Tuesday, September 20, 2016


By faith, I am speaking this word: We are planning to have an Open House this Sunday after the 11:00 Worship Service. Just to let you know why I say it that way, I have a letter where I told someone I thought we would be open by the end of May. Actually, I did not say May of 2016, so I could be 8 months ahead of schedule. OK, so project management is not my specialty. But, we are planning to be open for our church family to drop in this Sunday just after worship. If you would like to see the house, this is your opportunity. We should have residents in very soon. I recommend you stay downstairs only because the stairs are just a little narrow.

We will also have a Prayer Walk/Dedication on Sunday evening. The Transition House will be open again this Sunday evening around 5:00 until 6:30. Anyone and everyone is welcomed to attend. We will invite those attending Celebrate Recovery to join us before or after the CR meal. CR members will still be able to make it back for CR at 6:30.

My thank you list for this project could be very long. Thanks to Brush Construction; the group of paint volunteers; Ed our electrician and all around handy man; Todd for the landscaping; Ava Mims for distressing the furniture and on and on the wonderful list could go. Really, I want to thank all of you who volunteered and gave to make this happen. The house even has new dishes thanks to Fran Morrow! I love that the project is completed. I love it even more that so many people were involved in making it happen. May our Father get the glory and the women and children get the love from JIBC! So far, we have had over 22 women and just about that many children live at the Transition House. Looking forward to the next families for us to love.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Almost every time Janie and I have been hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains we have seen black bears. Thankfully most of them have been at a safe distance. We once walked right under a yearling in a tree above us. For the most part, we have been able to spot them on a trail below or across a field. I remind Janie that she does not have to out run the bear; she just has to out run me! Every trail we have ever hiked has a picture of a black bear and this question: Did you kill this bear? There have been occasions where someone did what they were not supposed to do…feed the bears. It seems cute at the moment but it is harmful to the bear and potentially harmful for the next humans that come by. The bear starts to associate food handouts with humans. It is easier than moving old logs and eating grubs. Then a mauling occurs and the bear has to be shot because it is now a threat to all humans in the area. It could have been prevented…just don’t feed the bear.

Please don’t be offended at my analogy. We routinely have people come by the church looking for handouts. They usually say they are homeless and need food. They often come because they have received cash handouts before. Who can resist giving a hungry person food? Here is the thing. With all good intentions, you are teaching people that they can come by a church for handouts of money…not food. They often say they need food but when offered food, they get to the point, and they want cash. It could be for bus fare or a meal…or crack or beer. The point is we encouraged them to come by the church and look for vulnerable people who will give them cash. Our logic says they will just go away if someone says no to their request because they do not have any cash. Someone thought the bears would just go away when they found out you did not have ham sandwiches and cookies…but they were wrong. You will do what you feel led to do…I understand that. You may unintentionally be putting others at risk. As a rule, we do not keep cash at JIBC. Our staff is directed to never give out cash or even imply that we have cash on the property. We do not keep cash on campus, so we cannot give cash handouts if we wanted to…which we don’t. If I give out cash to the homeless, what may happen when they come by and the secretary is here alone? This may sound less than charitable. Sometimes our helping can hurt. So let me share with you how we do help.

First, if you are approached by anyone who is homeless, in recovery or living at the transition house asking for money here is a positive option. Tell them they have to see one of the Pastors, Elders or Celebrate Recovery leaders. It is wonderful if you feel led to help them. Just tell them you will give the money through our recovery program. That may help keep you and others one step away from a potentially dangerous situation. Let our leaders handle the request. Don’t make the mistake of thinking because you feel safe, the next person they approach will be safe. Second, when I am approached for money, regardless of the need (my father died again, I need food, bus fare, etc), I tell them I have no cash on me and we do not keep cash on the church property. Cash is not a possibility. I quickly tell them I will help them. I guarantee I will help them. It might not be the way they want to be helped…with a free handout. But I will help them. For the hungry, we get them immediate food. We feed homeless friends almost every Sunday night. We always invite them to come get a hot meal on any Sunday night at Celebrate Recovery(and feel free to stay for a great program) and on any Wednesday night. We are also prepared for their immediate needs. I have given out many protein power bars and bottles of water from my office closet. We keep enough food in our church pantry to last them a few days until they can get to James Island Outreach for more in depth and sustained help. Because our church family is generous in their giving, I can almost always offer them several hours of work so they can earn the money they need. When I say we have shovel ready jobs, I actually mean it! Actually it is “rake ready”. Soon, our JIBC security team will be up and running. You will be able to immediately lead them to one of the security team members as well as a Pastor, Elder or CR leaders.

