I must admit from the get go that this may be an unpopular opinion. It will probably not line up with the majority of Americans, but when it comes to the school shooter I have a few thoughts.

First, let me start by saying when I saw this man standing in front of a judge on television, my first instinct was to give him the death penalty, and give it to him quickly. I wanted him to die quickly for a few reasons. 1. So he would pay quickly for the crime he committed. 2. So he doesn’t sit around getting 3 hots and a cot for the rest of his life, or until he is put to death. 3. I didn’t want him sitting in jail while my tax dollars paid for him to keep living.

Since those first thoughts I have since drawn back a bit. Well, maybe a good bit. I have completely changed my outlook on this man. Now, I know many might say I am crazy, or foolish for not thinking this way anymore, but let me explain.

In a previous post I mentioned the fact that this crime is a result of this fallen world. Sin, is the reason this happened. This young man was/is sick, but the thing is, we are all sick. We are all sick with sin and the only remedy is Jesus Christ.

You see what I want now more than anything is for there to be someone like Paul waiting for this man in prison. Someone that has been saved by the grace of God Almighty. Someone that will preach and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this guy and hopefully the Lord will open his heart to receive salvation. Does he need to face the consequences of his actions? Of course he does. He should be held accountable, even if that is the death penalty.

My thoughts are not simply, get it over with, or let him rot in jail. My prayer is that God will save his soul. Regardless of the crime, he still needs Christ. Christ is the only thing and the only person that will redeem him, offer him life, and forgive him of his sins.

I pray as Christians we will all think this way. Not pardoning him of his crime, but praying that God will one day soon pardon him of his sin, just like he did for you and me.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to comment.

I Love My Church!

Posted: February 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

My family and I loaded up a U-Haul truck back in August of 2017 and moved from Cross Plains, Tennessee to Jonesboro, Arkansas where I became the Lead Pastor of South Caraway Baptist Church. It has been a little over six months now since we have been here and I just want to say that I love my church!! The men, women, boys and girls that gather every Sunday and Wednesday in our building are not just people, they are family.

Just like any ministry there have been a few up’s and downs, but the Lord is faithful! We understand that we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but with the cosmic powers, the spiritual forces at work in this world (Ephesians 6:12). We know there is an enemy that prowls around seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). This is why we stand true and faithful on the Mighty Word of God! We stand with each other and encourage one another to pursue Christ and become more like Him daily.

I have been blessed by the amazing people at South Caraway Baptist Church and I look forward to being their pastor for many years to come. Will you all join me in praying for my church? Thank you in advance.

In Christ,

Pastor Steven

Another School Shooting?

Posted: February 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

what-is-sinI opened up my twitter feed yesterday and right before me was the horror of another school shooting. I didn’t realize until early this morning that 17 people lost their lives to another senseless act of violence. 17 people that were going about their daily lives, making plans, looking forward to things, learning, hanging out with friends and just living their lives. All of that was shattered yesterday when a young man with a gun chose to reign terror on the precious victims.

We find ourselves mourning for these victims and their families. Many people all across the world are mourning with those who mourn, and weeping with those who weep. There is a shared bond with many people as we watch from near and far, this tragedy unfold. Many are asking why, many don’t understand, some are pushing for tougher gun laws, and their are others that simply do not care.

The problem with one of these tragedies is that people want to point fingers at the shooter, his family, his mental health, his upbringing, or to the weapon he was holding. Others want to point fingers at different groups for supporting guns, those groups point the fingers back at them for not supporting guns. It is a never ending cycle of blame placed on so many different people, groups, or things. Yes, the shooter made decisions that he will have to live with fore the rest of his life. He will face the consequences of his actions, and he will have to live with the 17 faces he gunned down in cold blood.

Ultimately, we have to look at the root cause of the actions that were carried out at this school. Sin. Many want to point fingers, but not many want to acknowledge the real reason this, and other tragedies, occur.  The answer is sin. We live in a fallen world. From the time the Bible opens in Genesis chapter 3 we see man completely disobey a holy and perfect God by eating the fruit from the tree he specifically told Adam to avoid (Genesis 2:17).  Because of this very act in the Garden, sin has spread to all men and women that have walked this earth or will walk this earth in the future (Romans 5:12).

