Where is God when Tragedy Strikes?


I came across this blog post a few weeks ago at newspring.cc it’s very fitting I feel for the present. 

When tragedy, sickness, hardship or death strike it is to easy wonder, where is God? Perhaps you have asked that question when faced with a heartbreaking loss. How could God let this happen to me?

The truth: God is always in control, and He loves you (John 16:27). This remains true despite what the circumstances may be.

The Bible does not make circumstantial promises; God’s word is always true. He knew everything that could or would happen to you before time began.

God has assured us that He will work all things to our good (Romans 8:28), and nothing can change that truth. Every opportunity, joy, and success we experience as well as painful losses and failures are a part of His plan. God’s work is in progress in our daily lives.

In Psalm 23 David praises God and extols His nurturing care in the midst of trials:  “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 )

Even when we are in deep shadows, God is there, not as an observer, but as a protective Shepherd, close at hand! His care extends to every part of our lives at this very moment (Ephesians 1:4-6). When we cry out He knows our pain, when we sing He knows our joy and when we lean hard He is always there for us. God is your refuge and His everlasting arms are always there to support and hold you (Deuteronomy 33:27).

4 Things to Keep in Mind During Crisis

1. God is in control.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” (Acts 17:24-26).

2. God knows our problems and pain.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

3. No matter what happens, God will help us through.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9)

4. God dwells within His people, therefore we are never abandoned or alone.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” (Galatians 4:6).

Our position as children of God does not grant immunity from the pain, problems and the difficulties of life. Jesus told His disciples that they would experience troubles but through Him they could also have peace (John 16:33). We can be assured that nothing can happen to us apart from the permissive will of our gracious Father (Romans 9:39). These promises give us peace in the midst of turmoil, hope instead of despair, confidence rather than doubt, assurance in the place of fear.

Parents-Your Teenager needs the Student Ministry!


Blog post from: Greg Stier (a fellow parent of a teenager and Founder of Dare 2 Share)

Dear Parents of Teenagers,

Thanks for all you do to invest in the life of your teenager(s). You probably feel like an uber driver (ready to pick them up/drop them off when they call), coach (helping them perfect their sport), tutor (working with them on homework), guidance counsellor (preparing them for the future) and, sometimes, a jockey (pushing them to cross the finish line…without a whip of course!)…all wrapped up in one!

That’s why, with all the insane busyness of parenting a teen, it’s easy to let youth group attendance slide off the grid. It’s tempting to think, “My kid’s just too busy for a night of hanging out with other teenagers, playing some goofy games and hearing another Bible lesson.”

Believe me when I say, I understand the temptation. As a parent of a teenager (who has tons of homework, plays football and is not yet old enough to drive) my wife and I are constantly under pressure to measure every event through the lenses of what matters most. And we have decided that youth group attendance must be a priority. Although we view ourselves as the primary spiritual influence of our kids, we also believe that a strong youth ministry plays a vital role in his overall spiritual development.

With this as a backdrop here are 5 short, yet powerful, reasons you should encourage (make?) your teenager(s) go to youth group:

1.  Teenagers need models and mentors.

“O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come. “  Psalm 71:17,18

In the Jewish culture it wasn’t just parents that poured into the younger folks. Older men poured into younger men and older women poured into younger women (Titus 2:1-8.)

Of course you as a parent are called to be the primary spiriutal mentor of your own teenager but he/she also needs other godly adults! It’s important for your son or daughter to see that this whole “Christianity thing” is more than just mom’s and dad’s belief system. They need to have models and mentors that reinforce all of the spiritual truth they are learning from you.

2.  Teenagers need community.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:24,25

In an age of bullying, gossip, slander and hatefulness (which can destroy a teenager’s self-identity), young people need other young people who can lift them up, encourage them and challenge them in all the right ways.

Youth group is also a place where teenagers can discover their spiritual gifting and begin to use it to serve others. This will help them have a heart to selflessly serve others for the rest of their lives!

3.  Teenagers need mission.

When Jesus challenged his most-likely teenaged disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations”, he was tapping into the activist wiring of these young men. In the same way your teenager needs challenged with the mission to reach their peers with the good news of Jesus in a loving and contagious way.

Youth group is a place where your teenager can invite their unbelieving friends to hear the gospel. But it’s also a place where they can be equipped to share the good news of Jesus with their own peers (which will help them grow in their faith!) As your youth leader continues to build a Gospel Advancing ministry the message of Jesus will advance in them and through them. This process will accelerate the disicpleship process in the life of your teen in ways you could never imagine!

4.  Teenagers need theology.

“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”  Ephesians 4:14,15

Youth group is a place where teenagers can wrestle through the theology you’ve been teaching them (you’ve been teaching them right?) and have it reinforced in a powerful and personal way under the guidance of a youth leader who knows how to ask great questions and point teens to sound truth.

