It's A Quandary

I remember when it first began, we bought our very first hand-held video camcorder. It was made by Magnavox and it was a huge monstrosity of a thing that you had to hold on your shoulder while videotaping. I was always the one in charge of doing the taping. At first I thought it was the best invention ever made. I took that video camera around at every family event - getting into people’s faces, taping their expressions as they opened gifts, catching their mistakes, capturing every detail.

But, then I remember sitting and watching one of the video tapes I had recorded of a birthday party for one of my children. Hmmm, where was I? I was nowhere to be seen in the entire production. Oh, yeah, that’s right, I was behind the camera trying to get the best angle and lighting… And, suddenly I felt very left out. Even though I had been present in the same room and even though I was viewing through the camera lens, I missed the entire thing. It was as if I was never even there and I was some stranger watching someone else's family have fun.

Eventually the newness of the video camera wore off and it became a chore and I was filming less and less. Though it was nice to go back and watch the tapes later and see how everyone had changed and get a nostalgic feeling of the past, it was very rare that I ever re-watched any of those tapes, and there were hundreds of them.

Why am I saying all of this? Well, here recently I began noticing a repeat of the past. This time however it is through different technology; smartphones and social media. The latest statistics show that Facebook has 1.35 billion users a month and 250 million of those users access it from their smartphone. The average Facebooker spends 15 hours and 33 minutes a month Facebooking.

I’m as guilty as anyone else of spending way too much time on social media; Facebook, Twitter, Blogger eats up a lot of my time, and I hate it. I do use it for good purposes; inviting people to church, uploading sermons, sharing Bible verses and spiritual thoughts, etc… but really none of it is necessary. While I have been able to get to know some great people and fellow pastors through it, the thousands of invites I have shared on Facebook and Twitter over the past 5 or 6 years has resulted in around 3 people actually deciding to come visit the church, and in fact, has opened me and my church up to heavy criticism over our worship style, our Bible convictions, our mission support, etc…

Another downside to this new technology is that for some reason we all feel it necessary to share every little detail of our lives. Things that we used to just enjoy as a family and make wonderful memories, are now clouded with trying to take the perfect "selfie" or to make sure we check in at that popular place so that everybody knows what we are doing, or our heads buried into our phones during our meals. All of this time we waste trying to be “social” we have become one of the least social societies in history. You have to admit it, except for your immediate family or your very closest friends you wouldn't have a single thing to do with anyone on your so-called “friends list” and probably wouldn't recognize them if you saw them out somewhere.

And, of course you always have a handful of "friends" that are so self-absorbed that they have to give minute by minute updates and selfies of their latest diet or work-out routine. "Look at my washboard abs,.." Or there is that "friend" that provides every detail of their nasty divorce or perceived wrong-doing that has been done to them. Probably the one that kills me the most is the needy person that skips from relationship to relationship posting every new love interest as if they finally met the love of their life, only to suddenly a week later delete all of their pictures and post how tragic their love life is. Sigh...

I realize this post may come off as mean spirited but it's not meant to be. I stand accused as much as anyone else of allowing it to penetrate my life. The very fact that I am writing this to share on social media is ironic. It just goes to show just how deeply technology has rooted itself into our lives. But, my desire is to be less “on-line” and more “in-line” with the real world. How to achieve the perfect balance is something I am still working on.

 Any thoughts?



Doctorate Update - Daniel

I am so relieved to have this Daniel course completed! To say it has been challenging would be an understatement. I shared the following on Facebook today: "Well, after 90+ hours of work, listening to 13 lectures, writing 29 pages of notes containing 10,186 words, a 50 question final exam, and 4 detailed sermon outlines, I am officially finished with OTBB8865 Exposition of Daniel. That's two courses down and eight more to go. Up next; Exposition of Galatians. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

I started this course around Christmas time, shortly after I received my grades back from the first course. With work, family, and Church it has been tough finding the time to get it completed but working on it through my lunch breaks and slow periods as well as late at night, I finally got it done. 

As always, prayers are appreciated. 



