Thursday, December 29, 2011

5 WOWS from the Past Week!

WOW is really how I feel! I praise the Lord for the great things He is doing and the great people He is doing them through! I have several reasons to say WOW!

WOW #1 - We had wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services this past weekend. We had several visitors during both services, but most importantly, the Lord was very present! I'm thankful for Mark Self coming forward for baptism, which we will be doing this coming Sunday on January 1, 2012.

WOW #2 - Thanks to the prayers of our family of faith, my daughter Lydia is back to her old self. We spent much of Christmas day in the ER at Children's Hospital with her. The initial thought was that she had a kidney stone, but the doctor diagnosed it has a nasty virus. Whatever it was, we give the glory to God and credit the prayers of God's people because by Monday evening she was feeling much better.

WOW #3 - My mom is continuing to recover from congestive heart failure. Though I'm writing this blog from the ICU of JMH, she has improved much over the last 24 hours. I'm "wowed" over the outpouring of love and support from our faith family - thank you for the numerous calls, texts, emails, visits and most importantly the prayers. We've been at great peace throughout this ordeal and I know it is because if the prayers of God's people. We are blessed to be a part of such a wonderful church family.

WOW #4 - Last night (Wednesday) our church approved a faith budget of $226,200.00. That is about a 7% increase over the previous year's budget. I'm thankful for the leadership of our Stewardship Team during the budgeting process, and the faith of our family to accept their hard work.

WOW #5 - (AND THIS IS THE BIGGIE!!!) After I left the hospital last night I stopped by the office to check messages, and on my desk was a note that read: "Lottie Moon Offering total - $10,264.33 (P.S. - total is after the "seed" money was put back in missions)". WOW! Our highest ever Lottie Moon Offering Goal has been reached, and in the first week of receiving it! Praise the Lord for answering our prayers and providing through His people! We'll continue to receive the L.M. Offering through January, so if you haven't had an opportunity to give, it is not too late. All of the monies received goes to directly support the 5,000 SBC missionaries serving the Lord outside of the United States.

We began the year saying that we wanted to be a church that gave away more than we kept. I don't know if we've reached that goal or not, but I know Magna View has given sacrificially this year, both to our budget and beyond. We have been a conduit of God's financial blessings this year, and it has all been to the glory of God. Thank you Magna View, for being open to God to do what He wants to do through you.

Final note: for the first time I can ever remember, I missed being at the last service of the year. I was in the hospital with my mom, and was unable to attend the Wednesday night service last night (Thanks to our deacons for taking care of the service). The last service of the year, whether it is on a Sunday or a Wednesday, is always one of my favorites. I usually share my goals and hopes for the coming year. I will do that at some point, but let me say for now that I'm praying that 2012 will be the greatest year of ministry that Magna View has ever experienced. I'm praying that we reach and disciple more people in more places than we ever have before. My theme verse for Magna view this year is Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." I believe that what God has done in the past year is barely scratching the surface of what God is going to do in the year to come. WOW! Glory to God!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Tonight we continued our discussion about the church, looking at what the Scriptures teach that the church is to be. I titled this section "The Prevailing Church", borrowed from Randy Pope's book by the same name which I'm using as a resource. Tonight was the overview, and borrowing an idea from Pope's book I contrasted the Prevailing Church with what Pope calls "the Precautious Church." But first, a definition of "prevailing"...

Prevailing: "Prove more powerful than opposing forces; be victorious; having superior power or influence."

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not PREVAIL against it. The church Jesus founded is to prevail against the enemy, but as we take a hard look at the church and its impact on the modern culture, it appears that we are being overpowered and losing ground. We seem to more resemble the Precautious church.

The Precautious Church
  1. Has a "protect what we have" mentality - more concerned with keeping the people we have happy, rather than reach lost people for Christ. 
  2. Provides a "comfort zone" environment - low expectations, and no challenges.
  3. Focuses more on attendance than discipleship - is more concerned with building a crowd than building a church.
  4. Resistant to change - a "don't rock the boat" attitude. While change is hard for all of us, the Precautious church is exceptionally resistant to change. The emphasis is on keeping the peace at all cost, and that usually means leaving things as they have always been. Change is seen as being too difficult and even dangerous. Jesus said, you can't pour new wine into old wineskins (Matt. 9:17). The precautious church would rather live with the rigidity of "old wineskins" than experience the power of the "new wine" of the Holy Spirit.

The Prevailing Church
  1. Passionately committed to the Gospel - Peter's confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" is the passionate cry of the Prevailing Church and the primary message proclaimed inside and outside of the church. Jesus is the focus in the Prevailing Church.
  2. Governed by Christ and His word - Jesus said, "I will build MY church." Jesus is the Head of the church and His word, the Bible, dictate the structure and activity of the church, as opposed to a church governed by a worldly business model, or the traditions of men ("this is how we have always done it.")
  3. Intentionally living out the Great Commission - According to Luke 19:10, Jesus came to "seek and to save that which was lost." That was His mission statement. In the Great Commission of Matthew 28, His last instructions to the church was to continue that mission by going and making disciples of all nations. The Prevailing Church intentionally and strategically lives out the Great Commission. 
  4. Overcomes the opposition of the enemy - Prevailing over opposition, temptation, trials, and resistance (spiritual, cultural and physical). Victory becomes the norm for the Prevailing Church.

