April 26, 2018
Life. Life is a gift from our Creator God who has made us in His image. Every person has dignity and value no matter his or her age, gender, or “alleged” value to society. Why? Because we have not created ourselves, but God is our maker, and the Bible is full of verses, which make this fact very clear.
We go back to the beginning pages of Genesis to see that we are not just mere “random accidents” formed from some “evolutionary mass.” Genesis 1:26-27 reads as follows: “Then God said, “Let us (The Trinity) make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Furthermore, notice the personal involvement in forming us in King David’s wording of Psalm 139:13, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.”
I’m sure you would agree with me, especially if you’ve ever been through the miracle of birthing your own child, that life is a miracle and a gift from the Lord!
I can remember going to just about every ultrasound appointment with Jenna to see the development of all three of our kiddos, and there is no doubt that the Lord indeed forms our inward parts and knits us together in our mother’s womb!
Why all of the reminders about life being from the Lord and being created in His image?
I started this blog this way because it infuriates me when I see society demean life, and when I see courts and elected officials try to determine who has value and who does not—who should have the right to live and who should not based on one’s health.
Have you heard about the story of the little toddler, Alfie Evans, in England, and his fight for his life? It appears that a judge is supporting the hospital’s decision not to allow his parents to take him from the hospital and go to Italy to another hospital, which thinks they can help him with his rare neurological condition.
Additionally, what ticks me off even further is that the judge apparently doesn’t want to hear from the parent’s lawyer that little Alfie is a human being; because in the judge’s view, he doesn’t have much brain activity.
It’s a sad day when elected officials or the courts can tell family members what they can and can’t do regarding care of their loved ones.
What are we to do as the church of the Lord Jesus? We can pray for this precious family, and pray that the Lord might be merciful to intervene in this little boy’s life.
Even still, we must continue to be salt and light in a dark world that needs to know truth. We can thank the Lord that godly men and women choose to run for political office, and we can continue to speak out against things that government and society tries to normalize, which might be grossly against the Scriptures. Yet, we are to share truth in love whenever possible.
Grace and peace,
April 4, 2018
I want to start off by giving a huge shout out to Savanna and all of our volunteers who helped make our Easter Eggstravaganza a huge success! There were numerous people at the event that are not connected with First Baptist, and many connections were made with many of the new faces!
Speaking of “connecting”, I know you have heard this word or even the phrase, “connecting the disconnected”, used by us as staff or even from other lay leaders over the last several months. Well, this Sunday we are going to unveil our new mission statement, and I will be sharing from 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.
Here’s what I’d love to hear from you!
Please reply to this email by telling me some of your personal stories of how you’ve been connecting with people who are disconnected.
It might be that the person is disconnected from Christ and needs to accept Him. Or it may be that someone knows Christ but is disconnected from a home church, and you have tried to connect him or her to First Baptist. I’d love to hear your “connecting stories”, and I promise not to mention names as I share the message this coming Sunday!
Grace and peace,
March 15, 2018
Today’s weather is just what the doctor ordered! I trust your Thursday has been a great one, and it looks like our weekend weather should be a long way from freezing.
Yet, I am far more excited about this weekend’s activities planned both for us here at our church as well as at First Baptist on Winchester!
You will not want to miss corporate worship this Sunday as we have the honor of welcoming Dr. Derrick Jackson, the Senior Pastor of First Baptist on Winchester, to our pulpit.
Pastor Derrick is the real deal! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him since coming to Gallatin. The Lord has blessed him as well as his family in many ways.
Furthermore, he is a walking miracle in that he was almost killed in a horrible car wreck this past August 2017. Through much prayer and a long road of recovery, he is almost at 100 percent. Additionally, Pastor Derrick is very grateful for what many of you have done to reach out to him and to his church during his time of recovery.
Why? Why do a pulpit swap? I believe it allows both of our churches to show that ultimately, we really are partners in Kingdom Work. We are not rivals. In fact, no two Christian churches that teach and preach the Gospel are rivals, but we are all on the same team.
Even still, in light of all of the racial division that has been happening in our nation over the last couple of years, it is the Church’s task to be a mouthpiece of hope, reconciliation, and Gospel-centered forgiveness that is only found in Christ Jesus. Therefore, this weekend is a chance for our churches to show that we are on the same team, and we love one another in the Lord Jesus.
I love what Paul said to the Church at Ephesus in Ephesians 2:14-16, “14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
Jesus, through His work on the cross, has killed any dividing walls of hostility that might try to pop up between believers! That will preach! In fact, Pastor Derrick and I will be preaching from the same passage, Ephesians 2:11-22, this coming Sunday.
