Rock Pointe Church, Fort Oglethorpe, GA

Rock Pointe Church, Fort Oglethorpe, GA

(NOT to be confused with Rock Point Community Church, Chattanooga, TN)

August 25, 2013

Rock Pointe…”Where the Rock of Ages Rocks All Ages.”

 When I first arrived at Rock Pointe and entered the building it must have been the lull period between services or something. No greeters or anyone to tell me where to go, so I found my typical back row pew and just, well sat. Yes, you read that correctly – a pew. Haven’t sat in one of those in quite a long time! Ha! I noticed hymn books had been replaced with Bibles in the back of the pews for those who had forgotten to bring theirs.

Several people just kind of looked at me and about 3 or 4 minutes later a whole stream of people entered. Then I was greeted by the pastor and another gentleman. Music started with the praise band facing the screen rather than us with music and clapping. After a few moments, the praise team turned around, prayed, and led us into the music part of the service.


Talk about a trip down memory lane – I sort of felt like I was at a Gaither concert! The songs reminded me of that good ‘ol gospel music with a contemporary twist. It was refreshing. I didn’t feel like I was in a rock concert or anything. Just praise, love, adoration, hand-clapping, smiles and blended harmonies raised up to the King of Kings.

The first song was a lively, joyous hand-clapping version of “My Redeemer Lives” followed by the pastor welcoming a new member to the church. He read a “membership covenant” which reminded me of a marriage ceremony. If Christians took their vows to each other seriously to actually serve and love one another, I wonder where our world might be? I really liked their approach. I can tell this church takes its family seriously. I found out the “lull” I had experienced in the beginning was actually people attending an advanced membership class.

Next was a time of fellowship and shaking hands. Folks, you know me – I grinned and beared it – ha! But I will admit, George and Sherry were authentically friendly. I loved the fact that all ages were represented. Just down-home country folks who obviously loved being there. It was a very casual and warm family-like environment.

The next hymn was one of my favorites, “Here In the Power of Christ I’ll Stand,” and they didn’t change the words of “the wrath of God was satisfied!” I’m sure you’ve heard all that brew ha ha. Personally, I’m glad they didn’t change the words. It’s Biblical and the song should remain as it. Praise God! As we moved into the next song about God’s faithfulness, there was a reverential silence that fell over the group as we were asked to reflect on the day we were saved.

Next the Pastor called all the school age children up to the front and prayed a blessing over them and the children’s church workers as the new school year began. The pastor encouraged these children that Jesus was with them during a test, in the classroom, when they feel scared…He is always looking over his children. “Jesus, I need your help…I don’t understand this math. Jesus, I need your help…there’s a bully here.” The pastor prayed the children would gain an understanding of the importance of their education and for them to grasp and understand the classes they needed to take.

He then moved into announcements, one of which was a charge to ask men to step up to help in the children’s ministry. He said there was a need in this generation for godly men to be present and accounted for in children’s settings. Amen to that!

He also updated us on their latest ministry outreach to Walker State Prison. The church cooked 1,000 hamburgers, and served popcorn, sodas, nachos, and cakes.  Walker State prisoners painted a picture of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane which the church plans to hang in their building. Wow! The painting was just beautiful. I was reminded that most of these prisoners are gifted way beyond what we tend to recognize. They have great potential and God wants to use them and He loves them so much. I was moved to tears as I know people who are caught in addictions that have led to jail and prison sentences. And I was overwhelmed at this church’s heart to reach out to those who are in bonds. Thank you God for a church that still cares to do things like this.

The offering plate was passed and then George did some special music entitled “To the King.” I must admit I almost felt like I was back in my home church when I was a kid. The music had changed some, but it was that same feeling of corporate worship, offering time, special music, prayer…it was a bit nostalgic for me.

Pastor Keith then began the sermon, “What Does it Mean to be Blessed by God?”

Matthew 5:14-16 Good deeds

When a person is transformed because of salvation, good works are a result of that salvation. Our job is to be light in a dark world. We are to be like a sprinkling of salt which changes the whole flavor. A transformed life will begin to produce good deeds and God will bless us. A blessed life will reflect good deeds (e.g. I am no longer selfish, I now want to share).

James 2:14-26.

Our salvation is a free gift from God apart from works, however an authentic transformation of the heart will result in good deeds.

A life that God blesses has four components: heart transformed (which he talked about the week before), good deeds (this week’s topic), obedience and incredible faith (which he plans to cover in future weeks).

Where are we investing our time, talent, and resources? “Well that’s not my cup of tea?” Since when did God give us cups of tea to choose from? Service is something we do even when we don’t want to do it (boy, I need to learn that lesson!). God is not going to bless your mess just because you enjoy it. God gets in the middle of what He wants to do through us. [Ok preacher, I’m listening].

Matthew 14:13-21

“Makarios” was the Greek work used in the beatitudes which meant the happy state that comes when you find Gods calling for your life. “Eulogew” (I think?) was a Greek word which referred to a blessing spoken over something (e.g. when Jesus prayed over the sack lunch of 2 pieces of fish and 5 loaves of bread). He pronounced a blessing from God over the lunch and it multiplied to feed between 15,000 to 20,000 people. I loved the next statement the pastor made, “There is nothing in scripture that proves this, but perhaps the 12 baskets that were taken up actually were sent back with the boy with the lunch to feed his family who had been praying for their needs to be met.”

John 6:5-10

God already knows what He has called us to do. But he may be testing us to see what our response will be (verses 6-9). Are we willing to give our sack lunch to Jesus? Believe that God’s blessing pronounced over our sack lunch will be used in an incredible way to feed hungry people all around us. Pray over our money before we go to the store. Ask Him to stretch the money. Ask God to bless what we’ve bought. Thank Him.

Malachi 3:6-12

God will not bless us if we are robbing from Him. If we have not been able to conquer tithing, we will always struggle to be blessed by God. When God blesses the 90%, it goes further than the 100% of our own efforts. We don’t do this to be blessed – we do it out of obedience. It is what God teaches us about our finances. And it’s not just the tithe. It’s talents and resources too. For some of us, writing the check is the easy part. What about the hard part? What about serving and teaching or whatever it is that is hard? Sink our whole life into what God is doing. Stop tip toeing around God and get involved. Give it all. Not just the excess. Not just a little bit. God wants to work in our lives in ways we can’t explain.

