The Messenger Articles

When God Won’t Take “NO” For an Answer

     There are some things people were just born to do.

     For Beethoven, even though he lost his sense of hearing, he still wrote several masterpieces because God gave him perfect pitch.  He could hear the notes in his head.  He didn’t need his ears.

     Roger Federer, in my opinion, is the best tennis player ever.  The guy has more championships than anyone. He can play 4 straight hours of grueling competition and not even look like he has broken a sweat.

     Michael Phelps is long and lean.  His feet are wide and long like natural flippers.  His torso is abnormally shaped to give him extra thrust with each swimming stroke he takes.  No wonder he has more gold medals than anyone in history.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not one of those guys.  God didn’t give me a natural ability or physical build that makes me the best in the world at anything.  I’m not even the best of anything in my own country.


     But the Bible isn’t filled with stories of people who were the best of everything.  It’s filled with people like you and me, average talents, maybe even below average, yet God shows up and does miraculous things through these very common people. The Apostle Paul said it this way. “Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor. 1:26-27)

     So the next time you feel like Moses and you want to give God all your excuses why you’re inadequate to do something the Bible tells you to do, remember that God made you who you are.  You’re not too fat, too skinny, too poor, too dumb, too ugly, too backwards, too _________ to do whatever God calls you to do.  Just like Moses, as long as God is with you, you can be whatever God calls you to be, go where He calls you to go, and succeed in whatever task He directs you.



We're Going BIG for Missions Conference 2019

     Did you know that in 2020 we are sending over 20 college students as short-term missionaries/ambassadors to Muslim villages in Ethiopia?  Over Marshall’s spring break, students and sponsors from HCC, Kenova, FBC Ashland will take the gospel where it has literally never been preached before!  How? Through a soccer ball.  Our students will be forming a team to travel around villages to share Christ throughout southern Ethiopia.


     But the trip is not cheap.  So we’re going to do one of the biggest FUNdraisers ever, with an emphasis on FUN!


     Through a stroke of blessing and sovereign coordination, we are catching one of America’s funniest comedians, Jeff Allen, coming through Kenova on his fall tour.  Jeff has been on NBC’s late night, Fox, Comedy Central, Showtime, and several other nationally known venues.  He’s not a “Christian” comedian, he’s a comedian who is a Christian and he was willing to come in and help us raise money to take the gospel and partner with ministries that put in water wells throughout Ethiopia. I’ve personally heard Jeff on a couple of occasions and he’s one of the funniest, if not THE funniest guys I’ve ever heard do standup comedy.


     So mark your calendars for a Unity Night/Missions Conference combo as all three congregations join together for a night of laughter and generosity.  SUNDAY NIGHT, OCTOBER 13th @ 6:30PM.  Let’s pack it out church!



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     Hello! My name is Jonathan Estes, but most people just call me “Jon.” I was born outside of Erie, PA in a small town called Corry, PA and grew up just across the state line in the cow-towns of Clymer and Sherman, NY. As a Junior in high school, while at a youth conference in Buffalo, NY, the Lord showed me that, even though I grew up in church and said a “salvation prayer” as a child, I was lost. I realized that I was trusting in a prayer to save me, and had never actually placed my trust in Christ. That weekend, I gave my life to Christ and was born again.

     Starting in 2000, I attended Cedarville University, pursuing a major in Music Education and a minor in Bible, with the ultimate desire of becoming a Band Director. However, while serving as a counselor at Twin Lakes Camp in Hillsboro, IN, God powerfully redirected my life and called me into full-time ministry. After serving as an interim Music Minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Plainfield, IN during my senior year of college, the Lord opened the door to serve as the Minister of Music & College at FBC of South Point, OH. It was during my time in South Point that God uniquely provided me with the love of my life, Brandi. We were married on October 8, 2005 at Solida Baptist Church, which was the home church from her childhood. We served 4 years at FBC South Point, and during that time, we were engaged in the community through the Marshall campus ministries, sports ministries, and area symphonic bands, ironically including the C-K Alumni Band.

     In August of 2008, the Lord opened the door for Brandi and I to move to McDonough, GA and I joined the staff at Henry Baptist Church to serve as the Music Pastor. Sensing a strong calling to preach, teach, and make disciples, I accepted the position of Student Ministry Pastor in January of 2012. Over the last 7½ years, we have poured our lives into reaching and discipling the students of Henry County and have seen our ministry grow numerically, but far more importantly, grow spiritually. We are truly excited about the opportunity to join FBCK, beginning October 1 in reaching the youth in the Tri-State! God has richly blessed us with three boys & a baby girl: Jadon Anaiah (2010), Josiah Alan (2011), Jeremiah Asher (2013) & Lillian Grace (2016).


Associate Minister for Youth Candidate This Sunday

   This Sunday the Council of Shepherds will be presenting an associate minister who will focus on youth and family ministry.  I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a little about him and give you some info about his time with us this weekend.

   Jon graduated high school in 2000 and has a wife and four children.  He graduated from Cedarville University and immediately began serving a local church leading worship and overseeing youth ministries.  He is currently leading a youth ministry about the same size as our youth ministry at a church just a bit smaller than FBC Kenova.  He has had extensive missions experience and because of his close ties to this area, he understands the culture of the Tri-State area.  Theologically, he’s an excellent fit for our congregation.

   If he comes, I plan to groom him to be a lead pastor someday.  If the fit is right, I can even see him becoming lead pastor here when God calls me to hang up my cleats. He still has some work to do as far as theological education goes, but with my Ph.D. and through my connections to our seminaries, I’ll be able to oversee most of the completion of his master’s level work.

   We want to give our church family (especially the parents, teens, and Pit Crew members), as much opportunity as possible to get to know him his Sunday. Here is his schedule for the weekend.

             9:00am      Jon preaches first service

           10:20am      Jon and his wife will share their testimony over in the Garage.  Afterwards,

                               parents, teens, and Pit Crew can ask some “get-to-know-you” questions.

            11:30am     Jon preaches second service

              5:30pm     Jon and his wife will join our youth group for a progressive dinner. This will give

                               everyone an opportunity to just hang out and spend some time together.


    At the end of the weekend, the Shepherds will collect feedback from segments of the congregation and decide whether or not to present Jon with a call to ministry here. As a support staff position, this will not require a church-wide congregational business meeting.  The main thing we need from you is just your feedback as to their “fit” for our congregation. (I do want to make clear that we are not voting on him as one of our pastors at this time.  That would not come for at least two years.)


    All that said, I hope you will be blessed by his visit this weekend.  Let us all be in prayer together as we pray God will reveal His will to us.      


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     This Sunday night we are going to have a special guest join us in our gymnasium.  Bob Holmes, known as the One Man Volleyball Team is going to compete as one man against our entire Pit Crew and church volleyball team.  Bob holds the world record for Most Volleyball Games played and has spoken before over 6,000,000 students and adults across the world.


     Bob grew up in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Bob has a family, a wife and 3 girls. His compassion for others keeps him on the road across the country getting out the message that you too can "Beat the Odds". He really wasn't much of an athlete. In fact, Bob was a very shy person. He never played volleyball in high school or college.


     Bob did a lot of traveling which caused him to develop a bad back. His doctor recommended that he get more exercise and it was at that time that Bob began playing volleyball with a friend in their backyard. "We played 3 or 4 times a week, usually after evening programs," he remembers.  "After watching the famed Globetrotters entertain a crowd and seeing the joy they brought to young people, I came up with the idea of a one-man volleyball team. This way, I could demonstrate to people that they can beat the odds just as I was doing on the court." 


     At the age of 29, Bob called a high school principal in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. "I had a meeting planned there and asked if I could play a few games, just by myself, against the kids and another game against the faculty. No doubt, the principal thought that I wouldn't have a chance, so he said yes. I played the students and the faculty, had a lot of fun and won. After that, I called another school and before I knew it, I had 11 schools lined up."


     Bob now travels around the country sharing the encouraging word that every life has value, especially emphasizing to students that suicide is never the answer to life's problems.  I hope you'll come out, bring some friends with you, and hear how this man's ministry is touching the world around us.


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     I came to Kenova at age 29. Dee and I had just completed our 3rd year of full-time youth ministry in Oak Hill, West Virginia.  We started there at the end of 1995 with a youth group of eight kids and saw it grow to an average of 60.  In our last year there we baptized over 25 teenagers which put our church in the top 5 in the state for baptisms.  Sadly, our leaders didn’t count many of them because they didn’t join our church in membership.

   Rarely do I speak of the events that led to my departure from Oak Hill, frankly because they weren’t positive and it wouldn’t do any good to bring up past hurts.  I had no intention of leaving those kids until I saw my original group of 6th graders graduate from high school. I made a 6-year commitment to the youth group when I first came but I learned from that experience that you shouldn’t promise people things that might end up being out of your control.  I remember when one of the younger kids heard that I was resigning they said, “But you promised to stay until I graduated!” I felt like a liar but at the time I couldn’t explain that me leaving really wasn’t up to me.  The leadership wanted an associate pastor and all I wanted to do was work with youth.  Even though working with youth is what I came there to do, the vision changed, and like a good soldier I quietly began taking phone calls from churches who wanted someone who would just focus on youth.

   One of those phone calls came from Ron McClung, the new senior pastor at FBC Kenova.  At the time, I did not want to leave Oak Hill. To this day I miss the trout fishing that was literally right out my back door, our home in the woods, and the extensive trails of the New River Gorge that was minutes from our home.

   But God used that difficult time in my life, perhaps my most difficult time, to get me to the place where I am today.  As I turn 50 years old this week, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my nearly 21 years at FBC Kenova, and I can truly say that what others did to cause me harm, God intended for good, and for the saving of many souls.  I’ve had the privilege of baptizing nearly a thousand people, spoken directly to a million souls, dedicated hundreds of babies to the Lord, and shared the gospel with over 10 million people through TV and social media.  Not only that, this church has loved on my family beyond our ability to imagine.

   I write this messenger on the eve of my 50th birthday, and I want to remind you, and myself, that God knows what he is doing even when we are going through suffering.  Today, I thank Him for those who had a different vision than I had. Were they right? I don’t know. I just know that I’m glad that God put me here. In His time. In His way.

  So thankful that God is in control.  And I am not.


...they will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” – Jesus

             As we discussed on Sunday, there are approximately 100 “one another” commands in the New Testament.  One-third of them are some form of the command to “love one another.”  The other 2/3s are HOW we are to love one another.  Take note of these and apply them to how you love your church family.

Serve one another: Galatians 5:13; 21; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 4:9; 5:5

Accept one another: Romans 15:7, 14

Strengthen one another: Romans 14:19

Help one another: Hebrews 3:13; 10:24

Encourage one another: Romans 14:19; 15:14; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25

Care for one another: Galatians 6:2

Forgive one another: Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13

Submit to one another: Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5

Commit to one another: 1 John 3:16

Build trust with one another: 1 John 1:7

Be devoted to one another: Romans 12:10

Be patient with one another: Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13

Be interested in one another: Philippians 2:4

Be accountable to one another: Ephesians 5:21

Confess to one another: James 5:16

Live in harmony with one another: Romans 12:16

Do not be conceited toward one another: Romans 13:8

Do not pass judgment on one another: Romans 14:13; 15:7

Do not slander one another: James 4:11

Instruct one another: Romans 16:16

Greet one another: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:12

Admonish one another: Romans 5:14; Colossians 3:16

Spur one another on toward love and good deeds: Hebrews 10:24

Meet with one another: Hebrews 10:25

Agree with one another: 1 Corinthians 16:20

Be concerned for one another: Hebrews 10:24

Be humble toward one another in love: Ephesians 4:2

Be compassionate toward one another: Ephesians 4:32

Do not be consumed by one another: Galatians 5:14-15

Do not anger one another: Galatians 5:26

Do not lie to one another: Colossians 3:9

Do not grumble toward one another: James 5:9

Give preference to one another: Romans 12:10

Be at peace with one another: Romans 12:18

Sing to one another: Ephesians 5:19

Be of the same mind to one another: Romans 12:16; 15:5

Comfort one another: 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11

Be kind to one another: Ephesians 4:32

Live in peace with one another: 1 Thessalonians 5:13

Carry one another's burdens: Galatians 6:2



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     Hi Church Family! My name is Casey Moore and I was recently hired on to assist Tony with Children’s ministry. For those of you who may not know me, my husband, Juston “Pup” Moore and I joined as members of FBCK in 2014 right after we got married. We will celebrate our 5th anniversary on August 30. We have since had three children, Lydia (3), Clara (2), and Christian (4 months). Pup grew up in Kenova and I grew up “Out Wayne” and we have landed right in the middle on Rt. 75 to raise our family.

     For the past 6 years I have worked for Wayne County Schools as an elementary teacher and just recently resigned my position to be more available to my own children. My background is in elementary education and leadership studies and it is my hope to be able to use that to help love on children and support families here at FBCK and in our community for as long as I’m needed.

     There’s no better “orientation to Children’s Ministry” than your first full week being VBS, but WOW what a week it was! We saw huge numbers on the first day, but as the children poured in so did the volunteers. What an awesome reminder of God’s provisions for us. We cannot express enough how grateful we are to every individual who helped love on children and show Christ’s love throughout the week. I was especially encouraged by our youth volunteers who selflessly gave up pretty summer evenings to pour in to our kids. It was a beautiful picture of a multi-generational church with a goal to glorify God.

     With that being said, if you see me running around please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. If you have a passion for children and want to get plugged in somewhere let me know! The harvest is plenty and we are always in need of workers for the field. We have so many exciting things to look forward to as the new school year quickly approaches so I ask that you be in prayer for my family and me as we transition in to this new season of life. For now, we are finding comfort in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


With love,

Casey Moore

An Early Thanksgiving 

    This summer has been a whirlwind of ministry.  FBC Ashland kicked off summer ministries with a fantastic Bible school serving kids from throughout the Ashland community.  The following week our youth group went to South Carolina to do service projects in the Myrtle Beach area, to learn from Bible teaching, and to share Jesus with hundreds of vacationers at the beach.

