Sunday, September 10, 2017

    Today marks forty-four years of ministry at Fairview for your pastor and his family. I came to Fairview after completion of seminary study at Tennessee Temple Schools in 1973.

    It is with a great sense of appreciation and gratitude that I approach this day. First of all, I am grateful to my Savior for calling me into the ministry. To serve Christ is the supreme privilege. I believe any move from the express will of God would be a drastic step down. My ultimate goal is to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" from the One Who saved me and called me into His service.

    I wish to express my gratitude to that great host of people who have helped me and stood by me these many years. Many of those who have played a leading role in my life are present in the services today. My friends are my most valuable resource. Over forty-four years, you make a lot of mistakes. I particularly appreciate those who have looked past my faults and accepted my efforts as coming from a sincere heart.

    I am grateful for this ministry. Our church, our camp, and our school have been my life. From the first days, there has always been more to do than we could get done. Every day has been filled and the years have seen the work flourish.

    I am also grateful for our future opportunities. The greatest days for our church are before us. Let's dream together for God's blessings in the future. May our Lord give many souls for our labor. Thank you for forty-four wonderful years.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Scripture memory is essential to spiritual growth. From the Psalmist pleading to hide the Word in our hearts to the New Testament urging us to study to show ourselves approved unto God, scripture memory is imperative. There are many reasons why we do not commit the words of scripture to memory. Busy schedules, lazy minds, and misplaced priorities are but a few. Some feel overwhelmed when they look at the many verses contained in scripture that hold truths worthy of memorization. For those who have never made a conscious effort to memorize verses, let me give you a foolproof, easy method.

    Choose a passage to work from and become familiar with the total context. Select a section of verses, one to six in number, to memorize. Copy these verses on a 3 x 5 card with the reference (book, chapter, verse) on the back. Keep these cards with you for an entire week reading and re-reading the verses. After three days of reading the verses, make a conscious effort to memorize each verse. Get someone to check your success. Select a new section each week but review the old verse cards daily.

    I know from experience that this plan can net good results. Just think, memorizing two verses per week would add up to more than 100 verses each year or 1,000 verses in a ten year period.

    Hiding God's Word in your heart will allow you to begin the wonderful art of scriptural meditation. Some passages are a must: Isaiah 53:1-6; Luke 2:1-20; John 14:1-6; Philippians 2:5-11; Romans 8:28-39; Matthew 6:31-34; Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:1-2; Corinthians 13; and 1 Peter 5:6-10. Remember to include the Psalms: Psalm 1, 8, and 19, 100, 117 -- just to list a few.

    I am confident that once you have developped a plan and begin to see results, you will be delighted! Begin today!


Sunday August 27, 2017

    We live in a strange world. To the secularist it is blasphemy to say "I am right and you are wrong," and heaven forbid that anyone should say that God has given the truth that we speak.

    The liberal media, socialistic politicians, and humanistic professors tell us that everyone has a right to his own slant on the truth. However, we, as Bible-believers are not to be vocal or allow our unshakable faith to dictate our behavior. Even though we actually believe the things we say, and have the confidence to make statements regarding right and wrong, good and evil, we are being told that this attitude is not to be imposed on a relative, secular society. We all know that the one thing our tolerant society will not tolerate is the assertion that there is any authoritative, Biblical way to make judgments. The problem for them isn't with out sincerity but with our conviction that we are doing God's will. Those of us who are true believers have no choice but to lead a life that sprouts from our core understanding of truth. Maybe that is what throws our critics. We have seen plenty of people who talk about God, use His name, and wax eloquently about the heavenly deities. But those who actually walk with God and give Him control in their everyday lives are very rare. If there is not lifestyle to back up an expressed belief, one wonders if it is truly a belief.

    Paul spoke of those who had a form of godliness but denied the power of it. Godliness is not a word, a thought, or an explanation of belief but a revealed standard format for integrating scriptural truth into worldly activities. the opposite of godliness is worldliness. When we adopt the world's standards, our conformity take the pressure off and makes us accepted in circles where Bible principals take a backseat to religious entertainment. In the religious world compromise has become the order of the day. 

