Monday, February 18, 2019

Simon and the Repentant Woman

Reflecting this morning on the story of Simon when Jesus (Luke 7) came to his house and the sinful woman washed Jesus' feet with her tears and anointed His feet with perfume and wiped them with her hair. We should ask the question--With whom do you most relate?
The Woman?
The disciples of Jesus nearby, perhaps at the table?
Guests who heard and observed?
After realizing that Jesus knows your every thought, is there anything you need to confess to Jesus?  Anything you need to do to make things right with someone or with Him? Since we are to follow Jesus, whose feet do you need to wash as an act of service in His name?

Coach/Pastor John

Come join us Sunday at First Baptist Camden this Sunday, February 24, to observe with us the celebration of several who will be baptized in obedience!  11:00 am service!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Heisman House

 Pastor’s Message                                 February 17, 2019
     “The church is not the Heisman House.” I said this to a friend last week as we discussed the challenge to walk as a Christian and live daily in obedience.  Resisting sin and living a life pleasing to God is not automatic.  It requires desire and diligence.  The church is not a place where the stars hang out and flaunt their bowl rings.  We don’t gather together to brag of our victories.  The church is not a place for select believers to be honored or given a special room or code of entry. 
     “The church is a hospital for sinners.”  You have perhaps heard that one before.  I acknowledged that I had heard a preacher say that.  It is more accurate though isn’t it?  None of us would come here this morning strutting our stuff and saying, “I have arrived.” We would not come today saying to another that we have lived perfectly this week.  We would be first to admit our need for repentance.  We would be first to acknowledge our salvation only by the grace of God.  We would be quick to admit our failures and need for God’s restoration.   We should be quick to acknowledge our need for Christ and for one another.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us in chapter ten to not neglect meeting together and to encourage one another. He actually uses the words “spur one another on…” 
Coach/Pastor John

Sunday, February 10, 2019

For Real?

     For several weeks I have gazed down at a beautiful leaf caught in a crack between the sanctuary and the fellowship center.  Each time, I would gasp at the striking colors of yellow, orange and red.  I finally had to investigate only to discover that it was an artificial leaf. 
     It struck me immediately that Jesus used such pictures to warn the religious of his day.  He used images like cups that were clean on the outside but dirty on the inside and whitewashed tombs of dead men’s bones. Jesus often called the religious leaders “hypocrites” and is best understood as play acting.  It is pretending with sincerity to be something you are not. 
     I think of those outside the church who may someday repent and confess Christ as Savior.  They watch the church intently wanting to see if we truly are who we claim to be.  Truth often hangs in the balance. They muse, “Do you really have the hope you claim?  Do your words and actions actually validate your truth claims?  Is Jesus real?  Are you real? Does the church offer me anything significant?” 
     The church today MUST impact culture.  James Hunter, in TO CHANGE THE WORLD, offers the only way.  Hunter is a sociologist who argues that the church has failed to impact our culture in trying to be against culture, by seeking relevance, claiming to be purists, retreating from the world, and often copying the world.  He gives a simple way to gain lost ground.  He calls it “faithful presence.”  He simply argues that for the church to change the world each member of the body of Christ must daily, faithfully and consistently present to the world the presence of Christ living in us.  If our lives are attractive, and they pick us up, then they must discover that we are real. Paul instructed Timothy to avoid men who hold “to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” II Timothy 3:5.

Love God!  Love others!  Serve!

Pastor John

Monday, February 4, 2019

Poor Grab

      From time to time you will hear me refer to Po Grab.  It’s where the family farm is located in middle Tennessee.  Back before google maps, you couldn’t get there from here.  Seriously, the maps we drew included “look for the…” type content.  People would always get lost trying to find Foster Hollow Road and Hannah’s Gap Road and Chestnut Ridge. Now I just drop a pin and people drive right up the hollow. 
     Most stories are similar, but I always heard that the valley got its name when an ole farmer came to the little store that was both a place to purchase goods or barter goods.  He was there to purchase his seeds for the spring planting.  Back then you took a small brown bag and grabbed a handful of seed for a nickel.  It was reported that he walked out that day and said, “That sure was a poor grab.”  It stuck. Soon it was called Fullerton’s Poor Grab Store.  I remember Granddaddy giving me a dime and I could walk down the hill, cross the creek and buy M & M s and a coke in that small green bottle.  My grandmother Sorrells recounted trading eggs for dry goods.
     Growing up visiting my grandparents or spending the summer there I recall a picture of our message series ONE ANOTHER.  Everyone helped everyone.  All the farmers got together to put up one another’s hay.  If a barn was to be raised, then all the community came together to help.  The church was very local and very One Another.  What was true in their lives on Sunday was true every other day of the week.  There was a couple who were “special” who lived between the Po Grab Store and the Church of Christ Church. My grandparents always took care to ask what they needed from town when they went.  They often took meals to them.  Others in the community did the same for this man and woman who could not do much for themselves. 
     It is different today.  Large gates, “NO TRESPASSING” signs, and video cameras at the locked gates are not prevalent but they exist.  Let’s lead the way church!