Over the next few weeks we'll look at each one of the characteristics of the Prevailing Church.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matt 16:18 (NKJV)

On Wednesday's we're doing a little "getting back to the basics" study concerning the church. Our discussion started by considering the perception of the church by those outside of it. As Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" I asked our church "What do people of our world say the church is?" The responses:
                    House of Hypocrites              Community Service Organization
                    Country Club                         Place to get help (financial, physical, etc...)
                    Social Club                            Place to receive comfort
                    Childcare service                   Place of Entertainment

There may have been a couple of others, but these eight summarize the thoughts from outside the church. I then asked, "What do you say the church is?"
                      Believers who are baptized       Organism
                      Bride of Christ                          Place/people of refuge
                      Family                                      Business (Father's)
                      Community (of faith)                 Organization
Again, there may have been a couple of others, but these are the thoughts of those from within the church.

It is important to have an understanding of the perception of the church from the community, and it is important to understand how the church sees itself, but most important is to understand what the church is from a Scriptural standpoint. Over the next several Wednesdays we'll be looking at the church through the lens of Scripture. Tonight we laid a foundation by looking at the first use of the word "church" in the Scriptures, Matthew 16:18. Here's a summary of the teaching:

1. The Church Belongs to Jesus - "I will build MY CHURCH"

  • Jesus conceived the church (MY church)
  • He chose the church (we are the chosen BRIDE of Christ)
  • He bought the church (Eph. 5:25)

Though WE invest ourselves in the local church, we must avoid the thinking that it is MY church. We can have membership or partnership, but not ownership of the church.

2. The Church is being Built by Jesus - "I WILL BUILD My church"
Jesus is building the church, but He is doing it through us. We are the laborers, and He is the contractor which means to very important things:

  • We have to stay in close contact with the Contractor - our job is to do His work His way, and the only way to know how to do that is to stay in constant communication with Him. Pray first, then plan and work.
  • We have to follow His instructions - the Bible offers the blueprint for the church. The Bible instructs us how the Lord wants to build His church, not our traditions. 

3. The Church is Prevailing because of Jesus - "the gates of Hades (Hell) will not prevail against it"

  • The church is to operate from an offensive position, not a defensive.
  • "Building" implies expanding and the enemy cannot stop the church from growing (because Jesus is building His church). 
  • Rather than trying to "hold our own" or protect the "territory" that we already have, we are to be actively taking territory from the enemy.

Next week we'll talk more about the "prevailing church."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It Takes Discipline to Be A Disciple

D.A. Carson once wrote: “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience .. to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

It takes discipline to be a disciple, because spiritual growth is intentional not automatic. If left to ourselves, we tend to move away from God and His glory. Just as our bodies atrophy without exercise and our minds weaken without challenge, so our spiritual life withers without, as Carson says, "grace-driven effort."

Jesus is committed to our spiritual growth. He is not content to allow us to wallow in spiritual immaturity. The Bible, in Ephesians 4:15 says, "...we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." (NLT) Jesus loves you the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you the way you are. He's committed to enabling you to grow spiritually so that you become more and more like Him in every way.

That's why uncommitted Christians are spiritually miserable. They go to church, but get nothing from it. They sporadically read the Scriptures for their devotion, but see no application to their daily lives. Prayers are occasional, mostly before meals, but spoken from childhood memory rather than heartfelt devotion. They have a form of godliness (basically good people), but deny the power of it. They sense something is missing, but can't quite put their finger on what it is. Often, their solution is to withdraw and put the empty feeling on the back-burner of their lives. Because it is easier to ignore the problem than to practice the discipline needed to grow spiritually.

But it takes discipline to be a disciple. The apostle Paul wrote: Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 1 Cor 9:24-27 (NLT)

Paul had a plan for spiritual growth:

1. He knew what the goal was - Paul knew the goal of spiritual maturity (Christ-likeness) and he went for it

2. He trained himself in godliness - Paul practiced the spiritual disciplines of prayer, study, obedience and others.

3. He lived with purpose to his life - Paul's goal in life was to glorify God in everything He did.

4. He mastered his fleshly desires - Paul made his body subject to his spiritual nature. Many times I've heard it quoted (and said it myself), "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt 26:41), but I'm afraid that verse often becomes the excuse for failing to discipline ourselves in godliness.

