About Stephen G Cutchins

BIOGRAPHY Dr. Stephen Cutchins has served the local church for more than fifteen years and now serves at First Baptist Church North Augusta as Senior Pastor. He holds a Doctorate of Ministry degree with an emphasis in Christian Apologetics which he currently teaches at Fruitland Baptist Bible College in North Carolina. In Summer of 2016, Stephen was accepted to the Ph.D. in Leadership Studies program at Dallas Baptist University. Dr. Cutchins is a writer and author of the book PROVE IT-Defend the Christian Faith. He is also a contributing author for the 2016 Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook. He is a Christian leader who helps curious and growing people answer hard questions about life, leadership, and learning so they can know who they are and defend what they believe. Stephen currently lives in Augusta, GA with his wife, Wendy, his two daughters, Madelyn and Sarah. His hobbies include running, golf, and tennis. In early 2011, he completed his third marathon and he has since completed numerous half marathons. His passions are spending time with his family, teaching the Word of God, making disciples, and talking to people about God’s amazing grace. BACKGROUND Stephen was born in Atlanta, GA and, after graduating from high school, he earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Music Education from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. Before becoming a Pastor, he was a Band Director for the Fort Mill School District in South Carolina and served as a part-time church music director. During that time, he was very active as a freelance trumpet player/instructor in the Charlotte, NC area and also served as the adjunct trumpet professor at Wingate University in Wingate, NC. In 2008, Dr. Cutchins completed a Master of Arts in Religion degree at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC where he went on to complete his Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2012. While attending Seminary in the evenings, Dr. Cutchins served at Stough Memorial Baptist Church for nine years. During his tenure there, he held the positions of Worship Pastor, Elder, Youth Pastor, and Pastoral Director of the Grace Life Academy. In January of 2013, Dr. Cutchins moved to the Asheville, NC area where he served as the Pastor of Worship at First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, NC. While there, he began teaching both on campus and online classes for Fruitland Baptist Bible College. In addition to teaching New Testament and Homiletic classes, Dr. Cutchins taught the first classes on Christian Apologetics at Fruitland Baptist Bible College in the Fall of 2014. In 2015, Stephen joined the Executive Team at Hyde Park Baptist Church of Austin, TX. During his time there, he planned and led worship for a weekly televised worship service as well as supervising a team of worship leaders and technology teams to lead worship services on multiple campuses. Dr. Cutchins also taught and preached on Sunday mornings and mid-week services. His book on apologetics, Prove It, was published during his time in Austin, TX and he also planned and led a two day regional Apologetics Conference with over 500 participants in collaboration with Southern Evangelical Seminary.

God, Can You Bless My Mess?



God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.

capture-line-in-the-sandDo God’s priorities take first place in your life? Most of us would say yes while secretly struggling with the idea that God can and would use us. It is humbling to think that the Creator of everything would be interested in using us. Especially when you consider all the flaws we have and the mistakes we have made. Our spiritual resume must not be very impressive to God. Maybe you would say, “I’m completely on empty. I have messed everything up and am too far gone for God to help me.” I want to talk to people who would say that their power tank is on low. God cares for you and wants to give you the power to keep going. No matter how much you messed up, God’s grace can work it out.

I love the imagery of God drawing a straight line with a crooked stick. Would you admit to being that crooked stick? Look, you don’t have to be perfect to receive and realize the gift of eternal life. And, you don’t need to be perfect to be used by God to draw a straight line. It’s called grace.

God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.

But, I have found that there are at least two ways to ensure God doesn’t use you.


#1 – FOCUS ON YOUR POWER

Are you operating in your own power? One way to be sure that you are operating in your own power is to have an absence of prayer in your life. For some reason, God loves us enough to talk with us despite our faults and failings. What God is doing takes priority over our power. David marveled that God would even think about man.