    As your pastor, I must tell you that things are only going to get worse before our Lord's return. We are to hold to the truth, express it daily in our lives and order our very existence from it. This was the cause of persecution in first century Christianity and it very well could be again in the hours before the end of the age.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

    "Life is not made up of dreams but decisions," is a classic and often used statement. We know that success in any field is the accumulation of thousands of right decisions. We must not become overly simplistic in this approach, particularly in the spiritual realm. Man's accomplishments, regardless of the genius of decision-making, are still subject to the sovereign will of God. When I look back over my life, I can recall making decisions that I am sure were guided by a loving Heavenly Father and not by my wisdom.

    Dreams are not a bad thing as long as we realize that Biblical vision is a dream that has Biblical direction. The key is to desire the will of God in every matter. Every believer must see through the eyes of faith.

    Life is a three-legged stool; skill or abilities, attitude or motivation, and character. We can make good decisions out of proper motivation but it is character that keeps the train on the track. Someone said it best: be and then do, then have. Our quality of life should always be held as a higher priority than our standard of living. The world has the matter completely turned around. I recentrly read that most people view success in eight factors: happiness, resources, prosperity, security, friends, family, peace of mind, and help for the future. When I read the list, it dawned on me that all are available without God to the person who defines success as outcome instread of obedience. Our Biblical dreams made from decisions that are driven by Biblical principles will produce fullfillment. The by-product of that life will include the above list plus much, much more.

    The Bible-based perspective gained by our young people from a Christian school education gives eternal wisdom in decision-making. The center core of life probably revolves around less than a dozen major decisions. It is precious to know that we are equipping our children with Biblical principles that provide direction when decisions have to be made. Remember, success is obedience, not outcome.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

    I was saved January 2, 1966 under the ministry of Orman Norwood who is now in heaven. I surrendered my life to full-time Christian service the next year and was ordained as a pastor Sunday, June 9, 1968. I celebrate 49 years in the ministry this year all of which has been in the pastorate. Over three-fourths of that time, I have had a Christina school as vital part of the pastoral ministry.

    Although I am quite sure the failures over these years have succeeded the successes, I have learned a few principled truths that are vital to the work of Christian education. First and foremost, I believe the Christian school to be a mandate of the Great Commission. We are instructed to teach new converts all truths commanded by Christ. Once salvation is received and the new believer is baptized and established in the local church, a lifetime task of Biblical instruction begins. It is a rich blessing to begin the Biblical training of children in those early formative years. Salvation and spiritual understanding come easy to those who have been given Biblical precepts and principles as children.

    I have learned that success is measured in obedience not outcome. When we obey and trust the results to our Heavenly Father, He always gives us the best. The importance of God's Words the filter of all life's circumstances is best learned as a child.

    Disipleship is a mentoring process. Instilling in the heart of our youth an appreciation of proper role models whose lives stand strong for the principles of God's Word will ancho them for a lifetime. Our Heritage Month theme, "Life is for Service" speaks volumes. It is up to us to train our young people in the art of being a servant. I urge our students to forget being a leader and work on being a servant. The people we serve will make us leaders.

    We welcome our 2017-2018-studnet body of Fairview Christian Academy and pray that we may teach them the benefits of life with a Biblical world-view.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

    It is God's plan for the present generation to provide mentors for the youth to come. Joshua had his Moses and Timothy his Paul. We have failed our young people when we do not provide heroes with spiritual substance for their lives.

    The entire month of August has been devoted to honoring those who provide us with  a great heritage. Pastors, missionaries, teachers, evangelists, and spiritual leaders will be presented to our church family.

    Today we welcome Dr. Mike Allison. Dr. Allison was called to preach in 1974. He has been the pastor at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, Alabama for 28 years.

    I encourage parents to begin today to honor the right leaders for your children. The following suggestions may help our Fairview families in this venture:

  • Invite spiritual leaders as regular guest in your home.
  • Honor God's servants in family conversations.
  • Keep a scrapbook of missionaries, special speakers, pastors, etc.
  • Post prayer cards around your home.
  • Visit Christian colleges, camps, and conferences.
  • Subscribe to Christian periodicals and magazines.
  • Collect signatures of Bible preachers and teachers.
  • Have a family library that includes biographies of great Christian leaders.
  • Pray with your children concerning their call to the ministry.

