Tates Creek Christian Church

Updates and Insights from Tates Creek Christian Church

Archive for the tag “Tommy Simpson”

Additions to the Family

A few weeks ago, Zella & I learned that our daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Josh, are expecting their third child. This child is due on my Dad’s birthday, January 26. We are very excited looking forward to another addition to our family. In addition to the expected arrival of this one, our family has been adding other members. One of my nephews married in April. Another nephew and his wife had a baby son in May. One of my nieces is getting married in August. We love additions to the family!
Just like Zella & I love additions to our earthly family, the Lord loves adding people to His heavenly family. From Luke 15 we learn that the angels rejoice when a sinner comes home to God. Acts 2:41 says, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:47 says, “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The Lord loves adding people to His Family, His Kingdom, and His Church!
A few weeks ago, a fellow was baptized at the close of the worship service. Before he and his wife could descend the steps from the baptistery changing area, people were ascending the steps to congratulate him! Our church family was so excited for his addition to the Lord’s Church!
A couple weeks ago, a fellow came into my office and shared that he wanted to transfer his membership to Tates Creek. I asked him if he would like to do that the following Sunday. He replied, “I want to transfer my membership right now!” That was so exciting! I realize that this man is already a part of the family of God. But, it is so exciting that he wants to be a part of our Tates Creek Church Family. Whether by transfer or by baptism, it is always exciting to welcome people to the Tates Creek Church Family. And we give thanks and glory and honor to our Lord for every soul that He adds to His Church at Tates Creek!
Starting the first Sunday of August, we will launch a new sermon series entitled, “Multiplication through Addition.” As we examine the beatitudes of Matthew 5, we will learn that God adds people to His Church that are broken with sin. We are humbled and overwhelmed and deeply grateful that God added us to His Church by His immeasurable grace!
To our Lord be the glory!

~ Tommy Simpson

Removing Rocks

One of our tasks on the dairy farm was taking a flat bed and pulling through a recently disked field to remove rocks. A flat bed was made from boards nailed together and pulled along the ground like a sled. When I was a child, there were so many rocks to remove, I thought our farm was growing rocks. Some of the rocks were so large that it took two of us to lift those onto the flat bed. We would load the flat bed with rocks and then take it to the holler and unload it. When I was younger, the flat bed was pulled by horses. Once we acquired a tractor, we could load more rocks on the flat bed. Removing rocks was necessary for planting and growing crops. Rocks remaining in the field hindered the growth of crops. Sometimes an unseen rock, just below the surface of the ground, would break pieces of farm equipment used to plant the crops.
In like manner, as Christians, our challenge is to remove sin from our lives. Sin in our lives hinders spiritual growth. Sin in our lives hinders us from running the Christian race. Hebrews 12:2 challenges us, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Sin in our lives distracts us from our focus. Romans 8:6 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Sin in our lives hinders the influence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The more sin we remove from our hearts, the more room in our hearts we have for the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:13 says, “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Another analogy we could use would be that of rocks in a jar. If we pour water into a jar that is full of rocks, the only way to put more water in the jar is to remove the rocks. The same is true as Christians. The more sin we remove from our hearts, the more room we have for the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
Starting Sunday, July 2, we will begin a new sermon series entitled, “Removing Rocks!” Throughout this series, we will address specific sins that we need to remove from our hearts to allow more room for the leadership and work of the Holy Spirit.
May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts!

~ Tommy Simpson

Spirit-Filled Church

A comment I hear from time to time about certain churches is, “That is a Spirit-filled church!”  Since those comments, I have been asking questions like, “How do we recognize a Spirit-filled church?”  “What does a Spirit-filled church do?”  And “Is Tates Creek Christian a Spirit-filled church?”

One mark of a Spirit-filled church is a focus on the person of Jesus Christ.  John 15:27 says, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me.”  Part of the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit is to testify of Jesus Christ.  A Spirit-filled church preaches and teaches the Person of Jesus, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that Jesus Christ is Lord.  A Spirit-filled church also preaches and teaches His Work, His Gospel.  What is His Work, His Gospel?  The Work of Jesus Christ consists of His Death at the cross for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection.  A Spirit-filled church preaches and teaches His Word, the entirety of Scripture!

