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Pastor Josh Phillips


Salvation Testimony


Born on February 16, 1981 to Gene and Margie Phillips, Pastor Josh grew up in a Christian home along with an older brother right here in the town of Smyrna, graduating from53C Smyrna High School in 1999. Although Pastor Josh had been taken to church as an infant and had been taught the Bible from a very early age, it wasn’t until an Eastertime visit in 1990 to his godly grandmother’s house in Knoxville, TN that he saw himself as a sinner in need of the Savior. While watching a Bible-based drama at his grandmother’s church, the Temple Baptist Church in the Fountain City area of Knoxville, written by Pastor Charles Lawson, entitled “God’s Supreme Court”, which depicted the events surrounding the Great White Throne Judgment from the book of Revelation, Josh became very troubled by the scenes and sounds of souls being cast into the Lake of Fire for their refusal to trust Christ Jesus alone for their salvation. The reason he found these scenes so troubling was because the Holy Spirit of God was using them to cause him to realize that without Christ Jesus as his personal Savior, he too would one day be cast into the Lake of Fire. After arriving back at his grandmother’s house, Pastor Josh’s mother began noticing that something was wrong and then asked him if he knew for sure that he would go to Heaven when he died. Josh answered with a resounding, “No!”, and he began to cry. It was then that his mother recognized that the Holy Spirit was indeed working in his heart about his need for salvation, so she took him into the kitchen and showed him from the New Testament the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course Pastor Josh had heard these Bible verses many times before and even had some of them memorized, but it wasn’t until this time that he found himself in a place where he could apply them to himself and became ready to call upon God to save him. So after hearing the Scriptures in the kitchen, Josh and his mother went back into the living room where he knelt down by the coffee table and prayed to ask Jesus to save him!


The Call to Preach


    Pastor Josh answered the call to preach in August of 1996 at the Bill Rice Ranch after a message that was preached on Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ; and to die is gain.” God had been dealing with his heart about preaching that entire summer, which he had spent working at the Ranch, after surrendering to do anything the Lord wanted him to do the year before. However, it wasn’t until the last week of camp there at the BRR that Josh finally surrendered to preach during the invitation in which the preacher asked if there were any young men that God was calling to preach. Indeed there was! Pastor Josh immediately said in his heart, which had been broken, “Yes! That’s me!” He then left his seat and met his youth pastor, Dave Huston, at the altar where they prayed together as he told God, “That’s it! I surrender! I will preach!” Pastor Josh preached his first sermon one month later as a 15 year old teenager in the Bible club he attended before school at Smyrna High.


Bible College and Learning Who God Wanted Him to Marry


    During Pastor Josh’s senior year of high school, he realized that the call to preach was also a call to prepare so he began praying about attending Bible College after graduation. The Lord eventually led him to the Crown College of the Bible, a ministry of the Temple Baptist Church in Powell, TN, under Pastor Clarence Sexton. Although Pastor Josh did not graduate from Crown, it was there that he became close friends with the beautiful young lady that would later become his wife, Miss Charity Whitaker. Pastor Josh had actually met Charity at the Bill Rice Ranch years earlier, but neither one of them  had ever dreamed that God would put them together, but that’s exactly what He did! And now they have two precious children; a daughter named Carissa who was born in 2010, and a son named Jayden who was born in 2013.


Call to Pastor


    While working at his home church at what was then Calvary Baptist in Smyrna between semesters of Bible College, Pastor Josh began to see that true ministry is far more than just preaching. While working as an intern and going on visits with his pastor to hospitals, nursing homes, and to the homes of people who were just broken and in need of the spiritual help and the deep abiding peace that only Christ can provide, the Lord began burdening Josh’s heart for the pastorate. God had begun to show Josh that He wanted him to do more than just preach. God wanted him to reach people with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and disciple them by teaching and preaching the Word of God to them and by showing them that obedience to the Will of God, which is found in the Word of God, is the only path to a truly joyful and fulfilling life.


