One Way!

 

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus said, to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:5-6

 

Today, we will be singing an incredible new song by Jeremy Camp, “Isn’t The Name”.  Here are a few of the lyrics: “Isn’t the name of Jesus all we need?  He’s the way, the truth, the life, the only way to God. Isn’t the name of Jesus all we need?”

 

As I was preparing the music for today and was singing through this song, wouldn’t you know it … this was my devotional from Bryan Smith, the Senior Pastor at FBC Roanoke, Virginia.

 

“Some people don’t mind asking questions and admitting they don’t have all the answers.  Thomas opened the door for one of the most incredible statements of our Lord’s earthly ministry.  Jesus declared without any ambiguity or confusion that there is simply no other way to heaven but through Him.  Whether it’s regarding the life, truth, or the way to heaven, the answer is ultimately and surely found in Jesus Christ!

 

His words forever distinguished Him from every other person throughout history.  Who would dare make such an audacious claim?  What evidence or reason would others have for believing Him?  It would be His own resurrection that would ultimately provide indisputable proof that Jesus had every right to declare Himself to be “the way, the truth, and the life” and the only way to God.”

 

Our world today accuses Christians of being hateful, arrogant, and insensitive because we believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven.  Yet our Savior’s declaration is also His wonderful and personal invitation for all people to call upon Him for salvation.

 

Father, thank You for saving me and showing me the way to be with You in heaven forever.  Help me to tell others this week that You are the way, the truth and the life.
 
Written By: Pastor Terry

November 29, 2020

Ministry … Me?

 “Then I heard the voice of the LORD asking:

Who will I send?  Who will go for us?

I said: Here I am. Send me.”

Isaiah 6:8

I remember a conversation that Sharon and I had one day back in Auburn.  Our friend, Connie, is a good friend of Henry Blackaby; pastor, former IMB, former NAMB, pastor, … (I’ll stop here because of space).  On one particular day, Connie took her close friend (and her friend’s daughter; soon to graduate college) to Atlanta to visit with Henry.  The purpose of the trip, at least this is what the Mom had in mind, was so Henry could talk the daughter out of going into “full-time Christian service and surrendering to the mission field”.

After spending a few hours in the Blackaby home, the topic of “career” came up.  We’ve all had that moment when someone asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  That question is usually answered by the time a person graduates from college, and so Henry inquired of the “soon-to-be-graduate”.  The daughter shared with the Blackaby’s that she felt God’s call on her life, when quickly the Mother told Henry, “Talk her out of it … do whatever you have to do, or say whatever you have to say … just talk her out of it”!

With a calm response, Henry looked at the Mom and said, “I can’t do that.  What an honor this is.  To think, with all the people in the world that God could use, He has looked down and has chosen your daughter”!

A lot of Christians support missions as a concept, but feel differently when it is their own kid going.  I remember the day when I told my parents that I sensed God’s call on my life.  I remember my Dad and Mom telling me, “There’s nothing that would make us prouder than knowing you gave your life back to God for His service”.

God is calling you.  Each of us has been called and your days have the potential to echo throughout eternity.  When was the last time you went on a Mission Trip?  When was the last time you went On-Mission next door or down the street?  Maybe it is full-time; to be a Pastor, a Worship Leader or a Missionary … have you surrendered? 

Father, reveal to me where I should go.  Send me!
Written by: Pastor Terry

November 22, 2020

Where Are Your Treasures? 

But God said to him, “You fool!  This very night your life is demanded of you. 

And the things you have prepared – whose will they be?” 

That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself

and is not rich toward God. – Luke 12:20-21

A couple weeks ago, I took my daughter’s car to a tire store to have a flat tire fixed (thank you, Micah!).  While I was there waiting, a senior-gentleman started a conversation that explained his reason of being there:  a tire blown out because he ran over a fence post on his ranch.

After talking about tires (which I know nothing about … thank you again, Micah!), we talked about “living life through Covid”.  There is one thing that I have learned through this period of time: Covid is an easy way to start up a conversation … we ALL are going through it together.

He shared that he wasn’t worried.  He was financially stable, having built a good-size portfolio; several homes to rent, stocks, retirement, and of course did I mention … a ranch.  He went on to tell me about “life growing up” without anything, and that he has taught his family how to invest, pursue financial worth and career goals; and I must say that it sounds like his family is doing quite well within the community of San Antonio.  After listening to him, I shared with him that I had invested well too … into eternity.  Wouldn’t you know it … that’s when he asked what I did for a living!  Politely, the gentleman dismissed himself from our conversation.

Jesus told a story about a man who, because of his successes, lived without any thought of death.   He amassed a fortune that guaranteed he and his descendants would be comfortable for generations to come.  Life was good.

What strikes me when I read the story in Luke 12, is that no overly immoral behavior was attributed to this man.  He doesn’t cheat, steal, sleep around or extort the poor.  God calls him a fool for only one reason:  he lived as if life on earth was all there was.

So what are you pursuing?  How many more rungs on a career ladder must you climb?  How much time on earth do you have before “your life is demanded of you”?  Now that I have your attention, here is my last question:  What really matters to you?  Jesus constantly pushed his hearers to reflect on the imminence of eternity, after all … eternity is a long time!    

Father, today I pray that You will remind me of the nearness of eternity, and help me to realize that only two things really matter in life:  the glory of God and the souls of people.

Written by: Pastor Terry

November 15, 2020
Look, Can’t You See?
Jesus told them, “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest?
Listen to what I am telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest.
The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together.’” John 4:35-37
 
Jesus’ divine appointment with the Samaritan woman at the well was interrupted by the return of the disciples from getting lunch. She then raced into town to tell about a Man, who in her words, “told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (vs. 29). Yet the disciples were interested in lunch, not the harvest of souls around them.
 
I can imagine them standing before Jesus, reaching into their fast-food bags to see if their food orders were accurate.
During that scene, Jesus stared beyond the disciples, watching scores of people make their way to Him because of a woman the disciples had ignored. The disciples had just passed by a harvest of people in town without a mention of who Jesus was. As the disciples stood with food in their mouths, Jesus spoke the words that we need to examine and reexamine to set our priorities in order: “Look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
 
Lord, help me to see the harvest all around me today. Make me bold in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Written By: Pastor Terry

November 8, 2020

Contentment

 

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13

I was recently in Hobby Lobby picking up somethings for a “wedding in the near future”, and I overheard a mother’s conversation with her young daughter.  As they passed every aisle, regardless of the merchandise on the shelves, the little girl would say to her mother, “Go down here!  There’s stuff I need!”

To the mother’s credit, each, time her young daughter said this, the mother replied, “There’s nothing down there you need.”

Unfortunately, aren’t we often like that young girl?  We often think we need everything, and we forget that God supplies all of our needs.

At the core of each of us is an intrinsic desire for true contentment.  While the world would have us “Look over here!” or “Try this!” or “Go there!” Jesus tells us that true contentment comes from Him.  Whether we are in a prison or a palace, whether free or in chains, whether starving or full, whether sick of suffering, everything we ever need in this life or the life to come we can find our Lord Jesus Christ!