    Then camp season kicked in.  Over the course of the summer we sent over 100 kids and 30 counselors to Camp Cowen.  Lives were changed and Jesus was lifted up.

    This week, HCC is doing a day camp at the A.D. Lewis Center and they had over 100 students and volunteers ministering to that part of our community.  At our Kenova campus, we’ve had record numbers at VBS, not just in children attending, but in teen and adult volunteers to make it happen.  A big THANK YOU to volunteer servants at all three campuses.  None of this would be possible without you!

    Finally, I want to thank all of those who have served for the past 5+ years under Jeremy Napier’s leadership.  Jeremy built an awesome group of adult volunteers and equipped a talented youth leadership team as well.  It would be impossible to list all the awesome things we’ve seen through that ministry since he and Sharon moved to town.

    That said, you should know that we are praying and working diligently to have a full-fledged youth ministry program this fall.  The team is still in place, we have over 20 returning seniors to help lead in the Garage, Jesus is still on the throne and FBC Kenova will continue to lift up the name of Christ in the Tri-State area.

    In the meantime, we are still praying through staffing for our music ministry, our youth ministry, and our ministry with FBC Ashland.  Thankfully Mrs. Casey Moore has come on part-time to assist Tony Cicenas with children’s ministry while Tony takes on some of Josh’s responsibilities with small groups.

    It’s been said that if there’s one thing in life that is constant that it is CHANGE.  Well, while I’m sure that’s generally true, we are experiencing more than our fair share right now.  Even still, this is the time that I know we will see even more volunteers step up into leadership positions for the fall.   We’ve been through transitions before, and as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, I’m sure God will continue to be glorified as we shine as lights in the Tri-State area. 


Vacation Bible School

Sunday,  July 21- Thursday, July 25.

Snack Supper begins at 5:15pm; VBS begins at 6:00pm. Please contact Tony Cicenas or Casey Moore to reserve the area in which God has most gifted you-first come first serve.  Garage teen volunteers needed!   

To the Believers in Kenova

     Many people think the Apostle Paul may have neglected developing close relationships with men and women in the body of Christ. He was a Type A personality, always on the move and highly motivated to spread the gospel.

     However, in Romans 16, he mentions about 34 believers by name! A huge deal not to be neglected in our study! He refers to memorable instances in which he and they, together, endured life struggles and acted with innovation in their specific life circumstances to see that Jesus message of salvation spread throughout the ancient world.

In a like manner to Paul, this past Sunday I gave my final message as a staff member of 15 + years with First Baptist Kenova. It’s one of the most sobering moments of my adult life. I took time in that message to “adapt” the 16th chapter of Romans into a present day letter from me to FBC Kenova (HCC and Ashland as well).

     In this last Messenger article, I simply want to reiterate how deeply I love you all! This congregation gave me my first roll in vocational ministry; my first full-time position as the youth pastor from 2005 - 2012; and service part-time as the Minister of Worship and Small groups since 2012! You’re the only church body I have ever served!

It has been a joy! Not every moment was joyful … that goes without really needing said. But, my goodness First Baptist Kenova… I have nothing but joyful, memorable, heart-warming appreciation for you and the journey we have walked together for over nearly 16 years.

     Steve graciously made it evident that Sunday was not my last time leading worship with you. And it certainly isn’t the last time we’ll be with you. My full-time role at Simpson Creek Baptist Church in Bridgeport is less than 3 hours from here! You better believe it … we have already made plans to be back here on weekends in the Fall, for biological and church family special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. And we will be praying for the ministry of FBCK, FBC Ashland, and HCC everyday.

     Paul said in Philippians 1:3 - I thank my God every time I remember you in my prayers.” The assumed idea is that Paul was regularly praying for the Church in Philippi. The Sowards family will be praying for you, just as he did… and all the more often.

     I. Love. You! I want to write words that have zero cliche, church family. But, there’s nothing new under the sun! So, with thanks for all the blessings you’ve shared with my family - my seminary education, my partnership with every single staff member, my years of truly deep relationships with “grandmas and grandpas”, “aunts and uncles”, and dear, dear brothers and sisters in Christ … for your love of my wife and my girls ...There’s no more original thing I could say than, Thank you! I love you! And I will always remember you in my prayers … by name!

     We’ll shoot out our new address as soon as the Lord closes the deal on our new home! You’re ALL welcome! It’s a wide-open invitation...that I mean! You’re ALL welcome … anytime!

Here’s to the time Christ gives us all to bring the nations to obedience in Christ! 

       --Josh, Dez, Aslyn, Lila, and Gwen!  

Who's Your One?

     As we close out our “WHO’S YOUR ONE?” series, let us remember that the month of June was a training month.  We were training our people how to pray for an individual who needs Jesus.  You can keep praying those prayers over and over again, making a time of praying for lost souls a part of your daily lives.


   May I make a confession to you?  I am not the best at giving things to God.  Too often I see myself as God’s employee instead of seeing myself as one of His children.  I happily go to work for my Boss every day, but God wants to be more than my boss, He IS much more than my boss, He is my Father and friend.


   When I view God as my Boss I tend to follow His orders.  And I do it happily because I love my boss.  But when the Boss gives me a task, I rarely talk to Him or ask for His help in accomplishing that duty.  I think being a good employee means I get the orders, then I go out and accomplish my orders, not bothering my Boss with the details of the day.  I want to handle those tasks on my own.  I want to show the Boss that I don’t need His help.  I am responsible and trustworthy. “Just leave it to me, Boss, I’ll take care of it!”


   But that’s now how it’s supposed to work with God.  He WANTS to be a part of the tasks He assigns us.  In fact, we CANNOT do what He assigns us to do without Him.  “Apart from Me you can do NOTHING,” He says.


   Praying for lost people is God’s way of making sure we are keeping Him central to the task of evangelism.  He doesn’t NEED us to do anything for Him, we just get to be a part of what He is doing.


   So in a way, I’m asking you to be better than your pastor.  Keep praying and trusting God to make things happen.  If He includes you along the way, well, that’s great!  But whatever we do in the name of the Lord, let us make sure we are praying His will and assistance all along the way.



Let's Get To Work

       This past Sunday we unpacked the biblical description of Hell.   My hope was, with a better understanding of what God has saved us from and with the knowledge that this is the eternal destination of those who don’t know Jesus as Savior, each of us would be more motivated to reach our “one”.

     We learned that Hell is an eternal dwelling place full of pain, fear, sadness, isolation, and separation.  We read in Luke 16 that the rich man experienced all of these things the moment he opened his eyes in Hell. Hell is terrible, just awful, and we shouldn’t want anyone to go there.  However, the Bible says that many will, “for broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many will enter through it” (Mathew 7:13).   That could be why there is a “stairway to heaven” and a “highway to hell”. 

     From the sermon we also learned that there are good things in Hell. There are good people in Hell (from a human standard), good vision, good prayers (the rich man prayed God would have mercy on him), good memory (consciousness, awareness), good theology (the rich man knew in order to NOT go to hell you needed to repent), good priorities (the rich man turned into an evangelist having 5 people on his prayers list) and good intentions (Hell is full of people that never intended to go there).  

     Sharing Christ requires us to get out of our comfort zones and our teenagers are doing that. Last week, at Myrtle Beach, each day our students went out to share the Gospel.  What did they find? Rejection, disappointment, sadness and many lost souls with no desire to know and experience Christ.  Students were discouraged but at the same time uplifted when our group shared stories together during our evening debriefs.  They were encouraged by the few that did listen and even came to Christ.   However, 75% or more of the people they encountered did not even want to hold a spiritual conversation. 

     Frankly, I was disappointed more people didn’t show up Sunday night to hear and be encouraged by the leaders we are praying for to be sent out into the harvest twice a day. My expectation was a packed-out house to celebrate what God is doing through our young people.  

     My fear is as a church we have become stagnant.  Something happens after the age of 30 and we think only teenagers and young adults are supposed to go out and evangelize.   Evangelizing and holding Gospel conversations are for EVERYONE who believe.  What we experienced this week confirmed that this world is full of lost people.  Therefore, if you’re not getting rejected while witnessing at least three times a week, you may not be having enough Gospel conversations.  When I say you, this includes me and anyone else on our church staff. We can ALL do better. 

     As I preached Sunday morning, we have to speak out, speak up and be bold.  Praying is where it starts. The “Who’s Your ONE?” prayer book is great.  However, at some point, we need to open up our mouths and have a Gospel conversation.

     As we read in Luke 16, no one can come back from Hell to warn their friends and family.  So, the question is, who will warn the people? It’s up to you and me. Let’s get to work (Matt. 28:16-20).



Come & See   

     English poet John Donne, in the 17th century, famously wrote that “no man is an island”. He was right. No one is meant to do life alone. That’s why God provides a mother and father for us all and why it is God’s desire for all of us to experience community that is characterized by radical love and inclusivity. I see this occurring often in our church. I love going to Marshall Football games and seeing our church small groups there together as they tailgate and enjoy cheering on the Herd. This is who God meant for us to do life with. However, we could improve at inviting others outside of our church to join in.


     I love how close and loyal family members in our area are to one another. I love how strong the bonds of friendships are between those who went to grade school, high school, and college together. I love how those who grew up in our church stick together through thick and thin times. But what about those who we didn’t grow up with? What about the people we interact with every day at work, at restaurants, and at gas stations? Are we known for being a church that invites anyone and everyone we meet to “come and see” (John 1:46) about Jesus and be loved by Him as we have been? We need to get better at this.


     This week I invited 2 strangers who were serving me at different businesses to come check out our church. It was a little awkward, but it was more than worth it. It allowed our new friendship to grow and blessed the depth of our conversation. Anyone we meet who we are unsure if they have a faithful church to go to and/or we don’t know if Jesus is their Lord & Savior is someone we need to invite into our church, our small group, and into our friend group. No man is an island, let us remember that.



On a Scale of 0 to 100…

     As a follower of Jesus, one of my favorite things to do is share my faith with people who don’t know Him. If you’re like me, you’ve found that one of the hardest things to do in conversation is to actually transition into talking about spiritual things; it’s easy to talk about work, family, and what you did last weekend, but when it comes to talking about Jesus, that’s a whole different ball game. Thankfully, I had a Barnabas in my life who shared with me an easy and effective way to do this.


     I was supposed to meet up with a guy who said he was thinking about following Jesus (the appointment fell through), and I was talking with my roommate about what I could say. He told me, “You should ask him, ‘on a scale of 0 to 100, how confident are you that if you died today, you’d be in Heaven?’” At the time, I thought, “Oh… that’s cool I guess,” but as I continued walking with Jesus and sharing with more people, I saw just how powerful that question is.


     As my college years went on, that became my favorite question to ask people because it moved them to share so much with me about what they thought about God. The most common answer I’d hear was, “About 70,” and they’d go on to explain to me, “Well, I mess up some, but I try my best to do right,” or, “I’ve went to church ever since I was little.” Now, even though the question has a range of answers from 0 to 100, God’s Word shows us that, in reality, there are only two possible answers.


     We studied 1 John last Sunday night, and in chapter 5, we encountered this verse: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” So, what are the only two possible answers? 0 or 100. There’s no in-between. You’ve either got Jesus, or you don’t.


     The reason I share this is because recently, we’ve been talking a lot about the Great Commission and our 1, that person in your life who you know doesn’t know Jesus. I share this question because it opens up so many doors for us to share our faith with them. So I challenge you: ask your 1 this question, and if the door opens, share with them how they can have the Son, and have life.



Mentoring 101

     Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations”, this is Jesus’ command to the church. Sounds a little daunting doesn’t it? How exactly are we to help people become disciples of Christ? Thankfully Jesus provided the answer, “(by) teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you”. In order to make disciples, we must teach others everything that Jesus has taught us. This won’t happen by chance but only with an intentional plan.


     We all have influence. There is someone who looks up to you. It may be someone new at work, a younger student, and your children definitely look up to you if you are a parent. So invite them out for a meal or coffee and share with them all the potential you see in them. Tell them how you could see them moving up the chain at work, graduating top of their class, or how they could be a fantastic leader. Then share that you want to help them because of what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Tim 2:2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”


     If they are willing to meet with you then plan to meet with them so that you can teach them what Jesus has taught you with intentionality. Teach them how Jesus will never let go or lose those who have placed their faith in Him (John 10:27-30). Teach them how we are saved by grace alone and therefore there is nothing that we could ever do to make God love us more or less (Eph 2:8-9). Teach them that we were made to do good works for Jesus at work, in our homes, and in our local church (Eph 2:10). You may feel inadequate to do this, I know I am. But remember Jesus’ Promise, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matt 28:20.


     Feel free to check out my Mentoring 101 Sunday School class on the 3rd floor to learn more this Sunday.



Who’s Your One?   

   Imagine if every member of your church could answer that question with the name of a person—a person for whom they’re praying and with whom they’re sharing the gospel. How would it change your church? How would it change the world?


   God’s people don’t merely need another method for evangelism. What they need is a white-hot passion to see people who are far from God experience the new life He offers through Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many buildings we construct, churches we plant or sermons we preach if we’re not intent on doing everything so that lost men, women and children will experience the transforming work of God. Without that one thing, we fail.


