Amid Covid – Peace

covid-19 psalm 103

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)

To our faithful followers:

Inasmuch as this blog has been designed to provide brief and meaningful words of encouragement to you over the years, at this time I want to be very intentional about speaking to this unprecedented and wildly uncertain time we are currently facing due to the Corona-virus pandemic . . . the anxiety we are all feeling while we are amid Covid.

In just a few short weeks, the daily routines of our lives have been turned upside down and inside out. To be sure, this caught all of us by complete surprise. But we can take cosmic comfort in the fact that it did not catch our God by surprise. Some 2,700 years ago, God spoke to the prophet Isaiah, saying, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand. This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations” (Isaiah 14:24, 26). He also told Isaiah, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). Jesus told us that not a bird falls to the ground apart from the will of God (Matthew 10:29); while you and I are feeling uncertain about the days that lie ahead of us, there is absolutely no doubt or confusion in the mind of the Sovereign Lord.

In light of all the instructions issued by state and local governments, we as a church have “fasted,” as I have been calling it, from meeting together physically. We now engage in our Lord’s Day worship via live stream at 10:30 a.m. Sunday mornings; you can click on this link to watch each week live, as well as any of our past sermons, including our new Children’s Sermons, which I began teaching this last Sunday.

Beloved, we are navigating through uncharted waters. We, the people of America, have never seen anything like this. So the question that has been on my mind and in my heart as a pastor is this: How can we have a godly peace when we are amid Covid? The answer, of course, is to look past the pandemic to see our Prince of Peace, who gave us these very encouraging words:

Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

The peace the world offers to us is based on circumstances. When things are going well, we have peace; when things are going badly, we are troubled. But the peace that the Word of God offers us is not based on circumstances, but on Christ, who changes not and whose compassions never fail. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. True peace, a godly peace, is built on the sure, solid foundation of the Word—both in print and in Person. When we look to the Lord, “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Now more than ever, let me encourage you to stay in the Word and pray to the living Word, knowing that “He himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). I’ll be back again on Wednesday. You are in my prayers and in my heart.

Purpose and Passion,

Pastor Tommy

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The Look of the Lord

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Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas.” (John 1:42)

We have before us a word today a word that offers unimaginable strength and encouragement: When our Lord looks at us, he does not see us as we currently are, but rather as what we will one day be. Let that truth set you free to be all that God is calling you to be today.

When Jesus looked at Simon, He saw what Peter was. But that’s not all! Jesus also saw what he was to become: Cephas, the rock, which is Peter. And what did Peter become, by God’s grace, throughout his walk with the Lord? Did he become perfect? No, but he did become a rock of growing righteousness, a rock settled solidly on the foundation of an unshakable faith. Remember, our Lord knew that Peter would deny Him three times on the night He was betrayed. Yet Jesus saw past Peter’s cowardly denials to his deliverance and ultimate destiny as a disciple who would one day die for his faith.

But there is something more going on here. Jesus not only sees you for what you will one day be, He is also working to conform you into that image day by day. The same grace that saved you is the grace that is sanctifying you all the way into glory. God’s plan and purpose for your life includes His power to carry that work on to completion.

It is true that God loves us just the way we are, but it is equally true that He loves us far too much to leave us there. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He knew He was speaking to a murderer on the run from Egypt. But God also knew that Moses was so much more than a hot-headed fugitive, and now was the time to make Moses into the deliverer of His people Israel.

Christian, regardless of what your past has been, it does not equal your future. The Lord is looking at you today, and what does He see? He sees past what you currently are to what you will one day be. Do you see it too? Keep looking to Jesus and soon you will!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Bold Believers


The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)

The Bible speaks often about being bold for God. When you do a word study in the Greek and Hebrew, you see that the words rendered in English as bold, boldly, or boldness carry the common themes of freedom, confidence, or trust. The question is this: Is our relationship with Jesus characterized by a growing freedom, confidence, and trust in God as we deliver a clear, compelling, candid witness to the good news of the Gospel?

Can the same thing that was said about Peter and John can be said of us? “When [the rulers and elders and teachers of the law] saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 ESV). No matter whether you have earned a doctorate in a certain course of study or never finished high school, boldness is a by-product of being with Jesus.