Father, thank You for knowing everything that I need.  I thank You for Your provision.
Written By: Pastor Terry
November 1, 2020
Two Contrasting Perspectives
Matthew 19:13-30
 
“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Leave the little children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to me, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After placing his hands on them, he went on from there. Just then someone came up and asked him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” he said to him. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked him. Jesus answered: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself. “I have kept all these,” the young man told him. “What do I still lack?” “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard that, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions. Possessions and the Kingdom Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter responded to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you. So what will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, in the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
 
As I continue my study through the book of Matthew, I slowed down enough to see two contrasting perspectives. I have read through these verses so many times that I admit … I hurried. First, we find Jesus blessing the children, followed by the story of what we know as The Rich Young Ruler. Take the time like I did to re-read these verses, and do it slowly.
 
For a lot of us, when we were little children, life was simple and uncomplicated. We had very little self-consciousness, and the competitive spirit we had and the desire to get more stuff that we experienced tended to be short-lived and easily forgotten. There was also a general trust toward those to whom we were entrusted. We loved those who loved us, and we largely obeyed those placed over us for our care and protection. Regarding “stuff,” yes, we had toys, but they were to play with, to enjoy, to share, and to carry around with us. They weren’t that expensive. They didn’t own us. We operated our lives with no agenda, and it was as life was meant to be – fun and relaxing. Life was mostly about relationships, not about stuff.
 
Now think about how things changed as we grew up. We grew to love things and to use people to get what we wanted. Now, what we acquire easily becomes too important. We get selfish, myopic, and greedy, being driven by our own agendas, which keeps us from being aware of others. Though getting more stuff, we don’t become content. Instead, we get greedier, more competitive, more ambitious, and more self-centered. We may make acceptable salaries, but we want them to be higher. We may have comfortable lifestyles, but we want luxury. All our needs maybe met, but what about all our wants?
 
Amid these two very different perspectives on life – the simplicity of childhood and the complexity of adulthood – we stand and hear Jesus’ voice. He tells us to be like little children, “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” He exposes the truth about eternal life and true blessedness: It’s not in the stuff we have. It’s not about the toys. It’s not about getting more. It’s about coming to Him with nothing and letting Him change our hearts and filling our lives with real meaning. After all, “It’s All About Jesus!”
Father, I pray that You will help me consider these two contrasting perspectives and where my life is.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry Samplaski
October 25, 2020

GOD WILL LIFT YOU UP

 

My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.

I have declared my ways, and You answered me; teach me Your statutes. 

Make me understand the way of Your precepts;

so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works. – Psalm 119:25-27

 

As a pastor, I often encounter anxiety, depression, and stress in the lives of those I come in contact with, especially living through a Covid pandemic.  These conditions are not new … for many these conditions have impaired God’s children.  In the words we read today, we see the psalmist so depressed he felt at the point of death.

What is the answer for those who suffer like this?  What can you do when your “soul clings to the dust?”  Here’s a plan that will help.

First, spend time in Scripture!  He says, “Revive me according to your word.”  Christians should find spiritual dividends every time they open God’s Word.  Turn to your bible.  Read for spiritual encouragement and not only for knowledge.  God will be present.

Second, spend time in prayer!  The psalmist had his requests answered before because he said, “You answered me.”  Time spent in prayer is never wasted!  When a problem cannot be fixed by human solutions, prayer is our answer.  God beckons you to call to Him.  He delights to respond!

Third, spend time at the feet of Jesus!  No better place can be found than sitting at the Master’s feet.  There you will learn as He teaches you His precepts.  Turn to the Gospels and let the Savior speak to your heart!

Finally, spend time rejoicing!  Little combats depression and darkness more than time spent rejoicing in the Savior who loves You.

 
Written by: Pastor Terry
October 18, 2020

Life Lessons From Children

 

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

Matthew 18:2-5

Believe it or not, I remember hearing this question when I was in Third Grade Sunday School: “John, does your family say a prayer before every meal?”  John quickly answered, “Oh no, my mother is a good cook!”  I don’t know how many times I have used that true episode as an illustration.  We learn a lot from children.

In the context of this passage, Jesus and His disciples are in Capernaum, probably in Peter’s house, and we find the disciples arguing who should be the greatest in the kingdom, and what does Jesus do?  He calls a little child forward.

If in the old English adage “Children are meant to be seen and not heard”, then in ancient Israel children were not even meant to be seen!  R.T. France states, “A child was a person of no importance in Jewish society.” He or she didn’t belong in the room and couldn’t have earned a place.  But unlike the disciples, who were jostling for first place, the child had no agenda no stuff to strut, no desire for applause, not even an awareness of the reason for being brought into the group.  The child knew – as did everybody else – that children didn’t belong in that room, much less at the center of attention.  What a picture of unmerited favor!  What a picture of grace!

Here are three things that I see as I look at this passage:  First, when Jesus called the child to Himself, the child listened and responded to the call of Christ.  Second, the child surrendered himself, and willingly gave up what he/she was doing.  Finally, the child was humble before Christ.  The child had no pride, no arrogance, no conceit, no expectations, no desire for promotion, no spirit of entitlement, and no phony piety.  Children crave love!  Guess what?  So do we!

Father, I thank You as one of Your children that I can come into Your presence.  Help me to hear Your voice today, and that I will respond obediently.  I thank You that I can give You all my burdens, hurts, and desires.  Father, I love You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 
Written by: Pastor Terry
October 11, 2020
 
Be Real

“Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven”
(Matthew 7:21).

I am going through the book of Matthew in my personal Bible study. The text today is Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount, and His target audience is those who, for the most part, have become His followers. They’re hanging on every word He says. However, Jesus confronts them with this truth: Just because someone claims to be a follower doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has experienced salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The church is full of members, but not all are saved by grace through faith.

I’ve heard it said that Billy Graham once said on national television that 75-85% of church members are lost. That is quite startling considering a recent Barna Group survey shows that “just one in four Americans (25%) is a “practicing” Christian.

During the “lockdown / stay-at-home” I watched the movie, “Catch Me If You Can”, a true story based on the life of Frank Abagnale, who, before his 19th birthday, successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a Pan American World Airways pilot, a Georgia doctor and a Louisiana parish prosecutor. His foremost crime was check fraud; he became so highly skilled that the FBI later turned to him for help catching other check forgers.

Mr. Abagnale “got away” with so much just by wearing a uniform and knowing the “lingo”. We don’t have a “uniform” so to speak as Christians, or do we? We’re living in a day when it’s difficult to detect a true disciple from an imposter. Is there evidence in our lives that Jesus really is Lord of all we are and have? Only the Lord will ultimately know the real from the fake.

Pray today, “Jesus, may Your lordship be a real thing in my life! Amen.”
 
Written by: Pastor Terry
October 4, 2020
 
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awe-inspiring are Your works! Your enemies will cringe before You because of Your great strength. All the earth will worship You and sing praise to You. They will sing praise to Your name.” Selah
Come and see the works of God; His acts toward mankind are awe-inspiring.” – Psalm 66:1-5
 
I’ve always loved reading Psalm 66 to prepare me for Sunday morning. The commands of obedience: “shout”, “sing”, and “make” have always gripped me; just as the personal invitation, “Come and see …” The very thought of God sending His only Son for our salvation, and anticipating what He can do in our church … well, it never gets old and I can’t help but join with the psalmist.
 