Love God!  Love others!  Serve!

Pastor John

Monday, January 28, 2019

One Another

I just returned last week from a few days on the farm in Tennessee.  Pastor Clint preached a wonderful ONE ANOTHER message 1.20.19 on Honor.  Give it a listen at  Yesterday God showed us another ONE ANOTHER command--to forgive.  That is a difficult one for all of us, but it is not an option.  All new creations--those born anew in Christ--have this distinguishing trait...we forgive.  It begins in obedience.  It is more likely shallow at that point but daily forgiveness more and more changes the heart of the one forgiving until there are outward manifestations of a changed heart that is kind and tenderhearted.  It is Monday, just 24 hours ago we were challenged to forgive and let go.  A quick three people or things done or said that you know immediately through God's Spirit He is calling you to forgive.  Take care of that today.  Let forgiveness begin its work in you to the glory of God (Ephesians 4:25-32)
"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32

Pastor's Message 1.27.19

 Pastor’s Message                                 January 27, 2019

“How do you balance ambition with God’s call on your life?” That was the question of the night at the yearly gathering of men and young men at the farm in Tennessee.  A young man in his early 30s, my cousin’s son, was facing some gigantic challenges in life as a husband, father, provider and coach.  We love this trip so much because each year we find these young men growing accustomed to an opportunity to hear from men they trust concerning direction and responsibility in life.  The ages in the room ranged from 17-82.  Here are some of the comments I remember:
“Your call and ambition can be mutually exclusive, but they don’t have to be.” 
“Patience is one key to discovering how God’s call on your life is carried out through managing ambition.”
“You have to trust in God’s timing to reach some of the ambitions you have set in life.”
“Ambition is not solely satisfied in a career. Our spouse and children are also due a husband and father whose ambition is Godly and inspired.”
“Maintain humility as you wait on the Lord.  Joseph had to learn that lesson.  He was put down, sold, forgotten, falsely accused, forgotten some more before God worked the dream and his ambition not only to the good for Joseph, but also for his family, Israel and other nations.”
“It is not wrong to ambitiously pursue opportunities while waiting on the Lord.”
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17
“Character is more about being than doing.”
“Some of the greatest opportunities to serve God came by faithfully serving where He currently has positioned me. My first head coaching job came as I was faithfully pursuing an internship opportunity.”
We all were blessed by the vulnerability in that young man’s question.  Maybe it will help you too.
Love God!  Love others!  Serve!
Pastor John

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Pastor’s Message                                                                                        January 6, 2019
Good Morning First Family!
I hope you have had a wonderful start to the new year.  Many of you know that my father was a pastor.  He was one of my very favorites.  He wrote a pastor’s message weekly for the bulletin, and until June 2018 I have carried on that practice.  One of my goals for 2019 is to bring this joyous work to First Baptist Camden.  I love to write, and God has been faithful to give me a weekly nugget to share with my church family as pastor.  I look forward to seeing how He blesses us in the years ahead.
I was trying to remember when it all started, but I had to look in the box to actually discover my first journal.  I found a very old spiral pad with the first entry dated October 1, 1986.  The verse to live by that day was “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” James 4:17.  As I gazed this week at those fading pages, I truly remember the impact of that verse on that 24-year-old young man.  Here we are 32 + years later and I am still journaling.  I include thoughts, prayer requests, the scriptures I read that day, scriptures I am memorizing, insights, sermon notes, conference notes and other things worth recording in what has become a document of my spiritual journey.  I encourage you to start that tradition if you do not already journal. Some may miss the sermon notes section, but where do those end up?  Might it be a better a discipline to have a secure place where your notes can be kept alongside your own personal, daily journey with God?  Start this week.
May God bless our church family as we…
Love God!  Love others! Serve!
Pastor John