This should result in your teenagers knowing and owning their faith on a deeper level. Youth groups and small groups should be a place where teenagers can ask tough questions and even share doubts and struggles with their beliefs without fear of rebuke. Skilled youth leaders can take questioning teens back to God’s Word as the source of authority and help them process through all of the Biblical truth you are praying they grasp, believe and live out.

Great youth groups build on the foundation that godly moms and dads have laid. And, for those teenagers who don’t have believing parents, an effective youth ministry helps lay a solid foundation of Biblical truth for the rest of a teenager’s life.

5.  Teenagers need a safe place to confess and confide.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16

Often teenagers who struggle with sin and temptation have nowhere to confess and confide. They feel trapped by their sins. But a healthy youth ministry can create a safe space for teenagers to open up and talk honestly about their struggles. Of course this doesn’t mean they should confess every sin to everyone. But it does mean that they should have a handful of others who know their struggles and can pray for and encourage them to walk in victory over those sins.

When my son came back from a youth retreat last year he had this opportunity. He opened up with a handful of others about some of his struggles and then he came back and opened up to me. After he confessed his struggles he told me that he felt a thousand pound weight had dropped off his back.

Here’s the thing, my son and I have a very strong and very open relationship. But there was something about his band of brother friends, under the leadership of a caring adult in a youth retreat type setting, that gave him the freedom to confess and confide.

Skilled youth leaders know how to create a context of open and honest dialogue. Teenagers who push their struggles down and never open up often struggle later on in life with addictive and destructive behavior. An effective youth ministry can help teenagers deal with these challenges now and prepare them to be victorious both now and later.

Yes, I know that teen life is busy. But it would be a shame if our teenagers graduated from high school and were catapulted into “the real world” without every opportunity to know, live, share and own their faith.

At the end of the day, our teenagers embracing and embodying the Christian faith is more important than sports and more important than academics. Getting them involved in a healthy, vibrant youth ministry is worth fitting into a crazy, busy schedule. And if it’s not quite as healthy as you think it should be then why don’t you volunteer and make it better?

There’s too much at stake for us to get this wrong. So let’s get it right!

To Reach a Generation,

Greg Stier (a fellow parent of a teenager and Founder of Dare 2 Share)

I Love Student Ministry!


I’ll begin with this: Change is a good thing! Don’t believe me? Well, let me explain…

It has already been four years since I stepped out of the world of full time student ministry into the role of being a Campus Pastor for Rock Bridge.  I have loved nothing more than pastoring such a great community of people in the great city of Ringgold! This weekend at Rock Bridge Ringgold was simply amazing! We baptized 6 people and had four max capacity services! 14117698_10100538362310076_6715710985475329513_n So don’t worry, that’s not where the change comes into play. I promise I’m not going anywhere.. I LOVE ROCK BRIDGE COMMUNITY CHURCH and I’m FIRED UP for what God is about to do here!

Jump ahead a year and a half  and the church was blessed with hiring an amazing part-time student pastor. Unfortunately, it was just a short two weeks into his hire that we were all hit with the tragic death of his young wife. Though we tried to continue, eventually we felt it would be best for him to step down in search of a full time job outside the church. 

This left a hole to fill and I decided that it was more important to take on extra work rather than leave such a vital role empty. I did not imagine being able to do both campus and student pastoring, but, like always, God made it work. It was then that I realized just how much I had missed student ministry. 

So, let’s fast forward to today… 

This morning we announced that Rock Bridge Ringgold has hired a full time Associate Campus Pastor and his name is…(drum roll please)…Andrew Plisko!!!

I’m so fired up about this, Andrew who has been serving as a Elder at Rock Bridge Ringgold for the past two years will be starting middle of September!   

I will still be the Campus Pastor at Rock Bridge Ringgold, just shifting the majority of my focus to the generational side of the ministry with Student/college ministry being my main focus while also giving more support to Casie, our children’s director. Andrew will focus on Outreach (HOPE), small groups, benevolence and adult ministry. We will share counseling and pastoral care.

As all of these changes have been happening, I’ve been writing down some things that I really love and missed about Student Ministry. I’m more than stoked to get back into the swing of things within full time student ministry and here’s a top 10 list explaining why:

 10. Middle school energy.   I love MIDDLE SCHOOLERS!  

10 1/2. High School energy. I Love HIGH SCHOOLERS!

9.  Random hanging out.  From students dropping by the office, to meals, ball games. I love being around our students!

8.  Students loving on my kids. I love watching students love on our kids and my kids LOVE these students!

7.  Trips.  I seriously look forward to baseball games, roller coasters, Camps, Retreats, DNOW’s… Even Lock-in if we still did them! 