Does that make sense? It is not an emotional response that ends up hurting the people we try to help. It is a Biblical response, showing love and friendship. We are happy to build relationships with those in need and help them find the long term help they need. Be safe and act wisely not just for yourself but for others as well. Thank you for being such a loving, generous family of God. I love being a part of JIBC.

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How good is a Connection Group?

As my old country friend used to say: Gooder than snuff and not half as dusty! Sorry, how about this one: It will make you happier than a June bug on a tomater plant! I think you get the picture. I am all in favor of our church family getting connected. Why call them Connection Groups? Our prayer is that together you will get connected to God’s Word; together you will get connected to each other; and that together you will get connected to meeting a need in the community. They are Connection Groups…not Connection Silos. Life is better together. It is not good to be alone in life. We were made for community and we really are better together.

Pastor Sean has done a great job of introducing our church family to the Connection Group leaders. That was a great way to see age groups, locations, etc. It is possible you were not here several of the Sundays and missed seeing some of the groups. We will help you get connected…really, it will be our joy. If you don’t know which group to choose, come see me, Sean or Susan. We will help you get plugged in with a great group to try. It is also possible you would like to be in a group that has not yet started. Some of you would love to offer your home as a meeting place but are not so sure about facilitating a group. Great, we need several more places to meet. Others of you would be glad to facilitate the group but cannot volunteer your home…I think we might have a match. And here are the people I am looking for…some of you are party planning machines. You love organizing get togethers and being a great host/hostess helping people feel welcomed and comfortable. Wow, do we need you. Some groups have everything they need except someone to add that little extra love! So, here we go. You can pick a group that is up and running. Try it for a while and see how it fits. You could help start a brand new group by hosting, facilitating or being the Captain of Hospitality!

Some of you have been as lost as last year’s Easter Eggs. It is time to get connected. There is no need to be as lonely as a pine tree in a parking lot. Without being connected life can get all catawampus. OK, I will close the Redneck Southern Sayings site. But I really am praying for you to get connected. Even Jesus got connected to a small group. Let’s follow his example.
See you Sunday, good Lord willing,

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What are we in business to do?

I believe God’s work is to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world. I think that is the overwhelming message of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus said “I came to seek and to save that which was lost.” So what, then, is our work? Our work, our business, is to join God in His work. James Island Baptist is in business to join God’s work to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world. So how do we do that? First, we seek to bring people into the family of God through a born again experience, following Jesus in baptism and becoming a part of the church family. Second, our goal is to help them learn the spiritual disciplines that allow them to grow and mature to become more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s work, sanctification, continually works to lead us to be holy and to do good works. Third, we discover and use our God given spiritual gifts and abilities to serve others and minister to His Body, particularly the part of the body knows as JIBC. Fourth, we want to equip all our members to be salt and light in the community and around the world. We are committed to being missionaries across the street, across the river or across the ocean. At the very heart of all we do is the central and primary reason for what we do…we worship God. It is our desire that all people would come to worship and exalt our Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ. This is the way we seek to join God in His work to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world.

Whether you are in a connection group or on a ministry team…your ministry should reflect the purpose of God. Your Connection Group or Ministry Team exist to help people become part of the Family of God; to help them mature and grow more like Jesus; to help and encourage them to use their God given spiritual gifts and ability to bless His church; to reach out into your community and around the world to make a difference in the Kingdom; and to help them become God honoring, Christ exalting worshipers. Why not? What would you do differently? What would you leave out or add? These are the purposes of God as revealed in His Holy Word, the Bible. This is what we do. This is the way we join God is His great work to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world. Come on…have some fun and get you some! Get connected to God, others and the community!

Lord willing, see you Sunday as we begin Romans 7,

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Wednesday nights at JIBC are some kind of wonderful. We kick off the Fall season on Wednesday, September 7 with the official Awana Signup Night. ATTENTION K-MART SHOPPERS…there will be no dinner or any programs on Wednesday, September 7. This is a night of sign up only. Come on by, register your children, and then head off to Pelicans for the best Snow Cone you will ever eat…ok, that is my plan.

