Saturday, December 24, 2011


The Thursday Night Bible Studies will begin again on January 5.

You are cordially invited to attend these Bible School level courses. Brother Paul has finished his studies of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther; and will continue on.

My class will begin our two week study of First Kings (I am a little slower than Paul), followed by Second Kings, and then First and Second Chronicles.

Many of you have asked that we publish these studies; and this page seems like the logical place to do it. Bart Ellison (our web master) is working to get us ready to publish MP3 recordings on here as well.

Make your plans to be with us on Thursday Night, January 5. You can enter either class at any place in the study; and pick up with everybody else. A DVD recording of Paul's Class is available if you have to miss a session; my class uses a more structured curriculum study guide; and, although I have not been making MP3 recordings lately, I am beginning to do that again as we resume in January.

Thanks and God Bless.

Brother Tom



It seems of tragic significance that the human mother of the Prince of Peace should herself have been the object of conflict and contention throughout the centuries. To some, she's an object of worship while others swing to the opposite extreme and virtually ignore her.

Although we do not worship Mary, we revere her memory and honor her as the human mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The accounts of Matthew and Luke reveal to us that Mary was a modest, pure, peasant woman in Galilee. She was engaged to a solid, moral, mature man named Joseph. Apparently, she looked forward to this arranged marriage.

Then came the mysterious encounter of Mary with the Angel Gabriel. The announcement he brought to her was staggering. First of all, he addressed her as the “highly favored one”; and proclaimed, "the LORD is with you, blessed are you among women”. At first glance, it would seem that this would mean that her pathway would be smooth. But we know that following God neither promises nor guarantees us an easy way; in fact, it often paints a target on our backs; and we end up – as we say today – “Tim Tebowed”.

Mary was a simple maiden in a small, obscure, Galilean village; and she was chosen to give birth to a child who had no human father! To the neighbors, it was simply a classic case of an unnamed father, a shamed mother, and a baby who "came too soon".

How was she to reveal such a staggering revelation to Joseph? Worse than wagging tongues and better gossip and slander was the possibility that she would lose the man she loved. But God also revealed to Joseph his Divine plan; and, to Joseph’s credit, he and Mary were married.

Later, Mary visited with her cousin, Elizabeth in Hebron; and we have the very first testimony ever given by human lips about Jesus.

Luke 1:39-41

[39] And Mary arose (“arose immediately”) in those days, and went into the hill country with haste (“spoudes” = “speed, diligence, care, earnestness, with purpose”) into a city of Judea;

[40] And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

[41] And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation (“a normal greeting”) of Mary, the babe leaped (“a strong, struggling leap”) in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled (“filled completely, to satisfaction”) with the Holy Ghost:

She was not going on a casual, friendly visit; she had a very specific reason for going, a meaningful purpose. She was going so that she and Elizabeth could encourage and share with each other. They both had similar situations. God had acted upon both their bodies, performing a miracle for both. Elizabeth’s womb was made alive for the son of Zacharias to be conceived, and Mary’s womb had been made alive to conceive as a virgin. It would be great encouragement because Elizabeth was already six months pregnant, giving visible evidence that God had already acted upon her miraculously.

Mary knew about Elizabeth’s miraculous conception, but Elizabeth did not know about Mary’s. After a long journey, Mary entered Elizabeth’s home and greeted her; and Elizabeth’s supernatural behavior began.

“The baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb”. The baby had probably kicked before, but this was different from all the others. It was a sign to Elizabeth that the Baby within Mary was someone very, very special, someone who was about to be revealed to her under the filling (influence) of the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth was instantly “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and she was led to greet Mary as the mother of Messiah, the coming Lord: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1:42).

Elizabeth was older, and being the wife of a priest, she was recognized in a higher and more honorable social class; but poor and unrecognized Mary was blessed both because of her Child and her obedience. She was chosen by God to serve in a more special way.

The Holy Spirit revealed that the Baby was not only the promised Messiah, but He was the Son of the Highest, of God Himself (Luke 1:32, 35). Elizabeth was clearly controlled by the Holy Spirit; as she confessed that the coming Child of Mary was the Messiah, the Son of the living God; and contrasted her son as to be “great”, while Mary’s Son was to be “greatest”. He was her Lord, the Lord God Himself, the Son of the Highest.

Elizabeth’s confession was a very personal thing; which she apparently never shared with her son John (John the Baptist), because he apparently did not know Jesus was the Messiah until Jesus’ baptism (John 1:31-34).

John had to discover and confess Christ for himself. So do we all. It is a personal decision.

