I've seen it all before - 11|9|16

I have favorite movies, and I’m sure that you do too. Two of mine are The Man from Snowy River and O Brother Where Art Thou. I enjoy them both for different reasons, and I have no idea how many times I’ve seen each one; but let me just say that I’ve seen them many, many times, and I look forward to watching them again and again.

I saw The Man from Snowy River in my youth, and the story of a young man coming of age, proving himself, overcoming, and eventually being called a “man” resonated with me in a way that has stuck with me throughout my life. Plus, the musical score is amazing.

O Brother Where Art There is a favorite of mine because it’s set in the “geographical oddity of being two weeks from everywhere,” and just thinking about it makes me laugh.

I basically have both of them memorized. I anticipate the dialogue. I move my mouth as some of my favorite lines are spoken, and I often laugh in advance because I know what’s coming next. As many times as I’ve watched these movies, I could sit down right now and watch them again…especially if you want to watch them with me and you’ve never seen them yourself. I will have a blast watching you watch my favorite movies.

If you’re reading this blog right now, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard every major biblical story preached many times over. There’s no preacher in America that is going to surprise you with a new angle on David and Goliath. You know that David was faithful in little things (lions and bears) before God used him in facing Goliath. You know that David was outmatched in every way, except the Lord was on his side. You know that Goliath had relatives, and some people think that is why David picked up extra stones.

Ok. You know it already. So how does a seasoned saint engage in, enjoy, and find it refreshing when we’re anesthetized to what we’re hearing? How do you deal with it when you find that you’ve become like the Israelites and you’re so tired of manna? The gospel, the worship, the fellowship of saints has all just become white noise. That which was once your salvation is now on your nerves. That which was once an answer to prayer is now an annoyance. That which once inspired you now irritates you. That which once brought you peace and understanding now just causes you to roll your eyes and say, “Here we go again.”

Let me submit to you that you can find joy in the old, old story when you see it striking a chord in the hearts of those who are hearing it for the first time or as you see it just now sinking into someone’s heart. Let me make a suggestion. Bring a friend on your arm to worship. Do them like I would probably do you if you were to watch The Man from Snowy River or O Brother Where Art Thou with me. When you hear the intro to one of the choir’s sugar sticks, nudge you’re buddy with your elbow and totally ruin it for him by saying, “Oh, yeah, this one’s good. Listen, you’re going to love this.” Or when the preacher says let’s turn to the Prodigal Son, whisper an “Oh yeah, this is good.” Because it is good. Even if you’re bored with it. It might be the very thing your friend needs at that very moment.

Seeing the Word of God break through in a person who is new, struggling, or young in the faith can and should bring us veterans a great deal of joy. To see a growing believer applying the truths of God’s Word in a way that is transforming him or her should bring a smile to the Christian grown-up’s face.

Unless we’re trying to make it about us.

Now, here’s a truth, it shouldn’t matter how long we’ve been on our journey of faith in Jesus Christ, His Word is new, fresh, and applicable every day. That’s just the bottom-line. His Word does not grow stale. If you’re bored with it, be honest with yourself and recognize where the problem lies. 

“For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.”       2 Timothy 3:2-3

Let me draw your attention to the word that is translated as unforgiving. The Greek word is aspondos, and aspondos actually means unappeasable. Could there be anything more challenging than an unappeasable spouse? An unappeasable friend? An unappeasable teacher? An unappeasable co-worker? An unappeasable boss? An unappeasable audience? An unappeasable coach? No matter how many concessions are made, that person will never be happy.

Talk about a tough life. Here’s the thing. If we know how difficult it is to deal with someone who is unappeasable, wouldn’t we want to determine on the front end that we’re going to be easy to please? I can’t fix you, and you can’t fix me, but we can set our minds on being appeasable. At different points in my life I’ve had to say to myself, “This is not my cup of tea, but so what!” At those times there has almost always been someone sitting right beside me who is loving it! I’ve had to ask myself, “Why am I not getting it? Why are so many having the time of their lives, and I feel like I’m in the middle of the movie, Groundhog Day?” (Not a favorite, but it is funny). Perhaps, for that moment, or for that season, it wasn’t for me. It was an opportunity for me to enjoy seeing someone else enjoying their moment.

I’ve used this verse in closing a blog before, but I’ll use it again. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:25. Sometimes we’re a guest at someone else’s favorite meal. Let’s enjoy how much he or she is enjoying it. Even if we’ve had the same thing 3 times in the 3 days prior. We can enjoy someone else enjoying what’s being served.

Written By: David Jenkins

Climate Change - 10|12|16

Climate change is a big deal. According to science experts, rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere have warmed the Earth and are causing wide-ranging impacts, including rising sea levels; melting snow and ice; more extreme heat events, fires and drought; and more extreme storms, rainfall and floods. Scientists project that these trends will continue and in some cases accelerate, posing significant risks to human health, our forests, agriculture, freshwater supplies, coastlines, and other natural resources that are vital to our economy, environment and quality of life.

Right about this point, you either think I am a brilliant scientific mind, OR you consider me a lunatic environmentalist who claims climate change will destroy the earth. Truth is—I am neither. However, I tend to believe in climate change…not necessarily environmental climate change but spiritual climate change. 

The basic premise of climate change is that certain things done over an extended period of time will change the earth. Whether not this is true is above my pay grade, and frankly, I have confidence in the God who made the earth to adjust the climate as He sees fit. I do believe, however, that there are things that we can do over an extended period of time that affect our spiritual climate. Studying the Bible, meditating on scripture and prayer are good personal disciplines that, over time, will affect our spiritual climate. Not only will it affect us personally, but it can potentially affect our families, churches and other people we come in contact with. 

When it comes to spiritual climate change, what is your temperature? Are you, through spiritual disciplines and relationships, maturing in your faith?   I have found from experience that we are either moving more toward spiritual maturity or taking steps backwards. It‘s hard to remain neutral. If you find yourself taking steps backward, I want to encourage you to make a move back toward God. God has not moved, and He will meet you where you are and begin to change the spiritual climate in your life and the lives of those around you. Climate change is a big deal. 

 “I will exalt the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me…" Psalm 34

Written By: Stephen Dees

Valley View's vital signs - 10|5|16

You know, I’m in a really cool spot here at Valley View! I have the privilege on a daily basis to have conversations and to receive texts and emails from so many of you sharing with me about what God is doing in your lives. Over the past month or so, I have been blown away by so many awesome testimonies and examples of God’s redemption, grace and power. I think it can be easy for all of us to get caught up in the day to day things and miss what God is doing all around us. I think it’s even easy at times in church life to get caught up in “business as usual” and miss all that God is up to. So let me take a moment and share with you just a glimpse of all that God is doing. 

On a weekly basis, we have numerous people stopping by “Connection Point.” Many of these are guests who want to meet Bro. Billy and to learn more about the church. In addition, so many of these folks are coming to express their need for Jesus. They are coming to follow in obedience through baptism. They are sharing how God is calling them to go deeper in their walk with Him. On top of all of this, God has given me a front row seat to have conversations with a group of men who are on fire for the Lord and are hungering for more of Him. These are a group of men who have the potential, through the power of God, to impact our church and community in amazing ways with the love of Jesus. I have had conversations with many women connected to the Women’s Ministry whose number one desire is to reach, encourage, mentor and disciple women in their walk with Jesus. The things that God is stirring in the hearts of our Women Ministry leaders are incredible. I have seen discipleship lived out as individuals have invested in the lives of their neighbors and have seen the power of Jesus cut through cultural and racial barriers. I have seen Small Groups and ABS classes love like Jesus. I have had conversations with individuals who use their hobbies and interests as a tool to share the love of Christ with those around them. I have seen College students chase after Jesus like never before. I have seen College students, on their own, meet on Friday nights to worship. I have seen Middle School and High School students grow in their relationship with the Lord and connect with their Small Groups and Small Group Leaders. I have had conversations with young men who have expressed that God is calling them into the ministry. I have seen ABS classes and Small Groups come alongside people that they love who are heartbroken and devastated and love them with a love that can only come from the Holy Spirit. I have seen and heard of service projects and ministries that many of you are involved in and how you are showing the love of Jesus in tangible ways. I have sat in my office with many moms and dads and heard amazing testimonies of what God is doing in the lives of their children. I have sat in my office and heard heartbreaking stories of marriages that are on the brink of disaster, and yet, have seen God bring about healing and restoration. I have stood in parking lots and heard testimonies that literally give me chills of how Jesus has rescued and delivered people from total destruction and darkness. I’ve sat in staff meetings and have heard the hearts, passions and visions of a group of ministers whose desire is to love and follow Jesus with all that they are. These ministers desire to love and lead a church that is focused on connecting with people and who live a life of discipleship. I’ve sat in the living room of senior adults who invited a group of college students into their home to feed them but gave them so much more than a great meal. They gave them a piece of their heart. I’ve seen a Senior Adult Ministry that is thriving and more active and have more fun than most church youth groups. I’ve experienced a game night with the “Sunlighters” that got pretty intense and saw senior adult ladies laughing and high fiving college guys. I’ve seen a worship ministry that goes above and beyond loving on a bunch of kids on Sunday nights…that is so much more than just preparing for a Christmas musical. I’ve sat in worship blown away by the gifts and talents of those that lead us in worship every week. 

Yeah, it’s all pretty cool and I can promise you that this is just a glimpse. Let me encourage you to pause and look around at all that God is doing in and through Valley View. Let me encourage you to worship and praise the Lord for all that He is and for all that He is doing. Let me also encourage you to not be satisfied but to hunger and to thirst for more of Him! I love you, and it is an unbelievable honor and privilege to serve you and to experience all that God is doing with you!

