Monday, April 8, 2019


It's Monday--just a few moments past 24 hours ago we read Jesus' prayer for us...just hours before His cross met His hands, His feet and His back.  How awesome of Jesus to ask the Father, "Can John come over and spend the night...forever?" 
Jesus wants you to see His glory in heaven.  Receive His invitation today!  Turn from self and sin.  Confess Jesus as Lord.  Be baptized. 
Share this with all your lost friends today, tomorrow and especially during the next two weeks.  Bring them to Easter Services at your local church! 
He Is Worthy!!!
He is Risen!!!
He is Risen Indeed!!!
Coach/Pastor John

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Cup

     Last Saturday, our church joined other Kershaw Association churches to serve our community in helping to park those who attended THE CUP.  It was a real joy to serve alongside other believers.  I enjoyed the parking but not the lesson.  Humble pie is hard to eat.

     For years I have heard my wife correct my inquiries or requests for permission to park according to my own needs or preferences.  Like learning to tip more generously after my sons and daughter worked in a restaurant, I also learned the other side of the waving flag Saturday.  Most people were very generous in their waves, appreciation and attitude.  But as looking in the mirror, there were several who rolled down the window asking to pull into the parking lot that we had just filled.  We knew there was no more room, but there are those that want things their way.  Despite the late arrival, they still felt deserving of a closer parking spot even if it didn’t exist. Some pulled in anyway ignoring our directions otherwise.

     Paul writes in Romans 13 of authorities which exist for protection, order and safety.  A man with a flag holds a little bit of authority, regardless of who is driving the vehicle.  Paul advises us to obey these gifts to us from God.  Government, Law Enforcement and even flagmen are there for our benefit.  We need not fear them, but simply follow their directions. 

 Coach/Pastor John

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities… for it is a minister of God to you for good” Romans 13:1, 4.

Monday, March 25, 2019

NT Chronological

We are united as a church reading together the New Testament chronologically from the One Version Bible App.  What a blessing as so many dear saints share with me their love for the stories of Jesus!
We began the Acts of the Apostles last week and are reading about the early church.  It is so encouraging to read of these believers laying aside their own selves for the sake of others.
We are currently in a WATCH AND PRAY series at First Baptist Camden on Sunday mornings focusing on prayer. As I read ACTS 9 and 10 over the weekend, it struck me how the early believers were attentive and obedient to the spoken word of God.  I long for a prayer life that allows me to hear God's voice that I may obey as the Apostles Paul and Aeneas.  Cornelius was a man seeking after God and God honored his devotion, alms and prayers.  God directed him to send for Peter--a divine appointment was made and Peter also obeyed the voice of God, so that this Gentile and his household and friends would hear the gospel and be saved.  Nothing excites me more than stories like these.  I am convinced that when God's people seek Him like these early believers did, we too will hear God speak. We will go in obedience where He sends us. We too will see those who are far from God draw near to Him, believe in Him, be baptized and will be forever changed! I anxiously await days like these that lay just before us!
Coach/Pastor John

Watch and Pray

     Have you ever been worried about something? Have you ever just had a lot on your mind and feel really stressed? I resonate with a few who shared with me this week that we tend to exert much effort to alleviate our situation before we realize that prayer is a needed first response.  I can remember walks with God when passages like Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 6:33-34, and Philippians 4:6-7 came to mind and by the time I had prayed, right perspective was given, clarity and insight was provided and peace of mind replaced worry. 

     You may have had this experience before too.  You lost your keys, a needed document or something important and your search has left you defeated, condemning (I’m so stupid!) and frustrated.  Then you think to pray and God answers.  Some might look at that calling it petty or insignificant, assuming that God doesn’t care about little details of our lives. Our passage today instructs us to cast all our anxieties on God because He cares for us.  God has helped me numerous times in what some may call little, but the heart of the matter is relationship.  Am I so close to God that I can ask Him to help me with the mammoth crises of life as well as the minuscule ones?

     Lastly, I think it is valuable for us to remember the prayer requests of Paul.  He usually asked for boldness and courage to proclaim the gospel and for receptive hearts.  Jesus instructed three New Testament writers to “Watch and Pray.” Each later would extend this command to all believers.  Our prayer as we gather to worship God, and His Son Jesus, is that by the power of His Holy Spirit we all might be changed.  Change our hearts O God!

Love God!  Love others!  Serve!

Pastor John


Sunday, March 17, 2019

All Access

     “All Access” is a blessing that communicates privilege, favor recognition.  It tells us that we get in.  We need not worry about anything.  We have clearance.  Recently, someone handed me a season pass.  It meant that I could attend any game or athletic event.  It cost me nothing but gained me much.  I once received a key from a friend.  “This key is to every gate.”  It gave me access to enjoy certain privileges that were unavailable to me before.  When I was in high school a friend gave our family back stage passes to the Grand Ole Opry.  We walked back there where only a few could go and rub shoulders with the stars.  Whispering Bill Anderson walked up to me and Paul and said, “Here, do you want to take a picture with me?”
     Do you realize what Jesus did for you and me?  He gave us an ALL ACCESS pass.  Because of Jesus’ death on the cross Jesus guaranteed certain promises.  He secured the forgiveness of sins.  He removed the separation from God we experience because of our sin. He removed the sting of death and guaranteed eternal life in heaven for those who repent of sin and trust in Him for salvation. He promised abundant life here on the earth.  In spite of loss, hardship and death, Jesus has said to us that our ALL ACCESS pass lets us find joy in all of life because of a wonderful hope…this is not our final destination.  His resurrection gives us a certain hope that we are known by the Father.  We have so many blessings to enjoy!  This ALL ACCESS pass gives us the assurance of entrance.  We can enter into God’s presence in prayer.  We can seek Him and know Him.  We can commune with God in conversation.  We can hear from God in His Word and through His Spirit. What promises!