The result of Mary’s believing the Word of God was that she was to see the performance of God’s promises, the things told her from the Lord.

Mary’s song is known as the Magnificat. Mary proclaimed God and His glorious mercy to man. Mary was proclaiming the salvation of God, a salvation wrought through the promised Messiah, her Savior. Mary was not singing about herself; she was not praising herself. She said very definitely, “My soul doth magnify the Lord”. The Lord was the subject of her song, the subject of her praise and rejoicing.

People who are filled with and controlled by The Holy Spirit are not always bragging about it, preaching how they have done so many great things; or always having to prove it by their actions. A spirit-filled Christian will be readily evident by the way he lives.

Mary was bound to be tired and exhausted. She had just arrived from a long trip and as soon as she walked in the door, Elizabeth began her proclamation of praise under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and Mary’s song followed right behind that. Mary forgot her tiredness, for her faith was being reassured and confirmed.

Mary’s praise was habitual (in the present tense); it was the habit of Mary’s soul to magnify the Lord, and she kept on magnifying Him.

Mary was greatly blessed by God, yet she did not slip into the sin of pride, nor did she think that she was a favorite of God. The more we are blessed by God, the more dangerous the sin of pride becomes. We must learn to live praising God more and more. The more He blesses us, the more we must learn to praise Him.

Mary expressed her faith in God as “her Savior” (Luke 1:47-48)

Mary said that she was a sinner and needed a Savior just like everyone else; and she made a personal confession: “God is my Savior.” She was proclaiming that God saw her need and saved her.

Mary recognized the lowly background from where she had come. To the world she was a nobody: poor, obscure, unknown, insignificant, of little purpose and meaning in life. The very expression “the low estate of His handmaiden” suggests that Mary was even considered the least within her own household.

It is important that we all remember where we have come from, just how far down we were when God saved us.

No matter how low, how nothing we may be, God cares and will reach down and out to us. He will take us by the hand, lift us up, and give us purpose, meaning, and significance. God will make us somebody and use us, giving us a full and meaningful life (John 10:10).

There were many other problems in Mary's life. She gave birth to her firstborn child at Bethlehem, 70 miles from home. None of her family was with her. There were no skilled or experienced mid-wives present to supervise and assist the birth of the baby. Only Joseph and the animals of the stable were around her.

The baby was born in the cattle stall, not in a clean room at the inn.

While her Son was still very young, Mary was uprooted and had to flee with Him to Egypt to escape the cruel tyrant – Herod.

When Jesus was a young adult, He apparently assumed His place as the head of the home because His legal father had died; and He took over the ownership and leadership of the family carpentry shop.

When He was about thirty years old, He left the carpenter shop at Nazareth and embarked on a ministry that seemed senseless.

Mary had seen the wise men from Persia worshiping her son, but she was soon to see the religious leaders of her nation plotting his death. Truly the sword was to pierce her heart.

This “highly favored woman of Israel” became a symbol of everything we see in Christian womanhood and motherhood. She was obedient to God's revelation and submissive to his plan. "Let it be according to thy word", she said. She laid everything she had on the altar, including her honor, her reputation, her love, and her home. We would do well to imitate her.

Mary was “highly favored” of God. You have been “highly favored” too. God has seen fit to call you into His Family; and I hope you have had the good sense to accept His offer. Mary was just a young girl who was chosen by God to perform a service, have a ministry – that of mother to The Son of God.

When you look at that, it seems more and more impossible; staggering; astounding.

I have been favored by God to have had several young ministers called into service under my ministry. I was called upon to preach in overflow services at Tennessee Temple University with my college and seminary professors sitting right there. God has used the ministry at this church and at First Baptist Church of Wartburg, Tennessee to call and train five full time pastors and seven ministers with various ministries. Your ministry will go right on in them!

We were privileged to have Dr. J Harold Smith to visit with us many times when he was alive and his office was right across the parking lot. Many of his staff have been here as members of this church. Pastors, missionaries, and evangelists have come through this ministry to park their membership while they are awaiting God’s call to further service.

I have said all that to say this. That can be very intimidating! But it is a ministry which The Lord had entrusted to our unworthy hands.

If Mary were here today, she could fully well relate to this! How would you like to be called upon to serve as mother and nurturing agent to The Son of God?

The last we see of Mary is in a prayer meeting: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren” (Acts 1:14). Here we find her not being worshiped but worshiping. We see her not being prayed to, but praying like all the others. She had been favored of God and by God and had done her work for him faithfully. Now she dropped back into the middle of the Fellowship of God's people.