Later in in the same chapter of Acts we read, “After [the believers] prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). The more we are with Jesus, the more our lives will be marked by boldness. The shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ has paved the way for confidence and courage in the life of the believer. By His blood we are saved, by His blood we are sanctified, and it is His blood that empowers believers to come boldly before the throne of grace to ask and to seek and to knock.

Remember, bold believer, come not with guilt to the throne room of heaven, for all your sins have been forgiven. The blood of the Lamb of God has forever eliminated all your condemnation and empowers all your boldness. When the Jewish religious leaders were astonished by Peter and John, it had nothing to do with who they were; rather, it was because of Who they were with. Their demeanor was marked by boldness—confidence and trust in God—because they had been with Jesus.

Regardless of where this message finds you today, God is calling you and has equipped you to be a bold believer, not ashamed of the Gospel. To the degree which our lives are marked by being in the presence of our Lord we shall live lives as bold as lions, with Paul’s prayer on our lips, “Pray for me that I would speak boldly as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Envy Ejected

  grass greener

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 23:17)

It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that others have it better than we do. When our spirit is weighed down under the storm winds that inevitably blow our way, we may cast an envious eye at seemingly carefree and prosperous sinners, believing that they are better off than Christian believers. And there is nothing that makes Satan happier than enticing the saints of God to shift their focus away from the Lord and onto the stuff of this world.

But this is not for you! Envy is real and it must be rejected. But how do we do it? Today’s verse tells us how: by filling ourselves with the fear of the Lord. Envy is ejected when we live in the light of eternity, fixing our gaze on the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Envy cannot rear its ugly head when we hold fast to the promises we have in Jesus. Living in the light of eternity elevates us above the earthly and into the realm of the heavenly. The more heaven we have in our hearts the less earth we will envy, thinking that perhaps we are missing out on something “better.”

The fear of the Lord reminds us of the ultimate end of those whose god is this world. Paul warned, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). Regardless of what the world has now, it has it for but a fleeting moment in time. But for the saints of God, all the unfathomable riches of Christ are ours for eternity.

And what is the greatest of all the riches we have been given? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself! Remember, the Lord Jesus was the first promise of God to the sons of men after the Fall. He is the “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) who would ultimately crush the head of the serpent.

Regardless of where this message finds you today, remember that if you have Jesus you have it all. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his very soul in the end? A man’s wealth can be counted and measured. But when his riches are in Christ, even after a thousand years in eternity he will not have even scratched the surface of just how rich he truly is. Be zealous for the fear of the Lord; then you will know true prosperity and peace forever.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! (Hosea 14:1)

Oh, what a word of comfort we have before us today! The Lord God says, “Return!” No matter how far we have wandered, no matter what we have done or have failed to do, our God calls to us, “Return!”

When I was still a spiritual toddler in my walk with the Lord, someone said something that I have never forgotten: “Sin will take you further than you want to go and leave you there longer than you want to stay.” We all know this is true by way of personal experience. We who are called the sheep of God are all prone to wander stubbornly and foolishly away from the safety and security of our Great Shepherd. When we do that, we are deprived of our delight, sapped of our strength, and robbed of our rest.

But fear not! We cannot be held captive for long, because our Lord paid too high a price for our redemption. We have been bought with the precious blood of God’s only beloved Son, and He will not give up on us. If we will but listen, we will hear His cosmic cry, “Return!”

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,

your sins like the morning mist.

Return to me,

for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22)

Think about it this way: If the Lord says, “Return,” is it not presupposed that we actually can return, regardless of what has taken hold of us? The Lord never gives us something to do without supplying the necessary strength in which to get it done.

Perhaps, like the Prodigal Son, you have been long in the far country, squandering your birthright, eating husks with the swine, and starving spiritually. Fear not! You are never too far gone, for eternal love cries out, “Return!” And do you remember what awaited the Prodigal when he did return to his father? His father did not even wait for the son to come all the way home, but while he was still a long way off, the father saw him and ran to him, hugged him, kissed his neck, put the best robe on his body, a ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet (Luke 15:11-24). The Prodigal Son was welcomed home with love and celebration.