It takes discipline to be a disciple, because spiritual growth is intentional, not automatic.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18

Great day of worship at Magna View today. I really love the sweet spirit in our fellowship. We're different than any church I've been a part of. The atmosphere is relaxed, people are free to worship as they feel led of God, and the sound of laughter is heard often. It is a great place to be on Sunday mornings.
Great message from Bill Hall this morning. Bill is an entertaining speaker; he always has great illustrations and always has an object lesson. As anyone who was there this morning could tell, he's passionate about discipleship. Bill lives discipleship. He uses his construction business to move his guys toward God, and to be a witness for the Lord to the community.
Baptized one of our young men this morning with help from his dad. I love having the dads in the baptismal waters. It is such a special time for the family.
Tonight is Life Group night, our small group ministry. This is something new for us and we're still working out some issues. I love the small group ministry and here's why:
1. It's biblical - the early church didn't have special buildings to meet in, so they met in homes for fellowship, Bible study and discipleship. It was the time of greatest growth for the church.
2. It's effective - small groups build relationships and that is at the heart of making disciples. Jesus made disciples by investing in a small group guys, spending time with them and being in their homes and with their families.
3. It moves the church back toward New Testament Christianity - one of my concerns for the church in America is that we have become just another "institution" in society, where people come to get some religious instruction or encouragement. But the church Jesus started was to be a movement that infiltrates the world as salt and light and takes the Gospel to the world. Small groups get the church out of the building and into the neighborhoods.
We're going to keep working at it, and struggling with it because it is what God has called us to do.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


A few thoughts from the morning sermon:
I've always struggled with this Beatitude, bothered by the term "pure in heart." I think of PURE as being untainted or unstained. (Actually I think of the Disney character, "Snow White"; she was innocent and naive, untainted by the evil around here). I knew I didn't fit that category. When I think of my spiritual heart, I think it is dirty and stained up from the sin I've allowed into my life. Even though I am a Christian and I know I am forgiven, I felt like my heart would never be pure enough that I would be able to see God, at least not this side of eternity.
So, as I began to study this passage, I began to think about the people who "saw" God, or had a personal encounter with Him. I thought of Abraham, and God's visit to his tent to tell him that Sarah would become pregnant. Abraham, who lied about his relationship with Sarah, who went to Egypt even though God did not tell him to go. Abraham who tried to help God keep His promise by having a child with Sarah's servant. Was Abraham really "pure in heart."
I also thought about Jacob, who wrestled with God at the Jabbok brook. Jacob, the trickster, who stole the birthright and the blessing from his brother Esau; who tricked his uncle Laban in order to grow his wealth. Was Jacob "pure in heart"?
Moses had a personal encounter with God, and even spoke to God as a man speaks to a friend. But Moses was on the backside of the desert when he encountered God through the burning bush, and he was there because he was wanted for murder in Egypt. Pure in heart?
As I studied the Scriptures, what became clear is that "pure in heart" didn't mean to have a Snow White heart that had never been stained by sin. It means that your heart has been cleansed by God, the stain of sin removed by His grace and forgiveness. The word for pure that Jesus used is where we get our word "catharsis", which refers to a cleansing of the heart or mind. It is also a noun that means to be "unmixed, as having no double allegiance." Pastor Brian Bill gives a great explanation of what it means to be pure in heart: "A person with a passion for purity (a pure heart) is one who has been cleansed in character so that the way he or she looks in public is the way he or she is in private." A person whose heart has been cleansed by God is the same person all the time; he or she doesn't have a public persona and a private persona. To be pure in heart is the opposite of being a hypocrite. I'll expand on this more later.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Ran out of time yesterday, so I didn't get to post. I'll try to fill in the blanks. On Thursday we spent the day in San Antonio working at the student center. It is run by a Guatemalan lady named Anna Louisa with help from a couple from Germany. The student center program is called "Step by Step" and it provides after school educational programs as well as meals for children in the town. Right now, they are cooking on what is the equivalent of a 5 gal. bucket with a fire in under it.

We finished chipping away the paint and plaster from the outside wall so it could be refinished. We also finished pouring the concrete slab for the kitchen we are building. Some of our group went to the town square to play with kids and give out candy and tracts. The man Cecelia had spoken to on Tuesday was there and I had an opportunity to share the Gospel with him. He is interested in Christianity and has been reading the New Testament. He didn't accept Christ today, but we made sure he knew what he needed to do, and we left him a "Steps to Peace with God" tract.

On Friday we split up the groups and some went to the church that Mike and Carla attend - it is an inner city church in Guatemala City. It is also a student center, and they had a birthday party with the kids. I went with a group that went back to San Antonio to get the walls up on the kitchen for the Step by Step student center. We were able to get the walls up and the mission team that is coming in tomorrow will put the roof on and install a new stove. It is a drastic improvement for the center.

We're about to start evening devotions, so I'm going to stop for now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Today was a great blessing. We spent the day in San Miguel, where we were all week last year. We saw the kitchen that we helped build; it is now being used by the school to provide hot meals for the kids. We also saw many of the children that we ministered to last year. They seemed to remember us. We weren't able to go to the "small school" so Jamie was not able to see the little girl she had connected with, but some of the others are in the student program being sponsored by Clubhouse Guatemala so we got to spend the day with them. It was great to get to be with the kids again.

We also installed four stoves in the village. Most homes in the village have open fire stoves that are usually found in out buildings near the home, but they have very little ventilation and the women  have to deal with the smoke while cooking. The stoves we installed were made of cinderblock and concrete but also have an exhaust pipe to vent the smoke. The new stoves also use 3/4 less wood than a typical Guatemalan stove, which will be more economical for the families.

