The Saint Must Walk Alone

Written By: John - Dec• 10•14

Over the years AW Tozer has spoken to my heart. He just seems to understand the deep frustrations of my inner being and has the knack of feeding my soul in just the right way. His words are not always easy to swallow, but they always nourish me.

Recently I read a chapter, “The Saint Must Walk Alone.” You can read it here, but I wanted to share the final paragraph.

“The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful ‘adjustment’ to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.”

“We Are Revolutionaries!”

Written By: John - Dec• 03•14

While studying this week I came across the following in a sermon by Stephen Cole.  As I read it I marveled at their understanding of Jesus’ call to take up the cross, at their understanding of the absolute need to deny ourselves, and at the absolute resolve to make much of Jesus.  As you read this I would challenge you to consider your own commitment to Christ.

In 1961, 25 students drew up a Christian manifesto for world evangelism. In part they wrote:

Literal adherence to the principles laid down by Jesus Christ would, without a doubt, result in worldwide revolution—a revolution motivated by love, a revolution executed by love, and a revolution culminating in love!

And we are revolutionaries! We are only a small group of Christian young people…, yet we have determined by God’s grace to live our lives according to the revolutionary teachings of our Master. Within the sphere of absolute, literal obedience to his commands lies the power that will evangelize the world. Outside this sphere is the nauseating, insipid Christianity of our day.

We have committed ourselves in reckless abandonment to the claims of Christ on our blood-bought lives. We have no rights! Every petty, personal desire must be subordinated to the supreme task of reaching the world for Christ. We are debtors. We must not allow ourselves to be swept into the soul-binding curse of modern-day materialistic thinking and living. Christians have been “willing” long enough to forsake all—the time has come (and is passing) when we must forsake all! Christ must have absolute control of our time and money. We must yield possessions, comforts, food and sleep; we must live on the barest essentials, that his cause might be furthered. The propagation of the faith we hold supreme! Christ is worthy of our all! We must be ready to suffer for him and count it joy, to die for him and count it gain. In the light of the present spiritual warfare, anything less than absolute dedication must be considered insubordination to our Master and mockery of his cause!

This is our commitment, and we will press forward until every person has heard the gospel. We will soon be in many different countries, engaged in combat with all the forces of darkness. We look beyond the thousands to the millions; beyond the cities to the countries. The world is our goal! And our primary targets are the seemingly impenetrable areas of the Communist and Moslem countries which can only receive freedom as they have opportunity to receive the Truth. These countries will be reached for Christ no matter what the cost. The ultimate victory is ours! (George Verwer, Come! Live! Die! [Tyndale House], pp. 14-16.)

I Am Thankful!

Written By: John - Nov• 28•14

I’m sitting in a Books-A-Million coffee shop in the middle of an outdoor mall in Columbia, South Carolina. All around me, my family is in the midst, are crazed shoppers. I chose to sit peacefully around a few people taking a break with a cup of something from Joe Muggs. It’s the day after Thanksgiving…the mad downhill rush to Christmas is upon us and yet for a brief moment (I will soon join my family back at the in-laws…my four children plus three others along with Kim’s parents, brother, sister and brother-in-law!)  Here I’m silent and able to reflect.

I’m a thankful man. How could I not be thankful? Every thing that is spiritually true of me is a matter of grace. Romans 8 sums it up and it is all G-R-A-C-E! God did what I could not do—He sent His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin He condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law could be fulfilled in me. Imagine it—because of God’s grace I am no longer condemned. I deserve condemnation, but He has graciously chosen to declare me righteous with the righteousness of Christ. I am thankful for God’s grace and my salvation.

I’m a thankful man. How could I not be thankful? I was born in the USA. I am a child of a mother and father who love Jesus. I had grandparents who loved Jesus. I have a sister who loved Jesus. I have aunts and uncles who love Jesus. I have cousins who love Jesus. I come from a long line of Christ Followers. How could I not be thankful? I could have been born in Somalia. I could have been born in the former Soviet Union. I could still be a Christ-follower there, but I was blessed beyond measure to be born here. I am thankful for God’s grace provided through my family.