    Enjoy Heritage Month at Fairview and begin today to honor those who are making an impact on the coming generation.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

    There are times in the ministry when you get the feeling you are being buried under an avalanche of troubles. We hear reports of homes breaking up, national and international crisis, and personal problems. We must stay focused on eternal priorities or we will lose perspective as we live in this world. Many people are trying to build their heaven here. The right house, car, bank account, or station in life becomes their ultimate goal. For Christ to return would be an interruption instead of a joy.

    While we are in this world, we will have tribulation. These physical bodies will wear out and be attached by disease. Our service for Christ will be unappreciated by many, and our days will be filled with troubles. Satan will attack and the world will oppose godly living, but take heart. Jesus has promised that His followers will overcome the world.

    Remember the shortness of time, the depth of eternity, and the truth of God's World. The old spiritual says, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through." Let's not forget that truth today. The trials of this life will seem so small when we look on His wonderful face. Live for Christ and trust Him in the midst of the trials of life.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

    For those of us who regularly attend and work in this ministry, we all know that every day at Fairview carries a marked emphasis on the salvation and Christian development of children. The Fairview Christian Academy, Camp Fairview, bus ministry, children's church, King's Kids, Sunday School, and other program make the Fairview church a great place for children.

    There are very good reasons why our church should invest time, energy, and resources in our children. We understand that our children belong to God and are our most precious stewardship. We have but one opportunity to train and instill Christian values in their lives.

    We understand that to reach a child is to save not only a soul but also a complete life. Only God fully knows the potential of a child's life. Parents who "train up " a child can watch that life unfold in God's will. The dedication of our children to Christ at birth is essential.

    Another reason to encourage ministries to children is to develop a legacy. Children won to Christ in Christian homes will grow up to establish Christian homes and win their Families. It is possible for parents with two children to impact over a dozen souls just by winning and training their own children. We often say that Noah only won his family, but I remind you that the worlds of people today sprang from Noah and his three sons.

    The scriptures teach that the children came to Jesus and He held them. "Jesus Loves the Little Children" is a familiar chorus but it is also a great truth. I pray we can reach many boys and girls for Christ here at Fairview.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

    Last Sunday I voted to close the church. I voted to close its doors that its witness and testimony might be stopped. I voted to close the open Bible on its pulpit, the Bible that had been given us by years of struggle and by the blood of the martyrs who died that we might have it to read. I voted for our ministry to stop preaching the glorious truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I voted that the children of the Sunday School no longer lift their tiny voices in song. I voted for the voice of the choir and of the congregation to be stilled.

    I voted for every missionary of the church to be called home, every native worker supported by the church to stop preaching, every hospital, every school and every dispensary in its foreign missionary fields to close.

    I voted that its colleges close their doors and no longer bother to train its youth for Christian service. I voted for every home missionary project to be abandoned, every influence for good and right and truth in our community to be curtailed and finally stopped.

    I voted for the darkness of superstition, the degrading influence of sin, the blight of ignorance and the curse of selfish greed once again to settle their awful load on the shoulders of an already overburdened world. I voted all this, I say, and more too; carelessly, thoughtlessly, lazily, indifferently, I voted.

    For, you see, I could have attended, but I didn't stayed away from church last Sunday.

(The above article is reprinted from the Sword of the Lord. No author was given.)


Sunday, July 9, 2017

    I have been in the ministry since January 1967. Periodically, I have to refocus my thinking. I have found activity to be a determent unless it is channeled in God's will and timing. Over these years, I have developed a checklist I run through to keep on track. Although this may sound a bit silly to come, it has kept me from throwing in the towel on numerous occasions. Perhaps you can profit from these suggestions:

  • The ministry belongs to Christ and I am simply a servant.
  • The work is to build the people not the people to build the work.
  • There are no small tasks in the will of God.
  • God's work is always resourced in His time.
  • People with difficulties need me the most.
  • Expect Satan to attack; he always will.
  • God is capable of performing His work without me.
  • Time is my most valuable commodity.
  • Friends never need an explanation.
  • It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong.
  • I will take responsibility for any failure.
  • My greatest counsel is through my life.
  • I never lose what I give to the Lord.
  • Character is better than talent.
  • It is never right to do wrong.
  • The Bible always has the answer.
  • I can be faithful when I can't do anything else.
  • Everything I have has been given to me.
  • My friends are my best riches.