   That’s why we’re launching Who’s Your One. This effort is designed to mobilize every Southern Baptist to identify one person in his or her relational network to pray for and share the gospel with in 2019. At The Summit Church, we tried something similar. We kept asking our members, “Who’s your one?” It’s not an elaborate or complicated idea, but this simple idea led to our most evangelistically effective year to date. Because of this intentional push toward evangelism, we ended up baptizing more than 650 people that year. What an incredible joy it was to have people come up to me at church and say, “Pastor, this is my one.” Or to see them stand in the baptistery with someone and tell me later, “That was her! She was my one!”


   As you launch Who’s Your One and pray for God to use your church members to reach those who are lost, pray also about what God wants to do through you. If we’re going to move the evangelism needle in our churches, we’ve got to be modeling what we’re preaching. By God’s grace, we can all partner to reach our one.


J.D. Greear

Lead Pastor, Summit Church

Raleigh, NC


This Sunday we will be handing out prayer journals for the entire church. If you cannot be here this Sunday, come by the church office to get your copy.


     We are blessed to live in a place where we get to fully experience & enjoy all the seasons of year. What’s your favorite season of the year? Mine is Fall. I love the cool crisp air, seeing the leaves change color, & of course College Football. But like all seasons it eventually comes to an end as does our teens time in the Garage Ministry.


     When our teens graduate from the Garage, their next few decisions are extremely crucial. It’s at this time that they will decide whether or not their faith in Jesus will truly be their own and who their close friends will be. Will they continue meeting together with others who are like-minded in their faith to follow & become more like Jesus? Or will Jesus be someone they remember from their days in the Garage who they don’t think about anymore?


     Parents your reaction to your children growing up is critical. Your child may be an adult but they still need you, and they will still listen to you...just not as often as you might like. Encourage them to keep coming out to our college & career Small Group on Sunday nights at 6:30. Your child may not know many people at first, but I guarantee you, there are many good friendships waiting for them because we teach the Bible in a way that engages their season of life to help them become mature, faithful, and wise followers of Jesus which always leads to sweet community.


     I want the best for our young adults which is why I have to ask you to do one more thing: have conversations about Jesus at home. Share with them what you have learned from Jesus & ask them what Jesus has taught them? A few days at church a week can have a good impact. But talking about Jesus, reading the Bible, and praying together at home everyday will make for an extraordinary impact (I’m talking Grand Canyon Sized) on a young person’s faith.


Let us continue serving Him together,


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       Graduation Sunday is just around the corner and this year, I’ll be watching my 21st graduating class walk across the stage.  The kids that are heading off to college were not even conceived when Dee and I first visited FBC Kenova back in 1998.  My very own Lucas, born in 2000, will walk the stage this Friday night.  Wow!

         Whenever you have a child go through a rite of passage, it forces you to look back over the rites of passage in the past.  All along the way, Lucas was cared for by some of the most incredible Sunday School teachers and AWANA leaders that a family could ever request.  I can honestly say that we didn’t have one bad experience with a teacher during his entire childhood.  Servant after servant, year after year, the people of this church poured into his life to help him, and many others, become who they are today.

         The experience didn’t stop there.  From Josh Sowards to Jamie Berry to Casey Chapman and Jeremy Napier, we had four youth ministers who navigated the challenges of tearing down old buildings, staying flexible during building programs, and then renovating “new” youth facilities to give us the Garage we have today.  Thousands of man/woman hours went into the construction.  Tens of thousands of hard-earned dollars went into the programs as well.

         Dozens of Pit Crew members.  Loving parents.  100 caring “surrogate” grandparents and great-grandparents, over 1000 meals prepared by the ladies in our kitchens – this is the cost of bringing up a child in a church family.  The people of FBC Kenova have been doing this for over a century.  The beat goes on.

         For all of you who keep singing and giving on Sunday morning, for each servant/volunteer in the baby nurseries, for each person who takes out trash or cleans up a mess, for the secretaries who send out bulletins … you all are a part of the most powerful organization on the face of the planet … the church.  By the grace of God, you are what keeps this world going around.

         The next time you serve in the nursery, don’t ever lose the fact that you are making a huge impact as another very significant brick in the wall.  We want you in that wall. We need you in that wall.  Every child that walks across that stage is a jewel in your crown.  Keep building … the gates of hell won’t prevail against it!


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Praying Blessing into the Lives of Your Children   

Gen. 27.  As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!”…Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

         These tragic verses were Esau’s response to a Dad who would not pray blessings over him.  Deep down, every child wants to be blessed by his father.  They want those affirming words.  When Dad’s don’t have affirming words, it can be devastating.  When Dad’s give blessings, however, it can be lifechanging.

         I can remember it like yesterday.  Baseball was a big deal in my family.  As the legend in the Upper Kanawha Valley goes, my dad was one step away from playing professional baseball.  Baby Stevie came around, however, and it was either run off to play ball (and leave my mom) or go in the coal mines and support me.  Thankfully, he chose the latter and resigned himself to semi-pro travel ball on weekends.

         It’s hard growing up the son of a someone who was really good.  It doesn’t matter what they were really good AT, it’s just that they were really good.  All you hear about growing up was how good your dad was, and deep down you know you’ll never be good enough to match him.

         But on one day, I felt like I measured up to the task.  I was 12 years old in my final year of Little League and one of my dad’s old baseball buddies decided to come and watch me play.  My first at bat was a pretty miserable attempt. I got called out watching the curveball break across the plate. As I walked back to the dugout I heard dad’s friend laugh and say, “Just like his old man, he’s afraid to swing.”  I was embarrassed.

         The next at bat was just as bad.  Determined not to watch a good pitch go by, I swung at the first three pitches, none of which would have been strikes.  Three straight whiffs and back to the bench.  I didn’t hear the guy’s second comments, but later Dad told me he again said, “Just like his old man!”

         The final at bat was in the last inning. It was a 1-0 game and we were behind.  I was at bat with two outs and one guy on base.   The first pitch came in – a strike.  The second came in – another strike.  I stepped out of the batter’s box and looked at dad.  He said, “It’s gonna be a curveball.”  I stepped back in, waited for the curve, and hit the longest home run of my Little League career.  We won the game.  As I came across home plate and made my way to the dug out, dad came over with his friend.  Dad’s friend said, “You’re just like your old man.” To which Dad replied, “That’s right! He hits ‘em out every time!”

         Dads, may I encourage you to give those affirming words every night.  Place your hands on your children and thank God for them.  Pray that God will bless them and keep them and be gracious to them.  It doesn’t have to be a long excurses on theology. Just thank God for them, say something positive about them, ask God to forgive them when they make mistakes, but help them to get up the next day and walk with Him.

       Their lives will never be the same.                    


It Is Finished

     I posted a timeline of selected quotes from Jesus’ saying on the cross.  One could really write a book on these things.  Take time to reflect upon what Christ accomplished for you on that good Good Friday.


8:30am. Good Friday morning. While most of Jerusalem was sleeping in (following the Jewish equivalent to our New Year’s Eve), Jesus has been tried, beaten and wrongfully convicted. He carries our cross up the road known as the Via Dolorosa, that is, The Way of Suffering.

9am. The soldiers strip Jesus and crucify Him like a common thief. They gamble for His clothing.

9:30am. As He is being ridiculed and mocked by the very ones He created, Jesus exclaims, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” This statement was in reference to the soldiers who were gambling for His clothes. I’m pretty sure the religious leaders knew EXACTLY what they were doing (Matt. 21:38-40).

11:30am. As the greatest sign that it’s never too late to find forgiveness, the thief recognizes that Jesus is the true Messiah. As long as you have breath, you can always ask Jesus into your life. “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Noon. The sky grows dark. Man has done his worst. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a darker day in our history.
2:30pm. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I almost didn't post this because there's no quick answer, but I'll give my best short overview. Jesus knew all things that were going to happen to Him (John 18:4), and that includes God pouring out His wrath on Him. But just as we all do in times of agony, occasionally we ask "WHY?" even when we already know the answer. Sometimes you say "WHY?" when you watch a loved one die due to cancer. You know "why" they died? You know the biological reason. You know the spiritual reason. You know that due to Adam's original sin our bodies are broken and destined for destruction. But still, in your emotional pain and conflicted intellect you say, "WHY? Dear God! WHY?" Jesus knew why God was pouring out all of His wrath on Him. Only a GOD can do in six hours what 20 billion of us couldn't have done in an eternity in hell. After about five hours of suffering our eternal hell, is it any wonder He cried out in emotional pain, "WHY?"

3pm. It is finished.  All prophecies have been fulfilled.  The requirements of the law have been brought to an end. Christ’s work on earth is done.  The debt has been paid.  Our ransom is completed.  It is finished.



Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

     Next to Christmas, Easter was my favorite holiday as a child.  Coloring eggs for the egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, Easter baskets … my family did a great job of making it fun.

      But they did far more than that.  My mother especially reminded me that Jesus was the reason for the season, and my Dad usually got me out of bed in time for sunrise service.  Following morning worship Easter Sunday dinner was a big deal with family.  The entire day was a big celebration of Jesus.

      Sadly, as an adult, I don’t know that we do as good as a job with Sundays as what we did when I was growing up.  The egg hunts that Tony leads are probably better, even more Christ-focused than what I remember.  I love the Holy Week services.  There are so many things that we do well.

      But as a pastor, as far as morning worship goes, I’m just telling you, it’s the hardest morning of the year to keep people’s attention.  The singing in the pews just hasn’t been as good as normal Sundays. People’s faces are less engaged, almost disinterested.  It’s more like people are coming to an event as opposed to a worship service.

      And when I say “worship service”, I mean just that, Sunday morning is supposed to be a time of worship in song, giving, and the Word.  Like I said, people typically don’t sing as well.  The offering is actually low for the amount of people that attend, and as far as the preaching goes, I can just tell, half the people’s minds are somewhere else.

      So, I exhort you church, do whatever you have to do on Saturday night so nobody is stressed on Sunday morning.  Know going into it that the devil will probably do more to distract us on Easter Sunday than any Sunday of the year.  Prepare your hearts during the week so that Sunday morning is an explosion of worship.  May the words of this opening song be the cry of our hearts!                                            --Steve


We've waited for this day, We're gathered in your name, Calling out to you

Your glory like a fire, Awakening desire, Will burn our hearts with truth

You're the reason we're here, You're the reason we're singing

Open up the heavens, We want to see you, Open up the floodgates, A mighty river

Flowing from your heart, Filling every part of our praise


Your presence in this place, Your glory on our face, We're looking to the sky

Descending like a cloud, You're standing with us now, Lord, unveil our eyes

You're the reason we're here, You're the reason we're singing

Show us, show us your glory, Show us, show us your power, Show us, show us your glory, Lord 

     Penn Jilette (an atheist) of Penn & Teller once shared “How much do you have to HATE somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that”? Do we LOVE his creation? His “church” has too many opportunities these next 10 days for you to keep quiet! Invite someone!!

Luke 10:27 “You shall LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

  •  Easter Celebration and Egg Hunt
    Saturday, April 13 from 10:00am-12:00 noon. Our goal is to collect 5,000 stuffed eggs! We have thousands of eggs, specifically needing candy to stuff them. Please drop off in the front office. Also, if God is leading you to help with this event, please contact Tony.

  • Holy Week Services
    Holy Week services are being held April 15-19 at noon at Kenova United Methodist Church (503 15th St. Kenova). Services begin at noon, lunch served at 12:30. A freewill offering will be taken during the lunch to support the Good Samaritan Center.
    Monday: First Independent Missionary Baptist & First Congregational (Zach Johnson & Marty Gute)
    Tuesday: 20th St. Baptist & Kenova Church of God (Matthew Christian & Paul Cantrell)
    Wednesday: First Baptist Kenova (Steve Willis)
    Thursday: First Baptist Ceredo (Rodney Hale)
    Friday: Kenova United Methodist & Ceredo United Methodist (Jim Richards & Tom Baisden

  •  Seder Dinner
    Tickets are now on sale for the Seder Dinner and must be purchased in advance. Tickets will be available Sunday, April 14 after both services in the Welcome Center. This event will be on Thursday, April 18 at 6:00pm in the Family Life Center. Cost is $6 for individual or $12 for a family.

  • Easter Services at FBCK
    This year we will have three worship services on Easter Sunday: 7:30am; 9:00am; 11:30am.

Small Group Investments Due

Wednesday Night


     Unless your group received a special dispensation from a pastor, your small group money is due Wednesday night.  Over two months ago, Josh gave each small group $500.  Their job was to invest that $500 (of the Lord’s money) and try to turn a profit. If you haven’t already guessed it, this exercise was preparing us for this Sunday’s Scripture from Matthew 25.


         Again, it [the Kingdom of God] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.  28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

     Which groups are the good and faithful servants?  Which ones will be cast outside where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth?  We’ll find out this Sunday.        


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                Sunday, September 27, 2015 was a date being shopped around as a prelude to the end of days.  On the heels of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, the day of atonement, in the heart of Sukkot, the feast of tabernacles, in a calendar year that lined up exactly with 33AD, on the night of the fourth consecutive blood moon coinciding with the major Jewish holidays of the last two years, on the eve of a U.S. backed deal with the chief of Israel’s current and millennial old enemies …. On that night …. We chose to praise the Lord.   We sang hallelujah.  We celebrated the mercy of Christ on the cross and the power of Christ displayed in the resurrection.

              The Holy Spirit was moving among our congregation.  God was honored and our hearts were moved to love our neighbors as we loved ourselves.  Challenged with meeting the immediate physical needs of over a million refugees, many of which are Christian, our church family at Kenova and MCF demonstrated unity by giving and/or pledging over $10,000 to be sent to our mission partners in Eastern Europe.

              Time usually flies but to me, our first unity night feels like a long time ago.  FBC Ashland hadn’t partnered with us as of yet.   Between us and MCF (now HCC), we’ve had over 200 baptisms since that time.  A lot of water has gone under our Ohio River railroad bridge since the first Unity Night four years ago.

