A Simple Thank You

We have all heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”  This statement carries a lot of truth behind it, however words carry a significant weight as well. Consider these thoughts:

1)     Words spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1).

2)     Words enable someone to become a Christian (Romans 10:17).

3)     Words help a Christian to move forward when they sin (James 5:16).

4)     Words help to correct us when we do wrong (Matthew 18:15-17).

5)     Words encourage those who are weak (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

There are several points that we could make about the power words have.  What are some other ways in which words affect the life of a Christian? We have the ability to bring a moment of happiness to those around us by the words we say. Let us strive to use words that are pure, encouraging, truthful, and humble.  By this people will know how much you care about them.  

Several people have left a significant impact on my life by the things that they have said, especially in those moments when I have needed encouragement.  Also, in the mountaintop high moments of my life, people have always been there to congratulate me. There are no words that I could use to express how thankful I am to those who have encouraged or congratulated me in my life so far. I want to say thank you to everyone who recently wished me a happy birthday and to all those who supported me during my time in preaching school. Here are just a few of the many I am thankful for:

Members of Bearwallow Road church of Christ.

Members of Lehman Avenue church of Christ.

Members of Corinth church of Christ.

Members of Lenoir City church of Christ.

Members of Washington Avenue church of Christ.

Members of Willow Avenue church of Christ.

Members of Tompkinsville church of Christ

Mike and Brenda Brown

There are so many others that I could list in my simple note of thanks list, but it would take too long. If you are reading this, ask yourself this question, “Who has helped me to get to where I am today?”  When you develop your list, let them know how thankful you are for them.  You will not only feel good, but more importantly you will be a shining light to the one you are thankful for.

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What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

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It was January 2016 and I was in a new environment pursuing a degree in something that I never thought I would be doing.  My decision to pursue this degree had been made back in April of 2015.  The degree that I was (and still am) pursuing was (is) a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies.  I was attending the Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies and one of the things that became a part of our daily school routine was chapel.  During this first week of classes, the instructors at the school were the chapel speakers and one of the speakers that week was a man named Justin Morton.  I later learned that he was the Youth and Family Minister for the Karns church of Christ.  His chapel talk had to do with our New Year’s Resolution.  He focused on how we make a New Year’s Resolution every year and how we often times do not follow through with our personal challenge.  Then he gave us a challenge that I am so thankful for to this day.

The challenge that was laid before us soon to be preachers for the Lord’s church involved a two part New Year’s Resolution.  Justin made that point that instead of making just one New Year’s Resolution, make two.  The first included your physical resolution which might involve loosing weight, etc.  The second one (which was meant to be the most important) was a spiritual resolution.  This resolution included challenges such as: reading your Bible and meditating on what you read on a daily basis, developing a deeper prayer life, setting a goal for a certain number of quality Bible studies, etc.  When I heard these two resolutions, I must confess to you that I had never made a spiritual resolution.  I had always focused on a self-centered resolution that had nothing to do with my Heavenly Father.

Now I am happy to say that I make two New Year’s Resolutions every year.  My theme for my two New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 is “Forward through Forgiveness.”  On a physical level, this means that I am forgiving myself of the wrong things (and there are many) that I have done this past year that I am not proud of, and I am moving forward to become the best servant for the Lord’s Kingdom that I can most possibly be. My spiritual resolution is I am going to strive to become a more forgiving person to those who have and will do wrong, whether it be towards me or someone else.  I am going to accomplish the challenge of learning forgiveness on a deeper level by praying and studying God’s Word, focusing on all the passages that reference or teach the concept of forgiveness.  By doing so, I know that when I stand before my Heavenly Father on judgement day, he will judge me in a forgiving way as opposed to the alternative (Example: Parable of the Unforgiving Servant- Matthew 18:21-35).  So this is my New Direction for 2018.  My question to you is, “What are your New Year’s Resolutions going to be for 2018?”

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Time Is Filled With Swift Transition

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Image taken from here on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.

In the year 1904, Jennie Wilson and F.L. Eiland wrote and composed a song titled, “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand”.  The first verse of the song starts out with the title of this blog post and it continues with the lyrics, “Naught of earth unmoved can stand–Build your hope on things eternal, hold to God’s unchanging hand.”  The writers of this song had a deep purpose for why they wrote it in this way.  They wanted to convey dthe idea of stability that can exist in this vapor of life when one (in a figurative sense) holds to God’s unchanging hand.  No matter what situation or stage in life we might find ourselves in, if we live for the Lord and commit ourselves to His cause, we are holding to His hand (by faith), and we are able to experience the stability He promises to us.

I recently experienced a major and swift transition in my life.  As many of you know who have been following my endeavors via the means of social media, I have been pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies from the Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies (SEIBS) since January 2016.  Due to various circumstances and the Lord’s divine providence, I am now very proud to say that I am attending the Nashville School of Preaching and Biblical Studies.  This decision was not made lightly or on a whim.  It was done through intense meditation, shedding of tears, and prayer.  When I made the transfer official, I immediately had a surge of doubt creep into my mind.  Thoughts developed such as: Did I make the right decision? What are people going to think once they hear the news?  Did I do it for the right reason?  Well I am happy to report that as of Tuesday, December 5, 2017, I can now answer (with a very strong and positive) yes.  You may be wondering, why are you so happy now?  I’ll get to that later.