I am a thankful man. How could I not be thankful? God allowed me to marry so far over my heard that I can get nose bleeds just thinking about it. I am married to the woman of my dreams. I am married to my best friend. I am married to someone who loved Jesus more than anyone I know. I am thankful for God’s grace in my marriage.

I am a thankful man. How could I not be thankful? I have four beautiful, healthy, happy, and holy daughters. They love Jesus. They love His Word. They memorize it, they read it, they journal about it, they share it, they try to pattern their lives by it, and they seek to make decisions for their future under its guidance. I am thankful for God’s grace in my girls.

I am a thankful man. How could I not be thankful? I have been called by God to feed His sheep. I have been gifted to be the pastor of FBC Pell City. I cannot think of a place I’d rather be and I am blessed by their love toward me, my family, and for one another. They have a heart for missions, a heart for God’s Word, and a heart to make much of Jesus. I am thankful for God’s grace in allowing me to pastor FBC Pell City.

I am a thankful man. How could I not be thankful? I have been blessed with friends that hold me accountable, that allow me to express my pain and weep with me, that allow me to express my joy and laugh with me, that are there in good and bad, and that would do anything for me or for my family. I have many friends within the church—too many to name without risking hurt feelings by failing to mention their name, but I will name two men who have been a blessing in my life. Ryan Whitley and Buddy Gray have been a blessing beyond any hope and I am thankful for them. I am thankful for God’s grace in friendship.

I am a thankful man. How could I not be thankful?  I could go on and on, but it’s almost time to go back to the madness! I just want you to know that I am thankful to you, but most of all I am thankful for God’s love, grace, mercy, salvation, and for the filling of His Holy Spirit. Hope to see you Sunday!

I’ve Gotten It Wrong!?

Written By: John - Nov• 24•14

I have a confession to make…FBC, I’ve been doing it all wrong. You see, a while back when God called me to preach, I got it into my head that the Word of God was sufficient; that the Word of God was actually supposed to be the center of all my sermons; that the Word of God was supposed to drive my sermons; that what I actually preached was supposed to be what the Word actually said, but it seems that I have gotten it wrong.

I made the mistake of looking up several churches on a recent “Largest Churches” list and of the ones I looked up, and there were many, not one actually had a series that began in chapter one verse one and ended with chapter last and verse last. Not one! There were several “How To” series, there were several “Night at the Movies” series, and there were series after series, but not one of the top churches in that list actually did what I thought the preacher was supposed to do. Open up the Word of God and let the Word of God drive the sermon.

Now I know there are other lists and that I could find large churches that practice what is known as expository sermons, but shouldn’t the churches that preach the Word of God be what drives the crowd? Shouldn’t the people coming to church hunger for what the Word says instead of just another polished “How To” series?

As I watched one really large church, from another state, my blood just boiled. The pastor had the props, he had the gadgets, he had the cool attire, but he was halfway into the ‘sermon’ before he finally got to a text in the Word of God.

I may have it wrong in terms of what will draw the largest crowd, but I am convinced that I do not have it wrong in terms of what will please God. The Word of God is sufficient and it will give you the “How To” in all areas of life. The Word of God is supposed to be the center of all that we sing and preach. The Word of God is supposed to drive the sermon and the sermon is actually supposed to come out of the text. A preacher is not supposed to come up with a catch series, find some cool topics, and then find a text to fit it all…he is supposed to open the Bible, find out what the text is saying, and then preach that…

It really is no wonder that our world is in such a mess…her only lighthouse is taking her topics and “Christianizing” them. I may have it wrong in the eyes of many, but I think I’ll just keep doing it book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter, and verse-by-verse until He calls me Home.

Ok, I’m finished ranting. Kim and I are going to her parents for Thanksgiving and we hope you have a great time with your family. I’ll see you Sunday and we will pick up where we left off in the book of Acts.

And we think we are busy!