Call to the Bible Printing Ministry


    Although Josh knew that God wanted him to pastor, he didn’t feel ready to pastor immediately since he did not finish Bible College at the school he had originally enrolled due to some difficult times that he would eventually face. Although Bro. Josh had been working at Calvary Baptist between semesters, the church had begun to experience some financially difficult times and could not retain him on staff. Also, during this time, Pastor Josh’s parents were going through a divorce, and this divorce interfered with his dad being able to provide some financial help which he had promised to help him pay his school bill. Bro. Josh also learned that his parent’s house, which he had been living in, was going to have to be sold, so he had to find a job and a place to live immediately! In desperate need of a job, Bro. Josh accepted the first job offer he received, which was in a distribution warehouse for Border’s Books. However, it didn’t take him long to realize that on a daily basis he would have to handle books that did not honor God and promoted everything from witchcraft to borderline pornography. Of course this being a production oriented job, there wasn’t much time to focus on what was being handled, but there was no way to avoid realizing that the majority of the books were nothing but filth! This grieved Pastor Josh’s heart, as well as the Holy Spirit which dwelt within him, but he felt like he could not quit because he had to have a job to support himself, and his soon to be wife! The only bright spot during these difficult times was that Josh and Charity had gotten engaged and would soon be getting married! Therefore, quitting a job without having another fulltime one already in place seemed impossible, but that is exactly what Pastor Josh knew he had to do! However, it wasn’t until Josh and Charity had been married for almost a year in 2003 that he finally found the faith to quit. And God provided for their needs! During the time before he quit the job at Borders, Pastor Josh had talked with his wife about the days she had volunteered at the Bible & Literature Missionary Foundation in Shelbyville, TN and he began to wonder if they needed an additional fulltime employee. Of course the answer at the time was, “No. Not right now”, but Bro. Josh knew he could not work peddling filth any longer and be right with God, so he quit any way! And within less than three weeks, the late Dr. Bob Lemmon, Sr., the founder and then director of BLMF, called Bro. Josh back and told him they needed help after all! So Pastor Josh went from peddling books fit for the burn pile to producing copies of the precious and preserved Word of God in multiple languages!

Back to the Call to Preach and Pastor


    On day two of Bro. Josh’s job at Bible & Literature, he was given the opportunity to travel locally on the weekends as a Field Representative to help them raise additional funds for paper so they could continue helping missionaries all around the world by supplying them with Scriptures free of charge for distribution. Bro. Josh viewed this as a wonderful opportunity because it would also give him several opportunities to finally preach like he had been called to do many years before. However, the invitations to preach didn’t come in as fast and as often as he thought they should so he began to fervently pray about what he should do next. And that’s when the Lord began to burden Bro. Josh’s heart again about finishing his preparation for the ministry. Since he now had a fulltime job and he and Charity were newly married and living in Shelbyville, it wouldn’t be feasible to return to Crown to finish school so Bro. Josh enrolled in the Old Paths Baptist Institute of the Bible, which was a ministry of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Crossville and the Middle Tennessee Baptist Church in Murfreesboro. After graduating from Old Paths in 2005, Bro. Josh was ordained into the gospel ministry at the church he and his wife attended, which was the Franklin Road Baptist Church in Murfreesboro. However, after all of this preparation and even after his ordination, Bro. Josh still felt like he wasn’t preaching nearly enough because the invitations to present the printing ministry and to preach just weren’t coming in. Part of the reason for the lack of opportunities was because of his responsibilities in the print shop which prohibited him from going to the preacher’s fellowship meetings during the week to build relationships with pastors and from spending time on the phone trying to get appointments. So after several years of frustration and not consistently getting to do what God had called him to do, Bro. Josh again began fervently praying about what he should do and that’s when the Lord began to reignite the passion and burden that He had put in his heart many years before about pastoring. In August of 2015, after receiving clear direction about pastoring, Bro. Josh also received a call from Heritage Baptist Church of Smyrna to fill the pulpit for a few services because of a connection he had with one of the members and also because their pastor, Pastor Dennis Carroll, a wonderful, faithful man of God, had suddenly and unexpectedly died earlier that year and they still were without a pastor. After the very first message that Bro. Josh preached at Heritage, which was founded in Smyrna in 1981, people began to approach him about putting his resume and statement of faith in to be considered as a pastoral candidate. After even more prayer and agreeing to candidate for the pastorate at Heritage for one month, on October 4, 2015, Bro. Josh was voted in as the new pastor of Heritage Baptist Church! Pastor Josh still works at the Bible & Literature Missionary Foundation in Shelbyville because the church isn’t large enough to financially support him and his family fulltime. However, Pastor Josh loves the people of Heritage Baptist Church and he desires to be available anytime, day or night, to minister to them. He doesn’t see his job printing Bibles during the week as a conflict with his job teaching and preaching the Bible on Sunday’s because he believes that the Word of God contains the answer for people that are lost and hurting without hope and without Christ, whether they be right here in Smyrna, or half way around the world!

 

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