Southside's Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

Christ Loves Us for What We Will Become

It is challenging at best, and sometimes nearly impossible, to understand the grace and love of God that is embodied in Jesus's death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation. We are used to dealing with human beings often as equals who have something to offer each other, but we are not equal to God. Though some might deny it and even hate the idea of God being superior and having no equal, it does not negate the truth. This further complicates the understanding of God's grace and love administered in Jesus. 

In physical and temporal terms, we love someone at first (other than our children and grandchildren :)) because of something that appeals to us about them. Yet, we have nothing to offer Jesus in this regard. 

Christopher Watkin (Biblical Critical Theory, 415) says it this way:

Christ's love for us is not in view of the qualities we currently possess but in view of those we will possess through his love: 'Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy...and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless' (Eph 5:25-27). This figure of love engenders a long-term commitment to the beloved, fostering a relationship not of consumer and product but of one who, through and despite everything, will ceaselessly seek the best interests of the beloved.

You and I will never find love like the love of Jesus in any other relationship on earth. There is no love to compare it to but itself. The best news is that He loves us beyond our ability to love Him back in the same way.

 

**If you want to talk about the love of Jesus, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Believe it!

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30-31

Our Vacation Bible School this week has centered around the 7 miracles of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John that He performed before His death, burial, and resurrection. They are meant to help everyone who reads his book to come to faith in Jesus. I can tell you on a very personal level that reading through John's Gospel multiple times has deepened my faith in Jesus and my love for Him. Here is a list of the miracles that John describes and where they can be found:

  1. Water into wine -- John 2:1-11
  2. Healing of the official's son -- John 4:46-52
  3. Healing of the man crippled for 38 years -- John 5:1-13
  4. The feeding of 5000 people -- John 6:1-14
  5. Walking on Water -- John 6:16-21
  6. Healing of a man born blind -- John 9:1-12
  7. The raising of Lazarus from the dead -- John 11:38-44

I hope you will read these passages that detail these miracles. What I really hope is that you will read through 1 chapter a day in the Gospel of John for the next few weeks, and then do it again. I have no doubt that you will be drawn closer to Jesus and want to know even more about Him.

Please email me if I can pray for you or help you learn more about Jesus. 

Blessings,

Tim 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Do You Know What You'll Do This Summer?

Ah, Summer! For some folks, it means a break from school or work. For some folks, it might mean more work. If you like warmer weather, it is great for you. If you like cooler weather, not so much. No matter your circumstances or your thoughts about Summer, it passes quicker than we imagine. So, the question is "Do you know what you'll do this Summer?"

If you check out our church's home page, you will see that we have some wonderful Summertime activities for you to be involved in and we welcome you to join in with us. These are opportunities to grow in your knowledge of Jesus Christ and to learn more about how to follow Him.

Here are a few more suggestions for how to spend the Summer:

  • Read the New Testament all the way through at least once.
  • Read the Gospel of John every week.
  • Start a prayer journal with four headings: Adoration, Confession, Supplication (asking God to supply your needs), and Thanksgiving.
  • Spend 15 minutes alone with God every day by yourself (and put that phone away).
  • Make a short visit to someone who needs encouragement.
  • Write those notes of encouragement to people that you have been waiting to have time to do.
  • Go through your stuff and give away the good things that someone else can use that you never use yourself.
  • Make your own list of suggestions.

Thank you for reading! We would love to have you come to see us at Southside this Summer!

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4 Spiritual Practices for Continued Growth

This past Sunday at Southside we celebrated our high school graduates. We gave them gifts and honored them with a meal. They are outstanding young people.

I preached a sermon directed at them primarily, but as I told the congregation, it was meant for all of us and the things I discussed should be modeled by all of us. I will list them again here:

  1. Consistent Silence and Solitude with God. Just as Jesus did, we need to spend time with God alone. Even 15 undistracted minutes a day to sit with God in peace and stillness, or take a walk in nature to take in some of the sights, smells, etc. He has created will help calm the bombardment of our senses from the things around us.
  2. Contemplative Bible Reading. Reading the Bible every day is absolutely crucial for our spiritual health, but also for our emotional, mental, and physical health. It also helps us to clearly discern right from wrong, teaches us how to treat other people, and how to live righteous lives that bring glory and honor to God. Reading the Bible not just for knowledge but for transformation by meditating on what God says is vital for our continued growth.
  3. Conversational Prayer.  Jesus' disciples listened to the formal prayers of the Scribes and Pharisees which were more presentations than conversations. They asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus modeled for them and us, in all of His recorded prayers, a conversational tone with the Father. God wants us to talk with Him and not make presentations to Him. 
  4. Challenging Relationships with Mature Christians.  We were not meant to live life alone without any companions. Jesus sent His disciples out 2 by 2 to preach and teach because He knew discouragement and doubt arise when we feel alone. I have experienced it personally, and you may have too. Scripture is very clear that we must have an ongoing connection to the Church through relationships with folks who have a mature and growing faith in Jesus. These relationships should be with Christians our own age, but also with those who are much older and wiser than us.