Another sign of a Spirit-filled church is a strong love for the Word of God!  Love for the Word of God is evident in the preaching and the teaching.  Love for the Word of God is evident by Christians spending time in the Word studying, learning, reflecting, meditating, and absorbing.  The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Word of God.  II Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  Do we hunger and thirst for the Word of God?

An additional sign of a Spirit-filled church is godly people.  How do we recognize godly people?  Godly people have a strong desire to do what is right.  Godly people desire to rid their hearts and lives of sin and to pursue righteousness.  Sin in the life of the individual Christian and sin in the Church greatly hinder the work of the Holy Spirit.  Sin hinders the influence and the movement of the Holy Spirit.  Godly people also reflect the fruit of the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Unity is also a sign of the Spirit-filled church.  The basis for unity is the Word of God.  The purpose of unity is reaching the lost for Jesus and helping new people in Christ to mature and develop in Christ.  Diversity in the church presents itself in a number of ways including, but not limited to, styles of worship.  Here at Tates Creek Christian we have three styles of worship: Swahili, contemporary, and traditional.  Though folks may have a certain flavor in regards to worship style, they hold fast in unity to the teaching of Scripture.

Another sign of a Spirit-filled church is a large part of the congregation involved in serving ~ whether in the church or outside the church.  The Holy Spirit provides spiritual gifts for every Christian.  Are we using the gifts of the Holy Spirit in serving?  One expectation here at Tates Creek is that every member and every faithful non-member be involved in at least one hour of service each week.  A goal recently set by our Elders desires that 85% of our people be involved in one hour of service a week.

Speaking of service, our next sermon series is entitled, “Multiplying Workers,” from the Bible book of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah certainly challenged all the people of Jerusalem to help rebuild the wall around the city.  In Bible days, strong walls around a city spoke of protection and safety.  Everyone was needed to help rebuild the walls around Jerusalem.  The same is true in the church.  Everyone in the church, whether member, non-member, older, or younger; is needed to help and serve.  There is so much work for our Lord to do!

There are other marks of a Spirit-filled church.  However, we must be very careful of trying to determine whether or not a church is Spirit-filled based on feelings.  While feelings may be very real, feelings can also be very deceptive.  To determine if a church is Spirit-filled, we must examine the evidence!

Tommy Simpson

A Mother’s Legacy

Since Mother’s Day is this month, permit me to share some thoughts of our Christian family legacy shining ever brightly through my Mom.  Since my Dad passed away three years ago, many of you are very kind and thoughtful to ask me about my Mom.  I sincerely appreciate your interest and concern about her.  Of course, she greatly misses Dad.  We talk of him often.  To answer the question as to how she is doing, I reply that she is doing well.  She keeps busy.  She continues to live on the farm.  Even though my brother, Scotty, and his family live very close by and take care of many things for her, she still mows her three-plus-acre yard.  She raised a large garden last year and is planning to raise a large garden this summer.  Last year, she, along with the help of family, canned over three hundred quarts of green beans.  She always shares over sixty quarts of green beans with Zella and me each year.  She relates that she knows we host many people in our home, and that is her way of helping us.

Mom hosts a small group her in home every Sunday evening.  The members of the group are great about bringing in food for their group.  However, I have a strong hunch that Mom adds greatly to the menu each Sunday evening.  Speaking of cooking, Mom helps with preparing funeral luncheons hosted at their church as well as helping with meal preparation for the Men’s monthly fellowship meetings.  Mom went to Haiti last summer on a mission trip, and the Lord willing, she is planning to go again this summer.  Pretty well to be eighty-one years of age!  (Please do not let her know that I shared her age.)

Even though Dad’s passing has been three years, Mom’s faith continues to grow stronger.  Her commitment to our Lord and His Church and her involvement in the Lord’s Church continue to inspire her family and friends.  Proverbs 31:25 says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.”  That’s my Mom!

Tommy Simpson

Reflecting the Person of Jesus

One of the comments that people make to me from time to time is that I have my Dad’s smile!  That comment blesses me.  That comment brings warm, loving thoughts of Dad to my heart.  In thinking about that comment though, I have a question, “Do I have Dad’s smile because it is in my DNA, or do I have Dad’s smile because I saw his smile so much?  Do I have Dad’s smile because it is in the genes, or do I have his smile because I spent so much time with him?”  The answer is both.  The last time I was with Dad before he passed away, right before I left him to come back to Lexington, he cupped my face in his hand and gave me a big smile!  He passed away the next day!  Great forever memory etched on my heart!