At the first home that we installed a stove, when the installation was complete, Mike Parker shared the Gospel with the home owners, a man and woman in their forties, and they both prayed to receive Christ as their Savior. They were both raised Catholic, but were not practicing any religion. Afterward, Mike said this is the first family that he has provided a stove for that prayed to receive Christ. He has installed about 100 stoves over the last year and he always shares the Gospel, but most of the time the people claim  to be Christian because they belong to the Catholic church. Mike was on Cloud Nine today. We were thankful to be a part of two more souls for the Kingdom of God.

Tomorrow we return to San Antonio to finish the kitchen for the student center. We'll also go into the city square to minister to the kids and hopefully have a chance to share the Gospel. Please keep us in your prayers.


Just getting around to posting about day two of our Guatemala Mission Adventure. Was exhausted last night and went to bed early; had a productive but tiring day. We worked all day in San Antonio, on a student center that provides after school program for children. We prepared for and began pouring the floor to the new kitchen we are building for them; mixing cement on the ground by hand and moving it by wheelbarrow. We also began removing paint and plaster from an outside wall, using machetes, hatchets, hammers and various other hand tools. It is a long and tedious process. 

Some of the group went to the city square and attracted a crowd of kids. They played with the and loved on them. Cecelia had an opportunity to witness to a man who told her he didn't have a religion but he was reading the New Testament to help him learn English. She gave him a "Steps to Peace with God" tract. We are going back Thursday, please pray that Manuel will be there so that we can talk further with him. J-Bob witnessed to the Teresa who, along with her husband and a Guatemalan lady named Anna Louisa, run the student center in San Antonio. Teresa is from Germany and was Catholic but now says she is not "in church." J-Bob talked with her and gave her a Gospel of John and a tract. Pray that the seeds planted will grow and produce fruit. 

The other church groups we are working with have been great. The Youth Group from Bel Air Methodist Church has been impressive. They are eager to work and have done everything that has been asked of them. One young lady, Kendall, has worked circles around most everyone else. She is an athlete (placed 4th in her state in shot-put) and has worked tirelessly at some of the hardest jobs. Cecelia has made a friend from Gillespie Ave. BC in Knoxville. She and Mitchell pick at each other all day, and Cecelia is loving it. 

Well the bus has just arrived to take us to San Miguel. I'll try to post more later tonight.

Monday, July 11, 2011


We arrived safely in Guatemala yesterday (Sunday) and was picked up at the airport around 10:30 am Guatemala time. We picked up the other teams that are here. We learned that there is actually 4 teams here this week: the largest group is a youth group from a Methodist church in Maryland. There is also a group of 6 from Gillespie Ave. BC in Knoxville (including Kelly Woods nephew, Austin), and a family of four from Northstar Church in Knoxville, and our group of eight.

After picking up the other groups we all went to Antigua (Central America's oldest continuous city) for our down day. When we finally arrived back at the mission house, our team was exhausted. Most of us were running on 3 hours of sleep or less. We all slept well last night.

After breakfast this morning we headed to the village of San Mateo, a mountainous village about an hour from the mission house. Mike has partnered with a church in the village to do a "Character Counts" ministry for the local kids. We spent the morning leveling the ground in the church's courtyard preparing it for sod and seed. As it is, the dirt courtyard ground was sloped and drained into the building that housed their children's ministry. We leveled the ground (by hand) and tomorrow they will be bringing in sod. It is a real blessing to the church.

In the afternoon, we held a birthday party for the kids who are registered with the ministry center in San Mateo. There are about 55 children involved and we provided a pizza lunch, drinks, and balloon decorations. When the pizza was brought in, someone asked the children how many of them had ever had pizza before, only three out of the 50 or so kids, raised their hands. After the pizza party, the kids had a tienda, or toy store. The kids in the Character Counts program earn points by doing things like, learning memory verses, helping at the ministry center, helping at home, etc. At the tienda they can cash their points in for toys and games.

In the afternoon, some of the group went to the ministry site that we will be working at tomorrow. It is in a city call San Antonio, and is in the downtown area. A man and his wife operate a feeding center and an after school program for kids, but they don't have a kitchen to cook the food. Tomorrow and Thursday we will be building them a kitchen from the ground up. Today we cleared and leveled the area where we will be building. We also had to unload a ton of sand from a truck that was too big to fit through the gate of the place we are working. We unloaded it with shovels at the entrance to the gate, then we had to move the pile to another location so we could get in and out of the gate. It was a full truck load of sand and it had to be unloaded and moved all by shovel. Our groups will sleep well tonight.

Everyone is doing well. Brittany is battling a cough she had before she came down. She feels fine, just irritated with the cough. We'd appreciate your prayers for her. I'll try to post some pictures later on our Facebook page.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Five things I want my Family of Faith to know I'm thankful for:

Magna View Baptist Church...

1. I am thankful you believe the Bible and seek to be obedient to the commands of our Lord.
2. I am thankful you have a heart for missions and are willing to send those who are able to go.
3. I am thankful for your generosity and passion to give cheerfully to the work of the Lord.
4. I am thankful you are willing to serve, to give of your time, talents and resources for the glory of God.
5. I am thankful that you are faithful to God and to His servants.

You are a blessing Magna View Family! I thank God for you each day. I love you as my family of faith!

