Thursday, June 23, 2016


Two weeks ago, I was asked some very good questions about the Transition House ministry. It reminded me that while our staff may be very familiar with the ministry, most of the church family only knows that we have it, but not much else about it. So for the next few weeks I will write a series of articles explaining what we do.

HOW ARE THE WOMEN SELECTED? WHO DECIDES? Although this is not written in stone, our women come only from the Charleston Center. It is a partnership that we have to meet a significant need n the community. (See last week’s article for details) One of the most difficult decisions I make is to say no to the many requests that come from individuals outside the Charleston Center. I get requests for someone’s brother, sister, aunt, cousin or neighbor. We could fill up 10 homes in a year with the requests we get. It is hard for some to understand we are not a detox center. The candidates for our house must come through the Charleston Center. That helps us know they have been screened and have begun the work necessary for recovery. Even that is no guarantee. We have had women find and use drugs the very first day they were in the house. And the very first day we find out about it they are out of the house.

To get into the house: First, the women must have completed their program at the Charleston Center. While at the Charleston Center, they must have achieved “mentor” status, the highest level of achievement that reflects good work, ability to get along and potential for success. That means they have met and exceeded all requirements of the program and have been put in to position of helping others in the program. Second, they must come with a personal recommendation from their counselor with details about their work and time at the Charleston Center. Third, they must attend Celebrate Recovery for a minimum of 4 weeks to give our members a chance to meet them, hear their stories and observe them in multiple settings (dinner, large group, and small group). Fourth, they must receive a recommendation from our female Celebrate Recovery leaders. If our leaders do not think they are a fit for us the decision is made. Fifth, they interview with me to make sure they understand who we are and what we are trying to do. Sixth, they must interview and be accepted by the current women in the house. Seventh, they have background checks and may have no child abuse or criminal acts of violence on their records (with the exception of the abuse that comes from their addiction like being pregnant while using...which is child abuse).

My guess is that most of us have never been that thoroughly screened for any job, except government, high level, and 007 type works. And they are screened this heavily just for a place to live. And still, we see them crash and burn. Addiction is a disease that has a high level of reoccurrence. It has its root in our sin and our sins. But it has progressed to a disease. There is only one cure...the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

See you Sunday, good Lord willing.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Last week I was asked some very good questions about the Transition House ministry. It reminded me that while our staff may be very familiar with the ministry, most of the church family only knows that we have it, but not much else about it. So for the next few weeks I will write a series of articles explaining what we do.

Let’s start with the basics: HOW DID WE BEGIN THE TRANSITION HOUSE MISSION AND MINISTRY? I was in a meeting with community leaders when the need was presented. Housing for women with infants is one of the biggest unmet needs in Charleston. When they complete their time at the Charleston Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center, they have nowhere to go. For addicts, we must change “ our playgrounds and our playmates”. In other words, it is difficult to go right back to the same people and places where you 0perfected your addiction. At the time I heard this, the Parker House was open and available. The house was in much need of repair…but it seemed like a no-brainer. There is a great need and we have a great resource. It also helped that we have one of the strongest Celebrate Recovery Ministries in Charleston. Our church family is also particularly gifted at accepting and loving those who can be a challenge to love and accept. I say that with all sincerity. Not every church would be so accepting of those with so many challenges.

Our friend, Marsha Cline, moved from Indianapolis to Charleston to help us get the house up and running and to help us with our first residents. She served as the house mom for a while. She did a fantastic job in getting the house open and up and running. We quickly learned that to have a house mom running the house was not a viable option. House moms work on a much larger scale, but not in a 3 room situation. The Transition House cannot be compared to larger ministries with funding, grants and multiple housing properties with full time staff to run it. We are a little mom and pop ministry setting out on a bold adventure. While JIBC pays the mortgage, it was my goal to have the house be basically self-sustaining…preparing these women to “transition”. As far as I know and have been told by the Charleston Center, we are the only ministry in town doing this type of work.

HOW IS IT WORKING? What is our success rate? As I like to say, we are 100% successful in both of our goals. Goal number one is to give these women and their babies the opportunity to transition. They truly have a golden opportunity to make a change. Second, we are 100% successful in providing them with the help they need to transition. We provide a Christ Centered 12 Step program, Bible Study, Worship, the Gospel, friendship, leadership, support, etc. They themselves must provide the motivation and the work. Rule of recovery: if we want it more than they do, it will not work. Now, the answer that some of you were looking for: most of them will and do relapse into the reoccurrence of their disease and addiction. Not all, but many, if not most. Just remember, they are not addicted to the more mundane sins like gossip, being judgmental or cynicism. These ladies are addicted to crack, cocaine, meth, opiates, alcohol, horrible relationships, years of destructive actions and thinking. I believe only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can truly set them free. Leaving the Charleston Center sober is just the very first step of transitioning. It is a big step, but it is just a first step. The Transition House is the second step of sober living.