Let us, like Mary, join in prayer in Jesus name to a heavenly father who hears and responds and keeps his promises.


In 2004, Anita and I drove to Phoenix to work in the newsroom at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention; and we eventually came to a place with a sign: “Continental Divide". This is where the watershed of the North American continent is found. A drop of rain falling on the eastern side begins to journey toward the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico; and a drop of rain on the western side flows toward the Pacific Ocean.

It was actually quite a tourist attraction; mostly and mainly by several tribes of American Indians. It was a big deal!

The birth of Jesus Christ was – and remains – an even bigger deal! In fact, it is the watershed of human history; because it divides the events of the past and the future. The First Christmas was the great pivotal event of history when Jesus The Christ was incarnated in the likeness of human flesh.

The shepherds came that night; at eight days, He was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem for circumcision and met the aged Simeon and Anna; at one to two years, the Persian Wise Men came by the house where they were; immediately, He was taken to Egypt to protect Him from King Herod; and upon the death of Herod, the family moved back to Nazareth.

At twelve years, He was Bar-Mitzvah’d in the Temple at Jerusalem.

At about thirty years; when Jesus began His public ministry, word drifted back to His hometown about His teachings and miracles. Had there been a newspaper in Nazareth, it might have run a headline, “Local Boy Makes Good”. Jesus was growing in “wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man”.

But when Jesus preached in Nazareth and began to present His claims, His townspeople rejected both Him and His claims. They could not accept as Messiah One whom they had known as “carpenter”. They could not follow as King One whom they had known as an ordinary blue collar citizen.

“And He went out from thence, and came into His own country; and His disciples follow Him. And when the Sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things (Where did this man get all this)? What wisdom is this which is given unto Him (Where did all this wisdom come from), that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands (How can He perform all these mighty works)? Is not this the carpenter (This is not really “the carpenter” is He), the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joseph, and of Jude, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us? And they were offended at Him” (Mark 6:1-3).

Jesus recognized that problem when He said:

“But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in His own country, and among His own kin, and in His own house” (Mark 6:4).

In other words, they were trying to account for Him in human terms.

Our text from Isaiah 53 for this Christmas Sunday says:

[1] “Who has believed our report (“prophetic utterance”)? And to whom is the arm of the LORD (“God’s intervention in the affairs of man”) revealed”?

[2] “For He (Jesus) shall grow up before Him (God) as a tender plant (“like a suckling child”), and as a root (“offshoot”) out of a dry ground (“very hard, arid, and dry soil”): He has no form nor comeliness (“no splendor or majesty of any form”); and when we (“all of us”) shall see Him, there is no beauty that we (Isaiah identifies with his spiritually blind countrymen) should desire Him”.

[3] “He is despised and rejected of men (“there will be no men of distinction to support Him”); a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces (“we avoid the real Jesus to embrace a “Jesus” who will not trouble us with demands) from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not”.

The term “dry ground” suggests a most unlikely place for a plan to grow and flourish.

Jesus came, not full grown as expected, but as a tiny baby. He was not born in a palace or mansion, but in a lowly manger. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin mother.

The gardener prepares the soil for planting and keeps the ground moist and soft. If the plant grows out of dry ground or in a crevice of a mountain, is shriveled and stunted. Jesus grew as a “root out of dry ground”, but He was no frail weakling.

In beauty, He was the Fairest of Ten Thousand; in strength, the Cedar of Lebanon; in purity, the Lily of the Valley; and in glory, the Rose of Sharon.

He was the Best of the best; the Noblest of the nobles, the Highest of the high, and the Holiest of the holy of all mankind; but look at the ordinary, lifeless, dry “soil” from which Jesus grew: You could no more account for Him from that “soil” than you could account for a flower growing in a paved parking lot.


Heredity is a real factor in our lives. It is part of our makeup. We not only inherit physical and facial characteristics, but also mental gifts and personal charm.

A study of Christ's ancestry does nothing to explain Him. Yes, He was a descendent of King David, but so were multitudes of others. God saw that He grew up in a good family, but no other child in the same family compared with Him. He was a “root out of dry ground”.

Our environment contributes much of what we are. The atmosphere in which we live, the company we keep, and the friends we cultivate all have an influence on us.

Jesus grew up in ordinary village. His trade was that of an ordinary carpenter. There was nothing in any of that which could explain His uniqueness. He was a “root out of dry ground”.


There have been many times in history when several geniuses in literature and music and government lived at the same time; but never was there a genius like Jesus.