I hope you will join with me to follow these daily practices so you will grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ, and make a difference in the world for Him!

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You and Every Other Person Matter to God

Some people think God only wants to punish them when they do wrong. People outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ do not learn from the Bible that God wants to send them to hell and punish them. In fact, the opposite is true. God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved from their sins and have a lasting friendship with Him.

This is what Jesus says in John 3:16-17:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

God is not interested in judgment and condemnation as much as He is in salvation. People matter to God!

We see in John 4 in the story of the woman at the well in Samaria that Jesus is interested in people who have made life-altering choices and find themselves in situations that seem beyond hope of salvation. When His disciples returned and saw Him talking to this woman who was an outcast in her own village He was not concerned with what anyone thought of Him. His concern was for this lonely woman who was caught up in sin.

In Matthew 9:9-13, Jesus is criticized by the Scribes and Pharisees (who were the religious leaders of the time) for eating with sinful people. His response when he heard this criticism was:  "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners". 

  • Jesus went to sinners.
  • Jesus dined with sinners.
  • Jesus humbled himself.

The apostle Paul writes these words in Romans 5:6-8:

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

You matter to God. He loves you and He wants a forever friendship with you. 

Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to talk about it. I would love to have a conversation with you.

 

 

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3 Essential Truths about Jesus Christ

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NASB 1995)

1. Jesus Christ is Divine (He is God).

  • John 1:14, 18
  • John 10:30
  • Hebrews 1:1-3

2. Jesus Christ Became a Man.

  • John 1:14
  • 1 John 1:1
  • Hebrews 4:15
  • Matthew 4:4

3. Jesus Christ Became Sin for Us.

  • 1 John 2:2
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus left heaven, came to earth to live like us, and He went to His death on a cruel Roman cross, and He was raised 3 days later. He is worthy of our worship and worthy of our lives!

 

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Observations from a Yard Sale

It has been several years since our family had a yard sale, but as we prepare to move to Shelbyville in the next few months, we decided to clear out some things that we do not need so others could use them.

Like coming to worship at church, people approach coming to a yard sale in different ways. Some folks come for a bargain and do not know what they are looking for in particular. Some people come to find something to resell themselves and they limit the conversation. Some folks are looking for a specific item or type of items like tools or baby clothes. There are some who see it as a recreational outing. (Not all of these are exactly like going to church, but I think you understand the point.)

What struck me the most about our yard sale was the number of very lengthy and personal conversations that I had with a few people. Two specific observations I made are: some folks are desperate to just talk and visit with someone, and some people are hurting, and they are looking (perhaps without knowing it) for someone to just listen to them talk about what is dominating their life.

We should be good listeners, taking the time to let people talk, whether it is simply to connect with another human being or to give someone an ear to vent their burdens. This is one way we can follow Jesus.

Galatians 6:2 -- "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ."

 

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All Nationalities Matter to God

I attended an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) International Day at my daughter's high school this morning. The Bible was read in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. A song was sung in English, French, German, and Spanish. There was a speaker from the UK and a speaker from Benin (West Africa). The primary passage that was read in the different languages was Psalm 117:

"Praise the Lord, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!"

The 40 to 50 young people who got up extra early to attend this meeting this morning understand the meaning of this Psalm, and the words of Jesus in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. All people matter to Jesus. No matter our ethnicity or nationality, Jesus gave His life for all of us.

 

 

 

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He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed.

In the early centuries after the Church was established, it was a common practice for the followers of Jesus to greet one another to affirm the core event of Christianity. It would go something like this: "He is Risen" with the response being, "He is risen indeed."

Why such a greeting and such a response? I do not know all of the reasons or the details, but I do believe it was to affirm Jesus' Resurrection and to connect with each other through Jesus' conquering death. Many of these early Christians faced persecution that led to death and this was a way to encourage each other to face the uncertain future with the certainty that Jesus had conquered death!

