Friday, June 27, 2014

"My Journey So Far..."

"My Journey So Far..."
     This blog page has been largely reserved to share the gospel and to give hope to those who are in need of Christ. However, I want to take a moment to encourage others, especially pastors to take control of their lives physically. After moving to northern Tennessee almost 5 years ago I tipped the scales at 290 pound wearing a size 46 pant. After a year and a half of pastoring, facing trials of various sorts, and alot of stress I felt as though my life was spinning out of control. I went to the doctor for a check up where he said I was borderline diabetic, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. I needed to DO something.
     That is when I began walking. The journey started out by being unable to walk a half a mile. However, I kept pressing forward and being as consistent as I knew how. I did this for several months and signed up for my first 5K. By this time I had worked my way up from walking to jogging and losing a few pounds. After completing my first 5K life happened and I quit for a few months. But, I quickly realized I needed this discipline for my life. So, I began to research and study more about running and set a goal to run a 'half marathon.' It was then I started running more consistently in order to finish my first 'half marathon.'
     This past October ('13) I did finish my first 'half marathon' in 2:31:50. Not real good, but I did finish in the cold rainy weather of TN. After completing the 'half' I hurt so, so, bad and everywhere. I had cramps and felt terrible all day long. I knew I had not trained properly for this event. I mean 13.1 miles is a long way! So, I spent some time considering what to do now. Of course, after I healed up. I thought I wanted a new challenge. Maybe a marathon?  Maybe triathlon? But, I knew one thing. I didn't know what I was doing.
     That is when I decided I wanted to find someone to help me in training and weight loss. I stilled weighed around 260 pounds when I contacted Chris Borden. Chris Borden is a dentist in Haleyville, AL, but is also an endurance athlete who helps coach others. You can read his blog here: http://twobordens.blogspot.com/ . His wife and I went to the same high school together in the 90's (shhh...don't tell anyone that I'm that old!). He came recommended to me from an ex-boss of mine who had just completed his first Ironman (140.6 miles), which Chris helped in his training. So, I began the journey with Chris to become a better runner and lose more weight. Since joining his team I have lost 55 pounds in about 6 months and I have become a more proficient runner. I finished my second 'half marathon' in Tuscaloosa, AL in March with a time of 2:02:12 and I didn't hurt like I did after my first 'half.' That was a great blessing from training properly.
     So, after few months of run training I ended up buying a used bike to do some cross training. This helped give my legs a break from all the pounding. After riding for a little while I  thought I would compete in a triathlon (swim, ride, run). And so, I signed up for my first sprint triathlon called 'Storm the Fort' in Kingston, TN.

Me, Chris, and Dylan prior to race
 Thanks to this guy in the last 6 months I've went from a 11:00/mile to 7:40/ mile today in my very first triathlon. Not to mention I've dropped 60 lbs. since December too. He's been an awesome coach answering all my silly questions, from equipment to nutrition. Not only does he answer my questions, but he works as hard in his own training, as he crushed 'Storm the Fort' half IronMan finishing 1st place overall. He helped me out during my pity party Thursday before the race, when I told him I wasn't comfortable swimming 600 yds. He told me I might not need to do the race (reverse psychology, I think?), lest I drown. Since running my first half marathon I desired to try and complete a triathlon and he has helped me to do that very thing. By the Lord's grace I finished today without drowning! Although I didn't earn any hardware (medals), I finished 8th in my age division and with an overall time of 1:31:23 (600 yrd. swim, 13 mile bike, 4 mile run). Who knows I might try an Ironman one day? I am grateful most of all to Samantha Smith Beck and the Beck boys for cheering me on along the way. It was a great Father's Day weekend!        

Me and the Beck boys



My precious wife who supports me so well.


YES! The finish line of "Storm the Fort"














I understand most people will never have a desire to run 'half marathons' or do a triathlon, but if I could encourage just one person to get out and be active it would be worth it all. The benefits of my physical activity has been incomprehensible. Here are a few things I have personally benefited from by being active:

