Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Yep, It Has Been An Interesting Week

Holy Week is usually a wonderful week of reflection and devotion. The staff works to plan Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter. So we found a way to make this Holy Week a very interesting time. We still saw God’s hand moving and felt His presence…just in a little different way.

A week before Good Friday, Janie and I felt moved to keep a one year old for a mom who had relapsed. I know…my codependent, rescuer nature. Here is what that looks like in my feeble mind. I just know, somewhere, deep in my heart, that my job is to storm the castle. I always have faith that someone behind me will do the next step: build a ladder to scale the castle wall. I just knew in my heart it was right to go get that baby. I believed with everything in me that JIBC would have the family willing to “foster” this child once the dust settled. So, Janie and I welcomed this little baby into our home for 6 days. Mary Braxton and Amanda Holseberg and their kids graciously helped babysit during the day. The Lord laid it on the hearts of one of our church families to do the heavy lifting of keeping this baby for up to 6 months. I believed God could do it but I never imagined He would do it in such a wonder filled way with the absolute perfect family. Janie and I still retain grandparent rights to babysit this little girl (lol). To God be the glory.

The next Monday at 2:30 a.m. is when I received the call that there had been a horrific accident at the church involving the new bus and the old bus. I thought this was a bad joke since I knew Ed Mullis and I, after returning the patients to the Charleston Center, had parked the buses over 200 feet from each other. A young man from Mt Pleasant, according to the police report, was travelling at 112 mph and did not make it around the curve in front of the church. Tragically, he lost his life. Our prayers and thoughts continue to go out to his parents, family and friends. I was saddened and grieved by the horrible devastation of this fatal car crash. It was, by the way, the second crash in less than 2 weeks, at that curve on Maybank Highway.

Then, the Thursday of Holy Week, we passed the little baby off to her new home and her new family. The little baby was fine but I cried like a baby! She was such a little love.

Then, just in time for my burdened heart, came Good Friday’s moving worship service. I was so thankful for a powerful experience service to feed my soul. Then Saturday I had a beautiful outdoor wedding for a wonderful young couple.

It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming. I thank our Heavenly Father for our Resurrection Sunday celebration. We put out all the extra chairs we could find and fit in the worship center and still had people standing upstairs and down. We worshiped in Spirit and truth, baptized 5 and heard the Word of the conquering power of Jesus. The day ended with driving Luz Y Verdad’s van to pick up the patients from the Charleston Center for Celebrate Recovery.

Yep…it has been an interesting week. I am hoping for a chance for us all to catch our breath and then carry on. See you Sunday, good Lord willing.

Pastor Tom




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Christmas Offering Update

On Sunday, April 2, I got my seasons mixed up and said Christmas instead of Easter.  I am getting old and suspect that will happen more and more.  But, since I mentioned  Christmas, let me give you an update on our Sunday, Christmas Day offering. Remember The Christmas Day Offering?  This past Christmas our leadership, including our Finance Team, agreed to give away our Christmas Sunday offering to mission causes instead of putting it into the ongoing church budget.  It was a Kingdom celebration giving thanks for God’s goodness.  JIBC has been so blessed and we were in a great position to give even more.  So here is what that looked like.

The offering for that particular Sunday was $7,440.  These gifts were in addition to any budgeted gifts we planned to give to these missions.  These were blessings above our regular budgeted accounts because we were so blessed.
· Romanian Church we partner with—$1,000
· The Romanian Pastor—$200 personal gift
· James Island Outreach—an extra $1,000
· Remember Orphan Sponsorship—$365.00
· A Pastor in South Africa—$200
· The Church in Ukraine Mark Livengood works with—$500.00
· The Ukraine Pastor—$200
· Annie Armstrong North American Missions—$1,000
· Living Hope (A discipleship ministry to those with broken sexuality issues) - $1,000
· Janie Chapman SC State Missions—$500.00
· Missionary friends Hector and Shannon in Honduras—$200
· Missionaries John and YiLing in Asia—$200

*In addition we received $7,094 for Lottie Moon International Missions.

We still have some of the funds left for other mission causes.

Wow…What a great day of blessing.  We thank God for your generous giving and the attitude of our church family to be generous. 

Thank you for your generous giving, your faithful praying and your love for our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Tom

Easter Sunday Morning Requests

As you may anticipate, Easter Sunday should be a full house.  We will be bringing down 100 extra chairs in anticipation of an overflow crowd.  May I ask our church family to do two things this Sunday in particular.  First, as you arrive, could you fill in all seats between you and the next person.  Could we save the outside seats for our guests?  Our greeters will be looking to help people find seating for two, three and four at a time.  Second, gentlemen, could we have you ready to give up your seat for someone else.  Not our Senior adult men, just us younger, healthier men.  If it is needed, would you be willing to give up your seat?  Thanks, you are the best!  Let’s make our guests feel as welcome as possible. 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Palm Sunday

This Sunday, April 9 is Palm Sunday. We begin our Holy Week emphasis we are calling “ALL”: Palm Sunday—He Gave It All; Good Friday—He Paid It All; and Easter Sunday—He Conquered It All! This Sunday, Palm Sunday, Janie and I have a gift for our JIBC family and friends. We purchased and want to give each of you a copy of Lee Strobel’s book, A Case For Easter. You will be touched by the historic detail given here about the death and resurrection of Christ. I hope you will enjoy the read. It is a faith builder. Here is my prayer: I hope you will read this great little book and then pass it on to someone you know. Let it be a double blessing. Janie and I are praying for you to have a wonderful and inspirational Holy Week. 