“When I look at Your heavens the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

18-Feature_Where-God-Points-His-Finger_OldSize-0130David spoke of the universe as God’s finger work. It was as easy for God to create the heavens as it is for a human being to make something with their fingers rather than by using the arms and whole body. It required so little effort. Genesis describes God creating the whole material universe with just a few words. What God is doing takes priority over our power.

God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick


#2 – FOCUS ON YOUR PLAN

views_on_my_plan4_0What are you planning? Have you taken the time to ask God for direction? I am serious about this, have you taken the time to ask God for direction? Nothing truly great can take place apart from God. Here is one way to have a great year. Figure out what God wants you to do and do it. There is no better place to be than in the will of God and no worse place to be than outside of the will of God. What God is doing takes priority over our plans.

Now, you may be thinking, “Pastor you sure are making it seem like God is more important than me.” He is. Without Him, I AM nothing. Apart from Him, I can DO nothing. He is the beginning and He is the End. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, and all-wise. Here is my suggestion, let’s go with His plan. Spurgeon said, “There is nothing little about God, and there is nothing great apart from Him.” All God’s powerful acts and His surpassing greatness call for praise. Psalm 150:2 says, “Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!”

Bless_This_Mess_(TV_series)_Title_CardI deal with a lot of people who blame God when things go wrong. But, here’s the deal. Don’t hold God accountable without giving Him authority. In order for God to draw a straight line, you will need let Him hold the stick. Are you architecting your own plans and then asking God to endorse them? Don’t expect the God of the universe to bless your mess without changing the plan to fit His design.

Don’t miss out on His masterpiece by making your own way and working in your own power. Don’t ever question that God is at work. He is at work all around us, and He is at work in your life. What God is doing takes priority over your power and your plans. How can you give God control of your plans today? How can you allow God’s power to sustain you today?

God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.


The Church Is Not Walmart



Pastor Francis Chan tells of a random churchgoer who said to him, “I really didn’t like worship today.” His response was, “That’s ok; we weren’t worshiping you.”

What God is doing takes priority over our personal preferences.

monkimage.phpThink about that for a minute. Do God’s priorities take first place in your life? We push God to the side when we focus on our personal preferences instead of biblical precedents. Now, we all have our personal preferences, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when our preferences start to outpace what God is doing, we become selfish, self-centered, and self-destructive. We are great at finding all kinds of things to disagree about when we don’t get what we want.

On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” In churches of any size, there will be a lot of preferences. We shouldn’t be asking what our Church can do for us, but what we can do through our Church. What God is doing, and what he is calling us to do, takes priority over our preferences. He takes priority simply because of who He is.

bible“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:3-4

Notice the words COMMEND and DECLARE. Spurgeon said, “Let us see to it that we praise God before our children, and never make them think that His service is an unhappy one.” David said parents would declare God’s great acts to their children. Spurgeon said, “Worship should be somewhat like its object—great praise for a great God.” He also said there is “no chorus is too loud, no orchestra too large, no Psalm too lofty for the lauding of the Lord of Hosts.”

90The church is not Walmart. Today, I want to put you on notice. God’s Church is not going to be driven by consumer Christianity! When you go to Wal-Mart, you are a consumer and you can pick and choose what you want. When you engage with the Church, you are a servant of the most high God! What God is doing takes priority over your preferences. Consumer mentality is destroying authentic Christianity in our churches. The Church does not exist to be popular, we exist to be on point with what God is doing. The stakes are too high. Too many marriages are falling apart. Too many people are dying and going to hell. It’s time to get to work!

What God is doing takes priority over our personal preferences. 


God Told Me To Get Divorced



Trusting God starts with knowing and celebrating who God is.

kava1Years ago, I had a gentleman come in and see me in my office at a church where I previously served. The meeting was not scheduled, and he came in with an urgency to ask the office staff if I was available to see him. He came back to my office, I poured two cups of coffee, and we sat down to talk. I appreciate him giving me permission to share this story. He told me that he was leaving his wife. He was a Christian and a man I respected. As he described the details, I was disappointed to hear that his relationship was in such bad condition. He talked for quite a while, and I listened.

