Staff Devotions

 

Pastor’s Desk September 3rd

Scripture Passage: “And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”   Genesis 2:15      “In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken; for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.”  Genesis 3:19

Dear Friends,

     Happy Labor Day week.  Labor Day is a national holiday held on the first Monday in September to commemorate the working class.  It honors the American labor movement and the contributions the workers have made toward the prosperity of the nation.  The first unofficial celebration took place in New York City in 1882.  It became an official federal holiday in 1894 and is considered the unofficial end of summer.  Labor Day is a reminder that without the working class of people any nation can be brought to its knees. 


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Pastor’s Desk August 27th

Scripture Passage:  “Then said he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”  Matthew 9:37-38

 

Dear Friends,

     When Patrick was a little boy the yard was full of his friends waiting to begin the next ballgame.  We went from baseball, to football, to basketball, to street hockey.  There was always a game to be played, but there was also work to be done.  He would often tell his friends that if they would him get his work done he could play much quicker.  What looked like a lot of work to Patrick became nothing more than a chore with a little help from his friends. During harvest time on the farm hot, laborious work became a game when all the family pitched in.  We had so much fun together it hardly seemed like work at all.  I remember hoeing my rows of tobacco and getting behind pretty quickly.  Papaw, daddy, and momma would reach over and help out so I could catch up.  We would all get to the end of the row about the same time because we all worked together.  Times change, people die, and we all get older.  Sometimes work does not get done now unless I do it.  It takes a long time when you have to do it alone.


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Pastor’s Desk August 20th

Scripture Passage:  “Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”  Luke 6: 37-38

Dear Friends,

     Luke 6:38 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture.  I think about all the people who have invested in my life and the giving spirit they exhibited.  It seemed that they could not do enough for me.  These same people were faithful to their church, their families and their friends.  The more they gave away, the more the Lord seemed to replenish their account.  A kind, generous person is a rare commodity in today’s society.  The younger generation tends to live with a sense of entitlement.  They are very good at taking what is offered, but tend to forget when the time comes for them to be the donor.  Young couples and young adults live in a materialistic society of cell phones, possessions and maxed out credit-cards. They live from paycheck to paycheck and spend more than they make – on themselves. Many my age live with a sense of limited responsibility.  We feel we have contributed our part to all the social programs and benevolence funds for the needy and it is time for someone else to step up to the plate.  It does not take long for us to become wearied with all the commercials, solicitors, road blocks, and pleas for money.  We tend to be generous with family and friends but stingy with those outside the circle of influence.  We have a good heart, but do not like to be taken advantage of.  We give generously to a worthy cause but struggle with the concept of deadbeats and bums.  The older generation lives on a fixed income and is limited in the amount they have available for donation.  They often do more than they actually can and then have to adjust in some other area to make up the difference.  There is a fine line between selfishness and selflessness and it is often determined by the amount of generosity in our hearts. 


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Pastor’s Desk August 13th

Scripture Passage:  “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord; looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”  Hebrews 12: 14-15

Dear Friends,

     This time of year has the John Deere mowing grass at least twice a week. Most people do not care, but I do not like dead grass lying everywhere.  I do not have the type of grass I want, but I have what the good Lord gave me.  One place in my yard had a clump of Johnson grass that kept coming up.  I would cut it down into the dirt with the weed eater, but before I would mow again it would be back up and thriving.  Johnson grass is sturdy, heat resistant, and high in protein and nutrients so it makes excellent hay for cattle.  The problem is the root system.  It chokes out everything else and takes over. The only way you can ever grow anything else where it has been is to kill all the roots.  If you look at most fields around Sweetwater right now Johnson grass is what you see.  Each year it gets worse and worse and now it has begun to spill over into people’s yards.  The birds and the wind carry the seed and sow them where they are not wanted.  If you leave one clump of Johnson grass and let it seed, you will have a yard full of it next year.  I had to spray with a powerful herbicide to kill the roots of my clump of Johnson grass.  In killing the roots, I also created a large bare place in my yard.  Here is where the spiritual lesson comes in. 