Then, there is the Good Friday service. This is often one of the most moving services of the year. It is reflective and more reserved and not so much the celebration, upbeat worship we experience every Sunday. The focus, as you know, is on the suffering of our Lord Jesus and the great sacrifice of our Heavenly Father. We will observe Lord’s Supper together in remembrance of Him. May it draw you ever closer to Him.

Then there is Resurrection Sunday: He is risen, He is risen indeed! Hallelujah, what a Savior. We will have the flowering of the cross…even if it is mostly green this year! Look around closely and bring your flowers for the cross on Easter Sunday. What a reminder that God can work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose in Christ Jesus. For those scheduled to be baptized Easter Sunday, what a day that will be!

A sincere word of thanks: JIBC has been the recipient of another unbelievable gift. A family has donated a 14 passenger bus to our church mission and ministry. There are so many times and places that the full 40 seat bus is a little too much. The big bus still drives great and we are addressing the one major issue that it has with a soft spot in the floor. We still drive it every week. The 14 passenger bus gives us amazing flexibility. Now here is the surprise. Some may mistakenly think that because a CDL is not required for a 14 passenger bus, anyone can drive it. Not really. Our insurance still has requirements like you must be between 25 and 65; you must have a CDL physical and you still must do a full pre-trip inspection before each trip. Our insurance does not allow us to loan the bus out for liability reasons. We can use it for missions and ministry with one of our drivers behind the wheel. The only difference is you don’t have to have a Commercial Drives License( CDL). So, we are asking for volunteers that might be willing to get their CDL to help drive the bus. Currently we only have 3 drivers: Tom and Janie Brown and Randi Benton. We could use 3 more right away. At any rate, what a tremendous blessing and resource. Joining me in saying a prayer of thanks for the generosity of this family. May the bus be used for His glory.

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

BOMBS AWAY…OR AS WE SAY…EGGS AWAY!

This Saturday, April 1 is our 2nd Annual Easter Egg Drop. Prayers Away before Eggs Away. Sean ran through the details at this Monday’s staff meeting. Everything is in place, scores of volunteers are enlisted, and helicopter rotors are ready! Now, let’s have a party for the community and love our neighbors as ourselves!

I asked if I could fly the helicopter and help drop the 20,000 candy filled plastic eggs. They said “No, the last pastor they let fly the helicopter got cold and tried to turn the big fan off!” So, I will see you all on the ground, meeting our guests and helping them have a blast with the children. Our thanks for your prayers and service. This should be another outrageously fun event.

Resurrection Sunday is just around the corner. It hardly seems like it, but Easter is only three Sundays away. We have a beautiful Holy Week focus this year: ALL. We start Holy Week with Palm Sunday celebrating a God and Savior who Gave it ALL. Then a reflective Good Friday service remembering He Paid it ALL. On Resurrection Sunday we celebrate our God and Savior who Conquered it ALL. Just a reminder of our evangelistic opportunity: Easter is one of the main religious cultural events for the under churched and unchurched community. Many of our family and friends will come to our Easter service if we invite them. Most of them will totally accept our invitation if we invite them out to eat after the service. Pray now and ask our Father to lay a name on your heart. Perhaps a coworker, a family member or neighbor? You know they will hear great praise music and the Good News of what God has done for us through His Son, our Lord Jesus.

*A special note to our church family. As we do every year, we expect overflow crowds on Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve. Could we ask you for a favor? Those of us who can, could you be prepared to stand during the Easter service? Particularly, I am asking our men. We will bring down over a 100 extra seats. The praise team will stay on stage so the first row will be wide open. The old hymn says it well…Stand up, stand up for Jesus.

Love you all and look forward to seeing you Saturday at the Eater Egg Drop and Sunday at Worship.

Pastor Tom


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

20,000 EGGS DROPPED FROM A HELICOPTER?

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

Why in the world would a church invest money, time and effort in dropping 20,000 eggs from a helicopter? By the way, let’s go over the basics: the eggs are not dropped on anyone and they are plastic eggs with candy inside not hard boiled eggs. OK, now back to the “Why?”