Love God!  Love others!  Serve!

Coach/Pastor John

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Friday, March 8, 2019

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Monday, March 4, 2019

Annie Armstrong DAY 1 and 2

Pray for gospel conversations with those you encounter today!
Pray for Jorge and Rebeca Santiago in Comerio, Puerto Rico.

Slow to Speak

     Do you think Jesus measured twice before he cut in his father’s carpentry shop?  That’s a principle Tina’s dad taught me that is a common rule among carpenters.  “Measure twice…cut once.”  Among a gathering of men, we discussed the meaning of “When I was a child I spoke like a child…but when I became a man I put my childish ways behind me” I Cor. 13:11.  One noted James’ words “be quick to hear and slow to speak” meaning measure wisely your words. Would you agree we all need a measure of caution with our words?

     One morning I awoke to read these words “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level; then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies and the waters will overflow the secret place” Isaiah 28:17. The Lord is just and righteous.  His words are precise, balanced and true. Paul wrote that God’s word “is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” Hebrews 4:12.  The Lord’s Word cuts deeply and with accuracy to the needs of a body’s heart and soul.  Our body!

     Let us be wise carpenters with our words.  Let us measure twice before we speak.  Let us listen and be quick to hear.  Let us be slow to put words to a thought. 

Love God!  Love others!  Serve!

Coach/Pastor John

Friday, March 1, 2019

March Link

Hello First Family,
I have been amused by a very small sign on Highway 97.  It is a very simple white, 5X8 card with an arrow pointing into the Edgewood community.  That’s all. I have yet to turn in order to investigate.  It gives some direction I guess.  “Turn Left.” It poses for me some real imperatives concerning direction.  Direction is vitally important to all of us in every aspect of our lives.  A child needs direction to learn and grow in each environment.  Students are encouraged at increasingly younger ages to nail down their career path.  Couples are wise to agree to the direction of their lives merged together by agreeing to a plan so that they grow in their marriage together.
To stand and point in a direction is to fall short.  I am sure I am not the only driver coming into Camden to ignore the sign.  I dismiss it as an old sign for runners in a road race.  I disregard it as a sign placed by someone having a yard sale many Saturdays past.  Just a sign with an arrow leaves me satisfied with driving past unaffected and unmoved.
We have charted a course for First Baptist Camden.  God has brought together a team that loves you and is gifted in so many unique ways.  We have a common passion for reaching this community.  God has given the team a love for one another that has been cemented in our work and fellowship together, and we marvel that He has accomplished this in such a brief time together. 
We have charted our course with four points on the compass lending us direction.  To the North we are reminded that our ship must be strong and its people trained, equipped and impassioned.  Our North heading values a church family that loves and serves one another with an equal eye to the other.  We live beyond ourselves.  Our Bible study, our fellowship, our small groups, and our ministry is not just to and for ourselves, but we exist also for those who have yet to hear of Christ Jesus.  We encourage you to join a Discipleship Group, a Sunday school class or a ministry group today.
Our South heading is the community of Camden and beyond.  We realize that It’s Not About Me (INAM).  We exist for something bigger than ourselves.  This reminds us that Jesus spoke more about the kingdom than He did about the church.  When Jesus heard Peter’s faith statement He proclaimed that on such faith He would build His church.  His marching commands to the church is about adding to the Kingdom of God.  We often sum Matthew 28:19-20 up with “Go and make disciples.” We want each member to adopt that same INAM mentality as we think of FBC and our surrounding community. There is a plethora of opportunities to serve our community through FBC ministries.  Ask us today!
Our West heading reminds us that we intend to sail this ship with humility and cooperation.  We exist in cooperation with other churches and with the KBA—Kershaw Baptist Association.  Whenever possible we want to encourage other churches and pastors.  We want to lead in many areas but with our eyes always alert to how we can be a help to all churches regardless of denomination.  An opportunity this month is to join KBA at the Cup March 30.  We have been asked to volunteer at the Cup 8:30-Noon to assist in parking.  We have promised to bring 20 volunteers to fulfill two of our objectives both in this community and among sister churches.  Please communicate to any of our staff so we can coordinate your helping with that event.  I will be giving the invocation at the Cup that morning.  What an opportunity we have to be a flagship church in our community and state this month!
Our East heading is not a new one.  Our church has a rich history of living on mission for Christ in the world.  We just received our Machachi team back from Ecuador.  Another team and I are planning now for the next trip July 9-17.  I am anxious to meet our brothers and sisters in Machachi.  We have another team heading to Central Asia March 7 to help our workers there.  Your role for now is to pray for these teams.  We prayerfully support eleven mission teams serving around the world as well as the thousands we support through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.  Ask God when He would have you to go.  Then be willing to say as Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me.” 
Love God!  Love others!  Serve!

Pastor John

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