              As we prepare our hearts for this Sunday night, I want to remind us that this is more than a concert.  This is about three congregations coming together as one church to glorify Jesus.  Please come expecting the name of Jesus to be lifted up in a special way.  As the book of Acts teaches us, God does something extraordinary when “all the people are together and have everything in common.”  We find unity in one thing above all else, the GLORY of Jesus Christ.  May His glory be shown among us this Sunday night!


Party in Kenova  

Matthew 9 – Jesus parties at Matthew’s house.

Matthew 22 – Parable of the Wedding Celebration

Luke 7 – Jesus parties at Simon’s house

Luke 14a – Jesus parties at a Pharisees home

Luke 14b – Parable of the Great Banquet

Luke 15 – The Parable of the Lost (prodigal) son who comes home

Luke 19 – Jesus parties with Zacchaeus

Luke 22 – Jesus feasts with His disciples for Passover

John 2 – Jesus performs His first miracle at a wedding party

John 8 – Jesus celebrates at the Feast of Booths

John 10 – Jesus celebrates at the Feast of Dedication


     Do you notice a theme throughout the Gospels?  Jesus certainly didn’t run from a party.  He liked to have a good time.  He liked to tell stories about parties.  He celebrated with people the joy of forgiveness, salvation, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

     I want our church to act like Jesus is ready to party with us every week.  I want every Sunday to be a celebration.  We have the Gospel, the GOOD NEWS, so why don’t we act like it?   I’m not asking anyone to fake it.  I just want everyone to have the perspective that Jesus has won the battles for us, that He has conquered sin and death, that we have been forgiven, that we have love for today and hope for tomorrow!

     If you’ve missed out on Wednesday night fellowship dinners, may I ask you to come back with us?  We heard from several individuals that there were a little too many extracurriculars going on with flying frisbees and bouncing balls, but we’ve worked to make it a safer (but still fun) environment for kids.  We want you to be a part of the fellowship time, conversing around the dinner table, sharing life with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

     May I also encourage you to spend time celebrating life together with your small groups.  If you’re not already in a small group, we’ll connect you with one.  Come and share and support and love on people who are going through life with you.  That’s what church family is all about.

     Let’s keep this party going!  After all, we have the greatest reason for celebration that the world has ever known!    


A Church full of Christian Counselors   

     There are two big myths when it comes to pastoral counseling. Myth #1:  Pastors have some special power that others don’t have. Myth #2:  Only professionals with psychology degrees should give advice.


     FACT: Every believer is expected to be a counselor.  The ministry of counseling is not only for pastors. In fact, every believer is expected to be involved to some degree. The Apostle Paul was confident that well-taught believers are able to counsel one another (Rom. 15:14). A growing Christian with a love for and a working knowledge of the Scriptures is a far more competent counselor than a trained psychologist with three degrees hanging on his wall and several initials behind his name. Effective counseling is the product of being richly indwelt with the Word of God (Col. 3:16) not the theories of Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung. Far from giving pat answers like, “take two Bible verses and call me in the morning,” biblical counseling requires wisdom and compassion from God because real people have real needs (1 Thess. 5:14).


     FACT: The local church is the intended and ideal place for counseling.  God also provides the ideal environment where lives can be changed. It is not an accident that the commands to counsel one another are found in letters to local churches. The apostles always assumed that every believer would be a faithful member of a local body of Christ. The NT never even entertains the idea of a Christian not being accountable to a group of fellow believers. The book of Hebrews, written to a local body of Jewish believers, stresses the immense value of this relationship, let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near (Heb. 10:24-25).


     FACT: It’s the pastors’/elders’ job to prepare the church body for frontline biblical counseling.  (Here at Kenova, we are going to start doing a better job.) Please prayerfully consider being trained for this vital ministry.


     (This article is taken from Paul Tautges’ book, Delight in the Word, a collection of essays providing food for biblical counselors and homework for their counselees.)



Is God Using Africa to Save His Church?

     I just returned from a week of teaching Biblical Marriage and Family at the Uganda Baptist Seminary (UBS).  The seminary housing is currently filled to capacity and the faculty has all the students it can handle.  I can tell you assuredly that no seminary in the United States is turning down masses of students due to a lack of faculty!  While there are many challenges at UBS, I am pleased to announce that the seminary, as well as the Church in Africa, is going strong!


     Uganda’s Christian population has nearly doubled (yes, you read that right), DOUBLED in the last twenty years.  To put that in perspective, the Christian population in the United States hasn’t seen growth like that since, well, since the 19th century.  If current growth patterns continue, Africa will contain more Christians than the rest of the world COMBINED. Yes, the balance of Jesus’ bride has shifted from here to there.  And as European and American “progressives” have tried to use finances to export liberal, non-biblical theology on our African counterparts, the true church of Africa has simply refused.

       Even while I was there, African pastors confronted me about the state of the Church and family in the United States.  Noting their own struggles with polygamy in the past, they prided themselves that they are growing in their understanding of the Bible while it appears many churches in the United States are doing the opposite.  Though our class had no Methodist students, when word reached campus that the African delegation of the world-wide United Methodist church had prevented the entire denomination from affirming sodomy and homosexual pastors, these church leaders began to ask me if instead of the USA sending missionaries to Africa, perhaps Africa needed to be sending missionaries to the USA.

       Methodist African pastor, Jerry Kulah, stated publicly after their delegation’s demand that the UMC retain a biblical view on marriage and family in spite of opposition from the majority of UMC American Bishops,

“We Africans are not children in need of western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics. We do not need to hear a progressive U.S. bishop lecture us about our need to “grow up.” We are grounded in God’s word and the gracious and clear teachings of our church. On that we will not yield! We will not take a road that leads us from the truth! We will take the road that leads to the making of disciples of Jesus Christ for transformation of the world! Unfortunately, some United Methodists in the U.S. have the very faulty assumption that all Africans are concerned about is U.S. financial support. Well, I am sure, being sinners like all of you, some Africans are fixated on money. But with all due respect, a fixation on money seems more of an American problem than an African one. We get by on far less than most Americans do; we know how to do it. I’m not so sure you do. So if anyone is so naïve or condescending as to think we would sell our birth right in Jesus Christ for American dollars, then they simply do not know us.”


     There was a time when pastors in America spoke with such unity and clarity.  That was the last time we saw Christianity in America double in as little as 20 years.  The time period was later deemed The Great Awakening.  My prayer is that God will move in the United States to have laypersons and clergy speak like that again.         


What Are You Aiming At?

I was at a golf range my sophomore year of college and as I sliced ball after ball over the side of the netting into a wooded area, the owner of the range said to me, “Do you think you are doing something wrong?” I admitted that I might need some help. He offered some help by telling me my aim was off. Well, after all of these years, I still have a slice, but I never forgot the advice. Am I hitting the ball just to hit it, or was there a target that I was aiming at? I think the same thing applies to the church. What is the goal? To hopefully like what songs are being sung? To hopefully hear a good sermon? Or the hope of great programming so I can walk out in the end feeling happy that everything was the way I like it? Do we ever think that it might not be about what we like or think about church? 2 Corinthians 5:9, says, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him”. So, there is nothing wrong with wanting to like the music or the message, it’s just not the goal. So instead of going home and rating the church service 1-10, let’s ask the question a different way. Was God pleased? Was God pleased with how I worshipped? Was God pleased with how I listened to his word being taught? Was God pleased with how I spoke to my spouse and children this morning? Was God pleased with my thoughts towards my co-workers? Was God pleased with how I spent my time this week? The list is endless. If our lives are the arrow, what is the target? Take aim at the Christ who died for you. He is the only one worthy to aim the arrow of your life at.


Aiming at the right target with the arrow of my life can make all of the difference! So what does this look like in a believer’s life? Here are some practical ways to get you started.

  • Making Jesus CENTRAL in our daily life. (Eph. 3:18-19; Phil. 1:21)
  • By knowing Him more fully. (Jer. 9:23-24)
  • By praising and thanking him (privately and publicly).
  • By being obedient in what he has already commanded. (I Cor. 6:19-20)
  • By dealing with sin and pursuing purity. (Josh. 7:19, Eph. 1:4)
  • By reflecting his attributes (being like Christ). (2 Cor. 3:18, Gal. 5:22-23).
  • By being in community. (Eph. 3:21, 4:11-16)
  • By proclaiming Christ to a lost world. (Matt. 28:18-20).
  • By us desiring, delighting in being satisfied in him alone. (Ps. 73, 2 Cor. 5:9).


We can either eclipse or reflect God’s glory in any and every situation. What are you wanting, thinking, or acting out that needs to be in greater alignment with pleasing Christ. Let’s aim our lives at the target of God’s glory together.  Its what we were created for. 


Section Title

Hello Church Family, 

I introduced myself this past Sunday to you from the platform and wanted to follow up with you to let you know how excited Charlotte and I are to be a part of what God is doing at FBCK. 

We are from the Cincinnati, OH area and are actively seeking what the Lord has for us next in ministry. Knowing Steve for a few years now and truly appreciating all that God is doing at the church, we see the growth at FBC as a great problem to have. With that brings many challenges for your staff. My goal is to come along Steve and help him. That just means to be an extension of what he sees needs to be done in the church to be more effective for the kingdom. 

There are many needs represented in a growing church the size of FBCK. There is much counseling (help from God’s perspective), help in teaching, and in equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry to be done. My background in ministry for the past 24 years has been discipleship, leadership development, and counseling. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and if you allow me, I would love to come alongside you and by God’s grace take the next steps towards becoming more mature followers of Christ and engaging others to live and serve like Jesus.

My wife is a nurse at Children’s hospital in Cincinnati, OH and will be with me most Sundays. I have three children. My oldest, McKenzie, is a graduate of Cedarville University and is a Nurse in Tallahassee, FL. My middle son is a junior at Johnson University in Knoxville, TN. My youngest is a junior in high school and you will see him around as well.  

Thank you for receiving us so well. We are excited about what God is up to here at FBCK and to be a part for however long God sees fit. God bless. 

--Andre Rusch

Kids, Forgiveness, and Divorce

     There’s no question that children are the focus of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 17, Matthew 18, and Matthew 19.  In between Jesus’ teaching on children and faith, He laces His admonitions with adult reminders of our responsibility to them.  Perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, repentance … these are all characteristics that His followers must pursue for the sake of the Kingdom of God but also for the spiritual, mental, and physical health of children.

     And it is those same five characteristics (perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, repentance) that are key to the success of any marriage or long-term relationship.  It takes perseverance to make a relationship work.  It takes faith to believe that things will get better when you hit hard times.  It takes a heart of forgiveness because no matter who you are in relationship with, at some point they are going to hurt you.  It takes humility to recognize when you are wrong and it takes a willingness to turn and repent from the things we do that cause others pain.

     As Jesus closes this section of teaching, it should come as no surprise that the question of divorce comes before Jesus.  Few things affect a child’s development more than martial dissolution. Few things affect a child’s faith more than feeling like God doesn’t hear their incessant prayer requests for their mommies and daddies to have a home of peace instead of conflict.

     And it is at this point that again, we must pray for God’s grace to empower us to embrace perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, repentance.  Too often we embody the opposite of these ideals.  We tend to want to quit, doubt, hold grudges, be prideful, and instead of repenting and changing, we dig in our heels, justifying our selfish actions.

     Perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, repentance.  Will you pray for God to strengthen you in these characteristics?  Thank God that we serve a Savior who epitomizes these attributes.  He persevered through Calvary.  He remains faithful even when we are faithless.  He forgives what seems to be unforgivable. He is the perfect picture of a humble servant, the One who humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross.

     The only attribute of that list of five things that Christ doesn’t exhibit is repentance. Why? Because He is the only One of us who never needed to repent, who never headed in the wrong direction, who never sinned and it is for this reason that His death on the cross covers our multiple failings.  Praise be the One who paid our debt and raised His life up from the dead.

     And that same Savior can resurrect any relationship if the people involved will embrace perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, and repentance.  May those things be true of us today.           


Some Questions To Ask Regarding Abortion


     What if a couple finds out at 24 weeks of pregnancy that their baby is going to be a girl, but the mother decides she only wanted a son, shouldn't her husband have some legal rights when it comes to protecting his viable daughter in the womb? Should it be legal for doctors to abort children because of their gender, especially if it's against the father's desires? Why do we tell men they have zero authority over their child in the womb yet, if that child is born, he should take 100% responsibility for that child? Are we sending mixed messages to our young men?

     Currently it’s legal to abort a child if the mother finds out the baby likely had blue eyes instead of brown. Even if someone is pro-choice, do they think abortion should be legal for eye color discrimination? How about skin color?

     If pre-natal DNA tests could tell us a baby’s IQ potential at 20 weeks, and a child’s predicted range was just slightly above average, should a mother who was hoping for a genius child be able to elect for an abortion? Why or why not?

     According to U.S. law, African-American slaves were the legal property of their white owners. What arguments would you have made in 1857 to a slave owner who told you the government had no business imposing their morality on them and their property?

     Should our government legislate morality? What makes something moral or immoral? If 80% of Americans believed slavery to be moral, would that make it OK? Why or why not?


When is it OK to kill foster children?

a.       They’re not wanted

b.       No one wants to care for them

c.       They become a financial liability

d.       They are not expected to live a long and happy life

e.       None of the above. They are human beings and deserve a chance at life.


When should it be legal to kill a child?

a.       When they are an inconvenience

b.       When their father commits a crime such as rape

c.       When their father and mother don’t have much money

d.       When their predicted medical bills hit a certain figure

e.       None of the above. They are human beings and deserve a chance at life


     Would you ever say, “I am against the lynching of minorities, but I don’t think the government should punish people who do”?   Why or why not?

