Fairview Baptist Tabernacle
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Staying Connected
 Archived Pastor's Desk 2018.01.07



January 7 – January 13




Scripture Passage: “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fights for you, as he has promised.”  Joshua 23:10


Dear Friends,


     As I write this article today, two of my close friends have left for Heaven.  One is already there, the other is waiting at the gate.  These two men are as different as night and day from each other.  One has been rough and mean and made his way to the cross by way of the jailhouse.  The other made his way to the cross by way of the church house.  Two entirely different paths that converged at the same place- the foot of the cross.  These two individuals are perfect examples of the grace and mercy of God.  One, people would say was worthy of forgiveness, the other a hopeless case deserving of Hell.  One became a deacon and then a pastor, the other a transmission mechanic and a jail chaplain.  Both have led countless people to Christ.  Both ended up being two of the godliest men I have ever known.  Let me honor them by telling you a little bit about my friends and how the Lord made a difference in their lives.


     I first met Bobby Lawson thirteen years ago when I first came to Sweetwater to pastor.  Bobby was the pastor at Murray’s Chapel a little church out in the country north of Sweetwater.  We met at the Pastor’s Conference held every Monday at the Sweetwater Baptist Association building in Madisonville.  Bobby drove from Lenoir City every Monday to be with us and enjoy the fellowship.  He would always request prayer for his church and the elderly men in the community that were lost.  Bobby not only prayed for them, but he also visited them regularly.  They knew him and respected him for the man of God that he was.  Bobby had influence because he “walked the talk.”  The pastors of our association called him our weeping prophet, like Jeremiah, because he could not preach, pray, or sing without crying.  His tears were not a show, but a broken hearted petition unto God on behalf of his congregation and lost sheep of the flock.  At other times, his tears were tears of joy, because of the greatness of our God and His abundant blessings.  Bobby has won many hard hearted sinners to the Lord and won my heart by his faithfulness in ministry.  He has been a true friend and mentor and I hope I can live up to the example he left for all to follow. 


     Ronnie Cash has been the Monroe County Jail Chaplain for several years.  I have never been in a church building with Ronnie for meetings or worship services.  The “tabernacle” we served together in has block walls and iron bars.  Our pews are steel picnic tables and plastic chairs.  Our song books are whatever local churches have discarded.  Our congregation wears orange jumpsuits or black and white stripes.  Most are heavily tattooed and come from every background and ethnic origin.  They have committed crimes from murder to drug related felonies, to child molestation and everything in between.   They lock us up in the same room with no guard present, except by camera.  Enter Ronnie Cash.  Ronnie was a very big man who because of medical conditions had to be confined to a mobile power chair.  He knew how to load his chair on the ramp on the back of his truck and still get into the driver’s seat by himself.      He would go through the hallways and cell blocks with the words, “It’s time for church, let’s go!”  The guys and women all loved and respected Ronnie because he had been where they were.  They also saw a transformed life because of what Jesus had done for him.  Ronnie stood up for the prisoners and “went to bat” on their behalf if he felt they were not being treated right.  One of our last services together Ronnie gave his testimony. He had been in fights, stabbings, gun fights and even saw friends being murdered right beside him.  He had helped build race cars, and survived more than one automobile crash.  According to him, there was nothing that he had not done or tried.  Then he met the Lord and his life was forever changed.  Ronnie’s philosophy was if the Lord could save him, he can save anyone.  Ronnie never got over the joy of being forgiven. He dedicated the rest of his life to minister to the outcast of society and became one of the greatest soul winners I have ever known. 


     Well done friends.  You have both fought a good fight. You have finished the course and kept the faith.  Thanks for allowing me the privilege of walking on this journey with you for a short while.  Your reward has become a reality and your faith has become sight. 


In Christ,


Pastor Johnny



Pastor Johnny



Pastor Johnny