Written By: Drew Dockery

Yes Grasshopper - 9|28|16

I have a nine-year old son who is involved in martial arts. He’s a blue belt. He is one of the best blue belts at the academy. Yes, I’m his father. Just take my word for it. He’s good. He’s approximately half way to earning a black belt. He doesn’t know everything, but he’s learned a great deal so far. He has done so well, in fact, that his instructor invited him to be part of the “Honors” group. So now his mom and dad have the honor of paying $40.00 more a month, and Eli gets to wear a cool shirt and a cool red jacket.

Ok, that’s not all there is to being in the honors group. Eli also attends some of the classes where less experienced martial artists are learning their craft. He, along with his fellow honor group members, mill around the room and assist the lower belts in their form. I’ve watched this for some time now, and it has been a great picture of discipleship. I’d like to share a few of my observations that we as believers could, perhaps, apply to our own lives:

  1. Long before a student becomes a black belt, the honors member begins to pass along his or her knowledge to others. They may not know everything, but they put what they do know to good use by helping others. 
  2. An honors group member may demonstrate a stance or a move. They show the less experienced student how it’s done. 
  3. An honors student may gently and respectfully reposition the less experienced student’s hands, feet, head, and overall stance or position. 
  4. The honors student is not allowed to talk. The main instructor does the talking. The honor student doesn’t provide verbal input. He or she either sets an example or gently adjusts, but they aren’t allowed to comment to or about the less experienced student.  

I think there are a few things we can learn from these younglings! Let’s look at them one at a time:

  1. We don’t have to be spiritual black belts before we can help people. You’re qualified and commissioned to help people no matter how much or little you know. Have you ever noticed how new believers often share their faith with their friends who are unbelievers? They haven’t even had a discipleship class yet, and they instinctively share their faith. Why would we want to teach them to be like us and stop having lost friends and stop sharing their faith? “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. 
  2. We set an example with our own lives. It’s up to us whether it’s positive or negative, helpful or hurtful, for the glory of God or not. Are we showing concern or just showing off? “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:15. 
  3. God wants to use us to touch someone’s life. It’s hands on. Jesus was willing, and we need to be willing. It might mean reaching out and touching the seemingly untouchable. Our faith is not for ourselves. It’s for others. “Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’” Mark 1:41. 
  4. What we do is so loud that what we say doesn’t matter anyway. If we set an example and touch lives, what is there to add to Jesus’ commands anyway? Can we out-teach the Word of God? Let Jesus, the Master Teacher, be the Rabbi. “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18. 

Just a few life lessons for the believer from watching some quality Tai Kwan Do. Hi yah! 

Written By: David Jenkins

following god's lead - 9|21|16

When I was a kid, I loved following my dad around everywhere he went. He would take me to the hospital with him to visit sick folks. He would take me to the local college ballgames. He even coached some of my sports teams through the years.

In my adult years, my dad became my best friend, my confidant and my biggest supporter. I could talk to my dad about anything. I miss that more than anything over the past decade since his home-going. 

My dad had a unique way of cutting to the chase and offering sage advice that he learned from his own successes and failures in life and in ministry. I recently recalled something my father told me years ago when I was faced with a difficult pastoral decision. He said to me, “Son, people will always love you when you make decisions that please them. Just remember, God has not called you to please man. You better do what God is leading you to do because He is the one you will have to answer to in the end.” 

By nature, I am a people pleaser. I want to be liked, and I want people to know that I like them. However, when it comes time to make the tough decisions as the pastor of a large church with large amount of opinions, I pray I will always seek to follow God’s leading rather than cave in to what may be popular in man’s eyes. 

Hebrews 13:17 - “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” 

Written By: Billy Joy

The Walk - 9|14|16

If you’ve seen the movie, The Walk, you’ll remember the powerful images that go with this story.  If you haven't and you have time watch this trailer before you keep reading, click here.

Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist.  When Philippe saw the perfect place to hang his wire, he absolutely could not rest until he made The Walk.  He came to the U.S. in 1974 for the first time where he laid eyes on the World Trade Centers, the "Twin Towers.”  He was instantly motivated to hang his wire and make a walk from one tower to the next.  After going through rigorous preparation, all of his dreams culminated on August the 7th, 1974.  With no harness, carrying only a balancing pole, he made The Walk.  Not once.. not twice… Suspended at 1350 feet, he preformed for spectators for 45 minutes making 8 complete passes!!

“When people ask me why do you risk death? For me, this is life.”  - Philippe Petit

Why do I tell you this? I believe that many of us find ourselves in a season where God is calling us to take a risk.  We have so much: great reputations, money, a good job, great friends and a great church. So I ask you this question, what is God calling you to do that absolutely makes your stomach flip? You know the feeling if you're scared of heights. It’s often the same feeling when God calls us outside of our comfort zone. So what is it? Is it a person God wants you to reach? Or maybe the way God wants you to reach them?

Whatever the case may be, following Jesus always costs something.  In a way, it’s a risky business.  But when God calls you to step out on that wire and risk everything that makes you feel comfortable, what will be your answer?  I’ll leave you with this statement and scripture:

God has the power to make the most of your life, but YOU have to risk everything to see it happen. 

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:21 NIV

Written By: Joseph Gibbons

Slow to speak - 8|24|16

“Understand this my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19.

Ok, true story. A couple of weeks ago, my wife, Jennifer, my eight-year old son, six-year-old daughter and I were headed up the highway in the mini-van in search for food. Jennifer and I were having a discussion, and the kids were in their own world in the back seat. All was well for the first mile. Then the children began raising their voices, so in order for Jennifer and me to continue conversing, we began to speak a little louder ourselves. Before we knew it, it was just a loud mess, and no one could hear anyone. Jennifer, interrupted the noise by asking the children where they’d like to eat. We already knew the answer, but I guess she thought she’d just sling it out there, and maybe we’d get a different answer this time. Nope. “Chick-fil-A!” was all we heard from the back seat.

So, as a side comment, Jennifer simply said, “You guys would eat at Chick-Fil-A everyday if we let you,” and then she and I resumed our conversation while I pointed the vehicle toward Chick-Fil-A. Well. The noise began to escalate again, only this time, Jennifer and I had reached a point where we were both engaged in the conversation, and that’s a rare thing, so we both wanted the children to be quiet, so we could talk. That worked for about 10 seconds, and then we were having to yell to each other because the kids were yelling at a fevered pitch. Now what I have failed to tell you is that after Jennifer made the comment to the children that they would eat Chick-Fil-A every day if we let them, the children began chanting, “Chick-Fil-A, every day, Chick-Fil-A, every day, Chick-Fil-A, every day, Chick-Fil-A, every day!” Jennifer and I were trying to have a meaningful conversation with the Chick-Fil-A children’s rap/chant going in the background. Do you get the picture?

Now, I’m a patient person by nature. I’m not given to high-strungness at all, but after about 5 miles and 4 bouts of Jennifer asking the children to be quiet, and the children seemingly unable to obey the first, second, third or fourth requests, I did the unthinkable. I kicked a little bass into my voice, and I breathed in through my diaphragm and bellowed… Well, before I tell you what I said, let me tell you a little bit about the language that’s not allowed in our house.

We don’t allow words like stupid, idiot, heck, crap (thanks church college kids for teaching my kids how to play the game Bull Crap), shut up, gosh, and several other words that all the church kids get to say, but ours don’t. So, back to the car ride. I’d had all I could handle. I was at DEFCON 5. I’d lowered my Adam’s apple to the lowest possible position, and I was ready to launch “Operation Shock and Awe.”

I bellowed, “Hey, shut your pie holes!”

Silence. I’ll admit a couple of things here. I was 99.9% regretful for blowing my top and talking to the children in a manner that was unbecoming. The .1% of me, however, was like, “Yeah, I still have my man card. Fear me!” Unfortunately, out of my peripheral vision (I was afraid to turn my head and look…so much for the man card.), I could tell that I had gone too far because even from the side I could tell that Jennifer was giving me the “I don’t know who you are anymore” look. At the same time, I could not bring myself to look into the back seat because I was afraid I would see two children curled up in the fetal position. What had I done? So we rode in silence for a mile. (It was awesome.)

Then, in perfect soprano unison, as if my children had rehearsed it, we hear these words ring out from the back seat, “What’s a pie hole?” The silence and the tension were broken. Yes! So then Jennifer and I burst out laughing, and then the kids started laughing. I was just happy because my outburst hadn’t ruined the kids for life, and more importantly, maybe I wouldn’t hear anything from Jennifer about it.

Well, needless to say, by the time we passed another mile marker, there had been no resumption of the mother-father-in-depth conversation, and by then, I guess we really didn’t care. Everybody was happy. Oh, at that point, instead of “Chick-Fil-A” booming from the back seat, it was “Pie hole, pie hole, pie hole, pie hole!” “What’s a pie hole? Ha ha ha ha hee hee hee pie hole! Pie hole, pie hole, pie hole.” I think I even heard some “pie hole, pie hole” coming from the front seats as well.

Man, it’s hard to keep our mouths shut when something is really grating on our nerves isn’t it? It’s hard to not speak when we’re fed up or angry or at wits end. Let me kindly submit to you and to me that it’s precisely in those tense moments when it’s toughest to keep our pie holes shut that we really need to, well, be slow to speak.

By the way, I did answer their question, “What’s a pie hole?” I told them it was the hole in their face that they shoved pie into. Was that unbecoming? Don’t answer that please.

Written By: David Jenkins

Election Reflection - 8|3|16

As I write this, there are 104 days left until the United States of America elects its 45th President. I don’t know about you, but it can’t get here fast enough, not because I am looking forward to the results, but because I can’t wait for all the hoopla surrounding it to be in the rear view mirror. 