Doctorate Update

Old Testament Theology Grade
It's been a while since I posted anything about school. I finished my first course, Old Testament Theology, This course was challenging but rewarding. I enjoyed getting deeper into the Scripture and listening to the lectures. I ended up with 100 pages of notes and I took a 27 question exam as well. I sent my work in this past December and received my grade back about a week later. I was thrilled to receive an A for my grade.

Next up is Daniel. I have been working on it off and on for the past 3 months. There are 13 assignments and I am on the 10th assignment. I have taken 20 pages of notes so far. There is also a 50 question exam at the end of the course that I have to take.

As always prayers are appreciated.



Thankful for family

Every year it's the same thing, what to get my parents for Christmas? This year my mother told us what she wanted, a CD of my family singing. It was a joy to be able to provide her with something we knew she wanted. After several hours of recording and editing we finally finished and gave it to her tonight for Christmas.

Sometimes I wonder why the Lord blesses me as much as he does. I sure am thankful for the loving family that he gave me and for the talent he distributed among all of them. We may not be professional singers but we love singing for the Lord. If you are interested you can listen here: Chesney Family Favorite Hymns, or from the link below.



Men of God Part 5

About 4-years ago I started blogging about several preachers/pastors that I enjoy listening to. I titled the posts, "Men of God." Now, 4-years later I am once again posting about more men of God. Since I've been through Seminary and earned my Masters in Ministry degree and am now working on my Doctorate of Theology, I have had the pleasure to get to know several preachers that I had not been acquainted with before but now enjoy listening to on a regular basis.

Probably the preacher that I've come to know and enjoy listening to the most is Bro. Scott Pauley. Bro. Pauley is the Vice President of Crown College which is how I come to be acquainted with him. Bro. Pauley is what I would refer to as a powerful expositor. His messages are saturated in Scripture and his delivery style is both comforting and convicting.

I've had the pleasure of meeting Bro. Pauley on a few different occasions and each and every time he has warmly greeted me as if I was an old friend. You can tell from talking with him that he is very intelligent yet he doesn't come off as arrogant as some would do. He is a family man has a very humble demeanor.

I've listened to nearly every sermon that I have been able to find of Bro. Pauley's and have heard him preach in person several times as well. I can honestly say that every message that I've ever listened to of his has been a tremendous blessing to me.

My very favorite Scott Pauley sermon is one that he preached at Valley View Baptist during their Men's Prayer Breakfast. It was titled, "There Was A Man," and it was based on the man, Simeon, in Luke chapter 2 who blessed Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph brought him there as a child. I wish I could find an electronic copy of that message so I could share it but I haven't been able to. However, you can choose from any of Bro. Pauley's messages that are online and be guaranteed a blessing. May I recommend the message in the video I have embedded below, it is very powerful and there are many truths revealed in it.



OT Theology In the Books

It has been one month since I received my curriculum and syllabus from Andersonville Theological Seminary. Today while on my Thanksgiving break I was able to send in my first assignment, Old Testament Theology. I spent numerous hours (around 16 I believe) listening to lectures on each and every Book of the Old Testament and writing an outline on each lecture. At the end I had to take a test which had 37 questions that pertained to the material in the lectures. I also submitted 94 pages of notes.

I will say that this has been a very rewarding experience so far. I always love doing school work when it involves Bible study. That's what I do most of the time anyway so it feels very good to actually be working toward my doctorate while doing the thing that I love most.. I also love how the Lord deals with me in the different books and leads me to preach messages and sermon series based on the subject I'm working on at the time.

I tried to calculate how much time I will be spending on earning this degree. It is a little hard to put a specific date or number of hours on it because of the way I have to fit it into my schedule. I work on the assignments during my lunch break at work and late at night before bed after I have my sermon preparation finished. On days like this week when I'm on break from work for Thanksgiving I have been able to spend several non-stop hours doing nothing but school work. But, I think I should be able to complete everything in less than a year. Hopefully by this time next year I will be able to graduate.

Next, I move on to New Testament Theology. As always, prayers are appreciated for me and my family.



I Love Old People

The late George Younce who was the bass singer for the Cathedral Quartet, is remembered for a phrase he often used. He would look over at his singing partner, Glen Payne, and say, "I love old people, I really do." The audience would always erupt in laughter. 

