Monthly Archives: January 2014

Guest Blog: Mike Cox on Local Weather

weatherphotoLord willing, we will conclude the Studying and Preaching the Bible in the Digital Age series on February 10 (next week’s post will be on income tax for supply preachers).  This week, I have asked my friend Mike Cox to write a guest blog about weather in the region (a very timely topic as we had many churches close for at least some of their services due to snow and ice this past weekend).  Mike, a Bristol, Tennessee native, serves as meteorologist for WHCB 91.5 FM (a local Christian radio ministry with much preaching and teaching), WPWT 870 AM and 100.7 FM, and WHGG 1090 AM.  He received his degree in mass communications from ETSU and a Certificate of Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University, and has forecast weather since 2008.  You can follow his weather blog at  I appreciate his time and work in writing for us today. – Doug

We live in one of the most beautiful parts of our great country, but sometimes the cold weather makes life complicated!


Elevation makes a big difference in our winter weather, from ice to a little snow to a lot of it.  We live in the border area in more ways than one. As we enter the winter season, we tend to end up with a lot of rain when storm systems come through. For much of the season, the valleys end up right on the rain/snow line. That introduces the possibility of varying types of ice, while the mountains get snow. Once we get deep into the winter, that’s when the big snows happen and pretty much everyone gets a few inches. Occasionally even in the Tri-Cities we’ll see six or eight inches of snow and that can shut down everything like an ice storm can do.

The difference between sleet, snow, rain and freezing rain can be the difference between around 5 degrees over the lower part of the atmosphere. If the entire atmosphere is warmer than freezing, we get rain. Likewise, if it’s all below freezing, it’s snow. The fun begins when it’s not all above or below. That’s not a problem unless either the ground is really cold, or there is enough cold air to freeze the rain into ice pellets, or sleet. If the ground is cold enough, the rain can freeze when it hits the ground, causing freezing rain.

So you have that difficult situation to navigate when either forecasting or just trying to get from point A to point B. As a forecaster, I try to look at every piece of weather information I can find to try to figure out what type of precipitation is going to happen in a certain circumstance. But added to the state of the atmosphere is another complication – our beautiful mountains. Many times two different forecasts are required, one for the mountains and another for the lower elevations, to appropriately describe what kind of weather various locations will see. There’s little time to describe all of this on the air, so that’s where something like a weather blog comes in.

All of that brings a definite challenge as I sit down to look at all the meteorological information and computer models to try to figure out our atmosphere. That is also why the “I wish I could get paid to be wrong 50% of the time” comment is so frustrating. My job entails trying to figure out what type of precipitation is going to happen in an area with 2500 feet in difference of elevation where two degrees difference can spell the difference between an inch of rain to half an inch of ice and total gridlock, to 5 inches of snow.

All that said, I am definitely blessed to be able to try to figure out the atmosphere above us each day. I was practically born with an interest in weather, and sometimes a fear of it that still shows up from time to time. The Lord has blessed me with a love for weather and a desire to understand as much as I can about it. Meteorology is a science that isn’t fully understood just yet, so everyone in the field is still learning if they’re doing the job the right way!


I know a lot of the readers of this blog end up going way up into Southwest Virginia and even into the mountains for pulpit supply, so here are a couple things to keep in mind.

  • First, make sure you allow plenty of time to get where you’re going if you know winter weather is possible. A colleague of mine in Michigan once told her viewers to allow at least double the time…if it takes 20 minutes, allow 40. That’s a good idea.
  • If snow has already happened, make sure you get as much of the snow off your car as you can. I normally will sweep off the area right above the door and around it to make sure as little snow as possible gets inside when I open the door. Then, I’ll start the car, make sure the door is unlocked, shut it, and then sweep off as much of the snow as I can. Not only are you keeping the windows clean so you can see to drive, but you’re also putting the snow from your car in your driveway instead of out on the roadway.
  • Finally, be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast before you’re planning to go out. You can always check my blog at for information.  As I am able, I’ll always try to update the blog with the latest winter weather information. On that site, you can find me and my stations on Twitter and Facebook. There is also a Contact link where you can send me an e-mail if you have any weather questions for me. If you’re more inclined to watch the local television folks for more graphical information on what will happen where, I won’t be too upset about it. In the Tri-Cities, those guys have been here for 25 years each!

Big thanks to Doug Smith for having me share this blog post this week.  I should be back sometime to talk more about severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, two things that also have an enormous impact on life here.

 Updates Links and DealsKen Ham / Bill Nye Debate

Locally, Temple Baptist Church in Kingsport, Tennessee, is hosting a viewing of this creation/evolution debate live at 7 p.m. on February 4. You may also attend a live viewing of the debate at Fellowship Chapel in Bristol, Virginia (click here for more details), or Abingdon Bible Church in Abingdon, Virginia (scroll to the bottom of this link for more details).  If you would like to host a viewing in your church or school, click here.

Sermon Preparation

“How I Prepare an Expository Sermon” – helpful series from Pastor Steve Weaver on his process of sermon preparation.  While we need not try to duplicate another’s approach, reading articles like these can be a good way to improve our efficiency and effectiveness in preparing and delivering messages.

Other Practical Ministry Thoughts

What is an important reason a pastor should commit and stay in one church? There is a reason for the saying in some churches, “Pastors come and go, but deacons are forever.” This is a call for pastors to commit to long-term ministry.