I have attempted to watch the RNC and DNC during the past few days to better educate myself on what each candidate stands for and the specific plans they have, but due to the negativity, character assassination and divisiveness, I felt compelled to change the channel. Both candidates seemed more intent on attacking each other rather than sharing specific actions they will take to better our nation.  

Reluctantly, I recently joined Facebook to keep up with friends and family. I’m afraid I have made a mistake. I should have waited until after the election was over. By joining Facebook, I have subjected myself to way too many photos of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Jokes about each candidate abound. Opinions are not in short demand. 

Democrat…Republican…Trump…Liberal…Democratic National Convention…email scandals…FBI probe…lobbyist…power…money…control…ISIS…lower taxes…economy…balanced budget…Muslims…homeland security…Constitution…secure the border…rigged election process…Socialism…private servers…build a wall…black lives matter…Conservative…Hillary…Republican National Convention…blue lives matter…19 Trillion dollar debt…Syrian refugees…corruption…gun grabbers…women’s rights…latinos…all lives matter…ISIL…radical jihad…veterans care…Social security…minorities…42 million unemployed…endorsements…WikiLeaks…anti-cop…Fox news…deportation…protests…party unity…plagiarism…minority vote…free speech…transgender restrooms…gay rights…CNN…2nd Amendment…women’s rights—I’ll stop here!

At the risk of sounding religious, let me make a few biblical observations/comments:

1. If you are a follower of Christ, I encourage you to take a STEP BACK and take a DEEP BREATH. Should we vote? Yes. However, we must realize that neither candidate can, nor will, solve the ills of our society. Our confidence should be in Christ who will save us, not in a political candidate who “promises” to save us.

2. If you are a follower of Christ, I encourage you to evaluate what impact the election hoopla is having on you personally. Satan will use the bombardment of election information to distract you…but only if you allow it. I am amazed at how much effort people are putting into promoting “their” candidate and what “their” candidate stands for. 

  3. If you are a follower of Christ, I encourage believers to refocus our efforts on what REALLY matters. There are 3 commandments from God to us that should be guiding principles for our lives.

  • Love God. (Matthew 22:37) 
  • Love Others. (John 13:34) 
  • Make Disciples. (Matthew 4:19)  

These 3 commandments are potential game-changers. They are “potential” in that each one hinges on our faithfulness to the previous one. We can’t love others, if we don’t love God with all of our being. We will never become disciple makers if we aren’t willing to love others unconditionally. 

Not to downplay the importance of this election, but on Wednesday, November 9th, regardless of the election results of the previous day, I plan to wake up and go about my day as usual—with confidence in the One who always backs up His promises. Presidents will come and go, but the timeless truths in the Word of God will never change. 

“God is in control of who is in control.” Larry Osborne (via Dr. Joy)

Written By: Stephen Dees

trusting the father - 7|27|16

My family and I recently went on vacation, and the hotel that we stayed at had a pool with several water slides. The water slides were enclosed tubes, which made for a completely dark, fast, scary, winding ride. Annie, my youngest daughter, wanted to go down the slides just like all of the other kids but couldn’t muster up enough courage, so she sat and watched as other kids climbed the steps and took a leap into the dark and winding ride. There were screams and yells and even a few tears as the kids came flying down the slide, but as they hit the water, the screams and yells and tears turned into laughter, joy and excitement. 

Finally, I said to Annie, “I’ll go with you. You can hold on to me, and we’ll go down the slide together.” It was an invitation that she couldn’t turn down. Although she was still nervous and scared, something had changed by the simple fact that Dad would be with here every step of the way. We climbed the stairs. She held on tight, and down the slide we went. 

Now, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the easiest of rides. It was dark, fast, winding and rough. But we made it! At the end, there was joy and laughter that made Annie forget about the darkness and the twists, turns, ups and downs that she had just experienced. 

As I thought of this experience with Annie, I began to think of our walk with the Lord. You see, God invites us to trust Him with our lives. He invites us to surrender all to Him, to place all that we are into His hands, and to follow Him. He doesn’t promise that the journey will be easy, fun or comfortable. He doesn’t lay out the journey ahead of time. He doesn’t fill us in on every twist and turn or up and down. He doesn’t promise that the journey will be without times of uncertainty, difficulties, moments of doubts or even tears. 

He does, however, promise to be with us every step of the way. (Deuteronomy 31:6) He does promise that He is constant, consistent and worthy of our trust. (Hebrews 13:8) He does promise that regardless of what difficulties and struggles we face here on earth, they don’t compare to the joy that is to come for those who know Him and trust Him. (2 Corinthians 4:17) 

Written By: Drew Dockery

Faith and obedience | 7.13.16

I love irony. It’s so ironic. Let’s look in scripture at a remarkable example of obedience, yet a huge obedience failure at the same time. Matthew, Mark, and Luke share the account of a rich young ruler who came to Jesus to ask Him what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus began to quote him the 10 commandments, and somewhere around commandment number 6, the rich young ruler interrupted Jesus and said, and I paraphrase, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve kept the law since I was a kid.”

Now, I don’t know that much, but I do know these two things: 1. You don’t interrupt Jesus. 2. If this guy had obeyed the law since he was a youth, then that’s an amazing accomplishment. Hats off to you, buddy!

Jesus doesn’t dispute Him over his resume, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Here we have a young man who was moral. He lived right, and he kept his reputation intact. A guy like this would never bring any embarrassment to the Jewish community. He was a great guy. And it gets better…

He was loaded! Yes, he had money too. With youth, piety and wealth on his side, there is no doubt that the rich young ruler felt like he would be a great asset to Jesus’ team. Why wouldn’t God want to fill Heaven up with guys just like him? He was ready to do Jesus a favor by signing up. Who wouldn’t agree? Who wouldn’t want this guy to join his church? No wonder this rich young ruler is completely stunned when Jesus told him, “still you lack something.” 

Wait. What? I wonder if he had ever heard that before. Jesus told him to go and sell all he had, give it to the poor, and then to come and follow Him because Jesus doesn’t like rich people. Ok, I’m kidding. Jesus does like rich people. He loves everyone, and He wants everyone to come to Him, and the unexpected request Jesus made to the man was not because He didn’t love him. The Bible says that Jesus looked at this man and had genuine love for him. So why the unexpected request to liquidate? 

Jesus wanted to validate. The request that Jesus made placed the man in the position to prove His devotion to Jesus. It was a “put your money where your mouth is” moment. In selling all he had, he would be saying, I choose Jesus.

Ah…Is it possible that we can be moral, have means and have much to offer, but still not have Jesus? Could we have all that, but when it comes to Jesus, still not buy in? You’re coming to church. You’re honest. You treat your family and others with respect. You’re successful. You’re the type of person every preacher in Tuscaloosa county would love to have chairing his deacons and running his finance committee. Could it be, however, that when it comes to following Jesus and setting everything else aside for Him, you aren’t buying? 

Be sure you get this part straight. Jesus didn’t reject the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler rejected Jesus.

Have you really bought in? You can be a faithful attender and still be a pretender. Would you rather have Jesus than anything? Isn’t Jesus worth it? The rich young ruler didn’t really know who Jesus was. He didn’t realize that Jesus was worth more than all the money in the world. Perhaps he thought a Messiah worth his salt would show up and shake his hand and thank him for being so awesome. Be careful. It’s easy to think that our Jesus would think we’re awesome! If only everybody was just like us! He would want to know what He could do for us to get us to join Him, not the other way around. 

Salvation is more about who than it is about do. The rich young ruler came up to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Isn’t that so like us? We just want to do something. We just want to be able to say we did something. The Lord says, “buy into me.” Ok, so Jesus did ask Him to do something, but is trading up really doing something? If I had a hundred dollars, and you came up to me and said, here’s two hundred dollars, but you’ll have to give me the one hundred dollars to get it. Well, how big of an accomplishment is it to make that no-brainer trade? If the rich young ruler had really believed Jesus was who He said He was, he would have sold all he had, given it to the poor, and followed Jesus just as The Lord asked him to.

What good did it do for the rich young ruler to obey all of the commandments since childhood, only to not obey Jesus when the moment of truth came? Epic obedience fail. Our obedience and faith are tied together in Jesus, and Jesus is worth it.

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:25

Written By: David Jenkins

Growing up is more than showing up | 7.6.16

I have noticed a disturbing trend in church over the past decade or so. Church members who at one time were faithful in their service to the Lord have taken a step back where attendance seems to be all they feel is necessary to fulfill their obligation to the church of Christ (and their attendance is sketchy at times as well).

Christian maturity demands obedience. I find it very sad that church members with a vast amount of giftedness and experience often let go of the reins of responsibility and have reduced their role to that of an observer.

Christianity is not a spectator sport! It requires a commitment of your life to do that which God has gifted you to do. In fact, the Bible says when you replace growing up with just showing up, it has a negative impact on the whole body.

I love the Message translation of 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. “God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.” 

A growing church will always be marked by new believers joining the church. However, physical growth must be accompanied by spiritual growth where church members demonstrate their faith with a commitment to growing up and not just showing up. 

Are you doing your part?

Written By: Billy Joy

The Prime Life | 6.29.16

This past week, the students went to Panama City Beach for student camp.  Camp at the beach is pretty amazing – 1,500 students from all around the country, incredible worship leaders and some of the most fun you can imagine!!  You could say that it’s the "Prime Life."  Over the week we talked about the idea of what it means to live the “Prime Life.” 

We looked at athletes like Lebron James, Steph Curry along with other famous actors/actresses in our culture that seem to have “Made IT.”  All the students agreed that with the degree of fame and resources these stars have accumulated, they are living the “Prime Life.”  

However, as a believer, the “Prime Life” takes on a whole new meaning.  In fact, sometimes, because of our circumstances, our life is anything but “Prime.”  Yet Jesus says this, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest …” John 10:10.  