Pastor George

Friday, July 8, 2011


In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Bible says that God's grace is sufficient. The context of that verse is very important. The apostle Paul has been plagued by what he calls a "thorn in the flesh". We're not told what his thorn was, other than it is identified as a "messenger of Satan" given to Paul specifically to keep him humble (I'm thinking it was one of those "sandpaper people" that always rubs the wrong way). Paul prayed three times (the number of holiness) for it to be removed, but the thorn remained. God's answer to Paul's prayer was "no, but ... My grace is sufficient for you." And then God explains why: "My strength is made perfect in weakness." In other words, when you are faced with a situation that you can't fix, a problem you can't solve, a weakness you can't overcome, that's when God takes over. He works in you, through you and around you to do what you can't. He shines the light of His love into your darkness.

I love Paul's response, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:9-10)
When we face our most serious challenge, we can rejoice, because God is about to show His power. When we are at our weakest , we can "take pleasure" because God is about to show His strength. When we shrink down, God shows off.

This verse is especially significant as I prepare for our mission trip to Guatemala. Even though I've gone before, there is always that concern about what "may happen". I'm such a control freak, and being in a country where I can't speak the language, and can't navigate the streets takes me WAY out of my comfort zone. There's also the concern over being able to share the Gospel, which is my main reason for going. Will I have an opportunity to share the Gospel? Will I know what to say? Will I be able to communicate clearly? All those things keep running through my mind ... and then God speaks, "My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect (complete) in your weakness (frailty)". Therefore I rejoice in the unknowns, uncertainties, and challenges of the trip, for in my weakness, He will be strong. Thanks be to God for His amazing grace!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Yesterday the storm knocked out the internet at the office; my initial response was confusion and then panic because I suddenly realized I was disconnected with the known universe. Well, not really, but it seemed that way. But it gave me an  opportunity to read the latest issue of On Mission magazine published by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Our church gets a copy, but I generally scan it and then put it on the resource table in the welcome area of our church. But something (or Someone) drew me into the articles and I was amazed at what I read.

The magazine outlines NAMB's new emphasis on church planting through a program called Send North America. They've divided North America into five regions: Canada, Northeast, West, Midwest and South. You can read the details at, but what really got my attention were the numbers. In each section they breakdown the ratio of SBC churches to population, and the numbers were mindblowing to me. Here is a summary:

Canada - 1 church for every 123,971 people, (272 SBC churches in the entire country of 33 million people)
           Northeast - 1 Church for every 37,788 people, 1,761 SBC Churches)
           West - 1 Church for every 16,788 people, (4,465 SBC Churches)
           Midwest - 1 Church for every 12,802 people, (5,363 SBC Churches)
           South - 1 Church for every 2,697 people, (38,671 SBC Churches)

I had always heard that I lived in the "buckle of the Bible Belt", I just never realized how big that buckle was until I saw those numbers. God really got my attention. I'm prayerfully struggling with how to justify living in a place that has so much access to the Light, while most of the rest of the world is walking in darkness because they have so little access to the Light. I shared these numbers with our deacons last night and asked them to begin to pray about being involved in church planting in other parts of our land. I'm anxious to see what the Lord will do.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You." John 17:1

Jesus, in His earthly ministry never sought glory for Himself, but always sought glory for His Father. He never attempted to draw attention to Himself. In fact, several places throughout Scripture, Jesus commands people to tell no one who He really was. He sometimes hid Himself from people and often sought to get away from the crowds. He did not seek attention for Himself.

But He always sought the attention of His Father and attention for His Father. In the opening lines of His great intercessory prayer Jesus says to His Father, "Glorify your Son, that Your Son may glorify You." Jesus isn't seeking glory for Himself, but for the Father. Yet, He realizes that the ultimate way that the Father will be glorified, is if the attention of the world is upon Him at the Cross.

The Crucifixion of Christ didn't occur in secrecy under the cover of darkness in a small deserted town. No, it took place during a religious festival, in the light of day, in a city that was overflowing with people from all over the civilized world. Christ was "glorified" or lifted up, that the world could see and take note. But it wasn't about Him, it was about His Father. Jesus endured the public humiliation and torture on the Cross, so that others (including us) could see how much "God so loved the world." In His death on the Cross, Jesus glorifies the Father, and draws our attention to Him that we might know Him and glorify Him in our own lives. To God be the Glory!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:18 (NLT)
1. I am thankful for a God who loved me even before I was born, and who proved His love for me even when I was living in sin. 2. I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit that gives me peace and guides me in the way I should go. 3. I'm thankful for a  godly wife who lives in the power of God's grace.4. I'm thankful for daughters who are compassionate and have a heart for ministering to others in crisis. 5. I'm thankful for a loving family of faith who cares for one another and expresses their love for one another through simple acts of grace and kindness. 6. I'm thankful for brothers and sisters in Christ who have the gift of giving and are faithful to exercise it. 7. I'm thankful for faithful servants of the Lord who are dedicated to serving the Lord regardless of their circumstances. You are a blessing by your example.
What are you thankful for? Why not share your thankfulness with others. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011