Written By: John - Nov• 20•14

Do you ever think you are just too busy to do what God has called you to do?  Yesterday I clicked on Don Whitney’s blog and found this incredible reminder.  To be honest it was like an ax cutting away all of my sorry excuses and I hope it does the same to you.  We often think we are too busy to take part in the family devotions, or for that matter any devotions, but consider the life of Spurgeon,

(1) pastored the largest evangelical church in the world at that time (with more than six thousand active members),

(2) preached almost every day,

(3) edited his sermons for weekly publications, and thereby

(4) produced (in the sixty-four volume Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit) the largest collection of works by any single author in English,

(5) wrote an additional one hundred and twenty books (one every four months throughout his entire adult life),

(6) presided over sixty-six different ministries (such as the pastor’s college he founded),

(7) edited a monthly magazine (“The Sword and the Trowel”),

(8) typically read five books each week, many of which he reviewed for his magazine, and

(9) wrote with a dip pen five hundred letters per week.

And I think I’m busy! Five hundred hand-written letters? I couldn’t write five hundred tweets per week! Even if I were just copying verses from the Bible!

God gave Spurgeon an extraordinary capacity for work and productivity. And yet, despite the ceaseless, crushing demands on his schedule, at 6:00 each evening, setting aside a to-do list that few could match today, he gathered his wife, twin boys, and all others present in his home at the time for family worship.

Beatitudes Turned Wrong Side Out

Written By: John - Nov• 18•14

I was reading a chapter in Tozer’s, The Pursuit of God, and he commented on the Beatitudes and said, “A fairly accurate description of the human race might be furnished, one unacquainted with it, by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong side up and saying, ‘Here is your human race.’”
He went on to talk about the third beatitude, but let’s take the beatitudes and see what he is talking about…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness ‘sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV)

Now consider the opposite view,

Instead of ‘poor in spirit,’ the world foams at the mouth with pride;
Instead of ‘those who mourn,’ the world seeks pleasure at any cost;
Instead of ‘the meek,’ the world is arrogant;
Instead of ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness,’ the world thinks it is self-sufficient;
Instead of ‘mercy,’ the world is cruel;
Instead of ‘pure in heart,’ the world lusts in sensuality;
Instead of ‘peacemakers,’ the world is quarrelsome and resentful;
Instead of rejoicing in persecution, the world fights back.

There is the world in opposition to what Jesus describes as qualities of Kingdom Citizens, but what scares me most of all is the similiarites of the world and the Church. Is the Church really closer to Jesus’ description or to the opposite? What about us? Meditate on that today and do what is necessary to be like Christ.

“Woe, Woe Is Me”

Written By: John - Nov• 17•14

I saw this prayer on Tim Challies’ blog and it spoke to me. Many of you may already follow him, but I wanted to make sure you had a chance to read it and then pray it!

“My God, I feel it is heaven to please Thee, and to be what Thou wouldst have me be. O that I were holy as Thou art holy, pure as Christ is pure, perfect as Thy Spirit is perfect! These, I feel, are the best commands in Thy Book, and shall I break them? Must I break them? Am I under such a necessity as long as I live here?

Woe, woe is me that I am a sinner, that I grieve this blessed God, who is infinite in goodness and grace! O if He would punish me for my sins, it would not [wound] my heart so deep to offend Him; But though I sin continually, He continually repeats His kindness to me.

At times I feel I could bear any suffering, but how can I dishonour this glorious God? What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate my soul and body to His service, without restraint, for ever! O that I could give myself up to Him, so as never more to attempt to be my own! Or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to His will and His love! But, alas, I cannot live and not sin.

O may angels glorify Him incessantly, and, if possible, prostrate themselves lower before the blessed King of heaven! I long to bear a part with them in ceaseless praise; but when I have done all I can to eternity I shall not be able to offer more than a small fraction of the homage that the glorious God deserves. Give me a heart full of divine, heavenly love.”

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

Written By: John - Nov• 10•14

$85, 000!  That is FBC’s Lottie Moon goal, but I am praying we will give over $100,000.  Here is why.

Lottie Moon

21 Years and I am Blessed!

Written By: John - Nov• 06•14

20121105120008_00121 years ago this lovely lady walked down the aisle and married me. I can say that second only to my salvation, Kim has been the greatest gift God has ever given me.

