Struggling Believers versus Unbelievers

THE PASTOR’s PEN October 21, 2018
ThePastorsPenDear Church Family and Friends,
It is possible to be a Christian and struggle with personal problems. Distinguishing between struggling believers versus unbelievers who wrestle with similar issues is critical. That is what this Pastor’s Pen is about.
We live in the heart of the Bible belt. Everyone in our region of the U.S. is a believer. The reason I know this is because if you ask most anyone if they are a Christian, they will answer in the affirmative.
It is not unusual for them to follow up with a quirky cultural saying like, “I asked Jesus into my heart when I was seven.” That is the #1 mantra in our area that a person uses to support their claim to be a Christian.
If you have “asked Jesus into your heart,” you’re in and are good to go. But when I ask a person if they are a believer, what I am asking is whether or not God imposed Himself into their life, opened their blind eyes to their need for a Savior, and gave them faith to believe in Him.
I am asking if God has regenerated them, have been born from above by the initiation of Sovereign God through the work of Jesus Christ, which is brought by the power of the Spirit. It’s a different kind of discussion than the cultural saying, “I asked Jesus into my heart.”
This question is huge. It is more than praying a prayer, though praying is critical. Praying a prayer can put the point of emphasis of salvation on the person asking rather than God who is the Regenerator of people.
I trust you understand my point. It is vital to pray a prayer, but by the time a person prays, God had already done His awakening work in their heart. He gives the faith to pray prayers for salvation. Regeneration is not about me beckoning God to come into my heart, but about God inviting me to come alive and to enter into His world.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. – Ephesians 2:1-5
Cultural Christianity says things like, “I asked Jesus into my heart.” Paul says things like, “You were dead and God made you alive.” My primary question is, “Have you been born again, not did you pray a prayer.” Has God broken into your darkness and given you the light of His Son to shine into your heart?
Are You a Believer Who Believes?
Let’s say you have been born from above. God has regenerated you. You were once dead, but now you are alive in God. You are a believer. If so, I now have another question for you. Are you a believer who believes functionally? Are you a believing believer?
Here are some questions that I hope will assist you in reflecting upon and responding to my query. How you answer them will inform you if you are a believer (salvation) who believes practically (sanctification). When I use the word “believe,” I also mean all of its synonyms like trust, faith, confidence, and hope.
Do you have your confidence in God as opposed to yourself? Are you exercising faith in God because He is the “Saver of the soul” rather than trusting in your strength or wisdom? Are you a believing believer?
• Are you a Christian who is characterized by worry?
• Are you a Christian who is unwilling to forgive someone?
• Are you a Christian who holds anger or resentment toward someone?
• Are you a Christian who lives in regret or guilt about decisions from your past?
• Are you a Christian who refuses to submit to the clear teaching of Scripture on a matter?
• Are you a Christian who rarely or never confesses a sin or asks others to forgive you?
• Are you a Christian who is bitter or critical toward another person and you refuse to forgive them?
• Are you a Christian who is unwilling to submit to your biblical authorities, e.g., spouse, church leaders or pastor?
If anyone of these characterizations is how you generally function, the first place to begin assessing your heart is whether or not you are a Christian. I appeal to you not to punch your “salvation ticket” too quickly, but humbly examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith.
I would further appeal to you to ask other spiritually mature individuals who know you well to bring their observations to you. It’s too important not to take this seriously and soberly.
A person who has been born again would be humble enough to allow another person to speak into their life. A proud–possibly unregenerated–person would show anger, annoyance or impatience with someone “questioning their salvation.”
Let’s assume you are a Christian, but one of the issues listed is how you struggle. If this is the case, you are an “unbelieving believer.” You’re a believer who does not fully practicalize all that Christ has for you.
The point of emphasis for the “unbelieving believer” is not about their salvation, but about their sanctification. It’s hugely important for you to understand and make the distinction between being regenerated and progressive sanctification. Both of these doctrines require faith–belief, hope, trust, and confidence in God.
For the “believing believer,” it is not about whether you are a Christian, but whether or not you’re going to step up to your inheritance from your heavenly Father and truly live in the good of the complete gospel. Are you going to become practically who you already are ontologically?
As you have probably discerned, all of the questions have something to do with personal suffering. I asked “suffering type questions” on purpose, because there is nothing that gets to who we really-really are than suffering–whether it is the significant complications of life or the little annoyances that come to us daily.
The next time you’re at an intersection that is not moving according to your preferences, your true faith will be on display. If you patiently wait for the traffic circumstances to improve and your heart is content with the congestion of the day, you are responding like a “believing believer.”
If you become grumpy, frustrated, angry, possibly let out an expletive, or use some harsh sign language, you are an unbelieving believer at that moment.
While some would not see the seriousness of “intersection congestion and our faith,” I would recommend they spend more time thinking about the sovereignty of God and how all of life is our opportunity to put God on display–even at the intersections of life.
If they don’t reflect on these mundane moments and adjust their hearts accordingly, there is a good possibility that the little annoyances in the home will draw out similar angry responses as the congested intersection.
God is Sovereign God over the mundane moments of our lives, not just our big signature events. He cares about everything about us, and He is entirely aware, and solely in control of everything in our world.
Why even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7
If I am unwilling to defer to God, by trusting Him, it does not matter if it is because I’m not getting my way at a traffic light or I’m unwilling to forgive someone who has wronged me. In either case for the Christian, it is a mockery of their faith. It is functional unbelief in those moments that denies the reality of God.
Believing Believers Illustrated
Mable had a family member hit and killed by a drunk driver. It was her sister. She went through unimaginable hurt and anguish of soul for many months. Six months later she went to trial to testify against the person who murdered her sister. He received a life sentence.
Though she was glad about justice, and her anguish of soul had not subsided, she was able to grant “attitudinal forgiveness” to the person who killed her best friend. She was free from and not controlled by the evil that came into her world.
Biff committed fornication with his girlfriend when they were teenagers. She got pregnant, and they decided to get married. He did not want to marry her. Seven years later they both became Christians.
Biff was formerly bitter, critical, and non-committal to the marriage. He lived in unabated regret for what he did and for his decision to get married. God mercifully broke his heart, and Biff repented of his self-centered thinking, He began to process what was happening to him through the lens of God’s sovereignty.
He, like Mable, was no longer controlled by the evil in his life, though he was the one who brought the darkness upon himself. Mable and Biff are joy-filled Christians today, though they are thoroughly familiar with familial tragedy and personal disappointment.
Both illustrations represent ontological “believers who believe” practically. Though their circumstances were difficult, they were not overcome or controlled by the bitterness, anger, confusion, or unrelenting disappointment that evil always brings.
When Good Trumps Evil
Before you can think rightly about the circumstances in your life, you have to understand God correctly. It is how you perceive God that will give you your interpretation and your perspective of the circumstances in your life.
If you believe that God is good, that is how you will interpret what is going on in your world. That does not mean what is going on in your world will always make sense or be according to your preferences. It says that your view of God will overpower the evil in your world and give you the insight to think biblically about your suffering.
Mable and Biff believed that God was good. That kind of faith gave them their grid through which to see, understand, and respond to their circumstances biblically. You do have a grid for how you interpret and react to what is in your life. Did you know that? That grid will determine your life. It will control you.
One of the ways you can “test yourself” is by re-asking those eight questions that I asked earlier. How you answer those questions will tell you immediately if evil generally overcomes good or if good trumps typically the darkness in your life.
Joseph had a “good trumps evil” worldview: you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20). Joseph did not deny either the good or the evil in his life, but the one–good–that took priority in his heart determined not only how he responded to his brothers, but how he thought about and responded to God.
What has more control of your heart: the goodness of God or the evil in your life? How you answer that question will tell you quickly if you are a “believer who believes” or if you’re an “unbelieving believer.”
What Makes You Dance?
Pretend you’re a marionette, with strings attached to your limbs. Who or what controls those strings is your theology. If the evil in your life controls you, you’re an unbelieving believer. If God is the one controlling those strings, you’re a believing believer.
If the evil in your world controls you, you must reconcile that with God before you can interact with the corruption of the people who are behind the problem. If your starting point is not “God is good, and He is working His good in my life through this horrible circumstance,” you will never be able to navigate successfully through the circumstance.
You don’t have the empowering grace to work through your problem (James 4:6). Your efforts will collapse around you, and your disappointment will only compound. Before you can make things right with your “enemy,” you must make things right with your God, the One who allowed your enemy to bring the evil into your world.
A Gospel Primer
There are two ways to stand at the foot of Calvary and look upon a dying king. Either what you see is evil trumping what is right, and your life will be unalterably disappointing, or His death is good overcoming evil, and you’re about to turn the world upside down.
We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:23-24
1. How will you approach your disappointments?
2. Do you stumble like the Jew? Do you pass it off as foolishness like the Gentile? Or do you see that what God is allowing are His wisdom and His power?
3. Will you become a believing believer today?
4. If so, you need to mend some broken fences in your life.