Psalm 112:1-10

Our good deeds pave the way for a godly life. Our good deeds are the one and only way we connect the love of Jesus to a lost, dying world. It’s how the world sees Jesus.

Pastor’s Final Thought

God invests in the places He feels He will get the greatest return. Here’s the final question the pastor asked, “If you were God, and you wanted to tell the world about the love of Jesus, would you invest in you?”

Pastor Keith just shoots is straight. Tells it like it is. Love that about him. No condemnation, just keeping it real. Get serious with God and quit playing games. Understand that before you were born, God had a plan to use you to connect others to Him. You have to choose to surrender to His will. Sometimes the road is rocky. Sometimes you will suffer. The blessing is about an entire lifetime – love, joy, peace, tangible, intangible.

He provided an altar call for Christians to give their selves 100%, and as they gathered round he made an audible covenant with them and sealed it with a prayer.

I can tell this church is about accountability. Not just lip service but real life service looking for opportunities to bless someone.

Rock Pointe Church is located at 1278 Cross Street in Fort Oglethorpe, GA. Their phone number is 706-820-6523. Their website is and you can find them on Facebook at

They meet Sundays at 10:00am and 6:00pm and Wednesdays at 7:00pm.


Church of the Highlands

Church of the Highlands

(formerly known as Highland Park Baptist Church)

August 19, 2013

DISCLAIMER BEFORE READING THIS POST: While I have a personal experience with HPBC during the 70s and 80s, my intention is NOT to say it was right or wrong or that the new format is right or wrong. This post is my personal experience based on one Sunday morning that my husband and I visited. If you are going to comment on the post, please keep it positive as I am not interested in starting a debate about styles, theology, etc etc. I am not judging the old or new church and I am not making any suggestions for how it should or could be – that is for the pastor and his congregation to decide.

I have not received any comments on other posts until this one, so obviously people reading this have a personal history with HPBC and/or currently attend the new re-plant. Please note I loved my experience at the new church and wish them the best as they do what they feel led to do for spreading the gospel.

Rewind 120 years. According to the history section of the former Highland Park Baptist Church website, a schoolhouse held their first Sunday School class and in October of 1890, the church was named Orchard Knob Baptist. In 1891, the church moved to the corner of Willow and Chamberlain and was renamed to Beech Street Baptist. In 1903, after outgrowing its building, a wooden frame building was erected on Orchard Knob and Union and again renamed to Highland Park Baptist. By 1922 the wooden frame was replaced by Phillips Chapel.


Phillips Chapel

Dr. Lee Roberson

Dr. Lee Roberson

Dr. Lee Roberson accepted the pastorate in 1942 and by 1947, the Chauncey-Goode Auditorium was completed with enough room for 3,000 people. Another auditorium was built in 1981 holding 6,000 people.

Highland Park Baptist Church - large auditorium

Highland Park Baptist Church – large auditorium

Dr. Roberson resigned as pastor in 1983; Dr. David Bouler became pastor in 1991; and in 2008 a co-pastor, Dr. Danny Lovett came on the scene (HPBC History). Dr. Jeremy Roberts became the pastor in 2012 and in September of that year, he cast his vision to the congregation to “re-plant a new, philosophically-progressive church in the Harrison Bay/Ooltewah community named  ‘Church of the Highlands'” (The Highlands Vision).  In 2013, Dr. Roberts moved the church to the former Camp Joy on Hunter Road off Hwy 58. The former buildings in the Highland Park neighborhood were sold to Redemption Point, which is a ministry of the Church of God. Currently, Church of the Highlands has approximately 400 members and is still growing and building.

Church of the Highlands

Church of the Highlands

You might be asking – why the history lesson Ginger? Well, I attended Highland Park Baptist Church from 1976 to 1987, and I must admit visiting Church of the Highlands was a refreshing, yet nostalgic moment for me. Upon entering the parking lot, memories of Camp Joy Girls’ Week flooded my mind. As we walked Zoey to the children’s church (which is located in the renovated camp gym area), I had visions of girls running to the gym to play basketball.

Kids Church

Kids Church

PeePaw & Zoey

PeePaw & Zoey

As I looked toward the hill where the stables were kept, I remember girls jog-walking to their favorite horse (we were told not to run up on the horses so as not to spook them). The softball fields were located on the other side of the gym and I could see girls wiping the sweat from their brows. Excited laughs and shrieks as girls took a dip in the pool could be heard echoing through the halls of my memory. Wooden benches, Bible verse team recitations, altar calls and dark nights spent in line at the canteen waiting on that much awaited snack before bedtime, while crickets and frogs sung us to sleep with their songs in the woods all played across my mind.

Rewind to the 1970’s and 80’s. Red back hymnals. Standing on the Promises. Full choir and orchestra.  Piano and organ. 6,000 people streaming through 10 separate entrances. Deaf interpreters. Sunday school. Sunday morning service. Training union. Sunday night service. Wednesday night prayer meeting. Mission conferences. Bible conferences. Christian elementary, junior, and high school with catechism and Bible classes. These were the things of yesteryear during the height of Highland Park Baptist Church.

Fast forward to 2013. Hymnals and hymns have been replaced with a praise band and screens with lyrics streaming. Coffee station with doughnuts, padded chairs instead of pews, women and men both dressed comfortable-casual in jeans and khakis as well as a few dressed in their Sunday best. Even a few raised hands during worship here and there.


Definitely not the HPBC I grew up in. It’s a new day, a new dawn, a new era. It’s smaller. More connected. The pastor seems to be connected with the people rather than [the perceived] separation by a massive stage and pulpit. A little more raw, a little more authentic. A desperation from some to experience God’s presence. They’re here because they want to be. Not because its required as a college student (or perhaps it still is – I haven’t researched the college connection to the church). I see all races and creeds worshipping together.

As we finished the worship time and settled in for the service, the pastor shared his heart with us concerning women in ministry. That morning the regular worship leader was out of town and one of the women had led the music. While they don’t believe God’s Word teaches women should be in pastoral roles, the church does want to empower women to live out the gospel through ministry.