See you Sunday, good Lord willing,

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Change The World By Changing People

This summer our teaching series will be from the Book of Romans. My plan is to start each week from the verse where we stopped the week before. This past Sunday we introduced the series reading Romans 1:1-7. This coming Sunday we will be reading Romans 1:18-32. Join me in praying for the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit of God as we listen for our Fathers heart and will.

If you were so inclined, I encourage you to read and reread the Book of Romans. What a grand book to read and meditate upon. I will list a group of verses from Romans you might consider memorizing if you have not already. As you read through the Word of God always ask these two questions: What is God saying to me? And then, what will I do about it?

Here are some of my favorite verses for memorization: Romans 1:16-7; Romans 3:34; Romans 5:8; Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9, 13; Romans 7: 24-25; Romans 12:1-2; Romans 13:8. Now for those who are really up to a challenge…let’s try to memorize Romans 8, the entire chapter. I had a friend who memorized the entire Book of Romans. Ok, that is a little much for me…but it would hold a wonderful blessing.

Update on the Transition House. This past Sunday night, we completed an interview with what we believe will be the next resident of the house. She will be leaving the Charleston Center this week even though the house is not ready. Temporarily, she will be living with one of our members until the repairs are made and the house is ready. The major plumbing work is scheduled to start Monday, June 13. Hopefully, once this is completed, the rest will quickly fall into place. The Charleston Center has once again started allowing their patients to attend Celebrate Recovery on Sunday nights. This has doubled our attendance to approximately 60 adults. We have about half that number again in preschoolers. I have said it often before: anyone can curse the darkness, let’s be the ones who light a candle. Thank you for being willing to take on one of the darkest problem in our culture today. You make a difference.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


How would you like to spend summertime in Rome? OK, not exactly Rome, how about the Book of Romans? This week I will start a summer series on Romans, a New Testament book written by the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and a blessing to the Church of Jesus Christ. 

The Book of Romans is the most logical presentation of the Gospel in the Bible. Next to the Gospels, many would consider it the most important book of the New Testament. The 16th Century Reformer, Martin Luther called it a “freeing work”. John Wesley said when he read the Book of Romans and Luther’s comments he found his heart strangely warmed. What a coincidence…you can find your heart and more strangely warmed as we read this inspired book together this summer.

So, here are my plans, good Lord willing. I will start with Romans 1:1 this Sunday, June 5. We will basically go verse by verse through one chapter every two weeks. Sometimes it might be a little more and sometimes a little less. May I make a suggestion for you and your family? FIRST, start reading the Book of Romans. Try reading a few verses every day, maybe a chapter every two days. When you have some free time, should that blessing ever happen, try reading large portions of Romans at one time. You combine eating small bite size portions as well as enjoying the Sunday dinner feast.

SECOND, try memorizing verses from Romans. I will make suggestions throughout the summer, but you might find verses that speak particularly to your heart. If you do, why not hide them in your heart? I know memorizing is hard. Most of us can do it, we just do not. For those who cannot, I think you will find rich blessings in trying. If you already have the key verses memorized, try memorizing chapter 8. Surely, it will be an effort that pays off the rest of your life.

THIRD, share what you are reading. Just find ways to talk about what God is saying to you that day. You are asking yourself “What did God say to me?” and “What am I going to do about it?”

The Book of Romans is so powerful, the great theologian Augustine, was converted to Christ just by reading it. May it happen again as we spend summertime in Rome.

See you Sunday, good Lord willing, Romans 1:1-17.

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


This coming Monday is Memorial Day. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and it dates back to the Civil War. It is a day to remember the men and women who died during their service to the United States of America. Please take time to remember one of the most powerful truths we have ever heard: “Freedom is not free”.

