Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Those are three words that are often used in leadership conversations. They mean different things to different people. I will talk a little about what they mean to me. What I believe is that unity in a church family is built around the work of the Holy Spirit and the love of the members for one another. The problem is most churches would say they have that…the Holy Spirit and love for each other. They would say it even after they just experienced a major split. They might say it even in a church where there was little evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit or love for one another. I do think that true unity is built by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Maybe instead of “presence” we might say “president” of the Holy Spirit. Is He the resident president of your life and that of your church? Or, is he more of the resident presence…you know, like the tales of ghost in old houses?

Once a church family has the unity only the presence of the Holy Spirit and a true love for one another can create, they are ready to experience life changing unity. Now back to my three words for today: vision, mission and values. People who have the same vision move in the same direction. They might not see things exactly the same but they are looking in the same direction. What does God’s preferred future for us look like? That is a vision. I think God’s vision is that JIBC develops into a strong, healthy church that makes disciples that makes disciples that change our community in a positive way. We make a difference because He made a difference in us. I am not na├»ve enough to believe everyone has this vision. My goal is to make sure this is the vision of the leaders and trust they will help lead those they influence to have the same vision. That is a big step toward unity. The second word is mission. JIBC does not have a mission separate from the mission of God. God is in business to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world. We are in business to join Him. That is our mission. We do this by reaching people for the family of God; helping them mature to become more like Jesus; equipping them to serve His body, the local church; send them out into the community on mission; and to worship Him in all we do. You will never truly have unity with JIBC if that is not what you are working toward. That is the purpose of His church. The last word is values. You value what you celebrate and you celebrate what you value. In church, what do you get excited about enough to celebrate? How about your connection group? What does your group really get excited about. I hope it is things like seeing baptisms; going out into the community to serve; praying for one another; worshipping with feeling; helping someone younger become a follower. When we have similar values, there will be continued unity, love for one another, the presence and the president of the Holy Spirit.

This week’s message is from Romans 10: A Mission of Mercy that Involves Action.

Love you in Christ,

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


For the next three weeks, I will be teaching from the Book of Romans. We have gone through a chapter by chapter…not quite verse by verse…study of Romans on Sunday mornings. Now we will go look at three of the most difficult chapters in Paul’s writings, Romans 9, 10 and 11. I am calling these next three sermons “A Mission of Mercy”.

In Romans 9: A Mission of Mercy to Those You Deeply Love. The Apostle Paul is struggling with the idea of God’s salvation for the Jewish people who seem to reject Jesus. Paul himself is Jewish and his entire life was spent in Judaism. Now that he is a follower of Jesus what does that mean to his family, friends and the Jewish nation? He has a longing, a very deep longing to see the nation of Israel come to faith in Jesus Christ. Who do we long to see come to know Him? Who do you pray for with deep longing, that they would come to know Jesus as Messiah?

In Romans 10: A Mission of Mercy Involves Action. Paul reminds the church of God’s plan to love the whole world. The Good News of what God did through His Son, Jesus, is for the whole world. It is a call to do more than just believe in Jesus and to believe in world missions. It is our call to join God in what He is doing to reach the world. How does JIBC, your connection group, join in what God is doing across the street, across the river and across the ocean?

Then in Romans 11: A Mission of Mercy With or Without You. Paul takes a tough line addressing the spiritual issue of pride and spiritual blindness. It is a harsh reminder that God’s mission rolls on even if God’s people will not. In experiencing God we learned that you cannot stay where you are and go with God. It will always cost to do God’s will. It will cost more not to.

See you this Sunday as we begin a three week journey through Romans 9, 10 and 11.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Strengthening Families

Two weeks ago I shared a recommended reading list from a CSU professor, Peter Beck. Those books have arrived and are in the church library. Feel free to check them out…pun intended. This week I want to make a few book recommendations about relationships. You may have read some or all of these. Keep in mind they make great gifts for your grown kids, your grandchildren or friends getting married.

#1 His Needs/Her Needs: Building an Affair Proof Marriage by Willard Harley
How can couples experience a lifetime of passion and fulfillment in marriage? By identifying each other’s most important emotional needs and developing habits to meet them. One of my favorite books.

