The Messenger Articles

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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.


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