Then Pastor Roberts began his message entitled “Does God Exist?” Romans chapter 1 contains answer to questions about God that Google just can’t answer. He said that according to a Gallup poll, 51% of the world believes in the existence of God and a great book to read about that is by an author named Robert Jeffress.

He went on to challenge us to wrestle through our questions. Matthew 7:7 tells us to seek and we will find. He explained that those who have strong faith have equally strong doubts. He then addressed atheists. His guess concerning why a person claims to be an atheist is that perhaps they think people use God as a crutch and a superstitious friend you pray to to make you feel better.

He wanted to use philosophy, science, and the Bible to discuss the existence of God this morning. The pastor explained that using just the Bible to discuss this issue with those who don’t believe in the Bible is circular reasoning and he wants to help them to consider there is a God who has made Himself evident outside of the Bible.

The Roberts Family

The Roberts Family

Reasons People Do Not Believe God Exists 

1. It’s part of the human nature to not believe God exists.

He gave three examples: Exodus 34:5, “The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with Moses and proclaimed the name of the Lord.” The people still didn’t believe. Also, the people watched Jesus turn water into wine, raise Lazarus from the dead, and they still didn’t believe He was God.

2. Philosophy is used as another reason to deny Gods existence. The reasoning is if God exists, then why do bad things happen to nice people?

3. Difficult experiences are reasons people doubt the existence of God.

4. There are also spiritual reasons people doubt the existence of God. However, in Romans 1:18-20 God proves His existence through His creation.

5. Science is another reason some people deny Gods existence. Only 7% of American scientific professors believe God exists.

Science is based on naturalism (assumes that nature is all there is and the universe is a closed system and if we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist).

Reasons Why We Can Believe God Exists:

1. Creation needs a creator.

If the “big bang” and/or evolution are true, where did the big bang come from? Where did the pool of water come from? Even Aristotle called God the “first cause.”

The only “big bang” this world will ever experience is when the heavens will vanish with   a thunderous crash and all the elements, the earth and all its works will burn up by fire (II Peter 3:10). Eventually history as we know it will turn into eternity when God creates a    new heaven and a new earth according to Revelation 21:1-5.

2. The universe is too intricate to not have a designer.

The human body is an example. Our DNA is made up of 100 trillion cells. One cell is equivalent to 8,000 books of information.

Moral law would be non-existent if there wasn’t a God.

The odds of us showing up are incomprehensible. It takes more faith to believe      randomness.

In conclusion, you can take the chance on believing that God doesn’t exist and risk spending an eternity without Him in hell. It you believe, and make Him your Savior and Lord, He will forgive you of your sin and you will spend eternity with Him on the new earth that He creates.

The pastor then invited people to accept Jesus as their savior and provided a standard altar call with the hymn, I Surrender All. He also encouraged baptism, and joining a church for accountability and prayer.

The offering was taken up after the service with a short testimonial of what the tithe is and how the pastor pays his tithe immediately from his Smartphone the moment his check is deposited.

Holy Holy Holy…is the Lord God Almighty Was the final worship song and it was evident the Holy Spirit was moving among His people. The prayer of one crying out to God was definitely not the prayers I grew up with and it was refreshing.

My Final Thoughts

It took me about a week to wrap my head around my experience here. Not because it was a bad experience – it wasn’t. But I am realizing that as time marches on, everything we build on this earth will eventually pass away. I suppose I am feeling a little disconnected because when I drive through the old campus, it is a ghost town compared to what it used to be.

While Tennessee Temple and Highland Park Baptist Church were known as a megachurch for its day and time, sitting in the small space at its new location and in a new decade, I realized it had to morph into what it is today in order to reach a new generation. I was reminded that it’s ok to build your earthly kingdom, just be sure to live in it as if it were a sandcastle.


How To Connect With Church of the Highlands

Church of the Highlands is located at 6621 Hunter Road, Harrison TN 37341. Their phone number is 423-493-4111 and their website is You can find them on Facebook at  Can’t make the service one Sunday morning? Watch it at Dig deeper into the sermons by visiting the pastor’s blog at They have student ministry on Monday nights and they still go out on Saturday mornings to knock on doors in their community and invite them to church.

Works Cited

HPBC History. 2009. 23 Aug 2013 <;.

The Highlands Vision. 2012. 23 Aug 2013 <;.

Calvary Chapel Ooltewah

Calvary Chapel Ooltewah

July 28, 2013


I have always enjoyed Calvary Chapels. No matter which location I have visited, they have remained consistent in worship, teaching and outreach. They actually just teach the Bible – starting with a book and teaching through the entirety of it before moving on to the next. While they use other relevant sources such as media and historical literature to better explain the original Biblical languages of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic as well as the cultures in which the Bible was written, you will seldom find a Calvary Chapel pastor who deviates from just preaching the Word straight from the Word, otherwise known as expository teaching.

To understand this better, let’s consider the three main styles of preaching – topical, textual, and expository. Topical preaching is from the Biblical text, but uses the nature of the topic to develop the sermon. Textual preaching gets its main points from the Biblical text, but develops the actual sermon outside of the text. And finally, expository preaching gets everything from the Biblical text – in other words scripture interprets scripture – the main idea, main points, sub points and developmental components. “The preacher becomes a bond servant of the text, working according to the thought of the original author” (Duduit).

On this particular morning in July, I decided to visit the Ooltewah location of Calvary Chapel. My husband wasn’t feeling good that morning as he was suffering from back pain (he’s a floor installer – it’s common), so I was on my own. As I entered the building, I was greeted by the pastor, Alan Joiner who was very friendly and made sure I knew where the restrooms and coffee were. As I took a seat next to a friend of mine and her husband, I was greeted by the worship leader, Scott Logan and his wife Shanon. I had previously met Scott during his touring days with my brother Philip (who is also a worship leader for another Calvary Chapel in town), so he was definitely excited that I had decided to visit the new church plant.

Lively worship started the morning and it was such that it certainly honored the Lord Most High. As most of you know I don’t base worship on “holy ghost bumps,” but I know He was definitely there as He washed over me and delighted in my praise.