Last year we estimate that we had over 2,000 people attend the biggest outreach event JIBC has ever hosted. Really, I am not that big a fan of some of the ways culture celebrates some of our most important events. I am, however, a fan of reaching out to the unchurched and under churched community. All the research that is available for our area indicates that parents are really interested in kids events. They are looking for top quality, low cost, family oriented events where they can help their children have an experience. Now put this picture together. We have jump castles, food trucks, and 20,000 Easter Eggs dropped out of a helicopter! You gotta be kidding me. No wonder we had almost 2,000 people. It was great.

I wonder if this could fit into what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23? How do you become all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel. The old evangelism/mission adage is: find out where they are itching and scratch it. In our case, families are itching to have a great experience with their children. We can do our best to make sure that happens.

Here is the kicker for me. I know there is a part of me that wants to get the community people into the church. I would be thrilled for them to come visit us on Easter and hear the life changing message of the Gospel. What excites me even more than getting the community into the church is getting the church into the community. We have found a way to make a difference in our community, to serve families, to provide healthy entertainment alternatives. These community events allow us to get the salt out of the salt shaker, to get light into a community of darkness. I agree that we are not going to have an abundance of theological support on dropping Easter Eggs, jump castles and food trucks. We do have a lot of reason for loving the community, having tons of fun and showing the love of Christ. Let’s do it. Let’s do it together. Let’s do it with joy and love.

Blessings and love,

Pastor Tom


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sometimes it takes a while...

A little over a year ago, our church family “commissioned” one of our members, Tom McConnell, to a particular work. Tom grew up in a small church filled primarily with senior adults. When he and Lisa moved to Georgetown, South Carolina, they began to visit several small churches in their area. Most of the churches they visited were attended by just a very few senior adults with almost no young adults or children except for the occasional grandchild attending with grandparents. The Lord started working on Tom McConnell’s heart about how to see God reclaim the glory for these dying churches. Tom asked me if I thought there was any place for a ministry like he was thinking about. His desire was to offer his time and love to a church, at no charge, to help them take a realistic look at their future. I knew many churches would love the price…free! I also know there is a need. I just did not know if the dying churches were willing to admit they had a need and/or would they be willing to do what is necessary to change. Our staff, elders and leaders agreed that we would commission Tom, pray for God’s blessings and offer to help however we could.

In a God inspired coincidence, almost a year later, I was nominated to serve the Charleston Baptist Association as the Church Health-Revitalization Team leader. My assignment is to put together a team to assist local churches desiring church health and growth. See where I am going with this? Can you guess who I chose as my first team member? You got it…our church member, Tom McConnell. This past Sunday was Tom McConnell’s first Sunday helping an area church. He starts by teaching a Sunday Bible Study each week as he builds relationships with this small handful of people. In April he will most likely start preaching and teaching. At least that is the plan. Remember Tom McConnell and the Riverbend Baptist Church is your prayers. How great would it be to see God reclaim the glory the resurrecting a dying church! You gotta love it when a plan comes together…even if it takes a while.

Pastor Tom




Thursday, March 2, 2017

Charleston Baptist Association (CBA)

The Executive Board of the Charleston Baptist Association met Tuesday, February 21 at Northbridge Baptist Church. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say it was a historic meeting for Charleston Baptist. The CBA has lost a lot of momentum and steam over the past 20 years. Everything in life was changing and the Charleston Baptist Association was getting further and further behind the plan and purposes of God. It was similar to when David fought Goliath. King Saul graciously offered for David to wear his armor. It did not fit and slowed him down. The old Charleston Baptist Association, in some ways, did not fit and it was slowing the work down. So over a year ago, a team was put together to study where we were and where we were going and how is the best way to get there. They prayed, met with pastors, leaders, the Executive Committee, studied history in an effort to seek the will of God and to join what He is doing. As the old saying goes…now, the proof is in the pudding. But I must tell you I like the way it looks and tastes so far.

So, here is the change…simple and to the point. The Charleston Baptist Association exists to do 3 things. First, we exist to strengthen churches. A team will be put together that will be available to pray for and assist churches that want to reclaim the glory for God. For those who want to continue the vision that started the churches years ago, this team will be willing to come along side and offer help. The second charge is to strengthen pastors and church leaders. The speed of the leader is the speed of the team. Likewise, a team will be put together to assist the CBA churches in building stronger leaders. Third, but certainly not least, a team will be assigned church planting…starting new churches. This may sound very simple…it is, but I believe it is inspired simplicity. This is a focus I can get behind and support. In fact I have. I will be serving as the team leader for the strengthening churches-church revitalization team. Tom McConnell is the first member on this new team.

Our new Executive Director (formerly called the Director of Missions/DOM) is D. Craig Tuck. The Executive Director Search Team processed through 57 resumes, interviewed 8 that met all the requirements; then selected a final three for final consideration. Craig Tuck met all the requirements and competencies required. Craig has been Senior Pastor at Centerpoint Church here in Charleston and is well known to most of our pastors. I am more than pleased to welcome Craig to this mission and ministry. I look forward to the days ahead. To God be the Glory.

Pastor Tom