The Battle for Simplicity!

Written By: John - Nov• 09•15

From time to time I go back and read some of my old sermons. I was doing that today in preparation for another sermon and I found an old Indian parable. I didn’t write down the source, but I loved the parable.

A guru had a disciple and was so pleased with the man’s spiritual progress that he left him on his own. The man lived in a little mud hut. He lived simply, begging for his food. Each morning, after his devotions, the disciple washed his loincloth and hung it out to dry. One day, he came back to discover the loincloth torn and eaten by rats. He begged the villagers for another, and they gave it to him. But the rats ate that one, too. So he got himself a cat. That took care of the rats, but now when he begged for his food he had to beg for milk for his cat as well. “This won’t do,” he thought. “I’ll get a cow.” So he got a cow and found he had to beg now for fodder. So he decided to till and plant the ground around his hut. But soon he found no time for contemplation, so he hired servants to tend his farm. But overseeing the labors became a chore, so he married to have a wife to help him. After time, the disciple became the wealthiest man in the village.

The guru was traveling by there and stopped in. He was shocked to see that where once stood a simple mud hut there now loomed a palace surrounded by a vast estate, worked by many servants. “What is the meaning of this?” he asked his disciple.

“You won’t believe this, sir,” the man replied. “But there was no other way I could keep my loincloth.”

Happy Anniversary Kim Thweatt!

Written By: John - Nov• 06•15

20121105120008_001Today Kim and I celebrate 22 years of marriage! I can say that if you were to take all of the gifts God has given to me, she is second only to my salvation. I understand why the writer of Proverbs said of a woman who fears the Lord, “Her children rise up and caller her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

I remember the first time I saw her at Lake Forest Ranch.  I remember the times I got to drive from Texas and meet her at my grandparents.  Her smile was worth the hours of driving.  I remember the beauty radiating from her as she walked the aisle.  I remember the joy when she told me we were going to have Hannah and Hope and Hollie and Kimberly Joy!  I remember the beauty…the breathtaking beauty…of Kim taking her firstborn daughter into her arms and softly singing over her.  I’ll never forget that!

Kim once asked me, as only a wife can ask her husband, “If I die what would you miss the most?”  I gave a smart aleck answer, as only I can, but I thought about it.  There are the obvious things that I would miss, but one day it dawned on me…the thing I would miss the most is hearing her sitting at the piano in our home singing, just singing, to Jesus.  I get to watch her lead worship every Sunday and when she does I see the beauty of my beautiful bride helping the Bride worship our Savior.

God has indeed blessed me beyond all measure and I am thankful for you Mrs. Kim Thweatt. Happy Anniversary!

The Beauty of Jesus!

Written By: John - Nov• 02•15

I have quoted this before, but I read these words this morning and was once again reminded of the beauty of Christ. It is no wonder Thomas Manton said, “Jesus Christ is the cabinet in which God’s jewels are kept…”

“Put the beauty of ten thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden in one; put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all loveliness, all sweetness in one.  Oh what a fair and excellent thing would that be!  And yet it would be less to that fairest and dearest well-beloved Christ than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and foundations of ten thousand earths.”

 Samuel Rutherford

The Impact of Jesus

Written By: John - Oct• 29•15

James Allen Francis said in a sermon,

“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never owned a house. He never went to college. He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrow grave through the pity of a friend. Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today He stands as the central figure of the human race. I am far within my mark when I say that all the armies that every marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as this one solitary life.”


(Mark Jones, Knowing Christ, page xv.)

“Submit, Resist, and Draw Near”

Written By: John - Oct• 19•15

We’ve been walking through the Lord’s Model Prayer in Matthew 6 on Sunday mornings. Yesterday centered in Jesus’ instruction to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” As we studied the passage we went to James to get a better understanding of what temptation means. James 4:7-8 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will drawn near to you…” James tells us that we deal with temptation by submitting to God, by resisting Satan, and by drawing near to God.

As I came to the end of my sermon the Holy Spirit brought an illustration to my mind that I had not thought of before. The reason Satan flees from us when we resist is because we are drawing near to God and He is drawing near to us. The following video pictures what I tried to describe.

Picture the mountain lion as Satan, the bear cub as us, and the final bear as God and I think you’ll get the picture!


Comfort in the Midst of Despair

Written By: John - Sep• 28•15

Yesterday was a hard day. On the day that we had expected to celebrate the birth of a child with his mom and dad we mourned with them in his death. A few days before the due date the mother went for a check up and they were not able to find a heartbeat…Kim and I prayed with them in the delivery room, and wept with them at the funeral. As I prayed about what to say God gave me a few thoughts that I hoped would bring them comfort. I share them with you with the same purpose.

I want you to consider this—because of your union a child was conceived. Your union brought about life. And while we hate the circumstances take comfort in this.

His eyes never saw the ugliness of this world—his first sight was the glorious majesty of our Living God.

His ears never heard the curses of man—his first sounds were the glorious tones of the angels and the praises of those who have gone on before him—his first sounds were heavenly.

His feet never felt the thorns of this world—his first steps were on streets of gold.

His hands never felt the sweaty fears of life—his first grip was most likely the grip of a nail-scarred hand that paved the way for His eternity.

His heart will never feel the brokenness that this world brings it—but it will know the excitement of pure unadulterated glory!

His knees will never buckle under the weight of sin, but they have already bowed before the King of kings.

His nose will never smell the aroma of death—it will only know the blessed and sweet aroma of life—forever.

And while we were never able to hear his voice—he has already joined the heavenly chorus singing its praise to our God.

I could go on and on, but let’s celebrate the life you brought forth and God brought into Heaven!