Our theme for April is “Multiplying Christ in me!”  We will be exploring the last three chapters of Ephesians for this theme.  Ephesians 4:20 says, “But you did not learn Christ in this way.”  One of our primary goals as a Christian is to reflect the person of Jesus Christ.  Reflecting the person of Jesus and pointing people to Jesus was the goal of John the Baptist.  When someone said something to John the Baptist about the multitudes following Jesus, John replied, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  Is pointing people to Jesus one of our goals?  Is reflecting the person of Jesus one of our priority goals?

How do we reflect the person of Jesus better?  One way is through the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us.  The power of the Holy Spirit living in us would be the DNA of Jesus!  Do we demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)?  The second way is to spend more time with Jesus in His Word.  The more time we spend with Jesus in His Word the more we will reflect the Spirit of Jesus.

When I was growing up on the dairy farm, I spent a lot of time with Dad.  We milked cows together.  We cleaned out the barn together.  We worked in the hay together.  We worked in the tobacco crop together.  We repaired fence and built new fence together.  We did so much together.  So, while part of his smile is in the DNA, the genes; part of his smile that I reflect comes from spending so much time with him.  When we spend a lot of time with Jesus, we will reflect the Spirit of Jesus!  May our goal through the last three chapters of Ephesians be to multiply Christ in ourselves so that others will see Him and be drawn to Him!  And what a day that will be when we see the smile of Jesus!

Tommy Simpson

What is Grace?

Mayor LaGuardia was mayor of New York City during the worst days of WWII.  He was nicknamed the “Little Flower” because he was short and always wore a carnation in his lapel.  He rode the NYC fire trucks and took entire orphanages to baseball games.  When the New York City newspapers went on strike, he got on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids.  One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at the night court that served the poorest ward of the city.  LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.  Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread.  She told LaGuardia that her daughter’s husband had deserted her; her daughter was sick; and her two grandchildren were starving.  But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges.  “It’s a real bad neighborhood, your Honor,” the man told the mayor.  “She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.”  LaGuardia sighed.  He turned to the woman and said, “I’ve got to punish you.  The law makes no exceptions.  Ten dollars or ten days in jail.”  But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket.  He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous hat, saying, “Here is the ten-dollar fine which I now remit.  Furthermore, I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat.  Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”  The following day, New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to the bewildered woman who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren.  Fifty cents of that amount was contributed by the grocery store owner himself; while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.

That story is one of my favorite stories about grace.  What is grace?  Grace is where God gives us what we need; not what we deserve.  Justice is where we get what we deserve.  The grandmother deserved to pay the fine (penalty) because she stole the bread.  However, the mayor extended grace by giving her what she needed rather than what she deserved.  That is exactly what God has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.  We deserve condemnation, death, and hell for our sin.  BUT, God gives us what we need rather than what we deserve.  God provides the forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ.  What a tremendous gift!  Grace is the greatest gift!

Our theme for 2017 is Multiply.  In order for us to multiply; in order for us to bring people to Jesus Christ, we must have a very solid and firm understanding of grace.  Once we have that solid, firm understanding, then, we want everyone to be able to receive the same gift of grace that Jesus provides! How can we keep this great news to ourselves?  How can we keep from sharing this great news?

