Staff Devotions

 

Pastor’s Desk January 28th

Scripture Passage:  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5 “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or,  What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.”   Matthew 6:31-32

Read more...

Pastor’s Desk January 21st

Dear Friends,
 
     The following are quotes I have heard down through the years that appropriately fit the Scripture Passage for the day:  “If life is like a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?”  Erma Bombeck   “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get?”  (Made famous by Forrest Gump’s momma.)  “Life is like a game of chess.  To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way.  We become each and every piece within the game called life.”   Allan Rufus   “The game of life is a lot like football.  You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.”  Lewis Grizzard   “Life is like a smooth running engine, all it takes is one little mistake to bring everything to a screeching halt.”  Johnny Carr
 
     Some friends and I were discussing the other day mistakes we had made in life.  Some of those mistakes for me were the result of foolish pride and egotism.  Others were just sheer stupidity.  Some were honest mistakes with no premeditation behind them.  Some were spur of the moment decisions that I later regretted, but at the time I thought I was doing the right thing.  The one that looms the largest in my memory however are those mistakes I made that could have been averted if I had just handled them differently.  My mind reverted back to every facet of my life – ministry, school teaching, farming, relationships, and family – where if I could go back I would do things differently.  I can’t, so I have tried to learn something from it and move on with my life.  I live with regret, and in some cases shame, that I allowed outside influences to affect my judgment instead of godly discernment.  I can only pray that my life lessons have been well learned.
 
     The question, “What is a man’s life?” has been heavy on my mind since that conversation.  My life has been full of successes and failures.  I have had many ups and downs that have formulated who and I am and the way I perceive and view life.  I have made many mistakes, but along the way I have gotten a few things right.  I am both loved and hated, respected and detested, admired and loathed.  Some things I brought upon myself while other factors I had nothing to do with.  I have been lifted up and honored and I have been turned on and brought low by individuals I thought were my friends, but such is the course of life and the fickleness of human relationships.
 
     So what did James mean when he asked the question, “What is a man’s life?”  I believe he meant that we should learn from our mistakes of the past, forgive and not hold grudges, covet to do better by the grace of God, and move on with our lives.  I believe he would say as Richard Carlson, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  Life is too short to be mad and upset all the time.  “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.”  Think your way through a problem before you react and handle everything with the Word as your example.  (By the way, nothing can be settled on Facebook.  Take care of things face to face and stay off your phones and computers.)  Very soon, today will be tomorrow, and if you live, you will reap either rewards or consequences for what you have done today.  Finally, one day you will wake up and realize you are old.  Yesterday will be just past memories, today will be full of present challenges, and tomorrow will be just a vapor you are looking through.  Make today count.
 
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny


Pastor’s Desk January 14th

Scripture Passage:  “He waters the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and the herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine makes glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.”  Psalms 104:14-15
 
Dear Friends,
 
     God does all things well.  We often forget there is a fine line in the ecosystem of the world between feast and famine.  Of all things, water is one of the most precious commodities we have.  We have been blessed with an over- abundance of rain recently, so we often fail to appreciate what it means to have a continuing source of water.  Two years ago, we were in Israel at this time.  It rained almost every day and we began to grumble a little when we had to put on rain coats and open umbrellas.  Our guide reminded us that every drop of water has to be stored so that in the dry season they will have water available.   From that point on, we ceased to grumble and gave God thanks for his special blessing.  I know for my farmer and rancher friends muddy fields present a unique challenge.  It is hard to catch ground dry enough for soil preparation and feeding cattle becomes more of a trek through the mud bog rather than the barn yard.  The same water that is making things muddy now, will be the same water that makes everything green in the spring.  Thank you Lord for our water.

Read more...

Pastor’s Desk January 7th

Scripture Passage:  And he removed from thence, and dug another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, “For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”  Genesis 26:22

Read more...

Pastor’s Desk December 31st

Scripture Passage:  “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing to his cross.”  Colossians 2:13-14
 
    “Counsel, you may begin your argument for the defendant.  The prosecutor has presented his case and the facts have been laid out.  I will not permit him to butt in as he is known to do, but will allow you to present your case uninterrupted.  Your conduct has been beyond approach and your integrity and knowledge of the law impeccable.  You have earned the respect of this court by your sacrificial service and dedication to those who cannot defend themselves.  You may proceed.”
 
     “Thank you, Your Honor.  My client wishes to plead not guilty on all charges brought against him. It is obvious the accuser has kept a detailed record of all my client’s shortcomings.  It is also evident the accuser has provided a constant supply of temptations to facilitate my client’s demise.  He has badgered, harassed and tempted my client mercilessly to fail in each of the areas he is being charged with.  My client recognizes the magnitude of his transgressions and the inability to successfully live out a sinless life on his own.  I have been constantly at work in his life to bring him to his point of perfection.  The work is requiring time, patience, and multiple interventions tailored to transform his physical flaws into immeasurable potential.  I feel with patience from the court and continued support from counsel, these charges can be reversed and he can become beneficial to society as well as The Family Business once again.
 
     “Furthermore, may I remind Your Honor that my client’s debt has been paid in full and the punishment for his crimes administered and his guilt absolved.  He has been pardoned for all crimes, his record expunged and his sins forgiven.  I took the full wrath of This Court once for his transgressions.  Any additional charges to be brought against the defendant should be added to my account and listed under the heading: “Accounts Paid in Full.”   I ask The Court to rule in favor of my client and return the verdict of Not Guilty.  I also ask for the defendant to be released into my care.”
 