6.  Passion.  I love watching students worship God.  (And in my opinion, I think we have one of the best Student Ministry Worship Bands around)

5.  Having the opportunity to share the gospel week in and week out. It’s such an awesome privilege and responsibility! I love to preach and this allows me that opportunity to do that weekly! 

4.  Transformation in the lives of teenagers. It never gets old.  Story after story of God’s work in teenage hearts is amazing! Not just during Middle and High School but years later seeing former students lives changed never gets old! 

3.  Being able to help mold the adult that these students will be in a few short years. 

2. The awkward conversations, late nights, and dealing with parents…ALL OF IT! I LOVE IT ALL! 

1.  Just being part of the Student Ministry TEAM! In my opinion Rock Bridge Student Ministry has one of the most amazing teams ever! Beth, Kelly, Sydney, Tim, Kent, Zach… I Look forward to jumping in head first and doing ministry with this team!

So, If you are, have or know a 6th-12th grader get them to The Link on Sunday Nights at Rock Bridge Ringgold (120 Remco Shops Lane) for The Link. 5:30-8:00! 

Here are some pictures from The Link tonight! 14089325_10208613961659689_4158350892096608158_n14095754_700983830049632_4958877736840226441_n



Pastors… You’ve been called out!


Blog by Pastor Rick Warren:

As pastors, we tend to like to focus on “spiritual” things. But God is the Creator of our physical bodies, and it’s in our physical bodies that we live our spiritual lives out before others. Pastors have a tendency to let our physical health go unchecked, and we have plenty of excuses such as our busy schedules, our calendar being heavy with meal-centered meetings, and our need to be behind a desk a lot to feed people spiritually.

For every excuse we can come up with to ignore our physical health, there are other pressing reasons to consider it.

  • Our longevity in ministry can be cut short by poor health.
  • Our sharpness of mind is affected by what we eat and our activity level.
  • We challenge others to live healthy lives, so we should set the example.
  • Our physical energy level rises to the demands of ministry if we’re in shape.
  • Our bodies are temples too, created by the Master Craftsmen placed under our stewardship.

The Bible is full of health rules and guidelines. I want to remind leaders of just six principles from God’s word about building a healthy body. When you feel bad physically it affects everything else. Shakespeare said it’s hard to be a philosopher with a toothache. I’d say it’s hard to be spiritually alert when you’re physically dull, when you’re tired, fatigued, out of shape.

1. Maintain Your Ideal Weight

Scientists know that you have an ideal weight based on your bone structure and your height. 1 Thessalonians 4:4 says, “Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” I realize there are many medical and glandular reasons for overweight and weight problems, but the fact is for many of us, we simply eat too much. You cannot eat everything you want to eat and still maintain your weight. Ecclesiastes 6:7 says, “All the labor of man is for the mouth and yet the appetite is never filled.”

2. Balance Your Diet

You need to focus on controlling both the quality and the quantity of what you eat. Do you eat a balanced diet? A hamburger in both hands? I was on a seafood diet — If I see it, I get to eat it. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 says, “Everything is permissible for me but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will eventually destroy them both.” The point that Paul’s making is that eating is not an end in itself. We eat to live we don’t live to eat. It’s a means not an end in itself. And if we get those reversed, food becomes our master.

3. Commit Yourself to a Regular Exercise Program

Most of us are convinced but not committed. You know that exercise would be good for you, but committing to it seems hard. 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “Physical exercise has some value.” In Paul’s day, people were very active. If Paul wrote that verse today, he’d probably change it to say that it has great value. In the New Testament times, people walked everywhere, engaged in a lot more manual labor, and ate natural foods. Today, we drive everywhere, live sedentary lives, and eat processed junk foods.

How do you know when you’re out of shape?

  • You know you’re out of shape when you feel like the morning after and you didn’t go anywhere the night before.
  • You know your body’s in trouble when your knees buckle and your belt won’t.
  • You know you’re in trouble when you see your friends running and you hope they twist an ankle.
  • You know you’re in trouble when you breathe harder walking up a set of stairs than you do when you hold your sweetheart’s hand.

The key is training not straining. If you want to get in shape fast, exercise longer, not harder. Commit yourself to a regular exercise program. The fact is, your body was not designed for inactivity. You were made to be active. Even a daily walk will make a difference.

4. Get Enough Sleep and Rest

Psalm 127:2 says, “In vain you rise up early and stay up late.” The Living Bible says, “God wants His loved ones to get their rest.” Rest is so important that God put it in the Ten Commandments. He said every seventh day, you should rest. Jesus, in Mark 6:30-32, insisted that His disciples take a vacation. Make sure you’re budgeting your time wisely. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep.