     Would you ever say, “I’m personally against child abuse, but the government should not get involved in private family matters”?  Why or why not?

     The question that must always be answered is, “Is the life in the womb human or not?”


2019 Deacon's List

Our deacons just returned from a great weekend at Parchment Valley.  We had two ordinations, Josh Campbell for the Kenova campus and Blake Arvon for the HCC campus. We also had a time of training and equipping, getting them ready for 2019.  Each deacon and deaconess should be contacting their members at least once every two months.  During that time, you can share with them your prayer requests, update them on things going on with your family, or alerting them to any needs you might have.


    Here is your deacon/deaconess list for 2019.  If you don't know your deacon, please go up to them and introduce yourself.


A             Dusty Hughes

                Teresa Nunley


B             Jerrod Workman

                Mandy Workman


C             Len Picha

                Robyn Picha


D,E         Josh Campbell

               Carrie Campbell


F             Larry Lucas

                Heather Lucas


G             John Fraizer

                Rebekah Frazier

H            Bret Hanshaw

                Annette Akers


I,J,K       TJ Adkins

                Cassidy Adkins


L             Kyle Butcher

                Beth Butcher


M            Wes Moore

                Kathryn Moore

N            Greg Hensley

                Jerri Griffith


P,Q,R       Rick Ball

                Shelley Ball


S             Phil Niebergal

                Kelli Rutt


T,U,V       Sam Gue

                Maggie Gue


W-Z        Randy Dean

               Barbara Dean

Small Things Can Make A Big Difference   

    “How much urine can I put in your water before you refuse to drink it?”


     I remember the first time my youth director posed this question to me.  I thought it was kind of silly.  “None!” I answered.


     She then pointed to my 80s cassette tapes in my car. “Then why do you ingest that music into your soul?”


     Jesus put it this way. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6.


     But He also said…“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:33


     While the metaphors change, the main point does not.  It just takes a little bit of something to change a big something.


              A positive attitude can revolutionize a negative workplace.


              One good player can change an entire team.


              One malcontent in a church can ruin the spirit for everyone.


              A hidden sin can bring disaster on a family, no matter how small.


     In other words, don’t believe that our actions, whether good or bad, are insignificant.  Positive people can make a positive difference.  Negative people can make things bad, really bad.  And it doesn’t take much.


     Jesus is both warning and encouraging His disciples at the same time.  When they leave His tutelage, they can become world changers.  They can start small and go big.  But the one thing that will slow them down is a little sin, a little compromise, or just one negative Nancy in their lives.


     Don’t be afraid to dream big.  The Bible is filled with stories of one man or one woman who made a big difference.  Just a little can go a long way.           


Relationships, Dating, and Sex

     After months of praying I decided to take the Garage Students through a series on relationships, dating and sex.  This was a highly requested topic from both parents and our students.

     Something Sharon and I discuss often is that if we desire to see our kids have a different outcome in life and relationships we can’t allow them to do the same things as the world, we must teach them to approach relationships, dating and sex God’s way.

     God has given us good desires and attractions for others, and there is nothing wrong with that, but, we have to be careful because Satan wants to create something evil from them. One of the ways Satan does this is taking our natural and good desire to be in a relationship and tempting us to turn that desire, or the person we are attracted to, into an idol. I often see our teenagers’ relationship with God go by the wayside as they enter dating relationships.  Therefore, in week one, we discussed our relationship with God and how trying to fulfill ourselves through other people is idolatry. 

     It’s important to remember our relationship with God is the only relationship that will last. God is the only one who will never break up with them, never cheat on them, never let them down or disappoint them. If their fulfillment, completeness, happiness, and joy is based on God they will have it forever because God will never leave them and God does not change.

     We followed up this discussion with a talk on what to look for in a person of the opposite sex. We established that, as Christians, they should approach dating as a friendship between two people with the intentions of exploring romantic connections and compatibility for marriage. 

     If dating is for the purpose of finding a marriage partner and one cannot legally get married until 18, then dating in middle school or early high school should be avoided.  Once one comes to the age where marriage is possible in the near future, choosing someone who is a Christian and is actively serving in the church is non-negotiable.

     Once a spiritually mature dating relationship, that has marriage potential, is established we talked about setting up boundaries to protect their mental, physical and spiritual integrity.  We started by addressing the "why,” 1) our love for God and 2) our love for others.  If they are mature enough to date, they should be mature enough to set up boundaries, and share them with someone that can hold them accountable, such as their parents.

     Our series concluded this Sunday night on the topic of sex. From the very beginning, God made sex a good thing! However, sex was designed to be used in the confines of marriage. Students learned that their bodies are not their own, but the Lord’s (1 Cor. 6:12-7:1) and they need to preserve sexual intimacy until marriage. 

     Each sermon was recorded live and posted on the Garage page along with discussion questions from the evening.  Please consider viewing and discussing the content with the teenagers in your life.  



New Sunday School Classes

Sunday School Information and Classes for Spring Semester (January 13-May 27)

Beginning Sunday, January 13, Sunday School will begin at 10:20 and dismiss at 11:15. Everyone is encouraged to attend!


Academy Old Testament: Major Prophets (Jason Brumfield)

Academy Old Testament: Biblical Angeology and Anthropology  (Dave Akers)

Academy New Testament: Gospels (Jerrod Workman)

Academy New Testament: General Epistles (Hebrews, James, I-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude) (Bill Davenport)

Academy New Testament: Pauline Epistles (1 Cor.- Philemon) (Larry Lucas and TJ Adkins)

Academy Missions: World Religions (Sharon Napier/Jerry Saulton)

Academy Missions: Intro to World Missions (Hugh & Sarah Murray)

Academy Systematic Theology: Basic Apologetics: Foundations for Defending your Faith (Isaac McKown)

Academy Practical Theology: Shepherding a Child’s Heart: Parenting God’s Way (Sam and Maggie Gue)

Academy Practical Theology: Celebrate Recovery (Caleb Jones)

Academy Practical Theology: Your Body is a Temple of God;  Focus on Faith and Fitness (Ger & Cassie Sasser & Steve Willis)

Old Testament Book Study: Ezekiel (Jack Ferguson)


Is Christmas Sunday just a Funday?

     I saw an online commercial last Sunday.  It was an advertisement for 2 “opportunities” this Sunday to celebrate Christmas. The advertisement featured lots of confetti, multiple dancing elves, two reindeer mascots, a snowman, one Santa Claus, and the lead guy firing free t-shirts out into the crowd.  There were promises of prizes and giveaways at both “opportunities” this weekend.

     It sounded like something BIG was going on with Dutch Holland or Big Sandy Superstore.

     But it wasn’t.  The opportunities were code for a church service.  Only there was no mention of Jesus.  No mention of God.  Not even an angel.

     It felt like one of our old Nick-at-Night promos minus the spiritual music in the background, minus the biblical skits, minus the Take Five invitation at the end.  Yes, minus Jesus.

     I hope people come to that “opportunity” and hear the good news.  I really do.  The last thing I want to do is rain on someone’s parade that is only doing what they believe will get people in the doors to hear the Christmas message.  There’s no doubt in my mind that the makers of the commercial have good intentions and want to see people get saved.

    As we say in the South, “Well, God bless ‘em.”

    But at FBC Kenova, Huntington Community Church, and FBC Ashland, this Sunday will be like every other Sunday where the main emphasis will be to sing praises to God and to apply His Word to our lives.  Yes, we’ll do Christmas hymns instead of the usual praise songs.  The choir will sing an extra special song about Jesus.  But my sermon will be normal length and we will be working our way verse-by-verse through a section in Matthew.  Yes, it’s Christmas Sunday but it’s still a SUNDAY.  It’s still the Lord’s Day.  And you won’t find me in an elf suit.

     Seriously, if I believed firing T-shirts into the crowd and giving away iPads would bring more people to Christ, I’d dress up like Frosty every week.  But I really believe this Sunday should be like every Sunday in that we are giving our worship to God.  Sundays are about pleasing Christ, about singing our songs to Him, about opening our ears to hear wonderful things from His Word.  The point of Sundays is not the salvation of man, it’s the worship of Christ.  And as we light the advent candles for this Sunday and again on Christmas Eve at 6pm, I pray we do what we do in order to bring glory to His name.  He draws people to places that praise His name!

     So if you really need a free T-shirt, keep watching online.  I’m sure you’ll get directions. But if you believe what we do every week is perfect for Christmas week, I’ll see you Sunday (minus the elf suit, of course!).


Playing for the End of the Game

  As Jesus prepares to send out 12 young adult men on to their first mission trip, he warns them that they will be persecuted by friends, family, religious leaders and local governments.  They’ll be ridiculed, beaten, disowned, mocked, and maybe even killed.

     Yet as they are walking out the door in Matthew 10, Jesus reminds them of the most oft repeated command in Scripture.  FEAR NOT! 

     For 365 times in the Bible ( I don’t think that’s a coincidence ) God reminds us that when we are walking in obedience to His will, we have nothing to fear.  Fear is the devil’s number one tool for keeping us defeated, stopping us from sharing our faith, hindering us from loving one another the way God has designed.  But Jesus gives His disciples three keys for defeating fear.  For this article, I’m just going to focus on the first one.

Key #1:  Have an eternal perspective.  If we are on the Lord’s side then we are on the winning team.  That’s the first thing Jesus is telling the disciples.  Have an eternal perspective.  This movement cannot be stopped!  The message is going to go forth and we are going to win!  Even if you face persecution today and tomorrow, in the long run, you are going to be rewarded for all eternity.

     As many of you know, November was not a good year for WVU fans.  We lost two football games that we should have won, we got a cruddy bowl game, and we’ve already lost more basketball games than we did through half of last year.  So when I saw we were playing our archrival PITT in a game this past Saturday, I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.  I couldn’t handle another disappointment!

     So you know what I did?  I recorded the game on my DVR and checked the final score before I watched it.  The Mountaineers beat the Panthers pretty handily so I turned on the game and watched from the beginning.  Even in the times when Pitt (a.k.a. the Devil) made a run at our team, I didn’t get stressed out one time.  Whenever we’d miss shots, I was fine.  17 turnovers in the first half? No problem.

     Why wasn’t I stressed out at all of our mistakes?  Because I knew in the end we would blow them out! And that’s what Jesus was telling His disciples.  In the end, everything is going to be laid out and we will be on the winning side.  So don’t stress!

     Satan always tries to get us to focus on the here and now instead of resting in the assurance that God is going to come out on top and God is taking us with Him.  No matter what we face on this earth, it’s just temporary.  God’s grace will see us through until the end! (Which is only the beginning!!!)                                               


Set Your Alarms for 9:38!   

     35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38

     To me, this paragraph is one of the most powerful sections in the book of Matthew.  The writer gives us an up close and personal look at Jesus’ heart.  He didn’t see the hoards of people as a problem, He saw them as people.  Jesus didn’t primarily see them as sinners, rather, He saw them as sufferers.

     When we see people as individuals who suffer from a disease called sin, it makes it a lot easier to treat them with mercy and compassion.  As we discussed this past Sunday, the word for “compassion” here means to have deep feelings in your gut.  It means you care so much about someone that it hurts deep down in your belly when things aren’t going well for them.

     On the other hand, when we act like Pharisees and see people as sinners, it makes it easy to cast judgment on them, to care very little for them, and in fact, seeing others primarily as sinners enables us to treat them quite harshly.  I can come down on my wife and kids with all the wrath of heaven if I think they are just choosing to rebel against God.  But when I recognize that maybe, just maybe, they are acting in a negative way because they are suffering from something going on in the inside, it’s amazing how differently I can feel toward them.  It’s an incredibly freeing experience both for me and them!

     When we view others like Jesus views us, like people who need loved and shepherded, who need protected and fed, who need forgiven and healing, it drives us to pray that God places people in their lives who will help guide them toward a closer relationship with Him.  That’s what Jesus is commanding in Matthew 9:38, that we pray to God and ask Him to raise up more shepherds, more spiritual leaders whose hearts will break due to the brokenness we see around us on a daily basis.

     Will you join our church family and set your alarm clocks for 9:38AM and 9:38PM every day?  Will you take just a minute or two, twice a day, and earnestly pray that God raise up more spiritual leaders who will grow into shepherds of God’s people?  I’m praying this will be a new movement on all three of our campuses.  I’m praying that our church will devote itself to asking the God of the harvest to raise up more workers for the field. God knows we need it.  I think you know we need it too!      



   Vision is a powerful leadership quality. It sets a course, defines a value, and steers a people in a specific direction.

     People actually enjoy being led. Some of you reading this might fight against that. But, think about it for a moment. You like to know where you’re going if you’re taking a trip, right? You like to know why you’re going on that trip, correct? Most of all, you want to know what role you play while on the trip. Am I right?

     In general, without a solid answer to those three questions, people tend toward chaos. It’s been called, ‘entering into a narrative void’ by marketing writer Donald Miller.

     No one enjoys a story without a plot. And likewise, no one wants to come to a service and say to themselves, “Well, let’s just see what happens, huh!”


     You innately want to know:

What you’re doing. Why you’re doing it. What role you play.


“Our vision is to create a multi-generational worship experience where everyone participates in singing and applying God’s Word to their lives.”


     Believe it or not, it actually took about 3 weeks of 1 ½ to 2 hour meetings to forge that statement. Steve, Blake and I took ample time, prodded each other about wording, and fashioned that statement because of three things …


It tells what we’re doing. It tells why we’re doing it. It gives us all a role to play.


     Hebrews 10:25 only gives one clear direction about meeting together as a church body. In a nutshell, don’t quit doing it!

     What we do. Why we do it. The role each of us plays when we do it … those aren’t ambiguous, but we get to put flesh on those ideas. We get to say we’ll represent every age group, background and walk of life.