When you think about the “Prime Life,” what is it that you think of?  What if circumstances had little to do with your ability to live a prime life?  In fact, maybe God is far more concerned with your availability than your ability.  

So before we get upset at God and beg him to change our circumstances to more of a “Prime Life” like position, here is something to consider. “What if God doesn’t want to change your circumstance? He wants to use it!”   

Whatever your situation, John 10:10 is still true, Jesus has come that you would have life and have it to the fullest!  Don’t let the enemy steal your life. Be available, and let God use your circumstance!

Written By: Joseph Gibbons

Are We there yet? | 6.22.16

It has been stated that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”--meaning different people have different views of what is beautiful. It’s amazing to me that TIME also seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

If you have kids, you are all too familiar with the phrase “Are we there yet?”. It is normally preceded by two other questions, “where are we going?” and “how long will it take to get there?”. Anytime we get in the vehicle with our three kids, these three questions surface almost immediately. To my 6 year-old, a 3 hour road trip feels more like a week. To my 13 year-old, waiting 2 years to get his driver’s permit feels like 10 years. For kids, it seems as though time is standing still. For those of us who are older, it seems like each year goes by a little bit faster than the previous one.

Things we are looking forward to seem to take forever. Vacations, Christmas and the weekend just can’t get here quick enough. Turner, our middle son, made this statement the other day: “Dad, I don’t like it when you tell me we are going fishing the next day; because I stay awake all night with anticipation, and it seems like it takes forever to get here.”

On the other hand, things we dread seem to come around in an expedited manner (Tax Day, root canals…well, you get the picture).

The older I get, the more I am looking forward to heaven. During my morning commute, I have been listening to Dr. Tony Evans teaching series on “The Afterlife.” It has been a timely reminder to me that I am only passing through on this planet. The moral and political climate on this earth is obviously decaying, pointing toward the soon return of Jesus Christ when I can spend eternity with my Heavenly Father. For me, it can’t get here soon enough. When it comes to our anticipation of being with Christ, I don’t think our Heavenly Father ever gets tired of His children asking….”Are we there yet?”.

2 Timothy 4:8 reads, "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

Questions to Ponder:

  • Am I looking forward to heaven, or do the pleasures of this world satisfy me? 
  • While I am waiting on Christ’s return, am I investing in others who may not know Christ?

Written By: Stephen Dees

a Pastor's Inspiration | 6.1.16

Someone asked me the other day, “Where do you draw your inspiration from as you prepare your sermons?” I think they were actually asking me, “How do you come up with your sermons? Where do you get all that stuff?”

Well, a variety of places is the quick answer to what I assumed they were actually asking me. I read a great deal. I study God’s Word. I listen to several preachers I really like, and of course, I pray for God’s leadership as to what I preach and when to preach it. What I’d really like to answer is the original question that I was asked: where do you draw your inspiration for your sermons?

That’s much easier to answer. You see, I live with a living-sermon illustration that inspires me every single day. My wife, Mary Jacque, is simply amazing. This isn’t news for anyone of you who’s met her. She is gracious, loving and kind. She is faithful, insightful and committed to Christ. She is a prayer warrior like none other and always has my back.

Yes, the fifty-six year-old (She will kill me for sharing that.) who has been confined to a wheelchair for over twenty years is my greatest source of inspiration. Through recent struggles as a result of multiple sclerosis, she has never complained. She constantly asks me how I am doing rather than sharing how she is doing. She prays for me, over me and with me.

The other day she looked at me and said, “I am hungry.” I said, “What would you like to eat?” Her response broke my heart and inspired me at the same time. She said, “I don’t mean physically hungry. I am spiritually hungry. Will you preach your sermon to me?”

And so, amid the pain of missing church and laying in bed for the past two months, my wife became my congregation of one. I have to admit: I tried harder to impress her than I do the Sunday morning crowd because I knew she wanted to hear every word God had put on my heart. And that, my brothers and sisters, inspires me beyond words!

This week will mark our 35th anniversary. I pray I have been half the inspiration to Mary Jacque as she has been to me.

Written By: Billy Joy

Crown me | 5.25.16

When you think of the most awkward TV moment of 2015, what comes to mind?  For me, the decision is easy … Miss Universe, hosted by Steve Harvey.  If you're one of those people who gets all sweaty and nervous on behalf of someone else publicly humiliating themselves, then I advise you NOT to watch this clip on YouTube. 

Basically the biggest moment of a pageant queen’s life would be to be crowned Miss Universe, right?  Well Steve Harvey announced Miss Columbia as the winner!!! She was ecstatic. She took her walk. She received her crown and sash and proceeded to bask in the moment. The only problem? She was the runner up.

A few moments later, Steve Harvey corrected his mistake by saying, “Miss Universe 2015 is Miss Philippines.”  They proceeded to de-crown Miss Columbia, and in the most awkward way possible, Miss Philippines takes her walk of glory. 

Why in the world am I telling you this?  I fear that many us pursue a crown that will not only fade away but will one day be completely taken away.  

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 

Like many of you, I had the privilege of cheering on the HHS varsity boys’ baseball team as they captured the 6A state championship!! It was thrilling!  

These moments will be cherished for a lifetime, but something was very evident among their coaching staff and players.  As I talked with each coach, baseball was only half of the story, and it wasn't even the most important half.  They truly cared that each of their players lives a better life and comes to know Christ.  These coaches know what it means to “Run to Win.” And I’m not even talking State Championships…  

Crowns in this life will be enjoyed, but they will ultimately fade.  

What ultimately matters is people and where they spend eternity. 

So I ask you, what are you fighting for? Who are you “running to win for?”  

A fading crown or a forever crown? 

Written By: Joseph Gibbons

Lessons learned: Parenting Tips | 5.19.16

As a child, I made my share of mistakes. I know it’s hard to believe…but trust me! My parents would often use the phrase, “I hope you learned your lesson” to help me remember my mistake with hope that I wouldn’t repeat it in the future. Now, as a parent, I have caught myself using the exact same terminology with my boys when they get off course. Although this is one good approach to parenting, it’s not the only approach.

Why is it that we are quick to point out the mistakes others are making, yet often neglect to point out people who are making great decisions and use them as positive examples for our children? Could it be that we as humans naturally notice the bad in people rather than the good in them? Or could it be that there are just more negative things going on in this world than positive things?

Let me share something that’s been in sports news recently that is an excellent example of an athlete who did something positive—something positively CRAZY by most standards.


The CBS article reads:

Adam LaRoche loves baseball, but he says he loves his son more.

The 36-year-old abruptly walked away from a $13 million contract with the Chicago White Sox Tuesday after Executive Vice President Ken Williams asked him to limit his son's time in the clubhouse. He tweeted his farewell, using the hashtag #FamilyFirst, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor.

"It's not because the young man was a distraction, and not because he wasn't well-liked or well-received by players, but in management, sometimes you have to make some unpopular decisions ... and sometimes they center around things you don't necessarily want to do," Williams told the Chicago Tribune.

Fourteen-year-old Drake LaRoche has been a fixture, alongside his father, on the field and in major league baseball clubhouses for years—complete with his own personal locker and jersey. "My friends think it's like, really cool and everything, but I just think it's normal, 'cuz I've been doing it every single year since I've been a baby," Drake said back in 2014.

Kids on the field and in the clubhouse aren't uncommon across baseball, but Drake's involvement with the White Sox was unique. "You see kids in clubhouses all the time, but not on a consistent basis," Nightengale said. "I can't think of a single case where a player's son was in the clubhouse the entire time the player was."

The White Sox insist their decision had nothing to do with Drake's conduct, but rather, an attempt to completely focus on winning.

Former teammates tweeted their support, including Bryce Harper and Chipper Jones.


Are you kidding me? He walked away from $13 Million dollars this year JUST to spend more time with his son? Before you say, “Well, he’s already a rich athlete, and the money is not really an issue for him.” It’s still over $35,000 per day for the next 365 days. I can promise you this wasn’t an easy decision for Adam LaRoche. Take money out of the equation. The bottom line is that Adam LaRoche was willing to sacrifice everything he worked hard for and loved most just to put his family first.

Here are a few positive lessons we can learn from Adam LaRoche:

  • We should never let our desire to chase money steal time away from our families.
  • As parents, we are role models for our children. The decisions we make today will impact the decisions our children make in the future. No doubt, Adam LaRoche’s son will forever remember the day his dad gave up his career to spend more time with him. 
  • If we say we believe in something, our actions should back it up.

The Challenge:  

  • Look for people of Godly character who are doing positive things. Use their stories as teachable moments with your children.
  • Make sure your children are a high priority in your life. It’s easy to get caught up in careers and other things that steal your time from your family.
  • Make sure Jesus is the #1 priority in your life. The way you parent is a direct result of the way you live out your life as a follower of Christ. 

“Find out what most people are doing, and do the opposite, and you will be on the right track.” - Dave Ramsey

Written By: Stephen Dees

Crossfit and Small groups | 5.11.16

I recently watched a training video on small group ministries, and in the video was a testimonial from a “CrossFitter.” You know who I’m talking about. Those folks that can climb a rope with their toes and flip giant tires with one arm. We’ve got some of those folks in our church, so maybe they can relate to this blog. Admittedly, I’m not a “CrossFitter”—one look and you knew that.

Back to the point, in the video, the guy was talking about how he had reached a point in his physical health that he knew he had to do something. He had hit rock bottom, so he set out to make a change. When he begins, he is determined to make it on his own. He doesn’t need anyone’s help, advice or encouragement. He’s got this. 

Now, let’s begin to relate this back to our spiritual condition and our relationship with Jesus. Have you ever felt like you’ve hit rock bottom in your spiritual health? You wake up one day and think, “How did I end up like this?” You’ve drifted in your relationship with Jesus. You’re not the husband or father you know God desires for you to be. You know you’re not being the mother and wife that Jesus desires for you to be. 