1. For starters, it has caused me to be more discipline in my time. I always said, "I didn't have time for exercise. I am a pastor and people needed me. However, I realized how much time I wasted on trivial things. Someone asked me, "how much time do you spend on exercising?" I said, "less time than most people spend watching television in a day." However, I have to spend my time wisely and be focused on what I am doing. So, exercising has become one of my priorities in my life and has helped me immensely in my time management. I encourage you find 30 minutes a day just to get out and walk. Make it a priority. Just like my quiet time in daily reading of Scripture, or the time we set apart to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, set your time for exercising, as well.
2. I have been able to incorporate my family in a healthy lifestyle. When I ride my bike for 20-30 miles I will stop by the house afterwards and they will do a cool down ride with me. We don't go fast, but we are able to talk and enjoy our time together. When I go to swim they go with me. My boys love to swim, just not like I do! So, we enjoy the ride there and back. When I run sometimes they are able to go with me for a mile or two or catch me on my cool down walk. My wife has even began walking along with me. I encourage you to get out and go for a walk with your children or your wife in the evening.
3. I have benefited in losing 85 pounds since I began this journey 3 and a half years ago. Needless to say I am no longer borderline "anything." I feel better than I can every remember. Plus I have more energy than ever before as well. Exercising and nutrition is the key to a healthier lifestyle. My family and I are have been blessed to use a all-natural botanical superfood which we receive all the nutrition we need and don't get in our processed food. It is call "moringa." For more information click here: http://drinklifein.com/moringa
4. I have learned as well that is alright to set goals and to work toward them.
Here are few goals I am tossing around in my head now. I will do 2-3 more triathlons this season. My next race will be Clarksville, TN on August 23rd. Next May 2015, I want to do the "Half-IronMan" in Panama City, FL, where I will swim 1.2 miles, ride 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles. My long, long, long term goal is to do a full "IronMan" (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile, 26.2 run).
5. The last, but not least and most important benefit is I am closer to the Lord today than I was 3 and a half years ago. As I am exercising, I often meditate on the passage of Scripture I will preach the coming Lord's Day. Or I will pray for my people who the Lord brings to my mind. Sometimes I will stop and talk to neighbors around our community as I am running. I am also taking care of the temple in which he has entrusted to me. I want to prolong my days and to be used for God's glory wether its preaching the gospel, visiting shut-ins, or doing triathlons. I have more energy than before enabling me to do the work I have been called to and to do it with great joy!

     I pray this blog I "threw" together would be a blessing to God's people, especially for pastors who have busy schedules and find time to take care of themselves. May the Lord receive the glory that is due Him!
Let me know what you think?
 —

"The Faithfulness of Elijah"

Today's chronological Bible reading is taken from 1 Kings 17-19 (click link to read).

There are many events in these chapters one could focus on. However, the Lord has drawn my attention to the overarching theme of Elijah's faithfulness. Elijah served as a prophet of God to heal and speak on behalf of God. God used Elijah to heal and give hope to the "widow of Zarephath." God used Elijah not only heal her son, but to bring her to faith in God.But, Elijah was used to heal and speak for God, but also to confront false prophets of the day. He not only confronts King Ahab, but challenges the peoples false worship of Baal. Elijah calls out their false worship by challenging the false prophets of Baal and defeating them. Elijah's was a "man's man." He drew his strength from the Lord to stand in the midst of a wicked generation.

But, like most men of God there comes time where they become weary in well doing. Elijah not only was used to heal and confront false prophets, but there was tremendous resistance against him. While he is serving the Lord by healing the dead, and confronting idol worship, Jezebel is ready to kill him. Elijah has been faithful and now his life is on the line. How can this be? Elijah says to the Lord, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” Elijah is saying how can this be? I have been faithful and now my life is being sought after. And the Lord tells Elijah, "yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” In other words, Elijah, you are not alone!

Have you ever felt like Elijah? You have served the Lord faithfully, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, ministering to the poor, and standing for truth, but you are being attacked by everyone. Be of good cheer. You are not alone. For the child of God to serve the Lord there comes the blessings of trials, tribulation, and persecutions. Yes, I said the blessings. Listen to what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." You are blessed when you suffer for Christ. Unlike Elijah you may not be persecuted for your faith by being fearful for you life, but you co-worker may want to speak with you because you shared the gospel or family member ignore you because of your love for Christ.

As I close I want to direct your attention to the lovingkindness of God to Elijah. He gave him a helper in the midst of his struggles. His name, Elisha. The Lord is gracious in given us other brother and sisters to come along side of us in midst of our struggles. But, greater than brothers and sisters, He has given us Himself (Gal.2:20). He has given us the Holy Spirit, which resides in every true believer. The Spirit enables us to persevere, to pray, to worship, and believe by faith in the Son of God who never leaves us, nor forsakes us. The Spirit gives us the ability to be faithful in the times of great struggles and persecution.

