What The Lord Has Done For Me...the preacher's blog

Thoughts from Joey Ferrell through study of the scriptures, fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters, encouraging words, articles, thoughts and ramblings.

 

Please feel free to interact, but be kind.

 

I can be reached via email at joey@joeyferrell.com

Here, they bloom but for a season - Joey Ferrell

Kristie made a comment a week or so ago about some of her flowers in the flower beds.  She said - "they were pretty while they bloomed, it was just too short." 

Many times, we experience things like the blooming of flowers for a short time in our lives.  It may be a short vacation, or maybe an acquaintance of a friend, or even just a feeling of contentment for a short while. 

 In the book of Ecclesiastes, the words of God can help us to understand this thought of a "season" in our lives. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

What beautiful words.

As I write this blog post today, I am reminiscing of the "season" that is about to end for me as the minister at the church of Christ at Elkins. I am remembering all of the laughs, all of the tears, all of the baptisms, all of the restorations, all of the fellowship meals, all of the wonderful times, even our short adventure with the Browns (members will understand!)

These past 2.5 years have been an incredible journey.  A spiritual growing and strengthening of my own love for the church, and for God. 

That time has come, however.  The season is almost over.   I have announced my resignation, and the elders have accepted. It is a time in which I am reflecting, as well as in earnest prayer about the future of ministry for me and my family. It is a sad time, yet a happy time to know that so much growth has been reached not only in myself, but in the congregation.   It is sad because we are leaving our church family, yet, joyful knowing that we still call them friends, brothers, and sisters. It is a sad time in which we have said goodbye to so many members that have left this world impacting me forever, yet, such a joy to know that we can be reunited one day. 

Please allow me to say a few words.

To my elders: 

Thank you so much for every opportunity, each word of advice, every tear shed together, every laugh heard among another. You have been a wonderful source of biblical knowledge and leadership for me to learn from and grow.  You guided me through some difficult times, supported me in some challenging moments.  You were my shepherds, and I am happy to have been among the sheep. 

To the servants that are named as deacons:

Brothers, I know your work and attitude often go unnoticed and underappreciated. Without great and willing servants such as you, the church would not be able to achieve the growth that it has, and will continue to see.  Thank you for your labor.  Thank you for your willingness to serve.  But most of all, thank you for your love for the church.  

To my elders' wives: 

Sisters, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your husbands with the church in their leadership. I know each of you heard the phone ring late at night, and sometimes several times a day with me being on the line to sometimes have something that probably could have waited, or maybe wasn't as important as it seemed. You have an incredible responsibility in being the wife of an elder, and I admire you for standing beside, behind, and with your husbands, for the church. Thank you so much.  

To my church family: 

I don't really know where to start.  Let me just say that you all have made the past 2.5 years of my life spiritually greater than I believe I have ever felt. Your love shown toward me, your words of encouragement, your responsiveness to the call of the Word, your zeal for the church....wow.  I'm not sure how to describe this church family. I love each and every one of you with all of my heart. I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I also want to tell you that if I have offended any of you in my words or actions during my time as your preacher, I truly and humbly ask your forgiveness. I plan to see you one day in heaven! 

To my family:

When I was first hired as the preacher, you instantly became the "preacher's family"...the preacher's wife, a PK(preacher's kid).  You became an extension of me. You hurt with me, you rejoiced with me.  You stayed late with me, and arrived early with me. You did things that I asked for help with at the church building that really wasn't your responsibility. And you moved into the perpetual "glass house."  But you know what?  I wouldn't have been able to be who I am without you. I wouldn't have been able to preach, teach, and grow without you by my side. So, it is to you that I offer my sincere gratitude and love. 

The season may be coming to an end for me, but the Lord has blessed us all with much good.  He has surely given the increase! 

I pray that the church of Christ at Elkins will always shine brightly, and my love in Him is with you all. 

From the preacher's pen...one last time. 

~Joey

 

Shovels 'Can' Break - A review of "When Shovels Break" - Joey Ferrell

Have you ever been using a shovel and all of a sudden it just breaks?

Shovels are designed to dig...and usually dig as deep as necessary.  Sometimes the handles are wooden, sometimes aluminum, sometimes some other form of metal.  The blade can be round, spade shaped, and even square...depending on the purpose needed of the use.

Shovels are man made.  They are not indestructible.  They simply can...and sometimes will break.

I just finished reading "When Shovels Break" by Michael J. Shank this morning.  I remember reading the first chapter of this book as a preview just over a year ago when Mike put a blip on the Muscle and a Shovel Facebook page.  It certainly grabbed my attention.

Muscle and a Shovel was written as a true story of a couple's journey to finding the truth.  When I read this book, my personal views of how to approach evangelism changed immensely.  I learned a lot from this sometimes "heart-wrenching" story.  It was a great story...and needed to be told!

Shortly after reading the book, I had the privilege to meet Mike and Jonetta.  Meeting the "characters" of this book was truly a blessing.  Mike and I became pretty good friends via a lot of online conversations, sharing spiritual blessings and challenges, and by being a "central distribution" point of the book in the area in which we live with many requesting bulk orders. 

When you get to know someone who is in the church, there is always common ground to work with.  We certainly had some common ground; yet, I never could understand completely what inspired Mike to write his story.  I think now that I have read the "sequel", it is much clearer to me that the purpose of Muscle and a Shovel was to be a precursor to even a much deeper story as is found in "When Shovels Break."

The book - well, just like it's predecessor, it is a very easy and quick read.  Mike's writing style is "down to earth."  He does not use long words, or lengthy thoughts.  He does use a lot of scripture, and for that I am indeed thankful.  The story...I had heard much of the first four of five chapters through attending speaking engagements where Mike had spoken, as well as our communications online.  It made sense.  It starts right where Muscle leaves off - two young Christians seeking to find their place in the world.

About a third of the way through, a pretty intense storyline breaks.  I can't say much more about that in this blog or it will be too much of a spoiler to not read the book.  John - the character of the story - has hit some pretty rough spots in his life.  He had run into a brick wall in his faith, family, finances, and future.  He didn't know what to do any longer.

The story continues on with many more words and chapters after the revealing of John's challenges, shaping a way of repentance not only for his own life, but a design that is found in the words of the Bible of how anyone who falls away from the church can find their way home.

I gave this book a 4 star rating on Amazon - short one because of editorial errors :) - and it is certainly worth your time to read.

I do NOT recommend this book for those who have not obeyed the gospel, or are living in a religious state of confusion (i.e., denominational doctrines, false teachings, etc.).  I do NOT recommend this to even a novice Christian - unless they have indeed found themselves wayward yet so soon.  I DO, however, recommend this book to every Christian that will take the time to read it.  The book is an absolute MUST for those that have fallen away from the church and need to find their way.

Mike told me that this was going to be an intense story.  He was right.  It opened my eyes to some pretty sad situations, some challenges in the church, and certainly my own spirituality in growth and need.

I am proud to call Mike my brother in Christ...and friend.  We aren't so close now because of many reasons, including the success of the first book demanding so much time and energy of the human time table, as well as all of the projects that came shortly after with the workbooks, translations, audio book, and so on; however, as I read this book, knowing Mike the way I do, it brought tears to my eyes, as well as gave me a better grasp on who the man is that we know as Michael J. Shank.

May God continue to bless many with the works that "Mr. Mike" has produced, and may others be as bold to share their story of conversion, and stories of how to help the lost.

 

You Can't Block God...Can You? - Joey Ferrell

I have been called the "Facebook Preacher" for several years.  I am not sure if this is a compliment or possibly a reaction to dislike.

That is okay, though, either way.  I will always want to share the gospel of Christ with others, no matter what the platform.  Facebook has been an excellent way in which to do this over the past several years.  When I, or any other preacher gets in the pulpit, we are only able to reach so many people.  Sometimes, the person that we can reach the most isn't sitting in the pew.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, honestly, being vocal about God on social media isn't always the most popular avenue.  It is especially not the most popular when it carries over into the world and grabs hold of Christians in the church and tears them apart.

Over the years, social media sites have allowed new ways to be able to "block" things that people do not want to see.  In turn, there are ways also that one can block what others see as well.  While this process can be good for various reasons...is the intent actually something that will cause damage to our spiritual lives if we are not careful in our attitudes?

Recently, there have been a couple of Christians that have taken offense to some things that were brought out in love, mostly in person, and not on a social media site.  The Bible tells us in Gal 6:1-2 that if a brother or sister is overcome in sin, that we are to go to them and do our absolute best to bring them up out of that situation.  No difference in this approach.  However, this is where the fun begins.

Today, it is not "politically correct" in the world, and sometimes even in the church to show disfavor, rebuke, or even concern for someone's soul it would seem.  This is disheartening.  In the context of Matt 18, Gal 6, James 5, and several other passages, we as Christians are supposed to "help" one another in love.