It doesn’t have to be a Sunday. Every day, His creation is awe-inspiring; if we would stop — look and listen.
 
Too much casual familiarity with the things of God can cause use to lose our awe of Him. In fact, chances are you probably have countless resources about God at your fingertips – resources about His nature, character, works, and ways. The more we hear and read about the things of the Lord, the easier it becomes to lose a healthy fear of Him in the flood of familiarity.
 
The way we use our words doesn’t help. We say we “love” God … but we also say we “love” everything from Mexican food to a certain style of music. Also, so much around us is referred to as “awesome” – from cars to your favorite soda – that the only truly awesome One no longer seems that awesome. High and holy things have now become common, and as a result, we’ve lost a clear sense of the greatness and glory of the Lord.
 
Familiarity can certainly lead to ho-hums at the hearing of the gospel, shrug at profound theology, and even have a “been-there-done-that” attitude toward living the Christian life.
 
When was the last time you were “in awe”? Today, as you sing the worship songs and listen to God’s spoken Word, pray this: “Father, may I see the wonder of Your grace, mercy, and love toward me, and may I never take it for granted!”
Written by: Pastor Terry
September 27, 2020
 

Dull or Deep?

The disciples reached the other shore, and they had forgotten to take bread.  Then Jesus told them, “Watch out and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  And they discussed among themselves, “We didn’t bring any bread …” – Matthew 16:5-12

The above passage is just a little snapshot in this life-story.   Jesus was still stewing over the heated confrontation with the frowning critics (vs. 1-4) while His dull disciples were worried about bread.  Maybe they started pointing fingers, playing the blame game, or fretting over what to do about the problem.  But Jesus was preoccupied with something else.  He was instead thinking about the wicked leaders, their diabolical plot to capture and kill Him, and their dangerous false teaching, which poisoned the people’s minds.  All the while, He was just hearing, “bread, bread, bread” from his disciples.

Clearly, the disciples were clueless.  Finally, Jesus cuts in: “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (v. 6). 

I can imagine that the disciples felt a little stupid, not because they had failed to catch Jesus’ figure of speech but because they had been so worried about finding physical bread while Jesus was concerned about those who rejected the Bread of Life.

I’m sorry to say that far too many of us fit quite comfortable in the garb of the skeptical Pharisees and Sadducees or in the sandals of the worldly-minded disciples.

For a moment, put on the garb of the testy critics.  You’re wearing those robes and looking all important with your questions, searching for more evidence, demanding more proof.  You’re determined that you’ll only believe after God meets the burden of proof and your own personal standard of evidence.  But then, just as God shows Himself to be real, the bar for passing your standard of “a sign from heaven” is raised.  This is a typical pattern of the hard-hearted, unbelieving skeptic.

Now walk in the sandals of the dull disciples.  You’re supersaturated with spiritual things – a study Bible, a great church family, Christian books and music.  But as you listen to the sermons or sing the messages or pray the prayers, they pass right through you.  You’ve heard the gospel so much that it no longer makes an impact on your life … or others.  As the pastor preaches, you’re thinking about what’s for lunch or dinner.  As you pray, your mind wanders to the next thing on the calendar.

Today, pray that your eyes will be wide open and your ears unstopped.  The disciples certainly “got it” because it says in verse 12, “Then they understood …”
Written by: Pastor Terry
September 20, 2020
 
Revive Me and Use Me
 
“Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness. The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” – Psalm 119:159-160
 
What a great prayer to begin a new day: “Revive me, O LORD”. The psalmist’s cry for personal renewal and revival reminds me of the old spiritual song, “Not my brother or my sister, but it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer”. All of us need a fresh touch from God daily. In this text, King David not only calls out for personal revival, but he also includes how that personal renewal from the Lord makes its way to us. Renewal comes as we spend time reading and meditating on the Word of God. He is for us. He is not against us. He wants to revive and replenish our barren souls. He can, and He will as we meditate upon His precepts, Word of truth, and judgments. Once you encounter the Lord, and He revives you, go and be a blessing to someone else.
 
Dr. Danny Forshee, (who I call family) and Pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, shared this story recently, and I could not help but to share it with you:
 
S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-a, was training his employees how to relate to customers. He asked his employees, “Do you know how you can tell someone needs encouragement?”
 
Some of the replies were, “They look sad”. “They are crying”. “They are yelling at the children!”

Cathy smiled and simply replied, “They walk in the door”.
 
Today, express yourself to our heavenly Father, “You are awesome. I love You, and I love Your Word. Revive me and restore my downcast soul. Lift me up by the power of Your Word, and now help me encourage someone else today.”
 
Written by: Pastor Terry

September 13, 2020

Testing Your Soil

Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow.  As he was sowing, seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep.  But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered.  Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them.  Still others fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown.  Anyone who has ears should listen!” (Matthew 13:3-9)

When I read this story, I’ve always wondered what the crop was … corn?  But then, this is not what Jesus was saying when he said, “Anyone who has ears …”  Okay, this is not worthy of a “rim shot”.  The audience that day would have completely missed the point too, if they all nodded their heads in agreement and thought, “Nice agricultural lesson.  I’ll have to remember to be careful where I plant seeds next spring.
 
It seems pretty clear that the first three types of “soil” are not what Jesus was looking for as responses to the Word of God.  Only the last response – the soft, receptive “good soil” – receives the favorable commendation of the Master.  Only those plants grow to produce thirty-sixty-, or a hundredfold fruitfulness.  Those of us who are believers in Christ, who have received God’s Word of the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, are still faced with the day-to-day decision of hearing, receiving, and living God’s Word.  Jesus’ “Parable of the Sower” has application for us today.  Take a moment to test your own soil by asking four questions, and pray for your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as He reveals to you where you are.
 
First, are you faithful and fruitful?  Do you keep your heart watered by prayer, by reading and studying Scripture, and by fellowshipping with the body of believers? 
 
Second, are you worried and worldly?  Is your heart constantly distracted by the worries of this world?  Do you easily forsake the gathering of the church for work, for recreation, or social issue?  This kind of condition isn’t healthy for a believer, and it will prevent unbelievers from truly embracing the Word of God.

 

Third, are you shallow and shaky?  Churches are filled with believers who have shallow faith – thick on emotion and sentimentalism but thin on real substance and weak on commitment and perseverance.  Such rootless religion won’t be able to withstand the normal trials of life.  If you’re a believer, you need to deepen your knowledge of God through meditation and application of His Word.

 

Fourth, are you faithless and stubborn?  This category in the parable is the only one that describes a person who clearly and unquestionably rejects the truth and doesn’t have a saving relationship with Christ.  If this describes you, it’s not too late to “plow up the hard ground of your hearts” and receive the saving gospel of Jesus.

Written by: Pastor Terry

September 6, 2020

Stand Out

 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. – Proverbs 3:3-4

I am an Auburn football fan.  It’s not because I went to school there, but my children did!  Someone once questioned me, “Oh, so you’re a bandwagon fan?” to which my reply was, “No, I’m not … I pay tuition!”
 