So, today what is your great struggle? How will you over come it? By the arm of the flesh or by the Spirit that lives inside of you as a believer? May I encourage you and myself to remain faithful to the Lord walking in the Spirit and not the flesh. 1 John 4:4, "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Dear Saviour, I Am Thine"

I have been mediating this afternoon on my union in Christ. I found this little hymn and I thought it was worthy to share. Take time and read it a couple of times. Meditate and think about your union in Christ. It is glorious!

"Dear Saviour, I am Thine,
By everlasting bands,
My name, my heart, I would resign;
My soul is in Thy hands.

To Thee I still would cleave
With ever-growing zeal;
If millions tempt me Christ to leave,
They never shall prevail.

His Spirit shall unite
My soul to Him, my Head;
Shall form to His image bright,
And teach His path to tread.

Death may my soul divide
From this abode of clay;
But love shall keep me near Thy side
Through all the gloomy way.
Since Christ and we are one,
Why should we doubt or fear?
If He in heaven hath fix'd His throne,
He'll fix members there."    (Phillip Doddridge; "Dear Saviour, I Am Thine").

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Fiery Trials? Don't Be Surprised!"






"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:12-19).
Yesterday while out making visits to our shut-ins I was involved in a 2 car accident. By God's grace no one was seriously injured. After I was removed from my vehicle the lady of the other vehicle became outraged. She wanted to know who was going to repair her car. Needless to say, I was not too concern about our vehicles, but more concern for her 4 year old who was visibly upset from the accident. I was able to tell her everything would be o.k. before the officers had me to sit down.
As I sit here this a.m mediating on the past 9 months of my life and the different situations I have encountered both spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially I am reminded of the great promise God has given to His people from 1st Peter. Although, I will never understand many of the situations my family and I have been through or are going through I know that the infallible Word of "God is true and never changes" (Mal 3:6).
Therefore, why should I be surprised at my situation? All these things God has sovereignly ordained in my life to test, try, and purify my faith in Him. I am grateful to still be alive after yesterday's accident. I am thankful for God's hand of protection upon the other car, especially the little girl and her mother. I know cars can be replaced and repaired, but to see that little girl so upset was very disturbing. However, I am unsure what God is trying to teach me, right now. I am confident He is working, guiding, and preparing me for the work He has called me to.
As I reflect on the last 9 months of radical changes in the Beck household and now this... I am grateful for this time of year, as it causes me to turn my attention off of ME and to seek Him! The time of year where "dead things" come "alive." The time of year God's creation screams out the gospel to His creatures. I am grateful God chose to reveal His gospel to me through the foolishness of preaching of the death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-4) of Christ. Although things may look grim and I do not fully understand the purposes of them, I know Christ took the Father's full weight of wrath to fulfill God's Holy demands for ME. My sins have been "forgiven in Christ (Eph 4:32), I am free in Christ (Jhn 8:36), I have liberty in Christ (Gal 5:1), and I am joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17)." But, not only did Christ die, but "he was buried" (1 Cor.15:3) "carrying my sins far away, as far as the east is to the west, remembering them no more" (Ps 103:12). Yet, the grave could not contain him (Acts 2:24), Christ arose on the third day defeating death, hell, and the grave. Thus, Christ was "raised for MY justification" (Rom 4:24). Thus, causing me to repent and believe upon Christ is a glorious truth. It is what Matthew Henry calls "the gospel truth," that "ALL men everywhere should repent and believe" (Acts 17:30).
Have you repented? Have you turned to God in Christ by faith? If not you are under His wrath (Jhn 3:36) and your life is miserable and have no hope without Him. I urge you to seek Him, while He may be found (Isa.55:6). 
In conclusion, I am reminded, "life is tough, but God is good!" Being found in Christ, I have the greatest gift of all... That is the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:23). My prayer is not that God would remove the difficulties from our family's lives, but that through them our family would be conformed more into the "image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29)", which He predestined us for. And that I not would find my identity in being a pastor, husband, father, or even in a car, but my identity would be found in Christ and Him alone. And that other believers who are going through trials, sufferings, persecutions in their lives today for the sake of following Christ, would by faith look to the lamb of God who was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8), for their great hope and promise. And as believers we can encourage and exhort one another unto good works (Heb 10:24), for the glory of God!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Guest Post by Pastor James Bell: "READ the Revelation"

A guest blog post by Pastor James Bell. Pastor James has served SouthSide Baptist Church in Gallatin, TN for 38 years. 


REVELATION 1-22: THE UNVEILING OF JESUS CHRIST!

