Well, March was certainly different than January or February. April promises more change.

To say that we are living through unprecedented times is an understatement, but descriptive language comes up short. The church has endured and ministered in many crises, but our isolation makes this situation unique.

For our congregation, Covenant Baptist, I want us to keep a few things in mind.

First, be aware that the newness of digital church will wear off.

Your encouragement to me, the other staff, and those behind the scenes regarding our Facebook Live and YouTube videos is greatly appreciated. If this virus had hit just ten years ago, we would not be able to do what we are doing. God has provided these means for us to continue to grow in the Word.

However, streaming services are not a substitute for in person worship. The funny “when we go back to church” memes and gifs we’ve seen and shared show that we understand the importance of our gatherings.

There is a reason that Hebrews 10:23-25 says, “23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

I thank God that we can connect by streaming video, but I can’t wait for the day we’re back in our “regular” seats.

Second, pay attention to yourself and your state of mind while isolated.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in constant and eternal communion. Because God created us in His image, we need fellowship and community. Since we can’t be together, watch for signs of depression. Have a plan for each day. Stick to a schedule. Keep moving. Stay in the Word. Don’t let cabin fever become a genuine ailment.

Third, reach out to others. We have so many ways to communicate. Take advantage. Call, text, send a Facebook message, or maybe organize a Zoom meeting.

Paul wrote in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Since we are burdened with isolation, let’s bear it together.

Fourth, live out God’s command to be a good citizen.

Romans 13:1 says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” This principle tells us that Christians ought to be the best citizens.

Our federal, state, and local governments have given us clear guidelines to curb the growth of the virus and to save lives. The coronavirus is a killer. At this point, I’ve heard estimates of 100,000 to 250,000 expected deaths.

Death is tragic, and the loss is permanent. Before this is over, I assume we will all know people in, or just outside, our social circle who have passed away from the virus. We need to be prepared for this reality.

Sadly, many of the dying are not Christians. Those people are dying and going to Hell. This heartbreaking truth is difficult, but it is reality. Let’s follow the government’s instructions so that as many as possible will survive to hear the gospel.

I have no doubt that God will use the Spring of 2020 to strengthen the church and His people. We’ll see this strengthening on the other side of this situation. Right now, we’re too busy reacting and surviving to see it. Let’s stay faithful and together so that we can be used by Him.



As of today, November 21st, I’ve been a pastor for fifteen years. When I surrendered to the ministry seventeen years ago, Donna and I didn’t have a clue about our future. What we know now is that God has graciously allowed us to serve three wonderful churches.

Along the way, I’ve picked up on a few things. So, here are fifteen thoughts, insights, or just random stuff gleaned since 2004.


Lessons Learned


There is no substitute for expository preaching.

This lesson won’t shock anyone who knows me. I believe the best way to preach is through books or extended sections of the Bible. This approach allows the truths of Scripture to be revealed in their divinely inspired sequence. Also, I can’t shy away from difficult passages. What I’ve noticed, also, is that expository preaching covers the same issues as topical preaching but in a contextual and exegetical way.


There is no substitute for the gathered church.

When believers go through tough times, they respond in one of two ways. Some open up to the church about their struggles and allow God’s people to be a source of comfort and support. These people grow in their faith through trials. Others slowly walk away from the congregation and regress in their intimacy with the Lord. God gave us the church so that we aren’t living our faith alone. People should never let embarrassment or an overdeveloped sense of privacy rob them of the riches of being with the church.


There is no substitute for Bible reading.

Reading the Bible does not guarantee spiritual growth. But, not reading the Bible does guarantee no spiritual growth. God chose to speak to us through His Word. We better hear what He has to say.


Conflict is rarely about the eternal.

A pastor is equipped to handle theological disputes. After all, we spend our week studying the Bible and theology. What we are not trained to handle is arguments about scheduling the use of the fellowship hall or the size of the bulletin font. While these things aren’t unimportant, they certainly aren’t eternal. Yet, these types of conflicts can cause families to leave and churches to split. Instead, these issues are opportunities for us to put others before ourselves.


Discipleship is a long process.