Unfortunately, the response many times is with anger, or comments of "I will just change churches," or "quit judging" and so on.  Friends, this is not a scriptural answer.  In today's world, the church seems to have missed that we are in the soul-saving business.  It is our job as Christians and fellow church members to follow the commands of our Lord.  In the epistles, the writers of the New Testament are not making their own commands when these words are spoken about bringing the erring home, nor are they our own judging.  They are the words of our God!

So, what happens many times?  Well...it certainly happened to me.  I got "blocked".  Yes..."blocked."  In other words, these few that did not want to hear the words of sincerity in attempts to help their soul, nor did they want me to be able to "see" their "lives" the way that the world is seeing it as vagrantly displayed in their actions and posts on social media...their relief was to block me - a process in which "breaks" the friendship and relationship in this avenue.  Obviously, as awkward as this carries over to outside of social media...it also damages the friendship and relationship in our lives.  And it is very unfortunate.

Can we block our sins from God?  Can we block our communication from God?  Can we block what God says to us, or sees in our lives?  Certainly not.  In essence, we can "block" anyone in the world if we desire, and anyone in the world can block us...but God is not blocked.  Never has been.  Never will be.

God sees all things...in secret and in public.

Psalm 44:21

Hebrews 4:13

Daniel 2:22

In love friends.  Please don't try to block God.  It just won't work!

Watch out for snakes...without heads...??? - From the Preacher's Pen - Joey Ferrell

This weekend, I have seen a minimum of 3 snakes.  Saturday, I was driving down Stones River Road from VBS at Woods back home and one slivered right on out in front of me.  It appeared to be just a black garden snake, but never know for sure.

Then, later in the afternoon, I finished mowing the last bit of the yard, including the new area that we have been working on called the "serenity garden" in our woods.  I laid some sod down last week, then we built a gravel walkway to the fire pit table that sits there since last year (moved for Katelyn's wedding and decided not to move it back), added a stone fire pit, and planted some flowers.  It is our place to just sit and relax.  I digress.  So, anyway, after mowing, Abigail and I were cutting and stacking wood to use in the fire pit.  I walk through the freshly mowed sod and stop "dead" in my tracks.  There it was...about 2 feet from me...A SNAKE!!!!

Wait...it isn't moving.  There are flies on it.  Hmmm....I grab the shovel, walk over to it, lift it up...no head. Completely severed.  My guess was that either Abigail saw it and did a Ninja on it with the shovel...or it met the wrath of the mower!  The second must have been the case as what happened next will explain.

I pick it up with the shovel, half of it hanging in the air, walk over toward Abigail, and she starts having jumping fits and screaming "ewwwwwwwwww" as she runs from the woods.  Then I hear "I'm never going back to the woods again!"

"Abigail...honey...it has NO head!  It cannot hurt you!"  "That's not true!  I read that snakes can live up to 24 hours after they are cut in half."  Now holding the snake up higher so she can see what part of the snake is left..."Abigail, there is NO HEAD...it CAN'T be living!"  

I am not sure who won that discussion still; but, I did manage to get her back in the woods.

Then, today, after church services and lunch, I went nearby to the Stones River to fish for a few minutes.  After several minutes of no success, I began walking the banks to try different spots.  Found one I liked.  Threw the line out, then heard a splash just inches from me.  I looked around to see what it was, only to see nothing, at first.  Then, I see it about 20 feet away...an old ugly snake sticking his head up out of the water as to be displaying his/her anger at my interrupting its nap or something.

I toyed with it for a few minutes by casting a plastic minnow at and near it.  I nearly hit it in the head once...then as I realized that he was moving back toward me quicker than I felt I could move away from him, I reeled in and went to higher ground!  I could not tell the type of snake, but did not want to take ANY chances.  He finally shifted directions...and went to the other bank.

I want to go back to the middle snake tale (or "tail as it should be).  Remember, Abigail was so excited about the snake that didn't even have a head in which it could cause harm?  Why is it that we don't get as excited even when the slightest of evil shows up near us...with, or without a head?  If we see a serpent with no head, does that make us want to immediately pick it up and take it with us?  Probably not.  You know what the funny thing is?  I have no idea where the head was!  There is always a possibility that - just as Abigail stated - the head lived!?!?!

Evil is the same way.  You can cut evil in half, but many times, it will STILL live.  You can pick evil up without a head on it...and just like that headless snake...it is still a snake, and evil is STILL evil.  

Those other two snakes...the one that was probably harmless, and the one that I had an eye glued to...well, they were not harmful to me because I had control of that situation and the choice in what to do next was mine.  However, the snake with no head?  Well, he just came out of his hiding place at the wrong time...or if you look at it from my perspective - the RIGHT time!  Think about how things would be different if he had come out while we were picking up sticks right beside him.

Now, think about this...

The Bible tells us that there are all kinds of evil.  1 Thes 5:22 even warns us to abstain from even the appearance of evil.  Evil is darkness, and there is no light.  Evil will destroy, sometimes even if the head of evil is severed, but still alive.  Sometimes, evil will kill the soul...

But, with Christ, we have the power to turn e v i l completely around and l i v e once again. 

Why not turn evil around today?

"What Model Is That...and Is It Original?" - From the preacher's pen - Joey Ferrell

I grew up in a town named McMinnville, TN.  When I was a teenager, there was an incredible waste of time, money, and automobiles every Friday and Saturday night especially.  We called it "riding the strip."  And we LOVED it!

If you ever drove through McMinnville in the late 70's up to the early 90's, you were probably victim to a slow down getting from point a to point b because of the strip.  This was where "everybody" was.  They were either driving around, riding with someone else, or parked talking with others in parking lots.

There were common turn around points and part of the road was 2 lane until after I was past high school.  It seemed to be much more fun then as a 2 lane road since you could literally talk to the people opposite you as you waited to move on.

On November 3, 1990, I met my wife on the strip.  (My mom always warned me about the trouble I would get into on the strip!!!)

Last night, May 2, 2015, the 4th annual "Back to the Strip" ride was held.  This was started by some high school classmates in 2012 and has grown to a huge successful event that benefits Meals on Wheels in Warren County today.  According to the Facebook Event, there were about 2,000 people that came to the car show, or to ride, or both.  Yes...I was one of them too.

This was my third year to ride.  This year, however, Kristie could not make it because our daughter was on a school trip and needed to be picked up.  So, I asked my dad if he was going to take his "new" car out for a spin.  His answer was a pretty excited one of "yes, I am going to take a lap."

I don't know if my dad ever "cruised" the strip before, but this year, he had a car that he wanted to get out in and have a little fun.

My dad recently acquired a 1929 Durant from the family of our good friend and brother, Roger Leonard.  I had not seen the car in person before last night.  Dad had told me all about it, and Roger had sent pictures previously.  Dad was excited...until...

He called me about 1:30 and told me that the car had died a couple of times when one of dad's workers was trying to bring it to him.  He sounded disappointed on the phone.  We planned to go on to dinner together anyway...Durant...or Dodge truck, either way.

So, I called dad when I got my truck all shined up and ready to go at about 5:30.  "Where you at?"  "I'm at the house."  "Okay, I will come pick you up."  "Okay, the car isn't safe to drive I don't think.  It might stall out."

When I got to the house, I got to see the car finally.  It is a pretty machine for sure.  Dad tried to start it...no luck.  He tried again....no luck.  I got in the driver's side and tried to start it...no luck.  I waited a few minutes and pressed the gas and starter one more time and....chuga chug chug chug....we were running!

I backed it out and we took some pictures, etc....then I proceeded to convince dad that we could do it!  I knew he had been wanting to take his car out for this event especially.  He finally gave in and said well, I guess we can call Carl to come get us.  So, we left on our journey!

First thing we did was go get some non-ethanol gas as we weren't sure exactly what was in the tank.  I played with the choke and idle a bit until I felt comfortable with the idle speed.  It did stall out once after getting gas; however, that machine drove like a sweet toy otherwise once I got used to manual windows, manual air conditioning, manual 3 speed, manual brakes, manual steering, manual mirrors....its a 1929...what do you expect?

We went down the strip.  Went to dad's store.  Took some more pictures, Went to eat.  Uh oh...we realized that it was getting dark...and the headlights aren't working just yet!

But, during our fun journey, I can't count the number of times that I heard two questions...each would always follow the other...

"What model is that?" and "Is it original?"

You see...the Durant is a piece of art in the automotive industry.  It is a different kind of automobile with only a short history, much like the Studebaker, the Edsel, the Tucker, and so on.

1929 Durant

This classic car drove very nicely to be the age that it is, it was fun to drive and ride in, and it certainly turned heads.

"What model is that?"

Why were people asking this question?  Because it did not look like anything else that they had seen.  It was different.  It was set apart from the muscle cars, the average hot rod, even the antiques weren't quite as old as this one for the most part.

"Is it original?"