I often wear shirts reflecting the fact that I am a fan.  Incidentally, I went to school at Texas, and proudly wear “burnt-orange and white”; however, whenever I walk through the grocery store wearing “blue and orange” and meet another Auburn fan, do you know what he or she says, “War Eagle!”  This summer, I was with my daughter-in-law who poked fun at me, saying it reminds her how people passed lepers and yelled, “Unclean!  Unclean!”  (She’s an Alabama fan).
 
People recognize I am an Auburn fan because of what I wear.  Solomon says in his way that we should be so full of mercy and truth that it stands out like a big “blue and orange, AU” on our shirt!
 
I passed a guy in a parking lot one day, and he was wearing an Auburn shirt.  I gave the normal “War Eagle!” greeting.  He looked at me funny and said, “Oh, no.  This is my wife’s shirt.  I just borrowed it.”
 
Anyone can wear a borrowed shirt or say he is a Christian, but what’s inside will come out.  Our hearts must be branded with mercy and truth.  Pray today: “Lord, help me today to be faithful to Your Word and to the commitments that I make.  Help me show mercy to others in the way that You have shown mercy to me.”
Written by: Pastor Terry

August 30, 2020

Sent out, but Not Sent Away

Matthew 10:16-31

This is a long passage, but for the lack of space, go ahead and get your Bible and read the text; I’ll wait.  Here is verse sixteen (16) to get you started:  Look, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.  Therefore, be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. 

I’m glad you’re back.

Sometimes when Jesus sends us out into foreign – even hostile – territory, we can feel like we’re being sent away to fend for ourselves.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes, all of us (as believers and followers of Jesus Christ) are being sent out, but none of us are being sent away. 

First, we can expect treatment similar to that of the initial disciples.  Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:11-12, “What persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!  Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  Don’t be surprised when it happens.

Second, we don’t have to be afraid.  Remember, we aren’t being sent away but sent out. When we’re given the orders to roll out and cast off into whatever mission field Christ has for us (across the street or across the world), we’re not sent away with nothing.  In fact, we’re given everything we need; Jesus’ promise still stands: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I command you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

 

There is “lostness” all around us.  For some of us, we don’t have to go far … a neighbor, co-worker and maybe even a family member.  We have been given a command to “go”.  I have heard many reasons for not going: “I’m not gifted; I haven’t taken a class; I’m not good with words; I’m too old, leave it for the youth; I’m too young, leave it to the older generation, etc.” 

There are no options.  The disciples didn’t ask for eloquence of speech or special gifts to be bestowed upon them … they asked for “boldness” (Acts 4).  Today, knowing that the Holy Spirit lives in you, pray for the opportunity to share the gospel and proceed in boldness.  We have the promise of His Word, “even to the end of the age.”
 
Written by: Pastor Terry

August 23, 2020

The Privilege of Prayer

 

But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation. – Psalm 69:13

 

The Christian’s greatest privilege is prayer.  It is an amazing gift that we can communicate directly to the Father who loves us.  We can talk to Him at any time during the day, no matter what is going on, and He will listen.  But many times we use prayer as our last resort.  Without thinking clearly, when difficult times come – and they will come – we will run to the phone instead of to the throne.  We will turn to others before we turn to God.

 

God wants to be the source for everything we need in life.  The Bible tells us God inclines His ear when we pray (Ps 116:2).  That means He leans in to hear us.  The great God of heaven is listening for our prayers, and He leans in always ready to respond.  Remember, nothing is too hard for God, and when we are down to nothing, God is up to something – no matter what we may be facing.

 

Let us not neglect our greatest privilege – the privilege of prayer.
Written by: Pastor Terry

August 16, 2020

Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.  When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:35-36

 

If you had been standing in the crowd of onlookers in Capernaum during the nonstop day of miracles, you would have been presented with an intellectual dilemma that would call for the decision of your will: Would you give your life to be a true follower of Jesus Christ; would you continue to be an onlooker or flat out deny him?  Whatever choice you made that day would have a lasting impact on your life.

 

C.S. Lewis famously said that “when it came to deciding who Jesus Christ was, we really only had three choices.  First, we could say he was a liar, that all of the things he said were simply lies.  Secondly, we could say he was not a liar, but a lunatic, so he couldn’t be held responsible for saying the things he said.  And third, we could say he was actually who he said he was … the Lord of Heaven and Earth.”

 

Facts didn’t stop the hardheaded and hard-hearted Pharisees from believing who Jesus was.  Theirs was a spiritual problem, not an intellectual one.  And it’s a problem people still have today.  In spite of the evidence, people deny the existence of God.  And in spite of the compelling claims of Christ, they willfully reject Him as their Savior and Lord.  The solution to this spiritual blindness, then, is not another book that presents the evidence or arguing people into the kingdom.  The only One who can soften hearts and break down wills is the Holy Spirit.

 

There is “lostness” all around us.  Pray for the Spirit to cut through their folly and open their eyes both to the seriousness of their condition and to the relevance of the person and work of Christ.
Written By: Pastor Terry

August 9, 2020

Rejoice and Shout!

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; faithful love and truth go before You.

Happy are the people who know the joyful sound!  LORD, they walk in the light of Your presence.

– Psalm 89:14-15

Notice in this passage is says “know the joyful sound”, not “hear”.  We hear many things without comprehension.  The “joyful sound” in this verse is the shout of God’s people when they saw the Lord lifted high.  The Bible encourages us to shout to God.  Psalm 47:1 say, “Clap your hands, all you people; shout to God with a jubilant cry”.  Many times we shout and make noise at sporting events or even concerts.  We clap and cheer.  But when we come to church, we act like we’re at a funeral.  This should not be the case, because we are meant to rejoice and shout about Jesus.

The psalmist also exhorts: “Shout triumphantly to the LORD, all the earth!”  (Psalm 100:1).  Rejoicing in the Lord is a recurring them in the book of Psalms.  Believers in Jesus Christ should be excited at all the blessings God has given them; and personally, two come to mind very quickly:  the day I knew that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, and I gave my life to Jesus Christ; and secondly, the day that I look forward to: knowing there will be joyful sound at the rapture!

Until that day, when the world looks at us as believers in Jesus Christ, they should see a community who rejoices daily in the Lord’s blessings.  Pray that our lives will do just that.

Written by: Pastor Terry

August 2, 2020

Good News

I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O LORD, You Yourself know.  I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving kindness and Your truth from the great assembly. – Psalm 40:9-10

Growing up, I heard many “children songs” in my house, especially when my Dad was getting ready for Sunday.  He held many layman positions within the church, but the one I always take notice of was his leadership in Children’s Church.  He could teach 250 children on a regular basis every Sunday morning.  Chaos?  No, you could hear a pin drop when he taught the Word (using flannel-graph), and then … you should have heard the children singing. 

He was incredible, and eventually became a spokesman for Child Evangelism.  One of those songs I remember hearing was, “Good News”, and it was sung so boisterous that you had to cover your ears!

Good news!  Good news!  Christ died for me.
Good news!  Good news!  If I believe.
Good news!  Good news!  I’m saved eternally;
that’s wonderful extra good news!