LET THE FUN BEGINOn Wednesday, September 14 we will begin the FULL THROTTLE all hands on deck programming. Our Kitchen Krew will lead the way with the most popular meal they prepare…Fried Chicken and Mac-n-Cheese! Need I say more? Here is a secret: You don’t have to attend any of the Bible Studies to enjoy the Wednesday Night Fellowship Meal. Come and enjoy great food and fellowship from 5:00-6:30. After that, we begin all of our Wednesday Night Fall programming: Awana (3k-5th Grade), Nursery, Surge Youth Ministries, First Place for Health (open to men and women), Class 201, Prayer Team, etc. By the way, if you volunteer in Awana and have not taken Class 201…just wait until the next time Class 201 is offered. Choose volunteering with the children. You can catch Class 201 several more times this year.

Wednesday nights can be a family night…eat together, learn the word together, go home good and tired together! #SOMEKINDOFWONDERFRUL.

See you Sunday as we look at Romans 6:15-23…Changing The World by Changing People.

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


The first time Janie came with me to Celebrate Recovery she saw about a dozen people go up to pick up their chips. We pick up a chip for first time attendees, a chip for 30 days sober, 60 days, 90 days etc. The round chips are a way to mark your time and to celebrate your victories. When she saw people picking up chips and the excitement of the group cheering, her jaw dropped and tears came to her eyes. So I asked her “Are you ok?” Her reply was “This is the coolest thing I have ever seen!” I told her “Yep..and it happens every week."
So this past Sunday night, we had 1 who picked up the new comer blue chip; we had 3 who picked up their 30 day chip; several getting close to 90 days; two who picked up their 3 year chip; and one who picked up their 5 year chip. And again, it was one of the coolest things you will ever see. It is why we call it Celebrate Recovery. It has been 5 years since we have revamped and repurposed Celebrate Recovery. Darryl Young and his team have done a great job of taking it to the next level. I am pleased to be both the pastor of Celebrate Recovery and a member working on my own hurts, habits and hang-ups.

Celebrate Recovery is in over 30,000 churches, established in 25 different countries and is being introduced in about 25 more. CR, Celebrate Recovery just celebrated its 25 year anniversary. Darryl and I went to the West Coast Celebration held at Saddleback Church where CR started. There were 3,500 other CR leaders at this meeting and 3,300 at the one held on the East Coast. I can tell you there was powerful worship and intense learning taking place. Wow.

There are 5 new initiatives the national CR ministries will be taking on in the coming years. We will take on several of them ourselves. First, there is Celebrate Recovery Inside: a mission for those currently in prison. Second there is a new Mental Health Initiative to individuals and family members struggling with mental health issues (that seems to be almost all of us!) Third is the Sexual Exploitation Initiative: a mission and ministry to women and men who want to get out of the sex trade industry. Fourth is the Welcome Home Initiative: an outreach to our veterans coming home and for those who struggle with anxiety or PTSD, post traumatic stress disease. And fifth is the Native American Initiative: the mission and ministry to Native Americans living on reservations dealing with recovery issues.

I know it seems like a lot…that is what makes me think we will jump into it. Having a CR ministry is taking on the giants. Running a Transition House is a giant. I thank God for a church family not afraid of the giants. This next year should be very interesting…go God!

Pastor Tom

PS…Did you know we have a shoe ministry where we can bring our old shoes and they get distributed to those in need? You need to rejoice that almost every Sunday night at CR, we have people who go through to find shoes for themselves. I have seen some very happy people leave with some really good looking shoes! Thank you.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Transition House Renovation Update

To paraphrase a famous quote: “Finished at last, finished at last, thank God Almighty, we are finished at last.” I am referring to the painting at the Transition House. It took a little longer since all painting was done by volunteers except the ceilings. I called in the professional painters to handle that. By the way, if I ever pick up a paint brush again and ask for volunteers, please call Riverbluff Counseling Center and ask them to come get me.

Ok, so where are we on the project. New floors are in...check. All rooms painted...check. New bathroom and all the fixtures are in...check. Jessie is weather-proofing the exterior window…what a blessing… double check. The next major effort will be having the paint removed from the floors…oops. Then we will stage the furniture to see what we have and what we need. Our plans are to have an open house before we get the next residents. I am thinking sometime before 2017. Really, I think it will be ready in a few weeks, certainly by early September... good Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise.

I feel like there was a major renovation done on the Transition House. Yet, I realize in an old house like that, there is still so much to do. But for now…”finished at last, finished at last, thank God Almighty we are finished at last.” Thank you to all the volunteers and all the paid workers for your time and effort. I pray you will get to meet some of the women who will live at the house and see their changed lives. For the most part, when one woman’s life is changed, you change a family and an extended family, and a neighbor, and on and on. I am so pleased that JIBC would be willing to tackle the giants. Anyone can curse the darkness; you are willing to light a candle. We join God in His desire to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world.

Pastor Tom