Then he said something that really caught my attention. He said, “God told me that I need to divorce my wife.” Although I had been pretty quiet up until that point in the meeting, I could feel the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Truth inside of me welling up. I said, “What exactly did God say?” And his response was, “He told me to divorce my wife so I could pursue a relationship with a woman that I have been seeing on the side.” I said, “That’s exactly what God said to you?” He said, “Yes.” I responded, “How do you know it was God?” He thought for a moment and then said, “I guess I’m not sure it was God.” To which I responded, “Well, don’t you think you should be sure it was God before you leave your wife? That doesn’t sound like something God would say.” I’d love to tell you that this was a singular incident in ministry, but it is not.  

Trusting God starts with knowing and celebrating who God is.

Is-That-You-God-DPHave you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do? God regularly gets blamed for things He didn’t do. He also gets credit for a lot of things he had nothing to do with. How do we really know if God did something or not? If we are going to trust God, we’d better be sure that we know when it is Him and when it is not.

Here is the good news. God is in a category all by Himself. Who He is and what He does is the same thing. He is consistent. He is the I AM. So if we are trying to figure out if God did something or not, we should start with knowing who God is. We can’t be like God unless we know what God is like. We can’t know the true God unless we know the truth about God. We can’t recognize false gods unless we know the true God.

Trusting God starts with knowing and celebrating who God is.

857dac517d6cc58e1022fe4631007879A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Virtually every major doctrine of the Christian faith is based on the doctrine of God. Who God is and what God does is precisely the same thing. His essence is the same as His existence. This is not always the case with us. We are terribly inconsistent beings. The truth is that as Christians, we are new creations. That’s who we are. We are in Christ. But what we do doesn’t always line up with who we are.

Andy Stanley says, “What gets celebrated gets repeated.” Celebrating is just highlighting and bringing to the forefront what is happening. There are a lot of positive things God is doing. We should focus on them because what gets celebrated, gets repeated. But let’s be real, some difficult things happen in life as well. The more we focus on negative things, the more negative things will happen. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote these words to the Philippians.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Trusting God starts with knowing and celebrating who God is.

Afterthoughts | January 12, 2020

JANUARY 12, 2020

Morning Message: “EXPLORE THE CORE”

On Sunday afternoons at the Cutchins’ home, we usually have some early afternoon coffee, and find ourselves discussing the morning message. “AFTERTHOUGHTS is our way of sharing the conversation and discussion with you. In each post, we will ask five questions to spark discussion over a cup of coffee. 

Listen now…

DISCUSSION STARTER QUESTIONS

  • What stood out to you?
  • What did you think needs more discussion?
  • What were your biggest takeaways?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • Why did you think this message was important?

Stepping Back To Step Forward



We can trust God when we need FOCUS.

Sometimes the biggest threat to fulfilling our purpose is an opportunity. When I left Austin in 2016 to be Discipleship Pastor at First Baptist Church of North Augusta, I was at the height of my career as a Worship Pastor. I had a job that paid me well and allowed me to have a large platform in one of the fastest-growing cities in America. After over 15 years of coming to church every Sunday and standing on a stage to lead people, it became clear that God wanted me to step off the stage and out of the spotlight. Now, for a person like me, who is wired up to be upfront, this made no sense! However, I could sense what God was directing me to do.

FJ83image2-730x430I’ll never forget the feeling of going to church for the first time as a Discipleship Pastor and not going to the stage to do my job. Instead, I found myself sitting in the pew as an observer. It was disorienting and uncomfortable. In my discomfort, I began thinking I had made a mistake and felt discouraged. Three months went by, and I struggled in the pew each week. Here’s the truth that not many people knew at the time. Just when I thought I had settled in, a large church in Charlotte contacted me and invited me to step back on the stage as their Worship Pastor.

