Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Whew, what a ride!

I want to thank our staff for picking up the slack while I was took a week off to enjoy the early spring pollen and virus. Yikes. I will understand if you avoid me for the next 2 weeks while this thing runs its course. Knuckle bumps or elbow greetings will be just fine and understood. I am grateful for Sean being willing to step up and hit it out of the park. Thanks Sean. 

Sean began our newest teaching series on Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit. The title we chose is “Fruit Inspection”. The idea is that we inspect our own hearts and lives first. The focus is not on inspecting others fruit…although among people in covenant, that is a good thing, not a bad thing. We have gone over this a dozen times and it bears repeating. There is a significant difference in judging and being judgmental. We make judgment calls every day, all day in almost all situations. Based on God’s Word and the life of our Lord, we judge an action to be right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy. When you judge the person, you have taken over God’s role. Not a good idea. A doctor telling you the x-ray looks bad is making a judgment. The doctor is not being judgmental. Neither would the doctor be a very good doctor by pretending there was nothing wrong with the x-ray. You are in a type of covenant relationship with your doctor and you expect honesty and help. At times, believers can become judgmental, better than you, holier than thou. That is the hurtful and non-helpful attitude. I know it is difficult to not judge…especially when we think our sins are not as bad as “their” sins.

The goal of this series on Fruit Inspection is to challenge us to submit our lives to the Holy Spirit. Let Him be the inspector of our lives. Invite Him to live in and through us. Bear fruit that remains and that is attractive and winsome to a lost and broken world. I suspect we will lead more people to Jesus and discipleship by exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit than by being judgmental and condemning.

Anyone can condemn the darkness…let’s be people that light a light.

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


This past Sunday was Palm Sunday.  What a wonderful way to begin our focus on Holy Week.  We chose to build Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter around the message that Jesus was and is a different kind of King. 

This Friday is Good Friday, named so not because of what happened to Jesus, but what happened for us.  The terrible suffering, crucifixion and death were so tragic that even nature mourned and darkness covered the earth at noon day.  Join us this Friday at 7:00 pm as we read the stories, sing the songs and feel the emotions of the sacrificial love of our Father and Lord Jesus.  We will observe communion together and join our hearts in gratitude for the wonderful love crucified for our sins…our hurts, habits and hang-ups.  It is not too much to say Jesus was hung up for my hang ups.

It’s Friday…but Sunday is coming!  This coming Sunday is Resurrection Sunday…Easter.  We are combining to have one service on Easter.  Please note that our Sunday Connection Groups will meet as they always do at their appointed times.  The 8:30 service and Luz Y Verdad will join together with the 11:00 worship service for one Easter Celebration.  Luz Y Verdad will most likely join us toward the end of the service for the celebration of baptism.  It is an annual event to “flower” the cross.  We will have a smaller cross on the floor level that will be transformed by flowers from your yard.  You may bring them before, during or after Sunday Connection groups or just before the worship service.  There will be someone there to help you place your flowers on the cross.  It is always beautiful.

Bring an offering of jelly.  As you know, JIBC is the jelly provider for the James Island Outreach.  Churches, businesses, schools and individuals join together to help provide food and other assistance to those in need.  Cal Worthington is the new Executive Director.  We have several people that make up 2 or 3 teams that volunteer at J.I.O.  They are low on jelly.  Watch for those bogo deals and bring an offering that will be a blessing.  Just drop the jelly off in front of the church office in the box just outside the door. 

He is risen…He is risen indeed!

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


For years the most powerful invitation used to be the one offered at the end of a sermon. The invitation was to come forward during an altar call to make a profession of faith…to receive Christ as your Savior and Lord. We even called the music during that time “the invitation hymn”. It was one way the Holy Spirit of God used to woo and call people into His Kingdom. Blessed be the Name.

There is another invitation that the Holy Spirit uses. The Power of the Invitation can be seen when you and I invite our family, friends and acquaintances to join us and to be our guest. The invitation could be to visit your connection group; to go with your small group to a Riverdogs’ baseball game or to attend worship with you. There is power in an invitation. I believe I would be correct in saying the number one way that we see people come into the family of God is through invitation. It is friends inviting friends and family. Think about it: you invite them to worship where they will hear the Word of God, be loved on by the people of God, moved by music focused on God, in the presence of God, under the conviction and calling of the Holy Spirit of God. And it all starts with an invitation…”Would you be my guest this Sunday?”