Remember to maintain priorities; keeping the main thing the main thing!


Sunday, July 2, 2017

    Today we celebrate the birth of our wonderful country. America is the best of all nations. People from all around the world risk their very lives to come to America.

    In america each citizens is free to talk, to think, to travel. If we don't like our work, we can find another job. We can go to school. If we don't like our elected officials, we can vote them out, or run for office ourselves. We can turn the channel or turn it off; read our Bibles, answer the phone or disconnect it. We can visit the supermarket or dine out; be married or stay single; go to church, make speeches, or keep silent. The hand of government rests more lightly on American citizens than in any other country.

    Although we are blessed as citizens of this great country, freedom requires a constant vigil. The world is crumbling all around us and Bible-believers are the only ones with a set of building plans.

    We live in a strange world--the kids know more about drugs, rock music, liquor and sex than adults. We tax productivity to support unproductivity. Is this the age of reason--NO! It is the march of folly.

    Criminals have rights while victims are suspect. The public schools cannot give a tract or read the Bible or pray. If we do not take the initiative to talk about morals, an amoral society becomes an immoral society.

    As believers, we must pray for our nation, participate in the governmental process, and stand for the Biblical principles that made this country great. God's people have an obligation to be salt and light in this world. Let us be grateful for our nation and live for Christ in these days of opportunity.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

    The motto of our nation is "one nation under God." Have you ever thought of what this means? It means that we have this land, our flag, and our government as a gift from the great God of the universe. It means that it did not become "the land of the free and the home of the brave" by blind fate or a happy set of coincidences, but that a wise and benevolent God was hovering over us long before the hour of our conception.

    When Columbus discovered this land, tradition has it that he took a cross in his hands and planted it in the new soil, fell on his knees, kissed the earth, and declared that he took possession of this continent for God. Our forefathers founded this nation upon the Christian faith and it will live and prosper so long as the Lord is our God. The Pilgrim Fathers left a land where they were persecuted to find a land wherein every man would have the right to worship God in his own way. When the constitutional convention met in Philadelphia to organize the nation and write our Constitution, Benjamin Franklin called on the members of the convention to pray for divine wisdom. His statement was, "The longer I live, the more convinced I am of this, that God governs in the affairs of men. Without His aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builder of Babel. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid?"

    We must return to the faith of our fathers, return to our knees, and return to our God in repentance and commitment. The choice is clear--Christ or chaos? Pray for America today.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

    Today is Father's Day! One of the great joys of the ministry is to see men come to Christ, live for Him, and direct their families in the will of God. The men of our church should provide leadership and strength to this ministry. I thank God for all of our men who take their rightful place at home and at the church for our Savior.

    The life of David was a remarkable account of mighty men who surrounded this great king. These men went to battle with their king. They protected him and often placed their lives in jeopardy in doing so. When David was in trouble, they surrounded him and remained loyal to him through trials. When David was forced to flee Jerusalem, scriptures simply state that his mighty men were at this right hand and his left.

    Our men play many important roles in our church. They are providers for their households. Then men who work long hours to assure their families the necessities of life are to be commended.

    Our men also serve in the role of protectors of their homes and families. This means more than chasing off burglars and intruders. Our families are under attack from Satan. Our men are to live for Christ and lead their families to do so in order that Satan does not gain an advantage.

    Last and most important, our men are priests in the home. Personal devotions, family altar, prayer times, Bible studies, church attendance, tithes and offerings, and mission support all fall under the responsibility of the man as head of the house. Our men should initiate as well as see each spiritual exercise through for their families.