Finally, my prayer is that we might continue to find ways to partner together in Kingdom work in the near future as sister churches as we seek to be on mission for Christ and His Kingdom.
Grace and peace,
February 24, 2018
I awoke Wednesday morning to read a social-media post from my younger brother informing me that Billy Graham had passed away. Even though I knew Dr. Graham was approaching 100, it was still surreal to see the scores of news’ feeds declaring that he indeed had passed sometime during the night at his home in Montreat, NC.
Since Wednesday morning, I have read and watched several tributes about Dr. Graham’s life and ministry. I remember fondly watching him preach on my parent’s television in our living room when I was just a child. As a child, I was captivated by his voice and his passionate preaching of the pure Gospel of sin, God’s love, the cross of Christ, and our need to turn to Christ for forgiveness of our sins.
In fact, when I entered The Southern Baptist Seminary in the fall of 1997, I chose to enter their Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth because of my love for Dr. Graham and evangelism. I would suggest that besides Billy Graham, no one since the Apostle Paul has preached the Gospel with such power, boldness and love.
I am sure many of you probably saw him in a crusade at some point. I’ve already heard that some of you saw him at the Nashville Crusade back around 2000. I had the privilege to hear him live in 2001, in Louisville, just a few years before he retired from his crusade ministry.
Though we may be saddened on this side of eternity, I love what he said about his upcoming death: “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
Can you imagine the meeting between Graham and the Lord Jesus as Graham saw in full, rather than in part, Wednesday morning?
I am quite sure Graham heard a resounding, “Well done, Billy! Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
Here are a few things I think stand out about one of our heroes in the faith:
1. His Gospel presentation was biblical, and it was simple: Can you hear his voice now at one of his crusades saying, “Come now, God loves you, give your life to Jesus Christ!”, as George Beverly Shea sings, “Just As I Am”? It is reported that an estimated 2.2 billion people have heard Dr. Graham share the Gospel, whether on TV, in person or on the radio. Furthermore, it is estimated that approximately 2.2 million people accepted Christ through his crusade ministry. How fitting that his grave marker will include the following statement: “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Graham stuck to the basic plan of salvation, and I believe his presentation also shows us that when we speak to people about Jesus, we also need to stick to the basics.
2. He was courageous in his ministry: Dr. Graham wasn’t afraid to call people to repentance and to point out that we are sinners in need of God’s grace.
We also know that he was a bridge builder as he sought to minister during the volatile time of segregation. Long before desegregation here in America, he insisted that his crusades be open to everyone, regardless of one’s skin color. The turning point was the 1953 Crusade in Chattanooga, TN, where it is said that Graham took down the ropes that would have separated blacks and whites in their seating areas.
Additionally, I learned recently that he posted bail for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, after King was arrested in Birmingham, AL. Even still, Dr. Graham wasn’t afraid to condemn apartheid in South Africa during one of his crusades there in 1973.
May we continue to be courageous in confronting sin with the Gospel, and may we speak up for social justice issues today and in the future.
3. His personal integrity still speaks today: The number of famous preachers, politicians, and celebrities that can be looked up to for their personal integrity is sadly pretty small. When one thinks of Dr. Billy Graham’s decades of having the national spotlight placed on him, there is not one episode of a moral failure that is attached to his legacy.
Graham and his ministry team consisting of Cliff Barrows, Grady Wilson and George Beverly Shea made an agreement known as the “Modesto Manifesto” when they were in Modesto, California, for a crusade. Two of the main things they agreed to be held accountable for were finances and sexual purity. It is known that Graham would not go anywhere with someone who was not his wife.
May we strive to emulate the integrity that Dr. Graham lived before us on a daily basis. Finally, as I close, may we also strive to share the same, simple, Gospel of our Lord Jesus that Graham did, until we too, change addresses.
· Acts 17:16-42 for in the AM along with baptism in the 11 AM service.
· Nashville Rescue Mission Friday, Marcy 16—see Pastor Nick for details.
· Pulpit swap with Dr. Derrick Jackson on Sunday, March 18, in both morning services
· Door hanger/prayer walking event on Sunday, March 18, at 2 PM.
· Eggstravaganza will be Saturday, March 24, @ Triple Creek Park @ 11 AM.
· Gen-mom is each Wednesday @ 9:30 AM.
February 17, 2018
This past Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, and it was supposed to be a fun day for everyone. Tragically, it was not for the students, faculty, and families connected with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which is in the metropolitan area of Fort Lauderdale.