There are two or three places I look to for inspiration about using the invitation as a form of evangelism and discipleship. First, let’s look at Jesus. “Come and follow me” seems to have been a favored way of reaching people. He invited and then they made the choice. Not everyone he invited followed but many did. Second, others invited friends and family to come and join them as they encountered Jesus. Andrew is usually found inviting or bringing someone to Jesus. He had some pretty good results…he invited Peter, who become one of the Apostles and he invited the little boy whose lunch Jesus used to feed the 5,000. The Power of the Invitation! The last powerful invitation, and I literally mean the last, is found in Revelation 22:17-18. In the last Book of the Bible, the last chapter of the Bible, among the last verses is an invitation to come…all who are thirsty are invited to come. It is the power of an invitation.

Use the little Passion Week Invite cards or just use an old fashioned invite. Let us pray about who we might invite to join us this Sunday or Easter Sunday. Who could we invite out to dinner after the worship service? The Power Of The Invitation…used by the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory.

See you this Sunday, good Lord willing.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This and That


Last week the Executive committee of the Charleston Baptist Association met. Moderator, Dr. Ron Dillon, of First Baptist Mt. Pleasant, brought 2 motions that were unanimously passed. The Executive Committee voted to create two study teams. The first would be to look at the future of the Charleston Baptist Association. Why do we exist, what are our goals, what would it look like to be successful, why are the majority of CBA churches not supporting the CBA, etc. It has been over 20 years wince we have taken a look at the purpose of CBA. This will be a look at the future, its purpose and organization. The second team will do a similar study for Bonnie Doone. We have all loved and appreciated Bonnie Doone over the years. Believe it or not, JIBC is one of the few Charleston Baptist Association Churches that have used Bonnie Doone over the last few years. Bonnie Doone is currently $150,000 in the hole financially. If I understand it correctly, it is costing us $4000 a month even with Bonnie Doone closed down with no one using it. This team will study the financial history of Bonnie Doone, the viability of it ever breaking even or operating in the black and get feedback from pastors. This team will then report back to the Executive Committee and the Charleston Baptist Association Annual meeting. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING: AT THIS POINT, THIS IS NOT A PLAN TO SELL BONNIE DOONE. PLEASE DO NOT START OR CONTINUE SUCH RUMORS. It is a study to look at the future of Bonnie Doone. This study team is only charged with studying the current situation and considering options. Thanks for being in prayer for both of these teams.


Now to something more exciting…the Annual Taste of James Island Churches. Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 2 and join the fun and festivities sponsored by James Island outreach. This friendly cooking completion brings out the best from our area churches AND helps raise funds and awareness for James Island Outreach. Admission is one non-perishable food item for JIO. Remember, we are the “Jelly Church”…but you can bring anything! Saturday, May 2, look for more info to come.


Rhett Harter and the Remember Ministry still has room on the summer mission team going to Burma. You can go to www.rememberthose.org to find more information on the ministry and the mission trip. Opportunities are available working with medical clinics, construction, children’s ministries, videography and more. The total trip cost is $3,000. You want to make a difference and do something significant this summer…here is your opportunity.

See you Sunday,

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Relaxing, Unwinding and Unplugging

Janie and I just returned from a week of vacation. It was good to get away and relax, unwind and unplug. Sometimes we “do stuff” on our vacations…climb mountains, look for waterfalls, do Disney. This time we just focused on relaxing…not doing stuff. While we were away, I read a recently published book The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus written by Dallas Willard. Willard was a philosophy professor at USC…the other USC, the one in California. My preacher buddies and I consider Willard one of our mentors. He has influenced our thinking and our approach to Scripture and life. Let me give you an extended quote from Willard’s book:

“Christian apologetics is not an attempt to prove we’re right…You did not get saved because you were right. You got saved because of the grace of God, who loves you and gave his Son for you, and the Holy Spirit, which touched your heart through the word of the Gospel so that you found yourself believing…That is why so many churches have “Grace” in their name. Not many people want to go to “Right Church”, but will gladly go to “Grace Church”. I’ve been to “Right Church”…it’s a tough place. There are a lot of dead people at Right Church, because life comes by grace”.

The model of life and ministry is Jesus. His approach to the lost, to the open and searching, was with a gentle spirit. He made the Gospel accessible and attractive. He reveals a good and beautiful God who welcomed honest questions. As one person said of Willard’s book “he advocates for truth, born on the wings of grace, and does so in the manner of a fellow pilgrim, keen to listen and to share.” Sounds a lot like Jesus.

The bottom line for us, in defending our faith, is not just our positions on certain issues. It is our disposition as well. If truth would have been God’s only objective, He could have just dropped big old Bibles on our heads with a message that says “Read This-It Is True”. Instead, He sent Truth to us in the person of His Son, Jesus. Truth revealed in the personality of Jesus. God’s position on truth is seen in the personality and disposition of His Son, who is the Truth. It is difficult, if not impossible, to separate truth from personality. It is not enough to just be right. Remember what your mother told you: “God don’t like ugly”.

