.

Our folks are doing a great job with the kids. Some of them have really bonded with the little ones. During the morning a man came by selling cotton candy. He must have had 100 bags on a stick. Scott Hayes and Mike Percival from Union Baptist bought him out and they were a great hit with the kids after that. All-in-all things went exceptionally well. The interns and interpreters keep things running smoothly and everyone is getting along well.

Hopefully, next time I'll get to write about the afternoon work and the evening devotion and fellowship times, but sleep is calling for now.


The mission trip is going great. This morning's post was a little hurried so I wanted to catch up on a few things - but first the good news, we had 34 decisions for Christ during VBS this morning! Praise the Lord His great work. I'll share more about the activities of the day later.

Yesterday we spent most of the day in the city of Antigua. It is the oldest city in Guatemala and at one time was the religious and political capitol for all of Central America. It was the home base for Catholic Missions and was the capitol for Guatemala until the early 1970's. It's a beautiful city nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains. At one time there were 38 catholic monasteries in operation in the city and the surrounding area. In the early 1700's sever floods damaged many of the churches. An earthquake in 1972 nearly destroyed the city and the capitol was moved to Guatemala City.

Antigua is a tourist city and we saw people of many nationalities. We spent most of our time in the open market in the city center. We would think of it almost as an upscale flea market. There were hundreds of merchants with beautiful products. You could purchase just about anything. They even had an open air meat market, but we didn't visit it. The people were very friendly and generous. We were warned about picpockets and we had a guide with each group, but we never felt unsafe.

Traveling to and from our destinations is a different story. There are not many "road rules". I've seen a few traffic signs but once you get out of the city, there are almost none. One phenomena that we've learned about is "painted trees". We noticed that many of trees in the countryside that were close to the road had white paint on them. We learned that the paint is reflective paint so that cars can see where the trees were at night.

Another phenomena is cattle along the side of the roads and the medians. Farmers tie their cattle to posts or trees alongside the roads to graze. Since most of the countryside is mountains, there is not a lot of places for cattle to graze.

I wanted to catch you up on some of the cultural stuff in this post. I'll update you more on ministry in later posts. Thanks again for the prayers.

On the Field

The Internet has been sporadic at best so I haven't been able to post. We arrived Saturday about 8:30 Guatemala time (10:30 Talbott time). When we arrived at the airport we soon discovered that most of our luggage did not come with us. Out of 26 bags, we had only 9. Fortunately most everyone had a change of clothes in their carry-on, so we survived. Luggage finally arrived Sunday; we got the last bag about 9 pm last night.

After breakfast yesterday (Sunday) we went to a mountain overlooking the city of Antigua. There is a giant cross, and that's where we had a worship service. We sang a couple of hymns and Mike gave a devotion from 1 Corinthians on using our spiritual gifts to serve the Lord.

After church we went to Antigua to get acclimated to the culture. We had lunch at McDonald's ( I know, right?). They have a little different food on their menu. They had Apple Pie, but they also had Pineapple Pie and fried Cheesecake. I'm planning to petition the American McDonald's for these wonderful treats!

After lunch we spent a few hours at the local city market improving the Guatemalan economy. The market was like an upscale flea market where you could bargain with the merchants. It was a great experience to interact with the people.

We had a great supper at a local restaurant called Las Palmas. Antigua is a tourist town so many of the resraunts were good for us to eat at.

We returned to the mission house and got our luggage organized. Mike Heffner led in devotion from 1 Corinthians 15. After a time of prayer we organized supplies and got ready for the next days work.

I'm posting this on Monday morning and hopefully I'll have some more to write after a day of VBS and construction in the Village of San Miguel. Thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

First Stop

Our mission team is on the way. We left Magna View this morning about 8 am and are currently in Atlanta awaiting our flight to Miami. From Miami we'll fly to Guatemala, and arrive there around 8:00 pm Guatemala time (10 pm our time).

Several members came out to see us off this morning. We greatly appreciate the prayers and encouragement. We've been praying for the opportunity to touch a lot of lives for Christ, and we anticipate it will be a life-changing event for all of us.

Thank you to everyone who has had a part in this trip. Many people donated supplies and money for our mission. Many more have been praying for our safety and success. Though we will be the "boots-on-the-ground" in Guatemala, all of you are on mission with us through your generosity and prayers. I pray God will bless you for all you have done for the work of His Kingdom.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mission Trip 2010

Tomorrow begins a great adventure. Thirteen people from our church will be leaving for Guatemala. We'll be working with missionaries Mike and Carla Parker and Clubhouse Guatemala ministries (check them out at We'll be meeting up with a team from Mt. Pisgah BC in Niota, and a couple of guys from Union BC in Knoxville. We'll be leading VBS for kids, providing school supplies for teachers, working in a feeding center, building chicken coops for families, and most importantly sharing the Good News and loving others in Jesus name.