After several songs, Pastor Alan made some announcements, one of which was an update on what their church refers to as a “conspiracy of kindness.” He went on to explain that it’s better to introduce people TO Jesus rather than talk ABOUT Jesus. Meeting practical needs in the community is how to be the hands and feet of Christ. He also mentioned the Agape Box at the back of the room. They don’t pass an offering plate. Instead, each one is encouraged to give according to what the Spirit leads. After a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing, we entered into the fellowship time.

And as most of you already know, “fellowship time” is my least favorite thing to do in churches. But I must admit, this was different. It was actually like a 5-7 minute break to put your offering in the box, grab some coffee, talk to a few people, use the restroom, or catch a smoke outside (there is a smoking receptacle for those who haven’t kicked that habit yet – and I’m all for that by the way – meet people where they are in life – I can tell you right now, my husband would have joined one of the gentlemen out there). It wasn’t the stand, shake your hand, “how are you” fluff. Very refreshing.

Then we all settled in for the message (see below) which was Hebrews chapter 13 and its themes of The Supremacy of Christ – Live grace tied closely to Jesus – Reject legalism and the law – Live in light of eternity.

Calvary Chapel Ooltewah seems to be a church that desires more than anything to stay true to the Word, be generous and kind to those who are hurting, and to meet practical needs within the community. They are located at 7610 Lee Hwy Chattanooga, TN 37421. Their phone number is 423-321-2864, and their website is

They are digitally relevant as well. If you’re not able to be there in person one Sunday, you can catch their podcast on iTunes or subscribe to their Sermon RSS feed at

The Joiner Family

Please note – the rest of this entry is quite long. While the sermon itself only lasted maybe 30 minutes, it was PACKED with some great insights from God’s Word. I encourage you to keep reading as it provides some practical steps to take in our Christian Walk.

Hebrews 13 – The Supremacy of Christ

Our lives should reflect grace and this chapter basically shows us how to do that.

Verse 1 – Let brotherly love continue.

This is the primary command and is the definition of the Christian walk. See John 13:34-35, I Peter 1:22; 4:8, I Cor 13:13, Gal 5:6, I Thess 1:3, and  Rom 12:10.  I Corinthians 13 is THE Christian ethic by which we all should live.

Verses 2-6 – Practical ways to live out the ultimate command of loving others. 

Verse 2- Hospitality. Culturally there were no inns. These places would have been known as a saloon type atmosphere or some places would just be an encampment with a spring of water nearby. People from this day tried to be hospitable to travelers. The goal was to maintain tables for strangers and widows. And if they needed alms, they would be required to eat first and then their need would also be met. The verse carries it one step further – guard how you live your life as if everyone you come in contact with could be an angel. See Matthew 25 concerning Jesus’ story of the sheep and goats.

Verse 3 – Prisoners. We are to sacrificially live out a person’s hardships. Have you ever considered what the Roman prison system was like? Prisoners were kept just long enough for the punishment of lashes or death. House arrest was popular as well. The prisons were known as places of neglect, darkness, & stench. Not much food was provided and there was no running water or toilet facilities. The entrance to the prison was even repulsive. Prisoners relied on friends and family members to come by and bring food and help remove the group refuse. The point? We should reach out to even the most vile of people to show love.

In our modern culture, often what happens is when ministry gets messy, we back off. We talk a good game but our service is weak. The pastor posed a question for thought….what would our world look like if we all acted the way the church is supposed to act? He suggested perhaps our country wouldn’t need the government to handle social issues if the church would just be the church (imagine that – and I heartily agree).

Verse 4-Marital faithfulness. Biblical teaching of marriage were being attacked from all sides during that time (sound familiar?) Multiple partners were being taught as a male physiological need. The extreme opposite view was that a person should deny anything that was good in order to mortify the body. But the writer of Hebrews said we must follow the written Word of God, not what the culture is teaching.

The verse uses the term “immoral people.” The original Greek word for immoral is the same word we use today for pornography. This is one of the fastest sweeping forest fires in our culture today. In fact, it’s an epidemic. The pastor strongly urged us to guard ourselves. He said, “It’s damaging to your marriage, and it breaks the spiritual connection between a man and a woman.” The pastor challenged the men to guard their hearts as if they were guarding their families, and he challenged women to get out of the romance novels.

On a side note, what happens is you set yourself up to expect an experience and/or an encounter that is not a normal way of life and certainly not what God intended. You start comparing your spouse to what you see on the screen or visualize within the text. When your spouse doesn’t meet that expectation or fantasy, you begin to doubt their validity as your partner and eventually you will start seeing and treating them as subhuman. It’s not new – it started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent asked Eve a question which caused her to doubt the goodness of her Creator. The same thing happens with porn – questions are formed in your mind which cause you to start doubting yourself and those around you and eventually it leads to insidious addiction. If you find yourself lost in a porn addiction, there is help available. First, stop being silent – step up, tell the truth, and seek godly counseling. Second, place software on your computers, your tablets, and your smart phones which will alert a trust accountability partner about your online activities (online help is available at sources such as,, and Third, get yourself in a Bible believing/preaching church and surround yourself with godly men and women who will walk through life with you.

Moving on…Verse 5 – 6 – Free from love of money & God never leaves us. Materialism is another strong vice in our culture. It is the cause of many sins and the symptom of a much greater spiritual issue (see Col 3:5 and Mt 6:24). There is no middle ground. You’re either worshipping stuff or worshipping God. How you manage your finances shows your spiritual faithfulness (Luke 16:10-12). We are to endure and persevere this life with the eternal city in mind. The Pastor used a clip from the Falling Skies TV series to show us a conversation about faith and loss of faith. One girl says she prays. The second girl who has clearly suffered a crisis in her faith asks her if she prays for a weapon to help keep them alive, to which the first girl replies in a graceful manner, “I don’t ask God for things, I ask what I can do for Him.” Clearly in verse 5, Jesus promises He will never leave us or forsake us. Christ is the only thing in all of reality that will never change, so that we can say in verse 6, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” The point: free yourself from the love of money and be content with what you have. Quit asking God for so much stuff and focus on what you can do for Him because He’s not going anywhere and He already knows what your needs are.