5. Reduce or Avoid Drinking Alcohol

Ephesians 5:18 says, “Don’t get drunk with wine, which will ruin you. Instead be filled with the Spirit.” Health conscious consumers are sobering up America. There’s been a dramatic change in America’s drinking habits. A growing number of Americans are beginning to view alcohol as unhealthy or downright dangerous. It’s not surprising industry-wide sales are dropping. These are not religious people. These are just people who are concerned about their health. And for some surprising statistics about alcohol, see this infographic.

6. Live in Harmony with God

Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace is life to the body.” Our emotions have a tremendous effect on our physical health just like our physical health has a tremendous effect on our emotions. You cannot fill your life with guilt and worry and bitterness and anger and fear and expect to be in optimum health. A heart at peace gives life to the body. If you feel bad, it affects every area of your life. It’s a part of stewardship. Your body is a gift from God. What are you going to do with it?

Fruit of Self-Control

This past week we wrapped up a 9 week sermon series at Rock Bridge Community Church called “9 On The Vine” We have been taking a look at the 9 fruit of the spirit that is produced within those who are connected to the Vine.  This last message in the series was on the Fruit of “Self Control”

It’s was a great message that really spoke to me and is applicable to not only where I’m at in my journey to get healthy but to every aspect of my life.

Question: • What is something in your life that is hard to resist?

For me, as we have read over the last two months it’s food! I’ve asked myself this question…Does God really care about our weight? No, God does not care what you weigh. The Bible says that man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart. God loves you just as much at a size 40 as at a size 32.or ladies at size 28 or 4. However, Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are called to glorify God in body and spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). In John 15:8, Jesus tells us how we glorify God: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

So you see, the real issue is not about size or how much you weigh, but stewardship. My prayer is that God will continue to teach me/us how to become a good steward of our bodies and remove the hindrances that keep you from bearing fruit.

As I learned to build my health through following Godly wisdom in my eating behavior and through disciplining my body with regular exercise, my weight is taking care of itself!

The fruit of self-control, is when God, through His grace and Holy Spirit, produces this quality of self-control in our lives, we will find ourselves doing much better in most any area or areas where we lack self-control. Self-control is not something we can just decide to start having. It’s going to take grace coupled with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to achieve lasting victory.

Watch The message here:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/176743945″>2016.07.28 – 9 On The Vine – Part 9</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/rockbridge”>Rock Bridge Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Getting healthy starts TODAY!

Are you like I was… incapable of making it through a regular day without feeling like you need a two hour nap? Just living life feeling lethargic?

I knew that I need to change. I just felt overwhelmed thinking about things such as where do I start? First thing you’ve got to do is simply make the choice to start getting healthy.Simple as it is… That’s the first step!  Read blogs, seek advice, watch youtube videos, figure out what works for you. For me it was my eating habits that I knew had to change!

So the million dollar question is “how do I start” 

Here is some advice.

  1. Make Attainable goals.

This is where it begins, in your mind. When you come to the realization that you are fat, sick and unhealthy, your bad health is a sin and you are tired of living the way you are, you will see the urgency of making healthy changes in your life. 

I encourage you to actually write them down and post them where not only you but others can see them. (Online, on a post-it note) Transparency is not easy but it’s helpful!

My goals:

Goal #1. Get below 300 pounds. Check! (Current weight – 298.8)

Goals #2. Gain muscle and slim down at the same time

Goal #3. Hit 250 pounds

Goal #4. Run a 5K without stopping.

Goal #5 (Ultimate goal). Lose 100 Pounds

Listen, don’t sit down and write out some crazy goals that are not attainable. Set reasonable goals. These goals should help you ultimately reach your final goal!

Putting things into perspective: Get a paper tape measure like this.31Z4RT95QZL

Rip it off at your age and at the age you think you will die.

Then put it somewhere you can see it. Mine is on the counter in the kitchen as a reminder that this is the amount of time I have left… It really motivated me to get my butt in shape!


I know it seems simple, but you’ve got to get up and start to even begin reaching your desired goals. Don’t put it off “till Monday,” you will find that Mondays will come and go and you are caught in the black hole know as  “waiting for the right Monday to start”. Putting it off just puts you in worst health than you already are. Go join the gym, take a walk, start drinking water, right now! TODAY!

3. Ask for accountability.

You have to make your health goals known to others! No set amount of people to ask, just make sure they are not enablers.

These folks will hold you accountable in what you are eating, if you are working out, etc…

4. Don’t get frustrated when you don’t see results right away.

Don’t get frustrated even if the scales don’t show the success you are looking for right away. Just by making healthy choices you are on the right track. 

The trick is to focus on making the healthy choice in any given moment, rather than looking at all the things you must do in the long term. If you simply focus on making your body healthier then weight loss will happen. It’s a direct by product of making healthy choices!