Through the aged Apostle John, exiled and imprisoned, the Holy Spirit gave The REVELATION! The Revelation is above all else the UNVEILING OF JESUS as He is today! And in this grand unveiling of JESUS, we are also given much to HEED and much to OBEY! MOREOVER, in the Revelation we are clearly shown that no matter how bad the storms get on planet earth— JESUS IS STILL THE GREAT CAPTAIN of the good ‘ship’ earth! The risen, ascended, ruling from heaven King of Kings and LORD OF Lords will accomplish all of the Great Triune God’s good purposes!

REVIVAL: WE CANNOT BE SERIOUS ABOUT GENUINE REVIVAL UNLESS WE BECOME SERIOUS ABOUT READING, HEARING, AND OBEYING that which is found in the last book of the Bible! MOREOVER, we are kidding ourselves in thinking that we can STAND FIRM and at PEACE in the midst of the storms present and/or the coming storms IF WE ARE NOT DEEPLY GROUNDED in the Grand Unveiling of Jesus AS HE IS TODAY! We must get serious about the instructions He gives to His saints in The Revelation!

Please do not slander the Holy Spirit by claiming that 'The Unveiling of Jesus' is HARD to understand and SCARY! The truth is that the primary messages of The Revelation are exceedingly PLAIN to see; and the primary truth of the book is MOST COMFORTING! The first recipients of The Revelation were TRIBULATION saints! God used John, a saint in great tribulation and persecution, to pen The Revelation! (Revelation 1:9) Historically, the Revelation has been and is a great source of comfort to persecuted saints. And since, “all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’— then, if I am living godly I am an especially good candidate for great blessings from The Revelation!

The Revelation IS scary to satan, demons, and all other haters of God! Doubtless, Satan does not want saints to enter into the profound comfort and instruction that God has in The Unveiling of Jesus!

Remember that The Revelation was written to persecuted Christians who neededsome encouragement, who needed to know that JESUS and not Rome was in command, who needed commendations, commands, and corrections. PLACE YOURSELF IN THE MIND-SET of one of those FIRST CHRISTIANS to receive The Revelation. Family members and other fellow saints were MISSING. They were not AWOL. No, they had been fed to the lions… or maybe banished like the Apostle John to slave labor on the isle of Patmos. Rome was MIGHTY. The saints were becoming fearful. Some were wondering if they were but fools. Some were already tolerating sin and apostasy. But at just the right moment, ALMIGHTY GOD INVADED the isle of Patmos by the Holy Spirit and moved John’s pen!
And when The Revelation was completed, somehow, God got the letter to the churches. Can’t you just imagine, the persecuted saints at Ephesus, meeting in secret… and a ‘runner’ comes in… they are startled and wonder, “Is he a spy?”No, he proves his credentials… He has just left the aged pastor and Apostle John and reports, “I have in my hand a scroll that God has given to John to give to the churches!” Amazed and excited, they listened as the entire Unveiling of JESUS was read! 

[You have NEVER read The Revelation as it should be read UNLESS you have read it STRAIGHT THROUGH IN ONE SITTING… and WITH THE MIND-SET of those who first heard it read!]

I promise you, that by the time the last ‘AMEN’ of the Revelation was read by the ‘runner’ from John— Well, words cannot capture the joy, the excitement, the hope, the repenting, THE REVIVAL that took place!  

URGENT PLEA: Let us so prayerfully READ, so seek to HEAR and so commit to OBEY the things written in The Revelation— that WE TOO WILL ENTER INTO A NEW DAY OF JOY, EXCITEMENT, HOPE, REPENTING… in other words— GOD SENT REVIVAL! 


THE UNVEILING OF JESUS CHRIST!

The Revelation is the glorious unveiling of Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Lamb of God. The Revelation 'unveils' what Jesus Christ is doing at this present time; what He will be doing in days ahead and the reality of His ultimate intentions.

READ THE REVELATION LOOKING FOR THE SOVEREIGN LAMB OF GOD!
1. Revelation, chapters 1-3 — The Sovereign Lamb is in Heaven working through His BLOOD BOUGHT REDEEMED on earth.