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Pastor’s Desk August 6th

Scripture Passage:  “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19

Dear Friends,

     I like new things.  A new shirt or a new pair of shoes change a day of mundane activity into one of excitement.  I even like old things that are new to me.  Most of my vehicles have age and miles on them.  I take great pride in cleaning them up- and having someone say, “That looks brand new.”  Even doing maintenance on my house like cleaning the siding or staining the deck makes it feel like a new home.  The appearance makes it feel like a fresh start on another year.  Sometimes even traveling to a common destination a new way, brings adventure and new scenery to an old journey.  There is a fine line between replacing the old time tested products and ways and new ways to enhance and improve them. 


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Pastor’s Desk July 30th

Scripture Passage:  “After the number of days in which you searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you shall know my breach of promise.”   Numbers 14:34 

Dear Friends,

     Forty years is a long time.  Ask my sister.  Judy began working for the Tennessee Eastman Company on July 12, 1978.  This year marks her fortieth year.  They had a celebration at the corporate headquarters in Kingsport and invited her family to attend.  We had to obtain special passes and be cleared to enter the building.  They had a reception that included supervisors, co-workers, and family.  Many of the people in the room were younger than Judy’s daughters.  One of the supervisors read a list of all the jobs and responsibilities Judy had performed over that forty year period and all were amazed at how many changes had occurred.  Many of the divisions are no longer in existence and many new ones have taken their place.  They said the secret to Judy’s longevity with the company was her ability to adjust and adapt to change.  Her best friends and co-workers now are the age of my children.  She is an amazing woman who has seen much, and lived through much and continues to be productive.  God has had his hand upon her and protection around her for all these years.  By the way, she is fifty-eight. 


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Pastor’s Desk July 23rd

Scripture Passage:  “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office.”  Romans 12:4     Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.”  Romans 12:6

Dear Friends,

     What are you good at?  What lights your fire and causes you to burn with passion?  God put you here for a reason.  He equipped you with certain abilities and assigned you certain tasks.  They may seem little to you and insignificant, but they are identifying marks that make you unique.  When the subject is broached your facial expression changes, your voice exudes confidence and your body suddenly radiates life.  That is your life’s purpose.  Since God gave it to you, find out how you can use it for Him and make a difference for others.  I have heard it said that if you get to do something you love, you never work a day in your life.  Even if it is not the way you support yourself it may be your reason for living.  It gives you a reason for getting out of bed each day and something to look forward to. It is a source of joy and one of the things you are passionate about. 


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Pastor’s Desk July16th

Scripture Passage:  “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord.    Jeremiah 23:1

 

Dear Friends,

      This past April marked the beginning of my twentieth-eight year in pastoral ministry. I have served two churches as pastor.  I served Shepard’s Chapel from 1990-2004 and Fairview Baptist Tabernacle from 2004 to the present. Each church was uniquely different while still being functionally the same.  Both are conservative Southern Baptist churches known for their diverse age groups, mission emphasis, and multiple ministries.  One was bi-vocational, the other fully funds my salary.  Shepard’s Chapel was an annual call.  (They voted on me every year.) Fairview is a set call.  (I am here until the church or I feel it is time for me to move on.)  Fairview has multiple funded staff members, at Shepard’s Chapel I was the staff.  Each church has thrived and flourished because of a triune relationship between the Great Shepherd, the under shepherd, and the sheep.  You cannot have church if any one of the three are missing.


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Pastor’s Desk July 9th

Scripture Passage:  “And I sought for a man among them,  that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”  Ezekiel 22:30

Dear Friends,

     In ancient Israel every sheep fold had a small entrance way that led in to the compound of safety.  This entrance way was large enough for the sheep to pass through, but small enough for the shepherd to block it with his body.  Once the sheep had entered, the shepherd would lay down to sleep filling the gap.  If an animal or intruder tried to breach the gap the shepherd would stand,  and become a line of defense between the enemy and the helpless sheep.  The shepherd would fight until he could fight no more, willingly laying down his life for the sheep.  What would happen to the sheep if there was no one to stand in the gap?  A terrible slaughter would take place that could have been averted by the faithfulness of one person. So, who will stand in the gap? 


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Pastor’s Desk July 2nd

Scripture Passage: “Be not you afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”  Nehemiah 4:14

 

     “Duty – Honor – Country.  Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.  They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.


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