Tommy Simpson

A Healthy Church

In elementary school and high school, math was one of my favorite subjects. One aspect of math that fascinated me was multiplication. Multiplication communicates growth. The same principle is true with church growth. Jesus started with twelve men. On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) that number grew to three thousand. In Acts 5:14 the text says, “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (NASB). The early church grew explosively! Just a few years ago, someone asked me the question, “Do you want to be the minister of a mega church?” I responded by saying, “I would like to be part of a healthy church!”
What is a healthy church? How would we describe a healthy church? One sign of a healthy church is unity; unity that stands together on the truth found in the Word of God. Unity of purpose; bringing people to Jesus and then helping them to grow closer in their relationship with Jesus. Also unity of love; where the members of the church care for one another.
One prominent sign of a healthy church is evangelism where Christians are bringing people to Jesus. One of my frequent prayers for Tates Creek requests the Lord to grow His Church here at Tates Creek numerically. The prayer request for numeric growth is not for numbers sake, but because there are many more lost people who need Jesus Christ. Lost people are all around us; family members; neighbors; co-workers; classmates; grocery store clerks; bank clerks; waiters and waitresses. I pray we are becoming more and more sensitive to the lost people around us and that we are courageous to invite them to church or share our testimony for Jesus.
Another prayer request I pray for frequently is for spiritual growth; that Tates Creek will be spiritually strong and stable and faithful to Jesus until He returns. It would be absolutely awesome for the Tates Creek Church to remain strong in the Lord until the second coming of Jesus Christ! Becoming strong in the Lord is the result of studying the Word. There is no silver bullet to becoming strong in the Lord other than learning and studying the Word of God. In a healthy church the Word of God is preached, and the Word of God is taught in Sunday school and small groups.
Equipping newer Christians to serve is another sign of a healthy church. Equipping Christians begins with mature Christians who willingly teach, train, and trust newer Christians to do the work. In a healthy church, Christians who have been serving for a long time are always looking and identifying newer Christians to serve. In an unhealthy church, Christians who have been serving for a long time are usually reluctant and even unwilling to step aside and train newer Christians to carry on the work. It seems as if their identity and their self-worth is strongly tied to their service at church. If they were to pass that service on to someone else, they would be lost with regard to their identity. At some point, newer Christians at the church become frustrated because they are not being included in the work of the church, and then they leave. Mature Christians realize that the service and work of the church is not about them; it is about developing newer Christians to carry on the work. In a healthy church, mature Christians are always stepping aside because they are training newer Christians to serve.
Another essential element for a healthy church is strong godly leadership. Churches rise and fall with leadership. Families rise and fall with leadership. Marriages rise and fall with leadership. Strong godly leaders love the Lord, and they love His Church! Strong godly leaders are grounded in the Word of God. They have a strong faith and are willing to take bold risks. They know Jesus Christ, the devil, sin, forgiveness, and God’s grace. They also have the attitude that they want to do what is best for the church; not for their own personal agenda. They know commitment and are loyal to each other. They are positive about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the change the Gospel brings to people. They are positive about the church. They are positive about each other and do not criticize other leaders or the church. A negative, critical leader is the devil’s tool.
Another sign of a healthy church is generosity. Christians tithe ten percent of their income and above because they love the Lord and they love His Church. They give because they want to invest in the work of the Kingdom of God. They give because they love people and want to provide for the needs of people.
We could list other signs of a healthy church. Throughout 2017, we will address many of these signs in the sermons. The overall word that describes a healthy church is the word, ‘multiply.’ We will begin 2017 with a sermon series focused on the messages that Jesus sent to the seven churches in Revelation. Jesus identifies the positive points about each church, and then He addresses the things each church needs to change in order to be healthy. May Tates Creek Christian become more and more healthy for Jesus Christ.

Tommy Simpson

Christmas Memories

What words would you use to describe Christmas? The list of words may be endless. Here are a few: ‘joy,’ ‘peace,’ ‘anticipation,’ ‘fun,’ ‘family,’ ‘home,’ ‘friends,’ ‘memories,’ ‘Christ,’ ‘Church,’ and ‘gift.’ These words speak to the anticipation of Christmas. Christmas is the favorite time of year for many. I say, “Many,” because not everyone looks forward to Christmas, like they once did. When certain things change in our lives, we may dread Christmas. Our goal may simply be just to get through the holidays. Since my Dad passed away, I have mixed thoughts and feelings about Christmas. I am learning to have empathy for people who no longer look forward to Christmas; they actually dread the holidays. I still look forward to Christmas. And now, with grandchildren, Christmas holds lots of anticipation. However, the chords of sadness still play in my heart and draw me back to precious memories with Dad at Christmas time. I am very thankful for all those memories. I am also sad for others who have lost loved ones; or for those whose family life has changed because of divorce, the loss of a job, or the loss of what used to be a great friendship. I wish I could take away their sadness, their hurt, and their loneliness. But I cannot take away any of those things.
However, I do know the One who is quite capable of doing that. Jesus Christ is the One who is capable of taking away the sadness, the hurt, and the loneliness. He takes away those things by providing the gift of eternal life. With the gift of eternal life, Jesus provides tremendous anticipation and joy! John describes great anticipation in Revelation 21:4, “He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Another verse that helps us to understand the meaning of eternal life is John 17:3, which says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” The gift of eternal life is available right now! We are able to experience that great gift right now! A restored relationship with God is the reason Jesus came the first time. A restored relationship with God is the gift that Jesus provided the very first Christmas! While some of our heart chords may tone sadness during the holidays, Jesus changes those chords to ring joy ~ for all eternity!
Jesus is the source of joy at Christmas!