#2 Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
“My conclusion after many years of marriage counseling is that there are five emotional love languages — five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.” Chapman says that learning each other's love language can help couples express their emotions in a way that’s “deeply meaningful” to one another. We have taught this many times at JIBC.

#3 Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
The book in three sentences: “Wives are made to love, want to love, and expect love. Husbands are made to be respected, want respect, and expect respect”. “When a husband feels disrespected, it is especially hard to love his wife. When a wife feels unloved, it is especially hard to respect her husband”. “Often, we focus on our own needs and simply overlook the needs of the other person”. Buy it!

#4 Wild at Heart by John Eldridge
In his book Wild at Heart author John Eldredge thrusts a generation of men, young and old, toward a journey to recover true masculinity—the soul of a man as God designed him. If you’ve already begun the journey, you know how thrilling—and hard—it can be. For too long the call of Christianity to men has evoked no higher goal, ultimately, than becoming a “nice guy.” No wonder many men are bored to tears with church. The hero instinct has been trained out of them. But Eldredge invites men to come alive again, to find their great battle, adventure, and beauty. If you dare...keep reading. Your life will never be the same. * I recommend this book for men and women.

Here is my offer. If you buy the books and don’t like them, I will buy them back from you and put them in the church library. You are going to like them.

See you Sunday as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:8

A big question that comes up all the time is: Can a Christian be demon-possessed? The answer to that question is an absolute no! To be “possessed” means to be “owned”. Every believer is bought with the price of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. He or she belongs to God (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 and 1 Peter 1:17-19).

But can a Christian be influenced, deceived and even controlled in his attitudes, feelings and actions by the devil. Absolutely, yes! If, for instance you believe Satan’s lie that God did not love you anymore because of your sinful behavior, would that affect your life? Of course! Your mind, emotions and will would be controlled by that view of God. You might give up on the Christian life altogether or you might throw yourself into religious activity, hoping to win God’s love back again!

But there is no need to lose control to the enemy of your soul. You belong to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And the Son of God came for this very purpose to destroy the devil’s work…in your life and in mine. This power is available to you. The Son has won!

The lie to reject: I reject the lie that I, as a Christian, can be owned by the devil. I also reject the lie that Satan cannot influence or attack me simply because I am a Christian. I recognize both extremes as wrong and unbiblical.

The Truth to Accept: I accept that I belong to God because He purchased me by the blood of the Lord Jesus. I also accept the truth that it is possible for me to fall into deep deception and bondage. I announce the truth that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work in my life. Therefore, I choose to walk in and rest in the victory of Christ in my life, and to turn away from evil.

* I took this daily reading from Neil Anderson’s Reality Check: Winning the Mind Game. It is from the series “Freedom in Christ 4 Teens”.

Check him out at freedom in Christ ministries, ficm.org

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Among the many decisions we will make this year is what we will read…if anything. A recent copy of The Courier (January 2017 issue) had an interesting article by Peter Beck. Dr. Beck is associate professor of Christian studies at Charleston Southern University and pastor of my home church, Doorway Baptist in North Charleston. These are a few of his “must reads” for 2017. I agree. I asked Neale to order two copies of each to put in the library/conference room. You might check out Amazon and Christian Book Distributors for great prices on book, music, etc.

His first recommendation is “CONFESSIONS” BY AUGUSTINE. This is an ancient classic but well worth the read. It is deep and would be among the heaviest of the readings you will do for spiritual discipline. It is a chance to look into your own heart and to ask what it is that you really believe.

Second on his hit list is “THE IMITATION OF CHRIST” BY THOMAS A KEMPIS. Again, not light reading but certainly a book to add to your list. Written before the Reformation in 1500, this offers a clear look at what it means to be a follower of Christ. It includes over a 1000 scripture references and beautiful prayers to God. It is written from a Catholic perspective so there are often references and illustrations from the Mass. Not a bad thing.

His third pick is an all time classic many of us read in high school: “PILGRIMS PROGRESS” BY JOHN BUNYAN. Since it was written, this book has never been out of print. That says a lot. Written in story form, everything in this allegory represents something else.

“MERE CHRISTIANITY” BY C.S. LEWIS is Dr. Beck’s fourth offering of must reads. This book was published after WWII and was based on C.S. Lewis’ popular radio show by the same title, “Mere Christianity”. From this book comes the famously popular line: “Was Jesus was a liar, a lunatic or the Lord He claimed to be?”