Our church has faithfully supported this trip with financial donations, supply donations, encouragement and prayer support. One of our team members, Tonya, also received support from the school where she works. Teachers and students donated school supplies, clothes, backpacks and money to go to the teachers and students in Guatemala. One student raised $600 by herself for this project. God has faithfully provided through his people, PTL!

I can't wait to get the trip started. I'm most excited for my youngest daughter Abigail. This is her first "out-of-the-country" mission trip. She has been asking for a couple of years about when she would be able to go on a mission trip. When the Lord began to stir our hearts about going, she was determined to be on the team. She saved her babysitting money and paid for her passport herself. A few weeks after we decided to go, she rededicated her life to Christ. I can't wait to see what the Lord does through this little girl!

As much as possible I'll be blogging about the trip. It will depend mostly on computer and internet access, but I'll do the best I can.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.” 1 Timothy 3:1

I’ve been teaching on leadership in the local church and working through Paul’s first letter to his apprentice Timothy. Chapter three really stirred me up. Paul begins saying, “This is a faithful saying.” It’s the equivalent to Jesus saying in the Gospels “Truly, truly or Verily, verily.” When Jesus said those words He was saying, “Hey! Pay attention! This is important!” That is what Paul is doing here as well. Then he says, “If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.”

The word “desire” really jumped out at me in this passage. It appears twice in my translation, but it is actually two different words in the Greek. The first word translated “desire” literally means “to stretch oneself” or “to reach out for.” The image is that of a child reaching out for his mom or dad. The second word translated desire means “to set your heart upon.” It has to do with the inward emotions and this word is also translated “covet” or “lust after.” So the Bible says, it is a good thing to "stretch yourself" and "set your heart" on a place of service for the Lord.

In the tradition I have grown up in, those who served the Lord were those who received a specific calling to serve. It’s still part of our tradition – you ask people about doing things in the church and you may get the response – “I haven’t been called to do that.” That is a legit response and we shouldn’t force people into positions they are not qualified for nor passionate about. But it is also a response that is often abused. The next question to ask is, “What have you been called to do?” and the answer may be, “I don’t know?” It seems it’s easier to identify what we’re not called to do than it is to identify what we’re called to do.

What do you want to do in the church? Many Christians don’t want to do anything; they don’t have the desire to serve the Lord. I want to say, “Do you believe Jesus died for you and saved you so you could do nothing for Him? Do you believe God brought you to a church so you could ‘do nothing’?" It’s good to have a desire to serve the Lord; it’s good to stretch yourself and reach for a place of service in the Body of Christ. Our general calling is to serve the Lord in some capacity. That’s the spiritual principle this verse teaches and it applies to all of us.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recently God has been pushing me to get out of my comfort zone. I'm a really "hands-on" guy. I grew up with the these words being drilled into my head: "If you want something done right, do it yourself." As a result, I want to do everything myself. So God has been working to reprogram my thinking for leadership. Leadership is not doing everything yourself. Leadership is empowering others to do what God has gifted and called them to do.

I've been studying Simple Church, and one of the keys to a successful church is leadership development. In the Scriptures it says that God gives leadership to the church so that the members are equipped to do the ministry (Eph. 4:11-13). God always begins with leadership - people who are called to influence others for Christ.

You may be the leader God wants to develop to do something great for His glory. Most of the great leaders we read about in the Bible didn't think of themselves as great leaders: Moses made all kinds of excuses; some of the first words God said to Joshua were "Be strong and courageous" (He said it three times in one conversation); Gideon was hiding out in the threshing room when God called him; Paul was working to destroy the church. None of these guys seemed like candidates for "Leader of the Year." But when they surrendered themselves completely to God, He used them to move His people to victory and for His glory.

You may not see yourself as a leader, but God sees something in you that is greater than you can ever imagine. Would you be willing to let God have a shot at doing something great through you? The first step is to say "Yes, Lord", and then get ready for a great adventure.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Recently our Leadership Team (staff and Deacons) met for breakfast and to discuss making some changes to our church and ministry. We're reading together the book Simple Church by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger. The crux of the book is that every church needs a simple process (key word) which enables disciple-making. (Maybe that's not the intended crux, but it's what I've gotten from it.) The simple process evolves around four concepts: clarity - movement - alignment - focus. We're in the very beginning stages, so we're focusing on clarity. The title for Chapter 5 of the book is "Clarity: Starting with a Ministry Blueprint."

During our Saturday meeting we talked about the importance of developing a simple process that can be (and will be) easily communicated to the rest of the Body. Again, we're in the very beginning stages of this process, but it was abundantly clear that clarity in communication can be difficult sometimes, and that not everyone understands everything the same way. Even among our Leadership Team there was discussion about what was meant by certain words or statements. There was some great discussion, and in the end a common agreement that we are moving in the right direction.