Recently I had one person ask me; "what will happen when all of the old people die that are in the Church?" To this I replied, "there is never a shortage of old people." A fact of life is that we all get older. As one generation passes there is another one to take its place. All too often in my years in the Gospel ministry, I have heard some well meaning people say things like: "the youth are the future of the Church," or "a Church without young people is a dying Church." I understand what they are trying to say but I'm going to be very blunt here when I say, the elderly generation in the Church is the life-blood of the Church. It is the older congregants who are the most devoted, the most prayerful, the most caring, the most sharing, the most giving, the most faithful, and from what I've witnessed, the hardest working.

So many Churches are spending all of their time, resources, and money on trying to attract young people to their Churches all while neglecting the older crowd. They change their music style (which nearly none of the older folks like), they change their worship style (which nearly none of the older folks like) and they change their preaching style (which absolutely none of the older folks like). The problem with all of these changes is that they are only fads. They are popular one day and out of style the next, so one must move on to the next fad to try and appeal to some young person. Too many Churches are driving their older congregants away from Church by doing this.

In Paul's writing to Timothy (who by the way was a younger pastor) he is instructing him on the ways of the Church. He says in 1Timothy 3:15  "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Did you see that? The Bible says that the Church is "the pillar and ground of the truth." Sadly, by changing the Church to worldly music styles, rock type worship, and feel-good messages, you are chipping away at the foundation of the Church and you are no longer "the pillar and ground of the truth." You are simply an imitation of the world.

You may say, "well, isn't it good that we are attracting young people to the Church?" That all depends. Are they simply attracted to the things that they can get in the world, or are they attracted to the message of Jesus Christ? A Church without the message of Jesus Christ is not a Church at all, it is simply a social club. Is your goal just to fill up a building, or is your goal to teach and preach Jesus Christ? Young people can go to any of the world's venues to hear the world's music and messages. They need to know that the LORD's Church is different. It's not like the world, it is something out of this world. As Pastor Clarence Sexton often says, "the world doesn't need another copy of itself."

You may counter with "well, we've been seeing these young people get saved." That is good if that is truly the case. May I remind you of one of the most sobering messages from the Lord Jesus which is found in Matthew 7:20-21  "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." This applies to people of all ages, not just the older, wiser Christian, but the young one's as well.

I have personally witnessed young people that are attracted to some huge "youth event" where they flash the lights, beat the drums, and burst the ears with loud music and a feel-good pep talk, and they make some type of profession of faith. Then everyone goes out celebrating and talking about how many they saw saved at this so-called "youth event". The problem is I have seen these same young people that claim they "got saved," go right back to living the same way, acting the same way, speaking the same way, and have no further interest in the things of God than they did before. Oh they may come to Church for a while during the early stages but eventually the excitement wears off and they slip right back into the world from which they came and long for.  

I can't even begin to tell you the number of people that I have heard from over the years that tell me after they got older they realized that they were never truly saved. They had only professed they had out of some feeling of guilt or because everyone else was doing it, or they got caught up in the excitement. Many have fallen into the "1-2-3 repeat after me" salvation, or the holding up of the hand if you want to be saved salvation.  But they had never truly repented of their sins and by faith trusted the Lord Jesus as their Savior.

Now, having said all of this you probably think I am against young people in the Church. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think a Church should have a good mix of both young and old people, however, the message I am trying to convey here is the fact that many Churches have neglected their most important resource, and that is the older generation. It's time to stop catering to the whims and passing fancies of the young crowd and focus on being "the pillar and ground of the truth." 

I leave you with these words from the Psalmist: "O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come." Psalm 71:17-18



Don't call me doctor

It has been over a years since I completed my studies at Crown Seminary and earned my Master's in Ministry degree. Time sure does fly when you are having fun (and even when you aren't having fun). I really didn't think I would be longing to hit the books again for quite a while, but I was wrong. It's kind of strange the way I have gotten my education. I graduated in 1990 with an A.S. then I graduated in 2004 with my B.S. and in 2014 with my Master's, so they have come every ten years. But this time I just have a sense of urgency to get back to it. So a few weeks ago I applied and was accepted at Andersonville Theological Seminary in their Th.D program in Pastoral Theology. The only problem was that I didn't have the money to pay for it.