Verses 7-10 – Leadership and doctrine are closely tied.

The term for leaders is seldom used in the New Testament. It refers to any leader from a religious, military, or political perspective with Jesus Christ being the chief. The pastor again strongly exhorted us to test the teachings of any leader or any church you go to. If they teach proper doctrine and their lives line up, follow them. If not, leave. Have nothing to do with heretical teaching.

These verses are also a call to discipleship. The Bible will not change. Do not be discipled by someone who doesn’t properly teach the word. Confront them in love. If you find a good leader, allow them to speak into your life. The pastor said he believed in raising up godly leaders in the church. And oh are they needed!

Verse 9 – Strange, various teachings. There should be no distinction in our faith between doctrine and action. Step back unless you are sitting under sound, orthodox teaching. Go. Run, if it is not. Study your Bible. Know what the word of God says. Be a Berean (Acts 17:11). This pastor welcomes people to challenge his theology. I find that refreshing IF he will be open to correction if it is valid. Unfortunately I have confronted several spiritual leaders in the past whose theology or actions did not line up with the Word in its proper context, and instead of receiving it with grace and humility, I was met with disdain and arrogance and an argumentative spirit (in all cases). In fact, some even went so far as to continue to preach in error and make examples of certain things from the pulpit that should never have entered a sermon. Needless to say, as I visit from church to church, when the day comes for my husband and I to “park” for awhile, I will need to know the pastor is humble and strives to teach the Word as it is laid out in the text. Granted, we all make interpretative and lifestyle mistakes from time to time, but it should not be a habitual pattern.

Verses 11-14 – Leave the legalism of the temple and join Jesus outside the city.

Trade in the comfort of Jerusalem for the eternal city. Invest in the life to come.

Verse 15-16 – Two avenues of praise and sacrifice.

Verbal praise can often be easy. But is sacrifice so easy? What are we doing to give sacrificially?

Verse 17 – Leadership is for the benefit of the church.

The pastor said that he follows verses 13-17 in his own life. He has to give account for how he leads the church and the sheep. He takes this mandate seriously.  He thanked his church for being a people who make it a joy for him to be their leader.

The morning ended with a prayer from Hebrews 13: 20-25, asking God to firmly establish us in His everlasting covenant and one of my favorite worship hymns, “Lead Me to the Cross.”

Works Cited

Duduit, Michael. What is expository preaching? An interview with Bryan Chapell. n.d. 1 August 2013. <;.

The Pointe Church

July 21, 2013

I have known Butch Varner since 2007 and have always liked the guy. I met him during my J103 radio days while he was working as a bondsman and in school to be a counselor. Let me tell you, this is one cool dude – and completely sold out to Jesus. He’s been in the Army, has spent time on the mission field in Japan, and is currently a professor at a local college. He can tell you countless stories of criminals and addicts coming to know Jesus, which means he’s approachable and isn’t afraid of where people are in their lives – in fact, he invites ALL people into his life because he just wants to show them the love of Christ and be their friend.

He reminds me of a down-home country boy – he’s not pretentious at all – and can relate to anybody. The moment he enters your space, you’re comfortable. And then his sweet, pretty wife Jenny comes along, and she is just precious. Smiling and gentle in spirit, she is welcoming without being forward at all. I can see why people are drawn to this couple.

So, on Sunday, July 21 we decided to check out the church. We live on Missionary Ridge, and the church meets at 11:00am at the Barking Legs Theater on Dodds Avenue, so it was literally 5 minutes away (which is always nice). We drove up and there were 2 cars in the parking lot, so we weren’t sure if they were meeting or not. My husband and I walked in and I must admit, I had to laugh at my husband’s reaction.

You see, he’s a brand new Christian and he hasn’t been exposed to the churches that are meeting in non-traditional settings (like bars, fitness clubs, restaurants, theaters, warehouses, etc). So needless to say, he just didn’t know what to think. I definitely laughed out loud when he saw the refrigerated beer case and said, “So, are we gonna drink a beer and do church this morning?”

I just heehawed and gently said, “No dear, no beer this morning.” Then I took a minute to explain to him that people are tired of cultural Christianity and there is a group of Christians who want to do what Jesus did – take the Gospel to unconventional places (he ate with sinners and tax collectors and was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard – although we know He wasn’t). Therefore, they are following the same principle and trying to bring the light of Christ into some pretty dark places (not to say that Barking Legs is dark place, but it’s definitely not a church – its a concert hall and performance venue). And for them to allow a church to hold services there on a Sunday morning is a pretty novel concept, and I applaud their willingness to do so.

The worship was led by Butch, his wife Jenny, and their Japanese friend Saori Mann. Saori started the morning by sharing her story of being tired and weary and sang “Precious Lord” accompanied by her electric piano. She has such a unique voice – her Japanese accent and strong vibrato combined with a compassionate, soulful, bluesy sound made for a unique twist on an old favorite hymn.

After her song, she picked up her acoustic guitar and joined Jenny (lead singer) and Butch (electric keyboard). After a few songs, Jenny shared her testimony of giving and receiving. You can’t outgive God. He knows your needs and will provide every time.

Worship Leaders at The Pointe Church

Butch is teaching on the book of John right now and this particular Sunday he was in chapter 4 and focused on the woman at the well. First of all, John’s purpose was to show who Jesus was/is. In the 1st Century Jesus was a Rabbi. Most Rabbis of that day were judging people and it is a transliteration of the word hypocrite, which is basically “reaction formation” (when someone is pointing out something in your life because they’re struggling with it themselves and are in turmoil).

However, Jesus was a radical Rabbi. In John 4:1 we see that Jesus was baptizing more disciples than John the Baptist. Butch explained some of the history behind this. According to his understanding, Jesus grew up around Decapolis which was a very cosmopolitan area.  John’s parents died when he was young and in those days orphans went to live out by the Dead Sea with the Essenes, so he had been taught by them. When Jesus came along and began baptizing even more people than John, the Saducees and Pharisees saw this as a threat. Now, I’m not a Biblical or History scholar – but it sounds interesting, so I’d suggest you do your own study on this to discover why that was important.