2. Revelation, chapters 4-19 — The Sovereign Lamb is in Heaven ruling and over ruling people and events on earth— KINGS AND KINGDOMS, PRESIDENTS, DICTATORS, and even events of this present hour. JESUS is MOVING THEM ALL toward that great and glorious day when He, the Lord Jesus Christ, will come back to this earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! In the midst of all these events THE REDEEMED, [Be they Church saints and/or tribulation saints], EXPERIENCE THE WRATH OF MEN AND SATAN, BUT NEVER THE WRATH OF GOD.
3. Revelation, chapters 20-22— THE SOVEREIGN LAMB IS ETERNALLY enthroned and His holy Bride will be with Him in the New Earth and the New Heavens.NEVER FORGET IT: THE SUPREME, ULTIMATE GOAL OF ALL HISTORY IS A REDEEMED BRIDE FOR JESUS, COMPRISED OF THOSE REDEEMED BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB FROM ALL ERAS OF TIME.

READ THE REVELATION LOOKING FOR THOSE REDEEMED BY CHRIST!

1. Revelation, chapters 1-20— Those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, GOD’S ELECT, Those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ— ALL through the Book of Revelation, those redeemed by the blood of the LAMB are seen on earth, moving through struggles and tribulations and martyrdom; and they are seen IN HEAVEN.

WHILE ON EARTH THE REDEEMED ARE the subject of man’s HATRED AND WRATH and Satan’s hatred and wrath. THEY ARE OFTEN PRESENT WHEN GOD POURS OUT SOME EXPRESSION OF HIS WRATH— AS WAS NOAH; AS WAS ISRAEL ON THE NIGHT OF PASSOVER; AS WAS LOT. BUT ALTHOUGH AFFECTED, THEY ARE PROTECTED AND NEVER THE SUBJECTS OF GOD'S WRATH.

2. Revelation, chapters 21-22— ULTIMATELY, OUR LORD’S REDEEMED ON EARTH become the Church completely triumphant in Heaven, the Bride adorned for Her Heavenly Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Revelation has ESPECIALLY been given to encourage the true SAINTS OF GOD IN CHRIST who have always BEEN and WHO ALWAYS will be persecuted. Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33The Revelation could well be called Jesus’ commentary on John 16:33! The early Christians were being killed by the thousands.

And the Revelation came to them with a very powerful message: The Lamb is the Lion! He is supreme! He is sovereign and He is sufficient.

So it is no surprise that the Revelation is a book filled with praise songs exalting the Conquering Christ! Every line in the Revelation and every song in the Revelation encourages the Redeemed and reminds Christians of every age that God will have the last say! No matter what seems to be happening in the world—JESUS is supreme! He is sovereign and He is sufficient. MOREOVER, the Revelation is a reminder that joy is not the absence of suffering but the presence of God and confidence in God IN THE MIDST OF THE MOST TRYING OF CIRCUMSTANCES.

AGAIN, THE CHRISTIANS WHO FIRST READ THE REVELATION WERE BEING MARTYRED BY THE THOUSANDS. Certainly, they were a part of the New Testament Church. In the future, there may or may not be, but certainly there was no ESCAPE FROM TRIBULATION 'RAPTURE' FOR THEM OR FOR PERESECUTED SAINTS FOR THE LAST 2000 YEARS!

Instead, for 2000 years the Revelation SHOUTS, "BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH; AND I WILL GIVE THEE THE CROWN OF LIFE;" AND LO0K AT THE GLORY THAT’S COMING! The Revelation gives needed re-assurance that Jesus is SUPREME, SOVERIGN AND SUFFICIENT. HERE IN 2014, couldn’t we use some of that same reassurance?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Open Invitation to "A Study on Church Polity."

You are cordially invited to this year's annual doctrinal teaching hosted by Pleasant Hill Baptist church. Each year PHBC offers a time of teaching from pastors on different topics. This year's  topic is concerning "Church Polity." This event is free and open to all.

When: Saturday, March 16th beginning at 9:45 a.m.
Where: Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
            3049 Pleasant Hill Church Road
            Orlinda, TN 37141
             (615)654-3335


The speakers this year will be:
Pastor Steve Hussung (Rich Pond Baptist, Bowling Green, KY):
 "Elders and History: Biblical and Church"

Pastor James Bell (Southside Baptist, Gallatin, TN):
"Elders and Deacons: Serving Together"

Pastor Brett Beasley (Second Baptist, W. Frankfort, IL)
"Elders and Congregationalism"

**There will be Q&A session after each speaker.
**Lunch will be provided by PHBC.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Godly Sorrow vs. Worldly Sorrow"

A paper contrasting the difference between biblical repentance and the false teaching of penance.
Click the link below to read.

"Godly Sorrow vs. Worldly Sorrow"

Let me know your thoughts. Agree or disagree?