If sin is the root cause then what is the solution? Jesus. Only Jesus. He is the only answer to this curse of sin. This is why it’s all to important that professing Christians take the Gospel seriously, the Good News of Jesus Christ. If we are true believers then we must preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. This means we must be ready to have Gospel conversations everywhere we go. We need to tell people that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and nobody comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6).  It’s important to take the Great Commission seriously (Matthew 28:16-20). I will admit, sometimes it’s difficult to talk to people about Jesus, but think of the people that boldly proclaimed the Gospel to you which led to your salvation. You could be the person God uses in someones life to hear and receive the Gospel.

You never know, that person you talk to today about Jesus may be just one breath away from making a serious decision that could affect many people for the rest of their lives. Proclaim the Gospel everywhere you go and trust God to save souls. Sin is serious, which is why we need to be even more serious about the Gospel.

In Christ,

Pastor Steven

 

Church Growth

Posted: January 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

Yesterday (1/7/2018) I shared the vision to grow our local church at South Caraway Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas. There are many resources that speak to growing a church. There are websites, podcasts, and hundreds of books dedicated to providing practical ways to grow a church.

I wanted to look on the internet to see how to grow a church and compare it to the way I feel is best to grow a church. Here is what I found. Their information is in bold lettering. My short commentary/thoughts are not in bold lettering.

The Five Most Important Principles of Church Growth

  1. Outreach is the priority. Outreach is a byproduct of spiritual growth. The priority is the Gospel.

 

  1. Social Networks are the Vehicle (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) Social media is not the vehicle in which to grow the church. The Vehicle used is the Word of God! The Bible.

 

  1. Felt Needs are the connecting point.
    1. This point said: Don’t start with your agenda, start with theirs.
    2. Our agenda must be that of Christ, not our own!

 

  1. Relationships are the Glue (Be a Relational Matchmaker) Put people together that will hit it off.
    1. The Holy Spirit is the glue. If we are honoring God, giving Him glory and living for him then being relational will be another byproduct of doing this.

 

  1. Transitions provide the window of opportunity. (Major events in peoples lives bring them closer to spirituality.
    1. In other words, they are encouraging the church to prey on people’s major life changes and pain.
    2. Example: When someone loses a loved one, gets sick, gets fired, etc… Move in and pounce. Seize the opportunity so to speak…. THIS IS WRONG!

 

Needless to say, I disagree with most, if not all of these “practical,” most “important,” ways to grow a church. Below is my plan to grow our church, taken from the Bible, specifically looking at the early church.

  1. Devote ourselves to Prayer: We will pray more together as a congregation and encourage a stronger prayer life individually. We will begin to pray specific prayers: Prayer of exaltation, adoration, confession, assurance, etc.… We will incorporate those into our worship gatherings.

 

  1. Pray the Holy Spirit would move: Pray the Holy Spirit will move in our congregation bringing them into salvation, or bringing believers back to Himself.

 

  1. Preach the Word: From the platform or in small groups, we will preach and teach the entire Word of God. Scripture is of supreme authority and we will treat it that way.

 

  1. Preach the TRUE Gospel: Nothing watered down to make it easier to hear, we will preach the true Gospel. Man is sinful, God is good, Jesus died so that men and women could be saved from their sin, have a right relationship with God through Jesus and live a life devoted to serving Him. It’s God that does all of the work, not us! AMEN!

 

  1. Devote yourselves to the teaching of the Word. This one is on you as individuals. The Bible says to test the Spirits, so whether I’m teaching, or any of your Sunday School or small group leaders teach, study the content for yourselves. Hold us accountable, but devote yourself to the teaching!

 

  1. Take Care of one another’s needs. Benevolence, Food Pantry, ETC…. Donate and Give to those areas, but when you hear of a need, quietly contribute or meet that need.