     Our vision puts flesh on what we want to do each week at FBC Kenova worship services.You’ll hear us share this vision at the beginning of each of our worship services from here on out. We want it to be memorable. Repetition helps make that happen.

      I look forward to Sunday’s worship service. It’s one of the most strengthening moments in my family’s week. It’s all the more edifying knowing what we’re there for, why we’re doing it, and what my role is. May this vision build you up in your faith and give clear direction to your worship.


Blessings, Josh

Church Staffing, Budgets, and Ministry to God’s People   

     Every profession has its insider information.  Dave Akers knows just how much flour you need to make 45 pizzas.  Jack Ferguson recognized exactly what knobs to turn to keep the natural gas flowing to cities in the Northeast.  Jim Hamer understood the balance between cutting down timber and planting new trees when the market was low.  With everything, there’s a balance.

     It’s no different with church staffing.  The general rule of thumb is a church of 100 people can support one full-time pastor and one full-time pastor can effectively train, equip and minister to 100 people.  It’s a balance. The 100:1 ratio is pretty reliable when planning for church growth as well. If you have 200 people, you need 2 full-time ministerial staff.  300=3. 400=4 and so on and so on.

     Right now, our staff is out of balance.  We currently have four full-time ministerial staff and a number of part-time staff picking up the slack for around 600-700 people. To be more specific, we have:


1 children’s minister to oversee 100+ children

1 youth minister to minister to 100+ teenagers

1 young adult and finance minister to oversee 50 college students/young adults

2 part-time staff to oversee 50 music ministry/tech team volunteers


     That leaves me and Dave Akers (a lay shepherd) to oversee 300-400 adults.  That’s not a complaint, I’m just letting the church body know that if we are going to effectively reach more people for Christ, we need to add at least one to two more full-time staff.  Think about it, can Dave and I keep up with the personal lives and training and equipping of 150-200 people each?  It’s nearly impossible.

      That said, church family, in order to increase our ministry effectiveness, we need to at least meet budget for 2018.  We are close, but not there yet.  In order for me to have someone quit their current job and join our staff, I have to know we have the money to provide for their families.  We can say it’s a step of faith on our part, but Jesus said if you are going to build a tower you must first sit down and make sure you’ll have the money to finish the task.  Part of me having that confidence is I see that our current members are meeting the budget we have already set.

     So again, I want to state unequivocally that I believe we need to reach more people in the Tri-State area.  In order to do that, we will need more ministers to minister to them when they start coming.  In order to hire more ministers to reach more people, we need to be able to pay them.  So here’s where you can help: If you aren’t already giving 10% (tithing) to your church, you need to start doing that. If you are behind on your giving for the year, please go back over your finances and make up the difference. Secondly, if you already are tithing, would you consider increasing your giving by 2-3%?  The patterns we see over the next six weeks will help us set our course for 2019.   Come join God’s work and let’s keep allowing God to use us, not only to reach the Tri-State, but to keep sending out missionaries all around the world.



Membership Renewal

     Membership is a big deal in the church. It’s an act that signifies core beliefs about the church’s responsibilities toward one another.

See, not everyone likes the idea of accountability. But, when you say you want to renew your membership, you’re saying, ‘yes’ to accountability. A young man may not want to be a part of his girlfriend’s family. But, if he asks her to marry him, he’s saying, ‘Yes, I want to be a part of your family.’ 

Membership is a series of “Yes” answers you’re making to the entire church body.

    “Yes.” I want to be a part of a community of believers holding each other accountable, growing in God’s Word.

     “Yes.” I am committed to supporting my family in Christ just like I’m committed to my biological family. Membership is something you’re saying ‘yes’ to.


  Every year, current members renew membership at First Baptist Kenova. We started this a few years back. It’s important that every individual renew their own membership. You can’t renew someone else’s membership.

     If you’re friends with a new follower of Jesus and they come to you to discuss questions about baptism, you can’t say, “Oh, hey! Don’t worry about baptism. I’ll get baptized for you.” That’s not how it works. They have to baptized. You can’t do it for them.

Membership renewal works the same way. Every person who is an existing member of the body of Christ in First Baptist Kenova has to indicate they want to renew their membership. Husbands cannot renew wives membership, moms can’t renew their teenager’s membership. Everyone has to renew their own.

     We appreciate everyone’s help to renew membership. We LOVE you! And we want to know who wants to be a part of the reciprocal love, accountability, and fellowship of Christians at FBCK.

     So, remember this week, when “Rip City” time comes, be sure you and your neighbor have pens ready. EVERYONE who wants to remain a member with FBCK needs to indicate that on the welcome slip.

     Be sure we have your name! Drop it in the offering plate as it goes by.

     Jesus knew His sheep and we want to be sure we know ours … and ours know us. It’s a stronger fellowship when we know we’ve both said, “yes” to one another.





     In lieu of reading a messenger article this week, please read Matthew 5, 6, and 7 several times throughout the week to prepare for Sunday’s sermon.



Does My Vote Even Matter?   

     “Ahh, but isn’t this naïve?” the skeptic may ask. No one vote, after all, will be the difference in any election or political decision. Why bother casting a vote that has no meaning?

     The first thing to say about such an objection is that it’s a odd way to think about doing anything with a communal element. I may as well decide not to recycle because my individual effort alone will not clean the environment. Nor will my modest charitable gift solve poverty in my community, let alone my country or the world. Yet the combined efforts of Christians can have a staggering effect when taken together, when individuals do not think of their actions entirely through an individualistic lens.

     My country, my state, and my town ask for a relatively minor effort on my part to contribute to the common good by expressing my views in the voting booth. Surely the test of whether I submit to this request cannot turn on whether my decision will by itself determine the entire issue.

    And there are other reasons for voting. Voting is one measure whereby we learn what it would mean to promote the common good in our particular community. It’s a small but tangible exercise that can lead to even greater involvement in cultivating a just and merciful society. Moreover, we are in good company when we carry our witness about the good into the public square.

     John Witte Jr., in his book From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion and Law in the Western Tradition, describes how the early church fathers publicly spoke out in favor of marriage and against evils like child abuse, polygamy, and abortion. These early leaders, who knew a thing or two about persecution and preaching the gospel, loved their neighbors enough to speak to political issues in a system that afforded them no formal power. How much more should we speak out given our political tradition is predicated on the active commitment of an informed citizenry?

    Finally, voting as political participation is a way of telling our neighbors—believers and nonbelievers alike—that we too are committed to a vision of the good life. We care about their well-being, even on issues that are secondary to eternal matters. For politics concerns decisions that contribute to a free society in which people can worship, evangelize, provide food for the hungry and clothing to the naked, schools for learning, and justice for the poor. Our Father in heaven knows we need these things too, and he uses our action in the voting booth in part to provide them.

     This well-written article is by Micah Watson, an associate professor of political science at Calvin College.

 Voting YES on Constitutional Amendment 1 Will Help Stop State Funding of Abortion

      “If the members of the community close their eyes when that man [sacrifices infants], if they fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him…” Lev. 20:4-5

     Did you know that your tax dollars (almost $10 million of them) can currently be used for elective abortions?  Right now, an expectant mother with government funded health care can find out she’s having a girl (instead of a boy) and use your tax dollars to pay for her sex selection abortion. Yes, that’s a fact.

     Did you know that during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, women can request an abortion for any and every reason? That’s the current law.

     Did you also know that only 16 other states in the nation require taxpayer funding of abortion?

     Voting YES on Amendment 1 will prevent your tax dollars from paying for abortions. But this isn’t about money.  It’s about whether or not life in the womb is ordained by God and whether or not an individual or a government should pay to destroy that God-ordained life.

     In over 30 years of vocational ministry, I’ve never publicly endorsed any individual candidate for any office.  I’ve seen some radical pro-abortion candidates over the years and I haven’t endorsed their opponents.  There’s a gray area when it comes to how much a pastor should get involved in politics.

This is NOT one of those times.  There is NO gray area here.  Aborting a child at 20 weeks is murder. Period.  It’s immoral.  And our government should not allow it, let alone pay for it.

     This year, the West Virginia Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment, which will be on the ballot at the November election.  Amendment 1 will say on your ballot: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”  Its purpose is to neutralize our state constitution on the issue of abortion and allow the state legislature to exercise its appropriate responsibility for control over the funding of abortion. You will hear a lot of misinformation about how this is confusing, how women are going to die, how doctors won’t be able to save a woman’s life …. Don’t believe it.

     Following passage of Amendment 1, women in WV will still be able to have abortions under the federal constitution. Personally, I don’t think the amendment goes far enough, but the political reality right now is that this amendment is the best we are going to be able to do this fall.  If Amendment 1 passes, our tax dollars would be limited to paying for abortion only in the cases of life of the mother, medical emergency, reported rape and incest and fetal anomaly.  If Amendment 1 passes in November, it will help prevent future pro-abortion judges from “finding” abortion rights in the WV Constitution.

     I’m voting YES on Amendment One.  I’ve never had an easier decision in my voting life.  Even if you don’t get into politics, whether you are Republican or Democrat or Independent, I would hope you’d make the effort to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.  We cannot keep turning our heads and ignoring this problem. Abortion for any and every reason must stop.  There have to be some limits.  Voting YES on 1 will be a step in the right direction.



Baptism In The Early Church

    As we approach Jesus’ baptism, we see from the Gospel of Mark (1:10) that Jesus was “coming up out of the water” when the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove.  This is one of the clearest references to baptism by immersion for if Jesus would have only been sprinkled, He wouldn’t have been coming up out of the water.

      It’s really unclear as to when baptism started including pouring water over people or, even less than that, a sprinkling with water. Writers Thomas Kidd and Justin Taylor comment:


      Some conclusions from historian Everett Ferguson’s magisterial 975-page tome, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Eerdmans, 2009): Is there evidence for infant baptism existing before the second part of the second century? There is general agreement that there is no firm evidence for infant baptism before the latter part of the second century.” (p. 856)

Does this mean that infant baptism didn’t exist? “This fact does not mean that it did not occur, but it does mean that supporters of the practice have a considerable chronological gap to account for. Many replace the historical silence by appeal to theological or sociological considerations.” (p. 856)

     Why did infant baptism emerge? “The most plausible explanation for the origin of infant baptism is found in the emergency baptism of sick children expected to die soon so that they would be assured of entrance into the kingdom of heaven.” (p. 856)

     When did it catch on and become the dominant understanding of baptism? “There was a slow extension of baptizing babies as a precautionary measure. It was generally accepted, but questions continued to be raised about its propriety into the fifth century. It became the usual practice in the fifth and sixth centuries.” (p. 857)

What was the mode of baptism in the early church? “The comprehensive survey of the evidence compiled in this study give a basis for a fresh look at this subject and seeks to give coherence to that evidence while addressing seeming anomalies. The Christian literary sources, backed by secular word usage and Jewish religious immersions, give an overwhelming support for full immersion as the normal action. Exceptions in cases of a lack of water and especially of sickbed baptism were made. Submersion was undoubtedly the case for the fourth and fifth centuries in the Greek East and only slightly less certain for the Latin West.” (p. 857)


     As you can see, the most common mode of baptism was full immersion and it was only after several centuries and theological accommodations that the church began baptizing children at all.  From what we can tell, the standard way of doing baptisms in the early church were very similar to how we do it in the Baptist church today: by full immersion.


Staff Are People Too

     Do you ever look back on your life and think, “I had no idea how much my life would change over the last few months?”  Yes, life is full of surprises.  Our plans are only plans. God’s will is often different than our will.

     Being in the ministry doesn’t insulate you from radical life changes.  Really, we are no different than anyone else.  As we approach Staff Appreciation Day, I’d like to give you a little insight into the personal lives of our folks on staff.  This time last year, our staff had no idea that…

              …Desiree Sowards would find a job, lose a job, find another job and get pregnant with her third daughter!

              ….Jeramie Wells would be our front office secretary!

              ….Kayla Gaskin and Sharon Napier would both give birth to baby boys

              ….after beating cancer Callie Cicenas would start working at Tri-State Airport again.

              ….Megan Creasy would be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. We thank the Lord for dietary changes that have made this much                            better.

              ….Pam Akers would have two more grandbabies and maybe a third by the time you are reading this! GO WHITNEY!

      I say all this to focus on the ladies who either minister around the church or assist their husbands in their ministries.  Usually the guys are up front and from the outside it’s difficult to understand the role of a spouse involved in ministry.  All of the above females are crucial to the success of FBC Kenova in more ways than you know.  When you appreciate our staff, please know that these behind-the-scenes heroes are as important as the people whose names are on the back of your bulletins!

     As we head toward our staff appreciation lunch, this year, I’d like to encourage you to make special effort to write notes of encouragement to the staff member(s) that most directly ministers to you.  All of us appreciate a supportive word now and then, and your church staff are no different.  In many ways the prophet Jeremiah’s words are fulfilled in through our staff. “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” Jeremiah 31:15.  Your staff really does love the Lord and you too, so please, make the effort to stop by and give them a hug or a pat on the back.  After all, staff are people too.


Powerful Testimonies This Sunday

     Last April I was attending a national speaking competition and one young lady blew me away.  She was just a senior in high school, but she took the stage in front of 3000 people looking as if she did it every evening of her life.  Miss Lindsay Phillips rose to tell the story of abortion survivor, Gianna Jennsen, and then tied it to her own.  About halfway through her national championship speech, I began to think, “I’ve got to get this girl to Kenova.  Our church needs to hear this story.”

     Fortunately, I was able to track down Miss Phillips and she will be joining us this Sunday morning for the purpose of sharing this 10-minute testimony.  Let me assure you, it goes perfectly along with my sermon about King Herod and the birth of Jesus.  God’s timing is perfect!