I was fortunate enough to serve my first church for over eight years and my second for almost exactly six. These tenures were long enough to see what happens when a believer pursues spiritual growth. Their attitudes and service change. They mature. This growth takes time. You can’t microwave a believer.


Pastoral ministry is about presence.

People will say to me, “I just don’t know what to say at funeral visitations.” Or, “I’m not sure what to do in a hospital room.” Let me tell you a secret. Preachers don’t always know what to say or do either. It’s not about what is said or done. Pastoral ministry is about being with the congregation to show them that you love them. Just be there.


Marriage is precious and must be protected.

Please, please, please do not wait until your marriage is almost over to seek help. For married people, our relationship with our spouse is second only to our relationship with Jesus. Marriage is too important to throw away and too special not to cherish. Always be on guard. Satan hates marriage because it pictures Christ’s relationship with the church. Protect and nurture your marriage. Get help if you need it. Offer help when you know it’s needed.


Be grateful when people are there, not critical of when they’re not.

One of the men I most respect once told me that he used to criticize Easter only and Christmas only church attenders. But then he said, “You know John, I’ve finally decided to be happy that at least they’re here those days.” There’s a lot of wisdom and grace in that statement.


Opinions Formed


John is the New Testament’s most profound writer.

I’ve preached through all of John’s Gospel, his epistles, and taught through Revelation. John said more, simply, and with fewer words, than any other New Testament writer. I’m amazed every time I return to his writings.


Lost and unchurched people aren’t concerned about how we “do church.”

Y’all, an unchurched person is not concerned about traditional vs. contemporary. They don’t even know the difference. But, they can tell if we love Jesus, one another, and them.


The NASB needs to do a better job with word selection.

This is nitpicky, but there are times when it’s important to see that a writer uses the same word in several spots within a paragraph or section of Scripture. The NASB, which is my preferred translation, will often use different words to translate the same Greek word in those instances. I assume it’s for stylistic reasons. I’m not crazy about this approach. The ESV does a much better job of handling these cases. (I’ll climb down from my soap box now.)


The End Times will take care of themselves.

The more I study the end times the less I know for sure about the details. I know that Jesus is coming back bodily, that there is a resurrection of the dead, and that there is a judgment, among other things. However, I’m not going to get bent out of shape about the timing.


The “young people” will step up in their time.

There are exceptions to what I’m about to say, but they are just that—exceptions. Here’s how the conversation usually goes.

“Preacher, why is it when we have a work day none of our younger guys show up?”

“Well,” I’ll answer, “let me ask you a question. Were you at church work days when you were younger?”

The typical answer is “no I wasn’t.”

I’ll then say, “When those guys’ schedules are like yours, then they’ll be able to be here for things like this. Right now they’re at the ball field or something like that with their family. That’s where they need to be. They’ll step up in this area, in their time, just like you have.”

It’s very easy to forget that life has many stages that influence our service in the church. Be faithful with where God has placed you. He’ll take care of the rest.


Two Final & Random Thoughts


Appearances and reports are often inaccurate.

The church down the street is either growing like crazy or shedding members like my four daughters shed hair. It is rare that a church is growing or contracting like people think. Numbers are easily exaggerated. All we can do is be faithful where God called us.


Only in Heaven will we have the correct sanctuary temperature.

Admit it. Y’all know I’m right about this one.


Thank you.

Six years have passed quickly.

When we came to Meridian, Emma, our oldest, wasn’t yet ten. As we leave, she’s spent the last few months on the roads of South Jackson learning to drive. Sarah sings solos in church now. Brenna is growing so fast her feet hurt. Tessa is still the center of attention.  What seems like a short time for adults, is a major part of a child’s life. Thank you for loving our girls.

So much happens in a church’s life. We’ve been together as God’s family for Lord’s Suppers, baptisms, weddings, and funerals. In hospital rooms, we’ve prayed together for healing, successful surgeries, and for God to bless a new baby. We’ve had countless conversations in the church hallways, fellowship hall, Wal-Mart, and Los Portales. In all those instances, I was honored to be your pastor.