 

  1. Break Bread Together. We will have meals together. When we gather to fellowship, get to know someone you don’t know well. Sit with them, talk with them, get to know them. Break bread together in your homes. Study the Bible together, get to know each other.

 

  1. Worship. We will give God glory through song, the preaching of the Word, giving, greeting and everything else we do. We also want to encourage you to do all things for the glory of God in your own life as well.

 

In short, we will be faithful to the Lord, and let Him add to the number, those that are being saved. True church growth.

 

In Christ,
Pastor Steven

Is God really faithful?

Posted: November 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

As I sit here listening to a Youtube video from the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, I hear the words “Forever God is faithful, Forever God is strong.” As I listen to this worship team sing this song, I wonder how many of them were murdered the following Sunday by a twisted and sick individual who would come into those very church doors and kill 26 people and wound many others. I wonder if these people ever saw it coming. I wonder if they believe what they are singing? Is God really faithful?

I wonder a lot of things, but hearing this worship team sing this song and now watching the tragedy unfold in front of a global audience, I wonder did they really in their hearts believe God is truly faithful in all things, or was it just another song to sing? Please hear my heart here, I am in no way challenging their beliefs, I’m challenging your beliefs. I’m challenging my beliefs.

We do the same thing every Sunday. We stand and sing beautifully written worship songs that exalt a risen Christ and honor a Sovereign God. We sing how faithful He is, we open our Bibles and see how faithful He has been. We see promises of how faithful he will be. We read it, we hear it, we sing it, we proclaim it, but do we really believe it? Do we really believe that the God of this universe is as faithful as we say he is? Do we trust him with out lives, our very thoughts, our emotions, our feelings? Do we let him be faithful in the dark alleys of our souls? Do we want to sing from the depths of our souls, or do we just want to sing from our lips how great and faithful he is, while the deep crevices of our souls remain dark and confined to a sense of control over our emotions and thoughts?

The truth is, life is difficult. There will be things that come along that we don’t want to acknowledge or be a part of. We will want to run, we will want to scream, we will want to sing how faithful he is, while our insides scream “how could you?” There is only one person that knows if we truly believe what we say, sing and hear? Ourselves.

The same God that sits on his throne, is the same God that knows your deepest thoughts, you cares and your frustrations. That same God is faithful if we are faithful to him. I have a few suggestions. One, if we don’t believe he is faithful, then let’s not sing or proclaim these truths until we believe them. Another suggestion is get in the Word of God and see promises fulfilled and how faithful he has been and how he promises to be faithful to us as we are faithful to him. Rest in those promises, and then sing them at the top of your lungs when you truly believe them and rest in them. Rest in who Christ is. Rest in who Christ is in you.

I believe that the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas is singing “Forever God is faithful, Forever God is strong!” They believe it. What about you? What about me?

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor Steven

Faithful

Posted: April 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

It has been a while since I posted anything here.  It seems that time doesn’t slow down and neither does the workload.  Whether it be work, family, extra curricular activities we all tend to want more time to do things.  We try to fit so many things into a 24 hour period and rarely do we find or set aside time to worship, pray and read our Bible.  Sure, we may set aside time on Sunday mornings to go to church and even then opening our Bible isn’t something that we even need to do at church anymore.  We have the text from the sermon on the “Big Screens,” or we can access it on our device if we choose, but most of the time in this technologically advanced world we just choose to look at the screens because it’s readily available.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with just looking at the screens, but what I fear the most is that many people are looking at those screens and that is the extent of their Bible intake for the week. The few songs that were sung before the preaching is the extent of their worship for the week and the prayer that was prayed was the extent of their prayer for the week. Does this sound familiar? Is this you? Well, it has been me on many occasions.  Why do we get so busy living the lives that WE want to live that we completely miss the opportunities minute by minute, day by day to give God glory, to worship him, to speak to him and to read and respond to his Word? I have narrowed it down to two main reasons. One, we are to busy and two, we just don’t care.