In an effort to help communicate clearly, I'll be posting some things here about Simple Church, about our discussions and the process we are going through. You'll be hearing about it in sermons and small group discussions as well. I'm excited about what the Lord is doing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Tim 1:17 (NKJV)

Great Bible study last night! We talked about “A Leader’s Passion”. Paul was passionate about truth, about Jesus, and about relationships. He was especially passionate about Jesus. As he was writing to Timothy about what Christ had done in his life and what Christ meant to him, he broke out in the wonderful verse of praise above. He was so moved for his love by Christ, he couldn’t help but praise him, even in a letter.

What are you passionate about? When was the last time you were so overwhelmed by the grace and goodness of God that you broke out into a song of praise to Him. May our hearts be hot for Jesus, the Savior of our souls and the redeemer of our lives!

We welcomed Lilli Roberts to our family of faith last night. Lilli prayed to receive Christ as her Savior a couple of weeks ago at a First Priority event at her school. Her dad, Trevor will baptize her this coming Sunday morning.

I can’t wait for Sunday! Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, worship and praise and a word from the Lord! A few years ago one of our former Youth Pastors preached a sermon on Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). He titled it, “When You Show Up, God Shows Out.” Often all God is waiting on to do something great, is for His people to show up. I wonder how many miracles we’ve missed being a part of just because we didn’t give God a chance to work.

I hope you’ll show up in faith expecting God to do something supernatural this weekend. God is just waiting to show you how great He really is.

See you Sunday!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I’ve been studying 1 Timothy as I am teaching from it on Wednesday nights. I’m blown away by the passion of the Apostle Paul. He wrote this letter later in life, after he had served the Lord for many years and had given his all for the cause of Christ. Yet he is as “fired-up” about the work of the ministry as he ever was. How was he able to maintain his passion and his fire when some of his fellow workers had given up or fallen away? One simple answer – Paul never forgot what Christ did in his life. His salvation experience was fresh on his heart in the latter years of his life as if it had just happened.

In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” Notice he says “I AM chief.” Paul was still a work in progress; he never saw himself as being better than a sinner. He knew the Gospel still applied to his life. He was passionate about serving Christ, because Christ was at work in Him!

Many of us today have lost our fire for serving the Lord because we’ve forgotten what the Lord has done for us. We’ve forgotten what it means to be saved. We’ve considered the task at hand greater than the God who saved us.

As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, and as we remember those who paid the ultimate price or our freedoms as Americans, I want to challenge you to also remember the One who gave His life that you would not only go to heaven when you die, but that you would have the power and the passion to serve Him till you die.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Great day of worship yesterday. The kids did a great job leading the worship. Our two young speakers did an amazing job; very evangelistic. We've got a bright future @ MVBC!

Seeing the kids yesterday fueled my fire for VBS. We're just two weeks away from our biggest outreach event all year. Saddle Ridge Ranch is going to be a blast! We're going to be "Rounding Up Questions and Driving Home Answers!"

We need all hands on deck for a great VBS:
  • We need prayer warriors to be praying now for children to come, hearts to be open and lives to be changed!.
  • We need floaters to be available to help out where needed. We won't know all of our needs till the week begins, so we need people just to show up with a "how can I help" heart!
  • We need ENCOURAGERS who will love on our workers and our kids. Encouragers are kind of like the oil in a car engine, they keep things running smooth.

Our goal for VBS is to help kids connect to Christ and then help them and their families to get connected to the community of faith. Don't let the enemy keep you from being involved in God's great work!

Big thanks to the Wilmoths and the Ellis's for a great Spring picnic last night. We had about 120 people out at Cedar Pond Farms and it was a blast. We have some very serious Cornhole players - we may have to start a league (BTW, there is an American Cornhole Association - Thanks for coming out. One of the best things I heard last night was, "I got to know some new people tonight." That's one of the main reasons we do these things - build relationships in the Body of Christ. Thanks again to everyone who came out.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tested Hearts

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the hearts. Prov 17:3 (NKJV)

The writer of Proverbs draws a parallel between an activity of the Lord and a process used for refining or purifying precious metals. In his day, a silversmith (or goldsmith) would use a metal pot over a hot fire to purify the precious metal. He would heat the melted metal until the dross or impurities would rise to the top where he would sweep them off. He would then increase the temperature and repeat the process until all of the impurities were removed from the metal and he could see the perfect reflection of his face in the melted metal. The process separated that which was of no value from that which was of greatest worth.