Tommy Simpson

God’s Grace

One of my favorite things to do in ministry is a teaching call. A teaching call is where we take the Bible and learn what the Bible says about becoming a Christian. One of my favorite parts of the teaching call takes place when we talk about God’s grace. I like to ask the question, “What is grace?” I have received many responses to this question. One of the most prominent responses is, “I don’t know.” I appreciate the person’s honesty when they say that they do not know what grace is. I love explaining grace with the following illustration. If a state trooper pulls us over on the interstate because we were speeding, the state trooper has three options. At this point, the person I am sharing with looks at me suspiciously because he has only heard of two options. The first option is a speeding ticket. A speeding ticket represents justice. We broke the law, therefore, we deserve to pay the penalty for breaking the law. The second option a state trooper may choose is a warning. We really like that option. We call that option mercy. Although the law was broken, the penalty for breaking the law was not paid. Then, I share with the person that there is a third option. He looks at me like, “What kind of trick do you have up your sleeve?” I share that the third option is grace. This happens when the state trooper looks at you and says, “Here is a ticket for breaking the speeding law. However, I will pay the ticket for you.” The person always looks at me like, “Yeah! Right! Sure!” I love this look on the person’s face because there is a look of a pleasant surprise with a smile.
Then, I make the correlation stating this is what Jesus did for us. We broke the law of God when we sinned. Therefore, we deserve justice. We deserve to be punished for breaking the law of God by spending eternity in hell. However, in God’s grace, Jesus Christ took our place; He paid the penalty that we owed. Therefore, grace is where God gives us what we need, not what we deserve.
I remember sharing this with a lady in a teaching call whose past was very rough and hard. When I said to her that Jesus took our penalty so that we could have eternal life, big tears streamed down her cheeks. She was so overcome with emotion that she could not talk. Sin is sin. We are all guilty. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. But thanks be to God for His immeasurable grace extended to us through Christ Jesus! The Gospel is the greatest story! May our speechlessness turn to praise!

Tommy Simpson

Church Membership?

Whenever Zella & I have moved to a new ministry, one of the very first things we have done is move our membership! Why did we do that? We wanted the people to know that we desired to be a part of their fellowship and to identify with them as soon as possible. We wanted them to know that we were ready to serve right alongside of them.
Questions we often hear are: “Is church membership in the Bible?” “Is moving your membership to a local church in the Bible?” “Does the Bible speak of a formal membership?” “Isn’t being a part of the family of God possible without placing formal membership?” Those are good, thoughtful questions!
Technically, the Bible does not say anything about church membership! So, what is the purpose for church membership? Why do we do it?
Placing church membership encourages that local body of Christians! It really encourages their efforts in the Kingdom of God! It blesses them! Placing church membership communicates to that local body of Christians that you desire to serve alongside them! I remember when I was growing up on the dairy farm our cousins would come over to help us haul in the hay or help us harvest the tobacco crop. Their presence coming into the field was a great boost to us, help had arrived! The work didn’t seem as grueling, taxing, or hard! When our cousins came walking into the field, we actually had fun working together! The same is true for church membership. When folks come walking up the aisle to place membership, their decision to do that really blesses the local body of Christians! Church membership is not a requirement to serve in many areas of ministry at Tates Creek Christian! However, church membership is a requirement to be a teacher or a leader such as an Elder, Deacon, or Ministry Team Leader.
I also think church membership is much more meaningful than being a part of a club; church membership is very special! It is saying that I want to be a part of your church family! Now, being a part of family is very precious! In our church family, we laugh together; cry together; pray together; study together; serve together; and worship our Lord together!
If you are not a member of Tates Creek, we would love to have you!
I love being a member of the Tates Creek Christian Church Family!

Tommy Simpson

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