To Busy

It’s true that as life goes on we tend to get busier and busier and when we have a few minutes to rest we want to do just that, rest.  We want to sit down and watch a television show, listen to music, take a nap or just sit in a chair with silence.  We are consumed with having to go from one place to another on a daily basis.  Many times our day begins early in the morning and doesn’t end until late in the evening.  We have work, games, social events, church events, etc. We get so busy with everyday life that we tend to forget to spend time with God, or we are so busy we just don’t have time.

There are two things I want to point out here.  1. Our life is just a vapor, it’s here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14). We can plan our days, our weeks, our months and even our years, but we never really know when our time will come that we stand face to face with Jesus.  Do we want to stand before him having totally wasted away our lives running from one place to the next and never making time to seek His face, read and live by HIS Word, or even worship and give him glory?  Ephesians 2: 10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works. These works should come from time spent with him in worship, including reading and responding to his Word. Don’t let time pass you by, intentionally make time during the day to worship and honor Him.

That brings me to my next point.  The Bible tells us to “Pray without Ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This means that even on our busiest days we can still pray and communicate with God.  When you are driving from meeting to meeting or from game to game, simply talk to him.  You don’t have to talk out loud, but internally talk to him.  He hears you.  You don’t have to close your eyes to pray, keep them open and pray, especially when your driving!! We can stay in constant contact with God no matter how busy we get.  All we have to do is do it, be intentional about it! Remember, our life is here today and gone tomorrow, don’t waste it away, worship him daily.

Just don’t care

Apart from being busy and not being intentional about carving out time for God is the other side of this thing.  People just don’t care.  You know it’s funny to me how many people I have seen that are in the ministry, work in a church, people that claim to be Christians, or others that want to appear spiritual that just don’t care anything about the Bible or living a holy and pure life apart from Sunday mornings.  Unfortunately this isn’t something as easy as creating space in your busy schedule. This is a heart issue that needs to be changed by the Holy Spirit.

If you claim to be a Christian and you don’t care anything about reading the Bible through the week or attempting to live a holy and blameless life that Christians are called to live then I’m asking you to check your heart.  Do you remember the day you truly repented of your sin and believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Was it just an emotional response to a worship service or a sermon, or by a pastor begging people to come forward? Was it because everyone else was doing it? or was it a real, genuine faith in Christ and a turning from your sin and doing your best to live for him? If you are truly saved then I believe God has placed a desire in you to live according to his Word (Even though we will never measure up).  If not, then the Bible says you are unregenerate, you are still in the darkness and each week in your churches you are parading around like a wolf in sheeps clothing.  This sounds harsh, but it’s the unfortunate reality.  Repent of your sins and believe the Gospel.

We serve a faithful Father.  He is faithful to us and when we neglect him and put other things before him then we are being unfaithful.  Our God is a jealous God and he will not tolerate other things being put before him.  What is in your life that you need to change? Do you need to make space for him in your busy schedule? Or do you need a heart transplant? Do you need to repent, believe the Gospel and be saved? Check your schedules and your heart. Give God glory and enjoy Him.

#SoliDeoGloria

Glory to God Alone

Steven

anguish_by_cycoze

Many of you reading this have probably heard the word depravity. Many of you may have never heard of the word at all.  Depravity simply means wickedness or immoral corruption.  Biblical Theology tells us that depravity is the innate corruption of human nature, due to original sin.  Original sin happened way back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  When Adam and Eve took the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The very tree God told them to stay away from.  Paul reminds us of Adams sin in Romans chapter 5 verse 12.  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” ESV.