Some of the same response applies.  Yes, it is original (to our knowledge as given by the Leonard family).  Why was that a question as well?  Because it is hard to believe that something that is of such an age that was once so powerful in it's class...could still be running and being as fruitful of a machine as it is.

Have you ever thought about Christianity in this same type of question process?

Does it ever strike you that people in the world might be looking at your actions, words, deeds, and love for one another and simply scratching their heads to ask "What model is that?"  Why of course, we would want to be set apart as a Christian....wouldn't we?  Just like this Durant is set apart from most other vehicles, the Christian is also called to be set apart.  (John 13:34-35; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 Peter 2:9)

Are we original?  Shouldn't we be?  When we become a Christian (and if you have not, please consider an individual Bible study soon!), we become a new creation (Rom 6:1-6).  We are "original" in that we are now a child of God, made pure and holy.  We know that sometimes we can fall victim to blemish; however, the Bible also tells us that Christ's blood will continually cleanse us if we repent and ask for forgiveness - staying original to Him and not altering our spiritual lives to "soup it up" or "make it better" in our own opinions.

Yes...it is original.  Christianity is the model...and it is original!

What model are you?  Are you original?

~ Joey

This world is NOT my home! - From the Preacher's Pen

One of the greatest songs that we can sing is about our life here on this earth...and that it is NOT the Christian's home!

The words of the song say "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through.  My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue..."

With the news of the past few days attracting most of the attention in the media world and social media, it is so much easier to long for that day when this world is NOT the home for faithful Christians.

Nepal - earthquake kills over 3,000 people

Bruce Jenner becomes a woman in a transgender role...and is celebrated for his stance and courage.

A city passes an ordinance that preachers "must" marry same-sex couples or go to jail.

A man dies in Baltimore at the hand of a police officer (possibly unwarranted) and the area turns into a war zone on the day of his funeral.

What more is it going to take for people to see that this world does not seem to be in much better shape than in the days of Noah?  Remember how Noah was found righteous in a crowd of millions of people?

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they werebeautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Gen 6:1-8

It is so saddening to see the demise of our great nation, and those around the world in an immoral splash of ignorance and refusal to obey God's commands.

I am thankful that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and that Jesus Christ was born through Noah's line so that we can obey God's command of baptism for salvation and have that promise of a home in heaven if we remain faithful until the end!

Have you been baptized for the remission of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?  If so, are you remaining faithful?

This world is NOT my home, and I hope that you will make that commitment to the Lord as well if you have not.

And we send mission teams there? - Joey Ferrell - From the Preacher's Pen

My wife and I had a blessed opportunity to go on a business trip/vacation this past week to a place half-way around the world.

It's a place that I have heard many talk about sending mission support to, and no doubt a place that may be a once in a lifetime sight for me.  

We went to the Dominican Republic.  As I mentioned, this was a business trip and vacation, so we got to see some of the prime of the land in an area named Punta Cana.

We stayed at a resort, and did not venture away very much except with part of our group of 90ish, so we really didn't see much of the culture at all.  What we saw was just the "flashiness" of a tourist area - fortunately, and unfortunately.

With what little Spanish (muy pocquito Espanol) that I can speak, I managed to find out a bit more about the culture and some of its people.  If our learnings were accurate, the workers on the resort made a whopping $10 per day plus room and food.  The challenge with room and food though is that many of the workers had to leave their family in order to do this.  One young lady told one of our group that she has 2 children, and is only able to go home to see them every 3-4 weeks for a few days at a time.  Another boat worker told us that he only worked for tips and that the money that we all paid to go on a fun boat ride (as a pleasure) all went to the company that owned the boat, and none to the crew.  Another told us in the marketplace about how they only earned commission on what they sold, which wasn't much unless you did not try to barter.  We were told that if we went to the market places, that we should never pay the sticker or asking price, and that we could probably purchase nearly any item for 1/2 to 1/3 of the asking price.  I found this to be very true...including at a restaurant!  I have never bartered food before!

Such a poor community - in our way of thinking anyway.  You would think that everything would be cheap for the workers there.  Housing, cars, gas, etc.  We found out that the "average" house (with thatch roof) was over $100,000, and that most people on the island had to save for about 10 years before they could purchase any type of transportation.  So, you saw a lot of motorcycles with multiple passengers, overcrowded cars, and a lot of walking.

How can such a place of desperation be beautiful in our eyes?  What a bittersweet scene.  These were the most beautiful beaches that I had ever seen.  The people were some of the nicest that I have ever talked with.  The workers worked multiple positions and you saw them nearly round the clock.  How in the world could this not be a great place to live?  Well, if you Google the area, you will find out quickly that out of desperation, the crime is unreal.  We were advised to not go off of our resort (although we did venture out as a group a few times).  There were armed guards on the beach at night.  When we went to a restaurant off-site, there was a Federale with a pistol shotgun on his chest as we entered.  We were cautioned that if we rented a car or bike that if we saw a police officer behind us...do NOT stop, as they are known for forcing you to give all of the money you have, and so on.

We didn't see all of this negative...we only saw the positives.  Let me tell you about one more very positive that we saw as well...

In the marketplace, the workers are trained to lure you in and try to bargain with you to sell as much as they can.  They are certainly nice, most were not pushy, and some even wanted to carry on conversations.

One of the first vendors that we went to looked very sad and gave up pretty quick on trying to "sell" us something as Kristie had told him that we would look at all of the booths before making purchases.  He hung his head and turned around putting the items back on the table.  As I was standing there, I asked him about his family.  He proudly showed me pictures of his children.  He began to smile much more.

It was then that we noticed a Bible sitting on his table where he took money.  I asked him if he read it often.  He quickly wanted to tell me about how he came to know who Jesus Christ was about a year and a half before.  I didn't get into asking his beliefs and what church that he belonged to, but did ask him one question that made him perk up and get so overly excited that you could not tell he was the same person as just a minute or two before.

My question:

"Can you tell me what John 3:16 says?"  I had to rephrase as he did not understand as much Inglis as I had given credit to.  "Juan Tres:Dieceseis" I repeated.  He smiled and told me in the best form that he could that we could commonly understand.  It was beautiful to hear someone be so excited about one person asking him to quote a single verse of the Bible.

We ended up purchasing some items from this man.  He remembered me even hours later when I went back to purchase a bracelet, even after hundreds, maybe a thousand people had come through the marketplace since we had been there.  You see, Christ made a difference in our conversation.  Talking about the Bible turned this man's gloom to happiness.  Quoting a verse in his own best way that I could understand him - really made his day.

And we...send mission teams....there?

I wondered the rest of the day how many times that I have seen Bibles at a place of business in America.  I wondered - even in my own state that just declared the Bible the official book of the state - how many business people could quote John 3:16.  I wondered why none had ever asked me in my secular work what John 3:16 says.  I wondered...would I see this man in my own country some day...doing mission work...

Think about it...

I once was lost..... From the preacher's pen

I have told this story before; however, there are a few people that I really hope will read this and take it to heart...

When I was 17 years old, I LEFT the church.  I had been offended by some of my "friends" in the church and segregated from a lot of their activities because I wasn't in the "cool kid" group.

I gave up.  I knew my Bible very well I thought.  I decided that I could live my life the way that I wanted to, and that there would be no consequence to that.  I had been baptized right at the age of 10.  I was in a "future preacher's" class by the time I was 11.  I went to Short Mountain Bible Cam every summer.  I didn't cuss.  I didn't disobey my parents (much).  I didn't do the things that seemed to be bad.  I just didn't do them!

I was a Christian.  And, I loved God!

At 17 years old, I could have lost it all.  It was MY desire that was taking precedence over God's.  I quit attending Bible study first (since I could drive and had a job...I even asked to be scheduled so that I couldn't possibly be there).  Then it was Wednesday night services that became non-existent in my prerogative.  Then it was Sunday night worship services.  Then this discrimination happened in my own youth group...even some by a "youth 'minister'".  And...that was it!

I knew that I was my own person and that "I knew best" about how I could get to heaven.  After all, I wasn't going to attend with those hypocrites; nor subject myself to such embarrassment and personal persecution.  It just didn't have to happen.  Me and God had it right.  We were working together.  I DID NOT need the church, anyone in the church, and certainly not these people that wanted to tell me how to live my life, when I knew better!

I knew God.  I knew Jesus.  I loved them both.  I still read my Bible.  (Notice I did not say study)  I prayed...sometimes.  I thought about what would happen if I were to die that particular day...many days.  And, I answered myself...."You will go to heaven!  You love God.  You have been baptized.  You have..."  Well, YOU get it.  There was no way that God would be so cruel to "make me go to church."  I could do just as well on my own.

I don't remember exactly how long this lie lasted, but it became bigger, and bigger, and bigger.  I began to tell my parents that I was attending worship services at different congregations (so they couldn't check up on me).  But, when I would leave the house early on Sunday mornings, I would take two changes of clothing.  One was what I would wear to work that afternoon.  The other was my "when I get clear of the house I am wearing" outfit to fish in, hang out with some friends with, etc.