We met off and on over a couple of years, but when God finally had us in the right place at the right time we both knew with a few weeks that we were meant for one another. The writer of Proverbs said, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised…” Can I take a few moments to praise the woman God gave to me as a friend, a partner, a lover, a wife, and the mother of my children?

I can say this will full assurance…I have never met a person who loves Jesus like Kim Thweatt. The summer we worked at Lake Forest Ranch was an amazing summer. Of course I noticed her physical beauty, but the glory of God radiated from her and still does. I’ve had people question me…Can she really be that happy? Can she really be that in love with Jesus? Can she really be in private what she is in public? The answer is a resounding YES! I’ve lived with her for 21 years and I’ve watched the joy of the Lord grow day by day. She has had her moments—can you think of anyone married to me who wouldn’t have her moments?!—but I can tell you she is everything in private that she is in public.

How can I describe my bride? I think I’ll borrow from the Apostle Paul and describe her with these words:

Love. Never have a met someone who loves life like Kim. Never have I seen someone who loves her children like Kim. Never have I experienced pure love like I experience with Kim. Above all else—she loves Jesus like no one I have ever met. I do not know a more loving person than Kim.

Joy. I’ll never forget the moment she gave birth to Hannah, our first daughter. It had been a long and hard labor…I thought I’d test that joy for a moment by asking her, “Are you ready for another one?” Her eyes lit up, her smile grew, and she said, “Yes!” I’ve watched Kim take joy in the little things, the big things, and everything in between. She is the only person I know who has been stopped in the Publix parking lot, by a total stranger, and asked, “What makes you so happy?” I’m not sure he was ready for the answer, but I can tell you it is all Jesus. I do not know a more joyful person than Kim.

Peace. We’ve lived a blessed life, but it has come with its own share of trials—the surgeries for our daughters and income issues that come with ministry, but Kim has demonstrated the peace of God in more ways than I can explain. There is just a clear understanding in her heart—God is in control and He will take care of us.

Patience. How can I better demonstrate her patience than to say she has put up with me for 21 years! Kim has a unique ability to wait for God’s timing. She is the least materialistic person I know. She will wait for furniture and clothes because she wants to take care of her family. One years I bought her a dozen pairs of shoes for her birthday because I was tired of seeing the same pair day after day. Kim displays more patience than anyone I know.

Kindness. Wow. Can you name a kinder person than my wife? I’m not blessed with great amounts of mercy, but she is kind with the kindness of Jesus. I do not know a kinder person than Kim.

Goodness. Kim came to know Jesus at an early age and fell in love with Him and never grew out of that! She didn’t sow her wild oats because she loved Jesus. Why doe we see the goodness in her life? She is full of Jesus and it shows. She is good in what she watches, in what she listens to, and in how she treats others. I do not know a good-er (J) person than Kim!

Faithfulness. If you have a friend in Kim you have a friend for life. She is faithful to her God, to her husband, to her children, and to everyone around her. I have never worried about where Kim is or what Kim is doing—she is faithful. I do not know a more faithful person than Kim.

Gentleness. If you’ve been around Kim and I you know I am the darkness—she is the light and I am the cold—she is the warm when it comes to gentleness. Great example—a couple of weeks ago I was chasing KJ through the house, trying to get her in bed—she stubbed her toe on the kitchen door-frame and was crying. I said, “KJ, you stubbed your toe—get to bed.” Kim, tenderly got her to bed, put ice on it, and loved her to sleep. You can guess how I felt when I found out she broke her toe! Thanks God for the gentleness of Kim in the Thweatt household! She is the most gentle person I know.

Self-Control. Once again, let me picture her self-control like this—she has been married to me for 21 years and I’m not dead! Seriously, she is diligent and determined and strong and in control through the Spirit’s power.

Proverbs 31 talks about a woman like Kim and says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” I do not have the time or space to do diligence in praising my wife, but this will have to do. I’ve not mentioned her hospitality, her beautiful voice, her ability to lead worship, and her ability to teach, but I will say I am indeed most blessed among men because God allowed me to marry Kim Thweatt. Happy 21st Anniversary Kim Thweatt!

O Great Redeemer

Written By: John - Nov• 05•14

I heard this song a while back and I hope it moves you like it moved me!