I began praying for the Lord to make a way for me to attend. The next week I was sitting at work and suddenly it was like the Lord just knocked me in the side of the head and reminded me about an IRA account that I took out around 10-years ago with H&R Block. I had completely forgotten about it. So I got to looking into it and discovered that there had been some kind of class action lawsuit against H&R Block concerning the type of IRA accounts that I had taken out. All of my money that I put into it was still there and accessible. I made a few phone calls, faxed some papers and am happy to say that the money went into my bank account this morning. So, along with those funds and some money I received for Pastor's appreciation and a scholarship that I received in the mail, I am able to begin my studies!

Some have asked me with working full-time, pastoring full-time, and my family responsibilities, how I have time to do anything else? My answer is, the Lord works it out. All through my Master's studies the Lord greatly used my study times as an aide to my sermon preparations. He was always leading me to preach messages from the Scriptures that I was studying at the time. So, it's almost as if I'm not doing anything extra, I'm just leveraging all of my resources effectively.

I'm really excited about getting started, the topics of study for this course are right up my alley:

30 Semester Hour Curriculum Overview
Section One
  • THEO8100 OT Theology
  • OTBB8865 Exposition of Daniel
  • NTBB8525 Exposition of Galatians
Section Two
  • THEO7200 NT Theology
  • NTBB8870 Epistles of John
  • NTBB8101 Exposition of Matthew I
Section Three
  • THEO7330 Doctrine of the Holy Spirit*
  • NTBB8102 Exposition of Matthew II
  • THEO7340 Doctrine of Christ
  • NTBB8538 Exposition of Thessalonians
Please pray for me and my family as I go through this program. One thing I do ask of you though, after I graduate I will have a Doctorate degree, but please don't call me Doctor...



How Many Ya'll Running Down There?

It seems the mentality of the world is to measure success on numbers: number of people that participate, amount in bank account, how many likes on Facebook, retweets on Twitter, and the list goes on and on. While it is true that you could probably measure your success in business or wealth on the number of dollars in your bank account, you simply cannot measure your success in the ministry based on numbers.

Early in my ministry, it was my belief that if the Church house was full that I was being successful as a preacher. I had this idea implanted in my head from the world's way of thinking and also from other pastors and preachers. I would cringe each and every time some preacher would ask me "how many ya'll running down there?" Also when gathering together with other preachers, there was always a division - the ones running a big crowd and the ones running a little crowd. I mean, after all, doesn't a large crowd of people attending an event make it successful?

I would get on social media and see fellow ministers brag and boast about their "packed-out house," and "overflowing parking lot," and make bold statements such as "Wow, had to put extra chairs out, God was really in the House!" Meanwhile I would look out upon the congregation of the Church that God called me to pastor and see empty spots in the pews. This really bothered me and I took it very personal, feeling that I was a failure in the ministry. I would go home defeated and depressed, thinking I should probably just give up.

One day while in this state of depression, contemplating giving up the Church and walking away from the ministry, the Lord directed me to this passage of Scripture: Matthew 27:22-23: 22  Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23  And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

I couldn't help but notice the Bible says "they all," meaning the great multitude of people, the "crowd." I then thought back to the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem just days before this event happened when the crowds were all rejoicing and praising him. Then it was like a light switch flipped in my mind and I realized that crowds have nothing to do with success in the ministry. Though great multitudes thronged the Saviour while he was ministering, healing the sick, and raising the dead, when it came right down to it he had very few true followers.

If you were to measure success by the world's standards, the Lord Jesus was a colossal failure. But we know, in fact, that He was and is the most successful being to ever exist. So, why do we measure our success in the ministry on the world's way of thinking? What does the Bible say concerning this? It is very simple. God shows us in His Word: Ephesians 4:11-13: 11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

I thank God that He showed me that He doesn't measure true success on crowds or on "how many ya'll running?" but rather he measures it on how closely we resemble His Son Jesus.