It day one of our family vacation. We left around 7:45 am heading to Washington, D.C. Holli graduated on Saturday and this is her graduation trip. She chose Washington. We were here a couple of years ago but only got to spend one day in the city, so we didn't see a whole lot. Holli wants to visit the zoo while we are here.
The trip up was un-eventful. We arrived here around 3:30 pm. We drove the van despite finding out this week that we have an oil leak. The other option would have been to drive the Malibu, which would have given us better gas mileage, but the girls would have been packed in the backseat like sardines.
We checked into our motel which is incredible. We're staying at the Hyatt Place Herndon/Dulles Airport-East. I got a great deal from We went for some supper at a cool place - Generous George's Positive Pizza and Pasta ( The food was good and the atmosphere was great. Abigail got to make her own pizza. I think we'll probably eat there again before the week is out.
Came back to the hotel and the girls went to the pool for a while. Cecelia and I just kind of crashed. Tomorrow we're going into DC and are planning to check out the big Memorial Day Parade down Constitution Avenue. It's going to be a great week.  

Monday, May 9, 2011


I have so much to be thankful for. Thinking back over the last couple of days:

1. Thankful for my mom who is a woman of great faith. She made sure all of us kids got a foundation in church. She worked hard all of her life - working all day, coming home to cook supper and then clean-up. She rarely got to sit down and relax around the house. I love my mom and she is still such an inspiration to me.
2. Thankful for my wife who is such an amazing mom to my daughters. Cecelia is a unique person and she is a perfect match for me. She knows what is going on ion our daughter's lives all the time. She is very honest and straightforward with them, and she is passionately protective of our girls. I see a huge amount of respect from them for her because they know she loves them and would die for them. At the same time, they know she might just snap and go all "Madea" on them when they do wrong. I love my wife and I'm thankful for her abilities as a mom.
3. Thankful for my daughters. It is such an incredible thing to watch them grow up and see them serving the Lord. I love seeing them use their gifts and talents to honor God. Each one of them is very unique and special. They are truly gifts from God and they bring so much joy into my life.
4. Thankful for the encouragers at church. God has brought some special ladies into our church that are so encouraging. They are always saying kind things and lifting people up.
5. Thankful for my church family. I say this a lot, but God has really brought together a special group of people at Magna View. Each week I am amazed at how God is working through our congregation. As the pastor, I get the "backstage pass" into people's lives that others don't get. It is amazing to see God working in our family of faith.
6. This is probably too far down on the list, but I'm thankful for a God of grace and honesty. I love getting to be myself with God. I don't have to put on a front and pretend like all spiritual when I'm not. God knows my heart and there is no need to pretend with Him. This has also given me the desire to be myself before others as well. All  my life I've often been guilty of trying to put on a good front for people, trying to please them and make people think I was better than I really was. I still fall into the trap sometimes, but I feel like I'm getting more comfortable at being myself around others (even church folks).
7. This one will sound weird - trials. A part of me wants everything to go smoothly in my life all the time. I'm guilty of wanting the "easy" path, and I used to get really frustrated and even depressed when things didn't go according to plan, or when I found myself in difficult situations. I still struggle with my attitude, but I've come to realize how much God has grown through the trials and difficulties I have gone through. Yes, I would wish that I didn't have to go through any more of them, and yes, I'll get a little frustrated and discouraged from time to time. But I'm getting a little better at letting God have His way with me through the difficult times and trusting more in Him.

Lot's to be thankful for.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

    Happy Mother's Day! I was thankful to have my mom with me in worship today. Mom is 85 years and is remarkably sharp. She doesn't move around very well, and she doesn't hear very well anymore, but she always seems to be in good spirits. Mom is a woman of great faith. She was diligent to take us kids to church when I was growing up. She was the nursery director at Sharon Baptist church in Knoxville for a number of year. And she faithfully sang in the choir. Though I didn't always enjoy having to go to church as a kid, I look back on those times with fond memories now.
     I'm very thankful for my mom. I pray for her daily, and I seek to draw from her example, that I might be an example of faith to my kids as well. I hope all moms have an enjoyable and special Mother's Day today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