5. Don’t take the “Fat free” bait.

Stop buying foods that are marketed as “healthy,” “fat free,” etc… 

Chances are, they are not. If it says “all natural”, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy either. You should spend time educating yourself about what makes a food healthy or not so you can spot the rampant lies in food advertising and packaging.

6. DRINK WATER! b530bf0c9dcf7d5812d5391f0c8d9d52

Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your health, but it is under appreciated.

  • Drink a minimum of eight cups of water every day.
  • Green tea is great!
  • Don’t add cream or sugar to your tea and coffee. (Yikes. I’m actually sitting here with a cup of coffee with creamer in it… Transparency ;)
  • Stop drinking soda.
  • Stop drinking Sweet Tea (Sweet Southern Champaign)

7. Don’t just do cardio, add weight lifting.

Weight lifting has improved my flexibility and made the aches and pains in my back, neck, and shoulders subside. I spent most of my life believing that cardio was the key to a lean, healthy body and that lifting would only make me appear bulky. It’s just not true. You burn more calories and sweat a heck of a lot more lifting than you will on the treadmill.

8. Establishing a sleep schedule and sticking to it. (This one is difficult for me. Still working on it)

9. Know the power of your thoughts and words. 

I was called out by a friend, Roger. He said this

“ JC, Stop referring to yourself as fat-boy. How about “Fit Boy!” Speak it into existence. When I was 275.6 lbs I realized I had to look into the mirror and see the 222 lbs I wanted for myself. Remember you become what you speak about yourself. Love you Brother !!! I believe in you and your journey.”

10. Know that there is hope!

You can start exactly where you are today. JUST DO IT!

Click to watch—>  e24456cf58ef4bb185b48a572329b900

If you’re where I was at, living life feeling stressed and anxious about weight and maybe even giving up trying to get healthy. My hope is that I can encourage you on my journey and give you some hope because it is possible to overcome and win this battle with weight.

I heard this once… “Information plus consistent application equals transformation”. That applies to health and fitness as well. Knowing what you need to do and applying that knowledge by eating right and exercising on a consistent basis means that you will see a transformation in your weight for the better. If I can do it, I promise you can too!

Praying for you today.

Please email me at JC@rockbridge.cc if you are in need of some accountability or help getting started!

The “Sinners Prayer” is it Biblical?


I grew up in a church culture that many got saved twice a year every year for 14 years. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard things such as “If you are 99% sure you are 100% lost” and “If you leave here tonight and have a car wreck would your soul burn forever?”

I understood at a young age that some were just trying to scare the hell out of the hearers.

My youth group growing up. I loved it. Honestly I did. Some of the most amazing people who are doing incredible things in life now were in that youth group. There were leaders who to this day I love and respect so much. They really did care about us. But, spiritually the youth group was the normal baptist youth group.

We would meet for youth groups, sing a song, listen to the youth pastor preach and then no matter what was preached we would end with a 20 min altar call. Tears, empty promises/commitments and hugs then go right back to life as normal.

Confession time..There were times we would just go to the altar so we could get the service over with so we could go play volleyball. We knew once someone went to the altar our youth pastors identity/goal had been met and we would end soon.

Interesting note: I had two youth pastors growing up. One owns a bar in Florida, the other is in prison for life for first degree murder.  I think about them often and my heart breaks. 

As I’ve gotten older I feel God has freed me from the legalistic background that teaches my salvation is based on a prayer. It’s SO MUCH MORE THAN A ONE TIME PRAYER!

The question I’ve asked is this,”Is the sinner’s prayer biblical?” Well, I just finished reading this book…


And found this blog with the editor at The Gospel Coalition  Here is some insight into helping you answer that question.

Should we stop asking Jesus into our hearts?

J. D. Greear says “yes,” if we think that continually asking Jesus into our hearts is the way we make sure we’re saved. He has written a short and accessible book called Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved. If you’ve ever counseled people who are constantly questioning the sincerity of their faith or the legitimacy of their salvation, you’ll want to read and recommend this book. It’s one of the best books on assurance I’ve come across.

J.D. is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh, NC and the author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. He joins me today for a discussion about the central thesis of his book.

Trevin Wax: There’s been a lot of conversation about the legitimacy of the sinner’s prayer in how we lead people to put their faith in Christ. What concerns do you have about this conversation and its implications in evangelism and outreach?

J. D. Greear: 
A lot of the controversy concerning the sinner’s prayer began following some comments by David Platt, who was reported to say the sinner’s prayer was superstitious and unbiblical. I would not agree with that statement on the surface of it, as a sinner’s prayer is very biblical. But what David meant, I believe, was that for many evangelicals, securing salvation has become something like a Protestant ritual or sacrament, which if you do correctly punches your ticket for heaven. It functions something like a “Southern Baptist Confirmation.” I agree that this is not a biblical view of true conversion.