© 1978 Child Evangelism Fellowship (Admin. by CEF Press)

Have you ever had an experience so wonderful in your life that you couldn’t keep the good news to yourself?

For the psalmist, the deeply moving experience of God’s favor and faithfulness toward him resulted in an open unashamed declaration of the goodness of God.  The faithfulness of God so overwhelmed David that he could not keep silent concerning the good news of God’s work in and around him.

Because of all the good blessings God has provided us through His Son, we too should be found faithful declaring the good news of God in Jesus Christ to others, after all – we have come to know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, and He has given to us the freedom of forgiveness.  The good news of Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and coming again is the message we must proclaim from grateful hearts overwhelmed by the love and goodness of God.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry

July 19, 2020

For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth. 

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the LORD’s unfailing love. – Psalm 33:4-5

 

Look at those five words:  right, truth, justice and unfailing love.  In all honesty, do you feel that’s the world you’re facing today?  It sure can seem like the opposite: wrong, lies, injustice and hatred.  At first glance, it can be challenging to believe “the earth is full of the LORD’s unfailing love” (vs. 5).  Yet it’s true.

 

When we became a child of God, our destiny became forever determined only by His grace by trusting Jesus Christ alone for our salvation.  Our life and future are in His hands.  Although the world we face today is dysfunctional, it’s only temporary and not our home.  Our day and our lives are under His control.  Last week, Pastor David shared this with us in his sermon, Titus 1:1-4.  You can check it out through our church’s website.  God’s word will be forever right.  He will only tell the truth.  

 

Every day we need to keep our focus on God and on what He’s doing.  After all, He’s the One in charge.
Written by: Pastor Terry
 
 

July 12, 2020

Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. 

Lead me in Your truth and each me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.

– Psalm 25:4-5

My favorite movie of all time is The Muppet Movie.  It probably explains a lot about me!  I imagine that I’ve seen this flick about 20 times (or more), and each time I see it, I see something that I’ve missed.  There are so many puns and slap-stick comedy … However, there is a time in the movie when Fozzy Bear and Kermit the Frog are “moving right-along.”  As they seek directions for their road trip, they are told to “turn left at the fork-in-the-road.”  Wouldn’t you know it; when they approached the crossroads of their travel, there was an actual fork … in the road!

 

I wish life was this easy, but it’s not.  God knew it would be difficult; that is why He gave us His Word to follow.  In life’s decisions, there is the right way, and there is the wrong way, and sadly; far too many believers want all of God’s blessings while proceeding on their own way.

 

David says, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me.”  God can’t lead someone who won’t follow!  To be a follower of God, you must yield to Him.  The secret to receiving more truth is being obedient to the truth you already have … His Word!  Become a true follower of God, and He will teach you more.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry
PRAYER FOR AMERICA
 
July 1
 

PRAY FOR OUR NATION 

(2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

* Pray that our nation will be “one nation, under God”.

* Pray that our nation will see its need for truth and Biblical answers for our problems.

* Pray that our nation will see their desperate need for a relationship with God, and the emptiness of false beliefs.

PRAYER FOR AMERICA

July
 

PRAY FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

Law Enforcement, EMS, Fire Department

* Pray for safety as they respond to alerts.

* Pray for wisdom as they administer care and attend to the needs of the situation.

* Pray that they will use sound judgment in all their decisions.

PRAYER FOR AMERICA

July 3
 

PRAY FOR OUR NATION’S HEALTH SYSTEM

Hospitals, Doctors, Nurses, and Families.

* Pray that our hospitals will be fully staffed and supplied for all needs.

* Pray that our medical personnel will be refreshed and renewed daily for all the services they render.

* Pray that medical personnel and their families will stay healthy.

PRAYER FOR AMERICA

July
 

PRAY FOR OUR POLITICAL LEADERS

(2 Timothy 2:1-4);

(1 Peter 2:13-17)

* Pray that our leaders will live lives above reproach.

* Pray that our leaders will seek Godly counsel to make good decisions.

* Pray that our leaders will understand the importance of Biblical values.

* Pray that ungodly influences will be exposed that affect our leaders.

PRAYER FOR AMERICA

July 5
 

PRAY FOR OUR CHURCH (Ephesians 6:19-20); (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

* Pray that UBC will preach the Gospel!

* Pray that UBC will be a force for faith, hope and love.

* Pray that God will pour out His Spirit upon UBC.

* Pray that God will break down all barriers to revival.

* Pray that more laborers for ministry will be raised.

* Pray for Dr. David Norman and his family as they move to SATX.

Written by: Pastor Terry

June 27, 2020

For I will proclaim the Lord’s name.  Declare the greatness of our God!  The Rock—His work is perfect;
all His ways are just.  A faithful God, without bias, He is righteous and true.  – Deuteronomy 32:3-4

 

Every day we talk about many topics with others.  Our conversations might be stories about our children, the sale in the store we just left, job challenges, ball games, or even health concerns due to the Covid-19 virus.  We’re not shy to talk about what matters to us.

 

I’ve heard it said many times, “I cannot share the gospel at work or at school.  There are policies regarding that.”  Or, “I don’t have the gift of evangelism … I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

 

Having travelled with several ministry teams to East Asia, it was strongly expressed that we could NOT share the gospel, because it was a “closed country”; HOWEVER, if people asked questions, we could answer those questions.  “What do you do for a living?” (I’m glad you asked; I teach music).  “What kind of music?” (I’m glad you asked; gospel music).  “What is gospel music?” (I’m glad you asked, it is about Jesus!)  “Who is Jesus?” (I’m glad you asked!!!)

 

If our relationship with God really matters to us, we need to be unashamed in proclaiming the name of the Lord to others.  Try this, when you go to work on Monday and you’re asked, “How was your weekend?” start with, “Church was great!”  We can touch people with the truth of God’s Word when we are faithful to share His great name with others.  Why wouldn’t we want to do that?

 

God is great, and there is no one is greater!  God is our Rock, and no one is stronger!  God is perfect in all His ways!  God is just in all things, in Him there is no partiality!  God is true at all times, and He is always right! 

 

At all times and in all things, proclaim the name of the Lord!
Written by: Pastor Terry

June 21, 2020

Restore us, God; look on us with favor, and we will be saved.

Psalm 80:3

 

Three times in Psalm 80, Asaph (the writer) pens the phrase: “Restore us …”  Here in this psalm, we can see that he mourns the sad state of his time, the broken walls (vs. 12), the rampaging animals (vs. 13), and the burnt vineyards (vs. 16).  Sadly, it can look much like today’s news. 

 

There is comfort knowing that the God of Hosts, sits upon His throne, and in His Sovereignty brings provision, protection and much more!   But it is also His right to allow events in our lives to bring obedience and discipline; all for the purpose that we will seek His face and not just from His hand.

 

I have been praying for 8-and-a-half years for revival, and until it happens, I will continue to do so.  Broken walls, violent boars and destroyed vineyards might not be my surroundings, but I see a society filled with complacency, “self-sufficiency”, a “what’s-in-it-for-me” mentality, and a lack of love for God, and others.  I certainly am not trying to paint a “doom-and-gloom” picture, because there is HOPE; there is SALVATION, and that is found JESUS CHRIST alone! 