The school bell rang, and students were leaving the building when the unthinkable happened to some 17 students and teachers. As a dad, my heart breaks for the families affected by the loss of their loved ones. I was shocked to hear that yet another senseless, violent act occurred. Yet, sadly, such evil is becoming too common.
Two students were just killed and 18 injured in a high school in the Western part of Kentucky toward the end of January, less than a month ago.
How are we to respond? Where do we begin?
I don’t have all the answers, but here are some things to consider:
1. We live in a fallen world: For those who believe that people aren’t sinners and that everyone is generally good, there are far too many examples in recent years for us to show that the human heart is capable of much sin.
Jeremiah 17:9 reads as follows: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
2. Weep and Grieve with those who are mourning: Paul writes in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” As Christians, it’s a good thing to grieve with the families that are at the bottom of the valley as they are weeping tears of sorrow over the loss of their family member. Indeed, Jesus wept when he saw the sorrow of Mary and Martha as they grieved over Lazarus’ death.
3. Pray for the families involved and for those who are responding during this time of crisis: We can pray for the first responders, for the teachers and administrators, and for the numerous counselors, Pastors and Chaplains who are ministering to the hurting families and the stunned classmates of the victims. Pray that these Gospel Ambassadors might be able to grieve with the families, but pray that they may also be able to point people to the One who can help them-the Lord Jesus.
4. Try to avoid the political debates that can build stumbling blocks to the Gospel—let’s get to the root causes of the problem: I am sure you have seen and/or heard the debates over gun control. I am not taking sides in this debate, but I think most of us would agree that the real problem is dealing with how a young person gets to the point that he can carry out such a heinous crime. How can we help the students who feel like they are being bullied?
Social media has many positives; however, it also has its negatives. Bullying that used to take place face to face when I was in school is now often carried out through social media postings.
How do we help our children who are dealing with mental illness realize that there is hope and that they are not alone? How do we educate our children to care for those who may be overlooked, and to never make fun of those who may seem to be loners?
Our teachers need us as parents to make sure we are doing our part, as we are involved in shepherding our kids closely. Furthermore, as the church we have to make sure that we are loving people, even those who appear to be overlooked.
5. Speak the Gospel of Hope and Salvation whenever possible: In the days, weeks, and months that lie ahead, as we engage in conversations with family, friends, and co-workers about how to move forward with our children, may we be quick to offer hope through Gospel conversations. For the person who does not believe that God even exists, and for the person who asks how can there be such evil and suffering in the world if we say that God is good, let’s make a beeline to the cross. God proved His love for us through sending His only Son into our sinful, messy world, and Jesus died a gruesome death, so that He might save us from our sin. God indeed cares, and Jesus tells us that He does throughout the pages of His Scripture. Let’s lean in on Him, and let’s tell others about how much He loves them!
· Haiti mission meeting tomorrow after 11 Am service
· Acts 17:1-15 for tomorrow’s message
· Missions Fundraiser this Friday, February 23, @ 6:30 PM in the fellowship hall and program in the sanctuary @ 7:15 PM
· Gen-Mom each Wednesday morning @ 9:30
· Door-Hanger/Prayer walking event, Sunday, March 18, @ 2PM
February 10, 2018
Last night I had a great night with Kara and Analise at our 2nd annual Daddy/Daughter date night! I wish you could have seen each one of the girls come in with their dads/granddads to have their pictures made as the big night of activities began! It was a special night for sure!
We had a great meal prepared by our amazing ladies who help serve us each Wednesday! Furthermore, we had a team that helped decorate, a team that took pictures; a team of our youth helped serve us food, pour refills, and clear the tables when we were done eating. Moreover, we had a team of dads/granddads who served on a panel to help give out some great advice about how to raise our girl/s. They shared some great insight about how to pray for our girl/s, and we had some great laughs along the way. Even still, we had a great coach in Pansy and David Stewart as they taught us how to do some ballroom dancing—I’ve got some video on the skills of some of our guys! Savanna spearheaded everything, and she did a great job! Yet, she didn’t do it all by herself. She gathered a team of other church volunteers to help make it happen.
At the end of the day, what we saw last night is the fact that we are a church family; we are a team at First Baptist Gallatin! We come together to do ministry, and it is never about one person. That’s the beauty of the church!
Tomorrow morning we will meet as a family as we gather, “to share”, or to be a “participant” at the Lord’s Supper. Paul makes clear the fact that we gather, “to share” in this act of worship in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. I will be sharing a few things from this passage as we gather as the First Baptist Family.