Let me encourage you, if you are a small Church pastor with only a few congregants in the pews, don't get discouraged. Keep your eye on Jesus, or as the Apostle Paul puts it: "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 3:14



Homecoming 2014 with Bro. Ross Williford

It was such a joy to have Bro. Ross Williford as our special guest preacher at today's Homecoming! This seasoned man of God had just the message that was needed for today's world. Preaching from the Book of Amos 4:11-13, a message titled, "Have You Made Your Reservation?", he expounded on three things needed to assure your salvation and to make ready your reservation in Heaven.

It was such a relief to know that I didn't have to worry about what Bro. Ross would say behind the pulpit. He believes in the old-time religion the same as I do. Still preaches out of the King James Bible and stands for the truth no matter who's feathers he may ruffle.

After the service we enjoyed a great time of food and fellowship. This was our 72nd Annual Homecoming. It is hard to believe that Highland has been around for 72-years and still standing firm on the Gospel. I am proud to say that I have a strong legacy, as my Grandfather, Edd Spencer, was founder and pastor of Highland back in the 40's.  He was also Bro. Ross's pastor for several years and was the one that lead him to Christ.

I'm looking forward to next year so we can celebrate once again! You can listen to Bro. Ross's message from today on our Sermon Audio page:



So Long "Fakebook"

So, I deactivated my personal Facebook page again. This time maybe for good. There comes a point when you have to weigh the pros and cons of everything. While I love keeping up with my family and seeing their posts and pictures, I do not enjoy all of the other stuff that goes with it.

For instance; I watched with a broken heart as one of my fellow preacher friends posted all kinds of worldly videos and music and say things that a Christian should not say. I noticed that his friend base changed and no longer were preachers and pastors liking his posts but the lost and wicked of the world were liking them. I watched as he ruined his testimony on Facebook for all of the world to see. The last I saw, I believe the Lord got ahold of him and he repented and got back on track, however, I can't help but wonder how many people were negatively influenced by someone who was supposed to be a child of the light acting like a child of the night.

I also began noticing that many of my fellow pastors were becoming the world's biggest braggers. Statements such as; "Wow! The place was packed! Wow! It was overflowing, you couldn't get another person in the parking lot! " etc... While I realize it is exciting to see God work in a Church, I assure you when you reach Heaven he is not going to congratulate you on your full parking lot but rather he will judge you according to your likeness to His Son (see Ephesians 4:13).

It just seems that God isn't receiving the glory for a lot of things that are being posted. The truth is there isn't a pastor on the face of this earth that is able to even get out of bed or take another breath unless God allows it. We can't do anything within ourselves. Every time we do things in our own power, we are not doing it for the glory of God.

The Scripture is very clear on how much the Lord hates pride, here are just a FEW examples:

  • "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished." Proverbs 16:5. 
  • "And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible." Isaiah 13:11 
  • "Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee." Jeremiah 50:31 
  • "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." James 4:6
I guess the scariest part is, I found myself also being prideful as I would post things that happened at Church and brag about the number of people, etc... I was listening to a sermon by Pastor Charles Lawson a couple of weeks ago and he made mention of Facebook and how he was not on it and never would be. He said his nickname for it was "Fakebook" because everything on there was fake. The Lord convicted me of this and for now I think it best that I just stay deactivated on Facebook. 

You don't have to agree with any of this, and that is fine. This is my own personal conviction and if you can stand before the Lord and be okay with those kind of things then be my guest. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and not Fakebook.



A little ministry advice

While searching through some documents on my computer this morning, I came across one of my old Seminary papers from when I was taking the Ministry Practicum course. As I read over it I thought that it may help someone else in the ministry, so I'm sharing it with the readers of this blog:

Below are two of the questions that were in this particular assignment:

Write a list of some philosophical points that you would pass along to someone taking your place in that ministry. Give things that one should remember when working in that ministry. You are basically writing declarative statements about your philosophy of ministry as it relates to the area in which you worked.

• Always remember that it is not about you but it is all about Jesus.