How do you disciple a new Christian who cannot read or write?  This is a challenge that many of us who serve in rural Appalachia may face at some point.


R. C. Sproul has a very helpful booklet on the Trinity. It is free for Kindle here.

Jan-Feb 2014 (dragged)The Common Ground Herald is a free local Christian newspaper published 6 times a year.  The publication includes articles by local writers and national columnists.  We would like to thank editor and publisher Tony Kilgore for including an article from CAPS in the January/February 2014 issue (“Speaking Up for the Dumb: Preaching on the Sanctity of Life“).

If you are interested in buying advertising with the Common Ground Herald or in carrying this free paper in your business, church, or other organization, you can visit for more information, or contact Tony Kilgore at or at (423) 360-1565. You may also “like” the Common Ground Herald Facebook page here.

Studying and Preaching the Bible in the Digital Age (Part 3 of 4): Resources for Studying the Bible

Bible Digital AgeThis is part 3 of a 4 part series. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.


E-Sword – Free Bible study program including many free add-ons, such as lexicons, dictionaries, etc.; some add-ons and translations are not free; there is also an iPad version ($5)

Glo  includes a variety of helpful resources including then and now Bible maps and photography (lite version, free; premium, $50 – includes cross platform access on up to five devices including PC and iPad with Android support coming)

Touch Bible Loaded (Android app)

ESV Study Bible app (iOS – $15)

HCSB Study Bible app (iOS – $10) – one helpful feature of this app is that it will allow you to replace the HCSB translation with other Bible translations if you prefer

You can also find the ESV Study Bible, HCSB Study Bible, and the MacArthur Study Bible, as well as many other Bible study resources (some for free) in the Kindle store (and then access them on computer, Kindle, iOS, or Android devices)  Google Books (Android app) (iOS) also has many helpful Bible study resources (some for free).


Logos  (Android)  (iPad)  (iPhone) – cross platform Bible study resources. Your Logos library syncs across your computer and mobile devices. (Also works with software from Logos’s subsidiary, Libronix)  The Logos cloud concept has been very helpful, as those who used to have to reinstall their resources from scratch every time they obtained a new computer can testify.  –  “graphical exegesis” – at this website, you can learn to “arc,” a method of diagramming a Bible passage that helps you trace the flow of thought and see the main point  Biblearc iPad app   Bible Arcer  Android app

Grace to You  – John MacArthur’s ministry. Many free sermons, articles, etc.

Precept Austin  – a wealth of material for Bible study

Even more online resources are listed at

David Powlison’s Biblical counseling book, Speaking the Truth in Love, is free today only for Kindle.  Highly recommended.  You can get it here.

Studying and Preaching the Bible in the Digital Age (Part 2 of 4): Resources for Spiritual Disciplines

Bible Digital AgeThis is part 2 of a 4 part series. Part 1 is here.

Here are some recommended resources for help practicing the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, Bible memorization, prayer, and journaling.  The idea of the list is to share resources that you can selectively use (not to make you think you have to use all of these).

All apps and programs are free unless otherwise noted.  All apps have access to multiple translations unless otherwise noted.


e-sword (PC version has tools for Scripture memory and prayer lists as well as Bible reading; only select translations are free)

Bible Reading
The Bible App by YouVersion  web   Android   iOS
Olive Tree Bible Reader   Android   iOS   (KJV free, pay for other versions)

Bible Memorization
Bible Minded lets you choose verses to memorize whereas the other two have pre-selected lists.

Bible Minded (ABS)   Android  iOS
Topical Memory System Android   iOS
Fighter Verses   Android ($2.99)   iOS ($.2.99)  (ESV & NIV)

Prayer & Journaling
The following are apps that can be used to keep track of prayer lists and to journal on the computer (or to store pictures of written journals or other files)

Prayermate    Android   iOS

Evernote    web   Android  iOS  (file storage, sync & share & more)
Google Drive    web  Android  iOS  (file storage, sync & share & more)
Penzu  web   Android  iOS (basic is free, but there are paid upgrades available)

Coming Up…

Next week we hope to look at resources useful for intensive Bible study.  If you have any, please send them to us via the contact form below.  (These lists can be updated in the future after they are published as well.)


Updates Links and DealsLINKS

SANCTITY OF LIFE RESOURCES (in case you missed this last time – includes preaching suggestions if you would like to devote a sermon to this topic for sanctity of life Sunday, coming up January 19, 2014)

Thoughts for Guest Preachers, and the Churches That Invite Them
Very helpful, practical advice.  I would consider this a “must-read.”

Word-Study Fallacies
While word-studies can provide valuable insights to our Bible study and teaching, there are some serious pitfalls (namely, mistaking the roots and history of a word for its actual usage in context, since words often change meaning over time). Dr. Cara provides a helpful guide.

Theological Triage
Making good use of a hospital analogy, Dr. Mohler makes the case for a hierarchy of types of Christian doctrine, distinguishing between what is essential for being a Christian (first order) from positions that define denominational identity (second order) and things that Christians within a local congregation may disagree about (third order). Some may draw the lines in different places, but this is an important concept to grasp, especially if we desire to serve as supply preachers beyond the bounds of a single denomination.  This type of framework doesn’t mean that we disregard all differences, but that we know which ones matter the most and what the implications are for the different levels (for example, one might serve as a guest speaker in a church that he could not pastor, based on disagreement over secondary issues).


R. C. Sproul’s commentary on John is currently free for Kindle. Not sure how long it will be free.