When we experience sudden change in this life and it involves the transferring (whether school or job) the natural human response to those not involved in the situation is to make assumptions.  Consider the principle that Jesus lays out in Matthew 18:15-17 where He makes this challenging statement, “Go and tell him (your brother, brother in the spiritual sense) his fault, between you and him alone.”  I submit to you in this post that we as New Testament Christians can take the principle of “you and him alone” in any situation.  When we or someone we know makes a transition in life, let us be careful to not speculate (gossip) and turn our assumption into fact.  Rather, let us go to that person and hear from them directly their reason for the sudden change in their life.

The reason I transferred preaching schools comes from a concept that was introduced to me by one of my former teachers, Steve Higginbotham (preachinghelp.org). In his Preacher and His Work Class, Steve made a statement that involved the process all preachers must endure and that is finding a congregation to preach for.  His statement was: When looking for a job, ask yourself if you will be more effective in the new area.  When I asked myself if I would be more effective by transferring, there was no question that I would be.

As of today, it has been almost two months since I officially transferred.  The hardest part of the transfer process has been the friends that I left behind at SEIBS.  While attending SEIBS, I made friends that will last through eternity and several of them are currently attending.  My hope and prayer for everyone at SEIBS is that they continue to grow closer to each other, continue to develop a deeper love for Jesus, and develop a deeper love for those who are lost in this world. The good memories that I made from SEIBS are going to stick with me for the rest of my life. I’m thankful for the school because it laid the Biblical foundation that I have needed to become a more effective preacher for the Lord’s kingdom.

You may remember earlier in this blog post that I said I am very happy now.  The reason for my happiness is I have been able to reach out to people in need and see the Lord work in my life during this swift transition.  I am so thankful for the Lord’s unchanging hand because we all are going to have people in this life change, and they will fail you in your hour of need.  While the typical human nature response is to get angry or lash out, the New Testament Christian response should be one of love and understanding (to which I have had to learn).  We do not need to place our faith into the hands of a person.  Rather, our faith needs to be placed in the hands of Jesus who will always be there for us.  My encouragement to those who read this is to hold to God’s unchanging hand and you will truly see Him work in your life here on this earth.

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It Came Without Warning

The title of this article is a phrase that has been used by journalist for the last several years.  A good example of this was seen in the year 2012 when an early morning tornado outbreak occurred in Alabama on January 23. Diane Sawyer, who was the anchor for ABC World News, claimed that the residents of Alabama had no warning of the tornadoes. However, local chief meteorologist James Spann with ABC WBMA quickly defended his station for being on the air non-stop during the outbreak. (Click here for the full story)

Like the story above, the exact same thing can be said of a preacher or a preaching student who is striving to do the Lord’s Will.  When we have plans or an unexpected situation comes up, we might be tempted to say, “that came without warning.” On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, I had the honor of teaching Bible class at the Central church of Christ in Harriman, TN.  My plans after church were to go home and get caught up on school work that needed to get done.  However, the Lord had another plan for me.  As I was teaching Bible class, a 20 year old male walked in about 30 minutes late and apologized for his tardiness.  The members and I welcomed him in and I told him what book we were studying from.  After services, I noticed that none of the members of the congregation were talking to the visitor so I approached him and sat down with him and stated, “My name is Tyler, what is yours?”  He told me that his name was Dalton and from that moment on I listened to his story.  He quickly informed me that he was wanting to study to become a Christian and we did so. Two hours later, I had the distinct honor of baptizing him into Christ for the remission of his sins (photo below). So much for getting school work done haha.

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Baptism of Dalton Tinch at the Rockwood church of Christ

Later that evening as I continued to get to know him, he told me about his current living situation and how he needed some help around his “grandparents” home.  I agreed to come down and help him clean up after school that Friday.  When I arrived at his home on Friday, I was utterly shocked at what I saw.  A few members from the Central church of Christ had joined me in the clean up effort and were shocked by the conditions of the home.  By our actions, that following Sunday, Dalton’s brother (James) and cousin (Shane), after much study, were added to the body of Christ through baptism (pictures below).

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Baptism of James Tinch at the Central church of Christ.

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Baptism of Shane Phillips at the Central church of Christ.

As word began to spread throughout their family regarding their new found commitment to the cause of Christ, more family members came expressing their interest in learning more about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That following Tuesday at the Central church of Christ, we had a dinner and a Bible study with the remaining members of the family and after 2-3 hours of study, seven more precious souls were added to the Lord’s church.  In a span of 6 days, 10 people were saved from their sins.  One might say, how does this happen?  This is unheard of!  Well, I am reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 19:26 where He proclaimed, “With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  God through me allowed me to have the opportunity to reach out to 10 people who had hit rock bottom and were in search for hope.  Well, I’m honored to say that they have that hope now.  Sure some of them might fall away, but I ask that you will help me in praying for these new brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Baptism of Lisa Livingston at the Central church of Christ.