BibleQuestNow here is the Bible Quest for the week.
151. The gospel according to John begins with…
A. a genealogy of Jesus; B. a quotation from Isaiah; C. an explanation of why he is writing this narrative; D. a paean to the Word.
152. From Paul’s writings, we can see that evidently the Thessalonians had been visited before by…
A. Paul and Timothy at the same time; B. Paul & Timothy at different times; C. Paul but not Timothy; D. Timothy but not Paul.
153. The list of attributes that Paul set for a bishop did not include which of the following?
A. blameless; B. sober; C. sympathetic; D. hospitable
154. Abner lost his life owing to others…
A. fatherly caution; B. soldierly recklessness; C. brotherly affection; D. civic pride.
Until next week, Love and prayers,
Pastor Rick Signature
Church Phone: 423-272-7676
Church Email:
Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.


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What About Halloween?

THE PASTOR’s PEN October 21, 2018
Dear Church Family and Friends,

This Wednesday is the fated Halloween. Some have already began to ask, “Are we having church this Wednesday night?” Well, that will be up to you the people. I personally hate to give this day over entirely to the celebration of goblins, witches and monsters. I would like to think we as God’s faithful children would want to gather and worship Him in thanksgiving for his deliverance from the “prince of darkness” and for our salvation. But, I know the mischief that often takes place on this night and that many of you want to watch out for your homes, farms, and places of business to prevent vandalism and pranks. So you will have to decided abut having service this Wednesday on whether you will come or not.

But that raises another debated question, “What about Halloween?” Should Christians recognize and celebrate this day devoted to witches and the creatures of darkness? I mean some denomination don’t allow their kids to even celebrate Christmas and then we celebrate O Hallo’s Eve. Make one stop and say, “Hum?” It can be puzzling.

Here is a little history of Halloween. The Celtic festival of Samhain is probably the source of the present-day Halloween celebration. The Celts new year began on November first.

A festival that began the previous evening honored Samhain, the Celtic lord of death. The celebration marked the beginning of the season of cold, darkness, and decay. It naturally became associated with human death. The Celts believed that Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to return to their earthly homes for this evening. On the evening of the festival, the Druids, who were the priests and teachers of the Celts, ordered the people to put out their fires. The Druids built a huge new year’s bonfire of oak branches, which they considered sacred. They burned animals, crops, and human beings as sacrifices.

Then each family relit its fire from the new year’s fire. During the celebration, people sometimes wore costumes made of animal heads and skins. They told fortunes about the coming year by examining the remains of the animals that had been sacrificed.