The time in which Jesus lived was a barren, difficult time for God’s People. For over four hundred years, there had been no prophetic voice. Formal religion was filled with legalism and hypocrisy. As far as fresh religious thought revelation were concerned, He was a “root of dry ground”


Jesus was Jewish; and it is time we faced that fact. The world has tried to eliminate the Jews; but Jesus was Jewish; and He is the ONLY Savior of the entire world.

The Jews have genius for religion. They excelled in law, wisdom, poetry, and prophecy; and they continue to excel in science and related fields. In addition to Jesus, they produced men like Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Paul. In more modern times, they have produced Albert Einstein, Leonard Bernstein, Yitzhak Pearlman, Isaac Stern, George Gershwin, Carl Sagan, Jonas Salk, Milton Hershey, Michael Dell, James Goldsmith (Goodyear), Levi Strauss, Calvin Klein, and “Doc” Pemberton (Coca-Cola).

Fully 20% of all the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry have gone to Jewish scientists; 41% of Economics; 27% of Medical; and 26% of Physics. Whether it is in the fields of Anthropology, Bio Medical Science, Chemistry, Computers, Economics, Linguistics, Literature, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, or Physics – Jewish men and women have excelled.

Jewish Edwin Land invented the Polaroid camera process. If you have ever had to have a spare tire replace a flat, you can thank Jewish Louis Pearlman; and you’re welcome from Jewish inventor, Laszlo Biro if you have a BIC pen in your pocket.

But there was not another ever like Jesus. As far as His nationality was concerned he was a “root out of dry ground”.

Jesus was Jewish; and He loved His country, its Holy City of Jerusalem, and the Temple in which they worshipped; but He belonged then – and He belongs now - to the entire human race.

The human race has produced many great people, but in wisdom and truth and holiness, Jesus excelled them all. They guessed at truth; He WAS the Truth. They quoted others in teaching; He was the original they quoted in teaching. For over two thousand years, He has inspired millions to follow Him, live for Him, and even die for Him; especially at your death, you want Jesus on your side!

The human race started so innocently and beautifully and has become so thoroughly stained, defiant, and corrupt; Jesus Christ is still sinless, obedient, and pure.

The question of the ages is how could so fresh and sweet a stream flow from such a bitter fountain. If the human race could produce one Jesus, why can it not produce more? The obvious answer is: the human race did not “produce” Him; God did!

Human nature cannot explain Jesus; he was – and is - a “root out of dry ground”.

The Christmas Narrative is the most logical account for Jesus:

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

His Incarnation was not normal; not mere human birth. At that stable on that cold stone slab filled with animal saliva and dirty straw, in the cold drafty cave; The Word became flesh in a miraculous incarnation.

Jesus was not simply the son of Mary – He was that – but He was – and is – The Son of God!

It was a glorious day when God created man; it was an even greater day when God became man.

It was a wonderful day when God made man in his image; it was an even more wonderful day when God made Himself in the image of man.

This is the miracle of Christmas! Let us go and tell it to the world!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Hey everybody (spoken to the "tune" of Gomer Pile).

We are currently in the Christmas Season "big time". The beautiful decorations are going up; ans, as usual, they are added too each week. This year will be a little different; because Amanda Ball and Nick Holt will be getting married in the auditorium on Saturday, December 17; and we wanted the decoration to be completely completed by that time.

They will be beautiful - as always.

I am preaching a series of message on Sunday mornings under the general title of "Personalities of Christmas". Last week, we dealt with the Shepherds; this week, it's "Joseph"; then The Holy Spirit (yes, He was directly involved with that first Christmas); then Mary; then Jesus Himself.

Our Brother Jordon Williams is preaching again this Sunday night; and he is always wonderfully prepared to bless our souls.

The Children's Church is practicing a delightful Christmas Program - a little - well a LOT different this year. You will love it! Sunday Night, December 18 - 6:00 PM.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


This is Thursday, Dec 1, 2011; and I will be having my Bible Class of our Victory Bible Institute tonight at 7:00. We will begin the Book of Second Samuel; and will probably spend two weeks on it (hopefully; I really need a couple of weeks off for the Christmas holidays).

Paul Stiefvater's Class has finished their Class in Esther, Nehemiah, Ezra; and will resume in January.

Ok; I know, I'm slower. I can't help that; we discuss things a little more than Paul's Class. But we will get threre in the end, if The LORD delays His Coming long enough. In the meantime; everybody is welcomed to attend our class. Each Book stands on its own; and you can enter at any time; tonight would be a REALLY GOOD TIME to "jine in" with us. We start at 7 PM in the back class room (under the fire escape) at West End Baptist Church.

Love to see you there!