We’ve all been there, you’re not alone! Satan wants you to think that you’re a miserable failure and that there isn’t hope. He wants you to think that you’re all alone in this struggle, but you’re not!

Now, you set out to make a change, and you’re determined to do it on your own. You get the latest devotional. You get the new Chris Tomlin CD. You have your daily reading plan handy, and you set off to get back to where you need to be with Jesus.

Going back to the CrossFit story, the guy goes on to say he quickly realized that he couldn’t make the healthy changes he desired on his own. He couldn’t stick with it. He had no accountability and no support. You’ve been there, haven’t you? Despite your best efforts and the best of intentions, you find yourself struggling in your walk with Jesus. It’s because you’re trying to do it alone.

Well, the CrossFit guy ends up joining a gym and begins CrossFit. On the first day, he arrives early and sees some of those folks we talked about earlier. They’re in amazing shape. They’re climbing ropes, flipping tires and slinging weights, but here comes our guy, and he can barely do a sit-up. He realizes that he is way out of his league. He thinks to himself, “These folks don’t want me here. I can’t do any of this stuff." He is just about to turn and leave when one of the guys introduces himself and welcomes him to the group. He quickly finds out that the group is glad that he’s there, and many of them started off in the same place that he is starting. 

Over the next few weeks and months, the group pulls for him, holds him accountable, checks on him when he misses, and pushes him to get better and go deeper. Before you know it, he begins to see changes and results. He is now encouraging and pushing others to go deeper. He’s grown into a leader who’s welcoming new folks and helping them see changes and results. 

Do you see how this fits so closely with small groups? We’re all in this together. We can’t do the Christian-life alone. We’re going to have people that walk into our church, into our ABS classes and into our small groups that say, “These people are so much farther along than I am. I’m way out of my league.” They need to know that you’re not a “Super Christian.” They need to know that you don’t have it all figured out and that you haven’t arrived yet. They need to know that you’re a W.I.P.—a “Work In Progress.” 

We all need a small group of people who will pull for us, pray for us, hold us accountable, check on us, walk with us through struggles and push us to go deeper! Find your group! Get connected, and start to see the life change that happens through small groups!

Written by: Drew Dockery

Music to God's Ears - 5|4|16

In 2012 my wife, Jennifer, and I went to a predominantly Muslim country on a mission trip with about a dozen of our friends. We met with Christian missionaries who were committed to sharing Jesus in the tough places. I can remember one afternoon when our group met with about 10 missionaries and their spouses in a small, open-air, upper room. We prayed and sang. It was heart-wrenching to see those missionaries singing through tears as we sang songs about Jesus in their native language.

On Sunday, in another city, we gathered in a room with about 100 believers. This “church” was allowed to operate in a Muslim city as long as it adhered to strict rules—absolutely no proselytizing. Again, as we began to worship, the tears, the passion and the desperation of that congregation was overwhelming.

I’ve had few worship experiences like these two worship experiences.

There were no lights, staging or edginess, but we worshiped like we were at a Passion Conference. We may as well have been. We were in the presence of God along with others who were in love with Him, grateful to Him, forgiven by Him, redeemed by Him, belonging to Him, and saved by Him. Jesus was all they had, and He was all that mattered.

We were with people who didn’t live in the U.S. where you could buy yourself a comfortable life. The Holy Spirit is their Comforter. We were with people who seldom heard any song of worship in English, much less the latest and hottest K-LOVE or Bethel song. We were with people who could lose their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ, and we were singing songs of Zion with them.

Lord forgive us. May our worship reflect our desperation for You. May our service reflect our love for You. May our worship be music to Your ears.

Written By: David Jenkins

To Be Continued - 4|20|16

Have you ever been watching a TV show or a movie series, and right when you're about to figure out who the villain is, the screen goes black showing the dreaded wordsTo be continued…

Soap operas are the worst at this!! Not that any of you (or me) ever watch soap operas … Anyway, the feeling is unlike any other right? It’s anticipation, disappointment, excitement and a little bit of anger at the producer all wrapped up in one.   

I feel like we sometimes have these moments in our faith.  Maybe it’s a ministry you've always been a part of that’s now phasing out.  Maybe your ABS class just isn't what it used to be.  We have the tendency to think that when a season of relationships or ministry ends, that the entire world of our faith is coming to an end with it.  

This just simply is not true.  We can ask God why we have to experience change or why we have no idea what is next, but ultimately, we have to trust that the next episode of our faith will be even better than the last.  It’s okay to experience frustration, but it’s not okay to live in distrust of our producer (Jesus).  

Paul never knew what his next faith episode would look like, yet he always seemed to know what the ultimate priority was. Check out this passage in Colossians 4: 2-6.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Maybe we should take a lesson from Paul.  His circumstances were always changing, and his accommodations weren’t five star.  However, his prayer was for opportunity, not circumstance.  What is our prayer? 

We’ll always have changing circumstances, but we must trust that we are living a faith story bigger than us, and that story is always TO BE CONTINUED…

Written By: Joseph Gibbons


The high jump is a track and field event in which competitors must jump unaided over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights without dislodging the bar. In its modern, most-practiced format, a bar is placed between two standards with a crash mat for landing. At the elite level, athletes run toward the bar and use the Fosbury Flop method of jumping in which they leap head first with their back to the bar. It's pretty amazing. Each time the jumper clears the bar it’s raised to a higher level.

The high jump is a great illustration of our spiritual journey. When I read the New Testament, I must conclude that there is an expectation of spiritual growth in the life of EVERY believer. For example:

  • In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul reprimands the members of the church of Corinth for not growing spiritually. 
  • The writer of Hebrews reminds readers that they were still infants in Christ but should have matured into believers who were teaching others. 
  • Peter tells us to “grow up” in our salvation. 
  • In 1 John 2, John writes to children, young men and fathers. Although it seems he was speaking to an all male audience, he was actually speaking to the differing stages of spiritual growth and exhorting all believers to pursue a life that was consistently striving for more. 

Here are a few questions to ponder: 

  • Where am I in my spiritual journey? 
  • Am I willing to “raise the bar” and allow God to stretch my faith? 
  • What changes will I need to initiate to facilitate my spiritual growth? 
  • What are the consequences of not “raising the bar?"

Regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey, you should feel no shame. Everyone’s journey began at salvation and is a continual process made up of successes and failures. Sometimes, we clear the bar, and sometimes, we knock it down. When we knock it down, there is the soft mat of God’s grace waiting to catch us and encourage us to keep jumping higher.

The only shame is found in doing nothing to perpetuate spiritual growth. I truly believe the greatest hindrance to spiritual growth is SELF. Self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others SELF-ish sins. As A.W. Tozer explains, “Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us.” 

When is the last time you made an intentional effort to “raise the bar” in your life? Who in your circle of influence do you need to contact about helping you grow spiritually? 

Making the decision to facilitate spiritual growth requires us to evaluate where we are in our spiritual walk and to set the spiritual “bar” beyond where we currently are---to a place that will challenge us to grow into mature disciples of Jesus. The goal is not sainthood but biblical manhood and womanhood that exhibits the kind of maturity necessary to reach others and disciple them for the glory of God. 

The Challenge

Will you raise the bar or just keep the status quo in your life? Raising the bar will take you places spiritually that you never imagine, but keeping the bar at the same height will simply reduce you to an auditor of the faith. Take the challenge: RAISE THE BAR!  

Written By: Stephen Dees

Needing A Church Family - 4|6|16

“My church family”…have you ever heard someone say that? Or maybe you’ve heard, “My church family means so much to me!” “I just love my church family!” Or maybe, “I don’t know what I would do without my church family!”

What exactly does that mean to have a “church family?” It’s more than just a group of folks who worship together or attend the same church. It’s so much more than that! A church family is a group of fellow Christians who God has joined together at a local church to worship together, serve together, pray together, work together, play together, walk together, hurt together, cry together, celebrate together, hold together, go together, give together, stand together… Do you notice a theme?

I talked about the danger of trying to do life alone in my last blog, and I want to pick up where I left off and continue to encourage you to connect with others here at Valley View. I can assure you that if you will make the effort to connect with an ABS Class and Small Group, you won’t regret it! It will strengthen your walk with the Lord! It will strengthen your marriage! It will strengthen your family! There’s something special about connecting with fellow Christians in a real and honest way that impacts our lives in a powerful way!

These connections don’t just happen overnight. It may not happen with the first ABS class or small group you attend, but as you make the effort to connect, you’ll find that group of folks who you connect with and fit with, and it will be life changing. I wish I could insert a “reply button” right here, because I know that many of you have experienced what I’m talking about. Many of you know how important a church family is. You have some incredible testimonies about how your church family was there for you during some of your darkest days and how they walked with you through struggles and battles. You have testimonies of how they played important roles during some of your greatest victories. 

It reminds me a story in Exodus, chapter 17, of Moses, Aaron and Hur. During a fierce battle, Moses, Aaron and Hur went up on a mountain overlooking the battle. Holding the rod of God, Moses lifted his hands, and as long as his hands were lifted, the Israelites prevailed; but when his hand grew tired and lowered, the enemy prevailed. It was a fierce battle, and Moses couldn’t do it on his own. He needed the help of his fellow brothers. With Aaron on one side and Hur on the other, they lifted Moses’ arms and held them steady throughout the battle, and God brought about a great victory. 

You and I can’t win the battle on our own. We will grow weary and tired. We will stumble and fall. We need our church family, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, to come along side us to help hold us steady during the battle. The battle gets fierce at times, but we know that Jesus has won the victory. We simply need to allow others to be there for us during the battle to help hold us steady until the victory comes.