All Saints Day: Many of the customs of the Celts survived even after the people became Christians. During the 800’s, the church established All Saints’ Day on November first. They made the old pagan customs part of this Christian holy day.

The Catholic Church later began to honor the dead on November second. This day became known as All Soul’s Day. The Catholics believed that you could pray the dead out of purgatory.

Additional Celebrations:

The Jack-o-Lantern originated with an Irishman named Jack who loved to play pranks on the Devil. Legend is that he was made to wander the world carrying a lantern to show him the way, going to neither heaven nor hell. Hollowed out pumpkins with candles lighted inside were supposed to scare evil spirits away.

The Irish initiated “Trick-or-treating” when farmers would go from house to house to collect food for the village.

Costumes went from children dressing up like martyrs in celebration of All Saints Day to the modern day costumes of witches, etc… (SOURCE: Encyclopedia Britanica and others.)
Kids seem to like Halloween and Easter. Maybe their sweet teeth or tooth if the sugar has decayed them all, has something to do with it. In 2006 and for many years, Oct. 29 and Apr. 15 (the days before Halloween and Easter Sunday) were the top 2 days for candy sales. (from Gary Foster)

All this talk of haunts and goblins reminds me of a story I heard once about two men trying to get home in a hurry. Late one dark night, two men were walking home after a party. They were tired and desperate to get home, so they decided to take a shortcut through a cemetery.

They got to about the middle of the graveyard, and they were startled and stopped moving. There was a terrifying noise, “TAP-TAP-TAP” coming from the shadows.

Trembling with fear, they spotted an old man with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at one of the headstones.

“Hey Mister,” one of them said after catching his breath. “You SCARED us half to death. We thought you were a GHOST! What are you doing working here so late at night?”
“Those fools!” the old man grumbled. “They spelt my name wrong!”
The men made it out of the cemetery and home in record time.

Well, back to the serious. Here is what Dr. James Dobson has to say about Halloween. “Halloween is a rather different story. Whereas it can be argued that Christmas is a Christian holiday with Christian origins that has suffered the effects of growing secularism, Halloween can be traced to distinctly pagan sources. It is reasonable, then, that many believers would find some aspects of its celebration disturbing. I agree with them in that regard. The traditional emphasis upon the occult, witches, devils, death, and evil sends messages to our kids that godly parents can only regard with alarm. There is clearly no place in the Christian community for this “darker side” of Halloween.

Even here, however, there is a place for some harmless fun. Kids love to dress up and pretend. If the Halloween experience is focused on fantasy rather than the occult, I see no harm in it. Make costumes for your children that represent fun characters, such as Mickey Mouse or an elderly grandmother, and then let them go door-to-door asking for treats. This side of Halloween can be thoroughly enjoyable for the little ones.

Let me add, again, that I’ve given you my personal opinion. I realize that the topic is controversial among committed Christians, and I’m sensitive to the reasons for their misgivings. My final word to parents on the subject would be ’Stay true to your own convictions.’” (SOURCE: Focus on the Family Website.
BibleQuestNow here is the Bible Quest for the week.

147. Which was the Mount of Blessing?
A. Gerizim; B. Nebo; C. Zion; D. Olives; E. Vernon

148. “Whoever believes that Jesus is ___________ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves Him who is begotten of Him.”

149. What is the only domestic animal not mentioned in the Bible?

150. True or False…The final battle between good and evil will take place on Mt. Carmel.

A Bonus Funny:
What is the major difference between Jesus and Jonah?
Jesus had dinner with a sinner; and the fish had a sinner for dinner!

Until next week, Love and prayers,
Pastor Rick Signature
Church Phone: 423-272-7676
Church Email:
Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

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Pastoral Ponderings / Pray For Your Pastor!

THE PASTOR’s PEN October 21, 2018 

Dear Church Family and Friends,

Ever ponder or think about what it is like to be your pastor? Ever wondered what he and his family go through each and every week? I am sure you have probably heard the old say, “if every church member was just like me, What kind of church would my church be?” Have you ever thought of it this way. If every member of my church interacted with our pastor just like me, what kind of pastor would our pastor be? You see if you have ever pondered the life of your pastor, I would assure you it is probably not as easy as you think to be a pastor.

The truth is, there are a lot of things pastors feel pressured to be and do. As pastors, we sometimes do dumb things. And yes even pastors have demons we are constantly fighting. On top of this, we visit in the community, visit folks who are sick, volunteer in the community to extend the ministry of the church, care for shut ins, make hospital visits for the church and the community, visit the funeral homes, a lot. And prepare approximately three sermons each week and speak or teach within the community when given opportunity, again to expand the ministry of the church and reach people for Christ. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, we are expected to attend every church function of every Sunday School Class, Discipleship Training Class, Other church groups and ministries. Don’t get me wrong, We love these things, but I hope you get the picture, it can become overwhelming at times.

October is “Pastor Appreciation Month” each year. I can tell you, I am blessed! I am privileged to pastor Henards Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. It is not always easy, but you as a congregation have blessed me in ways no other group of people have or could. Your love and support of me, my family and this church are vital; and GREATLY APPRECIATED!

When pastors deal with discouragement and frustrations, it is often the thoughts of the good times with the loving supporting members of their congregation that see them through. You say, “you mean pastors fight demons, get discouraged and need prayers more than criticism?” the answer is a great big YES!

You see, pastors are unified in a commitment to share the gospel, but they also share another trait—most work demanding schedules. A recent survey found 8 out of 10 pastors say they’re on call 24 hours a day and more than half report they frequently find their role as a pastor overwhelming. It is often hard to give oneself, as a pastor, the permission to be human. Pastors themselves and people often place unrealistic expectation on pastors.