Finally, keep in mind that our children who are normally in Children’s Worship will be with us in the sanctuary. Why? We want our kids who have accepted Christ to be able to partake of the Table with us. And those who haven’t gotten to this point just yet, will have a great chance to hear what accepting Christ is all about. When we gather around the Lord’s Table, we are sharing the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
See you in the AM!
· Lord’s Supper will be in both AM services.
· Baptism in our 11 AM service tomorrow!
· Missions Fundraiser Friday, February 23, @ 6:30 PM
· Picture Directory sign-ups are still available! Sign-up Tomorrow in the Connection Center, or Click Here!
· Gen-Mom each Wednesday @ 9:30 AM (free child-care); Click Here to register!
· 55 North lunch this Thursday, February 15, @ 11 AM in the Fellowship Hall.
· Nashville Rescue Mission, Friday, March 16: bus leaves church @ 3:30 PM.
February 3, 2018
I love Saturdays with my family! This morning Jenna broke out the electric griddle, and she made different types of pancakes! We had some plain ones, for the picky ones among us! We had blueberry, and we had some chocolate chip ones as well. Now, let me also add that we had some good old bacon off the griddle! I love bacon, and I might add that it loves me as well if you know what I mean!
In the midst of the breakfast smells permeating the kitchen and the downstairs of our house, we also had the sounds of cartoons playing on the TV as the kiddos watched their favorite shows while eating their breakfast. It’s not like this every day, but Saturdays usually provide for a longer family/meal time.
Yet, as I pondered over this morning’s activities, I began to reflect on what I experienced this past Thursday night at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Approximately 20 of us from First Baptist traveled to downtown Nashville (shout out to Junior Black for driving the bus!) to serve several hundred men supper in their dining hall.
We had men and women of various ages ready to put the Gospel into action! Most of our ladies worked on the serving line, passing the treys of food with a nice serving of the fresh food for the evening on it so that the men coming through the line only had to grab their trey to be seated in the dining hall. Some of our men became experts at cracking eggs as they helped serve in food preparation. Even still, we had Pastors Nick and Kevin helping wash dishes, while several of us busted tables by wiping them down as we also helped take the treys back to the kitchen window to be washed.
I couldn’t help but wonder, as I saw hundreds of men come through the dining hall Thursday night, what has happened in the lives of the men who sat for around 15-20 minutes to eat their supper? Do they have families, wives, children, that communicate with them? What kind of work have they done throughout their lives? Most importantly, do they know the Lord?
I saw one young man sitting at the table eating his meal, and as he got up to take his trey to the kitchen window to be washed, I struck up a conversation with him. I knew he looked far younger than many of the men, so I asked him his name and his age. Bret is 31 years old, and he is from Memphis. He even finished a well-known Catholic High School in the Memphis area. Bret is way too young to be homeless, yet I know this can happen to people of all ages.
What about his parents? What’s keeping him from keeping a job to provide for his needs? These are all questions that have run through my mind since meeting Bret. He did say that he doesn’t talk to his parents much, and he went on to say that they stopped caring. I don’t know the details behind his relationship with his parents, and we all know there are two sides to every story. Yet, your heart goes out to a young man who doesn’t have a Saturday morning to sit down with his family to enjoy a nice breakfast and to enjoy the warmth of his own home.
Bret said that he has accepted Christ as Savior. Will you join me in praying for Bret? Who knows what kinds of “shackles or chains” are keeping him from experiencing a “normal” life off the streets. We, however, do know the One who can break those chains and who can set the captive free!
Join me in the AM as we open up Acts 16:16 through the end of the chapter as we talk about the power we believers are given through Jesus. We may not find ourselves bound by physical, bodily chains like Paul and Silas, but many of us know what it’s like to go through struggles in this life that tend to “shackle” us even if it’s temporary. And I know you will say with me that there is freedom and power in the name of Jesus, who can break every chain!
· Worship and Life Groups in the AM
· Wednesday night classes and activities continue on normal schedule this Wednesday.
· This coming Friday we will celebrate our Daddy/Daughter date night @ 6:30 PM—Invited someone who isn’t connected to First Baptist. You can register on-line through this Monday.
· Lord’s Supper will take place Sunday, February 11. We are encouraging our children’s worship participants to sit with their parents in the sanctuary to give our kiddos a chance to witness the Gospel through the partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
January 26, 2018
I trust your Friday is going well! What a beautiful day of sunshine to help us all long a little more for spring!