The last of Dr. Beck’s 2017 must reads is a 1973 classic, “KNOWING GOD” BY J.I. PACKARD. This book has sold more than a million copies. The basis of true Christianity and the Christian life is found in the correct knowledge, an intimate knowledge, of God.

Dr. Beck did a good job in compiling an essential must read list for believers. I hope you will consider reading them all. Our thanks to Dr. Beck and The Courier for an interesting article.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What Do You Do With Your Old Christmas Cards?

We are blessed to receive Christmas cards during the Christmas season. Some have the enclosed letter that tells the tale of annual family events. I love reading those. I have to admit I am never that adventurous to put our story together like that. Others are just lovely cards with Christmas scenes, Bible verses or good wishes. I grew up in a home where my mother never threw cards away. She kept them and would occasionally look back through them. She also read cook books like they were novels…but that is a different story. So what do you do with your Christmas cards? I want to make two suggestions.

First, before you decide to discard them (see what I did there…dis-card?), let’s make them into a New Year prayer list. Perhaps you could set aside a time to go through each card and pray for the sender and family. There are many great prayers in the Bible that you could pray for them or just pray your own blessing upon them. How cool! Someone praying for them possible separated by time and distance but not separated by love and care. So, your Christmas cards can become a prayer list.

Second, let’s make a mission project out of them. Mark Livengood takes Christmas cards with him on his trips to Ukraine. He uses them as a witnessing tool and the kids love them. What a great way to tell the Christmas story…in the middle of the year. So, just put them in a grocery bag and bring them with you to worship this Sunday. You can drop them in the box outside the office door or just find Mark. Talk about the ultimate recycling! I hope you will consider making this a final wrap up of Christmas.

By the way, another thanks to Susan and her team for organizing the Christmas gifts. Kind of/sort of the final numbers are:
  • Florence Crittenton Home - 84 pop up hampers
  • Lowcountry Orphan Relief - 170 pairs of pajamas and 10 slippers
  • Lowcountry Pregnancy Center - 3,661 diapers and 134 packages of wipes
  • James Island Outreach - 230 jars of jelly
Thank you for your generous giving and your faithful living.


Pastor Tom

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


If you are going to pick a fight, why choose a giant. It would be easier to choose an opponent not so big, right? David did not have the option of fighting Goliath. That was the giant in front of him and that was the giant facing the people of God. Imagine how the story would look if David faced multiple giants not just Goliath. That is the visual I have when I think of the ministry of JIBC. We have taken on some of the largest giants in our community. Truthfully, it would be easier not to.

One of the largest and most imposing giants in Charleston County is addiction. The Surgeon General has said that 1 in 7 Americans have an addiction. In Charleston County that means 50,000 people have addictions. Again, the Surgeon General said only 10% of those will seek any treatment. Think about that for a moment. The number of people suffering from addiction is just about the same as the number of people who live on James Island. One American dies every 19 minutes from opioid or heroin overdose. There are more people addicted (21 Million) than those who have all types of cancer combined. There were 54,000 drug overdose deaths in 2015. That is almost as many Americans killed in the entire Vietnam war. This is a war with a giant enemy we must fight even if it would be easier not to.

Celebrate Recovery and the Recovery-Transition House are like David taking on Goliath. JIBC is like David taking on Goliath. It would be easier not to and certainly many, like David’s brothers, would counsel us not to. But we have the answer, we know the Higher Power by Name and we have experienced the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nobody was placing a bet on little David but they did let him go out and try. I love that about JIBC…you are not afraid to try. “Goliath is too big to hit” his brothers cautioned. “He is too big to miss…throw the rock and trust God” was David’s commitment. Truly, this problem is too big for us. The good news is we do not come in the name of JIBC or Tom Brown or Celebrate Recovery. We come and trust in the Name of the Lord our God. Until He tells me otherwise, it’s on. Not everyone who has cancer has a favorable outcome…yet we encourage them to trust God and seek treatment. Not many who battle with addiction are successful at first…or second…or third. When they are ready…we know The Way, The Truth and The Life who will help them.

See you Sunday, Good Lord willing,

Pastor Tom