Fairview Baptist Tabernacle
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Staying Connected
 Archived Pastor's Desk 2018.04.08


April 8 – April 14 



Scripture Passage: “Let no man despise your youth; but be thou example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  I Timothy 4:12


Dear Friends,


     Everything in our life begins with a first.  Our first words, our first steps, our first day of school and our first kiss.  Most of those first are very promising, while others we live to regret ever doing. I have had the opportunity over the past thirty-eight years to celebrate many of those first with young people in ministry.  Their first solo, their first public testimony, their first mission trip, and their first sermon.  The last is especially rewarding to me.  There have been several young men who have confided in me that they believed God was calling them to preach, or calling them into ministry.  It is a joy to watch their growth and maturing process as they dig deeper into God’s Word.  Each one is uniquely different in delivery, but the message is basically the same.  Our church family is a mixture of many people with different backgrounds and varying abilities.  On any given Sunday, I am preaching to two seminary graduates with PhD’s.   I am preaching to two seminary graduates with Masters of Divinity or Ministry.  I have two or more with Bible college training and many more with secular degrees from every college including Vanderbilt to the University of Tennessee.  It humbles me to know that they come every Sunday expecting me to deliver a Word from the Lord.  We often discuss points in the message and their diligence to Scripture keeps me on my toes and sharpens my skills as an expositor of God’s Word.  The proverbial statement “Iron sharpens iron,” (Proverbs 27:17) is a good description of our church family relationship.  I had the privilege of hearing Brandon Zortman deliver a message to his college convocation today and it brought back some fond memories I would like to share with you. 


     I was called into the preaching ministry in January of 1980. (If you do a little figuring this makes my thirty-eighth year in the ministry.)  My call took place in a dormitory room of East Tennessee State University in the middle of the night.  The next Sunday I went to my home church, Surgoinsville Free Will Baptist Church, and made that call public.  Like most small churches there was much excitement that God was calling a young man into the ministry and a sense of pride that they had a part in my training.  I was given one week to prepare and the next Sunday I was to deliver my first message.  I chose Joshua 24:15 as my text.  “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  I had an hour sermon planned out with points and illustrations – and it lasted about Eight Minutes!  The most important people in my life were all there except my dad.  When I finished, you would have thought it was the greatest sermon they ever heard.  (I know the kids thought so – you know eight minutes is about right.)  They encouraged, supported and loved on me.  They were genuinely interested and gave me ample opportunities to succeed – and fail, which are both very important in ministry.  From that point forward there were many churches that gave me my first opportunities.  East Rogersville gave me my first opportunity to lead music and youth and to experience being part of a paid staff.  Shepard’s Chapel gave me my first opportunity to pastor.  Fairview Baptist Tabernacle gave me my first opportunity to lead a large, multi-faceted ministry church which included being fully financially supported by the church.  Denny Moore took me on my first mission trip, and the church sent Patty and I on our first trip to the Holy Lands. In every single instance, someone took a chance on me by giving me an opportunity.  They all showed great love and patience and was quick to extend grace.  I will be forever grateful and in your debt because you did not give up but always believed that eventually I would get where I needed to be.  Thanks for believing in me even when I did not.  You are all the best.


In Christ,


Pastor Johnny





Pastor Johnny



Pastor Johnny