As we continue to journey with the early church through the book of Acts, I think it might be helpful to give you the Scripture reference to read before each Sunday’s message. If you have a chance to read through it, I believe it will help us all be familiar with the story-line so that we might all grasp the main learning points as we gather on Sunday.
This Sunday I will be dealing with how we are to be “Spirit-led” in all that we seek to do for the Lord Jesus. I will be sharing from Acts 15:36-chapter 16:15. One of the interactions with Paul and the early church that we will see is that the Lord said “no” to Paul and his men as they “planned” to go to Asia with the Gospel.
The Lord never gave him a clear reason as to why; at least Luke doesn’t record it for us. Has that ever happened to you? Perhaps you were doing something you thought the Lord wanted you to do, but then a door closed?
I’ll get to the takeaway for us in this small glimpse of Sunday’s message. When we are listening to the Spirit’s leading, He will show us what the Lord Jesus wants us to do. He may or may not show us right away, but eventually His plan will become clear.
How was this true for Paul? The Lord led them to Macedonia so that providentially He might take the Gospel to a lady named, Lydia. And isn’t it just like the Lord that the Gospel permeated Lydia’s heart, but not just her heart. Her whole household was saved and baptized!
Who might the Lord lead us to today, or in the very near future? And all we have to do is be faithful to share Christ’s love for him/her.
See ya Sunday!
· VBS meeting this Sunday! See Savanna for details.
· New Believer’s Class continues this Sunday @ 9:45. See Pastor Nick or Ralph Troutman.
· Financial Peace University kicks off this Sunday @ 4 PM. See Coach Billy Nolen for more details, or contact Pastor Nick.
· Nashville Rescue Mission “serving” opportunity will be Thursday, February 1. Bus will leave church parking lot @ 3:30 PM.
· Daddy/Daughter date night will be Friday, February 9, @ 6:30 PM.
January 15, 2018
I trust you’ve had a good Monday so far! I know this weekend’s weather was a little crazy, but I hope everyone stayed safe.
Today is not just an ordinary Monday. Many of us are at work today, and others have the day off due to our observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. President Ronald Reagan signed the Federal holiday into law on January 20, 1986. Some of you are probably aware that this is also the 50th year since James Earl Ray assassinated Dr. King at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. In fact, Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968.
Jenna and I had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Museum that encompasses the old Loraine Motel in downtown Memphis. If you ever have a chance to tour the museum, I highly recommend it. We took the tour while she was pregnant with Kara. To walk on the outside of the hotel and to see the actual balcony where Dr. King stood before his death, caused me to walk back to a part of our American history, which I do not believe any of us are proud to say happened. In fact, seeing the pictures of the discrimination and segregation that occurred in the US depicted on the video clips and in the pictures inside the Museum, seemed a bit surreal. Yet, in number of years we are not that far removed from this time period. Thankfully, we have come a long ways, but even events in recent years show us that we have more work to do. Nonetheless, I am so thankful that we live in a country where everyone is free, and the old laws of segregation are no longer in place.
I believe our Christ-centered, biblical worldview compels us to always fight for the dignity of all human beings. It doesn’t matter someone’s nationality, or the color of his or her skin, all people are created in the image of God. Furthermore, the simple essence of the Gospel tells us that God loves the world, and He loves the world so much that He sent Jesus into it so that people who will trust and believe in Him can be saved from eternal punishment to live in eternity with Christ (Travis’ translation of John 3:16). The “world” in John 3:16 means, “people”.
We also know from our Christ-centered, biblical worldview that not only do all humans have dignity, but we are to love all people for God first loved us. Paul told the Church at Ephesus that Jesus has torn down the walls of hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles so that neither group could claim that one was more important than the other when it comes to God’s plan of salvation.
So may our thoughts, our actions, and our words be Christ-like in how we treat others, even others who may look different from us. And may we always seek to do what is right when it comes to showing racial equality. I close with what Dr. King is known for saying: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
I appreciate you, and I am thankful that we at First Baptist Gallatin are a people who love everyone in Jesus’ name!
· Wednesday night activities are still on for this week, unless there is inclement weather.
· Baptism service has been moved to our 11 AM service this Sunday.
· New Believer’s Class will begin this Sunday during the Life Group hour—taught by Ralph Troutman.
· Financial Peace University kicks off Sunday, January 28, @ 4 PM. Sign up on our church website.
· Daddy/Daughter date night will be Friday, February 9, @ 6:30 PM.
· Missions Fundraiser will be Friday, February 23, @ 6:30 PM.