     “Thank you Counsel.  Since the guilty verdict of this man has already been rendered, and the appropriate punishment administered, I find the defendant, Not Guilty and release him into the custody of His Advocate.  Court Adjourned.”
 
 
   Hallelujah – Pastor Johnny


Pastor’s Desk December 24th

Scripture Passage:  “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  Revelations 12: 10-11
 
     “Mr. Prosecutor before you begin your arguments against the accused, I want to remind you that I recognize you as an adversary of the defendant and a false accuser of the brethren.  I will listen to your arguments but warn you that half-truths and manipulation of the facts will not be permitted in this court room.  You may begin.”

Read more...

Pastor’s Desk December 17th

Scripture Passage:  “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord ponders the hearts.”  Proverbs 21:2
 
     Dear Friends, “How do you plead, guilty or not guilty.”  The words ring in your ears as the judge begins your trial.  It will not be a jury trial.  The final verdict will be reserved for the judge.  This judge has the ability to tell when you are lying and can read your heart and mind.  He also has a complete record listing all the evidence against you.  There are three charges brought against you by the prosecutor.  The first charge is misappropriation of funds.  You are being charged with misusing the abilities, talents, and funds left to your trust.  They were never yours.  They were entrusted to you by THE BOSS to be used for the benefit of everyone in the company.  You are being charged with using them for your own benefit or the benefit of your friends and family. 

Read more...

Pastor’s Desk December 10th

Scripture Passage:  And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”  Genesis 11:4
 
Dear Friends,
 
     I have been having trouble with my cell phone.  It has been dropping calls and then will not let me call the person back.  At other times it will not let me receive or make calls.  It is very frustrating.  I am a person who says he would not even have a cell phone if it was not for the church, but complains when it does not work.  I made a trip to my local service carrier, but got no satisfaction or lasting solution to my problem.  It worked for a day and then started the same old thing all over again.  So I called the 800 number I found on the internet for my service carrier.  My technician was an African American with a heavy dialect and lingo.  He was very hard for me to understand but was nothing but patient and helpful.  I told him I was technically challenged and really did not know what I was doing.  He laughed and then led me step by slow step through the process where he could work with my phone where he was.  Once he gained access, it took only a matter of minutes and my problem was solved.  (At least for now.)  I asked him what I should do if it happened again, and he laughed and said, “Get a new phone.”  I had such a good experience with him I actually answered the survey concerning his performance.  It was a “thumbs up,” evaluation.  He could not help it that he was African American, and I could not help it that I was an East Tennessee Hillbilly.  Once we got past the language barrier, we did just fine.  The amazing part was that he fixed my phone from over five-hundred miles away. 

Read more...

Pastor’s Desk December 3rd

Scripture Passage:  “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.”  I Timothy 6:12
 
  Dear Friends,
 
     This morning finds me weary.  Weary because I have a cold.  Weary because I have had two tough funerals.  Weary because I have been dealing with hurting, needy people.  Weary from the strain of having a sick child.  Weary from being physically tired and exhausted.  People often ask me why I do not just take a day off and rest. The church allows me time off for vacation and would never question my taking a sick day to recuperate.  The problem lies with me, not the church.  I have two settings on my daily speedometer, able to go and not able to go.  There was a time it also had a fast and slow setting, but lately the “able to go setting” just contains the bulldog gear.  For those of you who do not understand this terminology, the old farm trucks had a very slow gear in them called the “bulldog gear” or “granny gear.”  It allowed the truck to move at a slow pace without being easily bogged down.  We would put up hay on one of these trucks without even having a driver in it.  Occasionally, someone would reach in and turn the steering wheel to keep it going straight.  At the end of the day you would not have accomplished your task as quickly as you would have liked, but you would have still achieved a lot.  I believe this is similar to what Paul was talking about when he told young Timothy to fight the good fight of faith.  Most spiritual battles are not fought and won quickly but slowly across a sustained period of time.  The victory is won by those who persevere. 

Read more...

Pastor’s Desk November 26th

Scripture Passage:  “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”   Psalms 55:17
 
Dear Friends,
 
     One of my favorite stories about prayer is the one where a little boy was being taken out for misbehavior in church.  As his parent was carrying him out the little boy exclaimed with a sense of urgency, “Pray, people, pray.”  Often the sincerity of our prayers is directly proportioned to the urgency of our need.  When things are going well we pray with a heart of thanksgiving.  As time elapses we become complacent and forget how much we need God.  As our need for God becomes more evident and our circumstances outweigh our ability, we break and willingly humble ourselves before God.  Our model prayers of formation become fervent prayers of desperation and we cry out to God as a child would cry out to their father for help.  This is the type of effective prayer James talks about in James 5:16.  As our time of revival meetings conclude it is my heartfelt desire that prayer has become a focal point and emphasis to the character of our church.  Not only does it need to be prevalent in the life of the church, it needs to be the priority of our individual lives.  If the only time we pray is at church, we miss the opportunity for intimate fellowship with the Lord in our homes.  If we only pray at home, we miss the opportunity for the koinonia fellowship between God, ourselves, and our church family.  Simply put, prayer is talking to God as one would talk to a friend. 

Read more...