Regardless of where this message finds you today, remember your Redeemer’s cry: “Return!” He is waiting to receive you with open arms and nail-scarred hands that will never, ever push you away, no matter where you go or what you do. For He has promised us, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Happy 27th Anniversary to my Beloved Kim

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 )

Tommy and Kim    Today we have been married 27 years and I wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I love you, appreciate you, and thank God for you. Kim, you have given me the greatest gift that one person can give another: the gift of your unwavering, supportive, forgiving love. I spend a great deal of time putting words together—sermons and blogs and Bible studies—and yet I’m struggling to find the right words to tell you just how much you mean to me.

As I think back through our married life and my responsibilities to you as a husband, I know that all too often I have fallen miserably short of loving you as God commands a husband to love his wife. Yet I continue to pray each day that I will love you as Christ loves His church . . . to give myself up for you . . . to love you as I love myself. Kim, I commit to you that I will continue striving to reach this goal for as long as we both shall live.

You have stood by me through 27 seasons, some of them filled with plenty and others with want. Through it all, you have never wavered in your commitment to me, to our family, and to our ministry of service to God. When God said to Adam, “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18), He did exactly that by giving me YOU. You are everything I am not . . . that’s a lot to fill in for . . . and you have faithfully walked by my side every step of the way. From the wellness business we ran together for eleven years to the church God called us to plant back in 2012, I cannot imagine doing any of it without you by my side . . . and often out front, leading as the Lord directs.

You’ve given us four incredible children in Brock, Jenna, Katie, and Tank. Truly, you have given me so much to thank God for! You are the absolute best mom in the world, and together we have prayerfully partnered in providing a loving, Christ-centered environment for each of our children to grow and mature in their faith.

You have delivered discernment when I have been dull; you have given gladness when I have been gloomy; you have continued calm when I have been chaotic. My beloved, you are the anchor of our home and our ministry. How do I ever rightly say “Thank you” for that? Perhaps I never will have just the right words, but please know that I thank our loving Lord for you. I wish I’d thought to say it before the writers of Jerry Maguire did: Kim, you complete me.

I don’t know what our Lord has in store for us in the years ahead, but I promise to continue working on growing into the kind of loving, serving husband God has called me to be. You are my best friend in all the world and my true love.

Happy 27th anniversary, sweetheart!


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The Cry of the Christian


The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. (Job 1:21)

Regardless of the circumstances in life, the cry of the Christian is to be the cry of Job. In his unimaginable affliction, having lost his wealth, his health, and all ten of his children, Job turned the matter over to the God, never wavering in his belief that God is to be praised at all times and in all situations. We can imagine that in the depths of Job’s heart he was crying for the return of all that he had lost. But we have recorded for us today a most excellent word of comfort, for Job directs our attention toward the Almighty and away from our affliction.

The person who is a Christian in name only will not accept the furnace of affliction from the hand of God. The name-only Christian resents affliction. The name-only Christian runs from affliction. The name-only Christian rails against affliction. But the true child of God refuses to shrink back from the sorrows of life and the sufferings that mark the landscape; the true believer is like Job, knowing that God can always be trusted, even when we cannot trace Him. Job did not understand what he was going through, and sadly, his three closest friends made matters worse by accusing him of bringing affliction upon himself through sin. Even his own wife told Job to “Curse God and die!” Yet despite all his suffering and the horrifically bad counsel he received from those closest to him, “Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22; 2:9-10).

Have you been dealing with difficulty lately? Difficulty at the office? Difficulty in a relationship? Difficulty in your family? Difficulty in your health? Regardless of whatever you may be facing, keep your focus in the same direction as Job did: heavenward. God is not asleep on His throne, nor is He indifferent to your difficulties. Rather, just as He did with Job, God has delivered them to you for two reasons: His glory and your good.

Remember to praise Him, not only in your seasons of prosperity but also in your seasons of pain. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” I fully understand that pain does not feel like a blessing, but we are to praise the name of the Lord all the same, for He is working all things, even our suffering and sorrow, for our ultimate good. . . and our ultimate good, of course, is being conformed to the likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who, even when He suffered physical and emotional agony that you and I will never know, “entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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