     In addition, we will be led in worship by the Jason Lovins band.  Jason and the guys attend our church regularly and when I confirmed Lindsay joining us on October 7th, I knew  we had to book them as Jason has a pro-life testimony of his own.  Jason is another fine example of a child that many would have said he didn’t have a chance, yet God had wonderful plans of His own for Jason's life.  We serve an amazing God and you will be greatly encouraged this Sunday.

     I hope you are able to invite a friend to attend with you.  Between the worship, testimony, and preaching, you will cry, laugh, and experience God’s grace in perhaps a way you have not understood Him before.


     Personally, I can’t wait!


Man + Woman + not married + alone = TROUBLE

  • Dinah and the prince of Shechem. Two teenagers at a party.  Alone. They wander off alone. The girl gets raped and the brothers murder the offender as an act of revenge.
  • Reuben and his step-mother Bilhah.  The two are alone in a tent one day.  Bad things happen.  Jacob finds out and disowns his son.
  • Judah and Tamar.  A father-in-law with his daughter-in-law.  Unlawful relations.  A child born out of wedlock.
  • Joseph and Potiphar’s wife.  A young man working in the house with his boss’ wife.  She accuses him of rape.  He cannot prove himself innocent. He spends more than a decade in prison.
  • Samson and Delilah.  She seduces him.  He loses his eyes in the process. Ouch!
  • David and his captain’s wife, Bathsheba.  She comes over for dinner while her husband is out of town.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s just dinner!  Soon there’s a murder and a dead baby.
  • Amnon and Tamar.  A step-brother invites his step-sister into his bedroom.  You just know this story isn’t going to end well.

          I could keep going but I’ll just stop less than a third of the way through the Bible. You don’t have to read very far to see a reoccurring theme.  When unmarried men and women find themselves alone together, it’s a recipe for disaster.

           Sometimes I wonder just how many times the Bible has to tell a similar story before God’s people figure it out.  Man + woman + alone with no one else around = T-R-O-U-B-L-E

           Yet the deception of exception fools parents, teens, married men & women alike.  “I know all those people in the Bible couldn’t handle it, but my situation will be different.” Famous last words.

             Whether it’s teens at a party, adults on a work assignment, or extended family members gathered for the holidays, please church family, stop playing with fire.  Please learn from the biblical examples as well as what is going on in our culture today. Protect your kids and your own reputations from being besmirched in the eyes of the world.

              As followers of Christ, it’s not just your name that is on the line.


Unity Night

     Sunday, September 27, 2015 was a date being shopped around as a prelude to the end of days.  On the heels of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, the day of atonement, in the heart of Sukkot, the feast of tabernacles, in a calendar year that lined up exactly with 33AD, on the night of the fourth consecutive blood moon coinciding with the major Jewish holidays of the last two years, on the eve of a U.S. backed deal with the chief of Israel’s current and millennial old enemies …. On that night …. We chose to praise the Lord.   We sang hallelujah.  We celebrated the mercy of Christ on the cross and the power of Christ displayed in the resurrection.

     The Holy Spirit was moving among our congregation.  God was honored and our hearts were moved to love our neighbors as we loved ourselves.  Challenged with meeting the immediate physical needs of over a million refugees, many of which are Christian, our church family at Kenova and MCF demonstrated unity by giving and/or pledging over $10,000 to be sent to our mission partners in Eastern Europe.

     Time usually flies but to me, our first unity night feels like a long time ago, but in reality, it was just three years ago.  FBC Ashland hadn’t partnered with us as of yet.   Between us and MCF, we’ve had over 100 baptisms since that time.  Our weekly worship attendance has nearly doubled. God is certainly on the move.

     But as we prepare our hearts for this Sunday night, I want to remind us that Unity Night is more than a concert.  This is about three congregations coming together as one church to glorify God.  Please come expecting the name of Jesus to be lifted up in a special way.  As the book of Acts teaches us, God does something extraordinary when “all the people are together and have everything in common.”  We find unity in one thing above all else, the GLORY of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. May His glory be shown among us this Sunday night!


Update on Choir Ministries

     It was great to have the full choir leading worship this past Sunday.  They add an incredible aspect to our worship services.  I’m sure the entire congregation would say the same!

     A few people have asked for an update in our search for a choir director.  The reality is that we are no closer now than what we were when Andy Honeycutt announced his resignation last April. It’s not that we haven’t tried.  We’ve posted our information on over 100 websites, partnered with a search company, and interviewed a handful of candidates.  None of these efforts, however, have produced much fruit.

     I personally met with the choir about a month ago and asked them their opinion as to how to move forward.  We agree we want a quality choir director who has excellent people and musical skills.  For this to be a full-time job, however, a candidate must serve in some other capacity in the church such as administration, visitation, counseling, etc.  The main thing is that we find the right “fit” for our congregation, and we trust that will happen in the Lord’s time.

      In the meantime, choir practices have been moved to the first Sunday evening of each month.  In one 2-hour practice from 4-6pm, the choir will work to prepare a month’s worth of songs to either open our worship services or sing specials for the offertory time. After each practice, the church is providing a meal for the choir participants as many of them serve in other ministries at 6:30pm.

     For now, Josh Sowards has agreed to serve in the interim.  It’s a new challenge for him, but until we find the person we believe God has for us, we know Josh will lead with integrity of heart and a joy to serve the Lord.  While Josh is leading, he would love for many of you to join choir, especially as they are only practicing one Sunday a month.  They will also make arrangements for child care if that’s what has prevented you from being in the choir in the past.  If you can carry a tune in a bucket, come join them!


The Academy

     This upcoming Sunday we will begin our new Sunday School classes including additional classes for THE ACADEMY. THE ACADEMY is a certificate-level program where members can take one class from several different theological disciplines.  THE ACADEMY classes will provide people a learning experience in each of the following areas:


       Old Testament Bible: This semester Isaac McCown is teaching Pentateuch and Bill Davenport is teaching the Historical Books (Joshua-Esther).


       New Testament Bible: Jerrod Workman is teaching the Gospels and Larry Lucas/TJ Adkins are teaching the Book of Acts.


       Missions: Sharon Napier and Jerry Saulton: Intro to World Missions.


       Systematic Theology: Isaac’s class would count for an elective in this category as well.


       Practical Theology. Chris Ball is teaching Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Caleb Jones Celebrate Recovery. Dave Akers Biblical Manhood. Sarah Murray Biblical Womanhood.


     Participants will receive a certificate for completing one class in each category. Participants who complete two classes in each category will receive an advanced certificate and those who complete three classes in each category will receive an ACADEMY Diploma.


     Our hope is that many of you will take a 17-week class in one of the above areas.  We will have fall semesters, spring semesters, and summer semesters. If you would prefer to keep your own class, that is fine, but we are also wanting to challenge the congregation to mature in a broader range of biblical knowledge and a broader range of teachers.  Current existing classes are Jason Brumfield teaching Deuteronomy and Jack Ferguson is finishing the book of Jeremiah. 


    Please get involved in one of our classes and be blessed by the varying teaching styles from the diverse set of teachers with whom God has blessed our church.  --Steve

The Academy

     This upcoming Sunday we want to announce our new classes, new teachers, and roll out the schedule for THE ACADEMY which will be a certificate-level program where members can take one class from several different theological disciplines.  THE ACADEMY will provide people a learning experience in each of the following areas.

  •        Old Testament Bible (e.g. overview of Torah, Historical Books, Poetry, Major and Minor Prophets)
  •        New Testament Bible (e.g. overview of the Gospels, Acts, Pauline Epistles, General Epistles, Revelation)
  •        Missions (e.g. Personal evangelism, World Religions, Intro to World Missions, Local and National Missions)
  •        Systematic Theology (Various apologetic courses, Angelology and Anthropology, Trinitarianism, How we Got our Bible, Creationism, Soteriology          and Ecclesiology)
  •        Practical Theology (Teaching and Preaching, Biblical Parenting, Spiritual Leadership for Men and Women, Biblical Ethics and Spiritual                            Disciplines, Discipleship 101)

     Participants will receive a certificate for completing one class in each category. Participants who complete two classes in each category will receive an advanced certificate and those who complete three classes in each category will receive an ACADEMY Diploma.

     Our hope is that many of you will take a 17-week class in one of the above areas.  We will have fall semesters, spring semesters, and summer semesters. If you would prefer to keep your own class, that is fine, but we are also wanting to challenge the congregation to mature in a broader range of biblical knowledge and a broader range of teachers.  This helps us to get to know one another and be exposed to different teaching styles from the diverse set of teachers with whom God has blessed our church.


A Lesson in Humility

     The Bible teaches us to be careful not to judge others as being inferior to ourselves.  There's no person that doesn't struggle with self-righteousness.  In some way we all judge people who don't do things the way WE would do things as somehow inferior.  We think we know best.  We must guard ourselves from thinking things like....


If your son doesn’t play sports, you’re not as good as I am

If your daughter doesn’t cheer or dance, you’re not as good as I am.

If you don’t send your kids to Christian school

If you don’t send your kids to public schools

If you don’t homeschool

If you don’t vote democrat, or republican

If you don’t recycle,

If you don’t go to Marshall

If you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend

If you don’t lift your hands in worship

If you don’t like to sing songs from KLOVE or WALK FM

If you don’t sing the hymns I like

If you don’t have any kids

If you have too many kids

If you don’t work in the Garage

If you don’t teach AWANA

Drive an American made car

If you’re not following Paleo or a vegan diet

If you ARE following paleo or a vegan diet

If you don’t have a nice house

If you live in too nice of a house

If you’re not from Barboursville


....the list goes on and on.


     Let's watch judging one another for living out our Christian freedoms in different ways. 



Reflections on the Wedding of an Adult Child


     Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? – Job 12:12

     No kid likes it when they have a disagreement with their parents and the mom or dad says, “Someday you’ll understand.”  It doesn’t matter if you’re 6, 16 or 26, it feels almost patronizing when someone older than you assumes you don’t know something just because of your age.  I hated when parents told me as a youth pastor, “Just wait until you have teenagers. THEN, you’ll understand.”

     But that’s kind of Job’s point.  There are certain things you just don’t understand until you go through them.  It’s impossible to understand the emotions that come with the birth of a child unless you’ve been through it.  One can’t fully empathize with a couple who struggles with infertility unless they themselves have gone through an extended period of time fighting the emotions that come with the fear of being unable to bear a biological child.  Whether it’s going through a divorce, discrimination in the workplace, being bullied at school, or, in my case, marrying off one of your children, one just can’t understand the emotions that go with certain life circumstances until or unless you go through them yourself.

     This was never truer to me as I watched Titus share his original vows with his new bride. Here was a boy who learned how to write at the tutelage of me and his mother but now was using those skills to commit himself to a lifelong covenant with the woman he loved.  Here was a young man who I taught how to budget now responsible for his own car savings, repairs, rent, tuition and fees, and the life of a young lady whose father, Mike Troutt, sat just across the aisle from me.  I remember thinking, “Poor Mike.  Everything he’s poured into his little girl is now in the hands of a young man he barely knows.”

     Then I looked behind Titus’ bride, and there as one of her bridesmaids was Johnna Willis.  Perhaps this time next year, or a summer not long from now, I’ll be in the same position as Mike Troutt. Wow. Just wow.

     No one could have prepared me for that moment. People have told me about it, but it’s one of those things that until you go through it, you just cannot understand. In my case it was bittersweet.  I love my son’s new bride, so I feel like I’ve gained a daughter, but at the same time I feel like I’ve lost something as well.

     As we counsel our friends through the seasons and challenges of life, let’s be careful when we use the words, “I understand,” if we haven’t walked a mile in their shoes.  Sometimes we don’t know quite what to say, and the more difficult the situation, maybe the less words the better.  Maybe, “I’m here for you if you need someone to listen,” is the best response we can give.

      Celebrate one another’s successes. Bear one another’s burdens.  Amen.



     Since I was 7 years old listening to my mamaw and papaw “start hymns” in their Independent Fundamental Freewill Baptist Church to now, music has always had an almost magical influence on my life. Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve seen the impact of music in the lives of Jesus’ followers more than ever. See, music - singing - dance and theatre. They connect all people at an emotional and spiritual level unique among all arts and sciences

     Go to Africa … they sing for joy or to express sorrow. They sing to give praise. What about India? Same story. They’ll sing for joy, during tragedy and in gladness. China, Japan, Europe, South America and even the arctic … music pervades the most important values of every culture!  Listen to “He Reigns” by Newsboys if you’re not familiar with it. It’s a great example of this.

(Click here if you’re reading this online and want to give it a listen!)

     Take a few moments to look at the examples given in the Bible. You’ll notice something. Singing is always done in groups! Large groups. Small groups. But, always in groups.

  • Take Miriam and Moses in Exodus 15 - They’re leading - all Israel is singing!

  • Look at Ezra and Nehemiah at the rebuilding of the temple in Nehemiah 12:31 - they round up the leaders of Israel, the priests, and send the choir around the new wall with David’s instruments and strike up the band!

  • What about New Testament samples? Look at Paul and the early church in Colossians (3:16) and Ephesians (5:19) - The believers are meeting together singing songs that encourage one another and build each other up. They’re directing their songs to the Lord.

     Those examples leave out all the Psalms we could reference where priests wrote songs for the choirs to sing century after century. And King David did a fair bit of “solo” work himself. Music, singers, choir … they make up the biblical worship of all believers.

     On that note … music, singers and the choir. They’re an intimate, irreplaceable part of our congregation’s weekly worship. As Steve said in his message last week, no one is “in the hopper” to replace Andy and the incredible ministry and direction he brought the choir. But that service to the body of believers isn’t going anywhere!

     In the meantime - I offer my humble direction. Singing is one of the most important aspects of communal worship. It totally unites us in moments of melody, chorus, and refrain. It simply can’t be lost.