     Tornadoes rolled through the South last night causing significant destruction and death. Over 240 confirmed deaths so far, including several in Tennessee. With the storms comes a great opportunity for the people of God to respond in the love of Christ. 
      We've been emphasizing giving at Magna View this year. I've shared with our church that I'm praying we become a church that gives more than we keep. I want to share with you a couple of opportunities to give in response to the needs left by the storms: 
        A friend and co-worker of Anjanette Large at Walters State, Susie Harrison and her family were victims of a tornado in Greeneville last night and lost everything. The modular home in which they lived was destroyed.  Susie's daughter and family lived with them.  The family is in need of clothing and personal items.  
Women's clothing needed:  size X-large (16-18), size 9 shoes
Men's clothing needed: size Large
Toddler boys clothing needed:  Size 3T
Baby girl clothes needed:  Size 6-9 month
We'll be collecting these items this Sunday morning, May 1
      Also, the Tennessee Baptist Convention has set up a fund for those affected by the tornadoes. Money given will go to help with disaster relief and rebuild of homes. We'll receive a special offering this coming Sunday to help. You can make your check out to Magna View Baptist Church and put "Spring 2011 Tornadoes and Storms Fund"
      Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.    Luke 6:38 (NKJV)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Do you want to know what stirs a pastor's heart more than almost anything; that thing that causes us to say "Yes, this is why I'm still in ministry." It's when someone in the pew comes to you and says, "I get it, God's moving in my life and I'm going to do something about it." I had that experience today and my heart is overflowing with joy. I was asked to fill out a missions recommendation form so that one of our members could be on mission with God in a medical missions ministry. It's a person who said they are tired of setting in a pew, and they just can't do it anymore. They have to get busy for God!
Praise the Lord. This is the message God has been burning in our church for the past three months. Sunday we had a guest speaker, Dr. Phil Young from the TBC who challenged our church to be a missional church, that is, a church that is a biblical community of Christ followers sent to live out the mission of God. Preaching from John 9, Phil showed that the biblical ministry of Jesus was incarnational, intentional, indigenous, and made a strong impact on the local community. The church is called to do the same. It was a powerful and challenging message.
Sometimes even the best messages elicit very little response, but I knew the message had struck a never when our member came to me after the service and said, "I need to talk to you this week." Sometimes that's not something I like to hear, but in this case, I knew God was behind it. And he was.
I'm thankful for what God is doing in Magna View. We've gone through a lot of changes and transitions over the last several years. It's not been easy, but it's been good. And I know God isn't through changing us. I pray and I believe He is shaping us into a church that has a local and world-wide impact for Him. I believe we're just beginning to see a great work of God.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Have you ever had those times when you wonder what in the world you are doing in life. Today is my day off and I've enjoyed the down time. I took my oldest daughter to get two wisdom teeth out this morning and everything went well. Came home and mowed the front yard before realizing it's still winter time. Worked on some laundry and then watched some baseball. I've really gotten away from baseball the last couple of years; I'm a Cubs fan so there's not been much reason to keep up with baseball (Cubs lost their opener today too).

I've also been reading a book by Pastor Stephen Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. I'm enjoying the book, it is very inspiring. It's wonderful how God has blessed Furtick's ministry and the exponential growth of Elevation. Furtick seems to be a pretty ordinary guy with great faith in a great God. The book is titled "Sun Stand Still" and it is based on Joshua's prayer in Josh. 10:12, where he prays for the sun to "stand still" in the sky so he and the Israelites can finish off the enemy. It's an impossibility that God grants him. Furtick attributes the success of his ministry and his church to the power of God that is activated by audacious faith and radical obedience; praying "sun stand still" kind of prayers, and acting in faith.

I love reading these kinds of books - I'm both encouraged and challenged. Encouraged because I love to read about great moves of God that transforms lives and grows His Church. Several of the stories have brought me to tears. But challenged because I have in my heart the desire to be involved in a great move of God. I've sensed it for years, I've prayed for it, and at times I thought I would experience it, and while I have seen the hand of the Lord at work in my life and in our church, it's nothing on the scale of what I feel in my heart.

I turn 46 next week (which maybe the reason I'm a little reflective and moody), and I'm wondering what I have done in my life that has brought glory to God and impacted this world for my King. I struggle with the fact that what I feel that God has put in my heart hasn't become a reality, and I'm wondering if it ever will. I know the answers that I would give to others in my situation - "it's God's job to do the work, your job is to be faithful no matter what; God's in the little things; every small act done in Christ's name brings reward in heaven." I know all the answers, but none of them seem to satisfy.

I'm thankful for all that God has let me be a part of in my life. There's no doubt I have been blessed time and time again; I don't want to come across as ungrateful, but I yearn for more. I long for an ability to lead people to a life-changing encounter with God. I yearn for a genuine revival in my life and the church where lives are changed, souls are saved, relationships are restored, ministries are started and worked, and each week or day we see the mighty hand of God moving on His people. I long to be a part of a great move of God that brings Him glory and brings me the sense of "this is it, this is what I've created you for, this is what I put in your heart."

The Lord is stirring something in me, I don't know where it will lead, but I'm ready for God to do something great, I'm ready for the sun to stand still for the glory of God. I pray He moves soon.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I've found that it is always best to start the week with an attitude of thankfulness. Monday's are often difficult times for ministers - we're typically exhausted from the weekend, we're discouraged because attendance was low, or no one responded to the message (basic "pity-party" stuff), and we have a long list of things to accomplish before next Sunday. Think about Monday's too much and you'll climb back into bed and hide under the covers (which is sometimes the best thing to do).
But I've found that taking a few minutes to count my blessings sets a positive tone for the day and even the week. So here's what I'm thanking the Lord for today:
1. The amazing grace of God that abounds in my life! I'm overwhelmed by the fact that God loves me even though I screw-up most of the time. My past is covered under the blood of Christ and my day is in His hands, therefore I can relax and rejoice in His amazing grace!
2. An incredible family of faith that I am blessed to be a part of. The Lord says that whoever leaves anything for the cause of the Kingdom will receive 100-fold back in return. I don't know that I've left very much behind for the Kingdom, but I've gained an incredible amount through the family of faith that God let's me be a part of. Magna View BC is an awesome group of people to share life with.
3. The challenge to be more proactive in sharing my faith with others and inviting others to join me in this journey of following Christ. Jesus says I WILL be His witness (Acts 1:8), therefore I am challenged to live out that verse today.
4. My wonderful wife and daughters - everyday I am thankful for the incredible relationship I have with the people closest to me. God has blessed our family with a wonderful (and weird) sense of humor. We laugh together more than any family I know of. I'm not only enjoying my family in this life, but I rejoice in knowing that I'll enjoy them forever in Christ.
5. Electronic connections - I know its not the same as "face-to-face" fellowship, but I'm thankful for the ability to connect with people who are significant to me through electronic media. I'm blessed to learn about what God is doing in people's lives all over the world.
6. Challenging readings - Reading the "Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and he is stretching my understanding of the church.
7. The opportunities to impact others for Christ. It's hard for me to fathom that Jesus chooses to partner with me to impact people's lives, but He has put His treasure in this earthen vessel, and I want to use it for His glory!