God never promises to give salvation to someone because they pray some magical words or because they went through a ceremony at the altar of their church. God gives salvation to those who repent and believe the gospel. It is natural to express repentance and faith in a prayer, but you can repent and believe without “praying the prayer,” per se, and you can pray the prayer without repenting and believing.

It’s not the prayer that saves; it’s the repentance and faith behind the prayer that lays hold of salvation. My concern is that over-emphasizing the prayer has often (though unintentionally) obscured the primary instruments for laying hold of salvation: repentance and faith.

I did not write this book to engage in that controversy, however – the subject and title were chosen long before the controversy sprang up. I wrote this book to help people find assurance – to tell people like me who ask Jesus into their hearts over and over they can stop doing that and start resting in the promises of the gospel. I wrote this book because there are a lot of people who can’t seem to find assurance no matter how many times they pray the prayer, and others who have a false assurance based on the fact that they went through a ritual with their pastor. I wrote the book to bring comfort to the unnecessarily troubled, and to trouble the unjustifiably comforted.

Trevin Wax: You tell people to “stop asking Jesus into their hearts” and yet almost weekly you lead people in a sinner’s prayer. How do you reconcile this? Are you referring to the moment of salvation or to life after conversion?

J. D. Greear: I certainly do not want to discourage people from pressing for a decision when the gospel is preached. Each time the gospel is preached, that invitation ought to be extended and a decision should be called for (John 1:12; Matthew 11:28; Revelation 22:17). In fact, if we do not urge the hearer to respond personally to God’s offer in Christ, we have not fully preached the gospel.

It makes sense to express these things in a prayer, as repentance and faith in Christ are in themselves a cry to God for salvation. I am not trying to say that the sinner’s prayer is wrong in itself. After all, salvation is essentially a cry for mercy to God: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Paul says that those who call on God’s name will be saved.

I’m not even against the language of asking Jesus into your heart, because – if understood correctly – this is a biblical concept (cf. Rom 8:9-11; Gal 2:20; Eph 3:17).

The point is that these prayers merely verbalize the posture of repentance and faith. That is what must be clear.

Trevin Wax: Why is it that we seem to have “assurance issues” in evangelical churches? On the one hand, there are lots of people who never wonder about their salvation, although they probably should. On the other hand, there are lots of people who wonder about their salvation, although they probably shouldn’t. Why is this? 

J. D. Greear: Yes, that’s a perfect summation of the problem. I think it’s exacerbated by the clichéd, truncated, and often sloppy ways we present the gospel. On this issue, the most important issue on earth, we have to be absolutely clear.

Shorthand phrases for the gospel can serve a good purpose, as long as everyone knows what the shorthand means. It is obvious, however, that in the case of the sinner’s prayer, most people don’t anymore. Surveys show that more than 50% of people in the U.S. have prayed a sinner’s prayer and think they’re going to heaven because of it, even though there is no detectable difference in their lifestyles from those outside of the church.

Thus, since so many people are assured of a salvation they give no evidence of possessing on the basis of a prayer ritual they didn’t understand, I believe it is time to put the shorthand aside, or at least make sure we go to great pains to clarify what we mean by the shorthand. We need to preach salvation by repentance before God and faith in the finished work of Christ. At the very least, when inviting people to pray the prayer, as I often do, we need to be careful to explain exactly what we mean.

Trevin Wax: You claim that evangelicals have sometimes been so focused on the moment of salvation that we downplay the posture of repentance and faith that should be always characteristic of a Christian’s life. Do you think there’s the possibility we will swing the pendulum to the other side, downplaying the moment of salvation and dampening our evangelistic fervor?

J. D. Greear: Certainly, and you can see it happen in many circles which are otherwise scrupulous about doctrinal correctness.

Again, I’ll say that if you do not make the gospel’s invitation clear when you preach the gospel, you haven’t really preached the gospel. The gospel in its very essence demands a response. And if you don’t press for a decision when you preach the gospel, you have violated the spirit of the gospel, I believe. The gospel is an invitation. How can you preach it without urging your hearer’s to accept the invitation?

Thus, as I noted above, I try to press for a decision every time I preach the gospel. The greatest evangelists in history (even the Reformed ones, like Whitefield, Spurgeon and Bunyan) pressed urgently for immediate decisions and even urged hearers to pray a prayer along with them.

In the book I compare the moment of conversion to sitting down in a chair. If you are seated right now, there was a point in time in which you transferred the weight of your body from your legs to the chair. You may not even remember making that decision, but the fact you are seated now proves that you did. That should not diminish the fact that people who are standing should be pressed to decide to sit down (if the situation demanded it). The point is that the resulting posture matters, not the moment of decision.