     We’ll make some schedule adjustments for rehearsals. And we’ll have some leaders in the choir step-up to help lead sections and learn parts. Then we’ll do what any group, team, or company does to become excellent - we’ll practice.          


Updating Our Records

We need updated information from many of our members in order to more effectively communicate with our church family. If you have recently moved or cancelled your landline, please call the church office or text me directly. If you are unsure whether or not we have the correct information, feel free to call in with your contact information.  Our Pastors, Shepherds, and Deacons would greatly appreciate it! Also, if you have a specific need for prayer be sure to put it on your prayer card at church or call the church office. Thank you for your help.--Jeramie

Developing Our Leadership Pipeline

    Most of you are familiar with a children’s summertime ministry called “Nic at Night.”  For nearly ten years we saw thousands of children in our region come to this ministry that involved the entire community. Two of my own children gave their lives to Jesus as a result of “Nic at Night.”

     The first time we participated in Nic at Night was at a friend of mine’s church plant in Myrtle Beach, SC.  The pastor and creator of the creative ministry is Mac Lake, who just so happened to grow up across the street from me in Pratt, WV.  Mac is 9 years my senior, and I pretty much learned how to be a Christian teenager by watching him live out his faith.

     Today Mac is the lead trainer for the entire Southern Baptist Convention and their church plants.  He also serves as a consultant for leadership training across the country.  Mac recently visited our congregation and was blown away by how much we’ve progressed over the last ten years, not only at our Kenova campus, but through our partnerships with HCC and Ashland as well.

     Mac recognized our strengths as biblical teaching, character development, and passion for missions and outreach both locally and around the world.   He loved our church family atmosphere and the sense of community that we’ve created.  He even called the executive minister of the SBC in Nashville and encouraged them to find ways to replicate how we’ve revitalized an established congregation while simultaneously planting a collegiate ministry at Marshall.

     But Mac also identified some definite weaknesses when it comes to leadership development.  All of our staff recognized our deficiencies in some of these areas, but Mac pinpointed some specific ways we needed to improve right away.  The most significant need for improvement was that our staff are doing too much of working with new volunteer leaders instead of training volunteer leaders to do the recruiting and training of new workers.  We have too many staff doing the ministry ourselves instead of developing a leadership pipeline where we grow more and more people into positions of spiritual and administrative leadership in the church.  In a nutshell, we have to organize around the principle of leadership development instead of just mobilizing volunteers for the works of service.

     Please be praying for us as we continue in this training and attempting to move forward in these areas.  It’s pretty much a new thinking process for our entire staff but we realize we need to do better if we are going to be more effective in reaching our world for Christ. Good things are coming and we are going to need your help in making it happen!


Collegiate Ministry at Duke University

Hey everyone, in case you didn’t get to meet me this past week, my name is Taylor Troutt, soon to be Taylor Willis.  I want to thank the entire church for welcoming me to your church family, especially those whom I met at the incredible shower we had last Thursday. Titus and I cannot thank you enough.  

    Just to let you know a little about me, I grew up in Houston, TX and my life revolved around two things: church and softball.  My father is an Army chaplain and former baseball player so between him and my Jesus-loving mother, I was raised to love the Lord and be a competitor on the field.  During my senior year in high school I received an offer to play Division 1 softball at Columbia University, which is where I met Titus at a campus ministry group.  After four years of hard work, God blessed me to become the Ivy League Player of the Year and to be listed as 3rd-team all-American (Pastor Steve made me include that!).

     I really love playing softball, but the more I saw the lostness on Columbia’s campus, my heart’s passion became to minister with college students like so many others had ministered to me. When Titus received his scholarship to Duke Law, it enabled me to live out my dream of attending Southeastern Baptist Seminary which is just 27 miles from Duke’s campus.  In addition, when Duke’s Campus Crusade for Christ staff learned that I was moving to the area, they informed me that they have been praying for a female athlete to reach out to the ladies on their campus. With my experience as a college athlete, and with my academic credentials as an Ivy League graduate, God has given me an incredible platform that will gain credibility on a campus that greatly values excellence in both academics and athletics. Plus, with my future husband being a student there, it’s really a perfect fit for my gifts and abilities.

     So as your missionary to Duke’s campus, right now my goals are to 1) build relationships with the softball team during fall workouts 2) start a freshman Bible study and 3) train the current students already involved with Duke CRU ministries to have gospel conversations with at least 200 students this fall.  Those are big goals, but with your prayers and the Lord’s help, I know it can happen!

      I plan on updating a blog bi-weekly throughout the year with specific things happening on campus and several ways that you can be praying for me and for Cru at Duke! If you would like to receive these updates, please contact me or call the church office by August 1 to add your name and email.  Thank you and may God warm you with His love!   



Operation Rescue 7/11/18


For the past two weeks the world has watched as a Thai soccer team was trapped in a deep labyrinth of flooded caves.  Thinking they were just going to explore a small section of the caves, and wanting to cool off after a hot day of practice, the boys went a few hundred yards below the surface, only to find themselves trapped when monsoon rains flooded the entryway.  As waters began to rise, the boys and their 25-year-old coach were pushed further and further into the cave system trying to find a place of refuge.  After many hours of searching and fleeing, eventually the boys found high ground in the pitch darkness, nearly a thousand feet beneath the earth's surface.


Most thought the boys dead, but a couple of diligent and valiant scuba divers found the entrapped squad some eight days later.  Almost miraculously, without food or clean drinking water for over a week, the boys were alive and in good condition.  The entire world came together and lent time, treasure, and talent to rescue these boys from mortal danger.  One Navy Seal even lost his life getting oxygen to the entrapped children. 

For the church, this is our call to mission, except in our case, it’s not mere physical life that is on the line.  The issue is literally a matter of eternal life or death.   The call to take the gospel to a world entrapped in sin, to people with no chance of making it out of their own accord, must be paramount in our lives. To the call to save the lost, we give our treasure.  And for some of us, like the Navy Seal, we give our very lives.


No matter what your walk of life, people around you are stuck in the cave of sin on a daily basis.  You have the oxygen tanks, the diving skills, the map, the only hope of their rescue.  Rush into the caves of dying people and point them to the only Savior who can redeem their very souls!


Camp Cowen Update - 7/3/18

     Thank you church for your faithful giving! It is because of your faithfulness that our (children and youth) Camp Cowen budget lines are even established. We have been able to meet families halfway on covering the cost of a weeklong experience like no other. This past Saturday, we returned from Junior II camp with 35 campers and 10 leaders (thank you also for your dedication and desire to serve our Lord through counseling). Jeremy has another 60 campers (and a bunch of counselors) going in the coming weeks – Praise the Lord!!!

     If anyone who has never gone to Cowen wants to know what the experience is like, read the Book of Acts. Acts 2 shares “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (Hylbert, Vespers and Campfire) and to fellowship (everywhere), to the breaking of bread (all meals) and to prayer (throughout the day). Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts (camp). They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (many were saved or rededicated their life to the Lord). Camp Cowen is a picture of what “church” should look like.

     Cowen has a huge impact upon the campers and often an even bigger impact upon the counselors. I have had the blessing of teaching at either Vespers or at camp fire for several years now. As I was preparing for Thursday’s camp fire, I was studying the life of Jonah. My thought was that it would make for a great teaching moment for the campers – obedience. Jonah 1:1-2 shares “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah ran the other way

     It wasn’t until after reading verse 17 many times (“Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah”), that God’s grace was clearly shown. We have all experienced “storms” in our life. Let us not focus on the storm itself but rather seek to see His grace through this time. Jehovah Jireh = The Lord will provide.


Wolves in Pastors' Clothing - 6/27/18

One of the most important job for any shepherd is to protect his sheep from wolves.  New Testament writers such as Peter, Paul and Jude say the same thing is true for pastors and their churches.  So to recap what we discussed this last week, if you hear “pastors” teaching the following, they are probably the wolves of which the Bible is writing. Wolves in sheep’s clothing will usually teach that:

1. The orthodox teaching that you’ve heard all your life is wrong.  Wolves have a new and better way of understanding God’s grace.

2. The Bible is God’s Word as long as it is translated and interpreted properly. Guess who knows how to interpret it properly? That’s right, the wolves do.

3. Wolves teach that most, if not all, of the Old Testament is outdated and doesn’t apply to the sons and daughters of God.  They often teach that the NT apostles’ teaching is frequently misunderstood.

4. Above all, wolves despise accountability.  They spend much of their time attacking the belief systems of other Christians.

5. The church of wolves usually will be filled with those who have little theological training.

Wolves typically lead their churches in one of three dangerous directions.

1. Originalism. Wolves often give new details on spiritual things that contradict Biblical teaching or they like to add things to the Bible.  Some examples are: giving new details on heaven or hell that the Bible does not give; denying the literal existence of an eternal hell; setting specific dates for the rapture or the return of Christ; worshipping angels or denying the existence of them, including but not limited to the denial of a real Satan.

2. Legalism. Wolves like to make up their own rules for salvation and teach others that you can only be saved or made righteous by following a bunch of rules. (Of course we know that the Bible teaches we are saved by grace through faith alone (Gal. 2:16, et al)).

3. Antinomianism, that is, wolves will teach that there is no purpose for OT law, it’s BAD! They will say we don’t need listen to Moses, David, the Hebrew prophets or even some NT apostles.   They say ignore biblical texts about judgment, accountability for sin, that God will not punish people.  Basically all people will either go to heaven or be annihilated and cease to exist.

     Of course, all true Christians won’t agree on every detail of the Bible. Not every disagreement is a matter of heresy. But if you ever have a friend or family member who is part of a church that is teaching many of these things, seriously, tell them to run.  As the Apostle Paul teaches, have nothing to do with such men.


Guatemala Mission Team Update - 6/20/18

Our Guatemala mission team returned early this morning, June 19th . We had a fantastic trip and to give you a

glimpse of what we did each day, details are below.

Day 1 – We drove to Lexington to stay the night at the hotel and prepare our team for the upcoming travel day.

Day 2 - Flew to Atlanta. Our activity involved airport evangelism and singing worship during our lay over. We

landed in Guatemala City and bussed to Antigua.

Day 3 - We started our day in devotion, prayer and worship on the roof of our bed and breakfast. In our view

only six miles away was Fuego, the volcano that erupted and took the lives of hundreds just weeks prior. After

devotion we drove to the city of Antigua, then a 6-hour drive to Hope of Life, our destination for the week.

Day 4 - After our morning devotion we were given a tour of Hope of Life. We visited the elderly home, Kelly’s

Place (a place for special needs children), the orphanage and hospital. We then went to a place they call, “the

dump” to serve food and play with kids.

Day 5 - Our mission team re-built a road that was washed away by the torrential downpour the night before.

After lunch we worked on the Conner’s house (long term missionaries to Guatemala) and we formed rebar at

the new clinic.

Day 6 – We worked on rebar and unloading trucks at the clinic, worked on rebar at the Conner’s house and

moved concrete for some houses. After lunch we went to the orphanage to get ready for VBS and hung out at

the elderly home, hospital and Kelly’s Place.

Day 7 - VBS with orphans, free time for elderly home, Kelly’s place and the hospital. Later that evening we

swam with the orphanage kids and treated them to pizza and cupcakes. We then had our nightly debrief over

campfire. We were also able to induct some of the long-term missionary students into the “ooga-booga” club.

Day 8 – We went to church. Our students were able to play/sing and I was asked to preach the Word. Our

long-term missionary, Bryan Saulton, led worship in Spanish. After church our students were able to visit their

favorite places, the elderly home, Kelly’s place or the hospital to hold babies. That night we were asked to

have a rare private dinner with the Hope of Life founder, Carlos Vargas. Our dinner was held on the roof top of

the café. When asked why we were invited to dinner, knowing he never has these special dinners with

students, only the “big wigs.” he said, “this was the best team we ever had.”

Day 9 - Traveled home

My favorite moments were our nightly debriefs. It was amazing to hear the daily stories of how the student’s

experiences had impacted their lives. This successful mission trip was a team effort that included the entire

church body. Once again, we thank you for supporting us financially and through your prayers.


Ten Biblical Memorials (Part 2) - 6/13/18

Just as a reminder (pun intended), last week I gave you the first five of ten biblical memorials. They were given so that we would remember various people/events that the Bible. The first five were Noah’s rainbow, the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, the manna in the Ark, and the command to remember the Sabbath day.  I can’t go into all of the details here, but I will give a short statement as to the heart of the next five memorials.

6.  The Bronze Altar.  After 250 people rebelled against Moses, God destroyed them.  All that was left was the bronze pots they had in their hands when they died.  Those pots were hammered into a bronze altar which served to remind the Hebrew people that only those who meet the qualifications of a priest would be allowed to serve in that capacity.

7. Stones of Remembrance.  As the Hebrew people walked across the Jordan River bed, one person from each tribe brought a rock from the temporarily dry river bed.  When they got to the other side and the river was closed behind them, they put the rocks in a visible place to remind them how God had brought them into the promised land.

8. Feast of Purim.  Even today, Jews dress up in costumes to commemorate how Esther was hiding her true identity as a Jew.  It was only when she admitted her true identity that her husband, the Persian king, stopped the plot to kill the Jews.

9. Jesus said we must always tell of the example Mary (sister of Lazarus and Martha) set for us when she bought Jesus a bottle of ointment that was worth approximately $35,000.  She anointed him with the ointment to demonstrate her love for Him, knowing that He would soon be sacrificed for our sins.

10. Communion.  The fulfillment of the Passover Seder meal.  This is what Jesus practiced at the Last Supper. As often as we do this, we celebrate Christ’s body being broken for us and His blood being she for the forgiveness of our sins.  We remember His death, burial, and resurrection.