It was getting tough.  I was getting rough.  At 17 years old, I was trading my skills that I had acquired through my non-church "friends" of tinting windows and installing car stereos/speakers, etc. for cigarettes, liquor, beer, wine coolers, and living a life that was full of satan and sin!

I was LOST!

Now...go back to where I started.  Remember - I was a young Christian.  I had read my Bible.  I had prayed sometimes.  I had faithfully attended worship services AND Bible study assemblies for years!  I even went on youth retreats and waited on the Lord's table, and thought I was bringing my friends to Christ.

It all changed.  I was now living a lie that satan had created.  He was winning.  I was losing.  My lie?  "I don't have to 'go to church' to get to heaven."

While this subject is a much deeper one than most will give time or credence to reading, it is a very serious problem.  God says that He wants us to worship Him.  The Hebrew writer tells us WHY we come together in 10:24-25.  Jesus says that we MUST worship in spirit and truth - giving a priority to worshiping Him in John 4:23-24.  It was so important in the time of the early church that many LOST THEIR LIVES for the church and the ability to worship God.

Way back when I was 17, I thought I knew it all.  I thought I knew what was best.  I thought I knew more than God.  I thought my life was more important...than my soul.

I am so thankful that there were those that saw my condition...and pulled me out of the fire.  They were and remain my true friends.  My brothers and sisters.  They showed me what life in Jesus Christ was supposed to be like....not what I thought. 

Regina Templeto kept inviting me to come with her and some of our mutual friends to worship with them.  I finally did...one Sunday night.  That night was the first time that I had ever met Tony Lawrenc.  He held out his hand to greet me, asked my name, remembered my name, and showed me that he cared about me.  Meri Jone and several others that attended there welcomed me as their friend...and brother in Christ.  

You see...it was never about me.  It was always, and will always be about God.  When I put "I" in front of God, I become less dependent on God, and more dependent on satan.  Not something that I am proud of, but it happened.   

I have repented of these things both publicly and privately.  That is what the Bible tells me that I needed to do.  I cannot say that I have lived the most faithful life every day since these days; however, I can say that with the wonderful blood of Christ that continually cleanses sinners like me that repent, I now understand more about why I was wrong, I was ignorant through satan, and I was LOST.


Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but NOW I am found...was blind, but now I see.

Please don't be blind.  Please don't be lost.

~Joey

Worthy of double honor - brother Carmon Gannon - From the Preacher's Pen and hurting heart

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." 1 Timothy 5:17

Somedays we never know what we will have in store for us.  

On Wednesday night, I shared with the congregation some news that had been passed along that brother Carmon was doing some better and might get to return to the Woodbury Nursing Center.

It was about 8:45 Thursday morning when I received a call that I was not expecting.  It was the news of brother Carmon passing.  Throughout the day, I learned that it was sudden and that he appeared to be feeling okay, and that his last minutes were spent with a sweet helper.

Although my wife Kristie has known Carmon most of her life, if not all, I have not had the privilege of knowing him but just a few short years.  I got to know Carmon very well over the past few years as he served in the eldership gladly and very effectively at the church of Christ at Elkins  where I am the preacher.  Carmon has served in this role for many years in the Lord's church, and certainly displayed his knowledge and wisdom of the Bible and in matters related to the church.

The Bible tells us that a shepherd will know his flock, and the flock will know the shepherd's voice.  This was certainly true of Carmon.  He did not meet a stranger.  He did not know a "visitor" because they became a guest, and often times an immediate part of the family to him.  Even though Carmon had grown in age, his mind was incredibly planted in the truth and he could quote scripture without ever opening a Bible.

When sister Billie passed away, Carmon was heart-broken.  Many days you could see a slight tear in his eyes when he would talk about her.  But you could also see the love that he had for her and for their children in everything that he did and said.  He truly was a man of God that had a heart worth the world.

I will miss his sweet smile.  I will miss his kind words.  I will miss his loving and caring heart.  But most of all, I will miss his wisdom, advice, guidance, and friendship.

The Bible tells of this day that will come to all until the return of Christ.  It will not miss a soul.  Carmon was looking forward to that day of no more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears, no more desires.  He will forever hold place in my heart and in the hearts of many souls.

No doubt that Carmon's teaching, preaching, example, and guidance have brought many to Christ, and helped many find their way home.  It is a sad day for the remaining, yet a happy day for those that are found faithful.

May the Gannon families find comfort in their loss.  May the family at Elkins heal as we can.  May brother Carmon rest....rest in peace.

~Joey

The Fire that Burns - From the Preacher's Pen

A fire that burns...

Today, after weeks of procrastination, I finally began cleaning up from Icesnowmageddon that laid down several trees and branches in our yard.

As soon as I started dragging brush to a central point (where I usually have brush fires), I got online and requested a burn permit for the day.  Isn't that cool that you can do it in a matter of seconds now?

It took three or four attempts, but I got the pile burning!



After a long day of cutting, dragging, and burning (with some awesome help), I sat down on the ground - exhausted - and just watched the fire burn.

Fire has always seemed to amaze me.  Not that I like fire because it consumes, but more so because of its inherent properties.

It relies on certain conditions in order to exist.  Oxygen is needed.  Something to burn is needed.  A source of fire is needed.  An audience...well, not always needed.

Watching the fire and feeling its heat also reminded me of a few things that make a lot of sense:

Fire consumes.
Fire cleanses.
Fire converts.
Fire comforts.
Fire calms..

The properties of fire can have everlasting effect on property, lives, and even souls...

This fire is different though.  This fire never consumes.  It never converts.  It never cleanses.  It never comforts.  It never calms.

It only does one thing...and it does it forever...

Fire claims the lost and erring.

A good fire is often interesting to watch, as long as it is not deadly, harmful, or damaging.  But some fire needs to be stayed away from, even further than a poker stick can reach!

Don't get too close to the fire!
 

~ Joey

But I thought..... From the Preacher's Pen

But I Thought...

In today's society, we tend to think of our own thoughts more highly than those of others.  It is a way of being that has been somewhat taught it would seem.

Every thought has its importance...right?  Let's look at a few things where thoughts can really damage the heart...and the soul.

 

  • "I thought that as long as I worship God at home, that is all that He would want."
  • "I thought that I just had to give what I wanted in my heart...there is no requirement to tithe, etc."
  • "I thought that it really matters more in my heart than what others think."
  • "I thought that as long as it seems good...we are allowed to do anything."

Now, let's look at these statements in perspective...

Hebrews 10:24-25 would seem to imply that worship together is what God wants.  Even if it was "our" decision, when we submit to our elderships that have charge over the flock (see Acts 20:28), when they specify a meeting time together, unified, with one accord, then that becomes a guide for us to abide.

If they were to "suggest" that we meet on the first day of the week at 7:14 a.m. and the eldership was in agreement, then that is when the congregation should meet.  If they suggest instead at 1:38 in the afternoon...well, we should submit to their authority. 

When our elders designate a time to come together to worship, we should submit and understand that there is authority for just that.  When they determine that there is a need and an opportunity for Bible study classes either on Sunday morning, Wednesday evening, or even Thursday afternoon, an effort should truly be made to attend those if at all possible. (Hosea 4:6)

There is something about Matthew 6:33 that we tend to overlook in this thought process.  

That is why so many may get it wrong when they say "but I thought..."

Giving - Yeah, I know, preachers aren't supposed to talk about this much.  Really?  Malachi wrote some pretty harsh words about "robbing God of tithes and offerings."  He wasn't necessarily meaning 10% of what you made this week.  He possibly meant with your attitude.  In the Old Testament, it actually can be proven that they gave much more than a tithe, or 10%.  Kyle Butt wrote a great book and there is a wonderful DVD available on the subject as well that would measure about 33%  or more of what they had.

The New Testament covers giving pretty well.  But, what happens many times, and I am guilty too, we find something else that is "more important" to do with our money that God has allowed us to steward, than to give back to God for the kingdom.  Yes, indeed, the "tithing" laws were set aside...but would you want to only receive the "bare minimum" in benefits and blessings?  

Some have the impression and idea that since they do not know where their money actually goes, that it is better to find some parachurch organization, some needy charity, or even a structured donation business to "support" the church with.  Friends, I don't want to sound preachy, and I sure don't want to speak for God by saying that your money is needed...but, consider what could be done if WE together could decide to just give maybe one more dollar, or even 10% more of what we gave last week back to the Lord's church for growing and spreading the gospel in evangelism, supporting those in need, and giving God the glory for things that the church can do together!

Sometimes it is better to ask what is needed instead of "but I thought."

In the heart....well, this one is a bit tricky.  However, I am always reminded of the passage in Jeremiah 17:9.  You see, sometimes we may think that WE know best...but really, our hearts can deceive us.