Truthfully, Willard’s books can be a little heady. So to balance it, we listened to a book on cd, The Shack by William Young! Wow, where have I been to miss this little gem. I laughed and wept on I-95 from Miami to Exit 33 at Pocotaligo! What a wonderful story of a loving God.

I recommend both of these to you. Willard’s writings, as I said, are a little more heady. Maybe a little more academic than we prefer for leisure reading. He is readable, but you may have to chew slowly. On the other hand, The Shack is fun and whimsical. You could read it in a night if you try hard. Either way, happy reading…be blessed.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


You may remember that the infamous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter this year. That was just before he bit the ear of the Mayor of Sunprairie! As cold as it has been, I am surprised the people of the northeast did not bite the groundhog’s ear.

Here is my winter prediction. The Sunday Connection Groups studying the Bible the next 8 weeks are in for a spiritual warming trend. March 1 through April 19 features 8 Bible Study lessons entitled “Like No Other: The Life of Christ.” I like to remind our folks that we study the Bible…we just give you a study guide book as a lite, but biblically sound, commentary and study guide. It is, however, the Bible, the Word of God, that we study. The next 8 weeks we have a premier study on the life of Christ. You may want attend a Sunday Connection Group even if you are in a weekday connection group. One of the real advantages is Bible Study provided for the whole family.

Our faith is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Every aspect of His life and character are unique and call us to deeper study and devotion. The ultimate goal is that the next 8 weeks will find us more connected to Christ, our connection group, church family as well as our community and culture. I try to read the lessons every week as a part of my Bible Study time with God. I look forward to this particular study on The Life of Christ.

Don’t forget to be in prayer for Pastor Sean as he leads the church wide emphasis on family. The sermon series, the seminar on Understanding Teens and the Family Fun Day all promise to be great.

Pastor Tom

Thursday, February 26, 2015

JIBC Happenings

“More Than A Song”

February’s teaching series has been on worship. The series was entitled “More than a Song”. Worship is at the heart of what we do. We are committed to God’s purpose for the church: to lead people to be a part of the family of God; to develop them to become more like Jesus; to equip them to serve the Body of Christ with their unique gifts and abilities; and to send them into their community and world to make a difference. But at the heart of this purpose is worship; to offer all that we are to a Holy God; to respond to the character and nature of God with praise, adoration and thanksgiving. It is so much more than a song.

It has been said the reason we have missions is because there is not worship. If those we tried to reach were already worshipping the living God and our Lord Jesus, then there would be no need to reach them. Because God is in business to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world…we are in the business to join Him. Somehow, with God’s help, worship is to be our goal, our motivation, the power of what we do. It is not just what we do on Sunday mornings…it is what we do every day. Sunday morning corporate worship is like the culmination of what we did the rest of the week. I pray that we will continually grow to be a people that worship Him in spirit and truth. So, clap your hands all you people, shout unto God with a voice of triumph. I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the House of the LORD. Amen.


Sean, our pastor of family ministries, has put together a great lineup of help for our families. First, he will launch a new series “A House Divided” starting this Sunday. The Sunday morning messages will be coordinated with the Wednesday night messages he teaches in youth worship. This should provide some great talking points for families. Second, there is the Family Fun Day on Saturday, March 21. This will be held at Medway Park. It is an opportunity for families to come out and have a BIG O FUN day together. Really, the price is right…free (unless you buy a hot dog…and the proceeds there go to missions). Bring your own lunch and drinks and it is F-R-E-E. Really, just come on out and have some fun. Third, Sean is bringing in a guest speaker for the UNDERSTANDING YOUR TEENAGER seminar, Sunday, March 22. It only cost $20 bucks. Really, only $20? That is less than a drive through at McDonalds. One visit to the counselor could cost $120.00. Please note the date was changed from February to MARCH 22. That is a Sunday night, 5:00 -8:00 p.m. You tell me you want to go but cannot afford it, I will scholarship you. The $20 is for mom, dad, grandparents, even your nanny...whoever is helping you parent your children. Childcare is available if you let us know it is needed. Parenting a preteen or teen can be challenging. We want to help, but you have to show up. These 3 major events are in addition to the weekly ongoing opportunities for discipleship, service and mission that can help your family.

Here are three heavy weight opportunities to help impact your family in a positive way. I am praying for you to take full advantage of them. Blessings and thanks for all you do.

Pastor Tom