Years ago I shared an article from Al Mohler on the Age of Accountability and if you are interested you can find it here.  I shared the following text from 2 Samuel 12.  At the death of his child David said, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”  Based on the thoughts from Dr. Mohler and the assurance David had that he would see his son in Heaven I firmly believe that children who die go to Heaven.  I hope this comforts you.

Living above ‘the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs’!

Written By: John - Aug• 13•15

From time to time I hear people say things like, “I’m just not really into the music,” or “I’m just not a music person…” Last Sunday we sang Luther’s ‘A Mighty Fortress is our God.’ Before we sang the hymn Ronnie Foster, our Minister of Music, shared the following.

“In the forward of a book, Luther once wrote: ‘Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits…A person who…does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God…does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.’”

You’ve gotta love Luther! Let’s live above the ‘braying of asses and the grunting of hogs’ and join with the angles and worship our God today with His Word, in prayer and meditation, and with song!

I Die Believing These Words!

Written By: John - Aug• 12•15

Recently Ray Ortlund posted the following on his blog.  I was blown away with it and wanted to share it with you.

“Robert Bruce, the disciple of John Knox and Andrew Melville, died at Kinnaird on July 27th, 1631.  He had come to breakfast and his younger daughter sat by his side.  As he mused in silence, suddenly he cried, ‘Hold, daughter, hold; my Master calleth me.’  He asked that the Bible should be brought, but his sight failed him and he could not read.  ‘Cast me up the eighth of Romans,’ cried he, and he repeated much of the latter portion of this Scripture till he came to the last two verses: ‘I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’  ‘Set my finger on these words,’ said the blind, dying man; ‘God be with you, my children.   I have breakfasted with you, and shall sup with my Lord Jesus this night.   I die believing these words.’”

(Marcus L. Loane, The Hope of Glory (Waco, 1968), page 160.)


To sell alcohol on Sunday or not to sell?

Written By: John - Aug• 10•15

Much has been said about tomorrow’s vote on whether we should allow stores to sell alcohol on Sunday. I do not drink alcohol for several reasons. It is not because I believe the Bible says you can never drink a beer or a glass of wine—the Bible is very clear about alcohol—you are not to get drunk and you are not to abuse it. While I do not think the Bible ever commands total abstinence from alcohol I choose not to drink for several reasons. Let me take you through the process that led me to that decision by asking you four simple questions.

First, is it helpful? In 1 Corinthians 6:12 we find these words, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” My great-grandfather was against all alcohol. His doctor told him that drinking a glass of wine every night would be helpful to him, but he said he could not do that. The doctor suggested that he drink a tablespoon of wine every night and he said he could do that! Without a doubt there are medical benefits to some alcohol. Even Paul told Timothy to mix a little wine with his water for his stomach. (1 Tim 5:23) So we could say it is helpful in some cases.

Second, does it master? In the second half of 1 Corinthians 6:12 Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” Does alcohol have the potential to master and enslave you? The answer is it can absolutely master you. I don’t even have to prove that…you know it is true. The potential is there and you may be genetically prone toward alcoholism and while it has some health benefits it also has terrible consequences.

Third, does it cause others to stumble? 1 Corinthians 8:13, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” I know that I am to live a life that is above reproach. I know that if I, as a pastor, were seen buying alcohol or drinking alcohol in public I could cause others to stumble…especially here in the South. What if I could handle a beer a day or a glass of wine a night, but someone who could not handle it saw me and thought, “If the pastor can drink so can I.” I choose not to take that risk. I choose not to make others stumble in this area.

Finally, does it glorify God? 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I’ve had many discussions with other Christians over this question. Some had argued that they could glorify God by drinking because, after all, didn’t Jesus turn the water into the best wine of the evening? Others could never see a time that drinking would honor or glorify God. So where does that leave us with the issue of drinking alcohol?

I choose not to drink because of the second and third question. It does master and it would cause others to stumble; therefore I cannot glorify God doing it. I have some very strong Christian brothers and sisters who disagree with my conclusion and I am able to agree to disagree with them, but that is why I choose not to drink. But, let’s get back to the question, what about selling alcohol on Sunday and the upcoming vote tomorrow?

Years ago our forefathers sought to set aside Sunday as the Lord’s Day and to make it a day different from the other six days. When I first moved to Boaz most stores were closed on Sunday and even the outlets asked for the churches blessing to open on Sunday afternoon from 1 to 5. A lot has changed since those days…hasn’t it?

There is one law left on the books that sets Sunday apart from all other days. That law does not allow the selling of alcohol on Sunday because it saw Sunday as a special day. So the question is simple—do we want Sunday to continue to be seen as a special day or should it be seen as just another day of the week?

I find it hard to believe that restaurants won’t come to our city because of this issue. When I go out to eat on a Sunday afternoon the restaurants are usually filled with people who just attended a church service. Ultimately, as a Christian, I do not vote based on my wallet—I vote based on what I feel the Scripture says about any given issue. So as you go to vote tomorrow I would simply urge you to pray, seek God’s will, but please go and vote. If I could vote tomorrow I would vote no because I want to keep the Lord’s Day separate from any other day. What about you?

“This Glorious Thought”

Written By: John - Aug• 03•15

Yesterday we sang two of my favorite hymns.  We started with Holy, Holy, Holy, and then we sang It Is Well.  I am moved every time we sing that song…especially when we get to the third verse.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

As we sang those words yesterday I thought of the magnitude of the words.  The freedom that comes from believing that is enormous.  I challenged our church to wake up and quote that line every day.  To remember the great truth and to worship God in light of it.

Let me challenge you to do the same thing!  If you are battling with guilt. if you are battling with sin.  If you are battling with the storms of life remember what He did for you on the cross and praise Him.