The ways of God are not the ways of man, and the ways of man are not the ways of God.  So, let's work on having a pure and clean heart...and not trying to live our lives only in our hearts.

In the heart, sometimes we can hear the most deceitful things when we say "but I thought."

"Let's do it this way...let's add this to make it better...let's do 'whatever it takes' to get more people in the doors."

Sadly, these statements have become so true in the past few years.  One congregation after another is introducing confusion in the church by imposing a false belief that "times have changed" and the church needs to catch up.

Just over two years ago, a congregation in Texas implemented a campaign called "Whatever it Takes."  Doesn't sound too bad on the surface; however, the ends do not justify the means!

This congregation slowly introduced instrumental music at certain intervals in the "out of worship" meetings.  Next came the "second service" on Sunday to include instrumental music, then last year, it was announced that "ALL" services would be accompanied with the instrument.

I had a friend that was an elder at that congregation.  Sadly, he could not explain to me or others that were asking how he would justify going along with his fellow elders in this apostate decision to bring their own devices in to satisfy their selfishness and unfruitful works.  There was no justification at all!  Matter of fact, this brother would not even reply to questions any longer.

Now, we are hearing about a congregation here...and a congregation there....and a congregation over here....installing their own agendas in worship to God.  These "but I thought"s are plaguing the Lord's church.

I can't even imagine what Christ might think about all the devices of men to please themselves.  We aren't talking about the old argument of a water fountain, song books, padded seats and air conditioning - all of which are expedients...we are talking about the WAY and METHODS that God is worshiped!  This week's "Wise Words" has much more to say on this topic, and I do hope that you will read it as well.

"But I thought...." will not stand up in the day of Judgment.  Let's quit trying to "overthink God...and just follow what He says.

~ Joey

 

Judge, oops, I Mean LOVE Your Neighbor as Yourself! - Joey Ferrell

"Love your neighbor..."

It is a phrase that is heard very often in today's society.  And rightly so.  Jesus spoke these words as we know in the question of the "greatest command."  He iterated after the wonderful words of "Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength," and said that the second greatest command was like the first in these words.  "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Have you ever really stopped to think about the validity of this phrase?  Do we EVER really love our neighbor as ourself?  Wait...first you have to define who your neighbor is, and Jesus helped with that also (Mark 12, Matthew 22).

But, I want to look at something a bit different.  Remember that phrase used many times alongside, presupposing, or even as a subject of conversation when someone wants to quote this passage in reference to judging sin?  "Judge not that you be not judged..."  Yeah, you know the one.  Matthew 7:1.  Possibly the most taken out of context verse in use today.

Let's dig a bit deeper on these two verses now with a new thought.  Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourself, right?  Some people don't love themselves very much at all; however, many people love themselves more than anything that could ever present itself in this world.  Matter of fact, they love themselves so much that it may even become sinful (James 4:10).

I love myself a fair amount.  I like to think that I love my neighbors (friends, family, wife, children, parents, etc.) just as much, if not more, than myself.  I guess only those folks can tell you if I demonstrate that.  So, here is the task at hand concerning these two passages mentioned.

I WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN!  

I love myself so much that I want to spend my eternity in heaven with my Father and my Lord Jesus, and every other precious soul that is found faithful in judgment.  With that being said, I also have to grab hold of this statement if I love my neighbor as myself:

I WANT YOU TO GO TO HEAVEN!

Now that all that screaming is out of the way, let me explain a bit more.  For me to get to heaven, I have to obey my Father's commands, meaning that I must submit my life to Him, repent of the old man, be baptized for the remission of sins, deny myself and take up my cross daily, and be found faithful unto death.  Sometimes that may seem a bit difficult.  It would be extremely difficult if I had no way to measure what I need to do.  But, I DO have a way to measure!

John 7:24 tells me to judge with a righteous judgment.  The back side of Matthew 7:1-5 tells me that I HAVE to judge myself based on what the Bible tells me is sin.  There are many places that tell what some of those sins are.

With this said, let me bring this all together now.  If I love myself enough that I want to get to heaven, and I love you so much that I want you to get to heaven, I will want to do anything I can to help you see and repent of error.  Galatians 6:1-2 and James 5:19 both explain this requirement pretty well.  We are to help each other identify these burdens and sins...and help to bear them!

Sometimes I am accused of being judgmental by stating what the Bible calls sin.  Sometimes I am hated because I have told the truth.  Sometimes I am told to "mind my own business" if you will.

But, you see...I can't.  Because I am supposed to love my neighbor...as myself.  I would want you to love me as yourself also to help me identify my sins so that I can get to heaven.  

So, with all of this said, let's all love our neighbor...as ourselves...and help one another get to heaven!

12,976 Reasons That Mattered...and the 1 Reason That I Was Restored - Joey Ferrell

The singing was absolutely incredible.  It was suggested that this might be the largest gathering EVER of this many members of the Lord's church together in one place.  The lessons were on Purity.  And how fitting it was to hear the invitation song sung together of "Break My Heart" as dozens of souls with broken hearts responded to the message!

I wasn't one of them.  But instead, I was one of the "white-knuckled" persons that you may hear preachers speak of sometimes.  You see, it wouldn't be typical for a minister to "go forward" at a youth conference.   There is no underlying law or code that says you can't.  It just isn't normal!

CYC 2015 (#CYC15).  This was my 5th year to attend, and the third for the majority of our group.  This year was different.  New venue, new city, new attendees.  Our "normal" group of drivers and adult chaperones had not planned out all of our events as we normally have done in the past.  We weren't really all that excited to go.  Matter of fact, there was discussion early on of possibly not going at all this year.

We got there early enough to get good seats.  This year, the sessions were combined and that made it so much easier to make it on time.  That also made it much bigger!  You had to pretty much hold on to the person in front of you to not get separated.  I mean, nearly the entire population of the whole county in which we live would not match up to this number of attendees!

It was reported, I believe, that 12,977 people were in attendance.  I believe it!  12,977 singing beautiful songs of praise.  12,977 smiling and happy faces and hearts full of joy.  12,977 people that seemed to love God much more than most other things. 

In that group of 12,977 people, there were a lot of broken people and broken hearts.  Not the "love" kind of broken heart, but the "I messed up and am hurting" kind of broken hearts.  How do I know this?  Because I was one of them!

Take a listen to how powerful being in this audience was on February 28, 2015:

Over 12000 People Singing Our God He is Alive at CYC 2015 in Pigeon Forge TN - Posted by Jerry Elder

Unbelievable and angelic isn't it?

Our God was certainly showing that He was alive this past weekend.  Not only in the midst of this group, but also in my heart, and even back home with our church family.  It was an incredible atmosphere.

We heard great lessons from Kyle Butt, Ben Hayes, Reed Swindle, and Lonnie Jones.  Our young people got to hear how THEIR contribution was going to help build some sustainable wells and farms in a third-world country, as well as saw pictures of the church in Sneedville that is currently attempting to build a new building because their current meeting place is all but condemned.  It was suggested that if each person gave $5 in the collection on Sunday, that both of these projects would see a much closer chance of becoming reality...and I know several of our young people did just that...and more.

But, I want to tell you about what happened Saturday night...after the last lesson of the night from our dear friend and brother Lonnie Jones.  For the past couple of years, we have had devotionals in our rooms.  We typically rent condos that have a lot of common space in order to be more unified.  This year was a bit different as some stayed off site as a family as well.  The plans were made.  My good friend and brother Drew Milligan was going to attend, and I had asked him to put together a devotional based off of the suggested ones sent to us from CYC.

All was good!  I would lead a few songs, Drew would deliver a message, we would sing a bit more, then pray and everyone would go to bed.  Simple, right?  Yup....all the way up until I got the text message from Drew that he was sick and couldn't go on Friday!  I had nothing prepared.  Matter of fact, I hadn't even spent a lot of time looking at the devos.  That was already covered!

We got back to the condos about 9:40 p.m. I picked one of the three selections that were sent and thought "well, you can just roll with it and see where you end up."  And that is just what I did.  After reading through the material and having some of the youth read scriptures that went along with the lesson, I was ready to close it out with a song or two and a prayer.  Something came over me though.  I was feeling my own brokenness.  I was looking around the room and I saw a lot more brokenness it seemed.  Some were hanging their heads, others were crying, and even some continuing to read on past their assigned verses.

I thought "this isn't going to stop here."  I knew that something had to be done!  The previous week had been rather tough on me personally, for reasons that do not need to be discussed. I had a "poor, pitiful me" attitude...and I know it showed.  We had come to the end of the day...a remarkable one to say the least as one of our young ladies that has attended a few times as a friend of my youngest daughter had been baptized just a few hours before.  The excitement and sincerity was still in the air.