Wendy and I prayed about it, and we were confident God did not want us to pursue it. It turned out to be an excellent opportunity for me to build trust in God and recommend someone else for that position! One year later, I was named Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of North Augusta. Wendy and I had prayed for five years that God would prepare me to pastor a church and prepare a church for me to pastor. The biggest threat to me becoming the Senior Pastor of First Baptist of North Augusta was an opportunity to do a job that was comfortable in a city where I had spent most of my adult life. Thank God that I didn’t get derailed from His plan by that opportunity to live in the past.

We can trust God when we need FOCUS.

6195298_0I want to make it hard for you to ignore what God is doing this year. Today, let me invite you to bring closure to the past and begin writing a new story. Not what He’s done in the past, but what He’s doing at this moment. We simply need to listen to Him. Planning is good, but praying is better. Many times, detailed planning becomes a fancy way to procrastinate. We need to keep moving but in the right direction. Check out this Psalm from David.

“Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.”  Psalm 143:8

David wanted guidance from God. This request was based solidly on his trust in the Lord. As God’s servant, David trusted in Him. Even though David dealt with fear and failure, he struggled to get his facts right, and he often lacked focus; he was confident God would guide him to safety. It is so important that we ask God to show us the way we should go. That way, we can say yes to the right things, and also say no to the wrong things. Our biggest threat is being derailed by opportunity. Sometimes we have to step back before stepping forward.

We can trust God when we need FOCUS.

Are You Prepared For Progress?

We can trust God when we need FACTS.

cats-821Sometimes Facebook gives me the option to “share a memory” and it often causes me to reminisce and feel nostalgic. These feelings also hit me when I hear an old song I listened to during a different season of life. More often than not, I will choose not to share Facebook memories, but it usually stays with me for a while after I see it. I think Facebook does this because they understand how much we like to remember things from our past.

The past is powerful.

For many of us, there is a fear of moving forward in faith. When we begin to look and move forward, it may feel as though the past is not being honored. However, it is the past that has brought you to where you are and has prepared you to take the next step. The past prepares you for progress. Our past was not designed to get us where we are. Our past was designed by God to get us where we are going. Moving forward in faith is uncomfortable because it requires change. He has plans for us, and His plans involve change. What got us here will not keep us here.

Are you honoring the past by not living in it?

Michael Hyatt said, “Often, the shortest way from where you are, to where you want to be is the TRUTH.” In order to move forward, we need the truth. Facts are hard to find these days. Opinions? Not so hard. We have lots of opinions. We have “alternative facts” and “fake news,” but what we lack is authentic facts and truth.

We can trust God when we need FACTS.

Some people in your circle may be of the opinion that your best days are in the past. I believe God sees something very different. Michael Hyatt says, “Unless you bring closure to the past, you will carry it with you into the future.” So let’s get real as we move forward. GOD IS WORKING! Sure, we have all had some hard times, but our God works best with those who will be faithful with the rebound.

Question Mark Speech BubbleHere are some questions to consider. How did you see last year going? What were your plans and dreams this time last year? What disappointments and regrets did you have from last year? We all probably had a lot of thoughts about how things may or may not have been going. That’s why Michael Hyatt says, “Don’t believe everything you think.”

Consider what David writes in Psalm 112. “For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:6-7). None of us likes the idea of being forgotten, and yet the only way to avoid it is to be righteous before God. C. H. Spurgeon said, “The righteous are worth remembering, their actions are of the kind which record themselves, and God himself takes charge of their memorials.”

You know, when God gets involved, there really is no limit to what can happen. Even the great athlete and competitor, Mohammed Ali said, “Impossible is not a FACT, it’s an OPINION.” When we replace our limiting beliefs with liberating truths, watch out! I am calling you to suspend your disbelief and start trusting God again! The question is not “will it work” but rather “will we work” when God calls us?

We can trust God when we need FACTS.