 

There will still be times that I will cry out just like Asaph, as he pleaded in verse 18, “Revive us, (my emphasis) and we will call upon Your name.”

 

The history of the past revivals portrays this truth in full color: you will always find men and women who first inwardly groan, longing to see the status quo changed.  They begin to call on the God with insistence; prayer precipitates revival, which produces more prayer.  Will you pray?
 
Written by: Pastor Terry
 

June 14, 2020

Why? 

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

– Romans 8:28-20

 

Why do bad things happen to good people?  This question has troubled many people for generations.  But these words from Paul bring encouragement to our hearts during difficult circumstances.  Notice what Paul did not say and what he did say.  Paul did not say, “All things are good!”  Rather, he said, “All things work together for good.”  A lot of things in life are not good – cancer, the death of a child, domestic violence, Covid-19, and so on.  But the promise of this passage is that God can take all the bad things of life and orchestrate them for our good and for His glory!

 

While God never promised to answer our questions of suffering or pain, He did promise His presence (1 Peter 5:7).  We can rest in the truth that our circumstances do not take God by surprise.  He doesn’t look down from His throne and say, “What just happened, what is going on down there?”  In His Sovereignty, He knows every day of our lives before we experience them.  He has a plan for our lives, which includes a process to conform us more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Sometimes the process of being conformed is painful, but we have the promise of a future joy and of all things being made new.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry

June 7, 2020

Hope

 

I came across this story about Florence Chadwick, and could not help but think of all that has been going on during this Covid-19 virus, especially many who have a sense of loneliness, depression, isolation, and uncertainty.

 

“On July 4, 1952, this thirty-four-year-old competitive swimmer waded into the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Her goal was to become the first woman to swim the twenty-one miles from Catalina Island to the California coast.  Chadwick was an experienced long-distance swimmer. She had already become the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. Her biggest challenge in the Pacific Ocean that day was not the distance but the bone-chilling waters and the thick fog that made it almost impossible for her to see anything, including the boats accompanying her.

 

While Americans watched on television, Chadwick swam for hours in the numbing water and choppy waves. But the fog kept Chadwick from seeing her goal, and she lost hope of ever reaching the shore. When she begged to be taken out, her mother and her trainer, who were in one of the support boats, cheered her on. But after fifteen hours and fifty-five minutes, Chadwick stopped swimming and was pulled out—only to discover that she had quit less than a mile from the coast. She told a reporter, ‘If I could have seen land I know I could have made it.’”

 

I’ve had many conversations with people lately that are engulfed with worry, doubt, depression, health problems, loneliness, financial uncertainty, and strained relationships.  To them, there is no end in sight, and are tempted to give up hope.

 

I can only imagine what Peter must have thought while “walking on the water”; as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink.  We must continue to live by faith.  We must not quit!  Land is just ahead.

 

Written by: Pastor Terry

May 31, 2020

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” – John 17:1-3

 

If someone asked you to recite the Lord’s Prayer, you would probably begin by saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9).  I’ve heard it said many times; “Perhaps this prayer is best not-called the Lord’s Prayer – a better title is the “Disciples’ Prayer,” because Jesus gave the prayer as a model for disciples to pray.”

 

One of the greatest prayers ever prayed is found in John 17, and many believe and suggest that this is the “Lord’s Prayer.”  In it we see the heart of our Lord and discover His purpose for us.  In verses 1-5, Jesus prayed for Himself.  He prayed for His disciples in verses 6-19, and in verses 20-26, Jesus prayed for you and me!  Think about it:  We are part of the greatest prayer Jesus ever prayed. 

 

He prayed for us, because He loves us deeply and wants us to know Him personally.  Jesus prayed, “…that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” 

 

To know Him is to talk to Him in prayer.  Stop.  Take time to talk with your heavenly Father.  He is personal.  You do not have to come to Him with religious jargon and eloquent words.  Talk to Him as your Abba Father … and as your friend.

 

How wonderful it is to be known by Jesus and to know Him in prayer.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry

May 24, 2020

Memorial Day

 

Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years.  The Bible describes Josiah as a very righteous king, a king who “walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:22 Chronicles 34:2). He is also one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel.

 

According to the Bible, in the eighteenth year of his rule, Josiah ordered the High PriestHilkiah to use the tax money which had been collected over the years to renovate the temple. It was during this time that Hilkiah discovered the Book of the Law. 

 

I can’t imagine going a day without reading God’s Word, but this was eighteen-plus years!  The nation had drifted so far away from God.  I’ve heard it said: “If God could walk out of your life, how long would it take before you knew He was missing?”

 

According to the Bible, when King Josiah heard the words of the law, “he tore his clothes” (an outward sign of remorse or sorrow).  He then changed his form of leadership entirely, entering into a new form of covenant with the Lord. He wiped out all of the pagan cults that had formed within his land. He, along with his people, then entered into this new covenant with the Lord to keep the commandments of the Lord.

 

Our country could learn an important lesson from Josiah. Today, many people in America believe that all religious systems are equally valid. But what we celebrate as diversity, God condemns as idolatry. Although our constitution grants every citizen the right to worship or not worship any god he or she chooses, that right in no way changes God’s attitude toward idolatry. The First Amendment does not usurp the first commandment. The Bible is clear: any nation that chooses to renounce the true God in order to embrace and elevate other gods will face God’s judgment.

 

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  As a nation, we remember those who have given their lives for our freedom.  Freedom is never cheap.  It has cost many their lives.  Today, thank God for those who have given the “ultimate price”.  Today, thank God for the One who gave the ultimate price for our freedom at Calvary.  His name is Jesus!

Written by: Pastor Terry
 

May 17, 2020

“Inquire of past generations, and consider the things searched out by their fathers.

For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, because our days on earth are as a shadow.” – Job 8:8-9

 

I used to enjoy watching the popular “Man on the Street” interviews on late-night comedy shows years ago.  To listen to what people said about “history” astounded me.  At times I thought it was made up. 

 

According to a recent survey, most residents of the United States are “alarmingly ignorant of America’s history and heritage.”  Only one in three Americans can pass the US citizenship exam, and that number plummets to a dismal 19 percent of those under age forty-five. More than half of those surveyed didn’t even know which countries the United States fought in World War II!

 

Lest you think this lack of historical knowledge is strictly an American problem, consider that one-fifth of British teenagers today think Winston Churchill was a fictional character, while more than 50 percent believe that Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, and King Arthur were real.

 

Someone who doesn’t think history is bunk is the Author of history.  After all, history is ultimately “His story.”

 

No fewer than sixteen times in the book of Deuteronomy, God instructed His people to “remember” their history.

 

Throughout the sixty-six books that make up our Bible, we have stories of heroes who teach us the value of faith, sacrifice, love, and hope. We also have examples that show us the consequences of failures, betrayal, lying, and immorality. If we are willing to learn from it, the history we find within the pages of Scripture provides truth and wisdom—and it challenges us to be more like Christ. As Paul said in Romans 15:4, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction.”