  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5:16-18 (NKJV)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

reFresh Ministry Conference

I had a great day! I attended the reFresh Pastors Conference in Knoxville with my friend Phil Young, and I  was truly "refreshed" by Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and Daniel Henderson, president of Strategic Renewal. It was one of those challenging, convicting, and yet encouraging conferences. Here are some of my favorite quotes and sayings:

Jim Cymbala
Commenting on "Christians" who on't like coming to worship: "If people don't want to be in God's presence on earth, why would He punish them by sending them to heaven?"

"God will help you see people as He sees them."

On communication - "When you love, you get through."

"Our culture is killing us. Culture is stronger than the Bible and the Holy Spirit in most of our churches."

Daniel Henderson
"The devil doesn't have to destroy us, he just has to distract us."

"Leadership can't point the way to prayer, we have to lead the way to prayer."

"We've replaced the leadership of the Holy Spirit with 'having a vision.' Don't do vision by imitation, do it by inspiration."

"The only enduring motive for praying is that He is worthy to be sought."

"If I were the devil, I would concentrate on keeping Christians from praying."

These are just a few snippets from an overall great conference.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seven Things for Magna View

Seven things I want our church to know this week:

1. So thankful for the Spirit's powerful presence yesterday! Each week it seems like God "ramps-up" our passion a little bit more.
2. Loving God with all of our heart, soul, and strength is a life-long journey. I feel like in some ways I'm just getting started, but it gets better and better each day. Making the effort to "keep your spiritual fervor" is worth it!
3. God is at work all over the place - it was amazing to see again how God is at work in an orphanage in Honduras last Sunday night! God is using His people to give hope and life to over 400 kids who would be living and dying on the streets of Honduras without Orphanage Emmanuel.
4. Next Sunday is so important in our review of our Mission Statement. LOVING OTHERS is the natural outflow of loving God.
5. Small Groups has changed my life. I'm so encouraged every time we do our Family2Family Small Groups. I get to know my family of faith so much better and I see God literally building His church using small groups. Next Sunday night is going to be a blast!
6. I think Magna View is the most "ministry-minded" church I've ever been a part of. Each week I hear about how ministry is taking place within the Body as members minister to one another. Nobody is drawing attention to themselves, but a lot of ministry is taking place each week and it is bringing glory to the Father.
7. God loves His church (you) so much and He has blessings for you if you'll put yourself in a place where you can receive them.

"Delight yourself also in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Thankfulness

Just a few things I'm thankful for this Monday evening. They're not in any particular order -

1. I'm thankful for a great Sunday at Magna View. The powerful presence of God's Holy Spirit has been obvious in our worship services and I am thankful to be there and experience it.
2. For a wonderful family - I had a great week/weekend with my family. My oldest daughter got her official drivers license, and we learned she made a good grade on her ACT. We spent Saturday in Corbin, KY for my youngest daughter's 12th birthday. Her choice was to go to the Original Kentucky Fried Chicken Sanders Cafe. It was a neat experience. We spent the afternoon walking around an indoor flea market looking for "treasures" we couldn't live without. On Sunday my middle daughter was called upon to lead a worship song in the worship service - she did awesome. I'm so proud to see how God is using her. I have a great group of girls.
3. Small Group was incredible Sunday night. I attended the "seniors" group and I was blown away again at how God is building His Body @ Magna View. We have some great Seniors who have a heart for the Lord and the desire to share their experiences with others. I learn something new about our church family every time we get together in small group. Our time of sharing about what our parents "handed-down" to us was powerful!
4. For the opportunity to teach college students the word of God. I have a great group of students in my Religion 101 Old Testament class at Carson-Newman College. They stayed with me through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy tonight.
5. For getting preached to today at the Nolachucky Baptist Association Pastor's Conference this morning. Don Pierson, prayer specialist from the TBC preached the pure word of God to us pastors today - it was both encouraging and challenging (and a little painful as well).
6. For the opportunity to start my day in prayer and in the presence of my Savior and in the word of God.
7. For Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor executed by the Nazi's at the end of WWII - for the writing he left behind, The Cost of Discipleship - grace is free, but it is not cheap. It cost Jesus His life, but I cheapen it when I fail to live completely committed to Jesus.

Never stop cultivating a heart of thankfulness.