Written By: Drew Dockery

The upper room - 3|30|16

A couple of weeks ago, our church engaged in the Lord’s Supper, and in preparation for that service, I went to several passages of scripture in the Gospels. I slowly read through the accounts of the time Jesus shared with His closest disciples in the upper room. My intention was to get a sense of what songs to select and what direction to take in planning our morning worship service, and I was praying for God to help me capture the significance of what took place in the upper room just before Jesus gave His life for you and me. 

A couple of things jumped out at me in John 13 that I hadn’t really spent much time thinking about before; but they had an impact on me, and I’d like to share them with you. Neither of these insights have anything directly to do with the meal. Instead, God directed my attention to Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

Firstly, it occurred to me that there was a guy in the room who should have been doing the washing of everyone’s feet. Jesus knew that Judas had been in cahoots with those who were opposed to Jesus, so it seems obvious that Judas should have been the one with the towel wrapped around his waist. He should have been the one dealing with dirty feet. Let me add that Judas should have been made to wash feet only after some serious begging for forgiveness. The whole foot washing opportunity should have been at least a sign of Judas’ contrition for doing Jesus wrong, but no, Jesus washed Judas’ conniving, unfaithful feet.

May I make a sub-point of this first point? This is an example for us to follow! Do people oppose you? Are people critical of you? Are some people part of a conspiracy to see your downfall? Are they glad-handing you to your face but also stabbing you in the back? Minister to them anyway. That’s what Jesus did.

Secondly, God helped me to see Peter’s poor responses when Jesus knelt in front of him with the bowl of water to wash his feet. At first, Peter was like, “Oh no! This can’t be! This isn’t happening!” Jesus calmly told him that this is how it is to be, and that he needed Jesus to wash his feet. Then, Peter was like, “Oh, in that case, wash me head to toe!” I’d just like to say, “Wow!” While Jesus dealt with Peter with divine patience and compassion, I might have been a little less understanding. I may have actually used words like “raving lunatic” when I asked Peter what in the world is wrong with him.

Peter, or Polar Opposite Man as I like to call him, was just embarrassingly dramatic and difficult to deal with. Do you think that Jesus was thankful for the other ten steadfast and dependable disciples? Maybe they didn’t get it. Maybe they were confused. Maybe they felt exactly like Peter, but they went with what Jesus was doing. Now, none of them were going to be there for Jesus when it really counted in a few hours, but Peter wasn’t going to stand up for Jesus then either. Peter would end up vehemently denying Jesus. Jesus washed Peter’s feet anyway. He washed the rest of the disciple’s feet anyway.

Peter’s talk was a lot bigger than his walk would back up. Peter talked as if he was too humble to accept the Son of God kneeling and washing his feet. Then Peter flip-flopped and talked as if he was in such need of the Savior’s cleansing that only a full-body power wash would do. With a bowl of water and a towel wrapped around His waist, with the crucifixion clock in its final countdown, and with the foreknowledge that this big-talker was going to deny Him three times, Jesus, nonetheless, washed Peter’s feet.

I encourage you to spend some time in John 13 and ask yourself “With whom do I relate in this passage?”

Are you like Judas? Are you acting as if you’re part of the group that loves and supports Jesus, but secretly you aren’t buying it? 

Are you like Peter? Do you talk like you’re ready to charge the hill with Jesus, but when it comes down to it, you’re really just concerned about your own skin?

Are you like the other ten? Are you not quite sure about what Jesus is up to, but you’re going with Him no questions asked?

Are you like Jesus? Are you willing to serve those who are dead-set against you? Are you willing to serve those who talk like they’re with you but really aren’t? Are you willing to serve those who seem to be complacent?

I encourage you to take these words of Jesus to heart; they are found in John 13:15, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” May our lives match our words, and may we follow Jesus’ example in serving others.

Written By: David Jenkins


The entirety of what we believe hinges on this one profound truth: Jesus is alive! 

Those of us who have been raised in the Bible belt and have heard that truth all of our lives take for granted the complexity of accepting the fact that Jesus lives. In fact, I would ask each person reading this to ask yourself this question: “If Jesus is alive, what difference does it make?” If Jesus did die a grueling death on the cross, was truly buried in a tomb, and then miraculously fulfilled prophecy by rising from the dead, shouldn’t that change things in our day to day life?

I’m convinced that three things are true because Jesus is alive. First, the Bible is true. Every verse of every chapter is the inerrant and infallible word of God. We don’t need the supreme court to interpret truth for us. We don’t need politicians to form a platform on the social issues. We don’t even need a preacher’s take on what God said in His word. The fact is that the Word is the Truth because Jesus is alive.

Secondly, since Jesus really is alive, we’re all born with a singular purpose. That purpose is to receive Jesus as Lord. That’s why we were given life - not to get rich, not to be a success in your career, and not to be popular among your friends. If Jesus is alive, our purpose in life is to make Jesus Lord of our lives and then live like it.

Finally, He really is coming back. I know this world doesn’t believe it, and many in the church live as though this is not true; but Jesus said he would come back when he ascended unto heaven in Acts 1.

Yes, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The key to the Christian life is celebrating Easter every day, because if Jesus is alive, everything changes!

Written By: Billy Joy

Sure I can - 3|16|16

From childhood through high school, I was a baseball player.  I LOVED it!  Of course, I was good enough to play college ball…if it weren't for that nagging shoulder. Okay fine, we all know that’s the classic washed up athlete line. (Sorry if I offended you because that’s your line.)

Anyway, when I got to college, my friends signed us up to play intramural softball, where I would obviously demolish the competition.  The first game was on a Saturday, and I barely woke up in time for our super early 10:30 am start.  As I strolled confidently onto the field, our captain asked what I played. I said, “ANYTHING!”  So he put me in left field…

The only problem is that I hadn't taken a fly ball in the outfield since coach pitch when they decided, you’d better just play catcher.  I got comfortable back there and never played anything else.  Long story short, I looked about as coordinated as a baby giraffe trying to catch fly balls.  I must have missed 10 before they finally moved me. It was humiliating! 

I tell that story because a lot of us are very comfortable being “Christian.”  So much so that when someone asks, “Can you…?” We respond, “Sure I can!”  We can answer most questions, do mostly the right thing, even lead a prayer in a pinch.  This confidence has led most of us to believe that we have it together.  The only problem is that we know we don’t. We know in our heart that we don't have all the answers. We are constantly messing up, and most of the time, we believe our half-hearted prayers hit the celling.  

The good news is that Jesus didn’t die so that we could accomplish everything on our own. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Jesus invites us to embrace our failures so that we can start living the life He has for us to live.  In fact, when we act like we have it all figured out, we are keeping ourselves from God’s best.  A couple of weeks ago, I said it like this for students:

         Admitting what you can’t do by yourself activates what you can do with Jesus.

Maybe it’s time to admit that you're not an outfielder or a shortstop.  Maybe it’s time to admit that you don't have your life together, and you continually fall short.  And that’s okay! Jesus is not scared of your failures.  Being crucified with Christ means that we are completely depending on what Jesus can do with our life.  So what is it that you need to let go of?  Admit that you can’t so that you can activate what you CAN!

Written By: Joseph Gibbons

No Plan "B" - 3|9|16

Think about the things in your life that have a back up plan.

Computers - “If my computer crashes, I have a backup in the cloud.”

Careers - “If I don’t succeed at law school, I can always pursue accounting.”

Weddings - “If it rains, we can move the ceremony and reception inside.”

Power Outage - “If we lose electricity during bad weather, the generator will keep things going.”

Sports - “If Peyton Manning is not able to play, Brock Osweiler is a capable backup.”

Restaurants - “If the wait is too long at Waffle House, we can just go to Chick-fil-A.” (Just don’t ask David Jenkins for directions.)

It seems like everything in life must have a backup plan...well, almost everything.  Everything except two of the most important things I can think of. 

  1. What Jesus did for us… 
  2. What Jesus requires of us…  

What Jesus did for us…

Be assured! There is only ONE Gospel. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 10:12. It reads, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.” Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection is sufficient for everyone. On the cross when Jesus claimed, “It is finished.” He meant it. His shed blood makes salvation available to everyone who will surrender their life to Him. If you’re a believer, this should make you shout! In a world that seems to be crumbling at it’s very foundation, we know how it all ends. Those who have put their trust in Him will overcome because of Jesus. Turns out - He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no Plan B. 

What Jesus requires of us…

What exactly does Jesus require of those who have surrendered their life to them? Attend church? Pray? Give money? Although these things are noble (and Biblical), I would like to suggest something that is much deeper and very costly BUT has the potential to change you and those around you in a profound way. So what does Jesus require of those who choose to follow Him? He requires us to REACH THE WORLD. Really? Reach the entire world? Sounds impossible, right? Where do I start? The good news is Jesus taught us how to do it. 

While Jesus had the whole world on His mind, His method to reach everyone was to INVEST his life in a few men. He spent time with them, challenged them, encouraged them, and ultimately, they took the Gospel to others, who took the Gospel to others, who took the Gospel to others… Well, you get the picture. We have the Gospel today because of the few men that Jesus poured into. Making Disciples: Jesus taught it, modeled it and commanded it. There is no Plan B.

Written By: Stephen Dees

Living on an island - 3|2|16

“Wilson! Wilson! Wilssssooonnn!” Who knows what movie that quote is from? Yep, that's right all-you movie buffs, it’s from Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks and his sidekick “Wilson,” which just so happens to be a Wilson Volley Ball. 

If we’re not careful and if we’re not very intentional, we will end up living life on a deserted Island just like Tom Hanks did in Cast Away. This is one of the greatest dangers we face as Christians: thinking that we can do it all on our own! If this is your attitude and mode of operation, then you’ve probably had your fair share of conversations with a volleyball! 