Jesus then travels into Samaria. At this time, Jews didn’t have anything to do with Samaritans because of the perceived corruption of intermarriage, etc. And in those days, you certainly didn’t engage women in conversation. But what does Jesus do? He goes to Jacob’s Well (which was built by his father, Isaac) where a woman comes during the middle of the day. It is speculated that she came in the middle of the day rather than the early morning with the rest of the women because of her reputation.

So Jesus is already breaking into taboo areas. First, he’s a Rabbi who is knowingly not just passing by Samaria, but walking through the actual area. Second, He’s talking to a woman who is known to have been married several times. And third, He chooses to reveal the Kingdom to her and then sends her back to her village to preach about it. The villagers believe her testimony and start coming to Christ and invite Him to stay in their village. What? Talk about upsetting some religious people!

Woman at the Well

Jesus affirmed this woman instead of disavowing her. In other words, Jesus could care less what the social norm of the day is – He’s not concerned with what you consider to be taboo and who you refuse to talk to – He came here to save people and give them rivers of living water so they could live an abundant life. Jesus came to take the world system and the religious system and turn it on its head.  The less religious you become, the more of God you will experience.

Butch went on to explain that a lot of ministry today is about making money. The Bible says in the last days people will surround themselves with teachers who will tell them what they want to hear instead of what the Bible says. Eventually your faith becomes corrupt because you don’t allow the Bible to transform you. People expect the Bible to fit into their way of thinking and living and are offended when the Bible speaks otherwise.

Teach me what I want to hear – not the truth

Jesus is simple. He really wants to be your friend. He really wants to walk with you. Your past doesn’t matter. He wants to give you that eternal water that gives eternal life. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

An interesting side note is that Jesus was at the well of Jacob which was built by Isaac. Guess what Isaac’s name means? Laughter – remember when Sarah laughed when she heard the angel tell Abraham they would have a son? God wants the joy of the Lord to flow through us. Choose the joy of the Lord. It is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Also, choose to love others. Choose to let the Lord fight your battles. Quit stirring the pot…let it go and let God take care of it. This is where Butch used a funny story about his grandfather. He said he used to tell him a cow patty is like our problems. He said if you’d just let the thing rest in the sun, eventually it would dry up and allow you to cast it aside. However, if you put a stick in it and tried to move it out of the way before it’d had time to settle, you’d just stir up the stinkin’ mess all over again. Ha! I thought that was hilarious – but how true is it? Do we take our problems to God and allow His Son to shine on them and work them out in His time? Or are we constantly meddling and stirring our pots, then wondering why we always find ourselves in a mess? Something to think about.

Butch ended the morning with a prayer asking for God to deliver us from religiosity and give us the joy of the Lord.

The Pointe Church is a tiny one – not a lot of people (at least not on that Sunday morning), however it has a huge opportunity to grow with those who are looking to break away from the religious system they may have become accustomed to. If you’re looking for real people who will meet and accept you just where you are, I encourage you to at least visit. You’ll find authentic believers who love God and who want to make a difference in their community.

The Pointe Church meets at 11:00am every Sunday morning at The Barking Legs Theater at 1307 Dodds Ave in Chattanooga, TN. Their website is You can join their Facebook group here: and check out Pastor Butch’s Facebook here:

GraceWorks Church

GraceWorks Church

 June 30, 2013

Anybody who drives Hwy 153 and/or Lee Hwy knows the big white cross which looms over its juncture.


What you don’t see is the church which sits across from it, and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were purposely looking for it. We went through the old American Thrift and McKay’s Bookstore parking lot, and as we looked for an entrance saw what appeared to be a gated community. Wendell and I both looked at each other and grinned – this was definitely going to be interesting. Even the sign tells you the hours the iron gate is unlocked.

 As we made our way up the hill and rounded the corner, we were met by a massive parking area, the white cross, and what appeared to be a country club. Their website describes the location and architecture as “evocative of a mountain lodge, with views of Lookout, Signal, Mowbray and White Oak Mountains.” Beautiful indeed with mountain stone, archways, and lots of windows.


 We were greeted with smiles and told where to take our granddaughter. We went through a typical sign-in process and received a ticket – half of which went on her back and the other half to me. It was the last day of Vacation Bible School, so her Sunday School class was packed. She was a bit more apprehensive than the last church we visited, but after some coaxing and telling her all was well, she allowed herself to be drawn in by one of the teachers.

Wendell and I then made our way into the sanctuary where a worship band was playing. We picked up a bulletin and found seats towards the back. One only need browse through their Sunday bulletin to realize they are definitely using technology to their advantage (which I think is great). Do you prefer to receive texts about upcoming events? You can text 72727 to receive all their updates. How about an email? You can drop your email address in the offering plate and they’ll add you to their list. Interested in serving or participating in Bible Studies? Sign up to help at one of their activities or show up at one of their studies throughout the week. You can also donate to their food pantry which even has a freezer (hey – my opinion – go to Save-A-Lot and pick up their 5 for $19.95 meat deals. You can bless a needy family with ground chuck, pork roasts, chicken, bacon, and lots of other things that freeze well).

 They have a standard band with guitar and drums and the music is contemporary christian. My husband put his hands in his pockets and closed his eyes to worship and I began to observe. I noticed different age ranges and different styles of dress. While most everyone stood throughout the worship time, it was pretty laid back – not a lot of hand raising or loud singing or anything like that. After several songs, I leaned over and asked my husband, “Well, what do you think?” He looked at me, smiled, and said, “It’s pretty.” Indeed it was. And I’ll be honest – I tried to clear my mind and worship – but I think my A.D.D. had kicked in (I have a legitimate diagnosis for adult A.D.D, but don’t take medicine), and I was antsy and ready to sit down and delve into the message. Don’t judge me – ha! You know you’ve probably felt that way a million times, but didn’t want to admit it.


After the music was over, the pastor got up to greet everyone. I learned later that he is pretty new to the church and he appeared to be around our age (early 40’s – maybe late 30’s). He told the congregation that the whole purpose of gathering this morning was to “meet God, come into His presences, be ‘us,’ and grow in Him.” After a time of shaking hands and greeting people (which by the way is one of my pet peeves in churches – sorry – it just is – but most of them do it, so I just grin and bear it), Jimmy Goddard took a seat and started his message.