Several folks have teased me about being sent by God to Meridian just to conduct funerals. So many godly people have gone home to Heaven these past six years. They left faithfully, unexpectedly, tragically, and heroically. The Bible doesn’t give much detail about what we’ll do in Heaven (except worship, of course), but I have a few lingering questions about our folks who are with Jesus. Is Brother Ronnie actually “kicking up gold dust?” Has Miss Dot met Lottie Moon? What is my friend Jerry Wallace up to? We miss them all and look forward to the day we see them again.

When I look back over our time together, what brings me the most joy is seeing so many of you grow in your faith. Through small group discipleship, many of you have developed the indispensable spiritual discipline of Bible reading. Others have grown in their role as leaders. Watching you serve God’s people in new ways encourages me as I strive to equip the saints. I’m proud of you.

Donna, Emma, Sarah, Brenna, Tessa, and I leave with mixed emotions. We are sad to say goodbye, but we are looking forward to what God has in store for our future. Moving from one church to another is a strange emotional journey. So, keep in mind that whoever God has chosen to be your next pastor is already beginning the journey towards Meridian, even though he doesn’t know it yet. I have no doubt you will love him and his family just as you have mine.

As you read this blog, I’m no longer your pastor, but I’ll always be your friend and brother in Christ. We Enochs are so grateful for our time with you. We are leaving some of the best people we’ve ever known and some of the best friends we’ve ever had. South Jacksonians are a special bunch. Thank you for letting us in.

I’ll leave you with Jude’s final verses:

24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


Nothing is free.

A few years ago, I decided to make going to the gym a permanent habit.

I’ve always enjoyed lifting weights, but I’ve been inconsistent. I’d lift for a few months and then not again for a year. Not exactly the best method for strength training.

I made this decision because I saw that many of the things that make us sick or weak in our later years could be avoided with simple actions earlier in life. So, I headed back to the gym to get the barbell bloats. (That’s a Beverly Hillbillies reference for us properly cultured readers to enjoy).

This change, however, wasn’t without cost. Specifically, it costs a few hours of sleep each week.

I schedule my morning around having my quiet time at 6 AM and then spending 6:30 to 7 with Donna watching the news. That time is important. As a pastor, I’m never completely sure what my day holds. The flexibility of the ministry allows Donna and me to have that time.

To be at my kitchen table at 6 AM, I need to be in the gym fairly early. On gym days, I drag myself out of bed before the sun comes up and head out.

It’s not always easy, but I’ve already made the decision. Since I want to remain healthy as I age, I get up and go. It’s that simple.

We’ve all experienced this type of decision. We are pulled in many directions: work, bills, family, and church. To prioritize, we must count the cost of placing one thing over another. These decisions determine how we spend our time and money, with both being limited.

Recently in my quiet time, I came across Jesus talking about this same concept, but with greater consequences than deciding to squat at 4 AM.

In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple (NASB).”

He continued the challenge in Luke 14:28 by saying, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it (NASB)?”

Every decision costs something.

No decision costs more than following Jesus.

Admittedly, Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26 sound harsh. Matthew 10:37 sheds light on Jesus’s meaning. He said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (NASB).”

To decide to follow Jesus is to decide to place Him before all things.

That’s the cost. Nothing else can come first.

The moment we repent of our sin and place our faith in Jesus as Lord (Acts 20:20-21), we are no longer in charge of our lives. Jesus is boss. Spouses, parents, siblings, work, and school all come second.

Honestly though, it’s hard to keep Jesus first. The great triumvirate of the world, the flesh, and the devil wage a constant war against our surrender to Christ. This fight is why Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me (NASB).”

To follow Him, we must make daily decisions that honor Him.

Decide now not to gossip.

Decide now not to lie.

Decide now not to take a second look at someone who is not your spouse.

Decide now to have your quiet time.

Decide now to forgive.

Decide now to pray for a lost person you love.

Decide now, before the temptation comes, to follow Jesus.

Your life is no longer your own.

You owe your life, love, and obedience to Jesus.

That’s the cost.







For fun, here’s what I was talking about from the Beverly Hillbillies:

Guys, what’s the deal?

If you’ve been paying any attention to the evangelical world lately, then you’ve noticed what seems to be an epidemic. Pastors are committing, being caught in, and/or confessing to sexual sin.

