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

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Casting Your Vote

I have heard a few people say they are not voting in this year’s presidential election. I think most of us wish we had stronger candidates on both sides. As the old saying goes, it is what it is. I do understand the frustration of voting for a candidate you may not like. The reality is you are voting, one way or the other, you are voting. You may exercise your right not to cast your vote for either presidential candidate. But you are voting. I did not vote for our current candidates in the primaries. But I will gladly, with enthusiasm and purpose vote for the candidate of my choosing in November. It is too important not to vote.

Here are some of the things I am voting for in November. I am voting for the president who will most likely be appointing the next 4 or 5 Supreme Court Justices. These are the people responsible for changing the historic view of marriage as being between one man and one woman. These are the people who said it is legal for the government to force you to purchase expensive, inadequate health care from failed companies the government has run out of business. This president will either increase or decrease our military readiness. I cannot vote for a president who will continually shrink our constitutional rights or appoint Supreme Court Justices who will not support the Constitution. I am not a member of the NRA and have never pulled a trigger on a firearm other than a pellet or BB gun. I plan for that to change before November just in case a president is elected who plans to limit or remove our second amendment rights. In this election I will be voting about Benghazi…for a candidate that will leave them behind to die for political purposes or go get them because they are Americans. I will be voting on immigration reform. It is almost unthinkable that we have to vote on laws that are already on the books. This presidential election I am voting to protect our borders. I want the fence built and I want to welcome anyone who wants to come to America legally and share our values. I would like us to try our best to limit the number of Muslim terrorists we welcome into our country. I cannot vote for a candidate who will continually strap our children and grandchildren with debt that will be the ruin of our country. We need a leader who can take a million dollar gift from his father and turn it into billions instead of a leader who can take billions and turn it into trillions of debt.

I am not hesitant or reluctant to cast my vote in this presidential election. I will vote with enthusiasm and purpose for the person and party that best represent the values I have. It is too important not to vote. You might not share my values or opinions; I hope you will share my desire to vote. Many people around the world do not have the privilege.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I am so very thankful for the dozen volunteers that helped paint the Transition House. We basically painted it 3 hours at a time…but thank you Jesus, it is almost completely finished. The week we are away at CentriKid Children’s Camp, we should have the last of the trim painted. I am, however, calling in the professionals to paint the ceilings. I thought we might get by without painting ceilings, but just as the rest of the house, many of the ceilings needed repairs as well as fresh paint. So again, thank you so very much for helping. Also, a big thanks to Pastor Sean and the Youth group for cleaning the Transition House yard. It was in desperate need of attention and the youth group and volunteers gave it the attention it needed. They made this a part of their Love God/Serve Charleston project. This week, we should have volunteers in staging the furniture to see what we have and what we still need. If all goes well, we should be open for residents by the end of August.
By the time you read this article, we will be finishing up a week of Children’s Camp, CentriKid, at Gardner Web University. This is an outstanding camp and we have a great group of kids going. I have every expectation that these children will come back having great worship experiences, learning great Bible stories and having had the time of their lives at a camp. I know that some of the first time campers will be anxious. I share that feeling with them. For the first time in over 7 years, my grandson, Noah will not be a camper. He aged out! How did that happen? The good news there, I have a host of grandkids coming behind him that will keep me busy at camp for the next decade!

Keep us in your prayers, see you Sunday, good Lord willing.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Reading the Bible Through This Year

It has been a while since I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. This year, I decided to incorporate that into my spiritual disciplines. So, I started with Genesis and am now in Isaiah. I have to admit some places are far more enjoyable and interesting than others. I love Genesis and Exodus and thoroughly enjoyed Joshua, Judges and Ruth. Not as thrilled about Leviticus…and the judgments of Isaiah are slow reading. One of the benefits is the extra reading I do to remember people and places. My Bible Dictionary is always nearby, so I often refer to it to look up names and places. I had forgotten that the phrase “By the skin of your teeth” comes from Job. I usually read three chapters a day, then a Psalm and then the passage from Romans that I will teach the next Sunday. My point is not to say you should read the Bible through, cover to cover. It is a good exercise that has blessings associated with it. My point is to encourage you to put in the work necessary in spiritual disciplines. It is God’s design that they have reward and benefit. Things like “Thy Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against Thee”.

Every now and again, it is good to change up your routine. As they say “Variety is the spice of life”. So adding a little variety to your Bible reading or daily quiet time, could just spur some additional spiritual growth. Try a new translation of the Bible or a different Study Bible. You could order a Celebrate Recovery Bible and read the Bible and work on the 12 Steps and 8 Principles of Celebrate Recovery. I am currently using John Maxwell’s Leadership Bible. It is the Bible filled with tons of leadership principles from one of America’s greatest Christian leaders.

So here is how my quiet time usually goes. First, I am at my home desk with my Bible, my notebook, whatever current book I am reading and my hymn book. As I read my scripture for the day, I take notes on what I think God is saying or I just copy verses that speak to me (sometimes those are the same thing). If a Bible verse really speaks to my heart, I write it on a sticky note and put it in my car to be a constant reminder. Then I read a few pages in whatever book I happen to be reading. I do the same, recording what stands out to me or what speaks to my heart. Then I will close with a hymn of praise.

That is what I am doing currently in my Bible reading. Come January 1, I will most likely change it up and read a different translation and use a different method. The point is to consume the Word of God. Look to His Word daily for help, guidance, encouragement, correction, etc. I believe our Father is still speaking to us through His Holy Word. I don’t want to miss it and I don’t want you to miss it. Stay calm and read on!

Pastor Tom