This was week 1 of a series called “Guardrails.” He explained that a guardrail is used on things like bridges, medians, and curves and there are usually signs posted before you get to the dangerous sections of these things to alert you. The guardrail is intended to keep you from straying into a dangerous or off limit area.

For our purpose however, as children of God, he defined a guardrail as “a personal standard of behavior that becomes a matter of conscience.” And just as our human fathers want to love and protect their children by setting up guardrails (don’t get near the street while you’re playing; be in by 9:00pm; text me when you get there), so our Heavenly Father has also set up guardrails to protect us.

One place in scripture that shows us this is Ephesians 5:15-20, specifically verse 18 which in paraphrase states we are not be drunk because it leads to debauchery; instead be filled with the Holy Spirit. He challenged us to think about this specific activity – drinking to the point of drunkenness. Is it the drinking that’s a sin? Is it the drunkenness that’s a sin? Or is it the things that happen once you’ve reached the point of drunkenness that cause you to enter into gross sins? Debauchery refers to an extreme indulgence that results in a loss of control. So, the question is, where do you set up your guardrail? He didn’t answer the question for us, but allowed us to contemplate the extreme consequences that most people pay because of allowing themselves to drink to the point of drunkenness which then led them to some extreme action which causes them to lose control of…finances, relationships, jobs, spiritual condition, morals, self-respect…the list is long and varied, but results in a loss of something every single time.

My husband and I both looked at each other and nodded – we understand it all too well. We have both experienced our own addictions that have caused us to lose control, which in the end have caused us to lose more than we care to even think about. And trust me, the climb out is much more painful and always longer than the climb in. The guardrail should be set way before the vice ever has a chance to grab a hold of you.

My favorite part of this Sunday’s experience was Reverend Goddard’s message. He was down-to-earth, didn’t preach “at” but rather talked “with” us; he was willing to share his own life and seemed to be transparent and willing to share the struggles with us – like his message included him. I like that about a pastor – when they include themselves in the teaching and you’re not left feeling like you’ve been talked at all morning.

My husband leaned over and said – “Ya know, no matter where we end up on a Sunday morning, God always has a way of speaking directly to me.” We had just discussed something of this nature the night before – setting boundaries and what is ok and not ok – our own struggles and challenges with sin in our lives – how to beat it – how to resist the devil and flee from temptation.

The band returned to the stage and the closing song DID catch my attention and calmed my restless mind – Jesus Paid It All. I sang every word and allowed Jesus to quiet me and remind me of His great love for me – so much so that He paid the ultimate price – His life – so I could be His child. And I committed in that moment to be aware of the guardrails that I need to set up. Sometimes I skate on the surface of temptation when I need to just take about three steps back and not even allow myself to see the edges of it.

After the service, we were greeted by a friendly woman who invited us to come back and said she was glad we visited. She seemed genuine and happy and we chatted a bit. Wendell went to go get Zoey and when I met them at the car, she was happy and had forgotten her earlier trepidation (don’t you just love that about kids?)

Graceworks seems to be a family-friendly church and their creed of faith is adopted from the United Church of Canada. They focus on receiving broken and hurting people into their community and sharing the mercy and forgiveness of Christ with them. Graceworks is located at 6445 Lee Hwy Chattanooga, TN 37421. Their phone number is 423-648-9125 and their website is Find them on Facebook at

Harvest Bible Chapel

June 16, 2013

Anyone familiar with James MacDonald and Walk In the Word out of Chicago, IL?

James & Kathy MacDonald

James & Kathy MacDonald

I happen to enjoy his teaching very much and listen to him on the radio every chance I get. He started Harvest Bible Chapel in September of 1988 and has since added five more campuses, one of which just happens to be their Southern campus right here in Chattanooga. The church came to our city in September of 2011. According to their website,, the mission of the church started with the people’s “vision for proclaiming the authority of the Word of God without apology, for lifting high the name of Jesus through worship, for believing firmly in powerful prayer, and for sharing Jesus with boldness.”

So, we decided to visit to see if in fact the vision was being carried out. As we drove up, we encountered two greeters at the entrance.


Friendly, friendly, friendly…I don’t think there was one person who didn’t welcome us, speak to us, or smile at us as we entered Harvest Bible Chapel. We immediately made our way back to check Zoey, our 3 year old granddaughter into Children’s Church. We loved the sign-in process – computerized and quick. A ticket printed out – part of which was placed on her back and the other part which was given to me to be able to pick her up afterwards. She took to the teacher immediately and had no qualms with us leaving her with people she’d never met before (which is unusual because normally she shies away at least a little bit at first).

Our 3 year old grandbaby, Zoey

Our 3 year old grandbaby, Zoey

We found seats near the back of the gymnasium-converted-worship-center. Worship focused on the glory of God and it seemed everyone was fully engaged, worshipping in whatever manner that seemed fitting to them. Most stood, some raised their hands, others had heads bowed. Music was led by a standard worship band most will find in contemporary worship settings.


Pastor Mike DuBard spoke about Kingdom Opposition from Matthew 12:15-21.

Pastor Mike & Family

Pastor Mike & Family

The main question he answered was “why” Jesus was so greatly opposed. He explained that Jesus was an unlikely Messiah during His generation because He was described as a servant. The Jews were expecting a physical political king to deliver them from the Romans.

Four main points were presented:

1. Jesus was focused on the mission of God.

The book of Matthew focuses on the differences between the Pharisees and Jesus. Some questions for us to think about are:

  • What is it that distracts us from our mission?
  • Has the mission of making disciples, showing God’s glory to the world, etc become secondary?
  • How do we view money?
  • How do we view marriage? Jobs? Family? Relationships?

We were created for HIS glory.

2. An unlikely servant is called by God.…embraced by faith (Eph 1:5)…embraced by sharing with others (I Peter 2:9)
3. An unlikely servant is cherished by God (I Peter 2:4)

4. An unlikely servant is empowered by God to…

  • Proclaim the message of the Gospel
  • Encourage the weak
  • Endure to the end
  • Bring hope to the world

The morning ended with communion. Before the bread and cup were passed, the Pastor explained salvation and invited people to come to Christ by placing their faith in His death, burial, and resurrection. He explained taking communion without knowing Christ would place a person at risk of judgment according to I Corinthians 11.