• Never depend upon your own understanding, always consult God’s Word.

• If you do not pray diligently, God will drive you to your knees and it isn’t always easy.

• You never have to “get up” a sermon as long as you preach the Bible.

• Expository preaching should take precedence over all other forms of preaching.

• Just taking prayer requests is not the same thing as praying. You must actually pray for the requests that have been made.

• Surround yourself with good, like-minded pastors. This will help you in times of discouragement, in which there will be many.

• Just because God called you to preach or pastor doesn’t mean you won’t have trials. Trials are what makes you and refines you into the man of God that He wants you to be.

• Don’t ever be so conceited to think that you are the only conduit the Lord can use in a service. He can use any means he wants, either through music, testimonies, or just through the spoken Scripture.

Provide a list that gives some practical points that you would want to pass along to someone taking your place in that ministry. These may be simple things that you learned by experience (mistakes or successes) that would help someone who would take your place to learn from your experience. 

• If at all possible, be the first one at the church to prepare for the service.

• If you use notes, arrange them in such a way that they are not noticed.

• Give others such as the pianists, or song leader, clear verbal cues.

• Always start on time and don’t needlessly drag out a service.

• Never apologize for preaching the truth from God’s Word.

• If you make a mistake, always be man enough to admit it, don’t try to hide it.

• Don’t try to “work up” a service with false spirituality or fervency. Always worship in Spirit and in Truth.

• Always maintain a professional, yet spiritual and friendly demeanor.

I pray that the above helps you in your ministry



A Crowning Moment

Although I finished my Master's program with Crown Seminary a year ago, I wasn't able to walk in the Commencement exercises until this year. It was an evening I will never forget.

I arrived at the Curtis Hutson Building not knowing really what to expect. I had not participated in the earlier practices that they had on Sunday and earlier that day on Monday. I was able to get my robe, hat, and board and after struggling a while I figured out how to actually get them all on. I wasn't alone, as I saw several other people confused how to assemble them.

Once everyone got robed and set down, we made our way over to the Sanctuary at the Church. We stood in formation and had several photographs made and then we filed back to the Curtis Hutson Building to await the exercises.

I wish I had felt better physically but I had came down with a cold which lead to an upper respiratory infection and so I was sneezing and coughing and really feeling pretty rough. I enjoyed watching all of the younger graduates as they sat around laughing and talking. Ah, to be young again!

There were three other Master's of Ministry Extended students besides myself. We made some small talk as we were waiting for things to begin. Finally the hour came and we marched back over to the Sanctuary for the Commencement service.

It was thrilling to hear the Temple Baptist orchestra play Pomp and Circumstance and I was nearly in tears by the time I took my place among the other students. There were thousands of people there including the graduates, parents, students, friends, and other guests. Pastor Sexton opened things up and then it got underway.

I was in the last row to receive my diploma so I had the privileged of seeing all of the other graduates make their way up to the platform and receive their degrees. I was both nervous and excited as I awaited my turn and then I heard Bro. Scott Pauley call out my name; "Byron S. Chesney." Suddenly from behind me I heard a large outburst of people yelling for me. It was my family and some of my fellow church members that had came to see me graduate. I was probably grinning from ear to ear when I approached Pastor Sexton and he took my hand. He looked at me and said, "my, but you have a large crowd of people here to support you!" I just laughed and said, "yep!" He then said that he hoped the program was a blessing to me in which I replied back that it certainly was. Then before I knew it, I was walking off the stage holding my diploma and it was all over with.

It probably seems silly to write about all of this but it truly was an exciting time in my life. I worked hard to earn that degree and I wanted to receive the full experience. I still remember back before I began working on the program and thinking it would take forever, but honestly the time flew by. I would do it all over again in a heart beat.



Church the way it used to be!

Let's face it, times are tough. This old world is winding down. The hand-writing is on the wall and the Lord could return any minute. Have you considered where you or your family will spend eternity? Have you been procrastinating about attending Church? Have you tried different Churches and found them to be nothing but replicas of the world? Have you been disappointed by visiting places to find they are more interested in your bank account than they are your soul?