My heart was broken.  It was heavy.  It was needing to release!  And, as I looked around, I saw others that were in the same boat.  I could tell something was on their hearts, as it was mine.  So, I asked if we could open up the floor to open discussion, and everyone agreed that would be a reasonable source of allowing our feelings to be shared among the group.

Beginning to my left, I asked each person to tell something that they needed prayers for this very moment.  The very first "candidate" was a sweet young lady that just days before had been dealing with some of her own barriers in her heart.  I couldn't believe that I asked her first!  

As we went around the room, each person told of something that they wanted prayer for.  Then we got to one of our other members, and she was quite choked up, and couldn't speak right away.  She eventually told her "story" as well as sharing all aspects of some poor life choices .

Her story brought many to tears.  She had been "broken" with the burden of this story that overcame purity and undefilement in her younger life.

Then it happened...

The first young lady...the one that was still shaken about several things in her own life...stood up from her chair, walked past the middle of the group, and put her loving arms around this dear sister to console and empathize with her.

That "opened my heart" like you wouldn't believe.  Here I am watching a young lady act much more unselfish than anyone I had seen in a very long time.  She had just gone through some major hurt in her life, but she put all of that aside.  All for one precious soul.  All for someone else...

That was it for me!  I knew that I had to do something about my own sins and my selfishness.  I asked an elder that was with us to lead in a group prayer after a few more words and an invitation song.  We sang and souls responded!  All total for Saturday night was 5 souls restored! Sunday ended up adding one more in the corner of repentance!  6 souls restored and a baptism!

My selfishness shows my own ignorance and lack of Faith!  But, that same faith also led these others to a home waiting for them in the end if found faithful.  All because we were broken and needed help from one another!

So, now, you can understand how "Break My Heart" has been echoing in my mind for the past three days.  My heart was broken...and Christ broke it open even more for me to find His love for me through one sweet young lady...who continues to fight brokenness every day herself...

So, what about you?  Are you broken?  Are you selfish?  Are you lost?  Let's study together, pray together, and get to heaven together!  You see...the Lord HAS Given us this opportunity.  Don't waste it!

May God bless you all!

 

~Joey

 

An "eis" storm! What does "eis" really mean? - From the Preacher's Pen

We have been in what seems like the "ice age" this week with all of the bad weather.  Around my house, we got about 1-1.5 inches of ice on Monday, followed by snow, then more ice, then more snow, then ....well, you get it.

Thinking about all of this "ice" this week has made me think and study more about a word that is relatively confused by many in the world when they do not study the origins and meanings of the original text and translation (transliteration in some cases).

I recently heard a very good illustration about original meanings of words.  The Chevy Nova was being marketed in South America some years ago.  The success of this car was not very good at all.

After some research, marketing executives finally had an answer to why their cars were not selling there.  You see, the word "va" in Spanish means "go".  The word "no" in Spanish means....you guessed it "no."

Now, put those two together in the ebonics of the car's name - "no" "va."  YES...you get it.  They were marketing a car that in the original language meant that it would not go!

Sometimes, we may be just as guilty in our own reading of the Bible.  One particular passage is in Acts 2:38 when Peter says "Repent... and be baptized for (emphasis) the remission of sins...."

In the original Koine Greek language, this word is "eis."  In a basic Bible word study in Logos Software, here is what you will see:

 

As you can see, there are several words that are transliterated from this Greek preposition.  The passage in question is grouped into the top left category which is orange, meaning "for", but in some translations, it is translated as "into" which is the much broader use.

The confusion comes in with some of our religious friends that want to bind a completely separate use in Matthew that represents the phrase "because of."  If you notice, from the Bible word study graphics, that is not even a possibility of the translation/transliteration.

So, what does this mean?  Well, it means just what it says...

"Repent...be baptized FOR the remission of sins."  Nothing less.  There is nowhere in the Bible where you will find salvation coming prior to baptism.  Even the closest difference would include baptism in the "same hour" in the text of salvation...so which came first in that instance?  Did you read this blog before reading the title?  Or did you read it at the same time? Or did you read it after?  In this situation, there is no reason to believe that you did not read the title and then be voted on being able to read the blog days or weeks later.  You read it the same hour! (unless you purposely didn't!)

If salvation is a precursor to baptism, then Peter got it wrong, Paul got it wrong multiple times, and that means that the Holy Spirit got it wrong.  1 Tim 3:16-17 tells me that ALL scripture is GOD BREATHED, meaning that there are no mistakes!  There is no confusion!  God is NOT the author of confusion and He did not confuse this subject either.

If you have questions about this topic, please contact me for a personal one-on-one Bible study.  We will use only the Bible and nothing more.

 

In Him

~Joey

50 shades of sin! An urgent plea!

The movie is out.  Blogs have been busy. Reviews are not good.  Even the lead role says that she does not want her own parents to see the film that has been ranted about for months.  

It's the screenplay version of the filth that was published a few years ago in book form called "50 Shades of Grey."

Before it is assumed, no I have not read the book; however, when I was asked by a member of the church "why do you think it is so bad" a while back, I went online and previewed 3 pages of the book randomly.  

I couldn't even stand reading just a few lines per page. The book is filled with immorality of all sorts. It is not even close to what my mom used to say was trash when she found out that there was a Harlequin romance novel in a stack of used books I was using to start a fire in our old wood stove in the early 80s.

When I say not even close....yes, curiosity got me on one of the books that burned in blue flames.  I opened the pages of that book before lighting it with a match. Something that honestly, I wish I had never done. It wasn't mom's fault. These books were in a box that I'm not really sure of the origin.  I can't claim full fault, though, because I had no real idea at that age what was in those covers. I will blame satan and weakness in temptation for the young age curiosity. 

I had no idea what some of those terms meant. Frankly, I still don't know some of them, nor do I want to. It was enough to make me sick to my stomach. 

Fast forward over 30 years. Times have certainly changed. Those terms that were in that romance novel....well, let's just say that some of them would be minor in comparison. But, today...we have this new rage of pornographic book and now the matching movie to entice and excite many in temptation of sexually immoral content. 

"It's no big deal."  "It's not like it's watching real s-- or anything."  "We are just watching it to enhance our own relationships."   These are some of the "excuses" that have been uttered in justification of such depravity. 

Here it is the back side of Valentine's Day. A day that is supposed to represent love shown between spouses especially, but also young and old couples alike. I decide to swipe through a few hours of social media on Facebook, and start to see posts about going to see the movie, crude remarks about what would happen if wives went to watch, and even pictures of movie theaters with people that are known.  

Know what the disappointing challenge is?  In all of these represented situations, there are wives, mothers, fiances, but even more disheartening, all of which claim to be Christian women. Don't get me wrong...there are several comments by "Christian" men as well talking about how excited they are that their spouse is going to view this underrated pornography titled as a movie.  

Christians!  Those that are supposed to be imitating Christ. Those that are supposed to be living with the fruits of the spirit. Those that are supposed to be bringing others to Christ!! 

imagine now, that mother's child who sees their mom on Facebook ranting, or finds the stashed book and opens up a few pages...much like that Harlequin I mentioned in my younger years...

I was 12-13 years old. It has been over 30 years. Yet, I still can almost quote WORD for WORD what was on those pages.  Scarred for life. Words embedded in my mind forever.  

Is this what you would want tonight's visit to the movie to be remembered as 30 years from now? 

Christians....it is time for us to STOP living in a shell and acting like these things are okay. It is time to repent if this blog describes temptation that has burdened you. It is time to represent Christ in ALL things...and let satan burn in those flames started with this type of book and movie!

50 shades of sin...resist, conquer, overcome! 

"I'm Good! I live in the Bible belt!" - From the Preacher's Pen

"I'm Good...I live in the Bible Belt!"

We are about to begin our Bible study in Romans chapter 9 on Sunday mornings.  In study of this theme from chapters 9-11, one commentator referenced the beginning of chapter 3 where the Jews "thought" that they were in "good shape" simply because of their "inward" being of relationship in the Jewish nationality.

We know how this turned out.  The apostle Paul comes around to a "leveling" of Jews and Gentiles and says that "all sin and fall short of the glory of God" in Rom 3:23.

There was no longer a "chosen generation" as the children of Israel had rejected Christ, rejected God's plan, rejected the need to change their hearts.

I wonder sometimes if that is the attitude that not only the erring may take in a land that is so graced with God, but also those that are members of the Lord's church?  Yes, I live in the Bible belt!  Can't you tell?  I was born and raised here.  I am a Christian.  I am on my way to heaven!  

Isn't this the reward for living in the Bible belt?

Just like the Jews have no right to the inheritance of God, the Father because of their nationality and life of living in culture, traditions, and physical circumcision; those, like me, have no right to the Father's inheritance just because of who we are...or where we live any more than those in the days of the writing of Romans.

We must obey the gospel and live faithfully unto Him to receive this gift.  We must NOT reject it, leave the gift sitting, or count on grace alone to save us.  We MUST follow God's plan!