This Do

As we ended the Lord’s Supper with the praise song “Beautiful Savior,” I couldn’t help but look around me and see young and old from all walks of life thankful and free as we all were reminded just how beautiful our Savior really is. He saved us from hell and eternal separation from Him. He saved us for His glory so we could pass from death unto life.

Upon leaving the gym to go pick up Zoey, the pickup process was a bit different. Parents and/or guardians are not allowed into the children’s room once they’ve dropped the kids off. You must present your child’s name along with the sticker and someone will go get your child for you. It’s obvious Harvest Bible Chapel is working hard to create a safe environment for our children.

We would definitely consider another visit to this church as they teach the word in proper context and are focused on helping you plug in to serve God. Currently they have ministries which focus on small groups, students, children, and worship. Are you going to miss a Sunday? No worries, log onto their website to either watch or listen to the sermon. You can also check out the pastor’s blog site here:

Currently Harvest Bible Chapel meets every Sunday morning at 10:30am at the David Brainerd Gym off Igou Gap Rd. They will be moving on August 4, 2013 to East Brainerd Elementary. Their phone number is (423) 763-7095 and their website is

Brainerd Baptist Church – June 9, 2013

My husband and I had visited Brainerd Baptist once in 2012 and really enjoyed the service, so we decided to visit again to see if it was consistent with our first experience.

Brainerd Baptist offers three different worship venues. The traditional sanctuary, which has 2 services at 8:30am and 11:15am and is for the more business attired worshiper, features both traditional and blended worship styles with a choir, orchestra, and/or a praise team.


The second venue, also meeting at 8:30am and 11:15am, with its more casual to dressy worshiper meets in the BX Gym. It’s a large venue, but relaxed and contemporary. Worship is led by a band featuring contemporary worship songs, some of which are composed by the band members themselves.

BX Gym

The third venue, known as The Crossing, is a smaller, intimate setting which meets at 11:15am. You will find worshipers who enjoy a louder worship band and who dress casual – although the dressy person won’t feel out of place.

The Crossing

While each venue worships in song independent of each other, everyone is joined together via live streaming as Pastor Robby delivers his message for the morning.

On this particular Sunday morning, we chose the BX Gym venue. We were greeted at the door and then again by a volunteer who offered a friendly and enthusiastic introduction to the drink station and told us to enjoy the service. We made our way into the gym and purposely chose a seat along the back wall. I happen to enjoy sitting at the back because it provides me an all-inclusive view of what’s happening. Since I happen to be a very visual worshiper, I find sitting on the outskirts only adds to my experience. I LOVE music, but I’m not the kind to close my eyes, sway, and get lost in the notes and tones. While all that is definitely part of it, I tend to gain a much richer experience when I can watch the guitar players strumming their riffs, and the drummer banging away on his bass, and the vocalist lifting holy hands, mouth wide open, tears streaming down as she/he worships our Lord. I’m not a typical handraiser, but I do enjoy seeing a crowd of people with hands lifted high when appropriate. And if you’ve been to a typical Baptist church in the South, you know, most of them don’t raise their hands! Ha! THIS church did have a few that felt comfortable to do so – and I found that refreshing.

Did I feel the Holy Spirit move in the worship service that morning? Actually, yes. And I must admit I was surprised as I am not one to base my experience on Holy Ghostbumps running up and down my arms and neck. Frankly, a lot of churches are dead in their worship – just going through the motions and words – and no wonder the Holy Spirit doesn’t move among us when we do that. So, I was encouraged to feel His presence among this group of believers. The songs weren’t ushy gushy (which I appreciated) – instead they were anthems of praise, lifting up our Holy God – it was all about Him and not about us – which is the way it should be.

After the worship and offering, Pastor Robby streamed in and began the next installment in his series, Tainted where he is teaching through the book of Malachi.

Tainted Series

His sermon entitled, “The Cost of Change” focused on Malachi chapter 3 challenging us to consider our pocketbooks as they directly reflect the status of our hearts. I know a lot of people complain that churches preach about money, but Pastor Robby wasn’t making a plea for money, he was teaching the Bible for what the Bible says which is don’t rob God – it’s not our money anyway – it’s all His and we are just stewards of it. We were also challenged to take the test God asked Him too (being very careful NOT to test God in areas He never asked us to), give back to Him and see the windows of Heaven opened to us.

My favorite part of the sermon for this morning was an illustration he used from Schindler’s List. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. One day we will all stand before God and give account for our lives. We don’t want to stand there saying, “I wish I would have (you fill in the blank).” In the movie, Liam Neeson plays Oskar Schlindler, a greedy German businessman in Poland during World War II who sees an opportunity to make his fortune by exploiting cheap Jewish labor. But as time passes and he witnesses the Holocaust against the Jews, his motives change and he begins to do what is necessary to save as many Jews as he can from the gas chambers. In part of the final scenes, as more than 1,000 Jews are gathered around him, he bemoans the fact that he could have done more – he says he could have sold his car – it’s just a car – it could have bought 10 Jews’ freedom…he could have sold his gold lapel pin – it could have saved 1 or 2 more lives.

Schlindler’s List

The morning ended with a worship song entitled Promise Keeper. It was written by one of the band members, Andrew Perry. Wow! This song reminds us that even in our failures and the darkness, God’s name will still be great and that He has chosen us for His glory. He is faithful, never changing, and righteous – He is the Promise Keeper. I felt like I was sitting under a modern day Psalmist and was so thankful that this church obviously embraces the talents and gifts of their people.

My husband and I both left Brainerd Baptist that morning energized and challenged to consider where we spend our money. What are we doing to help “the least of these?” What are we doing to sow into our local church community so others can hear the gospel? After all, that is what it’s really all about.

If you enjoy expository teaching, you can find a place at Brainerd Baptist. If you’re looking for a place where your talents and gifts will be celebrated, there is a place for you. Whether you enjoy traditional hymns, contemporary worship songs, or a more upbeat environment and whether you still enjoy wearing your Sunday best or wearing flip flips and shorts – there is a place for you.

Visit for more information.