The world is divided into two categories: some are “standing” in rebellion against the lordship of Jesus, standing in hopes of their own righteousness to merit favor with God; others are “seated” in submission, resting on his finished work. How does pointing that out diminish the call for those standing to be seated? It certainly shouldn’t.

In fact, if we stop stressing about getting the initial moment absolutely perfect, we can be freed up to evangelize without the fear of messing up the “magic moment.” Don’t get me wrong: there is a moment when a person goes from not believing to believing, and this is a crucial moment. But by placing so much weight on the experience of that moment, we can be tempted to manipulate people into having emotional responses that are insincere.

You see, when we see faith as only a prayer, we don’t take the need for discipleship seriously. In our haste to boast about the numbers of people who prayed the prayer and got baptized, we fail to consider the number that really matters – the number of disciples we create. Disciples of Jesus are the ones who are saved; not those who go through a ritual. I’m not against reporting numbers, but we should make sure we are celebrating the right ones!

Trevin Wax: What circumstances brought about the writing of this book? What do you hope it will accomplish?

J. D. Greear: A large motivation behind this book was the need I felt from many in my church who consistently ask questions about being certain of their salvation. And this is not some foreign concept to me personally: I was once one of those people constantly unsure of my own salvation. I prayed the sinner’s prayer hundreds of times. Every time there was an altar call, I was down front. I even got baptized on four separate occasions. Honestly, it got more than a little embarrassing for everyone involved. (“Does anyone besides J.D. want to get saved today?”)

Because we have reduced conversion to a ceremonial prayer, many Christians are obsessed over whether they did it right:

  • “Was I really sorry enough?”
  • “Was that prayer a moment of total surrender?”
  • “Did I understand enough about grace?”

Like I did, many of those people secretly pray the prayer again and again. They feel better for a little while, but then the questions come back. Rinse and repeat.

The good news is that God wants us to know. Many people think that God does not want us to have assurance of salvation, as if uncertainty is a kind of carrot that he holds out in front of us to keep us acting right. Desire for heaven or fear of hell may compel some kinds of obedience, but not the kind of obedience God wants. God wants obedience that grows from love, and love can only grow in security (1 John 4:19; 5:13).

That assurance we long for comes from properly understanding the gospel. When we get that right, assurance will soon follow.

My motivation and addiction (part #1)


I am eating better, losing weight, and getting my energy, and ultimately my life back!

What was my wake up call you might ask? When it hit me that my weight was causing me to miss out on fully living life with my family, that gave me that push to really change the way I’ve been living.

That is the motivation to get healthy I so desperately needed. I’ve never wanted to be “that dad” who stands (or sits) on the sidelines and yells directions at his kids. I want to SHOW them and participate in their life/activities WITH them… Not just be a spectator!

I went for my yearly physical that I had been putting off for some time… A few days later the blood work came back and my levels for my liver (can’t remember the name) were high. So, he sent me to get a ultra-sound of my liver as I was in the beginning stages of “fatty Liver”. As I’m laying on the table getting a ultrasound  I said out-loud.  “JC you are in your early 30’s you should not be laying here with a fatty liver. You’ve done this to yourself. Get up and do something about this” So. I’m doing something about it!

Week two has begun!

*This is what my motivations looks like*13051655_604877380514_8914467201118506372_n


My Addiction:

31-1176x445I have a confession to make. I have been addicted to sugar for years. Seriously it’s been my drug for a long time.

There are many articles documenting the effects of sugar. In some ways, it’s more addicting than cocaine. And I understand that from personal experience.

So, I’m avoiding, not cutting out completely, just avoiding sugar.

(Just to clarify, I still eating honey, fruit, even carrots and tomatoes, I am not avoiding all that just the bad sugar)sugar-addiction-perpetual-cycle

With the help of my incredible wife who is a phenomenal cook we are doing less processed and more homemade foods!

So in our efforts to try and avoid bad sugars, we are staying away from processed foods. Not just for me, but my whole family! You just can’t beat homemade food. And have I mentioned how good my wife can cook!?!?!

Here is my current “diet”

When I say “diet”, I don’t mean a weight loss plan. I simply mean what I’m eating now.


I don’t do well with dieting. Like most people, I may lose weight, but when I stop the diet, I gain the pounds back because I go back to my old eating habits. (ie sweets and treats.) Also, I am not using any of the weight loss product that are out on the market because honestly I don’t have $150 a month for the rest of my life to “maintain health.” I’m using God’s natural way of weight loss, CLEAN FOOD*

My goal is to get healthy and lose some weight.
Goal 1. Get under 300 pounds (9 more pounds to go until I hit this one)
Goal 2. Hit 250 Pounds
Goal 3. Lose 100 Pounds (weight in a 221)
Goal 4. Run a 5K without stopping to walk.