People are dying.  Not just physically, but spiritually.  In the Bible belt, they die too.  What am I doing today to help save a soul?  What are you doing today to help save a soul?  Let's tighten up the belt and get to work!

~Joey

"Social Media....it's the devil....or is it?" - From the Preacher's Pen

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, Google+, LinkedIn...they just keep growing...and growing...and growing!

I have been doing some of my own "research" of how long I have been on some of these portals, why I am on them, who I interact with, and so on. 

If I could count and receive a dollar for the number of times that I have heard something like "I don't do Facebook because of its bad reputation (waste of time, influence, etc.)" or "Facebook and Twitter are the devil's tools," I would probably be able to take a trip somewhere very far away!

I have found myself enthralled in the discussions of social media, tagging, checking in, and so on many times when I certainly could be doing something else.  I could be spending time with friends or family, reading and studying the Bible, doing something around the house or yard, or...well, there are hundreds of better things that I can think of.

Just like many of you, I have been offended, frustrated, excited, and even persecuted in the existence of my life on social media.  It is aggravating some days for sure.  But, other days, it can be very rewarding.

Can you imagine what life might have been like for the apostles if they had some form of social media to spread the gospel with?  I am sure they would too suffer persecution, be taken the wrong way, ridiculed, and even "blocked" by some of their own.  Yet, I can't help but think about how powerful these tools are...when they are used correctly!

I think about the facet of not having this avenue available sometimes, and how it was before...

Then, I also realize that without Facebook and Twitter, chances are that

  • I would not know many of the good brethren that I have met online and in person.
  • I would not know about Challenge Youth Conference
  • I would not know about Polishing the Pulpit
  • I would not know about the FHU Lectureship
  • I would not know some of the wonderful people that have studied the Bible with me either in brief online, or in person after meeting through social media
  • I would not know the power of sharing the gospel in a way that resulted in baptisms primarily from discussion that started in a message or post.
  • I would not know how I can be a help for some of the people that I know who are broken, hurting, and lost.

Do I ever think about "quitting?"  Often.  Sometimes I deactivate my own accounts for a few days to clear the muddy air in my head...and heart.  But then, I run across a picture, a video, a post, a message, or a shared post about someone that became a Christian, or returned to the fold of God.

After realizing how blessed that I am to be able to have a knowledge, interact, and learn through such brethren and postings, I realize that social media is just like any other form of action and communication...we CHOOSE how we are going to use it.  For bad...or for good!

Be the light that shines for others!

Col 3:17

"One of these days...." from the preacher's pen - Joey Ferrell

"One of these days Alice..."

If you remember the sitcom "The Honeymooners," this phrase will not be strange to you.  Ralph and Ed were neighbors that worked together, socialized together, and practically were together 24/7.

Some days ole Norton would get on Ralph's nerves so bad and then he would come home to his wife Alice telling him something from her day that was disturbing to him, he would use this tag line "one of these days...."

Alice would usually reply very harshly...and then Ralph would tell his friend Ed Norton all about it.

Ralph was using empty threats in his effort to stress his anger or disappointment.  The "one of these days" never seemed to come to fruition...and Alice always knew that it would not.

Our Lord has promised us that "one of these days," He will destroy the earth and all that is in it.  We can count on this NOT being an empty threat by any means.  What God says...God means!  The END!

Ralph, Ed, and Alice (in their real lives) have left this earth, to be heard no more.  No more decisions to be made.  No more acting.  No more "episodes."  Trixie, Ed's wife on the show, is still living today at the age of 90, but she too, just like the rest will experience "one of these days" sooner than later, when her life will be no more.

We have an opportunity while we are living to answer the calling of our Lord in salvation and in service to Him.  Is our reply going to be a reply in anger of "one of these days..." I will give up, or will it be in a reply of confusion with "one of these days?" I will be in obedience, or will we wait on the Lord to complete His announcement of "one of these days" before we live our lives as He desires?

The choice is yours if you are not a faithful Christian.  Will you change that today?  Or will it echo again..."one of these days..."

~Joey

"You're going the WRONG WAY!" - Joey Ferrell

A few weeks ago, the long anticipated wait was over!!!

The new 4 lane divided highway between the Elkins community (east of Woodbury) and Newtown (west of McMinnville) was officially opened.  

I have personally been waiting on this road to open ever since I moved from McMinnville to Woodbury in 1992!  I worked in McMinnville for the first 6 years after Kristie and I were wed.  During that time, I had to endure a lot of hardship in getting from "point a" to "point b."  

Many times, I would pass familiar cars and end up behind the same slower cars, as well as hit the school zones almost perfectly timed at the start of school at least 4 out of 5 days per week.  Or, the couple of reduced speed zones that would sometimes get me in trouble!

We are all in a hurry aren't we?  That wasn't the only reason that I had anticipation.  My dad still lives in McMinnville, and in my secular work, I have several clients in that same direction. However, still, there was another reason that I anticipated this opening.  Over the past 22 years, I have witnessed so many wrecks on this 20ish mile stretch of road.  Some of them were fatalities.  Some were friends.

It finally opened!  I saw the sign that said "NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN" when I was going to drop something off at the church building (which sits about 100 yards from where the road widens now). 

I had to take the drive!  It was exciting.  It was freshly paved, you could see the stripes for miles, the reflectors, the new signs (well, the ones that were there anyway), and there it was...65 MPH speed limits!  Wow!  This new stretch of road cut out almost 8 minutes of the original drive time.  

When I got to Newtown, I pulled over to turn around and sent my wife a text telling her that I got to drive on it and how much faster it was.  She was not quite as thrilled as I thought she would be.  Matter of fact, the reply was "why did you drive to McMinnville tonight?"

Couldn't she get it?  It was the NEW road!!!

Since that time, there has been a lot of discussion about the road.  It is a state and national highway, so it does have a lot of traffic.  Some folks like the new route...others don't.  One thing that seems to be a common topic of conversation though, are the signs.  Yes, the signs.

Even though this road lies just a few hundred yards at its widest distance from the old road, there is a lot of unfamiliar ground.  There are more crossroads than on the old road.  There are more bridges than I remember seeing water for.  There are more places to cross the median than I ever imagined.  There are yet to be many road signs installed so that you can place where you are.  Of course, it will be a while before GPS is updated as well, so it is easy to sort of get "lost" on the new road.

Even though this seems like the most frustrating thought, it is not the most talked about.  What IS the most talked about is the number of a particular sign on the highway.  At every place to turn across the median, as well as at major turns, there are either 2 or 4 red and white signs that read "WRONG WAY."

 

You may be laughing about now, and that is okay.  It does seem quite silly that this is the biggest topic of discussion about the new road.  Wouldn't anyone figure out they were going the wrong way on a 4 lane highway?  Well, I guess maybe there is fear that they may not.

Dig a little deeper into this thought please.

Usually, when you see a sign, or hear of some "silly" law, it is because someone has done something that wasn't the sharpest thing to do, someone had gotten hurt, or even worse.  But, think about this road.  Before the day that I drove on it that Tuesday night, not many had ever driven on this particular road prior to it being legally opened.  That means that there were no cars (as a norm) "going the WRONG WAY."

So why put this sign at all?  And WHY so many?

Sometimes in life, we may miss the signs warning us that we are going the WRONG WAY.  Just like this road that had not been opened yet, there were warning signs posted for us a long, long time ago.

In the Old Testament, God called Ezekiel to be a "watchman" warning His people about sin, and how their lives would "live or die" based on their sins.  Read what the words of Ezekiel say:

   “Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.” Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there, and He said to me, “Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you.” So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. Then the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and spoke with me and said to me: “Go, shut yourself inside your house. And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them. I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 3:16–27, NKJV)  

Ezekiel took on this charge from Yahweh to warn His people, not only once, but was again tasked with this same request of Yahweh in chapter 33 as well.

In the New Testament, we read of similar circumstances with John the Immerser as he warned those of sin.  When he told Herod that he had no lawful right to his brother's wife Herodias, this angered Herod and John was put into prison.  Calling out what appears to be adultery cost John his life.  

   “For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.” (Matthew 14:3–12, NKJV)  

I recently received some grave criticism, including a family member "unfriending" me on Facebook because of pointing out that adultery is as much a sin today as it was in this day, as well as in the Old Testament.  I did not lose my life, but it sure does hurt to lose a family member's very own association because I have made an enemy telling the truth.

Paul told young Timothy that he too had a responsibility to call out sin.  His direction in the first epistle to Timothy included a harsh statement toward the elders of the church, if they be found guilty of sin, and to use this as an example for Christians:

   “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” (1 Timothy 5:20, NKJV)  

Paul went on to talk much more about this topic, not only to Timothy, but also to the young preacher Titus as well.  We can keep reading in many other places, such as James 5:20, example of Paul rebuking Peter of sin, and even the words of Jesus the Christ telling us how to handle offenses.