Last week I had the joyful privilege of attending my daughter’s graduation at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. While we were there, I had the opportunity to take my grandson, Noah, to visit many of the memorials in Washington. We visited the WWII memorial, the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, the Vietnam and Korean memorials and the Jefferson Memorial. We read names and read the speeches and prayers. As Noah said to his Grandma, “Granddad got a little preachy at the memorials”. He was right. I wanted him to remember the sacrifice made for our freedom. I wanted him to read for himself about the number of deaths. I also wanted him to read with his own eyes the Christian foundation of our nation. I did get a little preachy about our rights are not given to us by the government but by God. The government can be guilty of taking away and limiting our rights…but they do not give them to us. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

This Sunday, we will remember those who paid the ultimate price. We will remember the sacrifice of our military personnel. We will also remember the sacrifice of those who serve our Lord Jesus at a price. Continuing the theme of Family Foundations, we will remember the sacrifice of parents who strive to honor God in their lives. But ultimately, we will remember the sacrifice of our Father who so loved the world that He gave His one and only die for the world. We will observe the Lord’s Supper as the Memorial Meal. I hope you will be here to participate...and to be grateful.

See you Sunday, good Lord willing,

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


This past Sunday, Janie and I, along with 6 others from JIBC, rode our motorcycles to Aiken, South Carolina. We went to visit Gary Hanna, pastor at Freedom Biker Church. Gary and his wife Debra lead a small but growing mission church that targets bikers. It is different. Their welcoming motto is “Leather, jeans and tattoos are appropriate church wear”. Granted, that is not all that different for our church family. It is very different for the majority of Southern Baptist. Freedom Biker Church is endorsed by Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. Pastor Gary understands that not everyone will feel at home at Freedom Biker Church. Everyone is welcomed, but not everyone will buy into their vision. They are a solid church, committed to honoring God, exalting the Lord Jesus, believing and living God’s Word, with a passion to reach bikers who do not know Jesus. By the way, there are 25,000 registered bikers in their community.

Here is the interesting thing to me. If they were in China or Africa we would fully understand that they have to learn the language, adapt to a new customs, perhaps wear different clothing and go to where the people are living. They might visit places that are not so “holy”…like a Buddhist Temple…or a biker bar. They will no doubt smell different smells, eat different foods and hear very different music. It is missions.

Freedom Biker Church is a different kind of mission that is the same. It is the same for any church that seriously wants to engage the un-churched or under-churched culture. I have said before that one of the largest unreached people groups in America are children and teenagers. The current statistics suggest less that 10% are followers of Jesus. Whether it is a Biker Church, youth ministry, JIBC or Celebrate Recovery , it is a different kind of mission that is the same. We must not make the mistake of thinking they will come to us. So Jesus gave us a command…Go. If you ride a motorcycle you just go faster…but it is the same “go”.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


The Joy Club takes a trip every month. As I like to say, we usually go see something pretty interesting and then go to eat at a really good place. Hard to tell which is most important but both are really enjoyable.

This month we are scheduled for our annual mystery trip sponsored by the church staff. You need to be at the church at 9 am and bring $5 for lunch. There will be some walking involved, but not too much. We will not be in a hurry anywhere we walk, so not a problem. After our trip and lunch we will plan for a special dessert stop. Depending on how much you plan to eat, you might bring another $5…just in case.

Just a reminder of our past mystery trips: we have done James Island Church tours; we did concerts and ice cream sundaes at McAlister-Smith Funeral Home; and we did take out at Dodge’s Gas Station for fried chicken and sweet potato pies. How you gonna top that? That is why it is a mystery trip. Take a chance and join us. Anyone is welcome to come. You don’t have to be a senior adult…just someone looking for good fellowship and some fun.

Since last Saturday was the Kentucky Derby, how about a trifecta of good news? First, Pastor Claudio and his family celebrated their 5 year anniversary at Luz Y Verdad. Wow. Five years of faithful service has really been blessed. They are running just at 100 adults plus their teens, children and preschoolers. At his rate of growth they will soon be out of space where they currently meet. Now that is the kind of problems you want to have. Congratulations Pastor Claudio and your church family. Second, we have started again having the patients from the Charleston Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment attend Celebrate Recovery again. They were not able to attend for some time. Now we send the bus to pick them up each Sunday night. Last Sunday we have 17 adults and 6 babies! We are so happy for this opportunity! To God be the glory. Third, did you know that Southern Baptists start 25 new church plants every week? Imagine, each week that goes by sees your offerings being used to start 25 new churches. Most of them are started in major metropolitan cities like Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, NYC, etc. Thank you for giving so faithfully to support your local church missions at JIBC as well as missions around the world. There, the trifecta of good news!

See you Sunday, good Lord willing,

Pastor Tom