You Can Choose Joy



WRITTEN BY: Wendy Cutchins

Have you ever struggled to have joy in life?

The truth is, you can choose joy. In the first chapter of the book of James, three statements stand out that I want you to consider. Let me start by sharing an experience I had around this same time last year.

My husband and I spend the first week of each year reviewing the previous year’s goals and making new ones. Each year, I have a notebook in which I list all of the things that I want to accomplish or focus on for the following year. In January of 2019, I reviewed my list from 2018 and remembered how I felt at the time. In 2018, I was struggling with anxiety, self-doubt, and exhaustion in almost every area of my life. I even wrote the following statement in my notebook, “I feel bad more than I feel good.” This brings us to the first statement from James that I want you to consider.

cheering young asian woman on grassland with colored balloons

“Count it all joy.” 

Part of the process of reflection and goal-setting was to determine what beliefs I currently had that were limiting me in what I could accomplish. On the very next page of my notebook, I changed the limiting belief into a truth that allowed me to accomplish my goals and be used more powerfully by God.

I replaced “I feel bad more than I feel good” with “I can choose to have joy in everything, good or bad.” This realization changed my whole year and is still impacting how I deal with every situation I encounter. James also helps give us focus on the purpose of tough times.

1*NofKA7lXgBcc81FoyLwwmw

“The testing of your faith produces endurance.”

So let’s get some perspective here. The truth is you don’t HAVE to go to work; you GET to go to work. You don’t HAVE to make dinner for your family; you GET to make dinner for your family. You don’t HAVE to do the laundry; you GET to do the laundry.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that I am Mrs. Positivity 24/7. That laundry one is tough for me. I have to work at it and consistently pray to ask for God’s help, but it is possible because God has wired us up to have joy in Him.

Despite the challenges and obstacles you encounter in life; God has blessed you. Let me encourage you to guard yourself from allowing the chaos of your situation to blind you from seeing God’s blessings. One way to ensure you see things from God’s perspective is to ask Him for wisdom. James makes a promise about wisdom.

“If you lack wisdom, ask God.”

Have you ever hesitated to ask for something you really wanted? I definitely have, because asking is not always easy. Often I will hesitate to ask for things I really need because I am fearful of rejection. But we can’t let fear slow us down. We all need more wisdom. James says all you have to do is ask. God gives wisdom “generously to all” when we ask in faith.

Remember, your joy doesn’t come from the things of this world. Joy comes from the One who gives wisdom, confidence, assurance, strength, and everything else that you need to navigate through this life. Have you ever struggled to have joy in life? The truth is, you can choose joy.

Help, I Failed



We can trust God with our FAILURE.

I have to admit; this is a hard one. When we fail, and we all fail, it is hard to recover. And when we fail repeatedly, we are prone to cynicism. But, there’s a big difference between “I have not yet” and “I can’t ever” if God is involved. Many times, our best teacher is our last failure.

std_basketballreboundIn basketball, one of the most important skills for players to have is the ability to rebound. Rebounds occur because a shot was missed. There is no need for a rebound unless something has been missed. If a shot was missed, that means a shot was attempted. But somehow something went wrong in the attempt that caused the shot to be missed, and therefore we need a rebound.

Any good coach will want their player to go for a rebound on their missed shot. The player shouldn’t walk off the court, quit the game, or throw in the towel because they have missed a shot. A good player will go back up for the ball and retrieve it to shoot again. In the Bible, there are lots of people (David, Peter, Paul) who missed shots. Many leaders miss their target and deal with the consequences of missing their shot. A study of the Bible turns up many people God used who were on the rebound. You may be on the rebound. If so, you can trust God with your past failures.

Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 2.03.11 PMHave you ever thought about why the windshield on your car is so much larger than the rearview mirror? I suppose it would not be very easy to move forward if your vision was dominated by what is behind you. When driving, it is essential to remember that we should glance back but gaze forward. Imagine if you saw someone driving, and they were staring into their rearview mirror the whole time. Unless they were driving in reverse, some bad things could happen. First, they could be so focused on what is behind them that they would gradually slow down and eventually stop. Second, while continuing to move forward, they most likely would not stay in their lane, and might even swerve off the road altogether. Last, they may remain on course but never enjoy the view of what is ahead until it has already passed. Glance back but gaze forward.

I love this psalm.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” Psalm 37:5

is_181022_rebound_basketball_800x450Committing your way to the Lord means submitting your life and daily events to the will of God. Even after failure. Just keep rebounding and going for the next shot. When you do this, you will experience what He wants for you.

Look again at what it says.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” Psalm 37:5

If you keep working at what God has for you, HE WILL ACT! Eventually, God will reward our confidence in Him and show that our confidence was wisdom. We can’t keep looking back on what happened in the past. C. H. Spurgeon said, “Our destiny shall be joyfully accomplished if we confidently entrust all to our Lord.”

We can trust God with our FAILURE.

 

Afterthoughts | January 5, 2020

JANUARY 5, 2020

Morning Message: “2020 Vision”

On Sunday afternoons at the Cutchins’ home, we usually have some early afternoon coffee, and find ourselves discussing the morning message. “AFTERTHOUGHTS is our way of sharing the conversation and discussion with you. In each post, we will ask five questions to spark discussion over a cup of coffee. 

Listen now…

DISCUSSION STARTER QUESTIONS

  • What stood out to you?
  • What did you think needs more discussion?
  • What were your biggest takeaways?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • Why did you think this message was important?

Trust God With Your Fear



We can trust God with our FEAR.

Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 10.40.32 AMWhat are you most afraid of in this world? People are fearful of all kinds of things, and we have names for a lot of fears. Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. Claustrophobia is the fear of tight spaces. There are some weird ones out there as well. Pogonophobia is the fear of beards. Xanthophobia is the fear of the color yellow. Turophobia is the fear of cheese. Nomophobia is the fear of being without mobile phone coverage. Peladophobia is the fear of bald people (I personally don’t like that one). Perhaps the most ironic of them all is phobophobia, a fear of phobias.

rklhnik3wbl68zayuksiBeing afraid makes us uncomfortable. But, we’ve got to be willing to get uncomfortable. We have to try some new things and get out of our comfort zone. But that will require trust. There is an illusion that “if I’m comfortable, I will be happy.” But the truth is that happiness comes from fulfilling the purposes that God has for us. When He gets involved, things get disrupted. He is the unchanging changer of all things. God is much more concerned with our character development than He is with our comfort. Trusting is uncomfortable because of fear and uncertainty, and even doubt. That is why we need to build trust this coming year. With God’s strength, we can outpace our fear with trust.

We can trust God with our FEAR.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” Psalm 56:3

Notice that David did not say “if” but “when” I am afraid. David acknowledges here that he dealt with fear. Because he trusted in God who was on his side, David knew he did not need to fear the opposition he met. He met the opposition of Goliath. He met the opposition of Saul. He met the opposition of his sons. He met the opposition of even God when he failed with Bathsheba. But because his confidence was in God, whose word he praised, he realized that he need not fear. C. H. Spurgeon said, “There is nothing like faith to help in a pinch; faith dissolves doubts as the sun drives away the mists.”

trust_meter2David, the psalmist, laid his problem before the Lord and prayed. Remember, fear can serve as a trigger to deepen our trust in God. What David is telling us is that fear is an opportunity to trust our God more fully. Is your trust level low? Let me encourage you to put your trust in God. Imagine yourself a year from now. I want you to say twelve months from now that you didn’t back down when you got spooked; that you didn’t let fear force you to miss out on what God has for you. So, what thing might you be afraid of this year? What might happen that would cause you to feel fear? And how will you respond?

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” Psalm 56:3

We can trust God with our FEAR.