 

If you and I are going to thrive spiritually in a world that has abandoned biblical values, we cannot disregard what thousands of years of history teach us.  Instead, we should put into practice Job 8:8-9 (above).

 

 I want to encourage you to get into God’s Word, after all – it is the Word of Life.  God’s Word will last forever.  Yes, it is a book of history, but it is a book of revelation and needed for daily nourishment.

 

  • Pray for the power of the gospel to be heard today both live and on live-stream.
  • Pray for the UBC family as many “feel” isolated and lonely because of the Covid-19 virus.
  • Pray that UBC will have a hunger and thirst for the Bread and Water of Life.
  • Pray for continued finances of While this has been a time of adjustment for us all, the bills of the church and our overhead expenses continue.
Written by: Pastor Terry

May 10, 2020

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  You have heard Me say to you, “I am going away and coming back to you.”  If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, “I am going to the Father,” for My Father is greater than I. – John 14:27-28

 

These past six weeks of “staying-at-home” has been difficult for many.  Stress … anxiety … loneliness … abuse.  I’ve made many phone calls checking on people, mainly to see if they needed anything, especially after a community run on hygiene products and toilet paper!  But conversations quickly changed, especially for the “at-risk” who couldn’t get out. 

 

I had one interesting conversation when a person asked, “What will the church look like when we all get back to normal?”  My reply was, “What is normal?”  As they tried to answer my question, it was apparent that they didn’t like “change.”  Trying to ease their mind, I finally shared with them, “It’s Jesus’ church, and He knows how to run it better than we do.  We are just stewards and will continue to listen to Him as He directs us.”

 

The apostle John spends the fourteenth chapter of his gospel documenting the actions and teachings of the Lord Jesus as He prepared His disciples to lead His church to success.  Jesus completed His instructions by reiterating seven important commands for His disciples.  The Lord’s commands to His disciples are the same commands He gives Christians today.

 

First, remember your entire relationship with Jesus is based upon Jesus.  He is the way.  Stay close to Him, focused on Him, and don’t be drawn away by things you do not understand.  Second, receive the work of the Holy Spirit and His ministry.  Third, expect the Holy Spirit to teach and bring you into all truth.  Fourth, revel in the peace Jesus gives and expect it to be a lasting aspect of our life.  Fifth, reject thoughts that keep you full of anxiety.  Sixth, reject fear!  Seventh, the Lord Jesus gave one final command: “If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.” 
 

Father, I want my eyes to always be fixated on You.  I will live by “faith and not by sight”.  I want to live my life with this expectancy … knowing You will order my steps each day, and that You have planned for my life what is best for me.  To God be the glory!

 

  • Pray for the Re-Opening; this Sunday – May 10th. Pray for the power of the gospel to be heard today both live and on live-stream.
  • Pray for the UBC family as many “feel” isolated and lonely because of the Covid-19 virus.
  • Pray that UBC family members will draw closer to Him.
  • Pray for continued finances of While this has been a time of adjustment for us all, the bills of the church and our overhead expenses continue.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry

May 3, 2020

LOVE GOD AND LOVE PEOPLE
 
 

Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all you mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40

 

I’m sure that during these “stay-at-home” days, we all have some story to tell.  I hope that you haven’t missed opportunities to minister to others – maybe write an encouraging note (when was the last time you did that in this day of texting and email?); call to check on someone; or even meet your neighbors while walking your neighborhood.  Sharon and I were able to distribute “masks” that my mother had made, and have had many conversations with others while maintaining the “6-feet distance.”

 

There were 613 laws in the Jewish law, but you can sum them all up with just two:  Love God and Love PeopleEvery Biblical law and command ultimately comes down to one of those two.  For my family … “ministry” will continue to happen after Covid-19 … why, it’s pretty simple.

 

The famous Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”  Thus Christians need to glorify God, which occurs when one loves God.  Loving God transforms your life.  Worship is the act of loving God.  Christians use music to express their love to Him, but worship is more than music.  Worship is about expressing your love to God.

 

The second command is as important as the first: love people.  If you truly love God, you will also love people who bear the image of God.  People who brag about their spiritual devotion but then mistreat others or use them for selfish gain, deceive themselves.  If you don’t love people, you don’t love God.

 

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter-in-law was driving around in Mobile, Alabama “picking up groceries” and came across a sign on the front lawn of a house that read: “Take what you need.”  On display was an “act of kindness.”  She didn’t need any groceries.  She was able to find what the family needed at the local market, but what she saw compelled her to pray for others who were less fortunate.  As she continued home, she decided to get some coffee.  She went through a drive-thru, made her order, and as she got to the place to pay, she found out that the car in front her had already paid for her bill!  Pay It Forward!!!

 

Loving people can be as easily as that.

 

I pray that we at UBC will never be the same.  I pray that we will be the church that God has called us to be … 24/7!  I like the meme that I saw recently on that first Sunday when the “doors were locked” because of the Coronavirus: “The Church Isn’t Closed, Just Deployed.” 

 

This is my prayer and I hope that you will join me: “Father, help me to demonstrate a genuine love to You, not only in my worship, but also in my service, kindness, and generosity to others.  Amen.”

  • Pray for the power of the gospel to be heard today on live-stream.
  • Pray that people will STOP and listen. These are powerful sermons from Dr. Rudy that the CHURCH NEEDS TO HEAR!
  • Pray that UBC family members will draw closer to Him.
  • Pray for continued finances. While this has been a time of adjustment for us all, the bills of the church and our overhead expenses continue.
  • Pray for the re-opening, next Sunday, May 10.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry

 

April 26, 2020

HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE?

 

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” – John 1:11-13
 
Dr. Rudy Gonzalez, our Interim Pastor has been teaching in the Book of John for the Wednesday Bible Study.  As he came across these verses above, they have always amazed me.  When John the Baptist preached of the coming Messiah, he had to be stunned that anyone would reject Jesus and the life He came to offer.  I’m still this way!  But they did in his day and still do in ours.  Think about it for a moment.  Throughout the Old Testament the Jews lived in anticipation of the coming Messiah.  Then Jesus came to His own to free them from the loyalty to the law and to give them new life.  They decided to reject Him because Jesus was not the kind of Messiah they expected or wanted.  To this day many still reject the Savior.
 

The writer of Hebrews asked, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).  The gospel is so simple.  Jesus came to die upon the cross for our sins.  He took our place and paid sin’s debt that we owed.  He arose again on the third day and offers salvation to all who will repent of their sins and place their trust in Him.  It is the gift of God.  He offers it to us, but must receive Him.  When we do, God give us eternal life!

 

  • Pray for the power of the gospel to be heard and received through our live stream services. Today is the day of salvation!
  • Pray for revival!!!
  • Pray that UBC family members will draw closer to Him.
  • Pray that wisdom will be given to the staff as “stay-at-home” orders are lifted and the adjustments that will be needed for weekly ministry endeavors.
  • Pray for continued finances of UBC. While this has been a time of adjustment for us all, the bills of the church and our overhead expenses continue.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry
 

April 19, 2020

YOU ARE VALUABLE

 

Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7

 

I don’t know about you, but there are times I feel unworthy, unimportant, and insignificant.  We sometimes do our best in school, and we barely get by.  We often try to eat healthy and exercise, but we still don’t like what we see in the mirror.  We sometimes work hard on our jobs and are still passed over for a promotion or raise.  Or in my case, we hear other pastors or see how their churches are growing – only suddenly to feel like failures.