So much of our lives as Christians are based on the truth that Jesus is risen, that He is risen indeed! Let us embrace this truth and help the world to know how much Jesus has done for us.

 

 

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Seeking Jesus

Nearly 30 years ago I had a young professor for a course called Johannine Literature I. That is a really formal academic way of saying, The Gospel of John. 

Since my professor was young, and a friend of one of my older brothers, I thought he would approach the class in a really showy way to prove he knew a lot and that he was well-educated. The opposite was the case, however. He was humble and he wanted more than anything to point us to Jesus. It was life-changing, even for someone like me, who was already in ministry and had a college degree in Bible. In fact, it was especially life-changing for me because it caused me to focus on Who I was serving as a minister and why I had chosen to follow Him.

I do not remember everything about the class. What I do remember, and why it was so impactful, was that we were to read through the entire Gospel of John every single week and be prepared to share something new we had learned the next time class came around. At first, I thought, "I will run out of things". After reading through it 3 or 4 times, I had trouble picking just one thing to share. 

More than anything, I was left with the profound truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. There is no one else like Him. He loves me. He died for me. He lives for me still, interceding for me before the Father. He is my Lord!

When someone asks me about Jesus and questions how to know Him, I suggest reading through the Gospel of John over and over again in a translation they can understand. If they take me up on the challenge they will surely come to love Jesus and be in awe of Him.

Are you seeking Jesus? Do you want to know Him? Do you want to know Him better? Try reading through John or one of the other Gospels every week for several weeks, then let's talk. I love to talk about Jesus and I feel confident you will also.

Blessings,

Tim

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A Prayer Reflection of Psalm 2

I like to read short passages of Scripture, meditate on them, and then use them as a guide to pray. The Psalms are some of my favorite Scriptures to meditate upon and use as guides for reflective prayer. Today's post is a prayer reflection of Psalm 2.

"Why are the nations in an uproar

And the peoples devising a vain thing?

The kings of the earth take their stand

And the rulers counsel together

Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,

'Let us tear their fetters apart

And cast away their cords from us!'

He who sits in the heavens laughs, 

The LORD scoffs at them.

Then He will speak to them in His anger

And terrify them in His fury, saying,

'But as for Me, I have installed

My King upon Zion, My Holy Mountain.'

'I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:

He said to me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'

'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, 

And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.

'You shall break them with a rod of iron,

You shall shatter them like earthenware.'

Now, therefore, O kings, show discernment;

Take warning, O judges of the earth.

Worship the LORD with reverence

And rejoice with trembling.

Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, 

For His wrath may soon be kindled. 

How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" 

Psalm 2:1-12

O  God, the people and leaders of the nations of earth stand in opposition to You with their selfish intentions, but You just laugh at all of it and move ahead with Your plans to exalt the true King, Jesus.

You have already given all the nations to Jesus as His inheritance. He is the Rock that will shatter every empire and every nation until all of them are but dust.

I pray that You will turn the hearts of the leaders of this world toward You so they will humble themselves and worship You and You alone in reverence and awe. May they cease rejoicing in their accomplishments and revel only in Your glorious deeds.

I beg for mercy, O Lord, for all of humankind that all will repent of selfishness, wickedness, and laziness and serve and worship You.

For those of us who take refuge in the shadow of Your wings, we give You sincere praise from the bottom of our souls. You are the Holy One and we rest ourselves in You!

Amen

 

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An Introduction and A Thank You

Greetings to you and thank you for reading this post. My name is Tim Gunnells and I am the new minister for the Southside church. I am looking forward to posting on this blog site on a regular basis.

I want to thank Mike Clement for his faithfulness in posting encouraging articles for such a long time. I have enjoyed reading many of the things that he has posted over the last several months. While he is taking a much-needed hiatus, as he mentioned in his last post, he is not going anywhere. He will be contributing again in the future and together we plan to involve others as guest writers to add to our voices.

I will do my best to post at least weekly. My posts will be brief. They will be primarily intended for encouragement for anyone who stumbles onto the blog, but occasionally there might be some special attention given to Southside. At all times, I hope to be a voice that directs you to the Word of God to help you (and me) as we journey through life together.

I hope you will subscribe to this blog so you will see all of our posts. We promise not to take much of your time and give you a boost to your day every time you read.

May God bless you today and every day!

Tim

 

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