    I am praying that many strong Christian men from our number will rise up and bless our church with their great example.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

    I received a call in the spring of 1974 from Mr. Maynard Ware asking me to help him fulfill a commitment he had made to the Lord. Mr. Ware's sister, Louzelle Ware, was the private secretary for Dr. Lee Roberson for 24 years. She was directly involved in the establishment of Camp Joy, a ministry of the Highland Park Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mr. Ware had determined to devote his farm in the Clay Hill community to the building of a camp similar to Camp Joy. After considerable discussion and much prayer, the Fairview Baptist Church consented to take this challenge and begin the necessary steps to establish Camp Fairview.

    Forty-three years have passed and thousands of young people have enjoyed a week at Camp Fairview. Hundreds have made life-changing spiritual decisions. Now it is not uncommon to have children and even grandchildren of those who attended the camp in those early years register for a week at camp. Facilities and personnel have changed over these four decades but our original mission and purpose has remained the same.

    The summer of 2017 is completely filled with weeks for juniors, teens, family camps, and retreats. Beginning with Mr. Maynard Ware's sacrificial vision 43 years ago, scores have devoted time, energy, and resources so that boys and girls can know Christ in salvation and the Bible as their guidebook. The Fairview Baptist Church and this pastor have been privileged to play a small role in this eternal venture. Only eternity will reveal the full impact and countless opportunities shared by all those involved.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

    Summer is here! School bells are silent. Books have been turned in, and classrooms are empty. Young people have plans for swimming pools, cookouts, and summer camps. Dads and moms are making plans for much needed vacations.

    As your pastor, I try to alert you to some of the pitfalls of this season of the year. Again, let me put up some caution signs as you enter the summer months.

    Keep your priorities straight. Bible study, church attendance, and prayer times do not take vacations. Be faithful to your commitments. Times for soul winning, lesson preparations, work nights, and special church services are all part of a twelve-month lifestyle and should not be abandoned in the summer.

    Keep your standards according to the scriptures. Do not set aside Biblical standards of modesty in the summer. Activities, entertainment, clothing, and overall lifestyle must honor Christ 365 days a year.

    Do not forget your stewardship of possessions, finances and time. It is easy to break the budget through extravagant summer spending. Traditionally, church offerings go down in the summer because God's people use the tithes and offerings to finance summer activities.

     Reach others for Christ this summer. Take your Bible and gospel tracts with you on vacation. Resist the urge to drive through Sunday services. Plan your trip around your church attendance. Be a witness to neighbors, co-workers, and friends that you do not often see during the rest of the year. Maintain your testimony.

    Adopt a summer project. Helping at camp, assisting with the bus ministry, or a Sunday School class could provide a rewarding summer with eternal dividends. The summer is filled with opportunities. Invest for eternity.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

    Life is a series of new beginnings. Today marks the start of a new chapter in the ministry of the Fairview Baptist Church. For the past six months our church family has met for regular and special services in the former American Bedding warehouse on Dennis Street. This has been a precious time. Our lessons have been many and our blessings abundant.

    Our theme for 2017 is, "The Building Year." We have learned much about our Savior and ourselves. Six families have been added to our membership. Scores have visited. Souls have come to Christ and number await baptism.

     The key verse for this year is Jude 20, "Building up yourselves on  your most holy faith." Numerous words come to mind as I think of our church family: flexibility, resolve, faith, joy, determination, selfless, and united to name a few.

    Early in our situation some laughed when I stated that I was the envy of every pastor in Athens and McMinn County. I truly believe this trial of our faith has placed ingredients into our lives and precious memories in our minds that will last a lifetime.

    Today we are back home in our church building. Much has changed, but the important things have not changed. Several days after the storm, I wrote in the flyleaf of my Bible: "Early in the morning of November 30, 2016 a tornado came through our Fairview community damaging our church facilities but it did not destroy anything of eternal value."

    Today I express a sincere appreciation to all who prayed, worked, and gave to this ministry. We are rich today. We hold an unshakable faith in the Word of God, and unswerving purpose to reach the lost, and an unwavering trust in our sovereign God.