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Baptism of Crystal Wells at the Central church of Christ.

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Baptism of Michael Osborne at the Central church of Christ.

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Baptism of Amanda Hicks at the Central church of Christ.

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Baptism of Anthony Derr at the Central church of Christ.

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Baptism of Jackie Spears at the Central church of Christ.

Not Pictured: Dorothy Spears who was baptized at the Central church of Christ.

Back Row: (L-R)- Shane Phillips, Dalton Tinch, James Tinch, Tyler Binkley    Front Row: (L-R)- Lisa Livingston, Crystal Wells, Curtis Bible (member of the Central church of Christ).

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Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

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The above lyrics are from a song titled, “Slow Fade” which is sung by the group Casting Crowns.  While I am not the biggest fan of contemporary Christian music, I can appreciate the meaning behind these words.  When my sister and I were children, our parents or guardians did all that they could to shield us from the visual temptations of this world.  My parents for example monitored what was on the television and always encouraged us to watch is considered holy and acceptable before the Father.  The developed this sense of striving for holiness from Hebrews 12:14. Some people reading this might say, “Man, you missed out on a lot.’  However, I would say quite the opposite.

By my parents monitoring what my sister and I watched on T.V., I could develop a more well-rounded sense of what is right to watch on T.V. and what is wrong.  The same thing can be said of the family computer.  We live in a time when technology is so prevalent. It is able to accomplish tasks that used to take a greater amount of time.  However, with this expediency, there comes a great temptation.  For those who are reading this, you know what I am talking about.  Pornography is a great temptation in our world today. In fact, research shows that when a person views pornography, it affects them mentally and emotionally.  When one thinks they are safe by viewing this to satisfy sexual temptations, let me tell you that Satan has you fooled.  By viewing pornography on a regular basis, one develops a very skewed view of what a natural relationship looks like.  Over time, a person can develop serious health issues and can develop depression and anxiety.  My question to you is this.  Is it really worth the risk?  If you or someone you know is struggling with pornography, check out this website: www.fightthenewdrug.org.  There you will learn about the harmful effects of pornography and can start your road to recover.  There is hope.  Try to start your healing journey today and do not delay.

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I Am Not A Fan

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Western Kentucky University Football Stadium. Picture can be found here.

Let me set the record straight from the start.  I am a huge Hilltoppers fan.  When I attended Western Kentucky University, I quickly developed a love for football.  The atmosphere and excitement of the fans coming together for a common purpose is exciting, and hearing the roar of the crowd when a play is made is indescribable.  Seeing people come together and not trying to tear each other down is refreshing.  Imagine if the Facebook world was like the football stadium that you see above.  From the onset, we would have to have a much larger stadium since Facebook currently has over 1 billion users.

Imagine, like the WKU Hilltopper fans, if all of the Facebook users came together for one common purpose and that purpose was to share the gospel?  There would be no fighting or disagreements, but rather we would take the time to get to know people and demonstrate through social media that we care about them.  However, what I frequently see and what I am not a fan of is how members of the Lord’s church conduct themselves on social media. Instead of getting to know people and demonstrating a spirit of love and care, I see a spirit of hate and arrogance.  This spirit does not line up with what Paul says in Ephesians 4:29 where he says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (NKJV).  While it is our duty to stand up for the faith, we must do it in a spirit of love.  Join me in speaking wholesome words on all social media outlets, and encourage those who are of the world to become a fan of New Testament Christians.

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What is my Identity?

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Recent movements in our culture have generated new discussion about how we as human beings identify ourselves.  People are being told that having their gender identity forced upon them is unnatural, and they should have the ability to choose their identity.  There was a story back in July of this year on theBlaze.com’s website (click here) and the headline of the article informed the reader that the mother of a child in Canada is wanting her daughter registered as gender unknown.  The mother’s philosophy is she wants the child to choose their gender as they grow up.  The question one must ask is, “Why not stick to the natural gender the child is born with?”

In the United States, there is an identity crisis taking place and who would have ever thought that we would have to discuss the idea of choosing our gender identity?  As New Testament Christians, what does our response need to be?  How might we reach out to these people who are truly in an identity crisis?  My first suggestion to you is we need to take time to get to know these people.  We need to take time to listen to their story and find out why they have an identity crisis.  By taking the time to get to know them, we demonstrate to them that we care for them both physically and spiritually.  Isn’t that what Jesus did in John 4?  Before He told her who He was, He demonstrated through talking with her that He cared for her and her eternal salvation.  If we follow this same model, we will begin to have a similar effect on those around us.

My second suggestion is once we demonstrate to people who have an identity crisis that we care for them, we need to show them that by becoming a New Testament Christian, their identity is in Christ.  Consider what Paul said in Colossians 3:3, “For you died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God.” By giving people this hope, they will be able to begin a proper healing process.

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