Sin came into this world through Adam, and because of that original sin, every person born into this world is born wicked, sinful, disobedient toward God… depraved. There are no exceptions. The only person born into this world that never sinned was Jesus who came into this world to die for our sins and prove to be the better Adam.  As a matter of fact Paul go’s on to say in Romans chapter 5 verses 18 and 19 that “as the trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one mans disobedience (Adam) the meany were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.” (ESV). Simply put, Jesus came to die for our sins, to take on the full wrath of God so we didn’t have to and change our dark and wicked hearts to a new heart full of light and truth for those who put their faith in Jesus and confess him as Lord. (Romans 10:9-10)

As I think about the total depravity of man and the saving work of Christ on the cross, it leads me to think about the world around us.  Just this morning I have seen where a police officer was shot and killed in Chattanooga, just days after 6 young children died as a result of a bus accident that was potentially caused by a bus driver who wanted to inflict harm.  Also this very moment eleven people are being held hostage in a bank in Jacksonville, Florida.  Just days ago a young man ran into people with his car and stabbed others on the campus of Ohio State University.  Two men were arrested in my home state of Tennessee for starting wildfires, fires that potentially claimed a large part of Gatlinburg.

Why? Why are people acting this way? Why is all of this happening around us and seemingly getting worse? We want to “fix” all that is broken in our society.  We have seen new programs being rolled out in our communities, we see laws trying to go into affect to stop certain crimes, we see education classes trying to teach against a certain outcome in life such as teen pregnancy, etc… We can’t “fix” anything or anyone.  We have to realize that this world is broken, we have to realize the human heart is desperately wicked as Jeremiah 17:9 tells us.  It’s total depravity.  The reason we see the turmoil is simply unregenerate hearts living out the only thing it knows. Wickedness. Sin.

How do we “fix” this problem? The problem has already been “fixed!” The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ made a way for us to forsake the chains of sin and death and put on righteousness and eternal life.  The battle has been won, death has been defeated, Jesus reigns in eternity and is seated at the right hand of the Father. The problem has a solution, but the problem of sin isn’t the biggest problem.

We are seeing the human nature of people play out through their sin.  It’s tough and it’s hard to watch.  We want to point our fingers at the “big” sins that get broadcast on the local networks and social media, but we never look into our own hearts and see the sin we commit daily.  From large to small anything that we do, say or think that is contrary to the word of God is a sin that offends a holy and perfect God.  As God calls us to himself and we put our faith in Jesus and confess him as Lord, repent (turn from)of our sins and follow him, we, at that moment, become a Christian.  So what’s the problem? We keep it to ourselves.

Yes, the problem that is much larger than the sin we see around us is the fact that Christians keep the Gospel to themselves.  Think about when you became a Christian.  Who told you about Jesus? Who proclaimed the Gospel to you? As the Holy Spirit stirred in your heart and God called you to salvation I’m willing to bet there is someone you could name right now that told you the good news of Jesus Christ and how he came to die on this earth for your sins and that through him you could be made righteous and have a relationship with God the Father, and that your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. Am I right? Is there someone? Then why are most Christians quiet about their faith?

How many people do you think we come in contact with on a daily basis? Most of us cross paths with many people during the day and week.  How many of those people are Christians? Unless we truly know the person, we don’t know who is or who isn’t a Christ follower.  With that thought in mind, how many people do we come in contact with that might be about to do the unthinkable like shoot a police officer, rob a bank or drive a bus to fast or start a wildfire near your hometown?  What if they aren’t about to do anything major like that, what if they are just normal people that live a life continually offending and sinning against God, and if they died without knowing Jesus they would spend an eternity in hell? Yes, the problem is bigger than we imagine.  Our silence as Christians will always be overpowered by the loud acts of sin.  It’s time we do something.

We all have a birthday and we all have a day that we will die.  You have probably heard it said that what you do with that dash between the two dates matters.  It may sound cliche or cheesy but it’s true.  What we do in life matters, and it isn’t about how much wealth we can gain, or how successful we can become or the type of cars we drive.  It’s about knowing Jesus as our Savior and telling others about the saving and redeeming work of Christ. We can’t change or “fix” people, but there is something about hearing the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, that allows the Holy Spirit to move in someones life which will lead to salvation.  Let’s stop being part of the problem as Christians, and be part of the solution.

#MakeDisciples

Steven