   “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3, NKJV)  

I told my wife about some of the frustrations of the day and some of the harshness in comments and actions of others.  Her reply was "do they not realize that you did not say it, that it is in the Bible?"

If only we could follow what the Bible says about God, love, mercy, grace, sin, forgiveness, judging, and eternity, the world would be (in) a better place some day.  Then maybe there wouldn't have to be so many signs that say...

WRONG WAY!


"I didn't mean to hurt anybody!" - Joey Ferrell

The year was 1998.  IRC (Internet Relay Chat) had become extremely popular, and was the new medium in virtual friendships, connecting people from across the world that never knew each other before!

I have always been a "computer geek" and knew that once I had a computer in my home, that it would consume me to a great detail...and it still does today.  One night while "chatting" with some of my new friends, I stumbled across a new way to chat.

It was one of the major search engines of the time, and they had developed in conjunction with some very smart computer minds a new chat program called "Virtual Places" or VPChat for short.

With VPChat, you could actually chat with an avatar representing yourself, use any web background (or make your own), and use what was then known as shortcuts to draw pictures, text, smileys, etc. quickly.

With the self-taught knowledge of HTML (web-design), and image editing, I immediately fell in love with the platform!  

I remember the day that I joined.  I had no idea what people meant when they called me a "mug". A "mug" was a newbie that had not figured out how to change their avatar picture and the default picture was a coffee mug with a big X on it.  Once I figured out how to change my avatar...a new virtual person was born!

I remember taking on an identity that matched my personality (you never, and I mean NEVER used real names!!!), chose a picture of a country music star that I felt fit my personality better than my own, and started chatting away.  I remember seeing when I signed up that I was user number 3001.  Wow!  I was one of the first users in this new and exciting program!

As time went on, I made several friends, built several backgrounds to chat on, helped friends make avatars, etc.  We had a blast.  I ended up spending most of my time in a room called "Parents' Chat" because I was a fairly new parent, and found the group interesting.  Soon after, I was hired by the chat company to become a voluntary chat host that monitored the room a few hours a week under a pseudo-alias that was unknown to the "regulars"...even my "best" friends.  I had found my new hobby. I would spend hours and hours and hours chatting.  I never really realized how much my life in reality was suffering because I had this new alternate life.

After my probationary period, I was actually hired as a trainer (a position that actually paid money!!!) in the program.  My job was to recruit and train.  I was one of 11-12 of the staff, senior chat hosts and trainers, constantly having discussions with even the "geeks" that founded the program to begin with!  I had made the "internet big show", literally.  We hosted a program that simultaneously was broadcast on national television one night close to halloween.  One of our guests that was on the show was Sinbad - the actor.  I not only got to talk to Sinbad through the chat, but I was HIS personal show host, which meant that I fielded the questions for him and posted them directly to him in the background while another host would post them publicly in the room.  I even got to talk to him on the phone, and he mentioned my chat host name many times on live TV.  It was quite an experience!

Back to the discussion, as I digress in memories, the "Parents' Chat" room had gotten to be a huge hit.  I was personally hosting themed chats four hours a week, and had recruited some of my friends to also host a few hours a week with me.  We were having a great time, making a difference to others in their lives, helping them answer parenting questions, keeping the chat rooms censored, and even had an all out defense of an internet attack where we all had to get online at the same time to send IP blocks to those that were "hacking" the system and database trying to shut down VP!

One of my friends that I had gotten acquainted with used the name "HiWay" as his "nickname" and had a curvy road as his avatar.  Even though we didn't even know each other's last names, we had become very good friends, and we knew roughly where each other lived, etc.

One night, a "newbie" came into the chat room and was not very "chatty" at first.  Our group, known to be very friendly, started talking to this new person.  They soon revealed that they were actually there for a reason.  The person on the other end of the screen told us publicly in the chat room what I had feared many times when being a host and talking with especially younger members of the online community.  There were often times that I, or another chat host would get an urgent plea from a chatter (by this time, we had over 40,000 members) because of something that was said in reference to someone stating that they were taking their own life, etc.  Most of these proved to be attention seeking, and after talking to the person a while, we would ask them to have a family member chat with us, and all ended okay.  But, not every time.  There were known suicides, as well as some that were saved from attempts based on some of the chat hosts working together to pinpoint an area in which the chatter might have been located, and their real name.

Here is what the newbie told us in the room:  "Hi, do you guys know xxxxxxxxx.  His nickname is HiWay."  Well, immediately many of us answered and said that we did.  "Well, I am sorry to inform you that HiWay has died.  He took his own life a few days ago."

This all made sense.  None of us had seen him online for several days.  Some of his last messages would also point to some concern after looking at them again, and so on.  Now, I know what you must be thinking...why did you, or anyone else let him talk like that.  You have to remember, we were in the "secretive" internet age and nobody knew anything about anybody past what was given on a chat screen.  To that, I am thankful, but also can understand that today's internet world of social media is entirely opposite.

Obviously, this saddened the entire group to hear of this news.  Some of us that had gotten to be close friends, actually had each other's contact info/phone numbers, etc. and we called and talked each other through the heartache of losing our friend.  We even had a hosted "vigil" for our friend HiWay one night in the Parents' Chat, and some sent flowers to an address that we were given to be family members.

Our "newbie" friend had started to blend in with the crowd and we all kept them close since they were either a friend or relative of HiWay and we wanted them to feel as welcome as possible.  After a few weeks, I was chatting with my new friend, when all of a sudden, I read something that was way too familiar from "her."  It puzzled me.  I knew this was something that only HiWay and I had talked about (something related to the area in which he lived).  I didn't say anything to anyone right away, but just kept observing mannerisms, chat styles, etc.

After a few days, I brought my good friend DCMom (Kathy) into my theory.  "Kathy, I think xxxxxxx is really HiWay, or his wife!"  Kathy was silent for a few minutes on the keyboard.  She finally answered me and said "I am glad it is not just me that is wondering!"

Between the two of us, we were able to monitor the chat and interaction for a few days until it was time to "call the bluff."  The three of us made a private chat and we started chatting.  During the conversation, I slipped in my nickname for HiWay, which was HeyHi.  He responded without a glitch of time. Then, realizing what he had done, he got silent on his keyboard for a few minutes.  He finally admitted that it was him.

Tears had been shed, emotions had been shared.  I had to ask him why.  His reply was simple really.  It went like this:  "Do you know xxxxxxxx, the lady from Alabama with the 2 daughters?"  I replied that I did.  "Well, one of her daughters asked me to help pull a prank on her mom because she thought she was being to "parenty" to her, so, we made up this story of me committing suicide because she said her mom (divorced) was "in love" with me."  He continued with this, "the only problem is that I haven't heard from xxxxxxxxxxx since the first time I came in and told you guys that I had killed myself."

Knowing that this lady had been extremely upset, but not knowing the "full story," Kathy and I had figured that this other friend had just taken a break.  I had one of the daughters on my contact list in ICQ - another internet messaging program, so I decided to contact her.  She was in her mid-teens at the time.  When she finally contacted me back, she mentioned that she had been meaning to let us all know about her mom.  I inquired again (through messaging programs) of her as to what she meant.  

She replied that her mom had gotten overwhelmed with emotions from the prank that her sister and HiWay had devised and had to seek medical help.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  I mean...these people had NEVER even met!  She continued to tell me even worse news than this.  Her mother had to be admitted to the hospital for a number of days, AND, in the meantime of this process, her sister attempted suicide.

I have lost contact with all of these folks mentioned over the years, as well as all but one person that was my "friend" in this online chat program, and she remains a dear friend even still today and we are connected through Facebook now.  What a tragedy though.  Something that was intended to be fun, something that seemed so innocent to one person, something that none would ever expect...yet the words of my friend "HiWay" still echo through my mind...

 

"I never meant to hurt anybody..."

 

In the Bible, we are cautioned against certain things, and we should consider them, as Christians.  Just like anyone else, I love to hear a good clean joke, like to tell a few, love to have a surprise effect on people sometimes, yet, we need to understand that sometimes we may be causing a stumbling block...or worse, to our own brothers and sisters in Christ, or even a bad influence on those that have not put on Christ.

Consider the words of Solomon:  

   “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, Is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, “I was only joking!”” (Proverbs 26:18–19, NKJV)  

Solomon cautioned us in this statement.  Joking is fun.  Joking makes one happy many times. But, joking can also hurt not only people, but possibly the influence that you have on others as well.

In Ephesians, Paul writes this:

   “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25, NKJV)  

   “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” (Ephesians 5:3–4, NKJV)  

I believe as Christians, we have to be very careful of how the world sees us.  We already live in a glass house sometimes, but we don't need to help by allowing others to see things that are "half-truths" or a prank gone south, as I saw first hand.

After all, haven't we all had that feeling before....

 

"I never meant to hurt anybody!"