    As we embark on the building of our educational facilities, we covet your prayers that God will give the wisdom and resources to accomplish the task according to His will.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

    Today is Mother's Day. The very word strikes cords of memory in all our hearts. There is no power on earth to hurt or help as strong as the touch of a mother. The task of being a proper mother holds an ever-expanding job description. A mother is an educator, doctor, police officer, lawyer dietitian, mechanic, and much more. Her days are filled with lofty tasks. She shapes, teaches, molds, and influences tiny lives at the most crucial time.

    My mother went to heaven in 1995. It seems like only yesterday that I had her on this earth and enjoyed her presence. There is never a day that passes that I do not think of her and profit in some way from her influence in my life. One day I will see her again and will thank her properly for her prayers and sacrifice.

    This day is special to all of us. Some are mothers and wear the banner proudly, while all of us have mothers to whom we owe a great debt. Those who are mothers are encouraged to take your responsibilities seriously. God has given you his highest calling. Take the children as from heaven and raise them for our Savior.

    To the Fairview mothers, may I wish you the very best. This is your day. We honor you. May our Savior bless you and may your children rise up and call you blessed.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

    It seems like I have always worked with teens. The first Sunday School class I taught was teen boys. I served as superintendent of the teen department at Mountain Terrace Baptist in Memphis and directed the teen work in my first two pastorates. When I came to Fairview, the teens occupied a large portion of my time even after we called Brother Toby Weaver as our youth director.

    Today we honor our teens. Brother Matt Herrell is responsible for the teen department and has a big heart for these young people. Over these years many of our young people have stayed true to Christ and serve Him even in their adult lives.

    Whenever I think of our teens, I am encouraged because of the limitless possibilities, boundless energy, and optimistic outlook. In thinking of our teens, we adults should remember our teen years and the transition our young people are going through.

    I am very proud of our young people and love to be around them. I am quick to take their side and give them a second chance. I look forward with joy to our Lord using them in His service. We have a youth group that witnesses for Christ, attends the services faithfully, and loves Jesus. It is right to honor our teens today and to pray for each of them as they grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

    In the preceding five months, our Lord added five new families to the Fairview Baptist Church family. There were scores of varied spiritual decisions with many for salvation. I am praying that the year 2017 will yield a great harvest of souls and that many will come to join our fellowship. Many decisions for Christ will be made during this year's summer camp at Camp Fairview.

    Will you enter into prayer with me that our God will do even more wondrous works this year? Thousands of our church tracts each containing a gospel message, will be distributed. There are homes that have not received literature from our church.

    My point today is that there is much to be done for our Savior and everyone can have a part. No one is excluded from being a part of the Great Commission. Our God has given a unique opportunity to all of us to take His gospel to those all around us. Anyone can, and everyone should, invite visitors to the regular services, and share a gospel witness with them.

    When we see people saved, baptized, and discipled for the Savior in the year 2017, it will be because some have prayed, given, witness, and been tearfully concerned over the souls of others. You need not complete an application or request permission to qualify for this grand endeavor. If you are saved, you are already commissioned to "go into the highways and headges and compel them to come in." Start today!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

    In April we think of showers of blessings. Let me encourage you to be a blessing to someone today. That is not a hard request, as we should be constantly looking for ways to lift others and help meet needs. Never forget those who have helped you along life's road. Be grateful and appreciative for helping hands and concerned hearts.

    The song, "Count Your Blessing" is extra special advice for all of us. Those who are discouraged and downcast would do well to begin this practice. Often we allow a very small inconvenience to rob us of joy by majoring on one bitter morsel in the midst of a banquet. This side of heaven we will never achieve perfection in any way; yet there is much for which we can rejoice. The old adage regarding your glass being half-full or half-empty certainly applies.

    Having stated the above, let's encourage one another to look to Christ and realize the heavenly blessings that are ours. Look within and feel the satisfaction of a redeemed soul and look around to see the bounty of blessings brought from the lives of others.

    As we pillow our heads this night, may our day have been filled with efforts to bring a measure of joy and encouragement into the lives of others. Remember, giving carries more blessing than receiving since it is the person who gives who gets to enjoy being a blessing to others. It is exciting to receive blessings, but it is a great deal more exciting to be a blessing. Look about you today and bring joy to someone. You will be glad you did.