One of the biggest reasons we end up isolating ourselves from others is because we think everyone else has it all together. We believe the lies of the enemy that say: “Everyone else has it all together.” “No one else is struggling,” “No other marriages have these difficulties.” “No other parents face these same problems with their kids.” “No one else has these financial stresses.” The truth is we all struggle. We all hurt, and we all have stuff going on in our lives! Wouldn’t it be helpful if we had a group of folks that we could open up to and be honest with? 

God created us for relationships and to do life in community. God never intended for you to live this life on a deserted island. But, we’ve been tricked! We think that just because we’re surrounded by people, that we’re not alone. When we go to school, we’re surrounded by people. When we go to work, we’re talking to and dealing with people all day long. We go to a big church with lots of folks. We attend football games regularly with 100,000 of our “closest friends.” At last check I’ve got 744 “friends” on Facebook, which pales in comparison to many of you. Just because we’re surrounded by people doesn’t mean that we’re living in community or that we’re living this Christian life in relationships with others! 

How many genuine, deep relationships do you have? Who do you have in your life that you can be honest with? Who do you have in your life that you can share your struggles with and know they will walk with you through them? Who do you have in your life that will hold you accountable? When you begin to really connect with people and allow people to get close enough to see the “real you”, when you share your struggles with others and allow them to walk with you through those struggles… It changes everything! It makes a world of difference! 

In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone." Of course, we’ve heard that verse shared at every wedding we’ve ever been to, but God wasn’t just talking about husbands and wives here. He was talking about life in general. It’s not good for us to be alone! We were never meant to live life in isolation! We were created for community! 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 paints a perfect picture of community for us. It says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” If you try to fight the battle alone, you will lose! 

I beg you and your family to take the next step to get connected to an ABS class and a small group! Be intentional about finding a small group of people that you can trust, who you can open up to and be honest with. I have the privilege of hearing testimonies every week of the awesome things that God is doing through our small groups! People are getting real with one another. People are opening up and allowing others to encourage them, support them, pray with them, and hold them accountable. Small group relationships are powerful and will impact your walk with Jesus in amazing ways! Don’t settle for doing life on a deserted island. Wilson will always let you down! If I can help you connect with a Small Group, please call me today! 

Written By: Drew Dockery

TWO DO LIST - 2|24|16

Let’s say you and your family want to go to Chick-fil-A for lunch after church – fried chicken, waffle fries, sweet tea, and 649-calorie-milkshakes that are worth all 649 calories. Since the waffle fries are 40% air, you can enjoy the milkshake! Right?

I’ve got two sets of directions to get you there. Pick the set you prefer:  

1. Pull out of the church parking lot onto highway 69S, and don’t go south. Don’t turn right on Patriot Parkway, and don’t turn left on Southview. Don’t turn right on Garden Hill, and don’t turn left on Maplewood. Don’t turn on Hillcrest School Road. Don’t turn left at St. Paul or Weatherby. Don’t turn right on Country Oaks Drive. Don’t turn left at whatever that road is on the left either. Don’t take Bear Creek to the right, and don’t take 68th to the left. Don’t go to McDonald’s, Bojangles, Dunkin Donuts (just opened), or Pizza Palace. You’re trying to get to Chick-fil-A, remember? Don’t turn right on 65th or left on Plantation. Don’t turn left on Mimosa, Canterbury, or Kauloosa, and don’t turn right into the big apartment complex. At the light, don’t continue straight, don’t turn left, and don’t turn back South. Don’t go to Outback, Pizza Hut, Waffle House, Hooters (yikes!), Wendy’s, IHOP, Baumhower’s, Zaxby’s, or Milo’s. Stay focused. Remember your destination is the land flowing with waffle fries and milkshakes. If you aren’t looking straight, left, or behind you, you should be able to see Chick-fil-A at that point.

Or…let’s look at the second set of directions:

2. Go north on highway 69S until you reach Skyland. Chick-fil-A is on the right.

Hmm. Decisions, decisions. Which directions will you use? The first set of “what-not-to-do’s” was a bit overwhelming, wasn’t it? I’m not sure about you, but after looking those directions over, I would have said, “Forget it!”…and I love Chick-fil-A! How about the second set of directions? Pretty good, huh? There are just two things to remember. That’s much better.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus took the 613 clarifications and amplifications of the original Ten Commandments and funneled them down into two commandments? “Love God, and love your neighbor.” Who’s your neighbor? Friends, enemies, “frenemies.” Everybody. While Jesus’ directions to Heaven aren’t always easy to follow (He told His disciples that it was humanly impossible to get there from here. See Matthew 19:25-26 and Mark 10:26-27.), they are pretty easy to understand. In helping people get to heaven, Jesus made it clear. The One who is THE WAY, the Truth, and the Life leads the way.

Here’s a question: Is it our job as the body of Jesus to make the journey that leads to everlasting life even more difficult and frustrating for others? I was kidding with you on the first set of directions to Chick-fil-A, but don’t we do the same thing sometimes? Someone in the flock veered off the path, so we try to cover each and every possible misstep someone could take in order to lead him or her to the Promised Land. Does every tribe or church really need to add more rules to the commands of Jesus? Do we think that if everybody would just tighten up and not do the entire list of don’ts, lost people would start jumping into our churches like salmon jumping into a bear’s mouth during spawning season? Actually that’s kind of cool to see. Click here to see salmon jumping into bears’ mouths.

If you want to make people regret starting the journey altogether, tell them all the things they shouldn’t do. Micromanage each step of each mile, and then remind them constantly of how they’re blowing it. When a well-meaning or not-so-well-meaning person gives me too many tips on my golf game in the middle of a round, not only do I rarely play any better, but I also end up regretting playing altogether. 

A better approach is the one I like to call the Jesus approach. It’s His “two-do” list. Follow two commands, and follow Jesus. How is that a bad plan? Those directions are pretty clear. Again, while Jesus’ two commands aren’t easy to fulfill, they are understandable. Remember, He is leading the way. He is the WAY. 

I have a two-part closing. First of all, I’m not an advocate of watering down the gospel or cheapening salvation. Every sin affronts God and affects people. I believe that obedience is better than disobedience. Even our obedience, however, falls short of the righteousness of the One who knew no sin, and His grace covers our sins and trumps our obedience. Be thankful for God’s plan of salvation. It’s way better than any plan we could come up with. Let’s not add to it or take away from it. 

Secondly, and regretfully, I have to share this reminder: Chick-fil-A isn’t open on Sundays. Bummer! Chick-fil-A is open on Wednesdays, however, so head on up there for a 7:00pm dinner after Wednesday evening church. Save those directions. You might need them! 

Enjoy your journey!

Written By: David Jenkins

"Awakening Aftermath" - 2|17|16

I love the atmosphere at Valley View in the wake of special events like The Awakening. People are joining the church and getting baptized, and God’s people are passionate and celebratory in worshiping Him. God is so good. 

2016 started out with some great challenges for me, physically and spiritually. Physically, I have needed Jesus more than ever. I am so grateful for the restoration in my body after my second bout with pancreatitis, and I have discovered that good health is truly a blessing from God, not to be taken for granted. 

From a spiritual perspective, I have been totally dependent on God to do in me what only He can do. I want a fresh vision from God for Valley View. I want to see lives to continue to be transformed. I want for families to be restored. I want our youth to chase after God instead of the world. With so many needs, God has reminded me that He is in control. 

Genuine awakening happens when we take a step back and glorify God for who He is and what only He can do. Will you join me in praying for the lives that were transformed during the Awakening and are continuing to be transformed in the aftermath of the Awakening?

Written By: Billy Joy

"Restoration of the holy spirit" - 1|20|16

This past Sunday, we looked at how the Holy Spirit is the cutting edge in our lives, and we were asked to examine our hearts to see if we’d lost the power of the Holy Spirit in our life. 

When I think of the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, I think of my closeness to the Lord. I think of a vibrant and fresh walk with Jesus. I think of passion, excitement and boldness. I think of a life that impacts those around me for Jesus. When we lose that, it’s a miserable place for us to be! When I quench the Spirit in my life, I know I’m not where God wants me! 

For Christians, we know when this has happened. We’ve allowed other things (our decisions, actions, attitude and circumstances) to creep in and replace the Holy Spirit. We’re chasing after anything and everything, except for Jesus! For most of you who are reading this, that’s not the place you desire to be. You know what it’s like to be on fire for Jesus! You remember what it looks like and feels like to live a life filled with the power of the Holy Spirit! You MISS it and want it back. You can live this type of life again! 

Revelation 2:4-5 says, “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” 

So often, we make things more difficult than they should be! As Christians, when we’ve lost the power of the Holy Spirit in our life, we know it! We also know when, where and why we lost it. It’s not a secret or surprise. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can point to the situation, the sin or the setting that led us to quenching the Holy Spirit in our life. 

Do you want an Awakening in your life? Do you want an Awakening in your family? Do you want an Awakening in our church? It all starts with each individual! Remember the height from which you have fallen, and do the things you did when you were filled with the Holy Spirit! It’s never too late to start fresh with Jesus or to begin living the life He desires for you. It’s never too late to experience an Awakening that will radically change your life, family, church and community. It can start with you, and it can start TODAY!

Written by: Drew Dockery

"NEW YEAR, NO FEAR!" - 1|6|16

As I look back on last year, I am overwhelmed by what God has done in the life of our church.  We saw over 100 people from all walks of life tell their salvation story through baptism.  In student ministry, we saw broken relationships mend, new friendships form and many incredible volunteers join our team.  The reality is that even with a great 2015 in the rearview, there is anxiety for many of us.  

Walking into DNOW/AWAKENING 2016, I can’t help but be bothered by the question, “HOW DO WE TOP THAT?” But maybe for you, 2015 wasn't a great year.  Maybe you feel like you have been “faking it” (in your marriage, job, church community, family) for longer than you can remember.  If this is you, then the reality of another year makes you wonder if this will be the year you reach your breaking point and are exposed as a complete fraud!  So you're asking, “How long can I keep this up?” 