At times, pastors are expected to be experts on everything. Congregants often expect their pastors to be theological sages—leaders who can speak wisdom into every life situation or area of concern brought up by a church member or guest.

But while pastors are certainly called to exhibit knowledge and wisdom, Scripture never asks them to be experts in all things.

In the kingdom of God, there’s only One who’s an expert on everything. It’s to the glory of God that person isn’t the pastor (Proverbs 25:2).

In today’s world flooded with social media, pastors are expected to build great followings and platforms. There are pastors who are not computer geeks and have no real interest in becoming one. However some pastors pressure themselves as well as some congregants pressure the pastor to be viral on social media.

And even pastors who are not pressuring themselves by the number of followers they boast, pressure themselves and are pressured in other ways.

Pastors who aren’t digital natives also run the risk of platform allure—equating their worth to statistics such as weekly church attendance, the square footage of their facility, or even the amount of baptisms they’ve conducted or the number of churches they’ve planted.

While keeping an eye on metrics is important for measuring ministry goals, it’s also an easy way to drift into idolatry and a misguided identity.

Then as pastors we often feel obligated to do everything with excellence. Scripture passages like 1 Corinthians 10:31 call for Christians to do all things to the glory of God. However, this doesn’t mean pastors must do all things well.

Human frailty actually demands that pastors be lousy at certain pursuits—even good ones—in order to better invest in what’s most excellent at the current time.

The lie Satan told in the Garden of Eden—“you can be like God”—is the same one that propagates the need for perfection. Christ would rather pastors humbly admit they’re not God, and thus, can’t do all things well at the same time.

Wisely embracing limitations allows pastors to determine where they want to strive for excellence and where they’re content to be lousy for the sake of God’s glory.

These expectations are real and as pastors we struggle with them all the time and many more. Maybe it would be good for you and yes, even your pastor himself to take a look at the expectations you hold and ask yourself truly, are they reasonable.

Then there are the demons we as pastors fight. To stay in the ministry any length of time, a pastor needs to learn to fight some predictable demons.

For instance, Monday mornings for pastors and spiritual leaders are unique. They bring with them an adrenaline crash that feels like you got hit by a train (emotionally) during the night. Sunday’s expenditure of energy—physically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally—lands on Monday morning with reflections that are both good and bad, positive and negative.

It is sort of like the super model who thinks she is ugly and never pretty enough and always pointing out the things about herself and her body she does not like. These hard hitting thoughts that battle in our minds as pastors seem to effect all of us, event he ones who are doing really well in ministry pastoring big churches doing “great things.” We fight things like…

Inspection—We try to look at our daily work and see fruit. It’s never as visible up close as it is looking back over many years.

Introspection—This is deeper than “inspection” in that it begins to question the validity of our work and ministry. We start to entertain questions like: “Am I doing the right thing?” “Does anything I’m doing make any difference?” “Is there any growth from my preaching and preparation?” Introspection becomes… (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Deception—If I entertain the doubts for very long, they become accusations and lies. They begin to feel substantive. The doubts begin to set, like drying concrete—they metastasize into hardened, heart-shaping conclusions like, “I am failing. I am not effective. I should quit now. I should try something else.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Expectation—This is the parent of ministry disappointment. Expectation is “what I thought God would do” or “what I thought I deserved” or “how I pictured everything unfolding.” Expectations unrealized give birth to disappointment and despair.

Isolation—All of these previous experiences mount up internally to assault the soul, and the typical response is isolation. This is where I go when all the other demons begin to get the best of me.

This is often the one big mistake we make as pastors. As I look back over my 43 years in ministry, I realize I repeatedly made this one really dumb mistake in the relationship area.
I hid out.

I don’t mean that I intentionally hid from people. But I isolated myself too much.

For example, it is easy to hid out in the office seldom coming out. It is easy to isolate ones self by staying in the office until right before service starts.
As pastors, we are busy, but we want to and need to feel a connection with our people.

Condemnation—Once isolated, Satan is relentless in accusations—again, all unfolding in a silent, internal conversation in first person. “I’m a failure.” Bear in mind, highly successful, highly fruitful, long-faithful pastors experience these internal accusations on a regular basis—which should unveil to us the deceptive spiritual warfare that’s really going on here.

Comparison—There’s always someone seemingly doing better than I am—someone who appears to be more (fill in the blank…). We lose sight of the blessings of our lives and begin to perceive another’s blessings as better or bigger—always a lie, always discouraging. There’s no winning a comparison game.

Cynicism—Comparison fuels cynicism. We are all susceptible to developing cynical or scornful hearts toward others, ourselves, and toward life or ministry in general. Past hurts, disappointments, betrayals or bitterness can devolve into scorn and anger toward anything or anyone that reminds me of “what bothers me.” In my opinion, a cynical heart is among the deadliest poisons to true and lasting Christian joy.

It’s a daily battle!

This may all sound sappy, but I prefer to live with joy than bitterness. I want to crush these demons every day and to live in the light of hope and faith. These “demons” are real, but Jesus is greater!

And try as I may to overcome all this, sometimes I fail! And so do all pastors. That is why we desperately need your prayers. Pastors may appear as though they are so strong they do not need prayer. But I can assure you, any pastor genuinely called to the ministry knows he needs prayer; earnest, passionate and effective prayer. “Pray for me” should be the number one personal request from a pastor of the church he serves. The best way to show your appreciation to your pastor is to encourage him and his family and let them know when and how you are praying for them. How do you pray for your pastor? Well here are just a few ideas.

Let me first say, pray for your pastor like Paul encouraged the church at Colossae. I would encourage you to pray based on Colossians 1:9-12.

Pray that your pastor would…
1. Filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
2. Filled with all spiritual wisdom.
3. Filled with spiritual understanding.
4. Walk worthy of the Lord.
5. Strengthened with God’s power.