Recently, the entire elder board of Willow Creek Community Church resigned in the wake of their mishandling of sexual harassment claims against founding pastor Bill Hybels. I could recount many other well-known and not so well-known pastors who have confessed, or been found in, similar circumstances.

Why now?

First, this isn’t a new problem, but it is a new time. The #metoo movement has empowered victims to speak up. Unfortunately, I’m confident enough in mankind’s sinful nature to believe that this type of sin has always been in our churches. The spotlight, however, is turned toward the issue right now.

Second, social media and the internet have created an atmosphere that holds the church and its leaders accountable. When manipulative and cowardly leadership spiritually abuses those who point out their sins, the victims are often pushed out of the church and have no recourse. The blogosphere provides that needed outlet. So, the logical outcome of more people speaking up is that we hear about more instances of fallen leadership.

But, how do we, as pastors, respond when we hear of yet another pastor, staff member, or seminary professor losing their ministry because of sexual sin?

First, we shouldn’t be surprised. Pastors are human and just as vulnerable to sexual temptation as anyone. This fact doesn’t lessen the impact of their actions, but it does put the situation in perspective. Pastors are people, and people are sinful.

Second, we should be reminded with each new story that we are one dumb decision away from being that next guy. It’s easy to condemn those who have fallen, but few Christians start out their day by saying, “I think I’ll commit adultery this afternoon.” It is a gradual process. By slowly relaxing our spiritual guard, we are susceptible to temptation.

Remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

Third: STOP IT!

Unless you need additional help because of a sexual addiction issue, you can stop the sexual sin in which you are involved or overcome the temptation you are facing. Preacher, if you truly know Jesus, then the Holy Spirit lives in you. You have the spiritual ability to stop or avoid. When you surrendered to Jesus as Lord, He rescued you from slavery to sin. You have been buried with Him in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Salvation brought your dead spirit to life. Live like it.



Fourth, if you are married, cling to your spouse. Not only is your wife the most important person in your life (besides Jesus), she is also your most important ministry partner. Protect yourself by never meeting with another woman without her. Listen to what she says about women in your church. Pursue her. Flirt with her. Love her. All other women are to be treated as if they were your mother or sister (1 Timothy 5:2).

Don’t be the next guy to fall.

Be God’s man—a faithful husband and pastor.

This past Sunday, while preaching from 2 Peter 1:19-2:4, I said about the Bible, “It can only mean what it meant.” Based on the encouraging response to the message, I want to expand on this thought.

The Bible is God’s Word, completely without error. I’ve heard countless sermons being with, “Turn in God’s inerrant, inspired, infallible Word to . . .” This phrase acknowledges that the Bible is different than any other book. But, it is still a book—a perfect book, but a book.

Authors write with an audience and purpose in mind. The biblical writers are no different. Paul wrote his epistles to particular churches for specific reasons. Moses wrote for the generation wandering in the wilderness. John wrote his Gospel evangelistically. These books didn’t float down from Heaven. They were written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. Certainly God is the ultimate author of Scripture, but He used men to produce His Word.

Since God’s Word was written by people to people, then we must interpret and apply the Scripture based on the rules of human communication. The key to understanding the Bible is authorial intent. What was Paul’s intended meaning in Romans 8:28-30? Why did Mark provide a detail in a story that Matthew and Luke did not? These types of questions are crucial to understanding the Bible. Without understanding, we can’t obey and apply God’s Word. If we can’t do those things, then our sanctification short circuits.

We inherently understand the importance of authorial intent in other forms of written communication, but easily neglect it in our Bible study. How chaotic would the world be if we decided the meaning of laws for ourselves, instead of following the legal intention? We can use our feelings to interpret tax laws, but the IRS will use the law’s intended meaning to come after our bank accounts. No amount of “peace about it from God” will get us off the hook.

Since Scripture is written with a purpose, we cannot make the Bible mean what we want. It can only mean what it meant. That meaning has many applications, but the author’s intent doesn’t change. We have to understand what the author meant to understand how the text applies.

We have to know certain facts to be able to interpret a text. First, we need to identify the author and audience. Second, we need to understand the circumstances that prompted the writing of the book. Third, we must pay attention to our passage’s context.