 

Now it may just be me, but I imagine most of us struggle with this.  That’s why this passage is so important.  Luke 12:1 tells us that “an innumerable multitude of people had gather” to hear Jesus.  The rich.  The poor.  The married.  The divorced.  The single.  The healthy.  The sick.  The misfits.  The successful.  That crowd mirrored the society back then and our society today.  And Jesus’ message to everyone was, “You are valuable to God.”  The same message applies to everyone today.

 

God loves you!  He has a plan for you!  He will never leave you, and He will never turn His back on you!  You are fearfully and wonderfully made!  You are His prized possession!  So stop it.  Stop letting the enemy fill your mind with thoughts that you are insignificant or unimportant.  It’s a lie.  Today go out there and live as the prized possession of God you are!

 

  • Pray for the power of the gospel to be heard through the various online outlets. These are great days!  Pray for revival!!!
  • Pray that during this “time of pause”, UBC and along with other churches will draw closer to Him. What a shame it would be that when the “stay-at-home” order is lifted, we return to “life as usual”.
  • Pray for continued finances of While this has been a time of adjustment for us all, the bills of the church and our overhead expenses continue. In addition, there are missionaries and workers around the world who are dependent on the financial support of Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.  This is the last week to give to that effort.
Written by: Pastor Terry

 

April 12,2020

BEHOLD OUR GOD

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid;

“For YAH, the LORD is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation. 

Therefore, with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2-3

 

Storms will come in your life.  There will be moments when you know that if God does not show up in a specific situation, you are in deep trouble.  Living through these storms is not fun.  The prophet Isaiah wrote about such difficult times in the text for today.  But when God shows up, you know He will intervene in this situation and save you powerfully.  There is nothing like God reveling Himself in the situations of your life.

 

When He showed up in the form of a burning bush, God changed Moses’ life forever.  Moses’ direction and confidence relating to his future took on a new trajectory.  Just as with Moses, when God shows up in your life, it impacts you forever.

 

Many times it alters only your perspective and confidence, but other times it changes the direction of your life.  This energizes you with new spiritual strength!  Your vision and energy become impacted, and you want to brag on Jesus and what He is doing in our life.  Jesus gives you joy … again.  Jesus becomes as rivers of living water in your life … again.  Jesus makes you want to sing … again.

 

Here at UBC we sing many songs which comes in many forms (psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit (Ephesians 5:19).  We all have our favorites, but every now-and-then there comes a song that seems to hit everyone’s chord.  Behold Our God, by Sovereign Grace Music is one of those songs.  When we sing that song, the church erupts!  Here are those lyrics … and maybe right now, where you are … you can begin and sing (no matter what it sounds like):

 

Behold Our God

(Baird, Altrooge)

 

Who has held the oceans in His hand; Who has numbered every grain of sand
Kings and nations tremble at His voice; All creation rises to rejoice

Chorus

Behold our God seated on His throne; Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare; Come let us adore Him

Verse 2

Who has given counsel to the Lord; Who can question any of His words
Who can teach the One who knows all things; Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds

Verse 3

Who has felt the nails upon His hand; Bearing all the guilt of sinful man
God eternal humbled to the grave; Jesus Savior risen now to reign

 

One day … we will all gather again … and we’ll sing this song!!!

 

  • Pray for the many churches (along with UBC) who will be having Easter services.
  • Pray for the power of the gospel to be heard. These are great days!
  • Pray that during this “time of pause”, UBC and along with other churches will draw closer to Him.
  • Pray for UBC for the continued finances of While this is a time of adjustment for us all, the bills of the church and our overhead expenses continue. In addition, there are missionaries and workers around the world who are dependent on the financial support of Annie Armstrong that is made possible only through your generous contributions.
Written by: Pastor Terry

April 5, 2020

Sing!

 

The LORD our God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

 

Did you know God sings?  The God who is the Mighty One, Savior, Deliverer, King of kings, and Lord of lords also sings!

 

He made us in His image, and when He saved us, He gave us new identities, new lives, new beginnings, and new songs.  Psalm 40:3 says, “He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God.”  It is the song of redemption for the glory of God.  This is a song many will hear, and they will fear the Lord and place their trust in Him.

 

We sing because God sings.  Music is a gift from God, and He has given us much about with to rejoice.  Authenticity should mark our worship.  It should involve a response from our hearts to praise Him for all He has done for us.

 

Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).  Singing stirs our hearts and hides God’s Word in our hearts.  It helps us remember all the Lord has done and helps us teach others. 

 

Pray:

 

  • Pray that God in His mercy will remove the Coronavirus from our country; world.
  • Pray that during this “time of pause”, UBC and along with other churches will draw closer to Him.
  • Pray for opportunities to live out the gospel and share Jesus. These are great days to do so!
  • Pray for the faithful giving of tithes and offerings. While this is a time of adjustment for us all, the bills of the church and our overhead expenses continue to be a weight on us. In addition, there are missionaries and workers around the world who are dependent on the financial support of Annie Armstrong that is made possible only through your generous contributions. We have the Lord’s promise that, as we give, He will supply our own needs through His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

 

There are three ways to give: through our online giving service at www.ubcsa.org; through the church app and regular mail.
 
Written by: Pastor Terry
 

March 29, 2020

I WILL TRUST IN THE LORD

 

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.  For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

– Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

By watching the news over the past few weeks, uncertainty seems to be a constant companion for many people.  In reality, it has been this way for years.  Financial turmoil, employment woes, political unrest, wars, the threat of terrorism – all of this and more are reported daily in the news.  Where should a person turn for rest from these troubles?

 

Today’s verses make it very clear that one’s only hope is to turn to the Lord and place his or her trust in Him.  The picture in this passage is that of a tree planted by the waters that will withstand heat and drought and still bear fruit.

 

Trust, however, is not always easy to give.  Are you the type of person who finds it difficult to trust someone else, especially someone you can’t see?  If so, God knows and understands your reluctance.  This is one reason He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of you.  Now you have God with you every single moment of your life.  As you learn to trust the Holy Spirit, you will discover a new closeness with the Father and trusting Him will become much easier.  You will then become like a tree planted by the waters.

 

Pray:

  • Pray that God in His mercy will remove the Coronavirus from our country; world.
  • Pray that during this “time of pause”, UBC and along with other churches will draw closer to Him.
  • Pray for opportunities to live out the gospel and share Jesus. These are great days to do so!
  • Pray for the faithful giving of tithes and offerings. There are three ways to give: through our online giving service at ubcsa.org; through the church app and regular mail.

 

            While this is a time of adjustment for us all, the bills of the church and our overhead  expenses continue to be a weight on us. In addition, there are missionaries and workers around the world who are dependent on the financial support of Annie Armstrong that is made possible only through your generous contributions. We have the Lord’s promise that, as we give, He will supply our own needs through His riches in glory in Christ Jesus   (Philippians 4:19).
 
 
Written by: Pastor Terry