If you will pray for your pastor in this way, you might just find you have a new and better pastor. And I know he will appreciate the help and encouragement. Believe me, he needs it.

Now here is the Bible Quest for the week.
143. “You have plowed wickedness,” says Hosea, “ye have reaped ….
A. virtue; B. evil; C. iniquity; D. equity

144. “My name is Legion; for we are many,” referred to …
A. the disciples; B. the unclean spirits and the man who harbored them;
C. the lepers in the leper colony; D. the crowd to whom Jesus spoke by the sea

145. His servant succeeded in keeping the old King David warm by…
A. covering him with cloth; B. bringing a fair virgin to lie with him;
C. exciting him with news of Adonijah; D. crowding his room with people

146. In his second letter, Peter explains that the prophecies of scripture are a matter of private interpretation …
A. never; B. always; C. rarely; D. often

Until next week, Love and prayers,


Church Phone: 423-272-7676
Church Email:
Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

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Opening The Heart of a Closed Down Spouce! (10/14/2018)

Dear Church Family and Friends,
As a pastor and counselor, I work often with marriages in distress I’ve discovered most Couples hurt each other their life emotionally and sadly sometimes physically. It is hard to understand how this happens. But as is often said, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Most often it is men who hurt the wife, but that is not always the case. To understand how this can happen one needs to first understand one of the ways men and women are usually different. Most men are predominantly thinking beings—they receive and process experiences in life in a predominately rational and logical way. If someone says something that offends a man, he will accept or dismiss it based on whether it is true.

Most women are different. Women are usually more in tune with their emotions. They are often more relationally aware. When life happens to them their dominant reaction is often to respond emotionally first. When someone hurts a woman’s feelings, for example, even though the information they receive may be false, it takes them longer to work through the feelings associated with the emotional injury.

(Of course, both of these two paragraphs are general statements, but they ring true for most men and women.) I would contend though—every woman’s heart is injured to a certain extent. (And, fairly, probably every man’s.) Sometimes this injury occurs gradually over time. Sometimes it comes suddenly through serious breaches in the marital trust.

The heart, speaking in terms of the seat of our emotions, was created much like other parts of the body. When a finger is broken the body is designed to instantly start to heal and protect itself from further injury. When a person takes a swing at you your natural reaction is to put your hands up in defense.
The same is true of the heart. When a person’s heart is injured, it goes into a self-protective mode to keep it from further injury. Over time, after years of injury, the heart becomes almost calloused, refusing to allow anyone to injure the heart again. A woman who has had years of emotional injury doesn’t have much heart left to give to anyone, but especially to the one who has done the injury. She has closed off her heart to keep from being hurt anymore.
Most men enjoy trying to “fix” problems, but men cannot fix their wife’s emotions. Emotions are not repaired as easily as one could fix a leaking faucet or program a computer. So, what is a man to do if he feels his wife’s heart is injured? How do you heal a broken heart?

Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. He can come in, erase all the pain and make the heart brand new. Most of the time, however, at least in my experience, He lets us wrestle with life’s heartache while we learn to better love one another.

The following steps are designed for a man to help heal his wife’s heart.

Here are nine suggestions for winning back the heart of your spouse: (The focus is on the wife since she is the most often hurt and begins to close off. Although, Men close off as well and these steps work there as well.)

1. Seek God
Whatever draws you closer to God is a good thing—and will make you a better person, regardless of what happens with your marriage. When you are attempting to rekindle your partner’s love, use this time to develop and strengthen your relationship with God. It starts, as all relationships with God begin, through a recognition of who Christ is and your belief in Him. Start there and grow.

2. Practice patience
The first thing we need to do is to recognize restoring a broken heart will not happen overnight. Emotions heal very slowly. Steps should begin to restore an injured heart or to rebuild the marriage, but we should not expect too much too soon. Most often the hurt and closure did not happen over night and will not heal over night either. And even if the hurt came suddenly, like a fall and broken arm, it takes much longer to heal.

3.Love your spouse
This is by far their greatest need. Most men and women have their love need unmet. The standard for our love is perfection, since a man is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. As imperfect men we will actually never love our wife enough. The wife knows, however, when the husband’s attention is somewhere else, as do men know when their wife’s attention is elsewhere. Many men sacrifice their marriage for their careers or other interests. A wife’s love need is new every day. A wife needs to know that she is second only to God in her husband’s affections. And, a man’s need for love, while expressed differently, is also new every day.

I have found for my love for my wife to grow I need Christ’s help. I pray for this often.

4. Romance, especially her
Every woman has a certain need for romance. Many wives had a fairy tale idea of marriage when they were growing up. They realize early in marriage this isn’t reality, but their need for occasional romance remains. Most men rarely know how to do this. A man should be genuine but should recognize and value the uniqueness of his wife and find ways to give her romance. And ladies, men desire you to look good and make a fuss over them like you did when you were dating.

Try planning something romantic together. It may not work out exactly as planned, but you will earn big points in the romance department for your efforts and it helps keep the flame alive.

5. Use Value words
When a man comes home and says, “This house is a mess,” being a mostly factual being, that’s probably all he meant. He looked around, made a physical observation, and stated a factual conclusion. The wife, however, probably did not receive the information that way. The wife most likely heard lots of negative information, such as, “You have done nothing all day,” or maybe even, “I don’t like you.” This sounds impossible to most guy’s rational minds, but with emotions receiving information anything could be heard, whether it was the intended response or not. Men, we need to learn how to be gentle with our wives and the words we use. And wives, don’t always nag or be critical or over generalize about your husband in his areas of weakness. Focus on those things you value most in him.

One question I ask men, “Would you let another man talk to your wife the way you talk to her?”