Don’t be intimated thinking that you will never be able to understand the Bible. Seminary or Bible College aren’t required to know the Word. A good study Bible will provide the needed background material.

Most importantly, we must approach Scripture knowing that each author wrote for a specific purpose. When we do this, the Bible comes alive because it is rooted in real people and events. This assumption will allow you to put yourself into their shoes, hear what God said to them, and see how that word applies to you.

Full disclosure.

I have pumped gas once in the last 15 years. I don’t even look at the gauge.

When I get out of the shower in the morning, my coffee is sitting on the bathroom counter.

I am the frequent recipient of a “love blanket.” (I’ll explain that later.)


Sometimes submission is really easy. Sometimes not. It is always a hard concept to swallow.

Ideally, submission naturally flows from a relationship where the wife is highly valued, respected, and loved. The husband considers the wife’s needs and opinions as he leads his family, and she trusts fully in his ability to make wise and advantageous decisions. While some marriages come closer to that ideal than others, none are perfect.

When we think about submission, it is easy to imagine a world where a dictatorial husband makes decisions without considering how it will affect his wife at all. He issues decrees about how the house should be run and even how his wife should behave. The wife is deprived of dignity and identity.

So, how should godly couples handle decision-making?

Truthfully, submission is less about the mechanics of decision-making and more about faith. We are commanded in Ephesians 5:22 to submit to our husbands as to the Lord. Submission to our husbands is submission to the Lord. We struggle enough to trust the All-Knowing, All-Powerful God of Creation with the details of our lives. How in the world are we supposed to trust the guy who can’t run the washing machine or empty the trash? The world might spin off its axis if we don’t intervene!

We submit in faith. The good news is that our faith is not based in our husbands’ fallen nature. Our faith is in the Lord. When I trust that the Lord is able to redeem any difficulties we face because my husband made a bad decision, I am submitting to him as to the Lord. I believe that the Lord does indeed work all things together for good.

Submission applies to more than decision-making.

With years of experience listening to couples talk about their problems, I can readily spot two ways that wives fail to be submissive in their day-to-day attitudes toward their husbands. We tend to “mother” our husbands, and we fail to recognize the importance of encouraging our husbands.

We mother our husbands when we nag them, belittle them, and try to control them. My mother-in-law insists that men do not really grow up until they are thirty-five. I know some men (and women if we are being honest) struggle with adult responsibilities. Our husbands will forget to pick up their laundry, mail the utility bill, and take out the trash. We fail when we assume that we need to teach our husbands to do better. He knows he needs to do better. The Holy Spirit tells him regularly that he does, just like the Holy Spirit tells you that you need to do better. Your husband is a grown man being sanctified by the God of the Universe. Treat him like grown-up, and let God work out the details.

Encourage your husband. Men are fragile creatures. Their wives hold an enormous amount of power over them. A man’s success in life depends a great deal on how his wife views him. If you ask him (and he is willing to answer honestly), your husband will tell you that your opinion of him matters more than anyone else’s in the world. I promise. What you think about him and how you speak to him can make or break your husband. Men have slain dragons for the love of a woman. Your husband could conquer the world if he knows for sure that you believe in him. I want to tell you to choose your words carefully. Don’t. That is not enough. Change your heart. Whatever is in our hearts comes out of our mouths. Trust that God is making your man into a dragon-slaying beast, and watch your husband succeed.

Treating your husband like a grown-up and believing in him are two ways that you submit to him and to the Lord. Because the Lord is infinitely wise, our submission to our husbands is how we respect them. Respect is the thing they need most. God commanded them to love us because we need it. He commanded us to respect them because they need it.

In romantic movies (which I hate, unless they are Christmas movies), we all realize that the guy loves the girl when she falls asleep on the couch, in an airplane, on the floor, in the car, etc. and he gently puts a blanket on her. In our house, we call this a “love blanket.” The bestowal of a love blanket is a sign of affection. Almost every day, John gives me a blanket. It means I can sit down and stay there. And I know I am loved. How does he know that I believe in him? That I respect him? I treat him like an adult. He knows what needs to be done, and I trust him to do it. I believe in him more than I believe in myself. No matter what he says he wants to do, my response is always, “Yes! You can do that!” Because he can do anything God calls him to do.