Wouldn't you love to find a Church that worships the way you remember? Preaching from the King James Bible, singing from the old Red-Back Church Hymnal, Altar prayer and prayer requests at every service, a place where you felt more like family than a spectator... Well, your search is over! I would like to personally invite you to Highland Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN.

We are a small enough to feel like family, yet large enough to offer several opportunities to worship and serve the Lord. We would love to have you and your family visit. Eternity is too important to waste your time and your family's time by going somewhere that could care less about teaching and preaching God's Word. Our desire is to be a 1st Century Church in a 21st Century world. Why don't you come out give us a try? We are located at 6014 Babelay Rd. Knoxville, TN 37924. You can visit our website at www.hbcknox.org



Fun, Games, and Chicken Eating!

As I was sitting at work today praying and wondering about the message the Lord would have me preach this Sunday, I couldn't help but remember what I heard a man say one time. He said "I wish I was a pastor, they have it made. They only work 3 times a week and have all the fried chicken they want!"

While I believe he was joking, I wondered if that was how people really felt? Well, if you are one of those, let me fill you in on what a bi-vocational pastor really does.

Spare time: A bi-vocational pastor spends every available (spare) minute praying, preparing, or studying. He uses his lunch break at work to pray, prepare, study, make phone calls, and make visits if time allows. 

Vacations: A bi-vocational pastor uses his vacation time for visiting people in hospitals, shut-ins, helping with Vacation Bible School, and sick days for when he is the one sick. When the kids ask "Daddy, are we going to be able to go on a real vacation this year?" The answer is typically, "I'm sorry but I don't have enough days left and I don't have anyone to fill in for me at Church."

Wednesday Hump-Day!: While everyone else is celebrating the middle of the week knowing they are closer to the weekend, the bi-vocational pastor is scrambling to put the Wednesday message together while at work and praying he is able to fight traffic on Wednesday evening so he can get to Church by starting time. 

Saturday Palooza: A bi-vocational pastor spends his entire Saturday preparing the message for Sunday and doing visitation. When his kids ask "Daddy, do you think we can do something as a family today?" The answer is typically, "I'm sorry but I've got to prepare for tomorrow's messages," or "so and so is in the hospital, etc..." The bi-vocational pastor drags his family along with him to make visits so he can spend some time with them.

Sunday Fun-day!: A bi-vocational pastor spends his entire Sunday preaching, praying, studying, and preparing. While everyone else is running out to eat after Church and then coming home and napping, the pastor is in the study wondering if the morning message made a difference in anyone's life or if it was pleasing to the Lord. Then he spends the rest of the afternoon preparing for the evening message.

Monday Sleep-in!: A bi-vocational pastor has to get up on Monday morning worn-out, exhausted, and often feeling physically and spiritually defeated, yet having to go in to work and start the same routine over again.

All That Other Spare Time: Of course we can't forget that a bi-vocational is also on call 24/7. If someone is sick or in need the pastor is always willing and available to help. If this means going out at midnight to someone's home or the emergency room then so be it. Just remember that the bi-vocational pastor still has to go in to work the next day regardless of how/where he spent his night.

Am I complaining? No, not at all. I am simply trying to make you see the reality of what your bi-vocational pastor goes through. It's not all fun and games and chicken eating!



The Genuine Article

Having role models in the ministry and looking up to great men of God is wonderful, however, we should never make it our goal to imitate these men. God made each one of us unique. When he called you to preach he didn't call you to imitate other men, he called you to preach His Word. 

I can't quote Scripture like James Langston or Boyd Bingham. I can't tell jokes like Tony Hutson. I can't write songs like Craig Edwards. I can't sing like Lester Rolloff. I don't have the wisdom of Clarence Sexton or John MacArthur. I can't tell stories like Phil Kidd. I don't have the recognizable voice of Stinnett Ballew. I can't ring the rafters like Charles Lawson. I can't write books like Oliver Greene. I can't fill a revival tent like Ralph Sexton Jr. While I admire and listen to each of these men, I can only be me. It took me a while before I realized that fact. 