6. Communicate with the correct “Love Language”
Many women communicate best heart to heart—not head to head. A man should allow his wife to see his heart. He should be willing to be vulnerable with her. Men may need to ask their wives to help them learn how to say things to her. Men cannot talk to their wives as they would their guy friends. Women require understanding, compassion, openness and honesty in communication.

If you struggle in this area read Dr. Gary Smalley’s book, The Five Love Languages.

7. Give constant assurance
Trust is an important need for a woman and a man in relationships. The wife needs to know that her husband is going to be faithful and vice versa. We should not take offense, for example, when our spouse asks details about our schedule or the activities of our day. We desires to be a partners in each other’s lives and these details help provide trust and security in the relationship. A man should also tell his wife frequently he loves her and is committed to her. She needs this consistent assurance.

8. Learn to live by truth
Ultimately, life cannot be lived strictly by emotions. We need truth. Emotions are often unreliable. A woman who feels unloved may be very much loved by her family, but she fails to feel that truth because of years of emotional abuse. Men should gently but consistently speak truth in love, reminding his wife of her worth, her beauty and her place in his life. Wives, you can do the same with your husband. Over time, truth, when given with love, can help heal damaged emotions.

9. Keep doing it!
The heart is damaged over years and years of injury. Sadly, many men and women have deep and tragic heart wounds, but much of this injury will have been unintentionally delivered and small in terms of the magnitude of the incident. Years of emotional injury builds up in the heart until the heart becomes closed. The erasing of the pain will happen just as it was developed—a little bit at a time. You cannot try this for a week and then stop and expect things to be all healed and open. Protecting the heart must become a lifestyle.

Many times spouses tell me they don’t know how to be who their significant other needs them to be or wants them to be. I believe if we want to win back the heart of our spouse we may need to learn how. It’s never too late to begin!

Now here is the Bible Quest for the week.

139. What Ruler followed Joash as king of Israel?
140. How did Jezebel die and what happened to her?
141. What king threw Daniel in the lions den?
142. What royal heir got hanged by his hair in a tree?



Until next week, Love and prayers,


Church Phone: 423-272-7676
Church Email:
Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

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Hey Men, It’s Time To Shine as Good & Godly Fathers.

ThePastorsPenGreeting Church Family and Friends,

Let me begin by saying “HAPPY FATHER’s DAY!” This year is rolling by fast. I can hardly imagine that it is Father’s Day already. I hope each of you will take some time to recognize your father if he is still living and remember him if he is already passed. I had a great and godly father for whom I am very thankful. I love him and miss him as I know many of you do with your fathers.

Have you ever really thought about the attributes and Characteristics of a good and godly father? I would like to just share a few with you in this Pastor’s Pen.

If there’s anything in shortage today it is real fathers that take responsibility for their actions and take care of the financial, spiritual, emotional well being of their homes. Real fathers serve God; real fathers are men of action; real fathers prepare their children for adulthood; real fathers take responsibility, and real fathers are reliable.

If I may take the letters of FATHER and use them as a tool to help us remember I would like to point out some key attributes of a good and godly father.

“F”– Good and Godly Fathers are Faithful
Good and godly fathers are faithful people. They are first faithful to God and trust God with their whole heart, soul, and mind. These men believe in God’s promises, that God will preserve their families, and that our good Lord will provide their families everything needed for salvation.

Good and godly fathers accept their role as the spiritual head of the household and set the tone for family worship. Good and godly fathers know God’s word; they have an active prayer life, attend church regularly with their families, and obey God’s commandments.

The Bible lifts up the examples of several faithful fathers: Joseph – Jesus’ earthly father was faithful because he trusted the angel when he learned that his fiancé, the Virgin Mary was going to give birth to Jesus. He also faithfully moved his family to Egypt when the angel warned him in a dream.

Abraham faithfully believed in God’s promise that his wife Sarah would bear a son at over ninety years of age and he would be the father of a great nation.

“A” stands for Action – Good and godly Fathers are People of Action
Most dads like to watch their sports on television; some have a few hobbies, and engage in some “down time” to relax. Despite occasional laziness, good and godly fathers are men of action, especially when their families need them. Good and godly fathers just don’t sit there, they spring into action when: The toilets overflow, the garbage disposal breaks, or when something important around the house that needs fixing. Good and godly dads know how to get things done; they solve problems, and always rise to the occasion.

Good and godly fathers also instill a good work ethic in their children and teach by example. Children need to see hardworking fathers and good and godly fathers challenge their children to learn through activity. Good and godly fathers watch over their children and give them the spaces they need to try new things learn from the mistakes they make. Good and godly fathers are active and engaged parents.

“T” stands for Teacher – Good and godly Fathers are Teachers
Good and godly fathers are teachers and prepare their children to enter adulthood and face the tough world around them. This means that fathers give their children survival skills that will help transform them into successful adults. Unfortunately, most children do not listen to the advice of their fathers. In order to be good teachers, fathers must be credible and earn their children’s trust and love.

Ephesians 6:4 states: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Here Paul is cautioning fathers not to criticize their children, but instead focus on teaching them with the same love and understanding that our Lord used when teaching the disciples.

“H” stands for Hope – Good and godly Fathers offer Hope to their Families
Good and godly fathers are a source of hope and inspiration for their families. Dads are the family’s pillar of strength and they are the ones that tell us that things will be all right when tough times are around the corner. Even though dads complain, good and godly fathers are optimistic and resilient because they trust God.

Good and godly fathers also trust their children and constantly encourage them to pursue their passions, fulfill their dreams, and plan for their future. Clare Boothe Luce once said, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.” In contrast, good and godly fathers are as the Father found in the Parable of the Prodigal Son; good and godly fathers are forever hopeful and inspire their families to push beyond themselves.

“E” stands for Example – Good and godly Fathers are a positive Example
Good and godly impressions are important and good and godly fathers are positive role models to their families. Children tend to imitate and adopt their parent’s behaviors; therefore, fathers must be good and godly husbands, live moral lives, and treat all people with respect and dignity.