As the fire tested the purity of the metal with increased intensity, so the Lord tests the purity of our hearts. He does so by allowing the circumstances of our lives to be “heated-up.” We may find ourselves faced with a temptation or a crisis; we may be facing a difficult decision or a troubled relationship. In each instance we have the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to remove the dross or impurities in our hearts in order that the image of the Savior may be seen more clearly. God’s goal is always to help us become like His Son Jesus, therefore everything He allows into our lives is for our good (Romans 8:28-29).

I was about three-fourths of the way through writing this devotion when there was a power surge and the computer shut-down. My initial reaction was … well … in the flesh. But then I realized God was just illustrating for me what I was hoping to convey to you – that He is at work in all the circumstances of our lives to bring out and remove those “fleshly” impurities so that we can be more like Him. It was a small “test”, as many of them are, but a test none-the-less. As the old song says, “He’s still working on me…”

Friday, March 26, 2010


Just watched the Tennessee Volunteers basketball team defeat Ohio State to move into the "Elite Eight" of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in team history. It's been an amazing season. I was also glad to hear the commentators making some positive comments about the team (these were CBS commentators, not ESPN). One of the men talked about the team being very talented; he's the first one I've heard say that outside of our own commentators and sports casters.

The other commentator talked about how the team had come together after going through some difficulties earlier in the season. On Jan.1 four of the players were arrested on drug and weapons charges. Three of the players were suspended for several weeks and one, who some said was the best player on the team, was kicked-off. Nobody gave them much of a chance after that, but they proved them wrong. The team really did pull together and it seemed like each game a different person stepped up to contribute to a win. They really began to play as a team rather rely on one or two players to make all the plays. Now they've gone farther than any TN team in history.

There's a great life lesson here - when going through difficult times, pull together, play like a team and you will survive and advance in life. I've seen too many families where, when things got tough, family members bailed out instead of pulling together. The family ends up broken and miserable. I've seen it happen in churches as well. Instead of pulling together and working together as the Body of Christ, members turn on one another and then bail out. It leaves the church broken, hurting and struggling.

Fortunately Jesus never abandons His Body. He is faithful and will see His family through. Praise be to the Lord!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's one of my favorite days of the year because it honors one of Christianity's greatest missionaries. Some people believe Patrick was Irish, but actually he was Welsh. He was captured by Irish raiders as a young boy and taken as a slave to Ireland. After he escaped a few years later, he felt the call of God to go back to the people who had held him captive to share the Good News of Christ with them. This passage from the book of Hosea was significant for Patrick, Those who are not my people I will call my people, and those not beloved I will call my beloved, and in the very place it was said to them, You are not My people, they will be called Sons of God. Patrick spent his adult life evangelizing and discipling the people of Ireland.

If you would like to learn more about Patrick and his life and ministry, here is a brief but good article from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: . Thomas Cahill's "How the Irish Saved Civilization" is also a great resource about the evangelistic work of Patrick and his fellow missionaries.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I'm watching the new Survivor program. It's probably not the most spiritual thing for a pastor to do, but it is an amazing study of human behavior. On one hand, each player is playing for himself/herself, trying to win the million dollar prize. On the other hand, no one can make it through the game alone. They have to work together and that requires a certain level of trust. But how do trust someone when you know that in the end, they want to be the last player standing?

I think the show is a microcosm of the world at large. At some level, everyone lives for themselves. We are born with a mechanism for self preservation. But we also realize that we cannot make it through this life without the aid of others. From the beginning we had to depend on others (parent's to feed us and clothe us, teachers to educate us, etc). Without the help of others, we would not have made it past day one. Yet as we grow, we become more self-sufficient and independent. Some people reach a point of believing they don't need anyone else, and they may isolate themselves or withdraw from others.

I was reminded of that this week. I was asked to speak at a funeral for a person who had withdrawn from the community at large. He had never married. His parent's were deceased and his siblings had nothing to do with him. He spent the last days of his life in a nursing home with only 1-2 friends who occasionally visited him. In the end, only 10 people attended his funeral. He had no church family or circle of family and friends to mourn his passing or celebrate his life. He did things his way, but in the end, did he win the game of life? I don't know his spiritual condition. From what I could gather he didn't show any evidence of a relationship with God. But even from a secular standpoint, I don't think I could say he succeeded at the game of life. You can't win by living only for yourself.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I discovered today that my blog is being posted on a local business man's website. I was a little embarrassed that I hadn't posted since Thanksgiving. I'll try to do better. You can check out the website at

No church services at Magna View tonight. This has been an unusual winter for snow here in East Tennessee. I love it; I like the cold weather and of course the snow. I heard Mike Huckaby's "The Huckaby Report" yesterday, and he said that when Washington, DC digs out from the blizzard, Pres. Obama plans to develop a cabinet level bureaucracy to deal with issues related to Global Warming. I love it.

I'm not too keen on the global warming theory. God is in control of the climate, just like everything else!