Honestly the biggest change I’m making is eating healthier.

I’m not counting calories or completely restricting full food groups. I’m eating more vegetables, fruits and lean meats.

I’m eating breakfast. I use to always skip breakfast. But, I’ve realized that’s the most important meal of the day!

The biggest change for my healthier eating plan is that I’m avoiding sweets and processed foods. It can be done. I went to fight night the other night at Buffalo Wild Wings. I had 6 Grilled chicken strips and a salad with 34 glasses of water.

Oh yeah.. DRINK LOTS OF WATER! water

Friends, you have no idea how huge this is for me. I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone a week without eating sweets and processed foods!

Yes, I know that to many of you, I sound incredibly pathetic. But if you’ve suffered from a sweet tooth for years like me, you understand how difficult this can be!

I’m not there yet, far from it.. I’m still overweight, exhausted, and struggling. But I see a light now. And it’s getting brighter each day.

My Bible app verse of today fits well with this journey:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Are you struggling too?

Please leave a comment or shoot me an email – JC@rockbridge.cc
So I can encourage you and pray for you!

We can do this together!

What is your motivation? Let me know!
Follow on Twitter, Instgram @JCGroves

Physical Health is a Spiritual Matter. (Week 1 update)


Week one!

It really wasn’t that bad after Tuesday. The first few days I had a constant headache from the lack of sugar. But, Wednesday on it’s not been bad at all! It has been totally worth it so far, I feel healthier already. Already down 12.9 pounds!

Few things I’ve been thinking about as I start this journey that I want to encourage you who are joining me to get healthy as well as those who are just following along.  

#1 Don’t depriving yourself of Food.

Losing weight is not about removing foods groups or eating as little as possible. However, for some reason many of us have turned to these methods when trying to drop the pounds. Don’t deprive yourself! There is no need to. You can eat the foods you love and still lose weight – I am! You may have to switch some things up and and for sure reduce your portions but you never have to completely give up a food! 

Said all that to say.. Don’t think you can go hog wild on chips, chocolate, soda and Ice cream and expect the results. Sorry, You will need to become intentional with your food. This basically means you need to think before you eat. But this is a good thing trust me.

13612295_608511822064_8708838745003213785_n#2 STOP saying and talking yourself into the lie called  “I’ll start Monday” 

The “I am going to start my diet on Monday so I will eat whatever I want this weekend” binge. Just don’t do it. When you are really ready to change your life you will start no matter what day it is.


# 3 You think you are eating healthy but you really aren’t

When I started to track my food I was totally shocked with the amount of calories I was eating. The first day I clocked in over 5000 calories. I could not believe it.

Honestly I thought I was eating healthy. I did not eat fast food or drink soda or anything of the sort. But I was eating too much and a lot of processed junk. These two together, plus my lack of exercise, were the reasons I am over 300 pounds!

#4 Eat Lean and Clean! 

It wasn’t until I started eating clean foods and my amazing phenomenal cook of a wife cooking clean meals for us did I understand the true meaning of healthy eating. When you fill your body with nutritious wholesome food you feel better, look better, and overall perform better.

#4 The best thing you can do is be prepared!

One of the worst feelings in the world is sitting at my desk and being hungry with no healthy food options available. I start to get anxious and desperate because I am hungry and know sugary fattening processed vending machine junk or starving are my only two options.

Therefore, the best way to make sure you eat healthy foods is to have them ready when you need them. This goes for when you are home and when you will be out of the house all day long. Taking a little extra time on the weekend and/or at night to prep meals for the next day will help immensely with developing healthier eating habits.

#5  Don’t just depending on willpower instead of being disciplined

Willpower is a word often used when we talk about changing our eating habits and creating healthy eating habits is about being intentional and disciplined with your food not constantly having to tell yourself no. When you are disciplined you are creating a lifestyle that is supportive of your eating habits. Therefore, you take the time to think about and plan your meals in advance. Willpower should be reserved when you are in an environment you do not have control over. For example, when people bring donuts into the office, you are at a party, or something of that sort.

I want to leave you with this bible verse;  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

Too many Christians are living lifestyles that will lead to health problems now and in the future.

This situation is happening because so many of our lifestyle does not promote health, nutrition, and the proper care of the body that God has given us. Our society has become lazy, everyone looks for the easy way out by cutting corners. Convenience is the key to living for most people and the convenient, easy way is not often the best way.

My prayer is that through this journey you will be inspired and join me in finding the right path to healthy living, to protect and care for the body and mind that God had given you.

A healthier you is within reach, and by achieving good health, your relationship with Jesus will grow. YOU CAN DO IT! START NOW!

For Accountability email me at JC@rockbridge.cc

For picture updates through the week (along with many of my kids) Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @JCGroves.