I notice a lot of young preachers today trying to imitate certain preachers, use their catch phrases, etc... Let me urge you to just be yourself the way God made you. There is probably something about you that no other preacher possesses. Just preach the Word and be the genuine article.



Living Proof

I often hear people say that they "don't understand the Bible." If you are one of those let me give you some advice - take on the responsibility of teaching the Bible to someone else; a Sunday school class, a study group, a school group, Church group, family member, peers, anyone. The best way of learning something is to teach it to others. If you are responsible for it, it will force you to learn it. I'm living proof. In fact, my very first excuse to God for not teaching Sunday school, preaching, and leading the singing was "I don't understand it." Twenty two years later and I still don't understand it all, but by the Grace of God I'm learning every day!

There are a lot of great free resources out there for people to use. Two of my favorites are e-sword, and Precept Austin. If there was one set of commentaries I would recommend for a beginner or someone newly teaching it would be J. Vernon McGee's, Thru the Bible Series, mainly because of their simplicity.

So, don't be afraid of the Bible. The Lord intends for us to read it and understand it. You can do it if you just put forth effort. After all, I'm living proof!



Good First Impressions

I learned a very valuable lesson today, if the Lord impresses upon you to do something for someone don't ever shrug it off, no matter how insignificant you may think it is. I came close to doing that yesterday and boy, am I glad I didn't! I just received one of the greatest phone calls I've ever had from a man that I have been praying for that is going through a very trying time in his life right now. Because of something that the Lord impressed upon me to do yesterday, this man said it changed his life. Give God all the glory!

You never know what small thing you do may mean to someone going through a trial or struggle in life. The only way for us to know whether or not it is the Holy Spirit leading us to do things, is if we are living in the Spirit. To live in the Spirit we must abide in God; prayer, meditation, Bible reading, walking with the Lord. If you are in to everything else under the sun and leaving God out of your life you will not be directed by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says: "This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."



Keep Pressing On

A couple of years ago I heard Bro. Scott Pauley talking about life verses. I had several verses that I liked but not really one I considered my life verse. As I thought on this and prayed about it, the Lord revealed to me what my life verse is: Philippians 3:14: "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

My sermons may never be published in the Sword of the Lord. You'll probably never hear me on Conference Pulpit. Larry King live will never ask to interview me. I most likely will never preach to 30,000 people at once like Billy Graham or be on the cover of Preaching Magazine. But, I am right where the Lord wants me to be, shepherding the flock that he has trusted me with and if this is where he wants me to be until I die or he comes and takes us out of here, I will keep pressing on!



One Blessed Man

Missionaries to the Philippines
Pastor Byron and wife Mary with the Houser Family
The life of a pastor isn't always sunshine and roses, in fact, it rarely ever is; however, every now and then everything comes together in a way that only the Lord could orchestrate. Today was one of those great days in the life of a pastor.

Missionaries to the Philippines
The Houser Family
This morning, we had special guests, the Houser Family, missionaries to the Philippines, in our worship service. I had never met them before and only had conversed a few times over email and once on the telephone. Bro. Houser and his wife are both graduates of the same college that I graduated from, The Crown College of the Bible, so I knew they were doctrinally sound and was not worried at all to turn the service over to them. What a blessing it was to hear them sing, present their ministry and for Bro. Houser to preach a message. They were a joy to be around and to worship with.

After church my family and I drove over to the home of one of our shut-in's and spent some time with her, singing, talking, and praying. She is always a delight to be around and loves being visited. Her heart's desire is to be able to come back to church and if her health would allow it, she certainly would be right there.

My family rarely ever eats out on a Sunday but today we made an  exception and stopped off at the Mandarin House Chinese Buffet. We had a delicious meal and even though it was a buffet I didn't really over do it on the food.

Tonight I brought a message about John the Baptist and expounded upon 4 attributes that made him such a great man of God and a true hero. I spoke of his purpose, his truth, his humility, and his impact. During the invitation period one precious girl walked the aisle and prayed to be saved. What a blessing it was to know that God is still convicting hearts and saving souls. As a pastor, I could not have asked for a better day. I wish it never had to end. I am definitely one blessed man.


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