Friday, February 27, 2015

Remembering "Papaw" Everett William Severs

April 13, 1928- February 26, 2015

Everett William Severs, 86, of Knoxville, went home to be with his Lord and Savior February 26, 2015, following extended illness. He was a member of Willow Springs Baptist Church. Gifted with a brilliant mind, Everett worked to ensure Tennesseans enjoyed clean drinking water for many years. After his retirement from Tennessee Association of Utility Districts the “Everett Severs Award” was created and given annually to members who represented excellence in the field of water treatment. Everett was an avid fisherman, rook player, and cook. He loved to prepare a feast for his family and friends. His holiday hams and big fish fries were always a favorite! As he told you his jokes, he laughed harder than anyone in the room while he slapped his knee. As much as Everett loved many things about life and living, he loved his Lord and Savior above all!

Mr. Severs was preceded in death by his parents Clarence and Georgia Severs; three brothers C.W. Severs, Clyde Severs, and Floyd Severs; wife Norma Sue Severs of Andersonville, and daughter Karen Beeler of Fall Branch. He is survived by his brother Ray and wife Ellen Severs of Knoxville;  his daughter Debbie and her husband Jack Tyler of Fall Branch, Tennessee; Son, Chris and wife Lisa Severs of Karns; Son, Jeff and wife Linda Severs of Powell; and Grandchildren Travis and Becki Tyler of Elizabethton, Tiffiney Tyler of Kingsport, Keyla Beeler of Knoxville, Christopher Severs of Jacksonville, North Carolina, Ryan Severs of Knoxville, Jessica Severs and Luke Severs of Powell. He is also survived by several great grandchildren, great nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends from 12-1:30 pm Monday, March 2, 2015 at Mynatt Funeral Home, 2829 Rennoc Rd, Knoxville, TN 37918, Fountain City Chapel with a funeral service to follow, Rev. Travis Tyler officiating. Family and friends will then proceed to Greenwood cemetery for interment.

"The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed."" Yes," says the Spirit, "let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!" -Revelation 14:13

Friday, February 20, 2015

Is The Church Indestructible?

In a conversation Jesus had with several disciples in Matthew 16, he makes an amazing comment about the church.  Jesus calls the Church “His Church” and gives her a promise of indestructibility.  Jesus says,

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).

Fast forward to present day, and it is difficult to see this promise kept.  With 80 percent of established churches in the United States either on a plateau or in decline,   it appears that most churches in North America are in various places on a death spiral.  In addition to the churches in plateau and decline, 3500 to 4000 churches die every year in the United States alone.   Dr. Thom Rainer points out that as many as 90 percent of churches across America are showing symptoms of sickness with some close to dying.   With local church experts giving grim statistics as stated above, it appears that the local church is dying across America.  However, Matthew 16:18 tells us things are not what they appear to be.

Jesus made a bold amazing statement in Matthew 16:18 which forever holds true because of the confessional foundation on which the church is built, the fact that the promise is made to the church universal not local churches, and the defense against the tactics of Satan and death.  Satan attacks the church in two ways from the inside and the outside.  We are pressured to conform to external secular standards of gender identity, sexuality, and worldly ethics.  It is difficult to bring a tank down from the outside, so I believe that Satan is most effective from the inside.  He uses people to flood the church with false teaching from false prophets (Matthew 7:15; 7:16), false brothers who cause division in the body (Galatians 2:4), and authority hating wolves who seek only to ravage the church (Acts 20:29).

As I think about the local churches dying, I am reminded that we will lose some battles here, but we do win the war!  As Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 6, we (the church) are constantly dying and yet we live on!  We are regarded by the world as false and yet we are true!  We should also be encouraged that surprisingly large and widespread impact comes from humble, small, and unexpected beginnings like the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-33.  The local church should be most encouraged by the fact that Jesus Christ holds the keys to the enemy’s house of death and destruction in Revelation 1:18.  Satan’s house of death will always seek to overcome and destroy the house of God, but God always WINS!  Yes, the Church Universal is Indestructible!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Should I “put out the fleece” When Making Difficult Decisions?

It was my first mission trip ever! I went to Philadelphia, PA with my home church, and I was witnessing to a guy at a hot dog stand. He told me he wasn't sure about God. He said, “If only God give more signs, more people would believe.” I never forgot him saying that to me. Today’s topic is within the realm of decision making, and it has to do with asking for/looking for signs when we try to make good decisions.

Gideon, who is numbed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, asked for a sign and got a sign from God in Judges chapter six. Whenever we read a narrative like this, there is usually something to either mimic or avoid. The question is what do we do with this story? Let’s consider the circumstances for a moment, first of all we find Gideon threshing wheat in a valley. This is interesting considering that in ancient Israel; one would usually thresh on a hill top. So why is Gideon down in a valley? He is afraid of being seen by the enemies of Israel. Basically Gideon is a coward in the opening chapter six. When he asks the Angel for another sign, he is showing the extent of his lack of faith/trust in the LORD. It appears that by the end of the chapter he has:

1. Heard instruction from an angel but doubts it.

2. Heard from God and seen a sign from an angel of the Lord and doubts it.

3. After seeing/hearing the first two asks to “put out the fleece”.

While it may be understandable why he would struggle to trust God with the situation, we must not overlook the fact that Old Testament law prohibited one from putting God to the test (Deut. 6:16). This principle was confirmed in the New Testament by Jesus when he was tempted by Satan in Luke 4:12. In 1 Corinthians 10:9, the apostle Paul pointed to severe consequences that resulted from such doubt ( Numbers 21:6 ), and Luke describes how the father of John the Baptist was struck mute ( Luke 1:18-20 ) for doubting the message of an angel. Jesus also said that “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign…” in Matthew 16:4.

We should pause here and think about what a person means when they say that they are "putting out the fleece.” If one means that time is being taken to carefully study their situation, collect wisdom, and look at what biblical commands and/or principles apply, they are doing what they should. But if one is demanding, like Gideon, that God give immediate guidance by fulfilling a specific "sign" that they impose on Him, this is an example of God being put to the test in a way that is forbidden.

Some of you would say, “No pastor, I have seen it work!” Remember an experience never dictates doctrine! And in God’s sovereignty the LORD can and does use anything he pleases to bring about his secret will, this includes the devil and demons!

Like pagans, sorcerers and occultists who try to control supernatural forces through spells and incantations, Christians may think we can control God with such demands. But consider that the LORD is not interest in making His supernatural power accessible to our emotional/carnal whims. His goal is for us to know Him personally through the word of God, in a relationship founded and dependent upon faith ( Proverbs 3:5-8 ). The Word of God is sufficient for all decision making then and now!