As the home’s spiritual leader, good and godly fathers take an active part in their children’s spiritual development. While mothers spend more time with the children in a traditional home, the importance of the father’s role cannot be underestimated and Paul’s advice to the Corinthian Church holds true in I Corinthians 11:1.”Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” The most important example that father can make to his children is to love others.

Finally, the “R” stands for Reliable – Good and godly Fathers are Reliable
Good and godly fathers are reliable, responsible, and consistent. They work hard to “bring home the bacon” and provide for their family’s needs. Good and godly fathers are also helpful in times of crisis.

Sadly, many men today are not consistent in their fatherly duties and neglect to see the importance of their role as a father themselves. Fathers need to be reinstated to the level of importance that God intended for them! American morality and spiritual integrity is at an all time low because of the declining value placed on the role of the father in today’s society.

Children need attentive and reliable fathers to be their role models. Newspaper columnist Abigail Van Buren wrote, “If you want your children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” Responsibility isn’t a curse, it’s a blessing. Booker T. Washington said, “Few things help an individual more that to place responsibility upon him and to let him know that you trust him.”

Yet, in order for children to grow up into responsible adults they need a stable and reliable role models. Good and godly fathers are consistent in how they meet life’s challenges. Irresponsible people run away from problems, unreliable fathers make excuses for their inconsistent conduct, and never lead a life of integrity. Good and godly fathers are of proven character, they are faithful to their calling, and are reliable to those that need them.

A father’s influence is paramount to a child’s development into a happy, well-adjusted, productive adult. Fatherhood is not motherhood; however, it is an active rather than passive activity. Good and godly fathers are involved in their children’s lives looks out for their best interests. Dads have to make hard choices and realize that popular decisions are not always the best decisions. Good and godly fathers are able discern and develop their children’s hearts, souls, and minds.

I also like what Lonnie Wilkey, editor of our Tennessee Baptist Reflector said in his column this week. There are three essentials for being a godly dad. “1. Marry a great mother; 2. Pray, Pray, Pray; and 3. Turn it over to God.”

Until next week, Love and prayers,

Pastor Rick Signature

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You Are Not Done Serving The Lord!

ThePastorsPenGreeting Church Family and Friends,

Well, the time has finally come! I am so excited. This week, including our service this morning is all about Vacation Bible School! Can I get a “Everybody Say “Yes”; Say YES to VBS! IT IS TIME! GAME ON!

It’s time to gear up for the big game! So grab your megaphones, lace up your cleats, and tune up your horn. It’s go time! As kids, youth & adults of all ages get ready for the big game, they will learn that the goal is not competing in their own strength because God has already equipped them with everything they need!

We will be conducting LifeWay’s Game On! for Vacation Bible School. This year’s VBS is all about equipping kids to gear up for life’s big game. We want the children and adults to join us for the fun and excitement! During VBS, we will learn that God has already given them everything they need. Each day we as kids and adults will dig deep into God’s Word to examine how Jesus cares about us as well as make crafts, play fun games, enjoy tasty snacks, sing cool songs, and learn about missions.

We are eagerly waiting to welcome children of all ages to this free event. Please tell your neighbors, better yet, bring your neighbors. If you can’t bring them, have them call the church van line and arrange to be picked up. By the way, that number is 423-272-7424. Game On! offers something for everyone, so ask about our studies for students and adults.

The Time Has Come! So Pray, Pray, Pray! Pray for leaders to have the stamina, wisdom, and patience they need to care for these young children.

• Ask God to grant wisdom to each leader to share Bible truths in age-appropriate ways.

• Pray that all preschool leaders will reflect the love of Jesus.

Ask God to prepare the hearts of the children to fully understand the concepts of sin and the gospel so that they might apply these concepts to their daily lives.

I also want to take a moment here to say THANK YOU! To all who have helped in anyway to make this VBS ready to go and be a success. Thanks to all my teachers, security team, decorators, helpers, music people, craft workers and kitchen staff. You just don’t know how important you are. This truly is a team effort, so THANK YOU!

Whether you identify more with the band, coach, players, cheerleaders or the fans, you are all necessary to our VBS.

So, Whether you’re the type to root from the stands, march in the band, cheer on the field, or hustle to the line, the time is now—it’s Game On! Join us the week.

Until next week, Love and prayers,

Pastor Rick Signature

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He’s Not There, but Thank God He’s Here!

ThePastorsPenDear Church Family and Friends,

Mark 16:1-8

He really does live, doesn’t He? He’s not there in that tomb, is He? Thank God He’s not there! Thank God He’s here – with you and me. There is no question about it. There’s no doubt in my mind. The tomb was empty on that first Easter morning. Jesus was resurrected. He’s not there, but thank God He’s here! That really is the powerful message of Easter Sunday.

And it is a message that needs to be heard again and again. For we are all like the three women, described here in Mark’s account of resurrection in Mark 16 – the earliest Gospel account. Early that Sunday morning, they were going to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, wondering how the massive stone would be rolled aside so they could enter. Upon arrival they observed that stone sealing the tomb had already been rolled away. Upon entering it, they saw a young man – an angel, to be exact, who told them not to be alarmed since they were. You and I would’ve been alarmed too, by the way. He knew why they were there: to anoint Jesus’ dead body, which would have been a very noble thing to do. But the body wasn’t there. The young man told them He had been raised. Even though the angel reminded those three ladies that Jesus had told them all this was going to happen, it still didn’t make sense to them.

This guy instructed Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Younger who was one of The Twelve, and Salome to go and tell the other disciples, especially Peter – that miserable failure whose denial may have been worse than Judas’ – something very important. Jesus was going to Galilee and would wait for them there and they were to get up there as quickly as they could. Mark then says those gals got out of there as quickly as they could. When you think about, their departure may have been somewhat comical.