It doesn't matter if you're asking, “How long can I keep this up?” or “HOW DO WE TOP THAT?” We both have the same fear: Failure.  We also have the same problem: we think that we create success. Ultimately, we need to understand that God is not scared of our failures. In fact, He invites failures to walk in His success! 

Ephesians 2:8-10 says,"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." 

We shouldn't fear failure, nor should we be anxious for success.  God is not scared of who you are. He loves you the way you are.  God has great plans for you this year! Don't miss out on God’s purpose for fear of failure. He invites you to walk in His success!!

Written By: Joseph Gibbons

"Christmas Let-downs" - 12|30|15

On your mark! Get set! Go!

Wrapping paper ripping, tissue paper flying, and box flinging… Maybe that sounds a little like your Christmas experience. Something that we’ve looked forward to for so long comes to an end in a matter of a few minutes. And then comes the cold hard truth… The clothes don’t fit. The new toy didn’t come with batteries. There’s been a recall on the hover board, and the kids just broke the air hockey table that took 4 hours to assemble. 

You know, it seems like a lot of life can be that way. Things disappoint us. People let us down. The “hot, new” whatever doesn’t live up to the hype.  The GREAT news is that best gift has been tested and proven. You can count on Jesus. He won’t let you down. He won’t disappoint you. He isn’t the latest fad or the next over-commercialized, over-hyped product to try. He is the “Great I Am” and the “Alpha and Omega”. 

When The Lord says He’s the “Great I Am,” He’s saying that He’s all you need. Try this. Fill in the blank with whatever you need Jesus to be. “I am _________________”. Jesus is exactly what you need: Provider, Sustainer, Healer, Savior, Friend, Comforter, Peace, Hope, Strength, Forgiveness, Joy, Redeemer, Rescuer…and we could continue on and on! 

Not only is Jesus anything and everything that you need, He’s Alpha (He has always been.), and Omega (He will always be.) So, from the beginning to the end, The Lord is all that you need and more in your life! That’s pretty cool that the creator of the universe wants to be those things to us, and I pray that you'll allow Him to be those things to you.

Written by: Drew Dockery

"no room" - 12|20|15

Almost everyone can tell you the Christmas story. Mary and Joseph had to travel back to Bethlehem as ordered by a decree to be a part of the census. Mary was expecting to give birth to the King of Kings at any time, so the trip had to be a treacherous one.

When the time came for Mary to give birth, she and Joseph came to an inn. An inn in those days was nothing more than a house with rooms for rent to weary travelers. Mary and Joseph definitely qualified as weary travelers, but they had the added burden of a woman ready to give birth. They needed a place to stay. Of course, the inn keeper was booked up. He had no room. 

Now, I have spent many-a sermon this time of the year excusing that old inn keeper. After all, he did at least find them a place in the stable. However, after further examination, it has occurred to me that the problem with that inn keeper is the same problem many people have today when it comes to Jesus. They simply don’t have any room for Him. 

The fact is that inn keeper had a room he could have given for Jesus to be born in. He could have given up his own room. It wasn’t that he did not have any room in his inn. The problem was he did not have any room in his heart. 

Today, Jesus wants to be the center of your life. The center of your joy. The center of your Christmas. Do yourself a favor and give Jesus the room of your heart. You will not regret it.  

Written by: Billy Joy

"The Box" - 12|16|15

It’s going to be the best Christmas ever. The kids are five and seven. The perfect age for a trampoline! Best parents ever! 

The kids finally fall asleep, and the fun begins. It takes an hour to get the box open because of all the tape used. Grrr. The person who taped it up must have been a duct tape expert. You know the old saying when it comes to duct tape…“if it’s not working, you haven’t used enough.” The guy who taped up that box must have bought the t-shirt.

The box is finally opened and emptied. Great. The instructions are in a different language. Wait, no, they’re in English on the other side. Whew. Wait. They make no sense, whatsoever, so they may as well be in a foreign language. That doesn’t matter, though, because your middle name is MacGyver. You’ve got this!

Are you kidding? The nuts and bolts are neither metric nor standard? Oh well, there goes using the drill to make this project a piece of cake. Instead, a tool, evidently made to fit a child’s hand, is provided with the trampoline. It’s taped to the inside of the box of course. This is awesome.

The instructions indicate that it takes a team of well-trained assemblers an hour and a half to put this thing together. Translation: it’s 1:00am, 30 degrees outside, and you and your wife are in for an all-nighter. Sure enough, after 5 hours, 8 busted knuckles, 7 broken fingernails, and an emergency call to your marriage counselor, a barrage of Christian curse word substitutes like “shoot, heck, and farfegnugan” are flying out your mouth like a Southern Baptist sailor. And that’s just you. Your wife has also has broken all of her nails, made up ugly words, used a piece of that tape to “Rambo”-suture an open wound on herself, and now she is staring at you as if to say, “I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

Finally, the thing is built. Who cares if the safety net is on upside-down? You’ll get used to looking at it that way. As the first ray of sunshine peeps over the horizon, you give your wife a passionate 0.7-second victory kiss. All is forgiven, and you both are off to bed. You don’t brush your teeth. You don’t potty. You don’t even take your clothes off, and it’s a good thing because as your eyelids come within a millimeter of meeting, you hear the pitter-patter of your five and seven year-olds’ feet running across the house.


It’s a Merry Christmas for everybody, and the beauty is, the kids are impressed, and they haven’t even seen the trampoline in the back yard yet. Score! So you direct their attention to the back door, and through the glass, they see the best present ever in the history of presents—their very own trampoline. They throw open the window, tear open the sash, and then dash away barefooted in pajamas to the trampoline and begin jumping on it like circus acrobats—for a total of about three bounces.

Then—like a kick in the gut—you realize you have made the mother-of-all-mistakes. In the bliss of victory, in the fog of sleep deprivation, and in that 0.7-second kiss, you made the biggest rookie parent mistake possible. You forgot to hide/throw away/burn/shred and otherwise obliterate…

the box.


As if starring in a cartoon, the children leap from the trampoline and begin running at full speed before their feet even hit the ground. They make it across the yard faster than that 0.7-second kiss you gave your wife earlier. From somewhere in the distance, an announcer comes over the PA system, “That’s right, kids! It’s a house! It’s a fort! It’s a tunnel! Yes, it’s all these things and more. It’s. A. Box!”

Yikes! I wonder if what you’re feeling is anything close to what God feels when His children ignore the gift that cost Him so much to provide. God so loved the world that He gave His only son, Jesus. He is the greatest gift that has ever been given, and I submit to you that our greatest act of worship would be to enjoy Jesus.

I could write 1,000 words on ways to apply the box analogy. The box could represent what carried the gift. It could represent things or blessings. It could represent good or bad things. Ultimately, the box represents anything other than Jesus. In Isaiah 40:18, the question is asked, “To whom can you compare God? What image can you find to resemble Him?” A trampoline is really a much better gift than the box it came in, and Jesus is greater than anything that exists. Nothing and no one compares. What does the box represent in your life? What would you rather enjoy besides God’s real gift of Jesus?

In not only this busy season, but in everyday life as well, enjoy Jesus. Be enamored with Jesus. Be satisfied with Jesus. Adore Jesus. Be thankful for Jesus. God deserves and desires so much more from us than for us to bounce around with His son for a little while and then run off to play with the box. There’s an old hymn that says, “I’d rather have Jesus than anything.” In your life, may those words ring true.

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:13

Merry Christmas to you, and thank you, God, for your gift to us—your Son and our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

Written by: David Jenkins

"The Blessings of god" - 12|01|15

"Oh, taste and see that The Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" - Psalm 34:8

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I couldn't help but think of this verse. As I spent time with my family, I was reminded of just how good God is! At one point, I was stretched out on the screened-in porch with a cool breeze blowing and the dog curled up at my feet. Ava Drew and Annie were at the kitchen table making "Christmas cookies" with play dough (and getting along wonderfully, might I add). Lori and the boys were stretched out on the living room floor playing, and a football game was on the television. Life is good! God's blessings are evident.

Then I began to think of all the times that I've chased worldly things. How foolish! The things of the world are just a cheap subsitute for the rich blessings we find in Jesus. So often, we forfeit the real blessings of The Lord for cheap substitutes. It's not worth it! It's never worth it! I want to encourage you to "taste and see that The Lord is good!" He'll never disappoint you, and He'll never let you down! In Him, you will find EVERLASTING joy, EVERLASTING peace and EVERLASTING life!

Living your life in Jesus and for Jesus is full of benefits. There are too many to list, but Psalm 103:2-5 gives us a taste of those benefits. "Praise The Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things..."

Choose today to turn your face toward The Lord and walk with Him. Choose to experience the rich blessings that only come through a daily relationship with Jesus. Settle no longer for the substitutes of the world. Experience the real deal in Jesus.

Written by: Drew Dockery

"Trusting the one to whom you pray" - 11|17|15

The trust you place in Jesus when you make Him Lord of your life is manifested in many ways. Prayer doesn't work unless it's accompanied with trust in the One to whom you pray. The study of God's Word becomes mundane unless you have faith that you're reading the very words of God.

There is a tangible way that God knows you are trusting Him...in the way you give. You see, God has given us His Word, so we can know how to respond to God in a trusting way. For example, Malachi 3:10 says that when you're faithful to tithe, God will respond by opening up the windows of heaven and pouring out blessings in our lives that we can't produce ourselves. God goes so far as to instruct us to try Him in this matter.

In the New Testament, Paul said, "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19) The question is: do you trust God to do what only He can do? God measures your level of trust in how you trust Him and His Word.

Written by: Billy Joy