I can get tickled at just about anything and laugh almost uncontrollably. Yesterday morning as I was reading over this text, I thought about Mary, Mary, and Salome leaving the tomb. I started laughing as I pondered the scene. I can imagine the three of them attempting to exit the tomb at the same time, bumping into each other, knocking each other down, getting up, tripping and falling down again. I can envision one about to exit and the one behind her grabbing her, pulling her out of the way and attempting to make her own exit, while the third one grabbed her, pulling her out of the way, seeking to be the first to get out of there. I should think the angel was amused as he watched the scene unfold. It’s the stuff that makes for a good cartoon or Three Stooges episode.

Let’s face it. You and I would have been doing the same thing. These girls had been seized by terror and amazement. They had just seen an angel in a graveyard who had literally spoken to them. Jesus was not in the tomb. As they listened to this young messenger from God they must have thought, “Gone to Galilee? But He died on Friday. We saw Him die on the cross. We watched Joseph of Arimathea take Him off the cross and wrap Him in a linen cloth. We watched Joseph put Him in this tomb. He’s risen? He’s gone to Galilee? An angel is talking to us? We’re out of here!” And then Mark concludes: “and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8).

On this Easter morning I remind you as I remind myself, He’s not there in the tomb. Thank God He’s here. And because Jesus is there’s encouragement to move beyond the terror and amazement. As I look into your faces this morning, I see in all of us some fear. We’ve come into this Worship Center with a host of fears – the fear of dying, the fear of financial failure, the fear of a marriage collapsing to name a few. Because Jesus is here, we can rid ourselves of all those fears whatever they may be. Mary, Mary, and Salome did. The truth is, they all did eventually. You see, because He’s not there, but is here, there is power that will enable you and me to say something and not be afraid. More often than not, though, we’re like those three women: we say nothing to anyone for we are afraid.

Our fear, perhaps, is justified. It is a scary world out there, isn’t it? If you don’t believe that then watch the news on television sometime today. Pick up a newspaper and peruse it. Can you believe all the things that have happened in our small town and county in the past two months? The world, even here in Rogersville, is scary. There’s a good reason why the desk sergeant on that early ’80s prime-time TV drama on Thursdays, Hill Street Blues, always told everybody after announcements, roll call, and assignments just prior to their departure to serve and protect, “Let’s be careful out there.” We can’t exercise enough care. Every day seemingly brings new terror and so in our “being careful out there,” we tend to clam up. Maybe we’re exercising too much care out there.

Many people identify April 20 with evil. On April 20, 1889 Adolph Hitler was born. On April 20, 1999 the Columbine High School massacre, in which two students shot and killed twelve of their fellow students and two teachers before killing themselves, took place in Littleton, CO. There are 420 student groups associated with drugs. Since it’s Easter wouldn’t it be great great if all Christians would allow God’s miraculous love to so overwhelm us because of our belief in the resurrection that the world would be inclined to forget the evil associated with April 20.

April 1st is April Fools Day. Many of this world would say we are fools for believing in this kind of love and forgiveness. We are fools for believing in the resurrection of a Jesus from the dead. But the Bible indicates that this would be a good day to claim as the holiday for atheist. Psalm 14:1 (KJV) 1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. So, I don’t think we as believers are the foolish ones here.

he Resurrection is evidence of God’s love and it is precisely because Jesus Christ has been resurrected that evil can be overcome. The tomb is empty. He’s not there, but thank God He’s here!

The angel told them Jesus wasn’t there. The evil of death had been conquered so why hang around a tomb? The angel told them He was going to Galilee. Maybe we need to go back to Galilee, the place where it all started.

David Garland, a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. who now teaches New Testament in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University in Waco, TX where he is currently Associate Dean. David observes that all Mark gives us is simply the news that Jesus has been raised. If anybody wants to see Jesus, they will have to leave the tomb and follow Him since He has gone on ahead – to Galilee, where it all began.1

As I contemplated this insight, I was reminded that Jesus really is always a step or two ahead of us. He is always out there beckoning us to come to where He is. He’s not there in the tomb. That was the black of Good Friday and quiet of Holy Saturday. He’s not there, but thank God He’s here! He’s here, He is in Galilee, the place of beginnings. That’s where it all started in Galilee. That’s where Jesus began preaching the kingdom of God. That’s where He called some guys to follow Him, joining Him in taking to task the evil of the world. And, He is here with us today.

Easter calls us to start again by going back to the place of beginnings. We are to learn to follow Him all over again. That’s what Easter Sunday concerns: learning to follow Jesus Christ all over again. Christ is always out there ahead of us – leading and guiding His followers into new lands, new ventures, and new challenges. He’s not there in the empty tomb. He’s on the move. Anywhere persons are compliant to His charge to go to Galilee, He’s there. I’m glad He is for many reasons, but especially because there is evil in the world. Galilee really can be a rough place at times.

I’m glad Jesus wasn’t there in the tomb on Easter Sunday. I’m glad He went on to Galilee. I’m also glad you and I are following Him to Galilee. I’m glad lives are being changed even today. Easter always grants us strength to change.

Now on Easter Sunday 2018 I believe at least one life, my life, will be changed. No. I believe the lives of these souls in this choir will be changed. No. I believe the lives of every person in this Worship Center can be changed forever. No. I believe lives all over this planet in all those Galilees can be changed forever.

Oh, I’m so glad Jesus is still right here in Rogersville, TN and At The Top of The Hill. That’s the Good News of Easter and it’s news worth telling. The tomb? The grave? He’s not there, but thank God He’s here! And on this Easter His Presence, well, it’s enough. It really is enough.

Until next week, Love and prayers,

Pastor Rick Signature

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